1902 Encyclopedia > France > French History: The Restoration (1815)

(Part 18)


The Restoration (1815)

While Napoleon had held together the enthusiasm of the French army, and had flattered the national vanity, and had raised a bulwark between the peasant tiller of the soil and his ancient oppressor, the Bourbon came back, having learnt nothing, and under auspices painful to French feeling. The peasant suspected them of wishing to restore noble privilege with the ancient throne; the army was suspicious if not hostile; the national feeling was vexed by the patronage of the victorious hosts of Russia, England, and Germany. Paris was treated by them as a conquered capital, the whole country was garrisoned by their armies, and Louis XVIII. was little but their instrument and dependant. The royalist reaction was violent, though not cruel; the new legislative chambers prioved vehemently Legitimist; Fouche, who had hitherto successfully held his ground, come who might, in his dangerous department of the police, now fell and wasexile; Talleyrand also was got rid of; and the duke of Richelieu, grandson of that hoary old sinner who had been at the right hand of Louis XV., became chief minister. Meanwhile, the congress of Vienne had at last 20th November 1815) dictated its terms of peace to France. The "Holy Alliance," of the emperors of Russia and Austria and the king of Prussia, that league of monarchs against the liberties of Europe, compelled France to pay a huge indemnity, to surrender her Rhine fortresses of Philipperville, Sarrelouis, Marienburg, Landua, and Huningen; the frontier of France was to be garrisoned for five years by a foreign army commanded by a foreign general, and paid by France; this period was cut short in 1818 at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle.

Louis XVIII., who was no mere reactionary, allowed little blood to be shed; Labedovere, who had led the army in its rally round Napoleon in 1814, and Marshal Ney were the only victims. Murat, taken in an attempt to recover his throne of Naples, was shot by the Italians.

As the chamber of deputies seemed determined to push the reaction to its utmost limits, Louis XVIII, dissolved it, and, declaring that he would rule constitutionally accordance party, headed by the Duke Decazes. Power came now into the hands of the middle classes, and in 1818 the burgher party ruled. It was supported by the newly-risen Doctrinaires, men who wrote for the press, and began the modern career of French journalism. The chief of these were De Barante, Guizot, and Villemain; on one side of them were the extremer royalists, headed by the count of Artois; on the other side stood the new party of the Independents, from whom sprang the men of the "three days of July." Between these Decazes kept up the new "systeme de bascule," the balance-system, as it was called, allowing now this side and now that to taste the sweets of power, and to make some pretence to party-government. In 1820, however, the murder of the duke of Berri, second son of the count of Artois, gave the ultra-royalists an excuse for freeing themselves from a man who kept them somewhat in order. Using he excitement caused by the assassination, they compelled the king to dismiss his favorite minister, and seized the reins of power. They at once modified the constitution in such a way as to secure their majority in the chambers, and prepared to carry matters with a high hand.

Just at this time the extravagant conduct of the reactionary Bourbon princes of Spain and Italy had aroused insurrection and armed resistance everywhere. The people of Spain and Naples declared against arbitrary government, and were at once attacked by those "champions of order," the sovereign of the Holy Alliance. At their bidding Louis XVIII. also declared war against Spain; the French Government, being now entirely guided by the count of Artois, was thoroughly in harmony with all that was repressive and reactionary in Europe. In the spring of 1823 the French army, commanded by the duke of Angouleme, the eldest son of the count of Artois, crossed the Bidassao and entered Spain. No serious resistance was met with except at Cadiz, and the triumph of the French arms was mercilessly used to crush the Spanish liberties. Ferdinand VII. of Spain returned to Madrid, and ruled henceforth as most absolute, most Catholic sovereign. The duke of Angouleme was thought by his success and personal bravery to have aroused in the French army an enthusiasm for its old Bourbon masters; reaction ruled supreme in France; the Jesuits were conspicuous in their delight; and the system of influenced, corruption, and maneuvers, so long the disgrace of French elections, sprang at once into full bloom.

In September 1824 Louis XVIII. died, with his last breath urging the count of Artois to rule prudently and in accordance with the charter. He was one of the best of the Bourbons, a man of ability and learning, fond of literature and science, moderate and loyal in opinion and act, - a far better man than those who surrounded his old age, and drove him into reactionary courses which he could not approve. His successor, the count of Artois, was a very different man. He had been the chief cause of the misfortunes of the monarchy in the Revolution, and had both the fine manners and the faults of the old regime. He was the fourth son of the dauphin, and brother of Louis XVI. and Louis XVIII., and now became king under the title of Charles C. It was speedily seen that now the ultra-royalists would have none to check them; the new monarch was bigoted, stupid, ignorant; from the scandals of his early life to the devotion of his later days there had been but a step; the sublime is not so near the ridiculous as superstition is to immorality. He was regarded as a mere tool of the Jesuits, and his reign was but a struggle against the more liberal instinct of his country. Now, if ever; it was seen that the old Bourbons "could never learn and never forget." In 1827, the national guard, which had shown itself too free in its cries, was disbanded; a new chamber of deputies was, in spite of all efforts, strongly opposed to the policy of the king’s Government; a more moderate cabinet followed.

In this year England, France, and Russia joined to put a stop to the quarrel between Turks and Greeks, and their combined fleet under Sir Edward Codrington won the battle of Navarino, and ruined the maritime power of Turkey (20th October 1827). Early in 1828 the French occupied the Morea, and ere long the independence of Greece was accepted by the Ottoman Porte, and a new national life began in Europe.

In 1829, finding the new ministry too moderate for him, Charles X. dismissed it, and gave the seals to Prince Polignac. This meant war to the knife against all constitutional liberties in France, and was the return to power of all that Frenchmen most feared and disliked. The chambers, supported by popular feeling, stood firm, and carried an address to the throne, which declared that the new ministry did not empty their confidence. Thereupon the chambers were dissolved, and the fresh elections which followed were a decisive struggle between liberty and despotism. The success of the expedition to Algiers, in which France vindicated her honor by the capture of the robber-city and the complete defeat of the dey, while she acquired for herself her most flourishing and important colony, brought no relief to the Government in its contest against the people. The new chamber was stronger against the ministry than the late chamber had been. Then Charles X. suddenly attempted the usual coup d’etat, and assumed a kind of provisional dictatorship, which produced at once the five famous ordinances of St Cloud (25th July 1830). These were – (1) the suspension of the liberty of the press; (2) the dissolution of the new chamber of deputies; (3) a new system of election, so as to secure absolute power to the king; (4) the convocation of a new chamber; (5) some ultra-royalist appointments to the council of state. At this time a young journalist from Marseilles, Thiers, was editor of the National; under his fearless leadership the "fourth estate made its first collective revolt against illegal power, and signed a vigorous pretest against the ordinances. It is the beginning of that wholesome influence of the press on modern politics of which the history has yet to writtenm, because its limits have not yet been reached. Men waited breathlessly to see what steps would follow such an insurrection of opinion against power. On the 27th of July it was announced that marshal Marmont, although he disapproved of the measures agreed on, and did not sympathize with the five ordinances, had been charged with the defence of the capital. Then insurrection broke out at once, and the "Revolution of the three days of July" began. On the 27th the barricades raised by the citizens were forced and the streets cleared; on the 28th the insurgents, not abashed by their defeat, seized the Hotel de Ville, and hoisted the tricolour. Marmont, who urged pacification, was ordered by Charles, who kept out of the way, to crush all opposition ruthlessly; before evening his troops had retaken the Hotel de Ville, and most of the important positions. Again he urged moderation on the king, and the leaders of the revolt offered to lay down arms if the ministers were dismissed and the five ordinances withdrawn. Charles, however, would listen to nothing, and sent orders to Marmont to persevere. On the 29th, however, two regiments fraternized with the people; and Marmont, paralyzed by their defection, and by suspicions as to the fidelity of other troops, gave way. The populace rushed into the Louvre and the Tuileries, sacking and destroying the insignia of Bourbon power. They neither stole nor murdered. Charles X. at St Cloud now offered all he had refused the day before; of course it was a day too late. Paris had triumphed over the reaction, and the unteachable older Bourbons had to go. The veteran Lafayette was once more named chief of the national guard;-how much had France seen and done since he had first girded on that same sword! The tricolour flag and cockade reappeared everywhere. Theirs and Mignet issued a proclamation, urging the Parisians to transfer the crown of France to the duke of Orleans, who came up to the capital at once, and declared his ready acceptance of the office of lieutenant-general of the realm. In his first address he assured France that thenceforward the charter should be a reality. On the 2d of August 1830 Charles X., finding that the army had deserted his cause, and that necessity was on him, abdicated in favor of his young grandson Henry duke of Bordeaux, son of the duke of Berri; the dauphin, who was childless, also renounced his own claims on behalf of his nephew, who was then ten years old. This last representative of the older Bourbons, the last hope of the legitimists of France, lives still, cherishing his claims, and known to modern history as Henry, count of Chambord. Charles retired to Austria in 1836.

The day his abdication Louis Philippe, duke of Orleans, the representative of the Orleans branch of the Bourbons, son of Philippe Egalite, and great-great-grandson of the Regent Philip, opened the session of the chambers as lieutenant-general of the realm. The charter was carefully revised in a liberal direction, and the crown was offered to the duke and his heirs-male with the title of "King of the French." On the 9th of August 1830 the new constitutional monarch, ruling, not by divine right, nor by territorial possession, but by the will of the sovereign people, "king of the French," not "king of France," king of the tricolour, not to the lilies and the white cockdade, took oath faithfully to observe the amended charter. The era of constitutional monarchy seemed at last to have begun in France; men thought that the fires of the revolution had died down, that republicanism was discredited, while the follies of the older Bourbons, on the other hands, had been shown to be no longer possible. "The days of July" were hailed as heralding as new epoch of moderate politics; the "citizen-king," who had carefully shunned the reactionary party, and was by family tradition head of the liberal branch of the Bourbons, should lead France along a new course of decorum and material prosperity. It should be the reign, not of noble and priest, nor of grim artisan and sans-culotte, but of broadcloth burgher, a rule of common sense and constitutional use. Lafayette, who in these later days had sided much with carbonari and republicans, was greatly blamed for lending the support of his name to any monarchical system of government. His excuse lay in his belief that, for the time at least, the republicans were but a small minority of the people. The events of subsequent years seemed to prove him right; yet in the end the stronger beliefs and energies of republicanism were fatal to the throne. Peace at home and abroad, and a constitutional government, allied with such countries as also enjoyed the blessings of a moderate form of polity, especially with England, - these were the chief aims of the reign, as it was worked out by the two antagonistic statesmen, the rivals Thiers and Guizot.

This revolution of the "three glorious days of July" was a part of a general movement throughout a large part of Europe; for men were weary of the triumphs of reaction. In England these were the days of the Reform agitation which is indissolubly connected with the name of Earl Russel. In Belgium the news of the three days led to a violent insurrection, and the Belgian, who hated the union with the Dutch, threw them off and declared themselves independent; they bestowed a constitutional crown on Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. When the Dutch refused to deliver up Antwerp and let the Schedt run free, England and France combined to help the young kingdom; a strong French army soon forced the Dutch to evacuate Antwerp citadel.

At home the country was still uneasy; both legitimists and republicans were anxious to embarrass the Government. There were troubles in Paris, at Lyons, at Grenoble, and in La Vendee, where the romantic duchess of Berri kept up the hopes of the old Bourbon party. After a time the Government succeeded in capturing her, and then it came out that she had been for some time secretly married to an Italian gentleman; this and the birth of a daughter, discredited the legitimist cause completely; the duchess was allowed to retire in peace to Palermo. The disturbances at Paris and Lyons were also put down, and their chief instigators punished. After this the efforts of the dissatisfied took the form of attempts at assassination, and this in turn led in 1836 to the passing of the Laws of September, which treated press offences with severity, and regulated strictly the procedure of the law-courts. In this period could be seen a more marked divergence of parties, even among the Orleanists themselves. On the one hand there were the more conservative or reactionary men; on the other the upholders of the English theory that "the king reigns, but does not govern." At first Louis Philippe had chosen his Government from the former party, which, at the beginning of the reign had embraced not only Casimir Perier, the head of the Government, but Guizot, Thiers, and other men of name in politics and literature. Casimir Perier, vigorous in combat, but not a large-minded statesman, was carried off in 1832 by cholera, then raging fearfully in Paris; and soon after that time the life long feud between Guizot and Thiers began. A series of Governments followed one another in quick successior., and without stability; at last, the cabinet, headed by Marshal Soult, having proved unable to hold its own, a new ministry followed, of which Theirs was the head (February 1836). The ambitious little statesman, with the fire and heat of the south in him, advocate, newspaper editor, historian, and politician, seemed now to have reached his goal. His ministry, however, lasted but a very few months. He wanted to interfere in the affairs of Spain, while the king refused to change his policy of non-intervention; the cabinet broke up, and Count Mole, with Guizot as minister of public instrucvtion, succeeded. The new Government had to face the anger of France at the failure of French troops in Algeria before the hill-fort of Constantine, and the agitation which succeeded the strange attempt (October 1836) of Prince Louis Napoleon to arouse imperialist echoes among the troops at Strasburg. Though when he showed himself and read a proclamation to the soldiers, many replied with shouts of "Vive l’Empereur," the bulk of the troops refused to listern, and he was arrested with his companion, a M. Persigny, and sent on to Paris. The Government treated him leniently, and allowed him to leave France for New York. In 1838 Count Mole, finding the state of parties very uneasy, dissolved the chambers, and fresh elections followed. There had been four chief parties in the Assembly, - the Right, led by the famous conservative lawyer Berryer; the Right Center, under guidance of Guizot; the Left Center, headed by Thiers; and the left, led by Odillon-Barrot, formerly president of the society "Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera," an association formed to advance purity and freedom of elections, and a chief motive-power in the revolution of July. This last party, till 1840, was in constant opposition to Government. It was felt that the king, who was obstinate in his opinions, and not very scrupulous, had for some time past been interfering more than was wholesome in electioneering matters; the system of help to official candidates, the snare of French politics, took large development under him. The elections resulted in a majority for Mole and the Government. The other parties, however, made a coalition against him, which, under the leading of Thiers and Guizot, overthrew the ministry in 1839. The parties, however, did not agree well after their victory; the king was not cordial with them, and chose his ministers so as to exclude the three victorious leaders. In 1840 the king’s friends were again defeated. Thiers again became chief minister, and Guizot was sent as ambassador to St Jame’s, where he had a difficult part to play, in consequence of the state of the Eastern question. The rebellion of Mehemet Ali, the able viceroy of Egypt, against the sultan had aroused no small excitement in Europe. Mehemet was well known in France, where his adventurous career had attracted much attention. though the French and their allies had destroyed his fleet at Navarino in 1827, he had since (1831-1833) acquired the government of Syria as well as that of Egypt, by the energy of his son Ibrahim Pasha. When the sultan in 1837 endeavored to reduce his power, he again declard war against him, and Ibrahim once more defeated the Turks, securing Syria for his father. Now arose a great difference between France and England. The French Government wished that both Egypt and Syria should be finally guaranteed to Mehemet; the English Government, declaring that such a step would be fatal to the Turkish empire, insisted that Syria should be, with some small exception, restored to the Porte. In July 1840 England formed a quadruple alliance with Russia, Austria, and Prussia, without communicating at all with Guizot till after the treaty had been actually signed. Napier speedily bombarded and took Beyrout, while Stopford blockaded Alexandria. In one short campaign the Egyptians were easily cleared out of Syria, and Mehemet Ali acquiescing in the power of the stronger, secured his position in Egypt, while he finally restored Syria to the Porte.

In France the irritation was extreme. The nation had watched Mehemet’s regeneration of Egypt, a country in which, ever since Bonaparte’s expedition, France had seemed to have a special interest; it was a great shock to her to see her diplomacy rudely foiled, her sympathies neglected, her strength unemployed. The restoration to France in 1840 of the ashes of Napoleon, a rash act due to Louis Philippe himself, woke many a slumbering echo of the old national pride; Napoleon, it was urged, had never let his country fall, as the present Government had done, out of the foremost place in the councils of Europe. The second attempt of Louis Bonaparte to win over the garrison of Boulogne, in spite pf the absurdities of the tame eagle, and the utter failure of the venture, added not a little to the popular uneasiness. By shutting up the adventurer in the castle of Ham, the Government made him a martyr, and roused much dormant sympathy for him. The ministry accordingly fell, and Guizot, under the nominal presidency of Marshal Soult, became the real head of the new Government. The step was far from allaying the strong feeling in France; men accused Guizot of having played the country false while in London; his bitter antagonism to Theirs seemed to them to be the cause of the humiliation of France. For the moment, however, the only result was the fortification of Paris, which was begun in 1841.

The annals of France were now tranquil, under the cold administration of Guizot; party spirit seemed to have died down; the "Pritchard affair," arising out of the occupation by France of Otaheite, in accordance with a treaty in 1842, aroused again the slumbering irritation between France and England. The English Government had not objected to the treaty between Queen Pomare of Otaheite and the French Government; Mr Pritchard, however, consul, missionary and medical man to the queen, believing that the treaty was bad for the natives, had succeeded in persuading Queen Pomare to repudiate it, and to call on England to support her. Thereon in 1844 the French arrested him, sent him back to England, and occupied the island as its protector. The success of the French arms in Africa also angered the English, marshal Bugeaud had vigorously attacked and punished the emperor of Morocco for giving refuge and support to Abd-el-Kader, and the defeated emperor was obliged to sue for peace (September 1846). In 1847 Lamoriciere succeeded in capturing the picturesque chieftain who had caused France so much trouble, and sent him as a prisoner to France. Lastly, the vexed question of the Spanish marriages, in 1846, in which Louis Philippe succeeded in re-allying the Bourbons of France and Spain by a double marriage, caused very strong feeling in England; it was felt that Guizot had broken his word in the matter, and that France was taking unfair means of avenging herself for the affront of the quadruple alliance of 1840.

So things stood when 1847 opened with gloomy aspects for the French Government: irritation, want, the feeling that the Government had done little to lessen the commercial and agricultural distress; the desire of a more popular and perhaps more brilliant rule; the distrust of Guizot’s policy, as shown in the risks of the Spanish marriages, by which he had endangered the peace of France for the sake of illusory dynastic advantages; the consciousness that the king’s feelings were not friendly to the people, that his government was selfish, and that he did not hesitate to use corruption and influence in elections, - these things all made affairs seem unsetted and precarious. Guizot’s policy in the affair of the marriages, in his support of the Swiss Sonderbund, which was the resistance of reactionary against popular principles in Switzerland, his appeals to the treaties of 1815, his friendly attitude towards Metternich and Austria, his divergence from the liberal views of Lord Palmerston, his dislike for the patriots of Italy shocked and alienated all liberal opinion in France, and made the minister completely unpopular. The role of prudence at home and peace abroad, never an heroic one, had been abandoned by Guizot for a system which endangered peace with the neighbors of France and irritated the passions of party at home. Trickery and subterfuge seemed to rule in high places.

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