Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

basis, and it left too much power to the democracy for a new monarchy. If the order attempted by the constituent assembly Dad been the slow and natural growth of ages, it could have sustained itself, and would have been a model government for the civilized world. Its grand defect was that it was new, a novei creation, and therefore without the power to restrain the popular impulse which had created it. The same thing will occur again, should there be an attempt to reëstablish it, though in

different sense.

The monarchical impulse strong enough to restore it would not stop, and could not be stopped, with it. It would seek to give greater strength to the monarchy; and that would exceed the sentiment of the nation, and provoke a popular reaction against it, which would cause again its overthrow. Without more power in the throne than the constitution of 1789 gave, the monarchy in these times could not sustain itself, and with more it would become odious, and would be resisted, not obeyed, and could sustain itself only by mere physical force; and every government obliged to sustain itself by mere physical force, sooner or later inevitably falls.

The empire would stand, perhaps, a better chance; but what chance may be learned from the fate of Napolcon. The empire fell, not solely by foreign bayonets, but through the combined opposition of the Bourbonists and the republicans, and chiefly through the opposition of the latter,-led on by La Fayette, whom the United States have far more reason than France to honor,--always powerful to destroy, always impotent to establish. The same causes which overthrew Napoleon would conspire to overthrow anew the empire were it reëstablished in the person of his nephew. We have never known political restorations to be successful, and in France the great majority of the monarchists are not inperialists; and if they are to support a monarchy at all, it will most likely be in the family of the Bourbons. They and the republicans of all shades would unite against the empire, if reëstablished, and against the combined opposition of these it could not stand. In our judginent, France cannot again be a monarchy for any great length of time; for there will always be an opposition strong enongli to overthrow it. Suppose Henry V. to be crowned; the Orleanists, the imperialists, and the republicans will in a short time combine against him, and against their combined opposition he cannot stand. Suppose the Count of Paris is proclaimed under the regency of the Duc de Nemours, the imperialists,

the republicans, and the legitimists, will oppose him, and he must fall. Suppose finally that Prince Louis is proclaimed emperor, the legitimists, Orleanists, and republicans, especially all the republicans not bribed with office or title, after a little, will unite to oppose him, and his fall become inevitable. Hereditary monarchy, owing to the rooted divisions in the monarchical party, we therefore believe, whether desirable or not, is henceforth impracticable in France, and such is apparently the conviction of a very considerable portion of the monarchists themselves.

We do not profess to be very well versed in French politics, and things change in France so rapidly that a judgment sound at the time we are writing may be unsound before we go to press; but looking calmly at French affairs froin this distance, and with such lights as we have, it strikes us that the true policy of the monarchists is to abandon all monarchical regrets, all thoughts of restoring fallen monarchy, and to accept, loyally, without reticence or afterthought, the republican as the definitive political order for their beautiful country. We do not say this as a republican, as one who holds that the republican order, abstractly considered, is preferable to monarchy, but we say it because we believe it now the only practicable order for France. We are for ourselves no fanatical democrats, no republican propagandists, and it was with no pleasure that we heard of the French revolution of February, 1848. We are no more attached to one form of government, abstractly considered, than to another. Perhaps, living as we do under a republic, and, like most people, more impressed by the evils we experience than by those we are ignorant of, we are disposed to underrate the advantages of a popular government, and to think too favorably of monarchy. However this may be, we are sure that, if we have prejudices, they are not republican prejudices. Moreover, government is never an abstract question, and we have never asked ourselves which, abstractly considered, is the best form of government. Government is a thing of practice, not of speculation; and that is the best forın which is best adapted to the people who are to live under it. Despotism, whether monarchical or democratic, we detest; but a republican order such as our fathers established here, but which our people are doing their best to revolutionize, we believe the best form of government for us, but we believe it, by way of example, a bad government for Mexico,-not because we are more or less enlight

ened than the Mexicans, but because government must be to a great extent a matter of routine, and republicanism is congenial to our habits and is not to theirs. We do not pretend that republicanism is better for France than monarchy would be, if practicable; nay, we do not believe it so good, and we think it a great calamity for her that she has adolished monarchy, and rendered its permanent reëstablishment henceforth a vain attempt. But a republic is practicable, if the monarchists choose to make it so, and France can live and prosper under it, provided that its constitution and management are not left to those who conspired to introduce it.

There is wisdom as well as point in a remark once made by the late Chief Justice Parsons, that “The young man who is not a democrat is a knave, the old man who is, is a fool.” We have no confidence in the statesman who is a democrat in principle, for pure democracy is only pure despotism, as we are in this country beginning to experience. The men who can make a revolution for the sake of introducing a popular form of government, can never safely be intrusted with its administration. Our government owes its success not to the democracy of the country, for that is ruining it; but to the fact that it was established, and for the first twelve years of its existence administered, by men who had no democratic sympathies, who were not in their personal preferences even republican, but who yet gave the republic a loyal support, because they saw that it was for us the only practicable government, except sheer despotism.

We wonld not speak lightly of the genuine republican party in France, but having studied their history with some care from the time of Henry II.,-for it is not a party of recent origin,— and witnessed their disastrous influence on their own country, as well as on other nations, we must be pardoned for saying that we have no confidence either in their integrity or in their capacity,except for destruction. They are destitute alike of practical wisdom and loyal dispositions. They are moved, not by love of liberty, but by hatred of restraint. What they want is not the freedom and prosperity of France, but power to govern her, and they will be, with some honorable exceptions, the enemies of every government which they do not govern. No real dependence can be placed on them in or out of office, and the greatest of all conceivable calamities for France would be to give up the republic to their management, and this whether they are moderates or reds; for the difference between the two classes is not one of principle, and consists simply in the fact that the reds are good and the moderates bad logicians. The reds draw boldly the logical consequences of the principles which they and the moderates hold in common. They say at once two and two make four, while the moderates stop short, and stammer out two and two makethree, persuading tliemselves that the poor people will not see that two and two make three and one more. The republicans have clamored for the republic, and have finally got it. Let them have it. They wanted it because they trusted, if they got it, they could manage it, and control the destinies of France; in that let them be disappointed. Let them have the republic and share equally whatever advantages it secures, but do not let them be its chiefs.

The republic has thus far been sustained by the men who did not want it, and, if sustained at all, it must continue to be sustained by them. But if they are to do this, they must accept it in good faith, must really resolve to live and die by it, and, if need be, for it. Legitimists, Orleanists, and imperialists must give their united support to the republic, as they did up to the 31st of March, 1850, and by so doing they can save it from being strangled by its unnatural parents. To do this requires no sacrifice of principle, no change of political creeds; it only requires a little of that chivalry in which French monarchists always abound, and of that readiness to devote themselves to the best interest of their country, in which they ought never to be found deficient. They are not only the majority, but they are the pars sanior et potior of France, and the only danger France can run must come either from their standing aloof from public affairs, or from their dividing their influence by movements designed to prepare the way for a new monarchical, royalist, or imperial restoration. France wants repose; she wants time for her numerous wounds to heal, time to recover habits of order and subordination, for the growth of loyalty, and the love of order,-time for a new generation to spring up, trained under better influences than have heretofore prevailed. She needs to feel that sixty years is as inuch time as any nation can afford to throw away in revolutions or uncertain experiments for the organization of power, and that she must contemplate no new revolution; that the order now established, whether the

best or not the best possible, must be final, in order that an end may be put alike to criminal hopes and utopian dreams. The monarchists have it in their power to make her so feel; and to do it, they have only to persevere as they cominenced, the day after the revolution of February.

The monarchists have nothing to lose by supporting the republic. They have proved this during the last two years. The revolution of 1789 swept away nearly all the privileges of the old French aristocracy, and introduced equality before the laws; the revolution of 1830 abolished the hereditary peerage, and nothing would remain to the old noblesse, even if monarchy were restored, but empty titles and the memory of the glorious deeds of their illustrious ancestors. These they may retain equally under the republic, and as for distinction, they have shown and are now showing that they can secure that even under universal suffrage. Before the revolution, the republicans talked as if they monopolized all the wisdom and virtue of France, and half persuaded themselves that, under a régime of universal suffrage, the monarchists would be nobody. The result must have disappointed them, though it has disappointed nobody else. In the struggle, man to man, the monarchists have maintained their former superiority over the republicans. They saved the republic from being devoured by its authors; they took it under their protection, and have rendered it powerful and respectable; they have maintained internal tranquillity and peace, and dignity abroad. With the single exception of General Cavaignac, who is a brave officer and a very worthy man, not a single republican has, so far as we can discover at this distance, honorably distinguished himself under the republic. All who have tried to be leaders, and to become great men, have failed, miserably failed. Of the men who made the republic, not one has proved himself competent to its management, and most of them are now in exile or forgotten. In the assembly, in the cabinet, in the army, in the diplomatic corps, the great men are they who were the great men under the monarchy, and who, whatever their errors, were never identified with the republican party. The republic has well-nigh extinguished the republicans. Who hears now-a-days of Lamartine, Arago, Marie, Marast, Crémieux, Garnier-Pages, the more respectable part of the provisional governinent and its supporters? And who would hear of Ledrn-Rollin, Louis Blanc, Caussidière, Blanqui, and their compeers, were

« AnteriorContinuar »