Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
GAMBETTISM.The term "Gambettism," frequently met with in current political discussion in France, has a meaning not very well defined, nor generally very flattering to the man from whose name it is derived. It is more frequently on the lips and the pens of the enemies than of the friends or admirers of M. Gambetta. Usually it suggests the pursuit of an extreme ambition by methods of doubtful character and tinged in some degree with pretension verging on hypocrisy. It is not in this sense that the term is used in this article, nor, so used, could it afford a proper subject of discussion in this work. It is rather proposed to here consider under the term "Gambettism" that phase of the development of republicanism, and especially of the political organization by which republicanism is sustained in France, with which M. Gambetta has been conspicuously identified.
—It is not to be denied that the French republic of to-day is very different from either of those which preceded it. Although the government of national defense, organized by insurrection on the morrow of the capture of Napoleon III, at Sedan, proclaimed the republic in name, the republic as it now exists may with reason be said to have proceeded not from revolution but from evolution. It has come into existence because of a general and growing sense on the part of the French people that it was the only practicable form of government for their much-tried country. It has gradually won the respect and to a certain degree the affections of a steadily increasing number of the people of France, and has come to be regarded as the surest and most stable guaranty of order prosperity, progress and general freedom. Based upon universal suffrage, it is sustained by a large numerical majority of the voters; it counts its firm supporters among all classes; it has enlisted in its service the best talent, the ripest experience, the most ardent patriotism of the nation; It has established itself as the recognized form of government, the valid and sufficient representative of the national life, and it has apparently practically extinguished the factions which, during the first years of its existence, labored, struggled and plotted to overthrow it, and on its ruins to erect a royal or imperial throne. Judged by any tests which can be fairly applied, the French republic bids as fair to hold its own as any government on the continent of Europe. That it is secure from overthrow by revolution or by usurpation it would be rash to predict. That it may not be able to withstand the peculiar influences that have so often swept away the governments of France within the last hundred years: that the French people may tire of it; that it may involve itself in dangerous foreign complications, and be ruined by attempts to satisfy the passions rather than the real needs of the country—all this is possible, and there is even evidence that it is probable. But that the republic is more firmly grounded than any preceding government; that it is in the direct line of the march of events for the last century; that, if it fall, the requirements of the French nation and of the age will tend to its re-establishment as they now tend to its maintenance; these are conclusions which can be fairly maintained.
—The most striking peculiarity of the position of the French republic of to-day is, that it is sustained by a very powerful political organization, which has grown gradually but steadily since the close of the Franco-German war. That organization differs widely from any heretofore known in France. In the first place, it is practically free from a class basis. It rests neither on the peasantry nor the working people, nor the middle or trading class, nor the nobility, nor on any factitious alliance or combination of these, but has its supporters among all, and is opposed by a majority of none, except the nobility, and that only passively. In the next place, this organization is under the control of no one leader or group of leaders and though it is naturally guided from time to time by prominent statesmen, and has found in M. Gambetta a peculiarly distinguished and efficient representative, it has been shown that its allegiance was not blind nor absolute, and that its fortune was bound up with the fortune of no one person. In the next place (and this is, perhaps, the most significant fact of all), the republican organization in France has definitely set for itself aims which, if fairly carried out, will tend strongly to its future permanence, viz, the spread of free secular instruction and the perfection of the system of popular representation in such form as to promote a continually increasing participation by the people in the management of their public affairs. The development of this organization has been largely the work of M. Gambetta, and it is his personal contribution to it, the methods which he has introduced in perfecting it, and the direction which he has sought to give it, that it will be the purpose of the following article to trace. In doing so, a brief reference to the career of the republican leader previous to the period within which the republic as it now exists in France has been developed, will be requisite—Léon Gambetta was born Oct. 30, 1838, in the town of Cahors, on the Lot, in the old province of Guienne. His family was of Italian origin, the first strain of Pure French blood being introduced in it with his mother, a woman of marked intelligence and unusually interested in political affairs. His education was that commonly given to French youth of his generation, first in a Jesuit preparatory school, then in a provincial lycée. At eighteen, with his mother's aid, he deserted the commercial life to which his father had destined him, and went to Paris to study law at the Sarbonne, whence he was graduated with honor. He made rapid progress in his profession, entering first the office of the noted criminal lawyer, Maitre Lachaud, and later that of Maitre Crémieux, the lawyer who had the most extensive Jewish clientèle in Paris. Gambetta attracted attention by his defence of Greppo, a deputy arbitrarily banished by Napoleon III; by his defense of Delescluze, the editor of the Réveil, an extreme radical, and by his ardent activity in the small but very earnest circle of the political opponents of the empire. In 1869, being then but thirty-one, he was elected to the corps législatif from the department of les Bouches du Rhône, including the city of Marseilles; at his election he received 2,000 more votes than M. de. Lesseps the official candidate, and 5,000 more than M. Thiers, the candidate of the Orléanists. The period was a trying one, but full of promise for those who believed as Gambetta did. The emperor, and, still more, the imperial party, were alarmed at the signs of disaffection throughout the country and particularly in the army, and were struggling desperately, through the Olivier ministry, to discover some ground on which they could safely stand. The particular device adopted was the so-called liberal constitution which, however, left the initiative of all important legislation to the ministry, and left the ministers responsible, not to the corps législatif, but to the emperor. It was during the debate on this constitution that Gambetta, amid the jeering interruptions of the right and centre, and cries of "treason" from the imperialists, made the defiant announcement to the premier: "We accept you and your constitutionalism as a bridge to the republic, but that is all!" This declaration, half prediction, half challenge, was characteristic of the man as he then was, at the age of thirty-one. At this period the young orator was often described by unfriendly critics as a "Boanerges of the cafés". He had indeed much of the style and habit of the café of the time. His voice, sonorous and strong, "voix de porte-voix," Alphonse Daudet calls it, was used with Vehemence and with no effort at modulation. He spoke often and at length, in the corps législatif and in Belleville, at Paris and in Marseilles. His speeches were full of metaphor. His periods were long and heavy, varied at rare intervals by sharp, clear-cut sentences. He had but little irony though much sarcasm, bitter to the verge of brutality. In person he was heavy, and the verdict of the varnished politicians of the empire, which they supposed to be final, was. "Il manque absolument de tenue; ce n'est pas un homme sérieuz." But if Gambetta bore the marks of the café in his speech or manner, it must be remembered that the cafés of the Latin quarter were at that time, as Daudet recalls, "not merely beer shops for smoking and drinking; but in the midst of Paris muzzled, without public life and without journals, these reunions of studious and generous youth, real schools of legal resistance, were almost the only places where a free utterance might still make itself felt." And the same writer, an intimate friend of Gambetta, adds: "On more than side this furious son of Cahors betrayed his nearness to the Italian race; the strain of Genoese blood made the Gascon almost a shrewd and keen Provencal. Often, nay always, talking, he did not allow himself to be carried away by the torrent of his utterance; strongly enthusiastic, he knew in advance the point at which his enthusiasm should stop." Gambetta was moreover an ardent and close student. He entered journalism, not as a political writer, but as a critic of art, and his position in his own profession was already assured before he appeared in the political cases which gave him notoriety, at which period, indeed, he had already been given charge of the office work of Maitre Crémieux, the distinguished Israelitish lawyer already alluded to. It was not his eloquence alone, but his penetration, judgment, his untiring industry and energy, and his grasp of the underlying principles as well as of the details of the law, which distinguished him. It is not to be doubted that if the had not embraced the career of a politician, in the higher sense of that word, he would have taken advanced rank in either journalism or the law, two callings which in France are singularly exacting. He arrived at the first stage of the maturity of his powers, however, at a moment when public life, was, for a nature like his irresistibly charming. He was, as we have noted, a republican de la reille; the republic was the goal to which all his convictions, sentiments and ambitions alike urged him. But the republic, as he at first conceived it, or at least, as he first had opportunity to shape its form and policy, was a very different thing from that which he ultimately made the object of his labors. The republic of which he became the leading spirit when the dynasty of Napoleon III, fell at Sedan, was to the last degree, arbitrary, violent, and , in the French phrase, autoritaire. It was, in fact, a republic only in name, being, so far as concerned its legal sanction, a usurpation and a modified dictatorship. A self-chosen group of theoretical republicans, whose title to power consisted in a proclamation thrown to the national guards and the populace of Paris from the windows of the Hôtel de Ville and afterward read by Gambetta's stentorian voice from a balcony of the same building, seized the treasury and executive force of the nation, directed armies, ordered a levée en masse, laid taxes, used the credit of the nation for enormous loans in foreign markets—in a word, assumed all the rights and powers of government without a mandate from the people, and with no acknowledged accountability to any representative body. Gambetta, with the functions of minister of the interior and of war, not only directed, almost without consultation, these tremendous instruments of the national energy, but he dissolved the conseils généraux, the local representative bodies of the departments, and replaced them by administrative commissions chosen by himself, and, whether or not chosen as well as could be at the time, unquestionably embarrassing a great many irresponsible and unfit men, mostly advocates and journalists of Paris. And he steadily refused to call together, or to order the election of any national legislature. When the supreme effort had failed, and the government of national defense had negotiated a treaty of peace, of which the terms required its ratification by a national assembly. Gambetta issued a proclamation forbidding the election of any member of the imperial or royal families, or of any candidate who had been, under the empire, a senator or conseiller d'état, or had accepted an "official candidacy." This certainly was a criminal blunder, as well as an outrageous usurpation. It brought France to the verge of civil war. It revived, at a moment when unity was vitally necessary, all possible party hatreds and personal and local jealousies. If it had been carried out, this decree would have deprived France of the services of some of her best and strongest men, with whom Gambetta has since been closely allied. It betrayed a startling and inexplicable distrust of the people, which was bitterly rebuked by the dispatch of the Paris members of the government. "M. de Bismarck," wrote Jules Favre and Jules Simon veut que nous soyons libres dans nos élections." It is but just to Gambetta to note that his tremendous but ill-fated effort to retrieve the fortunes of the war was indirectly of incalculable value to the French people and to the final triumph of the cause of the republic. Had France surrendered when the Germans appeared before Paris, the French people would always have laid their defeat to the vices of the emperor and the empire and the treachery of Bazaine. They learned in the five months of what a high German authority calls Gambetta's "prodigy of administrative energy and ability," that their final defeat was due to the superior military training, the political sagacity, the patient, invincible sentiment of unity in the German people, and the lesson was indispensable in persuading them to submit to the tedious process of acquiring like virtues. Gambetta's campaign à outrance made the republic of to-day possible. There is evidence, also, that after the fever of futile exertion and the bitterness of immediate failure had passed away, the experience of that terrible half year largely tempered and guided the mind of Gambetta himself. But his course at that time, with reference to the popular suffrage and popular representation, was a great obstacle in his future career, and that he was able to overcome it is evidence that he has won his way, not by mere personal energy or by the arts of the demagogue, but by intimately allying himself with deep and progressive forces in French politics.
—In the summer of 1871 he was elected to the national assembly, and in the autumn of that year he founded the République Française. In referring to this journal, in which some of his most important and effective work has been done, Gambetta says: "Its true origin dates from the national defense. It was in those tragic experiences that we learned to judge character, and from them that we drew the profound feeling of the formidable responsibilities of public life. We had a firm desire that the government should come to the hands of the democracy through liberty, for the whole country. We never separated in our thoughts the introduction, one after another, of the various strata of the French people to the practice of public affairs from the supreme interest of our re-establishment among the nations. We began our work at a grievous period. France, reduced materially, was morally excluded from what it had been the custom, before her reverses, to call the European concert. The miseries of civil war had been added to those of invasion. For ourselves, we were disavowed, thrust to one side. Far-seeing statesmen recognized that their country could be saved only by a republic, but they wished one without republicans. The aptitude of the republican party for government was strongly doubted. It was a minority in an assembly named under peculiar circumstances, and which, almost immediately put upon its guard by the manifestations of universal suffrage, claimed unlimited authority. This assembly ardently wished a monarchy; it ended by making a republic." This picture of the state of affairs when Gambetta resumed an active part in public life, is substantially just, and for him the most painful feature of it, to which he has alluded, was the isolation, by no means unnatural or unmerited, in which he and his immediate friends found themselves. If "far-seeing men," such as M. Thiers, wished for a "republic without republicans," it was largely due to the fact that the then known republicans had shown no just conception of a republic, and had grossly offended the principles on which alone it can be maintained. Gambetta had, then, a double task: to persuade the avowed republicans of the time to so conduct themselves that they could be trusted, and then to persuade the country to trust them. Thiers had declared that the republic must be conservative, or it could not be at all. Nothing in Gambetta's career justified the opinion that a republic under his guidance, or that of his immediate party, would be conservative, nor could any sudden conversion or any violent protestations in that sense win the confidence of the people. As Gambetta himself observed, the governing aptitude of the republican party was to be proven. He set himself to prove it. On the one hand, he had to hold the friends he had and to gather about him the men who believed in a republic but not in the then republicans, and especially not in him; on the other hand, he had to convince the great body of the French people that a republic would be safe, orderly, efficient and powerful in itself, and that it could be made reasonably stable. In this work, the nature and magnitude of which he now appears to have understood from the start, his first and most potent instrumentality was the journal that he had founded, and which he made in many regards novel, unique and characteristic. Although it was necessarily known as his organ, he adopted the policy of unsigned writing, a policy previously followed but in part by any of the great political journals of Paris, and principally associated only with the smaller and more violent radical and socialist sheets of the second republic. This policy not only gave greater freedom to the writers, while admitting of all necessary discipline among them, but it tended to give prominence rather to the ideas of the paper than to the personality of its contributors. It helped greatly to make it, in the best sense, the political organ not of Gambetta but of the party of the republic. In other regards its editor followed the models furnished by the English and American press. He addressed himself not to any one class but to the country, not to Paris alone but to the provinces as well, and even chiefly. He organized a system, up to that time nearly unknown in French journalism, for obtaining accurate information in regard to political opinion, its shades, its progress and its tendencies "Our duty to the public," the République remarked, "is to tell what is going on and to gather as well as we can what the public thinks." The style of the writing in the République was as original and characteristic as its organization and methods. When, after seven years, its editor was chosen president of the chamber, it congratulated itself that "it had in some measure contributed to create and to sustain that confidence in its own powers which has doubtless counted for much in the final triumph of the democracy. " And this was, from the beginning, one of the most signal and valuable services rendered by the paper. Its articles were always marked by a tone of singularly sustained self-reliance. It met the many enemies of the republic and the republicans with a constant manifestation of confidence in assured success. No calumny, no taunt, no sarcasm, no denunciation, disturbed its aggressive cheerfulness. The empire had enlisted in its cause much of the brightest talent of Parisian journalism. The royalists never lacked for champions among the élite of the cultured, experienced and gifted thinkers and writers. The former were arrogant, caustic, supple and unscrupulous. The latter were generally polished, sincere, weighty, and invariably a little disdainful of the new critics of the "classes dirigeantes.". But the writers of the République were masters of logical statement; they were thoroughly informed; they were as much at home in the history and the literature of politics as their opponents, and, above all, they were working to prepare the future, not to revive the past. Their articles bore the unmistakable impress of assurance of triumph, not in boastfulness, but in cool raillery, in stinging sarcasm, in easy irony. Nothing like the attitude and bearing of the new journal had been before known in the republican or even the liberal press of France. It reassured the timid, it attracted the doubting, it convinced the sincere; it particularly annoyed, confused and baffled the opponents, who were more used to aiming than receiving the shafts of ridicule. The value of this peculiar style in the leading organ of the republican party can hardly be exaggerated. It was exactly adapted to the work in hand. Among the readers of journals in France the class who were to be won over to the republic had learned to regard that form of government and the men with whom it was associated with distrust, indifference and contempt, and it is hardly too much to say that they were quite as much afraid of the ridicule directed at republicans as of the grave dangers which the republic appeared to involve. The République dissipated their fears on the latter score by patient argument and demonstration, and it taught them that there was no safety from ridicule in clinging to those who had previously had almost a monopoly of its use. Victor Hugo has said that the most formidable weapon used against the ancien régime was "le sourire de Voltaire." It was a weapon which the République resumed. For the past ten years there has been no force more active in undermining the anti-republican forces in France than the persistent, bitter, keen and confident wit of M. Gambetta's journal.
—The history of the first seven years of this decade is happily described in the phrase which has already been cited from the pen of M. Gambetta: "The assembly ardently wished a monarchy; it ended by making a republic." There is no doubt that a strong majority of the assembly elected at the close of the war desired some form of monarchy, and, could the majority have agreed among themselves, they could have carried out their desire. Their difficulty was, as M. Thiers bitingly described it, "they wished to seat three men on one throne," and not only did the throne remain vacant, but it was ultimately abandoned. If it was not destroyed, it was at least put away as a piece of furniture quite out of date, of which the future utility was very uncertain. It is usually inferred that the twice repeated refusal of the Comte de Chambord to give up the white flag of the Bourbons for the tricolor, which had waved on all the victorious battle fields of France for nearly a century, was the only obstacle to the union of the two royalist houses and the reestablishment of the monarchy. But this refusal was only the manifestation of a spirit which made monarchy impossible, and which would have made itself felt in any event, fatally for the cause of royalty and perhaps disastrously for France. That refusal, however, practically released the Orléanists from any further obligation to oppose the republic, and, since their own immediate candidate for the throne was an impossible one, it left them free to join the republicans. It was to promote this essential re-enforcement that Gambetta labored, and the bridge which he built for the Orléanists was the "Opportunism" which was so closely united with his name that it is nearly identical with "Gambettism." It consisted in limiting, as far as possible, the demands of the republicans to the removal or prevention of those restraints upon the free exercise of the suffrage and of political activity which the reactionists imposed or sought to impose. The scheme of government which the latter had succeeded in framing, embraced a president with very great power over the action of the legislature; a senate so chosen as to include nearly, if not quite, all the leaders of the reaction; the revival in its most arbitrary and abused form of the "official candidacy" of the empire, and the persistent, unsparing, ingenious suppression of all efficient agencies for influencing public opinion. The vast, complex and potent machinery of patronage centralized at Paris was placed in the hands of Marshall MacMahon, "to whom a special mission of resistance was confided from the first," and who was secured in power for seven years. All the restrictive laws of the empire were maintained in force and stretched to their utmost to frighten, embarrass or suppress republican journals. Political meetings were subjected to the greatest possible restraints, and republican speakers and canvassers were everywhere exposed to the persecution or annoyance of the officials. On the other hand, everything was done to goad the republicans to an infraction of public order, to the manifestation of some revolutionary purpose. And with this policy at home, every effort was made to create the impression that the peace so necessary to France was only to be had through the reactionary government. That this policy, bold, energetic, adroit and unscrupulous as it was , wholly failed was largely due to the wisdom and skill of Gambetta's resistance, it must have succeeded. He alone was able to hold in check the fiery impulses of the extreme men of his party. He alone could convince them that time was their ally, with whom victory was inevitable, if they had but the patience to await it. It was his conservatism which persuaded the country that the republic would be conservative. It was his determined adherence to the law, when the law was being abused expressly to provoke its violation, that thwarted the reactionists and reassured those who were alarmed lest violence should beget violence. In this work he developed rare powers as a political leader, and particularly as a political speaker. Direct appeal to the judgment and feelings of the voters, such as is so common and so valuable an element in the working of representative government in Great Britain and the United States, was relatively little practiced in France before Gambetta's day. There had not, indeed, before existed the supreme condition to the growth of this practice—the regular and substantially free exercise of the right of universal suffrage. The suffrage under the restoration and the Orléanist monarchy was narrowly limited; under the empire it was practically valueless except at the intervals of the plébiscite, when the whole power of the government was used to pervert it. Political discussion of any effective sort was confined to Paris and two or three large cities. Gambetta carried it directly to the remotest corners of the country and to every class of the population. This was a marked service to the cause of free government, since it provided for free government the solid basis of an active, interested public sentiment, which grew in strength and intelligence with every renewed struggle.
—As a political speaker M. Gambetta has rare personal gifts. His voice is sonorous and far-reaching. His professor, M. Valette, at the Sorbonne, had urged Gambetta's father to devote his son to the law because it was a pity that the bar of France should lose such a "remarkable organ." His manner, though emphatic and sometimes even violent, has an essential simplicity and directness which puts him on good terms with his audience. He has must tact beneath his vehemence, and is rarely provoked beyond self-control. His natural and acquired sympathy with his countrymen is a source of influence for him, and his sarcasm and irony, by no means too refined for the average hearer, are formidable weapons both of attack and defense. During the period commencing with the definite agitation of the constitution finally adopted in 1875 and the famous coup de tête of Marshal MacMahon in 1877, M. Gambetta's addresses in various parts of France contributed very largely to the steady increase of republican strength in the chamber, which determined the desperate act of the president in dissolving the chambers and ordering a new election for October of that year. In the brief and brilliant canvass which followed, he was the acknowledged leader of the republican party, and his title to the position was confirmed by the result. The marshal-president had made a singularly adroit attempt at the renewal of the system of personal control in the government. He had in effect dismissed the Simon ministry on the ground that it could not command a majority in the chamber without an alliance with the extreme left, to which he could not consent. He had chosen a ministry of obscure persons, with the avowed mission of administering the governmental affairs without reference to the chamber, and the chamber had promptly declined to enter into relations with it. He had then formed a confessedly reactionist ministry and appealed to the country. The republicans conducted the canvass on the distinct issue of ministerial responsibility to the majority in the legislature, as the absolute condition of parliamentary government. In this canvass Gambetta was untiring. He defined the issue in a phrase at once compact and comprehensive. The president must se soumettre ou se démettre, "submit or resign." The ministry seized the words as the pretext for his arrest and trial under a law by which it hoped to deprive him of his political rights and banish him from the chamber. But Gambetta bore himself with the calmness of one who was as sure of his legal position as he was of his political power, and at the last moment the ministry abandoned the purpose which, if carried out, might have brought on popular resistance that it was not ready to meet. The triumph of the republicans was complete, and the more signal that it was won against an administrative pressure which exceeded anything known under the empire, and organized, indeed, by M. de Fourton, who had been the inventor and manager of the imperial system, and now made it even more rigid and arbitrary. The great army of employés and officials were formally notified that their utmost influence must be used for the government candidates; republican journals, addresses, manifestoes, meetings and even private consultations were everywhere suppressed or interfered with; republican candidates were repeatedly harassed by the préfets or the courts; and extreme measures were taken to excite, if possible, some overt act of resistance. In maintaining the orderly and peaceful and law-abiding temper of his party, while asserting its rights and clearly defining its unaltered determination to exercise them, M. Gambetta greatly strengthened his hold on popular confidence, and upon the respect of the great body of conservative and cautious people to whom the reactionists sought to present themselves as the only hope of France for order at home and peace and dignity abroad.
—In the chamber which resulted from the elections of 1877, M. Gambetta was chosen chairman of the budget commission and ultimately president of the chamber. His influence constantly grew, and as it extended, the party of which he was the immediate leader underwent a change which he had foreseen and which was a renewed evidence of the breadth of his views and the elevation of his purposes. It attracted to itself more and more of the members of the moderate groups in the chamber and lost correspondingly from the extreme left. The body of radicals whom he had for five years restrained with increasing difficulty, entered upon open opposition to him. Under the significant title of "intransigéants," led by Dr. Clémencean in the chamber and the Comte de Rochefort in the press, they spared no effort to undermine his influence with the people and to thwart his policy. In November, 1881, Gambetta assumed the task of forming a ministry, which was overthrown in January, 1882, by a chamber freshly elected. This event has been freely commented on as marking the close of his career. The conclusion is a forced one. M. Gambetta took office in obedience to what he justly conceived to be the essential principle of parliamentary government , that the acknowledged leader of the majority should be the official head of the ministry. He took office as Mr. Gladstone lately did in Great Britain, much against his own desires. He failed, where Mr. Gladstone succeeded, because his party was, as he feared it would be, unequal to the task of submitting to the responsibilities of the situation. The sentiment which he entertained may be gathered from the following passage in the Republique Française of the 11th January, 1882 (he resumed the direction of the journal on the 30th December, 1881): "When the chamber imposed office upon M. Gambetta, it did not know him. Few have surmised that the formation of his cabinet rested on an equivocal basis. The deputies wished M. Gambetta in power, because they did not wish him elsewhere; but they intended that once at the head of the ministry, he should be contented with the title, without governing, without applying his political ideas. He alone understood this equivoque, and it may well be that among the reasons which decided him to accept those high functions, there was a desire to put an end to it. Henceforth it can not exist. When, hereafter, M. Gambetta is called upon, it will be known that he must be taken as he is, with his programme of thorough reforms, of which the scrutin de liste is the essential condition. "This view is sustained by the course of M. Gambetta in power. When he sought to form his cabinet, the very men who had forced him to undertake the task refused their aid in performing it. He selected the best men he could get—not a strong cabinet politically, but men of energy and experience, and devoted to the republican cause. When he met the newly elected chamber, he announced a series of important measures, most of them those which the party had sustained: an extension of non-sectarian education, a change in the judicial organization, a reform of the military law, a moderate and limited revision of the constitution for the purpose of placing the senate upon a broader popular basis, and , finally, the adoption of the principle of the scrutin de liste. The latter is the substitution of the election of all the deputies of each department on one ticket for their election severally by arrondissements or districts. The deputies who had "wished him in power, because they did not wish him elsewhere," seized on the latter point to overthrow, and, as they hoped, to crush him. The new chamber had been elected by arrondissements. Its members owed much of their prominence and influence to the zeal or skill with which they had advanced the interests of the small districts from which they came, or those of the active politicians of their districts. They were committed to a "politique de clocher," or in the homely New England phrase, to a policy of "the town pump." M. Gambetta asked only that in the revision of the constitution, which the majority favored, the principle of the scrutin de liste should be embodied. His opponents chose to affirm that he sought a dissolution of the chamber and a new election, in which his name would be returned from so many departments that the election would be in some sense a plébiscite, on which he would base the establishment of personal power, of some sort of undefined dictatorship. The passage in which M. Gambetta alluded to this vague and malicious accusation, in his address to the chamber, was cloquent, logical and effective. Triple salvos of applause from all the benches of the chamber greeted it. There is no doubt that the charge was a mere device and subterfuge. M. Gambetta, at the head of the ministry, and able to remain there a long time, had be chosen to accept the scrutin d'arrondissement, would have had in his hands the most potent instrumentality for establishing personal power, for it is in the nature of the two methods, and it is shown by the history of France, that the influence of the central government is far more powerful in elections by districts than in elections by departments. "Every time," said M. Gambetta, "that France has really belonged to herself, every time that she has had really great legislatures, every time that personal power has been neutralized and foiled, it has had to face an assembly issuing from the scrutin de liste. On the other hand, the first act of personal power, the moment it took posession of the country, was to suppress the scrutin de liste, and to make of the scrutin d'arrondissement the very basis of its authority and of its electoral influence." The real motives of M. Gambetta were clearly and boldly explained in the République Française a fortnight before the test vote was taken: "For ten years past M. Gambetta has obeyed but one thought, to make of the French democracy a government. When one thinks of the origin of our republican party, of its habits of vehement opposition, its struggles in which heroism verged on the chimerical, the task undertaken by M. Gambetta seems an impossible one. What he has done, with many others certainly, to bring that end nearer, by introducing among us a true political spirit, all his companions in arms in the Versailles assembly and for the last six months of 1877(when the coalition was overthrown and the election of M. Grévy was assured) may perhaps remember. At this moment the republican party can compare itself fearlessly with all the parties that have held power within the nineteenth century. Yes, but all these parties have ended with failure. In order that the democracy may be more fortunate, in order that it may guide France toward a future of prosperity, of stability and at the same time of progress hitherto unknown, it must do better yet, it must become a government more powerful, much more intelligent, much more fruitful, and far more expansive than the governments of the past. It does not satisfy M. Gambetta to be simply minister; he would be the minister of a democracy possessing the full consciousness of its forces." And after defining the reforms at which M. Gambetta aimed, the République continues: "If the democracy were in possession of the most highly perfected administrative machinery, that would not be enough. It would still be requisite that the shaft which transmits motive power to each of the wheels of state should work with vigor and regularity—the shaft, or rather the motor itself, the democracy in its direct representatives. The more profound is the connection of the legislative assemblies with the nation, not so much with its passions of the hour as with its permanent purposes, impressing them in a manner clear, precise and practical, the more the democracy will feel itself strong and capable of progress. The system which our adversaries of the Versailles chamber imposed upon us, unquestionably clogs the expression of the national will. That is why it is necessary to revise that system and to enlarge the electoral basis of the chamber and the senate. Until that be done the republic can not get out of the ruts traced by previous governments." There is nothing in the recent career of M. Gambetta to throw any serious doubt on the sincerity of this statement of his views and purposes. On the contrary, he staked his possession of power, which he might easily have retained, upon the acceptance by the chamber of reforms broadly conceived to secure the stability, the efficiency, the dignity and usefulness of his party. This was not the act of a restless or selfish ambitieux; it was the act of a patriot and a statesman. He was overthrown by a coalition of the extreme democrats and the reactionists, and "with him fell," in the words of M. John Lemonne, "the republican majority, for the coalition was made up of those who would suppress the senate and the presidential office, and of those who would suppress the republic itself." The same distinguished writer, the most gifted and acute of the many able men whom the Orléanists have contributed to the republican party of France, says: "They mistake who imagine M. Gambetta is annihilated by his fall. He has fallen in defense of the opinions and the cause of conservative republicans. He is stronger now than ever before. He has had no occasion and not even the time to undergo the trials of power. He has expended nothing from the large reserve of strength that he has accumulated in the course of his public life, he fell amid the plaudits of those who overthrew him, and he has fallen erect upon his feet. Those who must now govern will soon perceive that there is a force outside them with which they must make their account." This "force outside" the ministry is what in this article has been termed "Gambettism." It is the force which more than any other now tends to make of the republican party of France a party capable of government, inspiring and obeying responsible leadership, and using the delicate but powerful forces of parliamentary institutions vigorously, steadily and sagaciously. That M. Gambetta completely embodies it, or that it is free from embarrassment from faults and errors in his judgment and character, has not been claimed; but that the creation and development of this force is the aim with which his career has been, when fairly interpreted, most consistent, is a reasonable inference, and one which is full of hope for the future of free representative government in France.
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