Imatges de pàgina

in consequence, as the petition stated, of Monsieur de Blois, Seigneur of Durnac before his emigration, having required that the Sacristan should offer the consecrated bread to him, at the elevation of the Host, before presenting it to the Maire and the municipal body. Both parties seem to have insisted on their honorary pretensions with a clamour and violence very little edifying to the congregation, and the Maire esteemed the point of such consequence as to carry it by petition to the Chamber of Deputies. To give it, however, additional weight, he thought proper to generalize his complaints against the whole class to whom his competitor belonged. "It appears," said the Maire of Durnac, "that the emigrants wish to treat France like a conquered country. They seem, in various parts, to place themselves above the constituted authorities, and to acknowledge no other laws but their pleasure."

The Chamber appointed these expressions to be expunged as calumnious, and the affair of precedence and of the riot was referred to the proper courts. But in the course of the debate, it was manifest that many of the members of the Chamber beld the same suspicions with the Maire of Durnac, or at least endeavoured to instil them into others. Monsieur Dumoulard, a leading member of the opposition, treated this brawl as a matter of great gravity. "It was not," he admitted, "the business of the assembly to enter into little communal disputes; but at the same time, the government could not remain indifferent to a fact of this kind. It could not be dissembled that there existed a kind of dark and secret system, which tended to sow the seeds of discord and anarchy among the citizens, and to resuscitate pretensions incompatible with the laws. It was important to impress every class of French

sieur Lecompte and his associate editors of a paper, called Le Censeur, in which the measures of government were severely animadverted upon, so soon as the law was passed, publicly announced their intention to convert their weekly, into a monthly publication, in order that the size might exceed twenty pages, and thereby escape the revision of the royal censors. The imperfection of the law being thus pointed out, many authors has tened to avail themselves of similar means of eluding it, and the pam phlets against government which used to appear separately were now strung on to each other, like the pieces of paper attached to the train of a kite, until, with a little assistance from the art of the printer, they were made to cover the number of pages necessary to evade the regulation Thus the ministers gained nothing by their encroachment on the charter, but the odium of having attempted it, and the ridicule of having done so to no purpose:


They were incautious enough to touch upon another point, on which the nation was sensitively jealous. This regarded the claims and property of the emigrants. An ordonnance of the king, made soon after his assuming the throne, had restored to these victims of loyalty of every description their rank as French subjects. Their wealth. their privileges, their import ance, he could not restore, nor had he the means of checking their natural aspirations after the influence and honours from which they had fallen. The temper of the Chamber of De puties towards them may be judged from the following minute incident. A petition was presented from Nov. 20. the Maire of Durnac, in the 1814. department of the Upper Vienne, on the subject of a scandalous affair which occurred in his communal church on All-Saint's Day,


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men with the great idea, that there was no safety for France, for the king, for every member or society, but in the maint nance of those principles on which were founded the laws protecting the whole.”

This speech plainly intimated the sense entertained of those who called themselves Constitutionalists, (whose opinions, variously modified, pervaded the greater part of France) of danger to the constitution from the claims of the emigrants; and ought, therefore, to have put government upon their guard, and to have induced them either to postpone all discussions upon that delicate subject, or at once to take such determined measures as might silence at least, if it did not satisfy, all the parties concerned, and put the question at rest for ever. They seem, on the contrary, to have adopted a sort of compromising and vacillating policy, divided between their desire to do justice to the plundered royalists, whose case was truly severe, and their fear to innovate upon that article of the charter which sanctioned the sale of national domains.

In acknowledging the Bourbons' title to the throne, it was impossible in principle to deny that their faithful adherents, who had sustained exile and forfeiture merely for asserting that title, had been unjustly plundered and proscribed. Those emigrants, therefore, whose estates still continued in the possession of the nation, were, in common justice, entitled to have them restored. A plan for this purpose was proposed to the Chamber of Deputies, by Monsieur Ferrand, and excited much attention. The pleading in favour of the emigrants' right to their own estates seemed unanswerable, while that of Louis XVIII. to the throne of France remained unquestioned. And, undoubtedly, those who were inimical to the claims of the emigrants, although they dared


not at the period speak their opinions, rested their reasons in point of right on the validity of the decrees against the Bourbons and their adherents. The admitted claims of this class of emigrants led naturally to the consideration of their less fortunate companions, whose property had not only been seized by the state, but disposed of to third parties, to whom it was guaranteed by the charter. cordingly, their cause was pleaded by Monsieur Astorg, who openly declared his opinion, that those emigrants whose property was alienated beyond the possibility of restoration, were as well entitled to the consideration of the Chamber as those whose property was yet available. If their property had been sold, the state was in possession of the prices at which it had been bought, and was effectually benefitted to this extent; and they were, by the same rule which entitled their companions to claim their unsold possessions, creditors to the state for the value it had received for their lands. "It could not be dissembled," he observed, "that by the abolition of the laws on emigration the emigrants resumed the rights natural and common to all Frenchmen. On the same principles of justice which decide in their favour the restoration of their unsold property, they ought to be considered as creditors of the state in respect of the sums which it has derived from the sale of their property. If the state applied these sums to its assistance in critical times, it was not the less their debtor. If financial difficulties prescribed the terrible resource of reducing the national debt by two-thirds, still one-third remained to the national creditors. If some such plan as that which he had proposed were not adopted, would not the emigrants have more reason to complain than all the other creditors of the public?"

This proposal called up Monsieur


Durbach's warm disapprobation, who a right to property which always existmight be said to speak on this occasion the sentiments of the whole constitutionalists, peculiarly sensitive as we have described this party to be on the subject of the national domains. This minister considered "the plan ofthe law as unconstitutional; not that he disproved of what it proposed to do for the emigrants, for he was even desirous that the relief should be extended to all emigrants alike; but he wished this to be done with due regard to the present holders of emigrant property. "All France," continued he, has discovered in the fatal doctrine of M. Ferrand a desire to open a door on the vast field of national domains.”.

(Here some murmurs were heard.) "Already," continued the orator, "the two extremities of the kingdom have resounded with the words of the minister, as with the claps which precede the thunder-bolt. The effect which they have produced has been so rapid and so general, that all civil transactions have been at once suspended. A general distrust and excessive fear have caused a stagnation, the effects of which even the royal treasury has felt. The proprietors of national property no longer sell or mortgage their estates. They are suddenly reduced to poverty in the very bosom of wealth. Whence arises this calamity? The cause of it is the declaration of the minister, that the property they possess does not legally belong to them." For this is, in fact, the consequence of his assertion, that "the law recognises in the emigrants

There can be no doubt that the jealousy concerning the insecurity of national domains spread at least as widely as Monsieur Durbach affirmed. An attempt was made by Marshal Macdonald, in the House of Peers, to effectuate such an arrangement as should satisfy the emigrants at the expense of the state: while, by putting a final end to their claims, it should give to the proprietors of national domains all the security they could desire. The acknowledged talents and high character of this distinguished general had great weight with the nation at large. He himself was deseended of a family of emigrants, since his father (a Macdonald of the ancient branch called Mac-Eachan, or the sons of Hector *), had attended Charles Edward in all his romantic adventures, and, returning with him into France, was made an officer in the Irish brigade, in which his son had a commission before the Revolution. The marshal's skill as a soldier was attested by the campaign in Italy, in which he had to cope with the superior forces of Suwarrow and of Melas. He was the friend of Moreau, and was long discountenanced by Buonaparte, who, though in the wane of his fortunes he was compelled to make use of his talents, neither liked his military fame nor his love of liberty.

It was the object of this dietinguished and estimable character to combine the restoration of the unsold property of emigrants with a plan of general in

*The MacEachans sprung from the stem of the Lords of the Isles. It may not be indifferent to the Scottish reader to learn, that the Macdonald, or MacEachan,-for, according to the custom of the Highlands he bore either name,-father to the marshal, was one of the eight gentlemen who landed with Charles Edward in Moidart in the month of August, 1745. As he spoke Gaelic, English, French, and Latin, he was highly useful to the Prince as an interpreter. He had been educated for the Roman Catholic church, but preferred the military line.


demnities, to be arranged on such a footing as would suit the finances of the state, and which would provide for the wants, not only of the emigrants, but of the military veterans whose pensions had remained unpaid since the disastrous campaign of Moscow. In his speech upon the proDec, 6, posed plan of the ministers, he gave his full assent to the restoration of the unsold estates, as a measure dictated by justice; since, the grounds of sequestration or confiscation no longer subsisting, the forfeiture ended from the moment France received in her bosom her banished children; but he complained, that the imprudent discussions which had taken place on the delicate topic had re-opened the wounds and awakened the rankling jealousies of the country." One would," said the marshal, "be almost tempted to believe, that it is the secret intentions of some persons to poison the national feeling, if one were not aware to what an extent the spirit of party may lead astray the most correct minds. On the arrival of the son of St Louis, France was strewed with flowers, and now all the spots which witnessed our civil dissensions are marked by monuments of mourning; though, after so many calamities, what place may not in its turn claim the melancholy honour of exciting painful recollections?

"There cannot be a doubt, that millions of purchasers of national property are alarmed at the direction which some individuals endeavour to give to public opinion; and some people have rejoiced at their alarm, as if it would occasion a voluntary abandonment. Chimerical hopes are even cherished, that fears, skilfully insinuated into men's minds, will anew occasion changes of property, which all the power of the strongest government of which history contains any record would have failed to effect. Are

the spectators of the rapid fall of that government still so stupified by that catastrophe, as not to have meditated on its causes? Are they ignorant that neither constitutions, nor laws, nor armies, defend governments against the mass of social interests? Are they ignorant that when these interests are in imminent peril, governments feel the first effects?"

Having thus pointed out the hazard of any attempt to disturb the present state of property which had passed into the hands of third persons, he announced his intention of bringing forward a double plan for indemnifying, upon a liberal principle, the emigrants whose property had been transferred to third parties, and for paying the donations or pensions of the army which had, during Buonaparte's prosperity, been paid from countries beyond the verge of France, and since the retreat of Moscow had not been paid at all.

Upon the 10th December, Marshal Macdonald resumed the subject, and brought forward his proposed plan. Its particulars are of less consequence than the speech which introduced it, and which throws considerable light upon the state of France at this momentous period, and the nature of the internal convulsions with which she was menaced.

There had been concluded directly with the government 1,055,889 sales. Giving each purchaser a family of three persons, considerably upwards of three millions of persons were interested in the stability of these sales from the outset; and allowing that number to be trebled by the common proportion of sales and partition, the number of persons so interested would in twenty-five years amount to betwixt nine and ten millions. "Against this Colossus, whose height the eye cannot measure, some impotent efforts would affect to direct themselves;

but the wisdom of the king has foreseen this danger, even for the sake of those imprudent persons who might expose themselves to it."-The national sales respected either the lands of the church or of private property. The former the marshal discussed in a summary manner. "France has groaned over the misfortunes of her clergy; but in giving them her tears she has confirmed the alienation of their property. It was otherwise with the private property of individuals.

that pride, the companion of the unfortunate: and instead of sharing the common complaints upon the reception of our brethren restored to us, let us recognise Frenchmen in the disinterested calm of the greater part of them, and in the nobleness of their attitude."

"The miracles of Providence," said Marshal Macdonald," which have raised up the empire of the lilies, have attached a particular character to a numerous class of citizens; they appear in the midst of us, protected by age and misfortune; they are a kind of crusaders, who have followed the standard of the cross into foreign countries, and they relate to us those long vicissitudes, those storms and tempests which had at length driven them into the port where they had lost all hope of reaching. Which of us could refuse to give them our hand in token of eternal alliance? Our hearts have been moved. If theirs have remained colder, can we be astonished? The return of the king, the bearer of the olive of peace, exceeded all our hopes-one only of theirs is realized. In truth, the first of their wishes is accomplished. The towers of St Louis have seen again their heir. But what changes have been operated in France!What destruction consummated! What monuments overthrown! What others erected upon their ruins!-What prosperous dreams vanished in one day, after having been for so many nights the consolations of the exile! Let us dive into our hearts to judge our fellow men. Let us place ourselves, in thought, in the position I have described: let us add to the sentiments with which they inspire us,

The existence of the old proprietors in the presence of the acquirers of their property, is a fact which they themselves must be aware cannot and ought not to cease to exist. The necessary consequence the marshal inferred was, "that we remove the difficulty, instead of vainly trying to conquer it to change the present situation for a new one : in a word, to dare to make known the abyss opened before us, to leap it, and, armed with all the generosity and force of the nation, to launch into a vast system of indemnity."

From various calculations, through which we cannot follow him, Marshal Macdonald concluded that on the most forced supposition, the value of the forfeitures or sales could not exceed three hundred millions of livres, (L.12,500,000 sterling) and to this extent, therefore, at the utmost, were indemnities to be provided. "This value," he proceeded, "though immense in the eyes of those who have lost it, and intolerable to them as they witness the property which it represents in the possession of others, would be almost unperceived in the calculations of a great nation, if its first want, in reviving to order, were not the sentiment of justice and generosity. This sentiment requires that the country should place itself, by an indemnity, between the ancient proprietors and the acquirers, and that, by its liberality toward the one, it put an end to the recollections of all.”

Marshal Macdonald proposed to calculate the indemnities to be granted to the original proprietors of the na

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