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Dissolution of the Ateliers Nationaux.

289

until “sure and numerous outlets” could be provided for the honest and industrious labourers.

This promise could not be kept. For a little while the Parisians were occupied with the supplementary election of eleven candidates for the city to fill up blanks that had been caused by resignations and other circumstances. The elections took place on the 5th of June, when the returns yielded this strange result _Moreau, Goudchaux, Changarnier, Thiers, Pierre Leroux, Victor Hugo, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Lagrange, Boissel, Proudhon, and (once more) Caussidière. Thus while the Assembly gained in Thiers, Changarnier, &c., men of the old regime, and in Louis Napoleon an unknown element, it gained, on the other side, in Proudhon, Leroux, and Lagrange, three leading Socialists. But scarcely had the new members, Louis Napoleon excepted, taken their seats, when the bustle that had attended their election, and especially that of Napoleon, was merged in the pressing question of the Ateliers Nationaux, What plan should be pursued with them—dissolution, modification, or re-organization? Only one practical proposition was discussed, namely, that the State, taking the railways of the country into its own hands, should effect a peaceful dissolution of the Ateliers Nationaux by dispersing the men as labourers over the various unfinished and projected lines. This plan was advocated by Lamartine. “Give me railways," were his words in Committee, “and the question is quietly settled.” what if we refuse you railways ?'' “ You must employ cannon.” The prophecy was too true. Scarcely had the Moniteur of the 22d of June promulgated the decree excluding from the Ateliers Nationaux all unmarried workmen between seventeen and twenty-five years of age, and offering them enlistment as the only alternative, when the avalanche fell, and unhappy Paris was again in Revolution. For three days the cannon roared in the streets; and on the 26th of June the soldier Cavaignac sat master among the ruins.

There have not been wanting men to defend on grounds of logic the insurrection of June. If there was right on the one side of the barricades, they say, there was right also on the other. They shape their reasoning as follows:-A fundamental principle in the Constitution of France at that moment—a principle as sacred in law as Liberty of Conscience or Liberty of the Press—was the Right to Labour, the Right, that is, of every citizen to obtain from the State the means of subsistence by work. This principle was the one great result of the Revolution of February; the first act of the Provisional Government had been to decree it. Nor had it been repealed since. On the contrary, it had been in a manner ratified by the Assembly itself. On the 19th of

66 And

a fair

June, only three dars before the insurrection, there had been read in the Assembly the draft of the proposed Constitution of the new Republic, as it had been prepared in the Committee appointed for the purpose. That draft contained the following Articles :

“ ART. 2. The Constitution guarantees to all citizens Liberty, Equality, Security, Instruction, Labour, the right of Property, Assistance.

“ Art. 7. The right to Labour is the right that every man has to live by labouring. Society ought, by those productive and general means that are at its disposal, and that are hereafter to be organized, to furnish work to able-bodied men that cannot otherwise procure it.”

Such were the Articles that it was intended to place in the future Constitution of France; articles, too, prepared not by a Committee of Socialists, but by a Committee in which, associated with Considérant and perhaps but one other decided Socialist, were such men as Cormenin, Marrast, de Tocqueville, Gustave de Beaumont, and Odilon Barrot. If, now, it is granted that a fair pretext for insurrection is afforded to a people when its Government violates a principle that is fundamental, then, in dismissing a portion of workmen from the Ateliers Nationaux without providing other employment for them, the French Government must be considered to have afforded

pretext

for the insurrection of June.

Such was the reasoning actually employed; and whatever the Government and the Constituent Assembly may have thought of the reasoning, they found it necessary to take care that it should not be possible to employ it in future. In other words, they determined to strike out of the Constitution of the Republic all

guarantees of the Right to Labour.

It was on the 29th of August that the question of the new Constitution was re-opened by the reading of a second draft of a proposed Constitution before the Assembly. Although the intervening period had been important, the notable events that had occurred in it had been few. Clubs had been suppressed ; newspapers extinguished or suspended; order restored by military rule ; Raspail and other leaders of the insurrection imprisoned ; Louis Blanc and Caussidière impeached, and driven into exile. Under the protection of Cavaignac, the Assembly had indeed continued its sittings ; but apart from the proceedings instituted in relation to the insurrection, the only discussion of much interest had been a discussion on a proposition of Proudhon, that the State should appropriate, partly by way of tax, and partly by way of credit, a third part of all the rents of France, whether of lands or houses, and a third part of all the interest due on capital. This tremendous attempt of the anarchist to carry his theories into actual practice had been put

Debate on the Right to Labour.

291

down by a universal negative. Thiers, on the 26th of July, had given in a Report of Committee unanimously reprobating the proposal ; and on the 31st, after Proudhon had delivered from the tribune an unexampled speech in reply, in which he dared the Assembly single-handed, drubbed Thiers and the Socialists too, and attacked property, the validity of contracts, universal suffrage, and a hundred other things, he was met with a vote declaring his opinions to be odious.

The debates on the Constitution extended over the months of September and October. The discussion on the Right to Labour occupied many days in all; but the chief portion of it took place on the four days from the 11th to the 14th of September inclusive. For its intrinsic importance, as well as for the ability shown by the speakers, this debate deserves to rank as one of the most illustrious that have ever taken place in a Representative Assembly. It is long, at least, since any debate comparable to it has occurred in the Parliament of England. Perhaps the most remarkable of the speeches were those of De Tocqueville and Thiers against, that of Lamartine regarding, and that of Ledru-Rollin for the Right to Labour. Proudhon did not speak; but his opinion was well known. “ Give me the Right to Labour," he had said to M. Goudchaux in the Committee of Finances, “and I will let you keep the Right of Property;"-a saying that had given great offence to his brother Socialists, as presenting their views in an unduly harsh shape, but which the Economists declared to be in strict accordance with one of the clearest truths of their science, namely, that labour can be set agoing only by capital; which capital, in the case of labour that there is no demand for, must be raised by a tax.

On the division, the numbers were 596 against to 187 for the Right to Labour.* And thus, after a short reign of seven months, was retracted, by an overwhelming majority, the single peculiar social principle that it was thought the Revolution of February had established. Of that Revolution, the only relic left is Universal Suffrage. This it would probably be difficult to retract.

The reaction had triumphed; the Socialists were beaten. At present, under the Presidency of Louis Napoleon, they exist but as a small speculative minority, probably (if we may form a guess from the state of the vote for the Presidency) about a twentieth part in all, of the French nation. Banquets are now their only demonstrations. In Paris, they are at this moment

* In this vote, the members of the former Provisional Government were distributed thus :—in the majority, Marrast and Dupont l'Eure; in the minority, GarnierPagès, Crénieux, Ledru-Rollin, and Flocon ; absent, Louis Blanc and Albert; abstained from voting, Lamartine, Arago, and Marie.

the established subject of public laughter. In the Illustration, and other illustrated

newspapers, there are weekly caricatures of Leroux, Proudhon, Thoré, and other leading Socialists. Jérome Paturota wretched production in ridicule of the whole movement of 1848—is the popular novel of the day. At one of the Parisian theatres, there has been produced, under the title of La Propriété c'est le vol, a farce, in which the Socialists are attacked with a license as regards personality unequalled since the days of Aristophanes. When, in the course of the performance, Proudhon is introduced as the devil, the applause is tremendous. Nor are more serious answers to the Socialists wanting. The report of what has occurred in Texas has brought down a storm of indignation upon Cabet. In a shrewd, witty, shallow book, Thiers has stepped forward as the champion of property. Less popular, perhaps, but far more profound, and far more effective as an exposure of the errors of the Socialists, are the Letters of Michel Chevalier.

To one who remembers February last, all this seems very strange. A people retracting what so recently they established"; laughing at what so recently they revered! But let no one think that the history is yet at an end. The Presidency of Louis Napoleon is but a mystic covering of emotion rolled over the thoughts of France. There are wild elements underneath. The existence of such a man as Proudhon is no jest in Europe.

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Art. II.-1. The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, with

Memoir by Sir Harris Nicolas. Pickering: London, 1845. 2. Cabinet Pictures of English Life-Chaucer. Knight's Weekly

Vol. XXX. 3. Canterbury Tales. Do. do., Vols. LXXV. and CXIV. 4. Selections from the Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. By

CHAS. D. DESHLER, with a concise Life of the Poet, and

Remarks illustrative of his Genius. London, 1847. 5. The Poems of Geoffrey Chaucer Modernized, with Life, by

Professor Leonhard Schmitz. 1841. 6. Tales from Chaucer. By CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE.

1833. 7. The Riches of Chaucer. By CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE.

London, 1835.

vene.

The name of Geoffrey or Geffray Chaucer, has a grateful sound to English ears, and the image which it conjures up, purified by time from every taint of ignoble association, looms large to us through the mists of the five centuries which inter

We regard it as the “ sacra et major imago” of the founder of that goodly fellowship of the gifted, which, since the dawn of civilisation, has been the salt and the savour of our English life, and we cherish it, as well we may, with a reverent and pious affection. But what the image of the poet thus gains in grandeur it loses in distinctness, and for our own interest, at all events, it may well be questioned whether this distant and misty reverence is exactly the species of incense which it becomes us to offer to one who, during more than half a century, within the range of our authentic history, was the greatest layintelligence in England, and whose life was perhaps as pregnant with consequences to our national development as that of any one man who ever existed in England at all. Would it not be more profitable to us, and perhaps not less acceptable to the shade of him, who was certainly no friend to unreasoning adoration, if we endeavoured to form for ourselves something like a definite notion of his character both as a poet and as a man, and thus to place our respect (if such should still remain to us) on the firmer basis of individual knowledge? Is it wise to rest contented withi mere hearsay and second-hand information, when the question regards the first in point of time, and, in one department at least, the second in point of excellence of our native poets; or is it meet that those who would blush to be found tripping in the minutest details of classical philology, or of the modern tongues, should unhesitatingly confess, as they

VOL. X.

NO, XX,

U

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