Abbildungen der Seite

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 yalidity 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 concur rence 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 aloite 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

past appears to me important only as it serves as a guide for the future.

At the moment of sending these pages to the press, a pamphlet has fallen into my hands, in which I am treated with a respect, for which I ought to be very grateful, but which furnishes me with an opportunity I am happy to have, to explain my ideas fully. In that pamphlet, after an eulogium of which I do not flatter myself to be worthy, it is added that I know that the approaching session will require particular candor and courage, and that it is then I mean to finish my ordeal. My ordeal is finished as much as it can be, and I claim no merit for it; I have shown the degree, whatever it be, of candor and courage of which I am capable; my candor consists in giving my whole opinion, and nothing beyond it; I place my courage in neither permitting myself to be restrained or induced, and there would be as little chance of succeeding in the one as the other. I know my object, it is liberty; my means, the constitutional forms. I follow the path which appears to me to be straight forward, and I shall not outstep one inch the boundary which appears to me reasonable, no more than I shall stop one inch short of this boundary. I use no other language than my own, without inquiring whether it is considered weak or rude; no consideration would induce me to strengthen or weaken it, and insinuations like criticisms, and criticisms like praise, will be entirely futile against a resolution as courageous as any other,


Historical Portraits:




(NEVER BEFORE published).













THE corresponding circumstances in the rise and progress of OCTAVIUS CAESAR and WILLIAM PITT, Occurred to the writer, and the leading points of parallel were sketched more than twenty years ago; and although their latter years were widely different, the contrast is no less worthy of regard.

The error of BUONAPARTE, in following the steps of RIENZI, rather than of WASHINGTON, was also noticed when NAPOLEON was in the zenith of his power; and the similarity of their fate was pointed out on his first deposition, when the writer was reminded that a second elevation and reverse was necessary, before the parallel would be deemed complete.

The most prominent features, in both cases, were then present to the writer's mind; but an equally curious coincidence was discovered in minor cases, when their story was minutely traced.

The successful close of a long series of civil wars, and the return of peace and prosperity, forwarded the designs of OCTAVIUS CESAR, and gave him an influence with the Roman people, which tended to the consolidation of his power. The termination of a disastrous war with the revolted colonies, and the blessings derived from improving trade and manufactures, strengthened the authority of WILLIAM PITT; and, increasing his reputation with the British public, led to the accomplishment of his designs.

An obsequious Senate invariably sanctioned the decrees of OCTAVIUS CESAR, sacrificing their own dignity and the freedom of their country, in compliance with his sovereign will.

A confiding Parliament usually ratified the most obnoxious measures of WILLIAM PITT, compromising their own independence, and the general welfare, in subservience to his arbitrary views.

« ZurückWeiter »