« PreviousContinue »
archy is an historical fact, and nothing more. Now, when the fact is extinct, nothing survives, and all is told. It is otherwise with right. Right, even when it no longer has fact to sustain it, even when it no longer exerts a material authority, preserves still its moral authority, and is always right. Hence is it that, in an overthrown Republic, there remains a right, while in a fallen Monarchy there remains only a ruin. Cease then, ye Legitimists, to appeal to us from the position of right! Before the right of the People, which is sovereignty, there is no other right but the right of the individual, which is liberty. Beyond that, all is a chimera. To talk of the kingly right in this great age of ours, and at this great Tribune, is to pronounce a word void of meaning.
But, if you cannot speak in the name of right, will you speak in the name of fact? Will you say that political stability is the offspring of hereditary royalty, and that Royalty is better than Democracy for a State? What! You would have those scenes renewed, those experiences recommenced, which overwhelmed kings and princes: the feeble, like Louis the Sixteenth; the able and strong, like Louis Philippe; whole families of royal lineage, high-born women, saintly widows, innocent children! And of those lamentable-experiences you have not had enough? You would have yet move? But you are without pity, Royalists, - or without memory! We ask your mercy on these unfortunate royal families. Good Heaves This Place, which you traverse daily, on your way to this House, - does it, then, teach you nothing?- when, if you but stamped on the pavement, two paces from those deadly Tuileries, which you covet still, but stamped on that fatal pavement, you could conjure up, at will, the SCAFFOLD from which the old Monarchy was plunged into the tomb, or the CAB in which the new royalty escaped into exile!
Ah, men of ancient parties! you will learn, ere long, that at this present time,- in this nineteenth century, after the scaffold of Louis the Sixteenth, after the downfall of Napoleon, after the exile of Charles the Tenth, after the flight of Louis Philippe, after the French Revolution, in a word, that is to say, after this renewal, complete, absolute, prodigious, of principles, convictions, opinions, sations, influences, and facts, it is the Republic which is solid ground, and the Monarchy which is the perilous venture!
32. THE TWO NAPOLEONS.-Original Translation from Victor Hugo.
THE monarchy of glory! There are a class of monarchists in France who now speak to us of a monarchy of glory. Legitimacy is impossible. Monarchy by right divine, the monarchy of principle, is dead; but there is another monarchy, the monarchy of glory,- the Empire, we are told, which is not only possible, but necessary. This glory, where is it? What are its elements? Of what is it composed? I am curious to witness the glory which this present Govenment can rhow. What do we see? All our liberties, one after another, entrapped and bound; universal suffrage mutilated and betrayed;
socialist manifestoes terminating in a jesuitical policy; and, for a Government, one immense intrigue, history, perchance, will call it a conspiracy, by which the Republic is to be made the basis of the Empire through the Bonapartist free-masonry of five hundred thousand office-holders; every reform postponed or smothered; burdensome taxes maintained or reestablished; the Press shackled; juries packed; too little justice and too much police; misery at the foot, anarchy at the head, of the social state. Abroad, the wreck of the Roman Republie, Austria- that is to say, the gallows- with her foot upon Hungary upon Lombardy, upon Milan, upon Venice, a latent coalition of King, waiting for an opportunity; our diplomacy dumb, I will not say an accomplice! This is our situation. France bows her head; Napoleon quivers with shame in his tomb; and five or six thousand hirelings shout, "Vive l'empereur!"*
But nobody dreams of the Empire, you tell us. What mean, then, those cries of Vive l'empereur? and who pays for them? What means this mendicant petition for a prolongation of the President's powers? What is a prolongation? The Consulate for life! And where leads the Consulate for life? To the Empire! Gentlemen, here is an intrigue. We will let in day-light upon it, if you please. France must not wake up, one of these fine mornings, and find herself emperor-ridden, without knowing why. An emperor! Let us consider the subject a little. Because there was once a man who gained the battle of Marengo, and who reigned, must the man who gained only the battle of Satory reign also? Because, ten centuries ago, Charlemagne, after forty years of glory, let fall on the face of the globe a sceptre and a sword of such proportions that no one dared to touch them; and because, a thousand years later, for it requires a gestation of a thousand years to produce such men, — another genius appeared, who took up that sword and sceptre, and stood up erect under the weight; a man who chained Revolution in France, and unchained it in the rest of Europe; who added to his name the brilliant synonyms of Rivoli, Jéna,t Essling, Friedland, Montmirail; ‡ because this man, after ten years of a glory almost fabulous in its grandeur, let fall, in his turn, that sceptre and sword which had accomplished such colossal exploits,—you would come, you, you would presume, after him, to catch them up as he did, he, Napoleon, after Charlemagne,and grasp in your feeble hands this sceptre of the giants, this sword of the Titans! What to do?
What! after Augustus must we have Augustulus? Because we have had a Napoleon the Great, must we now have Napoleon the Little?
33. THE END OF GOVERNMENT, 1641.—John Pym. Born, 1583; died, 1643.
MY LORDS, many days have been spent in maintenance of the impeachment of the Earl of Strafford by the House of Commons, whereby he stands charged with high treason; and your Lordships have heard his defence with patience, and with as much favor as ju Monghmeerah-eel.
. Pronounced Veev L'aunpphrehr. † Yaynah.
tice will allow. We have passed through our evidence and the result is, that it remains clearly proved that the Earl of Strafford hath endeavored by his words, actions and counsels, to subvert the funda mental laws of England and Ireland, and to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical government. This will best appear if the quality of the offence be examined by that law to which he himself appealed, that universal, that supreme law, - Salus Pipuli, - the welfare of the People! This is the element of all laws, out of which they are derived; the end of all laws, to which they are designed, and in which they are perfected. The offence comprehends all other offences Here you shall find several treasons, murders, rapines, oppressions perjuries. The earth hath a seminary virtue, whereby it doth produce all herbs and plants, and other vegetables; there is in this crime a seminary of all evils hurtful to a State; and, if you consider the reason of it, it must needs be so.
The law is that which puts a difference betwixt good and evil, — betwixt just and unjust. If you take away the law, all things will fall into a confusion. Every man will become a law to himself, which, in the depraved condition of human nature, must needs produce many great enormities. Lust will become a law, and envy will become a law; covetousness and ambition will become laws; and what dictates, what decisions, such laws will produce, may easily be discerned in the late government of Ireland! The law is the safeguard, the custody of all private interests. Your honors, your lives, your liberties and estates, are all in the keeping of the law. Without this, every man hath a like right to everything; and such is the condition into which the Irish were brought by the Earl of Strafford!
This arbitrary and tyrannical power, which the Earl of Strafford did exercise with his own person, and to which he did advise his Majesty, is inconsistent with the peace, the wealth, the prosperity, of a Nation; it is destructive to justice, the mother of peace; to industry, the spring of wealth; to valor, which is the active virtue whereby only the prosperity of a Nation can be produced, confirmed, and enlarged. It is the end of government, that virtue should be cherished, vice suppressed; but, where this arbitrary and unlimited power is set up, a way is open, not only for the security, but for the advancement and encouragement, of evil. It is the end of Government, that all accidents and events, all counsels and designs, should be improved to the public good; but this arbitrary power would dispose all to the maintenance of itself.
34. THE EARL OF STRAFFORD'S DEFENCE.
The following manly and pathetic speech is extracted from the two closing addresses of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, on his impeachment before the House of Lords, in Westminster Hall, 1641. He was tried for high treason, in endeavoring "to subvert the ancient and fundamental laws of the realm, and to introduce arbitrary and tyrannical government." He was found guilty, and was executed the 12th of May, 1641, in his 47th year.
MY LORDS, it is hard to be questioned upon a law which cannot be shown. Where hath this fire lain hid so many hundred years, with
out smoke to discover it, till it thus bursts forth to consume me and my children? It will be wisdom for yourselves. for your posterity, and for the whole Kingdom, to cast into the fire these bloody and mysterious volumes of constructive and arbitrary treason, as the primitive Christians did their books of curious, arts, and betake yourselves to the plain letter of the law and statute, that telleth us what is and what is not treason, without being ambitious to be more learned in the art of killing than our forefathers. It is now two hundred and forty years since any man was touched for this alleged crime, to this height, before myself. Let us not awaken these sleeping lions to our destruction, by taking up a few musty records that have lain by the wall so many ages, forgotten or neglected. May your Lordships please not to add this to my other misfortunes; let not a precedent be derived from me, so disadvantageous as this will be, in its consequences to the whole kingdom.
My Lords, the words for which I am here arraigned were not wantonly or unnecessarily spoken, but they were spoken in full Council, where, by the duty of my oath, I was obliged to speak according to my heart and conscience, in all things concerning the King's service. If I had forborne to speak what I conceived to be for the benefit of the King and People, I had been perjured towards Almighty God. And, for delivering my mind openly and freely, shall I be in danger of my life as a traitor? If that necessity be put upon me, I thank God, by His blessing, I have learned not to stand in fear of him who can only kill the body. If the question be, whether I must be traitor to man or perjured to God, I will be faithful to my Creator; and, whatsoever shall befall me from popular rage, or from my own weakness, I must leave it to that Almighty Being, and to the justice and honor of my judges.
My Lords, you are born to great thoughts; you are nursed up for the great and weighty employments of the Kingdom. But, if it be once admitted that a councillor, delivering his opinions with others at the council-table, under an oath of secrecy and faithfulness, shall be brought into question upon some misapprehension or ignorance of law,
if every word that he speaks from a sincere and noble intention shall be drawn against him for the attainting of him, his children and posterity, I know not any wise or noble person of fortune who will, upon such perilous and unsafe terms, adventure to be councillor to the King! Opinions may make a heretic, but that they make a traitor I have never heard till now.
My Lords, what I forfeit myself is nothing; but that my indiscretion should extend to my posterity, woundeth me to the very soul. You will pardon my infirmity; something I should have added, but am not able; therefore let it pass. Now, my Lords, for myself, I have been, by the blessing of Almighty God, taught that the afflic tions of this present life are not to be compared to the eternal weight of glory which shall be revealed hereafter. And so, my Lords, even
so, with all tranquillity of mind, I freely submit myself to your judgment; and, whether that judgment be of life or death, Te Deum laudamus!
35. ON REDUCING THE ARMY, 1732.-Wm. Pulteney. Born, 1682; died, 1764
SIR, we have heard a great deal about Parliamentary armies, and about an army continued from year to year. I always have been, Sir, and always shall be, against a standing army of any kind. To me it is a terrible thing. Whether under that of a Parliamentary or any other designation, a standing army is still a standing army, whatever name it be called by. They are a body of men distinct from the body of the People. They are governed by different laws; and blind obedience, and an entire submission to the orders of their commanding officer, is their only principle. It is indeed impossible that the liberties of the People can be preserved in any country where a numerous standing army is kept up. By the military law, the administration of justice is so quick, and the punishment so severe, that neither officer nor soldier dares offer to dispute the orders of his supreme commander. If an officer were commanded to pull his own father out of this House, he must do it. Immediate death would be the sure consequence of the least grumbling. And if an officer were sent into the Court of Request, accompanied by a body of musketeers with screwed bayonets, and with orders to tell us what we ought to do, and how we were to vote, I know what would be the duty of this House; I know it would be our duty to order the officer to be taken and hanged up at the door of the lobby; but, sir, I doubt much if such a spirit could be found in this House, or in any House of Commons that will ever be in England.
Sir, I talk not of imaginary things; I talk of what has happened to an English House of Commons, and from an English army; not only from an English army, but an army that was raised by that very House of Commons, an army that was paid by them, and an army that was commanded by Generals appointed by them. Therefore, do not let us vainly imagine that an army, raised and maintained by authority of Parliament, will always be submissive to them. If any army be so numerous as to have it in their power to overawe the Parliament, they will be submissive as long as the Parliament does nothing to disoblige their favorite General; but, when that case happens, I am afraid that, in place of the Parliament's dismissing the army, the army will dismiss the Parliament, as they have done heretofore. We are come to the Rubicon. Our army is now to be reduced, or it never will be; and this Nation, already overburdened with debts and taxes, must be loaded with the heavy charge of perpetually supporting a numerous standing army, and remain forever exposed to the danger of having its liberties and privileges trampled upon by any future King or Ministry who shall take it in their heads to do so, and shall take a proper care to model the army for that purpose.