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(Various circumstances have combined of late years to make M. Guizot an object of curiosity in politics and in literature, perhaps a good deal beyond his merits as a man of original genius. Nor is such a preference altogether unjust or unreasonable. In the complicated influences of modern European existence, every distinguished man plays a two-fold part-as himself a constituent member of society, and also as the representative of others. Whatever some may think of M. Guizot's rank in the former capacity, no one can deny his importance in the latter, or be blind to the genuine force of character, and honesty of purpose, which have won for him the warm support of so many, and the unfeigned respect of all. Previous to forming a judgment for ourselves of such a man's life and labours, it is desirable to know what his countrymen think of him. We have, therefore, much pleasure in presenting to our readers the following sketch, taken from a very clever work, now publishing in Paris, entitled—“ Galerie des Contemporaines Illustres, par un homme de rien,” which we cordially recommend to all our readers. It is very cheap; and for those who have any skill in physiognomy, the illustrative portraits are still more amusing and instructive than the accompanying biographies.-E..]
On the 8th of April, 1794,three days after the avidity. Books were his only enjoyinent, bloody victory of Robespierre over Danton, and at the end of four years the scholar had Camille Desmoulins, and the members of read, in the originals, Thucydides and Dethe Comité de Clemence, the scaffold was mosthenes, Cicero and Tacitus, Dante and raised at Nîmes for a distinguished lawyer, Alfieri, Schiller and Goethe, Gibbon and suspected of opposition to the will of the ter- Shakespeare. His two last years in college rible triumvirate; and the home of one of were specially devoted to historical and phithe most respectable families in the country losophical studies, the latter of which offered was made desolate. A wife, in despair, im- to him the most powerful attractions. His plored heaven for strength to bear the stroke mind, gifted by nature with a particular chawhich made her a widow and her two chil- racter of logical force exaggerated almost to dren orphans. The eldest, hardly seven sternness, had full opportunity of being deyears old, wore already the serious and me- veloped in the bosom of this little Genevese ditative expression of matured reason. Mis- republic, which has preserved to this day fortune is like a hot-bed : those who are some of the learned and inflexible physiogreared in it grow old before their time; this nomy of its patron, John Calvin. child, who knew no childhood, was François In 1805, after seeing his studies crowned Pierre Guillaume Guizot.
with the most brilliant success, Guizot came Born a Protestant, on the the 4th of Octo Paris to attend his terms; the school of tober, 1787, under the rule of an iniquitous law had disappeared in the midst of the relegislation, which refused to his parents a volutionary confusion, and there were some legal union, to himself a name and a place private establishments formed then to supin society, Guizot saw the revolution at one ply the want; but he was not satisfied with blow restore him to his position as a French- what he considered an incomplete course of man, and make him pay for this benefit with instruction, and resolved on seeking knowthe blood of his father. These circum- ledge from books in solitude. Both proud stances may have given rise to the equal an- and poor, austere and ambitious, the young tipathy of the statesman for democratic go- man found himself thrown into a world of vernments and absolute monarchies.
intrigue, licentiousness, and frivolity. The After this fatal catastrophe Madame Gui- period from the directory to the empire, like zot quitted the town which contained such all epochs of transition, is of no one characcruel associations, and retired to Geneva to ter. The social current violently driven seek consolation among her family, and a back by the revolution, had not yet entirely solid education for her children. Young regained its course, and old ideas were only Guizot threw himself into his studies with beginning to rise again from the terrible
shock which had thrown them to the ground. jectures. Entreated, through the means of Some superior minds were trying to cast in the journal, to make himself known, the gea different mould the new society which was nerous stranger came at length to receive the springing from the ruins of the old ; but the thanks he so well deserved, and five years mass of the people, for a long time intoxica- afterwards Mademoiselle de Meulan became ted with sensual indulgence, only thought of Madame Guizot. enjoying the few days of repose which they During these five years Guizot occupied feared would end too soon. Hence this cha- himself with various literary labours. In racter of general excitement and relaxation of 1809 he published his first work, the “ Dicmanners, which reminds us of the most flou- tionnaire des Synonymes," the introduction rishing time of the regency.
of which, a philosophical essay on the peThe rigid and serious nature of the Ge- culiar character of the French language, renevese scholar saved him from contagion. veals already the spirit of method and preThe first year of his sojourn in Paris was for cision which distinguishes him to this day. Guizot a year of sorrow and isolation. He Then came the "Vies des Poètes Français;" retired within himself, like every man who the translation of Gibbon, enriched with hisfeels himself possessed of powers without torical notes of the highest interest; and, having an object on which to exercise them. lastly, the translation of a work by Rebfus, The following year he was attached as precep- L'Espagne en 1808,” published also about tor to the house of Mr. Stapfer, ex-minister this time. from Switzerland, where he met with a recep- Whatever may be the intrinsic merits of tion almost paternal, and sources of philoso- these first productions, all of which were phic knowledge to direct and stimulate his in- written before the age of twenty-five, others tellectual developement. These new con- more important have since made them be nexions admitted him to the salon of M. forgotten. Suard, where all the beaux esprits of the In 1812, Guizot became connected with day used to assemble, and it was there that the University by M. de Fontane's naming
for the first time, the woman who him as assistant professor of history for the was to exercise over his destiny so noble faculty of literature; and a little after he oband so happy an influence.
tained sole possession of the chair of modern The circumstance which brought on the history, where he has left such glorious remarriage of Guizot was romantic enough, collections. Here, too, was the commenceand is very generally known. Mlle. Pauline ment of his intimacy with another mind of de Meulan, born of a distinguished family, the same stamp, M. Royer Collard, prosesbut ruined by the revolution, was obliged to sor of the history of philosophy. find resources in the excellent education This first part of the life of Guizot was which she had acquired in better times, and purely literary. Attempts have been made to to support her family she entered into the represent him as engaged in secret plots and hard and laborious work of writing for the cabals for the return of the Bourbons ; but public journals. At one time, when en- there is no fact to justify these assertions. gaged in editing the Publiciste, she was at- Through his wife, and through his literary tacked with a serious illness, brought tastes, Guizot was connected with a certain on by too much work, and was at once class, who, throughout the rudeness of the deprived of her only means of obtaining empire, had preserved much of the elegance a livelihood. When reduced almost to ex- and good taste of the past aristocracy; a tremities, she received an anonymous letter, sort of philosophical polish was the order of entreating her to tranquillize her mind, and the day among the literati of this class, offering to fill her place until she recovered whom Napoleon designated generally as her health again. This letter was accom- ideologues. They certainly effected a good panied by an article, the style of which, by a deal in ideology,* but very little in politics; refinement of delicacy and tact, was exactly and we know besides, that the admired pen similar to her own. Mademoiselle de Meu- of Chateaubriand, entirely devoted to the lan accepted the article, signed it, and re- subject, was not able to revive the recollecceived others regularly until the end of her tion of the Bourbons in the hearts of a geconvalescence. Profoundly touched by this neration which had not witnessed their proceeding, she did not hesitate to speak of fall. the adventure openly at the soirées of M. The events of 1814 found Guizot in his Suard, thinking little of the pale, serious native town, Nîmes, where he had gone to young man, who listened to her gravely while she was expressing all sorts of con- * Which we may translate abstract principles.
visit his mother, after a long absence. On His first political pamphlet—"Du Gouvernehis return, thanks to the active friendship of ment Representatif et de l'état actuel de la M. Royer Collard, he was chosen by the France," which he published as a refutation Abbé de Montesquieu, then Minister of the of a work of M. de Vitrolles, gave the meaInterior, to fill, under him, the functions of sure of his ideas on government, and placed chief secretary
him at once in the ranks of the constitutional This is Guizot's first step in his political royalist minority. career. Although placed in a position ap- The movement of reaction which was parently secondary, his undoubted talents caused by the assassination of the Duke de enabled him to exert a manifest influence Berri is not forgotten. The Decazes miover the administrative measures of the day. nistry fell, and the most staunch supporters The partisans of the liberal cause reproached of the constitutional party were dismissed him especially for having, conjointly with from affairs. M.M. Royer Collard, CaM. Royer Collard, Director-General of Pub- mille Jordan, De Barante, went out of the lication, prepared that severe law against the council of state; Guizot went with them, press, which was presented to the Chambers and from this epoch, until 1828, his political of 1814, by M. de Montesquieu, and for life was nothing but a perpetual combat having taken place in the Comité de Censure against the tendencies of the Villèle minisbeside M. de Frayssinous. On the other try. At the same time that the national inhand, the ultra-royalist faction were indig. terests of France were supported in the nant at seeing a bourgeois, a professor, a Chambers by eloquent defenders, Guizot, Protestant, brought into the ministry beside too young yet to mount the tribune, supan abbé belonging to the court, and speak- | ported the same cause by his writings, which ing of constitutional equality, of the balance met with universal success. In one he deof powers, and trying to conciliate monarchi- fends the Decazes system, overthrown as cal ideas with the new interests created by the revolutionary by the other party ; in another revolution. In the eyes of one party he he discusses the cause of these conspiracies, went too far, of the other not far enough. which seem to him insidiously fomented by The return from Elba put an end to this agents of the administration, for the purpose difficult position.
of overthrowing constitutional institutions ; After the departure of the Bourbons, besides, in his work—“ Sur la Peine de Guizot resumed his functions at the faculty mort en matière politique," without pretendof letters; and two months later, when Na ing to exclude entirely from penal laws the poleon's fall became evident to all, he was punishment of death, even for political of, sent by the constitutional royalists to Ghent, fences, he proves, in his grave and elevated as his friends say, to plead the cause of the style, that it is the interest of power to keep charter with Louis XVIII., and to insist on sheathed a terrible weapon, which transthe absolute necessity of dismissing from forms into a persecutor him that wields it, public affairs M. de Blacas, considered as and into a martyr whomever it strikes. chief of the party belonging to the ancien ré- There is one of his political essays which, gime. That such was indeed the mission of in many respects, appears worthy of special M. Guizot appears proved by the fact, that notice." In his treatise“ Des Moyens d opa month afterwards, on his return into France, position et de gouvernement dans l'état acLouis dismissed M. de Blacas, and published Tuel de la France," Guizot, showing comthe proclamation of Cambray, in which he pletely and without disguise his political acknowledged the faults of his government, ideas, gives at once the explanation of his and added new guarantees to the charter. past conduct, and the secret of his future.
It is well known what violent disputes His is not an ordinary opposition; he deagitated the Chamber of 1815, composed of fends public liberty, but he defends it in a such heterogeneous elements, where the ma- way peculiar to himself; he stands alone, jority, more royalist than the king, opposed and is not more severe towards those whom constantly all proper measures which might he opposes than those who fight with him ; rally the nation again round the dynasty of the reverse of other politicians, who, for the the Bourbons. Guizot occupied 'then the most part, are purely negative and disap, place of secretary-general in the ministry of proving, he is eminently affirmative and justice, under M. de Barbè Marbois, and in constituent—he never lays his hand on the yielding much, too much perhaps, to the evil without at once pointing out the reexigencies of the victorious party, he tried medy. as much as he could to stop the encroaching At the height of his struggle with the mispirit of the partisans of absolute royalty. nistry, Guizot developed, in bis professor's
chair, in the midst of the plaudits of a young live, but government insisted on dying. The and numerous audience, the different phases 27th of July, 1830, he drew up the protestaof representative government in Europe, tion of the deputies against the ordinances; since the Roman empire. The ministry re- a protestation more respectful than hostile, venged themselves on the professor for the the form of which displays a conservative attacks of the pamphleteer; his course was spirit, fearing rather than desiring a revoluinterdicted in 1825. Retiring again into tion. The existing powers judged it sediprivate life, after having passed through high tious, the people found it weak and timid; public offices, Guizot was poor, but he could events proved that the people were right. write. Renouncing the burning questions In the assembly of the twenty-ninth, at of the moment, he undertook a series of Lafitte's, when every one was abandoning great historical works, which his biographer himself to the joys of triumph, Guimay safely praise, as his merit as a historian zot, always exclusively pre-occupied with the has never been contradicted. Then were imminent necessity of systematizing the resuccessively published the “ Collection des volution, rose up the first, and insisted Memoires relatifs a la Rerolution d'Angle- strongly on the urgency of constituting, terre :" the two first volumes of the history without delay, a municipal commission, of this revolution; the “ Collection des Me- which should be occupied specially with the moires relatifs a l'Ancienne Histoire de re-establishment and preservation of order. France ;” and lastly, essays on the history On the thirtieth this commission nominated of France. At the same time this indefatiga- him minister, pro tempore, of public inble spirit published historical essays on struction. On the thirty-first he read a paper Shakespeare and on Calvin, a translation of in the Chamber, on the proclamation conferthe works of the English drainatist, and a ring on the Duke of Orleans the Lieutegreat number of political papers inserted in nantcy-General of the kingdom. In the the “ Revue Française."
days which preceded the ceremony of the The quiet home of Guizot was thus be- ninth of August, Guizot, whose activity in come the seat of knowledge and literature, organization had placed him in the most when, in 1827, he lost the companion of his difficult post at the time, that of Minister of studies, whose strong reason and moral force the Interior, devoted himself both to the gesupported him through the agitations of his neral re-composition of the body of function
There is something both austere aries and to the revision of the charter. In a and tender in the last letter from the wife to few days 76 prefects, 176 sub-prefects, 38 her husband, and to her son who soon followed secretaries-general, were changed and reher to the grave. Born a Catholic, Madame placed. In the project of the new charter, he Guizot became Protestant on the bed of tried in vain to bring down to twenty-five death; and her husband soothed her last the age required in order to be a deputy : agonies by reading, with his grave and so- the majority rejected this measure. lemn voice, one of the most beautiful ser- The first ministry of July, created in the mons of Bossuet, the funeral oration of the midst of enthusiasm, was as ephemeral as Queen of England.
the movement of the three days. Personal Some time afterwards Guizot became one disagreements, forgotten at first in the imof the most active members of the society— portance of the time and the common inte“ Aide-toi : le ciel t'aidera,” the object of rest
, were again awakened when they began which was to defend by all lawful means the to think of consolidating the work so rapidly independence of elections against the influ- accomplished. The impetus was too strong ences of power.
yet for it to be possible to direct it—the The Villèle ministry fell; that of Mar- principle of order should yield to the princitignac restored Guizot to his chair and to the ple of liberty ; Guizot retired. chosen class which surrounded him with so The history of the Lafitte cabinet is well much sympathy: Some time before the known; after its dissolution on the thirteenth accession of the Polignac ministry, he voted of March, the conservative element, at first for the address of the 221, adding to his vote crushed down, rose up again, powerful, imthese severe words :-“ Truth,” he said, perious, in the person of Casimir Perier. “ finds it hard enough to penetrate into the For the first time since July, a resolute and cabinet of kings; let us not send it there permanent majority formed in the Champale and trembling; let it be as impossible bers. This parliamentary body, until then to mistake it as to doubt the loyalty of our undisciplined and confused, divided itself sentiinents.”
into three distinct parties, manæuvering toGuizot wanted to force the government to gether under the hand of the impetuous mi
nister; the left wing, composed of an impor- | how he raises him in the eyes of all, but estant part of the liberal opposition to the res- pecially in his own; how he impresses him toration brought over to the new monarchy, with the importance of his mission ; he is his was commanded by Thiers, the brilliant de- colleague, his equal, for each in his own serter from the Lafitte party ; the right wing, sphere concurs in promoting the glory and composed of the former constitutional roy- the tranquillity of the country. And then alists, was under the orders of Guizot; with what paternal solicitude, from the inas to the centre, an aggregation of the un- terior of his cabinet, the statesman enters decided and irresolute of every regime, it into the most minute details respecting the found, for the first time, in M. Dupin, the relations of the teacher to the children, their most eccentric and most obstinate of men, a parents, the mayor, and the pastor. chief obedient to order and ardent for the sectarianism or party in school," he writes, fight.
“the teacher ought to rise above the passing Aided by this triple phalanx, the ministry quarrels that disturb society. Faith in Proof the 13th March, was able to move on- vidence, the sanctity of his duties, submiswards—to resist the opposition in the inte- sion to paternal authority, the respect due to rior of the Chambers, conquer the insurrec- the laws—to the prince to the common tion in the streets, force the gates of Ancona, rights; such are the sentiments which he and consolidate the system of July, in sav- must endeavour to develope.” ing it from the exaggeration of its prin- Is there a page of romance more touchciple.
ing than the following simple sketch of the After the death of Casiınir Perier, his ge- teacher's painful duties, and the consolations nerals disputed the command for some time; which he must find in himself? “There is at length the right and left wings coalesced : no fortune to make, no fame to acquire in MM. Guizot and Thiers joined hands, and the painful obligations which the teacher has the ministry of October, 1832, was formed. to accomplish. Destined to see his life pass
If we only consider Guizot as the Minis- away in a monotonous labour, sometimes ter of Public Instruction, ainongst all the even to meet with injustice or ignorant inlabours of his department, there is one glo- gratitude, he must often be cast down if he did rious act that the parties most hostile to the not derive his strength and his courage from statesman have received with unanimous ap- a higher source than the prospect of an improbation. The grand law of June, 1833, mediate and purely personal interest. A on primary education, conceived, prepared, profound conviction of the moral importance defended and executed by Guizot, shall re- of his labours must support and cheer him; main to the future one of the most noble the pleasure of having served man, and secreations of our time. The principle of po- cretly contributed to the public good, is the pular education adopted and proclaimed by noble reward which his conscience alone can ihe revolution of '89, but stopped in its pro- give. It is his glory to pretend to nothing gress by the social changes of the last fifty beyond his obscure and laborious condition, years, received its entire accomplishment to make daily sacrifices hardly noticed by under the ministry of M. Guizot. Twelve those who profit by them ; to labour, in fine, hundred communes, that is to say, the quar- for man, and wait his recompence from ter of France, until then deprived of that God." early education which makes honest men and Compare these lines, of almost patriarchal good citizens, now saw erected beside the meekness, with the pitiless words of M. clergyınan's house, the modest school, where Guizot before the insurgents; hear him the child of the poor man receives the know- thundering from the tribune against the ledge which is to support him through the corrupt tail of the revolution ; see him readrude trials of after life. The detailed in- ing Bossuet at the death-bed of his wife, or structions addressed by Guizot to the pre- stoically throwing the first handful of clay fects, the rectors, the mayors, the cominis on the coffin of his son, and say is there not sioners of examination, would fill volumes. something strange and powerful in this inThe finest of these is the circular which he dividual, in whom we find united the fire of sent to all the teachers of the cominunes of Luther, the mildness of Melancthon, the imFrance. In these few pages there is, per- passibility of Epictetus, the simplicity of haps, as much true eloquence, as much poe- | Fenelon, and the inflexible severity of try of style and thought, as in the most beau-Richelieu. tiful works of the age. With what touching After an existence of four years, the cafamiliarity the injnister stretches out his binct of October was dissolved from two hand to the obscure village schoolmaster; causes, one exterior, the other interior. The