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hat among the French of that day, political kind than was produced by their fierce and knowledge was absolutely in its infancy. It senseless temerity. Demolition is undoubtedly would indeed have been strange if it had at- a vulgar task; the highest glory of the statestained maturity in the time of censors, of let- man is to construct. But there is a time for tres-de-cachet, and of beds of justice. The elect- every thing, a time to set up, and a time to pull ors did not know how to elect. The repre- down. The talents of revolutionary leaders, sentatives did not know how to deliberate. and those of the legislator, have equally their M. Dumont taught the constituent body of use and their season. It is the natural, the alMontreuil how to perform their functions, and most universal law, that the age of insurrecfound them apt to learn. He afterwards tried tions and proscriptions shall precede the age in concert with Mirabeau, to instruct the Na- of good government, of temperate liberty, and tional Assembly in that admirable system of liberal order. parliamentary tactics which has been long And how should it be otherwise? It is not established in the English House of Commons, in swaddling-bands that we learn to walk. It and which has made the House of Commons, is not in the dark that we learn to distinguish in spite of all the defects in its composition, colours. It is not under oppression that we the best and fairest debating society in the learn how to use freedom. The ordinary world. But these accomplished legislators, sophism by which misrule is defended is, though quite as ignorant as the mob of Mon- when truly stated, this: The people must contreuil, proved much less docile, and cried out tinue in slavery, because slavery has genethat they did not want to go to school to the rated in them all the vices of slaves. Because English. Their debates consisted of endless they are ignorant, they must remain under a successions of trashy pamphlets, all beginning power which has made and which keeps them with something about the original compact of ignorant. Because they have been made ferosociety, man in the hunting state, and other cious by misgovernment, they must be missuch foolery. They sometimes diversified and governed forever. If the system under which enlivened these long readings by a little riot-they live were so mild and liberal, that under ing. They bawled; they hooted; they shook its operation they had become humane and their fists. They kept no order among them- enlightened, it would be safe to venture on a selves. They were insulted with impunity by change. But as this system has destroyed the crowd which filled their galleries. They morality, and prevented the development of gave long and solemn consideration to trifles. the intellect; as it has turned men who might, They hurried through the most important re- under different training, have formed a virtusolutions with fearful expedition. They wast-ous and happy community, into savage and ed months in quibbling about the words of that stupid wild beasts, therefore it ought to last forfalse and childish Declaration of Rights on ever. The English Revolution, it is said, was which they professed to found their new con- truly a glorious revolution. Practical evils stitution, and which was at irreconcilable were redressed; no excesses were committed; variance with every clause of that constitu- no sweeping confiscations took place; the aution. They annihilated in a single night pri-thority of the laws was scarcely for a moment vileges, many of which partook of the nature suspended; the fullest and freest discussion of property, and ought therefore to have been was tolerated in Parliament; the nation show. most delicately handled. ed by the calm and temperate manner in which it asserted its liberty, that it was fit to enjoy liberty. The French Revolution was, on the other hand, the most horrible event recorded in history, all madness and wickedness, absurdity in theory, and atrocity in practice. What folly and injustice in the revolutionary laws! What grotesque affectation in the revolutionary ceremonies! What fanaticism! What licentiousness! What cruelty! Anacharsis Clootz and Marat, feasts of the Supreme Being, and marriages of the Loire, trees of liberty, and heads dancing on pikes-the whole forms a kind of infernal farce, made up of every thing ridiculous and every thing frightful. This it is to give freedom to those who have neither wisdom nor virtue. It is not only by bad men interested in the defence of abuses, that arguments like these have been urged against all schemes of political improvement. Some of the highest and purest of hu man beings conceived such scorn and aversion for the follies and crimes of the French Revolution, that they recanted, in the moment of triumph, those liberal opinions to which they had clung in defiance of persecution

They are called the Constituent Assembly. Never was a name less appropriate. They were not constituent, but the very reverse of constituent. They constituted nothing that stood, or that deserved to last. They had not, and they could not possibly have, the information or the habits of mind which are necessary for the framing of that most exquisite of all machines, a government. The metaphysical cant with which they prefaced their constitution has long been the scoff of all parties. Their constitution itself, that constitution which they described as absolutely perfect, and to which they predicted immortality, disappeared in a few months, and left no trace behind it. They were great only in the work of destruc tion.

The glory of the National Assembly is this, that they were in truth, what Mr. Burke called them in austere irony, the ablest architects of ruin that ever the world saw. They were utterly incompetent to perform any work which required a discriminating eye and a skilful hand. But the work which was then to be done was a work of devastation. They had to deal with abuses so horrible and so deeply And if we inquire why it was that they began rooted, that the highest political wisdom could to doubt whether liberty were a blessing, we scarcely have produced greater good to man- | shall find that it was only because events had

proved, in the clearest manner, that liberty is the parent of virtue and of order. They ceased to abhor tyranny merely because it had been signally shown, that the effect of tyranny on the hearts and understandings of men is more demoralizing and more stupefying than had ever been imagined by the most zealous friend of popular rights. The truth is, that a stronger argument against the old monarchy of France may be drawn from the noyades and the fusilades, than from the Bastille and the Parc-auxcerfs. We believe it to be a rule without an exception, that the violence of a revolution corresponds to the degree of misgovernment which has produced that revolution. Why was the French Revolution so bloody and destructive? Why was our revolution of 1641 comparatively mild? Why was our revolution of 1688 milder still? Why was the American Revolution, considered as an internal movement, the mildest of all? There is an obvious and complete solution of the problem. The English under James the First and Charles the First were less oppressed than the French under Louis the Fifteenth and Louis the Sixteenth. The English were less oppressed after the Restoration than before the great Rebellion. And America, under George the Third, was less oppressed than England under the Stuarts. The reaction was exactly proportioned to the pressure-the vengeance to the pro



tion, victims were sent to death by scores for
the most trifling acts proved by the lowest tes-
timony, before the most partial tribunals. Af-
ter the second revolution, those ministers who
had signed the ordinances-those ministers,
whose guilt, as it was of the foulest kind, was
proved by the clearest evidence-were punish-
ed only with imprisonment. In the
lution, property was attacked. In the second,
it was held sacred. Both revolutions, it is
true, left the public mind of France in an un-
settled state. Both revolutions were followed
by insurrectionary movements. But after the
first revolution, the insurgents were almost
always stronger than the law; and since the
second revolution, the law has invariably been
found stronger than the insurgents. There is,
indeed, much in the present state of France
which may well excite the uneasiness of those
who desire to see her free, happy, powerful,
and secure. Yet if we compare the present
state of France with the state in which she
was forty years ago, how vast a change for
the better has taken place! How little effect,
for example, during the first revolution, would
the sentence of a judicial body have produced
on an armed and victorious party! If, after
the tenth of August, or after the proscription
of the Gironde, or after the ninth of Thermidor,
or after the carnage of Vendemiaire, or after
the arrests of Fructidor, any tribunal had de
cided against the conquerors in favour of the
conquered, with what contempt, with what de-
rision, would its award have been received!
The judges would have lost their heads, or
would have been sent to die in some unwhole-
some colony. The fate of the victim whom
they had endeavoured to save would only
have been made darker and more hopeless by
their interference. We have lately seen a sig
nal proof that in France, the law is now strong-
er than the sword. We have seen a govern
ment, in the very moment of triumph and
revenge, submitting itself to the authority of a

When Mr. Burke was reminded in his later years of the zeal which he had displayed in the cause of the Americans, he vindicated himself from the charge of inconsistency, by contrasting the wisdom and moderation of the colonial insurgents of 1776, with the fanaticism and wickedness of the Jacobins of 1792. He was in fact bringing an argument à fortiori against himself. The circumstances on which he rested his vindication fully proved that the old government of France stood in far more need of a complete change than the old government of America. The difference between Wash-court of law. A just and independent sentence ington and Robespierre, the difference between has been pronounced;-a sentence worthy of Franklin and Barrére, the difference between the ancient renown of that magistracy, to the destruction of a few barrels of tea and the which belong the noblest recollections of confiscation of thousands of square miles, the French history; which, in an age of persecu difference between the tarring and feathering tors, produced L'Hopital; which, in an age of of a tax-gatherer and the massacres of Sep- courtiers, produced D'Aguesseau; which, in tember, measure the difference between the an age of wickedness and madness, exhibited government of America under the rule of Eng- to mankind a pattern of every virtue in the land, and the government of France under the life and in the death of Malesherbes. The respectful manner in which that sentence has been received, is alone sufficient to show how widely the French of this generation differ from their fathers. And how is the difference to be explained? The race, the soil, the climate, are the same. If those dull, honest Englishmen, who explain the events of 1793 and 1794, by saying that the French are naturally frivolous and cruel, were in the right, why is the guillotine now standing idle? Not surely for want of Carlists, of aristocrats, of people guilty of incivism, of people suspected of being suspicious characters. Is not the true explanation this, that the Frenchman of 1832 has been far better governed than the French man of 1789, that his soul has never beer galled by the oppressive privileges of a sepa

rule of the Bourbons.

Louis the Sixteenth made great voluntary concessions to his people; and they sent him to the scaffold. Charles the Tenth violated the fundamental laws of the state, established a despotism, and butchered his subjects for not submitting quietly to that despotism. He failed in his wicked attempt. He was at the mercy of those whom he had injured. The pavements of Paris were still heaped up in barricades; the hospitals were still full of the wounded; the dead were still unburied; a thousand families were in mourning; a hundred thousand citizens were in arms. The crime was recent; the life of the criminal was in the hands of the sufferers; and they touched not one hair of his head. In the first revoluVOL. II-24

accustomed to discuss political questions, and to perform political functions, that he has lived for seventeen or eighteen years under institutions which, however defective, have yet been far superior to any institutions that had before existed in France?

rate caste, that he has been in some degree | fifty years of liberty. During many generations we have had legislative assemblies which, however defective their constitution might be, have always contained many members chosen by the people, and many others eager to obtain the approbation of the people; assemblies in which perfect freedom of debate was allowed; As the second French Revolution has been assemblies in which the smallest minority had far milder than the first, so that great change a fair hearing; assemblies in which abuses, which has just been effected in England, has even when they were not redressed, were at been milder even than the second French Re- least exposed. For many generations we have volution; milder than any revolution recorded had the trial by jury, the Habeas Corpus Act, in history. Some orators have described the the freedom of the press, the right of meeting reform of the House of Commons as a revolu- to discuss public affairs, the right of petitiontion. Others have denied the propriety of the ing the legislature. A vast portion of the po term. The question, though in seeming mere- pulation has long been accustomed to the ly a question of definition, suggests much cu- exercise of political functions, and has been rious and interesting matter for reflection. If thoroughly seasoned to political excitement we look at the magnitude of the reform, it may In most other countries there is no middle well be called a revolution. If we look at the course between absolute submission and open means by which it has been effected, it is rebellion. In England there has always been merely an act of Parliament, regularly brought for centuries a constitutional opposition. Thus in, read, committed, and passed. In the whole our institutions had been so good, that they history of England, there is no prouder cir- had educated us into a capacity for better insti cumstance than this; that a change which tutions. There is not a large town in the kingcould not, in any other age, or in any other dom which does not contain better materials country, have been effected without physical for a legislature than all France could furnish violence, should here have been effected by in 1789. There is not a spouting-club at any the force of reason, and under the forms of pothouse in London in which the rules of delaw. The work of three civil wars has been bate are not better understood, and more accomplished by three sessions of Parliament. strictly observed, than in the Constituent AsAn ancient and deeply rooted system of abuses sembly. There is scarcely a Political Union has been fiercely attacked and stubbornly de- which could not frame in half an hour a de fended. It has fallen; and not one sword has claration of rights superior to that which occu been drawn; not one estate has been confis-pied the collective wisdom of France for seve cated; not one family has been forced to emi-ral months. grate. The bank has kept its credit. The funds have kept their price. Every man has gone forth to his work and to his labour till the evening. During the fiercest excitement of the contest, during the first fortnight of that immortal May, there was not one moment at which any sanguinary act committed on the person of any of the most unpopular men in England, would not have filled the country with horror and indignation.

And now that the victory is won, has it been abused? An immense mass of power has been transferred from an oligarchy to the nation. Are the members of the vanquished oligarchy insecure? Does the nation seem disposed to play the tyrant? Are not those who, in any other state of society, would have been visited with the severest vengeance of the triumphant party-would have been pining in dungeons, or flying to foreign countries still enjoying their possessions and their honours, still taking part as freely as ever in public affairs? Two years ago they were dominant. They are now vanquished. Yet the whole people would regard with horror any man who should dare to propose any vindictive measure. So common is this feeling, o much is it a matter of course among us, that many of our readers will scarcely understand what we see to admire in it.

To what are we to attribute the unparalleled moderation and humanity which the English people have displayed at this great conjuncture? The an wer is plain. This moderation, his humanity, are the fruits of a hundred and

It would be impossible even to glance at all the causes of the French Revolution within the limits to which we must confine ourselves. One thing is clear. The government, the aristocracy, and the church, were rewarded after their works. They reaped that which they had sown. They found the nation such as they had made it. That the people had become possessed of irresistible power before they had attained the slightest knowledge of the art of government; that practical questions of vast moment were left to be solved by men to whom politics had been only matter of theory; that a legislature was composed of persons who were scarcely fit to compose a debating society; that the whole nation was ready to lend an ear to any flatterer who appealed to its cupidity, to its fears, or to its thirst for vengeance-all this was the effect of misrule, obstinately continued, in defiance of solemn warnings and of the visible signs of an approaching retribution.

Even while the monarchy seemed to be in its highest and most palmy state, the causes of that great destruction had already begun to operate. They may be distinctly traced even under the reign of Louis the Fourteenth. That reign is the time to which the Ultra-Royalists refer as the Golden Age of France. It was in truth one of those periods which shine with an unnatural and delusive splendour, and which are rapidly followed by gloom and decay.

Concerning Louis the Fourteenth himself, the world seems at last to have formed a cor

rect judgment. He was not a great general; singularly applicable, both in its literal and in he was not a great statesman; but he was, in its metaphorical sense, to Louis the Fourone sense of the words, a great king. Never teenth: was there so consummate a master of what our James the First would have called kingcraft-of all those arts which most advantageously display the merits of a prince, and most completely hide his defects. Though his internal administration was bad, though the military triumphs which gave splendour to the early part of his reign were not achieved by himself, though his later years were crowded with defeats and humiliations, though he was so ignorant that he scarcely understood the Latin of his massbook, though he fell under the control of a cunning Jesuit and of a more cunning old woman, he succeeded in passing himself off on his people as a being above humanity. And this is the more extraordinary, because he did not seclude himself from the public gaze like those Oriental despots whose faces are never seen, and whose very names it is a crime to pronounce lightly. It has been said that no man is a hero to his valet; and He left to his infant successor a famished all the world saw as much of Louis the Four- and miserable people, a beaten and humbled teenth as his valet could see. Five hundred army, provinces turned into deserts by misgopeople assembled to see him shave and put on vernment and persecution, factions dividing his breeches in the morning. He then kneeled the court, a schism raging in the church, an down at the side of his bed, and said his prayer, immense debt, an empty treasury, immeasurawhile the whole assembly awaited the end in ble palaces, an innumerable household, inessolemn silence, the ecclesiastics on their knees, timable jewels and furniture. All the sap and and the laymen with their hats before their nutriment of the state seemed to have been faces. He walked about his gardens with a drawn to feed one bloated and unwholesome train of two hundred courtiers at his heels. excrescence. The nation was withered. The All Versailles came to see him dine and sup. court was morbidly flourishing. Yet it does He was put to bed at night in the midst of a not appear that the associations which attach crowd as great as that which had met to see ed the people to the monarchy had lost strength him rise in the morning. He took his very during his reign. He had neglected or sacri emetics in state, and vomited majestically in ficed their dearest interests; but he had struck the presence of all the grandes and pétites en- their imaginations. The very things which trées. Yet though he constantly exposed him- ought to have made him most unpopular-the self to the public gaze in situations in which prodigies of luxury and magnificence with it is scarcely possible for any man to preserve which his person was surrounded, while, be much personal dignity, he to the last impress-yond the enclosure of his parks, nothing was ed those who surrounded him with the deepest to be seen but starvation and despair-seemed awe and reverence. The illusion which he to increase the respectful attachment which produced on his worshippers can be compared his subjects felt for him. That governments only to those illusions to which lovers are exist only for the good of the people, appears proverbially subject during the season of to be the most obvious and simple of all courtship. It was an illusion which affected truths. Yet history proves that it is one of even the senses. The contemporaries of the most recondite. We can scarcely wonder Louis thought him tall. Voltaire, who might that it should be so seldom present to the have seen him, and who had lived with some minds of rulers, when we see how slowly, and of the most distinguished members of his through how much suffering, nations arrive at court, speaks repeatedly of his majestic sta- the knowledge of it. Yet it is as certain as any fact can be, that he was rather below than above the middle size. He had, it seems, a way of holding himself, a way of walking, a way of swelling his chest and rearing his head, which deceived the eyes of the multitude. Eighty years after his death, the royal cemetery was violated by the revolutionists; his coffin was opened; his body was dragged out; and it appeared that the prince, whose majestic figure had been so long and loudly extolled, was in truth a little That fine expression of Juvenal is




Even M. de Chateaubriand, to whom, we should ought, all the Bourbons would have seemed at east six feet high, admits this fact. "C'est une ereur," says he in his strange memoirs of the Duke of

"Mors sola fatetur Quantula sint hominum corpuscula."

His person and his government have had the same fate. He had the art of making both appear grand and august, in spite of the clearest evidence that both were below the ordinary standard. Death and time have ex posed both the deceptions. The body of the great king has been measured more justly than it was measured by the courtiers who were afraid to look above his shoe-tie. His public character has been scrutinized by men free from the hopes and fears of Boileau and Molière. In the grave, the most majestic of princes is only five feet eight. In history, the hero and the politician dwindles into a vain and feeble tyrant, the slave of priests and women, little in war, little in government, little in every thing but the art of simulating greatness.

There was indeed one Frenchman who had discovered those principles which it now seems impossible to miss-that the many are not made for the use of one; that the truly good government is not that which concen trates magnificence in a court, but that which diffuses happiness among a people; that a king who gains victory after victory, and adds province to province, may deserve, not the admiration, but the abhorrence and contempt of mankind. These were the doctrines which Fénélon taught. Considered as an Epic Poem,

Berri, "de croire que Louis XIV. étoit d'une haue sta ture. Une cuirasse qui nous reste de lui, et les exhuma tions de St. Denys, n'ont laissé sur ce point aucun doute."

Telemachus can scarcely be placed above Glover's Leonidas or Wilkie's Epigoniad. Considered as a treatise on politics and morals, it abounds with errors of detail, and the truths which it inculcates seem trite to a modern reader. But if we compare the spirit in which it is written with the spirit which pervades the rest of the French literature of that age, we shall perceive that, though in appearance trite, it was in truth one of the most original works that have ever appeared. The fundamental principles of Fénélon's political morality, the tests by which he judged of institutions and of men, were absolutely new to his countrymen. He had taught them, indeed, with the happiest effect, to his royal pupil. But how incomprehensible they were to most people, we learn from Saint Simon. That amusing writer tells us, as a thing almost incredible, that the Duke of Burgundy declared it to be his opinion, that kings existed for the good of the people, and not the people for the good of kings. Saint Simon is delighted with the benevolence of this saying; but startled by its novelty and terrified by its boldness. Indeed he distinctly says, that it was not safe to repeat the sentiment in the court of Louis. Saint Simon was, of all the members of that court, the least courtly. He was as nearly an oppositionist as any man of his time. His disposition was proud, bitter, and cynical. In religion he was a Jansenist; in politics, a less hearty royalist than most of his neighbours. His opinions and his temper had preserved him from the illusions which the demeanour of Louis produced on others. He neither loved nor respected the king. Yet even this Disease and sorrow removed from the world man, one of the most liberal men in France, that wisdom and virtue of which it was not was struck dumb with astonishment at hear-worthy. During two generations France was ing the fundamental axiom of all government ruled by men who, with all the vices of Louis propounded--an axiom which, in our time, the Fourteenth, had none of the art by whic nobody in England or France would dispute that magnificent prince passed off his vices for which the stoutest Tory takes for granted as virtues. The people had now to see tyranny much as the fiercest Radical, and concerning naked. That foul Duessa was stripped of her which the Carlist would agree with the most gorgeous ornaments. She had always been republican deputy of the "extreme left." No hideous; but a strange enchantment had made person will do justice to Fénélon, who does her seem fair and glorious in the eyes of her not stantly keep in mind that Telemachus willing slaves. The spell was now broken; was written in an age and nation in which the deformity was made manifest; and the hold and independent thinkers stared to hear lovers, lately so happy and so proud, turned that twenty millions of human beings did not away loathing and horror-struck. exist for the gratification of one. That work is commonly considered as a school-book, rery fit for children, because its style is easy and its morality blameless; but unworthy of the attention of statesmen and philosophers. We can distinguish in it, if we are not greatly mistaken, the first faint dawn of a long and splendid day of intellectual light, the dim promise of a great deliverance, the undeveloped germ of the charter and of the code.

remain to us of that extraordinary man. The fierce and impetuous temper which he showed in early youth, the complete change which a judicious education produced in his character, his fervid piety, his large benevolence, the strictness with which he judged himself, the liberality with which he judged others, the fortitude with which alone, in the whole court, he stood up against the commands of Louis, when a religious scruple was concerned, the charity with which alone, in the whole court, he defended the profligate Orleans against calumniators, his great projects for the good of the people, his activity in business, his taste for letters, his strong domestic attachments, even the ungraceful person and the shy and awkward manner, which concealed from the eyes of the sneering courtiers of his grandfather sc many rare endowments-make his character the most interesting that is to be found in the annals of his house. He had resolved, if he came to the throne, to disperse that ostentatious court, which was supported at an ex pense ruinous to the nation; to preserve peace; to correct the abuses which were found in every part of the system of revenue; to abolish or modify oppressive privileges; to reform the administration of justice; to revive the institution of the States-General. If he had ruled over France during forty or fifty years, that great movement of the human mind which no government could have arrested, which bad government only rendered more violent, would, we are inclined to think, have been conducted, by peaceable means, to a happy termination.


First came the regency. The strictness with which Louis had, towards the close of his life, exacted from those around him an outward attention to religious duties, produced an effect similar to that which the rigour of the Puritans had produced in England. It was the boast of Madame de Maintenon, in the time of her greatness, that devotion had become the fashion. A fashion indeed it was, and, like a fashion, it passed away. The austerity of the tyrant's old age had injured the morality of the higher orders more than even the licentiousness of his youth. Not only had he not reformed their vices, but, by forcing them to be hypocrites, he had shaken their belief in virtue. They had found it so easy to perform the grimace of piety, that it was natural for them to consider all piety as grimace. The times were changed Pensions, regiments, and abbeys were

What mighty interests were staked on the life of the Duke of Burgundy! and how different an aspect might the history of France have borne, if he had attained the age of his grandfather or of his son; if he had been permitted to show how much could be done for humanity by the highest virtue in the highest fortune! There is scarcely any thing in history more remarkable, than the descriptions which


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