Capital Punishment

“Boundless intemperance
In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
Th’ untimely emptying of the happy throne,
And fall of many kings.”—SHAKESPEARE.
THE death of Louis XVIII. placed Charles X. on the throne of France, But
nothing was to be hoped from him. He was a more tenacious upholder of
the old tyrannical régime than his brother; indeed, he himself declared,
“La Fayette and I are the only two men in France who have remained
perfectly firm in their principles through the Revolution.” That was
probably true; but _his_ principles were far removed from those of the
liberty-loving La Fayette.
La Fayette was again elected to the Assembly in 1827, and his
declarations were as fearless, and his liberal measures as unpopular
with the government as ever. As an illustration of La Fayette’s views
upon public affairs at that time, we quote the following speech of the
marquis, on the subject of the final disposition of the budget of 1826,
pronounced at the sitting of the Chamber of Deputies, of the 23d of
June, 1828.
“GENTLEMEN: When in compliance with the rules of this house, I announced
my intention of addressing you on the concerns of a preceding year, I
had not heard the reading of the report of your committee, which I
consider a true model of that kind of labor; but such is my conviction
that the state of public accounts for former years affords useful data
to the discussion of a future budget, I will indulge a few remarks in
addition to what has already been said on the subject.
“I beg leave in the first place to call your attention to the state of
our social organization, for I am undoubtedly one of those who cannot
forget that, by the revolution of ’89, a long series of oppressions,
arising not only out of hereditary, sacerdotal, and judiciary privileges
and institutions, but also from the prostitution of our commercial,
agricultural, and domestic interests, have been erased from the codes of
France. The seeds of improvement and public welfare, disseminated
through almost every class of our countrymen, notwithstanding the
baneful influence of persecutions, miseries, and despotisms, have at
last been brought to maturity. The return of peace cannot fail to have
promoted their development, and the enjoyment of public liberty promises
successful and abundant harvest. But whilst nations advance, governments
retrograde; and let us consider, gentlemen, what is our present
“A redundant luxuriance of ministerial bounties, resting upon factitious
administrations, which themselves are founded upon nothing; a multitude
of offices created for the sake of emolument, and emoluments for the
sake of patronage; every section of France sacrificed to a system of
concentration, of which our metropolis, prosperous in so many other
respects, presents those deplorable contrasts which our honorable
colleague, Mr. Charles Dupin, has lately introduced to your notice; the
precious lights of academies, of public lectures and learned schools,
above all, of the polytechnic school, dazzling the eyes of a population,
who, as some have just observed, are still denied the means of learning
the first elements of reading, and in the midst of whom it is yet made a
question whether it is proper that the people should be able to read; in
a word, an unexampled host of generals, staff officers, privileged
bodies, foreign corps, but few soldiers and a nation, formerly one
entire army, who for a long time conquered all Europe combined against
her independence, but now disorganized and disarmed, as if a conquered
people: with this state of things, can it be believed, gentlemen, that a
few trifling amendments of committees, and some oratorical criticisms,
will be adequate to the thorough reform of a social existence that might
be called the inverse ratio of constitutional order!
“There is no bitterness in my observations, gentlemen; they are dictated
by the conscience of a simple individual, and in the interest of those
who, in undertaking to manage the affairs of a mighty nation, should at
least use their endeavor to persuade the people that if they themselves
had the power of managing their own concerns, they would not exercise it
to greater advantage.
“The public debt, enormously increased for the last fifteen years, the
civil list, the crown revenue, the pensions of the royal family, are not
within the limits of our control. Every debt is sacred, but some are yet
in suspense. For example, whilst all the European powers were largely
indemnified according to their pretensions (English claims even to three
times the amount allowed to French creditors), had the United States
shown some hostile feelings towards us, or had they merely asserted
their claims in concert with the other powers, their demands would have
been immediately liquidated. But they have never yet been adjusted,
because that nation would not join the enemies of France, who were then
to be found in her bosom, notwithstanding what has sometimes been said
at this tribune to the contrary.
“With regard to the civil list, gentlemen, it might perhaps be
desirable, both for its proper management and the personal comfort of
the king, that the appropriations not included within the king’s
personal expenses should have been granted under the forms of
accountability adopted in the civil list of England.
“The appropriation for the criminal judiciary department furnishes me
another opportunity of again proffering my warmest wishes for the
abolition of capital punishment, which the uncertainty of human
comprehension renders so alarming, and which must particularly appall
those generations who have so irretrievably suffered from the furies of
parties; and also for the abolishment of branding, called for on all
sides. May the minister at the head of the judiciary department affix
his name to these two salutary measures!
“One of my honorable friends has adverted to the gratuitous magistracy
of English justices of the peace. I do not envy this pretended benefit
of our neighbors, and it is my opinion that those great proprietors are
not the most proper persons to exercise a sovereign jurisdiction over
all the petty offences committed within their department; but I
cheerfully concur in the unanimous voice for restoring the principle of
temporary election in justices of the peace.
“Nothing can be more gratifying to my feelings than to have heard, on
the last discussion on trials by jury, the pledge that the propriety of
extending the benefit of this institution to the transgressions of the
press will be taken into consideration at the next session.
“I cannot withhold my assent to the observations of the report on the
whole of ministerial budgets. I had myself said at this tribune in 1819,
‘It would be highly beneficial that every ministry should inquire, with
all conscientious severity, into what is necessary to the due
performance of their duties, and should propose in all remaining
details, terms as generous and complete as they please, for the security
and comforts of those actually in office, provided that ministers should
be divested of all parasitical service, and children brought up to a
more profitable labor than the industry of obtaining situations, which
is so detrimental to every kind of industry, and to the independence of
a vast number of citizens.’ The specification,—I mean the
application,—which can never be too minute, of every appropriation to
every item of expenditure, has already made some progress; but how
profuse those specifications, beyond which there is ministerial
exertion, when compared with English budgets, of which I now hold in my
hand three departments,—the artillery, war, and navy; and yet this is
not _a cheap government_, to use an expression that has so often been
charged upon me, and which I am so unwilling to deny.
“The minister for foreign affairs has opened his career under the most
critical circumstances; his official duties will be dictated by the
loyalty of his personal character. The great political question is now,
to decide whether this government will continue to follow the track of
old diplomatic traditions, or whether, divested of all foreign influence
and reminiscence, it will boldly assume the rank it behooves us to take
at the head of European civilization; a post which, in my opinion, has
always remained vacant, notwithstanding appearances contradicted by
facts; a stand to which no foreign power any longer dares lay any claim.
From that exalted station, France may and ought to resist coalitions in
which none of her interests are involved. For my own part, I should have
expected more satisfactory explanations and details before giving my
assent to the late loan of eighty millions, but none would more readily
consent to the measures necessary for the liberty and independence of
Greece; to enable her by assistance to defend herself; to erect a
barrier against the ambition of other powers; to abolish the ignominious
sale of fellow-beings, and rescue from slavery all those wretched
victims of whom our interference has hitherto been inadequate to their
deliverance; and in this I should foresee the advantage of our
commercial relations, which, in spite of narrow prejudices, will always
find a benefit in extending to other people the blessings and comforts
of education and liberty.
“France, so long accustomed to triumph over the most formidable
coalitions, wonders at finding herself encumbered under petty
manœuvres, the mysteries of which she cannot unravel.
“I will not mention our unfortunate and criminal expedition into Spain,
nor the cruel lessons given to despotism, oppression, and aristocracy in
the peninsula, the various and beautiful provinces of which are, I hope,
destined to a better fate. But I must beg leave to call your attention
to our enormous and foolish error with regard to the new American
states…. What blindness, gentlemen, what complacency, can induce us
obstinately to withhold our assent to the recognition of the South
American republics, in return for insult, ingratitude, and bankruptcy?
The British government itself, it is true, although under the direction
of an illustrious minister, hesitated a while before adopting that step;
but it no sooner saw the immense advantages accruing to the United
States, from the priority of that recognition, and a timely official
declaration of protection and sympathy, than it hastened to associate
itself in the honor and profit of their new relations. After long
expectations, gentlemen, France is still reduced to those half-way
measures that create mistrust and discontent, whilst it is a well-known
fact that French productions and manufactures find a better market in
that extensive territory than those of all other nations.
“Whilst the freedom of worship is guaranteed by the charter, and its
equality sanctioned by our new morals and habits, it is unnecessary to
remark that, even under the ancient régime, Catholic affairs never
formed a special branch of the ministry. Amidst the attacks of the
pretended supporters of the altar, I will also deprecate that cold
fanaticism which endeavors to represent Christianity, an institution
originally founded on social equality, as hostile to the rights and
opinions of the people thus calling, as it were, for a sort of
retaliating animadversion against opinions and practices that are
totally distinct from worldly ambition. I will seek for the solution of
that inextricable dilemma of the duty of the priest, considered both as
speaking in the name of Heaven, and as a pay officer of state; but where
shall I find it but in that country where religious freedom is more
generally prevalent than in France, where the ministers of religion are
more respected, and sectarians live in peace; in that government where
no rights and regulations can give umbrage, but where, being altogether
foreign to and distinct from all civil institutions and form of
government, religious societies are formed without restraint and choose
their own ministers.
“The separation of the ecclesiastical department from the ministry of
public instruction, I consider as much an act of piety as of sound
judgment. But too much has yet been left to the infringements of the
Catholic clergy. It is not only a religion of the state, but also a very
prevailing one still to be found in those ordinances which ought to have
secluded its special dogmas within the walls of the church, and confined
its distinction of creeds to the circle of private families.
“National instruction, gentlemen, and especially elementary education,
that main-spring of public reason, of practical morality, of public
peace and comfort, is at present the first want of the French
population, as it is the first duty of government. You all know,
gentlemen, how this duty is to be discharged. Methods of instruction
have heretofore been protected in an inverse ratio to their being
perfect and easy. Neither your paltry vote of 50,000 francs, nor 500,000
francs, can be adequate to the redemption of that most important of all
social obligations. Under a competent and legal system of public
instruction, I would consider five millions as the most desirable
appropriation of a budget.
“Many statesmen appear to have forgotten,—some perhaps have never been
aware,—that by the law of the 3d _Brumaire_, year IV., France was
provided with the best system of instruction that ever existed in any
country. It could not be consistent with that power which severed from
the institute the class of moral and political sciences. Napoleon
created the university, the monopoly and exigencies of which wounded the
feelings of private families and displeased the true friends of liberty,
but which was afterwards indebted to the invasion of Jesuitism, a
privilege of another kind, for the credit of being looked upon as a
liberal institution. In order to satisfy all parties it would be
necessary, at the next session, to offer a plan for the organization of
public instruction, wherein all the national duties of teaching should
be strictly laid down, and all individual liberties respected; but every
plan of education, particularly in its elementary bearings, would
require the co-operation of true civil administrations.
“Why is it, gentlemen, that in utter contempt of the most solemn
pledges, we have preserved for fourteen years the whole imperial
structure of the internal administration in France? those factitious
municipalities, those unsettled councils, those despotic and turbulent
prefectures and sub-prefectures, which have never been amended except
for successively adding to their inconveniences, attributions, and
appointments? When shall we see every section manage its own concerns,
provide for all its own exigencies, and retain within its territory that
portion of the taxes that we are afterwards compelled to send back to
it? Is this idea unknown in France? But the constituent assembly,
whatever has been said to the contrary at this tribune, had not only
proclaimed useful and true doctrines; it had also organized a system of
administration elected by the citizens, and was abolished only by the
consulate and by the empire. Is it replete with such great difficulties?
But when in 1815, Napoleon, in a fit of liberalism, restored the
municipalities in accordance with the law of ’91, elections were made
with remarkable celerity and moderation. The only embarrassment that
could arise would be in the government, if instead of abiding by the
dictates of eternal truth and of contemporary reason, it found it
necessary to combine principle with exception, right with privilege,
thereby perplexing and deluding the purest intentions.
“I will follow the report of the committee in the examination of the war
department, merely with the view to support the proposition of placing
in the civil list the payment of the king’s military household. You have
also heard on this subject the excellent discourse, to which my
honorable friend, General Gerard, has given all the weight of his
experience and of his glory. The minister of war, in offering
observations that will be made the subject of future deliberations, has
just expressed his desire of completing our system of defence. Here,
gentlemen, we naturally bring back to our memory the urgent call
recently made by the ministry upon our patriotism to obtain the means
necessary to a preserving policy, a respectable military strength, a
guarantee of public tranquillity, a national dignity; and to an union of
the people with the government. The minister had before represented the
nation rising in a body at the voice of their king. I will not attempt,
gentlemen, the solution of the problem; the knot has been untied by a
celebrated writer whose authority is daily referred to.
“The stationary National Guard, says an ordinance of the king, dated
March, 1815, comprising a mass of three millions of landed and
industrious proprietors, constitutes a local force extended on every
“From this formidable mass, whose dearest interests attach them to the
soil, may be formed voluntary corps constituting movable columns….
“Thus the nation, fighting on every point with the army, either in the
line or as auxiliaries, will prove that a great people cannot
unwillingly be brought under the yoke that they have once shaken off.
“Gentlemen, I will only remind the government that eight years ago, in
the session of 1820, the ministers then acknowledged that they had been
in possession, for eight months, of the project of a law drawn up by a
special commission, and you all know how it has hitherto resulted.
“The glory of the French navy has resounded in every heart. The name of
Navarino has been proclaimed with an unanimous concert by the throne and
in the chamber, as it had been echoed by the whole nation; the brave
Admiral de Rigny is perfectly secure against the censure of a recall.
The infamous traffic of human flesh has been partly suppressed, but it
is not yet totally extinct. With an entire confidence in the sentiments
of the minister of marine on these important questions, I submit to his
wisdom the idea of placing the slave trade on the same footing as
piracy, as the law of the United States has given the example, since
followed by England. With regard to the management of our colonies,
gentlemen, there is so much to say that I could not briefly enter on the
subject. I will merely remark that the system of colonization of the
ancients is, in any opinion, much preferable to that of modern times.
“In the law under consideration the minister of finance has undoubtedly
surpassed all his colleagues; but when a thorough discussion is about
taking place, I do not feel sufficient confidence to anticipate the
opinions that you will hear from colleagues more learned and more
skilful than myself. I should even consider myself worthy of reproach,
had I not made it a duty to offer some of my ideas, but especially to
call at this tribune for more effectual social reforms than can possibly
be achieved by way of amendments.”
La Fayette was constantly the recipient of attention and distinguished
honors, both in America and in France. The young men of Auvergne gave
him a splendid banquet on the 23d of June, 1828. The old general’s toast
was: “To the assembled young men of the three departments of Auvergne,
and to our dear mountains; the volcanoes of these are extinct, but the
sacred fire of liberty will never be extinguished among them.”
The marquis never forgot any of his friends, especially his American
comrades, and his affection for the fathers was continued to the sons,
as the subjoined letter to Charles A. Clinton, written to him by La
Fayette upon receiving the news of the death of his father, De Witt
Clinton, will demonstrate.
“PARIS, March 30, 1828.
“MY DEAR SIR: Your personal and friendly attentions to me make you a
natural organ of the melancholy and affectionate feeling which I wish to
be conveyed to the family of your lamented father. I regret the mournful
and unexpected event as an immense loss to the public, and a great
personal cause of grief to me. Bound as I was to the memory of my two
beloved Revolutionary companions, your grandfather and grand-uncle, I
had found a peculiar gratification in the eminent talents and services
of their son and nephew, and in his kind and liberal correspondence,
until personal and grateful acquaintance had impressed me with all the
feelings of a more intimate friendship. I beg you to be to your
afflicted family the interpreter of my deep sympathies, and to believe
me forever
“Your most sincere friend,
At the celebration of the commencement of the Ohio and Baltimore
Railroad, which occurred on the 4th of July, 1828, a pair of handsome
morocco slippers, and a pair of beautiful white satin shoes were made
by the cordwainers during the procession. The morocco slippers were
presented to the venerable Carroll, on the ground; and the white satin
shoes were subsequently transmitted to General La Fayette, together
with the badges worn by the association. This compliment received the
following reply:—
“LAGRANGE, Sept. 11, 1828.
“GENTLEMEN: With affectionate feelings of pleasure, I have received
your kind letter, the badge bearing a likeness of our matchless
Washington, and of my excellent friend, the surviving signer of
independence, the ensigns of your association as they were worn by
your worthy president, and an elegant pair of ladies’ white satin
slippers, which were manufactured in the procession. For those
gratifying marks of your remembrance and friendship, I beg you to
accept my most grateful thanks. The anniversary of American
independence, the commencement of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad,
have been happy associations. So I have seen, as it were, the
commencement of your city in the first years of the Revolutionary
struggle, of which this very day is one of the (1777) anniversaries,
that of the battle of Brandywine; and it has been lately to me a
matter of proud delight to witness the immense progress of Baltimore,
a great and rapid increase of which we may now more than ever
anticipate. Its happy effects upon every sort of trade and industry
cannot be doubted, and I offer you the cordial congratulation and good
wishes of your sincere and obliged friend,
The general also transmitted the following to the book-binders of the
city, and to the editors of the _American_:—
“LAGRANGE, Sept. 11, 1828.
“_To the book-binders of Baltimore._
“GENTLEMEN: With a lively sense of gratitude, I have received your
kind letter, and a copy of the apron and badge which on the late
celebration, doubly dear to an American heart, were worn by the
book-binders of Baltimore. Testimonies of your remembrance and
affection are at all times highly gratifying to me, nor could they
prove more welcome than on this momentous occasion, when the
anniversary day of independence is hailed in common with the
commencement of one of its most promising results, amidst the immense
progress of every kind that has taken place since it has first been my
happy lot to be admitted as a soldier of the United States, and
particularly as a citizen of Maryland. I am proud to have been enabled
to show specimens of American book-binding which every day excite
European admiration. I beg you, gentlemen, to accept the respectful
acknowledgments and affectionate good wishes of a veteran who would
have been happy, in the procession, to have followed his venerable
friend, the surviving signer of the glorious declaration; and to have
expressed to you, on that great day, the sentiments of his deep
gratitude and warm attachment.
“After other business during the second session of the twentieth
Congress the Vice-President communicated a letter from the President
of the United States, transmitting one received from Monsieur David,
the artist, member of the Institute of France, professor of the School
of Painting at Paris, and member of the Legion of Honor, who presents
to Congress the bust of General La Fayette, which has been received
with it.”
The following is a translated copy of the letter:—
“PARIS, Sept. 11, 1828.
“TO THE PRESIDENT: I have made a bust of La Fayette, and would
willingly raise a statue to his honor—not for himself, because he has
no need of it, but for ourselves, who approve in so lively a manner
the desire of expressing to him the affectionate regard and admiration
with which we are inspired. The youth of the French nation is filled
with admiration for the virtues of the youth and the old age of him
whose likeness I send you.
“They envy the glory that was acquired upon the American soil, by the
side of the immortal Washington, and the defence of your noble rights.
“They envy that glory which has been acquired on the soil of France,
in the midst of the troubles of Paris and of Versailles, where, in
breasting the storm, he wanted courage as little in the struggles of
debate as he did in contending with the sword. They envy the glory
which covers the brow whitened by age, but still sparkling with the
fire of liberty and of patriotism.
“It is in the name of this youthful feeling of the French nation,
ambitious to imitate everything generous and great, that I offer you a
work upon which my hands have been employed for some time and with
great care.
“I could wish that it was more worthy of the subject—more worthy of
the place which I am desirous to see it occupy. Yes, sir, I could wish
that the bust of our brave general, of our illustrious deputy, should
be elevated on a pedestal in the audience chamber of Congress, near
the monument erected to Washington himself; that the son be placed by
the side of the father, or, if you please, that the two brothers in
arms, the two companions in victory, the friends of order and of law,
may be no more separated in our estimation than they were in their
devotion to the cause of liberty and in the hour of peril.
“La Fayette is one of the ties that unite the two worlds. He visited
the new one to remain there for a few months, and to salute once more
your sacred land of justice and equality, and has returned to us after
having partaken of your feasts and received the honor and the
benediction of your nation.
“I hasten to render my homage in return—I present you with his image.
It will be a memento that the original may often recall to the
National Assembly those eternal principles upon which the independence
of the state reposes, and which are the foundation of their safety.
“I am, with profound respect, Mr. President, your very humble and
obedient servant,
“Member of the Institute of France, and
professor in the School of Painting;
member of the Legion of Honor.”
The following is a description of the bust as given in the _National
“The bust is of a fine white marble, and is the work of P. J. David,
of D’Angers, in France.
“It is of a size larger than the life, and exhibits a fine likeness of
that distinguished apostle of liberty. On the front is ‘_Au général La
Fayette_,’ and the name and residence of the artist, with the year
(1828) of its execution. On the left side is an inscription, indented
in the stone, in the following words: ‘La Fayette’s speech in the
House of Representatives, Dec. 10, 1824.—What better pledge can be
given of a persevering national love of liberty, when these blessings
are evidently the results of a virtuous resistance of oppression, and
institutions founded on the rights of man, and the republican opinion
of self-government?’
“On the right side is the following:—

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“‘La Fayette’s last words in his answer to the President’s farewell
speech, Washington, Sept. 7, 1825: God bless you, sir, and all who
surround us. God bless the American people, and each of their states,
and the federal government. Accept this patriotic farewell of an
overflowing heart; and such will be its last throb when it ceases to
The _New York American_ of December, 1828, says:—
“A letter from General La Fayette, of December 29, from Lagrange,
tells us—and as he belongs to the nation, we may repeat—that Madame
Perier (the eldest daughter of Mr. George La Fayette) has just made
him a _great-grandfather_. The same letter says, ‘I expect to be in
town in a few days, and enjoy the agreeable American society which has
convened there from the several parts of the Union. It will be
something like a Washington winter.’”
The following is the substance of General La Fayette’s address at the
Fourth of July dinner in Paris, in 1829:—
“The health of their venerable guest, General La Fayette, having been
given, the general in returning thanks, stated the pleasure which he
felt in celebrating this anniversary, which enabled him, as it were,
again to breathe the American atmosphere. He spoke with high
gratification of their associating him with the principles for which
he had struggled under the illustrious and well-beloved Washington.
The independence of the United States began a new era of political
civilization, which will finally extend over the whole world, and
which is founded on the natural rights of mankind. He was proud to own
that the first declaration of those rights bore the indelible imprint
of its American origin. He referred in eloquent terms to the delight
with which all generous minds had hailed the recent triumph in Great
Britain over religious intolerance, and earnestly advised the
Americans in consolidating their constitution not to listen to
European suggestions, nor admit any exotic materials. He concluded by
giving a toast to ‘National Legitimacy,’ which, while it choked and
destroyed the weeds of privilege, nourished the roots of natural and
solid right.”
In 1829 General La Fayette came into possession of a large property
under the indemnity law, being the fortune of his own and his wife’s
family, of which the Revolution had deprived them.
We will quote from one more speech of La Fayette, in the French
Chamber of Deputies, on the 9th of July, 1829. The question under
discussion was the accordance of an eventual credit of fifty-two
millions of francs.
“Gentlemen,” said La Fayette, “though I have voted against approving
the budget of expenses, in the hope that its refusal would prove a
prompt and efficacious means of obtaining those institutions and
economies which France has for so long a time expected, yet I feel
disposed to vote in favor of the credits demanded, provided the
chamber receives those explanations which it stands so much in need
of. I do not see in the great quarrel of the east, as regards
ourselves, anything beyond our importance as an intermediate power in
what is called the balance of Europe; only two classes, the oppressors
and the oppressed; in the demarkation of states, nothing but their
natural limits; in the well-being of a people, nothing but the
advantage of all; and in the policy of France, nothing but a liberal
and independent part to act. You know, gentlemen, that great and
powerful alliance which would enslave and brutalize the human family.
It covers the peninsula with blood, oppresses Italy, and throws other
states into disorder. Vienna is its metropolis, and in spite of other
pretensions, Don Miguel is its ideal type.
“England has pretended to favor the world with another beacon, whose
light is sometimes extinguished, and at other times shines but to
decoy; upon this point inquire of Italy, of Spain, and of Portugal. It
is for France then, gentlemen, which finds herself more in accord with
our ideas of the new civilization, to place herself at the head of
that civilization; in that consists her glory and her interest; there,
too, in case of need, will be found her ambition; and there, also, the
dignity and the safety of her government. But to perform that noble
task it is necessary that the government resolve no longer to fear
either a representative or an armed nation, and that abandoning its
former relations, it may be able to say to foreign powers, ‘Next to
God, it is to the people of France that I am indebted for being
elevated above your influence and beyond your pretensions.’
“I will confine myself, gentlemen, to a few remarks on the grounds to
which our attention has been invited by the application made for the
credits now under consideration.
“Some of my honorable friends have spoken harshly of the expedition to
the Morea; they have even thought that it was in no degree whatever
entitled to public approbation; but I have so ardently desired some
kind of interference, particularly French interposition, in behalf of
Greece, that I cannot join them in their criticisms, and as to our
portion of that generosity which was manifested in the relief
afforded, without speaking of Russia, whose motives are obvious, it
would be sufficient to advert to two discourses from the throne, in
one of which the battle of Navarino is called by Charles X.
_glorious_, while from George IV. it received the appellation of
_untoward_, to prevent us from confounding the shades of the two
interests in the cause of Greece, and to mark the distinction between
the cannonading at Terceira and the hospitality at Brest. The last
protocol, however, from London has humbled my pride and diminished my
“Why, gentlemen, have the Greeks taken up arms? why have they endured
so many calamities? why have they so freely shed their blood? It was
to free themselves from paying tribute to the Turks; to build up again
their ancient country; and to enjoy in their own way the blessings of
self-government. But now, gentlemen, the protocol brings into fresh
existence the odious tribute; the greatest part of Greece is shut out
from Greece, and to govern the small portion which remains it is
proposed to look, I know not where, or for whom, but for some foreign
prince, a hospodar, a mongrel of the East and of the West, in whom the
Greeks will only behold a vassal of the Porte, and for whom they must
pay an additional tribute.
“All this, gentlemen, may be very agreeable to Russia, which dreams
already of new subjects there; and to England, which has always feared
that in that country she would find rivals in the coasting trade; but
not to France, whose interest it is to have there a friendly and
powerful nation, a barrier against the conquering and commercial
ambition of other powers. Upon that topic it is that we look for
explanations. The government of Italy is enslaved by the influence of
Austria. Italy, were she free, would be our friend. Spain, whose
methods of justice consist in strangling by turns the patriots and the
Carlists, will never, in truth, be our ally until she again becomes
“As to Portugal, it is in vain that the English government has lately
sought to balance the mock sovereignty of the cortés of Miguel against
those institutions which the British ambassador, let it be said, by
the by, had imported for it from Brazil.
“Gentlemen, the partisans of national laws cannot accept this
concession; there is no legitimacy there where nothing can be found
but a despotic violation of all rights, social as well as natural.
Besides, we do not know in what manner these pretended cortés have
been formed, and how the deputies, who were not of Miguel’s choice,
were rejected. Let us hope, gentlemen, that public indignation, and
the stupid attacks which have been lately made on the flags of other
nations, will soon put an end to this infamous usurpation, and that in
the mean time France will ever protest against the horrid expedient
which would deliver up a young and innocent victim to the brutality of
Don Miguel. I will not deny, gentlemen, that there have been troubles
in South America and in Mexico, and that perhaps they yet exist there.
Their troubles, however, have been exaggerated. I attribute them
principally to two causes: to the threats, the impotent threats, of
Spain, which lead to the permanence of disproportioned armies and the
agitation of their leaders; the other cause is to be found in European
intriguers, who persevere in obstinately attempting to introduce their
old institutions into these new states. Put a period to the two
causes, and the tranquillity of commerce will be immediately restored.
“The minister of commerce observed a few days since that there was
nothing in common between diplomatic relations and commercial
interests in these countries. I have, however, in my possession a
_Mexican Gazette_, containing a decree by which the productions of
states that shall not have recognized the republic in the course of
the present year shall be subjected to an additional duty, whilst
those which shall send, during the year 1829, diplomatic agents to
that country, shall be treated more favorably. It is time, gentlemen,
that the government should at length yield to the commercial views of
“As regards Algiers, I will leave that question to one of my honorable
friends, who is better acquainted with it than myself; but I cannot
forbear referring to a more serious attack on the national honor than
that of the dey of Algiers throwing his fan. I allude to what has
passed lately relative to the expulsion of Galloti. The delivering up
of an alien for political causes has been unanimously reprobated in
every age and by every country. Eminent jurisconsults have assured me
that the laws of our country have been violated by the expulsion of
that individual. I am willing, however, to admit that there has been,
on the part of French agents, error and precipitancy, and
consequently, as I doubt not, repentance. There has, however, been
deception somewhere, and violence has been offered to the honor of
France. Highway robbery and judgments in this case have been referred
to; but are you ignorant of what judgments are, or of what they may be
under absolute governments?
“Suppose, for example, Don Miguel were to say: ‘Behold the man who has
in the palace of the king assassinated, with his own hand, the Marquis
of Loulé, the best friend of my father! Give him up to me that I may
punish him for the crime.’ Would the accusation be believed?
“In a word, gentlemen, the honor of France has been outraged; justice
must be done; Galloti must be demanded; the demand must be enforced;
he must be restored to the soil of France, and the national honor must
in some way receive signal reparation.
“I will conclude, gentlemen, by observing that the explanations which
the discussions may produce shall decide my vote.”
At a sitting of the Chamber of Deputies General La Fayette made the
following remarks on the “Holy Alliance”:—
“There was a vast and powerful league which desired to command and
brutalize the human species. It has oppressed Italy, devastated the
peninsula, and had disturbed other states. Its chief seat is Vienna,
and Don Miguel its ideal type. England has pretended to set up another
system, but it was only to lure states to their ruin. It was the
business of France to place herself at the head of civilization—her
glory, her interest, and her ambition to require it; but to fulfil
this noble destiny it was necessary that the government should
determine not to fear either a nation represented or a nation armed,
and, renouncing all connections, it should say to foreign powers,
‘After God, it is to the French people that I am indebted for being
placed above your influence and beyond your pretensions.’”
During 1829 General La Fayette made a tour through some of the French
provinces, and his reception by the people appears to have rivalled
the enthusiasm displayed in his honor in the United States. One London
paper says:—
“Never was a king so feasted and treated as this venerable remnant of
the Revolution has been. In every quarter he has been received with
shouts of triumph and congratulatory addresses, which, while they have
been complimentary to him, have generally, also, been made the vehicle
for strong philippics against the new order of things. From Grenoble
to Lyons the road was thronged by continual crowds of people who came
to testify their regard for the principles which had guided his
political conduct, and the esteem which they entertained towards
himself personally.” g The _Times_ observes: “The old general, from
his early services in the cause of liberty,—from his immense
sacrifices for his country,—from his intrepid consistency of character
during a political career of forty years, during which the world
turned around him or changed its principles several times, while he
remained unchanged, is deservedly an object of great esteem and
admiration. But why is he brought forward, or why does he make himself
prominent on this occasion, type as he is of the Revolution? And why,
when he does appear, is he so enthusiastically received? For no other
reason but because the king has made choice of what is considered a
counter-revolutionary cabinet, and because the people are desirous of
evincing their adherence to the free institutions which they think at
present threatened, by testifying their grateful admiration for one of
the founders and champions of their freedom. Every shout of applause
thus uttered for General La Fayette is a shout of defiance against the
ministers; and every libation poured to his health is a kind offering
to the memory of past struggles for liberty. The repetition of such
scenes would have been thought impossible about two months ago.”
The following description of General La Fayette’s reception at Lyons
is taken from an extract of a letter dated Paris, Sept. 16, 1829:—
“General La Fayette has paid a visit this summer to his birthplace in
Auvergne, and has been received on his passage in a manner worthy of
his noble virtues, public as well as private. From his arrival at
Chavaniac until his entry at Lyons, in every town and village through
which he passed, he has witnessed the spontaneous homage of the
patriotism of their inhabitants. The population of villages far
distant from the road he travelled precipitated themselves before him
on his passage, and the inhabitants of the cities through which he
passed presented themselves _en masse_ to welcome him within their
walls. In spite of the orders sent by the ministry at Paris to the
departmental authorities, to endeavor to suppress as much as was in
their power the preparations made to receive the general, his
triumphal march since he left La Grange, from the borders of the river
Manche, to the foot of the Alps, has no other example in history,
excepting his visit to the United States. Escorted from city to city
by large cavalcades of horsemen, through arches of triumph prepared
for the occasion on the high roads, saluted continually with
enthusiasm by assembled multitudes, the thoughts of the veteran
defender of liberty were often diverted to his brilliant reception in
a distant hemisphere, whose liberties are as dear to him as those of
his native country.”
The _Précurseur_ and _Journal of Commerce_ of Lyons says:—
“The general arrived from Vienne on Friday, the 4th of September,
escorted by one hundred and fifty horsemen. His arrival had been
impatiently expected by the inhabitants of Lyons, and on reaching St.
Synphoria, the deputation named to receive him were found waiting with
a large cavalcade of horsemen and carriages, and a numerous assemblage
of people who accompanied him to Lyons. At St. Synphoria the general
descended from his carriage and was addressed by M. Prunelle,
president of the deputation, who welcomed him on the part of the
inhabitants of Lyons to this city; to which the general replied, in
retracing the kindness with which he had been received at his last
visit to that city before the Revolution in 1789, and expressing his
gratitude for the flattering manner in which he was again received. He
then ascended into an open barouche drawn by four horses, and
conducted by two postilions, which were placed at his disposition by
the deputation, and the procession proceeded to Lyons in the following
“1st. A detachment of 400 horsemen, composed of young men from Vienne
and Lyons.
“2d. The carriage with the deputation from the latter city.
“3d. The barouche containing the general, Mr. George La Fayette, and
the president, M. Prunelle, surrounded by a cohort of citizens on
“4th. The private carriages of the general, containing the Misses La
Fayette, Mr. Adolphe Perrier, Mr. Bradford, United States consul, and
the Count de Lasteyrie.
“5th. The carriages of the committee of arrangements.
“A line of private carriages then followed, and so great were they in
number, that on the arrival of the head of the procession at the
bridge Charles X. at Lyons, the last of the carriages had but just
reached the extremity of the long Faubourg de la Gullotière, nearly
two miles distant. The spectacle which presented itself on the entry
of the general into the city was of the most magnificent description.
An immense population, estimated at 70,000 persons, lined the bridge
and streets through which the _cortège_ moved, and the reiterated
cries of ‘_Vive La Fayette_,’ and continued manifestation of public
joy, which filled the air during his passage to the Hôtel du Nord,
where a suite of apartments had been prepared for him, were gratifying
proofs on the part of the enthusiastic population of Lyons, of the
love and admiration for the noble character and patriotism of their
illustrious guest. In the evening after his arrival an orchestra of
one hundred and twenty musicians serenaded under his windows, and the
hotel was surrounded until a late hour by crowds of the curious,
anxious to behold the countenance of the prisoner of Olmütz and the
ardent defender of the liberties of France.
“On the following day a splendid excursion on the river Saone,
composed of about thirty boats of various descriptions, elegantly
decorated, and some of them bearing the banners of France and of the
United States, was prepared for the general, who embarked with his
suite at twelve o’clock, greeted by the cheers of the immense
assemblage of people who lined the borders of the river. On the
arrival of the procession at the Isle Barbe, a salute was fired from
the château of the island, whence, after a short stay, the general
returned to Lyons in time to attend the dinner offered him and Mr.
George La Fayette by the different lodges of freemasons of that city.
“On Monday the 7th inst. the grand banquet given in honor of the
general took place at the magnificent salon Gayet, situated on the
borders of the Rhone. The rooms were elegantly dressed with festoons,
and at one end were seen the portraits of Washington and Franklin, and
the bust of the distinguished guest crowned with a wreath of laurels.
On his arrival at four o’clock, he was received with unanimous and
reiterated cries of ‘_Vive La Fayette!_’ Five hundred of the
inhabitants of Lyons, the _élite_ of that city, sat down to a
sumptuous dinner prepared for the occasion, at which presided M.
Prunelle, assisted by thirty members of the committee of arrangements.
“At the dessert the following toasts were given:—
“1. By the president—The King of France.
“2. ‘General La Fayette—other warriors have been victorious in battle,
and other orators have pronounced eloquent discourses; but none have
equalled him in civic virtues.’
“General La Fayette then rose and said:—
“‘You have been witnesses, gentlemen, of the marks of affection and
confidence with which the population of Lyons has deigned to receive
me within their walls; you yourselves have participated in that kind
reception in a manner so flattering, and I am surrounded at this
patriotic banquet by objects of such interesting associations, that it
would be superfluous, and above all impossible, to express to you my
feelings at this moment; the remainder of my life, gentlemen, will be
consecrated to them. I am proud and happy that my visit here has
furnished another occasion to your city to express its constant hatred
of oppression, its love for true liberty, and its determination to
resist every attempt of the incorrigible _contre-revolution_.’ The
general then spoke of the privileges granted to the people by the
constitution; their rights of being tried by jury, and of elections,
and of the censorship of the press; and after having paid a just
tribute to the noble and patriotic attitude that the National Guard of
Lyons took at the important epoch of 1815, he took occasion to examine
the position of the Polignac ministry, and the violent measures which
it threatens against the liberties of France. ‘We are menaced,’ said
he, ‘by hostile projects; but how will they be effected? Will they
succeed by means of the Chamber of Deputies? My honorable friend and
colleague, M. Couderc, now at my side, and every one of my colleagues
who are now seated at this banquet, will attest that in the moment of
danger the Chamber of Deputies will show itself faithful to patriotism
and honor. Is it proposed to dissolve the Chamber? If so, it will then
be the business of the electors of France, who certainly will return
only deputies worthy of themselves and of the nation.
“‘Is it contemplated to vitiate the elections by more ordinances, and
thus exercise illegal power? Let the partisans of such measures
remember that the force of every government exists only in the arms
and in the purses of the individuals composing the nation. The French
nation knows its rights, and knows, likewise, how to defend them. Let
us hope, however, gentlemen, that the plots against the liberties of
the people are merely visionary, and, in the mean time, accept from me
the following toast:—
“‘The department of the Rhone, and the city of Lyons—the ancient
metropolis of industry, and the courageous enemy of oppression. May
its liberty, its dignity, and its prosperity be solidly founded on the
full enjoyment of those social and natural rights which it has ever
One hundred thousand copies of a pamphlet, containing an account of La
Fayette’s late triumphal journey were published.
But this triumphal journey occasioned much chagrin among the enemies
of French liberty, and the government, already growing more and more
hostile to friends of liberty, took petty spite upon some of their
officials, as the following will show.
The Paris _Constitutional_ announced that “the minister of the
interior has deposed the mayor and deputy-mayor of Vizille from their
functions: the former, for having _congratulated_ General La Fayette,
upon his arrival in that town; and the latter, for having appeared on
horseback when he entered.”
Another French paper says:—
“We stated yesterday the deposition of a mayor for having joined in
the honors to La Fayette. We now add the proceedings to which this
intended disgrace gave rise. ‘The intelligence of this event,’ says
the _Précurseur_ of Lyons, ‘inspired the inhabitants of the commune
with the greatest indignation, not being able to conceive why peaceful
citizens may not, without crime, honor one of the worthiest public men
of the nation. The whole population assembled spontaneously in the
public square; there each one expressed his regrets, and recalled with
delight the useful and honorable acts of the displaced magistrates.
Thence they proceeded to the office of the mayor, where these
functionaries still were, and there Mr. Romain Peyron thus spoke, in
the name of his fellow-citizens:—
“‘MR. MAYOR AND MR. DEPUTY: The inhabitants of this commune have
learned with the greatest pain that, by a decree of the minister of
the interior, you were deprived of the functions you have discharged
with so much zeal, and in which you have so justly acquired the
confidence and esteem of those whom you had to serve. The motives
which have afforded the new ministry a pretext for this act are too
honorable to be made a cause for complaint! You are, gentlemen, the
first citizens stripped of their official functions _for having taken
part in the honors paid to General La Fayette_! Let us not envy the
enemies of the public liberties this poor satisfaction while all
France is still echoing with the acclamations which everywhere burst
forth upon the passage of this great citizen, and especially in the
second city of the kingdom!
“‘The general who was the object of this enthusiasm will live in
history, in spite of the _calumnies of party men_! The people will
always recollect that he was, at that time, the zealous defender of
legal liberty, which, among us, includes attachment to constitutional
monarchy; that, on the 5th and 6th of October, he twice saved the
lives of the royal family; that, previously to the 10th of August, he
sacrificed his popularity in order to snatch Louis XVI. from the
dangers that threatened him; and that, proscribed for his energetic
protest at the bar of the Legislative Assembly, and arrested in a
neutral country, he expiated, in the dungeons of Austria, the crime of
having always faithfully observed the line of duty!
“‘You, gentlemen, you too, fulfilled a duty, in not separating
yourselves from all these under your care, in those imposing
circumstances when the presence of our magistrates, as the organs of
our unanimous sentiments, added a new value to their manifestation,
and ensured tranquillity and good order in the midst of our
“‘Receive, therefore, the expression of our thanks and of our
These testimonies of the esteem of their fellow-citizens abundantly
compensated for the vengeance of the ministers.
The prefect of the department, having designated M. Buscaillon as
provisional mayor, that respectable old man answered, “that M. Finant
having been removed by the minister of the interior for having taken
part in the honors paid to General La Fayette, he was bound to declare
that he himself had done the same thing, together with all the other
inhabitants of the commune, and that he could not, therefore, trouble
the minister to do justice upon another in similar error.”
M. Buscaillon will long be remembered for his noble refusal of a place
dishonored by so gross intolerance.