Imágenes de páginas

mand respect in a people for the engagements which he contracts in their name, he must be himself respected for his general character, and for the good faith observed in the engagements into which he has entered with them. We have shown how little there is in the personal character of Louis Philip to command the esteem of the French. It may be replied, perhaps, that with such a people, personal example in the way of public virtue has little weight, This, to a great extent, is true : if Louis Philip had set an example of spoliation and propagandism as regards other countries, it would have been warmly responded to, for men are very willing to listen to the voice which urges them forward in the course which their own passions approve: they are not so willing to obey the example which tends the other way. But mankind in general, and the French particularly, are not to be easily induced by the example of their rulers to do right; they are always ready enough to plead the absence of good example, when they are wrong. The most virtuous and generous-hearted man in the world, might find it difficult to govern the French gation by the force of example; but there are in France many thousands of enlightened men, who desire a change in the national character, and would promote the influence of good example in their sove. reign; and the personal character of a truly good man could not be appealed to as the sanction of national outrage and public wrong. As to the faith with which Louis Philip has kept his engagements with the French, we have only to refer to the circumstances under which he came to the throne. He received the crown from the Revolutionists, by promising that he would follow the prograınme which they prescribed. There was more virtue, indeed, in the breach than in the observance of this pledge; but to have given it at all, implies a readiness to gratify ambition, at the cost of probity, which does pot tend to increase our admiration of the individual, whatever other claims he may have for our support; and whilst one party in France despises the ambition which led to the pledge, another is filled with animosity because it was not kept. Louis Philip received the crown froin the hands of Lafayette, who, no match for bim in finesse, believed that he would consent to be the president of a republic, with the einpty title of king. Bitter was the disappointment, and deep-seated the anger of Lafayette, when the king had thrown off the tutelage under whose auspices he climbed to power. “ Tell the king,” said Lafayette, when invited to dine with him after his assertion of independence of the revolutionary party, “ that if Louis Philip has forgotten what he promised to Lafayette, the old Republican general has not.” Europe has reason to bless the political profligacy of Louis Philip; and so, indeed, if the true interests of the French

be considered, has France; but Louis Philip has shown that he can make engagements, and break them with the readiness with which they were made. The Republicans are not the only party to complain of his want of faith : they assert that when he accepted the crown, he authorized one of his officers to assure Charles X. that he merely held it in trust, and would restore it to the deposed sovereign as soon as circumstances should admit of his doing so with safety to himself. Those circumstances have never occurred, perhaps ; but has Louis Philip sought them? Has he not on the contrary, stept out of the way to throw obloquy upon the branch of the Bourbons which he has displaced? Of his reputed promise to surrender Algiers, we have, indeed, no authentic knowledge; it may not have been given directly or indirectly - but there are few persons in France who believe the assertion of M. Guizot that it was not given; and Louis Philip is as much in discredit with one party, under the conviction that he gave the pledge and ought to have observed it, and with the mass of the nation, who believe that he compromised their amour propre, as if the authentic engagement were on record.

There is nothing, then, in the character or influence of Louis Philip as a guarantee for the peace of Europe. The only guarantee is in the desire which he feels that peace may not be disturbed, because he knows that in the event of a war, he is not the leader whom the French would choose. The dynasty of Louis Philip, and more than the dynasty, his private fortune, are at stake, and as war would dethrone the one, and remove the other, he is naturally an ardent partisan of peace. But is it in his power to preserve it? Has he the means as well as the inclination to put down the thirst for military glory, or in other words, military brigandage, which is still the besetting malady of the French? If circumstances were to render his position more uncertain than it has bitherto been, and to compel him to choose between the immediate danger of expulsion by the people, and the chance of dethronement by the sovereigns of Europe, would he hesitate at embracing the revolutionary cause?

But let us suppose Louis Philip to be as sincere in his professions of amity to Europe, as he has hitherto been interested in making common cause with its rulers, against French propagandism and spoliation, what is the security which he can give beyond that sincerity? He is an old man; a few years must, in the course of nature, remove from him the power and influence which he now possesses, such as they are; and a successor whose education has been wholly military might profit by the repose allowed by Europe to France, to bring into action the energies of a country which had been permitted to wax strong. The military mania in France is not indeed what it was, and twenty years more of peace, with a constant development of the commercial and agricultural . resources of the country, might reduce the pulse of glory very low. There must, however, be an excitement and a rivalry of some kind. The pride of the French is such, that if they cannot be the first fighting people in the universe, they must, in their own opinion at least, be the first for something else. Let them hope to become the great manufacturing and carrying nation of Europe, as England now is, and they will lay aside the sword for the loom; but have the French the patience, the perseverance, the energy, which are required to make them even the successful competitors, not to say the masters, in industry, of the English. They neither understand those large principles of trade which alone can command preponderance; and the struggle between classes and interests in France is too great to warrant a belief that there ever will be a great national effort for supremacy in commerce and manufactures. They are exceedingly sensitive on this point, and if clamour and boasting could supply the place of enterprise and industry, they would already be the first amongst manufacturing and carrying nations. They see and hate the supremacy of England in this respect, and would willingly eclipse her ; but they want all the essential qualities of traders and manufacturers on a large scale, and even if these were not wanting, there are obstacles in the way even of moderately successful competition, which can only be removed by a total change in the form of the government and in the habits of the people. The first great obstacle is in the nature of the representative system. The Chamber of Deputies is two-thirds composed of merchants, manufacturers, and agriculturists; but every class has its own real or supposed interests in view, and neither will consent to any sacrifice for the public good. The proprietors of wood lands will not consent to a reduction of the duty on coals; the coal owner will not allow foreign coals to be imported until the market has been stocked with all that he can raise. The iron master will not hear of the free importation of foreign iron, nor will the agriculturist agree to any concession that has not for its object the sale of his brandies and wines. Each class will struggle hard for concessions for itself; but the different classes will not co-operate in any measure for the extension of that general principle of exchanges, without which no nation can be prosperous and great. Again, there is none of that stability in the government which promises security for commercial enterprise. This year a ministry may incline to one interest, next year to another. This year France may be tranquil, and merchants and manufacturers calculating on the duration of peace, may feel inclined to embark

sire of all those about to displaof war,

further capital, and increase their means of production; next year a minister like Thiers may revive the dread of war, and paralyze the energy which had just begun to display itself. A greater obstacle than either of those above alluded' to, consists in the inordinate desire of all classes to become what is called propriétaires. Every man must be the owner of a piece of land, however sajall. The ambition of the little tradesman is to accumu. late sufficient capital to enable him to purchase an estate of some two or three thousand francs revenue, and to retire to the country, where he can attach propriétaire to his name, and hope to become the mayor of his commune. In England the profits of trade in a small way are an inducement to enterprise on a larger scale; the capital, of course, remains in trade ; and even the wealthy retired merchant or manufacturer continues to speculate, by investing money in railways, steam companies, or some other active pursuit of industry. In France the savings of years are locked up in the public funds, and never find their way into trade. Even the farmer's labourer saves and saves until he has realized sufficient to purchase an acre or two of land, and in nine cases out of ten, the savings are laid by as unproductive capital. An enormous portion of the circulating medium of the country is thus locked up for ten years. This desire to possess land is called independence: it is pride: it had its origin in the spirit of equality ; but in reality, it is a dislike for the pursuits of industry. How can France become a great commercial and manufacturing country in such a state of things ? Six per cent. is the legal rate of interest on cominercial transactions; the last official returns of the sales of land show that it does not produce on an average 23 per cent. Can it be expected, therefore, that the military mania will be superseded by a rage for commerce? We think not.

In alluding to the insufficiency of the guarantee of the peace of Europe as connected with the life of Louis Philip, we omitted to glance at the chance of assassination. It is painful to bring forward such an hypothesis as an argument, but it is unfortunately too well justified by circumstances; and to show that it is so, we will mention a fact not generally known, and in which the opinion of Louis Philip himself warrants the belief that this chance is not improbable.

Shortly after the last attempt upon the king's life, a meeting was held in Paris of English and American residents, to congratulate him upon bis escape, and General Sir John Doveton, as chairman of the meeting, was appointed to present the address. The king, in thanking the geveral for the sympathy expressed for him by ihe British and American residents, said. "I feel that I am dooined to die by the hand of an assassin, but that conviction shall not prevent me from acting according to my impression of what is for the interest and welfare of my country." May this sad presentiment never be realized! May the abominable doctrines which have produced so many attempts upon the life of the French sovereign be again defeated by Providence! But that the danger does exist is evident, and Louis Philip, who knows as well as any man in France to what extent these doctrines have taken root, is not blind to the danger of his position. : If, as regards the settlement of the questions under immediate discussion between the French governinent and the other cabinets of Europe, we may give credit to the King of the French and his ministers for sincerity,—and it is their interest to be sincere under existing circumstances,—we may hope for a good understanding in the arrangement of the affair of the sultan and Mehemet Ali. The absurd statement of the legitimist and republican journals in France, that a treaty had been entered into by England aud. Russia for the partition of Turkey, and which would never have had currency for more than a few hours, if it had not been invented in a country where so many thousands being lax in their own morals, readily suppose the existence of similar laxity in others, has been formally contradicted by the Journal de Francfort, which is the semi-official organ of the Russian government, and M. Guizot has repeatedly and very recently assured the British chargé d'affaires at the court of France, that he has never suspected England or Russia of an intention to turn the treaty of July to the exclusive profit of either. The only point upon which there is any difference at this moment between M. Guizot and the members of the conference is the revolution in Candia and Bulgaria. He recommends direct intervention in favour of the Christians, and insinuates that in order to raise the French cabinet a little in public opinion, France should play a leading part in the intervention. M. Guizot, however, has made no stipulation on this point, and will probably give way upou it as he has done upon others, if the members of the conference should persist in taking a different view of the question. We can easily conceive that it would be very gratifying to M. Guizot to be permitted to employ a French feet and French troops in such an intervention, for it would please the national pride, and be an answer to his opponents in the chambers, who have declared that he is anxious for peace à tout prix, and afraid to stipulate for an honourable position in what is called the compact of Europe. Nor is there, perhaps, any just reason why France should be excluded from her share in honourable intervention, if she will consent to give guarantees against her turning to account, for future aggression, the means which would thus be afforded to her of

« AnteriorContinuar »