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the oligarchy, would be in my eyes the fulfilment and the ter
To return to the elections and to the committees which it is said direct them, it is, I repeat, the Ministry which gives to the committee all its power. On this point, as well as on so many others, they follow the route exactly opposite to the end they are desirous of attaining. When chance furnishes them with the means of influence they reject it at pleasure. I could cite for example many departments, whose Prefects, men of intelligence, moderate, clever, and tolerably ministerial, had gained the confidence of their district. These Prefects would probably have acted in the elections. What did the Ministry do? Hastened to displace them, in order to replace them by unknown persons, who might be perfectly worthy, but who will be found evidently without standing, without connexions, without means at the ensuing elections, by which they will be surprised almost immediately on their arrival. It is because the Ministry does not guide itself according to its interest, it is domineered over by a faction whose ambition and hatred must be satiated by turns. Thus, all the dangers at which it is alarmed, are the result of its own errors. Will it still persist in a route which has already been so fatal to it? Will it persist in seeking its safety and ours in a useless complaisance towards an insatiable faction, in vexations always increasing and still inefficacious, in those laws of exception which now-a-days wound the nation without alarming it? But our Ministers have enjoyed the laws of exception six months; and by their confession and complaints, it does not appear that these laws have restored tranquillity to France. It depends upon them indeed to arrest every body-but they have had this power for six months; and for six months, if they are to be credited on the subject, every body is conspiring. They impose silence on the Journals, but the most alarming and the least founded reports are in circulation. France fears every thing, because it is told nothing; and as the price of having allowed nothing to be said, they are obliged to refute what has not been said. Would the
See the articles in the Moniteur and the Journal de Paris, against the reports which are circulating. Articles which have the inconvenience of giving information of these reports to those who have not heard them. The Journal de Paris innocently admits," that all its columns would be inadequate if it were every day necessary to refute the ridiculous and absurd reports which malevolence is incessantly inventing and hawking about." (No. of 5th Sept., 1820.) Another paper also, which speaks more directly to the fact, demands that silence may be imposed upon the impostures, and that the reports spread by the Buonapartist or Jacobin faction may be stopped. (4th Sept.) Is it not entertaining to see the party which so vigorously defended.
Ministers at length have recourse to these great measures, to these extreme means, to which during a celebrated discussion, an orator less skilful than the generality of them made an imprudent allusion, and of which the Journals which the Ministry does not think it right to repress or contradict, repeat the absurd threat?
I do not enquire what these great measures will be; the incarceration or the death of some individuals, their transportation or their interdiction, the destruction or suspension of the fundamental compact, an attack against men or things, it is of little consequence to us; but what is of consequence to us is, that all this is possible, that all this would be inefficacious, that all this would be, disastrous, even for the authors of these criminal attempts.
I have described the moral disposition of the nation you govern. I have described that disposition agreeably to what you yourselves say of it. Do you think that an act of vigor, as those you persecute call it, would suddenly change this disposition. You deceive yourselves, revolutionary recollections lead you astray. When the question was the leading a people who had not yet received the severe education of misfortune, a people intoxicated with a recent victory over despotism, and restless at the duration of that victory, a people who, led to liberty by the revolution, did not, in their ignorance, sufficiently distinguish revolution from liberty; fiery demagogues might avail themselves of their little information, and draw from them a blind sentiment in favor of the violation of the laws; but now every Frenchman knows the consequences of these criminal resources which, constituting the legal authorities into revolt against the law itself, prevent all return to justice and lawful authority. The Citizens know that they form a part of each other, they see the security of each in the security of the whole, they know that order established, consecrated and sanctioned by oaths, cannot be broken for a day nor an hour; when once broken it is never re-established. The Legislative Assembly never returned to it after the 10th August, nor the Convention after the 31st May, nor the councils of the Republic after "Fructidor." It was in vain they proclaimed that they and the country were saved; they perished, and the country had perished with them, if nations were as perishable as power.
In fact, what is there left to a people after their constitution has been violated? Where is security? Where is confidence? Where the anchor of safety? Nothing but a spirit of usurpation is found in those who govern; a spirit which, pursuing them like remorse, frightens and drives them out of their course. Tyranny hovers over the heads of the governed. Does power wish to pronounce consoling the press in 1817, secking to destroy even the very liberty of speech in 1820?
words, to protest its future respect for a constitution which it . has torn to pieces, to promise it will no more attempt it? Where is the guarantee that this fresh homage is not a fresh derision? Do the people dare, even in a partial interest, without reference to great political questions, invoke that constitution which has been trampled under foot? The very name of constitution seems a hostility. On all sides a habit of illegal means is contracted. It forms the afterthought of the Government, it nourishes the spirit of the factious. With perfidious joy they contemplate power taken in its own trammels, marching from convulsion to convulsion, from violence to violence, revolting justice, prepar ing excuses in despair, and destined to suffer the fate of those whom iniquity directs and hatred surrounds.
Such certainly will not be the destiny to which an enlightened Monarch will condemn France. Ministers will not dare to advise him to it; and if they did, they would neither find in the Prince an approver, nor in the great body of the State, instruments.
And who then will take these great measures, and on what force will they rely for their execution? On the ordinances? Do we not remember the ordinances of 1815? Has opinion ceased a single moment, for these three years, to call for their revocation? The ordinances of 1815 have done much harm. They would have done still more had not their instigators been the old tools of demagogism and slavery, so that the constitutional monarchy was enabled to disown them. At the present moment the mischief that such ordinances would occasion, would be without remedy.
Will they invoke the support of the Chamber of Peers? I conceive in a faction what nothing makes recede, nothing enlight ens; that disposition to parodise the acts of a tyranny whose chief it detested, and whose system it approved; but if this faction has its forgetfulness, the nation has its recollections. It knows that the first Senatus-Consulte was an order for the transportation of a hundred and thirty Citizens, and it has not forgotten what the Serratus-Consultes cost her afterwards.
All authority which exceeds its bounds ceases to be legitimate; and this fundamental principle of natural, political, and civil law is corroborated by the Charter. The Charter points out the case in which the assembling of the Chamber of Peers would be illicit : the simple want of royal convocation renders it so; and what the Chamber of Peers would do, trampling under foot the laws and the Charter-the Chamber of Peers proscribing individuals who have the same guarantees, and are protected by the same safeguards as the first Peer in France-the Chamber of Peers, suppressing or suspending political bodies, which emanate from the same source as themselves, which exist by the same title-what
the Chamber of Peers would do, constituting itself the rival or the legatee of the Convention or the Imperial Senate, would it have any authority, any validity whatever? No; all would be null in the strongest sense of the word.
I like to pay public respect to an illustrious assembly. Such thoughts will never enter the head of any member of the House of Peers who has occasion to identify himself with our institutions and to nationalise himself in France.
The Chamber of Peers knows both the nature of its attributes and the limits of its power. It contributes to the making the laws. and to the vote of taxes, but it only participates in these things. It would be a usurpation if they voted laws without the concurrence of the other Chamber, and no one would be obliged to obey such laws. It would be a usurpation if they voted taxes without the previous discussion and consent of the deputies, and no one could be compelled to pay such taxes. For a still stronger reason it would be a flagrant usurpation if they intermeddled with the right of Citizens or with the existence of other power. Their decrees, their ordinances, their judgments, their "Senatus-Consultes," whatever they may be called, although sanctioned by the unanimity of the members, would be as little binding as the decree of the three first individuals you may meet by chance.
I have examined many arguments, I have gone through many hypotheses. The result of the considerations, which I have hastily put together in these few pages, appears to me easy to be comprehended.
The Ministry, by persevering in a system which it has followed these six months, cannot maintain itself nor save France. It relies upon a faction which has twenty times committed the throne, and will commit it again. It makes use of those means of which all anterior governments have made use, and which have ended in the fall of all these governments. It is shaking that which time had began to consolidate.
But in the present state of civilisation, the people, whatever adulators may say on the one hand, and enemies on the other, have neither affection nor hatred: The resources which individuals find in themselves, the distance which the extent of empires establishes between the governing and the governed, the enjoyments which industry procures to the latter, commerce, private speculations, and domestic life, cause every one to set his happiness, for the most part, apart from authority.
It follows, therefore, that there is not, nor can be, a doubt of the attachment of the people to some form or other of political organisation. This moral disposition of the human species renders it impossible to govern long and govern badly. The example of
Buonaparte by no means weakens this assertion. What must he not have been obliged to do to have governed badly for 14 years; the conquest of the world is not a diversion that every one has within his reach to give the people. I wish this truth could make its way into the little minds of these little pupils of Napoleon, who think they have grown large in his atmosphere, because they have breathed the air of his anti-chambers, and who repeat after him, with a ridiculous spirit of despotism, that power serves for every thing; as if being passive instruments of power, they had on that account alone learned to handle it; but this disposition of the human species, which renders it impossible to govern long and govern badly, gives to power the certitude of governing in safety when it governs well. For by the same rule, according to which no nation devotes itself to sustain a government which has put itself in a false position, no nation will expose itself in an attempt to overthrow a government when it is tolerable. The mass always prefer stability. If they depart from it, it would not be on the suggestion of the seditious, but because the government began gratuitously to interfere in their interest, their security, and their habits.
It follows further, from this moral disposition of modern nations, that when men can abjure their faults, those faults are forgotten. Feeling only has memory, the indifferent are always ready to clear the table, and begin at fresh account. It is only necessary to believe the sincerity of conversion, and in order that it may be believed it must exist.
The dissolution of the present Chamber, the convocation of an assembly composed of fresh elements, is then a marvellous chance; but this chance will be spoiled in falsifying the electors by an illegal influence. If the Ministry should obtain a factious majority it would not be the stronger for it; and they would run this risk in that factious majority, that if in the sequel they should come to their senses, they would be prevented by it from following the light they would have acquired.
Let then the Chamber of Deputies be dissolved, let the nation return faithful representatives, and let the nation be governed at length by these Ministers or by others, as they desire or deserve to be. The fall of the Ministry is equally indifferent to me as its duration. I have traced, without circumlocution and without winding, the errors of those of its members whose errors appeared to me to be the greatest; but political hatred, as political affection, are equally unknown to me. Persons are the same to me, and the