Abbildungen der Seite

They were all parties to negotiations in London. With that studied contempt which Louis Philippe's peaceable disposition had so often provoked, Palmerston and Nicholas announced the secret conclusion of a treaty from which France was excluded— for the purpose of imposing terms on the ambitious Pasha, to be enforced by arms if not acquiesced in. Louis Philippe was furious at the insult. He swore vengeance, and began to arm. All France rang with warlike preparation. Her people were on fire to punish English and Russian insolence, and support the cause of the Pasha. Louis Philippe seized the opportunity, to increase his army of suppression, and to incarcerate the capital of France by fortifications for the control of the populace. In the midst of his preparations, they were treated as a sham by the Allies-and Beyrout was bombarded. What all had anticipated came to pass. The French fleet was hastily withdrawn to Toulon-for fear its aid might be invoked by the Viceroy. The insult was digested. Louis contented himself with his fortifications-and acquiesced in the settlement Russia and England had agreed on.

So spiritless and powerless was his rule, that he paid the United States indemnity under the pending threat of President Jackson; and it was the vigorous and resolute rejection of the treaty for the right of search by this country, which drove him, by the storm of popular indignation, to refuse the name of France to its ratification. He concluded the long drama of selfish aggrandizement at the expense of the honor and dignity of France, by consummating the Spanish

[ocr errors]

marriages. He dared the risk of universal war for the advancement of his house, at the expense of France--when before, against her manifest interest and loudly expressed will, he had compromised her dignity and destroyed her influence by clinging to peace lest he might endanger his throne. Such a reign, tyrannical within and cowardly without, found a fit termination in a street fight-so destitute of friends that none was found to do battle for the dishonored crown. Europe had wondered at the firmness of his seat on a throne hitherto shaken by revolutions; and its astonishment was unspeakable at such a fall. But his repose was-the balance on the tight rope— wonderful only because it was precarious and difficult to maintain-yet such that a touch of a child could overthrow it.

The restoration of the ashes of Napoleon to the bosom of France was his only popular act; and the enthusiasm it excited was the bitterest sarcasm on a reign which studiously shunned the glories of the Empire.

Italy and Spain fell before the armed assaults of the Holy Allies of the North. The policy of the reign of Louis Philippe was the offspring of the terror they inspired. Nicholas despised the revolutionary royalty of Louis; but he met a stumbling block in the fiery Poles; and his oriental ambition attracted him to easier and more fruitful fields. But he never more than tolerated the upstart crown of the revolution of July; and he always nourished the hope of one day resuming the cross of the Holy Alliance against infidel and rebellious France-to tame her factions by the sword.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Louis Philippe trembled before his threat, was too pusillanimous to repel it by an appeal to the spirit of his nation, and bowed the haughty head of France `before the Muscovite,-for leave to wear his crown, to perpetuate his dynasty, to walk about a shadowy unsubstantial semblance of a King among the real Powers of Europe. For this poor privilege, he stooped to be the jailer of his people, and chained the terrible spirit of France, before whose untrammeled might his foes would have fled.

Yet he could not hide a blush at the contrast between his position and his conduct. His wounded vanity took refuge from the humiliations of the present in the recollection of his illustrious descent: and found strange consolations for the contempt of Nicholas in the oft repeated soliloquy: "Am not I the grandson of Louis XIV?" One would have supposed his eye would have turned away from the glories of the Grand Monarque, which must have recalled the fact that he was a slave on that throne where his grandfather was the arbiter of Europe.

His faith was equal to his spirit. The King of the Barricades-the sworn monarch of a constitutional realm-spoke contemptuously of the people who honored him, and of the law he swore to observe and tried to annul. "Constitutions"-he said"are the malady of the day. It will pass-but one must know how to treat it. The continental Kings shrink from it with terror-but as for me-I treat it after the homopathic method, and that answers my purpose." He meant to say:-"The Kings of the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

continent destroy liberty with the sword-I, by the safer and surer method of slow and deadly poison." He humbly claimed for himself the subordinate character of the fox-and left the part of the lion to his


His long reign of eighteen years was a painful preparation for the era of revolutions.






« ZurückWeiter »