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.1861.]

Prince Napoleon.

275

on the Conseils généraux, and, if they get there, on the Corps législatif, much to the pleasure of our democratic master, and they will be easily bribed or frightened. Besides which, the fifteen francs a day will be a fortune to them, and they will be terrified by the threat of a dissolution. I do not think that even yet we have seen the worst of universal suffrage.'

What influence,' I asked, “have the priests ?'

'In some parts of France,' said Beaumont, where the people are religious, as is the case here, much. Not much in the north-east, where there is little religion ; and in the towns, where there is generally no religion, their patronage of a candidate would ruin him. I believe that nothing has so much contributed to Louis Napoleon's popularity with the ouvriers as his quarrel with the Pope. You may infer the feelings of the lower classes in Paris from his cousin's conduct.'

I study Prince Napoleon,' said Ampère, with interest, for I believe that he will be the successor.'

"If Louis Napoleon,' I said, 'were to be shot tomorrow, would not the little prince be proclaimed ?'

* Probably,' said Ampère,' but with Jérôme for regent, and I doubt whether the regency would end by the little Napoleon IV. assuming the sceptre.

*Louis Napoleon himself does not expect it. He often says that, in France, it is more than two hundred years since a sovereign has been succeeded by his son.

On the whole, continued Ampère, 'I had rather have Jérôme than Louis Napoleon. He has more talent and less prudence. He would bring on the crisis

sooner.

*On the 31st of October, 1849,' said Madame de Tocqueville, ‘I was in Louis Napoleon's company, and he mentioned some matter on which he wished to know my husband's opinion. I could not give it. “ It does not much signify,” he answered, "for as I see M. de Tocqueville every day, I will talk to him about it myself.” At that very time, the ordonnance dismissing M. de Tocqueville had been signed, and Louis Napoleon knew that he would probably never see him again.'

I do not,' said Ampère, 'give up the chance of a republic. I do not wish for one.

It must be a very bad constitutional monarchy which I should not prefer to the best republic. My democratic illusions are gone. France and America have dispelled them : but it must be a very bad republic which I should not prefer to the best despotism. A republic is like a fever, violent and frightful, but not necessarily productive of organic mischief. A despotism is a consumption : it degrades and weakens, and perverts all the vital functions.

What is there now in France worth living for? I find people proud of our Italian campaign. Why should the French be proud that their master's soldiers have been successful in a war as to which they were not consulted ; which, in fact, they disapproved, which was not made for their benefit, which was the most glaring proof of their servility and degradation? We knew before that our troops were better than the Austrians. What have we gained by the additional example of their superiority?

1861.]

Acts of a Republican Government.

277

'I fear,' I said, 'that a republic, at least such a republic as you are likely to have, would begin by some gross economical enormities—by the droit au travail, by the impôt progressif sur la fortune présumée, by a paper currency made a legal tender without limitation of its amount.'

• The last republic,' said Ampère, did some of these things, but very timidly and moderately. It gave to its paper a forced currency, but was so cautious in its issue, that it was not depreciated. It created the ateliers nationaux, but it soon dissolved them, though at the expense

of a civil war. Its worst fault was more political than economical : it was the 45 centimes, that is to say, the sudden increase by 45 per cent. of the direct taxes. It never recovered that blow. Of all its acts it is the one which is best recollected. The Provisional Government is known in the provinces as “ces gredins des quarante-cinq centimes.” The business of a revolutionary government is to be popular. It ought to reduce taxation, meet its expenditure by loans, abolish octrois and prohibitions, and defer taxation until it has lasted long enough to be submitted to as a fait accompli.'

'I fear,' said Madame de Tocqueville, 'that our working classes are in a much worse frame of mind than they were in 1848. Socialist opinions—the doctrine that the profits of capitalists are so much taken fraudulently or oppressively from the wages of labourers, and that it is unjust that one man should have more of the means of happiness than another-are extending every day The workpeople believe that the rich are

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their enemies and that the Emperor is their friend, and that he will join them in an attempt to get their fair share, that is, an equal share, of the property of the country—and I am not sure that they are mistaken.'

• Nor am I,' said Beaumont. Celui-ci fully sympathises with their feelings, and I do not think that he has intelligence enough to see the absurdity of their theories.'

You do not deny him,' I said, 'intelligence ?' Not,' said Beaumont, 'for some purposes, and to some extent, practical intelligence. His ends are bad, but he is often skilful in inventing and pertinacious in employing means for effecting those bad ends. But I deny him theoretic intelligence. I do not think that he has comprehension or patience to work out, or even to follow, a long train of reasoning ; such a train as that by which economical errors and fallacies are detected.'

· Are there strikes,' I asked, among your workmen?'

'They are beginning,' said Beaumont. • We have had one near us, and the authorities were afraid to interfere.'

'I suppose,' I said, 'that they are illegal ?'

They are illegal,' he answered, and I think that they ought to be so. They are always oppressive and tyrannical. The workman who does not join in a strike is made miserable. They are generally mischievous to the combined workmen themselves, and always to those of other trades. Your toleration of them appears to me one of the worst symptoms of your political state of health. It shows among your public men an ignorance

1861.]

Tolerance of Strikes.

279

or a cowardice, or a desire of ill-earned popularity, which is generally a precursor of a democratic revolution.'

'It is certain,' said Ampère, that the masters are becoming afraid of their workmen. Péreire brings his from their residences to the Barrière Malesherbes in carriages. You are not actually insulted in the streets of Paris, but you are treated with rude neglect. A fiacre likes to splash you, a paveur to scatter you with mud. Louis Napoleon began with Chauvinism. He excited all the bad international passions of the multitude. He has now taken up Sansculotteism. Repulsed with scorn and disgust by the rich and the educated, he has thrown himself on the poor and ignorant. The passions with which he likes to work are envy, malignity, and rapacity.

"I do not believe that he feels them. He is what is called a good-natured man. That is to say, he likes to please everyone that he sees. But his selfishness is indescribable.

' No public interest stands in the way of his slightest caprice. He often puts me in mind of Nero. With the same indifference to the welfare of others with which Nero amused himself by burning down Rome, he is amusing himself by pulling down Paris.'

N. W. SENIOR.

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