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FrRevol_551-600.indd 11 3/16/12 1:14 PM CHAPTER V Ofthe Circumstances Which Accompanied the First Return of the House ofBourbon in z8z4. When the return ofthe Bourbons was decided on by the European powers, M. de Talleyrand brought forward the principle oflegitimacy to serve as a rallying point to the new spirit of party that was about to prevail in France. Doubtless, we cannot too often repeat that hereditary succession to the throne is an excellent pledge for tranquillity and comfort; but as the Turks also enjoy this advantage, we may well conclude that certain other conditions are necessary to ensure the welfare ofa state. Moreover, nothing is more distressing at a critical conjuncture than those slogans which prevent most men from exercising their reasoning powers. Had the revolutionaries proclaimed not mere equality, but equality under the law, this qualification would have been sufficient to excite some reflection in the public mind. The case would be the same with legitimacy, if we add to it the necessity of limiting the royal power. But either of these words, "equality" or "liberty," when without qualification, are only such as would justify sentinels who should fire on him that did not instantly give the watch-word on the demand "who comes here." The senate was pointed out by M. de Talleyrand to discharge the functions ofrepresentatives of the French nation on this solemn occasion.1 Had the senate the power of assuming this right? And that power, which it legally had not, was it entitled to by its past conduct? As there was not r. In early Aprilr8 r4, the Senate entrusted a committee offive distinguished individuals (including Barbe-Marbois and Destutt de Tracy) with the task ofdrafting a new constitution that was approved on April 6. Nonetheless, Louis XVIII, taking note of the opposition of the royalists to the Senate's project, decided to endorse a different constitutional text. 56z FrRevol_551-600.indd 12 3/16/12 1:14 PM PART V time to convene deputies from the departments, was it not at least necessary to call together the legislative body? That assembly had given proofs of decision in the latter period of the reign of Bonaparte, and the nomination of its members belonged somewhat more to France herself. However, the senate pronounced2 the forfeiture ofthe crown by that same Napoleon to whom it was indebted for its existence. The forfeiture was grounded on principles of liberty; why were not these recognized before the entrance of the allies into France? The senators, it will be said, were then without strength; all power was in the hands ofthe army. There are, we must admit, circumstances in which the most courageous men have no means of being active; but there are none that oblige men to do anything contrary to conscience. The noble minority of the senate, Cabanis, Tracy, Lanjuinais, Boissy d'Anglas, Volney/ Collaud,4 Chollet,5 &c., had fully proved during several years that a passive resistance was possible. Senators, among whom there were several members of the National Convention, called for the return ofthe old dynasty, and M. de Talleyrand boasted that on this occasion he obtained the call of Vive le Roifrom those who had voted the death ofLouis XVI. But what good was to be expected from this kind ofaddress, and would there not have been more dignity in excluding these men from such a deliberation? Is it necessary to deceive even the guilty? And if they are so bent to servitude as to bow the head to proscription, what purpose is gained by making use of them? Finally, it was this senate which prepared the constitution to be presented to the acceptance ofLouis XVIII; and in those articles so essential to the liberty of France, M. de Talleyrand, at that time all-powerful, admitted the in2 . On April 2, r8r4. 3· Constantin Franqois ChasseboeufVolney (17)7-1 820), eminent French philosopher and historian, deputy to the Estates General in 1789. He was the author of Les Ruins, ou meditations sur les revolutions des empires (179r). Thomas Jefferson translated the first twenty chapters of this influential book for an American edition. In 1792, Volney purchased land in Corsica and established an agrarian community (later dissolved) based on his ideals. He was arrested during the Reign ofTerror. Volney subsequently traveled to the United States, where he lived until 1798. He edited Tahleau du climat et du sol des Etats-Unis in r8o3. 4· General Collaud (r7)4- I819...

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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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