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FrRevol_251-300.indd 49 3/16/12 1:07 PM CHAPTER III Ofthe Different Parties Which Composed the Legislative Assemhly. We cannot help feeling a sentiment ofprofound griefon retracing the eras of a Revolution in which a free constitution might have been established in France, and on seeing not only that hope overturned, but the most distressing events taking the place of the most salutary institutions. It is not a mere recollection that we recall; it is a keen sensation ofpain which revtves. The Constituent Assembly repented, toward the end of its reign, that it should have allowed itself to be carried along by popular factions. It had grown old in two years, as much as Louis XIV in forty. It was from just apprehension, in its case also, that moderation had resumed a certain sway on it. But its successors came forward with the fever of the Revolution at a time when there was nothing more to reform or destroy. The social edifice was leaning to the democratic side, and to restore it to an upright form, it was necessary to increase the power of the throne. Yet the first decree of the Legislative Assembly was to refuse the King the title of "Majesty" and to assign him an armchair only (fauteuil), similar in all respects to that ofa president. The representatives ofthe people thus put on the appearance of thinking that they had a king not for the public good, but for the sake of pleasing himself, and that it was consequently well to take away as much as possible from that pleasure. The decree respecting the armchair was recalled, so many complaints did it excite among men of sense; but the blow was struck, as well on the mind of the King as on that ofthe people; the one felt that his position was not tenable, the other conceived the desire and the hope of a republic.1 1. T he decision of the Assembly to refuse the King the title of "Majesty" and to grant 299 FrRevol_251-300.indd 50 3/16/12 1:07 PM PART III Three parties, perfectly distinct, made themselves conspicuous in the Assembly: the constitutionalists, the Jacobins, and the republicans. There were no priests, and almost no noblemen, among the constitutionalists; the cause of the privileged orders was by this time lost, but that of the throne was still under dispute, and the men of property and moderation formed a preserving party in the midst of the popular storm. Ramond, Matthieu Dumas, Jaucourt, Beugnot, Girardin, were conspicuous among the constitutionalists:2 they possessed courage, reason, perseverance, and could not be accused ofany aristocratic prejudices. Accordingly , the struggle which they supported in favor of monarchy does infinite honor to their political conduct. The same Jacobin party which existed in the Constituent Assembly under the name of the "Mountain"3 showed itselfanew in the Legislative Assembly; but it was still less entitled to esteem than its predecessor. For in the Constituent Assembly there was reason to fear, at least during certain moments, that the cause of liberty was not the strongest, and that the partisans ofthe Old Regime who acted as deputies might still be formidable; but in the Legislative Assembly there was neither danger nor obstacle, and the factious were obliged to create phantoms that they might display their skill in wielding the weapons of argument. him an armchair rather than a proper throne followed the declaration of Louis XVI's reservations toward the Constitution of 1791, a document that he had hesitated to sign at the outset. The symbolic connotations of the Assembly's decision were far-reaching; it amounted, among other things, to an attack on the monarch's role as an inviolable "neutral" power. As Benjamin Constant pointed out, this legal fiction (inviolability) was necessary in the interest oforder and liberty itself: "Your concerns, your suspicions, must never touch him. He has no intentions, no weaknesses, no connivance with his ministers, because he is not really a man but an abstract and neutral power above the storms." (Constant, Principles ofPolitics, 237) 2. Ramond de Carbonnieres (1755-1827), deputy of Paris; Mathieu Dumas (17)3-1837), deputy from Seine-et-Oise. Jaucourt (1757- 18p) became a member of the Tribunate in 18oo and later a peer of France during the Bourbon Restoration. Beugnot (1761- 183)), deputy from Aube, was minister ofthe interior during the first Bourbon Restoration (181415 ) and played an important role in drafting the Charter of18'4ยท Stanislas...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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