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France: The Restored Monarchy page 2

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Next morning the readers of the Moniteur were stunned by the discovery that their liberties were abolished and that they were living under a despotism. The news diffused itself quickly among the more intelligent citizens. Men, gathered into little groups in all public places, discussed with Parisian warmth and expressiveness of gesticulation the enormities of the government. As the day wore on, and the gravity of the situation was more fully perceived, the public funds fell, business ceased, the great employers of labour closed their works, and the people gave themselves up to the agitating influences of this supreme hour. But there was yet no such excitement as threatened immediate disturbance of the peace. The king spent the day in hunting. Prince Polignac at its close retired calmly to rest, satisfied with the events of to-day and serenely confident of the morrow.

Next day the office-doors of an offending newspaper were forced by orders of the government, and the printing machinery was seized. By this time work had utterly ceased in Paris, and the streets were crowded by dense masses of angry men. The excitement had now reached down to the lowest of the population. The men of the faubourgs appeared once more, ragged and fierce as they looked on that day, now thirty-five years ago, when the cannon of Napoleon quelled their last uprising. During the afternoon stones were thrown at the soldiers, who replied in haste by a discharge of musketry.

Slain men now lay on the streets, and the long suppressed fury of the people burst forth. Gunsmiths' shops and powder factories were plundered. The students of the Ecole Polytechnique seized the foils which were used for fencing, and ground the points to effective sharpness on the stones of the corridor. The pavement of streets was torn up, houses were stripped of their furniture, omnibuses were thrown down, and soon the leading streets were furnished with barricades, with the support of which the people could successfully resist the attack of the troops. Paris was in arms against the tyrant government.

During the next two days there was stubborn and bloody fighting between the people and the slender body of soldiers who formed the garrison of Paris. At its close the people were victorious, and the defence of the crown ceased.

The unhappy king realized, when his troops were driven out of Paris, the calamitous significance of the error he had made. He withdrew the fatal ordinances, but concession was unavailing. He lingered in the soft shades of St. Cloud, loath to resume in his old age the sad life of the exile, till his personal safety began to be threatened; and then, with his family and a strong guard, he took his way to Cherbourg, weeping bitterly, like King David, as he went. Slowly the fallen monarch rode northwards during twelve dreary days. There journeyed with him the Duchess d'Angouleme, the daughter of Louis XVI., stately and beautiful, and used to adversity. She had spent some of her earlier years in prison, and many of them in exile, to which she was now finally returning. The Duchess de Berri, frivolous and irritable, fared northwards too - she whose husband had been snatched from her by the assassin's knife, and who now carried with her away from France the boy who would have been its king. As this mournful family passed, the people looked on them in silence, with the pity which misfortune so great was fitted to awaken. At Cherbourg two ships waited for the exiles. On the beach the king parted from his guard, England had offered an asylum in the remote palace of Holy rood. There the dejected old man lived, with his mimic court, till, at the ungenerous wish of Louis Philippe, the English government requested him to go. He wandered to Bohemia and to Goritz, where he died.

The Duke of Orleans, the son of him who was beheaded in 1793, returned to France at the period of the restoration. King Louis considered that the duke, as the head of the younger branch of the Bourbon family, was already sufficiently near the throne, and took good care that he should come no nearer. Charles, more confiding, heaped honours upon him, and restored to him the enormous possessions which had been confiscated forty years before. The duke was one of the wealthiest men in Europe. He was ambitious, astute, patient; his long experience in the school of adversity had given him the power to wait. He laboured to become acceptable to all political parties, veiling his designs under a subtle and impenetrable reserve. He had been successful, and was now the hope of the revolted nation. During the agonies of the revolution the duke withdrew from Paris, and concealed his place of residence to escape the necessity of premature revelation of his purpose. When the crown was offered to him by the chambers, he affected reluctance, and yielded only to the urgent entreaty which the universal voice addressed to him. He ascended the throne amidst the raptures of a delighted people who had placed him there, and he chose to reign as Louis Philippe, king of the French. He owed his elevation to the citizens of Paris - the bankers, manufacturers, and shopkeepers; but the workmen gave their cordial support, and the provinces quietly acquiesced in the choice which Paris had made.

It was natural that the agitations which had resulted in a victory so brilliant should not immediately subside. The people could not at once bring themselves down, to the level of the prosaic toils by which it was needful they should live. The government addressed to them a soothing proclamation. "Brave workmen," it besought them, "return to your workshops." But the revolution had given to the industries of Paris a shock from which they were slow to recover. Capital withdrew in terror from a city whose streets had been changed suddenly into a battle-field. Industrial enterprise languished; the imports and exports experienced an alarming decline; the revenue fell to a point far under the expenditure; employment was scarcely to be found, and its wages had fallen so miserably low that the workman could no longer live by his labour. The first care of the new government was to devise expedients by which thousands of workmen, who had just gloriously overthrown a tyrant monarchy, could be saved from death by hunger, till returning confidence permitted commerce to resume its beneficent course.

The task which the citizen-king had undertaken was one of extraordinary difficulty. Arrayed against him were the adherents of the fallen dynasty, those who cherished the brilliant memory of Napoleon, and the republicans, who were now rapidly increasing in numbers. Each party was actively engaged in. conspiring its own future triumph, and none of them shrank from the idea of employing force to compass its ends. The agitations of the revolution were slow to subside, and the public tranquillity was disturbed by a yearning for fresh excitements. Universal mistrust prevailed. A complex organization of police found ample employment in watching the movements of men who were suspected of dangerous projects.

A few weeks after he gained the crown, there occurred circumstances which cast a shadow on the reputation of the king. The Due de Bourbon - last of the great house of Conde, and father of that Due d'Enghien whom Napoleon so basely murdered - was an old and feeble man, living under the influence of an evil woman, who exercised over the decaying mind of the aged prince a relentless tyranny. Driven unwillingly by this woman, he made a will by which the bulk of his vast fortune was left to a son of Louis Philippe. About a year after this was done, the duke was found strangled to death, apparently by his own hand, but in reality, as men believed, by the hand of a murderer. The king's son was the chief gainer by his death, and the king was therefore suspected of the crime. His majesty, calmly disregarding these injurious surmises, assumed control of the dead man's wealth, and bestowed honours upon the woman by whose help it had been gained. He endured a lawsuit, in which he was successful; but he was less fortunate before the tribunal of public opinion.

From another quarter odium burst in upon the new monarch. He was enormously rich, but instead of uniting his private property with that of the state, as law required, he transferred it to his children. And then he claimed from the country a sum of about one million sterling for his civil list. The details of his expenditure drew upon him showers of damaging ridicule. This robust monarch, it was pointed out, cost the nation a larger sum for medical attendance than the frail and gouty Louis XVIII. had done. The royal chapel, now little used, was upheld at an expense tenfold greater than in the days of the superstitious Charles. Each of the king's horses, of which there were three hundred, cost as much as a counsellor of the Cour Royale. The subterranean furnaces of the royal kitchen were heated at an annual charge of fifty thousand pounds. An obsequious chamber voted all that was asked for, but the people could never make out why a citizen-king adopted a scale of expenditure so inconsistent with the circumstances of his subjects. For at that very time it was found that in the manufacturing departments of France nine-tenths of the young men drawn for military service were infirm or deformed; and even in the agricultural departments four-tenths were similarly disabled. So heavily had excessive toil and imperfect nutriment pressed upon the physical condition of the people.

The first four or five years of the new reign were years of unquietness and fear. There were constant strifes with the press, in which government was generally worsted. The public mind was distinguished by an unwonted activity, directing itself with inconvenient persistency to the discussion of political questions. This state of mind demanded, as one of the conditions of its maintenance, a copious issue of cheap political literature. Unstamped papers, abhorred of the police, were openly vended on the streets in defiance of law, but with popular sanction so emphatically expressed that the authorities scarcely ventured to interfere. There was a powerful and widely-ramified society for promoting the rights of man, whose methods were universal suffrage, an executive elected and temporary, public education, a more equitable distribution of property, freedom of trade, and the federalization of Europe. Twenty-seven members of this society were prosecuted by government, but acquitted by the jury. So sensitive was the liberalism of the deputies, that when one of their number erringly spoke of the people as the king's "subjects," the chamber absolutely "quivered with indignation," and adjourned in irrecoverable confusion. "The men who make kings," it was logically said, "are not subjects."

The government attempted to suppress associations for political discussion. The indignant republicans prepared to defend their inalienable rights. They meditated a new revolution. Old M. Lafayette, now very near the close of life, who had spent fifty years in conspiring to overturn thrones, held meetings of the discontented in his own house. An organization ready for revolt overspread France. When the normal excitement which burned in the hearts of the Parisians suffered any accidental enhancement, it expressed itself in formidable riots. Twice the distressed weavers of Lyons rose in open rebellion, and drove out the troops after a severe and bloody conflict.

While the elements of disturbance were thus abundant, a wretched fanatic, named Fieschi, set up at a window, before which the king and his sons were to pass, a machine composed of twenty-five gun-barrels, which he discharged simultaneously against the royal family. Forty persons fell, slain or wounded, but the king passed on unharmed, although a bullet grazed his forehead. This outrage profoundly impressed the public mind, and silenced for the time the enemies of the monarchy. Instant advantage of the auspicious opportunity was taken to enact despotic laws in the interest of public safety. One series of measures made it easy for the government to secure the conviction of a political offender; another fettered the press. No man now might publish a newspaper without giving such security as only the rich could find. Nothing might be published offensive to the person of the king. No man might express a wish for the overthrow of the new government or the restoration of the old, or subscribe money to defray penalties inflicted on newspapers. No picture could be offered for sale until approved by the censor. No man might venture, under a heavy penalty, to call himself a republican. M. Thiers and M. Guizot were members of the administration which originated these measures.

Gradually confidence returned to the terrified commerce of France. With confidence there came prosperity. The hungry and irreconcilable agitator found employment and an income, and ceased from troubling. The government was hated, but its cold, remorseless strength was undeniable. Every social disorder found itself in presence of force adequate to silence and restrain. Sedition was dealt with by stern laws sternly administered; insurrection was promptly confronted by bayonet and cannon in overwhelming strength. The election of 1834 gave the king a triumphant majority. The revolution was closed; personal government was established; and France, if not contented, was tranquil.

France had not till now made any provision for the education of her people. In the early days of the first revolution noble plans had been devised and utterly forgotten in the wild strifes which swept over the country. Napoleon desired soldiers; he had no need of educated men. Under the restoration it was deemed easier to govern an ignorant than an educated people, and education was not encouraged. Now the very foundations of an educational system had to be laid. A scheme was prepared by M. Guizot, and readily adopted, which provided and adequately endowed thirty-five thousand primary schools.

In the year 1829, when the troubles which were so soon to bring its overthrow were gathering around the restored monarchy, Charles X. sought to regain the favour of his people by the conquest of Algiers. It was a work which the European powers ought to have performed long before. For centuries the Alger-ines had been the scourge of the Mediterranean. Charles Y. attacked them, and almost perished in the attempt. During the seventeenth century the English, the French, and the Venetians sent fruitless expeditions against them. Louis XIY. bombarded Algiers twice, and the daring freebooters ravaged his coasts in return. In 1816 England battered down the defences of Algiers, and exacted worthless promises from the government, without, however, taking trouble to close their evil career. The Algerines continued to follow the occupation of piracy; still sold into slavery or held for ransom those Christians whom they captured; still received tribute from Christian states. M. Arago - eminent in politics as in science - had once been a slave on board an Algerine pirate-ship.

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