LETTERS FROM PARIS, BY 0. P. Q. No. X XXV.
FRANCE WITHOUT A GOVERNMENT.
TO TUE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
Paris, 4th March 1835.
SIR—This is Ash Wednesday, or "Lea Cendres." Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, or pancake-day—i. e. I" Mardi Gras." Yesterday all Paris was feasting, and to-day all Paris is fasting ! The rioting of yesterday needs the repose of to-day. There is in this something like compensation. Yesterday, men wore masks to hide their follies; but to-day they are even more brazen, and young, fat Catholic priests mark the pure white foreheads of the pretty damsels with burnt cork, cut out in the figure of a cross, to denote their faith and repentance. Yesterday, though the wind was cold enough to cut them in two, the Parisians were promenading on the Boulevards, and Lord SEYMOUR, as king of the fools, wore a fool's cap nearly big enough to cover his ears. " C'est tin milord Anglais," cried the gaping throng, as he threw about his sugar-plums and bon-bons ! He had at least the merit of being sin. gular, for no one imitated his example. To-day, thousands of the throng of yesterday are confined to their beds, with colds and sore throats ; but as all this is the result of pleasure, I have no doubt they will not complain of theirjlisasters. Thus, though France is without a Government, the Parisians are not without their aintisennents. The most entertaining Fat Tuesday I ever passed in Paris, was when the people were throwing down the Archbishop's Palace atone end of the capital, and were dancing a few minutes after on the Boulevards ! Fifteen years' popular and well-founded grudges asainst die Jesuits, were all paid off in nearly as many minutes ; but M. GUIZOT has since called this sacrilege ! So we will say no more. To-day, i. e. on Ash Wednesday 1835, France is without a Govern- ment ! " No matter," say you ; and I reply, " No matter." It is quite astonishing to see of how little use is a Government, and how quietly people can go on without one. But such long interregnums as these are almost dangerous ; for sensible people are likely to make this re- flection—viz. " How much money is expended in maintaining a Go- vernment which does so little, and is so useless." It was a wise maxim on the part of Kings to persuade men into the belief that the King never dies. The rogues were afraid lest if there should even be half an hour when there Was no King, that the people would find out that Kings were not indispensable. So " be Roi est mort," is pronounced with the same breath, as " Vive le Roi !" What a mercy for us all that we are thus supplied with an uninterrupted succession of legitimate princes ! By the by, it is reported to-day, that the Emperor of Austria is dead. We know by a telegraphic despatch that he is dying. But let the Austrians console themselves, and let us feel no alarm ; there is a fine, plump, fat-headed son to succeed, who re- joice; in the name of Franix.sxn, and is King of Hungary. The late Emperor (for I believe he is dead) insisted on receiving the last sacra- ment on the 25th. It is instructive to observe how kings become reli- gious in their last moments. But surely the shades of hundreds of his Italian victims must have hovered round his dying pillow and disturbed his tianquillity. Oh ! the hundreds of noble-minded men who, for their love of liberty, have died on scaffolds, or in dungeons, in the Austrian dominions since when in 1804 he ascended the Imperial throne. But I am wandering. He has left behind him an abundance of heirs and heiresses of all his fortune, and perchance of all his vices. France is without a Government ! Can she remain so much longer ? Oh dear, yes ! the people eat, drink, labour, pay taxes, go to church, say their prayers, dance, read the journals, sigh for VICTOR Bocci's new play, and read Abbe DE LA MENNAis' new Melanges, just the same as if TITTERS were still rampant, and as if GUIZOT were still glorious. M. DE IttEDERER, the Palace pamphleteer, if he shah read this my admission, will draw from it an argument in favour of his system, which is that of making Louis PIIILIP Emperor and Autocrat of all the Frances, as NICHOLAS is of all the Russias. These short-sighted Academicians have lived long enough, not to see, but to be blind. They mistake the momentary apathy of the people for indifference, and their cot:chant character for the hour, they misconstrue into permanent tameness and change of disposition. They are grievously mistaken ? The lion must sleep as well as prowl, must repose as well as roar, and must prepare for combat as well as vanquish. France is without a Government ! How is this ? I will tell you in a few words. Louis Pirate has come to the end of his system. He has played out all his best cards ; he has nothing remaining but pawns at chess ; and his adversary, the people, has got knights and castles c n his side. To speak without a figure—there are only about a dozen men in all France, who will be Ministers of the King Louis PHILIP, subject to the conditions he imposes ; and, therefore, he is obliged to ring the changes upon Souvr and TRIERS, DE BROGUE and GUIZOT, DE RIGBY and SEBASTIAN!; and then hack again to TRIERS and GUIZOT, SEEAS- TIANI and SOULT, DE RIGNY and DE BROGLIE, and so on, and so on, and so on, to the end of the chapter. At last, all these dozen of none- suches have begun to perceive that even the Chamber of Deputies no longer looks upon them as indispensable. They continue to say them- selves, that they "have saved the country." But the answer is, "Yes, you have saved it ; but you have saved it from peace, from plenty, and from union and happiness." There are two remedies for this state of things--and but two. I do not mean durable remedies, or that are to he efficacious for many years or even months to come. But there are two remedies for the moment.
The first is to establish a Military Government A. la MEMBER, and i Ia SOUI.T. Louis PHILIP Autocrat! The Chamber of Depu- ties to eat humble pie. The Chamber of Peers to be a Senate ! There is certainly a lack of what we mean by the word senators when we pronounce it ; but never mind—any one who can read and write can register decrees and edicts ; and RCEDERER and the courtiers on Ash Wednesday 1835 ask for nothing more. This idea of a military go- vernment is undoubtedly not very popular in France ; but it is nothing when we are used to it. Why should we not become as used to skin- ning as the eels ? IsTaroixoN flayed us for a long while ; and though be fell at last a victim to his own system, perhaps the Orleans coun- cillors may hit upon a new mode of skinning, which may last longer and become finally popular. I admit that just now there is a good deal of repugnance to this skinning plan ; but tastes differ, and public opinion changes; and as the Times is now in love with the Tories, who can tell but that the Debats may one day write the Te Deum over the downfal of a representative monarchy?
France is without a Government ! There is a second mode of remedying for the time being this little inconvenience ; and that is by calling Dem to office, and by giving him orders to form a Parlia- mentary Cabinet. But this implies a dead beat of the Palace. This implies, Down with the French Tories ! This implies, Down with the
Doctrinaires ! This implies, that Ministers are henceforth to be real Ministers, and not lawyers' clerks or notaries' apprentices. This im.. plies, that we are to begin to have something like a Representative Government, and that we are to be guided and governed by a Charter. So I am very incredulous. LOUIS PHII.IP lost his voice two days ago with a had cold ; but yesterday he had regained it to meet SEBASTIAN! and Sour.r, who both declined the honour of accepting the post of Pre- sident. This is very alarming for the new monarchy. What ! refuse one hundred thousand francs a year, besides wood and candles, and profits at the Bourse, and a percentage on Government contracts, and divers other little perquisites, in the shape of snuffboxes set with diamonds, and portraits surrounded with pearls ! Come, gentlemen,
courage, courage! There are still six good months before you! Sign the two next receipts for the two next quarters' salary ! I will not promise you many such opportunities ; brat take what you can, and when you can ; for the lion is beginning to wake, and one of these days he will make one or two mouthfuls of you all just before breakfast. This is our position on Ash Wednesday 1835. It will be very different on Ash Wednesday 1836; you may swear to that.