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le regret : j'aurais voulu me prêter à tous les arrangements qui m'ont été suggérés par des voix amies pour mettre un terme à cette discussion. Je n'aurais reculé devant aucun sacrifice qui edt été compatible avec l'honneur. Mais vous comprenez tous que sous le coup d'une poursuite, d'un danger, je ne puis rien désavouer, rien rétracter, rien retirer de ce que j'ai écrit, de ce que j'ai pensé. Si j'agissais autrement il vous resterait un collègue absous, mais déshonoré et dont vous ne sauriez que faire.']

*More than all I am grieved when I think of the time at which this has ocurred. A time when we are engaged in an honourable and serious war—a war in which, with the great and faithful ally whom I have always desired, and the sympathy of all Europe, we are defending civilisation against an enemy, barbarous indeed, but so formidable as to require our undivided energy and our undivided attention.

‘But you must recollect when that letter was written. It was in last September, in profound peace, when our whole thoughts were employed, and were properly employed, on our internal affairs.

* Aujourd'hui il en est autrement ; l'état de guerre impose à tous les citoyens des devoirs spéciaux : il doit aussi imposer un certain frein à l'esprit de critique. Aucun Français, quel que soit sa foi politique, ne peut vouloir discréditer le pouvoir des dissidents, des mécontents, mais il n'y a plus d'émigrés, ni à l'intérieur, ni à l'extérieur.'

[Note by N. W. Senior.-This seems to be an allusion to a passage in Thiers's celebrated speech of the 17th of February, 1851. 'Il ne faut émigrer, ni au dehors, ni au dedans.')

['J'aurais su contenir les sentiments les plus passionnés de mon âme, plutôt que de paraftre affaiblir en quoi que ce soit la main qui porte l'épée et le drapeau de la France. Ce n'est pas toutefois que j'admette que toute liberté de parole ou de presse soit incompatible avec l'état de guerre. L'Angleterre a conservé toutes ses libertés en faisant la guerre aux plus re

1854-)

Speech of M. de Montalembert.

283

doutables ennemis : aujourd'hui encore l'opposition, d'accord avec le gouvernement sur la question extérieure, maintient les résistances et les critiques à l'intérieur. Et certes personne ne dira que l'Angleterre, pour avoir conservé la liberté de discussion la plus entière, n'ait pas déployé pour le moins autant de prévoyance et d'énergie que nous dans la conduite de la guerre où nous entrons. Il n'y a que les nations où la vie publique circule dans toutes les veines du corps social, qui sachent résister aux épreuves et aux chances d'une guerre prolongée. La liberté de la contradiction centuple le prix d'une libre adhésion ; et à force de mettre une sourdine à toutes les émotions du pays, il faut prendre garde qu'on ne se trouve un jour dans l'impossibilité de faire vibrer les cordes les plus essentielles quand le moment des dangers et des sacrifices sera arrivé.')

'I deeply regret the publication of that letter. But with that publication I repeat that I am utterly unconnected. I never sanctioned it, I never wished for it, I never even thought it possible. There are passages in the letter itself which I might modify if I were to re-write it, but it would rather be by adding to them than by taking from them. Two accusations have been directed against its substance. One that it is hostile to the Emperor; the other that it is hostile to this assembly. No one who knows mỳ character, and knows my history, will believe that I can have intended to injure the Emperor. Our relations have been such as to make it impossible.

['J'ai eu l'occasion de défendre le chef actuel de l'État dans des circonstances infiniment difficiles, et où rien n'était plus douteux que le succès. Je ne prétends pas l'avoir constitué par cela mon débiteur, car en le défendant, je ne voulais servir, comme toujours, que la justice, l'intérêt du pays, la liberté modérée qui se personnifiaient en lui à mes yeux, mais enfin, aux yeux du public il est mon obligé, et je ne suis pas le sien. Si j'avais eu la pensée d'offenser publiquement l'Empereur, et si j'y avais cédé, nous serions quittes. Or, je tiens beaucoup à ce que nous ne le soyons pas. Il n'y aurait pour moi ni honneur ni avantage à ce changement de position. Tous les hommes de bon goût, tous les cours délicats, me comprendront.']

• It is equally impossible that I should have wished to offend this assembly. It contains men hy whose sides I have fought the great battles of property and law. I love many of its members. I respect almost all. If I have offended any, it was done unconsciously. Again, it is said that the tone of my letter is violent. Expressions may be called violent by some which would be only called passionnés by others. Now I admit that I am passionné. It is in my nature. I owe to that quality much of my merit, whatever that merit may be. Were I not passionné, I should not have been, during all my life, la sentinelle perdue de la liberté. I should not have thrown myself into every breach : sometimes braving the attacks of anarchy, sometimes heading the assault on tyranny, and sometimes fighting against the worst of all despotisms, the despotism that is based on democracy.'

[' Allons plus au fond, et vous reconnaitrez que les opinions énoncées dans la lettre ne sont autres que celles toujours professées par moi. Elles peuvent toutes se ramener à une seule, à mon éloignement pour le pouvoir absolu. Je ne l'aime pas : je ne l'ai jamais aimé. Si j'ai tant combattu l'anarchie avant et après 1848, si j'ai suscité contre moi dans le parti démagogique ces haines virulentes qui durent encore et qui ne perdent jamais une occasion d'éclater contre moi, c'est parce que j'ai compris de bonne heure les affinités naturelles du despotisme et de la démocratie ; c'est parce que j'ai prévu et prédit que la démocratie nous conduirait au pouvoir absolu. Oui, je crois, comme je l'ai dit, que le despotisme abaisse les caractères, les intelligences, les consciences. Oui, je déplore le système qui rend un seul homme tout-puissant et seul responsable des destinées d'une nation de 36 millions d'hommes; et trouve que cela ressemble trop au gouvernement russe, contre lequel nous allons en guerre, et trop peu au gouvernement anglais, dont nous prisons si haut l'alliance.']

1854.]

Speech of M. de Montalembert.

285

'I am told again, and the accusation is sanctioned by the réquisitoire of the Procureur-Général, that my letter is inconsistent with the fidelity which I have sworn to the Emperor and to the constitution. When a man swears fidelity to a 'sovereign and to a constitution, his oath engages him only as to matters within his own power. He swears not to conspire against them. He swears not to attempt to subvert them. He cannot swear to approve the acts of the sovereign, or the working of the constitution, for he cannot foresee what either of them will be. I have kept, and I shall keep, my oath to the Emperor and my oath to the constitution. I have not attempted, and I shall not attempt, to overthrow either of them. But my approbation of either of them does not depend on me. I accepted the coup d'état, comme vous l'avez tous fait, comme notre seule chance de salut dans les circonstances d'alors. I expected a Government honnête et modéré. I have been dis. appointed.'

Here a violent exclamation ran through the assembly. Baroche rose and cried out, 'You hear him, gentlemen. He says that he expected honesty and moderation from the Government, and that he has been disappointed. I appeal to you, Mr. President, to decide whether we are to sit and listen to such infamies.'

(Voix diverses :— Expliquez vos paroles.' 'Retirez vos paroles.' M. de Montalembert.— Je les maintiens et je les explique.']

'I expected un gouvernement honnête et modéré. I have been disappointed. Its honnêteté may be judged by the confiscation of the Orleans property.'

Here was another hubbub, and another protest of Baroche's.

What is going on before you,' continued Montalembert, is a sample of its moderation. It is now attempting in my person to introduce into our criminal law a new délit, communication.” Until now it was supposed that nothing was criminal until it was published. It was believed that a man might write

6

his opinions and his reflections, and might exchange them with his friends; that nothing was libellous that was confidential. Now this Government holds a man responsible for every thought that an indiscreet or an incautious friend, or a concealed enemy, or a tool of power reveals. If it succeeds in this attempt, it will not rest satisfied with this victory over the remnant of our freedom. It is not in the nature of things that it should. A Government that will not tolerate censure must forbid discussion. You are now asked to put down writing. When that has been done, conversation will be attacked. Paris will resemble Rome under the successors of Augustus. Already this prosecution has produced a malaise which I never felt or observed before. What will be the feelings of the nation when all that is around it is concealed, when every avenue by which light could penetrate is stopped ; when we are exposed to all the undefined terrors and exaggerated dangers that accompany utter darkness? The misfortune of France, a national defect which makes the happiness enjoyed by England unattainable by us, is, that she is always oscillating between extremes ; that she is constantly swinging from universal conquest to la pair d tout prix, from the desire of nothing but glory to the desire of nothing but wealth, from the wildest democracy to the most abject servility. Every new Government starts with a new principle. Every Government in a few years perishes by carrying that principle to an extreme. The First Republic was destroyed by the intemperance with which it trampled on every sort of tradition and authority, the First Empire by its abuse of victory and war, the Restoration by its exaggerated belief in divine right and legitimacy, the Royalty of July by its exaggerated reliance on purchased voters and Parliamentary majorities, the Second Republic by the conduct of its own Republicans. The danger to the Second Empire—its only internal danger, but I fear a fatal one-is its abuse of authority. With every phase of our sixty years' long revolution, we have a new superstition, a new culte. We are now required to become the

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