Page images

Conference more powerful than before, for she had inscribed upon her flag respect for the principles of international law which are in vogue among all civilized countries." M. de Lavalette rendered homage to the firmness of King George, who abided by his resolution, notwithstanding the revolutionary agitation which prevailed in Greece. The Minister of Foreign Affairs concluded as follows:-" Our foreign relations are good. We may say that peace, the object of our wishes, is neither compromised nor uncertain, and that we shall maintain it by all legitimate means. In the West we shall do, under different circumstances, that which we did

to preserve peace in the East. A fearful responsibility would attach to whomsoever, giving way to national susceptibilities, should hurl two great nations one against the other. The policy of France is the policy of peace-a policy which we shall uphold with the aid of the great powers of the State, and with the help of Almighty God." The Marquis de Lavalette resumed his seat amid much cheering from all parts of the House. M. Jules Favre rose to express satisfaction at the declarations of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. M. Thiers also thanked the Government for its statement with regard to Germany, and added, "The sentiment in favour of Confederation tends to reawaken in Germany, since there has been a conviction prevalent that France harbours no thought of interference. We must let this Confederation movement take its course. The slightest stir on the part of France would suffice to check it. If successful, however, it may repair the disasters which the past three years have brought upon Europe, and especially upon France."

The following characteristic letter was addressed by the Emperor on the 12th of April to the Minister of State, M. Rouher :

"Palace of the Tuileries, April 12, 1869. "Monsieur le Ministre,-On the 15th of August next a hundred years will have elapsed since the Emperor Napoleon was born. During that long period many ruins have been accumulated, but the grand figure of Napoleon has remained upstanding. It is that which still guides and protects us-it is that which, out of nothing, has made me what I am.

"To celebrate the centenary date of the birth of the man who called France the Great Nation, because he had developed in her those manly virtues which found empires, is for me a sacred duty, in which the entire country will desire to join. In my opinion the best way to honour that national jubilee is to spread a little comfort among the Emperor's old companions in arms.

"The 2,700,000f. which the Legion of Honour distributes to them every year is insufficient to assure their existence.

"I have thought that the Caisse des Dépôts et des Consignations might be made to distribute larger pensions to those old soldiers, by abandoning to it the credit granted by the Chamber during a number of years, necessary for the recovery of its advances. By that means aid will be efficaciously afforded to glorious misfortunes, without in any way modifying the provisions of the Budget.

"My desire is that from the 15th of August next every soldier of the Republic and of the First Empire should receive an annual pension of 250f.

"The Legislative Body, I have no doubt, will receive this proposal with the national feeling by which it is so eminently animated. It will think, as I do, that in a period when complaints are made of the progress of scepticism, to reward examples of patriotic devotedness and to recall them to the memory of the younger generations cannot but be of great utility.

"To awaken grand historical recollections is to encourage faith in the future; and to do honour to the memory of great men is to recognize one of the most striking manifestations of the Divine will.

"I beg you to come to an understanding with the Ministers of Finance and of my Household for the preparation of a Bill, and for its presentation, without delay, to the Legislative Body, after having taken the opinion of the Council of State.

"Whereupon, Monsieur le Ministre, I pray God to have you in His holy keeping.


The Legislative Session came to an end on the 26th of April, and with it expired the Chamber elected in 1863. The decree of dissolution was read, and the country began to busy itself with the new elections.

We will quote some passages from a few of the addresses of the candidates, as they will show the direction of the different currents of political views in France.

M. Cornelius de Witt, a son-in-law of M. Guizot, said that while cherishing grateful recollections of the long years of peace, prosperity, and liberty which France enjoyed under former Governments, "he belongs to a generation which is not bound by ties of honour to any past Government; which thinks, above all, of the present and the future; and which is disposed to support every Government that is capable of securing the liberty and happiness of the nation." M. de Witt did not refuse to the Emperor the praise of having introduced reforms "which allow the country to exercise, by its representatives, a decisive action on its own destinies."

The Duke Decazes-son of the Prime Minister of Louis XVIII., and Grand Referendary of the Chamber of Peers under the Orleans Government-told the electors of the Gironde,

"We have no wish to subvert any thing; we respect our institutions, but, conscientiously and honestly, we aspire to improve them and to complete them; and as we frankly demand what is good, we accept it frankly also, we do not menace thrones or dynasties; we do not contemplate revolutions, for we know too well what they cost; we desire to preserve them, and we alone can succeed in doing so, because we alone have the necessary inde

pendence and force to give timely warning, and keep the Government within bounds."

M. Ernest Renan, author of "La Vie de Jésus," informed the electors of Meaux that he was opposed to all ideas of revolution. He belonged, he said, to no party. Any new revolution would be fatal, as it would be the forerunner of a reaction more deplorable than any since 1848. He was persuaded that the regular development of existing institutions would realize serious reform. His watchwords were, "No revolution and no war-progress and liberty." In like manner, M. Berthe, representative of the people in the Constitutional Assembly, and a Republican of the Cavaignac school, declared to the constituents of the Burgos Pyrenees that the report of his wishing for the overthrow of the Empire was utterly false :

"I love my country too much to desire a fresh revolution. I discard all party spirit, and only look at the interest of France. I am animated by an equal love for order and for liberty."

M. Henri Rochefort, the editor of the Lanterne, avowed in his address to the third division of Paris his "invincible resolution to fight." What he wrote in his Lanterne he pledged himself to repeat in the Legislative Chamber, if elected. France cannot shake off" its unhealthy sleep" but by a salutary crisis; he was one of those who are determined to provoke that crisis, and he declared himself a Democrat and Socialist.

M. Thiers having been invited to appear before the electors of the second circumscription of Paris, declined attending, and assigned the following reasons for his determination


"You are not ignorant how numerous and diverse are the opinions which compose the immensity of universal suffrage. If I had any thing to inform my fellow-citizens relative to my ideas, it is before the totality of that grand whole that I ought to appear, and not before one single section-that represented by the Democratic Socialist Committee, in whose name you have invited me to your meeting. But permit me to ask you, what should I do among you? Discuss social organization? That is a most serious subject, and worthy of the deepest meditation, and on which you and I differ profoundly. I should not assuredly fear to explain those divergencies to you; but could I, in the middle of the passions of the electoral contest, and in the presence of the agents of the Government, disposed to allow any one to speak rather than myself, obtain the time, the prolonged attention, and the calm which so important and so grave a matter demands? Certainly not. Besides, what is the question at this moment? One sole subject, as you have yourselves recognized in your printed programme-liberty. Freedom is the indispensable instrument of all truth, but at present we are deprived of it, and the object is to achieve it. During the last six years I have devoted all my efforts to that work, and the persons who have not been enlightened by my speeches, my acts, and the constancy of my endeavours during the last Session will not be so

by an explanation of an hour, often consisting only of promises contradicted by acts."

Some serious disturbances took place during the elections, which were not concluded before the early part of June, and in several parts of Paris crowds of men traversed the streets, shouting, "Vive la République! Vive la Lanterne!" (meaning M. Rochefort's newspaper) and singing the "Marseillaise Hymn." Disturbances happened also at Angers, Lille, Amiens, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Dijon, Calais, and Toulon.

Before we mention the result of the elections, we will quote a speech made by the Emperor on the occasion of a visit which he and the Empress paid to the city of Chartres on the 9th of May. His Majesty said,

[ocr errors]

Twenty years ago, when I was appointed President of the Republic, it was the town of Chartres which I visited first. I have not forgotten the pleasing reception I met with. It was within your walls that I, on the strength of my good intentions, made my first appeal to the spirit of conciliation, calling upon all good citizens to sacrifice for the public welfare their regrets and feelings of rancour. To-day, after seventeen years of peaceful prosperity, I am about to speak to you in the same language, but with greater authority and confidence than in 1848. Once more I address myself to the honest men of every party, inviting them to second the regular advance of my Government on the path of liberal progress which it has laid down, and to oppose insuperable resistance to those subversive passions which appear to revive only to threaten the unshaken fabric of universal suffrage. In a few days the people will meet in their electoral comitia, and will, I have no doubt, choose men worthy of that mission of civilization which we have to accomplish. I count upon you, citizens of Chartres, because you are part of those eight millions of Frenchmen who have thrice accorded to me their suffrages, and because I know you are animated with ardent patriotism; and where genuine love of one's country reigns, there the best guarantees for order, progress, and liberty cannot fail to exist."

About this time a pamphlet appeared in Paris, called L'Empereur, which was an elaborate vindication of the Imperial rule. Passing by the eulogy upon the personal character of the Emperor himself, we will give some extracts which describe what he has done for the material prosperity of France-results which it would be difficult for his worst enemies to gainsay or deny.

"An account of what the Emperor has done for the cause of society cannot well find a place in a mere portrait; but, comparing it with what had been done before him, it would seem that during the nineteen years of his reign he has accomplished the work of centuries. The day will come when impartial history will say, Napoleon III. found France unsettled, made sterile by the most detestable passions; and he has made it strong, fertile, and great. Look at the rich fields, where every peasant has henceforth his vine

and his harvest, where his property is vivified by division; look at the cultivated plains where formerly there were but sandy deserts; those schools, those churches, those lodging-houses for workmen, those beneficent establishments, those monuments, those networks of railways, where steam annihilates time and space; those canals, those by-roads, countless arteries of industrial and rural life; those manufactories, which produce for all countries, for those even to which France had before been tributary; that territory so well ordered in its riches that it suffices for itself. Look at Paris made salubrious, enlarged, rebuilt, and made the capital of the world, grander than the Rome of the Cæsars; those ports, those fortifications, those arsenals, those perfected arms, by which courage becomes invincible; that army whose colours, torn by bullets, are covered over with the names of victories; that formidable fleet, an entirely new creation, and yielding to none other the empire of the seas; the right of neutrals and the right of humanity inscribed in the code of naval and continental battles; the name of France protecting Christian missions in the most remote and barbarous countries; the frontiers levelled by the civilizing influence of commerce and the emancipation of nationalities; the magnanimous and incessant appeal to Congresses for universal pacification; the steady and the all but complete solution of the most formidable social problems; the solicitude which protects the working man from his cradle to his grave by institutions of beneficence, credit, and forethought; good every where encouraged and recompensed; the level of intelligence raised at the same time as material welfare; primary and professional instruction, formerly so limited, diffused every where ; labour, so long the slave of capital and of itself, nobly emancipated; liberty and equality alike to the working man and the employer; association accessible to probity and courage; immense works and new ideas infusing vigour into the life-blood of the nation,-all these benefits and all these glories, order and liberty, prosperity, justice, this great current of generosity, and this force, all due to the initiative of Napoleon III."

The total number of opposition candidates elected to the New Chamber was little more than thirty. For Paris MM. Thiers, Garnier Pagès, Ferry, and Jules Favre were returned; and amongst those who were elected for the Department of the Seine (in which Paris is included) were MM. Gambetta, Bancel, Ernest Picard, Jules Simon, and Eugène Pelletan.

On the 16th of June a letter was published which was addressed by the Emperor to M. de Mackau, a member of the Legislative Body. It was as follows:

"My dear M. de Mackau,-I have received the letter by which, in the name of the electors who have again returned you to the Legislative Body, you express the desire that my Government may be strong enough to repel the aggression of parties, and to give to liberty guarantees of duration by basing it on a firm and vigilant authority.

« PreviousContinue »