Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the general approval, which the part in he then stood towards the King of performed by these gentlemen still con. France) to take no notice whatever tinued to receive, was tempered by of an adventure which had subjected some misgivings in regard to their mo- these gentlemen to the penal sentence tives, for which no room had been of a French jurisdiction. He accord. found on the first consideration of their ingly caused his opinion of their conadventure. In spite of the liberal con- duct to be conveyed them in the usual Cession universally made in favour of a manner ; and we imagine that, on the merciful purpose, the propriety of the whole, the opinion expressed by his conduct of Sir Robert Wilson, a ge- Royal Highness coincided very closeneral officer in the English army, in ly with that entertained by the more deceiving the ambassador of his own calm and judicious of his subjects. country that he might screen the cric While he condemned their rashness in minal of another, was looked upon as interfering with the internal affairs of more than questionable ; while any ar. France, and reproved them for a de. gument that might have been drawn parture from the propriety of their from the comparative levity of Lava own character as English officers, his lette's own offence, was weakened by Royal Highness nevertheless implied the violence with which his defenders his feeling of the extraordinary situadefended also the cause of the doubly tion in which they had been placed, treacherous, ungrateful, and dishonour- and forebore from inflicting upon thens able Ney. As both Wilson and Hut- any additional punishment beyond what chison were British officers of some this expression of his censure might distinction, it was impossible for the convey. Prince Regent (in the situation where

[blocks in formation]

Debates on the Law of Amnesty.-Necessity for a Law of this kind.- Projet

of M. de la Bourdonnaye. Royal Projet.- Amendments proposed in the Chamber of Deputies respecting the Regicides.--Speech of M. Betizy.The Bill is carried, with the Amendments, in both Houses, by a great majority.-Reflections. Celebration of the Anniversary of the Death of Louis XVI. Last Letter of Marie Antoinette is read to the Chambers.--Speech of M. de Chateaubriand delivered upon this occasion.

1

The most important part of the his. inclination of those who were to ex. tory of the Chambers for this year, re. pound it. Something of a more defifers to those long, various, and diversi. nite and unequivocal character was fied debates, which preceded the pass- therefore loudly called for by the couning of the law of amnesty in the end try, and felt to be necessary alike by of January. From the very beginning the king, the ministry, and the Chamof the session, it was well known that bers. such a law was in agitation ; indeed, It was announced in the circles of till such a law should be passed, it Paris, long before the end of Novemcould never be supposed that entire ber, that M. de la Bourdonnaye had tranquillity should be re-established. laid the projet of a law of amnesty beThe persons, even of very high rank, fore a secret committee of the lower who had taken an early and effective House. According to the common part in the management of the usurp. report, which was probably in the er's concerns—nay, who had tendered main a pretty correct one, the excephim their good offices previous to his tions to the mercy of this projected being invested with the character of statute were exceedingly numerous ; sovereign de facto, was so great, that, and, after considerable discussion, its while any doubt should be allowed to cruelty had determined the committee remain upon their minds 'respecting not to allow its being brought openly their ultimate fate, no repose could before the House. The ministry, in be looked for among the most impor. the mean time, might derive useful tant classes of society in which these hints for the framing of their own bill

The terms of the from the tenour of this discussion; and first ordinance of the king, to which it appeared, on the 8th of December, we have already frequently alluded, when the Duke of Richelieu came might certainly bear an interpretation down with the royal projet, that their more or less merciful, according to the design, professedly at least, was free

persons moved.

from the fault which had proved fatal by purchase... Finally, the present to that of M. de la Bourdonnaye. amnesty should be held to apply to

Richelieu, after giving a rapid sketch no persons, of whatever description, of the state of the country, and ex. against whom proceedings had already plaining the necessity for a law of the been commenced by the government ; nature about to be proposed, concluded ' neither should it be interpreted as fura with saying, that, anxious as the go- nishing any hope of protection from vernment had been for several months the punishment due to offences against to see all discussion respecting the late individuals, at whatever period these tumults at a close, it was only in con. offences might have been committed. sequence of the new strength they had The Duke concluded his speech with derived from the two laws already pass. reminding the deputies, that this law ed, that they found themselves able to bore a striking resemblance to that bring this bill before the House. The passed by Henry IV. in 1594. All vigour which had been infused into their the members, when he sate down, rose measures was such, that they could up, and the roof rung with their shouts bow afford to throw up all the advan- of « Vive le Roi !" tages they might have derived from A committee was appointed to take the fears of the malcontents; and they this bill into consideration, and M. de were willing, henceforth, to hold in Corbiere brought up its report on the their hands the power of punishing no 27th of December. The result of its crimes but such as should henceforth investigation was, a conviction that the be committed. The bill which his proposal of the king, instead of being majesty submitted to the House was, too severe, was too lenient in its cha. therefore, scarcely anything more than racter; and M. Corbiere proposed to a repetition, in more exact terms, of add to the projet two amendments, as the ordinance of the 24th of July, follows : - To the list of the persons It offered complete amnesty to “all excepted from the general amnesty he the individuals who had, directly or would have added, not names of indi, indirectly, taken part in the rebel. viduals, but some whole classes of cri. lion and usurpation of Napoleon Buo- minals" crimes, not persons," as he naparte,” with the exception of those expressed it, “ being the objects of whose names had already appeared in public revenge." These classes comthe above-mentioned ordinance. The prehended, under various heads, all great offenders excepted in the first those who had in any measure contriarticle of that ordinance should be buted to the return of Buonaparte pree dealt with as there expressed; those vious to his resumption of the sovereign named in the second article should power de facto, all those prefects apbe held bound to quit France within pointed by the king who had recogni. two months after the passing of the sed the authority of the usurper before present statute. All the members of the 23d of March, all those marshals the family of Buonaparte should be and generals of Buonaparte who had excluded for ever from France, and declared for him before his entry into held incapable of acquiring any pro- Paris -and all those generals-in-chief perty there: the property possessed who had commanded forces against the by them within the kingdom should royal armies. To these sweeping ex. be forfeited, if it had been obtained ceptions was added a clause, providing, gratuitously, and sold immediately for that a delay of three months should be their behoof, if it had been acquired held sufficient to prescribe them, in the

7

same manner as if the legal prescrip; even in the short period which had tion of ten years had taken place; and elapsed from the commencement of another, directing the expences of all the present session. Although the prosecutions against these state crimi- proposal of M. de Corbiere did not nals to be discharged out of the private finally form the substance of a law, funds of the criminals themselves. yet the fate of the regicides was de

This was the first decided manifest. termined in consequence of it ; and, ation of the true spirit of this Cham in truth, the banishment of these men ber of Deputies. The ascendancy from the soil of France, was perhaps which the ministers seemed to have the least sacrifice that could be offerhad was now visibly counterbalanced, ed, with any appearance of propriety, not only by the small minority, who to the principles of that monarchy always voted rather on the side of the which they so grievously and so inrevolution, but by a much more con- corrigibly offended. If any of their siderable body more attached to the number might appear to be deserving cause of royalty than the ministers,— of greater indulgence, it was left to nay, than the king himself. The vio the crown to extend that indulgence lence of this party was rendered more of its own free will. In the mean and more conspicuous on every suc- time, the public were rid of the sight ceeding evening of the discussion con- of a set of men, inseparably connect, cerning this amnesty bill—a discussioned with the memory of principles and which was not terminated till the latter feelings which had become utterly odi. end of January, a month after the bill ous to all men, of whatever party, exhad first been brought into the House cepting only the few scattered and puny by the Duke of Richelieu. The incli. relics, among whom the ferocious spirit nation of the majority of the members of the first revolutionary period still was at last so manifestly hostile to the preserved some faint symptoms of exextreme lenity of the royal projet, that istence. a part of the amendment of M. de Cor. The words of M. Betizy, the last biere was adopted by the government. speaker who addressed the House with The proposal concerning the classes of regard to these men, may be given as persons to be excepted, in addition to a specimen of the style in which the Those individuals mentioned in the or. wholediscussion was carried on. "They dinance of the 24th of July, was not say,” said he, “ that none should be adopted in its full extent; but enough more severe than the king. Yes, genof it was retained to include those of tlemen, men sometimes may be-there the regicides who had voted for the are circumstances wherein we should acte additionel, and who had thus, in be more severe. Let us leave to the the words of the amended projet, king the privilege of pardon. Who “ shewn themselves to be the irrecon- would wish to affix limits to his clecileable enemies of the monarchy, and mency, to prevent him from being mere of France." The proposal respecting ciful even to magnanimity? No, surethe defraying of the expences of pro- ly: this would be to render the king secutions, which meant, in fact, no no longer himself. The gentle blood thing short of the revival of a system of the Bourbons flows in his veins, and, of confiscations, was not adopted. the eldest son of the church, it is his

Enough, however, had been done, birthright and privilege to pardon. to shew that a great change had oc “ But we, gentlemen, who owe to curred in the temper of the House, France the sacred duty of seeing the

6

horror of a great guilt thrown where unalterable as it was deep--we will it should be, let us burden ourselves say," God save the king, cen al with the weight of severity, of justice, though

“Let us carry ourselves back to the This speech was the summary of all days of that execrable transgression. that was said by the triumphant party. Who is he among us, that, three and The words with which it concluded, twenty years ago, would have dared quand meme, had indeed become known to defend the regicides in the presence already as a sort of pass-word of the of France and of Europe? Who is he ultra-royalist party; and the reception among us that would dare to do so which they met with here would, even now?

of itself, have been no slight proof of "We have lifted up again the ancient the state in which the opinions of the bulwark of our monarchy; these men majority of the Chamber were. work unceasingly in the hope to over Ímmediately on the conclusion of turn it. It belongs to us, the repre- this speech, the question was put, and sentatives of France, to mount the the law, with the modifications we breach and defend it. We must not have already mentioned, was carried parry only, but return the thrusts of by a majority of 334 to 32. It passour adversaries ; the king is the pledge ed the House of Peers, as might have of general peace, and it is ours to be been expected, with less discussion, answerable for his safety to France, and by a still more ample majority. to Europe, and to the world. The sentiments of the two Chambers

Assuredly, gentlemen, it must were now, indeed, far more nearly ever grieve us to act, even for a mo- alike than had been supposed at the ment, in contradiction to the desires opening of the session. In the course of our king-we, who have given him of the debates on this question, several 80 many pledges of our love, our de- questions of considerable moment, in votion, our fidelity_we, who, during regard to the distribution of the powe five and twenty years of affliction, ers of legislation, were indirectly treate have recognised no cry of rallying but ed of, although not, certainly, by any that which expressed our resolution, means, at the length which they deto live for the king, to die for the served. The constitution of the charking:

ter had left, as we have seen, the ini" But, gentlemen, let us never for. tiative, or right of proposing laws, with get that the device of our fathers was the king. The inconveniencies inse

God, honour, and the king !” and if parable, as we are led to suspect, from inflexible honour compel us for an in- this arrangement, were very soon felt stant to go beyond the will of our king; by all parties, excepting only that of and if, dissatisfied with his faithful ser. the ministry themselves. Nay, it is vants, displeased with seeing them con- very possible, that even the ministry tradict in any thing his royal and pious felt, that by this arrangement they clemency, he should turn from us for were themselves loaded with the bura moment that countenance of kind- den of many duties, and disagreeable ness which is the best of all our re duties too, which, or at least the apcompenses--we will speak like the in- pearance of which, might, by another habitants of the west, like those brave plan, have been spared to them. One soldiers of the throne and the lilies, set of orators in the Chamber of Dewhose love for the Bourbons was as puties were perpetually repeating, that

* Vive le Roi, quand memo!

« AnteriorContinuar »