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France: the End of Bourbon and Imperial Rule.

Modern History. (a.d. 1492-1898). Europe from 1815 to 1898.
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In the reign of the insignificant Louis XVIII. (1815-1824), who, as the Comte de Provence, had steadily injured the cause of his brother, Louis XVI., by opposing every salutary measure, a reactionary course was adopted, under the influence of the restored nobles and priests, against the imperialist (Napoleonic), republican, and Protestant sections of French society. A "White Terror" arose in the provinces, and roving bands of assassins put to death hundreds of "heretics" and holders of republican principles. In 1823 a French army entered Spain and, supporting the cause of the restored Ferdinand VII., enabled that perjured monarch to violate the new constitution and murder subjects who claimed the fulfilment of his pledges. Great discontent arose in France, and secret societies were formed to counteract the policy of an ultra-royalist ministry and chamber of deputies. Under Louis XVIII.'s brother and successor, Charles X. (1824-1830), matters went from bad to worse in the direction of despotism. A liberal party of influential men, favouring a system of monarchy based on the support of the bourgeoisie or middle classes, began to arise. The new sovereign, devoted to the Jesuits and the clerical party, increased his unpopularity by disbanding the National Guard in 1827. In the following year a Chamber with a liberal majority was elected, and the foolish king, a typical Bourbon, sealed his fate when, in the face of this fact, he called to his councils an ultra-royalist and reactionary in the feeble-minded Prince de Polignac. This minister persuaded his master, after the election of a Chamber with an increased liberal majority, to issue certain "ordinances" of an insane character, declaring the recent elections to be illegal; restricting the suffrage, by a new electoral system, to the large landowners; and forbidding any newspaper or pamphlet to appear without royal sanction. The people of Paris, in the famous "three days" of the "Revolution of July" (27th-29th), rushed to arms, erected barricades, defeated the troops, captured the Hotel de Ville and the Louvre, drove the king into exile, made Lafayette, whom we saw in the great Revolution, commander of the National Guard, and set up a "provisional government." This prompt and effective assertion of the cause of freedom was sullied by no cruelties on the victorious side. The king was at their mercy, and they let him go. The ministers who had signed the "ordinances" were only punished, after a lawful trial, with imprisonment. Property was respected; the fundamental laws of the country were revered. The mild character of the second French Revolution, one promoted by men who had enjoyed some blessings of freedom, was a triumphant proof of the proposition that the violence of such an armed uprising against misrule is proportioned to the degree of misgovernment which produces it.

The July Revolution made an end of the older Bourbon line as rulers in France, and the younger branch came to a new constitutional throne in the person of Louis Philippe I. (1830-1848), duke of Orleans, son of the Philippe Egalite (duc d'Orleans) of the first Revolution, who voted for the death of Louis XVI, and himself died by the guillotine in November, 1793- The new "King of the French" le roi bourgeois, or "middle-class king," as he was styled, the chosen of the French people, was a man of varied in a life of exile, as a tutor in Switzerland a traveller over Europe and the United States, a refugee in England. The "citizen-king" was fondly believed to be a most sagacious man, and he began well by abandoning all claim to "divine right"; abolishing censorship of the Press; confining legislation to the two Chambers ("Deputies" and Senate), and generally recognising constitutional forms. His opponents were found among the ultra-royalists and the republicans, and among the latter party there soon arose agitation for an extension of the franchise, which was limited to the aristocracy of wealth and their supporters. The industry and wealth of the country grew, and the sovereign retained his hold of the middle classes whose interests he favoured to the exclusion of the peasantry and artisans. There was gross political and even judicial corruption, and the policy of France was marked by much unwisdom in the attempts to win glory by very sanguinary and costly warfare in Algeria; in perfidious treatment of the Spanish queen with the hope of seeing a French prince dominant beyond the Pyrenees; in the adoption of a hostile tone towards Great Britain; and in the courting of the Napoleonic party by the bringing of their hero's remains, in 1840, to French soil. Many attempts were made on the king's life, and, under the influence of fear and of foolish ministers, he caused the enactment of repressive laws, tampered with trial by jury, and made the middle-class monarchy, the bourgeois predominance, yearly more hateful to the men of progress and the republican party. The end came in February, 1848, when the king, with his minister Guizot, a steady opponent of the advanced party, forbade the holding of a series of banquets in favour of electoral reform. On February 22nd the mob of Paris rose in arms, assisted by the defection of some of the troops of the line, and by the active aid or the complicity of the municipal police and the National Guard. The king, in disguise, and under the name of "Mr. Smith," made his escape to England with the queen, the estimable Marie Amelie, daughter of Ferdinand I. of Naples, and ended his life at Claremont in August, 1850.

The Second French Republic arose, and in June a terrible contest in the streets of Paris, with the loss of many thousands of lives, ensued between the moderate republican party and the socialistic section, the "Reds" or extreme republicans. The troops and the National Guard subdued the insurrection of the socialists, and in December, 1848, a Napoleon came again to the front, as President of the Republic, elected by over, 5,500,000 of votes, taken at a plebiscite, or election by universal suffrage, against about 1,500,000 given to the genuine republican, General Cavaignac, an Algerian soldier who had distinguished himself by skill, courage, and clemency in and after the outbreak of June, and was a man of the highest honour. The new head of affairs was, like Louis Philippe, a man of varied experience before he attained to supreme power. Nephew of the great emperor, as son of Louis Bonaparte, king of Holland, Louis Napoleon, born at Paris in 1808, became in 1832, by the death of Napoleon's only son (the due de Reichstadt) and of his own elder brothers, head of the house of Corsican upstarts. Educated in Switzerland and Germany, he displayed in manhood a complex character, involving considerable intelligence; dreamy, philosophic indefiniteness of thought; ambition, fatalism, irresolution and hesitation capable of being roused to decision and courage at critical junctures; absence of all political morality; kindliness, gratitude to all who served him in his days of ill-fortune. Outlawed from France under the Bourbons, he made two absurd attempts, in 1836 and in 1840, to arouse French troops against Louis Philippe, and he passed over five years, until May, 1846, as a prisoner in the fortress of Ham, on the Somme. Making his escape, he returned to England, where he was already well known in certain circles of London society, and on December 20th, 1848, he took the oath of allegiance to the French Republic. A gang of adventurers of the most unscrupulous kind, mere creatures of prey - De Morny, Maupas, Fiolin (afterwards Due de Persigny), St. Arnaud, and others - had resolved to use the "nephew of his uncle" in their own sordid interests, and the nephew, full of thoughts of "Caesarism," of a display of modern imperial democracy, was willing to be so used.

The first clear evidence of treachery to true republican principles was given in the suppression, by a French army, in league with monarchical Austria and a detestable tyrant at Naples, of the republican movement in Rome. The army, especially the strong garrison of Paris, was won over by systematic corruption, including gross debauchery. "Napoleonists" were placed in all prominent military and civil posts; the provincial towns were courted in frequent presidential visits; the people were cajoled by acts of clemency and by largesses of various kinds. The better part - in numbers, patriotic spirit, and intelligence - of the Assembly well understood what was going on, and the President and his creatures laid their plans against them. On December and, 1851, the infamous Coup d'Etat, one of the greatest crimes of modern days, laid French liberty prostrate. The republican and Orleanist leaders - Cavaignac, Changarnier, Thiers, Victor Hugo, and many more - were seized at dead of night. Attempts at resistance, in the streets of the capital, were quelled, and society overawed, by the ruthless slaughter of men, women, and children. The "constitution" was annulled; political opponents were exiled or transported to Cayenne, the French penal colony in Guiana. Perjured and steeped in blood, Louis Napoleon, elected by another plebiscite largely influenced by terrorism and deceit, became President for ten years, and inaugurated his new monarchical rule by confiscating the "appanages," or Bourbon crown-lands, of the Orleanist princes, and compelling them to sell their whole private property in French land. On December 2nd, 1852, the edifice of new Napoleonic power was crowned by the assumption of imperial sway, and "Napoleon III., Emperor of the French," began to reign under the sanction of another plebiscite, said to have afforded nearly 8,000,000 of votes. The public press was put under restraint, and a system of absolute rule was set up under the mask of a Senate and Legislative Body possessing no real parliamentary powers.

The Second Empire continued for nearly 18 years. Submission to a man who, under the protection of a devoted army and of a rigorous police, posed as the maintainer of law and order, was accorded by a generation of Frenchmen composed of men and women who knew nothing, by personal experience, of the miseries as well as the glories of the first Empire, and by many lovers of order and good administration who were ready to welcome the representative of the family whose founder's best work had survived him in admirable systems of law and public education, and in military institutions. Recognised by the European powers, the emperor declared his resolve to maintain peace, a pledge violated, as we shall see, with regard to Russia, Austria, and Mexico, prior to the last wanton and disastrous outbreak of French militarism. The country, enjoying peace at home, had a great increase of material prosperity. The skill and taste of French artisans made wealth in manufactures; the dogged industry of French peasants, tilling their own soil, created riches from the ground, and their thrift hoarded the returns for investment in the government-loans raised to meet a lavish expenditure on public works, or in the railways which were largely developed, to the benefit of trade and commerce, during the reign. All that material progress can do to justify the seizure of supreme power was effected. The masons and other building craftsmen of Paris were kept employed, at good wages, in the reconstruction of the city under the superintendence of the eminently energetic - and expensive - Baron Haussmann, "Prefet of the Seine," at a cost of 35,000,000 pounds sterling for the widening of streets, the laying out of new boulevards and parks, the construction of sewers, barracks, and bridges. Imperialism made a brilliant show at home in a court headed by the lovely and extravagant empress, the Spanish lady Eugenie de Montijo, countess of Teba, and the birth of a prince imperial in March, 1856, was hailed with rapture by the believers in the new empire. In the European system, an imposing effect was produced by success in land-warfare; by the great increase of the national steam-navy, and by the completion of the vast harbour and fortifications at Cherbourg which Napoleon I. had begun. Alliance with Great Britain against Russia and in Chinese affairs added to the "prestige" of the new dynasty, and the vindication, to some extent, of Italian freedom against Austria, and the armed protection afforded to the Pope against Italian liberalism, conciliated at once the champions of the principle of "nationalities," and the devotees of the Catholic Church.

The downfall was due to the shock given to the self-conceit of French militarism by the brilliant success of Prussia, in 1866, in war against Austria, and by the general advance of the leading state of Germany under the control, as Chancellor, of the renowned von Bismarck, who had again and again fooled and foiled, in the field of diplomatic contests, the emperor Napoleon. French "Chauvinism" (the "Jingoism" of the British Isles), a name derived from that of Chauvin, a fiery young recruit in a modern French comedy, had been galled by the Prussian minister's blunt refusal to give territorial "compensation" to France in the Rhine-country after Prussia's great success in Germany, and any pretext for war was sure of a welcome in Paris. The occasion was the offer of the Spanish throne to the Prince of Hohenzollern, a young man not in the reigning line of that House, as far as Prussia was concerned, but French susceptibility was aggrieved by his acceptance, and remonstrance was met by his withdrawal at the Prussian king's request. This was followed by the really insolent demand that the Prussian sovereign should undertake never to permit the Hohenzollern candidacy for the Spanish crown to be renewed. King William, then a visitor at Ems, near Coblenz, declined to discuss this matter with the French ambassador Benedetti, who sought to "interview" him on the public parade. We now know, from Bismarck's own cynical confession, that this incident was reported to and published in the Prussian newspapers in a form, prepared by himself, which was expressly framed as likely to irritate the French, and provoke the outbreak of war for which he knew Germany to be well prepared. On the other hand, it is certain that the French government was meditating war from the fact that, in the spring of 1870, their agents had been purchasing corn and forage in the southern English markets, and a flotilla had been secretly gathering in the northern French ports for the transport of men and horses, presumably to the north coast of Germany, in case of need. The provocation given by Bismarck was instantly taken up, and the French government declared war on July 15th. The whole of northern Germany rose as one man, with the alliance of Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Saxony, and Baden, and the French hope of aid from, or, at least, of neutrality in, those states was baffled. Stern, quiet resolution, along with a complete state of preparation for war, on the east of the Rhine, was confronted with premature boasting, excited yells of A Berlin, and a military state of disorganisation which quickly gave the lie to the French minister of war, Marshal Leboeuf s statement, at the council where war was decided on, that "all was ready, even to the last button on the soldier's gaiters."

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