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Thiers was unknown but to a few friends or cronies in the republic of letters; Marshal Soult had served the Restoration as he had the empire, with equal fidelity; Count d' Argont had been charged by Charles X. to negotiate for him with the Provisional Government at the Hotel de Ville; and Talleyrand had no moral influence over even three individuals in all France— we were about to say in all the world. So Casimir Perier was the only man who could dare—who did dare to attempt to conquer the Revolution of 1830—and who, in the end, even though cut off in the midst of his labours, did, by his successors and disciples, succeed in conquering it.
To the life of this man, then, we invite the attention of our readers; and though his life, like those of most of us, will be found to be a mingled yarn of good and evil, yet, on the whole, much benefit may be derived from the contemplation and study of his individual history.
Casimir Perieu was born at Grenobleon the 12th of October, 1777. His family, originally from Mens, a small town in the environs of the capital of Isere, had become wealthy from its commercial and enterprising character, and even enjoyed a reputation su.perior to its fortune. The grandfather of Casimir Perier, about 1720, had transported to Grenoble the principal establishment of the family; he was the founder of the manufactory of the linens of Voiron, the produce of which amounted to several millions of francs per annum at the beginning of the Revolution, and he concentrated at Grenoble, and in his house, the concern of the " Tissas de l'lnde," with which he supplied the centre and the south of France. One of his sons was named director of the " Companie des Indes." His eldest son, Claude, the father of Casimir, extended his commercial operations to the two branches of industry created by his father, and undertook to introduce at Vizille the then new invention of printed cotton goods. The position of the grandfather of Casimir Perier was such as to justify him in deciding that his son Augustine should become counsellor to the Parliament. He purchased the necessary qualifications—but, in order to exercise those rights, it was necessary to obtain the consent of the company. Another proof of the wealthy and re
spectable position in society of the family of Periers may be derived from this fact, that, two years before the Revolution of 1789, the province of Dauphiny suffered much from a very serious famine. It was necessary, therefore, to make large purchases of provisions in neighbouring districts of France. Claude Perier, the father of Casimir, put his capital and credit at the disposal of his native province; and in order to reward him for this signal service rendered to Isere, the Parliament of Grenoble renderedspontaneously a decree, by which the charge of counsellor was presented to his eldest son. The family of Perier appears to have been destined to represent, in the most full and comprehensive manner, the political aggrandisement of the middling classes in France. The father of Casimir Perier died a member of the legislative corps; his two brothers-in-law, Messrs Pascal and Duchesne, were, one a member of the same corps, and the other a Tribun. Six of his eight sons, Messrs Augustine, Alexandre, Casimir, Camille, Alphonse, Joseph Perier, have been Deputies; the three last are so still; and M. Augustine Perier died Peer of France. His two sons in-law, Messrs Savage de Rollin and M. Tesserie, were Deputies, the first after having been a Tribun. One of his nephews was Camille Jordan, and another, M. Duchesne, is still member of the elective Chamber.
The family of Perier, like the family of Peel, belongs, then, to the mercantile and manufacturing classes of society; and as the father of Sir Robert Peel founded a sort of dynasty of wealth, talent, and patriotism, so did the father of Casimir Perier, both having one son, above allothersof their children, who distinguished themselves by their senatorial and statesman-like talents. As Sir Robert Peel, on all suitable occasions, net only admits, but even boasts of the fact that he belongs to the industrious and trading, the middling and manufacturing classes of society—so did Casimir Perier—and on one occasion, when reproached by the French Radical party with being a great Signior, and with being unable to sympathize with the middling and industrious classes, he exclaimed, "miserable and ignorantcreatures that ye are! Do ye forget, then, that my grandfather was a weaver, and my
father a spinner, and that I am only their son? I know what it is to rise early and to work late, to eat the bread of carefulness and of honest labour; but I know also that the laws are as essential to the workman as they are to the manufacturer, and as necessary for the middling classes as they are for the wealthy. I desire nothing more than the triumph of the laws, and with the laws the liberty which their triumph must assure me."
On another occasion, when called an "aristocrat," and one of the privileged classes, he replied, "my only aristocracy is the superiority which industry, frugality, perseverance, and intelligence will always assure to every man in a free state of society. I belong only to those privileged classes to which you may all belong in your turn. They are not privileges created for us, but created by us. Our wealth is our own; we have made it. Our ease and prosperity are our own; we have gained them by the sweat of our brows, or by the labour of our minds. Our position in society is not conferred upon us, but purchased by ourselves—with our own intellect, application, zeal, patience, and industry. If you remain inferior to us, it is because you have not the intellect or the industry, the zeal or the sobriety, the patience or the application, necessary to your advancement. This is not our fault, but your own. You wish to become rich, as some men do to become wise; but there is no royal road to wealth any more than there is to knowledge. You sigh for the ease and the repose of wealth, but you are not willing to do that which is necessary to procure them. The husbandman who will not till his ground shall reap nothing but thistles or briars. You think that the commotions in human society are useless and misdirected it you do not become wealthy and powerful by the changes; but what right have you to expect, you idlers and drones in the hive, that you shall always be fed on the honey and the sweets of life? What right have you, vfho do nothing for yourselves, your families, your communes, yonr arrondissements, your departments, your country, nr your kind, to imagine that you will bo selected by them for their favour,their confidence, and their rewards? I am not an Aristocrat in that sense of the term in which it may
Casiinir Perier [July»be applied in absolute governments or under imperial rule; but if, by an Aristocrat, you mean a man who has earned his promotion by his labour, his honours by his toils, and his wealth by his industry—oh, then, indeed, I am an Aristocrat—and, please God, I hope always to remain so. The distinctions in human society displease you, because you have not the talent or the industry to amend your own position. You are too idle to labour, and too proud to beg, but I will endeavour to take care that you shall not rob me. I throw back, then, with indignation and resentment the charge which is made. I belong to the middling classes of society. These classes must take their part in the government of society. I have been selected by my fellow-citizens, and by my king, as one of their representatives, and, by the blessing of God, I will represent them."
On the approach of the Revolution in France, the Hers itat did not perhaps feel the importance of its high destinies; but it must be admitted that it prepared to merit them. It had reaped the harvest of nearly all that had been sown for two centuries. For it were accomplished tho progress of order, of case, of ideas. For it the influence of the privileged classes was weakened, and the power of royal authority was increased. It had raised itself, little by little, to that point of force and maturity, which enabled it to say, and justified it in saying, that it was the nation. In its bosom, or rather at its head, were to be distinguished families, who allied to the manners of tho past the opinions of the then present; and one of these families was that of Claude Perier. Having arrived at affluence by labour and economy, it had remained simple, moderate, serious. It participated in those ideas of independence which assimilated it to the spirit of the times, at the same time that it preserved those habits of subordination, and of respect for the past, for the old monarchy, and for olden events and times, which were weakening generally every day. The chief of this Perier family was an able merchant—having an imperious character, habituated to demand much from himself, and much from others, and his authority was felt around him. He was no believer in agrarian laws, in republican spolia
tions, in false systems of equality; but, on the contrary, he was an advocate for paternal government at home, aml for a firm and regular, and even a severe government of the nation. His wife, the muther of Casimir Perier, Marie Pascal, was ppdowed with a singular mind and with a lively imagination. She was an admirable mother of a family; but her religious opinions approached almost to mysticism. The natural independence of her ideas, and the sweet mildness of her character, tended to render less austere the otherwise strict aspect of the Perier family. She was one of those, however, who understood and felt in all its force the value of maternal instruction; and who maintained that the education of a child began in its cradle. She was not ashamed to acknowledge the obligations of woman to Christianity; and, in her turn, she sought to bring up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Around her was grouped a numerous family, or, as was said repeatedly, "a tribe ;"—ten children, remarkable for a most decided physiognomy; for a melange of new principles and old manners, of severity and of affection, imagination and prudence; for a knowledge and aptitude for business; for vivacity of impressions, clearness of judgment, and the sentiment, not a little pronounced, of personal dignity. The eldest of the eight sons of Claude Perier, Augustink, was destined by his father to inherit the best part of his fortune, and to become a member of the French magistracy; but the French Revolution arrived, with all its positive wrongs and positive injustice; with its real evils and imaginary troubles; with its excesses, its horrors, its good, and its evil. It is known that it was preceded, and even as it were announced by the emeutes of the Parliament, and by the resistance of the provinces. From the Peace of America to the Assembly of the StatesGeneral the kingdom was agitated by troubles as the avant-coariers of an unknown and approaching crisis. Dauphiny was certainly not one of the provinces which were least excited; and when, in 1788, the states of that province began those conflicts where Mounier dominated, and Bernave commenced his career, the chief of the Perier family offered them an asylum.
Claude Perier had purchased the chateau of Vizille, the residence of Viilcroy, built four leagues from Grenoble, in a deep valley on the banks of the llomauckc, by the Connetablc de Lesdiguieres. Jt was in the vast saloons of that last feudal manor of this palace, appropriated now to the humble and peaceful labours of industry, that met openly, but illegally, that assembly which demanded the double representation of thp (iers-etat, thus precluding the constituent assembly. At Vizille, in the property of the Periers, commenced the first portion of the French Revolution. In vain did Brienne contend against the demand qf the Parliament and Peers of the realm in July 1787—against the clergy in its assembly of Paris, and against the states of Dauphiny in the assembly of Vizille. Tho States-General had become, perhaps, the only means of government and the last resource of the throne. The provincial states had, partially at least, prepared the public mind for it, and the Notables had been its harbingers. The King, after having promised, on 18th December, 1787, tho convocation within five years, fixed, on the 8th August, 1788, that the StatesGeneral should open on the 1st May, 1789. Then Necker was recalled, the Parliament re established, the '' Cow plenihe" abolished, the bailiwicks destroyed, the provinces satisfied, and the new Minister made every arrangement for the election of the Deputies, and the holding of the States. But though the family of Perier demanded the organization of tho States-General, and powerfully contributed to its constitution, yet it must not be supposed, for a moment, that either in that family, or in Dauphiny generally, the spirit of innovation, or the adventurous love of change, were the principles of those movements which brought about a Revolution. That province was united to the crown by a contract, the conditions of which it believed it was only requiring to be faithfully executed when it combated a power which it felt or judged to be arbitrary. Thus, the resistance of Dauphiny was most unlike that of other provinces and other places, and that which others could only justify by abstract maxims was defended in this province by texts of treatises
and ancient souvenirs. So that that which was rebellion at Versailles was legal resistance at Grenoble.
Claude Perier took great pains to enforce on the minds of his sons, then growing up into life, what he considered a great fact, and an important truth, that Dauphiny was not France, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, but that Dauphiny had certain rights and privileges similar in principle, though not in nature, to those for which the Basques are now contending in their provinces. This sentiment still exists to a certain extent, and we have frequently heard the inhabitants of Dauphiny declare, " We are not Frenchmen, we are Dauphinois."
At the juncture of which we have been speaking, a great change took place in the " Opposition" to the monarchical government, which had up to that time been unanimous. The Ad. ministration under Briennehad encountered the resistance of all the bodies of the state, because, in their opinion, it had wished to oppress them. It incurred under Necker the resistance of these same bodies, who were wishing to secure the power for themselves, and oppression for the people. From being despotic, it had become national, and still they had opposed it. The Parliament had maintained a contest of authority, and not of public good; the noblesse had reunited themselves to the tiers-etat, rather against the Government than in behalf of the people. Each of these bodies had demanded the States-General, the Parliament in the hope of ruling them, as they had done in 1614, and the noblesse of resuming their lost power. Thus the magistracy proposed as the model for the States General of 1789 their form in 1614; and opinion abandoned it; the noblesse refused to consent to the double representation of the Commons, and a division sprang up between these two orders. This led to the convocation of the Notables by Necker. The family of Perier took a deep interest in all these events, but it by no means joined the ultraopposition. It thought well of Necker, and confided in the King, but yet its tfreat anxiety was for the triumph of ihe "tiers-etat." There can, we think, be no doubt of one fact, and that is, that the political events of the early life of Casimir Perier, and the political
Casimir Perier. [-My,education he received, contributed to inspire him with that respect for the law, which regulated all his conduct, as well as member of the Opposition, as when Prime Minister; and which marked his political character with an ineffaceable stamp of independency, firmness, and moderation. It was his love of the law, the triumph of the law, the domination and rights of the law, which led him to ask those who invited him to join them in an " illegal" opposition to the "illegal" ordinances of Charles X., "Who gave you the mission to set yourselves up illegally against an illegal measure? No! we will petition the King—appeal to the Chambers—resort to the Tribunals— and have recourse to all legal measures —but remember, the King is King, and we are his subjects." If Casimir Perier had at that moment hastened to the King—confided in his Sovereign—and gained access to his person—he might have prevailed on that Monarch to withdraw the fatal ordinances.
Casimir Perier received his education at the college of the Oratoire at Lyons, where his three brothers, Augustine, Alexander, and Scipio, alike studied, with their friends Camille Jordan and Degerando. This college resembled those of the same order at that time; it was animated by at once an austere and free spirit, which distinguished a great religious school, but which exists no longer. The young Periers received there an education quite in harmony with their natural characters, as well as with their family habits. Casimir, the youngest of the four, never completed his studies. His character was too impressionable and agitated, and the events which were transpiring in tho political world occupied his mind much more than his classical pursuits. This was much to be regretted, and Casimir Perier frequently deplored it in his after-life. He laboured hard in maturer years to regain his lost time, and would frequently say, "a page at fifteen is worth a volume at thirty." He was, when young, more active than laborious—indolence he could not tolerate, but regular and continuous labour did not suit him. His mind seized quickly that which was presented to it—applied little—and yet was never satisfied with its attainments. He observed more than he learned by
heart. His passionate and ardent character from fifteen to twenty, was only kept in bounds by the habit of order and dignity which he had acquired under paternal discipline. At sixteen years of age, the beauty of his countenance, his fine figure, the remarkable expression of his face, his benevolent and gracious manners, his caressing and playful habits when his pride was not wounded or his suspicions excited, interested all who knew him in his favour, and gained the suffrages of those who had only known him previously by his apparent frivolity, or for his want of application to serious pursuits. He was an amiable young man, not naturally gay, but ardent, quick, impetuous, and yet thoughtful, though but few predicted that he would ever become a man of note and eminence in the world. The gifts of nature appeared lost upon him, for he had no fixedness of purpose, no patience, no method. But yet those who understood best the character of man, and the contending or opposing qualifications and defects of the mind, did not hesitate to pronounce that he had a powerful nature, and an instinctive superiority and authority which were felt, though not admitted, by his elder brothers. Though their acquirements were greater, they regarded him as their equal, and in all political arguments, even when young, they yielded him the palm. In his most juvenile years he was a lover of order, and defended on all occasions the authority of his father. During the bad times of the Revolution, Claude Perier had fixed his residence at Paris, having some of his sons with him, leaving his wife with his other children at Grenoble, to watch over the precious remains of a great fortune engulfed in the general deluge. He kept his family in a state of ultra-discipline, and the severity of the father had not always an agreeable or beneficial effect on the mind of Casimir. The assassination of Louis XVI. was a subject of deep regret and confusion of mind and spirit to Claude Perier and his sons. They had taken a deep and personal interest in the first events of the French Revolution, and had identified themselves with the rise of the middling classes. But they loathed the excesses of the canaille—abhorred the injustice of the mob—groaned beneath the despotism of democracy—and not unfrequently even regretted the Parliament of Vizille. All this was at once natural and praiseworthy. They desired freedom, but the freedom of the law—they loved liberty— but they loved justice and humanity more.
In the year seven of the republic, (1798), Casimir Perier was drawn by the Conscbiption ; and he had to take up arms fora cause withwhich he sympathized but little. He had seen with distrust the rising powers of Napoleon Bonaparte, his expedition to Egy pt, and the democratic elections of the year six. He had rejoiced at the annulling of those elections by the directorial party, and viewed this blow aimed at the ultra-republicans with delight. And yet he could not sympathize with the Directory, for it was neither a constitutional nor an impartial Government. It displayed great activity, but it was of a narrow and bustling kind, and Merlin and Treilhaud, who had succeeded Carnot and Barthelemy, were only two political pettifoggers. But to Barras, the young Casimir was especially averse. He saw that Barras continued his dissolute course of life, and his directorial regency ; lie knew that his palace was the resort of gamesters, women of intrigue, and stock-jobbers of every kind.
Hostilities had at this moment commenced in Italy, and upon the Rhine; two French plenipotentiaries had been wickedly assassinated, at some distance from Rastadt, by Austrian hussars; the Directory, apprized of the march of the Russian troops, and suspecting Austria, obtained from the Councils a law, empowering them to raise recruits j aud the military conscription placed 200,000 young men at the disposition of the Republic. Casimir Perier was one of the number. At this moment the troops belonging to the most impatient powers, and who formed the vanguard of the coalition, had commenced the attack. The King of Naples had advanced upon Rome, and the King of Sardinia had levied troops and threatened the Ligurian Hepublic. Casimir left, much against his will, as " adjoint dii genii," and in this capacity made the campaign of Italy from 1799 to 1801. He distinguished himself under the walls of Mantua at the combat of Santo-Ginlio ; hut he always looked on this period of his life as the least interesting, as well as