Louis XVIII. in 1815 returned to his throne, borne on the shoulders of foreign soldiers, after the fight at Waterloo. The allied armies had a second time entered France to make her pass under the saws and harrows of humiliation. Paris was gay, for money was spent freely by the invading strangers. Sacrifices on the altar of the Emperor were over; enthusiasm for the extension of the great ideas of the Revolution had passed away; a new generation had been born which cared more for material prosperity than for such ideas; the foundation of many fortunes had been laid; mothers who dreaded the conscription, and men weary of war and politics, drew a long breath, and did not regret the loss of that which had animated a preceding generation, in a view of a peace which was to bring wealth, comfort, and tranquillity into their own homes.
The bourgeoisie of France trusted that it had seen the last of the Great Revolution. It stood between the working-classes, who had no voice in the politics of the Restoration, and the old nobility,—men who had returned to France full of exalted expectations. The king had to place himself on one side or the other. He might have been the true Bourbon and headed the party of the returned émigrés,—in which case his crown would not have stayed long upon his head; or he might have made himself king of the bourgeoisie, opposed to revolution, Napoleonism, or disturbances of any kind,—the party, in short, of the Restoration of Peace: a peace that might outlast his time; et après moi le déluge!