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legislature tried to obtain a military force, and failed; they planned an impeachment of the Directory, and found the existing law insufficient. They brought forward a new law defining the responsibility of the executive, and the night after they had begun to discuss it, their halls were occupied by a military force, and the members of the opposition were seized in the room in which they had met to denounce the treason of the Directory
So far,' he answered, the two events resemble one another. Each was a military attack on the legislature by the executive. But the Directors were the representatives of a party. The Councils and the greater part of the aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie, were Bonapartists; the lower orders, were Republican, the army was merely an instrument; it conquered, not for itself, but for the Republican party.
"The 18th brumaire was nearer to this—for that ended, as this has begun, in a military tyranny. But the 18th brumaire was almost as much a civil 'as a military revolution. A majority in the Councils was with Bonaparte. Louis Napoleon had not a real friend in the Assembly. All the educated classes supported the 18th brumaire; all the educated classes repudiate the 2nd of December. Bonaparte's Consular Chair was sustained by all the élite of France. This man cannot obtain a decent supporter.
Montalembert, Baroche, and Fould-an Ultramontane, a country lawyer, and a Jewish banker-are his most respectable associates. For a real parallel you must go back 1,800 years.'
Assembly did not conspire.
I said that some persons, for whose judgment I had the highest respect, seemed to treat it as a contest between two conspirators, the Assembly and the President, and to think the difference between his conduct and theirs to be that he struck first.
* This,' said Tocqueville, ‘I utterly deny. He, indeed, began to conspire from November 10, 1848. His direct instructions to Oudinot, and his letter to Ney, only a few months after his election, showed his determination not to submit to Parliamentary Government. Then followed his dismissal of Ministry after Ministry, until he had degraded the office to a clerkship. Then came the semi-regal progress, then the reviews of Satory, the encouragement of treasonable cries, the selection for all the high appointments in the army of Paris of men whose infamous characters fitted them to be tools. Then he publicly insulted the Assembly at Dijon, and at last, in October, we knew that his plans were laid. It was then only that we began to think what were our means of defence, but that was no more a conspiracy than it is a conspiracy in travellers to look for their pistols when they see a band of robbers advancing
M. Baze's proposition was absurd only because it was impracticable. It was a precaution against immediate danger, but if it had been voted, it could not have been executed. The army had already been so corrupted, that it would have disregarded the orders of the Assembly. I have often talked over our situation with Lamoricière and my other military friends. We
saw what was coming as clearly as we now look back to it ; but we had no means of preventing it."
‘But was not your intended law of responsibility,' I said, “ an attack on your part ?"
• That law,' he said, 'was not ours. It was sent up to us by the Conseil d'État which had been two years and a half employed on it, and ought to have sent it to us much
We thought it dangerous—that is to say, we thought that, though quite right in itself, it would irritate the President, and that in our defenceless state it was unwise to do so. The bureau, therefore, to which it was referred refused to declare it urgent: a proof that it would not have passed with the clauses which, though reasonable, the President thought fit to disapprove. Our conspiracy was that of the lambs against the wolf.
'Though I have said,' he continued, that he has been conspiring ever since his election, I do not believe that he intended to strike so soon. His plan was to wait till next March when the fears of May 1852 would be most intense. Two circumstances forced him on more rapidly. One was the candidature of the Prince de Joinville. He thought him the only dangerous competitor. The other was an agitation set on foot by the Legitimists in the Conseils généraux for the repeal of the law of May 31. That law was his moral weapon against the Assembly, and he feared that if he delayed, it might be abolished without him.'
* And how long,' I asked, “will this tyranny last ?' “It will last,' he answered, 'until it is unpopular with
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