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From the Spectator, 27th January. Government favoured by the United States
THE EMPEROR'S SPEECH. was set up, a return to mere anarchy should be prevented, and the right of the French THE Emperor of the French has opened to enjoy some sort of guarantee for the settle- the Session of his Chambers for the thirment of their claims should be recognized.teenth time, and for the thirteenth time his
speech is the political fact in the European history of the week. Its interest turns
mainly upon three paragraphs, those relating [From another article in the same paper, we to Mexico, to Italy, and to his pledge of one copy the French Emperor's address.]
day “crowning the edifice” by conceding
liberty. Of course he says other things, The French EMPEROR's address to his but they are so vague or so formal that they Legislature is generally an interesting study. add nothing to our knowledge either of his It is feebler and less clever this year than purposes or his position. He will “ remain usual, but still it is interesting. The au- a stranger” to the internal disputes of Gergust author of these compositions has the art many, “ provided French interests are not of touching all great questions of European directly engaged,” but as he is the sole concern in a tone of frankness and gener- judge whether they are so or not, this osity, and noble sentiments in a Royal or amounts only to a pledge that France will Imperial speech are always pleasant and re- not interfere with 'Prussia until her Emfreshing. What, for example, can be more peror chooses, an assertion which makes a considerate or delicate than the manner in very small draft upon our political faith. which he handles the Americans ? They He promises to restore the right of associaare reminded of a century of friendship, and tion for industrial purposes, but the liberty it is politely suggested that Imperialism is thus regained is to be “outside politics," only the Constitution of the United States and to be limited “ by the guarantees which in a French Court dress. The Mexican ex- public order requires " i. e., by any guaranpedition is explained in a manner that tee the Emperor thinks expedient. He anought to disarm the most suspicious Yankee, nounces a reduction of the Army, but it has and it seems as if all had been a mistake been effected without a reduction of numabout the Latin race, as it was about the bers, and declares that a financial equiliproposed recognition of the South. Some- brium has been secured by the surplus of body did say something about the Latin revenue, for which surplus his Minister of race, which has evidently been misconstrued Finance only just ventures to hope on cona good deal; but the “ American people "dition that everything goes right for two will now comprehend that “the expedition, more years. He suggests that France is in which we invited them to join, was not governed very much like the United States, opposed to their interests.” France
prays but does not attempt to explain wherein he sincerely for the prosperity of the great Re- finds the analogy between a Constitution public, and, just as a French Emperor is only which changes its Executive every four an American President in disguise, so Im- years, and leaves the entire legislative power perialism in Mexico has been founded “on to the representatives of the people, and a the will of the people.” Mr. SEWARD very Constitution which was intended to make likely never swears. His talent lies chiefly the executive power hereditary, and which in the line of making other people swear. intrusts the initiative of legislation entirely But it is possible that some less courteous to the man who is to carry that legislation Anglo-Saxons in Washington and in New out. On all these subjects, Germany, fiYork, who are anxious about the MONROE nance, co-operation, and the Constitution, doctrive, after reading all these high-mind- the Emperor's utterance is suggestive, withed expressions, and especially the one about out clearly instructing either his subjects or the French praying for them, will feel in the world. No one, for example, could tell clined, in the language used in the School without knowing facts wbich the Emperor for Scandal by the friends of JOSEPH SUR- does not reveal whether his paragraph on FACE, to observe, “ Damn your sentiments." Germany is a hint to Count von Bismark to However this may be, and whatever may be go on in his course and prosper, or a menthe turn the Mexican difficulty is taking, ace that France would not bear a Union of one thing is clear, that the French EMPER- Northern Germany against which its inor puts his sentiments neatly and well. terests are directly engaged.
Even on the three points we have excepted dle course, and the object of this part of the Emperor, as his wont is, gives the world his speech is simply to soothe Americans a riddle to read. What, for instance, is the into waiting until he can retreat with honmeaning of the sentence which says that our. He who three years ago spoke only of France has reason to rely on the scrupulous strengthening a branch of the Latin race to execution of the Treaty with Italy of the 15th resist Anglo-Saxon aggression, now anxiousSeptember, and on the indispensable main- ly repudiates any idea of hostility to the tenance of the power of the Holy Father?” Union. He recalls to the Americans “ Does it mean that Napoleon regards the noble page in the history of France,” her temporal power as indispensable, or only assistance to the Republic in its great rebelthe spiritual; that he will put down internal lion, reminds them that he requested them to revolt in Rome, or suffer Italy to garrison take a part in reclaiming Mexican debts, the city, provided only the Pope is left spir- and almost implores them to recollect that itually independent ? Is his dictum a threat “two nations equally jealous of their indeto the Revolution or a threat to the priests ? pendence ought to avoid any step which Reading it wy the light of the Emperor's would implicate their dignity and their character, we should believe the sentence honour.” Is that an assurance or a menintended only to ward off opposition until ace? For a French Sovereign to speak the evacuation of Rome was complete, but of possible contingencies as implicating read by the facts in progress, by the re- French dignity and honour” is a very eruiting for Rome going on in France, and serious thing, but then why these unusual the pressure employed in Florence to make professions of regard for the Union ? It is Italy accept the Papal debt, we should be- true in a preceding paragraph Napoleon lieve it implied that while Napoleon will re- has affirmed that he is arranging with the tire, the Pope must remain independent Emperor Maximilian for the recall of his King of Rome. The maintenance of the army, but then their return must be effectPope's power is declared indispensable, but ed when it “will not compromise the innothing is said of the invisible means by terests which France went out to that diswhich it is to be maintained.
tant land to defend.” When is that? Do So with the Mexican declaration. The the interests to be defended include the reEmperor, we admit, is upon this point placed invigoration of the Latin race? Nothing is in a most difficult position. He made the clear from the speech, and according to singular blunder made by the l'imes and by the Yellow Book, which is always supposed the majority of English politicians, but not to explain the speech, the French Army is made by the people he rules. Careless of only to return from Mexico when the Presiprinciple and forgetting precedent, reject- dent of the Union has recognized the Mexiing the idea that freedom must conquer can Empire, an act which he has refused to slavery, and overlooking his uncle's adage do, and which Congress has specifically forthat twenty-five millions must beat fifteen if bidden him to perform. There is nothing in they can once get at them, he convinced the speech inconsistent with that interpretabimself that the South must break up the tion, and if it is correct the Americans will Union. Consequently he invaded Mexico, simply contrast the compliments offered and placed his nominee on its throne. As them in words with the impossible proposal his subjects, with the strange instinct wbich submitted in fact, and be less content than supplies to great populations the place of ever. All they obtain is a promise that at wisdom, had from the first foreseen, be some time not specified, when a result they erred in his first essential datum. The dislike has been accomplished, the Emperor South did not break up the Union, but the will, if consistent with his honour, withdraw Union broke up the South, and Napoleon the troops through whom he has been able finds himself compelled either to withdraw to accomplish it - not a very definite or from a great undertaking visibly baffled and very satisfactory pledge. repulsed, or to accept a war with the oldest It is on the “crowning of the edifice' ally of France - a war in which, if defeat- alone that the Emperor is partially explicit. ed, he risks his throne, and if successful, can He will not grant a responsible Ministry. gain nothing except financial embarrass- That system of government, always abhorment. Neither alternative seems to him en- rent to him, has not become more pleasant durable — the former as fatal to the reputa- of late years, and he declares for the tenth tion for success which is essential to his per- time that “with one Chamber holding withsonal power, the latter as bringing himinto di- in itself the fate of Ministers the Executive rect conflict with the wishes of all his peo- is without authority and without spirit,” the ple. He strives therefore to find some mid-1" one” being inserted either to avoid a direct sarcasm upon the English Constitution, sers by an anouncement for which, after or from a sudden recollection of the part all, both should have been prepared. No played by the Prussian Chamber of Peers. one who is at all conversant with the ordinaHe believes that his system has worked well, ry course of Parisian life — we do not say that France, tranquil at home, is respected familiar with its inner mysteries — ought to abroad, and, as he adds with singular au- have been astonished at hearing that cerdacity, is without political captives within or tain grandes dames of French society had exiles beyond her frontiers. Are, then, the sought for invitations to a masqued ball Duc d'Aumale, M. Louis Blanc, and the which was to be given by a distinguished author of Labienus at liberty to return leader of the demi-monde. We have had, in to France ? Consequently nothing will be our own country, certain faint and partial changed, but the Emperor, resolving to" im- indications of the same curiosity, revealed prove the conditions of labour,” will await in an awkward and half-hesitating sort of the time when all France, being educated, way. English great ladies once made an shall abandon seductive theories, and all off-night for themselves at Cremorne, in who live by their daily toil, receiving in- order to catch a flying and furtive glance, creasing profits, "shall be firm supporters not of the normal idols of those gay garof a society which secures their well-being dens, but of the mere scenic accessories to and their dignity.” No one can complain their attractions and triumphs. But as yet of any obscurity in that apology for the we have never heard that the matrons of Empire. Its central ideas are all expressed, English society have sought an introduction and all expressed with truthful lucidity. to the Lais of Brompton or the Phryne of The Emperor is to rule “ with authority and May-fair, even under the decorous conspirit.” There is to be no political freedom, cealment of mask and domino. Nor has it no discussion even of “theories of govern- yet been formally advertised here that the ment, which France for eighty years has motive of so unusal a request was a desire sufficiently discussed.” Intelligence and cap- to learn the arts and tactics by which the ital are still to remain disfranchised, but in gilded youth — and, it might be added, the return the labourer's condition is to be im- gilded age of the country is subjected to proved. “ Bread to the cottage, justice to the thrall of venal and meretricious beauty. the palace,” was the promise of the Venetian That such a rumour should be circulated Ten, and Napoleon, if he changes the and believed in France is — to use the cursecond, adheres to the first condition. His rent slang — " highly suggestive.” It sugoffer is also bread to the cottage, provided gests a contrast of the strongest, though it is only that there is silence in the palace. It far from a pleasing, kind between the is for France to decide whether she accepts society of to-day and the society of other an offer which is not a small one, which if days. It was long the special boast of the honestly made is capable of fulfillment, and French that with them women enjoyed an which would pledge her Government to the influence which in no other part of the best ad interim occupation it could possibly world was accorded to their sex, and that pursue. Only we would just remind her this influence was at least as much due to that education in the Emperor's mouth has their mental as to their physical charms. hitherto meant only education through The women of other nations may have been priests, and improvement in the condition more beautiful. To the Frenchwomen was of the labourer only a vast expenditure out specially given the power of fascination ; of taxes which the labourer pays, that the first and it was the peculiar characteristic of her result of these works has been the reckless fascination that its exercise involved no disover-crowding of all towns, and that of these credit to the sense or the sensibility of the promises there is not one which liberty men who yielded to it. A power which could not also secure.
showed itself as much in the brilliance of bons mots and repartee as in smiles and glances, a grace of language and expression which enhanced every grace of feature and of attitude, a logic which played in
the form of epigram, and a self-respect From the Saturday Review. which was set off rather than concealed by THE BEAU-MONDE AND THE DEMI
the maintenance of the most uniform courMONDE IN PARIS.
tesy to others — such were the arts and
insignia of the empire which the most celeTHE Paris journals lately surprised their brated Frenchwomen, from the days of French, and startled their foreign, read- | Maintenon and De Sévigné to those of
How many a
Madame Deffand and Madame Roland or of the roturier; the conflicts of science and those of Madame Recamier, exercised over theology — all these furnished materials for the warriors, sages, and statesmen of France. the tongues of the clever women, materials The homage paid by the men to the brilliant of which the clever women fully availed women who charmed the society which they themselves. The final result was not, inhad helped to create may not always have deed, wholly satisfactory. been perfectly disinterested. The friend- short sharp sarcasm, shot from the tongue ship of the women for their illustrious ad- of brilliant causeuses, rebounded on the gilmirers may not always have been perfectly ded rooms wherein it first hurtled! How Platonic. There may have been some im- many a satire, sugared with compliment, at propriety — or, as our more Puritan friends which rival beaux chuckled in delight, would say, some sin - in the intercourse of came back with its uncovered venom to the some of the most celebrated Frenchmen hearts of those whose admiration had first and Frenchwomen. Yet even this could provoked it! How many a gibe of reckless not have been predicated of all. Madame truth, aimed at courts and nobles, distilled de Sévigné’s reputation comes out clear through laquais and waiting-maids into the and spotless even from the foulest assault of streets of Paris, to whet the after-wrath wounded vanity and slighted love. We do of that fierce canaille! Many of those not forget the comprehensive loves and the clever women had better been silent; many deliberate inconstancy of Ninon. But Ni- of those pungent epigrams had better been non, corrupt as she may have been, was uusaid. Still, while the spirited talk went not venal. She did not ruin her lovers by her on, life was illumined by no common brilcovetousness, and then receive their wives liance; and vice not only decked itself
, but and sisters in her salons. She was courted forgot itself, in the guise of intelligence by elegant and virtuous women, because she and wit. was the single and solitary instance as yet But what a change is it now! There are known of a woman possessing every grace drawing-rooms in Paris which are more and every charm save the grace and charm brilliant and gorgeous than any that De of virtue. Whatever may have been the Sévigné or Recamier ever satin. But their relations between the sexes in those days, brilliance and splendour are not of sucio it was at least free from grossness. The airy impalpabilities as genius or wit. They charms which attracted men to the Maison are solid, substantial, tangible. They are Rambouillet were not those of sense alone, the brilliance and the splendour, not of able or in a special degree. They were those of men and clever women, but of the upholconversation at once spirited, graceful, sterer, the mechanician, and the decorator. elegant, and vivacious. To an accom- There is gold, there is marble, there is lapis plished man there is perbaps no greater lazuli; there are pictures, statues, ormolusocial treat than to hear good French clocks; there are rich velvets and cloudspoken by an educated and clever French- like lace, and a blaze of amethysts, rubies, woman. In her hands a language of which and diamonds. There are trains of Impeboth the excellences and the defects eminent- rial dimensions and tiaras of Imperial brightly qualify it for the purposes of conversational ness. And in whose honour is all this grand combat becomes a weapon of dazzling fence. display ? To whom is the court paid by Those delicate turns of phrase which imply this mob of sombre-clad and neatly-gloved so much more than they express fly like men of every age, from twenty to sixty ? Parthian shafts, and the little commonplaces who have taken the place of the great · which may mean nothing do what the female leaders of society whose names have pawns do when manipulated by a clever added lustre to France ? Strange as it chess-player - everything. And in the age may seem, their successors are secondwhen the empire of Frenchwomen rested rate or third-rate actresses, opera-dancers, upon their grace and power in conversa and singers at public rooms and public gartion, there was ample matter to task their dens. We do not intend to undertake the remarkable talents. It was an age of new superfluous task of penning a moral diaideas. Government, religion, and philoso- tribe, or inveighing against the immorality phy; the administration of the kingdom of the age. Sermons there are, and will and the administration of the universe; the be, in abundance on so prolific and provokrights of kings to be obeyed by their people ing a theme. In every age actresses and and the right of the Creator to the adora- ballet-girls have had their admirers. In tion of his creatures; the claims of privi- every age, probably, they will continue to lege and the claims of prerogative; the bave admirers. But what is worthy of note pretensions of rank and the pretensions is this. Formerly this admiration was of
an esoteric kind. The worshippers adored tives which impel Alcide to become the their divinities in secret. The temples of daily visitor of Malle. Gabrielle in the Rue the goddesses were, at any rate, not obtrud- d’Arcade, and her daily companion when ed on the public eye, nor in possession of riding in the Bois de Boulogne. Certainly the most open, public, and splendid streets. the subject is a very curious one. But does The cult, too, was confined to a narrower the solution of the problem quite justify circle. But now all this is changed; the the means taken to solve it?" Might not fanes of the divinities are splendid and in enough be inferred from the antecedent the most splendid streets; the cult is open, history of those who are the subjects of it avowed, public. The worshippers are of to dispense with the necessity of a nearer every age, and are all equally indifferent to examination ? Take a number of women secrecy. There is no restriction and no ex. of the lower classes from the different clusion, save on two grounds — those of provinces of France — with no refinement, poverty and intelligence. There is a kind with a mere shred of education, and with of intellect admitted into this gorgeous cote- but small claim to what an English eye rie, but it is intellect in livery. The dra- would regard as beauty - but compensating matic author and the dramatic critic are for lack of knowledge, education, and renow as much appendages to the dramatic finement by a vivacity and a coquetry pecourtezan as her coachman and her femme de culiarly French. Take these wor up to chambre. Where professional reputation Paris, tutor them as stage supernumeraries
, depends on scenic effect, and scenic effect and parade before them
the example of the depends upon the équivoque put into the arts of the more successful Lorettes. The actress's mouth, and the applause with rest may be imagined. From these general which their delivery is received, the man premises it is not difficult to conjecture the who concocts the équivoque and the man product obtained ; to conceive that manner who criticises their delivery become equally on which jeunes gens dote, a manner made objects of attention to the actress who is up of impudence and grimace; that reparlooking out for a clientèle. Saving these tee which mainly consists of a new slang necessary exceptions, these assemblies are hardly known two miles beyond the Madecomprised of rich old men anxious to dissi- line; those doubles entendres of which perpate the money which they have made, and haps memory is less the parent than instinct, rich young men as anxious to dissipate the and that flattery which is always coarse and wealth which they have inherited. And always venal. It would be erroneous to say now we hear that the wives and sisters of that we have here given a complete picture these men seek admission to these Paphian of the class which certain leaders of Paris halls.
fashion wish to study. There are, in the It is, indeed, not an unnatural, though it original, traits and features which we could is far from a decent, curiosity which prompts not describe, and which it is unnecessary ladies entitled to the reputation of virtue for us to attempt to describe, as they are porto examine something of the life and do- trayed in the pages of the satirist who has immestic economy of those ladies whose very mortalized the vices of the most corrupt city existence presupposes an entire repudiation at its most corrupt era. Juvenal will supply of virtue. The married women naturally what is wanting to our imperfect delineadesire to know something of the manners tion. English ladies may read him in the and mein and language of the rivals whose vigorous paraphrases of Dryden and Gif· arts have diverted their own husbands' ford; while their French contemporaries treasures into alien and obnoxious channels. may arrive at a livelier conception of what When a wife hears that her husband has, we dare not express, if only they stay till at one magnificent stroke on the Bourse, the supper crowns the festal scene of the carried off one or two millions of francs, masqued ball. If they outstay this, they she is curious to ascertain the process by will have learned a lesson the value of which no inconsiderable proportion of these which we leave it for themselves to comwinnings has been “affected” to the pay-pute. i ment of Madlle. Théodorine's debts or to the It is idle to say that curiosity of this kind purchase of Madlle. Valentine's brougham. is harmless because it is confined to a few. And the anxious mother, who has long Only a few, indeed, may have contemplated dreamed of the ceremony which might the extreme step of being present at the unite the fortunes of her dear Alcide with Saturnalia of the demi-monde. But how the dot of her opulent neighbour's daughter, many others have thought of them and ..is tortured between the misery of frustrated talked of them? To how many leaders of ; hopes and curiosity to understand the mo- society are the doings of these women the