- François Guizot
Infobox Prime Minister
Prime Minister of France
term_start =19 September 1847
term_end =23 February 1848
predecessor =Duc de Dalmatie
Louis, comte Molé
birth_date =4 October 1787
death_date =death date and age|1874|9|12|1787|10|4|
François Pierre Guillaume Guizot (4 October 1787 -12 September 1874) was a French
historian, orator, and statesman. Guizot was a dominant figure in French politics prior to the Revolution of 1848, actively opposing as a liberal the reactionary King Charles Xbefore his overthrow in the July Revolutionof 1830, then in government service to the "citizen king" Louis Philippe, as the Minister of Education, 1832 –1837, ambassador to London, Foreign Minister 1840 –1847, and finally Prime Minister of Francefrom 19 September 1847 to 23 February 1848. Guizot's influence was critical in expanding public education, which under his ministry saw the creation of primary schools in every French commune. But as a leader of the " Doctrinaires," committed to supporting the policies of Louis Phillipe and limitations on further expansion of the political franchise, he earned the hatred of more advanced liberals and republicans through his unswerving support for restricting suffrage to propertied men, advising those who wanted the vote to "get rich" (enrichissez-vous). As Prime Minister, it was Guizot's ban on the political meetings of an increasingly vigorous opposition in January 1848 that catalyzed the revolution that toppled Louis Philippe in February and saw the establishment of the French Second Republic.
Guizot is famous as the originator of the quote “Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.” This quote has been reworked many times, especially in reference to socialism and liberalism. It has been borrowed by or attributed to many notable figures who lived after Guizot, including
Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Disraeli, Georges Clemenceau, Otto von Bismarck, Aristide Briand, Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George, Wendell Willkie, William J. Casey, and others.
He was born at
Nîmesto a bourgeois Protestantfamily. On 8 April 1794, when François Guizot was 7, his father was executed on the scaffold at Nîmes during the Reign of Terror. From then on, the boy's mother was completely responsible for his upbringing.
Madame Guizot had great influence over Francois Guizot and was part of his circle of friends. In the days of his exile in 1848 she followed him to
London, and there at a very advanced age died and was buried at Kensal Green.
Driven from Nîmes by the Revolution, Madame Guizot and her son went to
Geneva, where he was educated. In spite of her decided Calvinistic opinions, the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseauinfluenced Madame Guizot. She was a strong Liberal, and she even adopted the notion inculcated in that every man ought to learn a manual trade or craft. Guizot was taught to be a carpenter, and succeeded in making a table with his own hands, which is still preserved. In the work which he entitled "Memoirs of my own Times" Guizot omitted all personal details of his earlier life. In 1805 he arrived in Paris and he entered at the age eighteen as tutor into the family of M. Stapfer, formerly Swiss minister in France, and he soon began to write in a journal edited by Suard, the "Publiciste". This connection introduced him to the literary society of Paris.
In October 1809, aged twenty-two, he wrote a review of
François-René de Chateaubriand's "Martyrs", which won Chateaubriand's approbation and thanks, and he continued to contribute largely to the periodical press. At Suard's he had made the acquaintance of Pauline Meulan, a contributor to Suard’s journal. Her contributions were interrupted by illness, but immediately resumed and continued by an unknown hand. It was discovered that Francois Guizot had substituted for her. In 1812 Mademoiselle de Meulan married Guizot. She died in 1827. An only son, born in 1819, died in 1837 of consumption. In 1828 Guizot married Elisa Dillon, niece of his first wife, and also an author. She died in 1833, leaving a son, Maurice Guillaume (1833-1892), who attained some reputation as a scholar and writer.
First French Empire, Guizot, entirely devoted to literary pursuits, published a collection of French synonyms (1809), an essay on the fine arts (1811), and a translation of Edward Gibbon's work, with additional notes, in 1812. These works recommended him to the notice of de Fontanes, grand-master of the university of France, who selected Guizot for the chair of modern history at the Sorbonne in 1812. His first lecture (reprinted in his Memoirs) was delivered on 11 December of that year. He omitted the customary compliment to the all-powerful emperor, in spite of the hints given him by his patron, but the course which followed marks the beginning of the great revival of historical research in France in the 19th century. He had now acquired a considerable position in Paris society, and the friendship of Royer-Collard and leading members of the liberal party, including the young duc de Broglie. Absent from Paris at the moment of the fall of Napoleon in 1814, he was at once selected, on the recommendation of Royer-Collard, to serve the government of King Louis XVIII, in the capacity of secretary-general of the ministry of the interior, under the abbé de Montesquiou. Upon the return of Napoleonfrom Elbahe immediately resigned, on 25 March 1815, and returned to his literary pursuits.
"The Man of Ghent"
Hundred Days, he returned to Ghent, where he saw Louis XVIII, and in the name of the liberal party pointed out that a frank adoption of a liberal policy could alone secure the duration of the restored monarchy - advice which was ill-received by the king's confidential advisers. This visit to Ghent was brought up by political opponents in later years as unpatriotic. "The Man of Ghent" was one of the terms of insult frequently used against him in the days of his power. The reproach appears to be wholly unfounded. He was acting not to preserve the failing empire, but to establish a liberal monarchy and to combat the reactionary ultra-royalists.
second restoration, Guizot was appointed secretary-general of the ministry of justice under de Barbé-Marbois, but resigned with his chief in 1816. Again in 1819 he was appointed general director of communes and departments in the ministry of the interior, but lost his office with the fall of Decazes in February 1820. During these years Guizot was one of the leaders of the Doctrinaires, a small party strongly attached to the charter and the crown, and advocating a policy which has become associated (especially by Émile Faguet) with the name of Guizot, that of the juste milieu, a middle path between absolutism and popular government. Adhering to the great principles of liberty and toleration, they were sternly opposed to the anarchical traditions of the Revolution. They hoped to subdue the elements of anarchy through the power of a limited constitution based on the suffrage of the middle class and promoted by the literary talents of the time. They were opposed alike to the democratic spirit of the age, to the military traditions of the empire, and to the bigotry and absolutism of the court. The Doctrinaires fell out of influence following the July Revolutionin 1830
In 1820, when the reaction was at its height after the murder of the Duc de Berry, and the fail of the ministry of the duc Decazes, Guizot was deprived of his offices, and in 1822 even his course of lectures were interdicted. During the succeeding years he played an important part among the leaders of the liberal opposition to the government of Charles X, although he had not yet entered parliament, and this was also the time of his greatest literary activity. In 1822 he had published his lectures on representative government ("Histoire des origines du gouvernernent représentatif, 1821-1822", 2 vols.; Eng. trans. 1852); also a work on capital punishment for political offences and several important political pamphlets. From 1822 to 1830 he published two important collections of historical sources, the memoirs of the history of England in 26 volumes, and the memoirs of the history of France in 31 volumes, and a revised translation, of Shakespeare, and a volume of essays on the history of France. Written from his own pen during this period was the first part of his "Histoire de la révolution d'Angleterre depuis Charles I à Charles II" (2 vols., 1826-1827; Eng. trans., 2 vols., Oxford, 1838), which he resumed and completed during his exile in England after 1848. The Martignac administration restored Guizot in 1828 to his professor's chair and to the council of state. During his time at the University of Paris his lectures earned him a reputation as a historian of note. These lectures formed the basis of his general "Histoire de la civilisation en Europe" (1828; Eng. trans. by
William Hazlitt, 3 vols., 1846), and of his "Histoire de la civilisation en France" (4 vols., 1830),
In January 1830 he was elected by the town of
Lisieuxto the Chamber of Deputies, and he retained that seat during the whole of his political life. Guizot delivered an address in March 1830 calling for greater political freedom in the Chamber of Deputies. The motion passed 221 against 181. Charles X responded by dissolving the Chamber and called for new elections which only strengthened opposition to the throne. On his returning to Paris from Nîmes on 27 July, the fall of Charles X was already imminent. Guizot was called upon by his friends Casimir Perier, Jacques Laffitte, Villemain and Dupin to draw up the protest of the liberal deputies against the royal ordinances of July, while he applied himself with them to control the revolutionary character of the late contest. Personally, Guizot was always of opinion that it was a great misfortune for the cause of parliamentary government in France that the infatuation and ineptitude of Charles X and Prince Polignac rendered a change in the hereditary line of succession inevitable. Once convinced that it was inevitable, he became one of the most ardent supporters of Louis Philippe. In August 1830 Guizot was made minister of the interior, but resigned in November. He had now joined the ranks of the conservatives, and for the next eighteen years was a determined foe of democracy, the unyielding champion of "a monarchy limited by a limited number of bourgeois."
A minister of the Citizen-King
In 1831 Casimir Perier formed a more vigorous and compact administration, terminated in May 1832 by his death; the summer of that year was marked by a formidable republican rising in Paris, and it was not until 11 October 1832 that a stable government was formed, in which Marshal Soult was first minister,
Victor, 3rd duc de Broglietook the foreign office, Adolphe Thiersthe home department, and Guizot the department of public instruction.Guizot, however, was already unpopular with the more advanced liberal party. He remained unpopular all his life. Yet never were his great abilities more useful to his country than while he filled this office of secondary rank but of primary importance in the department of public instruction. The duties it imposed on him were entirely congenial to his literary tastes, and he was master of the subjects they concerned. He applied himself in the first instance to carry the law of 28 June 1833, which established and organized primary education in France.
The branch of the Institute of France known as the "
Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques"," which had been suppressed by Napoleon, was revived by Guizot. Some of the old members of this learned body - Talleyrand, Sieyès, Roederer and Lakanal - again took their seats there, and a host of more recent celebrities were added by election for the free discussion of the great problems of political and social science. The Société de l'histoire de Francewas founded for the publication of historical works; and a vast publication of medieval chronicles and diplomatic papers was undertaken at the expense of the state.
The July Monarchy was threatened in 1839 by Mathieu Molé, who had formed an intermediate government. Guizot and the leaders of the left centre and the left, Thiers and
Odilon Barrotworked together to stop Molé, Victory was secured at the expense of principle, and Guizot's attack on the government gave rise to a crisis and a republican insurrection. None of the three leaders of that alliance took ministerial office, and Guizot was not sorry to accept the post of ambassador in London, which withdrew him for a time from parliamentary contests. This was in the spring of 1840, and Thiers succeeded shortly afterwards to the ministry of foreign affairs.
Guizot was received with distinction by Queen Victoria and by London society. His literary works were highly esteemed, and sincerely attached to the alliance of the two nations and the cause of peace. He also secured the return of Napoleon’s ashes to France at the insistence of Thiers. As he himself remarked, he was a stranger to England and a novice in diplomacy; the embroiled state of the
Syrian Warquestion, on which the French government had separated itself from the joint policy of Europe, and possibly the absence of entire confidence between the ambassador and the minister of foreign affairs, placed him in an embarrassing and even false position. The warnings he transmitted to Thiers were not believed. The treaty of 15 July was signed without his knowledge and executed against his advice. For some weeks Europe seemed to be on the brink of war, until the king ended the crisis by refusing his assent to the military preparations of Thiers, and by summoning Guizot from London to form a ministry and to aid his Majesty in what he termed "ma lutte tenace contre l'anarchie"."
The second Soult government
Thus began, under dark and adverse circumstances, on 29 October 1840, the important administration in which Guizot remained the master-spirit for nearly eight years. He himself took the office of minister for foreign affairs, and upon the retirement of Marshal Soult, he became prime minister. His first care was the maintenance of peace and the restoration of amicable relations with the other powers of Europe. His success gave unity and strength to the conservative party, who now felt that they had a great leader at their head.
During Guizot’s tenure as foreign minister, he and Lord Aberdeen, the foreign secretary to Sir Robert Peel, carried on well and thus they secured France and Britain in the
entente cordiale. Part of the formation of the entente came about when Guizot secured the transfer of Napoleon’s ashes from St. Helena to the French government. [ [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0044-0078%281960%290%3A26%3C70%3ATJMATN%3E2.0CO%3B2-8 Stanley Mellon. “The July Monarchy and the Napoleonic Myth”] ] The opposition in France denounced Guizot's foreign policy as basely subservient to England. He replied in terms of unmeasured contempt: "You may raise the pile of calumny as high as you will; "vous n'arriverez jamais a la hauteur de mon dédain!" In 1845 British and French troops fought side by side for the first time in an expedition to the Río de la Plata.
The fall of Peel's government in 1846 changed these intimate relations; and the return of Palmerston to the foreign office led Guizot to believe that he was again exposed to the passionate rivalry of the British cabinet. A friendly understanding had been established at Eu between the two courts with reference to the future marriage of the young queen of Spain. The language of Lord Palmerston and the conduct of Sir
Henry Bulwer(afterwards Lord Dalling) at Madrid led Guizot to believe that this understanding was broken, and that it was intended to place a Coburg on the throne of Spain. Determined to resist any such intrigue, Guizot and the king plunged headlong into a counter-intrigue, wholly inconsistent with their previous engagements to Britain, and fatal to the happiness of the queen of Spain. By their influence she was urged into a marriage with a despicable offset of the house of Bourbon, and her sister was at the same time married to the youngest son of the French king, in direct violation of Louis Philippe's promises. This transaction, although it was hailed at the time as a triumph of the policy of France, was in truth as fatal to the monarch as it was discreditable to the minister. It was accomplished by a mixture of secrecy and violence. It was defended by subterfuges. By the dispassionate judgment of history it has been universally condemned. Its immediate effect was to destroy the Anglo-French alliance, and to throw Guizot into closer relations with the reactionary policy of Metternich and the Northern courts.
His first object as prime minister was to unite and discipline the conservative party, which had been broken up by previous dissensions and ministerial changes. In this he entirely succeeded by his courage and eloquence as a parliamentary leader, and by the use of all those means of influence which France too liberally supplies to a dominant minister. No one ever doubted the purity and disinterestedness of Guizot's own conduct. He despised money; he lived and died poor; and though he encouraged the fever of money-getting in the French nation, his own habits retained their primitive simplicity. But he did not disdain to use in others the baser passions from which he was himself free. Some of his instruments were mean; he employed them to deal with meanness after its kind.
In 1846 the opposition accused the government of buying the votes of the electorate. Guizot acknowledged that corruption happened but the government could not really prevent it. Non-voters exaggerated the occurrences of corruption to point to their need for enfranchisement. Guizot utterly failed to satisfy the demand for expansion of suffrage. [E.L. Woodward. Three Studies in European Conservatism: Metternich: Guizot: The Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century. Archon Books, 1963.] Some scholars point out that corruption, while certainly present, did not have a large effect on the voting records of those in the Chamber of Deputies. [ [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0016-1071%28196723%295%3A2%3C204&3ACCAPIT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A Patrick and Trevor Higonnet. "Class, Corruption, and Politics in the French Chamber of Deputies, 1846-1848"] ]
The strength of Guizot’s oration was his straightforward style of speaking. He was essentially a ministerial speaker, far more powerful in defence than in opposition. Nor was he less a master of parliamentary tactics and of those sudden changes and movements in debate which, as in a battle, sometimes change the fortune of the day. His confidence in himself, and in the majority of the chamber which he had moulded to his will, was unbounded; and long success and the habit of authority led him to forget that in a country like France there was a people outside the chamber elected by a small constituency, to which the minister and the king himself were held responsible.
Guizot's view of politics was essentially historical and philosophical. His tastes and his acquirements gave him little insight into the practical business of administrative government. Of finance he knew nothing; trade and commerce were strange to him; military and naval affairs were unfamiliar to him; all these subjects he dealt with by second hand through his friends, PS Dumon (1797-1870), Charles Marie Tanneguy, Comte Duchâttel (1803-1867), or Marshal Bugeaud. The consequence was that few measures of practical improvement were carried by his administration. Still less did the government lend an ear to the cry for parliamentary reform.
On this subject the king's prejudices were insurmountable, and his ministers had the weakness to give way to them. It was impossible to defend a system which confined the suffrage to 200,000 citizens, and returned a chamber of whom half were placemen. Nothing would have been easier than to strengthen the conservative party by attaching the suffrage to the possession of land in France, but blank resistance was the sole answer of the government to the just and moderate demands of the opposition. Warning after warning was addressed to them in vain by friends and by foes alike; and they remained profoundly unconscious of their danger till the moment when it overwhelmed them. Strange to say, Guizot never acknowledged either at the time or to his dying day the nature of this error; and he speaks of himself in his memoirs as the much-enduring champion of liberal government and constitutional law. He utterly fails to perceive that a more enlarged view of the liberal destinies of France and a less intense confidence in his own specific theory might have preserved the constitutional monarchy and averted a vast series of calamities, which were in the end fatal to every principle he most cherished. But with the stubborn conviction of absolute truth he dauntlessly adhered to his own doctrines to the end.
1848 and after
In the afternoon of 23 February 1848 the king summoned his minister from the chamber, which was then sitting, and informed him that the aspect of
Parisand the country during the banquet agitation for reform, and the alarm and division of opinion in the royal family, led him to doubt whether he could retain his ministry. Guizot instantly resigned, returning to the chamber only to announce that the administration was at an end and that the king had sent for Louis, comte Molé. Molé failed in the attempt to form a government, and between midnight and one in the morning Guizot, who had according to his custom retired early to rest, was again sent for to the Tuileries. The king asked his advice. "We are no longer the ministers of your Majesty," replied Guizot; "it rests with others to decide on the course to be pursued. But one thing appears to be evident: this street riot must be put down; these barricades must be taken; and for this purpose my opinion is that Marshal Bugeaud should be invested with full power, and ordered to take the necessary military measures, and as your Majesty has at this moment no minister, I am ready to draw up and countersign such an order." The marshal, who was present, undertook the task, saying, "I have never been beaten yet, and I shall not begin to-morrow. The barricades shall be carried before dawn." Adolphe Thiersand Barrot decided to withdraw the troops. Guizot found a safe refuge in Paris for some days in the lodging of a humble miniature painter whom he had befriended, and shortly afterwards effected his escape across the Belgian frontier and thence to London, where he arrived on the 3rd of March. His mother and daughters had preceded him, and he was speedily installed in a modest habitation in Pelham Crescent, Brompton.
The society of
England, though many persons disapproved of much of his recent policy, received the fallen statesman with as much distinction and respect as they had shown eight years before to the king's ambassador. A professorship at Oxford was spoken of, which he was unable to accept. He stayed in England about a year, devoting himself again to history. He published two more volumes on the English revolution, and in 1854 his "Histoire de la république d'Angleterre et de Cromwell" (2 vols., 1854), then his "Histoire du protectorat de Cromwell et du rétablissement des Stuarts" (2 vols., 1856). He also published an essay on Peel, and amid many essays on religion, during the ten years 1858–1868, appeared the extensive "Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de mon temps", in nine volumes. His speeches were included in 1863 in his "Histoire parlementaire de la France" (5 vols. of parliamentary speeches, 1863).
Once he resigned as Prime Minister of France, he left politics. He was aware that the link between himself and public life was broken for ever; and he never made the slightest attempt to renew it. The greater part of the year he spent at his residence at Val Richer, an Augustine monastery near
Lisieuxin Normandy, which had been sold at the time of the first Revolution. His two daughters, who married two descendants of the illustrious Dutch family of De Witt, so congenial in faith and manners to the Huguenots of France, kept his house. One of his sons-in-law farmed the estate. And here Guizot devoted his later years with undiminished energy to literary labour, which was in fact his chief means of subsistence. Proud, independent, simple and contented he remained to the last; and these years of retirement were perhaps the happiest and most serene portion of his life.
Two institutions may be said even under the second empire to have retained their freedom-the
Institute of Franceand the Protestant Consistory. In both of these Guizot continued to the last to take an active part. He was a member of three of the five academies into which the Institute of France is divided. The Academy of Moral and Political Scienceowed its restoration to him, and he became in 1832 one of its first associates. The Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettreselected him in 1833 as the successor to M Dacier; and in 1836 he was chosen a member of the French Academy, the highest literary distinction of the country. In these learned bodies Guizot continued for nearly forty years to take a lively interest and to exercise a powerful influence. He was the jealous champion of their independence. His voice had the greatest weight in the choice of new candidates; the younger generation of French writers never looked in vain to him for encouragement; and his constant aim was to maintain the dignity and purity of the profession of letters.
In the consistory of the
Protestantchurch in ParisGuizot exercised a similar influence. His early education and his experience of life conspired to strengthen the convictions of a religious temperament. He remained through life a firm believer in the truths of revelation, and a volume of "Méditations on the Christian Religion" was one of his latest works. But though he adhered inflexibly to the church of his fathers and combated the rationalist tendencies of the age, which seemed to threaten it with destruction, he retained not a tinge of the intolerance or asperity of the Calvinistic creed. He respected in the Church of Rome the faith of the majority of his countrymen; and the writings of the great Catholic prelates, Bossuet and Bourdaloue, were as familiar and as dear to him as those of his own persuasion, and were commonly used by him in the daily exercises of family worship.
In these literary pursuits and in the retirement of Val Richer years passed smoothly and rapidly away; and as his grandchildren grew up around him, he began to direct their attention to the history of their country. From these lessons sprang his last work, the "Histoire de France racontée à mes petits enfants". The history came down to 1789, and was continued to 1870 by his daughter Madame Guizot de Witt from her father's notes.
*"You may pile up your cause as high as you like it will never reach the height of my disdain" (
#The second Soult government)
The 1911 "Encyclopaedia Britannica", in turn, gives the following references:
*Guizot's own "Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de mon temps" (8 vols., 1858-1861)
* "Lettres de M. Guizot à sa famille et à ses amis" (1884)
Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, "Causeries du lundi" (vol. 1., 1857) and "Nouveaux Lundis" (vols. i. and ix., 1863-1872)
*E Scherer, "Etudes critiques sur la littérature contemporaine" (vol. iv., 1873)
*Mme de Witt, "Guizot dans sa famille" (1880)
Jules Simon, "Thiers, Guizot et Rémusat" (1885);
*E Faguet, "Politiques et moralistes au XIXe siècle" (1891)
*G Bardoux, "Guizot" (1894) in the series of "Les Grands Ecrivains français"
*Maurice Guizot, "Les Années de retraite de M. Guizot" (1901)
*For a long list of books and articles on Guizot in periodicals see HP Thième, "Guide bibliographique de la littérature française de 1800-1906" (s.c. Guizot, Paris, 1907).
* For a notice of his first wife see
Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, "Portraits de femmes" (1884), and Ch. de Rémusat, "Critiques et études littéraires" (vol. ii., 1847).
* [http://oll.libertyfund.org//files/878/0470_LFeBk.pdf "The History of the Origins of Representative Government in Europe"]
* [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1848guizot.html Condition of the July Monarchy, 1830-1848] at the Modern History Sourcebook.
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