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1861.] Causes which
Overthrow Government. 227
feeling, but for political purposes they are carefully swamped by being joined to uneducated agricultural districts.
'Still I think I might enter the Corps législatif for our capital Le Mans. Perhaps at a general election twenty liberals might come in. But what good could they do? The opposition in the last session strengthened Louis Napoleon. It gave him the prestige of liberality and success.'
You think him, then,' I said, 'safe for the rest of his life?'
Nothing,' he answered, is safe in France, and the thing most unsafe is a Government. Our caprices are as violent as they are sudden. They resemble those of a half-tamed beast of prey, which licks its keeper's hand to-day, and may tear him to-morrow. But if his life be not so long as to enable the fruits of his follies to show themselves in their natural consequences-unsuccessful war, or defeated diplomacy, or bankruptcy, or heavily increased taxation - he may die in the Tuileries.
But I infer from his conduct that he thinks an insurrection against his tyranny possible, and that he is preparing to meet it by a popular war—that is to say, by a war with England.
"I found my opinion not. so much on the enormous maritime preparations, as on the long-continued systematic attempts to raise against England our old national enmity. All the provincial papers are in the hands of the Government. The constantly recurring topic of every one of them is, the perfidy and the malignity of England. She is described as opposing all our diplomacy, as resisting all our aggrandisement, as snarling and growling at our acquisition of Savoy, as threatening us if we accept Sardinia, as trying to drive the Pope from Rome because we protect him, as trying to separate the Danubian provinces because we wish to unite them, as preventing the Suez Canal because we proposed it-in short, on every occasion and in every part of the world as putting herself in our way. To these complaints, which are not without foundation, are added others of which our ignorant people do not see the absurdity. They are told that the enormous conscription, and the great naval expenditure, are rendered necessary by the aggressive armaments of England. That you are preparing to lay waste all our coasts, to burn our arsenals, to subsidise against us a new Coalition, and perhaps lead its armies again to Paris.
• The Emperor's moderation, his love of England, and his love of peace, are said to be the only obstacles to a violent rupture. But they are prepared for these obstacles at length giving way. “The Emperor," they are told, “is getting tired of his insolent, and hostile, and quarrelsome allies. He is getting tired of a peace which is more expensive than a war. Some day the cup will flow. over. 'Il en finira avec eux,' will dictate a peace in London, will free the oppressed Irish nationality, will make England pay the expense of the war, and then having conquered the only enemy that France can fear,
Language of the Press.
will let her enjoy, for the first time, real peace, a reduced conscription, and low taxation.” *Such is the language of all the provincial papers
and of all the provincial authorities, and it has its effect. There never was a time when a war with England would be so popular. He does not wish for one, he knows that it would be extremely dangerous, but he is accustomed to play for great stakes, and if submitting to any loss of his popularity, or to any limitation of his power is the alternative, he will run the risk. He keeps it, as his last card, in reserve, to be played only in extremity, but to be ready when that extremity has arrived.'
Tuesday, August 13.-We drove to La Prenelle, a church at the point of a high table-land running from Tocqueville towards the bay of La Hogue, and commanding nearly all the Cherbourg peninsula. On three sides of us was the sea, separated from us by a wooded, well-inhabited plain, whose churches rose among the trees, and containing the towns and lofty lighthouses of Gatteville, Barfleur, Vast, and La Hogue. We sat on the point from whence James II. saw the battle of La Hogue, and admired the courage of his English rebels.
Ampère has spent much of his life in Rome, and is engaged on a work in which its history is to be illustrated by its monuments.
We talked of the Roman people.
• Nothing,' said Ampère, can be more degraded than the higher classes. With the exception of Antonelli, who is charming, full of knowledge, intelligence, and grace, and of the Duke of Sermoneta, who is almost equally distinguished, there is scarcely a noble of my acquaintance who has any merits, moral or intellectual.
*They are surrounded by the finest ancient and modern art, and care nothing for it. The eminent men of every country visit Rome—the Romans avoid them for they have nothing to talk to them about.
‘Politics are of course unsafe, literature they have none. They never read. A cardinal told me something which I doubted, and I asked him where he had found it. “In certi libri," he answered.
• Another, who has a fine old library, begged me to use it. “You will do the room good,” he said. “No one has been there for years.” Even scandal and gossip must be avoided under an Ecclesiastical Government.
• They never ride, they never shoot, they never visit their estates, they give no parties ; if it were not for the theatre and for their lawsuits they would sink into vegetable life.'
'Sermoneta,' I said, "told me that many of his lawsuits were hereditary, and would probably descend to his son.'
'If Sermoneta,' said Ampère, with his positive intelligence and his comparative vigour, cannot get through them, what is to be expected from others? They have, however, one merit, one point of contact with the rest of the world their hatred of their Government. They seem to perceive, not clearly, for they perceive nothing clearly, but they dimly see, that the want of liberty is a still greater misfortune to the higher classes than to the lower.
Population of Rome.
* But the people are a fine race. Well led they will make excellent soldiers. They have the cruelty of their ancestors, perhaps I ought to say of their predecessors, but they have also their courage.'
• They showed,' said Beaumont, courage in the defence of Rome, but courage behind walls is the commonest of all courages.
No training could make the Spaniards stand against us in the open field, but they were heroes in Saragossa. The caprices of courage and cowardice are innumerable. The French have no moral courage, they cannot stand ridicule, they cannot encounter disapprobation, they bow before oppression; a French soldier condemned by a court-martial cries for mercy like a child. The same man in battle appears indifferent to death.
The Spaniard runs away without shame, but submits to death when it is inevitable without terror. None of the prisoners taken on either side in the Spanish civil war asked for pardon.'
• Indifference to life,' I said, and indifference to danger have little in common. General Fénelon told me that in Algeria he had more than once to preside at an execution. No Arab showed any fear. Once there were two men, one of whom was to be flogged, the other to be shot. A mistake was made and they were going to shoot the wrong man. It was found out in time, but neither of the men seemed to care about it; yet they would probably have run away in battle. The Chinese are not brave, but you can hire a man to be beheaded in your place.
“So,' said Ampère, you could always hire a substitute