“All that took place was of a feebleness destructive of all government, and disheartening for him who bears all the responsibility for it, with the weight of affairs besides. But he was not, and did not pretend to be, the Cardinal Richelieu. He had not his character, nor his ambition, nor his superior gifts. He did not even envy them. Had he been quite different in this regard, to repress and annul his king, to oppress the daughter of Louis XVI. and the widow of the Duke of Berry, to exile from France the new Gaston d’Orleans, and his numerous family, to bring down the heads of the court pygmies,—more dangerous, perhaps, with their influence over the King and his family and their vexatious intrigues in the Court of Peers than the Montmorencys and the Cinq-Mars,—this was a rele to which he never aspired and would not have accepted.”
Charles X. sacrificed M. de Villele, who, however, had his sympathy, and replaced him with a liberal minister, perhaps with a mental reservation as to a ministry, before long, from the extreme Right. The retiring minister wished to remain in the Chamber of Deputies, to defend his acts. For their part, his successors, fearing his influence in that body, wished his transfer to the Chamber of Peers, where, in their judgment, he would be less dangerous. At the last Council of Ministers attended by M. de Villele, the King passed to him a note in pencil, announcing that he had called him to the peerage. The statesman declined, in a note also in pencil. “You wish then to impose yourself upon me as minister?” wrote the King once more. M. de Villele appeared moved, and passed to the sovereign this response: “The King well knows the contrary; but since he can write it, let him do with me what he will.” The next day the Martignac ministry entered on its duties, and the Duchess of Angoule’me said to Charles X.: “It is true, then, that you are letting Villele go? My father, you descend to-day the first step of the throne.”
THE MARTIGNAC MINISTRY
Mde. Martignac, who succeeded M. de Villele in the Ministry of the Interior, was a man of merit, honest, liberal, and sincerely devoted to the King. Born in 1776, at Bordeaux, he was at first an advocate at the bar of that city, and at the same time made himself known by some witty vaudevilles. On the return of the Bourbons, he entered the magistracy, became procureur-general at Limoges, was elected a deputy in 1821, and distinguished himself in the tribune. He was Minister of the Interior from January, 1828, to August, 1829, and his name was given to the ministry of which he was a member. He had for colleagues enlightened and moderate men, such as Count Auguste de La Ferronnays, M. Roy, Count Portalis. He tried to reconcile the different parties, and to preserve the throne from the double danger of reaction and revolution. Taken between two fires, the extreme Right and the extreme Left, he was destined to fail in his generous effort.