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Thiers was unknown but to a few spectable position in society of the friends or cronies in the republic of family of Periers may be derived from letters; Marshal Soult had served the this fact, that, two years before the Restoration as he had the empire, with Revolution of 1789, the province of equal fidelity ; Count d' Argont had Dauphiny suffered much from a very been charged by Charles X. to nego serious famine. It was necessary, tiate for him with the Provisional Go- therefore, to make large purchases of vernment at the Hotel de Ville ; and provisions in neighbouring districts of Talleyrand had no moral influence over France. Claude Perier, the father of even three individuals in all France- Casimir, put his capital and credit at we were about to say in all the world. the disposal of his native province ; So Casimir Perier was the only man and in order to reward him for this who could dare—who did dare to at- signal service rendered to Isere, the tempt to conquer the Revolution of Parliament of Grenoble rendered spon1830—and who, in the end, even though taneously a decree, by which the charge cut off in the midst of his labours, did, of counsellor was presented to his by his successors and disciples, succeed eldest son. The family of Perier apin conquering it.
pears to have been destined to repreTo the life of this man, then, we in- sent, in the most full and comprehenvite the attention of our readers ; and sive manner, the political aggrandisethough his life, like those of most of ment of the middling classes in France. us, will be found to be a mingled yarn The father of Casimir Perier died a of good and evil, yet, on the whole, member of the legislative corps ; his much benefit may be derived from the two brothers-in-law, Messrs Pascal contemplation and study of his indivi- and Duchesne, were, one a member of dual history.
the same corps, and the other a Tri. Casimir Perier was born at Gre- bun. Six of his eight sons, Messrs noble on the 12th of October, 1777. His Augustine, Alexandre, Casimir, Cafamily, originally from Mens, a small mille, Alphonse, Joseph Perier, have town in the environs of the capital of been Deputies ; the three last are so Isere, had become wealthy from its still; and M. Augustine Perier died commercial and enterprising charac- Peer of France. His two sons in-law,
ter, and even enjoyed a reputation su- Messrs Savage de Rollin and M. Tes. . perior to its fortune. The grandfather serie, were Deputies, the first after
of Casimir Perier, about 1720, had having been a Tribun. One of his transported to Grenoble the principal nephews was Camille Jordan, and establishment of the family; he was another, M. Duchesne, is still member the founder of the manufactory of the of the elective Chamber. linens of Voiron, the produce of which The family of Perier, like the family amounted to several millions of francs of Peel, belongs, then, to the mercauper annum at the beginning of the tile and manufacturing classes of soRevolution, and he concentrated at ciety; and as the father of Sir Robert Grenoble, and in his house, the con- Peel founded a sort of dynasty of cern of the “ Tissas de l'Inde,” with wealth, talent, and patriotism, so did which he supplied the centre and the the father of Casimir Perier, both south of France. One of his sons was having one son, above all others of their named director of the “ Companie des children, who distinguished themselves Indes." His eldest son, Claude, the by their senatorial and statesman-like father of Casimir, extended his com- talents. As Sir Robert Peel, on all mercial operations to the two branches suitable occasions, not only admits, but of industry created by his father, and even boasts of the fact that he belongs undertook to introduce at Vizille the to the industrious and trading, the then new invention of printed cotton middling and manufacturing classes of goods. The position of the grand society—so did Casimir Perier-and father of Casimir Perier was such as on one occasion, when reproached by to fy him in deciding that his son the French Radical party with being Augustine should become counsellor a great Signior, and with being un. to the Parliament. He purchased the able to sympathize with the middling necessary qualifications—but, in order and industrious classes, he exclaimed, to exercise those rights, it was necessary “miserable and ignorantcreatures that to obtain the consent of the company. ye are! Do ye forget, then, that my Another proof of the wealthy and re- grandfather was a weaver, and my father a spinner, and that I am only be applied in absolute governments their son ? I know what it is to rise or under imperial rule; but if, by an early and to work late, to eat the bread Aristocrat, you mean a man who has of carefulness and of honest labour ; earned his promotion by his labour, but I know also that the laws are as his honours by his toils, and his wealth essential to the workman as they are by his industry-oh, then, indeed, I to the manufacturer, and as necessary am an Aristocrat-and, please God, I for the middling classes as they are for hope always to remain so. The disthe wealthy. I desire nothing more tinctions in human society displease than the triumph of the laws, and with you, because you have not the talent the laws the liberty which their tri- or the industry to amend your own umph must assure me."
position. You are too idle to labour, On another occasion, when called an and too proud to beg, but I will en« aristocrat," and one of the privileged deavour to take care that you shall not classes, he replied, “my only aristo- rob me. I throw back, then, with cracy is the superiority which industry, indignation and resentment the charge frugality, perseverance, and intelli- which is made. I belong to the gence will always assure to every man middling classes of society. These in a free state of society. I belong classes must take their part in the only to those privileged classes to government of society. I have been which you may all belong in your selected by my fellow-citizens, and by turn. They are not privileges created my king, as one of their representafor us, but created by us. Our wealth tives, and, by the blessing of God, I is our own; we have made it. Our will represent them." ease and prosperity are our own; we On the approach of the Revolution have gained them by the sweat of our in France, the tiers-état did not perbrows, or by the labour of our minds. haps feel the importance of its high Our position in society is not con- destinies ; but it must be admitted ferred upon us, but purchased by our- that it prepared to merit them. It selves—with our own intellect, ap- had reaped the harvest of nearly all plication, zeal, patience, and industry. that had been sown for two centuries. If you remain inferior to us, it is be- For it were accomplished the procause you have not the intellect or gress of order, of ease, of ideas. For the industry, the zeal or the sobriety, it the influence of the privileged classes the patience or the application, neces- was weakened, and the power of royal sary to your advancement. This is authority was increased. It had raised not our fault, but your own. You itself, little by little, to that point of wish to become rich, as some men do force and maturity, which enabled it to become wise ; but there is no royal to say, and justified it in saying, that road to wealth any more than there is it was the nation. In its bosom, or to knowledge. You sigh for the ease rather at its head, were to be distinand the repose of wealth, but you are guished families, who allied to the not willing to do that which is neces- manners of the past the opinions of sary to procure them. The husband. the then present; and one of these man who will not till his ground shall families was that of Claude Perier. reap nothing but thistles or briars. Having arrived at affluence by labour You think that the commotions in and economy, it had remained simple, human society are useless and mis- moderate, serious. It participated in directed if you do not become wealthy those ideas of independence which and powerful by the changes; but assimilated it to the spirit of the times, what right have you to expect, you at the same time that it preserved idlers and drones in the hive, that you those habits of subordination, and of shall always be fed on the honey and respect for the past, for the old mothe sweets of life? What right have narchy, and for olden events and times, you, who do nothing for yourselves, which were weakening generally every your families, your communes, your day. he chief of this Perier family arrondissements, your departments, was an able merchant-having an imyour country, or your kind, to imagine perious character, habituated to dethat you will be selected by them for mand much from himself, and much their favour, their confidence, and their from others, and his authority was felt rewards ? I am not an Aristocrat in around him. He was no believer in that sense of the term in which it may agrarian laws, in republican spolia. tions, in false systems of equality ; but, Claude Perier had purchased the chaon the contrary, he was an advocate teau of Vizille, the residence of Villefor paternal government at home, and roy, built four leagues from Grenoble, for a firm and regular, and even a in a deep valley on the banks of the severe government of the nation. His Romanche, by the Connetable de Leswife, the mother of Casimir Perier, diguieres. It was in the vast saloons Marie Pascal, was endowed with ą of that last feudal manor of this singular mind and with a lively ima- palace, appropriated now to the humgination. She was
an admirable ble and peaceful labours of industry, mother of a family; but her religious that met openly, but illegally, that opinions approached almost to mysti- assembly which demanded the double cism. The natural independence of representation of the tiers-état, thus her ideas, and the sweet mildness of precluding the constituent assembly. her character, tended to render less At Vizille, in the property of the austere the otherwise strict aspect of Periers, commenced the first portion the Perier family. She was one of of the French Revolution. in vain those, however, who understood and did Brienne contend against the defelt in all its force the value of mater- mand of the Parliament and Peers nal instruction ; and who maintained of the realm in July 1787—against that the education of a child began in the clergy in its assembly of Paris, its cradle. She was not ashamed to and against the states of Dauphiny acknowledge the obligations of woman in the assembly of Vizille. Tho to Christianity; and, in her turn, she States-General had become, perhaps, sought to bring up her children in the the only means of government and the nurture and admonition of the Lord. last resource of the throne. The proAround her was grouped a numerous vincial states had, partially at least, family, or, as was said repeatedly, prepared the public mind for it, and " a tribe ;"—ten children, remark- the Notables had been its harbingers. able for a most decided physiognomy; The king, after having promised, on for a mélange of new principles and 18th December, 1787, the convocaold manners, of severity and of affec- tion within five years, fixed, on the tion, imagination and prudence; for a 8th August, 1788, that the Statesknowledge and aptitude for business ; General should open on the 1st May, for vivacity of impressions, clearness 1789. Then Necker was recalled, of judgment, and the sentiment, not a the Parliament re-established, the litile pronounced, of personal dignity. “ Cour plenière" abolished, the bailiThe eldest of the eight sons of Claude wicks destroyed, the provinces satisPerier, AUGUSTINE, was destined by fied, and the new Minister made every his father to inherit the best part of arrangement for the election of the his fortune, and to become a member Deputies, and the holding of the States. of the French magistracy; but the But though the family of Perier French Revolution arrived, with all its demanded the organization of the positive wrongs and positive injustice; States-General, and powerfully conwith its real evils and imaginary trou- tributed to its constitution, yet it must bles; with its excesses, its horrors, not be supposed, for a moment, that its good, and its evil. It is known either in that family, or in Dauphiny that it was preceded, and even as it generally, the spirit of innovation, or were announced by the emeutes of the the adventurous love of change, were Parliament, and by the resistance of the principles of those movements the provinces. From the Peace of which brought about a Revolution. America to the Assembly of the States. That province was united to the crown General the kingdom was agitated by by a contract, the conditions of which troubles as the avant-couriers of an it believed it was only requiring to be unknown and approaching crisis. faithfully executed when it combated Dauphiny was certainly not one of a power which it felt or judged to be the provinces w bich were least excited; arbitrary. Thus, the resistance of and when, in 1788, the states of that Dauphiny was most unlike that of province began those conflicts where other provinces and other places, and Mounier dominated, and Bernave com- that which others could only justify menced his career, the chief of the by abstract maxims was defended in Perier family offered them an asylum. this province by texts of treatises. and ancient souvenirs. So that that education he received, contributed to which was rebellion at Versailles was inspire him with that respect for the legal resistance at Grenoble.
law, which regulated all his conduct, Claude Perier took great pains to as well as member of the Opposition, enforce on the minds of his sons, then as when Prime Minister; and which growing up into life, what he consi- marked his political character with an dered a great fact, and an important ineffaceable stamp of independency, truth, that Dauphiny was not France, firmness, and moderation. It was his in the ordinary acceptation of the love of the law, the triumph of the law, term, but that Dauphiny had certain the domination and rights of the law, rights and privileges similar in princi- which led him to ask those who inple, though not in nature, to those for vited him to join them in an “illegal" which the Basques are now contend- opposition to the “ illegal" ordinances ing in their provinces. This senti- of Charles X., « Who gave you the ment still exists to a certain extent, mission to set yourselves up illegally and we have frequently heard the in- against an illegal measure ? "No! we habitants of Dauphiny declare, “ We will petition the King-appeal to the are not Frenchmen, we are Dauphi. Chambers-resort to the Tribunalsnois."
and have recourse to all legal measures At the juncture of which we have – but remember, the King is King, been speaking, a great change took and we are his subjects.” If Casimir place in the “ Opposition" to the Perier had at that moment hastened monarchical government, which had up to the King—confided in his Soto that time been unanimous. The Ad vereign_and gained access to his ministration under Brienne had encoun- person—he might have prevailed on tered the resistance of all the bodies that Monarch to withdraw the fatal of the state, because, in their opinion, ordinances. it had wished to oppress them. It in- Casimir Perier received his educacurred under Necker the resistance of tion at the college of the Oratoire at these same bodies, who were wishing Lyons, where his three brothers, Auto secure the power for themselves, gustine, Alexander, and Scipio, alike and oppression for the people. From studied, with their friends Camille being despotic, it had become national, Jordan and Degerando. This college and still they had opposed it. The resembled those of the same order at Parliament had maintained a contest that time; it was animated by at once of authority, and not of public good; an austere and free spirit, which disthe noblesse had reunited themselves tinguished a great religious school, to the tiers-état, rather against the but which exists no longer. The Government than in behalf of the young Periers received there an edupeople. Each of these bodies had de- cation quite in harmony with their manded the States-General, the Par- natural characters, as well as with liament in the hope of ruling them, their family habits. Casimir, the as they had done in 1614, and the youngest of the four, never completed noblesse of resuming their lost power. his studies. His character was too
Thus the magistracy proposed as the impressionable and agitated, and the model for the States General of 1789 events which were transpiring in the their form in 1614; and opinion aban. political world occupied his mind much doned it; the noblesse refused to con- more than his classical pursuits. This sent to the double representation of was much to be regretted, and Casimir the Commons, and a division sprang Perier frequently deplored it in his up between these two orders. This after-life. He laboured hard in maled to the convocation of the Notables turer years to regain his lost time, and by Necker. The family of Perier would frequently say, a page at took a deep interest in all these events, fifteen is worth a volume at thirty." but it by no means joined the ultra. He was, when young, more active opposition. It thought well of Necker, than laborious_indolence he could not and confided in the King, but yet its tolerate, but regular and continuous great anxiety was for the triumph of labour did not suit him. His mind the “ tiers-état.” There can, we think, seized quickly that which was prebe no doubt of one fact, and that is, sented to it-applied little—and yet that the political events of the early was never satisfied with its attainments. life of Casimir Perier, and the political He observed more than he learned by heart. His passionate and ardent cha- and not unfrequently even regretted racter from fifteen to twenty, was only the Parliament of Vizille. All this kept in bounds by the habit of order was at once natural and praiseworthy. and dignity which he had acquired They desired freedom, but the freeunder paternal discipline. At sixteen dom of the law—they loved libertyyears of age, the beauty of his coun- but they loved justice and humanity tenance, his fine figure, the remark- more. able expression of his face, his bene- In the year seven of the republic, volent and gracious manners, his caress- (1798), Casimir Perier was drawn by ing and playful habits when his pride the ConscripTION; and he had to take was not wounded or his suspicions up arms for a cause with which he symexcited, interested all who knew him pathized but little. He had seen with in his favour, and gained the suf- distrust the rising powers of Napoleon frages of those who had only known Bonaparte, his expedition to Egypt, and him previously by his apparent frivo- the democratic elections of the year lity, or for his want of application to six. He had rejoiced at the annulling serious pursuits. He was an amiable of those elections by the directorial young man, not naturally gay, but party, and viewed this blow aimed at ardent, quick, impetuous, and yet the ultra-republicans with delight. thoughtful, though but few predicted And yet he could not sympathize with that he would ever become a man of the Directory, for it was neither a connote and eminence in the world. The stitutional nor an impartial Governgifts of nature appeared lost upon him, ment. It displayed great activity, but for he had no fixedness of purpose, no it was of a narrow and bustling kind, patience, no method. But yet those and Merlin and Treilhaud, who had who understood best the character of succeeded Carnot and Barthelemy, man, and the contending or opposing were only two political pettifoggers. qualifications and defects of the mind, But to Barras, the young Casimir did not hesitate to pronounce that he was especially averse. He saw that had a powerful nature, and an instinc- Barras continued his dissolute course tive superiority and authority which of life, and his directorial regency; he were felt, though not admitted, by his knew that his palace was the resort of elder brothers. Though their acquire- gamesters, women of intrigue, and ments were greater, they regarded him stock-jobbers of every kind. as their equal, and in all political ar
Hostilities had at this moment comguments, even when young, they menced in Italy, and upon the Rhine; yielded him the palm. In his most two French plenipotentiaries had been juvenile years he was a lover of order, wickedly assassinated, at some distance and defended on all occasions the au- from Rastadt, by Austrian hussars ; thority of his father. During the bad the Directory, apprized of the march of times of the Revolution, Claude Perier the Russian troops, and suspecting had fixed his residence at Paris, having Austria, obtained from the Councils a some of his sons with him, leaving his law, empowering them to raise rewife with his other children at Gre- cruits; and the military conscription noble, to watch over the precious re- placed 200,000 young men at the dismains of a great fortune engulfed in position of the Republic. Casimir the general deluge. He kept his fa- Perier was one of the number. At mily in a state of ultra-discipline, and this moment the troops belonging to the severity of the father had not al- the most impatient powers, and who ways an agreeable or beneficial effect formed the vanguard of the coalition, on the mind of Casimir. The assas- had commenced the attack. The King sination of Louis XVI. was a subject of Naples had advanced upon Rome, of deep regret and confusion of mind and the King of Sardinia had levied and spirit to Claude Perier and his troops and threatened the Ligurian Resons. They had taken a deep and public. Casimir left, much against his personal interest in the first events of will, as “ adjoint du genié,” and in this the French Revolution, and had iden- capacity made the campaign of Italy tified themselves with the rise of the from 1799 to 1801. He distinguished middling classes. But they loathed himself under the walls of Mantua at the excesses of the canaillc-abhorred the combat of Santo-Giulio ; but lie the injustice of the mob—groaned be- always looked on this period of his neath the despotism of democracy, life as the least interesting, as well as