The Royal Family of France (Henry)/Orleanists
The Duke d'Aumale one day said: "If a great crime (the vote of King Louis XVI.'s death by the infamous Philippe égalité, the Duke d'Orléans) has been committed, it has been atoned for." The nobleness of this avowal needs no praise of ours. We speak of the present Orleans Family with all sincerity and affectionate reverence. When the lacqueys and the hirelings of King Louis Philippe's household renounced the service and the livery of their master for another's pay, when they raised their voices to decree the perpetual banishment of Louis Philippe and his family from France, they simultaneously opened the gates of the kingdom full wide before the man who, studying himself alone, capitulated before Sedan on terms so shameful and degrading that Prince von Bismarck could not help remarking: "Cet homme-là a enterré jusqu'à son oncle!" But we promised to abstain from all rancour and recrimination, the most worthless of arguments.
The mistaken idea conceived by the Orleans Family was, to think that the destinies of a great country like France could start afresh under new conditions, and that without risking utter and irretrievable ruin. The history of the whole world does not offer a single instance of the social re-establishment of a State which by its own fault has lost its name and forsaken its traditions. Greece, Assyria, Rome, Venice, Florence, Genoa, Poland, prove this. The Revolution of 1688 in England misled King Louis Philippe and later on Louis Bonaparte. Nevertheless there is not the slightest analogy between the Constitutions of the two countries, and still less between the temper of the two people. Would to God that the Political Economy of England was that of France! For no one wishes more than we do, to see in France that fusion of Princes and principle; to see the two Houses of Peers and Commoners striving only for the prosperity of France; to see the Sovereign reigning but not governing, the King standing on high, aloof from the influence of popular passions.
The French are far from the goal. Indeed they can hardly see it rising in the distance upon a path on which they have not yet entered. On August 2nd, 1840, Charles X., then at Rambouillet, had, with the Duke d'Angoulême, abdicated in favour of his grandson, who was proclaimed King with the name of Henri V. The day before, Louis Philippe (then Duke d'Orleans) had been entrusted with both the Lieutenant-Generalship of the Kingdom and the duty of seeing to the coroNation of Henri V. The bearer of the Royal commands was the Viscount Latour-Foissac, whom Louis PhiHppe declined to receive. We all know that Louis Philippe's next disgraceful step was to send Odillon Barrot and General Maison with three others to keep Charles X. out of the way, thereby being himself enabled to have his ambition satisfied in becoming "King of the French" on August 9th, 1830. But Louis Philippe, in substituting the title of "King of the French" for that of "King of France," indicated his view of the revolution which he had accepted; this was going backward instead of forward, and the attempt to perfect the Charta and individual liberty took the nation back to Clovis and the Frank chieftains. Every Frenchman and Paris Politicians know perfectly well as we do, that a Sovereign, whatever his title, could not dispose of France as of a patrimony belonging to him. Every one knows, in these days, that France belongs to the French, as England to the English and Prussia to the Prussians. Why then substitute the tide of "King of the French" for that of "King of France"? How would "Queen of the English" affect an Englishman's ear, instead of "Queen of England"? Why go back, after so many centuries, to a form belonging to an uncivilized era? By a singular paradox, the title was revived by Louis Philippe which in its origin belonged to a conquest against which protestations were made in the name of the Revolution (October 16th 1789).
And of the emblems of the Gauls the cock only was chosen. This new Royal Standard, symbol of watchfulness, did not prevent Louis Philippe's Ministers and Councillors from deceiving themselves. They were mere plagiarists of the men of 1789, in which epoch a social revolution occurred. The principle of equality was supposed to be proclaimed; the inhabitants of France were supposed to become Frenchmen by a title in common. To give a fresh sanction to this principle of equality, this new title was understood to convey the idea that the King was in an equal degree the King of every Frenchman. So people were made to believe.
Did not this new title rather contain, however, a principle of individual infeoffment? This title inferred that every Frenchman was individually placed towards the King in certain conditions of obedience and duty, that an indirect, yet definite, relation existed between every Frenchman and the King. When we read of this title of "King of the French" proclaimed, we seem to hear the clashing of swords on bucklers; we seem to see again an armed and savage multitude electing a chieftain to lead them forth to conquer and gather in the spoils of all ancient civilization. To come to current History, did we see the Queen of England part with her homely and long-honoured title of "Queen" when assuming that of "Empress of India" to gratify the vanity of her subjects in the East?
Thus in his first act, supposed to be an imitation of the English Constitutional spirit, Louis Philippe made a mistake. His ensuing acts were still more unlike it. The Established Church in England had rallied round the new throne because of the analogy of its origin and religious doctrine. The Church in France, on the contrary, has never been, and could never be, in favour of the principles which brought forth 1830; Louis Philippe never had its support. Elected by the working classes, moreover, and by the Lower Middle classes, he never had the votes of the ancient aristocracy.
And yet the Orléans family bears the stamp of nobility. Wherever glory led the way, there were to be found the Duke d'Orléans, the Duke de Nemours, the Duke d'Aumale, the Prince de Joinville. Order and liberty prevailed under Louis Philippe's rule, notwithstanding the errors incident to his unwarrantable acceptance of the Crown. It was an age of great oratorical warfare in favour of liberty of faith, liberty for the clergy, liberty of teaching. The policy of July was not always that of Louis XIV.; but Louis Philippe did not allow French territory to be tampered with, and he completed the conquest of Algeria. The awful events of 1848 found him willing to accept the decision of the country. He might have opposed force by force, and have stirred up civil war: he did not choose to do so. If the conduct of Charles X. at Rambouillet was dictated by generosity, that of the Governor of Algeria in 1848 was even more admirable. We shall have, presently, to consider the attitude of the Orléans Princes in relation to the Head of the House of Bourbon. Without prejudging the question, it is indisputable that their conduct, as Frenchmen, has always been irreproachable and blameless. They never plotted; unless, indeed, the Duke d'Aumale's short trips on the frontier to challenge Prince Napoleon to a duel can be construed as such!
The misfortunes of France, the misfortunes of the Orleans family have a secret cause. This secret cause transpired in 1848; the twenty calamitous years which after that have bowed France to the ground, have divulged it to all ages. This secret cause is the violation of rights, the neglect of principle.
We are not speaking here of what is termed the divine appointment; in political matters, it is a paradox, not to say a blasphemy. Divine right refers to creation; God rested on the seventh day after having exercised His power during the preceding six; He continues to exercise it till the end of time. In politics, we speak of human rights. On this ground we can discuss the matter without taking the Lord's Name in vain, without profanely and insolently associating Him with the complicated results of our pride.
I will designate this right (human), the violation of which has for nearly a hundred years caused all our misfortunes, as the social right of Royal Heirship. There are certain matters which, though they regulate civilized society, are yet beyond the limits of human discussion. This right is a mystery as is life, as is the moral liberty of man. Yet, what is this liberty which we claim as our most precious possession? Notwithstanding the conscious pride with which it inspires us, it is only the power of error; its greatness is due to its frailty.
The mystery of social right is not less deep than is the mystery of liberty. It is of a different nature. Sovereignty in the order of heirship is a law of the unavoidable; and we must note well that it applies to Monarchies as well as to Republics. Man, considered as one of a community, is subject to unavoidable laws. If as an individual he is perfectly free, as a member of a community he is bound to live in subjection. He can neither choose at his birth his nationality or religion nor the laws under the power of which he is destined to live. All the acts of his life are governed by formalities to which he has never consented and from which he cannot deliver himself. The aggregate of these necessities compelling the submission of man constitutes the principle of sovereignty; by applying it to the life of nations we derive its succession, a principle which governs men and societies, a law belonging to the moral world and therefore beyond the control of man. This is the law which has been misunderstood, this the transgression against constitutional principles committed by French society, entailing nearly a century of misfortune on France. And in truth, if we consider the aspect of affairs throughout Europe, does it not seem as though some gigantic and universal design was being worked out against Constitutional principles? Even the mistakes so evident to all cannot account for the simultaneous, similar, and rapid changes. Do not think that it only needs a keener glance and a stronger hand to stay the course of events. In relation to great public events, men seem generally very insignificant; but to-day all stand paralysed before the irresistible: unprincipledness.
Unprincipledness: this is the disease. The remedy is known to every one. A false situation has been brought about by events and by the political mistakes of the Orléans family. The Orleans family then must have the courage to withdraw, and to assist France to escape from the chaos into which she is plunged.