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a judicial sphere. Pasquier's feelings at this time were those of his order :
'I served the Imperial Government sincerely, loyally, and without a reservation. The cause of the House of Bourbon was that of misfortune, and I had been pledged to it; I was associated with it by birth, by my convictions, by the sacrifices of the past; I continued to feel deep sympathy with it, but I recognised that if this cause should triumph it would be at a distant future, and owing to events that could not be foreseen.'
When Pasquier entered the Council of State, Napoleon had become the lord of the Continent, and the all-controlling master of France. The Constitution of the year VIII. existed in name, but it had been made the mask and instrument of arbitrary force; though, like Cæsar and Cromwell, the Emperor veiled his omnipotence in the dead forms of liberty :
"Napoleon had secured absolute authority by gaining over one party, by deluding others, and by subjugating all through his unquestionable superiority. He retained the names consecrated by the Revolution, but he had skilfully destroyed part of its work; the promises it had made had proved void; and in spite of so many deceptions the nation, far from being dissatisfied, gave him every day new proofs of its confidence. Take, for example, the deliberative assemblies. The Senate and the Legislative Body, which had existed since the 18th Brumaire, kept their republican state; they had disposed of all things, everyone had bowed to their authority, but they had become the docile agencies of the powerful hand that directed them. A senatorial commission existed to maintain the liberty of the Press, but this had never been so in chains. There was another commission to protect individual liberty, but the State prisons were kept up; the number of their inmates, indeed, was not so large as has been generally supposed, but they were detained without trial by purely arbitrary orders. Of the inheritance transmitted by the Revolution, the new chief of the State protected and accepted one possession only with complete good faith: namely, the guarantees of private interests created by the Revolution.'
Pasquier's estimate of the extraordinary man who had gathered the Revolution into his master hands, had made it a tyranny of the sword on the Continent, and a scheme of gilded servitude in France, is that of the few impartial Frenchmen who survived to see him in the light of history; but it is not our purpose to dwell on it. One characteristic of Napoleon's rule, due in part to his peculiar creative genius, and in part to his isolation from 1789 to 1793, is brought out very well in these pages: the Emperor, unlike the ideologues he despised and the shallow politicians of the Revolution, saw that, if government in France was to be
secure, the present order of things must be blended with the past, and existing institutions must find support in the usages and traditions of centuries. The Consular and Imperial system was distinctly modelled on these principles :—
"The occupant of the throne was too able not to understand that nothing that stands apart can long exist in this world. He sought for support everywhere, and that in old as well as in new France; he was not one of those who believed that ten centuries could be blotted out by the events of ten years.'
Pasquier gives us vivid and graphic sketches of the leading men around Napoleon's throne. Lebrun and Cambacérès require little notice: the first was chiefly a skilful financier; the second a profound but timid jurist, who had been silent on the Mountain during the Reign of Terror, and who became the most artful satellite of despotic power. Fouché's odious image is thus reproduced:
Without a feeling of affection for anyone, false and perfidious beyond all comparison, capable of sacrificing the best friend of yesterday for the most paltry interest, possessing, in the highest degree, impudence if not dexterity in lying, light and superficial, often clever in repartee, and always imperturbably calm in manner and bearing, it cost him little to deceive those around him, and Bonaparte to begin with, though he did serve Bonaparte during the first part of his reign with a fidelity that appeared devoted.'
The portrait of Talleyrand is elaborate, and doubtless correct in some of its parts, but it is not complete or altogether truthful. Whatever were his faults, whatever his misdeeds, Talleyrand was, in no doubtful sense, a statesman; he laboured for peace with England in 1792-93; he repeatedly checked Napoleon's insane ambition, extravagant views, and violent temper; his services to France. in 1814 were priceless. History should set off these great and important merits against the time-serving meanness, the treacherous art, the acquiescence in acts of wrong, the readiness to give evil counsels, when these seemed to fall in with personal ends, the avarice, the corrupt tendencies, and especially the want of personal dignity which Pasquier makes his prominent qualities, to the exclusion almost of all others. This volume, indeed, to our surprise, is pervaded throughout by a tone of contempt of Talleyrand, and even of malicious scorn, perhaps because he was a renegade bishopan unpardonable offence in the sight of a Catholic Royalist. The Conseil d'Etat, when Pasquier was placed on its roll, had long been the most important body of the State, not excepting the nominally superior Senate. Under the Con
stitution of the year VIII., its functions were to propose the laws to be laid before the Legislature and the Tribunate, and to superintend administration in its various branches; and, as the Legislature and Tribunate were little more than nullities, it had practically engrossed the legislative power in the State. It had been from the first a small body, composed of the ablest men of all parties; and it was this circumstance that enabled it to produce the celebrated Code that bears Napoleon's name-a task which a large assembly could not have performed. We commend the following to the multitude in the House of Commons which has been vainly trying within the last few months, though backed by a Minister who has become a tyrant, to unmake the Constitution of these realms, and have set up in its stead a monstrous abortion :–
Constitutions, like great bodies of law, have never been the creations of large aggregates of men. In modern and ancient times alike, where they have not been the result of usages and manners consecrated by centuries, they have emanated from a few who have imposed them on society. In my opinion, it would be impossible to obtain from the Corps Législatif constituted by Louis XVIII. the Code Civil given by Bonaparte to France.'
The Conseil d'Etat, in fact, was the best instrument of the Imperial system; Napoleon was often present at its deliberations, and played an important part in them, as we see in the Discussions sur le Code Civil:"
'It is due to him to acknowledge that he permitted complete liberty of debate, that every opinion was freely expressed, that he listened to what was said with attention and patience, and that he did not seem annoyed at hearing what probably was displeasing to him, even in matters in which he could hardly forego the exercise of despotic power.' The control, too, not very well defined, over administration possessed by the Council enabled it in some measure to check the volition of despotism, and to supply the place of a legislature in a real sense. The check, however, was weak and inadequate :
'The Conseil d'Etat exercised a useful control over the acts of the Government, and especially supplied that which ought to have belonged to the Legisiative Body; not that I pretend to say that it was able completely to supply the want of the salutary watchfulness of opinion, enlightened by the publicity of discussions and executive acts, but, in the absence of this check, things took place in this way. Excepting matters directly connected with international policy, especially with the policy of conquest, such as decrees relating to the Continental blockade and the non-payment of the debt of the State-with these exceptions, I
say, the ministers of the First Consul, or of the Emperor, hardly ever presented him an important decree for his signature without referring it to the section of the Council the functions of which were concerned with the matter in question.'
The Council, we should add, had a certain control over abuses of ministerial power, though this was often completely illusory, chiefly owing to the protection given to ministers and their agents by the law and its special tribunals. Pasquier probably makes too much of the good done by the Council in this respect; he cites several instances of frightful wrongs done by ministers, in which no redress was obtained :
'Did angry protests against the acts of the Emperor's ministers, against the administration of his directors-general or of his préfets, reach his ear, these were referred to the Conseil d'Etat, and became subjects of inquiry in many cases of extreme rigour. This reference to the Conseil became a still more serious affair for ministers and administrators when it was thrown open to individuals through the institution of the Comité des Contentieux, independently of the references made by the Cabinet of the Emperor himself. The establishment of this Committee formed an epoch in the history of the Imperial Government.'
Cambacérès was President of the Council, a personage admirably fitted for the post. The Conseil d'Etat, it may be said, was on the whole the most useful of the bodies of the State; it did a great deal of important work; it gave excellent advice on many occasions; and it mitigated, if it could not restrain, despotism :
'M. de Cambacérès possessed, in the highest degree, the talents required for this high office; he invariably conducted discussions without raising difficulties, and only intervened when it became necessary to do so that too in the most admirable manner. He was not loquacious, for he never uttered a word to show himself off: but he proposed and summed up questions with a clearness which compelled even the least enlightened mind to perceive and understand them.'
Napoleon's career of universal conquest and empire, though already foreshadowed, was not determined until 1806. France had begun to feel alarm and misgivings:
'France, no doubt, was proud of his victories, but she wished to reap the fruits, and the first of these in her eyes was peace; she wished this to be glorious, indeed, but durable. Moderation in success could alone secure this object, and French nature, essentially generous, believed in moderation. People were under the delusion that a potentate who had risen to such heights could not be devoid of the one quality necessary to secure his conquests.'
We may pass over Pasquier's account of Jena, of Eylau and Friedland, and of the intoxication of Tilsit. He is not well informed on the negotiations of 1806; he hardly understands the enormous mischief done to France by the Continental System; he does not dwell on the hollowness of the alliance with the Czar. He mentions, however, that this period-marked by extraordinary success in war and by the omnipotence of the Imperial Government was that when Talleyrand began to doubt that the Empire would last. Personal feelings of jealousy and growing hatred concurred:
'I have since ascertained that M. de Talleyrand had been brought, in consequence of the battle of Eylau, to make serious reflection on the instability of an order of things founded wholly on a single life repeatedly exposed in the most perilous adventures. "What should we have done had he been killed; what shall we do if this happens any day?" he used to say to his chief confidant at that time, Duc Dalberg, and the conclusion then drawn was that Napoleon's brother Joseph should be declared his successor, and that an announcement should be made to Europe that France would enter at once and unreservedly within the frontier of the Rhine.'
Pasquier, meanwhile, had been occupied with a task which might have had the most important results. The Jews in the French Empire remained a peculiar people, largely shut out from the pale of the law; and they had irritated Napoleon by their skill in eluding the conscription and military duty, and had practised usury without stint or scruple. The Emperor, some time before he set out for Jena, appointed a commission of members of the Conseil d'Etat, charged to take evidence and to make reports on the legal position and status of the Jews, on the best method of bringing them to conform to the usages and laws of the Imperial system, and especially on their exactions and their obligations to the State. Pasquier was a colleague of Molé and Portalis, two of the most distinguished of the rising men of France the career of Molé is well known-and, with the genius of organisation characteristic of him, Napoleon's object, there can scarcely be a doubt, was to make a kind of Concordat with the Jewish faith, and to attach the Jewish race throughout the world to himself:—
The policy of a conqueror had certainly inspired Bonaparte in this undertaking. Seeking, as he did, with the assistance of the most enlightened representatives of the Jewish name, the means of raising the Jews out of the abject condition which had been their lot for centuries, he probably said to himself that an act of such beneficence