By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Democracy in France - January 1849
Author: Guizot, François
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Democracy in France - January 1849" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images available at The Internet Archive)

                         DEMOCRACY IN FRANCE.

                           _FOURTH EDITION._

                         DEMOCRACY IN FRANCE.

                            JANUARY, 1849.

                          BY MONSIEUR GUIZOT.

                           _FOURTH EDITION._

                    JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.



I venture to believe that nothing will be found in the following pages
which bears the impress of my personal situation. While events of such
magnitude are passing before his eyes, a man who did not forget himself
would deserve to be for ever forgotten. I have thought of nothing but
the situation of my country. The more I reflect upon that, the more I am
convinced that the evil which lies at the root of all her evils, which
undermines and destroys her governments and her liberties, her dignity
and her happiness, is the evil which I attack;--the idolatry of

Whether the accession of M. Louis Napoléon Bonaparte to the Presidency
of the Republic will be found an efficacious remedy for this disease,
the future will show. What I have said here after the election of M.
Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, I should have equally said, without the
slightest alteration, if General Cavaignac had been elected. It is not
to individuals, but to society itself, that great social truths are




WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE PREVALENT EVIL?                              1


TO DEMOCRACY?                                                          7


OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC                                            15


OF THE SOCIAL REPUBLIC                                                25


SOCIETY IN FRANCE?                                                    36




MORAL CONDITIONS OF SOCIAL PEACE IN FRANCE                            70


CONCLUSION                                                            84




Mirabeau, Barnave, Napoleon, and Lafayette, who died at distant and very
dissimilar periods, in bed or on the scaffold, in their own country or
in exile, all died under the influence of one sentiment--a sentiment of
profound melancholy. They thought their hopes deceived, their labours
abortive. They were assailed by doubts of the success of their cause,
and by misgivings as to the future.

King Louis-Philippe reigned above seventeen years, for more than eleven
of which I had the honour to be his minister. If to-morrow it pleased
God to summon us into his presence, should we quit this earth very
confident in the future destiny and the constitutional order of our

Is then the French Revolution destined to give birth only to doubt and
deception?--to bury all its triumphs under ruins?

Yes: so long as France shall suffer the true and the false, the upright
and the perverse, the practicable and the chimerical, the salutary and
the pestilent to be constantly mingled and confounded in her opinions,
her institutions, and the government of her affairs, such will be the
unfailing and inevitable result.

Until a people which has gone through a great revolution has passed on
the principles, the passions, and the doctrines which have led to this
revolution, a sentence like that which shall be passed on all human
things at the Last Day, “severing the wheat from the tares, and the corn
from the straw that shall be cast into the fire,” it can never surmount
the perils, nor reap the advantages, of the struggle in which it has
been engaged.

So long as this judgment is deferred, chaos reigns; and chaos, if
prolonged in the midst of a people, would be death.

Chaos is now concealed under one word--Democracy.

This is now the sovereign and universal word which all parties invoke,
all seek to appropriate as a talisman.

The Monarchists say, “Our Monarchy is a Democratic Monarchy: therefore
it differs essentially from the ancient Monarchy, and is adapted to the
modern condition of society.”

The Republicans say, “The Republic is Democracy governing itself. This
is the only form of government in harmony with a democratic society, its
principles, its sentiments, and its interests.”

Socialists, Communists, and Montagnards require that the republic should
be a pure and absolute democracy. This, in their estimation, is the
condition of its legitimacy.

Such is the power of the word Democracy, that no government or party
dares to raise its head, or believes its own existence possible, if it
does not bear that word inscribed on its banner; and those who carry
that banner aloft with the greatest ostentation and to the extremest
limits, believe themselves to be stronger than all the rest of the

Fatal idea, which incessantly excites and foments social war amongst us!
This idea must be extirpated; for on its extirpation depends social
peace, and, in her train, liberty, security, prosperity, dignity, all
the benefits, material or moral, which social peace alone can ensure.

The following are the causes to which the word _democracy_ owes its

It is the banner of all the social hopes and ambitions of man,--pure or
impure, noble or base, rational or irrational, possible or chimerical.

Now it is the glory of man to be ambitious. He alone, of all created
beings, does not passively resign himself to evil; he alone incessantly
aspires after good; not only for himself, but for his fellow-creatures.
He respects and loves the race to which he belongs; he wishes to find a
remedy for their miseries, and redress for their wrongs.

But man is no less imperfect than he is ambitious. Amidst his ardent and
unceasing struggles to eradicate evil and to achieve good, every one of
his virtuous inclinations is accompanied by an evil inclination which
treads closely on its heels, or strives with it for precedence. The
desire for justice and the desire for vengeance--the spirit of liberty
and the spirit of tyranny--the wish to rise and the wish to abase what
has risen--the ardent love of truth and the presumptuous temerity of
fancied knowledge;--we may fathom all the depths of human nature; we
shall find throughout, the same mingled yet conflicting qualities, the
same danger from their close and easy approximation.

To all these instincts, at once contrary and parallel,--to all
indiscriminately, the bad as well as the good,--the word _Democracy_
holds out an interminable vista and infinite promises. It fosters every
propensity, it speaks to every passion, of the heart of man; to the most
generous and the most shameful, the most moral and the most immoral, the
gentlest and the harshest, the most beneficent and the most
destructive: to the former it loudly offers, to the latter it secretly
and dimly promises, satisfaction.

Such is the secret of its power.

I am wrong in saying, the secret. The word _Democracy_ is not new, and
in all ages it has signified what it signifies now. But what is new and
proper to our times is this: the word _Democracy_ is now pronounced
every day, every hour, and in every place; and at every time and place
it is heard by all men. This formidable appeal to all that is most
potent, for good and for evil, in man and in society, was formerly heard
only transiently, locally, and among certain classes, which, though
bound to other classes by the ties of a common country, were distinct
and profoundly different from them. They lived at a distance from each
other; each obscurely known to the other. Now there is but one society;
and in this society there are no more lofty barriers, no more great
distances, no more mutual obscurities. Whether it be false or true,
noxious or salutary, when once a social idea arises, it penetrates
everywhere, and its action is universal and constant. It is a torch that
is never extinguished; a voice that is never wearied or hushed.
Universality and publicity are from henceforth the conditions of all the
great provocations addressed to men,--of all the great impulses given to

This is doubtless one of those absolute and sovereign facts which enter
into the designs of God with regard to mankind.

Such being the fact, the empire of the word _Democracy_ is not
to be regarded as a transitory or local accident. It is the
development--others would say the explosion--of all the elements of
human nature throughout all the ranks and all the depths of society; and
consequently the open, general, continuous, inevitable struggle of its
good and evil instincts; of its virtues and its vices; of all its powers
and faculties, whether to improve or to corrupt, to raise or to abase,
to create or to destroy. Such is, from henceforth, the social state, the
permanent condition of our nation.



There are men whom this fearful struggle does not alarm: they have full
confidence in human nature. According to them, if left to itself, its
progress is towards good: all the evils of society arise from
governments which debase men by violence or corrupt them by fraud:
liberty--liberty for everybody and everything--liberty will almost
always suffice to enlighten or to control the wills of men, to prevent
evil or to cure it: a little government--the least possible--may be
allowed for the repression of extreme disorder and the control of brute

Others have a more summary way of disposing of all dread of the triumph
of evil in man or in society. There is, they say, no such thing as
natural and necessary evil, since no human inclination is bad in itself;
it becomes so, only when it does not attain the end after which it
aspires--it is a torrent which overflows its banks when obstructed. If
society were organized in such a manner that each of the instincts of
man found its proper place and received its due satisfaction, evil would
disappear, strife would cease, and all the various forces of humanity,
harmoniously combine to produce social order.

The former of these speculators misunderstand man; the latter
misunderstand man, and deny God.

Let any man dive into his own heart and observe himself with attention.
If he have the power to look, and the will to see, he will behold, with
a sort of terror, the incessant war waged by the good and evil
dispositions within him--reason and caprice, duty and passion; in short,
to call them all by their comprehensive names, good and evil. We
contemplate with anxiety the outward troubles and vicissitudes of human
life; but what should we feel if we could behold the inward
vicissitudes, the troubles of the human soul?--if we could see how many
dangers, snares, enemies, combats, victories, and defeats can be crowded
into a day--an hour? I do not say this to discourage man, nor to humble
or under-value his free will. He is called upon to conquer in the battle
of life, and the honour of the conquest belongs to his free will. But
victory is impossible, and defeat certain, if he has not a just
conception and a profound feeling of his dangers, his weaknesses, and
his need of assistance. To believe that the free will of man tends to
good, and is of itself sufficient to accomplish good, betrays an
immeasurable ignorance of his nature. It is the error of pride; an error
which tends to destroy both moral and political order; which enfeebles
the government of communities no less than the government of the inward

For the struggle is the same, the peril as imminent, the aid as
necessary, in society as in the individual man. Many of those now living
have been doomed to see, several times in the course of their lives, the
social edifice tottering to its fall, and all the props that should
uphold, all the bonds that should unite it, failing. Over what an
immense extent, and with what fearful rapidity, have all the causes of
social war and social destruction, which are always fermenting in the
midst of us, each time burst forth! Which of us has not shuddered at the
sudden discovery of the abyss over which we live--the frail barriers
which separate us from it, and the destructive legions ready to rush
forth upon society as soon as its jaws are unclosed? For my own part, I
was a spectator, day by day, hour by hour, of the purest, the wisest,
the gentlest, and the shortest of these formidable convulsions; in July,
1830, I saw, in the streets and the palaces, at the gate of the national
councils and in the midst of popular assemblies, society abandoned to
itself, an actor or spectator of the revolution. And at the same time
that I admired the generous sentiments, the proofs of strong
intelligence and disinterested virtue and heroic moderation which I
witnessed, I shuddered as I saw a mighty torrent of insensate ideas,
brutal passions, perverse inclinations, and terrible chimeras, rise and
swell, minute by minute, ready to overflow, and submerge a land where
all the dikes that had contained it were broken down. Society had
gloriously repulsed the violation of its laws and its honour, and now it
was on the point of falling into ruins in the midst of its glory. Here
it was that I learned the vital conditions of social order, and the
necessity of resistance to ensure the safety of the social fabric.

Resistance not only to evil, but to the principle of evil; not only to
disorder, but to the passions and the ideas which engender
disorder--this is the paramount and peremptory duty of every government.
And the greater the empire of Democracy, the more important is it that
government should hold fast to its true character, and act its true part
in the struggle which agitates society. Why is it that so many
democracies--some of them very brilliant--have so rapidly perished?
Because they would not suffer their governments to do their duty, and
fulfil the objects for which governments are instituted. They did more
than reduce them to weakness; they condemned them to falsehood. It is
the melancholy condition of democratic governments, that while
charged--as they must be--with the repression of disorder, they are
required to be complaisant and indulgent to the causes of disorder; they
are expected to arrest the evil when it breaks out, and yet they are
asked to foster it whilst it is hatching. I know no more deplorable
spectacle than a power which, in the struggle between the good and the
evil principle, continually bends the knee before the bad, and then
attempts to resume an attitude of vigour and independence when it
becomes necessary to resist its excesses. If you will not have excesses,
you must repress them in their origin. If you wish for liberty--for the
full and glorious development of human nature--learn first on what
conditions this is attainable; look forward to its consequences. Do not
blind yourselves to the perils and the combats it will occasion. And
when these combats and these perils arise, do not require your leaders
to be hypocritical or weak in their dealings with the enemy. Do not
force upon them the worship of idols, even were you yourselves those
idols. Permit them, nay command them, to worship and to serve the true
God alone.

I might here allow myself the satisfaction of recalling the names of all
the rulers who have fallen shamefully because they submitted basely to
be the slaves or the tools of the errors and passions of the democracies
it was their duty and their vocation to govern; but I had rather dwell
on the memory of those who lived gloriously by resisting them. It is
more to my taste to prove the truth by examples of the success which
crowns wisdom, than by those of the disasters which attend on folly.

Democratic France owes much to the Emperor Napoleon. He gave her two
things of immense value: within, civil order strongly constituted;
without, national independence firmly established. But had she ever a
government which treated her with greater severity, or showed less
complaisance for the favourite passions of Democracy? As to the
political constitution of the state, Napoleon’s only care was to raise
power from the abasement into which it had fallen, to restore to it all
the conditions of force and greatness. In this he saw a national
interest paramount to all others, whether the nation were governed
democratically or otherwise.

But Napoleon was a despot. If he rightly understood and ably served some
of the great interests of that new France he had to govern, he
profoundly misunderstood and injured others, not less sacred. How was it
possible that one so hostile to liberty should be favourable to the
political propensities of Democracy?

I shall not contest this. I run no risk of forgetting that Napoleon was
a despot, for I have not to learn it now--I thought so when he was
living. It may, however, be asked whether he could have been otherwise?
whether he could have tolerated political liberty, and whether we were
then in a state to receive it? I shall not attempt to decide these
questions. There are men, and very great men, who are suited to certain
diseased and transitory crises, and not to the sane and permanent state,
of society. Napoleon was, perhaps, one of those men. That he mistook
some of the essential wants of our time, nobody is more convinced than I
am. But he re-established order and authority in the midst of democratic
France. He believed, and he proved, that it was possible to serve and to
govern a democratic society without humouring all its inclinations. This
is his real greatness.

Washington has no resemblance to Napoleon. He was not a despot. He
founded the political liberty, at the same time as the national
independence, of his country. He used war only as a means to peace.
Raised to the supreme power without ambition, he descended from it
without regret, as soon as the safety of his country permitted. He is
the model for all democratic chiefs. Now you have only to examine his
life, his soul, his acts, his thoughts, his words; you will not find a
single mark of condescension, a single moment of indulgence, for the
favourite ideas of Democracy. He constantly struggled--struggled even to
weariness and to sadness--against its exactions. No man was ever more
profoundly imbued with the spirit of government, or with respect for
authority. He never exceeded the rights of power, according to the laws
of his country; but he confirmed and maintained them, in principle as
well as in practice, as firmly, as loftily, as he could have done in an
old monarchical or aristocratical state. He was one of those who knew
that it is no more possible to govern from below in a republic than in a
monarchy--in a democratic than in an aristocratic society.

Democratic societies enjoy no privilege which renders the spirit of
government less necessary in them than in others; no privilege which
renders their vital conditions different or inferior to those required
elsewhere. By an infallible consequence of the struggle which infallibly
arises in such societies, the possessor of power is continually called
on to decide between the contrary impulses by which he is solicited to
make himself the artisan of good or the accomplice of evil, the champion
of order or the slave of disorder. The mythic story of the choice of
Hercules is the daily and hourly history of his life. Every government,
whatever be its form or its name, which, by the vice of its organization
or situation, or by the corruption or feebleness of its will, cannot
fulfil this inevitable task, will speedily pass away like an evil
phantom, or will ruin the democracy it affects to establish.



I shall not speak of the republican form of government otherwise than
with respect. Considered in itself, it is a noble form of government. It
has called forth great virtues; it has presided over the destiny and the
glory of great nations.

But a republican government has the same vocation, the same duties, as
any other government. Its name gives it no claim to dispensation or
privilege. It must satisfy both the general and permanent wants of human
society, and the particular wants of the particular community which it
is called to govern.

The permanent want of every community,--the first and most imperious
want of France at the present day,--is, peace in the bosom of society

A great deal has been said about unity and social fraternity. These are
sublime words, but they ought not to make us forget facts. Nothing has a
more certain tendency to ruin a people than a habit of accepting words
and appearances as realities. Whilst the shouts of unity and fraternity
resound among us, they are responded to by social war, flagrant or
imminent, terrible from the evils it causes, or from those it seems
likely to cause.

I will not dwell on this grievous wound. Yet in order to cure, we ought
to touch, and even to probe it. It is an old wound. The history of
France is filled with the struggle between the different classes of
society, of which the Revolution of 1789 was the most general and mighty
explosion. The contests between nobility and commonalty, aristocracy and
democracy, masters and workmen, those possessing property and those
dependent on wages, are all different forms and phases of the social
struggle which has so long agitated France. And it is at the very moment
when we are boasting of having reached the summit of civilization--it is
while the most humane words that can issue from the lips of man are
ringing in our ears, that this struggle is revived more violently, more
fiercely than ever!

This is a curse and a shame, of which we, and the age we live in, must
rid ourselves. Internal peace, peace among all classes of citizens, is
the paramount want, the only chance for the salvation of France.

Will the Democratic Republic give us this peace?

It did not begin well. When scarcely born, a civil war was its first
necessity--most unfortunately for the republic. Governments find great
difficulty in rising out of their cradles. Will the Democratic Republic
succeed in the attempt? If time is allowed to it, will it restore social

There is one circumstance which strikes me powerfully, and causes me
great anxiety: that is, the ardour manifested by the republic to be
expressly and officially called democratic.

The United States of America are universally admitted to be the model of
a Republic and a Democracy. Did it ever enter the head of the American
people to call the United States a Democratic Republic?

No; nor is this astonishing. In that country there was no struggle
between Aristocracy and Democracy; between an ancient aristocratical
society and a new democratic society: on the contrary, the leaders of
society in the United States, the descendants of the first colonists,
the majority of the principal planters in the country and the principal
merchants in the towns, who constituted the natural aristocracy of the
country, placed themselves at the head of the revolution and the
republic. The devotion, energy, and constancy which they showed in the
cause, were greater than those displayed by the people. The conquest of
their independence, and the foundation of the republic, was not, then,
the work and the victory of certain classes over certain other classes;
it was the joint work of all, led by the highest, the wealthiest, and
the most enlightened, who had often great difficulty in rallying the
spirit and sustaining the courage of the mass of the population.

Whenever officers were to be chosen for the bodies of troops formed in
the several States, Washington gave this advice:--“Take none but
gentlemen: they are the most trustworthy, as well as the ablest.”

A republican government has more need than any other of the co-operation
of every class of its citizens: if the mass of the population does not
zealously adopt it, it has no root; if the higher classes are hostile or
indifferent to it, it can enjoy no security. In either case, it is
reduced to the necessity of oppressing. It is precisely because in a
republic the authority of the government is weak and precarious, that it
stands in need of great moral support from the society over which it
presides. Which are the republics that have lived long and honourably,
overcoming the defects and the storms incident to their institutions?
Those only in which the republican spirit was sincere and general; which
obtained, on the one side, the attachment and the confidence of the
people, and on the other the decided support of the classes who, by
their position, fortune, education, and habits, bring into public life
the largest share of natural authority, tranquil independence,
knowledge, and leisure. On these conditions only can a republic be
established or maintained; for on these conditions only can it exist
without troubling the peace of society, and without condemning its
government to the deplorable alternative of the disorganization of
anarchy, or the rigid tension of tyranny.

The United States of America enjoyed this singular good fortune, but it
is denied to the French Republic. Indeed this is not only admitted, but
proclaimed and vaunted, by its authors. What is the meaning of the words
_Democratic Republic_ now current amongst us, and adopted as the
official name, the symbol of the government? It is the echo of an
ancient social war-cry--a cry which is still raised, still repeated in
every class of society; still angrily uttered against one class by
another, which, in its turn, hears it with terror directed against
itself. All are in turn democrats as against those above them,
aristocrats as against those below; threatening and threatened, envious
or envied, and exhibiting continual and revolting changes of position,
attitude, and language, and a deplorable confusion of conflicting ideas
and passions. It is war in the midst of chaos.

But I hear it said, “This war is a fact--it is the dominant fact of our
history, our society, and our revolution. Such facts can neither be
hidden nor passed over in silence, and this is become final and
decisive. It is not war that we proclaimed in proclaiming a Democratic
Republic, it is victory--the victory of Democracy. Democracy has
conquered, and remains alone on the field of battle. She raises her
visor, announces her name, and takes possession of her conquest.”

Such an answer is dictated by illusion or by hypocrisy. How does a
government, whether democratic or not, assert and prove its victory,
when that victory is real and decisive? By restoring peace. Thus, and
thus alone, could the Democratic Republic have proved that it had
conquered. But does peace reign in France? Is it even approaching? Do
the various elements of society, willingly or unwillingly, satisfied or
resigned, really believe in the existence and permanence of peace, and
come to seek tranquillity, order, and protection under the shelter of
the Democratic Republic? Listen to the comments on the title assumed by
the republican government which are universally heard; see the striking
and menacing facts which are continually occurring, and which are the
consequence or the proof of those comments. Is this state of things
peace? Is there, I will not say the reality, but the bare appearance, of
one of those energetic, wise, and conclusive victories which put an end,
for a time at least, to social conflicts, and secure a long truce to
harassed nations?

There are facts of such magnitude, clearness, and prominence, that no
human force or fraud can succeed in hiding them. It is in vain that you
repeat that the days of fraternity are come; that Democracy, such as you
establish it, puts an end to all hostilities or conflicts of classes,
and assimilates and unites all orders of citizens. The truth, the
terrible truth, gleams through these vain words. Interests, passions,
pretensions, situations, and classes conflict on every side, with all
the fury of boundless hopes and boundless fears. It is clear that the
first acts of the Democratic Republic threaten to plunge herself and us
into the chaos of social war.

And does she give us arms for our defence, or open to us issues for our

I pass over the name she assumes; I turn to the political ideas she
proclaims as laws for the government of the state: so far from
diminishing my anxiety, these serve but to increase it. For if the
banner of the Democratic Republic appears to me to bear the inscription
of social war, its constitution seems to me to lead directly to
revolutionary despotism. I find in it no distinct powers, possessed of
sufficient inherent strength to exercise a reciprocal control; no solid
ramparts, under the shelter of which various rights and interests can
take root and flourish in safety; no organization of guarantees; no
balance of powers in the centre of the state and at the head of
government--nothing but a single motive force and various wheels; a
master and his agents; nothing between the personal liberty of the
citizens and the bare will of the numerical majority: the principle of
despotism, checked by the right of insurrection.

Such is the position of the Democratic Republic with relation to social
order; such, with relation to political order, is the government which
it constitutes.

What can be the result? Assuredly neither peace nor liberty.

When the republic was proclaimed, in the midst of general and profound
alarm, one sentiment prevailed. A great number of men attached to the
interests of their country, said, or thought, “Let us wait; let us
try--perhaps the republic will be different now from what it was
heretofore; let the experiment be tried--let it not be disturbed by
violence: we shall see the result.”

They kept their word; they have excited no troubles, they have raised no
obstacles, to disturb or to impede the progress of the republic.

The same sentiment prevailed throughout Europe--a sentiment inspired, no
doubt, by prudence, and not by any cordiality or hope: but the motives
which influenced Europe signify little; the important fact is, that no
act, no danger from without troubles the French Republic in the
experiment of its foundation.

On the other hand, justice compels us to acknowledge that the leaders
of the republic have endeavoured to belie the predictions of its
adversaries and the fears of the public. They have respected the faith
of men. They have fought--very late, it is true, but at last they have
fought--for the existence of society. They have not broken the peace of
Europe, and they have striven to maintain the public credit. These
meritorious efforts do honour to the men invested with power, and show,
moreover, what the general instincts of the country are. But these men
can only retard, they cannot arrest, the downward course of the state on
a fatal declivity; they can find no firm footing, and lose ground at
every step. They have sunk into the revolutionary rut; and though they
struggle not to plunge deeper into it, they cannot, or they dare not,
quit it. The acts of the republic are not, in all points, what they
formerly were; but the republic is what it was. Whether as to social
organization or political institutions, the conditions of order or the
securities for liberty, the republic has nothing better to offer than
what she offered fifty years ago. There are the same ideas, the same
crude and rash experiments, often even the same forms and the same
words. Strange spectacle! The authors of the republic are afraid of
their own work, and would fain change its character and aspect; but they
can produce nothing but a copy.

How long, whatever be its ultimate success or failure, the present
attempt will last, nobody knows. But hitherto France has evidently
reason to fear that its first and paramount interests--social peace and
political liberty--will be placed, or left, by the Democratic Republic,
in immense danger.



The Social Republic promises to solve the difficulty.

“All systems, all governments,” it declares, “have been tried and found
wanting. My ideas alone are new, and have not yet been put to the test.
My day is come.”

This is a mistake. The ideas propounded by the Social Republic are not
new. They are as old as the world. They have risen up in the midst of
all the great moral and social crises, whether in the East or the West,
in the ancient or the modern world. The second and third centuries in
Africa, and especially in Egypt, during the agitations caused by the
propagation of Christianity--the middle ages during their confused,
stormy fermentation--the sixteenth century in Germany, in the course of
the Reformation--and the seventeenth in England during the political
revolution,--had their Socialists and their Communists, thinking,
speaking, and acting precisely like those of our own day. It is a phase
of human nature that reappears at epochs when society is like a boiling
caldron, in which every ingredient is thrown to the surface and exposed
to view.

Till now, it is true, these ideas had only been enounced on a small
scale, obscurely and timidly, and were repelled and execrated almost as
soon as they saw the light. But now they boldly exhibit themselves, and
put forth all their pretensions before the public. It signifies little
whether this is by their own strength, by the fault of the public
itself, or from causes inherent in the present state of society. Since
the Social Republic is proclaimed aloud, we must look at it steadily and
endeavour to fathom its lowest depths.

I wish to avoid all circumlocution, to throw aside all disguises, and to
go straight to the heart of the idol. Nor is this impossible. For as all
the efforts of the Social Republic tend to one end, so all its ideas are
the offspring of one fundamental idea.

This fundamental idea is to be found, explicitly or implicitly, in the
language of all the leaders of the Social Republic, though all do not
avow, and some are perhaps not even conscious that they entertain it. M.
Proudhon appears to me the one among them who knows best what he thinks
and what he wishes: he appears to show the firmest and most consistent
understanding in his detestable dreams.

It is not, however, so firm nor so consistent as it appears, or probably
as he himself thinks it. He has not declared, and I doubt if he have
perceived, to what his system leads.

His system, nakedly and rigorously stated, is this:--

All men have a right--and the same right--to happiness.

Happiness is the enjoyment (without any limit but that prescribed by the
want and the faculty of enjoying) of all the good things existing or
possible in this world; whether natural and primitive, or progressively
created by the intelligence and the labour of man.

Certain men, certain families, or certain classes have acquired the
exclusive enjoyment of some (indeed the greater part) of the most
essential and productive of these good things; or, in other words, these
things, or the means of procuring them, are become the special and
perpetual property of certain men, families, and classes.

Such a confiscation of a part of the fund common to mankind, for the
advantage of a few, is essentially contrary to justice; contrary to the
rights of the men of the same generation, who ought all to enjoy it
equally; and contrary to the rights of successive generations, each of
which, on its entrance into life, ought to find the good things of life
equally accessible, and to enjoy them in its turn like its predecessors.

Therefore all special and perpetual appropriation of the good things
which confer happiness, and of the means of procuring those good things,
must be abolished, in order to insure the universal enjoyment and the
equal distribution of them amongst all men, and all successive
generations of men.

But how is it possible to abolish property? or, at least, so to
transform it, that, as regards its social and permanent effects, it may
be as if it were abolished?

Here the leaders of the Social Republic differ greatly among themselves.
Some recommend slow and gentle measures; others urge prompt and decisive
ones. Some have recourse to political means--for example, a certain
organization of existence and labour in common; others try to invent
economical and financial expedients--for example, a series of measures
designed gradually to destroy the net revenue of property, whether in
land or capital, and thus to render property itself useless and
illusory. But all these schemes originate in the same design and tend to
the same result; the abolition or the nullification of personal,
domestic, and hereditary property; and of all institutions, social or
political, which are based upon personal, domestic, and hereditary

Such, through all the diversity, obscurity, ambiguity, and contradiction
of the ideas which circulate among the adherents of the Social
Republic, is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, of all
these systems; such is the end they pursue, and hope to attain.

But the following truths are forgotten by M. Proudhon and his friends.

Mankind is not merely a series of individuals called men; it is a race,
which has a common life, and a general and progressive destiny. This is
the distinctive character of man, which he alone of created beings

And why is this? It is because human individuals are not isolated, nor
confined to themselves, and to the point they occupy in space or time.
They are connected with each other; they act upon each other, by ties
and by means which do not require their presence, and which outlive
them. Hence the successive generations of men are linked together in
unbroken succession.

The permanent union and progressive development which are the
consequences of this unbroken succession of man to man, and generation
to generation, characterize the human race. They constitute its
peculiarity and its greatness, and mark man for sovereignty in this
world, and for immortality beyond it.

From this are derived, and by this are founded, the family and the
state, property and inheritance, country, history, glory, all the facts
and all the sentiments which constitute the extended and perpetual life
of mankind, amidst the bounded appearance and rapid disappearance of
individual men.

In the Social Republic all this ceases to exist. Men are mere isolated
and ephemeral beings, who appear in this life, and on this earth the
scene of life, only to take their subsistence and their pleasure, each
for himself alone, each by the same right, and without any end or
purpose beyond.

This is precisely the condition of the lower animals. Among them there
exists no tie, no influence, which survives the individual, and extends
to the race. There is no permanent appropriation, no hereditary
transmission, no unity nor progress in the life of the species;--nothing
but individuals who appear and then vanish, seizing on their passage
their portion of the good things of the earth and the pleasures of life,
according to the combined measure of their wants and their strength,
which, according to them, constitute their right.

Thus, in order to secure to every individual of the human species the
equal and incessantly fluctuating share of the goods and pleasures of
sense, the doctrines of the Social Republic bring men down to the level
of the lower animals. They obliterate the human race.

They do worse.

There is in the mind of man an imperishable instinct that God presides
over his destiny, and that it is not wholly accomplished in this world.
Naturally and universally, man believes in God and invokes him as his
support in the present, his hope in the future.

According to the doctrines of the Social Republic, God is an unknown
imaginary power, upon whom the visible and real rulers of men upon earth
throw the weight of their own responsibility, and by thus directing the
eyes of the suffering towards another master and another state of
existence, dispose them to acquiesce in their afflictions, whilst they
secure themselves in the maintenance of their usurpations. According
then to this doctrine, God is evil, for it is in his name that men are
persuaded to acquiesce in evil. To banish evil from the earth, it
therefore is necessary to banish God from the mind of man. Men left
alone with their earthly masters, and reduced to an earthly existence,
will demand the enjoyments of this life and the equal distribution of
these enjoyments; and as soon as those who are without them insist on
having them, they will have them, for they are the strongest.

Thus God and the human race will disappear together. In their place will
remain animals still bearing the name of men, more intelligent and more
powerful than other animals, but having the same condition and the same
destiny; and like them seizing, on their passage through life, their
portion of the goods of earth and the pleasures of sense, according to
the combined measure of their wants and their strength, which constitute
their right.

Such is the philosophy of the Social Republic; such, therefore, is the
basis of its policy. We have traced its origin and its end.

I will not insult the good sense or the dignity of mankind by dwelling
on it longer. It is the degradation of man, and the destruction of

Not only of society as at present constituted, but of all human society
whatsoever: for all society rests on foundations which it is the object
of the Social Republic to overthrow. It is not a mere invasion of the
social edifice by intruders, whether barbarian or not; it is the utter
ruin of the edifice itself that is contemplated. If M. Proudhon had the
absolute disposal of society in its present state, with all that it
possesses or enjoys, and were to change the distribution and the
possessors of property at his own good pleasure, he would be guilty of
great iniquity, and occasion great suffering. He would not, however,
destroy society. But if he pretended to give the ideas with which he
tries to batter down the present structure of society, as laws to one
newly framed, it would infallibly perish. Instead of a State and a
People, there would be only a chaos of human beings, without a tie and
without repose. Nor would it be possible to reduce that chaos to order
without abandoning or evading the ideas of the Social Republic, and
returning to the natural conditions of social order.

The Social Republic is then at once odious and impossible. It is the
most absurd, and at the same time the most perverse, of all chimeras.

But we must not presume upon this. Nothing is more dangerous than what
is at once strong and impossible. The Social Republic is strong; indeed
how can it be otherwise? Availing themselves with ardour of every kind
of liberty granted for the promulgation of ideas, its advocates are
incessantly labouring to diffuse their principles and their promises
through the densest ranks of society. There they find masses of men easy
to delude, easy to inflame. They offer them rights in conformity with
their desires. They excite their passions in the name of justice and
truth. For it would be puerile to deny (and for the honour of human
nature we must admit) that the ideas of the Social Republic have, to
many minds, the character and the force of truth. In questions so
complex and so exciting, the smallest gleam of truth is sufficient to
dazzle the eyes and inflame the hearts of men, and to dispose them to
embrace with transport the grossest and most fatal errors with which
that truth is blended. Fanaticism is kindled at the same time that
selfishness is awakened; sincere devotedness joins hands with brutal
passions; and, in the terrible fermentation which ensues, evil
predominates; the portion of good mingled with it acts only as its veil
and its instrument.

We have no right to complain, for it is we ourselves who incessantly add
fuel to the fire--and this is the most deep-seated of our maladies. It
is we who give to the Social Republic its chief strength. It is the
chaos of our political ideas and our political morality--that chaos
disguised sometimes under the word _democracy_, sometimes under that of
_equality_, sometimes under that of _people_--which opens all the gates,
and throws down all the ramparts of society before it. We say that
Democracy is everything. The men of the Social Republic reply,
“Democracy is ourselves.” We proclaim, in language of infinite
confusion, the absolute equality of rights and the sovereign right of
numbers. The men of the Social Republic come forward and say, “Count our
numbers.” The perpetual confusion of the true and the false, the good
and the bad, the possible and the chimerical, which prevails in our own
policy, our own language, our own acts--this it is which has enfeebled
our arm for defence, and given to the Social Republic a confidence, an
arrogance, and an influence for attack, which of itself it would never

When this confusion shall be dissipated; when we shall arrive at that
period of maturity in which free nations, instead of blindly following
their first impressions, whithersoever they may lead, see things as they
really are, assign to the different elements of society their just
measure, and to words their true meaning, and regulate their ideas as
they do their affairs, with that firm moderation which rejects all
fantasies, admits all necessities, respects all rights, has regard to
all interests, and represses all usurpations;--those from below no less
than those from above--those of fanaticism no less than those of
selfishness: when we shall have reached this point, although the Social
Republic may not entirely disappear, and although we may not have
entirely crushed its efforts nor annihilated its dangers (for it derives
its ambition and its strength from sources that none can dry up), still
it will be controlled by the union and the order of society; all that is
most absurd and perverse in its doctrines will be incessantly combated
and defeated, and it will in time take its due place in that vast and
imposing development of the human race which is passing before our



The first step towards extricating ourselves out of the chaos in which
we are plunged, is, a full understanding and frank admission of all the
real and essential elements of which society in France is now composed.

It is because we misunderstand these elements, or refuse them the place
and the consideration they deserve, that we remain in, or relapse into,

A society may be tortured, perhaps destroyed; but you cannot force it to
assume a form and mode of existence foreign to its nature, either by
disregarding the essential elements of which it is constituted, or by
doing violence to them.

Let us first advert to that civil order which forms the basis of French
society, as of every other society.

Family; property of all kinds, whether land, capital, or wages; labour,
under all its forms, individual or collective, intellectual or manual;
the situations in which men are placed, or the relations which are
introduced among them by the incidents of family, property, and
labour;--such are the constituents of civil society.

The essential and characteristic fact in French civil society is, unity
of laws and equality of rights. All families, property of every kind,
labour of every description, are governed by the same laws, and possess
or confer the same civil rights. There are no privileges; that is, no
laws or rights peculiar to particular families, or to property or labour
of particular sorts.

This is a new and mighty fact in the history of human societies.

But notwithstanding this fact, notwithstanding this civil unity and
equality, there are evidently numerous and great diversities and
inequalities, which unity of laws and equality of rights can neither
prevent nor remove.

As to property, whether in immoveables or moveables, land or capital,
there are rich and poor; there are large, middling, and small

The great proprietors may be less numerous and less wealthy, and the
middling and small proprietors may be more numerous and more powerful,
than they were formerly, or than they are in other countries; but this
does not prevent the inequality amongst them from being real and great
enough to occasion a radical difference and inequality of social

From diversities of position founded on property, I pass on to those
founded upon labour, of every kind and degree, from the highest
intellectual, to the lowest manual labour. Here too I meet with the same
fact. Here too diversity and inequality arise and subsist, in spite of
identical laws and equal rights.

In the professions called liberal, or those which depend on the
cultivation and employment of the intellect; among lawyers, physicians,
men of science, and literary men of every sort, some few rise to the
highest rank, attract business, and gain success, reputation, wealth,
and influence. Others earn laboriously what is barely sufficient for the
wants of their families, and the decencies of their station. Many more
vegetate in obscure and unemployed indigence.

And here one fact deserves notice. From the time when all professions
have been accessible to all, from the time when labour has been free,
subject only to the same laws for all, the number of men who have raised
themselves to the first ranks in the liberal professions has not
sensibly increased. It does not appear that there are now more great
lawyers or physicians, more men of science or letters of the first
order, than there were formerly. It is the men of the second order, and
the obscure and idle multitude, that are multiplied. It is as if
Providence did not permit human laws to have any influence over the
intellectual rank of its creatures, or the extent and magnificence of
its gifts.

In the other trades or professions, in which labour is chiefly material
and manual, there are also different and unequal situations. Some, by
intelligence and good conduct, accumulate a capital and enter upon the
path of competence and advancement; others, either incapable or
improvident, lazy or dissolute, remain in the narrow and precarious
condition of men dependent upon the daily casualties of wages.

Thus throughout the whole extent of civil society,--whether among those
who depend on labour, or those possessed of property,--diversity and
inequality of situation arise and coexist with unity of laws and
equality of rights.

How, indeed, can it be otherwise? If we examine every form of human
society throughout all ages and countries--whatever be the variety of
their organization, government, extent, or duration, or of the kind and
degree of civilization to which they have attained--we shall find three
types of social position always fundamentally the same, though under
very different forms and very differently distributed.

     1. Men living on the income of their property, whether in land or
     capital, without seeking to increase it by their own labour;

     2. Men occupied in increasing by their own labour the property,
     whether in land or capital, which they possess;

     3. Men living by their labour without land or capital.

These diversities and inequalities in the social condition of men are
not accidental, or peculiar to any particular time or country. They are
universal facts, which naturally arise in every human society, amidst
circumstances, and under laws, the most widely different.

And the more accurately we study them, the more clearly we shall
perceive that there exists an intimate connexion and a profound harmony
between these facts and the nature of man, which we know, on the one
hand, and the mysteries of his destiny, of which we can only obtain a
dim and distant glance, on the other.

Nor is this all. Independently of these diversities and inequalities
among individuals, whether proprietors or labourers, other diversities
and other inequalities exist among the kinds of property and of labour.
These differences are not less real than the others, though they are
less apparent; nor are they more incompatible with unity of laws or
equality of civil rights.

Moveable property, or capital, has acquired, and continues to acquire,
an ever increasing extension and importance in the communities of
modern Europe. It is evident that the progress of civilization in our
times is entirely in favour of its development; a just requital for the
immense services which capital has rendered to civilization.

But this is not enough: efforts are continually made to assimilate
immoveable to moveable property; to render land as transferable, as
divisible, as convenient to possess and to improve as capital. All the
proposed innovations, direct or indirect, in the laws relating to landed
property, have this object in view, either openly or covertly.

But though a movement so favourable to capital is going on, landed
property is still the most considerable in France, and still holds the
first place in the estimation and the desires of the people. Those who
possess it addict themselves more and more to the enjoyment of it, and
those who do not possess it are more and more eager after its
acquisition. The great proprietor is returning to the taste for living
on his estate: the tradesman, who has earned a competence, retires to
the country to enjoy repose: the peasant thinks of nothing but how to
add field to field. Whilst everything is done to favour the development
of capital, landed property is more in request and more prized than

It may be confidently predicted that if, as I hope, social order
triumphs over its insane or depraved enemies, the attacks of which
landed property is now the object, and the dangers with which it is
threatened, will, in the end, enhance its preponderance in society.

Whence arises this preponderance? Is it merely because, of all sorts of
property, land is the most secure, the least variable;--that which best
resists the perturbations, and survives the calamities of society?

This motive, though real, powerful, and obvious, is far from being the
only one. There are other motives, or rather we may call them
deep-seated instincts, whose empire over man is great, even when he is
unconscious of it. These secure the social preponderance of landed
property, or restore it when transiently shaken or enfeebled. Among
these instincts two appear to me the most powerful; it will be
sufficient to indicate them, for an attempt to fathom their depths would
carry me too far.

Moveable property, or capital, may procure a man all the advantages of
wealth; but property in land gives him much more than this. It gives him
a place in the domain of the world--it unites his life to the life which
animates all creation. Money is an instrument by which man can procure
the satisfaction of his wants and his desires. Landed property is the
establishment of man as sovereign in the midst of nature. It satisfies
not only his wants and his desires, but tastes deeply implanted in his
nature. For his family, it creates that domestic country called home,
with all the living sympathies and all the future hopes and projects
which people it. And whilst property in land is more consonant than any
other to the nature of man, it also affords a field of activity the most
favourable to his moral development, the most suited to inspire a just
sentiment of his nature and his powers. In almost all the other trades
or professions, whether commercial or scientific, success appears to
depend solely on himself--on his talents, address, prudence, and
vigilance. In agricultural life, man is constantly in the presence of
God, and of his power. Activity, talents, prudence and vigilance are as
necessary here as elsewhere to the success of his labours, but they are
evidently no less insufficient than they are necessary. It is God who
rules the seasons and the temperature, the sun and the rain, and all
those phenomena of nature which determine the success or the failure of
the labours of man on the soil which he cultivates. There is no pride
which can resist this dependence, no address which can escape it. Nor is
it only a sentiment of humility as to his power over his own destiny
which is thus inculcated upon man; he learns also tranquillity and
patience. He cannot flatter himself that the most ingenious inventions
or the most restless activity will ensure his success; when he has done
all that depends upon him for the cultivation and the fertilization of
the soil, he must wait with resignation. The more profoundly we examine
the situation in which man is placed by the possession and cultivation
of the soil, the more do we discover how rich it is in salutary lessons
to his reason, and benign influences on his character. Men do not
analyze these facts, but they have an instinctive sentiment of them,
which powerfully contributes to that peculiar respect in which they hold
property in land, and to the preponderance which that kind of property
enjoys over every other. This preponderance is a natural, legitimate and
salutary fact, which, especially in a great country, society at large
has a strong interest in recognising and respecting.

What I have just shown with relation to property, is equally true with
relation to labour. It is the glory of modern civilization to have
understood and proclaimed the moral value and the social importance of
labour; to have raised it to the estimation and the rank which justly
belong to it. If I had to point out the most profound evil, the most
fatal vice, of the state of things which prevailed in France up to the
sixteenth century, I should say, without hesitation, the contempt in
which labour was held. Contempt of labour and pride in idleness are
certain signs either that society is under the dominion of brute force,
or that it is verging to its decline. Labour is the law which God has
enjoined on man. It is by labour that he developes and improves
everything around him--by labour that he developes and improves his own
nature. Labour is become the surest pledge of peace between nations. The
respect and the liberty enjoyed by labour tend more than anything to
calm the anxieties which we might otherwise too justly feel, and to
raise our hopes for the prospects of the human race. By what fatality
then has it happened that the word _labour_, so honourable to modern
civilization, is become a war-cry and a source of disasters in France?
It is because that word is made a cloak for a great and pernicious lie.
It is not labour, its interests or its rights, which are the object of
the ferment excited in its name; the war which has been declared on the
plea of protecting labour, is not in fact waged in its behalf, nor, if
successful, would redound to its advantage. It is, on the contrary,
directed against labour, whose ruin and degradation would be its
infallible result.

Labour, like family, property, and everything else in this world, is
subject to natural and general laws; among which are, diversity and
inequality of the kinds and the results of labour, and of the stations
of those by whom it is performed. Intellectual labour is superior to
manual. Descartes, who enlightened France, and Colbert, who laid the
foundations of her prosperity, performed a labour superior to that of
the workman who prints the works of Descartes, or who helps to produce
the manufactures fostered by Colbert; and among these very workmen,
those who are intelligent, moral, and industrious, justly attain to a
situation superior to that which the same description of labour can
secure to the dull, the lazy, or the licentious. The variety of tasks
and vocations allotted to man is infinite. Labour is everywhere--in the
house of a father of a family, who educates his children and
superintends his affairs; in the cabinet of a statesman who takes part
in the government of his country; in that of the magistrate who
administers its laws; of the philosopher who instructs, and of the poet
who charms it; in the fields, on the ocean, on the highways, in the
manufactories and the workshops; and in every situation, in every
variety of labour, in every class of labourers, diversity and inequality
arise and subsist; inequality of intellectual power, of moral merit, of
social importance, of material wealth. These are the natural, primitive,
universal laws of labour, originating in the nature and condition of
man, or, to speak more properly, ordained by the wisdom of God. It is
against these laws that the war of which we are witnesses is waged; it
is this hierarchy of labour, founded on the decrees of God and the free
actions of man, which it is the object of this war to abolish; and to
substitute--what?--the degradation and the ruin of labour, by the
reduction of all labour and all labourers to the same level! Examine the
meaning which is usually affixed to the word _labour_ in the language of
these enemies of social order. They do not distinctly say that material
and manual work are the only real work; indeed they occasionally affect
great respect for purely intellectual labour: but they omit to mention
the various sorts of higher labour which are performed on every stage of
the social scale; their whole attention is absorbed by material labour,
which they constantly represent as the kind of labour whose importance
throws every other into the shade. In short, they talk in a manner to
excite and keep alive in the minds of the men employed in physical
labour, the opinion that theirs only has a claim to the name and the
rights of labour. Even when speaking not of labour, but of labourers,
they hold the same levelling and depreciating language;--ascribing the
rights of labour to workmen, as such, independently of all degrees of
personal merit. Thus the coarsest and most ordinary labour is assumed as
the standard to which all the higher degrees are adjusted; and diversity
and inequality are abolished, for the supposed advantage of that which
is the least and the lowest in the scale!

Do those who hold such language serve--do they even understand--the
cause which they affect to advocate? Is it by such means that we can
advance, or even barely keep our ground, on that glorious path of
civilization in which labour acquired its proper rank and dignity? Do we
not, on the contrary, mutilate, degrade, and disgrace labour, when we
strip it of a part of its noblest claims, and substitute in their stead
pretensions which are not only absurd and preposterous, but mean, in
spite of their insolence? Lastly, does not such language show a gross
misconception and violent perversion of the natural facts on which civil
society in France is founded? This, though admitting unity of laws and
equality of rights, assuredly never pretended to abolish that variety of
faculties, merits, and destinies, which is one of the mysterious laws of
God, and the inevitable result of the free will of man.

Let us now turn from civil to political society; that is, the relation
existing between men, in virtue of their interests, opinions and
sentiments, and the ruling power under which they live. Let us endeavour
here to determine also the real and essential elements of which society
is now composed in France.

In a free country, or in one struggling to become free, the elements of
political society are political parties, in the widest and highest
acceptation of the term.

Legally, there are now no other parties in France than those inherent
in every constitutional state; the party of the Government and that of
the Opposition. There are neither Legitimists nor Orleanists. The
Republic exists, and will not suffer the principle of its existence to
be attacked; and as this is the indisputable right of every established
government, it is by no means my intention to contest or to infringe it.

But there are things so inherent in society, that prohibitive laws, even
when obeyed, fail to eradicate them. There are political parties of
which the germ lies so deeply buried, and the roots so widely spread,
that they do not die, even when they are no longer apparent.

The Legitimist party is not a mere dynastic, nor is it a mere
monarchical, party. It is indeed attached to a principle and to a name;
but it also occupies a great substantive place both in the history and
on the soil of France. It represents all that remains of the elements so
long predominant throughout that French society which contained within
itself the fruitful and vigorous germs of progress; and out of which
arose, after a growth of ages, the France which suddenly burst forth in
1789, mighty, aspiring, and glorious. Though the French Revolution
overthrew the ancient fabric of French society, it could not annihilate
its elements. In spite of the convulsions by which they were dispersed,
and in the midst of the ruins by which they are surrounded, these still
subsist, and are still considerable in modern France. At every
succeeding crisis they evidently acquiesce more completely in the social
order and political constitution which the country has adopted; and by
this acquiescence they take their station in it, and change their
position without disowning their character.

Moreover, does anybody believe that the party which endeavoured to found
a constitutional monarchy in 1830, and which upheld that monarchy for
more than seventeen years, has vanished in the tempest that overthrew
the edifice it had raised? It has been called the party of the
_bourgeoisie_,--the middle classes; and this in fact it was, and still
is. The ascendancy of the middle classes in France, incessantly supplied
by recruits from the bulk of the population, is the characteristic
feature in our history since 1789. Not only have they conquered that
ascendancy, but they have justified their claims to it. Amidst the
grievous errors into which they have fallen, and for which they have
paid so dearly, they have shown that they really possessed the qualities
that constitute the strength and greatness of a nation. On all
emergencies, for all the wants of the country in war or peace, and to
every kind of social career, this class has abundantly furnished men,
nay, generations of men, able, active, and sincerely devoted to the
service of their country. When called on in 1830 to found a new
monarchy, the middle classes brought to that difficult task a spirit of
justice and political sincerity of which no succeeding event can cancel
the merit. In spite of all the passions and all the perils that assailed
them, in spite even of their own passions, they earnestly desired
constitutional order, and they faithfully observed it. At home, they
respected and maintained universal, legal and practical liberty; abroad,
universal, firm and prosperous peace.

I am not one of those who disregard or despise the power of the
affections in political affairs. I do not regard it as any proof of
greatness or strength of mind to say, “We don’t care for such or such a
family; we attach no value to proper names; we take men or leave them
according to our wants or our interests:” to me, this language, and the
class of opinions which it discloses, appear to betray far more
political ignorance and impotence than elevation of mind or rectitude of
judgment. It is, however, indisputable that political parties having no
other attachment than that excited by proper names, and no other
strength than that derived from personal affections, would be extremely
feeble and inefficient. But can anybody for a moment imagine that the
Legitimist party, or the party attached to the monarchy of 1830, are of
that nature? Is it not evident, on the contrary, that these parties are
far more the offspring of the general course of events than of
attachment to persons? that they are of a social, as well as a political
nature, and correspond to the most deep-rooted and indestructible
elements of society in France?

Around these great parties floats the mass of the population; holding to
the one or the other by its interests, its habits, or its virtuous and
rational instincts; but without any strong or solid adhesion, and
incessantly assailed and worked upon by Socialists and Communists of
every shade. These last do not constitute political parties, for they do
not espouse any political principle, nor advocate any peculiar political
organization. Their only endeavour is to destroy all the influences, and
to break all the ties, material or moral, which bind the part of the
population living by the labour of its hands, to the class occupied in
the business of the state; to divide that part of the population from
the land-owner, the capitalist, the clergy, and all the other
established authorities; and finally to work upon it through its
miseries, and rule it by its appetites. One name denotes them all; all
are members of the one great Anarchical Party. It is not the superiority
of this or that form of government which they preach to the people--it
is sheer and absolute anarchy; for one kind of government is as
incompatible with chaos as another. There is, however, one striking
fact: whether sincere or depraved, blind Utopians or designing
Anarchists, all these disturbers of social order are Republicans. Not
that they are more attached or more submissive to republican government
than to any other; for every regular and efficient government, whether
republican or monarchical, is equally odious to them; but they hope that
under a republic they shall find stronger weapons to aid their attacks,
and feebler barriers to resist them. This is the secret of their

I have thus surveyed French society on every side. I have sought out and
exhibited all its real and essential elements, and all my inquiries lead
to the same result. On every side, whether in political or civil life, I
meet with profound diversities and inequalities: diversities and
inequalities which can neither be obliterated in civil life by unity of
laws and equality of rights, nor in political life by a republican
government; and which endure or revive under legislation of every kind
and government of every form.

This is not an opinion, an argument, or a conjecture, but a statement of

Now what is the import and tendency of these facts? Shall we find in
them the ancient classifications of society? Will the ancient political
denominations apply to them? Do they exhibit an aristocracy opposed to a
democracy; or a nobility, a bourgeoisie, and a so-called people? Would
these diversities and inequalities of social and political position
form, or tend to form, a hierarchy of classes analogous to those which
formerly existed in French society?

No, certainly!--the words _aristocracy_, _democracy_, _nobility_,
_bourgeoisie_, or _hierarchy_, do not correspond to the constituent
elements of modern French society, or express them with any truth or

Does then this society consist solely of citizens equal among each
other? Are there no different classes, and only individual diversities
and inequalities, devoid of all political importance? Is there nothing
but a great and uniform democracy, which seeks satisfaction in a
republic at the risk of finding repose in a despotism?

Neither is this the fact; either of these descriptions would equally
misrepresent the true state of our society. We must emancipate ourselves
from the tyranny of words, and see things as they really are. France is
extremely new, and yet full of the past; whilst the principles of unity
and equality have determined her organization, she still contains social
conditions and political situations profoundly different and unequal.
There is no hierarchical classification, but there are different
classes; there is no aristocracy, properly so called, but there is
something which is not democracy. The real, essential, and distinct
elements of French society, which I have just described, may enfeeble
each other by perpetual conflicts, but neither can destroy or
obliterate the other. They survive all the struggles in which they
engage, and all the calamities which they inflict on each other. Their
co-existence is a fact which it is not in their power to abolish. Let
them then fully acquiesce in it; let them live together, and in peace.
Neither the liberty nor the repose, the dignity nor the prosperity, the
greatness nor the security of France, are to be had on any other terms.

On what conditions can this peace be established?



Whenever it shall have been distinctly perceived and fully admitted that
the different classes which exist among us, and the political parties
which correspond to those classes, are natural and deeply-rooted
elements of French society, a great step will have been made towards
social peace.

This peace is impossible so long as each of the different classes and
the great political parties into which our society is divided cherishes
the hope of annihilating the others, and of reigning alone. That is the
evil which, ever since 1789, has periodically agitated and convulsed
France. Sometimes the democratic element has aimed at the extinction of
the aristocratic; at other times the aristocratic element has tried to
crush the democratic, and to regain its former predominance.
Constitutions, laws, and the administration of the government have been
by turns directed, like engines of war, to one or the other of these
ends--a war to the death, in which neither combatant believed his life
compatible with that of his rival.

This war was suspended by the Emperor Napoleon. He rallied around him
the classes which had formerly possessed, and those which actually
enjoyed, power and influence; and by the security which he offered them,
by the continual turmoil in which he kept them, or by the yoke which he
imposed upon them, he established and maintained peace.

After him, from 1814 to 1830, and from 1830 to 1848, this war was
renewed. A great progress had been made. Liberty had become real. Both
the ancient aristocratic, and the modern democratic elements acquired
strength; but though neither could succeed in suppressing the other,
each was impatient of its adversary’s existence, and eagerly strove for
the mastery.

And now a third combatant has entered the arena. The democratic party
having divided itself into two conflicting sections, the workmen are now
arrayed against their masters, or the people against the middle classes.
This new war, like the former, is a war to the death; for the new
aspirant is as arrogant and exclusive as the others can have ever been.
The sovereignty, it is said, belongs of right to the people only; and no
rival, ancient or modern, noble or bourgeois, can be admitted to share

Every pretension of this kind must be withdrawn, not by one only, but by
all of the contending parties. The great elements of society among
us--the old aristocracy, the middle classes, and the people--must
completely renounce the hope of excluding and annihilating each other.
Let them vie with each other in influence; let each maintain its
position and its rights, or even endeavour to extend and improve them,
for in such efforts consists the political life of a country. But there
must be an end of all radical hostility: they must resign themselves to
live together, side by side, in the ranks of the government as well as
in civil society. This is the first condition of social peace. How, it
may be asked, can this condition be satisfied? How can the different
elements of our society be brought to tolerate each other’s existence,
and to fulfil their several functions in the government of the country?

I reply, by such an organization of that government as may assign to
each its place and functions; may concede something to the wishes, while
it imposes limits to the ambition, of all.

I am here met by an idea, perhaps the most false and fatal of all those
current in our days on the subject of constitutional organization. It is
this:--“National unity involves political unity. There is but one
people: there can exist at the head and in the name of this people, but
one power.”

This is the idea which most completely characterizes both revolution and
despotism. The Convention and Louis XIV. exclaimed alike, “L’Etat, c’est

It is as false as it is tyrannical. A nation is not a vast aggregate of
men, consisting of so many thousands or millions, occupying a certain
extent of ground, and concentrated in, and represented by, a unit,
called king or assembly. A nation is a great organic body, formed by the
union within one country of certain social elements which assume the
shape and constitution naturally impressed upon them by the primitive
laws of God and the free acts of man. The diversity of these elements
is, as we have just seen, one of the essential facts resulting from
those laws; and is absolutely inconsistent with the false and tyrannous
unity which it is proposed to establish at the centre of government, as
representative of that society in which it never exists.

What then, it is said, must all the elements of society, all the groups
of which it is naturally composed, all the various classes, professions,
and opinions it contains, be represented in the government by powers
corresponding to each?

No, certainly: society is not a federation of professions, classes, and
opinions, which treat, by their several delegates, of the affairs which
are common to them all; any more than it is a uniform mass of exactly
similar elements, which send their representatives to the centre of
government only because they cannot all repair thither themselves, and
are compelled to reduce themselves to a number which can meet in one
place and deliberate in common. Social unity requires that there should
be but one government; but the diversity of the social elements equally
requires that this government should not be one sole power.

There is a natural process of attraction and concentration at work in
the heart of society, and among the numberless particular associations
which it contains (such as families, professions, classes, and parties),
by which all the smaller associations are successively absorbed into the
larger. The multitude of particular and different elements are thus
reduced to a small number of principal and essential elements, which
include and represent all the rest.

I do not think that these principal elements of society ought to be all
specially represented in the government of the state by several
authorities; I only maintain that their diversity is inconsistent with
the unity of the central power.

To this reasoning it has often been confidently replied--that the
various elements of society are congregated, by the process of free
election, in a single assembly which represents the whole nation; and
which affords them an arena for free discussion, where they can maintain
their opinions, their interests and their rights, and exert their proper
influence over the resolutions of the assembly, and consequently over
the government of the state.

We are then to infer from this that we have discharged the claims of
the most varied, weighty, and essential social elements when we have
said, “Get yourselves elected, then give your opinion, and try to make
it the prevalent one!” Election and discussion constitute the entire
basis which is to sustain the social edifice; election and discussion
afford a sufficient guarantee for all interests, rights, and liberties!

Such a theory betrays a strange ignorance of human nature, human
society, and the French people.

I will put a single question. The interests of society are twofold;
those of stability and conservation on the one hand, and those of
activity and progress on the other. If you wanted to secure the
interests of activity and progress, would you seek this security among
the social elements in which the interests of stability and conservation
are peculiarly strong? Undoubtedly not: you would commit the interests
of activity and progress to the care of their natural and willing
protectors, and you would do well. But all these various interests have
equal wants and equal claims. There is no safety for any of them but in
its appropriate power; that is to say, in a power analogous to it in its
nature and in its relations to other powers. If the interests of
stability and conservation are committed wholly to the chances of the
composition of a single elective assembly, invested with the sole and
final decision of all questions, and to the chances of the discussions
in that assembly, be assured that sooner or later, after numerous
oscillations between tyrannies of different kinds, those interests will
be sacrificed or lost.

It is absurd to seek the principle of the political stability of
government in the mobile elements of society. The permanent elements of
society must find in the government itself, powers corresponding to
them, and offering a pledge for their security. A diversity of powers is
equally indispensable to conservation and to liberty.

It is matter of amazement that this truth should be disputed, for the
very men who dispute it have made a great step towards its admission and
application. After establishing unity of power at the head of the state,
they have admitted a division of powers lower down, on account of the
diversity of functions. They have carefully separated the legislative,
executive, administrative, and judicial powers; thus practically
acknowledging the necessity of giving guarantees to different interests,
by the separation and the different constitution of these powers. How is
it that they do not see that this necessity has a higher application,
and that the diversity of the general interests of society and of the
duties of the supreme power, imperatively requires a diversity of powers
in the highest as well as in the subordinate spheres of government?

But to constitute a real and efficient diversity of powers, it is not
enough that each should have a distinct place and name in the
government; it is also necessary that all should be strongly organized,
all fully competent to fill and to maintain the place they occupy.

It is the fashion of the day to think that harmony among the powers of
the state, and security against their excess, is to be found in their
weakness. People are afraid of every kind of authority; and in order to
prevent their destroying each other, or encroaching upon liberty, they
ingeniously endeavour to undermine them all in turn.

This is a monstrous error. Every weak power is a power doomed to perish
by extinction or by usurpation. If several weak powers conflict, either
one will become strong at the expense of the others, and will end in a
tyranny, or they will trammel and neutralize each other, and the result
will be anarchy.

What is it that has constituted the strength and success of
constitutional monarchy in England? It is that, while the royalty and
aristocracy were originally strong, the commonalty has become strong by
successive conquests of its rights from the aristocracy and the king. Of
the three constitutional powers, two retain much of their primitive
greatness, and rest firmly on their deep and primæval roots; the third
has risen to greatness, and has gradually struck its roots deeply into
the same soil. Each is fully able to defend itself against the other,
and to fulfil its peculiar mission.

When an earnest and sincere attempt was made to establish constitutional
monarchy in France, its firmest adherents desired an ancient and
historical basis for royalty; for the Chamber of Peers, an hereditary
seat in the legislature, and for the Chamber of Deputies, direct
election: not by any means in obedience to theories or precedents, but
in order that the great powers of the state might be true
powers,--efficient and living entities, not words or phantoms.

In the United States, notwithstanding the difference of names,
situations, manners, and institutions, Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson,
and Madison, when founding the Republic, recognised and acted upon the
same principles. They too thought it necessary to have different powers
at the head of the government; and in order that the difference might be
real, they gave to each of these powers--_i.e._ the two chambers and the
President--a distinct origin; as distinct as the general institutions of
the country would permit, and as different as their several functions.

Diversity of origin and of nature is one of the conditions essential to
the intrinsic and real strength of powers, and this again is the
condition indispensable to political harmony and social peace.

Nor is it only at the summit and centre of government that these
principles ought to guide the organization of power; they are equally
applicable through the whole extent of the country, in the management of
its local, no less than of its general affairs. A great deal has been
said in favour of centralization and administrative unity, and there is
no doubt that they have rendered great service to France. We shall
preserve many of their forms, regulations, maxims, and works; but the
time of their sovereignty is past. Centralization is no longer
sufficient for the chief wants and pressing dangers of society. The
struggle is no longer confined to the centre; it agitates the whole
nation. Since property, family, and all the bases of society, are
attacked everywhere, they must everywhere be vigorously defended; and
functionaries or orders which have to travel from the centre of
government will be found a very inadequate defence, even though
supported by bayonets. Landed proprietors, and heads of families, who
are the natural guardians of society, must all be enjoined and empowered
to maintain its security by conducting its affairs: they must have an
active share in the management of its local as well as its general
interests; in the administration, as well as the government of the
country: the central government ought to uphold the banner of social
order, but it cannot bear the whole burthen of it unaided.

I speak always on the presumption that I am speaking _to_ a free
country, and _of_ a free government; for it is under free governments
that the safety of society demands all these conditions: they have
evidently no application to absolute governments.

Absolute power is, however, subject to certain conditions, as well as
liberty. It is far from being always possible where it would be
submitted to, nor can it be obtained wherever it is desired.

Let the friends of freedom never forget that nations prefer absolute
power to anarchy. The first want--the first instinct--of communities, as
well as of governments or of individuals, is self-preservation. Now a
community may exist under absolute power; under anarchy, if it lasts, it
must perish.

The readiness, I might almost say the eagerness, with which nations
throw their liberties into the gulf of anarchy, in the desperate attempt
to close it, is a shameful spectacle. I know nothing more lamentable to
witness than this sudden renunciation of all the rights so noisily and
vehemently demanded. The friend of freedom and of progress who would
fall into despair of man and of the future at this humiliating sight
must withdraw into himself, and refresh and invigorate his soul at
those high and pure fountains which nourish deep convictions and
far-reaching hopes.

Let not France, whatever be her peril, reckon on absolute power to save
her. It would not justify her confidence. In her ancient society,
absolute power reposed on a principle of moderation and of permanence;
while, under the Emperor Napoleon, it contained a principle of strength,
either of which it would vainly seek for now. Popular tyranny or
military dictatorship may be the expedient of a day, but can never be a
form of government. Free institutions are now as necessary to social
peace as they are to individual dignity; and power, whatever be its
nature or origin, whether republican or monarchical, has no wiser course
to pursue than to learn to use them, for they are now its only
instruments and its only stay.

If some are tempted to seek repose in other sources, let them abandon
all such hopes. Whatever be the future destiny of France, we shall not
escape from the necessity of a constitutional government; we are
condemned, for our own salvation, to surmount all the difficulties, and
to fulfil all the conditions, with which it may be encumbered.

There is but one means of rendering ourselves equal to this mighty task,
and of complying with this imperious necessity. All the elements of
stability, all the conservative forces in the country must unite closely
and act constantly together. It is no more possible to extinguish
democracy in the nation than liberty in the government. That immense
movement which has been communicated to every country and agitates all
their deepest recesses; which is incessantly inciting every class and
every individual to think, to desire, to claim, to act, to employ his
activity in every direction,--this movement will not be stopped. It is a
fact in which we must acquiesce, whether it pleases or displeases us,
whether it awakens our fears or excites our hopes. But though we cannot
extinguish this movement, we can guide and govern it; and if it is not
guided and governed, it will throw back the whole current of
civilization, and will be the opprobrium as well as the curse of
humanity. Democracy, to be guided and governed, must form a considerable
ingredient in the state, but it must not be the sole one: it must be
strong enough to climb itself, but never to pull down others: it must
find issues, and encounter barriers on every side. Democracy is a
fertilizing, but muddy stream, whose waters are never beneficent till
the turbid and impetuous current has spread itself abroad and subsided
into calmness and purity.

The Dutch, a great people, though in a small country, whose republican
glory shone brightly even amidst the full blaze of the monarchical glory
of Louis XIV., conquered their country from the ocean, and maintained
their conquest, by cutting canals and raising dikes on every side. It
is the ceaseless care of the whole community that the canals be never
obstructed and the dikes never broken; for on this depend the prosperity
and the existence of Holland.

Let all the conservative elements of France learn from this example; let
them unite all their efforts, let them keep a common and incessant
watch, that the rising tide of democracy may always find safe channels
and indestructible barriers. On the joint and efficient action of these
depend the safety of the community, and the safety of each individual
composing it. If the conservative elements of French society know how to
combine and to form a united body, if the party spirit which prevails
among them shall give way to a large and enlightened political spirit,
then France, and the democracy of France, are saved. If the conservative
elements remain disunited and disorganized, Democracy will destroy
France, and will perish under the ruins she has made.



The political conditions which I have just specified are indispensable
to the re-establishment of social peace in France; but they alone will
not suffice. Such a work requires something more than a good
organization of powers; it requires a certain measure of prudence and
virtue on the part of the people themselves. It is a gross delusion to
believe in the sovereign power of political machinery. The free will of
man plays a great part in social affairs, and the success of
institutions must in the end depend on the men who live under them.

Much has lately been said about Christianity, and the name of Jesus
Christ has been frequently introduced into the harangues of demagogues.
God forbid that I should suffer my mind to dwell long on these
profanations,--this hideous mixture of cynicism and hypocrisy. I shall
only suggest one question--If the French nation were sincerely and
practically Christian, what would be its conduct in the midst of the
terrible difficulties by which it is agitated and perplexed?

The rich and great of the earth would earnestly and perseveringly labour
to alleviate the distresses of those beneath them. Their intercourse
with the poorer classes would be active, affectionate, morally and
physically beneficent. The various sufferings and perils of humanity
would call forth corresponding associations, endowments, and works of

The poor and humble would be submissive to the will of God and the laws
of society. They would seek the satisfaction of their wants in regular
and assiduous labour, the improvement of their condition in good conduct
and provident habits, and consolation and hope in the futurity promised
to man.

These are the Christian virtues--they are called Faith, Hope, and
Charity. Is this the conduct men are exhorted by the preachers of
Democracy to pursue? Are these the sentiments which these men, who
affect a veneration for the Founder of Christianity, try to rekindle in
the hearts of the people?

I doubt whether they can carry the impudence of mendacity so far as to
answer in the affirmative; and if they dared to do so, I am sure that,
spite of the credulity of the public, they would receive a universal

But these monstrous attempts, whether the result of fraud or of folly,
will not succeed. Christianity will not be disfigured or degraded so.
Nothing can be more anti-Christian than the ideas, the language, or the
influence of the present race of reformers of social order. If Communism
and Socialism prevailed, Christianity must become extinct: if
Christianity were more potent, Communism and Socialism would soon sink
into the chaotic mass of obscure and forgotten extravagances.

I wish to be perfectly just; and while attacking notions which are the
disgrace and the curse of our times, I would acknowledge whatever germ
of morality they contain, and show what virtuous pretexts or benevolent
instincts may delude their advocates or seduce their converts.

There is a sentiment, noble and beautiful in itself, which has been much
and often appealed to throughout all the perturbations and convulsions
of society in France; this sentiment is, enthusiasm for mankind--the
enthusiasm of confidence, sympathy, and hope. This feeling reigned
supreme among us in 1789, and gave its resistless impulse to that epoch.
There was no virtue that was not ascribed to man--no success that was
not hoped and predicted for him. Faith and hope in man took the place of
faith and hope in God. The trial was not long deferred. The idol did not
long retain its power. Confidence was soon convicted of presumption, and
sympathy ended in social war and the scaffold. The hopes that were
fulfilled appeared insignificant, compared to those that had vanished
like dreams. Never did experience advance with such rapid strides to
confront and overthrow pride.

Yet it is to this same sentiment that our modern reformers of social
order appeal. It is this same idolatrous enthusiasm for human nature
that they invoke. At the same time that they rob man of his sublimest
emotions and loftiest prospects, they exalt without measure his nature
and his power: rather, I ought to say, they miserably degrade them, for
they promise him nothing beyond this earth; but while there, their
belief in him is blind and implicit--their hope from him, and for him,

The most melancholy reflection is, that this insane idolatry is their
only excuse; the only one of their ideas which springs from a source of
the smallest elevation, or possesses the smallest moral value. If they
had not a blind faith in man, and a servile adoration of humanity, they
would be nothing more than the propagators of a rapacious, brutish, and
lawless materialism.

“If man exalteth himself,” says Pascal, “I abase him; if he abaseth
himself, I exalt him.” We ought continually to bear in mind and to apply
these admirable words. Certainly man is a being worthy to inspire us
with respect and love, and with high hopes of his future condition. To
those who were insensible to the nobleness of his nature and his
destiny--to himself, if he forgot it--I should say with Pascal, “If man
abaseth himself, I exalt him.” But to those who promise themselves
everything from him, by promising him everything; whose expectations
from him are as boundless as those they labour to excite in him; to
those who, goaded by their own pride, are constantly striving to inflate
his pride; who forget, and try to make him forget, the frailty and
wretchedness of his nature, the supreme laws by which he is bound, and
the support of which he stands in need,--to those men I would say with
Pascal, “If man exalteth himself, I abase him.” And facts,--recent,
glaring, incontrovertible facts,--say it far more impressively than I.

It is impossible to restore France to the state of things which
prevailed in 1789--to rekindle that enthusiasm of presumptuous
confidence and hope with which the nation was then drunk--an enthusiasm
which then was genuine as well as general, had the ardour and
spontaneity of youth, and was rendered excusable by inexperience, but
which now would be only a false and factitious excitement; a thin, an
ineffectual veil thrown over bad passions and insane dreams. By what
incurable arrogance could we reject the lessons which God has lavished
upon us for the last sixty years? He does not require of us to despair
of ourselves and of our species, to abandon all efforts for its
progress, or to shut our hearts against a tender sympathy in its weal
or woe; but He does forbid us to exalt our own nature into an idol. He
commands us to see it as it is; without illusion and without coldness;
and to love and serve it according to the laws He has established. I
have certainly no desire to extinguish any of the small portion of moral
ardour still remaining in the world, nor to infuse additional doubt and
indifference into hearts already so lukewarm and uncertain. But neither
can I add to their delusions. It is not by retracing its course toward
the sources of the revolution, that France will walk with a firm and
animated step: those fountains are all dry, and our generation will not
go to slake its thirst or refresh its spirit at them. You complain of
its languor; you want to see the faith and the moral energy, which are
the soul and strength of nations, revive among us: but it is vain to
seek them in the revolutionary spirit, which is wholly incapable of
inspiring them. It is a fire which has still power to consume, but can
neither warm nor enlighten. Instead of reviving and invigorating our
belief in the great truths which are the wholesome stimulants as well as
the true guardians of society, they can only diffuse doubt and
perplexity. Certainly France wants to be morally elevated and
strengthened; she wants to regain her faith in, and attachment to, fixed
and undisputed principles. But the revolutionary spirit can do nothing
to appease these wants; the scenes and the harangues, the predictions
and the recollections which it suggests, can only retard the work. The
honour of its accomplishment is reserved for other moral powers and
other intellectual tendencies.

Among the foremost, are the domestic sentiments and morals. The Family
is now, more than ever, the first element and the last rampart of
society. Whilst, in general society, everything becomes more and more
mobile, personal, and transient, it is in domestic life that the demand
for permanency, and the feeling of the necessity of sacrificing the
present to the future, are indestructible. It is in domestic life that
the ideas and the virtues which form a counterpoise to the excessive and
ungoverned movement excited in the great centres of civilization, are
formed. The tumult of business and pleasure, temptation and strife which
reigns in our great cities, would soon throw the whole of society into a
deplorable state of ferment and dissolution, if domestic life, with its
calm activity, its permanent interests, and its fixed property, did not
oppose solid barriers throughout the country to the restless waves of
this stormy sea. It is in the bosom of domestic life, and under its
influences, that private, the basis of public, morality is most
securely maintained. There too, and in our days there almost
exclusively, the affections of our nature,--friendship, gratitude, and
self-devotion,--all the ties which unite hearts in the sense of a common
destiny, grow and flourish. The time has been when, under other forms of
society, these private affections found a place in public life; when
devoted attachments strengthened political connexions. These times are
past, never to return. In the vast and complicated and ever-moving
society of our days, general interests and principles, the sentiments of
the masses, and the combinations of parties, have the entire possession
and direction of public life. The private affections are ties too
delicate to exercise any powerful influence over the conflicts of that
pitiless field. But it is never without serious injury that one of the
vital elements of human nature is uprooted out of any of the fields of
human action; and the complete absence of tender and faithful
attachments in that almost exclusive domain of abstract ideas and
general or selfish interests, has robbed political life of a noble
ornament and a great source of strength. It is of incalculable
importance to society that there should be some safe retreat in which
the affectionate dispositions--I would almost say passions--of the heart
of man may expand in freedom; and that, occasionally emerging from that
retreat, they may exhibit their presence and their power by some
beautiful examples in that tumultuous region of politics in which they
are so rarely found. But these social virtues must be nursed in the
bosom of domestic life; these social affections must spring from family
affections. Home, the abode of stability and morality, also contains the
hearth at which all our affections and all our self-devotion are
kindled; it is in the circle of the Family that the noblest parts of our
nature find satisfactions they would seek for else in vain; it is from
that circle that, when circumstances demand, they can go forth to adorn
and bless society.

Next to the spirit of family, the political spirit is that from which
France has now the greatest services to expect, and which she ought to
foster with the greatest care. The political spirit shows itself in the
will and the power to take a regular and active part in public affairs,
without employment of violence or risk of disturbance. The greater the
spread and cultivation of the political spirit, the more does it teach
men the necessity and the habit of seeing things as they are in their
exact and naked truth. To see, not what exists, but what they wish; to
indulge complacently in illusions about facts, as if facts would, with
equal complacency, take the form that they desire,--is the radical and
characteristic weakness of men still new to political life, and the
source of their most fatal errors. To see things as they are, is the
first and very excellent fruit of the political spirit, and gives birth
to another not less excellent, viz.--that, by learning to see only what
is, we learn to desire only what is possible; the exact appreciation of
facts begets moderation in designs and pretensions. The political
spirit, true and sincere to itself, becomes prudent and reasonable
towards others. Nothing inclines men more to moderation than a full
knowledge of the truth; for it is rarely that she throws all her weight
into one scale. The political spirit is thus naturally led by prudence,
if by no higher morality, to that respect for rights which is not only
its fundamental law and essential merit, but the sole basis of social
stability; since, where law ceases, nothing remains but force, which is
essentially variable and precarious. The respect for rights supposes, or
produces, the respect for law, the habitual source of rights. The real
and the possible, rights and law, such are the subjects upon which the
political spirit is constantly exercised, and which become the habitual
objects of its inquiry and its veneration. It thus maintains, or
re-establishes, a moral principle of fixity in the relations of
individuals, and a moral principle of authority in those of the state.

The more the value for family ties shall increase at the expense of the
selfishness of an isolated existence, and the more the political shall
gain upon the revolutionary spirit, the more tranquil will the society
of France become, and the more firmly will it rest upon its

Nevertheless, neither the domestic nor the political spirit would
suffice for the task. They need the assistance of another and a higher
spirit, whose influence penetrates more deeply than they can do into the
human soul. It is peculiar to religion that she has a language for every
individual; a language which all can understand, the high as well as the
humble, the happy as well as the unhappy; and that she ascends or
descends, without an effort, into every rank and region of society. And
it is one of the admirable features of the constitution of the Christian
church, that her ministers are not only scattered over, but form an
integral part of, the whole of society; living as near to the cottage as
the palace; in habitual and intimate intercourse with the highest and
the lowest; equally the monitors of greatness and the consolers of
misery. This tutelary power, spite of the abuses and the faults into
which it has been led by its very force and extent, has for ages
exercised a more vigilant and energetic control over the moral dignity
and the dearest interests of man, than any other. Nobody would be so
averse as I should, for the sake of religion herself, to see a revival
of the abuses by which she has been disfigured or corrupted; but I
confess that I do not fear this at the present day. The principles of
lay supremacy and freedom of thought have definitively triumphed in
modern society: they may still have some enemies to repel, and some
conflicts to sustain, but their victory is certain; they have in their
favour the prevailing institutions, manners, opinions, and passions; and
that general and overwhelming current of ideas and events which flows on
through all diversities, obstacles, and perils, in the same direction,
at Rome, Madrid, Turin, Berlin, and Vienna, no less than at London or
Paris. For modern society to fear religion, or to dispute her influence
with acrimony, would therefore be a puerile alarm and a fatal error. You
are surrounded by an immense and excited multitude; you complain that
you want means to act upon it, to enlighten, direct, control, and
tranquillize it; that you have little intercourse with these men, save
through the tax-gatherer and the policeman; that they are given over,
without defence, to the inflammatory declamations of charlatans and
demagogues, and to the blind violence of their own passions. Dispersed
among them, you have men whose express mission and constant occupation
it is to guide their faith, to console their distresses, to show them
their duties, to awaken and elevate their hopes, to exercise over them
that moral influence which you vainly seek elsewhere. And would you not
second these men in their work, when they can second you so powerfully
in yours, precisely in those obscure enclosures where you so rarely
penetrate, and where the enemies of social order enter continually, and
sap all their foundations?

There is, it is true, a condition attached to the favour and the
political efficacy of the religious spirit; it demands sincere respect,
and liberty. I will even confess that the fears and desires of the
religious party often render them unjust, captious, suspicious,
rancorous, and exacting; that they sometimes fall into the vortex of
those false, anarchical and chimerical ideas which it is their peculiar
vocation to combat. I will make as large concessions as can be required,
as to the injustice you must expect to submit to, and the precautions
you will have to take; yet I shall say at the conclusion, as I said at
the beginning, Do not hold up acrimonious disputes with religion; do not
fear her influences; allow them space and liberty to expand and to act
in the largest and most powerful manner. On the whole, they will
certainly be more in favour of tranquillity than of strife, and will
assist more than they will embarrass you.

If we were under that proximate necessity of acting, which affords a
light indispensable to those who want to do more than lay down general
principles of action, it would be our business to inquire by what
practical means, by what positive institutions or laws, the domestic,
the political, and the religious spirit might be duly strengthened and
developed in our country. At present I shall only add one word. We
cannot treat with great moral forces as if they were mercenary and
suspected auxiliaries. They exist by themselves, with their natural
merits and defects, their unavoidable benefits and dangers. We must
accept them, such as they are; without pretending to be either their
slaves or their tyrants, without giving up everything to them, but also
without trying to withhold their just portion. The religious, the
domestic, and the political spirit are more than ever beneficent, more
than ever necessary, in our society. Neither social tranquillity, nor
stability, nor order can dispense with their co-operation. Seek then
that co-operation with sincerity; receive it with a good grace, and
resign yourselves to pay the price of it.

Societies, no more than individuals, are exempted from the necessity of
purchasing advantages by efforts and sacrifices.



Let not France deceive herself. Not all the experiments she may try, not
all the revolutions she may make, or suffer to be made, will ever
emancipate her from the necessary and inevitable conditions of social
tranquillity and good government. She may refuse to admit them, and may
suffer without measure or limit from her refusal, but she cannot escape
from them.

We have tried everything:--Republic--Empire--Constitutional Monarchy. We
are beginning our experiments anew. To what must we ascribe their ill
success? In our own times, before our own eyes, in three of
the greatest nations in the world, these three same forms of
government--Constitutional Monarchy in England, the Empire in Russia,
and the Republic in North America--endure and prosper. Have we the
monopoly of all impossibilities?

Yes; so long as we remain in the chaos in which we are plunged, in the
name, and by the slavish idolatry, of Democracy; so long as we can see
nothing in society but Democracy, as if that were its sole ingredient;
so long as we seek in government nothing but the domination of
Democracy, as if that alone had the right and the power to govern.

On these terms the Republic is equally impossible as the Constitutional
Monarchy, and the Empire, as the Republic; for all regular and stable
government is impossible.

And liberty--legal and energetic liberty--is no less impossible than
stable and regular government.

The world has seen great and illustrious communities reduced to this
deplorable condition; incapable of supporting any legal and energetic
liberty, or any regular and stable government; condemned to interminable
and sterile political oscillations, from the various shades and forms of
anarchy to the equally various forms of despotism. For a heart capable
of any feeling of pride or dignity, I cannot conceive a more cruel
suffering than to be born in such an age. Nothing remains but to retire
to the sanctuary of domestic life, and the prospects of religion. The
joys and the sacrifices, the labours and the glories of public life
exist no more.

Such is not, God be praised, the state of France; such will not be the
closing scene of her long and glorious career of civilization,--of all
her exertions, conquests, hopes, and sufferings. France is full of life
and vigour. She has not mounted so high, to descend in the name of
equality to so low a level. She possesses the elements of a good
political organization. She has numerous classes of citizens,
enlightened and respected, already accustomed to manage the business of
their country, or prepared to undertake it. Her soil is covered with an
industrious and intelligent population, who detest anarchy, and ask only
to live and to labour in peace. There is an abundance of virtue in the
bosoms of her families, and of good feeling in the hearts of her sons.
We have wherewithal to struggle against the evil that devours us. But
the evil is immense. There are no words wherein to describe, no measure
wherewith to measure it. The suffering and the shame it inflicts upon us
are slight, compared to those it prepares for us if it endures. And who
will say that it cannot endure, when all the passions of the wicked, all
the extravagances of the mad, all the weaknesses of the good, concur to
foment it? Let all the sane forces of France then unite to combat it.
They will not be too many, and they must not wait till it is too late.
Their united strength will more than once bend under the weight of their
work, and France, ere she can be saved, will still need to pray that God
would protect her.

                               THE END.


                    Printed by W. CLOWES and SONS,
                           Stamford Street.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Democracy in France - January 1849" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.