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UNIVERSITY OF
CALIFORNIA

SAN DIBQO




/.




FRANCE



FRANCE



BY



JOHN EDWARD COURTENAY BODLEY



NEW AND REVISED EDITION



5Lontion
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
I 9O2

All rights rtstmeii



First Edition, two volumes, Zth February 1898.

Reprinted April 1898.
New Editions, revised, 1899, 1902.



TO MY SONS
RONALD VICTOR COURTENAY BODLEY

AND

JOSSELIN REGINALD COURTENAY BODLEY

ON THEIR MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY



CONTENTS

PAGE

PREFACE TO NEW EDITION OF 1902 . . . . xi

PREFACE TO NEW EDITION OF 1899 .... xxiii

PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION OF 1898 . . xxxi

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE .... xxxv

INTRODUCTION . . . . i



BOOK I
THE REVOLUTION AND MODERN FRANCE

CHAPTER I
THE HISTORICAL ASPECTS OF THE REVOLUTION . . -53

CHAPTER II
LIBERTY ...... . too

CHAPTER III
EQUALITY . . . . . - 133

CHAPTER IV
FRATERNITY AND PATRIOTISM ..... 170



viii FRANCE



BOOK II

THE CONSTITUTION AND THE CHIEF OF
THE STATE

CHAPTER I

PAGE

THE CONSTITUTION ... ... 209

CHAPTER II
THE CHIEF OF THE STATE ...... 217



BOOK III
THE PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM

CHAPTER I
THE UPPER CHAMBER ...... 269

CHAPTER II
THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES AND THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM . 318

CHAPTER III
THE COMPOSITION OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES . 383

CHAPTER IV
PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE AND PRACTICE . . . 417



CONTENTS ix

CHAPTER V

PAGE

MINISTERS, MINISTRIES, AND THE PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM . 457

CHAPTER VI
CORRUPTION UNDER THE REPUBLIC . . . , 493



BOOK IV
POLITICAL PARTIES

CHAPTER I
THE GROUP SYSTEM . . .... 529

CHAPTER II
THE ROYALISTS . 539

CHAPTER III
THE PLEBISCITARY ELEMENT ...... 564

CHAPTER IV
THE RALLIES ... -579

CHAPTER V
THE LEFT CENTRE . ..... 589

CHAPTER VI
THE OPPORTUNISTS . ..... 596



x FRANCE

CHAPTER VII

PAGE

THE RADICALS ...... .609

CHAPTER VIII
THE SOCIALIST GROUP . . . 621



INDEX .



641



PREFACE TO NEW EDITION (1902)

I HAD hoped before another edition of this book was called for
to produce my long-promised work on the Church and Religious
Questions in France. Unfortunately the forced labour of trans-
lating this volume into French diverted me from it during a
long space of time, in which it ought to have been completed.

An eminent firm of Parisian publishers had undertaken to
provide the translation. But their proofs revealed the unpleasing
surprise, that the task had been confided to a person unacquainted
with either English or French. Perhaps he was a Swiss ; but
whatever his race, he produced an amazing composition, of which
one half was comic and the other unintelligible. Thus, in a
passage .in the Introduction, where recounting my travels in
France I speak of forgotten towns and villages in George Sand's
country, which formerly were "household words," the translator
ascribed to me the perplexing assertion that sixty years before
they were " articles de me'nage " ; while Napoleon, climbing a
figurative calvary on the steep road near Juvisy, the night he
heard of the fall of the Empire, was made inopportunely, on that
tragic occasion, to order the advance of cavalry.

Untaught by this adventure, I allowed the publishers to pro-
cure another " translator." This time they found one who knew
French ; but, as a set-off to his somewhat wooden command of
that language, he was innocent of English. His errors were more
subtle than those of his predecessor. Where the English text
said that " M. Taine's great work stands on the shelf of every



xii PREFACE

library," that polite tribute was transformed into the perfidious
reflection : " Le grand ouvrage de M. Taine reste sur l'e"talage de
toutes les librairies." These disheartening experiences decided
me to attempt what several English writers had done with success
in the eighteeenth century, though I know of no subsequent
precedents. With the distant examples to encourage me of
Chesterfield, Gibbon, and Beckford, who wrote in French some
of their classic works, I set about translating my book myself,
with less facility, perhaps, than that possessed by those English
masters of the French language. The reception given to my
version by French critics has been most gratifying, and in writing
my book in French I at last learned French. But those advan-
tages were paid for dearly at the cost of two working-years of my
life.

One other advantage of rewriting the work was that in doing
so I was called upon to examine every page and to weigh every
sentence before submitting them to the scrutiny of the French.
That careful review led me to make no alteration whatever in the
conclusions I had formulated in the English work, and the only
changes made in the text were in the direction of strengthening
certain propositions and arguments emendations which I have
adopted in this edition. French criticism, by many of its most
authoritative pens, has justified the maintenance of my original
conclusions. The Orleanists alone have taken exception to some
of them. A leader of that dwindling band wrote to me to express
the pain he felt at my strictures on the lack of intelligence dis-
played by his party in their public policy since the fall of the
Second Empire; and in those sections of Royalist society in
which intellectual pride is not a besetting sin, I am told that my
estimate of the moral value of the fashionable reactionaries has
not been received with favour. But the critical reception given
to my work in France has been of a nature to reward amply the
years of labour bestowed on it

Sincere as is my personal satisfaction at having inspired the
goodwill of French critics, who in many cases differ widely from
one another on questions of domestic politics, it is as an English-



PREFACE xiii

man that I am chiefly pleased at this happy result. For had it
been true, as mischief-making newspapers, in London as well as
in Paris, declare, that the French and the English nations look
upon one another with unmixed animosity, it would have been
easy, it would have been obvious, for French writers to pour some
of the international rancour on the head of an Englishman who
had ventured, at a period of mutually strained relations, to write
a book in their language, and in it to criticise some of their most
cherished institutions. But in the rare cases where French critics
have objected to certain of my theses, as having been -projected
from a too English point of view, the objection has been sustained
in language not only courteous but sympathetic. My experience
in this only repeats that of my daily life in France. F<jr twelve
years I have dwelt in that country. Amid my pleasant intercourse
with the people of all classes I have sometimes had with them, as
is inevitable, a difference or an altercation ; but never once, in the
most ardent discussion, has my nationality been called in question.
The latter years which I have spent in France were enfevergd by
the Dreyfus affair, the Fashoda incident, and the Boer war,
during which journalists on both sides of the Channel have done
their best to envenom the relations of our two nations ; yet never
once during that acute period have I had a disobliging word
addressed to me by a citizen of France in my capacity of an
Englishman.

The only changes of importance made in this edition will be
found in the chapter on Liberty, and again at the end of
Book IV., which treats of the Group System. In the latter
place I have merely emphasised what I had already indicated,
to the effect that the Radicals, after having achieved nothing
during a legislative career of thirty years, were being absorbed in
other groups ; while the Socialists, who have taken their place
at the Extreme Left of the French Chamber, do not constitute a
danger to the State, in the sense in which active politicians
professing Socialism are considered dangerous in other com-
munities. The pages which I have rewritten at the close of the
chapter on Liberty develop my previously expressed opinion



xiv PREFACE

that one of the chief tangible results of a generation of parlia
mentary government under the Republic is the complete dis-
appearance of Liberalism as a political force in France.

The phenomena thus signalised have been clearly brought
to light during the premiership of M. Waldeck- Rousseau, who
has guided the Third Republic out of the nineteenth into the
twentieth century. I am far from sharing the feeling which that
statesman rouses in the breasts of the Nationalists and of their
office-seeking allies of the Republican groups, who are dismayed
at the unwonted spectacle of one ministry retaining power during
four parliamentary sessions. _As^ ^sympathiser with the aspira-
tions of the extinct Liberal school, I deplore M. Waldeck-
Roussea.u's anti- liberal legislation. But as an observer who,
in spite of inborn prejudices, believes that France requires the
authoritative rule of one strong hand, I regard M. Waldeck-
Rousseau as the most efficient minister who has governed
France under the Third Republic. That is not saying much ;
as Gambetta was never permitted to rule, and Jules Ferry, who
alone of the other twenty-two prime ministers of the Republic
displayed the masterful talent of an homme de gouvernement, was
never able to manipulate the unruly jealousies of rival groups,
which cut short his projects of organising a strong executive.

M. Waldeck-Rousseau has managed the Chamber with con-
summate address. Relying mainly for support on the Extreme
Left, though himself an essentially moderate politician, he has
skilfully played one group off against another. When the Social-
ists demanded subversive measures, the adroit prime minister
defeated his new allies of the Extreme Left with the aid of his
former friends of the Centre. The Socialists, far from resenting
this, gave a steady support to the general policy of his ministry,
which provided anti-clerical legislation to satisfy their radical
instincts, without inscribing on the statute-book any laws bearing
a trace of socialistic doctrine. The presence of two Socialists in
the Cabinet, far from involving the nation in rash economical
experiments, had only the effect of taming those apostles of
collectivism, who were speedily transformed into opportunists of



PREFACE xv

the well-known ministerial stamp. The more conspicuous of the
pair made an edifying confession of the result of two and a half
years' office-holding. At Firminy, a socialist stronghold in the
coal-basin of the Loire, M. ^lillerand, the former advocate of
class warfare and of revolutionary internationalism, made a speech
deprecating the pursuit of unpractical social ideals, which might
have been a version of Gambetta's famous discourse on oppor-
tunism, edited by an economist of the school of Le"on Say. All
these considerations justify the opinions I have repeated in this
volume, more strongly than formerly, to the effect that French par-
liamentary socialism does not menace France with economic peril.

It is interesting to consider why M. Waldeck-Rousseau has
succeeded where Jules Ferry failed, in maintaining his control
over the Chamber of Deputies. Jules Ferry, on the pretext of a
check to French arms in the Far East, was driven from public
life by an enormous majority of Republicans in the Chamber,
led by the Radicals, who refused to be conciliated by his anti-
clerical policy, though that was a main article of their programme.
They detested him because he showed promise of governing
France with a strong and authoritative hand. M. Waldeck-
Rousseau made himself the master of a more heterogeneous
Chamber, and found an anti-clerical policy sufficient to secure
the durable alliance of the Extreme Left, now composed of
Socialists who, in theory, demanded social revolution, of which
anti-clerical legislation is merely an hors d'ceuvre. It was, more-
over, while showing himself a much more resolute and autocratic
ruler than Ferry that he gained the allegiance of the advanced
groups.

Why did the high-handed minister of 1885 fail to secure the
confidence of the relatively moderate politicians of the Extreme
Left, while their more advanced successors supported a more
authoritative minister, of nominally the same school, half a genera-
tion later? It was, I think, for a reason which, at first sight,
seems paradoxical. Jules Ferry, for all his evolution towards
authoritative government, was essentially a Republican. He had
aided in the downfall of the Second Empire. To the foundation



xvi PREFACE

of the Republic he owed his political rise : to the parliament
established under it his administrative fame. It is not possible to
conceive him serving any other regime than the parliamentary
Republic. M. Waldeck- Rousseau was not in the same way
identified with the genesis of the Republic or with representative
institutions. He was only twenty-three when the Second Empire
fell, and he cared so little for parliamentary success, which he
obtained at an early age, that having been Minister of the
Interior in Gambetta's Grand Ministire, and again in the
long-lived Ferry Cabinet, he retired from parliament while still
young to build up a practice at the bar, and only re-entered
public life as an almost silent member of the tranquil Senate.
It was as an inactive Senator that he came forward to form
the most durable ministry of the Third Republic, and to be
the invincible leader of the turbulent Chamber of Deputies.
Although the strongest defender the Republic has had since
Gambetta's death, there is nothing of the doctrinaire Republican
in M. Waldeck -Rousseau. He is the incarnation, in a powerful
form, of the sentiment always held by the indifferent majority of
the French population, in favour of the existing regime, whatever
its name, kept in order by the system of centralised administra-
tion founded by Napoleon. His unenthusiastic and unbiassed
talent was developed at the bar : for in the French civil courts,
in which he pleaded during his political retirement, there is
no jury to encourage that insincere style of oratory which, in
England associated with the term nisi prius, disqualifies advocates
from becoming statesmen of the highest rank. A man of
unemotional temperament, he brought to bear on the problem of
government, when called in to form a ministry, the same passion-
less ability which had gained him fortune when acting as advising-
counsel of great financial undertakings. For M. Waldeck -
Rousseau does not owe the sway he has exercised over the
Chamber to qualities which are reckoned popular, of which he is
as destitute as that other remarkable ruler of unruly politicians
with whom he had nothing in common Mr. Parnell. He has
none of the magnetic charm and expansiveness which helped to



PREFACE xvii

make Gambetta the idol of the population, though it never led
him to effective official power. In public life he is as cold and
as hard as steel the best material for the constitution of a
statesman who has to drive the machine of Napoleonic adminis-
tration over the inappropriate parliamentary track. Such a man,
had he reached mature age before the war, could not have plotted
with Jules Ferry and Gambetta against the Imperial government;
and though he was the resistless opponent of the monarchical
triflers who played at conspiracy at the close of the nineteenth
century, it is not impossible to think of him as the minister of
an avowed autocracy, if the parliamentary system should, in his
lifetime, give way to another regime.

It is thus, in my opinion, because __M.__Waldeck - Rousseau
is free from doctrinal prejudices that he has succeeded where
failure and discredit awaited a statesman of temperament not less
autocratic than he one who was always trammelled by his
Republican principles, his parliamentary traditions, and the anti-
autocratic memories of his youth. As to his other predecessors,
M. Waldeck-Rousseau has another personal advantage over them.
Excepting M. Casimir-Perier, he was the only prime minister of
the Republic during the last twenty years of the century rich
enough to be quite independent of office ; he was the only one
on whom accession to office entailed pecuniary sacrifice, his great
income at the bar having to be renounced when he became
President of the Council. Strong in this independence of the
caprices of the assembly, which is rarely enjoyed by ministers of
the Republic, he had no material motive for not persevering in
his dictatorial ways, with which he maintained his domination
over the Chamber till its term : for Frenchmen like to feel the
hand of a master. The fall of more than one mediocre minister
has been hastened by his faltering compromises, inspired by his
anxiety to retain the favour of the majority, which took him from
a straitened home to the salaried splendours of an official
palace ; while the arrogant attitude of a strong and independent
man, not disguising his scorn for the wrangling politicians of the
Palais Bourbon, exacts the support to which he seems indifferent.

b



xviii PREFACE

One result of the personal position attained by M. Waldeck-
Rousseau is that for the first time in the history of the Third
Republic the name of a prime minister is used as an election cry
As I have pointed out in this book, so curious is the working
of the French parliamentary system that at the seven general
elections in the last century, under the Constitution of 1875, no
mention was ever made in the country of the name of the prime
minister in office. The electorate knew little and cared less
about his personality. But in 1902 the constituencies are called
upon to vote for or against candidates supporting M. Waldeck-
Rousseau. Apart from that phenomenal testimony to his force
of character, the elections are contested on the old confused
lines, showing that France is as far as ever from possessing the
party system, which is the essential complement of the parlia-
mentary system. Since I first enunciated that definition, its
truth has been sadly proved in England, where the further break-
up of the Liberal party into groups and -factions is destroying the
tradition of the Mother of Parliaments. If, however, the evil of
a feeble and disorganised Opposition can be remedied, the
British parliament may recover the use of its ancient functions ;
but, as years go on, the French Chamber shows that its vices
are inherent, its unhealthy infancy having been succeeded by
an impotent yet prodigal adolescence. What can be the future
of a parliament when at the elections, said to be the most
important for a quarter of a century, the constituencies have to
pronounce on an issue as false as it is confused ? On the one
side is a high-handed minister, of undemocratic sympathies, sup-
ported by the Radical and Socialist organisations ; on the other
the malcontents of the nation, including all the reactionaries, led
by a band of office-seeking Republicans, who hope to recover
power and place with the aid of their new allies. xThe elections
of 1877, after the Seize Mai, were at all events fought on a
definite issue, as the existence of the Republic was at stake. In
1902 no definite issue can be looked forSn a contest in which
M. Waldeck-Rousseau, whom I have described, is classed as a
firebrand of anarchy and spoliation by his opponents, who are



PREFACE xix

led by Radical freethinkers posing as defenders of the faith, relfcs
of the Commune championing the army, and old Opportunist
ministers offering to reform the finances of the country com-
promised under their own maladministration.

It is not at any parliamentary election that will be solved
the problems of government which confront France in the early
hours of the twentieth century. Whatever form that solution
take, students of contemporary history should guard themselves
from adopting views put forth by the exponents of the rival
schools of " Nationalism " and of " Republican defence." It is
not true, as the former declare, that the nation is anxious to be
rid of the present regime ; the bulk of the French nation is
indifferent to politics, and is disposed, as always, to favour the
retention of the existing form of government. It is not true, as
the latter pretend, that the nation is attached to Republican
institutions, unless those founded during the Consulate of
Napoleon Bonaparte be so reckoned. For the parliamentary
system is a heritage of the constitutional monarchy, and, with
the exception of a violent press, for which the population is not
responsible, there are not many institutions, born of the Republic,
which flourish in France.

On the other hand, there are certain administrative practices
tolerated by the nation, which show that the French are always
willing to submit to proceedings usually associated with arbitrary
government. I have mentioned that one of the rare alterations
made in this edition is a strengthening of certain passages which
refer to the disappearance of Liberalism as a political influ-
ence in France. I will say nothing here about the anti-Liberal
policy in education and religion which Republicans of the more
advanced schools are carrying into effect, as they will be dealt
with in my forthcoming work. But an incident which recently
came under my notice is instructive as supporting my thesis.
Among the many sad circumstances of the Boer war, few have
caused more pain to English people than the censorship on private
correspondence exercised by the military authorities in South
Africa. To the loyalest of Englishmen and Englishwomen it has



xx PREFACE

been repugnant to receive letters from the seat of war, written by
kinsfolk on matters of sacred intimacy, which bear the sign of
having been opened and read by strangers. But all the phases
of warfare are cruel, and after our first moment of revolt we have
accepted the necessity of the detestable system. One of these
censored letters I received recently from a high functionary of the
British Government in the Transvaal. I thought, as I read it,
that it was a pity his well-known writing on an official envelope
had not spared it from perquisition, for its contents, meant for my
eyes alone, told the pathetic story of how at a successful point
in his career he had been stricken in his dearest affections. A
distinguished Frenchman saw lying on my table the mutilated
envelope, patched with the familiar red band, denoting that it had
been "Opened under Martial Law." It did not move him to
moralise on the policy of the war. It inspired him with other
reflections. He observed that the British military authorities at
all events allowed the recipient of such a letter to know that,
under the exigencies of war, it had been opened ; whereas the
civilian agents of the French Republic, in time of peace, clandes-
tinely tampered with private correspondence. He told me that
he had evidence so convincing of the opening of his letters, which
he wrote to his family at his country-seat, by the sous-prefet of the
neighbouring town, that to prevent it he had them addressed in
a handwriting less known than his, and sent under cover to
another house. The object of this paternal supervision is not a
Royalist plotter against the Republic ; he is not even a politician,
being a survivor of the old Left Centre for whom there is no room
in modern French politics, and he is one of the few French writers
and thinkers who since the death of Taine and of Le"on Say have
a European reputation. But his son had come forward as a
parliamentary candidate, opposed to the ministry, and the central-
ised administration, which never forgets its Napoleonic origin, had
recourse to its traditional methods, to obtain information about a
political opponent. It was merely an electioneering incident, of
too ordinary a nature even to be advertised as a grievance.

The retention by the French, through a century of revolution.



PREFACE xxi

of the Napoleonic machinery of government, which on occasion
performs its functions with such aids, shows that it is not in the
interest of liberty that its inapt co-ordination with the parlia-
mentary system is maintained. If the latter were to disappear,
life in France would be subject to as few restrictions on freedom
as at present. It must not, however, be thought that any move-
ment in favour of such a change is in progress. Such a movement
might be propelled by the increasingly unsound state of the public
finances, caused, as I have shown in this work, by the ill-assorted
union of a centralised bureaucracy with a representative system in
which the rules of parliamentary economy are disdained ; but the
conservative instincts of the French nation make it always disposed
to cling to the existing regime.



Online LibraryJ. E. C. (John Edward Courtenay) BodleyFrance → online text (page 1 of 65)