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at asceticism, and retreated on the lower planes of politics and literature, where they professed themselves individualists and Ibsenites.
The common dogma of all Rousseauesque varieties is the superiority of the individual over society, of impulse over authority, and of the intimately felt over the artificially superimposed. The Dreyfus affair becoming the all-ruling interest just when Tolstoism was passing into individualism, on which side were the youthful individualists likely to be? Naturally on the side of the wronged individual against the oppressive collectivity, tribunals, codes, &c. So M. Desjardins's congregation was violently Dreyfusist.
It was all very well as long as Dreyfusism only meant the innocence of Captain Dreyfus; but the purely judicial case soon became, as everybody remembers, a political affair, in which individualism, i.e. in most cases, prejudices of all sorts and ugly appetites could give itself free scope.
It is a most unfortunate fact that the direct political offspring of Dreyfusism was M. Combes's Thirty Months' Terror, with its expulsions and confiscations, with General André's espionage and M. Pelletan's methodical disorganisation of the Navy, with its wholesale anti-militarism and anti-patriotism.
All these untoward results did not become manifest until the panic which caused M. Delcassé to be thrown overboard, but they had been foreseen by many who saw that France was at stake. Then it was that, according to a well-informed but undoubtedly biassed historian of Neo-Royalism-M. Maurras—the individualist club which had gone on analysing, generalising, and respectfully realising their inward modifications became aware--at least some of its members did—that they had been helping in a dreadfully negative work, and, by one sudden impulse, went round from the pole of individualism to the extreme of Neo-Royalism, where they seem to have been fairly pleased with themselves ever since. They were led by two young men—MM. Vaugeois and Moreau-whose names are very well known at present, but whose talents never appeared of the first order, and their reasoning-for without reasoning they do nothing-was as follows:
Individualism-so they reasoned-is after all lawlessness, and lawlessness is only the chance, not of clever young Frenchmen who have an undisputed right to come through, but above all of a set of nondescripts, Hebrews, and métèques of all sorts who push themselves forward and help themselves to the best of everything in the country. To this unendurable consequence of individualism there is only one remedy. The nation must rise against the individual and crush him under its weight. Everything must be judged from the standpoint of national welfare and, when necessary, sacrificed to it. This was the first principle of what was called conscious integral nationalism, and since the first months of 1898 it has been the key-note of thousands of articles and addresses written and delivered by the adherents of the Action Française.
1 The word is of M. Maurras's coining and seems rather a felicitous insult. The Neo-Royalists apply it to all aliens trying to pass themselves off as Frenchmen.
This was not at first identified with Royalism proper, but it soon led to it. For the chief enemy of integral nationalism is the revolutionary or individualistic spirit, 'with its crazy habit of introducing the concepts of pure ethics into matters foreign to them.' What are those matters to which pure ethics are foreign ? Politics, to be sure. Politics means nothing if it is not facts, realities, and generally existences with which thought and the principles of morals have nothing to do. So, it appears, have reasoned Comte, Renan, Taine, Tocqueville, and the most distinguished intellects of the past century, with which it is certainly most comfortable to side.
But if the worst foe of a nation is the spirit of change, revolution, and untimely morality, its best friend must be the spirit of continuity -that is to say, the instinctive and spontaneous spirit of monarchy. And here again it appeared that the said Taine, Renan, &c., had written numberless pages in perfect distrust of the democratic institutions.
All these discoveries could not but be highly gratifying. At a period when French democracy was quickly drifting towards demai gogism, but when speculative socialism was still so much the fashion as to engross a broad mind like that of Anatole France, there was something wonderfully elegant in being suddenly all by one's self and yet able to boast of having the best acquaintances.
Being monarchists was not the sole originality of MM. Maurras, Vaugeois, Moreau, &c. They were monarchists after a decidedly new pattern, by no means to be compared with the traditional and generally provincial Royalist, whose hopeless impotency was evident to the least attentive. The Royalism of M. de Broglie, M. Chesnelong, and their effete descendants had always been tainted with a certain amount of parliamentarism. The new Royalism was purity itself. Only just read M. Bourget's article in the Revue Hebdomadaire for the 6th of June; you will know what a principled man means by monarchy. The reader ought to know that M. Bourget was one of the first converts to integral nationalism : even the most superficial reading of those irritating books L'Etape and L'Emigré would make one suspect that there is some radical doctrine running under the tale. But M. Bourget's royalism is of the most radical description. The whole school holds that parliamentarism is the root of all evil, and that the prince ought to be completely uncontrolled; but M. Bourget traces all the corruptions of our system back to the elective fallacy. Wherever there is an election (M. Bourget forgets the Pope and himself as a member of the French Academy) there is essential wrong, as the principle of election or selection is the choice of the ablest by the least able, which is a prima facie absurdity. Consequently the new monarchy should avoid both the mistakes and the ill fate of its pre
decessors by being more absolute than any of them. This, you will perceive, is only absurd in practice, and the philosopher is exclusively concerned with the theoretical.
Another feature of the scientific royalism is its complete independence of any religious ideas. The great prophet of the school, M. Maurras, has always been and still is a confessed atheist. He has learned of late to refrain from indulging in a certain elegant profanity to which he used to be much addicted, but he is too proud of his conceptions to sacrifice any of them, and one is rather confused to see at the Royalist Institute—a sort of private university in which the scientific methods of the school are propounded—a chair filled by a priest commenting on the Syllabus beside another devoted to the crudest positivism.
This is not all. The same logic and fearless originality distinguish the practical politics of M. Maurras. It is useless, he argues, to try to persuade the electorate that self-destruction is their unique chance. The lower classes ought to be treated as non-existent. All the effort of the enlightened minds should be to create in the higher spheres a system of incipient convictions from which some generalGeneral X., they always call him-can start to do away forcibly with the present Republican corruption. Dozens of generals might do for this work; but it is enough if the conscience of one should clearly show him his duty. The coup d'état, in the present state of France, is the sole remedy, but it may take time to impress its necessity upon those who alone can make it a reality. The Action Française has no other aim than the preparation of a man and a day.
These are the rough outlines of the Neo-Royalist doctrine as set forth in an already voluminous library of books, tracts, and papers. None of its champions, not even M. Maurras, who, however, is above the average journalist, is very remarkable either as a thinker or writer; yet there is in everything that comes from those quarters a tone of decision, something positive and almost steely, which, in default of all magnetism and sympathy, is a power in itself. Those self-contented doctrinaires enjoy their invention and its paradoxicalness with a contagious satisfaction. Young men
Young men are undoubtedly strongly drawn towards them; for a few years there will be a sense of distinction in being a Royalist at the beginning of the twentieth century, as there used to be in being a socialist. Many uncultivated minds too--for which brute strength is a charm-will go the same way without much minding the beautiful arrangement of the esoteric system. Certainly the Action Française as a movement is a success ; the quite recent foundation by the group of a daily paper is another proof that it appeals to a comparatively large audience.
But its future is precarious. What are twenty or thirty thousand men, most of them at halfway between the ordinary voter and those who influence him, in the ocean of French opinion? There may be -the signs are even more remote than they were five years ago possibly in consequence of a war, or of financial mismanagement, a discontent which might result in a change of constitution. To this revolution the Action Française would give its individual assistance, but it never could force its principles upon those who took advantage of it. Nobody can tell whether there will ever be a Restoration in France, nor in whose behalf, but one can confidently assert that the monarch will not be the Absolute First imagined by the Action Française. Switzerland is surely a better type of the future organisations than Russia.
Probably when M. Maurras and his friends have spoken for a few years of their General, his conscience, and his duties, some other fad will take possession of the raw imaginations of the young and the violent, and the daily Action Française will shrink back into the original weekly, and one more political farce, less contemptible in some ways than many others, will have been played out.
The tone in which M. Lamy and the Marquis de Vogüé, in the orthodox organ of the Royalist aristocracy, Le Correspondant, discuss the claims of M. Maurras to dictate to them as he does shows clearly that, in spite of its official communications with the Duc d'Orléans, the Action Française preserves in clear-sighted eyes its primitive character of a literary club with rather original pretensions to elegant anarchism.
? See Correspondant, 10 June, 1908.
The chance traveller, some fifty years since, alighting at a small Yorkshire town, and inquiring his way to the best inn, might very probably have had this conundrum given him for answer, in all good faith, to enlighten his ignorance. He would be told to 'Goo oop bia Bāastille.' Reflection and further inquiry would interpret the meaning to be that he must go up past the Workhouse. Carlyle, in a memorable passage in his Past and Present, tells us how the picturesque tourist on a sunny autumn day through this bounteous realm of England descries the Union Workhouse on his path. Passing by the Workhouse of St. Ives in Huntingdonshire, on a bright day last autumn,' says the picturesque tourist, 'I saw, sitting on wooden benches in front of their Bastille and within their ring-wall and its railings, some half hundred or more of these men.'
Readers of Carlyle may not generally know that his expressive epithet was the common name given by the rough, independent Yorkshire workman to that which he loathed most on earth, a name suggestive of the most gross injustice, but also of assault and final disappearance.
It is the fashion to-day to suggest that the Bastille was a grand fortress belonging to the Crown, a sort of Tower of London, where inconvenient persons were temporarily lodged at their sovereign's expense; where there was an undoubtedly good cook who sent up pleasant little dinners for three or even four persons; where visitors came and went freely, where the Governor himself entertained you if your reputation entitled you to such an honour, and where on the whole it was not unpleasant to be forced to reside if you had a poem or a play on hand, or wished to launch a political satire. Possibly even a short sojourn in the Bastille was a distinction in its way, much as an execution or two for high treason, amongst the members of a great house in Tudor times, marked its importance and doubtless raised it in the estimation of the vulgar crowd.
We know now all that needs to be known about the famous sealed letters, or Lettres de Cachet. We know that they did not always conduct their recipients to the Bastille. A Roi Soleil, if he took upon himself the material interests of his courtiers, concerned himself