Imatges de pÓgina

invective against the conduct of ministers in the whole course of the bill. He charged the servants of the Crown with the grossest neglect of duty, in the first instance, in listening only to ex-parte evidence, and giving a willing credence to the most exaggerated and unfounded calumnies. They had thus for many months agitated the nation-they had produced a general stagnation of public and private business-and they had given a most favourable opportunity, were it desired, to the enemies of internal peace and tranquillity. They had betrayed their King, insulted their Queen, and had given a shock to the morals of society by the promulgation of the detestable and disgusting evidence, in the hearing of which the House had been so long occupied. The result had been, that, after inquiries, secret and open-after the grossest calumnies and the foulest libels had been made the subject of detail and debate for 50 days—after all the injury that it was possible to do the Queen had been accomplished, the bill was abandoned, not without reason, but assuredly without apology. Lord Erskine expressed the delight he felt, that, after all that had been threatened and performed, he had yet at length lived to see justice-tardy and reluctant justice-done to the Queen. It was the victory of right and innocence over wrong and malignity. The Duke of Montrose, on the other hand, declared his unaltered conviction, that the charge had been proved, and that he could never consider her as his Queen.

The motion, that the bill be read this day six months, was then carried unanimously.

The intelligence of this issue was received by the great body of the people with unbounded rejoicings. Nothing, it is true, could be substantially less brilliant, or satisfactory to

the royal personage. Several of the Lords who spoke against the bill, and even a part of those who protested against the second reading, declared their full conviction of her guilt; while others, only conceiving that there was still a doubt remaining, claimed for her, as for every accused, the benefit of that doubt. The friends of the Queen, however, were prudent enough not to look so narrowly into these particulars, but accepted this as a full and triumphant acquittal. The multitude indulged themselves without reserve in their usual tumultuary modes of displaying exultation. London was illuminated to a great extent during three successive nights. A prohibition to celebrate the event in Edinburgh in the same manner, was revenged by the mob, by breaking every window in several of the principal streets. Every city and township throughout the kingdom had its jubilee. A new series of addresses was entered upon, in which her Majesty was congratulated on the glorious issue of the proceedings against her, and by which her innocence was declared to have shone forth brighter than noon-day. The streets of the metropolis continued covered with successive processions of lightermen, watermen, bricklayers, glass-blowers, and other enlightened public bodies, proceeding to pay their homage at Brandenburgh House. Her Majesty's procession to St Paul's might be considered as the zenith of her triumph, after which this vast and continued tide of popularity began sensibly to ebb. It was soon observed that the acquittal, as it was called, had made no change in the feelings of the noble families of England, and that not a single female visitor of high rank had in consequence swelled the court of Brandenburgh House. At the same time, sober men, attached to the existing order of things, began to be

struck with alarm at the aspect which matters were assuming. The public mind appeared to be in a ferment altogether unprecedented: the press teemed with the most indecent personal attacks on the head of the state; and the Queen, by placing herself at the head of the faction most eager for innovation, appeared likely to give it a new importance. This part of the nation, which had hitherto viewed in a sort of inert and paralyzed attitude the torrent of strange events, began now to bestir itself. The course pursued was, to evade all mention of, or opinion upon, recent proceedings, and to confine themselves to general professions of loyalty, of attachment to his Majesty's person, and of horror at the anarchical principles which were now afloat. In the universities, the Scotch county meetings, and other aristocratic and corporate bodies, resolutions of this tenor were carried easily, and by great majorities. In the towns, however, it usually happened, after the sober and steady persons, whose presence was alone desired, had taken their seats, that an unbidden and unwished-for crowd rushed in, and either negatived the proposed address, or appended to the

general professions of loyalty some fatal clause, giving to the whole a character directly the reverse of what had been contemplated. On these occasions, secession was often the resource of the original party; and at last it became the system to get on foot two rival addresses, which were eagerly hawked about, and names, by every expedient, collected by their supporters. In London a singular phenomena took place; the Court of Aldermen having presented an address replete with loyalty, while the Common Council followed next day, with one which might be considered as a personal insult on the Sovereign. In the English counties, bodies containing a large confusion of popular elements, the struggles were eager, and the events various. Upon the whole, however, a gradual change took place in the public mind; the enthusiasm in favour of one side of the Royal House suffered a remarkable abatement; while the other, from being the object of perpetual satire and lampoon, began to advance towards that personal popularity which soon after expressed itself so strongly, and has ever since continued without abatement.



Meeting of the Chambers-State of Parties-Assassination of the Duke of Berri-Law restraining individual Liberty-Law on the Press-Law of Elections-Violent Disturbances-Modification of the Lan-It passes-Finances-Military Conspiracy-Minor Objects.

THE French Legislative Chambers met on the 29th November 1819. Every thing portended a stormy session, though not storms so terrible as those which actually ensued. Hitherto the system adopted by the King at his last return to power had proceeded in a tolerably smooth and successful tenor. His object had been to form a centre or middle party between the fierce conflicting elements of the ultra royalists on the one side, and the extreme liberals on the other. Amid the lessons taught by recent events, and amid that moderation which usually sways public bodies on their first entry upon their functions, a considerable body in both Chambers were led on principle to approve and adopt this system. These members, joined to others who were secured by the influence of the crown, enabled the ministry to maintain a steady, though somewhat narrow majority, over the two opposite sides, even when they united against the centre as a common enemy. Moderation, however, in political bodies, is a circumstance usually of very ephemeral duration. In the course of successive debate and conflict, the passions on each side were continu

ally roused; personal enmities were su peradded to political contentions; and each threw himself farther into the extreme of the party to which he had attached himself. Thus, at every election, and in the course of every successive session, the opposite sides of the Chamber gained continual accessions, and pressed closer and closer upon the narrowing majority in the middle. It became at length evident that this last would soon lose almost all those who were attached to it from principle, and would be confined to such as the influence of the Crown could command; in short, that it would be converted into a minority. In this urgency, it was only by some bold and decisive measure that ministers could hope to preserve their political existence. The course upon which they determined, was one liable to manifest objections. It was no other than to introduce a new principle of election, by which the nomination of the Chamber of Deputies should be thrown more into the hands of men of large property, who, it was expected, would adhere to the existing administration. Without entering into the abstract merits of the

plan, it was impossible not to observe that it was rendered very critical by the present situation of France. In a state shaken by so many successive agitations, the great object was, that it should be allowed to settle and consolidate itself, which it would only do by continuing in the same position. To begin shaking afresh the very basis upon which it rested, had a direct tendency to involve the monarchy in new perils. Accordingly, on the rumour of this project, there arose throughout France an alarm and fermentation, which, as usual in cases of any remarkable innovation, was greater even than the occasion warranted. Petitions were poured in from every quarter, remonstrating against such a breach of the original charter.

The King, on opening the Chambers on the 29th November, indicated, not obscurely, that some changes were in contemplation. Amid the general satisfaction diffused by the security of peace, by the liberation of the French soil from the presence of foreigners, and by the prospect of a gradual reduction of the public burdens, he could not conceal that elements of fear were mingled. A vague inquietude had taken possession of men's minds, and, in order to ensure the permanence of the constitution, it must be placed on a firmer basis, and secured from shocks the more dangerous as they were frequently repeated. As founder of the charter, he felt that some ameliorations were necessary to secure its power and its action. It was necessary to give to the Chamber a longer duration, and free it from the annual shock of parties. Thus only could they save the monarchy from" the licence of public liberties, and finally close up the revolutionary abyss."

On the very threshold of this session, a question arose, which called forth the most violent and inveterate party feelings. Gregoire, of regicide

celebrity, had been elected as fourth deputy to the department of the Isere, a choice which was sounded throughout the kingdom as a signal triumph of the republican party. The ministry demurred to this appointment, and the royal dissatisfaction was announced by his not receiving any lettre close inviting him to attend.

The committee to which this election was referred, endeavoured to evade the delicate discussions which it was likely to involve, by founding its nullity upon the circumstance, that Gre goire, being resident at Paris, could not, according to art. 42 of the charter, represent the department of the Isere. To any other motive they merely alluded by observing, "We are thus freed from the necessity of examining a question much more serious, which agitates every mind, since the report of this nomination resounded throughout the kingdom; a question of political morality, which calls up the most grievous recollections, by reminding us of the horrible crime which the nation in mourning goes every year to expiate at the foot of our altars." They finally expressed their wish, that the nation might never be obliged to deliberate on persons, and to censure the acts of the electoral collges.

The reading of the report was scarcely finished, when the most extraordinary tumult arose in the assembly. The left side pressed for an immediate vote, while the right demanded a debate; and each endeavouring to carry his point by mere clamour, nothing was heard but a confusion of tumultuous cries. The President at length declared the meeting dissolved, but without the least attention being paid by any one. At length, when this storm had continued for three quarters of an hour, Baron Pasquier succeeded in raising his voice above it. He represented so forcibly the absolute necessity, that every proposition should be dis

cussed before it was voted, that a general acquiescence took place.

M. Laine, on the royalist side, after slightly attending to the ground of nonresidence, on which the committee proposed to exclude the candidate, proceeded at once to what he considered as the real ground, his unworthiness of being elected. There was no formal law, it was said, by which this could be made a principle of exclusion. "Gentlemen," said he, "our le gislature has respected the French too much to prohibit literally their sending such a man into the representative assembly. But there is a law which has no need of being written to be known, to be executed. This law is not kept in perishable archives; it is not subject to the caprices or varying wants of a nation; it is preserved in an incorruptible tabernacle, the conscience of man; this law is eternal; it is immutable in all times and in all places; it is called reason and justice; in France it bears likewise the name of honour. The electoral college of the department of the Isere ought to have judged that a man could not be elected who is the object of so terrible a public notoriety; who cannot be admitted without the violation of public morals and national honour. All these outrages are committed when they attempt to open the gates of this assembly to the fourth deputy of the Isere. The case is clear, either this man must retire before the reigning dynasty, or the race of our kings must retire before him." He in sisted also that the omission of the King's letter was sufficient to exclude him, and that a deputy could not be considered national by being merely elected by his college, nor until it had received the sanction of the Chamber. Benjamin Constant, in strenuously supporting the opposite side of the question, dwelt chiefly on the nomination to the ministry, in 1815, of Fouche, a man who had not only figured through

out the whole course of the French revolution, but "who had pronounced that fatal vote, that vote over which the friends of liberty, above all others, have groaned, because they felt that it gave an almost mortal blow to liberty." The King sought thus to give an incontestible, brilliant, sublime proof of his complete oblivion of the past. He thus declared, that he intended not vengeance, but fidelity to what he had promised. The King wished, gentlemen, that the presence of the man whom he had called into his counsels should be a living proof that the word of kings is sacred, and that every engagement contracted by them is irrevocable." He insisted, therefore, that it would be depriving the King of all the fruits of his magnanimous effort, and acting in a manner directly contrary to his, if they were to reject a deputy on the ground of unworthiness. "It is in the name of the King, in the name of all that he has done to reestablish tranquillity and concord, in the name of the fruits which we already reap from his prudence and wisdom, that I call upon you to put aside the question of unworthiness."

Manuel, another of the leading deputies on the liberal side, attacked the very principle of making unworthiness a ground of exclusion. To add another ground to those which the law had traced, was ruining the freedom of elections, and depriving the citizens of every legal means of defending their rights. Such a step would be an open violation of the article of the charter, which prescribed to all silence and oblivion respecting whatever votes and opinions had been emitted in the course of the political troubles of France. When would there be an end of the consequences, if mere opinions, emitted in a moment of fear and effervescence, were to constitute unworthiness. Upon this principle, all who had taken a share in the numerous addresses

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