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were supported by all the weight of government; they had everything at stake, in keeping down the excitement of the people. With so many motives to vigorous action, what have they done?
They permitted an unruly mob of 30,000 persons to assemble round the palace of Louis Philippe, on 25th October 1830, and so completely shatter his infant authority, that he was obliged to dismiss the able and philosophic Guizot, the greatest historian of France, and the whole cabinet of the Doctrinaires, from his councils, to make way for republican leaders of sterner mould, and better adapted to the increasing violence of the popular mind.
At the trial of Polignac, the whole National Guard of Paris and the departments in the neighbourhood, 70,000 strong, was assembled in the capital ; and what was the proof which the government gave of confidence in their loyalty and efficiency in the cause of order ? Albeit encamped, as Lafayette said, at the Luxembourg, amidst 20,000 National Guards, 4000 troops of the line, 3000 cavalry, and 40 pieces of artillery, the Government did not venture to withdraw the state prisoners to Vincennes in daylight ; and, but for the stratagem of Montalivet, in getting them secretly conveyed away in the middle of the night, in his own caleche, from the midst of that vast encampment of citizen soldiers, they would have been murdered in the street, within sight of that very supreme tribunal which had pronounced the sentence of imprisonment, and saved their lives.
At that critical moment, the cannoneers of the National Guard, placed with their pieces at the Louvre, declared that, if matters came to extremities, they would have turned their cannon against the Government. Great part of the infantry, it was found, could not be relied on.
The agitation occasioned by these events produced another change in the ministry, but no additional security to the throne.
In February last, the National Guard united with the populace in pillaging the palace of the Archbishop of Paris ; and, joining in the infernal cry againstevery species of religion, scaled every steeple in Paris, with sacrilegious hands tore down the cross from their summits, and disgraced their uniforms by effacing the image of our Saviour in all the churches
in the metropolis. The conduct of the National Guard on this occasion, was such as to call for a reproof even from the most ardent supporters of republican institutions. The consequence has been a third change of ministers in little more than six months.
The Paris journals are daily full of the distress of the labouring classes, the stagnation of commercial enterprise, the want of confidence, and the disgraceful tumults which incessantly agitate the public mind, and have prevented the resumption of any industrial occupation. All this takes place in the midst, and under the eye of 55,000 National Guards.
History will record that the National Guard of France was instituted in 1789 for the consolidation of free institutions, and the preservation of public tranquillity :
That, since its establishment, the government and prevailing institutions have been the subject of incessant change; that they have had in turn a constitutional monarchy, a fierce democracy, a sceptre of blood, a military constitution, a despotic consulate, an Imperial throne, a regulated monarchy, and a citizen king :
That, during its guardianship, a greater number of lives have perished in civil war—a greater number of murders taken place on the scaffold-a greater extent of confiscation of fortune been inflicted—a greater quantity of wealth destroyed—a greater degree of violence exerted by the people—a greater sum of anguish endured—than in an equal extent of time and population, in any age or country since the beginning of the world :
That it has almost invariably failed at the decisive moment; that, instituted for the defence of property, it has connived at unprecedented spoliation : appointed for the preservation of order, its existence has been chiefly signalised by misrule ; charged with the defence of life, it has permitted blood to flow in ceaseless torrents.
Nothing, therefore, can be more unfounded in fact than the applause so generally bestowed on this popular institution, considered as the sole or principal support of govern
It has been of value only as an auxiliary to the regular force ; it is utterly unserviceable in the crisis of civil warfare ; and then alone is of real utility when some common patriotic feeling has merged all minor shades of opinion in one general emotion.
It is impossible it ever should be otherwise. Citizen soldiers are extremely serviceable when they are subjected to the bonds of discipline, and obedient to the orders of the supreme power : but when they take upon themselves to discuss the measures or form of government, and instead of obeying orders to canvass principles, there is an end not only of all efficiency in their force, but of all utility in their institution. Fifty thousand legislators, with bayonets in their hands, form a hopeless National Assembly.
This is the circumstance which, in every decisive crisis between the opposing parties, paralysed the National Guard of Paris, and to the end of time will paralyse all volunteer troops in similar extremities : they shared in the opinions of their fellow-citizens ; they were members of clubs, as well as the unarmed multitude ; they were as ready to fight with each other, as with the supporters of anarchy. The battalions drawn from the Fauxbourg St Germain, or the quarters of the Palais Royal and the Chaussée d’Antin, were disposed to support the monarchy; but those from the Fauxbourgs St Antoine and St Marceau were as determined to aid the cause of democracy; and in this divided state, the battalions of a democratic cast, from their superior numbers, acquired a fatal ascendency.
The case would be the same in London if a similar crisis should arrive. The battalions from the Regent Park, Regent Street, Piccadilly, the West End, and all the opulent quarters, might be relied on to support the cause of order ; but what could be expected from those raised in Wapping, Deptford, St Giles, Spitalfields, or all the innumerable lanes and alleys of the city, and its eastern suburbs? If the National Guard of London were 100,000 strong, at least 80,000 of them would, from their habits, inclinations, and connexions, side with the democratic party.
It is a fatal delusion to suppose that at all events, and in all circumstances, the National Guard would be inclined to support the cause of order, and prevent the depredation from which they would be the first to suffer. They unquestionably would be inclined to do so up to a certain point of danger, and as long as they believed that the ruling power
in the state was likely to prove victorious. But no sooner does the danger become more urgent, no sooner does the Government run the risk of defeat, than the National Guard is paralysed from the very circumstance of its being in great part composed of men of property. The great capitalist is the most timid animal in existence ; next comes the great shopkeeper, lastly the little tradesman. Their resolution is inversely as their wealth. In all ages, desperate daring valour has been found in the greatest degree amongst the lowest class of society. The multiplied enjoyments of life render men unwilling to incur the risk of losing them.
No sooner, therefore, does the democratic party appear likely to become victorious, than the shopkeepers of the National Guard begin to think only of extricating their private affairs from the general ruin. Sauve qui peut is then, if not the general cry, at least the general feeling. The merchant sees before him a dismal vista of sacked warehouses and burnt stores ; the manufacturer, of insurgent workmen and suspended orders ; the tradesman, of pillaged shops and ruined custom. Despairing of the commonwealth, they recur, as all men do in evident peril, to the unerring instinct of self-preservation ; and, from the magnitude of their stake, fall under the influence of this apprehension long before it has reached the lower and more reckless classes of society.
Admirable, therefore, as an auxiliary to the regular force in case of peril from foreign invasion, a National Guard is not to be relied on during the perils and divisions of civil conflict. It always has, and always will fail in extremity, when a war of opinion agitates the state.
The only sure support of order in such unhappy circumstances is to be found in a numerous and honourable body of regular soldiers. Let not the sworn defender of order be tainted by the revolutionary maxim, that the duties of the citizen are superior to those of the soldier, and that nature formed them as men, before society made them warriors. The first duty of a soldier, the first principle of honour, is fidelity to the executive power. In crushing an insurrection of the populace in a mixed government, he is not enslaving his fellow-citizens ; he is only turning the efforts of freedom into their proper channel, and preventing the contest of opinion from degenerating into that of force. Liberty has as much to hope from his success as tranquillity : nothing is so fatal to its establishment as the violence exerted for its extension. In this, as in other instances, it is not lawful to do evil that good may come of it; and philosophy will at length discover, what reason and religion have long ago taught, that the only secure foundation for ultimate expedience is the present discharge of duty.