19 JANUARY 1850, Page 12


Tim third letter addressed by Mr. Wikoff, the American, to the Paris journal La Preen, deals in a sort of historical resume of French internal changes, from an early period ; the drift of which would seem to be the illustration of Mr. Wikoff's favourite dogma, that without a due proportion of the three elementary principles- -monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical—no nation can expect to flourish, or even to avoid political tempests. We suspect that a good many other reasons, besides the defective operation of "the balance," may be assigned for the frequent intestine commotion of our neighbours; and what is more, we.doubt whether "the balance" has been the secret of our own tranquil progress since the expul- sion of the last Stuart. It is true that a belief in the theory of mutual checks in the English constitution has been widely circulated, and treated as a reality by eminent publicists and professors ofjurisprudence. De Lohne, for instance, built a name upon an elaborate exposition of its admirable structure, which for years served as a text-book on Government But who- ever studies the operation of F,nglish institutiens attentively, sel- dom fails to discover that there are, in fact, only two forces at work,—the monarch and the aristocracy, covertly united, on one aide ; • the popular will on the other. Even the memorable project of the Reform Bill was but a sacrifice on the part of one section of aristocracy to gain the advantage over a rival section, in which the reigning Monarch lent them his aid. The pure element of aristo- cratical power, the House of Lords, was then seen to exert its separate will and interest. But the " balance" ,ivas, like the scales of Brennus, falsified by an lillScrUpUlOus use of the royal prerogative.. The King, having the people at his back, for once showed the value of the pretended " balance," when compared with the reality of a popular determination : an instructive lesson, not often permitted to the loolce)aiam, so plausible is the fiction, and so useful to the governing pdvaers. After all, we have no objection to the theory, as such ; and if Mr. Wikoff succeed in engrafting it. upon, the -French mind, it is quite conceivable that he may be doing them a service.. For as the Democratic party in the French Chamber seeks to render itself predominant by means unbecoming" a 'deliberative assembly, it would seem but fitting that those members who belong to a class habituated to the restraints of genteel life should be • By "Secondary States" are meant such as Bavaria, WOrtemberz, Saxony, Hanover, &c. ; which really are states. By "Minor States," the petty Principalities and Free Towns, from Nassau and the Saxon Dukedoms down to Kmphausen, with its territory of rather less than 16 square miles and its contingent of 29 men to the army of the Confederation. allowed to, exercise the function of legislators in peace and with decorous forms. And to this end, as Mr. Wikoff urges, two Chambers are indispentable' —a Bear-garden for the " Montagne "; and a Senate (or " House of Lords ") for educated men of business, where public discussion should be carried on with some chance of profit to the country, by those who under an unitary representative system would be condemned to inaction.

But in order that a nation should consolidate its public institu- tions, it must positively resist wanton changes. " Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien," it has been happily said ; and the existing French constitution, with all its faults, offers so much of what is essential to a good one, that, having got it into operation, the nation ought to endeavour to keep it going at least for some years, by force of good citizenship, and a firm will to resist the provoca- tives of dissatisfied and restless, partisans of a monarchy : and thus, since the existing law forbids the reelection of the President, so ought it to stand, although it may be one of questionable wisdom.

It strikes us as a most discouraging fact, that an able and in- fluential writer like M. C. Dunoyer should, at, this time of day, constitute himself all at once the apostle of Legitimacy. In a pamphlet recently put forth, he distinctly calls upon his cmintry- men to throw aside all this wicker-work of a government, and to recall Henri {inq, with the whole tissue of exploded sentiments and traditions, as being the only chance for the French nation, to regain her character among the powers of Europe. It reminds one of what takes place after the curtain has fallen at the theatre upon the final scene of a tragic drama : every leading personage being killed or exiled, and the " moral " left to operate on the specta- tors, forth steps the manager, and announces that the play will be acted again the next night. So with M. Dunoyer : the terrible efforts by which the French have sought to escape from the abuses of kingly government are treated like the acts of players ; whilst the King is behind the scenes, ready to step on to the stage once more, wholly regardless of the sanguinary lessons which have been inculcated on his predecessors. But the French people cannot be desirous of reestablishing a Bourbon dynasty. We agree with Mr. Wikoff, that they are not justly chargeable with fickleness or with- a blind love of revolutions. They have proved that they could resent the faults of bad governments, and also that, sixty years ago, they could be led to commit furious excesses in their vengeance : but what centuries of oppression had they not endured ! Now, however, the nation, as such, is disposed to cheek all at- tempts at violence, and might be readily brought to cooperate in the organization of provincial and local systems of government, were its rulers but honest enough to afford it the means. We fear, however, that the passion for centralization, so rife among political leaders, will continue to paralyze a tendency which, if en- couraged, might beyond all else promote the internal tranquillity of France, as well as afford a counterpoise to the mischievous as- cendancy of its metropolis.