THE NEW FRENCH MINISTRY.
MBU.N.h.ha has at last formed his Ministry, and perhaps e it is as good as the circumstances of the case gave any one a right to expect. But it has not been put together
An Indian officer, suppose, expresses his weariness of without a delay which casts an unpleasant light on the
intentions of the President. First he published a note in the Official Journal, declaring that his policy would be precisely the same in the future as it had been in the past, and hinting to the Bonapartist and the Legitimist officials that they would continue to wield the powers of the I Republic, however loudly they might have sworn to betray it. He next insisted that M. Buffet should take some of his Ministers from among the party which, by voting against the Senate Bill, had made known that it would not abandon the intention to restore a Monarchy. The design was abandoned because M. Dufaure firmly refused to serve in the same Cabinet with such colleagues,but he was forced to accept the companion- ship of M. de Meaux, a Royalist, who had abstained from voting in the division on the Senate Bill. The personal sympathies of the Marshal were most ominously revealed, however, by the negotiations respecting the Ministry of the Interior. That is the keystone of the Cabinet. The Minister of the Interior may muzzle or let loose the Press of any party. He may wink at the designs of the Bonapartists, or put down their Com- mittees with a strong hand. He may dismiss or retain the Legitimist and the Imperialist Prefects. In a contested elec- tion he may use all the executive machinery of a Department —the Prefect, the Sub-Prefects, the crowd of petty officials— as so many agents of the party to which he himself belongs. And a few months hence the power of his office will be greater than it has been since the the fall of the Empire, because there must soon be a general election, and the result may immensely affect the whole future of France. So important is the post, that the Republicans would gladly, we believe, barter the three portfolios which they have gained for the single portfolio of the Home Office. But for the same reason the Orleanists were determined to keep it for themselves, and they seem to have first thought of giving it to their trusted agent, M. Bocher. Although little known in this country, and although he seldom takes part in debate, M. Bocher is an important personage at Versailles. He is believed to be a man of great ability, and he did give some proofs of capacity during the Monarchy of Louis Philippe. The Empire cast him into private life, and now he usually keeps in the background, because, it is said, the state of his health forbids him to be an active combatant. His counsel, however, is highly valued, and he pulls many political wires with an unseen hand. M. Bocher, in fact, has much. the same kind of reputation at Versailles as Mr. Whitbread has at Westminster. But he is an important personage for another reason than the belief, in his ability. He was the trusted agent of Louis Philippe, who made him administrator of the property belonging to the House of Orleans after the Revolution of February, and he resisted the decree for the confiscation of that property with all the powers furnished by the law. To the sons and the grandsons of his master he is equally devoted, and he may be called their political man of business. Had M. Bocher been Minister of the Interior, all the administrative machinery would have been guided by the Comte de Paris and the Due d'Aumale. But the plainness of that fact would have made any disaster embarrassing to those superlatively prudent Princes, and so M. Becher again pleaded ill-health. It is not necessary for us to believe that he is smitten with any other malady than political caution.
The next choice was the Due d'Audiffret-Pasquier, and on the Right side of the Assembly there is no man who would be so acceptable to the Republicans. His high rank, his wealth, his de- votion to the House of Orleans, and his great ability soon gave him one of the foremost places among the Royalists. He was one of the most ardent Fusionists, and he had a large share in the first negotiations between the Orleanists and the Legitimists. On the Orleanist side he took the chief part in the making of that compact which seemed to promise success until the very day when it was shivered to pieces by the Comte de Chambord's famous letter. When he read the epistle, he is reported to have said that it was a catastrophe. He then helped the Due de Broglie to form a breakwater against Radicalism by means of the Septennate ; but his clear judgment told him that the chances of a Monarchical restoration had gone by for years, perhaps for ever. His mind was chiefly influenced, however, by his passionate hatred of the Empire. As president of the Commission which investigated the contracts for the Army, he gathered an immense mass of facts to illustrate the foulness of the corruption that had stained the Imperial system, and he used it with splendid effect in the speech which bade .the Emperor give France back her legions. His detestation of the Empire has led him to the side of the Republic, not
because he likes it, but because he believes that no other form of government can save the country from falling into the hands of M. Rouher. A year ago he had the courage to tell that fact to the members of the Right Centre, of which he was the president, and he boldly recommended that they should cut themselves loose from the impracticable Legitimists, for the purpose of forming an affiance with the Conservatives of the Left. His friends did not agree with him at the time and he resigned his position ; but they have now come to share his apprehensions and his wishes. The Due d'Audiffret- Pasquier, in fact, has done more than any other man on the Right to bring about the present affiance between the Repub- lican and the Royalist divisions of the Conservative party. ,lience the Left was peculiarly pleased when he accepted the Ministry of the Interior, and the "Chislehurstiens," as the Bonapartists are sometimes called, were depressed in a corre- sponding degree. But at this stage of the negotiations the Marshal came into the fie'ld with a veto. It may be that 4 Buffet was jealous of the Duke. Or it may be that the Presi- dent resents the advances which the Duke has made to the Republicans, or that his old connection with the Empire makes him angry at the attacks on the system. Or perhaps 'he, has yielded to solicitations from his Minister of War, General Cissey, who is a Monarchist, and with whom he re- fuses to part. Or General Bourbaki, the commandant of Lyons, and other Bonapartist Generals who are still• permitted to retain high places of command, may have stated to the Marshal that their authority would be dangerously diminished if the Due d'Audiffret-Pasquier were to be Minister of the Y.nterior. Or, as rumour states, the Duke himself may have insisted on the dismissal of those Generals. At all events, the Marshal distinctly told him that he could not be permitted to be- come Minister of the Interior, and offered him a minor portfolio. That change was made the more insulting by the fact that the Duke did not seek office, but had it thrust upon him. His Parliamentary position would also forbid him to accept any of
the less important offices, and we dare say that the consequence was some plain-speaking, for his many good qualities are marred by a highly explosive temper. Nevertheless the Ministry of the Interior falls to M. Buffet himself, and the Due d'Audiffret-Pasquier will take his place as the President of
the Assembly. Nor was he the only person at whom under- hand intrigue made a dead set, for there was also an attempt to exclude M. Wallon, or at least to keep him away from the Ministry of Public Instruction. M. Walton has high claims to that portfolio. He has for many years been a professor at the S orbonne, and he has published historical works of tonsiderable value. His history of our own Richard II. is a book of sterling worth. Being the author of the amendment which smoothed the way for the Senate Bill, and having taken an active part in the negotiation between the two Centres, he could not have been excluded without a show of ingratitude. As he is also a good Catholic, he might have seemed a suitable Minister of Public Instruction even to the devotees of the Right. But he does not happen to agree with Bishop Divan- loup's condemnation of the University, and he would resist the attempt to give clerical seminaries power to grant degrees. So the redoubtable Prelate went to Marshal or Madame MacMahon with a complaint that the Church was in danger, and a vigorous effort was made to trip up M. Wallon's heels. Had the Marshal been as much of a Churchman as he is of a soldier, it might have succeeded, but for the present M. Wallon is safe.
The Cabinet contains four new Members besides M. Wallon. M. Buffet we described last week. M. De Meaux, the Minister of Agriculture, is a relative of Montalembert, and an ardent Catholic. M. Leon Say, the Minister of Finance, is well known in England. He possesses many of the aptitudes for dealing with economical subjects which distinguished his relative, Baptiste Say, and his advancement has been helped by the fact that he owns part of the Journal des Debate. Down to the fall of the Empire he was an Orleanist ; but like M. Thiers and M. Casimir Perier, he soon came to believe that a Conservative Republic was the only form of Government which could be set up, or which could stand in the present state of France. He is now a staunch, if not an ardent, Republican ; and the clearness of his head, his eminence as a man of business, and his power of incisive speech, make him a valuable leader of the Left Centre. It was to him that the Due d'Audiffret- Pasquier came with the request that the Left Centre should join the Right in setting up a Monarchy, but M. Leon I Bay dismissed him with the answer that the plan signified revenge for the principles of '89.
The ablest man in the Ministry, however, is neither M. Leon
Say, nor even M. Buffet, but M. Dufaiire: Like M. Leon Say, he was once an Orleanist, and indeed he held office ,under Louis Philippe; but he served the Republic of 1848 with real loyalty as Minister of the Interior. As such he was the right- hand of General Cavaignac, and he used "all the influence of his office to defeat Prince Louis Bonaparte- in the memorable contest for the Presidency. He said that he wished the people to choose a man, and not a name. Such was the ability of M. Dufaure, that the victor offered him the same post, and he accepted it ; but he soon found it necessary to part from the Prince, and at last he was driven from political life by the coup d'etat. Going back to the practice of the Bar, he held the very foremost place. There is perhaps no greater lawyer in France, and there is certainly no greater advocate. He is also one of the few lawyers who are equally eminent in the art of political discussion. The National Assembly contains far more eloquent men, but he has the reputation of being the best debater, and such at least would be the judgment of an English audience. His business-like style, his disdain for ornament, his brevity and directness of statement, his command of facts, and his power of hard-hitting make him such an opponent as Mr. Gladstone himself would find formid- able. Although about seventy-five years old, lie is a man of immense physical vigour. His Republicanism is of the same kind as that of M. Leon Sahat it is imite41 to a keener, or at least a louder hatred of Radicalism. He has never forgiven the excesses of 1848. But M. Gambetta andirlfriends find an ample compensation for M. Dufaure's Isaroáti in his iron will and his determination to have his own way. When he was Vice-President of the Council, under M. Thiel's, it was sometimes difficult to say whether he or M. Thiers was the ruling spirit. At least he drove M. Pouyer-Quertier out • Id the Cabinet, in spite of the favour which M Thiers showed to that champion of Protectionism, because M. Pouyer-Quertier had dared to criti- cise in public the prosecution of Janvier de la Motto. The Marshal will certainly not be able to browbeat the sturdy lawyer. M. Dufaure has, perhaps, the student's instinctive contempt for mere fighters, and there is a report that he intends to keep the Marshal in his own place. At least he will not let the Ministry of Justice be used to cover Legitimist evasions of the law or Bonapartist plots, and that is an ample satisfaction to the Radicals for the bitterness with which.. he chastises their follies.