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tion to the Government. Those who played the high and irregular game, to which we have just alluded, very probably deceived themselves : They meant, by their opposition, no more than protection to the Throne, which they believe did not know how to protect itself; and the opinion, we must say, seems justified by the very fact of their imprudent and criminal interference being tolerated for years. The fatal example, however, - was not lost on their opponents; and a sort of secret tribunal was speedily organized at Paris, composed of men who were in substance desirous of the establishment of a Republic—under a President as in America,-under a Directory,-under an elective King,-under any thing, in short, or any body, but the present family; against whom they seemed to have declared guerre à mort. The formation of this junto, and the alarm inspired by its boldness and activity, naturally threw the Government more into the scale of the Ultra royalists; and as the period of election approached, all its agents, high and low, prefects, judges, police-officers, gendarmerie, might be seen most clumsily employed in canvassing for their masters, and influencing the electors, as they believed, in favour of Government, but in fact most fatally injuring its cause.
The result having shown the weakness of this influence, the Government made an unsuccessful attempt, at the beginning of the Session 1818–19, to procure a less unfavourable law of elections. This was renewed in the end of last year; and a contest, unexampled for its violence, except in the early days of the Revolution, took place between two parties nearly equal in numbers, for the long period of eight months—both sides contending, not for power merely, but for existence. During this arduous struggle, two or three sets of ministers were appointed and displaced-a Prince of the Royal Family lost his life by the dagger of an assassin, whose political fanaticism was no doubt heightened by the violent controversies of the day; blood was shed in the streets of the capital for several successive days, and France appeared on the eve of a new revolution ! The knowledge of two very important facts, however, rose out of this critical situation; 1. That the lower classes were not disposed to take an active part in abstract political questions, or perhaps had not yet lost the habit of implicit obedience acquired under their Imperial ruler; 2. That the Government was rather stronger than had been supposed, and could depend in some degree on the military,--a consideration of infinite weight in France. Under these circumstances, a compromise took place; by which 172 deputies are to be added to the present number of 258. These 172 will be elected (2 in each of the 86 departments) by one fourth part only of the present electors, taking only those who pay the highest taxes. The other 258 will be elected, as heretofore, by those who pay 300 francs and upwards; with this difference, that the elections will take place in each arrondissement, instead of the departmental town. The law passed ultimately by a great majority,—154 to 95; and has probably secured, for the present, the peace of the country-we trust without materially diminishing its chance for permanent freedom. There is reason, however, to fear, that the obstacles to the establishment of civil liberty in France lie deeper than any law of elections can reach-in the habits, manners, and prejudices of the people and of their rulers; and it is to this subject that we now wish particularly to direct the attention of our readers.
The number of voting proprietors paying 300 francs and upwards of direct taxes, is not readily ascertained from the Duke of Gaëta's Table, of which we have already given an abstract; but an official estimate makes it 93,900; and another document divides that number as follows
61,000 electors paying from 800 to 600 fr. direct taxes. 32,000 do.
from 600 to 3000. 621 do.
from 3000 to 4000. 232 do.
4000 and upwards.
93,853 electors. Great proprietors are astonishingly few in France, or rather the largest landed estates are very small; but such as they are, the law now gives them a great preponderance of political power. 23 thousand of the greatest proprietors will elect exclusively about two-fifths of the members to the chamber of deputies, and, jointly with the 70 thousand lesser proprietors, the other threc-fifths, the former voting twice. At present about one proprietor out of 45 is an elector. This arrangement might be deemed sufficiently aristocratic; and yet the probability is, that the elections will still give a majority of liberal deputies. The legal qualification to be eligible, paying 1000 fr. direct taxes and upwards, restricts the number of candidates from which deputies can be chosen to little more than eight thousand for the whole nation, a great proportion of whom are nobles (gentilshommes); yet the electors will find no difficulty in selecting, among that small number, 430 individuals, who, from principle or calculation, will adopt their opinions; and these opinions will generally be liberal -republican we might almost say-from this circumstance among others, that most of the electors are not qualified to be eligible. In that point of view, the restriction on eligibility has in fact a hidden republican tendency.
There is a disposition in men, of which they are not always consciouse to level all distinctions down to themselves—at the same time that they maintain strictly those below. We might venture to predict, that those ineligible electors will not remain long satisfied; and that, sooner or later, a law will be passed by their deputies to enable them to elect themselves. It is no less probable, that the great mass of proprietors, the 44 out of 45 who pay less than 300 francs of direct taxes, and who are now mere spectators of the election, will feel dissatisfied at those who pay 300 enjoying political rights from which they are debarred. The narrower the line drawn between them, the more they will feel inclined to pass it. The Constituent Assembly, in 1790, thought it had guarded sufficiently against an appearance of aristocratic principle, by requiring only the payment of direct taxes to the amount of three days' labour, to enable any body to be an elector; but the citoyens passifs, finding themselves most numerous, very soon made themselves actifs! The multitude, especially when the spirit of liberty is new, and political institutions bear the stamp of antiquity, is apt to find a peculiar charm in republican institutions, and still more in democratic ones; but such a system requires, to be at all safe, a population wholly composed of proprietors, as in the United States ; and although an unusual proportion of the population of France belongs to that class, yet most of these being very little above the condition of day-labourers, there is every reason to think that the experiment of a Republic would end as it did before, in the usurpation of an able demagogue, or a successful General. As soon as the great mass of a people, long subjected to an arbitrary monarchy, comes to have a taste of republican institutions, they are but too apt to go into all kinds of excesses to secure the inestimable benefit of equal rights, and the semblance at least of self-government. After all, however, the advantages of republican government, under any modifications, seem to be very questionable. Even the most splendid of the antient models, where liberty was the ruling passion, exhibit a monstrous assemblage of gentle manners in private life, and a cruel policy for the public-purity, disinterestedness, filial piety, wonderful courage and unshaken constancy in adversity; but, on the slightest suspicion of designs against liberty, or indeed in favour of the liberty of the subjects or slaves of the republic, the same virtuous people became capable of the most dreadful excesses, proscriptions, murders, civil wars, spoliations,-and, by a strange illusion, the perpetrators of these crimes fancied they were setting a pattern of heroic virtue. It ought always to be remembered, too, that a perfect equality of property is the necessary condition or consequence of a perfect equality of political rights. Wherever universal suffrage is actually established, agrarian ing highways (corvées) fell upon the peasantry, who used them the least.
We shall add to this melancholy catalogue some facts collected from an official report published in 1816, on the comparative state of the Paris Hospitals now and in former times. The Hotel Dicu, the oldest, probably, in Europe, existed as early as the seventh century, and was distinguished by the almost incredible vices of its administration. It appears that formerly the tenants of this horrid abode were often four in a bed, sometimes six, the allowance of room for each being only eight or nine inches; and there have been instances of one or two more being lodged over the tester of the bed! The places of those who died were instantly filled with new victims ;-the clothes of those brought in were thrown together into a common store-room, to be returned to those who survived, loaded with the combined effluvia of the mass of dirt and corruption! The mortality, although vast, seems to have been less than might have been expected, (2 out of 9 yearly); but this is explained by the practice of receiving into the hospital many poor in good health, and who, therefore, did not die.
A great fire, which happened about the year 1770, cleansed the Augean stable, and it never was so bad afterwards; but the great improvement did not take place till within fifteen or twenty years. The sick are now placed single in a bed; the space of air allowed for each is equal to 10 or 12 cubic toises of 6 feet, instead of 1} or 2 they had formerly; the average mortality of all the hospitals is now 2 out of 15, including lying-in women, whose mortality is 1 out of 24, instead of 1 out of 14 as it was formerly.
With all this, France had never been in so fair a way to see the defects of its old institutions corrected, and civil liberty introduced with success, as it was just before the Revolution.-A reform of criminal jurisprudence had begun; torture was abolished; the administration of prisons and hospitals was greatly improved; provincial administrations, the most beneficial, perhaps, of any improvement in its consequences, had been tried; servage of all kinds, and the corvées, were at an end; several of the grievances of the Protestants had been removed, and the exercise of their religion allowed. The scandalous fortunes made by favourite Ministers in former reigns, were unknown under Louis XVI., and the general aspect of the country was that of a progress both towards happiness and freedom: But the restless impatience of reformers could brook no delay. A cure without their specific, and otherwise than by their hands, was no cure to them; and they found associates in a vicious court, where men of the first rank took a pride in the designation of roués, (meaning, literally, felons on the wheel). Society was infected throughout with this profligacy, disguised under the shallow and crude philosophy of the day. Those generalizations admit, of course, of very many exceptions—but that such were the great outlines appears undoubted :-We need, indeed, no other proof than the peculiar atrocity and extravagance of the revolution that ensued ;-for the people, in all civil commotions, show themselves the more ferocious in proportion as they are less enlightened and more enslaved.
It would have required an abler and firmer hand than that of Louis XVI. to guide the helm in such a tempest. « Il est affreux de penser, M. Mounier says, qu'avec une ame moins bienfaisante, un autre prince eut peut-être trouvé le moyen de maintenir son pouvoir !' This is not improbable, and it is a melancholy and humiliating consideration : Yet we think a greater share of sincerity, or at least of consistency and perseverance, without less goodness and virtue, might have extricated him more effectually from his difficulties, and with far greater glory. Profoundly corrupt as the French people were at that period, they were even then, as they are now, and have always been, peculiarly susceptible of a sudden impulse of generosity, and apt to be carried away by any great and magnanimous example: The measure of assembling the States-General in 1789, without arranging previously the mode of voting of the three orders of the State, and bringing inveterate enemies face to face, with arms in their hands, by way of settling their differences, was in the highest degree imprudent and unwise; yet, even after this mistake and its immediate consequences, if the monarch had boldly and frankly come forward in the National Assembly, big as it was with the elements of mischief, with nearly such a charter in his hand as his brother did five-andtwenty years after—if he had proposed nearly such bases as those of our government, the extreme popularity of the measure would have given him an ascendancy equal to the occasion, not only over the great mass of the people, but over the Nobility themselves, who must have seen the necessity of submitting to an exchange of their frivolous honours and privileges, which were lost at any rate, for any purpose of constitutional influence or legislative power; as they submitted without a murmur, under Bonaparte, to the same sacrifices without any compensation. The monarch, thus armed, as he would have been, with the irresistible will of millions, would have found himself all at once stronger than the strongest of his royal an