Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

our mutual enmity is not the birth of yesterday. In 1814, in common with many, many others, I cursed the power which called you or your predecessors to help it in chaining down liberty. In 1815 I took up arms to oppose the return of your gracious master of that day. In 1830 I did my duty in promoting the successful issue of the event which then occurred; and eight days after the Revolution, I again took up my musket, though but little in the habit of handling warlike instruments, and went to the post which General Lafayette had assigned us for the purpose of marching against you personally, Gentlemen Peers! It was in the presence of my friends and myself that one of your number was received; and it is not impossible that we had some influence in occasioning the very limited success of his embassy. It was then he who appeared before us, imploring, beseeching, with tears in his eyes; it is now our turn to appear before you, - but we do so without imploring, or beseeching, or weeping, or bending the knee. We had utterly vanquished your Kings; and, they being gone, you had nothing left. As for you, you have not vanquished the People; and, whether you hold us as hostages for it or not, our personal position troubles us very, very little; — rely upon that.

Your prisons open to receive within their dungeons all who retain a free heart in their bosoms. He who first placed the tri-colored flag on the palace of your old Kings — they who drove Charles the Tenth from France — are handed over to you as victims, on account of your new King. Your sergeant has touched with his black wand the courageous deputy who first, among you all, opened his door to the Revolution. The whole thing is summed up in these facts: It is the Revolution struggling with the counter-revolution; the Past with the Present, with the Future; selfishness with fraternity; tyranny with liberty. Tyranny has on her side bayonets, prisons, and your embroidered collars, Gentlemen Peers. Liberty has God on her side, — the Power which enlightens the reason of man, and impels him forward in the great work of human advancement. It will be seen with whom victory will abide. This will be seen, – not to-morrow, not the day after to-morrow, nor the day after that, — it may not be seen by us at all; — what matters that ? It is the human race which engages our thoughts, and not ourselves. Everything manifests that the hour of deliverance is not far distant. It will then be seen whether God will permit the lie to be given Him with impunity.

Gentlemen Peers, I did not stand up with the purpose of defending myself. You are my political enemies, not my judges. In a fair trial, it is necessary that the judge and the accused should understand, —should, to a certain extent, sympathize with each other. In the present case, this is quite out of the question. We do not feel alike; we do not speak the same language. The land we inhabit, humanity itself, its laws, its requirements, duty, religion, the sciences, the arts, industry, all that constitutes society, Heaven, earth, – nothing appears to us in the same light that it does to you. There is a world between us. You may condemn me; but I accept you not as judges, for you are unable to comprehend me.

25. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE REPUBLIC, 1843. - Lamartine. We establish the Republic. The Republic! It is the Government that most neėds the continued inspiration and benediction of God; for, of the reason of the People should be obscured or misled, there is no longer a sovereign. There is an interregnum, anarchy, death. In order that a Government may be durable, and worthy of the sanction of religion, it must contain a principle that is true, that is divine, that is best adapted to the welfare of the many. Without this, the Constitution is a dead letter; it is nothing more than a collection of laws; it is without soul; it no longer lives; it no longer produces fruit. The new principle of the Republic is political equality among all classes of citizens. This principle has for its exponent universal suffrage ; for its result, the sovereignty of all; for its moral consequence, fraternity among all. We reign according to the full measure of our reason, of our intelligence, of our virtue. We are all sovereigns over ourselves, and of the Republic. But, to draught a Constitution, and to swear to it, is not all. A People is needed to execute it.

Citizens ! all progress requires effort. Every effort is painful, and attended with painful embarrassments. Political transformations are laborious. The People are the artificers of their own future. Let them reflect upon that. The future observes and awaits them! Shame upon the cowards who would draw back! Prudence to the inconsiderate, who would precipitate society into the unknown! Glory to the good, to the wise, to the persevering! -may God be with them!

20. DEMOCRACY ADVERSE TO SOCIALISM. -- Alexis De Tocqueville. Orig. Trans.

DEMOCRACY ! - Socialism! Why profess to associate what, in the nature of things, can never be united ? Can it be, Gentlemen, that this whole grand movement of the French Revolution is destined to terminate in that form of society which the Socialists have, with so much fervor, depicted ? A society, marked out with compass and rule; in which the State is to charge itself with everything, and the individual is to be nothing; in which society is to absorb all force, all life; and in which the only end assigned to man is his personal comfort! What! was it for such a society of beavers and of a society rather of skilful animals than of men free and civilized,

was it for such, that the French Revolution was accomplished ? Not so! It was for a greater, a more sacred end ; one more worthy of humanity.

But Socialism professes to be the legitimate development of Democracy. I shall not search, as many have done, into the true etymology of this word Democracy. I shall not, as gentlemen did yesterday, traverse the garden of Greek roots, to find the derivation of this word. I shall point you to Democracy, where I have seen it, living, active, triumphant; in the only country in the world where it truly exists; where it has been able to establish and maintain, even to the present time, something grand and durable to claim our admiration, — in the

New World,—in America, There shall you see a People, among whom all conditions of men are more on an equality even than among us; where the social state, the manners, the laws, – everything is democratic; where all emanates from the People, and returns to the People; and where, at the same time, every individual enjoys a greater amount of liberty, a more entire independence, than in any other part of the world, at any period of time;—a country, I repeat it, essentially Democratic; the only Democracy in the wide world at this day; and the only Republic, truly Democratic, which we know of in history. And in this Republic you will look in vain for Socialism. Not only have the theories of the Socialists gained no possession there of the public mind, but they have played so trifling a part in the discussions and affairs of that great Nation, that they have not even reached the dignity of being feared. America is at this day that country, of the whole world, where the sovereignty of Democracy is most practical and complete; and it is at the same time that where the doctrines of the Socialists, which you pretend to find so much in accordance with Democracy, are the least in vogue; the country, of the whole universe, where the men sustaining those doctrines would have the least chance of making an impression. For myself personally, I do not see, I confess, any great objection to the emigration of these proselyting gentlemen to America; but I warn them that they will not find there any field for their labors. No, Gentlemen, Democracy and Socialism are the antipódés of each other. While Democracy extends the sphere of individual independence, Socialism contracts it. Democracy develops a man's whole manhood, Socialism makes him an agent, an instrument, a cipher. Democracy and Socialism assimilate on one point only, — the equality which they introduce; but mark the difference: Democracy seeks equality in liberty, while Socialism seeks it in servitude and con

straint. —o

27. PRACTICAL RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.—original Translation from Victor Hugo.

THE question is, shall we confide the public education of youth to a clerical party, independent of the State, -or to the State, independent of a clerical party. Free instruction—but free instruction under the superintendence of the State, and not of a sect — is what I would see. It is not to the clerical party that I would intrust it. To that party I now address myself, and I say: In the proposition before the National Assembly, we see your hand; and, to be candid, we distrust you. The proposed law is a law with a mask. Under the disguise of liberty, it aims at subjection. But think not that I confound your doctrines, your ambitions, your intrigues, – think not that I confound you, the clerical party, - with the Church, any more than I confound the mistletoe with the oak. You are the parasites of the Church, – the disease of the Church. Call her not your mother, when you would make her your slave. Leave her, this venerable Church, this venera

ble mother, to her solitude, her abnegation, her humility. All these compose her grandeur. Her solitude will attract the crowd; her abnegation is her power; her humility is her majesty.

You speak of religious instruction. Know you what it is, - that veritable religious instruction, which must ever command our homage without awakening our distrust ? It is the Sister of Charity at the pillow of the dying. It is the Brother of Mercy ransoming the slave. It is Vincent de Paul rescuing the foundling. It is the Bishop of Marseilles ministering to the plague-stricken. It is the Archbishop of Paris entering with a smile that formidable Faubourg of St. Antoine,* elevating his crucifix above the smoke of civil war, and counting it little loss to encounter death, so that he might bring peace ! This is the true, the real religious instruction, — profound, efficacious, popular; and which, happily for religion and for humanity, makes even more Christians than you unmake!

23. NECESSITY OF RELIGION.-Original Translation from Victor Hugo. GENTLEMEN, it is not because I would prevent religious instruction, but because I would prevent the union of Church and State, that I oppose this Bill. So far from wishing to proscribe religious instruction, I maintain that it is more essential at this day than ever. The more a man grows, the more he ought to believe. As he draws nearer to God, the better ought he to recognize His existence. It is the wretched tendency of our times to base all calculations, all efforts, on this life only, — to crowd everything into this narrow span. In limiting man's end and aim to this terrestrial and material existence, we aggravate all his miseries by the terrible negation at its close. We add to the burthens of the unfortunate the insupportable weight of a hopeless hereafter. God's law of suffering we convert, by our unbelief, into hell's law of despair. Hence these deplorable social convulsions.

That I am one of those who desire - - I will not say with sincerity merely, but, with inexpressible ardor, and by all possible means to ameliorate the material condition of the suffering classes in this life, no one in this Assembly will doubt. But the first and greatest of ameliorations is to impart hope. How do our finite miseries dwindle, in the presence of an infinite hope ! Our first duty, then, whether we be clergymen or laymen, bishops or legislators, priests or writers, is not merely to direct all our social energies to the abatement of physical misery, but, at the same time, to lift every drooping head towards Heaven, - to fix the attention and the faith of every human soul on that ulterior life, where justice shall preside, where justice shall be awarded! Let us proclaim it aloud to all, No one shall unjustly or needlessly suffer! Death is restitution. The law of the material world is gravitation; of the moral world, equity. At the end of all, reappears God. Let us not forget — let us everywhere teach it — There

* Pronounced Foboorg of San-tann-twauhnn.

would be no dignity in life, it would not be worth the holding, if in death we wholly perish. All that lightens labor, and sanctifies toil, — all that renders man brave, good, wise, patient, benevolent, just, humble, and, at the same time, great, worthy of intelligence, worthy of liberty, — is to have perpetually before him the vision of a better world darting its rays of celestial splendor through the dark shadows of this

present life.

For myself, since Chance will have it that words of such gravity should at this time fall from lips of such little authority, let me be permitted here to say, and to proclaim from the elevation of this Tribune, that I believe, that I most profoundly and reverently believe, in that better world. It is to me more real, more substantial, more positive in its effects, than this evanescence which we cling to and call life. It is unceasingly before my eyes. I believe in it with all the strength of my convictions; and, after many struggles, and much study and experience, it is the supreme certainty of my reason, as it is the supreme consolation of my soul !

I desire, therefore, most sincerely, strenuously and fervently, that there should be religious instruction ; but let it be the instruction of the Gospel, and not of a party. Let it be sincere, not hypocritical Let it have Heaven, not earth, for its end !

29. UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE, MAY 20, 1850. - Victor Hugo. Original Translation.

UNIVERSAL suffrage! — what is it but the overthrow of violence and brute force the end of the material and the beginning of the moral fact? What was the Revolution of February intended to establish in France, if not this? And now it is proposed to abolish this sacred right! And what is its abolition, but the reintroduction of the right of insurrection? Ye Ministers and men of State, who govern, wherefore do you venture on this mad attempt ? I will tell you. It is because the People have deemed worthy of their votes men whom you judge worthy of your insults! It is because the People have presumed to compare your promises with your acts; because they do not find your Administration altogether sublime; because they have dared peaceably to instruct you through the ballot-box! Therefore it is, that your anger is roused, and that, under the pretence that Society is in peril, you seek to chastise the People, to take them in hand! And so, like that maniac of whom History tells, you beat the ocean with rods! And so you launch at us your poor little laws, furious but feeble ! And so you defy the spirit of the age, defy the good sense of the public, defy the Democracy, and tear your unfortunate fingernails against the granite of universal suffrage!

Go on, Gentlemen! Proceed! Disfranchise, if you will, three millions of voters, four millions, nay, cight millions out of nine! Get rid of all these! It will not matter. What you cannot get rid of is your own fatal incapacity and ignorance; your own antipathy for the

« ZurückWeiter »