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PART THE FIRST.
I. SPECULATIVE minds have doubted of the real and independent existence of a material universe:-but man brought into contact with some great natural convulsion, such as a tempest, a whirlwind, a hurricane, or an earth-. quake, has then no choice but to acknowledge the presence of a power other than himself, irresistibly compelling him at once to suffer and submit. It is the same in the moral world during periods of public commotion. Popular riots, insurrections, revolutions, teach the Politician a similar lesson. Human institutions, that have hitherto existed as if to show man's creative faculty and their own stability, now give way before the manifestations of a new spirit; a spirit which, though working by and through him, can scarcely be said to be of him; so sudden as well as violent are they in their appearance, so unexpected by all, so ill prepared for by any—the inspiration of the moment, not the growth of foresight or design. Many may have groaned under oppression-have murmured at it-consulted about it-desired its destruction-taken means to accomplish it-named a time for it. But all has been in vain. Groans, murmurs, consultations, wishes; mere idle sounds and aspirations :-the means have failed, the time has passed away unimproved. And now, strong in its resources, Tyranny itself takes the initiative,-smilingly
provokes resistance-confident of success; when, lo! the energy exerted in striking a random blow, that had missed its aim, brings the striker himself to the ground; and the oppressor falls, never more to rise! Thus, when no man looked for any result, an apparent accident decides the question. An apparent accident, but a real Providence. No man, no body of men, had planned either time or place for the decision of the great controversy. Nevertheless, it was decided, then and there, as if by pre-appointment; by human agents too—but by such acting as instruments in the hands of some overruling necessity, and not as voluntary beings executing a purpose of their
II. Instances like these have so strongly impressed the reflecting with a sense of Divine interference in the vicissitudes of governments, that, looking on such decisions of public affairs as expressions of the popular will, the Politician has even raised from them an axiom-an assertion deemed by him to be no less than a self-evident truth
this, namely that "the Voice of the People is the Voice of God." But in the absence of previous intention, are we, after all, warranted in assuming that the Voice of the People has been at all heard? The Voice that has been uttered is the result-the decision pronounced in the issue of the contest. The agents engaged in it, on both sides, have been, as already stated, almost blind instruments,mere agitated channels of communication-noisy conduitpipes of a tempestuous overflow-quivering wires for conducting the electric element to the object destined for the shock while the thing done has not been of human counsel, but by foreign command. Acknowledge we, therefore, most willingly, the Decree of the Watchers: such command-such power or force-some being inde
pendent of and superior to the media so mysteriously and opportunely employed; and ascribe we to it,-if we see a good effect accomplished, an intelligible design manifestly subserved, —an answerable intelligence-a pre-ordaining Wisdom;--such a benevolent Wisdom as we mean when we would affirm the doctrine of a Providence, or pronounce the name of God. But let us meanwhile confess, that the decree thus promulged is as independent of the People as of their Rulers-is no more the voice of the former than of the latter. It is "the Voice of God" alone.
III.-Corruptly as Louis-Philippe had ruled in general, and internationally offensive as his more recent conduct proved in particular,-France, nay Europe, meditating on his advanced age, was, I verily believe, on the eve and vigil of the judgement whereof we propose to discourse together, tacitly consenting to endure in patience, for the brief remainder of his life, the sway of the so-called Citizen-King. By means of an Electoral System cunningly contrived, the crafty monarch had made of the whole of France a pocket borough for his own especial benefit, and secured parliamentary obedience to his own will; it is true that he had also thereby excited discontent among those who were no sharers in the gain. Of this discontent I had personal evidence during a previous visit to that country. The French Elections had just then (August, 1846) terminated favourably for the Conservative Government. Two-thirds of the Chamber were with M. Guizot. This great success was in part to be attributed to Joseph Henri's pretended attempt at the assassination of Louis-Philippe, and partly to the Minister's consequent promises touching the speedy introduction of many political reforms. I was, indeed, authoritatively informed, that until the Electoral System was improved
there would, and there must, by a kind of moral necessity, be successive attempts at Regicide; and that it was not necessary to resort to any supposition of an organized Conspiracy to account for them, there being a popular sympathy of sentiment which superseded the need of its institution. The plague of France, the speaker continued, was the Protective System: "Cobden and Bright," he said, 66 are nearly as great heroes in Paris as in London." The cause of Free Trade, moreover, had recently been undertaken by a Bayonne vine-proprietor, M. Bastiat, a member of the Council of the Landes; and it was stated that the wine-producers of the Garonne had great reason to complain of the protective and prohibitive nightmare that everywhere alike oppressed industrial energy-an oppression, however, not without its advocates; who, in turn, were not without their "sophismes économiques." To oppose these fallacies M. Bastiat had written a little work. Ridiculous, when speculatively considered, and when practically viewed, odious; such protective fallacies were in France adduced to support the high price of iron, which limited the supply of agricultural implements, as also to defend the existing difficulty of procuring exchanges, by which exports were restricted, and to justify the deficiency of demand for corn and wine the natural consequence of such limitation and restriction, and which in turn operated injuriously on cultivation, preventing its extension. To the impracticable attempt on the part of governments at universal protection (for, unless considered in its universality, the question had no value) in connexion with the practice of Electoral corruption, Regicide might be clearly ascribed. In proof of this, the Correspondence between Joseph Henri and the Editor of the Démocratie Pacifique, not publicly known, but extant in certain circles, was appealed to. In this correspondence, Joseph Henri had stated that he had
suffered in his industriel (not industrious) relations, and traced his sufferings to their source in the ruling power. He thence conceived the idea, in the spirit of French vivacity, of making a demonstration against the first cause of social wrong. That there were no balls in the pistols, the documents referred to sufficiently proved; at least so far as concerned the then intention of the man. Nor was there any reason to doubt that the alleged regicide fired, only that his martyrdom might be signalized. That such an act was an evidence of insanity my informant would not concede: this, he declared, was a mere English view of the affair. The man, of course, excited, and expressed himself in the language of excitement; but his conclusions were warranted by certain logical formulæ, and corroborated by premises not to be denied. The benefit of protection in France was necessarily of partial operation, and served to enhance the absurdity, corruption, and injustice of the Electoral system. Those who had the franchise, it was bitterly complained, made their way in the world, and provided better for their families than those who had it not. "This," exclaimed a warm Parisian politician,-"this is a fact indisputable, and causes invidious distinctions productive of individual discontent in innumerable quarters. Abuses like this must be removed! Is it not right they should be? Let us then not be afraid to say, they shall be! Poor Joseph Henri could not make his way in the world; hence his demonstration. This is the mystery of French regicide, real or pretended. How like you the solution? Is it not feasible, intelligible? Nay, is it not proved-by these documents? I think it is. And what does it involve? Two things: a better Electoral system, and something like an equitable Organization of Industry. In both, France is behind England, and yet in neither is