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Power of the Préfet.


mere geographical divisions. The préfet appoints the maires. The préfet appoints in every canton a commissaire de police--seldom a respectable man, as the office is not honourable. The gardes champêtres, who are

our local police, are put under his control. The recteur, who was a sort of local Minister of Education in every department, is suppressed. His powers are transferred to the préfet. The préfet appoints, promotes, and dismisses all the masters of the écoles primaires. He has the power to convert the commune into a mere unorganised aggregation of individuals, by dismissing every communal functionary, and placing its concerns in the hands of his own nominees.

There are many hundreds of communes that have been thus treated, and whose masters now are uneducated peasants. The préfet can dissolve the Conseil-général of his department and, although he cannot directly name its successors, he does so virtually

• No candidate for an elective office can succeed unless he is supported by the Government. The préfet can destroy the prosperity of every commune that displeases him. He can dismiss its functionaries, close its schools, obstruct its improvements, and withhold the assistance in money which the Government habitually gives to forward the public purposes

of a commune. • The Courts of Law, both criminal and civil, are the tools of the Executive. The Government appoints the judges, the préfet provides the jury, and la haute police acts without either.

*All power of combination, even of mutual communication, except from mouth to mouth, is gone. The newspapers are suppressed or intimidated, the printers are the slaves of the préfet, as they lose their privilege if they offend; the secrecy of the post is habitually and avowedly violated ; there are spies to watch and report conversation.

Every individual stands defenceless and insulated in the face of this unscrupulous Executive with its thousands of armed hands and its thousands of watching eyes. The only opposition that is ventured is the abstaining from voting. Whatever be the office, whatever be the man, the candidate of the préfet comes in; but if he is a man who would have been universally rejected in a state of freedom, the bolder electors show their indignation by their absence. I do not believe that, even with peace, and with the prosperity which usually accompanies peace, such a Government could long keep down such a country as France. Whether its existence would be prolonged by a successful war I will not decide. Perhaps it might be.

•That it cannot carry on a war only moderately successful, or a war which from its difficulties and its distance may be generally believed to be ill managed, still less a war stained by some real disaster, seems to me certain—if anything in the future of France can be called certain.

The vast democratic sea on which the Empire floats is governed by currents and agitated by groundswells, which the Government discovers only by their effects. It knows nothing of the passions which in


1854.] Empire Destroyed by a Defeat. fluence these great, apparently slumbering, masses; indeed it takes care, by stifling their expression, to prevent their being known.

Universal suffrage is a detestable element of government, but it is a powerful revolutionary instrument.'

* But,' I said, 'the people will not have an opportunity of using that instrument. All the great elective bodies have some years before them.'

* That is true,' said Tocqueville, and therefore their rage will break out in a more direct, and perhaps more formidable, form. Depend on it, this Government can exist, even for a time, only on the condition of brilliant, successful war, or prosperous peace. It is bound to be rapidly and clearly victorious. If it fail in this, it will sink—or perhaps, in its terrors and its struggles, it will catch at the other alternative, peace.

'The French public is too ignorant to care much about Russian aggrandisement. So far as it fancies that the strength of Russia is the weakness of England, it is pleased with it. I am not sure that the most dishonourable peace with Nicholas would not give to Louis Napoleon an immediate popularity. I am sure that it would, if it were accompanied by any baits to the national vanity and cupidity ; by the offer of Savoy for instance, or the Balearic Islands. And if you were to quarrel with us for accepting them, it would be easy to turn against you our old feelings of jealousy and hatred.'

We saw vast columns of smoke on the other side of the river. Those whom we questioned believed them to



arise from an intentional fire. Such fires are symptoms of popular discontent. They preceded the revolution of 1830. They have become frequent of late in this country.



Monday, April 10.—Tocqueville and I drove this morning to Azy-le-Rideau, another Francis I. château,

island formed by the Indre. It is less beautifully situated than Chenonceaux; the river Indre is smaller and more sluggish than the Cher; the site of the castle is in a hollow, and the trees round it approach too near, and are the tall and closely planted poles which the French seem to admire. But the architecture, both in its outlines and in its details, is charming. It is of white stone, in this form, with two curtains and

four towers. The whole outside and the ceilings and cornices within are covered with delicate arabesques.

Like Chenonceaux, it escaped the revolution, and is now, with its furniture of the sixteenth century, the residence of the Marquis de Biancourt, descended from its ancient proprietors.


French Aristocracy.




As we sauntered over the gardens, our conversation turned on the old aristocracy of France.

'The loss of our aristocracy,' said Tocqueville, ‘is a misfortune from which we have not even begun to re

The Legitimists are their territorial successors; they are the successors in their manners, in their loyalty, and in their prejudices of caste; but they are not their successors in cultivation, or intelligence, or energy, or, therefore, in influence. Between them and the bourgeoisie is a chasm, which shows no tendency to close. Nothing but a common interest and a common pursuit will bring them together.

If the murder of the Duc d'Enghien had not made them recoil in terror and disgust from Napoleon, they might have perhaps been welded into one mass with his new aristocracy of services, talents, and wealth. They were ready to adhere to him during the Consulate. During the Restoration they were always at war with the bourgeoisie, and therefore with the constitution, on which the power of their enemies depended. When the result of that war was the defeat and expulsion of their leader, Charles X., their hostility extended from the bourgeoisie and the constitution up to the Crown. Louis Philippe tried to govern by means of the middle classes alone. Perhaps it was inevitable that he should make the attempt. It certainly was inevitable that he should fail. The higher classes, and the lower classes, all equally offended, combined to overthrow him. Under the Republic they again took, to a certain extent, their place in the State. They led the country people, who

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