Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

1855.]

Orleanist-Fusionists.

109

They feel towards the noblesse the hatred which has accumulated during twelve centuries of past oppression and the resentment excited by present insolence. Of all the noble families of France the most noble is that of Bourbon. The head of that house has always called himself le premier gentilhomme de France. The Bourbons therefore suffer, and in an exaggerated degree, the odium which weighs down the caste to which they belong. It was this odium, this detestation of privilege and precedence and exclusiveness, or, as it is sometimes called, this love of equality, which raised the barricades of 1830. It was to flatter these feelings that Louis Philippe sent his sons to the public schools and to the National Guard, and tried to establish his Government on the narrow foundation of the bourgeoisie. Louis Philippe and one or two of the members of his family, succeeded in obtaining some personal popularity, but it was only in the comparatively small class, the pays légal, with which they shared the emoluments of Government, and it was not sufficient to raise a single hand in their defence when the niasses, whom the Court could not bribe or caress, rose against it. The Orleanist-Fusionists are Bourbonists only from calculation. They wish for the Comte de Paris for their king, not from any affection for him or for, his family, but because they think that such an arrangement offers to France the best chance of a stable Government in some degree under popular control : and they are ready to tolerate the intermediate reign of Henri V. as an evil, but one which must be endured as a means of obtaining something else, not very good in itself but less objectionable to them than a Bonapartist dynasty or a Republic.

‘The Legitimists have been so injured in fortune and in influence, they have been so long an oppressed caste, excluded from power, and even from sympathy, that they have acquired the faults of slaves, have become timid, or frivolous, or bitter. Their long retirement from public life has made them unfit for it. The older members of the party have forgotten its habits and its duties, the younger ones have never learnt them. Their long absence from the Chambers and from the departmental and municipal councils, from the central and from the local government of France, has deprived them of all aptitude for business. The bulk of them are worshippers of wealth, or ease, or pleasure, or safety. The only unselfish feeling which they cherish is attachment to their hereditary sovereign. They revere Henri V. as the ruler pointed out to them by Providence : they love him as the representative of Charles X. the champion of their order, who died in exile for having attempted to restore to them the Government of France. They hope that on his restoration the canaille of lawyers, and littérateurs, and adventurers, who have trampled on the gentilshommes ever since 1830, will be turned down to their proper places, and that ancient descent will again be the passport to the high offices of the State and to the society of the Sovereign. The advent of Henri V., which to the Orleanist branch of the Fusionists is a painful means, is to the Legitimist branch a desirable

1855.]

Republicans.

IJI

end. The succession of the Comte de Paris, to which the Orleanists look with hope, is foreseen by the Legitimists with misgivings. The Fusionist party is in fact kept together not by common sympathies but by common antipathies; each branch of it hates or distrusts the idol of the other, but they co-operate because each branch hates still more bitterly, and distrusts still more deeply, the Imperialists and the Republicans.

*Among the educated classes there are few Republicans, using that word to designate those who actually wish to see France a republic. There are indeed, many who regret the social equality of the republic, the times when plebeian birth was an aid in the struggle for power, and a journeyman mason could be a serious candidate for the Presidentship, but they are alarmed at its instability. They have never known a republic live for more than a few years, or die except in convulsions. The Republican party, however, though small, is not to be despised. It is skilful, determined, and united. . And the Socialists and the Communists, whom we have omitted in our enumeration as not belonging to the educated classes, would supply the Republican leaders with an army which has more than once become master of Paris.

· The only party that remains to be described is that to which we have given the name of Parliamentarians. Under this designation—a designation that we must admit that we have invented ourselves—we include those who are distinguished from the Imperialists by their desire for a parliamentary form of government; and from the Republicans, by their willingness that that government should be regal; and from the Royalists, by their willingness that it should be republican. In this class are included many of the wisest and of the honestest men in France. The only species of rule to which they are irreconcilably opposed is despotism. No conduct on the part of Louis Napoleon would conciliate a sincere Orleanist, or Legitimist, or Fusionist, or Republican. The anti-regal prejudices of the last, and the loyalty of the other three, must force them to oppose a Bonapartist dynasty, whatever might be the conduct of the reigning emperor. But if Louis Napoleon should ever think the time, to which he professes to look forward, arrived if he should ever grant to France, or accept from her, institutions really constitutional; institutions, under which the will of the nation, freely expressed by a free press and by freely chosen representatives, should control and direct the conduct of her governor--the Parliamentarians would eagerly rally round him. On the same conditions they would support with equal readiness Henri V. or the Comte de Paris, a president elected by the people, or a president nominated by an Assembly. They are the friends of liberty, whatever be the form in which she may present herself.'

Although our author visits the Provinces, his work contains no report of their political feelings. The explanation probably is, that he found no expression of it. The despotism under which France is now suffering is

1855.]

Centralisation.

113

little felt in the capital. It shows itself principally in the subdued tone of the debates, if debates they can be called, of the Corps Législatif, and the inanity of the newspapers. Conversation is as free in Paris as it was under the Republic. Public opinion would not support the Government in an attempt to silence the salons of Paris. But Paris possesses a public opinion, because it possesses one or two thousand highly educated men whose great amusement, we might say whose great business, is to converse, to criticise the acts of their rulers, and to pronounce decisions which float from circle to circle, till they reach the workshop, and even the barrack. In the provinces there are no such centres of intelligence and discussion, and, therefore, on political subjects, there is no public opinion. The consequence is, that the action of the Government is there really despotic; and it employs its irresistible power in tearing from the departmental and communal authorities all the local franchises and local self-government which they had extorted from the central power in a struggle of forty years.

Centralisation, though it is generally disclaimed by every party that is in opposition, is so powerful an instrument that every Monarchical Government which has ruled France since 1789 has maintained, and even tried to extend it.

• The Restoration, and the Government of July, were as absolute centralisers as Napoleon himself. The local power which they were forced to surrender they made over to the narrow pays légal, the privileged ten-pounders, VOL. II.

I

« НазадПродовжити »