Edward Raymond Turner.

Europe since 1870 online

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posing each other, and contending in elections for control
of the government, the result of such elections giving
the control to one or the other, the second party being
then the opposition. This system tends to make political
stability in Great Britain, since the ministry, usually
resting on the solid support of one of the great parties.



remains in power until tlie opposition gets a majV)rity for
itself. But in France, as in most continental countries,
the two-party system does not prevail. Rather, there are
many parties, often differing from each other only a little,
and representing various political affiliations. No one of
them is large enough to control a majority of the votes
in the legislative assembly, and support for a ministry can
be obtained only by effecting a combination, or as it is
called in France, a 6/oc, of those parties which are willing
to make common cause. But this brings instability and
shortness of tenure, since the fall of a ministry can easily
be brought about by some of the parties withdrawing from
the bloc to enter into new combinations. Therefore
ministries in France, as in Italy, often change with be-
wildering rapidity, causing outsiders uninformed to be-
lieve that the French are fickle in politics and not yet
trained in governing themselves. Such is not the case;
a different system is producing results different from those
obtained in English-speaking countries. Foreign critics
declare that such insecurity of ministries tends to weaken
administration and hamper France in her dealings with
other comitries. Frenchmen, admitting this, assert that
their system nevertheless represents, more delicately than
does the British, different shades of political thought.

The administration of the central government in France
has all too frequently been debased by corruption, jobbery,
scandal, and intrigue. Nevertheless, generally speaking,
since the establishment of the Republic in 1875, French-
men have gone steadily forward on the w^ay of learning
real self-government. Of all tasks that is one of the
hardest. The English people developed it slowly and
painfully during a long course of time. The French
tried to establish it suddenly in 1791. In a few years it
was evident that they had failed, and most Frenchmen
were willing to have Napoleon give them strong govern-
ment even though it was despotic. Again in 1848 a re-

The Bloc

ment of
ment in



and people

Local gov-
in France

public was established, but this again was easily and
quickly overthrown. When a third republic was pro-
claimed in 1870, it might seem that it also had little chance
to survive; many were opposed to it, and many believed it
must soon disappear. The French people, however, were
learning more about self-government and republican in-
stitutions as time went on, and the Third Republic be-
lying the prophecies of many of its enemies and some of its
friends, and acquiring stability year after year, was by
1920 so thoroughly established that its overthrow seemed
outside of proper calculations. There can be little doubt
that this was partly because the people of France got
more and more acquaintance with self-government in the
latter part of the nineteenth century.

It is not sufficient that a constitution be written and
adopted providing that the people have certain institu-
tions. Such constitutions in Portugal and in Spain and in
some of the South American countries result in little more
than that the elections are controlled by the army and the
government by a few politicians. In spite of many ex-
cellent provisions, these constitutions fail because the
people have little education, little interest in political af-
fairs, and almost no training in them. Great Britain
has no written constitution in any single dociunent, and
yet her government continues stable and firm, and at
the same time flexible and increasingly democratic; for it
rests now on the support of a vast number of men and
women who have considerable acquaintance with the
management of their government, and who have in-
herited this knowledge from ancestors who before them
had interest in the government of the realm.

Participation by the ordinary man or woman in govern-
ing can usually not be in the affairs of the central organiza-
tion but in the smaller and humbler things of the local
district. The continued success of self-government among
the people of England is in great measure due to the train-



ing which Engh'sli people long had in the affiiirs of county
and parish, to the vigorous local self-government which
has existed for generations in England. In France this
had once existed also, but it withered away and disap-
peared when the strongly centralized monarchy of tlu^
Old Regime was made by the kings. ]\Iatters, which in
England would have been attended to by the leading men
of the parish or the county, were in France directed from
Paris or managed by officials sent out from the central
government. This tended to produce, as it alwaj's does
for a while, a very efficient government machine; but in
course of time the people in the localities, having very
little to do in managing their affairs, to a gTcat extent lost
their capacity for self-government. Therefore, the first
two French republics were made at the top rather than the
bottom, and soon fell for lack of strong foundation in the
political experience of the people themselves. This was,
perhaps, apparent to the republican leaders as time went
on. By the Constitution of 1875 a greater measure of
local government was provided for. This was extended
in 1882, when the elected councils of municipalities were
permitted to elect the mayors, and in 1884 when localities
were given still larger powers of self-government. Since
then French people have been slowly learning to some ex-
tent the art of governing themselves, in the only places
in which it can be well learned, where they live and carry
on their own affairs. As they really learned to manage
the little things themselves, they became able to manage
the greater affairs, and the foundations of the Republic
became constantly stronger in the hearts and intelligence
of the people.

However admirable the local government of England
may have been in the seventeenth and eighteenth cen-
turies, it was for the most part in the hands of the upper
classes, and the extension of self-government and demo-
cratic control of affairs in Britain came only slowly in the

from Paris

and ex-



for the suc-
cess of self-


nineteenth century. It was accompanied by considerable
improvement in the education of the mass of the people.
Self-government may be extended to the people of a
country, but if they are ignorant and illiterate there can
be little hope that they will wisely use or really keep
the powers entrusted to them. This was well understood
by the republican leaders in France, and they set about
extending and improving education. If there was to be
universal suffrage for men, there must be general education
of the children. In 1881 a law was passed to make pri-
mary education free of cost to parents and the next year
it was made compulsory for children from six to thirteen.
Previous to this time a quarter of the men and more than
a third of the women of the country were illiterate, and
education was to a considerable extent, as it had long been,
in the hands of religious orders and teachers. Gradually
education was extended until very few men and women
were unable to read and write, though the percentage of
illiteracy was never reduced so low as in Germany, which
had long led the world in the thoroughness and extent
of its educational work, though not, perhaps, in the final
excellence of its character. Gradually, also, in France
education was made entirely secular, and withdrawn com-
pletely from religious teachers.

Along with this, moreover, went a splendid development
of higher education, in upper schools and universities.
Technical and industrial teaching was not neglected,
though it never attained the prominence or the reputa-
tion abroad that the German system got. Foreigners
who went to Europe for their education went almost al-
ways to the German Empire rather than to England or
France; and this was especially true of students from the
United States, who went to Germany and then developed in
America the German system of higher education. This was
due not only to the merits of German universities but also
to the prestige which Germany enjoyed as the result of her



successful wars and her miglity development, though it
also seems to have resulted in no small part from advertis-
ing and clever propaganda. But critics realized more
clearly after a time that the English system and especially
the French, if they produced less visible efficiency and
erudition, yet trained the character and cultivated spirit
and taste, and fineness of soul and good judgment, as the
more mechanically regulated, state-supervised system of
Germany never could do.

So the work of restoration and establishing solidly the
foundation of the Republic went steadily forward. Bis-
marck, it is said, favored a republic in France because
he believed such a government would be unstable and make
her weak, and because it would also keep her isolated and
without friends, since France a republic would be alone
among the monarchies and empires of Europe. For a
long time she was without allies, but the Republic held
its own steadily, and while it was disliked by a considerable
and powerful portion of the population who were anxi-
ously awaiting its overthrow, it was able to weather each
crisis that developed. Business became settled; the gov-
ernment undertook great and expensive schemes of ma-
terial development, improving railroads and canals; and
presently the French people found themselves in the
midst of the greatest prosperity which had come to them
in the nineteenth century. Taxes were high and there
was a huge national debt, but this debt was held almost
entirely in France, and interest payments on it, derived
from taxes taken from the people, went back to them

But however fair the picture may seem now, there was
much trouble during the time when the improvement
was gradually taking place. Many times it seemed to out-
siders that French temperament was such, and so great
were the difficulties confronting the French leaders, that the
Republic would endure little longer. There was constant

and ma-
terial prog-

the Republic



of monarchy



though diminishing danger in the relations with Germany,
and there were internal problems of the greatest difficulty
resulting from the opposition of the monarchists and
clericals, and the relations between Church and State.

The English, who in government matters are conserva-
tive but at the same time bold, have made great construc-
tive constitutional changes, slowly, without violent break.
In course of time they have altered their monarchy so far
that of the kingship nothing remains but the name of king,
and actually their government is far more democratic
than the governance of most republics. They have clung
to king and some monarchical forms, however, because of
attachment to the past, and probably for some time to
come they will not part with scepter and crown. The
French, who are more logical and direct in processes of
thought, did away with monarchy more abruptly, though
in their case also the alteration could not be achieved at
once, and restorations, of king or emperor, followed
the establishment of two republics. There was a con-
siderable and strong body of people in the country, the
more conservative ones and those who loved to venerate
the past, who preferred monarchy to a republic, who dis-
trusted government by the people, and who did not believe
that France could be strong and respected until she had re-
ceived a king once more. After 1871 these men and
women looked confidently for the fall of the Republic
through incapacity and weakness; and when the course
of time disappointed them, they plotted and hoped for an
opportunity to bring this about. Generally they were
supported by the clericals, whose policy also they ap-

When the hazards of the first few years after 1871 had
successfully been passed, the most dangerous crisis came
in 1888, in the affair of General Boulanger. The general
was a handsome, striking figure whose very appearance
excited the admiration and attachment of the unthinking.



He made himself popular anion^- the soldiers by some of A coup
his measures wliile lie was uiinister of war. Great en- ^'^^^^ ap-
thusiasm was worked up for him. He took advantage ^^^
of some scandals of the time, and of certain grievances
which always <>xist, and j)rescntly let it he known that the
government needed reforming. It was also told among
his friends that if he were at the head of affairs, France
might get revenge on the Germans. He soon had sup-
porting him, hesidevs the undiscriminating multitude,
monarchists, clericals, and others. Friends of the Re-
public feared that if he tried a couf cVetat, as Louis Napo-
leon once had, he might indeed be abl<' to seize p<jwer. But
the government was firm, and at the critical moment he
hesitated to act, and presently fled to Belgium. Then
he was condemned for plotting against the State. His
party fell to pieces almost at once, and he died by his own
hand in exile. Other disquieting times followed, but
never one so serious again. Once this storm was past,
evidence multiplied that the Republic was solidly estab-
lished. Five years later Russia had joined France in a
Dual Alliance.

In 189G began the scandal of the Dreyfus Case, which The Dreyfus
continued to disrupt French society and disturb the gov- ^^^^
ernment for the next ten years. Two years previously
Dreyfus, an Alsatian Jew, a captain of artillery in the
French army, had been arrested very secretly and con-
demned to be imprisoned for life in French Guiana for
selling military information, it was said. He protested
his innocence, and soon his cause was taken up by friends
and by others who wished justice to be done, and a bitter
and sensational controversy resulted. After many vicissi-
tudes, which attracted the attention of people all over
the world then, but which are of little importance now,
it was demonstrated that the accused man was innocent
and that scandalous conditions existed in military circles.
As this became clear, the French Government undertook



and State

The Con-
cordat of

to undo the wrong done, and in the end gave Dreyfus and
his associates complete and honorable vindication. But
during the years of passionate struggle, while this end was
being attained, the government was attacked and under-
mined by monarchists and reactionaries, by clericals,
and by many who desired France to be a military power
more than a democratic state. In the end all of this came
to naught and was largely forgotten.

As the years went on still further, with France get-
ting back some of her old prestige in Europe, prosper-
ing greatly and increasing her wealth, and making the
Republic constantly stronger, the French Government
proceeded to deal with the adjustment of the relations be-
tween Church and State. In the Middle Ages the Church
had claimed superiority over all earthly things, supremacy
over secular government, and immunity from interference
by the civil flower. As stronger secular governments
developed, their officials refused to accept the supremacy
of the Church, and attempted, while not interfering with
religious matters, to subject ecclesiastical matters, or the
things that concerned church regulation, to the civil
authority of the State. Some of the greatest and most
memorable struggles in medieval times arose from con-
flicts between these two powers. In the period of the
Reformation and of the development of strong nation
states the matter was settled differently in various places.
In Lutheran countries the Church was made strictly sub-
ordinate to the State, and in England the Church became
part of the government itself. In Catholic countries vari-
ous arrangements had been made.

In France of the nineteenth century the settlement was
one which had been arranged between Napoleon and Pope
Pius VII, the so-called Concordat of 1801. This arrange-
ment provided that the churches and buildings, which
along with the church lands had been confiscated during
the French Revolution, and which were in 1801 the prop-



erty of the people, should he granted to the use of the
clergy. The higher eeelesiusties, the arehhishops and bish-
ops, were to be appointed by the Freneh government
with the eonsent of the pope. Such ay)p()intments had
been one of the great causes of struggle between Emf)ire
and Papacy in the Middle Ages, and between kings of
England and popes, and had usually then been settled
by a compromise like the Concordat. The lower ec-
clesiastics, the priests, were to be appointed l)y the bishops
with the consent of the government of France. The
Church was controlled to a consideral:>le extent by the
State, and supported by it as part of the State, for the
salaries of the ecclesiastics were paid by the government.
On the other hand, in the government the Church had
much influence and power. This condition of affairs con-
tinued on through the nineteenth century, with the cleri-
cals looking back fondly to the time before the Revolution,
detesting the republicans, supporting and teaching mon-
archical principles, and hoping for a restoration of kings.

After 1871 the system worked less well. Those who
supported the Republic believed that Church and State
should be separate. On the other hand, the bishops and
priests hesitated not to use their influence against the
Republic. INIean while, the government removed all clerical
Influence from the national system of education, allowing
no religious exercises in the public schools and not per-
mitting clergymen to teach in them. Peculiar conditions
existed in France. Almost all of the population was
Roman Catholic, but a great part of the men were held
lightly by religious ties, and had become accustomed to
decide matters affecting the country from the point of view
of politics rather than religion. They now proceeded to
measures which had never before been brought about in a
Roman Catholic country except in violent change or up-

The leaders of the Republic declared, with much truth.

Church and
State con-
nected in

and the Re-



The Law of
tions, 1901

of Church
and State

that under existing conditions there could not be national
unity, since notwithstanding the educational reforms, the
religious orders, which had in recent years increased enor-
mously in influence and wealth, did a great deal of
teaching in their private schools which was directly hostile
to the government. Accordingly, in 1901, while the con-
troversy about the Dreyfus Affair was still raging, the
government passed the so-called Law of Associations, by
which religious orders would not be allowed to exist unless
they were authorized by the State. Many of the religious
orders were not willing to ask the government for per-
mission to exist, but the law was enforced vigorously, and
large numbers of monks and nuns were driven out of their
establishments. In 1904 the government went further,
passing an act which forbade even the authorized orders
to do any teaching after 1914. All this was denounced
by the faithful, who supported the orders, and who be-
lieved that their liberty was infringed when they were
deprived of the right to have their children taught by the
instructors they most preferred. The State, however,
was now resolved to have a monopoly of the education of
its children and let hostile teachers do none of it.

Matters soon went much further. Many Frenchmen,
moved by intellectual forces more than religious im-
pulses, regarded Roman Catholicism, along with other
religions, as something to be cherished by those who wished
it, but not imposed in any manner by the State or
supported by government taxes. A great number of
Frenchmen reasoned thus with much of the tolerant or
contemptuous feeling for the Catholic faith which Voltaire
and Diderot had long before them. They were reinforced
by many others who believed that clericalism was and had
from the first been strongly hostile to the Republic, and
that the priests as well as the members of the teaching
orders aroused opposition to the government, and made
division and weakness in the nation. They supported a



principle, therefore, wliicli had h)ng before been estab-
hshed in the United States, that Church and State should
be separate, and that while the Church in its rehgious
capacity was not to be interfered with by the government,
it was not any longer to be supported by the government,
but by voluntary contributions from its members. There-
fore in 1905 a law was passed which brought to an end the
Concordat of 180L By the terms of the law, which now
separated Church and State, something was to be done for
aged clergymen and for those who had just become priests,
but the State was no longer to pay the salaries of church-
men, nor was it any longer to control their appointments.
The church buildings, still national property, might be
used freely by members of the Roman Catholic Church
or of other sects, provided the members of a congregation
formed an association cultuelle (association of worship).

This arrangement seemed proper to many Frenchmen
who were without strong religious ties. It seemed most
natural to people, like those in the United States, who had
long been accustomed to separation of Church and State
and believed that such separation was not only best for
the State but of greatest possible good for the Church.
But it violated much that was deeply rooted in a vener-
able past and loved and respected by many men and
most of the women in France. There had been a great
deal of sympathy for the members of religious orders who
seemed dispossessed of their property and driven forth
from their homes. Now there were riotous scenes about
some of the churches. Not a few Catholics, however,
believed that the trend of modern conditions made
separation best for the Church ; and some of the ecclesias-
tics were willing at least to compromise with the authori-
ties of the State. But the pope condemned the law, and
good Catholics had then to oppose it. In 1907 the govern-
ment passed a further law by which the churches might
be used free of cost provided the priest or minister made a

The Church
to be sup-
ported by
its members




France torn
by the


contract therefor with the local officials. The Republic
was stirred to its depths during the years which followed,
and division between two bodies of the population seemed
greater than ever; but the authorities, supported by
socialists, progressives, radicals, and others, were firm,
and in the end seemed to have the support of most of the
nation. Separation of Church and State was definitely
accomplished in spite of the opposition raised up against
it. Nevertheless, it was truly felt that there was now
between the Roman Catholic Church, which taught the
faith nominally, at least, of almost all the French people,
and the government of the Republic, a breach which time
only could heal. Actually the division continued until
the beginning of the Great War, when in the fearful danger
and sufferings of the years after 1914 churchmen rallied
loyallj^ to the patrie, and many of the people came back
to the Church more than for a great while before.

During all the latter part of the nineteenth century
wealth increased in France, not as in Britain where it was
based on industrial development and the carrying trade
of the world, nor in Germany where it came from marvel-
ous industrial and commercial expansion, nor in the United

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 19 of 49)