Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER III: Of the Circumstances That Render the Representative Government at This Time More Necessary in France Than in Any Other Country. - Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (LF ed.)
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CHAPTER III: Of the Circumstances That Render the Representative Government at This Time More Necessary in France Than in Any Other Country. - Germaine de Staël, Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (LF ed.) 
Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution, newly revised translation of the 1818 English edition, edited, with an introduction and notes by Aurelian Craiutu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Of the Circumstances That Render the Representative Government at This Time More Necessary in France Than in Any Other Country.
The resentment of those who have suffered greatly by the Revolution and who cannot flatter themselves with recovering their privileges but by intolerance of religion and despotism of the Crown, is, as has just been said, the greatest danger to which France can be exposed. Her happiness and her glory consist in a treaty between the two parties, taking the constitutional charter as the basis. For besides that the prosperity of France depends on the advantages acquired by the mass of the nation in 1789, I do not know anything that could be more humiliating to the French than to be sent back to servitude like children subjected to chastisement.
Two great historical facts may be, in some respects, compared to the restoration of the Bourbons: the return of the Stuarts in England and the accession of Henri IV. Let us first examine the more recent of the two: we shall afterward return to the former, which concerns France more directly.
Charles II was recalled to England after the crimes of the revolutionaries and the despotism of Cromwell;1 the reaction always produced on the minds of the ordinary people by crimes committed under the pretext of a noble cause repressed the zeal of the English people toward liberty. It was almost the entire nation which, represented by its parliament, demanded the return of Charles II; it was the English army2 that proclaimed him; no foreign troops interfered in this restoration, and in this respect, Charles II was in a much better situation than that of the French princes. But as a parliament was already established in England, the son of Charles I was not called on either to accept or to grant a new charter. The difference between him and the party who had caused the Revolution related to quarrels of religion: the English nation desired the Reformation and considered the Catholic religion as irreconcilable with liberty. Charles II was then obliged to call himself a Protestant; but as, in the bottom of his heart, he professed another faith, he cunningly deceived public opinion during his whole reign; and when his brother,3 who had more violence of temper, permitted all the atrocities which the name of Jefferies4 recalls, the nation felt the necessity of having at its head a prince who should be king by means of liberty, instead of being king in despite of liberty. Some time after, an act was passed excluding from the succession every prince who should be a Catholic or who should have espoused a princess of that religion. The principle of this act was to maintain hereditary succession by not entrusting to chance for a sovereign, but by formally excluding whoever should not adopt the political and religious faith of the majority of England. The oath pronounced by William III, and subsequently by all his successors, proves the contract between the nation and the king; and a law of England, as I have already mentioned, declares guilty of high treason whoever shall support the divine right, that is, the doctrine by which a king possesses a nation as a landholder possesses a farm, the people and the cattle being placed on the same footing, and the one having as little as the other a right to alter their situation. When the English welcomed back the old family with delight, they were hopeful that it would adopt a new doctrine; but the direct inheritors of power refusing this, the friends of liberty rallied under the standard of him who submitted to the condition without which there is no legitimacy. The Revolution of France, down to the fall of Bonaparte, is greatly similar to that of England. Its resemblance with the war of the League and the accession of Henry IV is less striking; but in return, we say it with pleasure, the spirit and character of Louis XVIII recalls to our minds Henri IV much more than Charles II.
The abjuration of Henri IV,5 considered only in regard to its political influence, was an act by which he adopted the opinion of the majority of the French. The Edict of Nantes may also be compared to the declaration of the 2d of May, 1814, by Louis XVIII;6 that wise treaty between the two parties appeased them during the life of Henri IV. By citing these two eras, so different in themselves, and on which one might long dispute, for rights alone are incontestible, while facts frequently give rise to different interpretations, my aim has been only to show what history and reason confirm: that is, that after great commotions in a state, a sovereign can resume the reins of government only in as far as he sincerely adopts the prevailing opinion of his country, seeking, however, at the same time to render the sacrifices of the minority as little painful as possible. A king ought, like Henri IV, to renounce, in some measure, even those who have adhered to him in times of adversity; for, if Louis XIV was to blame in pronouncing the well-known words “L’état, c’est moi,” a benevolent sovereign should, on the other hand, say “Moi, c’est l’état.”
The mass of the people has, ever since the Revolution, dreaded the ascendancy of the old privileged orders; besides, as the princes had been absent for twenty-three years, they had become unknown to the nation; and the foreign troops, in 1814, traversed a great part of France without hearing either regret expressed for Bonaparte or a decided wish for any form of government. It was then a political combination, not a popular movement, that reinstated the ancient dynasty in France; and if the Stuarts, recalled by the nation without any foreign aid and supported by a nobility that had never emigrated, lost their crown by seeking to enforce their divine right, how much more necessary was it for the House of Bourbon to make again a compact7 with France, that they might soften the grief necessarily caused to a proud people by the influence of foreigners on its interior government! Hence the necessity of an appeal to the nation to sanction what force had established. Such, as we shall presently see, was the opinion of a man, the Emperor Alexander, who, although a sovereign with unlimited powers, possesses sufficient superiority of mind and soul to excite jealousy and envy like persons in private life. Louis XVIII, by his constitutional charter and, above all, by the wisdom of his declaration of the 2d of May, by his surprising extent of information and his imposing grace of manner, supplied in many respects what was wanting in point of popular inauguration on his return. But we are still of the opinion, and we shall presently state our reasons, that Bonaparte would not within a year8 have been welcomed by a considerable party if the King’s ministers had truly established a representative government along with the principles of the Charter in France, and if an interest for constitutional liberty had replaced that for military renown.
[1. ] In 1660.
[2. ] General Monk played a key role in this regard.
[3. ] The future King James II (1633–1701), who reigned from 1685 to 1688.
[4. ] English magistrate famous for his ruthlessness. George Jeffreys was arrested and imprisoned during the Revolution of 1688.
[5. ] In July 1593.
[6. ] In the Declaration of Saint-Ouen, Louis XVIII acknowledged the newly gained civil liberties and promised to give France a new liberal constitution. This was the famous Charter of 1814 that was “granted” by the new king a month later. The Charter sought to bring social peace in a country divided among rival factions and groups that were fiercely opposed to each other. This goal was clearly conveyed by the language of reconciliation as illustrated by the symbolic references to the “great family” of French citizens and the emphasis on the need to live as “brothers” in love, peace, and reconciliation. The Charter provided for the creation of a two-chamber parlement, the Chamber of Deputies being elected by electoral colleges according to a narrow franchise. To be qualified to vote, individuals had to be at least thirty years of age and pay a direct tax of three hundred francs (Article 40). For more information, see Rosanvallon, La monarchie impossible; Furet, Revolutionary France, 269–75; and Craiutu, Liberalism Under Siege, 70–75.
[7. ] The Charter of 1814 was not, properly speaking, a contract between the King and the nation, since it was Louis XVIII who “granted” and “conceded” the constitution to his subjects.
[8. ] During the Hundred Days in the spring of 1815.