A very enthusiastic audience, which filled Sever 11 to its utmost capacity, gathered last night to hear Professor Cohn's opinion of the future of France.
Comparisons are frequently made between the present time and the time just preceding the coup d'etat of 1851. Then, as now, there was an Assembly, which was highly unpopular. Then there was a monarchist Assembly, whose term had nearly expired, and which was certain not to be re-elected. There was also an anti-republican president, whose term was nearly up, and whose re-election was unconstitutional. In the literature of the time there was no allusion to the result of the coming elections. for everybody knew that both parties were prepared for violence. The question was who would come in first? Now things are different. The president is a strong republican, universally respected by the people, whose term has just begun. The Senate is also republican, and no elections will take place for it until 1891. The term of the Chamber of Deputies, however, expires in October 1889, and the question is who will have the majority in the new Chamber. There is no expectation of violence by either party before then, or of an appeal to arms by the defeated party. The returns from the elections show that the republicans are losing ground, but the fall of the republicans will not destroy the republic. the anti-republicans, composed of monarchists and imperialists, see a possibility of coming into power without revolution, and this turns them away from conspiracy against the government. If they should come into power they will not divest themselves of the immense patronage of the government and the ability to govern themselves in favor of a pretender to the crown, who would cast them aside as soon as he dared. The trouble with the republican party is that it is too unwieldy. It has a majority of over two hundred, and it is manifestly impossible to terrify the individuals who vote against the government measures by the argument that they will destroy the majority of the party. The various disappointed factions of the republicans join with the conservatives to overthrow the cabinet, and hence the instability of French politics.
The conservative element in France has been neglected by the republicans, who are continually making changes. The various attacks on the church have put many Catholics into the opposition. It is as conservatives, and not as monarchists, or imperials, that the anti-republicans may be victorious. The republican party is too progressive to supply from its elements a conservative party, and its opponents pose as the friends of the policy of "let well enough alone." At present the electoral victories of ex-General Boulanger seem to be the most dangerous part of the whole situation, but the dangerous quality of these victories disappears upon careful study of the department where they took place. He has never won a victory in a staunch republican or conservative department, and has only been able to attract the floating vote in some doubtful districts. He was originally a republican, but was rejected by that party on account of his personal ambition. He was then forced to throw himself into the arms of his former opponents, and his successes have been due to conservative votes, and not to his personal following. The conservatives only use him as a weapon against the republicans, and are ready to desert him at any moment.
The death of a deputy of Paris has forced him to stand according to his promise for the vacant place. His following of conservatives and socialists is estimated at 130,000 votes, while the republicans number 250,000. The personal following of Boulanger is unknown, but if all the republicans vote together, their victory is certain.
Although his successes have undoubtedly weakened the republican party, yet he cannot overthrow the republic. In case of a conservative victory, Pres. Carnot would probably appoint a cabinet from the conservatives in the senate. These men are more moderate than the deputies. They will teach wisdom to their party, and will delay violent changes in order to win in the senate elections of 1891.
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