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Socialism leads to Absolutism.
the mass of the people. At present the disapprobation is confined to the educated classes. We cannot bear to be deprived of the power of speaking or of writing. We cannot bear that the fate of France should depend on the selfishness, or the vanity, or the fears, or the caprice of one man, a foreigner by race and by education, and of a set of military ruffians and of infamous civilians, fit only to have formed the staff and the privy council of Catiline. We cannot bear that the people which carried the torch of Liberty through Europe should now be employed in quenching all its lights. But these are not the feelings of the multitude. Their insane fear of Socialism throws them headlong into the arms of despotism. As in Prussia, as in Hungary, as in Austria, as in Italy, so in France, the democrats have served the cause of the absolutists. May 1852 was a spectre constantly swelling as it drew nearer. But now that the weakness of the Red party has been proved, now that 10,000 of those who are supposed to be its most active members are to be sent to die of hunger and marsh fever in Cayenne, the people will regret the price at which their visionary enemy has been put down. Thirty-seven years of liberty have made a free press and free parliamentary discussion necessaries to us. If Louis Napoleon refuses them, he will be execrated as a tyrant. If he grants them, they must destroy him. We always criticise our rulers severely, often unjustly. It is impossible that so rash and wrong-headed a man surrounded, and always wishing to be surrounded, by men whose infamous character is their recommendation to him, should not commit blunders and follies without end. They will be exposed, perhaps exaggerated by the press, and from the tribune. As soon as he is discredited the army will turn against him. It sympathises with the people from which it has recently been separated and to which it is soon to return. It will never support an unpopular despot. I have no fears therefore for the ultimate destinies of my country. It seems to me that the Revolution of the 2nd of December is more dangerous to the rest of Europe than it is to us. That it ought to alarm England much more than France.
We shall get rid of Louis Napoleon in a few years, perhaps in a few months, but there is no saying how much mischief he may do in those years, or even in those months, to his neighbours.
'Surely,' said Madame de Tocqueville, he will wish to remain at peace with England.'
'I am not sure at all of that,' said Tocqueville. He cannot sit down a mere quiet administrator. He must do something to distract public attention; he must give us a substitute for the political excitement which has amused us during the last forty years. Great social improvements are uncertain, difficult, and slow; but glory may be obtained in a week. A war with England, at its beginning, is always popular. How many thousand volunteers would he have for a “pointe" on London?
•The best that can happen to you is to be excluded from the councils of the great family of despots. Besides, what is to be done to amuse these 400,000 bayonets, his masters as well as ours ? Crosses, promo
State Prisoners on December 2.
tions, honours, gratuities, are already showered on the army of Paris. It has already received a thing unheard of in our history—the honours and recompenses of a campaign for the butchery on the Boulevards. Will not the other armies demand their share of work and reward ? As long as the civil war in the Provinces lasts they may be employed there. But it will soon be over. What is then to be done with them? Are they to be marched on Switzerland, or on Piedmont, or on Belgium ? And will England quietly look on ?'
Our conversation was here interrupted by the entrance of the Abbé Gioberti, and of Sieur Capponi, a Sicilian.
Paris, December 31, 1851.—I dined with the Tocquevilles and met Mrs. Grote, Rivet, and Corcelle.
• The gayest time,' said Tocqueville, 'that I ever passed was in the Quai d'Orsay. The élite of France in education, in birth, and in talents, particularly in the talents of society, was collected within the walls of that barrack.
• A long struggle was over, in which our part had not been timidly played ; we had done our duty, we had gone through some perils, and we had some to encounter, and we were all in the high spirits which excitement and dangers shared with others, when not too formidable, create. From the courtyard in which we had been penned for a couple of hours, where the Duc de Broglie and I tore our chicken with our hands and teeth, we were transferred to a long sort of gallery, or garret, running along through the higher part of the building, a spare dormitory for the soldiers when the better rooms are filled. Those who chose to take the trouble went below, hired palliasses from the soldiers, and carried them up for themselves. I was too idle and lay on the floor in my cloak. Instead of sleeping we spent the night in shooting from palliasse to palliasse anecdotes, repartees, jokes, and pleasantries. “C'était un feu roulant, une pluie de bons mots.” Things amused us in that state of excitement which sound flat when repeated.
I remember Kerrel, a man of great humour, exciting shouts of laughter by exclaiming, with great solemnity, as he looked round on the floor, strewed with mattresses and statesmen, and lighted by a couple of tallow candles, “Voilà donc où en est réduit ce fameux parti de l'ordre.” Those who were kept au secret, deprived of mutual support, were in a very different state of mind; some were depressed, others were enraged. Bedeau was left alone for twenty-four hours; at last a man came and offered him some sugar. He flew at his throat and the poor turnkey ran off, fancying his prisoner was mad.'
We talked of Louis Napoleon's devotion to the Pope.
• It is of recent date,' said Corcelle. In January and February 1849 he was inclined to interfere in support of the Roman Republic against the Austrians. And when in April he resolved to move on Rome, it was not out of any love for the Pope. In fact, the Pope did not then wish for us. He told Corcelle that he hoped to be restored by General Zucchi, who commanded a body of Roman troops in the neighbourhood of Bologna. No one at that time believed the Republican party in Rome to be capable of a serious defence. Probably they would
Republic not probable.
not have made one if they had not admitted Garibaldi and his band two days before we appeared before their gates.'
I mentioned to Tocqueville Beaumont's opinion that France will again become a republic.
'I will not venture,' he answered, to affirm, with respect to any form whatever of government, that we shall never adopt it; but I own that I see no prospect of a French republic within any assignable period. We are, indeed, less opposed to a republic now than we were in 1848. We have found that it does not imply war, or bankruptcy, or tyranny; but we still feel that it is not the government that suits us. This was apparent from the beginning. Louis Napoleon had the merit, or the luck, to discover, what few suspected, the latent Bonapartism of the nation. The both of December showed that the memory of the Emperor, vague and indefinite, but therefore the more imposing, still dwelt like an heroic legend in the imaginations of the peasantry. When Louis Napoleon's violence and folly have destroyed the charm with which he has worked, all eyes will turn, not towards a republic, but to Henri V.'
Was much money,' I asked, spent at his election ?' *Very little,' answered Tocqueville. "The ex-Duke of Brunswick lent him 300,000 francs on a promise of assistance as soon as he should be able to afford it; and I suppose that we shall have to perform the promise, and to interfere to restore him to his duchy; but that was all that was spent. In fact he had no money of his own, and scarcely anyone, except the Duke, thought