All text (Mill’s original columns and the explanatory notes) is from the Online Library of Liberty edition of The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII – Newspaper Writings August 1831 – October 1834 Part II. Hat tip to between4walls on Abaissé for bringing it to my attention. For clarity, I’ve put everything except Mill’s original text in italics.
Since Mill’s last article on French affairs, the leftist leaders and secret societies, disappointed that Périer’s death had not been followed by a change in government policy, had tried to start an insurrection, using as occasion the funeral on 5 June of the popular General Lamarque. The turmoil was increased by the participation of the Bonapartists and Carlists. Fighting continued for two days, with 800 killed or wounded. Mill was much preoccupied in subsequent articles with the imposition of martial law by the government and the harsh trials of the alleged conspirators, signs of the fragility of the gains of July 1830. For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, June 10, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” with the first three paragraphs enclosed in square brackets (the rest of the article is in smaller type).
Before this paper meets the eyes of our readers, it will be known whether a new revolution has or has not taken place at Paris. At the moment when we write, it is only known that an immense concourse of people assembled on Tuesday at the funeral of General Lamarque; that a collision, apparently unpremeditated, took place between the people and the troops; that a desperate struggle commenced in almost all parts of Paris, which, beginning in the afternoon, lasted till late at night; that the Government, by telegraph, the next day announced the suppression of the insurrection, but that hostilities afterwards broke out afresh, with what result it is yet unknown.1
A day or two before these events, civil war had also broken out in the West. The roving bands of Chouans, who had rendered life and property insecure for a twelvemonth before, and whom the Government had taken no means effectually to suppress, had at last swelled into a general rising of the Carlist party. The Duchess of Berri and M. Bourmont were among them, having, it is now ascertained, effected a landing near Marseilles before the capture of the vessel which brought them from Italy and Spain; and having contrived, either by the connivance, or the want of vigilance of the authorities, to make their way to La Vendée.2 But a few weeks before, the contemptible Ministry of Louis Philippe had obtained from the Chamber of Deputies a parting gift of three millions of francs for secret police expenses.3 The money, we may be very sure, has been spent; yet, in spite of passports and all the formalities and restraints of the French Police Administration, two persons, who must be so well known, have crossed France from one side to the other undiscovered.
General Clouet is said to be at the head of the Carlist insurgents.4 The National Guard has every where taken arms against them. Cathelineau, a son of the celebrated Vendean chief, has been killed by a party of Government troops.5
[1 ]For the government’s proclamation of 5 June, see Moniteur, 1832, p. 1291. See also “Telegraphic Despatch from Paris of the 6th of June, Half-Past 7 A.M.” (the Minister of the Interior to the Prefect of the North and the Mayor of Calais), and “Despatch of the Same Day at 12 o’clock,” both in The Times, 8 June, p. 1.
[2 ]For reports of these events, see Nos. 165 and 167.
[3 ]To the 1,500,000 francs granted under the budget (Bull. 76, No. 168 [21 Apr., 1832]) was added another 1,500,000 francs by Bull. 77, No. 172 (21 Apr., 1832).
[4 ]Anne Louis Antoine, baron Clouet (1781-1862), fought for Napoleon, but went over to the enemy with Bourmont two days before Waterloo. He returned to France at the Restoration, continuing his army career and frequently serving under Bourmont, whom he followed in supporting the duchesse de Berry’s attempt to raise the South.
[5 ]Jacques Joseph Cathelineau (1787-1832), who had served in the garde royale until 1830, took part in the royalist insurrection and was treacherously killed. He was the only surviving son of Jacques Cathelineau (1759-93), a leader of the Vendean counter-revolutionaries in 1793.
This lengthy and detailed account follows up the general discussion of the session in No. 162. For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, June 17, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.
The following article, on the results of the Session of the French Chambers, was written, and even in print, before the late catastrophe.1 It is as true now as it was then, and will be as useful, if it ever could have been useful; we, therefore, persevere in our intention of publishing it.
The nature and amount of the doings of the French Chambers, during the session which has just expired, raise a serious doubt of the capacity of those assemblies as at present constituted, we will not say to legislate tolerably, but to legislate at all. For our part we have watched the progress of the session from day to day, in hopes of learning what a Chamber of Deputies is intended for—what function it is designed to fulfil in the body politic: and we regret to be obliged to confess, that this remains as much a mystery to us as ever: the use and purpose of that somewhat noisy and vapouring member of the French sovereignty has not transpired. While Charles X reigned in France, it had a mission which was obvious enough; it was sent there to resist and overawe the King, in case he attempted to bring back the emigrants and the priests. The present King, however, is suspected of no such propensities; and, that the Chamber does not deem itself intended for an antagonist power to his, it demonstrates by throwing its whole weight into his scale. On the other hand, it clearly is not appointed to make laws. We have our suspicions that its allotted office is to prevent them from being made. For it is a fact, not unworthy of commemoration, that if the Chambers, instead of sitting nine months, had sat only one day, and had employed it in passing a vote of confidence in the Ministry, and another vote authorizing the King, until the opening of the next session, to enact whatever laws he pleased byordonnance, France would now have been in the actual enjoyment of a considerable number of very passable laws, affecting some of her most important interests; for many such have been presented by the Government. But now we question if one single law has passed the Chambers during three-fourths of a year of continued sitting, for the passing of which the French, or any other portion of mankind, will be perceptibly the better:—the number of those which have had even an apparent tendency that way, is contemptibly small; while every measure of any intricacy or importance standing for debate, which could possibly be put by, without bringing all things to a dead stand, has not even come on for discussion.
There were three questions which could by no contrivance be put off to another session. There was the budget, a question of every year; the civil list, a question for the first year of every reign; and the reconstitution of the peerage, a question for this year in particular.2 These three things, in one way or another, it was absolutely indispensable to get through. And if it be asked, what has the Chamber done, the answer which must be returned is, these three things. The wise men of France have laid their heads together for nine months, or until the cholera morbus dispersed them, for the purpose of accomplishing these three things.
The Ministry, however, gave them the opportunity of effecting much besides this. The following, among other bills, were drawn up by Ministers, and laid before one or other of the two Chambers, mostly at an early period of the session:—
A bill for establishing a school or schools in every town and every village or parish in France, at which no inconsiderable amount of useful instruction would have been given to the whole of the rising generation; public provision being made for defraying the expense, where the parties themselves were not in a condition to sustain it;3
Three bills,4 which, together with the municipal law passed in the preceding session,5 were destined to substitute for Napoleon’s odious system of centralization, local representative assemblies, invested with adequate powers of local legislation, administration, and taxation;
A bill for the general revision of the custom laws of France, and for the relaxation of some of the restrictions on trade;6
A bill for abridging in some, though far from a sufficient degree, the tedious and expensive formalities and law proceedings, necessary for dispossessing individuals of landed property required for the purpose of public works, such as roads, railways, and canals7 —a most serious obstacle to the improvement of the productive resources of that fine country,—as may be judged when we mention, that rather than resort to the legal process, road and canal companies or the state not unfrequently find it their interest to pay for a piece of land four or five times its value;
A bill for giving representative assemblies, and a government of law, to the French colonies8 —which have hitherto, in defiance of a distinct promise in the Charter of 1814,9 remained under the illegal régime of royal proclamations;
A bill for securing to officers in the army and navy, the possession of their rank in the service, and preventing them from being dismissed from it, except after sentence of a court-martial.10
One of these bills, the last, has passed the Chamber of Peers, but did not come in time for discussion in the Chamber of Deputies: the seven others, neither of those hard-worked and ill-used bodies found leisure to enter upon. And when we consider the length and intricacy of the provisions they contain, and the snail’s pace at which these two assemblies travel at all times, except when the cholera is at their heels, the passing of these eight statutes is as much as there seems any likelihood of their accomplishing, together with the regular annual business, in several sessions to come. And yet (though all these bills are very defective, and stand greatly in need of being remodelled) whoever has sufficiently adverted to the proceedings of the two Chambers, to have formed an estimate of their fitness, moral and intellectual, to cope with such subjects, may safely predict that the sum of all the amendments they will introduce into the eight bills, are not worth the postponement of the first alone (the Education Bill) for one single year.
A corn bill, which permitted exportation and importation at all times, subject to much lower duties than before, and abolished, not entirely, but in a great measure, the absurd division of France into many districts, each with a separate corn law of its own;11
And two bills, reducing the exorbitant bounties on the whale and cod fisheries.12
For the corn bill of the Ministry, the Chamber substituted another of its own,13 abolishing indeed the prohibition, so far as respects importation, but retaining the high duties, and the division of the country, such as they were fixed by the very worst of all the previous corn bills.14 In the bounties to the fisheries, the Chamber made but a small reduction, instead of the great one proposed by the Ministry.
These specimens of what the Chambers have not found time to touch upon, and of what they have touched, and spoiled in the handling, give the measure of their fitness for legislation, as contrasted even with the second-rate statesmen who at present fill the various departments of the French Ministry.
As a set-off to all these things which they could not find time to consider of, or which they considered of, and could not find in their hearts to do, the following is a table of the things which they have actually done. We omit the remodelling of the peerage, as a thing which they could not avoid, and of which, therefore, the credit or discredit depends wholly on the manner of doing it.
They have passed two bills for the extension of the warehousing system:15 measures right in principle, and, perhaps, not wholly useless in practice, but which might have been dispatched in the same number of days; and even at the slow rate at which the Chambers wind their way through the maze of additions and amendments which invariably start up on all sides, did not occupy them for more than a week, or thereabouts.
They have abolished in some small number of cases the punishment of death16 —a penalty but rarely inflicted in France, comparatively speaking. This bill may possibly make the difference of one or two executions in a year. They have also mitigated in some measure the law of imprisonment for debt.17
They have tampered with the existing laws on the subject of recruiting, and of promotion in the army and navy;18 perhaps, the only part of the constitutional law of France with which the public was on the whole not discontented. Though possessing a specious equality which recommends them to the French people, and probably not ill-adapted to the circumstances of France, the principles of her military organization are open to well-grounded objection, being no other than the conscription on the one hand, and rigid legal restraints upon rapidity of promotion on the other. But these principles are not meddled with by the new enactments: all the alterations are in the details; and as far as we are able to judge, there is not one which is either decidedly for the worse, or decidedly for the better, though the passing of them has wasted as much time, and stirred up as much ill-blood, as if the destinies of the French nation hung suspended upon it.
Lastly, greatest achievement of all!—a bill has been passed, by which the elder branch of the Bourbon family is exiled from France.19 This statute does not even provide any penalty in case the parties concerned should attempt to return from banishment; it is, therefore, in every sense as harmless to all mankind, as a parliamentary recognition that there is a sun in heaven, or the legislative enactment by which the Convention, during the reign of Robespierre, determined that there was, or should thereafter be, a God.20 Of this crowning glory of the session of 1831, the Chambers are entitled to the undivided credit. The Ministers had no share in it, and the liberal press washed their hands of it. So important a matter, naturally could not be brought to a successful issue without some squabbles; accordingly a dispute broke out between the two houses, and the bill flew backwards and forwards from one to the other several times, like a shuttle-cock, before they could agree in what terms the unmeaning announcement should be made.
The inheritableness of the Peerage has been abolished. The majority of the deputies had given pledges to their constituents, which rendered this no longer optional with them. But it was not enough to regulate the succession to the Peerage, the Peers themselves remaining as they were before. If there has been any difference in their conduct since the passing of the bill, it is that they have been more audacious than ever in their resistance to public opinion. The law of divorce, which had passed the Chamber of Deputies with scarcely a dissenting voice, they ignominiously threw out.21 The bill abolishing the ridiculous celebration of the martyrdom of Louis XVI, met with the same fate.22 M. Salverte’s proposition for allowing the unfinished business of one session to be proceeded with in the next, which from its manifest expediency had met with universal assent in the elective chamber, was rejected by the Peers.23 The quarrel between the two houses respecting the bill for banishing the Bourbons, has been already alluded to; we wish that we had room to place it before our readers, in all its ridiculous details.24 Finally, they so fell out respecting a clause in the law for closing the accounts of the financial year 1829,25 that the prorogation took place before the dispute was brought to an issue; and that important part of the annual business of the country remains still unperformed.
With regard to the public expenditure, this has been a session of large prodigality, and petty economy. Seldom has there been seen in the memory of representative governments, an assembly so penny-wise, nor one so pound-foolish. Few governments excite an Englishman’s surprise so much as the French does by the absurd multitude of its public officers, and by the curiously small quantity of work, day by day, which seems to be expected from each of them; while at the same time, he is often no less astonished at the low rate at which some of the most important and dignified functionaries are remunerated. The Deputies, having come up from their departments boiling over with economy, vented their noble rage by curtailing, not the number of the officers of government, but their salaries; beginning with the most important of all, the judges, for which station if for any, there ought to be the means of purchasing first rate abilities; whose pay already was not large, even with reference to the average of incomes in France, and now falls short of what many English attornies give to their clerks. But there is fully as much jobbery as imbecility in this. The public voice insisted upon some retrenchment; and it was the desire of the deputies that places should at all events continue numerous, in order that they might retain the power of dispensing to as great a number of persons as possible, that swelling turkey-cock dignity and self-importance, which the lowest member of the French bureaucratie, though he touch but a few sous a day, feels himself equally a partaker of with the highest.
All the oppressive taxes on the necessaries of life have been continued; not a thought entertained of commuting them for any others less burthensome upon the many: but while borrowing with one hand to defray current expences, with the other they flung away into the lap of the landed proprietors, the extra land tax which was laid on afresh last year, after a reduction of double the amount a few years ago.26 The loss is supplied partly by a larger borrowing, partly by laying additional taxes upon the public at large.
Finally, so ignorant was the majority of the Chamber of the very first principles of finance, that they would not suspend the operation of paying off debt until there should be money to pay withal, but continued to buy up old debt by contracting new. That any human being, to say nothing of a whole people, should have been capable of being so far juggled as to be made firmly to believe that this was not only an advantageous financial operation, but a source of unexampled prosperity, was marvellous enough at any time, even the time of Pitt and Dundas.27 But that the French Legislature should believe it still, after so many years of argument, and when the subject has become too stale even for ridicule, with the newspapers shouting the true doctrine in their ears, day after day, turning it over in every way, viewing it under every aspect, and putting it with that pellucid clearness with which French writers almost always explain whatever they understand—is something which we should not have thought possible, and which might well render Dulness herself proud of such disciples among the élite of a people so renowned for quickness of apprehension.
Recent events give us unfortunately something to add to what may appear a disparaging estimate of the utility of the French representative constitution. We have said that it is of no use, but a hindrance, to the making of good laws; it is now proved to be quite equally useless as a protection to the French nation against arbitrary power. The government of the barricades has done what Charles X was not permitted to do. It has assumed the power of dispensing with the laws and the courts of justice. Paris is under martial law.28 Not during the insurrection, but after it was completely suppressed, and the authority of the regular tribunals was restored; Louis Philippe has assumed the power of trying all offences by a Court Martial, with the declared intention of exercising that power retrospectively—not only against persons taken in arms, or suspected of being concerned in the insurrection, but against the writers of any articles in newspapers which he affects to consider as constituting their authors accessaries to revolt. A warrant has been issued against M. Armand Carrel, the principal editor of the National, and the most powerful writer among the journalists in France. Never having been able to obtain a verdict against M. Carrel from a Paris jury, the Government has taken this method of depriving him and others of the protection of jury-trial.
Well was it said not long ago, by an enlightened Frenchman, no friend to a Republic or Republicans—“you, in England, are accustomed to see even bad Governments keep within the bounds of law; but, with us, it is universally understood that une constitution, c’est pour rire!”29 This is the meaning of the fetish-worship professed by the rabid moderate party, for l’ordre légal.30 Respect for the law is easily observed, when you have the laws of the old régime, and those of the Reign of Terror, to fall back upon; and when you are able to revive an edict of the despot Napoleon,31 for the purpose of setting aside several distinct articles of the Charter. So, again, the Republicans, if they had prevailed, had no occasion to violate the law; they needed only to enforce the decree of the Convention banishing Louis-Philippe from France;32 for it has never been abrogated, and, consequently, by his Citizen Majesty’s own logic, is as valid as ever.
There is not an article of the Charter more express and formal than this, nul ne pourra être distrait de ses juges naturels, to which it was added, “there shall never more be created extraordinary commissions or tribunals.” In the Charter of 1814, one exception was reserved,—that of cours prévôtales: this exception was suppressed in the Charter of 1830, and the provision which it qualified remains without any qualification.33
Another article of the Charter declares expressly, that the King shall in no case whatever be at liberty to set aside the laws, or dispense with their execution.34
But what matters it? The people thought they had abolished the trial of political offences by packed commissions; but did not Napoleon once issue an edict authorising it?35 The Duke of Reichstadt, we suspect, is lawful Emperor of the French at this moment, by virtue of another edict of the same Napoleon.36
It is not yet known who is or is not compromised, or whom the Government means to make its victims. Its whole conduct with respect to émeutes, conspiracies, and the press, for the last twelve-month, convinces us that it will not be troubled with many scruples in taking this opportunity of ridding itself of any troublesome enemy. Fortunately, most of the leading Republicans were already in prison; so that it would be rather too great a stretch of audacity to impute any participation to them. Warrants have, it seems, been issued against three Deputies, MM. Garnier-Pagès, Laboissière, and Cabet.37
These events have produced a salutary reaction of public opinion, in England, on the affairs of France. The real character of Louis-Philippe and his advisers might have been preached in the highways, and to all eternity; the public would never have believed it, until it was proved by some acts which left no room even for the most ignorant to doubt.
The Times is now furious against the French Government; and will not take the King into favour again, unless he will “endeavour to heal the wounds of the nation, by consulting the opinion of those in whom the nation has reposed its confidence. The formidable party who have signed the Laffitte manifesto, cannot now be despised with impunity, and must furnish Ministers either to modify the existing Cabinet, or to supply its place.”38
This prudent counsel has come somewhat late, methinks. It is scarcely kind, after having, for eighteen months, applauded and encouraged the course of policy which has brought on this catastrophe, and denounced all who opposed it as the silliest or the vilest of mankind, now, when nothing has changed but the interest of the Times newspaper, to turn round upon the man whom itself has contributed not a little to mislead to his ruin, and tell him that he is going wrong, and must alter his course. It is not quite so easy for a king to change his counsels, as for the Times to eat its words, or rather, without any confession of error, to bluster and bully on one side as it had just before blustered and bullied on the other. Louis-Philippe, thanks to counsellors like the Times, is so far committed, that it would not be in kingly nature to retract; and he will go on the remainder of the way to destruction. Even were he to retrace his steps, the blood which has been shed would scarcely be forgiven him. There is the barrier of mutual injuries between him and the Republicans: they are as the serpent and the man in the fable.39 But a time was, when Louis-Philippe was yet hesitating, or had a retreat still open behind him, and when the public opinion of England, energetically declared through the most subservient but the most powerful of its organs, might have arrested his blind and fatal career. The weight which might have decided him for good, was thrown into the scale of evil: and now, when he seems lost beyond redemption, his adviser turns round upon him, and bids him mend his ways. Just so was it with Polignac and Charles X.
But would not any man of common candour or feeling, who had written what the Times has been writing for two years, be now burning with shame and self-reproach for the calumnies he had propagated against theMouvement party in France, painting them in the blackest colours, as men who, from low passions, reckless obstinacy, or personal ambition, sought to subvert the government by a Republican revolution? A Republican revolution is attempted; and the insurgents turn out to be few in number, with the whole people against them, and countenanced by no name known to the nation; and just then the Times discovers that the great bulk of the nation is with the Mouvement party; that its chiefs have alone the confidence of the French people; that the King and his Ministers are detested (the very word of the Times);40 and that the Opposition, who were before classed with the scum of the earth, ought to be taken into the Ministry.
When, till now, has the Times admitted that there was an opposition party at all, except Carlists, Napoleonists, and Republicans? or that any one who held more popular principles than Casimir Périer was a friend to kingly government, or any government of order and law? All at once it finds out that it has made the slight mistake of simply leaving out of its enumeration of parties the majority of the nation.
The wide circulation, and the audacious assuming manner of the Times, together with a skill and energy in popular writing, which it would be affectation to undervalue, render it so efficient a promoter of the popular cause as soon as it finds its account in joining the standard of improvement, that the real patriots are too apt to forgive, and omit taking note of its tergiversations. The men who by the labours and sacrifices of perhaps half their lives, have wrought some valuable idea into the public mind, and have at last triumphed over prejudices and indifference, and rendered their cause worth advocating to the mere trading politicians; having during all this period had to endure, in nine cases out of ten, all the scorn and contumely which the Times could express, by putting into requisition the whole of its copious vocabulary of coarse abuse,—such persons are generally too well pleased to find themselves sure of carrying their point (which they know they are when they see the Times advocating it), to be much inclined to quarrel with the enemy who deserts to them at the eleventh hour. The “leading journal” then thrusts itself forward to the front of the engagement, lifts up its loud voice till it drowns all the others, and struts in triumph over the field of battle, saying, aha! behold my victory. The real victors have gone forward hours before; they are not seekers of glory, but of a new work to perform; and are buckling on their armour to fight a fresh battle, knowing and foreseeing all the while that the Times will be, as before, their bitter and unscrupulous antagonist in the fight, and will again join them when on the point of victory.
[1 ]For details, see No. 171.
[2 ]For the introduction of these measures, see, respectively, Nos. 116, 134, and 115.
[3 ]For details, see No. 126.
[4 ]For the introduction of these measures, see No. 120.
[5 ]For this measure, see No. 57, n10.
[6 ]For the measure, see No. 126, n16.
[7 ]Projet de loi relatif aux expropriations pour cause d’utilité publique (3 Nov.), ibid., p. 2041.
[8 ]Projet de loi relatif au régime législatif des colonies (16 Dec.), ibid., p. 2410.
[9 ]Charter of 1814, Art. 73.
[10 ]Actually two bills with these purposes came before the Peers on 19 Jan.: Projet de loi relatif à l’état des officiers de l’armée, and Projet de loi sur l’avancement dans l’armée navale (Moniteur, 1832, pp. 192-3, 194).
[11 ]For its introduction, see No. 125, n2.
[12 ]For the introduction of these measures, see No. 157, n3.
[13 ]For details, see Nos. 125, n2, 130, n7, 134, and 150, nn1, 2.
[14 ]That of 1821; see No. 130, n6.
[15 ]For their introduction, see Nos. 132, n4, and 133, n9.
[16 ]For the measure, see No. 119, n2.
[17 ]For the measure, see No. 135, n13.
[18 ]For the measure on recruitment, see No. 120, n13; for that on promotion in the army, see No. 128, n2; that on promotion in the navy (not previously mentioned by Mill) is Bull. 77, No. 170 (20 Apr., 1832).
[19 ]Bull. 71, No. 153 (10 Apr., 1832).
[20 ]By Art. 1 of Décret sur les fêtes décadaires (7 May), Moniteur, 1794, p. 932. Robespierre’s extraordinarily long speech introducing the decree is given ibid., pp. 928-32.
[21 ]For details, see Nos. 133, n10, and 156, n4.
[22 ]For details, see Nos. 132, n8, and 147, n2.
[23 ]For details, see Nos. 132, n10, and 143, n8.
[24 ]The gist of the quarrel in February can be found in Moniteur, 1832, pp. 438-9. Should Charles X be referred to as “ex-roi,” “roi,” “Charles X,” or “Charles X, déchu de la royauté”? (The last phrase finally appeared.) Should he and his descendants be named in the same clause as Napoleon or in separate ones? (Napoleon got a clause to himself.) Should there be a forced sale of their possessions or should the State expropriate them at a fair price? (A sale within a year was decreed.) The Peers lost on most of the issues.
[25 ]For the beginning of the squabble in January, see Moniteur, 1832, pp. 79-80; the Peers wanted to restrict the budget for 1829 to financial accounts and rejected clauses that introduced regulations for the future, the focus settling on two clauses relating to financial transactions being public and to expenses incurred by a new minister. The question of prerogatives added ginger to the conflict, which was not resolved until the passing of Bull. 83, No. 190 (31 Jan., 1833).
[26 ]The justification of this provision of the budget, which took off the tax provided by Art. 1 of Bull. 38, No. 106 (18 Apr., 1831), was given by baron Louis, the Minister of Finance, on 19 Aug., 1831 (Moniteur,1831, pp. 1432-3); the earlier reduction was provided by Bull. 101, No. 3371 (6 July, 1826).
[27 ]Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742-1811), friend of Pitt, who was President of the Board of Control when the Sinking Fund was established.
[28 ]Louis Philippe declared Paris in a state of siege on 6 June, 1832, by ordinance (Bull. 161, No. 4204), having declared other areas in that state on 1 and 3 June (ibid., Nos. 4202, 4203). For the background to the declarations, see No. 171.
[29 ]Not identified.
[30 ]For the phrase, see No. 145, n5.
[31 ]Bull. 411, No. 7543 (24 Dec., 1811), esp. Arts. 52, 53.
[32 ]See Le bannissement perpétuel des émigrés (22 Aug.), Art. 373 of Constitution de la république française, Moniteur, 27 Aug., 1795, Supplement, p. vi.
[33 ]Charter of 1830, Arts. 53 and 54, the first continuing Art. 62 of the Charter of 1814; the exception of cours prévôtales was made by Art. 63 in 1814, not continued in 1830.
[34 ]Art. 13 (1830).
[35 ]See Chap. iv, Sect. 2, Art. 27 of Bull. 282, No. 5351 (20 Apr., 1810).
[36 ]The duc de Reichstadt, Napoleon’s son, was declared Emperor Napoleon II in Déclaration au peuple français (22 June, 1815), Moniteur, 1815, p. 715.
[37 ]Etienne Joseph Louis Garnier-Pagès (1801-41) was a liberal turned republican who took part in the July Revolution and afterwards took over the Société Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera, and made it republican against the wishes of the majority. Embittered by the results of the July Revolution, he sat on the far left, fighting against Louis Philippe’s governments. Paul Joseph Xavier Tramier de Laboissière (1799-1860), another deputy of the extreme left, had organized the funeral of General Lamarque and was involved in the riots. He fled Paris when the warrant for his arrest was issued. Etienne Cabet (1788-1856), a deputy of the extreme left, was a member of many republican associations, including the Société Aide-toi, and had been a “commissaire” at Lamarque’s funeral.
[38 ]The Times, 9 June, 1832, p. 4.
[39 ]“The Labourer and the Snake,” in Aesop’s Fables, trans. V.S.V. Jones (London: Heinemann, 1912), p. 149.
[40 ]The word is used in a dispatch from Paris, The Times, 7 June, 1832, p. 2.
For the uprising, the suppression of which Mill traces here, see Nos. 171 and 172. For the entry in his bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, June 24, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of theExaminer as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.
Have the struggles of forty-five years, and the sacrifice of an entire generation, brought France no nearer than this, we say not to a good government, but to any government of law? Is it still to be a matter of course, that whatever is the form of the government, the executive, in reality, does what it likes; and that a constitution or a charter is not a thing to be regarded when the Government finds the slightest momentary convenience in breaking it?
If there were any mode of rivetting in the minds of the French people a practical conviction that no restraints which they can impose on the instruments of government are the slightest security to them, and that the perpetually-impending terror of popular vengeance is alone sufficient to keep their public men in awe, Louis Philippe and his Ministers have found that mode. If any thing exists which can make the next French revolution a sanguinary one, this will do it.
How many years, rather how many ages, of legal protection seem necessary to engender that habitual reverence for law which is so deeply rooted in the minds of all classes of Englishmen, from the prince to the pauper! Never can we too much rejoice that we have accomplished the first and hardest stage of our national emancipation, and have therefore a reasonable chance of accomplishing the succeeding stages, without any sensible weakening of that salutary association; the first and fundamental condition of good government, and without which any people, however civilized they may imagine themselves, are little other than savages.
Is it not the vainest of fancies to look for any sensible improvement in the government or in the condition of the people, while even honest men are apt to consider any misconduct on the part of the Government a full justification for civil war, and when every King, every Minister, considers every act of resistance to Government a justification for suspending the constitution and assuming dictatorial power?
Of the two parties who are guilty of the present and of the impending mischief, incomparably the most guilty is the Government. That small part of the people of Paris who planned, or who joined the insurrection, are not without considerable excuse. To compare them with our own people under recent circumstances, would be to judge them unfairly. If we English could neither have formed Political Unions nor held public meetings, how could we have escaped the same extremity? And with those powers, it was seen in the case of Catholic emancipation,1 what even such a people as the Irish could do. Both these invaluable rights are denied to the French nation. There are no means left open in France, by which public dissatisfaction can manifest itself through a peaceable display of moral strength. The press is the only organ of public opinion which exists at all; and the press is weighed down by taxation, and persecuted by the law-officers of Government, to the extent, in the case of one single paper,2 of fifty-two prosecutions within two years.
For the Government, there is now no forgiveness. What no necessity could excuse, but that which would excuse a revolution, they have done without even an appearance of necessity. Paris was already quiet; and the ordinary tribunals would have served the vengeance of the conquerors but too well. The whole guilt of anarchy and confusion, should such hereafter ensue, will be on the heads of those who have severed the last cable which, for eighteen years, has held France, though agitated and even inundated by the waves, still steady to such anchorage as she had found, and saved her from drifting out into the unfathomable ocean. France has now no constitution. It has been well said, by one of her own writers, that a constitution which is violated is destroyed.3 How much so then a constitution of yesterday, to which, being consecrated by no ancient associations, when once relinquished there is no return? A friend who has been faithful to you from infancy, may be tempted and may succumb, and yet be trusted again; but the man whose first word to you is a lie, remains to you a liar for ever.
It is not many weeks since we idly amused ourselves and our readers with dreams of progressive improvement, and the growth and strengthening of the national mind, by sober study and manly discussion of the art of government itself, as distinguished from the mere instrument of government.4 It is no time now for such thoughts. One of the smallest evils of the present tyranny is, that all such prospects are now, for a season, overclouded. As the French themselves would say, tout est remis en question. The forty years war, which we did think was terminated by the final rupture with the fallen dynasty, has broken out afresh. The prize to be contended for is still, as heretofore, whether France shall or shall not have a constitutional government: the skeleton of absolute monarchy has been taken from its grave, clothed once more in flesh and blood, and re-enthroned in the Tuileries. Manuel, and Foy, and Constant, have lived, and the martyrs of the Three Days have died, in vain. Alas! it was the forecast of something like this, which abridged the life and embittered the dying moments of the most illustrious of those patriots.5
There is little novelty in the Paris intelligence of this week. The courts martial are sitting: two persons have been tried, and acquitted,—whether to give an air of mildness to the illegal transaction, or, as has been surmised, because the witnesses would not tell what they knew, before an unlawful tribunal. Two others have been convicted, and one of them sentenced to death.6 Whether, after the canting which the world remembers, on the occasion of a former trial, of far greater delinquents, Louis Philippe will dare to execute the sentence, time will disclose. Nothing is impossible; but if he take the life of this person, let him look to his own.
MM. Chateaubriand, Hyde de Neuville, and the Duc de Fitzjames,7 have been arrested and placed au secret. It is ridiculous to suppose that any, especially the first, of these three men is a conspirator. That they were named members of a Carlist Regency in nubibus, is likely enough, and may be true without the slightest blame on their part. They are, perhaps, of all the partisans of the exiled dynasty, the most likely to be ostensibly put forward, and the least likely to be actually implicated.
[1 ]Effected by 10 George IV, c. 7 (1829).
[2 ]La Tribune.
[3 ]Not located.
[4 ]In No. 162 (6 May, 1832).
[5 ]For Mill’s account of the death of Benjamin Constant, see No. 68.
[6 ]See “Premier conseil de guerre séant à Paris,” Le National, 17 June, 1832, pp. 3-4; ibid., 18 June, pp. 3-4; “Deuxième conseil de guerre séant à Paris,” ibid., 19 June, pp. 3-4; ibid., 20 June, pp. 3-4. Those acquitted were Pierre Théodore Florentin Pépin (1806-?) and Charles Boromée Wachez (1782-?); François Margot (1796-?) was sentenced to fifteen years; and Michel Auguste Geoffroy (1805-?) was condemned to death. Cf. Moniteur, 1832, pp. 1343-5, 1352-4, and 1563-4.
[7 ]Edouard, duc de Fitzjames (1776-1838), was a staunch royalist and, although he took the oath to Louis Philippe after 1830, was thought to be a supporter of the Duchess of Berry.
For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, July 8, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.
The prisoners condemned by the courts martial, for participation in the late insurrection at Paris, have appealed to the supreme law authority of France, the Court of Cassation, which has quashed all the sentences, and declared the trial of non-military persons, before military tribunals, to be illegal.1
Laws and a Constitution do yet exist in France. Though the executive disregards them, there is a power above the executive, which recals the executive to its duty; and whose admonition the King does not think himself strong enough to disregard.
The next day an ordonnance appeared, by which the “siege” of Paris was raised.2 It is affirmed that the Chambers will be convened for the 25th of the present month. The present ministry remain in office till the meeting of the Chambers. If they remain for a single week afterwards, a government of law is not valued in France as it is here, and should be every where.
MM. Chateaubriand, Hyde de Neuville, and Fitz-James, have been set at liberty; the chambre des mises en accusation (analogous to our grand jury) found that there was no ground for proceeding against them.3 M. Ledieu, one of the journalists who had been arrested, has been dismissed, because there was actually no charge against him.4
Immediately after the authority of the law was restored, the three deputies against whom warrants had been issued (MM. Garnier-Pagès, Cabet, and Laboissière) delivered themselves up to justice.5
Attempts have been made to strengthen the ministry by taking in M. de Talleyrand, M. Dupin, or M. Thiers:6 but the first, and wiliest of the three, is understood to have refused, and with the others it was not found possible to make terms.
[1 ]On 29 and 30 June (Moniteur, 1832, pp. 1401-3 and 1407-8). See Nos. 171 and 173.
[2 ]Bull. 168, No. 4261 (29 June, 1832).
[3 ]On 1 July (Moniteur, 1832, p. 1409).
[4 ]Louis François Joseph Ledieu (b. 1791), a contributor to La Tribune, had been supposedly involved in a seditious plot at the time of Lamarque’s funeral.
[5 ]Moniteur, 1832, p. 1409. For the background, see No. 172, n37.
[6 ]Louis Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), journalist, historian, and politician, founder with Mignet, Carrel, and Sautelet of Le National and author of the journalists’ protest against the ordinances of Charles X, was elected to the Deputies in 1830 where, as a Moderate, he supported Louis Philippe.