CHAPTER V. SOME CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION OF 1848.
After the signing of the treaty of 1841, which restored the entente cordiale between France and England, and satisfied the other European Powers, Louis Philippe and his family were probably in the plenitude of their prosperity. The Duke of Orleans had been happily married; and although his wife was a Protestant, - which was not wholly satisfactory to Queen Marie Amelie, - the character of the Duchesse Helene was so lovely that she won all hearts, both in her husband's family and among the people.
On the occasion of the fetes given in Paris at the nuptials of the Duke of Orleans, in 1837, the sad presage of misfortune that had accompanied the marriage festivities of Marie Antoinette was repeated. One of the spectacles given to the Parisians was a sham attack on a sham citadel of Antwerp in the Champ de Mars. The crowd was immense, but all went well so long as the spectacle lasted. When the crowd began to move away, a panic took place. The old and the feeble were thrown down and trampled on. Twenty-four persons were killed, the fetes were broken up, and all hearts were saddened both by the disaster and the omen.
One part of the festivities on that occasion consisted in the opening of the galleries of historical paintings at Versailles, - a magnificent gift made by the Citizen King to his people.
I have spoken already of the storming of Constantine. No French success since the wars of the Great Napoleon had been so brilliant; yet the Chamber of Deputies, in a fit of parsimony, reduced from two thousand to eleven hundred dollars the pension proposed by the ministers to be settled on the widow of General Damremont, the commander-in-chief, who had been killed by a round shot while giving orders to scale the walls. At the same time they voted two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the year's subsidy to the theatres of Paris for the amusement of themselves and their constituents.
Algeria proved a valuable school for soldiers; there Lamoriciere, Changarnier, Cavaignac, Saint-Arnaud, Pelissier, and Bugeaud had their military education. Louis Philippe's three sons were also with the troops, sharing all the duties, dangers, and hardships of the campaign.
By the end of 1847 Abdul Kader had retired to a stronghold in the mountains, where, seeing that his cause was lost, he tendered his submission to the Duc d'Aumale, then governor of Algeria. The offer was accepted. Abdul Kader surrendered on an understanding that he should be conducted to some Mohammedan place of refuge, - Alexandria or St. Jean d'Acre. But this stipulation was disregarded by the French Government, whose breach of faith has always been considered a stain on the honor of Louis Philippe and his ministers. The Duc d'Aumale vehemently remonstrated, believing his own word pledged to the Arab chieftain. Abdul Kader, his wives, children, servants, and principal officers were taken to France, and for five years lived at Amboise, where some of the subordinate attendants, overcome by homesickness, committed suicide. In 1852 Louis Napoleon, who possibly had a fellow-feeling for captives, restored Abdul Kader to liberty, who thereupon took up his residence at Damascus. There he subsequently protected a large number of Christians from massacre, sheltering them in his house, and giving them food and clothing. He afterwards removed to the island of Ceylon, where, as everywhere else, he won "golden opinions" by his generous behavior.
Meantime, while France was in some respects in the full tide of prosperity, great discontent was growing up among the working-classes, reinforced by the worthless class, always ready for disturbances. In May, 1839, Barbes led an emeute in Paris which might have proved formidable. His attempt opened with a deliberate murder, and there was considerable fighting in the streets for about twenty-four hours. Barbes was condemned to death. The king was desirous to spare him, and yielded readily to the prayers of his sister, for whom an opportunity of interceding for him was obtained by the good offices of Lamartine.
The emeute of Barbes was regarded with disfavor by more experienced conspirators, but secret societies had introduced organization among the workmen. Moreover, they were led by the bourgeoisie with a cry for parliamentary reform, which at that period was the supposed panacea for every kind of evil.
The king was not popular. He was not the ideal Frenchman. He was a Frenchman of the epicier, or small grocer, type. As a bon pere de famille he was anxious to settle his sons well in life. They were admirable young men, they deserved good wives, and as far as grace, beauty, and amiability went, they all obtained them; but up to 1846 not one of them had made a brilliant marriage. This good fortune Louis Philippe hoped was reserved for his two younger sons, - D'Aumale and Montpensier.