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The course pursued by the Government of Louis Philippe, the whole internal and external policy of that unhappy monarch, arresting the progress of popular rights at home and degrading France abroad, and especially its gross inconsistency in lavishing honors upon the memory of Napoleon, and yet persisting in banishing his descendants, roused his indignation.
We can not conclude this brief sketch more appropriately than in the words of Louis Napoleon, written when he was a captive at Ham, and when his uncle Joseph had just died in exile at Florence.
"If there existed to-day among us a man who, as a deputy, a diplomatist, a king, a citizen, or a soldier, was invariably distinguished for his patriotism and his brilliant qualities; if that man had rendered himself ill.u.s.trious by his oratorical triumphs, and by the advantageous treaties he had concluded for the interests of France; if that man had refused a crown because the conditions which it imposed upon him wounded his conscience; if that man had conquered a realm, gained battles, and had exhibited upon two thrones the light of French ideas; if, in fine, in good as in bad fortune, he had always remained faithful to his oaths, to his country, to his friends; that man, we may say, would occupy the highest position in public esteem, statues would be raised to him, and civic crowns would adorn his whitened locks.
"Well! this man lately existed, with all these glories, with all these honorable antecedents. Nevertheless upon his brow we see only the imprint of misfortune. His country has requited his n.o.ble services by an exile of twenty-nine years. We deplore this, without being astonished at it. There are but two parties in France; the vanquished and the vanquishers at Waterloo. The vanquishers are in power, and all that is national is crushed beneath the weight of defeat."
These words were written in the year 1844. The Empire is now restored.
The decree of exile against the Bonaparte family is annulled. The heir of the Emperor sits upon the throne, recognized by all the nations in the Old World and the New. The time has come when the character of Joseph Bonaparte can be, and will be justly appreciated.