Зображення сторінки

• The tradition of the stage,' he said, “is that Célimène was Molière's wife.'

She is made too young,' said Minnie. A girl of twenty has not her wit, or her knowledge of the world.'

*The change of a word,' said Ampère, in two or three places would alter that. The feeblest characters are as usual the good ones. Philinte and Eliante.

• Alceste is a grand mixture, perhaps the only one on the French stage, of the comic and the tragic; for in many of the scenes he rises far above comedy. His love is real impetuous passion. Talma delighted in playing him.'

*The desert,' I said, “into which he retires, was, I suppose, a distant country-house. Just such a place as Tocqueville.'

*As Tocqueville,' said Beaumont, 'fifty years ago, without roads, ten days' journey from Paris, and depending for society on Valognes.'

* As Tocqueville,' said Madame de Tocqueville,' when my mother-in-law first married. She spent in it a month and could never be induced to see it again.'

Whom,' I asked, did Célimène marry?'

Of course,' said Ampère, ‘Alceste. Probably five years afterwards. By that time he must have got tired of his desert and she of her coquetry.'

We know,' I said, that Molière was always in love with his wife, notwithstanding her légèreté. What makes me think the tradition that Célimène was Mademoiselle!

[ocr errors]

| Under the ancien régime even the married actresses were called Mademoiselle.-ED.


Tocqueville's Political Career.


Molière true, is that Molière was certainly in love with Célimène. She is made as engaging as possible, and her worst faults do not rise above foibles. Her satire is good-natured. Arsinoé is her foil, introduced to show what real evil-speaking is.'

All the women,' said Ampère, ‘are in love with Alceste, and they care about no one else. Célimène's satire of the others is scarcely good-natured. It is clear, at least, that they did not think so.'

If Célimène,' said Minnie, 'became Madame Alceste, he probably made her life a burthen with his jealousy.'

Of course he was jealous,' said Madame de Beaumont, ‘for he was violently in love. There can scarcely be violent love without jealousy.'

‘At least,' said Madame de Tocqueville, till people are married.

If a lover is cool enough to be without jealousy, he ought to pretend it.'

Sunday, August 18.—After breakfast when the ladies were gone to church, I talked over with Ampère and Beaumont Tocqueville's political career.

•Why,' I asked, 'did he refuse the support of M. Molé in 1835? Why would he never take office under Louis Philippe ? Why did he associate himself with the Gauche whom he despised, and oppose the Droit with whom he sympathised? Is the answer given by M. Guizot to a friend of mine who asked a nearly similar question, “Parce qu'il voulait être où je suis," the true

[ocr errors]



“The answers to your first question,' said Beaumont, 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,


Under Louis Philippe.


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, 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


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

'In some of this stupid inaction Guizot supported him 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

« НазадПродовжити »