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قراءة كتاب Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

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Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 9

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Such was the confidence which the nation placed in the promises of the King, that no jealousy was excited by this measure. On the contrary, people expected that great good would result from it, that party heat would be allayed, and public interest and opinion become more speedily united to the throne.

This pleasing illusion was soon dispelled. A great number of emigrants, who had just come in again, were appointed commissioners. Instead of listening to cool and experienced advisers, they gave themselves up to the priests and nobles who beset them, and who were neither moderate nor enlightened.

The middling classes, who, from their habitual intercourse with the lower orders, possess so great an influence over the body of the people, were considered by the commissioners as a rabble multitude of upstart "roturiers." They treated the middling class with disdain and contempt. Deceived by the recollection of the excesses of the revolution, they fancied, that whoever could win the populace, became the ruler of the country. When money is not to be had, the surest way of getting over the multitude, is by appealing to its passions. They therefore announced, that they were sent to do justice to the people, to listen to their complaints, to reform abuses, and to abolish the "droits réunis," and the conscription.

Meetings were announced in the villages and in the country towns. All persons of respectability kept away; but the populace, who are always delighted with uproar and novelty, crowded in. There was no end to the preposterous charges which were preferred against the magistrates, the prefects, the under-prefects, the mayors, the administrators of public affairs, the officers of revenue; in short, none of the depositaries of public authority were spared.

Instead of despising such accusations, or submitting them to an impartial inquiry, the commissioners hailed the popular clamour with transport. They triumphed in the tumult; they were overflowing with happiness at the fancied success of their efforts; they continued exclaiming with increasing joy, "that is right, Good People; the King is your father; these fellows are nothing but canaille; upon our word of honour, we will kick them out."

These promises were kept. The public officers and functionaries of all classes were gradually dismissed, and their places given to informers, or to the old nobility. As the common people cooled, they became undeceived, and it was found that they had gained neither in riches nor in loyalty. The commissioners, instead of adding as they expected to the popularity of the government, only helped to cry it down. The cause of royalty was compromised by the scenes of riot which they encouraged, and they degraded it by acts of injustice and oppression. The non-emigrant commissioners acted far otherwise. They knew how to value the lying declamations of the nobles, and of the mob whom the nobles had set on. From the different conduct pursued by each party, effects resulted which exhibited the most striking contrast. In one department the public functionaries retained their situations, in another they were disgraced and vituperated.

These scandalous proceedings excited the general indignation of the country. The government was universally blamed. The important task of instituting inquiries, which were to affect the honour and the civil existence of the most respectable characters, had been entrusted to emigrants who had lived amongst strangers during the best part of their lives. And these men, who knew nothing of the forms, the principles, or even the faults of the imperial government, were consequently wholly unable to appreciate the conduct, whether praiseworthy or blameable, of the depositaries of public authority.

The people discovered that they had been cheated, and that this measure, disguised by specious representations, was in truth adopted only for the purpose of more effectually displacing the old functionaries of the nation. And, lastly, it was evident that this general dismission would carry off those authorities who were the natural guardians of every individual who had taken a part in the revolution. And that all who were thus affected would be placed beneath the sway of their sworn enemies, the nobles, the priests, and their adherents.

Indications were given by the government that a "purification" of the courts of justice was in contemplation; and the public apprehension increased. The independence and immovability of the judges had been guaranteed to the nation, and this guarantee was certainly the most valuable of the rights which we had gained. But on account of its importance, the government were the more desirous of violating it.

When the proposed "purification" became known, our national magistrates trembled in their chairs, and they foresaw that they would be plucked out for the purpose of making way for the antiquated survivors of the courts of parliament.

The nation was alarmed, and protested against the measure. But the "purification" was not to be stopped in its swoop. The process began in the supreme tribunal of the kingdom, the Court of Cassation. And, to remove all doubts respecting the ulterior object of the government, it was officially announced that the elimination, disguised under the name of the "installation royale," had been deferred only for the purpose of "obtaining the information which was necessary to direct or decide the choice of the judges, and that it would take place successively in all the courts and tribunals of the kingdom."

The "installation" was felt to be not only a breach of faith, but an open conspiracy against the security of the person and property of the subject. We knew that the tribunals would now be filled with magistrates whose prejudices, principles, and interest, must be in perpetual hostility against our national laws, and that the new men would seek to elude or crush our juridical system. The royal magistrates, as it was but too evident, would be the relations, the friends, or the creatures of the nobility, the emigrants, and of all who claimed to be restored to their rights and privileges. Nor could we hope that judges so constituted would deal out impartial justice between the ci-devant privileged tribes, whom they would naturally consider as the victims of revolutionary principles, and the children of the revolution, who, according to the same mode of reasoning, they could not fail to consider as the oppressors and robbers of the privileged tribes.

The owners of national property were most alarmed by the approaching expulsion of the revolutionary judges. By the charter, the inviolability of their property had been guaranteed to them. But they had not forgotten that a violent debate arose on the "redaction" of this article; and that the ministers had been already accused on account of the obscurity of the clause, which they refused to correct into such words as might prevent all future quibbling and special pleading.

If the emigrants, the priesthood, and the nobility, did not scruple to express their hopes aloud that the sales of the national domains might be declared null and void, it was equally well known to the public that certain Great Personages entertained the same hopes in secret. Doubts respecting the legality, and, consequently, of the validity of the sales, were expressed in the ministerial journals; and various publications were industriously disseminated, in which the purchases were directly impugned. The authors of these works were

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