wisdom, may not be able to lecture as brilliantly as the alumnus of a normal school, but he will far more certainly fulfil his mission. For, it is a fact, but one of which all theorists on education lose sight, that those initiatory paths which lead to the halls of science are any thing but ways of pleasantness and peace. Though they lead to rich and glorious gardens, they pass through a wilderness of thorns; and the chinquapin, the twig of which did in times of yore prove so valuable an aid to our rural teachers, presents, in its prickly hull, which envelopes the grateful fruit, no inapt illustration of that learning in whose behalf its twig has so often been usefully employed. That which we are taught makes but a feeble impression upon us; the knowledgeothat becomes truly ours must be the fruit of our own labors. P.

ART. III.-Histoire des Girondins ; par A. DELAMARTINE. Tom. i. ii. Contenant les volumes, i., ii., iii., iv., v., vi., vii., viii. New-York: F. Gaillardet, Editeur, Bureau du Courrier des Etats Unis. 12 Park Place. 1847.

Sixty years have passed since the commencement of the first French Revolution, and France, after trying every form of government, after passing from the dreadful ordeal of anarchy to the rudest despotism, is again in the midst of a revolution. The subject of the work which we have placed at the head of this article, though always one of interest to every reader of history, is rendered peculiarly so at this time, when the experience of the past may afford instructive lessons to the present generation. There is a striking analogy betweenthe position of affairs and the progress of the revolution, at the time when the Girondins came into power, and the present moment, when the assembly just elected in France is about to commence its work. Then, as now, the Constituant Assembly, after having given a constitution to France, dissolved themselves and entrusted their work to other hands. Then, the constitution, with all the props to it rudely torn away, yielded, as it does now, to the touch of every careless innovator. Then the Legislative Assembly succeeded to the Constituant; but without wisdom to direct it, without aim or object, with the clubs of the Jacobins operating upon it from without, it stumbled along into disorders of every kind, into anarchy and terror. Now, too, the Legislative Assembly has succeeded to the Constituant, with a large majority of what are called moderates, but with an active and unscrupulous minority, aided by agrarian and socialist clubs from without, jealously watching and ready to take advantage of every word and act—the aims of the majority, purposeless as yet, or where they have indicated any policy, committing the grossest blunders, as in the affairs of Italy—there is ground for apprehension that the present Legislative Assembly"may be destined to a succession of similar blunders and follies, committed by their predecessor of that name, and to be followed by the same fatal results. The distinguished author of the work before us has done some service to history, by bringing out, more prominently than had been done before, the labors of a party who presumptuously assumed the task of governing France, at a juncture when all was confusion, disorder and chaos, and when all those who were capable of giving some direction to such a state of things had abandoned the work. It was the misfortune of France, and it led to follies and woes without number, that, from the commencement of the revolution in 1789, to the Directory in 1795, Providence had denied any great statesman to her councils. Of distinguished men in every pursuit, men of reputation, of brilliant talents, there were enough. It would be difficult at any period of history to point out as many names of men, who stand prominently forward, as those who are entitled to claim the attention of the historian in the brief period mentioned. But there were no great statesmen— none who saw the difficulties before them or who could valiantly grapple with and surmount them. Great as was their ability to pull down and destroy, they had none to reconstruct. “I carry in my heart,” said the dying Mirabeau, “the death dirge of the French monarchy; the dead remains of it will be the spoil of the factions.” Wain and impudent boast ! He had assisted in sowing the wind, and the whirlwind which France was forced to reap, if he had lived, would have swept him away, as it did every obstacle that was thrown in to stop its course for a moment. The exercise of a wise statesmanship was at no subsequent period more needed than at the second assembly of the notables, which led to the convocation of the States general. Neckar was a mathematician, but no statesman. By permitting a double representation in the third estate, he thereby gave to that body a numerical equality with the two other estates combined, and by leaving the manner of voting to chance, or the public virtue of its members, he assured to the democratic body the preponderance over the others, by the accessions gained from the lower nobility and inferior clergy. This result did take place, and the revolution commenced. When once under weigh, its progress was rapid. The nobility was degraded, the clergy plundered, and the king stripped of his prerogatives, until scarcely the name was left to him. The voices of Malouet and Maury, moderate but resolute supporters of the monarchy, were speedily hushed in the Assembly. Cazales resigned his seat as a member of that body, and two hundred and eighty-two members of the coté droit, the last prop of the throne, refused to take part in its deliberations. The king, upon his return from the flight to Warennes, was a captive in the hands of his people, and though he still retained his inviolability, even that was clogged with restrictions. Painfully the Constituant Assembly worked out a constitution for France. But it had no base, and could not stand. No conservative influence was left in the nation. The constitution reposed upon no other foundation than the wayward and shifting caprice of an unsteady and untaught public opinion. Such as it was when finished, it afforded a ray of hope to both king and people. It was presented to the king the 3d Sep., 1791. He received it with respect, and after taking some time to examine it, he appeared at the hall of the Assembly and solemnly swore to be governed by its provisions. The constitution was adopted in a more imposing form by the people, in the Champs de Mars, and an unusual joy was diffused over France. But that joy was destined to be of short duration. The framers of the constitution deserted the work as soon as it was finished, and left the execution of it to others. By an insidious proposition of Robespierre, they declared themselves ineligible as members of the next Assembly, and incompetent to be chosen ministers of the crown until two years after having served as legislators. This rendered all hope of the success of the constitution impossible. The king perceived something of this when, upon the dissolution of the Assembly, he told them that he could have wished that they had continued their sessions for some time longer, that they might themselves attempt to carry out their own work. Our author, in a somewhat rambling chapter, has exhibited much ingenuity in attempting to prove that the Constituant Assembly greatly erred in not establishing at once a republican government for France. “That body,” he observes, “committed but one error, which was in entrusting its code to the keeping of the monarchy,” and “the Constituant Assembly was blind and feeble in not establishing the republic as a natural instrument to the revolution.” We will not withhold the striking summary of our author's views on this subject. “The Constituant Assembly had three expedients left to it: to declare the forfeiture of the crown and declare a republican form of government; to declare the temporary suspension of royalty, and govern in its name during its moral eclipse; or to restore at once the royalty. The Assembly chose the worst. It was afraid of being too severe, and it was cruel, for, in preserving the supreme rank to the king, it condemned him to the hatred and contempt of his people. It crowned him with suspicion and outrages. It nailed him to the throne, that the throne might be the instrument of his torture, and at length of his death. Of the other two expedients, the first was the clearest and most logical: to proclaim the forfeiture and the republic. If the republic had been legally and firmly established at that time by the Assembly, it would have been entirely different from that which was perfidiously and atrociously set up nine months after by the insurrection of the 10th of August.” “Observe,” he continues, “how the single fact of the deliberate and legal proclamation of the republic would have changed every thing. The 10th of August would not have taken place; the perfidy and tyranny of the commune of Paris, the massacre of the guards, the attack on the palace, the flight of the king to the Assembly, the outrage with which he was treated, and, in fine, his imprisonment in the

temple would have been spared. The republic would not have put to death a king, a queen, an innocent child and a virtuous princess. The massacre of September would not have occurred; that St. Bartholomew of a people who always soil the swaddling-clothes of liberty. It would not have been baptized in the blood of three hundred thousand victims. It would not have placed in the hands of a revolutionary tribunal the axe of the people, wherewith a whole generation was immolated in order to give birth to an idea. It would have had no 31st of May. The Girondins coming in pure to the possession of power, would have had greater force to combat demagoguism.” Tom. i., pp. 115, 116. M. De Lamartine is an ardent republican in his creed, and he has stated somewhat unfairly the question which he has solved with such self-satisfied dogmatism. The fault committed by the Constituant Assembly was not that it selected the worst of the three courses mentioned by our author, but that it did not select and carry out any of them. Did it restore the royalty, by stripping the king of all his royal prerogatives but the suspensif veto, which was a snare laid to entrap him 2 Did it restore the royalty by breaking down all the props of the throne, leaving the monarchy without support and the monarch without counsel? Did it restore the royalty by abandoning the constitution, such as it was, to a new body, unacquainted with the forms of legislation, selected under the right of universal suffrage, by a people unaccustomed to its use, and without limit or check to the assumption and exercise of all power? It would probably be idle to speculate upon the results of any legislation in France at that period, but it may be contended that if there had been enough public virtue left in the nation—if there had been wise statesmen to have directed its counsels—the re-establishment of the throue on a new basis, the correction of its abuses, the restoration of the abolished chamber, and a new representation, founded upon the progress of opinions and the habits of the people, might have saved France from foreign war and spared her the reign of terror. But the republic, says our author, would have cured all the disorders of the times. Most fervently do we wish that all men were capable of self government; but we

« ElőzőTovább »