But the task of sages is one thing, the task of clever men is another.
The Revolution of 1830 came to a sudden halt.
As soon as a revolution has made the coast, the skilful make haste
to prepare the shipwreck.
The skilful in our century have conferred on themselves the title
of Statesmen; so that this word, statesmen, has ended by becoming
somewhat of a slang word. It must be borne in mind, in fact,
that wherever there is nothing but skill, there is necessarily pettiness.
To say "the skilful" amounts to saying "the mediocre."
In the same way, to say "statesmen" is sometimes equivalent
to saying "traitors." If, then, we are to believe the skilful,
revolutions like the Revolution of July are severed arteries; a prompt
ligature is indispensable. The right, too grandly proclaimed, is shaken.
Also, right once firmly fixed, the state must be strengthened.
Liberty once assured, attention must be directed to power.
Here the sages are not, as yet, separated from the skilful,
but they begin to be distrustful. Power, very good. But, in the
first place, what is power? In the second, whence comes it?
The skilful do not seem to hear the murmured objection, and they
continue their manoeuvres.
According to the politicians, who are ingenious in putting the
mask of necessity on profitable fictions, the first requirement
of a people after a revolution, when this people forms part
of a monarchical continent, is to procure for itself a dynasty.
In this way, say they, peace, that is to say, time to dress
our wounds, and to repair the house, can be had after a revolution.
The dynasty conceals the scaffolding and covers the ambulance.
Now, it is not always easy to procure a dynasty.
If it is absolutely necessary, the first man of genius or even the first
man of fortune who comes to hand suffices for the manufacturing of
a king. You have, in the first case, Napoleon; in the second, Iturbide.
But the first family that comes to hand does not suffice to make
a dynasty. There is necessarily required a certain modicum of antiquity
in a race, and the wrinkle of the centuries cannot be improvised.
If we place ourselves at the point of view of the "statesmen," after
making all allowances, of course, after a revolution, what are the
qualities of the king which result from it? He may be and it is useful
for him to be a revolutionary; that is to say, a participant in his
own person in that revolution, that he should have lent a hand to it,
that he should have either compromised or distinguished himself therein,
that he should have touched the axe or wielded the sword in it.
What are the qualities of a dynasty? It should be national; that is
to say, revolutionary at a distance, not through acts committed,
but by reason of ideas accepted. It should be composed of past
and be historic; be composed of future and be sympathetic.
All this explains why the early revolutions contented themselves
with finding a man, Cromwell or Napoleon; and why the second
absolutely insisted on finding a family, the House of Brunswick
or the House of Orleans.
Royal houses resemble those Indian fig-trees, each branch of which,
bending over to the earth, takes root and becomes a fig-tree itself.
Each branch may become a dynasty. On the sole condition that it shall
bend down to the people.
Such is the theory of the skilful.
Here, then, lies the great art: to make a little render to success
the sound of a catastrophe in order that those who profit by it may
tremble from it also, to season with fear every step that is taken,
to augment the curve of the transition to the point of retarding progress,
to dull that aurora, to denounce and retrench the harshness of enthusiasm,
to cut all angles and nails, to wad triumph, to muffle up right,
to envelop the giant-people in flannel, and to put it to bed
very speedily, to impose a diet on that excess of health, to put
Hercules on the treatment of a convalescent, to dilute the event
with the expedient, to offer to spirits thirsting for the ideal
that nectar thinned out with a potion, to take one's precautions
against too much success, to garnish the revolution with a shade.
1830 practised this theory, already applied to England by 1688.
1830 is a revolution arrested midway. Half of progress, quasi-right. Now,
logic knows not the "almost," absolutely as the sun knows not the candle.
Who arrests revolutions half-way? The bourgeoisie?
Because the bourgeoisie is interest which has reached satisfaction.
Yesterday it was appetite, to-day it is plenitude, to-morrow it will
The phenomenon of 1814 after Napoleon was reproduced in 1830 after
The attempt has been made, and wrongly, to make a class of
the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is simply the contented portion
of the people. The bourgeois is the man who now has time to sit down.
A chair is not a caste.
But through a desire to sit down too soon, one may arrest the very march
of the human race. This has often been the fault of the bourgeoisie.
One is not a class because one has committed a fault. Selfishness is
not one of the divisions of the social order.
Moreover, we must be just to selfishness. The state to which
that part of the nation which is called the bourgeoisie aspired
after the shock of 1830 was not the inertia which is complicated
with indifference and laziness, and which contains a little shame;
it was not the slumber which presupposes a momentary forgetfulness
accessible to dreams; it was the halt.
The halt is a word formed of a singular double
and almost contradictory sense: a troop
on the march, that is to say, movement; a stand, that is to say, repose.
The halt is the restoration of forces; it is repose armed and on
the alert; it is the accomplished fact which posts sentinels
and holds itself on its guard.
The halt presupposes the combat of yesterday and the combat of to-morrow.
It is the partition between 1830 and 1848.
What we here call combat may also be designated as progress.
The bourgeoisie then, as well as the statesmen, required a man
who should express this word Halt. An Although-Because.
A composite individuality, signifying revolution and
signifying stability, in other terms, strengthening
the present by the evident compatibility of the past with the future.
This man was "already found." His name was Louis Philippe d'Orleans.
The 221 made Louis Philippe King. Lafayette undertook the coronation.
He called it the best of republics. The town-hall of Paris took
the place of the Cathedral of Rheims.
This substitution of a half-throne for a whole throne was "the work
When the skilful had finished, the immense vice of their
solution became apparent. All this had been accomplished
outside the bounds of absolute right. Absolute right cried:
"I protest!" then, terrible to say, it retired into the darkness.