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History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 by C. A. Fyffe

Part 8 out of 21

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himself abandoned on the Polish question by Prussia; and at the same moment
the answer of King Louis XVIII. arrived, and enabled Talleyrand to assure
the Austrian Minister that, if resistance to Russia and Prussia should
become necessary, he might count on the support of a French army.
Metternich now completely changed his position on the Saxon question, and
wrote to Hardenberg (Dec. 10) stating that, inasmuch as Prussia had chosen
to sacrifice Warsaw, the Emperor Francis absolutely forbade the annexation
of more than a fifth part of the kingdom of Saxony. Castlereagh, disgusted
with the obstinacy of Russia and the subserviency of King Frederick
William, forgave Talleyrand for not supporting him earlier, and cordially
entered into this new plan for thwarting the Northern Powers. The leading
member of the late Rhenish Confederacy, the King of Bavaria, threw himself
with eagerness into the struggle against Prussia and against German unity.
In proportion as Stein and the patriots of 1813 urged the claims of German
nationality under Prussian leadership against the forfeited rights of a
Court which had always served on Napoleon's side, the politicians of the
Rhenish Confederacy declaimed against the ambition and the Jacobinism of
Prussia, and called upon Europe to defend the united principles of
hereditary right and of national independence in the person of the King of

[Theory of Legitimacy.]

Talleyrand's object was attained. He had isolated Russia and Prussia, and
had drawn to his own side not only England and Austria but the whole body
of the minor German States. Nothing was wanting but a phrase, or an idea,
which should consecrate the new league in the opinion of Europe as a league
of principle, and bind the Allies, in matters still remaining open, to the
support of the interests of the House of Bourbon. Talleyrand had made his
theory ready. In notes to Castlereagh and Metternich, [218] he declared
that the whole drama of the last twenty years had been one great struggle
between revolution and established right, a struggle at first between
Republicanism and Monarchy, afterwards between usurping dynasties and
legitimate dynasties. The overthrow of Napoleon had been the victory of the
principle of legitimacy; the task of England and Austria was now to extend
the work of restitution to all Europe, and to defend the principle against
new threatened aggressions. In the note to Castlereagh, Talleyrand added a
practical corollary. "To finish the revolution, the principle of legitimacy
must triumph without exception. The kingdom of Saxony must be preserved;
the kingdom of Naples must return to its legitimate king."

[Alliance against Russia and Prussia, Jan. 3, 1815.]

As an historical summary of the Napoleonic wars, Talleyrand's doctrine was
baseless. No one but Pitt had cared about the fate of the Bourbons; no one
would have hesitated to make peace with Napoleon, if Napoleon would have
accepted terms of peace. The manifesto was not, however, intended to meet a
scientific criticism. In the English Foreign Office it was correctly
described as a piece of drollery; and Metternich was too familiar with the
language of principles himself to attach much meaning to it in the mouth of
anyone else. Talleyrand, however, kept a grave countenance. With inimitable
composure the old Minister of the Directory wrote to Louis XVIII. lamenting
that Castlereagh did not appear to care much about the principle of
legitimacy, and in fact did not quite comprehend it; [219] and he added his
fear that this moral dimness on the part of the English Minister arose from
the dealing of his countrymen with Tippoo Sahib. But for Europe at
large,--for the English Liberal party, who looked upon the Saxons and the
Prussians as two distinct nations, and for the Tories, who forgot that
Napoleon had made the Elector of Saxony a king; for the Emperor of Austria,
who had no wish to see the Prussian frontier brought nearer to Prague;
above all, for the minor German courts who dreaded every approach towards
German unity,--Talleyrand's watchword was the best that could have been
invented. His counsel prospered. On the 3rd of January, 1815, after a rash
threat of war uttered by Hardenberg, a secret treaty [220] was signed by
the representatives of France, England, and Austria, pledging these Powers
to take the field, if necessary, against Russia and Prussia in defence of
the principles of the Peace of Paris. The plan of the campaign was drawn
up, the number of the forces fixed. Bavaria had already armed; Piedmont,
Hanover, and even the Ottoman Porte, were named as future members of the

[Compromise on Polish and Saxon questions.]

[Prussia gains Rhenish Provinces.]

It would perhaps be unfair to the French Minister to believe that he
actually desired to kindle a war on this gigantic scale. Talleyrand had
not, like Napoleon, a love for war for its own sake. His object was rather
to raise France from its position as a conquered and isolated Power; to
surround it with allies; to make the House of Bourbon the representatives
of a policy interesting to a great part of Europe; and, having thus undone
the worst results of Napoleon's rule, to trust to some future complication
for the recovery of Belgium and the frontier of the Rhine. Nor was
Talleyrand's German policy adopted solely as the instrument of a passing
intrigue. He appears to have had a true sense of the capacity of Prussia to
transform Germany into a great military nation; and the policy of alliance
with Austria and protection of the minor States which he pursued in 1814
was that which he had advocated throughout his career. The conclusion of
the secret treaty of January 3rd marked the definite success of his plans.
France was forthwith admitted into the council hitherto known as that of
the Four Courts, and from this time its influence visibly affected the
action of Russia and Prussia, reports of the secret treaty having reached
the Czar immediately after its signature. [221] The spirit of compromise
now began to animate the Congress. Alexander had already won a virtual
decision in his favour on the Polish question, but he abated something of
his claims, and while gaining the lion's share of the Duchy of Warsaw, he
ultimately consented that Cracow, which threatened the Austrian frontier,
should be formed into an independent Republic, and that Prussia should
receive the fortresses of Dantzic and Thorn on the Vistula, with the
district lying between Thorn and the border of Silesia. [222] This was
little for Alexander to abandon; on the Saxon question the allies of
Talleyrand gained most that they demanded. The King of Saxony was restored
to his throne, and permitted to retain Dresden and about half of his
dominions. Prussia received the remainder. In lieu of a further expansion
in Saxony, Prussia was awarded territory on the left bank of the Rhine,
which, with its recovered Westphalian provinces, restored the monarchy to
an area and population equal to that which it had possessed in 1805. But
the dominion given to Prussia beyond the Rhine, though considered at the
time to be a poor equivalent for the second half of Saxony, was in reality
a gift of far greater value. It made Prussia, in defence of its own soil,
the guardian and bulwark of Germany against France. It brought an element
into the life of the State in striking contrast with the aristocratic and
Protestant type predominant in the older Prussian provinces,--a Catholic
population, liberal in its political opinions, and habituated by twenty
years' union with France to the democratic tendencies of French social
life. It gave to Prussia something more in common with Bavaria and the
South, and qualified it, as it had not been qualified before, for its
future task of uniting Germany under its own leadership.

[Napoleon leaves Elba, Feb. 26.]

[Lands in France, March 1.]

The Polish and Saxon difficulties, which had threatened the peace of
Europe, were virtually settled before the end of the month of January.
Early in February Lord Castlereagh left Vienna, to give an account of his
labours and to justify his policy before the English House of Commons. His
place at the Congress was taken by the Duke of Wellington. There remained
the question of Naples, the formation of a Federal Constitution for
Germany, and several matters of minor political importance, none of which
endangered the good understanding of the Powers. Suddenly the action of the
Congress was interrupted by the most startling intelligence. On the night
of March 6th Metternich was roused from sleep to receive a despatch
informing him that Napoleon had quitted Elba. The news had taken eight days
to reach Vienna. Napoleon had set sail on the 26th of February. In the
silence of his exile he had watched the progress of events in France: he
had convinced himself of the strength of the popular reaction against the
priests and emigrants; and the latest intelligence which he had received
from Vienna led him to believe that the Congress itself was on the point of
breaking up. There was at least some chance of success in an attempt to
regain his throne; and, the decision once formed, Napoleon executed it with
characteristic audacity and despatch. Talleyrand, on hearing that Napoleon
had left Elba, declared that he would only cross into Italy and there raise
the standard of Italian independence: instead of doing this, Napoleon made
straight for France, with the whole of his guard, eleven hundred in number,
embarked on a little flotilla of seven ships. The voyage lasted three days:
no French or English vessels capable of offering resistance met the
squadron. On the 1st of March Napoleon landed at the bay of Jouan, three
miles to the west of Antibes. A detachment of his guards called upon the
commandant of Antibes to deliver up the town to the Emperor; the commandant
refused, and the troops bivouacked that evening, with Napoleon among them,
in the olive-woods by the shore of the Mediterranean.

[Moves on Grenoble.]

[Troops at La Mure.]

Before daybreak began the march that was to end in Paris. Instead of
following the coast road of Provence, which would have brought him to
Toulon and Marseilles, where most of the population were fiercely Royalist,
[223] and where Massena and other great officers might have offered
resistance, Napoleon struck northwards into the mountains, intending to
descend upon Lyons by way of Grenoble. There were few troops in this
district, and no generals capable of influencing them. The peasantry of
Dauphine were in great part holders of land that had been taken from the
Church and the nobles: they were exasperated against the Bourbons, and,
like the peasantry of France generally, they identified the glory of the
country which they loved with the name and the person of Napoleon. As the
little band penetrated into the mountains the villagers thronged around
them, and by offering their carts and horses enabled Napoleon to march
continuously over steep and snowy roads at the rate of forty miles a day.
No troops appeared to dispute these mountain passages: it was not until the
close of the fifth day's march that Napoleon's mounted guard, pressing on
in front of the marching column, encountered, in the village of La Mure,
twenty miles south of Grenoble, a regiment of infantry wearing the white
cockade of the House of Bourbon. The two bodies of troops mingled and
conversed in the street: the officer commanding the royal infantry fearing
the effect on his men, led them back on the road towards Grenoble.
Napoleon's lancers also retired, and the night passed without further
communication. At noon on the following day the lancers, again advancing
towards Grenoble, found the infantry drawn up to defend the road. They
called out that Napoleon was at hand, and begged the infantry not to fire.
Presently Napoleon's column came in sight; one of his _aides-de-camp_
rode to the front of the royal troops, addressed them, and pointed out
Napoleon. The regiment was already wavering, the officer commanding had
already given the order of retreat, when the men saw their Emperor
advancing towards them. They saw his face, they heard his voice: in another
moment the ranks were broken, and the soldiers were pressing with shouts
and tears round the leader whom nature had created with such transcendent
capacity for evil, and endowed with such surpassing power of attracting

[Enters Grenoble, March 7.]

[Declaration of his purpose.]

Everything was decided by this first encounter. "In six days," said
Napoleon, "we shall be in the Tuileries." The next pledge of victory came
swiftly. Colonel Labédoyère, commander of the 7th Regiment of the Line, had
openly declared for Napoleon in Grenoble, and appeared on the road at the
head of his men a few hours after the meeting at La Mure. Napoleon reached
Grenoble the same evening. The town had been in tumult all day. The Préfet
fled: the general in command sent part of his troops away, and closed the
gates. On Napoleon's approach the population thronged the ramparts with
torches; the gates were burst open; Napoleon was borne through the town in
triumph by a wild and intermingled crowd of soldiers and workpeople. The
whole mass of the poorer classes of the town welcomed him with enthusiasm:
the middle classes, though hostile to the Church and the Bourbons, saw too
clearly the dangers to France involved in Napoleon's return to feel the
same joy. [224] They remained in the background, neither welcoming Napoleon
nor interfering with the welcome offered him by others. Thus the night
passed. On the morning of the next day Napoleon received the magistrates
and principal inhabitants of the town, and addressed them in terms which
formed the substance of every subsequent declaration of his policy. "He had
come," he said, "to save France from the outrages of the returning nobles;
to secure to the peasant the possession of his land; to uphold the rights
won in 1789 against a minority which sought to re-establish the privileges
of caste and the feudal burdens of the last century. France had made trial
of the Bourbons: it had done well to do so; but the experiment had failed.
The Bourbon monarchy had proved incapable of detaching itself from its
worst supports, the priests and nobles: only the dynasty which owed its
throne to the Revolution could maintain the social work of the Revolution.
As for himself, he had learnt wisdom by misfortune. He renounced conquest.
He should give France peace without and liberty within. He accepted the
Treaty of Paris and the frontiers of 1792. Freed from the necessities which
had forced him in earlier days to found a military Empire, he recognised
and bowed to the desire of the French nation for constitutional government.
He should henceforth govern only as a constitutional sovereign, and seek
only to leave a constitutional crown to his son."

[Feeling of the various classes.]

[Napoleon enters Lyons, March 10.]

This language was excellently chosen. It satisfied the peasants and the
workmen, who wished to see the nobles crushed, and it showed at least a
comprehension of the feelings uppermost in the minds of the wealthier and
more educated middle classes, the longing for peace, and the aspiration
towards political liberty. It was also calculated to temper the unwelcome
impression that an exiled ruler was being forced upon France by the
soldiery. The military movement was indeed overwhelmingly decisive, yet the
popular movement was scarcely less so. The Royalists were furious, but
impotent to act; thoughtful men in all classes held back, with sad
apprehensions of returning war and calamity; [225] but from the time when
Napoleon left Grenoble, the nation at large was on his side. There was
nowhere an effective centre of resistance. The Préfets and other civil
officers appointed under the Empire still for the most part held their
posts; they knew themselves to be threatened by the Bourbonist reaction,
but they had not yet been displaced; their professions of loyalty to Louis
XVIII. were forced, their instincts of obedience to their old master, even
if they wished to have done with him, profound. From this class, whose
cowardice and servility find too many parallels in history, [226] Napoleon
had little to fear. Among the marshals and higher officers charged with the
defence of the monarchy, those who sincerely desired to serve the Bourbons
found themselves powerless in the midst of their troops. Macdonald, who
commanded at Lyons, had to fly from his men, in order to escape being made
a prisoner. The Count of Artois, who had come to join him, discovered that
the only service he could render to the cause of his family was to take
himself out of sight. Napoleon entered Lyons on the 10th of March, and now
formally resumed his rank and functions as Emperor. His first edicts
renewed that appeal to the ideas and passions of the Revolution which had
been the key-note of every one of his public utterances since leaving Elba.
Treating the episode of Bourbon restoration as null and void, the edicts of
Lyons expelled from France every emigrant who had returned without the
permission of the Republic or the Emperor; they drove from the army the
whole mass of officers intruded by the Government of Louis XVIII.; they
invalidated every appointment and every dismissal made in the magistracy
since the 1st of April, 1814; and, reverting to the law of the Constituent
Assembly of 1789, abolished all nobility except that which had been
conferred by the Emperor himself.

[Marshal Ney.]

[The Chambers in Paris.]

[Napoleon enters Paris, March 20.]

From this time all was over. Marshal Ney, who had set out from Paris
protesting that Napoleon deserved to be confined in an iron cage, [227]
found, when at some distance from Lyons, that the nation and army were on
the side of the Emperor, and proclaimed his own adherence to him in an
address to his troops. The two Chambers of Legislature, which had been
prorogued, were summoned by King Louis XVIII. as soon as the news of
Napoleon's landing reached the capital. The Chambers met on the 13th of
March. The constitutionalist party, though they had opposed various
measures of King Louis' Government as reactionary, were sincerely loyal to
the Charta, and hastened, in the cause of constitutional liberty, to offer
to the King their cordial support in resisting Bonaparte's military
despotism. The King came down to the Legislative Chamber, and, in a scene
concerted with his brother, the Count of Artois, made, with great dramatic
effect, a declaration of fidelity to the Constitution. Lafayette and the
chiefs of the Parliamentary Liberals hoped to raise a sufficient force from
the National Guard of Paris to hold Napoleon in check. The project,
however, came to nought. The National Guard, which represented the middle
classes of Paris, was decidedly in favour of the Charta and Constitutional
Government; but it had no leaders, no fighting-organisation, and no
military spirit. The regular troops who were sent out against Napoleon
mounted the tricolor as soon as they were out of sight of Paris, and joined
their comrades. The courtiers passed from threats to consternation and
helplessness. On the night of March 19th King Louis fled from the
Tuileries. Napoleon entered the capital the next evening, welcomed with
acclamations by the soldiers and populace, but not with that general
rejoicing which had met him at Lyons, and at many of the smaller towns
through which he had passed.

[Congress of Vienna outlaws Napoleon.]

[Napoleon's preparations for defence.]

France was won: Europe remained behind. On the 13th of March the Ministers
of all the Great Powers, assembled at Vienna, published a manifesto
denouncing Napoleon Bonaparte as the common enemy of mankind, and declaring
him an outlaw. The whole political structure which had been reared with so
much skill by Talleyrand vanished away. France was again alone, with all
Europe combined against it. Affairs reverted to the position in which they
had stood in the month of March, 1814, when the Treaty of Chaumont was
signed, which bound the Powers to sustain their armed concert against
France, if necessary, for a period of twenty years. That treaty was now
formally renewed. [228] The four great Powers undertook to employ their
whole available resources against Bonaparte until he should be absolutely
unable to create disturbance, and each pledged itself to keep permanently
in the field a force of at least a hundred and fifty thousand men. The
presence of the Duke of Wellington at Vienna enabled the Allies to decide
without delay upon the general plan for their invasion of France. It was
resolved to group the allied troops in three masses; one, composed of the
English and the Prussians under Wellington and Blücher, to enter France by
the Netherlands; the two others, commanded by the Czar and Prince
Schwarzenberg, to advance from the middle and upper Rhine. Nowhere was
there the least sign of political indecision. The couriers sent by Napoleon
with messages of amity to the various Courts were turned back at the
frontiers with their despatches undelivered. It was in vain for the Emperor
to attempt to keep up any illusion that peace was possible. After a brief
interval he himself acquainted France with the true resolution of his
enemies. The most strenuous efforts were made for defence. The old soldiers
were called from their homes. Factories of arms and ammunition began their
hurried work in the principal towns. The Emperor organised with an energy
and a command of detail never surpassed at any period of his life; the
nature of the situation lent a new character to his genius, and evoked in
the organisation of systematic defence all that imagination and resource
which had dazzled the world in his schemes of invasion and surprise. Nor,
as hitherto, was the nation to be the mere spectator of his exploits. The
population of France, its National Guard, its _levée en masse_, as
well as its armies and its Emperor, was to drive the foreigner from French
soil. Every operation of defensive warfare, from the accumulation of
artillery round the capital to the gathering of forest-guards and
free-shooters in the thickets of the Vosges and the Ardennes, occupied in
its turn the thoughts of Napoleon. [229] Had France shared his resolution
or his madness, had the Allies found at the outset no chief superior to
their Austrian leader in 1814, the war on which they were now about to
enter would have been one of immense difficulty and risk, its ultimate
issue perhaps doubtful.

[Campaign and fall of Murat, April, 1815]

Before Napoleon or his adversaries were ready to move, hostilities broke
out in Italy. Murat, King of Naples, had during the winter of 1814 been
represented at Vienna by an envoy: he was aware of the efforts made by
Talleyrand to expel him from his throne, and knew that the Government of
Great Britain, convinced of his own treachery during the pretended
combination with the Allies in 1814, now inclined to act with France. [230]
The instinct of self-preservation led him to risk everything in raising the
standard of Italian independence, rather than await the loss of his
kingdom; and the return of Napoleon precipitated his fall. At the moment
when Napoleon was about to leave Elba, Murat, who knew his intention, asked
the permission of Austria to move a body of troops through Northern Italy
for the alleged purpose of attacking the French Bourbons, who were
preparing to restore his rival, Ferdinand. Austria declared that it should
treat the entry either of French or of Neapolitan troops into Northern
Italy as an act of war. Murat, as soon as Napoleon's landing in France
became known, protested to the Allies that he intended to remain faithful
to them, but he also sent assurances of friendship to Napoleon, and
forthwith invaded the Papal States. He acted without waiting for Napoleon's
instructions, and probably with the intention of winning all Italy for
himself even if Napoleon should victoriously re-establish his Empire. On
the 10th of April, Austria declared war against him. Murat pressed forward
and entered Bologna, now openly proclaiming the unity and independence of
Italy. The feeling of the towns and of the educated classes generally
seemed to be in his favour, but no national rising took place. After some
indecisive encounters with the Austrians, Murat retreated. As he fell back
towards the Neapolitan frontier, his troops melted away. The enterprise
ended in swift and total ruin; and on the 22nd of May an English and
Austrian force took possession of the city of Naples in the name of King
Ferdinand. Murat, leaving his family behind him, fled to France, and sought
in vain to gain a place by the side of Napoleon in his last great struggle,
and to retrieve as a soldier the honour which he had lost as a king. [231]

[The Acte Additionnel, April 23, 1815.]

In the midst of his preparations for war with all Europe, Napoleon found it
necessary to give some satisfaction to that desire for liberty which was
again so strong in France. He would gladly have deferred all political
change until victory over the foreigner had restored his own undisputed
ascendency over men's minds; he was resolved at any rate not to be harassed
by a Constituent Assembly, like that of 1789, at the moment of his greatest
peril; and the action of King Louis XVIII. in granting liberty by Charta
gave him a precedent for creating a Constitution by an Edict supplementary
to the existing laws of the Empire. Among the Liberal politicians who had
declared for King Louis XVIII. while Napoleon was approaching Paris, one of
the most eminent was Benjamin Constant, who had published an article
attacking the Emperor with great severity on the very day when he entered
the capital. Napoleon now invited Constant to the Tuileries, assured him
that he no longer either desired or considered it possible to maintain an
absolute rule in France, and requested Constant himself to undertake the
task of drawing up a Constitution. Constant, believing the Emperor to be in
some degree sincere, accepted the proposals made to him, and, at the cost
of some personal consistency, entered upon the work, in which Napoleon by
no means allowed him entire freedom. [232] The result of Constant's labours
was the Decree known as the Acte Additionnel of 1815. The leading
provisions of this Act resembled those of the Charta: both professed to
establish a representative Government and the responsibility of Ministers;
both contained the usual phrases guaranteeing freedom of religion and
security of person and property. The principal differences were that the
Chamber of Peers was now made wholly hereditary, and that the Emperor
absolutely refused to admit the clause of the Charta abolishing
confiscation as a penalty for political offences. On the other hand,
Constant definitely extinguished the censorship of the Press, and provided
some real guarantee for the free expression of opinion by enacting that
Press-offences should be judged only in the ordinary Jury-courts. Constant
was sanguine enough to believe that the document which he had composed
would reduce Napoleon to the condition of a constitutional king. As a
Liberal statesman, he pressed the Emperor to submit the scheme to a
Representative Assembly, where it could be examined and amended. This
Napoleon refused to do, preferring to resort to the fiction of a Plébiscite
for the purpose of procuring some kind of national sanction for his Edict.
The Act was published on the 23rd of April, 1815. Voting lists were then
opened in all the Departments, and the population of France, most of whom
were unable to read or write, were invited to answer Yes or No to the
question whether they approved of Napoleon's plan for giving his subjects
Parliamentary government.

[The Chambers summoned for June.]

There would have been no difficulty in obtaining some millions of votes for
any absurdity that the Emperor might be pleased to lay before the French
people; but among the educated minority who had political theories of their
own, the publication of this reform by Edict produced the worst possible
impression. No stronger evidence, it was said, could have been given of the
Emperor's insincerity than the dictatorial form in which he affected to
bestow liberty upon France. Scarcely a voice was raised in favour of the
new Constitution. The measure had in fact failed of its effect. Napoleon's
object was to excite an enthusiasm that should lead the entire nation, the
educated classes as well as the peasantry, to rally round him in a struggle
with the foreigner for life or death: he found, on the contrary, that he
had actually injured his cause. The hostility of public opinion was so
serious that Napoleon judged it wise to make advances to the Liberal party,
and sent his brother Joseph to Lafayette, to ascertain on what terms he
might gain his support. [233] Lafayette, strongly condemning the form of
the Acte Additionnel, stated that the Emperor could only restore public
confidence by immediately convoking the Chambers. This was exactly what
Napoleon desired to avoid, until he had defeated the English and Prussians;
nor in fact had the vote of the nation accepting the new Constitution yet
been given. But the urgency of the need overcame the Emperor's inclinations
and the forms of law. Lafayette's demand was granted: orders were issued
for an immediate election, and the meeting of the Chambers fixed for the
beginning of June, a few days earlier than the probable departure of the
Emperor to open hostilities on the northern frontier.


Lafayette's counsel had been given in sincerity, but Napoleon gained little
by following it. The nation at large had nothing of the faith in the
elections which was felt by Lafayette and his friends. In some places not a
single person appeared at the poll: in most, the candidates were elected by
a few scores of voters. The Royalists absented themselves on principle: the
population generally thought only of the coming war, and let the professed
politicians conduct the business of the day by themselves. Among the
deputies chosen there were several who had sat in the earlier Assemblies of
the Revolution; and, mingled with placemen and soldiers of the Empire, a
considerable body of men whose known object was to reduce Napoleon's power.
One interest alone was unrepresented--that of the Bourbon family, which so
lately seemed to have been called to the task of uniting the old and the
new France around itself.

[Champ de Mai.]

Napoleon, troubling himself little about the elections, laboured
incessantly at his preparations for war, and by the end of May two hundred
thousand men were ready to take the field. The delay of the Allies, though
necessary, enabled their adversary to take up the offensive. It was the
intention of the Emperor to leave a comparatively small force to watch the
eastern frontier, and himself, at the head of a hundred and twenty-five
thousand men, to fall upon Wellington and Blücher in the Netherlands, and
crush them before they could unite their forces. With this object the
greater part of the army was gradually massed on the northern roads at
points between Paris, Lille, and Maubeuge. Two acts of State remained to be
performed by the Emperor before he quitted the capital; the inauguration of
the new Constitution and the opening of the Chambers of Legislature. The
first, which had been fixed for the 26th of May, and announced as a revival
of the old Frankish Champ de Mai, was postponed till the beginning of the
following month. On the 1st of June the solemnity was performed with
extraordinary pomp and splendour, on that same Champ de Mars where,
twenty-five years before, the grandest and most affecting of all the
festivals of the Revolution, the Act of Federation, had been celebrated by
King Louis XVI. and his people. Deputations from each of the constituencies
of France, from the army, and from every public body, surrounded the
Emperor in a great amphitheatre enclosed at the southern end of the plain:
outside there were ranged twenty thousand soldiers of the Guard and other
regiments; and behind them spread the dense crowd of Paris. When the total
of the votes given in the Plébiscite had been summed up and declared, the
Emperor took the oath to the Constitution, and delivered one of his
masterpieces of political rhetoric. The great officers of State took the
oath in their turn: mass was celebrated, and Napoleon, leaving the enclosed
space, then presented their standards to the soldiery in the Champ de Mars,
addressing some brief, soul-stirring word to each regiment as it passed.
The spectacle was magnificent, but except among the soldiers themselves a
sense of sadness and disappointment passed over the whole assembly. The
speech of the Emperor showed that he was still the despot at heart: the
applause was forced: all was felt to be ridiculous, all unreal. [234]

[Plan of Napoleon.]

The opening of the Legislative Chambers took place a few days later, and on
the night of the 11th of June Napoleon started for the northern frontier.
The situation of the forces opposed to him in this his last campaign
strikingly resembled that which had given him his first Italian victory in
1796. Then the Austrians and Sardinians, resting on opposite bases, covered
the approaches to the Sardinian capital, and invited the assailant to break
through their centre and drive the two defeated wings along diverging and
severed paths of retreat. Now the English and the Prussians covered
Brussels, the English resting westward on Ostend, the Prussians eastward on
Cologne, and barely joining hands in the middle of a series of posts nearly
eighty miles long. The Emperor followed the strategy of 1796. He determined
to enter Belgium by the central road of Charleroi, and to throw his main
force upon Blücher, whose retreat, if once he should be severed from his
colleague, would carry him eastwards towards Liège, and place him outside
the area of hostilities round Brussels. Blücher driven eastwards, Napoleon
believed that he might not only push the English commander out of Brussels,
but possibly, by a movement westwards, intercept him from the sea and cut
off his communication with Great Britain. [235]

[Situation of the armies.]

On the night of the 13th of June, the French army, numbering a hundred and
twenty-nine thousand men, had completed its concentration, and lay gathered
round Beaumont and Philippeville. Wellington was at Brussels; his troops,
which consisted of thirty-five thousand English and about sixty thousand
Dutch, Germans, and Belgians, [236] guarded the country west of the
Charleroi road as far as Oudenarde on the Scheldt. Blücher's headquarters
were at Namur; he had a hundred and twenty thousand Prussians under his
command, who were posted between Charleroi, Namur, and Liège. Both the
English and Prussian generals were aware that very large French forces had
been brought close to the frontier, but Wellington imagined Napoleon to be
still in Paris, and believed that the war would be opened by a forward
movement of Prince Schwarzenberg into Alsace. It was also his fixed
conviction that if Napoleon entered Belgium he would throw himself not upon
the Allied centre, but upon the extreme right of the English towards the
sea. [237] In the course of the 14th, the Prussian outposts reported that
the French were massed round Beaumont: later in the same day there were
clear signs of an advance upon Charleroi. Early next morning the attack on
Charleroi began. The Prussians were driven out of it, and retreated in the
direction of Ligny, whither Blücher now brought up all the forces within
his reach. It was unknown to Wellington until the afternoon of the 15th
that the French had made any movement whatever: on receiving the news of
their advance, he ordered a concentrating movement of all his forces
eastward, in order to cover the road to Brussels and to co-operate with the
Prussian general. A small division of the British army took post at Quatre
Bras that night, and on the morning of the 16th Wellington himself rode to
Ligny, and promised his assistance to Blücher, whose troops were already
drawn up and awaiting the attack of the French.

[Ligny, June 16.]

But the march of the invader was too rapid for the English to reach the
field of battle. Already, on returning to Quatre Bras in the afternoon,
Wellington found his own troops hotly engaged. Napoleon had sent Ney along
the road to Brussels to hold the English in check and, if possible, to
enter the capital, while he himself, with seventy thousand men, attacked
Blücher. The Prussian general had succeeded in bringing up a force superior
in number to his assailants; but the French army, which consisted in a
great part of veterans recalled to the ranks, was of finer quality than any
that Napoleon had led since the campaign of Moscow, and it was in vain that
Blücher and his soldiers met them with all the gallantry and even more than
the fury of 1813. There was murderous hand-to-hand fighting in the villages
where the Prussians had taken up their position: now the defenders, now the
assailants gave way: but at last the Prussians, with a loss of thirteen
thousand men, withdrew from the combat, and left the battlefield in
possession of the enemy. If the conquerors had followed up the pursuit that
night, the cause of the Allies would have been ruined. The effort of battle
had, however, been too great, or the estimate which Napoleon made of his
adversary's rallying power was too low. He seems to have assumed that
Blücher must necessarily retreat eastwards towards Namur; while in reality
the Prussian was straining every nerve to escape northwards, and to restore
his severed communication with his ally.

[Quatre Bras, June 16.]

At Quatre Bras the issue of the day was unfavourable to the French. Ney
missed his opportunity of seizing this important point before it was
occupied by the British in any force; and when the battle began the British
infantry-squares unflinchingly bore the attack of Ney's cavalry, and drove
them back again and again with their volleys, until successive
reinforcements had made the numbers on both sides even. At the close of the
day the French marshal, baffled and disheartened, drew back his troops to
their original position. The army-corps of General d'Erlon, which Napoleon
had placed between himself and Ney in order that it might act wherever
there was the greatest need, was first withdrawn from Ney to assist at
Ligny, and then, as it was entering into action at Ligny, recalled to
Quatre Bras, where it arrived only after the battle was over. Its presence
in either field would probably have altered the issue of the campaign.

[Prussian movement.]

Blücher, on the night of the 16th, lay disabled and almost senseless; his
lieutenant, Gneisenau, not only saved the army, but repaired, and more than
repaired, all its losses by a memorable movement northwards that brought
the Prussians again into communication with the British. Napoleon, after an
unexplained inaction during the night of the 16th and the morning of the
17th, committed the pursuit of the Prussians to Marshal Grouchy, ordering
him never to let the enemy out of his sight; but Blücher and Gneisenau had
already made their escape, and had concentrated so large a body in the
neighbourhood of Wavre, that Grouchy could not now have prevented a force
superior to his own from uniting with the English, even if he had known the
exact movements of each of the three armies, and, with a true presentiment
of his master's danger, had attempted to rejoin him on the morrow.

Wellington, who had both anticipated that Blücher would be beaten at Ligny,
and assured himself that the Prussian would make good his retreat
northwards, moved on the 17th from Quatre Bras to Waterloo, now followed by
Napoleon and the mass of the French army. At Waterloo he drew up for
battle, trusting to the promise of the gallant Prussian that he would
advance in that direction on the following day. Blücher, in so doing,
exposed himself to the risk of having his communications severed and half
his army captured, if Napoleon should either change the direction of his
main attack and bend eastwards, or should crush Wellington before the
arrival of the Prussians, and seize the road from Brussels to Louvain with
a victorious force. Such considerations would have driven a commander like
Schwarzenberg back to Liège, but they were thrown to the winds by Blücher
and Gneisenau. In just reliance on his colleague's energy, Wellington, with
thirty thousand English and forty thousand Dutch, Germans, and Belgians,
awaited the attack of Napoleon, at the head of seventy-four thousand
veteran soldiers. The English position extended two miles along the brow of
a gentle slope of cornfields, and crossed at right angles the great road
from Charleroi to Brussels; the château of Hugomont, some way down the
slope on the right, and the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte, on the high-road
in front of the left centre, served as fortified outposts. The French
formed on the opposite and corresponding slope; the country was so open
that, but for the heavy rain on the evening of the 17th, artillery could
have moved over almost any part of the field with perfect freedom.

[Waterloo, June 18.]

At eleven o'clock on Sunday, the 18th of June, the battle began. Napoleon,
unconscious of the gathering of the Prussians on his right, and
unacquainted with the obstinacy of English troops, believed the victory
already thrown into his hands by Wellington's hardihood. His plan was to
burst through the left of the English line near La Haye Sainte, and thus to
drive Wellington westwards and place the whole French army between its two
defeated enemies. The first movement was an assault on the buildings of
Hugomont, made for the purpose of diverting Wellington from the true point
of attack. The English commander sent detachments to this outpost
sufficient to defend it, but no more. After two hours' indecisive fighting
and a heavy cannonade, Ney ordered D'Erlon's corps forward to the great
onslaught on the centre and left. As the French column pressed up the
slope, General Picton charged at the head of a brigade. The English leader
was among the first to fall, but his men drove the enemy back, and at the
same time the Scots Greys, sweeping down from the left, cut right through
both the French infantry and their cavalry supports, and, charging far up
the opposite slope, reached and disabled forty of Ney's guns, before they
were in their turn overpowered and driven back by the French dragoons. The
English lost heavily, but the onslaught of the enemy had totally failed,
and thousands of prisoners remained behind. There was a pause in the
infantry combat; and again the artillery of Napoleon battered the English
centre, while Ney marshalled fresh troops for a new and greater effort.
About two o'clock the attack was renewed on the left. La Haye Sainte was
carried, and vast masses of cavalry pressed up the English slope, and rode
over the plateau to the very front of the English line. Wellington sent no
cavalry to meet them, but trusted, and trusted justly, to the patience and
endurance of the infantry themselves, who, hour after hour, held their
ground, unmoved by the rush of the enemy's horse and the terrible spectacle
of havoc and death in their own ranks; for all through the afternoon the
artillery of Napoleon poured its fire wherever the line was left open, or
the assault of the French cavalry rolled back.

At last the approach of the Prussians visibly told. Napoleon had seen their
vanguard early in the day, and had detached Count Lobau with seven thousand
men to hold them in check; but the little Prussian corps gradually swelled
to an army, and as the day wore on it was found necessary to reinforce
Count Lobau with some of the finest divisions of the French infantry. Still
reports came in of new Prussian columns approaching. At six o'clock
Napoleon prepared to throw his utmost strength into one grand final attack
upon the British, and to sweep them away before the battle became general
with their allies. Two columns of the Imperial Guard, supported by every
available regiment, moved from the right and left towards the English
centre. The column on the right, unchecked by the storm of Wellington's
cannon-shot from front and flank, pushed to the very ridge of the British
slope, and came within forty yards of the cross-road where the English
Guard lay hidden. Then Wellington gave the order to fire. The French
recoiled; the English advanced at the charge, and drove the enemy down the
hill, returning themselves for a while to their own position. The left
column of the French Guard attacked with equal bravery, and met with the
same fate. Then, while the French were seeking to re-form at the bottom of
the hill, Wellington commanded a general advance. The whole line of the
British infantry and cavalry swept down into the valley; before them the
baffled and sorely-stricken host of the enemy broke into a confused mass;
only the battalions of the old Guard, which had halted in the rear of the
attacking columns, remained firm together. Blücher, from the east, dealt
the death-blow, and, pressing on to the road by which the French were
escaping, turned the defeat into utter ruin and dispersion. The pursuit,
which Wellington's troops were too exhausted to attempt, was carried on
throughout the night by the Prussian cavalry with memorable ardour and
terrible success. Before the morning the French army was no more than a
rabble of fugitives.

[Napoleon at Paris.]

[Allies enter Paris, July 7.]

Napoleon fled to Philippeville, and made some ineffectual attempts both
there and at Laon to fix a rallying point for his vanished forces. From
Laon he hastened to Paris, which he reached at sunrise on the 21st. His
bulletin describing the defeat of Waterloo was read to the Chambers on the
same morning. The Lower House immediately declared against the Emperor, and
demanded his abdication. Unless Napoleon seized the dictatorship his cause
was lost. Carnot and Lucien Bonaparte urged him to dismiss the Chambers and
to stake all on his own strong will; but they found no support among the
Emperor's counsellors. On the next day Napoleon abdicated in favour of his
son. But it was in vain that he attempted to impose an absent successor
upon France, and to maintain his own Ministers in power. It was equally in
vain that Carnot, filled with the memories of 1793, called upon the
Assembly to continue the war and to provide for the defence of Paris. A
Provisional Government entered upon office. Days were spent in inaction and
debate while the Allies advanced through France. On the 28th of June, the
Prussians appeared on the north of the capital; and, as the English
followed, they moved to the south of the Seine, out of the range of the
fortifications with which Napoleon had covered the side of St. Denis and
Montmartre. Davoust, with almost all the generals in Paris, declared
defence to be impossible. On the 3rd of July, a capitulation was signed.
The remnants of the French army were required to withdraw beyond the Loire.
The Provisional Government dissolved itself; the Allied troops entered the
capital and on the following day the Members of the Chamber of Deputies, on
arriving at their Hall of Assembly, found the gates closed, and a
detachment of soldiers in possession. France was not, even as a matter of
form, consulted as to its future government. Louis XVIII. was summarily
restored to his throne. Napoleon, who had gone to Rochefort with the
intention of sailing to the United States, lingered at Rochefort until
escape was no longer possible, and then embarked on the British ship
_Bellerophon_, commending himself, as a second Themistocles, to the
generosity of the Prince Regent of England. He who had declared that the
lives of a million men were nothing to him [238] trusted to the folly or
the impotence of the English nation to provide him with some agreeable
asylum until he could again break loose and deluge Europe with blood. But
the lesson of 1814 had been learnt. Some island in the ocean far beyond the
equator formed the only prison for a man whom no European sovereign could
venture to guard, and whom no fortress-walls could have withdrawn from the
attention of mankind. Napoleon was conveyed to St. Helena. There, until at
the end of six years death removed him, he experienced some trifling share
of the human misery that he had despised.

[Wellington and Fouché.]

Victory had come so swiftly that the Allied Governments were unprepared
with terms of peace. The Czar and the Emperor of Austria were still at
Heidelberg when the battle of Waterloo was fought; they had advanced no
further than Nancy when the news reached them that Paris had surrendered.
Both now hastened to the capital, where Wellington was already exercising
the authority to which his extraordinary successes as well as his great
political superiority over all the representatives of the Allies then
present, entitled him. Before the entry of the English and Prussian troops
into Paris he had persuaded Louis XVIII. to sever himself from the party of
reaction by calling to office the regicide Fouché, head of the existing
Provisional Government. Fouché had been guilty of the most atrocious crimes
at Lyons in 1793; he had done some of the worst work of each succeeding
government in France; and, after returning to his old place as Napoleon's
Minister of Police during the Hundred Days, he had intrigued as early as
possible for the restoration of Louis XVIII., if indeed he had not held
treasonable communication with the enemy during the campaign. His sole
claim to power was that every gendarme and every informer in France had at
some time acted as his agent, and that, as a regicide in office, he might
possibly reconcile Jacobins and Bonapartists to the second return of the
Bourbon family. Such was the man whom, in association with Talleyrand, the
Duke of Wellington found himself compelled to propose as Minister to Louis
XVIII. The appointment, it was said, was humiliating, but it was necessary;
and with the approval of the Count of Artois the King invited this
blood-stained eavesdropper to an interview and placed him in office. Need
subdued the scruples of the courtiers: it could not subdue the resentment
of that grief-hardened daughter of Louis XVI. whom Napoleon termed the only
man of her family. The Duchess of Angoulême might have forgiven the Jacobin
Fouché the massacres at Lyons: she refused to speak to a Minister whom she
termed one of the murderers of her father.

[Disagreement on terms of peace.]

Fouché had entered into a private negotiation with Wellington while the
English were on the outskirts of Paris, and while the authorised envoys of
the Assembly were engaged elsewhere. Wellington's motive for recommending
him to the King was the indifference or hostility felt by some of the
Allies to Louis XVIII. personally, which led the Duke to believe that if
Louis did not regain his throne before the arrival of the sovereigns he
might never regain it at all. [239] Fouché was the one man who could at
that moment throw open the road to the Tuileries. If his overtures were
rejected, he might either permit Carnot to offer some desperate resistance
outside Paris, or might retire himself with the army and the Assembly
beyond the Loire, and there set up a Republican Government. With Fouché and
Talleyrand united in office under Louis XVIII., there was no fear either of
a continuance of the war or of the suggestion of a change of dynasty on the
part of any of the Allies. By means of the Duke's independent action Louis
XVIII. was already in possession when the Czar arrived at Paris, and
nothing now prevented the definite conclusion of peace but the disagreement
of the Allies themselves as to the terms to be exacted. Prussia, which had
suffered so bitterly from Napoleon, demanded that Europe should not a
second time deceive itself with the hollow guarantee of a Bourbon
restoration, but should gain a real security for peace by detaching Alsace
and Lorraine, as well as a line of northern fortresses, from the French
monarchy. Lord Liverpool, Prime Minister of England, stated it to be the
prevailing opinion in this country that France might fairly be stripped of
the principal conquests made by Louis XIV.; but he added that if Napoleon,
who was then at large, should become a prisoner, England would waive a
permanent cession of territory, on condition that France should be occupied
by foreign armies until it had, at its own cost, restored the
barrier-fortresses of the Netherlands. [240] Metternich for a while held
much the same language as the Prussian Minister: Alexander alone declared
from the first against any reduction of the territory of France, and
appealed to the declarations of the Powers that the sole object of the war
was the destruction of Napoleon and the maintenance of the order
established by the Peace of Paris.

[Arguments for and against cessions.]

[Prussia isolated.]

[Second Treaty of Paris, Nov. 20.]

The arguments for and against the severance of the border-provinces from
France were drawn at great length by diplomatists, but all that was
essential in them was capable of being very briefly put. On the one side,
it was urged by Stein and Hardenberg that the restoration of the Bourbons
in 1814 with an undiminished territory had not prevented France from
placing itself at the end of a few months under the rule of the military
despot whose life was one series of attacks on his neighbours: that the
expectation of long-continued peace, under whatever dynasty, was a vain one
so long as the French possessed a chain of fortresses enabling them at any
moment to throw large armies into Germany or the Netherlands: and finally,
that inasmuch as Germany, and not England or Russia, was exposed to these
irruptions, Germany had the first right to have its interests consulted in
providing for the public security. On the other side, it was argued by the
Emperor Alexander, and with far greater force by the Duke of Wellington,
[241] that the position of the Bourbons would be absolutely hopeless if
their restoration, besides being the work of foreign armies, was
accompanied by the loss of French provinces: that the French nation,
although it had submitted to Napoleon, had not as a matter of fact offered
the resistance to the Allies which it was perfectly capable of offering:
and that the danger of any new aggressive or revolutionary movement might
be effectually averted by keeping part of France occupied by the Allied
forces until the nation had settled down into tranquillity under an
efficient government. Notes embodying these arguments were exchanged
between the Ministers of the great Powers during the months of July and
August. The British Cabinet, which had at first inclined to the Prussian
view, accepted the calm judgment of Wellington, and transferred itself to
the side of the Czar. Metternich went with the majority. Hardenberg, thus
left alone, abandoned point after point in his demands, and consented at
last that France should cede little more than the border-strips which had
been added by the Peace of 1814 to its frontier of 1791. Chambéry and the
rest of French Savoy, Landau and Saarlouis on the German side,
Philippeville and some other posts on the Belgian frontier, were fixed upon
as the territory to be surrendered. The resolution of the Allied
Governments was made known to Louis XVIII. towards the end of September.
Negotiation on details dragged on for two months more, while France itself
underwent a change of Ministry; and the definitive Treaty of Peace, known
as the second Treaty of Paris, was not signed until November the 20th.
France escaped without substantial loss of territory; it was, however,
compelled to pay indemnities amounting in all to about £40,000,000; to
consent to the occupation of its northern provinces by an Allied force of
150,000 men for a period not exceeding five years; and to defray the cost
of this occupation out of its own revenues. The works of art taken from
other nations, which the Allies had allowed France to retain in 1814, had
already been restored to their rightful owners. No act of the conquerors in
1815 excited more bitter or more unreasonable complaint.

[Treaty of Holy Alliance, Sept. 26.]

It was in the interval between the entry of the Allies into Paris and the
definitive conclusion of peace that a treaty was signed which has gained a
celebrity in singular contrast with its real insignificance, the Treaty of
Holy Alliance. Since the terrible events of 1812 the Czar's mind had taken
a strongly religious tinge. His private life continued loose as before; his
devotion was both very well satisfied with itself and a prey to mysticism
and imposture in others; but, if alloyed with many weaknesses, it was at
least sincere, and, like Alexander's other feelings, it naturally sought
expression in forms which seemed theatrical to stronger natures. Alexander
had rendered many public acts of homage to religion in the intervals of
diplomatic and military success in the year 1814; and after the second
capture of Paris he drew up a profession of religious and political faith,
embodying, as he thought, those high principles by which the Sovereigns of
Europe, delivered from the iniquities of Napoleon, were henceforth to
maintain the reign of peace and righteousness on earth. [242] This
document, which resembled the pledge of a religious brotherhood, formed the
draft of the Treaty of the Holy Alliance. The engagement, as one binding on
the conscience, was for the consideration of the Sovereigns alone, not of
their Ministers; and in presenting it to the Emperor Francis and King
Frederick William, the Czar is said to have acted with an air of great
mystery. The King of Prussia, a pious man, signed the treaty in
seriousness; the Emperor of Austria, who possessed a matter-of-fact humour,
said that if the paper related to doctrines of religion, he must refer it
to his confessor, if to secrets of State, to Prince Metternich. What the
confessor may have thought of the Czar's political evangel is not known:
the opinion delivered by the Minister was not a sympathetic one. "It is
verbiage," said Metternich; and his master, though unwillingly, signed the
treaty. With England the case was still worse. As the Prince Regent was not
in Paris, Alexander had to confide the articles of the Holy Alliance to
Lord Castlereagh. Of all things in the world the most incomprehensible to
Castlereagh was religious enthusiasm. "The fact is," he wrote home to the
English Premier, "that the Emperor's mind is not completely sound." [243]
Apart, however, from the Czar's sanity or insanity, it was impossible for
the Prince Regent, or for any person except the responsible Minister, to
sign a treaty, whether it meant anything or nothing, in the name of Great
Britain. Castlereagh was in great perplexity. On the one hand, he feared to
wound a powerful ally; on the other, he dared not violate the forms of the
Constitution. A compromise was invented. The Treaty of the Holy Alliance
was not graced with the name of the Prince Regent, but the Czar received a
letter declaring that his principles had the personal approval of this
great authority on religion and morality. The Kings of Naples and Sardinia
were the next to subscribe, and in due time the names of the witty glutton,
Louis XVIII., and of the abject Ferdinand of Spain were added. Two
potentates alone received no invitation from the Czar to enter the League:
the Pope, because he possessed too much authority within the Christian
Church, and the Sultan, because he possessed none at all.

[Treaty between the Four Powers, Nov. 20.]

Such was the history of the Treaty of Holy Alliance, of which, it may be
safely said, no single person connected with it, except the Czar and the
King of Prussia, thought without a smile. The common belief that this
Treaty formed the basis of a great monarchical combination against Liberal
principles is erroneous; for, in the first place, no such combination
existed before the year 1818; and, in the second place, the Czar, who was
the author of the Treaty, was at this time the zealous friend of Liberalism
both in his own and in other countries. The concert of the Powers was
indeed provided for by articles signed on the same day as the Peace of
Paris; but this concert, which, unlike the Holy Alliance, included England,
was directed towards the perpetual exclusion of Napoleon from power, and
the maintenance of the established Government in France. The Allies pledged
themselves to act in union if revolution or usurpation should again
convulse France and endanger the repose of other States, and undertook to
resist with their whole force any attack that might be made upon the army
of occupation. The federative unity which for a moment Europe seemed to
have gained from the struggle against Napoleon, and the belief existing in
some quarters in its long continuance, were strikingly shown in the last
article of this Quadruple Treaty, which provided that, after the holding of
a Congress at the end of three or more years, the Sovereigns or Ministers
of all the four great Powers should renew their meetings at fixed
intervals, for the purpose of consulting upon their common interests, and
considering the measures best fitted to secure the repose and prosperity of
nations, and the continuance of the peace of Europe. [244]

[German Federation.]

Thus terminated, certainly without any undue severity, yet not without some
loss to the conquered nation, the work of 1815 in France. In the meantime
the Congress of Vienna, though interrupted by the renewal of war, had
resumed and completed its labours. One subject of the first importance
remained unsettled when Napoleon returned, the federal organisation of
Germany. This work had been referred by the Powers in the autumn of 1814 to
a purely German committee, composed of the representatives of Austria and
Prussia and of three of the Minor States; but the first meetings of the
committee only showed how difficult was the problem, and how little the
inclination in most quarters to solve it. The objects with which statesmen
like Stein demanded an effective federation were thoroughly plain and
practical. They sought, in the first place, that Germany should be rendered
capable of defending itself against the foreigner; and in the second place,
that the subjects of the minor princes, who had been made absolute rulers
by Napoleon, should now be guaranteed against despotic oppression. To
secure Germany from being again conquered by France, it was necessary that
the members of the League, great and small, should abandon something of
their separate sovereignty, and create a central authority with the sole
right of making war and alliances. To protect the subjects of the minor
princes from the abuse of power, it was necessary that certain definite
civil rights and a measure of representative government should be assured
by Federal Law to the inhabitants of every German State, and enforced by
the central authority on the appeal of subjects against their Sovereigns.
There was a moment when some such form of German union had seemed to be
close at hand, the moment when Prussia began its final struggle with
Napoleon, and the commander of the Czar's army threatened the German
vassals of France with the loss of their thrones (Feb., 1813). But even
then no statesman had satisfied himself how Prussia and Austria were to
unite in submission to a Federal Government; and from the time when Austria
made terms with the vassal princes little hope of establishing a really
effective authority at the centre of Germany remained. Stein, at the
Congress of Vienna, once more proposed to restore the title and the
long-vanished powers of the Emperor; but he found no inclination on the
part of Metternich to promote his schemes for German unity, while some of
the minor princes flatly refused to abandon any fraction of their
sovereignty over their own subjects. The difficulties in the way of
establishing a Federal State were great, perhaps insuperable; the statesmen
anxious for it few in number; the interests opposed to it all but
universal. Stein saw that the work was intended to be unsubstantial, and
withdrew himself from it before its completion. The Act of Federation,
[245] which was signed on the 8th of June, created a Federal Diet, forbade
the members of the League to enter into alliances against the common
interest, and declared that in each State, Constitutions should be
established. But it left the various Sovereigns virtually independent of
the League; it gave the nomination of members of the Diet to the
Governments absolutely, without a vestige of popular election; and it
contained no provision for enforcing in any individual State, whose ruler
might choose to disregard it, the principle of constitutional rule. Whether
the Federation would in any degree have protected Germany in case of attack
by France or Russia is matter for conjecture, since a long period of peace
followed the year 1815; but so far was it from securing liberty to the
Minor States, that in the hands of Metternich the Diet, impotent for every
other purpose, became an instrument for the persecution of liberal opinion
and for the suppression of the freedom of the press.

[Final Act of the Congress, June 10.]

German affairs, as usual, were the last to be settled at the Congress; when
these were at length disposed of, the Congress embodied the entire mass of
its resolutions in one great Final Act [246] of a hundred and twenty-one
articles, which was signed a few days before the battle of Waterloo was
fought. This Act, together with the second Treaty of Paris, formed the
public law with which Europe emerged from the warfare of a quarter of a
century, and entered upon a period which proved, even more than it was
expected to prove, one of long-lasting peace. Standing on the boundary-line
between two ages, the legislation of Vienna forms a landmark in history.
The provisions of the Congress have sometimes been criticised as if that
body had been an assemblage of philosophers, bent only on advancing the
course of human progress, and endowed with the power of subduing the
selfish impulses of every Government in Europe. As a matter of fact the
Congress was an arena where national and dynastic interests struggled for
satisfaction by every means short of actual war. To inquire whether the
Congress accomplished all that it was possible to accomplish for Europe is
to inquire whether Governments at that moment forgot all their own
ambitions and opportunities, and thought only of the welfare of mankind.
Russia would not have given up Poland without war; Austria would not have
given up Lombardy and Venice without war. The only measures of 1814-15 in
which the common interest was really the dominant motive were those adopted
either with the view of strengthening the States immediately exposed to
attack by France, or in the hope of sparing France itself the occasion for
new conflicts. The union of Holland and Belgium, and the annexation of the
Genoese Republic to Sardinia, were the means adopted for the former end;
for the latter, the relinquishment of all claims to Alsace and Lorraine.
These were the measures in which the statesmen of 1814-15 acted with their
hands free, and by these their foresight may fairly be judged. Of the union
of Belgium to Holland it is not too much to say that, although planned by
Pitt, and treasured by every succeeding Ministry as one of his wisest
schemes, it was wholly useless and inexpedient. The tranquillity of Western
Europe was preserved during fifteen years, not by yoking together
discordant nationalities, but by the general desire to avoid war; and as
soon as France seriously demanded the liberation of Belgium from Holland,
it had to be granted. Nor can it be believed that the addition of the
hostile and discontented population of Genoa to the kingdom of Piedmont
would have saved that monarchy from invasion if war had again arisen. The
annexation of Genoa was indeed fruitful of results, but not of results
which Pitt and his successors had anticipated. It was intended to
strengthen the House of Savoy for the purpose of resistance to France:
[247] it did strengthen the House of Savoy, but as the champion of Italy
against Austria. It was intended to withdraw the busy trading city Genoa
from the influences of French democracy: in reality it brought a strong
element of innovation into the Piedmontese State itself, giving, on the one
hand, a bolder and more national spirit to its Government, and, on the
other hand, elevating to the ideal of a united Italy those who, like the
Genoese Mazzini, were now no longer born to be the citizens of a free
Republic. In sacrificing the ancient liberty of Genoa, the Congress itself
unwittingly began the series of changes which was to refute the famous
saying of Metternich, that Italy was but a geographical expression.

[Alsace and Lorraine.]

But if the policy of 1814-15 in the affairs of Belgium and Piedmont only
proves how little an average collection of statesmen can see into the
future, the policy which, in spite of Waterloo, left France in possession
of an undiminished territory, does no discredit to the foresight, as it
certainly does the highest honour to the justice and forbearance of
Wellington, whose counsels then turned the scale. The wisdom of the
resolution has indeed been frequently impugned. German statesmen held then,
and have held ever since, that the opportunity of disarming France once for
all of its weapons of attack was wantonly thrown away. Hardenberg, when his
arguments for annexation of the frontier-fortresses were set aside,
predicted that streams of blood would hereafter flow for the conquest of
Alsace and Lorraine, [248] and his prediction has been fulfilled. Yet no
one perhaps would have been more astonished than Hardenberg himself, could
he have known that fifty-five years of peace between France and Prussia
would precede the next great struggle. When the same period of peace shall
have followed the acquisition of Metz and Strasburg by Prussia, it will be
time to condemn the settlement of 1815 as containing the germ of future
wars; till then, the effects of that settlement in maintaining peace are
entitled to recognition. It is impossible to deny that the Allies, in
leaving to France the whole of its territory in 1815, avoided inflicting
the most galling of all tokens of defeat upon a spirited and still most
powerful nation. The loss of Belgium and the frontier of the Rhine was
keenly enough felt for thirty years to come, and made no insignificant part
of the French people ready at any moment to rush into war; how much greater
the power of the war-cry, how hopeless the task of restraint, if to the
other motives for war there had been added the liberation of two of the
most valued provinces of France. Without this the danger was great enough.
Thrice at least in the next thirty years the balance seemed to be turning
against the continuance of peace. An offensive alliance between France and
Russia was within view when the Bourbon monarchy fell; the first years of
Louis Philippe all but saw the revolutionary party plunge France into war
for Belgium and for Italy; ten years later the dismissal of a Ministry
alone prevented the outbreak of hostilities on the distant affairs of
Syria. Had Alsace and Lorraine at this time been in the hands of disunited
Germany, it is hard to believe that the Bourbon dynasty would not have
averted, or sought to avert, its fall by a popular war, or that the victory
of Louis Philippe over the war-party, difficult even when there was no
French soil to reconquer, would have been possible. The time indeed came
when a new Bonaparte turned to enterprises of aggression the resources
which Europe had left unimpaired to his country; but to assume that the
cessions proposed in 1815 would have made France unable to move, with or
without allies, half a century afterwards, is to make a confident guess in
a doubtful matter; and, with Germany in the condition in which it remained
after 1815, it is at least as likely that the annexation of Alsace and
Lorraine would have led to the early reconquest of the Rhenish provinces by
France, or to a war between Austria and Prussia, as that it would have
prolonged the period of European peace beyond that distant limit which it
actually reached.

[English efforts at the Congress to abolish the slave-trade.]

Among the subjects which were pressed upon the Congress of Vienna there was
one in which the pursuit of national interests and calculations of policy
bore no part, the abolition of the African slave-trade. The British people,
who, after twenty years of combat in the cause of Europe, had earned so
good a right to ask something of their allies, probably attached a deeper
importance to this question than to any in the whole range of European
affairs, with the single exception of the personal overthrow of Napoleon.
Since the triumph of Wiberforce's cause in the Parliament of 1807, and the
extinction of English slave-traffic, the anger with which the nation viewed
this detestable cruelty, too long tolerated by itself, had become more and
more vehement and widespread. By the year 1814 the utterances of public
opinion were so loud and urgent that the Government, though free from
enthusiasm itself, was forced to place the international prohibition of the
slave-trade in the front rank of its demands. There were politicians on the
Continent credulous enough to believe that this outcry of the heart and the
conscience of the nation was but a piece of commercial hypocrisy.
Talleyrand, with far different insight, but not with more sympathy, spoke
of the state of the English people as one of frenzy. [249] Something had
already been effected at foreign courts. Sweden had been led to prohibit
slave-traffic in 1813, Holland in the following year. Portugal had been
restrained by treaty from trading north of the line. France had pledged
itself in the first Treaty of Paris to abolish the commerce within five
years. Spain alone remained unfettered, and it was indeed intolerable that
the English slavers should have been forced to abandon their execrable
gains only that they should fall into the hands of the subjects of King
Ferdinand. It might be true that the Spanish colonies required a larger
supply of slaves than they possessed; but Spain had at any rate not the
excuse that it was asked to surrender an old and profitable branch of
commerce. It was solely through the abolition of the English slave-trade
that Spain possessed any slave-trade whatever. Before the year 1807 no
Spanish ship had been seen on the coast of Africa for a century, except one
in 1798 fitted out by Godoy. [250] As for the French trade, that had been
extinguished by the capture of Senegal and Goree; and along the two
thousand miles of coast from Cape Blanco to Cape Formosa a legitimate
commerce with the natives was gradually springing up in place of the
desolating traffic in flesh and blood. It was hoped by the English people
that Castlereagh would succeed in obtaining a universal and immediate
prohibition of the slave-trade by all the Powers assembled at Vienna. The
Minister was not wanting in perseverance, but he failed to achieve this
result. France, while claiming a short delay elsewhere, professed itself
willing, like Portugal, to abolish at once the traffic north of the line;
but the Government on which England had perhaps the greatest claim, that of
Spain, absolutely refused to accept this restriction, or to bind itself to
a final prohibition before the end of eight years. Castlereagh then
proposed that a Council of Ambassadors at London and Paris should be
charged with the international duty of expediting the close of the
slave-trade; the measure which he had in view being the punishment of
slave-dealing States by a general exclusion of their exports. Against this
Spain and Portugal made a formal protest, treating the threat as almost
equivalent to one of war. The project dropped, and the Minister of England
had to content himself with obtaining from the Congress a solemn
condemnation of the slave-trade, as contrary to the principles of
civilisation and human right (Feb., 1815).

The work was carried a step further by Napoleon's return from Elba.
Napoleon understood the impatience of the English people, and believed that
he could make no higher bid for its friendship than by abandoning the
reserves made by Talleyrand at the Congress, and abolishing the French
slave-trade at once and for all. This was accomplished; and the Bourbon
ally of England, on his second restoration could not undo what had been
done by the usurper. Spain and Portugal alone continued to pursue--the
former country without restriction, the latter on the south of the line--a
commerce branded by the united voice of Europe as infamous. The Governments
of these countries alleged in their justification that Great Britain itself
had resisted the passing of the prohibitory law until its colonies were far
better supplied with slaves than those of its rivals now were. This was
true, but it was not the whole truth. The whole truth was not known, the
sincerity of English feeling was not appreciated, until, twenty years
later, the nation devoted a part of its wealth to release the slave from
servitude, and the English race from the reproach of slave holding. Judged
by the West Indian Emancipation of 1833, the Spanish appeal to English
history sounds almost ludicrous. But the remembrance of the long years
throughout which the advocates of justice encountered opposition in England
should temper the severity of our condemnation of the countries which still
defended a bad interest. The light broke late upon ourselves: the darkness
that still lingered elsewhere had too long been our own.


Concert of Europe after 1815--Spirit of the Foreign Policy of Alexander, of
Metternich, and of the English Ministry--Metternich's action in Italy,
England's in Sicily and Spain--The Reaction in France--Richelieu and the
New Chamber--Execution of Ney--Imprisonments and persecutions--Conduct of
the Ultra-Royalists in Parliament--Contests on the Electoral Bill and the
Budget--The Chamber prorogued--Affair of Grenoble--Dissolution of the
Chamber--Electoral Law and Financial Settlement of 1817--Character of the
first years of peace in Europe generally--Promise of a Constitution in
Prussia--Hardenberg opposed by the partisans of autocracy and
privilege--Schmalz's Pamphlet--Delay of Constitutional Reform in Germany at
large--The Wartburg Festival--Progress of Reaction--The Czar now inclines
to repression--Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle--Evacuation of France--Growing
influence of Metternich in Europe--His action on Prussia--Murder of
Kotzebue--The Carlsbad Conference and measures of repression in
Germany--Richelieu and Decazes--Murder of the Duke of Berry--Progress of
the reaction in France--General causes of the victory of reaction in

[Concert of Europe regarding France.]

For nearly twenty years the career of Bonaparte had given to European
history the unity of interest which belongs to a single life. This unity
does not immediately disappear on the disappearance of his mighty figure.
The Powers of Europe had been too closely involved in the common struggle,
their interests were too deeply concerned in the maintenance of the
newly-established order, for the thoughts of Governments to be withdrawn
from foreign affairs, and the currents of national policy to fall at once
apart into separate channels. The Allied forces continued to occupy France
with Wellington as commander-in-chief; the defence of the Bourbon monarchy
had been declared the cause of Europe at large; the conditions under which
the numbers of the army of occupation might be reduced, or the period of
occupation shortened, remained to be fixed by the Allies themselves. France
thus formed the object of a common European deliberation; nor was the
concert of the Powers without its peculiar organ. An International Council
was created at Paris, consisting of the Ambassadors of the four great
Courts. The forms of a coalition were, for the first time, preserved after
the conclusion of peace. Communications were addressed to the Government of
Louis XVIII., in the name of all the Powers together. The Council of
Ambassadors met at regular intervals, and not only transacted business
relating to the army of occupation and the payment of indemnities, but
discussed the domestic policy of the French Government, and the situation
of parties or the signs of political opinion in the Assembly and the

[Action of the Powers outside France.]

In thus watching over the restored Bourbon monarchy, the Courts of Europe
were doing no more than they had bound themselves to do by treaty. Paris,
however, was not the only field for a busy diplomacy. In most of the minor
capitals of Europe each of the Great Powers had its own supposed interests
to pursue, or its own principles of government to inculcate. An age of
transition seemed to have begun. Constitutions had been promised in many
States, and created in some; in Spain and in Sicily they had reached the
third stage, that of suppression. It was not likely that the statesmen who
had succeeded to Napoleon's power in Europe should hold themselves entirely
aloof from the affairs of their weaker neighbours, least of all when a
neighbouring agitation might endanger themselves. In one respect the
intentions of the British, the Austrian, and the Russian Governments were
identical, and continued to be so, namely, in the determination to
countenance no revolutionary movement. Revolution, owing to the experience
of 1793, had come to be regarded as synonymous with aggressive warfare.
Jacobins, anarchists, disturbers of the public peace, were only different
names for one and the same class of international criminals, who were
indeed indigenous to France, but might equally endanger the peace of
mankind in other countries. Against these fomenters of mischief all the
Courts were at one.


Here, however, agreement ceased. It was admitted that between revolutionary
disturbance and the enjoyment of constitutional liberty a wide interval
existed, and the statesmen of the leading Powers held by no means the same
views as to the true relation between nations and their rulers. The most
liberal in theory among the Sovereigns of 1815 was the Emperor Alexander.
Already, in the summer of 1815, he had declared the Duchy of Warsaw to be
restored to independence and nationality, under the title of the Kingdom of
Poland; and before the end of the year he had granted it a Constitution,
which created certain representative assemblies, and provided the new
kingdom with an army and an administration of its own, into which no person
not a Pole could enter. The promised introduction of Parliamentary life
into Poland was but the first of a series of reforms dimly planned by
Alexander, which was to culminate in the bestowal of a Constitution upon
Russia itself, and the emancipation of the serf. [251] Animated by hopes
like these for his own people, hopes which, while they lasted, were not
merely sincere but ardent, Alexander was also friendly to the cause of
constitutional government in other countries. Ambition mingled with
disinterested impulses in the foreign policy of the Czar. It was impossible
that Alexander should forget the league into which England and Austria had
so lately entered against him. He was anxious to keep France on his side;
he was not inclined to forego the satisfaction of weakening Austria by
supporting national hopes in Italy; [252] and he hoped to create some
counterpoise to England's maritime power by allying Russia with a
strengthened and better-administered Spain. Agents of the Czar abounded in
Italy and in Germany, but in no capital was the Ambassador of Russia more
active than in Madrid. General Tatistcheff, who was appointed to this post
in 1814, became the terror of all his colleagues and of the Cabinet of
London from his extraordinary activity in intrigue; but in relation to the
internal affairs of Spain his influence was beneficial; and it was
frequently directed towards the support of reforming Ministers, whom King
Ferdinand, if free from foreign pressure, would speedily have sacrificed to
the pleasure of his favourites and confessors.


[Metternich's policy in Germany.]

[In Italy.]

In the eyes of Prince Metternich, the all-powerful Minister of Austria,
Alexander was little better than a Jacobin. The Austrian State, though its
frontiers had been five times changed since 1792, had continued in a
remarkable degree free from the impulse to internal change. The Emperor
Francis was the personification of resistance to progress; the Minister
owed his unrivalled position not more to his own skilful statesmanship in
the great crisis of 1813 than to a genuine accord with the feelings of his
master. If Francis was not a man of intellect, Metternich was certainly a
man of character; and for a considerable period they succeeded in
impressing the stamp of their own strongly-marked Austrian policy upon
Europe. The force of their influence sprang from no remote source; it was
due mainly to a steady intolerance of all principles not their own.
Metternich described his system with equal simplicity and precision as an
attempt neither to innovate nor to go back to the past, but to keep things
as they were. In the old Austrian dominions this was not difficult to do,
for things had no tendency to move and remained fixed of themselves; [253]
but on the outside, both on the north and on the south, ideas were at work
which, according to Metternich, ought never to have entered the world, but,
having unfortunately gained admittance, made it the task of Governments to
resist their influence by all available means. Stein and the leaders of the
Prussian War of Liberation had agitated Germany with hopes of national
unity, of Parliaments, and of the impulsion of the executive powers of
State by public opinion. Against these northern innovators, Metternich had
already won an important victory in the formation of the Federal
Constitution. The weakness and timidity of the King of Prussia made it
probable that, although he was now promising his subjects a Constitution,
he might at no distant date be led to unite with other German Governments
in a system of repression, and in placing Liberalism under the ban of the
Diet. In Italy, according to the conservative statesman, the same dangers
existed and the same remedies were required. Austria, through the
acquisition of Venice, now possessed four times as large a territory beyond
the Alps as it had possessed before 1792; but the population was no longer
the quiescent and contented folk that it had been in the days of Maria
Theresa. Napoleon's kingdom and army of Italy had taught the people
warfare, and given them political aims and a more masculine spirit.
Metternich's own generals had promised the Italians independence when they
entered the country in 1814; Murat's raid a year later had actually been
undertaken in the name of Italian unity. These were disagreeable incidents,
and signs were not wanting of the existence of a revolutionary spirit in
the Italian provinces of Austria, especially among the officers who had
served under Napoleon. Metternich was perfectly clear as to the duties of
his Government. The Italians might have a Viceroy to keep Court at Milan, a
body of native officials to conduct their minor affairs, and a mock
Congregation or Council, without any rights, powers, or functions whatever;
if this did not satisfy them, they were a rebellious people, and government
must be conducted by means of spies, police, and the dungeons of the
Spielberg. [254]

[Scheme of an Austrian Protectorate over Italy.]

On this system, backed by great military force, there was nothing to fear
from the malcontents of Lombardy and Venice: it remained for Metternich to
extend the same security to the rest of the peninsula, and by a series of
treaties to effect the double end of exterminating constitutional
government and of establishing an Austrian Protectorate over the entire
country, from the Alps to the Sicilian Straits. The design was so ambitious
that Metternich had not dared to disclose it at the Congress of Vienna; it
was in fact a direct violation of the Treaty of Paris, and of the
resolution of the Congress, that Italy, outside the possessions of Austria,
should consist of independent States. The first Sovereign over whom the net
was cast was Ferdinand of Naples. On the 15th of June, 1815, immediately
after the overthrow of Murat, King Ferdinand signed a Treaty of Alliance
with Austria, which contained a secret clause, pledging the King to
introduce no change into his recovered kingdom inconsistent with its own
old monarchical principles, or with the principles which had been adopted
by the Emperor of Austria for the government of his Italian provinces.
[255] Ferdinand, two years before, had been compelled by Great Britain to
grant Sicily a Constitution, and was at this very moment promising one to
Naples. The Sicilian Constitution was now tacitly condemned; the
Neapolitans were duped. By a further secret clause, the two contracting
Sovereigns undertook to communicate to one another everything that should
come to their knowledge affecting the security and tranquillity of the
Italian peninsula; in other words, the spies and the police of Ferdinand
were now added to Metternich's staff in Lombardy. Tuscany, Modena, and
Parma entered into much the same condition of vassalage; but the scheme for
a universal federation of Italy under Austria's leadership failed through
the resistance of Piedmont and of the Pope. Pius VII. resented the attempts
of Austria, begun in 1797 and repeated at the Congress of Vienna, to
deprive the Holy See of Bologna and Ravenna. The King of Sardinia, though
pressed by England to accept Metternich's offer of alliance, maintained
with great decision the independence of his country, and found in the
support of the Czar a more potent argument than any that he could have
drawn from treaties. [256]

[Spirit of England's foreign policy.]

The part played by the British Government at this epoch has been severely
judged not only by the later opinion of England itself, but by the
historical writers of almost every nation in Europe. It is perhaps
fortunate for the fame of Pitt that he did not live to witness the
accomplishment of the work in which he had laboured for thirteen years. The
glory of a just and courageous struggle against Napoleon's tyranny remains
with Pitt; the opprobrium of a settlement hostile to liberty has fallen on
his successors. Yet there is no good ground for believing that Pitt would
have attached a higher value to the rights or inclinations of individual
communities than his successors did in re-adjusting the balance of power;
on the contrary, he himself first proposed to destroy the Republic of
Genoa, and to place Catholic Belgium under the Protestant Crown of Holland;
nor was any principle dearer to him than that of aggrandising the House of
Austria as a counterpoise to the power of France. [257] The Ministry of
1815 was indeed but too faithfully walking in the path into which Pitt had
been driven by the King and the nation in 1793. Resistance to France had
become the one absorbing care, the beginning and end of English
statesmanship. Government at home had sunk to a narrow and unfeeling
opposition to the attempts made from time to time to humanise the mass of
the people, to reform an atrocious criminal law, to mitigate the civil
wrongs inflicted in the name and the interest of a State-religion. No one
in the Cabinet doubted that authority, as such, must be wiser than
inexperienced popular desire, least of all the statesman who now, in
conjunction with the Duke of Wellington, controlled the policy of Great
Britain upon the Continent. Lord Castlereagh had no sympathy with cruelty
or oppression in Continental rulers; he had just as little belief in the
value of free institutions to their subjects. [258] The nature of his
influence, which has been drawn sometimes in too dark colours, may be
fairly gathered from the course of action which he followed in regard to
Sicily and to Spain.

[In Sicily.]

In Sicily the representative of Great Britain, Lord William Bentinck, had
forced King Ferdinand, who could not have maintained himself for an hour
without the arms and money of England, to establish in 1813 a Parliament
framed on the model of our own. The Parliament had not proved a wise or a
capable body, but its faults were certainly not equal to those of King
Ferdinand, and its re-construction under England's auspices would have been
an affair of no great difficulty. Ferdinand, however, had always detested
free institutions, and as soon as he regained the throne of Naples he
determined to have done with the Sicilian Parliament. A correspondence on
the intended change took place between Lord Castlereagh and A'Court, the
Ambassador who had now succeeded Lord William Bentinck. [259] That the
British Government, which had protected the Sicilian Crown against Napoleon
at the height of his power, could have protected the Sicilian Constitution
against King Ferdinand's edicts without detaching a single man-of-war's
boat, is not open to doubt. Castlereagh, however, who for years past had
been paying, stimulating, or rebuking every Government in Europe, and who
had actually sent the British fleet to make the Norwegians submit to
Bernadotte, now suddenly adopted the principle of non-intervention, and
declared that, so long as Ferdinand did not persecute the Sicilians who at
the invitation of England had taken part in political life, or reduce the
privileges of Sicily below those which had existed prior to 1813, Great
Britain would not interfere with his action. These stipulations were
inserted in order to satisfy the House of Commons, and to avert the charge
that England had not only abandoned the Sicilian Constitution, but
consented to a change which left the Sicilians in a worse condition than if
England had never intervened in their affairs. Lord Castlereagh shut his
eyes to the confession involved, that he was leaving the Sicilians to a
ruler who, but for such restraint, might be expected to destroy every
vestige of public right, and to take the same bloody and unscrupulous
revenge upon his subjects which he had taken when Nelson restored him to
power in 1799.

[Action of England in Spain.]

The action of the British Government in Spain showed an equal readiness to
commit the future to the wisdom of Courts. Lord Castlereagh was made
acquainted with the Spanish Ferdinand's design of abolishing the
Constitution on his return in the year 1814. "So far," he replied, "as the
mere existence of the Constitution is at stake, it is impossible to believe
that any change tranquilly effected can well be worse." [260] In this case
the interposition of England would perhaps not have availed against a
reactionary clergy and nation: Castlereagh, was, moreover, deceived by
Ferdinand's professions that he had no desire to restore absolute
government. He credited the King with the same kind of moderation which had
led Louis XVIII. to accept the Charta in France, and looked forward to the
maintenance of a constitutional régime, though under conditions more
favourable to the executive power and to the influence of the great landed
proprietors and clergy. [261] Events soon proved what value was to be
attached to the word of the King; the flood of reaction and vengeance broke
over the country; and from this time the British Government, half
confessing and half excusing Ferdinand's misdeeds, exerted itself to check
the outrages of despotism, and to mitigate the lot of those who were now
its victims. In the interest of the restored monarchies themselves, as much
as from a regard to the public opinion of Great Britain, the Ambassadors of
England urged moderation upon all the Bourbon Courts. This, however, was
also done by Metternich, who neither took pleasure in cruelty, nor desired
to see new revolutions produced by the extravagances of priests and
emigrants. It was not altogether without cause that the belief arose that
there was little to choose, in reference to the constitutional liberties of
other States, between the sentiments of Austria and those of the Ministers
of free England. A difference, however, did exist. Metternich actually
prohibited the Sovereigns over whom his influence extended from granting
their subjects liberty: England, believing the Sovereigns to be more
liberal than they were, did not interfere to preserve constitutions from

[Outrages of the Royalists in the south of France, June-August.]

Such was the general character of the influence now exercised by the three
leading Powers of Europe. Prussia, which had neither a fleet like England,
an Italian connection like Austria, nor an ambitious Sovereign like Russia,
concerned itself little with distant States, and limited its direct action
to the affairs of France, in which it possessed a substantial interest,
inasmuch as the indemnities due from Louis XVIII. had yet to be paid. The
possibility of recovering these sums depended upon the maintenance of peace
and order in France; and from the first it was recognised by every
Government in Europe that the principal danger to peace and order arose
from the conduct of the Count of Artois and his friends, the party of
reaction. The counterrevolutionary movement began in mere riot and outrage.
No sooner had the news of the battle of Waterloo reached the south of
France than the Royalist mob of Marseilles drove the garrison out of the
town, and attacked the quarter inhabited by the Mameluke families whom
Napoleon had brought from Egypt. Thirteen of these unfortunate persons, and
about as many Bonapartist citizens, were murdered. [262] A few weeks later
Nismes was given over to anarchy and pillage. Religious fanaticism here
stimulated the passion of political revenge. The middle class in Nismes
itself and a portion of the surrounding population were Protestant, and had
hailed Napoleon's return from Elba as a deliverance from the ascendancy of
priests, and from the threatened revival of the persecutions which they had
suffered under the old Bourbon monarchy. The Catholics, who were much more
numerous, included the lowest class in the town, the larger landed
proprietors of the district, and above half of the peasantry. Bands of
volunteers had been formed by the Duke of Angoulême at the beginning of the
Hundred Days, in the hope of sustaining a civil war against Napoleon. After
capitulating to the Emperor's generals, some companies had been attacked by
villagers and hunted down like wild beasts. The bands now reassembled and
entered Nismes. The garrison, after firing upon them, were forced to give
up their arms, and in this defenceless state a considerable number of the
soldiers were shot down (July 17). On the next day the leaders of the armed
mob began to use their victory. For several weeks murder and outrage,
deliberately planned and publicly announced, kept not only Nismes itself,
but a wide extent of the surrounding country in constant terror. The
Government acted slowly and feebly; the local authorities were intimidated;
and, in spite of the remonstrances of Wellington and the Russian
Ambassador, security was not restored until the Allies took the matter into
their own hands, and a detachment of Austrian troops occupied the
Department of the Gard. Other districts in the south of France witnessed
the same outbreaks of Royalist ferocity. Avignon was disgraced by the
murder of Marshal Brune, conqueror of the Russians and English in the Dutch
campaign of 1799, an honest soldier, who after suffering Napoleon's neglect
in the time of prosperity, had undertaken the heavy task of governing
Marseilles during the Hundred Days. At Toulouse, General Ramel, himself a
Royalist, was mortally wounded by a band of assassins, and savagely
mutilated while lying disabled and expiring.

[Elections of 1815.]

Crimes like these were the counterpart of the September massacres of 1792;
and the terrorism exercised by the Royalists in 1815 has been compared, as
a whole, with the Republican Reign of Terror twenty-two years earlier. But
the comparison does little credit to the historical sense of those who
suggested it. The barbarities of 1815 were strictly local: shocking as they
were, they scarcely amounted in all to an average day's work of Carrier or
Fouché in 1794; and the action of the established Government, though
culpably weak, was not itself criminal. A second and more dangerous stage
of reaction began, however, when the work of popular vengeance closed.
Elections for a new Chamber of Deputies were held at the end of August. The
Liberals and the adherents of Napoleon, paralysed by the disasters of
France and the invaders' presence, gave up all as lost: the Ministers of
Louis XVIII. abstained from the usual electoral manoeuvres, Talleyrand
through carelessness, Fouché from a desire to see parties evenly balanced:
the ultra-Royalists alone had extended their organisation over France, and
threw themselves into the contest with the utmost passion and energy.
Numerically weak, they had the immense forces of the local administration
on their side. The Préfets had gone over heart and soul to the cause of the
Count of Artois, who indeed represented to them that he was acting under
the King's own directions. The result was that an Assembly was elected to
which France has seen only one parallel since, namely in the Parliament of
1871, elected when invaders again occupied the country, and the despotism
of a second Bonaparte had ended in the same immeasurable calamity. The bulk
of the candidates returned were country gentlemen whose names had never
been heard of in public life since 1789, men who had resigned themselves to
inaction and obscurity under the Republic and the Empire, and whose one
political idea was to reverse the injuries done by the Revolution to their
caste and to their Church. They were Royalists because a Bourbon monarchy
alone could satisfy their claims: they called themselves ultra-Royalists,
but they were so only in the sense that they required the monarchy to
recognise no ally but themselves. They had already shown before Napoleon's
return that their real chief was the Count of Artois, not the King; in what
form their ultra-Royalism would exhibit itself in case the King should not
submit to be their instrument remained to be proved.

[Fall of Talleyrand and Fouché.]

[Richelieu's Ministry, Sept., 1815.]

The first result of the elections was the downfall of Talleyrand's Liberal
Ministry. The Count of Artois and the courtiers, who had been glad enough
to secure Fouché's services while their own triumph was doubtful, now
joined in the outcry of the country gentlemen again this monster of
iniquity. Talleyrand promptly disencumbered himself of his old friend, and
prepared to meet the new Parliament as an ultra-Royalist; but in the eyes
of the victorious party Talleyrand himself, the married priest and the
reputed accomplice in the murder of the Duke of Enghien, was little better
than his regicide colleague; and before the Assembly met he was forced to
retire from power.

[Richelieu's Ministry, Sept. 1815.]

His successor, the Duc de Richelieu, was recommended to Louis XVIII. by the
Czar. Richelieu had quitted France early in the Revolution, and, unlike
most of the emigrants, had played a distinguished part in the country which
gave him refuge. Winning his first laurels in the siege of Ismail under
Suvaroff, he had subsequently been made Governor of the Euxine provinces of
Russia, and the flourishing town of Odessa had sprung up under his rule.
His reputation as an administrator was high; his personal character
singularly noble and disinterested. Though the English Government looked at
first with apprehension upon a Minister so closely connected with the Czar
of Russia, Richelieu's honesty and truthfulness soon gained him the respect
of every foreign Court. His relation to Alexander proved of great service
to France in lightening the burden of the army of occupation; his equity,
his acquaintance with the real ends of monarchical government, made him,
though no lover of liberty, a valuable Minister in face of an Assembly
which represented nothing but the passions and the ideas of a reactionary
class. But Richelieu had been too long absent from France to grasp the
details of administration with a steady hand. The men, the parties of 1815,
were new to him: it is said that he was not acquainted by sight with most
of his colleagues when he appointed them to their posts. The Ministry in
consequence was not at unity within itself. Some of its members, like
Decazes, were more liberal than their chief; others, like Clarke and
Vaublanc, old servants of Napoleon now turned ultra-Royalists, were eager
to make themselves the instruments of the Count of Artois, and to carry
into the work of government the enthusiasm of revenge which had already
found voice in the elections.

[Violence of the Chamber of 1815.]

The session opened on the 7th of October. Twenty-nine of the peers, who had
joined Napoleon during the Hundred Days, were excluded from the House, and
replaced by adherents of the Bourbons; nevertheless the peers as a body
opposed themselves to extreme reaction, and, in spite of Chateaubriand's
sanguinary harangues, supported the moderate policy of Richelieu against
the majority of the Lower House. The first demand of the Chamber of
Deputies was for retribution upon traitors; [263] their first conflict with
the Government of Louis XVIII. arose upon the measures which were brought
forward by the Ministry for the preservation of public security and the
punishment of seditious acts. The Ministers were attacked, not because
their measures were too severe, but because they were not severe enough.
While taking power to imprison all suspected persons without trial, or to
expel them from their homes, Decazes, the Police-Minister, proposed to
punish incitements to sedition by fines and terms of imprisonment varying
according to the gravity of the offence. So mild a penalty excited the
wrath of men whose fathers and brothers had perished on the guillotine.
Some cried out for death, others for banishment to Cayenne. When it was
pointed out that the infliction of capital punishment for the mere attempt
at sedition would place this on a level with armed rebellion, it was
answered that a distinction might be maintained by adding in the latter
case the ancient punishment of parricide, the amputation of the hand.
Extravagances like this belonged rather to the individuals than to a party;
but the vehemence of the Chamber forced the Government to submit to a
revision of its measure. Transportation to Cayenne, but not death, was
ultimately included among the penalties for seditious acts. The Minister of
Justice, M. Barbé-Marbois, who had himself been transported to Cayenne by
the Jacobins in 1797, was able to satisfy the Chamber from his own
experience that they were not erring on the side of mercy. [264]

[Ney executed, Dec. 7.]

It was in the midst of these heated debates that Marshal Ney was brought to
trial for high treason. A so-called Edict of Amnesty had been published by
the King on the 24th of July, containing the names of nineteen persons who
were to be tried by courts-martial on capital charges, and of thirty-eight
others who were to be either exiled or brought to justice, as the Chamber
might determine. Ney was included in the first category. Opportunities for
escape had been given to him by the Government, as indeed they had to
almost every other person on the list. King Louis XVIII. well understood
that his Government was not likely to be permanently strengthened by the
execution of some of the most distinguished men in France; the emigrants,
however, and especially the Duchess of Angoulême, were merciless, and the
English Government acted a deplorable part. "One can never feel that the
King is secure on his throne," wrote Lord Liverpool, "until he has dared to
spill traitors' blood." It is not that many examples would be necessary;
but the daring to make a few will alone manifest any strength in the
Government. [265] Labédoyère had already been executed. On the 9th of
November Ney was brought before a court-martial, at which Castlereagh and
his wife had the bad taste to be present. The court-martial, headed by
Ney's old comrade Jourdan, declared itself incompetent to judge a peer of
France accused of high treason, [266] Ney was accordingly tried before the
House of Peers. The verdict was a foregone conclusion, and indeed the legal
guilt of the Marshal could hardly be denied. Had the men who sat in
judgment upon him been a body of Vendean peasants who had braved fire and
sword for the Bourbon cause, the sentence of death might have been
pronounced with pure, though stern lips: it remains a deep disgrace to
France that among the peers who voted not only for Ney's condemnation but
for his death, there were some who had themselves accepted office and pay
from Napoleon during the Hundred Days. A word from Wellington would still
have saved the Marshal's life, but in interceding for Ney the Duke would
have placed himself in direct opposition to the action of his own
Government. When the Premier had dug the grave, it was not for Wellington
to rescue the prisoner. It is permissible to hope that he, who had so
vehemently reproached Blücher for his intention to put Napoleon to death if
he should fall into his hands, would have asked clemency for Ney had he
considered himself at liberty to obey the promptings of his own nature. The
responsibility for Marshal Ney's death rests, more than upon any other
individual, upon Lord Liverpool.

On the 7th of December the sentence was executed. Ney was shot at early
morning in an unfrequented spot, and the Government congratulated itself
that it had escaped the dangers of a popular demonstration and heard the
last of a disagreeable business. Never was there a greater mistake. No
crime committed in the Reign of Terror attached a deeper popular opprobrium
to its authors than the execution of Ney did to the Bourbon family. The
victim, a brave but rough half-German soldier, [267] rose in popular legend
almost to the height of the Emperor himself. His heroism in the retreat
from Moscow became, and with justice, a more glorious memory than Davoust's
victory at Jena or Moreau's at Hohenlinden. Side by side with the thought
that the Bourbons had been brought back by foreign arms, the remembrance
sank deep into the heart of the French people that this family had put to
death "the bravest of the brave." It would have been no common good fortune
for Louis XVIII. to have pardoned or visited with light punishment a great
soldier whose political feebleness had led him to an act of treason,
condoned by the nation at large. Exile would not have made the transgressor
a martyr. But the common sense of mankind condemns Ney's execution: the
public opinion of France has never forgiven it.

[Amnesty Bill, Dec 8.]

On the day after the great example was made, Richelieu brought forward the
Amnesty Bill of the Government in the House of Representatives. The King,
while claiming full right of pardon, desired that the Chamber should be
associated with him in its exercise, and submitted a project of law
securing from prosecution all persons not included in the list published on
July 24th. Measures of a very different character had already been
introduced under the same title into the Chamber. Though the initiative in
legislation belonged by virtue of the Charta to the Crown, resolutions
might be moved by members in the shape of petition or address, and under
this form the leaders of the majority had drawn up schemes for the
wholesale proscription of Napoleon's adherents. It was proposed by M. la
Bourdonnaye to bring to trial all the great civil and military officers
who, during the Hundred Days, had constituted the Government of the
usurper; all generals, préfets, and commanders of garrisons, who had obeyed
Napoleon before a certain day, to be named by the Assembly; and all voters
for the death of Louis XVI. who had recognised Napoleon by signing the Acte
Additionnel. The language in which these prosecutions were urged was the
echo of that which had justified the bloodshed of 1793; its violence was
due partly to the fancy that Napoleon's return was no sudden and unexpected
act, but the work of a set of conspirators in high places, who were still
plotting the overthrow of the monarchy. [268]

[Persecution of suspected persons over all France.]

It was in vain that Richelieu intervened with the expression of the King's
own wishes, and recalled the example of forgiveness shown in the testament
of Louis XVI. The committee which was appointed to report on the projects
of amnesty brought up a scheme little different from that of La
Bourdonnaye, and added to it the iniquitous proposal that civil actions
should be brought against all condemned persons for the damages sustained
by the State through Napoleon's return. This was to make a mock of the
clause in the Charta which abolished confiscation. The report of the
committee caused the utmost dismay both in France itself and among the
representatives of foreign Powers at Paris. The conflict between the men of
reaction and the Government had openly broken out; Richelieu's Ministry,
the guarantee of peace, seemed to be on the point of falling. On the 2nd of
January, 1816, the Chamber proceeded to discuss the Bill of the Government
and the amendments of the committee. The debate lasted four days; it was
only by the repeated use of the King's own name that the Ministers
succeeded in gaining a majority of nine votes against the two principal
categories of exception appended to the amnesty by their opponents. The
proposal to restore confiscation under the form of civil actions was
rejected by a much greater majority, but on the vote affecting the
regicides the Government was defeated. This indeed was considered of no
great moment. Richelieu, content with having averted measures which would
have exposed several hundred persons to death, exile, or pecuniary ruin,
consented to banish from France the regicides who had acknowledged
Napoleon, along with the thirty-eight persons named in the second list of
July 24th. Among other well-known men, Carnot, who had rendered such great
services to his country, went to die in exile. Of the seventeen companions
of Ney and Labédoyère in the first list of July 24th, most had escaped from
France; one alone suffered death. [269] But the persons originally excluded
from the amnesty and the regicides exiled by the Assembly formed but a
small part of those on whom the vengeance of the Royalists fell; for it was
provided that the amnesty-law should apply to no one against whom
proceedings had been taken before the formal promulgation of the law. The
prisons were already crowded with accused persons, who thus remained
exposed to punishment; and after the law had actually passed the Chamber,
telegraph-signals were sent over the country by Clarke, the Minister of
War, ordering the immediate accusation of several others. One distinguished
soldier at least, General Travot, was sentenced to death on proceedings
thus instituted between the passing and the promulgation of the law of
amnesty. [270] Executions, however, were not numerous except in the south
of France, but an enormous number of persons were imprisoned or driven from
their homes, some by judgment of the law-courts, some by the exercise of
the powers conferred on the administration by the law of Public Security.
[271] The central government indeed had less part in this species of
persecution than the Préfets and other local authorities, though within
their own departments Clarke and Vaublanc set an example which others were
not slow to follow. Royalist committees were formed all over the country,
and assumed the same kind of irregular control over the officials of their
districts as had been practised by the Jacobin committees of 1793.
Thousands of persons employed in all grades of the public service, in
schools and colleges as well as in the civil administration, in the
law-courts as well as in the army and navy, were dismissed from their
posts. The new-comers were professed agents of the reaction; those who were
permitted to retain their offices strove to outdo their colleagues in their
renegade zeal for the new order. It was seen again, as it had been seen
under the Republic and under the Empire, that if virtue has limits,
servility has none. The same men who had hunted down the peasant for
sheltering his children from Napoleon's conscription now hunted down those
who were stigmatised as Bonapartists. The clergy threw in their lot with
the victorious party, and denounced to the magistrates their parishioners
who treated them with disrespect. [272] Darker pages exist in French
history than the reaction of 1815, none more contemptible. It is the
deepest condemnation of the violence of the Republic and the despotism of
the Empire that the generation formed by it should have produced the class
who could exhibit, and the public who could tolerate, the prodigies of
baseness which attended the second Bourbon restoration.

[The reactionists adopt Parliamentary theory.]

Within the Chamber of Deputies the Ultra-Royalist majority had gained
Parliamentary experience in the debates on the Amnesty Bill and the Law of
Public Security: their own policy now took a definite shape, and to
outbursts of passion there succeeded the attempt to realise ideas. Hatred
of the Revolution and all its works was still the dominant impulse of the
Assembly; but whatever may have been the earlier desire of the
Ultra-Royalist noblesse, it was no longer their intention to restore the
political system that existed before 1789. They would in that case have
desired to restore absolute monarchy, and to surrender the power which
seemed at length to have fallen into the hands of their own class. With
Artois on the throne this might have been possible, for Artois, though heir
to the crown, was still what he had been in his youth, the chief of a
party: with Louis XVIII. and Richelieu at the head of the State, the
Ultra-Royalists became the adversaries of royal prerogative and the
champions of the rights of Parliament. Before the Revolution the noblesse
had possessed privileges; it had not possessed political power. The
Constitution of 1814 had unexpectedly given it, under representative forms,
the influence denied to it under the old monarchy. New political vistas
opened; and the men who had hitherto made St. Louis and Henry IV. the
subject of their declamations, now sought to extend the rights of
Parliament to the utmost, and to perpetuate in succeeding assemblies the
rule of the present majority. An electoral law favourable to the great
landed proprietors was the first necessity. This indeed was but a means to
an end; another and a greater end might be attained directly, the
restoration of a landed Church, and of the civil and social ascendancy of
the clergy.

[Ecclesiastical schemes of the reaction.]

It had been admitted by King Louis XVIII. that the clause in the Charta
relating to elections required modification, and on this point the
Ultra-Royalists in the Chamber were content to wait for the proposals of
the Government. In their ecclesiastical policy they did not maintain the
same reserve. Resolutions in favour of the State-Church were discussed in
the form of petitions to be presented to the Crown. It was proposed to make
the clergy, as they had been before the Revolution, the sole keepers of
registers of birth and marriage; to double the annual payment made to them
by the State; to permit property of all kinds to be acquired by the Church
by gift or will; to restore all Church lands not yet sold by the State;
and, finally, to abolish the University of France, and to place all schools
and colleges throughout the country under the control of the Bishops. One
central postulate not only passed the Chamber, but was accepted by the
Government and became law. Divorce was absolutely abolished; and for two
generations after 1816 no possible aggravation of wrong sufficed in France
to release either husband or wife from the mockery of a marriage-tie. The
power to accept donations or legacies was granted to the clergy, subject,
however, in every case to the approval of the Crown. The allowance made to
them out of the revenues of the State was increased by the amount of
certain pensions as they should fall in, a concession which fell very far
short of the demands of the Chamber. In all, the advantages won for the
Church were scarcely proportioned to the zeal displayed in its cause. The
most important question, the disposal of the unsold Church lands, remained
to be determined when the Chamber should enter upon the discussion of the

[Electoral Bill, Dec. 18, 1815.]

The Electoral Bill of the Government, from which the Ultra-Royalists
expected so much, was introduced at the end of the year 1815. It showed in
a singular manner the confusion of ideas existing within the Ministry as to
the nature of the Parliamentary liberty now supposed to belong to France.
The ex-préfet Vaublanc, to whom the framing of the measure was entrusted,
though he imagined himself purged from the traditions of Napoleonism, could
conceive of no relation between the executive and the legislative power but
that which exists between a substance and its shadow. It never entered his
mind that the representative institutions granted by the Charta were
intended to bring an independent force to bear upon the Government, or that
the nation should be treated as more than a fringe round the compact and
lasting body of the administration. The language in which Vaublanc
introduced his measure was grotesquely candid. Montesquieu, he said, had
pointed out that powers must be subordinate; therefore the electoral power
must be controlled by the King's Government. [273] By the side of the
electors in the Canton and the Department there was accordingly placed, in
the Ministerial scheme, an array of officials numerous enough to carry the
elections, if indeed they did not actually outnumber the private voters.
The franchise was confined to the sixty richest persons in each Canton:
these, with the officials of the district, were to elect the voters of the
Department, who, with a similar contingent of officials, were to choose the
Deputies. Re-affirming the principle laid down in the Constitution of 1795
and repeated in the Charta, Vaublanc proposed that a fifth part of the
Assembly should retire each year.

[Counter-project of Villèle.]

If the Minister had intended to give the Ultra-Royalists the best possible
means of exalting the peculiar policy of their class into something like a
real defence of liberty, he could not have framed a more fitting measure.
The creation of constituent bodies out of mayors, crown-advocates, and
justices of the peace, was described, and with truth, as a mere Napoleonic
juggle. The limitation of the franchise to a fixed number of rich persons
was condemned as illiberal and contrary to the spirit of the Charta: the
system of yearly renovation by fifths, which threatened to curtail the
reign of the present majority, was attributed to the dread of any complete
expression of public opinion. It was evident that the Bill of the
Government would either be rejected or altered in such a manner as to give
it a totally different character. In the Committee of the Chamber which
undertook the task of drawing up amendments, the influence was first felt
of a man who was soon to become the chief and guiding spirit of the
Ultra-Royalist party. M. de Villèle, spokesman of the Committee, had in his
youth been an officer in the navy of Louis XVI. On the dethronement of the
King he had quitted the service, and settled in the Isle of Bourbon, where
he gained some wealth and an acquaintance with details of business and
finance rare among the French landed gentry. Returning to France under the
Empire, he took up his abode near Toulouse, his native place, and was made
Mayor of that city on Napoleon's second downfall. Villèle's politics gained
a strong and original colour from his personal experience and the character
of the province in which he lived. The south was the only part of France
known to him. There the reactionary movement of 1815 had been a really
popular one, and the chief difficulty of the Government, at the end of the
Hundred Days, had been to protect the Bonapartists from violence. Villèle
believed that throughout France the wealthier men among the peasantry were
as ready to follow the priests and nobles as they were in Provence and La
Vendée. His conception of the government of the future was the rule of a
landed aristocracy, resting, in its struggle against monarchical
centralisation and against the Liberalism of the middle class, on the
conservative and religious instincts of the peasantry. Instead of excluding
popular forces, Villèle welcomed them as allies. He proposed to lower the
franchise to one-sixth of the sum named in the Charta, and, while retaining
a system of double-election, to give a vote in the primary assemblies to
every Frenchman paying annual taxes to the amount of fifty francs. In
constituencies so large as to include all the more substantial peasantry,
while sufficiently limited to exclude the ill-paid populace in towns,
Villèle believed that the Church and the noblesse would on the whole
control the elections. In the interest of the present majority he rejected
the system of renovation by fifths proposed by the Government, and demanded
that the present Chamber should continue unchanged until its dissolution,
and the succeeding Chamber be elected entire.

[Result of debates on Electoral Bill.]

Villèle's scheme, if carried, would in all probability have failed at the
first trial. The districts in which the reaction of 1815 was popular were
not so large as he supposed: in the greater part of France the peasantry
would not have obeyed the nobles except under intimidation. This was
suspected by the majority, in spite of the confident language in which they
spoke of the will of the nation as identical with their own. Villèle's
boldness alarmed them: they anticipated that these great constituencies of
peasants, if really left masters of the elections, would be more likely to
return a body of Jacobins and Bonapartists than one of hereditary
landlords. It was not necessary, however, to sacrifice the well-sounding
principle of a low franchise, for the democratic vote at the first stage of
the elections might effectively be neutralised by putting the second stage
into the hands of the chief proprietors. The Assembly had in fact only to
imitate the example of the Government, and to appoint a body of persons who
should vote, as of right, by the side of the electors chosen in the primary
assemblies. The Government in its own interest had designated a troop of
officials as electors: the Assembly, on the contrary, resolved that in the
Electoral College of each Department, numbering in all about 150 persons,
the fifty principal landowners of the Department should be entitled to
vote, whether they had been nominated by the primary constituencies or not.
Modified by this proviso, the project of Villèle passed the Assembly. The
Government saw that under the disguise of a series of amendments a measure
directly antagonistic to their own had been carried. The franchise had been
altered; the real control of the elections placed in the hands of the very
party which was now in open opposition to the King and his Ministers. No
compromise was possible between the law proposed by the Government and that
passed by the Assembly. The Government appealed to the Chamber of Peers.
The Peers threw out the amendments of the Lower House. A provisional
measure was then introduced by Richelieu for the sake of providing France
with at least some temporary rule for the conduct of elections. It failed;
and the constitutional legislation of the country came to a dead-lock,
while the Government and the Assembly stood face to face, and it became
evident that one or the other must fall. The Ministers of the Great Powers
at Paris, who watched over the restored dynasty, debated whether or not
they should recommend the King to resort to the extreme measure of a

[Contest on the Budget.]

[The Chambers prorogued, April 29.]

The Electoral Bill was not the only object of conflict between Richelieu's
Ministry and the Chamber, nor indeed the principal one. The Budget excited
fiercer passions, and raised greater issues. It was for no mere scheme of
finance that the Government had to fight, but against a violation of public
faith which would have left France insolvent and creditless in the face of
the Powers who still held its territory in pledge. The debt incurred by the
nation since 1813 was still unfunded. That part of it which had been raised
before the summer of 1814 had been secured by law upon the unsold forests
formerly belonging to the Church, and upon the Communal lands which
Napoleon had made the property of the State: the remainder, which included
the loans made during the Hundred Days, had no specified security. It was
now proposed by the Government to place the whole of the unfunded debt upon
the same level, and to provide for its payment by selling the so-called
Church forests. The project excited the bitterest opposition on the side of
the Count of Artois and his friends. If there was one object which the
clerical and reactionary party pursued with religious fervour, it was the
restoration of the Church lands: if there was one class which they had no
scruple in impoverishing, it was the class that had lent money to Napoleon.
Instead of paying the debts of the State, the Committee of the Chamber
proposed to repeal the law of September, 1814, which pledged the Church
forests, and to compel both the earlier and the later holders of the
unfunded debt to accept stock in satisfaction of their claims, though the
stock was worth less than two-thirds of its nominal value. The resolution
was in fact one for the repudiation of a third part of the unfunded debt.
Richelieu, seeing in what fashion his measure was about to be transformed,
determined upon withdrawing it altogether: the majority in the Chamber,
intent on executing its own policy and that of the Count of Artois, refused
to recognise the withdrawal. Such a step was at once an insult and a
usurpation of power. So great was the scandal and alarm caused by the
scenes in the Chamber, that the Duke of Wellington, at the instance of the
Ambassadors, presented a note to King Louis XVIII. requiring him in plain
terms to put a stop to the machinations of his brother. [274] The

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