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these principles, proclaimed by the monarch, serve as the basis of our constitution.
And on what principle, I ask, could this pretended opposition be now founded ? For what object could the friends of freedom institute an opposition ?
The Republic ? But the present charter secures to us the advantages of a Republic, the equality of rights, securities against power, the free avowal of our opinions, a legitimate share in the management of our interests, and every hope to which a rational and noble ambition should aspire.
Would Buonaparte be lamented by the defenders of those indelible truths, which are engraven in the records of our age, and are vainly combated by powerless and exploded delusions ? But Buonaparte was the most inveterate and implacable enemy of these truths. He had possessed himself of philosophy, and of civilization, to work their own debasement. The irony, which in Voltaire was but the volatility of a pliant intellect; the selfishness, of which Helvetius did not foresee the dangerous application, while system sported with language ; supplied Buonaparte with the practical means of universal degradation, of eradicating from the heart of man all enthusiasm, all devotedness, all power of esteem, all feeling of sympathy, all distinction between good and evil, between just and unjust, in a word, every thing which can establish or preserve liberty: every day of his government rendered the mind less capable of exertion, the soul more desolate of virtue, and moral principle was perishing by degrees, to make way for a political mechanism, whose different springs, without any individual power, re-acted on each other, while the whole human race was assuming the likeness of an immense machine, the blind instrument of a single being who stood apart from mankind.
Certainly, such a system cannot excite the regret of reflecting men. If, amid the undoubted happiness of their deliverance, they sometimes raise their voices against certain projects, doubtless attributed too rashly, and against certain measures, it is because they fear any obstacle to this new and unaccustomed happiness. The liberty of which they avail themselves, is not an act of hostility, but a proof of hope, and a pledge of confidence.
• But if, in the eagerness of zeal, or in the anxiety of vigilance, they are betrayed into some bitter expressions, or should manifest undue alarm, I will be bold to say to those who are scared at them;—do not mistake, for a renewal of the storm, the heaving of the waves after the storm has passed by.' Consider that liberty is quite a stranger to us. For a long period, nothing was easy, nothing was done without danger. Unless the voice was raised boldly, it could not be heard in the tumult of factions. Under despotism, the most legitimate protest had become a miracle of courage; and to attain this sublime elevation, required an effort that soared over common bounds. How then could we discipline ourselves into moderation, wisdom, and calmness ? These habits must be created now; now, when courage braves no danger, and therefore imprudence and exaggeration have no merit. · But at the same time, let me address those men whose intentions I justify. To what good end, will I say to them, this harsh and galling conduct, which transforms zeal into personal attack, and cautious judgment into enmity? Undoubtedly, at the slightest intimation of arbitrary power, all Frenchmen should rise to repulse it. If the rights of an individual are violated, he may claim the sympathy, and the bold protest, of all citizeus. But after long struggles, there are obnoxious terms, which cannot but irritate the mind, and separate the nation from those who still employ them. If pru. dence may yet entertain some anxieties, malice itself cannot allege any grievance without its remedy, or any irreparable injustice. No sentence of a court has been reversed, no judge has perverted his integrity. For the last six months, no constitutional form, no judicial warrant, has been transgressed. Even the execution of defective laws has been characterised by moderation. I have been more active than others against the restrictions proposed in regard to the press ; nor have I changed my opinion. But if the law itself has been faulty, who can deny that its application has been liberal, nay, almost unfelt? Who doubts that in a few months, the public mind will be freed from these useless restrictions, which are of more advantage to despotism than to a paternal government,
Solet a magno fluctus languescere flatu,
and which deprive the latter of the benefit that liberty would confer?
In order to be powerful against evil, be just towards that which is good. Confess, that at no æra, under no reign, under no form of government, has France been so free as now. Do not revolt those men who are uniting with you to defend the constitution. Look not too invidiously at the spot where they leave you: consider the path they pursue, and their ultimate object. Why regret the past, when you see the necessity of the present ? Above all, be cautious not to ascribe sinister intentions to superior talents, and to honorable characters. Talent, genius, loftiness of spirit, are the natural and inseparable allies of liberty; and I will add, that the love of liberty is always found, in some shape, wherever they exist. Injustice brings on its own punishment. Could you persuade Europe that the writer who so eloquently pourtrayed the savage fury of Genseric, and the hushed horror of Constantinople, is yet the friend of despotism, and that he complies reluctantly with the constitution, you would certainly have gained a most deplorable victory. You would have weakened our ranks, and given a proud acquisition to our enemies.
A truth of double import should be impressed on every mind, and sway the conduct of all. I speak of all Europe, as well as of France: the friends of royalty should be convinced, that without constitutional liberty there can be no permanent monarchy; and the friends of liberty should acknowledge, that without a constitutional monarchy, there is no security for freedom.