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GENERAL BOULANGER.

Writing nearly three years ago on the subject of General Boulanger, who had even at that time begun to be regarded as the "Coming man" m France, we gave an extract from a private letter received from an officer holding high rank m the British army who had just returned from a visit to Paris, and who predicted that Boulanger would, one day, and that not a distant one, bulk largely m the history of "La belle nation." That prediction was evidently well-founded, for recent events have shown that Boulanger is now the most popular man m France, and should a crisis arise is certain to come to tho front amd to play a prominent part. Under these circumstances the following sketch of the General taken from an article on •' Boulangism m France " by Theodore Child will be read with interest :— " He was born at Rennes on April 29, 1837. His father was a very modeßt consulting lawyer; his mother was a Catholic English girl named Mary Ann Webb Griffith ; he was educated at Nantes, where one of his schoolmates was the future Deputy Clemenceau, and afterwards at tbe military school of Saint Cyr, where he obtained a seeondlieutenant's commission and took service m Algeria. He served with moderate distinction m 1859 m Italy, and m 1861 m Cochin China. Jn 1886 he was appointed military instructor at Saint -Cyr, where he remained until 1870. During tbe siege of Paris he served m the capital, was wounded at Champigoy, and took part m the suppression of the Commune. Passing over minor incidents we arrive at the year 1880, when Boulanger was promoted to the rank of general, and at his own request appointed to command the 14th Brigade of Cavalry. This was the beginning of his fortune. Boulanger proved himself to be a marvellous horseman, and while like Napoleon 111., be is rather short of leg and stature, and quite insignifi cant on foot, it was found that on horseback he was one of the best looking officers m the army, and as such he was sent to Yorktown centenary celebration as chief of the French military mission. In his report of this mission tho Marquis de Rochembeau said j 1 General Boulanger m the United States personified the array m the most felicitous manner. The men admired the finesse of his judgment and the breadth of his knowledge, the women his elegant and martial bearing and the charm of his manners. Certainly France could not have had a more amiable representative on the other side of the ocean. In 1882 General Bonlanger was made director of infantry. In that position he carried out reforms which won him the reputation of re organiser of tho army. Made general of division m 1884 he took military command of Tunis. He soon got into difficulties with the civic authorities. Through the influence of Clemenceau, he became Minister of "War m JBB6 " He introduced reforms that contributed greatly towards the well-being of the soldiers, and which have made him exceedingly popular with the army. So much for the General's history. Of tho aims of tbe political party called by his narod tfta writer says :— > lf Taking advantage of the growing spirit of discontent throughout France, the Boulaugists have chosen as their platform, < Dissolution and Revision/ that is to say, dissolution ot the present Chamber of Deputies, and revision of the constitution of the present republic, or, m other words, of the constitutional laws voted by the National Assemblies m 1875 and 1881. By these laws the suffrage is universal, the people name tho deputies, the departments represented by oleetoral colleges name the senators, the deputies and the senators together name the President of the Republic ; there is complete liberty of the press, and of public meeting for electoral purposes ; the Ministers are named by the President of the Republic. Now, as far as we can understand from his speeches ami motions, Boulanger would wish to revise the constitution m a Caasarian republican sense, exactly as Louib Napoleon did, and, like Louis Napoleon, he never fails to represent himself as the delegate and sole depositary of tho popular will j bis party is the ' national party'j his views are the views of 'the nation '5 and according to him the nation wants a responsible President responsible Ministers, responsible Deputies. What this means is not quite clear. The 'bray' g<sn<sral' is simply luring tbe French with phrases as bis predecessors have done; only bis phrases are all newer and vaguer, though all based on tbe plebiscite idea."

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890212.2.6

Bibliographic details

GENERAL BOULANGER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2061, 12 February 1889

Word Count
764

GENERAL BOULANGER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2061, 12 February 1889

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