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NAPOLEONISM-ITS PRESENT AND ITS PROSPECTS.
If the reader thinks we have dwelt too long on a subject of which, nevertheless, we have but grazed the surface, let him remember that this creed is the religion of a hundred and twenty millions of Christendom, and that at this moment its champions are vainly hoping, and indefatigably labouring to bring once more beneath the yoke of the Papacy the intellect and the liberties of England. Our aim has been to show what the doctrine of the Eucharist is, as we find it in Scripture, and what it is as the priest has made it. The subject is one which claims to be studied by every thoughtful Protestant with profound and patient investigation.
ART. XI.-(1.) Le Bulletin Francais. No. 1 to No. 7. Brussells au Bureau. 12 Feb. 1852.
(2.) Le Bulletin Francais. No. 8. 19 Feb. 1852.
London. Jeffs. (3.) Le Nouveau Bulletin Francais. No. 1 to No. 5. London. Jeffs. (4.) Biographie des Membres du Senat. Paris. Michel Levy Freres.
(5.) Le Moniteur, La Presse, Le Journal des Débats, Le Siècle, Le Pays, La Democratie Napoléonienne. From Dec. the 2nd, 1851, to April, 1852.
(6.) Consultation and Opinion of the Advocates Vatismenil, Berryer, Odilon Barrot, and Paillet on the Confiscation Decrees and on the Property of the House of Orleans.
We have not very recently addressed ourselves to the actual condition and prospects of France. For the last twelvemonthwe might, indeed, say for more than the last four-and-twenty months, we have specially avoided handling a question environed by difficulties of every sort and kind, and on which it was impossible to write with anything approaching to certainty. So long as it was in our power to accord to the motives and the acts of some of the men connected with the Revolution of 1848 a qualified approval, or even a generous forbearance, we did not cease to hope even against hope itself for some compensating effects to the cause of public liberty, and municipal and self-government, from the movement of February, 1848, sudden and ill-defined in political character as that movement appeared undoubtedly to be. But from the moment of the French invasion of Rome we began to despair of French politics and politicians, and to think that sooner or later a struggle must ensue between President Bonaparte and the Assembly, since the 2nd December, 1851, dissolved and dispersed. Had the Assembly been guided by pure and patriotic
intentions, had it earnestly desired the prosperity and happiness of France, there could have been little doubt with whom victory would have finally rested. But, unfortunately, it was split into sections and parties, each struggling for the mastery, and over these discordant factions a crafty, an unscrupulous, a dissembling and a perjurious President, obtained, by means of corruption and the army, a complete and yet an inglorious victory.
It is not our intention to go over the events of the 2nd December, 1851. These occurrences, notwithstanding that changes abrupt, sudden, and organic, were expected by some, and a prolonged civil war by others, yet appear, even now, to have the vagueness and unreality of a dream, and at the end of the fifth month from the period of their occurrence there are not wanting thinking men who ask themselves, Can such things have really happened? and, Is it possible that the French people have submitted to them in the years of grace 1851 and 1852? For it is not merely the form of government which has been changedit is not merely a Republic, which has been converted into an irresponsible despotism and military stratocracy, depending on the whim, the caprice, and the humour of a selfish sybarite, profuse, luxurious, self-indulgent, and profligate-it is the whole frame and condition of civil society which has been altered or altogether uprooted. For laws, ordinances, traditions, and usages, which date from the time of Clovis, of Pepin, of Charles Martel, of Charlemagne, and of Louis the First, and which have been consecrated by a prescription of thirteen centuries-for laws and ordinances, the products of imperial or royal wisdom, or statesmanlike ability, or philosophic scholarship-for laws and customs which have been the products of provincial states, of assemblies of nobility, of the ancient parliaments, so distinguished and so illustrious at various ages of French history, we have now substituted the irresponsible decrees, the autocratic fantasies of one man, who wishes, with a semi-savage ambition, in the month of May, 1852, to play the part of Soulouque in Europe. Things which were never dreamed of by Hugh Capet, or Charles the Bold, or Louis XI., or Philip Augustus, or Henry IV., or Louis XIV., have been accomplished by an adventurer, without one great or noble quality; who, a few years ago, was a conspirator in Italy, an exile in Switzerland, and a fast and fashionable leg both on the turf and at ecarté, at King-street, St. James's. To any nice or minute observer of the history of M. Bonaparte since 1832, his subsequent career will not appear extraordinary. Distinguished by taciturnity, by reserve, by an impassible frigidity, by a fanatical selfishness and Asiatic self-indulgence, the elect of
CHARACTER AND FATALISM OF LOUIS NAP. BONAPARTE. 557
December, nevertheless, affects to be a fatalist, to be the favourite οι μοίρα, αίσα, κηρ and είμαρμένη, to be the very elect of the Fates, and of an overwhelming Destiny.
Such notions are not without their effect on a people distinguished by the extremes of credulity and incredulity-by a people sensual and materialist in the towns-superstitious, ignorant, or stupid in the country. It is recorded of Mazarin, that he never thought of employing an agent or instrument during the reign of Louis XIII. or Louis XIV., without previously inquiring-Est il heureux? And we know that in our own day, another Italian adventurer, who rose still higher than Mazzarini of the Abruzzi-namely, Napoleon Bonaparte-was wont to select agents possessing what the Spaniards term the estrella feliz, or what is ordinarily called a happy star. Ideas of this nature easily penetrate through agricultural and pastoral districts: they are conveyed traditionally from father to son; they are naturally cherished by all lovers of the marvellous, by the sanguine, by the credulous, and by the ignorant. It may be that the perjured dictator of France is himself the dupe of an ignorant fatalism, and a faithful believer in his own infallible mission; but looking to the cold, calculating, and cunning nature of the man, we conceive it much more likely that he has, by his retainers, set afloat the myth of his marvellous destiny, in the hope that the prophecies venturesomely made by his parasites, may in the fulness of time really accomplish themselves.
For now four months and upwards a neighbouring nation has been scourged with every rod of tyranny. The chamber has been dissolved, the constitution has been violated, thousands of men have been imprisoned, thousands have been exiled, or deported to Cayenne, to Sinnamari, to Lambessa; hundreds, tried by military and prevotal courts, have been shot or condemned to the galleys; but such is the abasement and prostration of France, mentally, morally, and physically, that no man within the length and breadth of that once free land dare raise his voice in indignation against these monstrous and inhuman enormities, or the flagrant perpetrator of such abominations. There has now for five months been no freedom of the press, or of speech, or of correspondence in France,-nay, even the freedom of the pulpit has been violated. In the most despotic days of Louis XIV., Masillon and Bourdaloue thundered,-told severe truths to the king, in the hearing of the people; and one of them, with true Christian boldness, exclaimed 'Le silence du peuple est la leçon des rois.' But under the government now prevailing, the pulpit is forced to be as mute as the press, as guarded as that correspondence sometimes withheld, and always, in cases of
suspicion, flagrantly violated. It will scarcely be credited by the English reader, though the fact is undoubtedly true, that the eloquent Abbé Lacordaire, the greatest of modern French Romancatholic preachers, and who abandoned the bar for the pulpit, was obliged, a few weeks ago, to expatriate himself from the capital of France, because in the exercise of his sacred mission he had used that freedom of speech and of reproof stringently enjoined on a Christian minister in Holy Writ."
All the democratic newspapers have been suspended or suppressed. The National, the Courier Français, L'Ordre, L'Opinion Publique, L'Evenement, and La Republique, have been arbitrarily extinguished, and the rights of proprietors, editors, contributors, and printers, as well as of subscribers, violently and manu forti set aside. To six or seven hundred persons, comprising writers, reporters, compositors, folders, pressmen, distributors, book-keepers, clerks, these journals gave employment, and now, uno flatu, the well-being, mayhap the existence, of these individuals is put to hazard. Many of them are in prison, some of them have been shot, some of them have been proscribed to Algiers, or to the pestilential swamps of Cayenne or Sinnamari, while others, reduced to poverty, to despair, and to actual starvation, like M. de St. Edme, have committed suicide. On the last day of March it was that this unfortunate man, author of the Biographie des Hommes du Jour, of the Histoire des Rois et Reines de France, and a writer in many journals of France for the last thirty-seven years, hanged himself in his lodgings in the Rue des Fossés, Monsieur le Prince. There was found on his table a paper, on which he had written that he would have preferred to have put an end to himself with a pistol, but that such was his poverty, produced by the cessation of all periodical writing, that he had not wherewithal to buy one. Je choisis donc,' said Saint Edme, la pendaison à la Pichegru.' This is, unfortunately, not a solitary instance. There are two other cases in which public writers have had recourse to poison, and one in which a journalist flung himself into the Seine. But in these cases the French newspapers and the police have preserved a discreet and ominous silence. To every man acquainted with London and Brussells it is well known, that between both capitals there are more than sixty French gentlemen, at the present moment, who were connected with the political literature of their country, and some of whom are suffering, while we write, the most poignant distress. Were we to speak of the injury inflicted on capital and credit by the measures of December 1851, in reference merely to this one branch of industry, the limit of sixteen pages would hardly suffice to give in detail
TENDENCY TO SUICIDE.
a catalogue of the miseries and ruin thus wrought. Large establishments connected with the fabrication of paper, of ink, of types, and of presses, have been broken up; joint-stock partnerships and societés en commandite have been dissolved, and the relations that subsisted between capital and labour have been at once inconsiderately and mercilessly snapped asunder.
We are not defending or excusing men who rush unbidden into the presence of their Maker, and who forget the duties they owe both to God and to man. We are stating a fact to be deplored and condemned under any circumstances, even under circumstances of calamity so overwhelming as we have just alluded to. In a country in which there is little serious or vital religion, in which animal and sensual existence is more regarded than the inner and spiritual life, it is not wonderful that men being deprived at a blow of occupation and bread should fall victims to gloom, to despondency, and to despair, and resort to selfslaughter for relief, as though the Almighty had not issued his divine prohibition against it. The fearful increase of suicides among literary and thoughtful men is one direct consequence of the perjuries of December. A general want of confidence, and a sense of insecurity, are some among the other consequences naturally resulting from it. In vain does the temporary tenant of the Elysée vie with the prodigalities of Lucullus and Heliogabalus; in vain do his satraps, his ministers, and his blood relations, give, at his command, dinners and balls, in which, as in the decay of the Roman empire, mullet, lampreys, and carp, are brought from distant cities, and even different latitudes,-in vain are ten thousand francs' worth of the choicest flowers and exotics displayed by the minister of police at his ball at the Hotel de Ville,-in vain are the profusions and the orgies of the Regent Orleans and his daughter revived, at the cost and charge of a ruined people; for, notwithstanding all this expenditure, trade languishes, strangers cease to visit Paris, and there is no confidence between man and man, for every individual, excepting the most blind and besotted, is of opinion that the hideous phantom which calls itself Prince President of the Republic must soon pass away, after having strutted its terrific and sanguinary hour. If nothing else were to kill the monstrous system which now reigns in France, it must be killed by the financial difficulty. The annual deficit is little less than four millions sterling, while there has been this very year an increase of eight millions of francs in the army estimates. The salaries, or civil list, of the head of the state, having no palaces or public establishments to keep up, has been raised to the incredible sum of twelve millions of francs, or 480,000l. a