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THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF 1830
[BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, JUNE & Dec. 1832]
THOSE who are conscious of a good cause, and of the support of historical facts, should never despair of making truth triumph, even under circumstances the most adverse and apparently hopeless. When we began to treat of the French Revolution two years ago, never did a resolute journal attempt to stem a more vehement torrent of public opinion, It was almost like striving, in the days of Peter the Hermit, against the passion for the Crusades. The public mind had been so artfully prepared, by the incessant abuse of the revolutionary press in France and England, for years before, against Charles X. and the Polignac Administration, to receive the worst impressions concerning them; they were so completely deceived, by the same channels, as to the real nature of the Parisian revolt, the objects to which it was directed, and the consequences with which it was attended, that it was all but hopeless to resist the torrent. But we knew that our case was rested on historical facts; and, therefore, though not possessed of any information concerning it, but what we derived from the public journals, and shared with the rest of our countrymen, we did not scruple to make the attempt.
We had looked into the records of history, and we did not find it there recorded that constitutions, cast off like a medal at a single stroke, were of long duration ; we did not find that the overthrow of government by explosions of the
SAINT CHAMANS sur la Révolution de 1830, et ses Suites. Paris, 1832.
PEYRONNET-Questions concerning Parliamentary Jurisdiction. Paris, 1831, and Blackwood, Edinburgh.
POLIGNAC--Considérations Politiques sur l'Epoque Actuelle. Paris, 1832, and Blackwood, Edinburgh.
SALVANDY-Seize Mois, ou la Révolution et les Révolutionnaires. Paris, 1831.
populace in great cities, had been found to be instrumental in increasing the happiness or tranquillity of mankind; we did not know of many examples of industry thriving during the reign of the multitude, or expenditure increasing by the destruction of confidence, or credit being augmented by a successful exertion of the sacred right of insurrection ; and we saw no reason to conclude, that a government arranged in a back-shop, in the neighbourhood of the Hotel de Ville, by half-a-dozen democrats, supported by shouting bands of workmen and hot-headed students, and sent down by the diligence or the telegraph to the provinces of France—was likely to meet the views, or protect the interests, of thirtytwo millions of souls in its vast territory. For these reasons, though possessed of no private information in regard to that important event, we ventured from the very first to differ from the great majority of our countrymen regarding it ; and, after doing all we could to dispel the illusion, quietly waited till the course of events should demonstrate the justice of our view.
That course has come, and with a rapidity greatly beyond what we anticipated at the outset. The miserable state of France, since the Glorious Days, has been such as to have been unanimously admitted by all parties. Differing on other subjects as far as the poles are asunder, they are yet unanimous in representing the state of the people, since the Revolution, as miserable in the extreme.
The Royalists, the Republicans, the Orleanists, the Doctrinaires, vie with each other in painting the deplorable state of their country. They ascribe it to different causes ; the Republicans are clear that it is all owing to Casimir Perier and the Doctrinaires, who have arrested the people in the middle of their glorious career, and turned to gall and wormwood the sweet fruits of popular conquest ; Guizot, the Duke de Broglie, and the Doctrinaires, ascribe it to the mad ambition of the democrats, and the incessant efforts they have made to agitate and distract the public mind ; Saint Chamans and the Royalists trace it to the fatal deviation from the principle of legitimacy, and the interminable dissensions to which the establishment of a right in the populace of Paris to choose their sovereign must necessarily lead ; while Marshal Soult has a clear remedy for all the disorders
of the country; and without stopping to inquire whether they are revolting from starvation, ambition, or experienced evils, cuts them down by grape-shot, and charges their determined bands by squadrons of cuirassiers. Men in this country may differ in respect of the causes to which they ascribe these evils, according to the side to which they incline in politics ; but in regard to their existence and magnitude, after such a concurrence in the testimony of unwilling witnesses, no doubt can be entertained by Tory, Reformer, or Radical.
One single fact is sufficient to place, in the clearest light, the disastrous effect of this convulsion upon the internal industry of the country. It
from the returns of the French Commerce lately published, that their imports, before and after the Three Glorious Days, stood thus :
115,054,000 Thus it appears, that although the Revolution broke out in July 1830, so that one-half of the imports of that year was affected by the revolt of July, yet still the general imports in 1831, as compared with 1830, had fallen nearly a fifth, and those for home consumption about a fourth, in a single year ! Such is the deplorable effects of popular triumph upon public industry, and the suffering and starvation brought upon the poor by the criminal ambition of their demagogues.
The progress of events, and, above all, the necessity under which Marshal Soult was laid of quelling the insurrection of June 1832, by “ a greater number of armed men than combated the armies of Prussia or Russia, at Jena or Austerlitz,”* and following up his victory by the proclamation of a state of siege, and ordinances more arbitrary than those which were the immediate cause of the fall of Charles X., bave gone far to disabuse the public mind on this
important subject. In proof of this, we cannot refer to stronger evidence than is afforded by the leading Whig Journal of this city, one of the warmest early supporters of the Revolution of July, and which is honoured by the communications of all the official men in the Scottish metropolis. The passage is as honourable to their present candour, as their former intemperate and noisy declamation in favour of democratic insurrection was indicative of the slender judgment, and limited historical information, which they bring to bear on political questions.
It is contained in the preface with which the Caledonian Mercury ushers in to their readers a series of highly interesting and valuable papers, by a most respectable eye-witness of the Parisian revolt :
“ It has appeared to us desirable to lay before our readers a view of a great event, or, rather, concatenation of events, so different from any which they have hitherto been accustomed to have presented to them; and we have been the more easily induced to give insertion to these papers, because, hitherto, one side of the question has been kept wholly in the shade,—and because differing, as we do, toto cælo, from the author in general political principle, we are, nevertheless, perfectly at one with him in regard to the real origin or primum mobile of the Revolution of July, as well as the motives and character of the chief personages who benefited by that extraordinary event. The truth is that, in this country, we prejudged the case, and decided before inquiry, upon the representations of one side, which had the advantage of victory to recommend and accredit the story which it deemed it convenient to tell : nor--first impressions being proverbially strong-has it hitherto been found possible to persuade the public to listen, with patience, to anything that might be alleged in justification, or even in extenuation, of the party which had the misfortune to play the losing game. Of late, however, new light has begun to break in upon the public. All have been made sensible that the Revolution has retrograded ; that its movement has been, crab-like, backwards; and that “the best of republics' has shown itself the worst, because the least secure, of actual despotisms; while the throne surrounded by republican institutions'—that monster of fancy, engendered by the spirit of paradoxical antithesis—has proved a monster in reality, broken down all the fantastic and baseless fabrics by which it was encircled, and swept away the very traces of the vain restraints imposed upon it. The empire, in short, has been reconstructed out of the materials cast up by a democratical movement-with this difference only, that, instead of a Napoleon, we now see a Punchinello at the head of it; and hence the same public, which formerly believed Louis Philippe to be a sort of Citizen Divinity, now discover in that personage only a newly-created despot, without any of the accessories or advantages which give, eren to despotism, some hold on public opinion. A reaction has, accordingly, taken place; and men are, in consequence, prepared to listen to things against which, previously, they adderwise closed their ears, and remained deaf to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely."
But although, from the very first, we clearly discerned and forcibly pointed out the disastrous effects on the freedom, peace, and tranquillity, first of France, and then of the
world, which the Parisian revolt was calculated to produce, yet we were not aware of the strong grounds, in constitutional law and public justice, there were for the Ordinances of Charles X. We considered them as a coup d'état justified by necessity, and by the evident peril in which Charles stood of losing bis crown, and throwing the nation back to the horrors of revolution, if he did otherwise,—but as confessedly an infraction of the constitution. Upon this subject we are now better informed. The great and energetic ability of the Royalist party has been exerted in France to unfold the real grounds of the question; and it is now manifest that the Ordinances were not only imperiously called for by State necessity, but strictly justified by the charter and the constitutional law of France. Many of those who now admit the lamentable effects of the overthrow of Charles X. are not disposed to go this length, and are not aware of the grounds on which it is rested. Let such persons attend to the following considerations :
The King's defence of the Ordinances is contained in the following propositions :
1. That by an article of the charter granted by Louis XVIII. to the French, and the foundation of the constitution, power is reserved to the King to make such regulations and ordinances as are necessary for the execution of the laws, and the safety of the state.
2. That matters, through the efforts of the Revolutionists, had been brought to such a pass, that the Ordinances of July were necessary “ for the execution of the laws, and the safety of the state.
The 14th article in the Charter is in these termsReserving to the King the power to make regulations and ordinances necessary to insure the execution of the laws, and the safety of the state.” On these words we shall not injure, by attempting to abridge, the argument of M. Peyronnet.
“The alleged treason is a violation of the Charter; and how can the Charter have been violated by the exercise of a power of which it authorised the use? It has been asserted repeatedly, that the Charter authorised the King to make regulations and ordinances, necessary for the execution of the laws, and for the safety of the state. The execution of the laws, and the safety of the state; these words demand attention. They were not written without a motive, nor without their signification and force being understood. Those who introduced these words into the Charter, well knew that they VOL. I.