|Cambray Proclamation, 28 June (1815)
Louis XVIII issued this proclamation to address some of the concerns of those moderates in the French Provisional Government and Parliament who were undecided if his restoration was desirable.
With the defeat and abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte, |
Source: Gifford, H. (1817). History of the Wars Occasioned by the French Revolution 2. W. Lewis, 1503–1504.
The gates of my kingdom at last open before me; I hasten to bring back my misled subjects, to mitigate the calamities which I had wished to prevent, to place myself a second time between the allied and the French armies, in the hope that the feelings of consideration of which I may be the object, may tend to their preservation. This is the only way in which I have wished to take part in the war. I have not permitted any prince of my family to appear in foreign ranks, and have chained in the courage of those of my servants who had been able to range themselves around me.
Returned to the soil of my country, I take pleasure in speaking confidence to my people. When I first re-appeared among you, I found men's minds agitated, and heated by conflicting passions. My views encountered on every side nothing but difficulties and obstacles. My government was liable to commit errors: perhaps it did commit them. There are times when the purest intentions are insufficient to direct, or sometimes they even mislead.
Experience alone could teach; it shall not be lost. All that can save France is my wish.
My subjects have learned,by cruel trials, that the principle of the legitimacy of sovereigns is one of the fundamental bases of social order,—the only one upon which, amidst a great nation, a wise and well-ordered liberty can be established. This doctrine has just been proclaimed as that of all Europe. I had previously consecrated it be my charter, and I claim to arid to that charter all the guarantees which can secure the benefits of it.
The unity of ministry is the strongest that I can offer. I mean that it should exist, and that the frank and firm march of my council should guarantee all interests and calm all inquietudes.
Some have talked latterly of the restoration of tithes and feudal rights. This fable, invented by the common enemy, does not require confutation. It will not be expected that the king should stoop to refute calumnies and lies: the success of the treason has too clearly indicated their source. If the purchasers of national property have felt alarm, the charter should suffice to re-assure them. Did I not myself propose to the chambers, and cause to be executed, sales of such property? This proof of my sincerity is, unanswerable.
In these latter times, my subjects of all classes have given me equal proofs of love and fidelity; I wish them to know how sensibly I feel them, and that it is from among all Frenchmen I shall delight to choose those who are to approach my person and my family.
I wish to, exclude from my presence none but those whose celebrity is matter of grief to France, and of horror to Europe. In the plot which they hatched, I perceive many of my subjects misled, and some guilty.
I promise—I who never promised in vain (all Europe knows it)—to pardon to misled Frenchmen all that has passed since the day when I quitted Lille, amidst so many tears, up to the day when I re-entered Cambray, amidst so many acclamations.
But the blood of my people has flowed, in consequence of a treason of which the annals of the world present no example. That treason has summoned foreigners into the heart of France. Every day reveals to me a new disaster. I owe it, then, to the dignity of my crown, to the interest of my people, to the repose of Europe, to except from pardon the instigators and authors of this horrible plot. They shall be designated to the vengeance of the laws by the two chambers, which I propose forthwith to assemble.
Frenchmen, such are the sentiments which he brings among you, whom time has not been able to change, nor calamities fatigue, nor injustice made to stoop. The king, whose fathers reigned for eight centuries over yours, returns to consecrate the remainder of his days in defending and consoling you.
Given at Cambray, this 28th of June, in the year of our Lord 1815, and of our reign the twenty-first.