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were walking on the low terrace, beneath the palace windows, and a
hundred people might have been looking at them from without. A second
glance showed me, that among some children, were the heir presumptive,
and his sister Mademoiselle d'Artois. The exhibition could merely be an
attempt to feel the public pulse, for the country-house of La Bagatelle,
to which the children go two or three times a week, is much better
suited to taking the air. I could not believe in the indifference that
was manifested, had I not seen it. The children are both engaging,
particularly the daughter, and yet these innocent and perfectly
inoffensive beings were evidently regarded more with aversion than with
affection.

The display of the opening of the session produced no more effect on the
public mind, than the appearance on the terrace of _les Enfans de
France_. The Parisians are the least loyal of Charles's subjects, and
though the troops, and a portion of the crowd, cried "Vive le Roi!" it
was easy to see that the disaffected were more numerous than the
well-affected.

I have attended some of the sittings since the opening, and shall now
say a word on the subject of the French Parliamentary proceedings. The
hall is an amphitheatre, like our own; the disposition of the seats and
speaker's chair being much the same as at Washington. The members sit on
benches, however, that rise one behind the other, and through which they
ascend and descend, by aisles. These aisles separate the different
shades of opinion, for those who think alike sit together. Thus the
_gauche_ or left is occupied by the extreme liberals; the _centre
gauche_, by those who are a shade nearer the Bourbons. The _centre
droit_, or right centre, by the true Bourbonists, and so on, to the
farthest point of the semi-circle. Some of the members affect even to
manifest the minuter shades of their opinions by their relative
positions in their own sections, and I believe it is usual for each one
to occupy his proper place.

You probably know that the French members speak from a stand immediately
beneath the chair of the president, called a tribune. Absurd as this may
seem, I believe it to be a very useful regulation, the vivacity of the
national character rendering some such check on loquacity quite
necessary. Without it, a dozen would often be on their feet at once; as
it is, even, this sometimes happens. No disorder that ever occurs in our
legislative bodies, will give you any just notion of that which
frequently occurs here. The president rings a bell as a summons to keep
order, and as a last resource he puts on his hat, a signal that the
sitting is suspended.

The speaking of both chambers is generally bad. Two-thirds of the
members read their speeches, which gives the sitting a dull, monotonous
character, and, as you may suppose, the greater part of their lectures
are very little attended to. The most parliamentary speaker is M. Royer
Collard, who is, just now, so popular that he has been returned for
seven different places at the recent election.

M. Constant is an exceedingly animated speaker, resembling in this
particular Mr. M'Duffie. M. Constant, however, has a different motion
from the last gentleman, his movement being a constant oscillation over
the edge of the tribune, about as fast, and almost as regular, as that
of the pendulum of a large clock. It resembles that of a sawyer in the
Mississippi. General Lafayette speaks with the steadiness and calm that
you would expect from his character, and is always listened to with
respect. Many professional men speak well, and exercise considerable
influence in the house; for here, as elsewhere, the habit of public and
extemporaneous speaking gives an immediate ascendency in deliberative
bodies.

Some of the scenes one witnesses in the Chamber of Deputies are amusing
by their exceeding vivacity. The habit of crying "Écoutez!" prevails, as
in the English parliament, though the different intonations of that cry
are not well understood. I have seen members run at the tribune, like
children playing puss in a corner; and, on one occasion, I saw five
different persons on its steps, in waiting for the descent of the member
in possession. When a great question is to be solemnly argued, the
members inscribe their names for the discussion, and are called on to
speak in the order in which they stand on the list.

The French never sit in committee of the whole, but they have adopted in
its place an expedient, that gives power more control over the
proceedings of the two houses. At the commencement of the session, the
members draw for their numbers in the _bureaux_, as they are called. Of
these _bureaux_, there are ten or twelve, and, as a matter of course,
they include all the members. As soon as the numbers are drawn, the
members assemble in their respective rooms, and choose their officers; a
president and secretary. These elections are always supposed to be
indicative of the political tendency of each _bureau_; those which have
a majority of liberals, choosing officers of their own opinions, and
_vice versa_. These _bureaux_ are remodelled, periodically, by drawing
anew; the term of duration being a month or six weeks. I believe the
chamber retains the power to refer questions, or not, to these
_bureaux_; their institution being no more than a matter of internal
regulation, and not of constitutional law. It is, however, usual to send
all important laws to them, where they are discussed and voted on; the
approbation of a majority of the _bureaux_ being, in such cases,
necessary for their reception in the chambers.

The great evil of the present system is the initiative of the king. By
this reservation in the charter, the crown possesses more than a veto,
all laws actually emanating from the sovereign. The tendency of such a
regulation is either to convert the chambers into the old _lits de
justice_, or to overthrow the throne, an event which will certainly
accompany any serious change here. As might have been, as _would_ have
been anticipated, by any one familiar with the action of legislative
bodies, in our time, this right is already so vigorously assailed, as to
give rise to constant contentions between the great powers of the state.
All parties are agreed that no law can be presented, that does not come
originally from the throne; but the liberals are for putting so wide a
construction on the right to amend, as already to threaten to pervert
the regulation. This has driven some of the Bourbonists to maintain that
the chambers have no right, at all, to amend a royal proposition. Any
one may foresee, that this is a state of things which cannot peaceably
endure for any great length of time. The ministry are compelled to pack
the chambers, and in order to effect their objects, they resort to all
the expedients of power that offer. As those who drew up the charter had
neither the forethought, nor the experience, to anticipate all the
embarrassments of a parliamentary government, they unwittingly committed
themselves, and illegal acts are constantly resorted to, in order that
the system may be upheld. The charter was bestowed _ad captandum_, and
is a contradictory _mélange_ of inexpedient concessions and wily
reservations. The conscription undermined the popularity of Napoleon,
and Louis XVIII. in his charter says, "The conscription is abolished;
the _recruiting_ for the army and navy shall be settled by a law." Now
the conscription _is not_ abolished; but, if pushed on this point, a
French jurist would perhaps tell you it is _now_ established by law. The
feudal exclusiveness, on the subject of taxation, is done away with, all
men being equally liable to taxation. The nett pay of the army is about
two sous a day; _this_ is settled by law, passed by the representatives
of those who pay two hundred francs a year, in direct taxation. The
conscription, in appearance, is general and fair enough; but he who has
money can always hire a substitute, at a price quite within his power.
It is only the poor man, who is never in possession of one or two
thousand francs, that is obliged to serve seven years at two sous a day,
nett.

France has gained, beyond estimate, by the changes from the old to the
present system, but it is in a manner to render further violent changes
necessary. I say _violent_, for political changes are everywhere
unavoidable, since questions of polity are, after all, no other than
questions of facts, and these are interests that will regulate
themselves, directly or indirectly. The great desideratum of a
government, after settling its principles in conformity with controlling
facts, is to secure to itself the means of progressive change, without
the apprehension of convulsion. Such is not the case with France, and
further revolutions are inevitable. The mongrel government which exists,
neither can stand, nor does it deserve to stand. It contains the seeds
of its own destruction. Here, you will be told, that the King is a
Jesuit, that he desires to return to the ancient regime, and that the
opposition wishes merely to keep him within the limits of the charter.
My own observations lead to a very different conclusion. The difficulty
is in the charter itself, which leaves the government neither free nor
despotic; in short, without any distinctive character.

This defect is so much felt, that, in carrying out the details of the
system, much that properly belongs to it has been studiously omitted.
The king can do no wrong, here, as in England, but the ministers are
responsible. By way of making a parade of this responsibility, every
official act of the king is countersigned by the minister of the proper
department, and, by the theory of the government, that particular
minister is responsible for that particular act. Now, by the charter,
the peers are the judges of political crimes. By the charter, also, it
is stipulated that no one can be proceeded against except in cases
expressly provided for by law and in the _forms_ prescribed by the law.
You will remember that, all the previous constitutions being declared
illegal, Louis XVIII. dates his reign from the supposed death of Louis
XVII. and that there are no fundamental precedents that may be drawn in
to aid the constructions, but that the charter must be interpreted by
its own provisions. It follows, then, as a consequence, that no minister
can be legally punished until a law is enacted to dictate the
punishment, explain the offences, and point out the forms of procedure.
Now, no such law has ever been proposed, and although the chambers may
_recommend_ laws to the king, they must await his pleasure in order even
to discuss them openly, and enlist the public feeling in their behalf.
The responsibility of the ministers was proposed _ad captandum_, like
the abolition of the conscription, but neither has been found convenient
in practice.[27]

[Footnote 27: When the ministers of Charles X. were tried, it was without
law, and they would probably have escaped punishment altogether, on this
plea, had not the condition of the public mind required a concession.]


The electors of France are said to be between eighty and one hundred
thousand. The qualifications of a deputy being much higher than those of
an elector, it is computed that the four hundred and fifty members must
be elected from among some four or five thousand available candidates.
It is not pretended that France does not contain more than this number
of individuals who pay a thousand francs a year in direct taxes, for
taxation is so great that this sum is soon made up; but a deputy must be
forty years old, a regulation which at once excludes fully one half the
men, of itself; and then it will be recollected that many are
superannuated, several hundreds are peers, others cannot quit their
employments, etc. etc. I have seen the number of available candidates
estimated as low, even, as three thousand.

The elections in France are conducted in a mode peculiar to the nation.
The electors of the highest class have two votes, or for representatives
of two descriptions. This plan was an after-thought of the king, for the
original charter contains no such regulation, but the munificent father
of the national liberties saw fit, subsequently, to qualify his gift.
Had Louis XVIII. lived a little longer, he would most probably have been
dethroned before this; the hopes and expectations which usually
accompany a new reign having, most probably, deferred the crisis for a
few years. The electors form themselves into colleges, into which no one
who is not privileged to vote is admitted. This is a good regulation,
and might be copied to advantage at home. A law prescribing certain
limits around each poll, and rendering it penal for any but those
authorized to vote at that particular poll, to cross it, would greatly
purify our elections. The government, here, appoints the presiding
officer of each electoral college, and the selection is always carefully
made of one in the interests of the ministry; though in what manner such
a functionary can influence the result, is more than I can tell you. It
is, however, thought to be favourable to an individual's own election to
get this nomination. The vote is by ballot, though the charter secures
no such privilege. Indeed that instrument is little more than a
declaration of rights, fortified by a few general constituent laws.

The same latitude exists here, in the constructions of the charter, as
exists at home, in the constructions of the constitution. The French
have, however, one great advantage over us, in daring to think for
themselves; for, though there is a party of _doctrinaires_, who wish to
imitate England, too, it is neither a numerous nor a strong party. These
_doctrinaires_, as the name implies, are men who wish to defer to
theories, rather than facts; a class that is to be found all over the
world. For obvious reasons, the English system has admirers throughout
Europe, as well as in America, since nothing can be more agreeable, for
those who are in a situation to look forward to such an advantage, than
to see themselves elevated into, as Lafayette expresses, so many "little
legitimacies." The peerage, with its exclusive and hereditary benefits,
is the aim of all the nobility of Europe, and wishes of this sort make
easy converts to any philosophy that may favour the desire.

One meets, here, with droll evidences of the truth of what I have just
told you. I have made the acquaintance of a Russian of very illustrious
family, and he has always been loud and constant in his eulogiums of
America and her liberty. Alluding to the subject, the other day, he
amused me by _naïvely_ observing, "Ah, you are a happy people - you are
_free_ - and so are the _English_. Now, in Russia, all rank depends on
the commission one bears in the army, or on the will of the Emperor. I
am a Prince; my father was a Prince; my grandfather, too; but it is of
no avail. I get no privileges by my birth; whereas, in England, where I
have been, it is so different - And I dare say it is different in
America, too?" I told him it was, indeed, "very different in America."
He sighed, and seemed to envy me.

The party of the _doctrinaires_ is the one that menaces the most serious
evil to France. It is inherently the party of aristocracy; and, in a
country as far advanced as France, it is the combinations of the few,
that, after all, are most to be apprehended. The worst of it is, that,
in countries where abuses have so long existed, the people get to be so
disqualified for entertaining free institutions, that even the
disinterested and well-meaning are often induced to side with the
rapacious and selfish, to prevent the evils of reaction.

In a country so much inclined to speculate, to philosophize, and to
reason on everything, it is not surprising that a fundamental law, as
vaguely expressed as the charter, should leave ample room for
discussion. We find that our own long experience in these written
instruments does not protect us from violent differences of opinion,
some of which are quite as extravagant as any that exist here, though
possibly less apt to lead to as grave consequences.[28]

[Footnote 28: The discussion which grew out of the law to protect
American industry, affords a singular instance of the manner in which
clever men can persuade themselves and others into any notion, however
extravagant. The uncouth doctrine of nullification turned on the
construction that might be put on the intimacy of the relations created
by the Union, and on the nature of the sovereignties of the states.

Because the constitution commences with a declaration, that it is formed
and adopted by "we the people of the United States," overlooking, not
only all the facts of the case, but misconceiving the very meaning of
the words they quote, one party virtually contended, that the instrument
was formed by a consolidated nation. On this point their argument,
certainly sustained in part by unanswerable truth, mainly depends.

The word "people" has notoriously several significations. It means a
"population;" it means the "vulgar;" it means any particular portion of
a population, as, "rich people," "poor people," "mercantile people,"
etc. etc. In a political sense, it has always been understood to mean
that portion of the population of a country, which is possessed of
_political rights_. On this sense, then, it means a _constituency_ in a
representative government, and so it has always been understood in
England, and is understood to-day in France. When a question is referred
to the "people" at an election in England, it is not referred to a tithe
of the population, but to a particular portion of it. In South Carolina
and Louisiana, in the popular sense of Mr. Webster, there is no "people"
to refer to, a majority of the men of both states possessing no civil
rights, and scarcely having civil existence. Besides, "people," in its
broad signification, includes men, women, and children, and no one will
contend, that the two latter had anything to do with the formation of
our constitution. It follows, then, that the term has been used in a
limited sense, and we must look to incidental facts to discover its
meaning.

The convention was chosen, not by any common constituency, but by the
constituencies of the several states, which, at that time, embraced
every gradation between a democratical and an aristocratically polity.
Thirteen states existed in 1787, and yet the constitution was to go into
effect when it was adopted by any nine of them. It will not be pretended
that this decision would be binding on the other four, and yet it is
possible that these four dissenting states should contain more than half
of all the population of the confederation. It would be very easy to put
a proposition, in which it might be demonstrated arithmetically, that
the constitution could have been adopted against a considerable majority
of whole numbers. In the face of such a fact, it is folly to suppose the
term "people" is used in any other than a conventional sense. It is well
known, in addition to the mode of its adoption, that every provision of
the constitution can be altered, with a single exception, by
three-fourths of the states. Perhaps more than half of the entire
population (excluding the Territories and the District), is in six of
the largest states, at this moment. But whether this be so or not, such
a combination could easily he made, as would demonstrate that less than
a third of the population of the country can at any time alter the
constitution.

It is probable that the term "we the people," was used in a sort of
contradistinction to the old implied right of the sovereignty of the
king, just as we idly substituted the words "God save the people" at the
end of a proclamation, for "God save the king." It was a form. But, if
it is desirable to affix to them any more precise signification, it will
not do to generalize according to the argument of one party; but we are
to take the words, in their limited and appropriate meaning and with
their accompanying facts. They can only allude to the constituencies,
and these constituencies existed only _through_ the states, and were as
varied as their several systems. If the meaning of the term "we the
people" was misconceived, it follows that the argument which was drawn
from the error was worthless. The constitution of the United States was
not formed by the _people_ of the United States, but by such a portion
of them as it suited the several states to invest with political powers,
and under such combinations as gave the decision to anything but a
majority of the nation. In other words, the constitution was certainly
formed by the _states_ as _political bodies_, and without any necessary
connexion with any general or uniform system of polity.

Any theory based on the separate sovereignties of the states, has, on
the other hand, a frail support. The question was not _who_ formed the
constitution, but _what_ was formed. All the great powers of
sovereignty, such as foreign relations, the right to treat, make war and
peace, to control commerce, to coin money, etc. etc. are expressly
ceded. But these are not, after all, the greatest blows that are given
to the doctrine of reserved sovereignty. A power to _alter_ the
constitution, as has just been remarked, has been granted, by which even
the _dissenting states_ have become bound. The only right reserved, is
that of the equal representation in the senate, and it would follow,
perhaps, as a legitimate consequence, the preservation of the
confederated polity; but South Carolina could, under the theory of the
constitution, be stripped of her right to control nearly every social
interest; every man, woman and child in the state dissenting. It is
scarcely worth while to construct a sublimated theory, on the
sovereignty of a community so situated by the legitimate theory of the
government under which it actually exists!

No means can be devised, that will always protect the weak from the
aggressions of the strong, under the forms of law; and nature has
pointed out the remedy, when the preponderance of good is against
submission; but one cannot suppress his expression of astonishment, at
finding any respectable portion of a reasoning community, losing sight
of this simple and self-evident truth, to uphold a doctrine as weak as
that of nullification, viewed as a legal remedy.

If the American statesmen (_quasi_ and real) would imitate the good
curate and the bachelor of Don Quixote, by burning all the political
heresies, with which their libraries, not to say their brains, are now
crammed, and set seriously about studying the terms and the nature of
the national compact, without reference to the notions of men who had no
connexion with the country, the public would be the gainers, and
occasionally one of them might stand a chance of descending to posterity
in some other light than that of the mere leader of a faction.]




LETTER XX.

Excursion with Lafayette. - Vincennes. - The Donjon. - Lagrange. - The
Towers. - Interior of the House - the General's Apartments. - the Cabinet.
- Lafayette's Title. - Church of the Chateau. - Ruins of Vivier. - Roman
Remains. - American Curiosity. - The Table at Lagrange. - Swindling.


To R. COOPER, ESQ. COOPERSTOWN.

I have said nothing to you of Lagrange, though I have now been there no
less than three times. Shortly after our arrival in Paris, General
Lafayette had the kindness to send us an invitation; but we were
deterred from going for sometime, by the indisposition of one of the
family. In the autumn of 1826, I went, however, alone; in the spring I
went again, carrying Mrs. - - with me; and I have now just returned from
a third visit, in which I went with my wife, accompanied by one or two
more of the family.

It is about twenty-seven miles from Paris to Rosay, a small town that is
a league from the castle. This is not a post-route, the great road
ending at Rosay, and we were obliged to go the whole distance with the
same horses. Paris is left by the Boulevard de la Bastille, the Barrière
du Trône, and the chateau and woods of Vincennes. The second time I went
into Brie, it was with the General himself, and in his own carriage. He
showed me a small pavilion that is still standing in a garden near the
old site of the Bastille, and which he told me, once belonged to the
hotel that Beaumarchais inhabited, when in his glory, and in which
pavilion this witty writer was accustomed to work. The roof was topped
by a vane to show which way the wind blew; and, in pure _fanfaronnade_,



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