Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

are two. In 1835 Tocqueville was young and inexperienced. Like most young politicians, he thought that he ought to be an independent member, and to vote, on every occasion, according to his conscience, untrammelled by party connections. He afterwards found his mistake.

*And, secondly, if he had chosen to submit to a leader, it would not have been Molé.

*Molé represented a principle to which Guizot was then vehemently opposed, though he was afterwards its incarnation—the subservience of the Ministry and of the Parliament to the King. In that house of 450 members, there were 220 placemen; 200 were the slaves of the King. They received from him their orders ; from time to time, in obedience to those orders, they even opposed his Ministers.

•This, however, seldom occurred, for the King contrived always to have a devoted majority in his Cabinet.

It was this that drove the Duc de Broglie from the Government and prevented his ever resuming office.

“ I could not bear," he said to me, "to hear Sebastiani repeat, in every council and on every occasion, 'Ce que le Roi vient de dire est parfaitement juste."" The only Ministers that ventured to have an opinion of their own were those of the 12th of May 1839, of which Dufaure, Villemain, and Passy were members, and that of the Ist of March 1840, of which Thiers was the leader; and Tocqueville supported them both.

“When Guizot, who had maintained the principle of Ministerial and Parliamentary, in opposition to that of Monarchical Governments, with unequalled eloquence,

6

1861.]

Under Louis Philippe.

263

vigour, and I may add violence, suddenly turned round and became the most servile member of the King's servile majority, Tocqueville fell back into opposition.

In general it is difficult to act with an opposition systematically and, at the same time, honestly. For the measures proposed by a Government are, for the most part, good. But, during the latter part of Louis Philippe's reign, it was easy, for the Government proposed merely to do nothing-either abroad or at home. I do not complain of the essence of M. Guizot's foreign policy, though there was a want of dignity in its forms.

*There was nothing useful to be done, and, under such circumstances, all action would have been mischievous.

*But at home every thing was to be done. Our code required to be amended, our commerce and our industry, and our agriculture required to be freed, our municipal and commercial institutions were to be created, our taxation was to be revised, and, above all, our parliamentary system-under which, out of 36,000,000 of French, only 200,000 had votes, under which the Deputies bought a majority of the 200,000 electors, and the King bought a majority of the 450 deputies—required absolute reconstruction.

• Louis Philippe would allow nothing to be done. If he could have prevented it we should not have had a railroad. He would not allow the most important of all, that to Marseilles, to be finished. He would not allow our monstrous centralisation, or our monstrous protective system, to be touched. The owners of forests were permitted to deprive us of cheap fuel, the owners of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

forges of cheap iron, the owners of factories of cheap clothing.

• In some of this stupid inaction Guizot supported his conscientiously, for, like Thiers, he is ignorant of the first principles of political economy, but he knows too much the philosophy of Government not to have felt, on every other point, that the King was wrong.

If he supposed that Tocqueville wished to be in his place, on the conditions on which he held office, he was utterly mistaken.

Tocqueville was ambitious; he wished for power. So did I. We would gladly have been real Ministers, but nothing would have tempted us to be the slaves of the pensée immuable, or to sit in a Cabinet in which we were constantly out-voted, or to defend, as Guizot had to do in the Chamber, conduct which we had disapproved in the Council.

*You ask why Tocqueville joined the Gauche whom he despised, against the Droit with whom he sympathised ?

• He voted with the Gauche only where he thought their votes right. Where he thought them wrong, as, for instance, in all that respected Algeria, he left them. They would have abandoned the country, and, when that could not be obtained, they tried to prevent the creation

of the port.

* Very early, however, in his parliamentary life, he had found that an independent member-a member who supporting no party is supported by no party—is useless. He allowed himself therefore to be considered a member

1861.]

Could not Court Popularity.

265

of the Gauche; but I never could persuade him to be tolerably civil to them. Once, after I had been abusing him for his coldness to them, he shook hands with Romorantin, then looked towards me for my applause, but I doubt whether he ever shook hands with him again. In fact almost his only point of contact with them was their disapprobation of the inactivity of Louis Philippe. Many of them were Bonapartists, like Abbatucci and Romorantin. Some were Socialists, some were Republicans; the majority of them wished to overthrow the Monarchy, and the minority looked forward with indifference to its fall.

• They hated him as much as he did them, much more indeed, for his mind was not formed for hatred. They excluded him from almost all committees.'

Would it not have been wise in him,' I asked, 'to retire from the Chamber during the King's life, or at least until it contained a party with whom he could cordially act?'

Perhaps,' said Beaumont, 'that would have been the wisest course for him and indeed for me. I entered the Chamber reluctantly. All my family were convinced that a political man not in the Chamber was nothing. So I let myself be persuaded. Tocqueville required no persuasion, he was anxious to get in, and when in it was difficult to persuade oneself to go out. We always hoped for a change. The King might die, or he might be forced -as he had been forced before to submit to a liberal Ministry which might have been a temporary cure, or even to a Parliamentary reform which might have been a complete cure.

Duchâtel, who is a better politician than Guizot, was superseding him in the confidence of the King and of the Chamber.

• In fact, the liberal Ministry and Parliamentary reform did come at last, though not until it was too late to save the Monarchy.

'If Tocqueville had retired in disgust from the Chamber of Deputies, he might not have been a member of the Constituent, or of the Legislative Assembly. This would have been a misfortune-though the shortness of the duration of the first, and the hostility of the President during the second, and also the state of his health, prevented his influencing the destinies of the Republic as much as his friends expected him to do, and indeed as he expected himself.'

“I have often,' I said, 'wondered how you and Tocqueville, and the other eminent men who composed the committee for preparing the Constitution, could have made one incapable of duration, and also incapable of change.'

•What,' he asked, are the principal faults which you find in the Constitution?'

First,' I said, 'that you gave to your President absolute authority over the army, the whole patronage of the most centralised and the most place-hunting country in the world, so that there was not one of your population of 36,000,000 whose interests he could not seriously affect; and, having thus armied him with irresistible power, you gave him the strongest possible motives to employ it against the Constitution by turning

.

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »