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FRANCE. It seems that President Bonaparte's letter to his aid-de-camp, Col. Ney, in August last, and which was apparently intended to conciliate the confidence of the republican party, manifestly a very strong one, and, judging by the elections, now on the increase, did not meet with the approbation of his cabinet; and that even those ministers who did not much object to the tenor of the letter itself, were opposed to its publication. Thus thwarted in a favourite purpose by those on whose obsequiousness he had counted, their opposition was made the occasion of an entire change of ministers. This took place in October, and a new ministry was forthwith appointed. On the 31st of October, the President informed the legislative assembly of the fact, and assigned his reasons for the change. He said he had, in the selection of his first cabinet, appointed men of opposite opinions, and the result, instead of being amalgamation, as he had expected, had proved to be neutralization; unity of action had been prevented, and conciliation had been regarded as weakness. Adverting to his own election by so vast a popular majority, he remarked that a whole system had triumphed on the 10th of December;“ for,” said he, “ the name of Napoleon is a programme in itself. It means order, authority, religion, welfare of the people at home, the national dignity abroad. It is the triumph of that policy, inaugurated by my election, which I seek with the support of the assembly and the people. I wish to be worthy the confidence of the nation, by maintaining the constitution to which I have sworn. I wish to inspire in the country, by my loyalty, my perseverance, and my firmness, such confidence as to give new life to business, and hope in the future.”
“ The letter of the constitution has, doubtless, a great influence upon the destinies of a country, but the manner in which it is interpreted has, perhaps, a far greater one. The longer or shorter duration of a government has contributed, cloubtless, greatly to the stability of public affairs, but it is also by ideas and by principles that the government knows how to reassure society."
“Let us then again raise up authority, without causing alarm to real liberty. Let us calm anxiety by boldly curbing bad passions, and by giving a useful direction to all noble interests."
“ Let us consolidate the principles of religion, without abandoning any thing of the conquests of the revolution, and we will save the country, in spite of factions, ambitious men, and even of those imperfections which may exist in our institutions."
The following is a list of the new ministers:
M. Bineau, minister of Public Works.
It is understood that all the members of the cabinet agree in political sentiment with a majority of the legislature. This change of ministry happened very opportunely for closing the correspondence between Mr. Clayton and M. de Tocqueville, and facilitated the public reception of Mr. Rives, that took place soon afterwards, by which the way is smoothed to a complete restoration of good feeling between the United States and France. The President wishing to unite courtesy to the American minister with a salvo of what might be due to the dignity of France, remarked that as Mr. Rives came from a republic, there was no difficulty in his reception; but had he been the ambassador of a monarchical government, he could not have been received.
Nor was the letter to Colonel Ney the only manifestation of the President's wish to gain the favour of the liberal party in France. The French envoy at Constantinople has gone hand in hand with Sir Stratford Canning in bis interposition in behalf of Turkey, so as to lead the world to believe that France would concur with England in taking up arms to defend Turkey against her powerful and domineering neighbour. As an earnest of her purpose, a French fleet of six ships of the line, two frigates, and two steamers, was ordered to the Dardanelles, in co-operation with the British fleet.
The great confidence which the recent measures of Louis Napoleon show that he has in his popularity, and the influence of his name, are thought by many to indicate that some great political change is meditated, especially when certain passages in his late excursions into the provinces are recollected; but perhaps his course may be merely the result of that sanguine and self-confident temper by which the French President is so strongly characterized.
The future political destiny of France still remains an insoluble problem. No one believes that things are to continue in their present state, yet no one can pronounce with any confidence what new phases her government is about to assuine; and supposing she will again resort to the monarchical form, which a majority of the nation, disappointed in the past efforts to establish a republic, and apprehensive of the future, may think the safest and most suitable to France and Frenchmen, it is impossible to say whether the new dynasty is to be of one of the branches of the Bourbons, or of the Bonaparte stock. It is equally clear that the republican party, though probably a minority throughout all France, constitute a powerful party, particularly in Paris, as to numbers, energy, and talents.
Their financial budget exhibits large arrears of debt, with a pros
pect of increase; and between the pecuniary necessities of the government, and the fear of offending the voters, the government and the legislature find themselves not a little embarrassed. Where indirect taxes, as in France, are not sufficient to meet the public expenditure, the legislature must choose between an insufficient revenue and a discontented people. It is this inherent difficulty of reconciling public burdens with public favour, which has given such encouragement to the schemes of the socialists, according to which, governments are required to assume the functions of occupying and rewarding labour as well as of taxing it.
About the middle of August last, the French frigate Poursuivante and a steamer arrived at Honolulu, the capital of the Sandwich Islands, when M. Dillon, the French consul, deinanded of the Hawaiian government, 1st, a reduction of the duties on brandies and wines, and a return of all the duties on those articles collected since 1846. 2. The same rights to Catholics as to Protestants. 3. The repeal of the law which subjects whaling ships to port charges. 4. The remission of a fine which had been imposed on the master of a whaling ship; and three days were allowed to the government to comply with these terms or reject them. On their rejection by the Hawaiian government, the French landed a body of troops, took possession of a fort, spiked the cannon, and threw them from the ramparts; and hoisted the French flag, though without taking down that of the Hawaiian government. After keeping possession of the fort for three days, they abandoned it, and their ships left the island with M. Dillon and his family. The American, British, Danish, Peruvian, and Chilian consuls protested against these acts; and the British consul offered his mediation, but it was refused by the French. It is not yet known whether the conduct of the French officers was authorized by their government, or will receive its sanction. It is delicately alluded to by General Taylor in his opening message to Congress.
General Baraguay d'Hilliers, the last military and diplomatic representative of the French government at Roine, has made a strong remonstrance against the political measures pursued by the three cardinals whom the Pope had empowered to act in his behalf, and has even threatened them with the displeasure of the French President. He went to Naples to endeavour to overcome the Pope's objections to return to Rome. Among the anecdotes circulated at Paris, it is told that when General Baraguay d'Hilliers assured Pius IX. that the French government would guaranty his safety and authority in Rome, the Pope replied, “ But who will guaranty the continuance of your government?
The proposed tax on liquors, which was taken off in May last, is still under discussion in the legislative assembly. The members are divided between the large amount of money which this tax would bring into the treasury, now so much in need of it, and the unpopularity of
VOL. III.—DEC., 1849. 23
the tax, the effects of which would be so naturally felt in the next elections. The indications were all in favour of its passage.
There has been an insurrection in Algiers, but it has been quelled by the military force which France has there. The town of Zaatchi was taken by storm in November last.
PRUSSIA. The chief objects of public concern in Prussia, for some months past, have been its own constitution, and that of the proposed German Confederation. The constitution which Frederick William granted to his people in December, 1848, expressly provided that it should be subject to the revision of the two legislative chambers. It has, accordingly, been so revised, and the work was expected to be brought to a close before Christmas. When, in its amended form, it has received the royal assent, and the king has sworn to support it, it will be obligatory upon him and the people. Should it be thus sanctioned, as it probably will, Prussia will have made a great advance towards a liberal and representative government.
On the scheme of German unity, the mind of the king seems to have greatly vacillated. Sometimes he appeared to be friendly to the views of the Frankfort parliament, sometimes hostile; and finally he became its decided opponent, probably, both because he was convinced that the constitution they had prepared for United Germany could not be adopted against the determined opposition of Austria, and because it was more democratic in its character than he considered safe or expedient. The great object of this assembly having thus proved a failure, and its functions having virtually ceased, * the Prussian monarch decided on making another attempt to unite the German States in a fede ral league under better auspices. Should the plan succeed, it would make him very popular with the whole German race, still ardently desiring a political union, and might further gratify his ambition by his becoming the head of the new confederation. All the German States have been accordingly invited to send deputies to a convention to be held at Erfurt, a fortified town in his own dominions, on the 31st of January next.
The Emperor of Austria, seeing nothing in such a confederation, but a diminution of his own rank and power in Germany, and an increase of those of his ambitious rival, has opposed this scheme as well as those which preceded it; and has formally protested against it, since, being addressed to all the German States, it is calculated to bring some of his dominions under the subjection of Prussia. The correspondence between the sovereigns of Austria and Prussia, taken in connexion with
* A new provisional central power for Germany has been formed, to which the archduke Jobn, the vicar of the Empire, has given his consent, and has resigned his office. (See Chronicle.)
the presumed sentiments of both, were thought for awhile to threaten an open rupture. The prospect of that has now passed away, and a large majority, if not all the States of Germany, are expected to meet at Erfurt on the last of January, to agree on the terms of a German Confederation.
Among the rumours lately put in circulation, one is that the King of Prussia is about to resign his power in favour of his nephew, the Prince of Prussia. This report has derived some credit from the personal character of Frederick William, who is believed to be wavering in his purposes, and operated on by the impulse of the moment; and it is possible, too, that he may resign the crown of Prussia as a means of becoming the Emperor of the Confederation.
The Emperor of Austria having, by the aid of his Russian ally, suppressed the Hungarian revolt, his next objects were to punish the offenders, and to guard against the recurrence of a similar evil. In the first of these purposes, he has exhibited a severity that has greatly shocked the feelings of mankind. General Haynau, who was appointed to this duty, so odious in general to brave men, seems to have discharged it with peculiar pleasure, and to have amply gratified the vindictive feelings of his employers. Victims were sacrificed without regard to rank, age, or sex, and the streets of Pesth were stained with the blood of some of the purest and best in Hungary. Among these, Count Batthyany, who had been formerly the Emperor's chief minister in that country, and who had taken no active part in the insurrection, was particularly regretted. To punish him for his supposed secret wishes, he was, by some refinement of reasoning, found guilty of violating “the pragmatic sanction.” His large estates were forfeited, and his wealth was supposed to have contributed to his condemnation.
Not satisfied with the executions in Hungary, the Emperor united with the Czar of Russia in demanding of the Turkish Sultan the surrender of Kossuth, Bem, Dembinski, and other distinguished Hungarians who had taken refuge in Turkey. The demand, as we have seen, was refused, and it is probable that the general remonstrance of the civilized world, and yet more the active intervention of Great Britain backed by France, induced the reluctant acquiescence of these Emperors in the refusal. But their vengeance was not altogether disappointed. The Sultan, by a compromise between his honour and his prudence, or his fears, though he would not surrender the refugees, agreed to retain them under a strict surveillance in his dominions for a twelvemonth; and the better to enable him to do so, they were removed to Shumla, a town in the interior of Bulgaria. Under an existing treaty between Russia and Turkey, the Sultan was probably bound to deliver up the Polish insurgents, who had not embraced the Moslem