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FrRevol_551-600.indd 42 3/16/12 1:14 PM CHAPTER X Ofthe Influence ofSociety on PoliticalAJfairs in France. Amidst the difficulties which the government had to overcome in r8r4, we must place in the first rank the influence which the conversation of the saloons exercised on the fate ofFrance. Bonaparte had resuscitated the old habits of a court and had joined to them, besides, all the faults of the less refined classes. The result was that a thirst of power and the vanity that it inspires had assumed characteristics still more strong and violent among the Bonapartists than among the emigrants. So long as there is no liberty in a country, everyone aims at getting favor, because the hope of obtaining a place is the only vivifying principle which animates society. The continual variations in the mode ofexpressing oneself, the confused style of political writings, whose mental restrictions and flexible explanations lend themselves to any interpretation; bows made and bows refused ; sallies of passion and effusions of condescension, have no other object than to obtain favor, further favor, and still additional favor. It follows that people suffer quite enough by not getting it, because it is only by means ofit that they obtain the tokens ofkindness in the human countenance . One must possess great loftiness ofsoul and steadiness ofopinion to dispense with it; for even your friends make you feel the value of exclusive power by the eagerness of their attention to those who possess it. In England the adherents of the Opposition are often better received in society than those of the court; in France, before inviting a person to dinner, you ask if he be in the good graces of ministers; and in a time of famine, it might be even well to refuse bread to those who happen to be out of favor at court. The Bonapartists had enjoyed the homage ofsociety during their reign FrRevol_551-600.indd 43 3/16/12 1:14 PM cHAPTER x. Influence ofSociety on Politics in the same way as the royalist party that succeeded them, and nothing hurt them so much as to occupy only the second place in the very saloons where they were so lately pre-eminent. The men of the old government had, besides, that advantage over them which is conferred by grace and the habit ofgood manners of former days. There consequently subsisted a perpetual jealousy between the old and the new men oftitle; and, among the latter, stronger passions were awakened by every little circumstance to which the various pretensions gave birth. The King had not, however, re-established the conditions required under the old government to be admitted at court; he received, with a politeness perfectly well measured, all those who were presented to him; but though places were too often given to those who had served Bonaparte, nothing was more difficult than to appease those vanities that had become easily alarmed. Even in society it was wished that the two parties should mingle together, and each, apparently at least, complied. The most moderate in their party were still the royalists who had returned with the King, and who had not quitted him during his entire exile: the Count ofBlacas, the Duke of Grammont, the Duke of Castries, the Count of Vaudreuil, etc. Since their conscience bore witness that they had acted in the most honorable and disinterested manner, according to their opinion, their minds were calm and benevolent. But those whose virtuous indignation against the party of the usurper was the most difficult to repress were the nobles or their adherents who had solicited places to the same usurper during his power, and who separated themselves from him very abruptly on the day ofhis fall. The enthusiasm for legitimacy ofsuch a chamberlain ofMadame Mere or of such a lady-in-waiting ofMadame Sceur knew no bounds; and we whom Bonaparte had proscribed during the whole course of his reign, we examined ourselves to know whether we had not been his favorites at times when a certain delicacy ofmind obliged us to defend him against the invectives of those whom he had loaded with favors. We very often perceive a kind oftempered arrogance in the aristocrats, but the Bonapartists had certainly still more ofit during the days oftheir power; and at least the aristocrats then adhered to their ordinaryweapons: a constrained air, ceremonious politeness, conversations in a low tone of voice; in short, all that the perceptive eyes can observe but that proud...

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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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