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THE FRENCII REVOLUTION OF 1848.
Revolution in France! Let Europe trem ears of the humiliated Louis and his heroic ble to her centre at the sound. Let monarchs queen, as the ruffian mob of Paris defiled before and subjects alike stand aghast. The hideous them with fierce derision, through their royal spirit is once more evoked, which, but half a cen- palace of Versailles the words which were beltury ago, devastated mankind — which crushed | lowed from the throats of the savage rioters, who and overturned empires, and made the fair burst into the august presence of the national plains of Europe a desert - which added to assembly, demanding, with dreadful menace, ruthless violence the subtle poison of its princi- from the cowering deputies, the fulfilment of ples, that both body and mind might sink at its their demands — the words which rany in the approach, that it might be, in every sense, the ears of the five thousand victims of the five days destroyer — which scattered anarchy, rapine, of September, who fell untried, in the prisons and infidelity far and wide — and in the scenes of Paris, by the hands of a hired gang of butchof riot, terror, and perplexity in which it rev ers — the words which Marat, Danton, Robeselled, disclosed to the astounded beholders an pierre, and the kindred fiends with whom they amount of deformity in human nature, when were allied, chanted in their career of regicide naked and uncontrolled, far exceeding what it and of blood — the words which thus consecrated, had ever entered into the mind of man to con embodied and expressed the sole creed of the ceive before and such as we most fervently French nation, after they had formally, and with trust, it never will be our fate to witness again. solemn rites renounced their allegiance to the Once more is this dreadful power free. Democ- Supreme Being, and denied his existence — the racy in France has burst the chains to which words, Liberty, Fraternity, Equality. a mighty conqueror and its own excesses had This principle of democracy is one which is consigned it, and stands forth once more, at altogether new to mankınd - it is avowedly a large — and princes and potentates and great claim for the ignorance of the country to control nations rush forward now with anxious haste, its intelligence — it is a formal declaration that and eager rivalry, to offer homage and congrat property shall be stripped of its legitimate influulation to this newly-risen power, and England, ence, and shall succumb to blind passion and whose pride and glory it was to have riveted its brute force. Such doctrines have been univerchains, is foremost in her acknowledgments; sally scouted as monstrous by all the sages of all, all are eager to propitiate the divinity; they antiquity. crowd onward with the indecent haste of cring Among the great nations of antiquity democing courtiers to a newly-proclaimed sovereign, racy could not have existed, because of the uniemulous in their strife to secure the youthful versal prevalence of slavery. Let the political monarch's smile, or avert his frowns —
institutions of the country have been as free
as they could be made to eyery citizen of “Can such things be, the state, still the domestic servants, the laborers, And overcome us like a summer cloud, Without our special wonder.”
the mechanics, the artisans, in short, the physical
force of the country; the men whose position Doubtless it may be, that, schooled by the doomed them to labor while it debarred them past, this mighty power may shun the enormities from the acquirement of education or of property by which it formerly wa made infamous. It - the lower classes, those who are now by the may be, unquestionably, that the over-ruling proclamation of the self-constituted provisional Providence, who can adopt what instruments he government of France, declared politically equal pleaseth, may direct the might of this newly-re- to the wisest and most independent in the land ; freshed giant to the most beneficent purposes, those amongst the ancients were all slaves — a and that under such guidance it inay prove a class to whom political rights were never acblessing, instead of a terror and a scourge. This corded ; democracy, consequently, as it is now alone time will reveal — we know not, we write understood, could not then by possibility have while the tidings are still ringing fresh in our ears, existed. In Athens, which is the only state of and before we have had leisure to examine, or it antiquity which is ever brought forward as an has had opportunity to display, its character and instance of a democratic constitution, it is calcufeatures we have barely caught a glimpse of lated that to a population of less than 100,000 the banner which it has unfurled, and as we free inhabitants, there were 400,000 slaves. But read the motto there inscribed, we pronounce for this feature in its constitution, Athens certhe self-same words which were shouted in the tainly would be an example of an ancient de
mocracy; not, however, the Athens which Solon sedition, the heart-burnings, the hostility of established; that sagacious lawgiver took effect- classes, the taxation, the tumults and discontent, ual care that property should be efficiently rep- which take their rise from the poverty of the resented, but Athens as it was subsequently lower classes of the country, are, in America, revolutionized. And what an example do we from its territorial position, wholly unknown : there find of the evils of popular control, though against this great evil their government has so much better than what is meant by modern never yet had to contend. And long, we most democracy. Do the pages of history contain a fervently trust, may it continue so; and may we parallel to the uncertainty and vacillation which never forget, that when the famine pressed heavperplexed the public councils of Athens, to the ily on our land, the kindly voice of sympathy corruption, treachery, and want of all principle, rose universally from our American brethren, which has made their whole administration, for- throughout the whole extent of their wide doeign and domestic, for ever infamous.
mains, and the full hand of their abundance In America, indeed, we have an example of was eagerly and effectively stretched forth to aid a people becoming a mighty and a prosperous us in our distress. nation under a democratic constitution. It would But surely any chance of success in this perlead us much beyond our purpose to examine ilous enterprise of democratic government—any the workings of the democratic principle in the hope of escaping the miseries of anarchy, and American Union to inquire how far the pros- being driven to take refuge under the yoke of perity of that great nation is owing to the inhe- despotism, is to be derived from the purity of rent energy, industry, and steadfastness of pur- principle, from the simpleness of taste, from the pose of the Anglo-Saxon race, and to the un fixedness of purpose of the people by whom the bounded extent of fertile land which is on every attempt is made. And how is France prepared side open to the enterprise of their people – in these particulars ? France, a nation to whom, to inquire how far their prosperity has been in with comparatively few exceptions, principle, spite of their institutions, instead of being aided honor, and truth are unknown; France, the by them, and how many and how great are the only nation upon record in whom unquestionable defects both in their public administration and gallantry and courage are found to consist with social character, which is obviously referrible to a total absence of generous or chivalrous sentithe form of government under which they live. ment - a people to whom every incident in life The most favorable and dispassionate authorities to be of interest must be dramatic — wbo seek on the American constitution, M. De Tocque in the minutest trifles of their existence to proville, for example, speak universally of the duce an effect, to create a sensation — with " tyrant majority;" of the overpowering influ- whom action and enterprise are valueless if it ence of this tyranny, not only on political affairs, be not beheld and applauded — who know not, but on the administration of justice, on the con- and are incapable of appreciating or of admiring, duct of magistrates and jurors, nay, even on the self-denying heroism, the power of truth, the very minds of men, so much so, that there which constrains an upright man 10 abide with is no civilized country where the freedom of desperate fidelity by the cause which he believes thought, speech, or action, is so little permitted to be right, and by the faith which he has solor understood, unless it be in the most abject emnly plighted. These are serious accusations submission to the omnipotent will of the “ tyrant to make against a whole people; and grievous majority.” And in estimating the value of the would be our offence if we were to make them American constitution, we must not lose sight of falsely or inconsiderately. But we think the the fact, that it has not yet had to struggle time has come when these countries should resist against a heavy amount of debt, such as all old the French mania with which, for the last twenty countries have inherited — and, by the way, the years, we have been invaded. It is time to put conduct of the Pennsylvanian State in repudi- a stop to that practical fraternity which the ating their obligations, to the shame and reproach French have recently proclaimed, and their of every right-minded American, is as forcible construction of which they have so characterisan example as could be given of the irresistible tically illustrated by driving our laborers pellsway of the “ tyrant majority.” Neither, above mell out of their country, without money or all, must we forget, that it has never had to con- clothing, by threatening to rise en masse against tend against the great difficulty of all other goy- the mill-owners of Havre and Boulogne, if an ernments — a large, half-employed pauper pop- English laborer were found within their walls ; ulation ; the position of America to which we and this, too, while we hear of no such manifeshave adverted, enables every man to earn listation of " fraternity" towards any other foreign livelihood ; the spirit and enterprise of the peo- laborers in France. Our government should no ple impel them to avail themselves of it. The longer cringe to that of France, and be submis
sively led by her to interfere, to our own great | nation; or if, in the mystery of diplomacy, it discredit, against the rights and interests of the be necessary that states, like weak-minded men, other nations of Europe. We did so when we should have their confidants, in the name of coöperated with France in establishing revolu- truth let England seek for such in nations of tionary thrones in Portugal and in Spain, in the same character and principles as herself ; both instances in direct violation of the settled but not in licentious, anarchical, and infidel law of succession in each country. We did so France. yet more flagrantly when, in coöperation again France is essentially anarchical. M. Guizot with France, we dismembered the kingdom of knows the people well; his habits of profound Holland, and established the revolutionary throne study and calm philosophical research well qualof Belgium. If there was one article more dis- ify him to be an authority on this or any subject tinctly guaranteed than another, by the treaty of which he writes; his genius would do credit of 1815, it was the integrity of the kingdom of to any people, and his consistency does as much Holland. Those treaties the present provisonal as that of any individual man can do, to throw government of France have declared to be a a gleam of virtue over the dark mass of corrupnullity, and not binding on their new-fangled tion in which the public men of France, for the republic; hut, in truth, no government of France last fifty years have lived, and moved, and had ever practically regarded them when it suited their being. their interests to do otherwise. If there be in M. Guizot thus writes, in 1838, in Le Revue the foreign policy of Europe an admitted and Francais :unquestionable axiom, it is the vital importance of maintaining a powerful and independent king that preys on it is the enfeeblement of authority
“ As far as the state is concerned, the malady dom at the north of France, between France I do not say of force, which makes itself to be and the ocean; and yet England, forgetful alike obeyed; the depositories of public power never of policy and treaties, joins her humiliated navy had more force, perhaps never had so much : but (with the glorious recollections of the Nile and of authority recognized beforehand, as a prinTrafalgar in its memory) with that of France, ciple, and felt as a right, which has no need to and the fleets of France and of England united recur to force; of that authority before which blockade the Scheld, to dismember the kingdom and which speaks with command, not as reposing
the mind bends, without the heart being abased, of our ancient ally. And what has England
on fear, but as based on necessity.” gained by this truckling to France ? Hear the authority of the illustrious statesman who is now This “enfeeblement of authority” naturally taking refuge in our country — he who, perhaps, flowed from the excesses of the first Revolution, of all living foreigners is best disposed to Eng- and the total abolition of every institution to land, though, of course, giving to his own coun which (when not perverted by abuse from its try bis first duty. In 1846, M. Thiers took legitimate action) the nature of man voluntarily occasion to attack the foreign policy of France; / yields reverence - the destruction of the nobility, and what was M. Guizot’s reply? Why this — the overthrow of the church, the precaution which “On every part of the globe,” he said, “ where was taken to guard against any legitimate local the policy of France and England had been at influence, or conservative principle growing up variance, in Africa, Spain, and Greece, France in the state by controlling the disposition of had fully and boldly followed the course pointed property, making it compulsory on a father to out by her interests” — and nright we not sup- divide bis property, both real and personal, pose that it is somewhat in derision that he goes among all his children, or us the law now is, on — " without compromising in the least the leaving him but one share to dispose of, so that friendly relations between the two governments, if a father has four sons, he has a disposing power thanks to their intimacy."
over but one fifth of his property. The licenWhy this submissive spirit on the part of tious character of their press, the degraded conEngland should exist, it would lead us much dition of their clergy, wretched pensioners of the from our present purpose to inquire. We refer state, and the mad impulse which was given to it to the ascendancy which the monied interest the cravings of plebeian ambition -- these things has of late years acquired, to the dread of war, have sown and nurtured in France the seed of to the determination to hold by the most power the revolutionary spirit which makes all chance ful, to the poverty of spirit, to the feebleness of of constitutional government, as we understand principle, and to the abject selfishness which the term, hopeless, and gives the French people must ever characterize the councils of a state no refuge from anarchy but under the iron desacting under such influence. Let England potism of a Napoleon or a Louis Philippe. Take maintain the independent position, and assert into account, too, their total inexperience of the right of self-action that becomes a great any thing like habits of administration of affairs,
and the catalogue of their disqualifications for | sons, out of a population of thirty-five millions, popular government is complete; no municipal dependent, to a greater or less degree, upon ities, no corporations, no associations throughout landed property. The whole area of France is the whole of France; the entire country, thirty- about one hundred and twenty millions of acres. five millions of people, submitting unresistingly There are few or no manufacturing or commer. to the dominion of a corrupt and luxurious cial towns to absorb the population — with the capital.
exception of Lyons, Bourdeaux, and Marseilles, This subjection of the whole country to the none of any account; so that from the combined capital, which is so extraordinary a feature in operation of this law against accumulation, and France, is owing to the unparalleled extent to the nature of the industrial resources of the which the system of centralization is carried, to country, it has come to this, that comparatively the absence of commercial or other profitable few of this proprietary enjoy a revenue of more pursuits, which creates such a craving for gove than four hundred a-year, while nearly one balf ernment employments, and to the prodigious of them are seized of estates of the annual value extent to wbich the government interferes in of two pounds! the general economy of the country. In France, Doubtless these small rural properties are the the army,
navy, all excise and custom-house scene of much industry and frugality. We officers, the police, all the legal functionaries make no doubt, too, that there exists here a conthroughout the departments, all the magistracy siderable share of devotional feeling. But the of the departments, mayors and their deputies, labor which is forced on the French by the neprefects and sub-prefects, all are appointed by cessities of their condition, is no more an evithe government. So is every one in connection dence of industrious habits, than the piety which with the post-office, the masters of all the schools, is only found when they are out of the way of the superintendents of all the roads and bridges, temptation, is an evidence of a pure religion. every postilion and post-borse that travels on the Let the Frenchman acquire but the smallest inroads, and every laborer who breaks the stones dependence - give him what will purchase one with which they are repaired, all are appointed of the government life annuities, which are so by the state. The ministers of religion of every common in France, and he is away at once to Christian persuasion, and, since the Revolution the capital, and there plunges, with the ardour of 1830, even of the Jews, are salaried by the of one who has at length found his congenial state; the theatres are supported by the state, element, into the whirl and excitement of the and houses of infamous resort are licensed by dissipated throng. the state and under its control. So that for There could not, possibly, be a greater misevery thing the Frenchman is referred directly take than that of supposing that the recent Revoto the government for protection from abroad, lution in France was any sudden outburst of for discipline at home, for instruction when caprice, or that it sprung from any impulsive asyoung, for employment when he grows up, sertion of popular right against an arbitrary act for the excitements of dissipation while he is of the government. The social condition of living, and for the soothing consolations of reli- France lias, in fact, left that unhappy people but gion as he dies. The direction of all these vari- a choice of evils — either the restraint of despotous departments of the social economy rests with ism, or the anarchy and tyranny of democracy. the supreme authority in Paris; and let a Pari- The most cursory review of their history will sian mob, or a Napoleon, or Louis Philippe, but satisfy any one, that from the first revolution to seize the Hotel de Ville, and the telegraph, and the last, the self-same republican spirit has been he has France. All the functionaries and em- incessantly in action, diverted, indeed, under ployès of the state, all their widle-spread influ. Napoleon, by the excitement, and dazzled by ence, which covers France as with a inesh — all the glory of his foreign wars. Exhausted and spring from Paris.
dejected by the dreadful reverses which preAnd if anything were still wanting to account ceded the restoration of the Bourbons, it slumfor the dominion of the capital over the whole bered for a while; but gradually gaining strength, empire, it is to be found in the wretched con- it could only be curbed in the latter years of the dition of the rural population of France, oc- reign of Louis, and while his successor continued casioned by the operation of the law as to the on the throne by the arbitrary assertion of power distribution of property, of which we have by these monarchs, in open and direct defiance spoken. In France, by reason of this law of of the charter which the first had granted on infinite subdivision, there are now no less than his restoration, and which both had sworn to upfive millions and a half of distinct proprietary hold, breaking out at last at the revolt of the families ; averaging each family at four persons, barricades, it hurled Charles from the throne; there are, consequently, twenty millions of per- and partly by accident, partly by intrigue, its
late occupant was seated in his place. But the , ing. The proceedings of this body, and how acts of the elder Bourbons were constitutional, the national assembly became self-formed from the yoke of Napoleon was light, as compared the states-general, is matter of familiar bistory; with that which Louis Philippe was obliged to but it is not, perhaps, sufficiently borne in mind resort to, in order to control this revolutionary that the king came down to this national asfrenzy. It had now recovered from the reverses sembly, and there made offer of a bill of rights, of 1815, and had gained daring by its triumph which embraced every concession that could of 1830. Under the amended charter of 1830, possibly have been required — every requisite to which Louis Philippe swore allegiance, popu- for a well-regulated freedom. This was in June, lar rights were asserted to an extent which, 1789. Even Mirabeau acknowledged " that the although but in conformity with our notions of concessions made by the king were sufficient for constitutional freedom, and adapted to the habits the public good, if," he added, however, " the and principles of the people of these countries, presents of despotism were not always dangerwere yet, with the democratical principles of ous.” France, altogether inconsistent with the exis But the people had now tasted of the cup of tence of the monarchy, or indeed of any con power, and were resolved to drain it to the trolling power whatsoever. “ The king is to dregs. Never having enjoyed a rational or regreign, but not to govern," was the avowed and ulated liberty, they could not moderate nor diproclaimed maxim; and Louis Philippe soon rect their newly-acquired license; they began, found that he had but to choose between throw- moreover, to discover that there was no physical ing up the reins of power altogether, or strain- force by which they could be restrained. This, ing them to the uttermost; he strained them after all, is the great secret of all the French until they broke.
revolutions; on this the mob of Paris and the The causes of popular discontent which led revolutionists of France an at all times safely to the first revolution were as unquestionably calculate. In the hour of danger, when riot righteous and just, as the subsequent excesses and violence are at their height, the French were infamous. The entire exemption of the soldiery uniformly, and as of course, fling all nobles and clergy from all the burdens of the notions of allegiance, discipline, and military state, the exclusive monopoly by these privileged obligation to the winds, and join with the rioters. orders of all its emoluments, the intolerable The 100,000 troops who were in Paris last pressure of an embarrassed government on the month, but facilitated the ohjects of the revoluresources of the third estate, with an unlimited tionists. It is, we presume, for this most laudpower of taxation in the crown, was an amount able and patriotic trait that the French soldiery of injustice which could not, nor should not are now rewarded with the elective franchise have been endured. Had the king or his min (and surely a more daring experiment than that isters had but the common sense, or bad the of making the standing army of the country a nobles and clergy had but the common justice to deliberative body — for to that it comes it reform these crying abuses, the subsequent hor never before entered into the brain even of M. rors of the revolution would have been averted, Arago, himself, renowned as he is for a scientific and the seeds of anarchy never would have experimentalist, to attempt). Napoleon alone, taken root in the soil of France; but long fa- by the mastery of his military genius, was able miliarity, with injustice, as with any other crime, to subdue the spirit of defection in the troops, diminishes our perception of its enormity; and and to make them efficient against the populace ; the privileged orders, even if they saw the op- but this was the exception to the rule. In 1789, pression which they occasioned, were too much the monarchy was lost solely by the defection of reduced in circumstances and condition by the the troops. The king had resolved on vigorous profligate expenditure of their habits of life, to measures; and had he but have been able to be able to forego any advantages, or to waive curb the popular tumult, and carried out firmly any exemptions to which they might be entitled. and liberally the measures of salutary reform to Meantime the third estate was growing powerful which he had pledged himself in the assembly, by commerce; and being oppressed and de- the Revolution would have been averted; but serted by those who ought to have been their the household troops revolt — the troops of the natural directors, they readily gave ear to the line to a man refuse to act — the veterans of doctrines of Voltaire, Rousseau, and other the Hotel des Invalides seize it for the people writers of that revolutionary school. The ex- the army join with the rioters in the storming treme financial embarrassments of the state at of the Bastile. “ This is revolt,” said the king length compelled the minister to convene the to the gentleman who brought him the intellistates-general — a
- a body to which, for nearly 150 gence. “Sire,” replied the other," it is a revyears, the crown had never dreamt of appeal- | olution.”