« PreviousContinue »
invective against the conduct of mic the royal personage. Several of the nisters in the whole course of the Lords who spoke against the bill, and bill. He charged the servants of the even a part of those who protested Crown with the grossest neglect of against the second reading, declared duty, in the first instance, in listen their full conviction of her guilt; while ing only to ex-parte evidence, and others, only conceiving that there was giving a willing credence to the most still a doubt remaining, claimed for exaggerated and unfounded calum- her, as for every accused, the benenies. They had thus for many months fit of that doubt. The friends of the agitated the nation-- they had produ- Queen, however, were prudent enough ced a general stagnation of public and not to look so narrowly into these private business—and they had given particulars, but accepted this as a full a most favourable opportunity, were and triumphant acquittal. The mulit desired, to the enemies of internal titude indulged themselves without peace and tranquillity. They had reserve in their usual tumultuary betrayed their King, insulted their modes of displaying exultation. LonQueen, and had given a shock to the don was illuminated to a great exmorals of society by the promulga- tent during three successive nights. tion of the detestable and disgusting A prohibition to celebrate the event evidence, in the hearing of which the in Edinburgh in the same manner, House had been so long occupied. was revenged by the mob, by breakThe result had been, that, after in- ing every window in several of the quiries, secret and open-after the principal streets. Every city and grossest calumnies and the foulest lic township throughout the kingdom bels had been made the subject of de- had its jubilee. A new series of adtail and debate for 50 days—after all dresses was entered upon, in which the injury that it was possible to do her Majesty was congratulated on the the Queen had been accomplished, glorious issue of the proceedings the bill was abandoned, not without against her, and by which her innoreason, but assuredly without apology. cence was declared to have shone Lord Erskine expressed the delight forth brighter than noon-day. The he felt, that, after all that had been streets of the metropolis continued threatened and performed, he had yet covered with successive processions at length lived to see justice-tardy of lightermen, watermen, bricklayers, and reluctant justice-done to the glass-blowers, and other enlightenQueen. It was the victory of right and ed public bodies, proceeding to pay innocence over wrong and malignity. their homage at Brandenburgh House. The Duke of Montrose, on the other Her Majesty's procession to St Paul's hand, declared his unaltered convic. might be considered as the zenith of tion, that the charge had been proved, her triumph, after which this vast and and that he could never consider her continued tide of popularity began senas his Queen.
sibly to ebb. It was soon observed that The motion, that the bill be read the acquittal, as it was called, had this day six months, was then carried made no change in the feelings of the unanimously.
noble families of England, and that not The intelligence of this issue was a single female visitor of high rank had received by the great body of the in consequence swelled the court of people with unbounded rejoicings. Brandenburgh House. At the same Nothing, it is true, could be substan- time, sober men, attached to the ex. tially less brilliant, or satisfactory to isting order of things, began to be
struck with alarm at the aspect which general professions of loyalty some famatters were assuming. The public tal clause, giving to the whole a chamind appeared to be in a ferment al. racter directly the reverse of what together unprecedented: the press had been contemplated. On these teemed with the most indecent per occasions, secession was often the resonal attacks on the head of the state; source of the original party; and at and the Queen, by placing herself at last it became the system to get on the head of the faction most eager foot two rival addresses, which were for innovation, appeared likely to give eagerly hawked about, and names, by it a new importance. This part of the every expedient, collected by their nation, which had hitherto viewed in supporters. In London a singular a sort of inert and paralyzed attitude phenomena took place ; the Court of the torrent of strange events, began Aldermen having presented an adnow to bestir itself. The course pur- dress replete with loyalty, while the sued was, to evade all mention of, or Common Council followed next day, opinion upon, recent proceedings, and with one which might be considered to confine themselves to general pro- as a personal insult on the Sovereign. fessions of loyalty, of attachment to In the English counties, bodies conhis Majesty's person, and of horror taining a large confusion of popular at the anarchical principles which elements, the struggles were eager, were now afloat. In the universities, and the events various. Upon the the Scotch county meetings, and other whole, however, a gradual change aristocratic and corporate bodies, re- took place in the public mind; the solutions of this tenor were carried enthusiasm in favour of one side of easily, and by great majorities. In the Royal House suffered a remarkthe towns, however, it usually hap. able abatement ; while the other, pened, after the sober and steady per- from being the object of perpetual sasons, whose presence was alone de tire and lampoon, began to advance tosired, had taken their seats, that an wards that personal popularity which unbidden and unwished-for crowd soon after expressed itself so strongly, rushed in, and either negatived the and has ever since continued without proposed address, or appended to the abatement.
Meeting of the Chambers-State of Parlies Assassination of the Duke of
Berri—Law restraining individual Liberty–Law on the Press-Law of Elections—Violent Disturbances— Modification of the Lan- It passes-Fi. nances - Military Conspiracy-Minor Objects.
The French Legislative Chambers met ally roused ; personal enmities were suon the 29th November 1819. Every peradded to political contentions; and thing portended a stormy session, each threw himself farther into the ex. though not storms so terrible as those treme of the party to which he had atwhich actually ensued. Hitherto the tached himself. Thus, at every elecsystem adopted by the King at his last tion, and in the course of every succesreturn to power had proceeded in a to. sive session, the opposite sides of the lerably smooth and successful tenor. Chamber gained continual accessions, His object had been to form a centre and pressed closer and closer upon the or middle party between the fierce con- narrowing majority in the middle. It flicting elements of the ultra royalists became at length evident that this last on the one side, and the extreme liber. would soon lose almost all those who als on the other. Amid the lessons were attached to it from principle, and taught by recent events, and amid that would be confined to such as the inmoderation which usually sways public fluence of the Crown could command; bodies on their first entry upon their in short, that it would be converted functions, a considerable body in both into a minority. In this urgency, it Chambers were led on principle to was only by some bold and decisive approve and adopt this system. These measure that ministers could hope to members, joined to others who were preserve their political existence. The secured by the influence of the crown, course upon which they determined, enabled the ministry to maintain a stea. was one liable to manifest objections. dy, though somewhat narrow majority, It was no other than to introduce a over the two opposite sides, even when new principle of election, by which the they united against the centre as a com- nomination of the Chamber of Depy. mon enemy. Moderation, however, in ties should be thrown more into the political bodies, is a circumstance usual- hands of men of large property, who, ly of very ephemeral duration. In the it was expected, would adhere to the course of successive debate and conflict, existing administration. Without enthe passions on each side were continu. tering into the abstract merits of the plan, it was impossible not to observe celebrity, had been elected as fourth that it was rendered very critical by the deputy to the department of the Isere, present situation of France. In a state a choice which was sounded through. shaken by so many successive agita- out the kingdom as a signal triumph tions, the great objecť was, that it of the republican party. The ministry should be allowed to settle and conso. demurred to this appointment, and the lidate itself, which it would only do royal dissatisfaction was announced by by continuing in the same position. his not receiving any lettre close inviTo begin shaking afresh the very basis ting him to attend. upon which it rested, had a direct ten. The committee to which this elecdency to involve the monarchy in new tion was referred, endeavoured to evade perils. Accordingly, on the rumour of the delicate discussions which it was this project, there arose throughout likely to involve, by founding its nulFrance an alarm and fermentation, lity upon the circumstance, that Gre. which, as usual in cases of any remark. goire, being resident at Paris, could able innovation, was greater even than not, according to art. 42 of the charthe occasion warranted. Petitions were ter, represent the department of the poured in from every quarter, remon- Isere. To any other motive they strating against such a breach of the merely alluded by observing, “We are original charter.
thus freed from the necessity of exThe King, on opening the Cham- amining a question much more seri. bers on the 29th November, indicated, ous, which agitates every mind, since not obscurely, that some changes were the report of this nomination resoundin contemplation. Amid the general ed throughout the kingdom ; a quessatisfaction diffused by the security of tion of political morality, which calls peace, by the liberation of the French up the most grievous recollections, by soil from the presence of foreigners, reminding us of the horrible crime which and by the prospect of a gradual re- the nation in mourning goes every year duction of the public burdens, he could to expiate at the foot of our altars.". not conceal that elements of fear were They finally expressed their wish, that mingled. A vague inquietude had ta- the nation might never be obliged to ken possession of men's minds, and, in deliberate on persons, and to censure order to ensure the permanence of the the acts of the electoral collges. constitution, it must be placed on a The reading of the report was scarce. firmer basis, and secured from shocks ly finished, when the most extraordi. the more dangerous as they were fre. nary tumult arose in the assembly. quently repeated. As founder of the The left side pressed for an immediate charter, he felt that some ameliora- vote, while the right demanded a detions were necessary to secure its power bate ; and each endeavouring to carry and its action. It was necessary to give his point by mere clamour, nothing was to the Chamber a longer duration, and heard but a confusion of tumultuous free it from the annual shock of par- cries. The President at length declaties. Thus only could they save the red the meeting dissolved, but withmonarchy from the licence of public out the least attention being paid by liberties, and finally close up the revo- any one. At length, when this storm lutionary abyss.”
had continued for three quarters of an On the very threshold of this ses- hour, Baron Pasquier succeeded in rai. sion, a question arose, which called sing his voice ahove it. He represent. forth the most violent and inveterate ed so forcibly the absolute necessity, party feelings. Gregoire, of regicide that every proposition should be dis.
cussed before it was voted, that a ge- out the whole course of the Frerich reneral acquiescence took place.
volution, but “ who had pronounced M. Laine, on the royalist side, after that fatal vote, that vote over which slightly attending to the ground of the friends of liberty, above all others, nonresidence, on which the committee have groaned, because they felt that it proposed to exclude the candidate, gave an almost mortal blow to liberty." proceeded at once to what he consi- The King sought thus to give an indered as the real ground, his unwor. contestible, brilliant, sublime proof of thiness of being elected. There was no his complete oblivion of the past. He formal law, it was said, by which this thus declared, that he intended not vencould be made a principle of exclu. geance, but fidelity to what he had sion. “ Gentlemen,” said he, “our le promised. « The King wished, gentlegislature has respected the French too men, that the presence of the man much to prohibit literally their send whom he had called into his counsels ing such a man into the representative should be a living proof that the word assembly. But there is a law which of kings is sacred, and that every enhas no need of being written to be gagement contracted by them is irreknown, to be executed. This law is vocable.” He insisted, therefore, that not kept in perishable archives ; it is it would be depriving the King of all not subject to the caprices or varying the fruits of his magnanimous effort, wants of a nation ; it is preserved in an and acting in a manner directly conincorruptible tabernacle, the conscience trary to his, if they were to reject a of man; this law is eternal ; it is im- deputy on the ground of unworthiness. mutable in all times and in all places; “ It is in the name of the King, in the it is called reason and justice ; in France name of all that he has done to reit bears likewise the name of honour. establish tranquillity and concord, in The electoral college of the depart- the name of the fruits which we alment of the Isere ought to have judg. ready reap from his prudence and wised that a man could not be elected who dom, that I call upon you to put aside is the object of so terrible à public no. the question of unworthiness." toriety; who cannot be admitted with. Manuel, another of the leading deout the violation of public morals and puties on the liberal side, attacked the national honour. All these outrages are very principle of making unworthiness committed when they attempt to open a ground of exclusion. To add another the gates of this assembly to the fourth ground to those which the law had tradeputy of the Isere. The case is clear, ced, was ruining the freedom of eleceither this man must retire before the tions, and depriving the citizens of reigning dynasty, or the race of our every legal means of defending their kings must retire before him." He in rights. Such a step would be an open sisted also that the omission of the violation of the article of the charter, King's letter was sufficient to exclude which prescribed to all silence and oblihim, and that a deputy could not be vion respecting whatever votes and opiconsidered national by being merely nions had been emitted in the course elected by his college, nor until it had of the political troubles of France. received the sanction of the Chamber. When would there be an end of the
Benjamin Constant, in strenuously consequences, if mere opinions, emitsupporting the opposite side of the ted in a moment of fear and effervesquestion, dwelt chiefly on the nomina. cence, were to constitute unworth. tion to the ministry, in 1815, of Fouche, ness. Upon this principle, all who had aman who had not only figured through. taken a share in the numerous addresses