Слике страница
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

penetrating, and cautious, he could devote liberty which they regarded as their un.
his wonderful talents, and unequalled expe- doubted right.
rience to bear on the object which he had in The commercial and mercantile branches
view, without exciting the suspicion of his of the population must also have seen their
opponents in council and diplomacy. Two interest in peace. They had suffered long
circumstances, however, operated against and severely from the anticommercial plans
the policy, otherwise so conspicuous of pro- of Buonaparte. Peace, and more especially a
moting Talleyrand to his situation : those peace with England, was expected with im-
of the French nation who were still attached patience and received with gratitude. On
to Buonaparte beheld him with dislike, as the these two classes, therefore, the agricultural
betrayer of their only favourite and his and commercial, the security and permanence
former master, while the partizans of the of the government of Louis finally de-
Bourbon family entertained a natural sus“ pended.
picion that his attachment to the new go There was only one other class in France
vernment would only continue while their whom it will be necessary to consider with
power remained permanent, and that he respect to their influence on the government
would desert them as he had deserted Bo- of Louis

. Buonaparte had extensively cúr. naparte in the time of the greatest need. tailed the power of the clergy, degraded Waving the consideration of these two their rank, and reduced their emoluments. circumstances, it could not be doubted that His system of discouragement united to the his abilities and experience would enable strong and general passion for military rank him essentially to contribute to heal the and glory, and with the indifference to rewounds inflicted by the revolution and by ligion produced by the revolution, powerthe despotism of Napolean, while, as far as fully operated in diminishing the influence the honour and external relations of the of the priesthood over the people of France. country were involved, he would contribute. Louis, from his natural dispositionand habits, to raise them as nearly as possible to the level must have been strongly urged to replace of its former rank and glory.

the clergy as nearly as possible in the same But the disposition and feelings of the scale of rank and wealth which they held bebulk of the French people formed the chief fore the revolution, a measure which would support on which Louis could depend for secure in his favour a most powerful body. the permanence of his government. The ca- Many obstacles were opposed to his procepital of France no longer retained its ancient. dure. A great part of the property of the influence over the inhabitants of the pro- Church was sold, and could not be restored, vinces, and the revolution dividing the and the very intimation that such an object estates of the noblesse into possessions of a was in view would create the greatest alarm much more moderate size, and thus increasing in the breasts of all who had purchased conthe number of those who were desirous of fiscated property. The revenues of the peace, and placing the agricultural tenantry Clergy before the revolution, were in part of the kingdom on a more respectable and derived from tithes. To endeavour to reindependant footing, rendered the inhabi- impose them would be the signal of univertants of the country of much more weight sal discontent, and might possibly be foland importance. Over these also the revo lowed by the re-establishment of feudal lution had shed much less of its baneful oppression. It seemed impossible to restore effects, than over the inhabitants of Paris and the clergy to their possessions; yet Louis other large cities: their manners were less by his demeanour evinced his anxiety for frivolous, their morals less corrupt, their their political ascendancy and their pecuunderstandings and feelings virtuous and niary interest. By his evident attachment intelligent. On this class of people, therefore, to the sacred order he certainly gave offence

ouis might safely rely for support, provided to the Parisians, and his proclamations for he secured to them their possessions, and that the celebration of mass in remembrance of portion of respectability, independence, and Louis the XVI. and for the strict obser

vance or the sabbath, if they offended the “ Gentlemen, the king charges me to preprofane and licentious rabble of the Boule- sent to you the plan of a law relative to the vards, gratified the devout and virtuous in- press, in fulfilment of the 8th article of the habitants of the provinces, and contributed constitutional charter. The press has renby extending the influence of the clergy to dered such great services to society, it is the support and stability of the throne. become of such necessity among civilised

Considerable gloom and apprehension were nations, that it ought not to be subjected to excited in Paris by the refusal of Louis to rigorous restrictions. The king, gentlemen, receive the constitution exactly as it had been is not less interested than his subjects in framed and accepted in his name, by his seeing the revival of these services : it is brother the Count d'Artois. On reflection, his interest to hear the truth, as it is yours however, these feelings subsided; for Louis, to tell it to him : but it is truth friendly to though certainly unwilling to grant the ex- order, which wisdom always inspires, which tent of liberty demanded, and assuming the calms instead of irritating the passions, and title of king by divine permission, was which teaches the people equally to dread evidently disposed to sanction a degree of oppression and licentiousness. public freedom, unknown before or since the * The question is simple in itself. The revolution.

object is so to consecrate the liberty of the About the middle of August a body of press, as to render it useful and durable. resolutions was framed under various titles, That liberty, so often proclaimed in France by which the intercourse between the king during the first years of the revolution, beand the two legislative chambers was to be came its own greatest enemy. The slave carried on. These regulations comprised the of popular opinion, which it had not time form of the constitution, describing the pro- to form, it lent to licentiousness all its force, cess of legislation, and apportioningits powers. and could never supply reason with sufficient

The most remarkable part of this body of means of defence. The causes of this existed regulations is contained in title 4th; from in the effervescence of the popular passions, which it appears that if the king refuses to in the nation being little accustomed to pubaccede to any request of the chambers, and lic affairs, in the facility with which a people disapproves of any law presented for his were deceived and deluded, still incapable sanction, he must say, Le rdi veut en deliber- of judging of the writings addressed to them, er.-The king wishes to deliberate on the and of foreseeing their consequences. subject. But if he refuses his final appro "“ Have these causes now disappeared? Can bation to a law which has passed the cham we flatter ourselves that they will not again bers, he is pledged to use the precise form of come into action? We fear that we cannot: words prescribed by the British constitution. the mute servitude which succeeded the What follows under titles 5, 6, and 7, relates turbulence of the first years of the revolution to matters of form merely, with the excep- has not better trained us for liberty: the tion of the two following articles : That the passions which could not display themselves chambers can never form a junction; nor during that interval would now burst forth put forth addresses to the people.

fortified by new passions.-What should we The first discussion of importance respec- oppose to their explosion ? Almost as much ted the liberty of the press, which had been inexperience, and more of weakness. Reastipulated for in the 8th article of the con sonable men, disgusted with the long inustitutional charter. On the 6th of July the tility of their efforts, would keep in the back abbé de Montesquiou and the count de ground, rather than expose themselves in a Blacas were introduced into the chamber of contest of which they had so often been the deputies, being ordered by the king to pre- victims; interests the most opposite, and sent a law on the liberty of the press : this sentiments the most exaggerated, would was prefaced by an explanatory speech from again come into mutual combat, with all the former, of which the following is the that additional violence which would be lent outline:

by the bitterness of recollections; the people

[ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

still unenlightened as to their interests, still straint: let us not complain of this; let us not unconfirmed in their sentiments, would fol- envy a neighbouring nation the enjoyment low blindly the impulse which might be of advantages of another kind. Ours have given them; and whichever might be the procured us enough of happiness and glory, victorious party, it would soon take exclu- wherewithal to be content: to them we owe sive possession of the press, to turn it against that elegance of taste, that delicacy of manits adversaries,

ners, which is shocked by the least neglect " Such is the nature of that liberty, which of decorum, and which does not permit us must have been enjoyed in order to know how to violate it, without falling at once into the to use it: give it all the extent necessary to most unbridled licentiousness. the nation's learning how to benefit by it; “ The king proposes to you nothing that but oppose to it some bounds, that it may does not appear to him absolutely necessary be saved from its own excesses,"

to the safety of the national institutions, and With regard to the principal provision to the march of government: assist him with of the law M. de Montesquiou spoke thus : your information and your influence; unite

" It has been long perceived and acknown with him for the interests of liberty as for ledged, that writings of small bulk, which it is those of peace; and you will soon see that easy to circulate with profusion, and which liberty unfold itself without storms, amidst are read with avidity, may iminediately dis- the order which you shall have concurred in turb the public tranquillity: repressive laws maintaining.” are sufficient against the effects for which the The projet of the law proposed by the author, perhaps, can only be punished when king was divided into two parts: the first the mischief has already become too great, respected the publication of works; the not merely to be repaired, but even arrested second, the superintendance of the press; acin its progress. Writings of this sort are, cording to the first, every work of above therefore, the only ones against which the thirty sheets might be published freely, law takes precautions beforehand. Every without previous examination or revision. work of ordinary size may be published The same liberty was to be given to all freely; the king and the nation will have writings in the dead, or in foreign lannothing to fear from them; and if the author guages ;-prayer_books, catechisins, &c.; commit any offence, the tribunals will be in law reports, if they were sanctioned by the readiness to punish him.”

names of professional persons; and works of After explaining the other parts of the literary or scientific societies established by law, the abbé concluded thus :

the king, whatever was the number of the “If we lived at a period when reason, long sheets which they contained.—The liberty trained and tried, had a stronger sway than which was apparently given in this part of that of the passions; when national interest, the projet, was however in a great measure clearly understood and strongly felt, had withdrawn by the proposal that the directorattached to its cause the majority of private general of the press might ordain, according interests; when public order, strongly conso- to circumstances, that all writings of thirty lidated, no longer feared the attacks of impru- sheets or under should be communicated to dence or folly, then the unlimited liberty of him before being printed. The appointment the press would be unattended with danger, of censors was to be vested in the king; and and would even present advantages: but our the director-general was to cause every work situation is not so happy; our character even to be examined by one or more censors; and as well as our situation, forbids the establish- if two at least of these conceived the writing ment of an indefinite liberty. Nature has to be defamatory. or dangerous, or immoral, distributed her gifts among nations, as among the director-general might forbid the printindividuals; the diversity of the institutions ing: he was however to be obliged to cow=; has fortified these primitive differences: we municate all the works, or parts of works, have received for our share a vivacity, a suppressed by him, to a committee of both mobility of imagination, which require re- houses, consisting of three peers and three

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

deputies, with three commissioners appoint. be destroyed, and the proprietors subject to a
ed by the king; and if the motives of the fine of 10,000 francs, and six months impri-
censors should appear insufficient, the com sonment. If notice was not given and a de.
mittee might order the printing. No jour- posit made of the copy of any work, the im-
nals or periodical writings were to appear pression might be seized; and in such case,
without the king's authority. In a country a fine of 1000 francs for the first offence, and
such as Britain, where the inhabitants derive 2000 for the second, was to be levied : if the
all their knowledge of passing events from printer's name and residence were omitted in
the journals, this part of the projet will ap- the title page of any copy of a work, there
pear as putting a most effectual barrier to was to be a fine of 3000 francs; and in the
the most essential and valuable part of the case of the substitution of a false name or
liberty of the press. The journals in this address, a fine of double that sum, besides
country are undoubtedly often mere party imprisonment. Every bookseller exposing
publications: they often mislead the public to sale a work without a printer's name, to
both with regard to the facts which they pay a fine of 2000 francs, which was to be
ought to believe, and the opinions of public reduced to 1000 upon disclosure of the name,
men and measures which they ought to en- The projet concluded with the proposal that
tertain; but there can be not the smallest the law should be revised in three years, for
doubt that, if it were not for our journals the purpose of making the improvements
being entirely independent of the acknow which experience might show to be neces-
ledged and direct control of government, our sary.
rulers would be much less cautious than they It is scarcely necessary to point out the
are in their conduct, and public opinion essential difference between the liberty of the
would have much less weight than it actually press which this law proposed to establish in
has. But there is no country in the world France, and that which we enjoy in Britain.
besides our own (with the exception of Ame- It has been often complained that the nature
rica) in which government does not interfere of the libel and law respecting it is very ob-
too much; to such a degree, indeed, as if scure and uncertain; and that the conse-
they thought the people were incapable of quences are, that a person does not know
thinking or aeting for themselves, or as if whether what he publishes will expose him
they were conscious that their own actions to the law, or not. This certainly is the
would not bear to be fairly represented and case; and the theory as well as the practice
canvassed. In the last clause of that part of of our constitution would be much improved
the projet which relates to the publication of if libel were distinctly defined, so as that it
works, it was proposed that the author and could be known beforehand whether a pub
printer may, if they think proper, require lication were libellous or not.
the examination of the work previously to with this imperfection our law respecting the
sending it to press; and if it should be ap- liberty of the press is infinitely preferable to
proved, they are discharged from all further that proposed and adopted in France; sinee
responsibility, excepting as to the claims of in every respect the cause of truth, and the
injured individuals.

independence of character and mind of the
If this part of the projet appears inimical people are much better secured, where every
to the liberty of the press, the other part is thing may be published, though the publica-
still more decidedly so: by the first regula- tion leads to danger, than where nothing can
tion in it, no person can be a printer or book- be published but what has met the approba-
seller, without the king's license, nor without tion of censors of the press. In the first
taking the
proper oaths;

and the license place, it must be better, as well as safer, to might be withdrawn on violation of the laws trust to the opinion of a jury of our country. or regulations. All the printing establish men (obscure as the law of libel is) than to ments not properly notified and permitted the opinion of censors: secondly, the most: by the director-general of the press were to despotic or timid government will be disa be deemed clandestine, and as such were to posed to suffer many publications to go on,

lan fc; the

s of

by the rty of

But even

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

after they are once given to the world, which ing life annuities to those of the emigrants
they would have suppressed had they pos who had been left unprovided by the sale of
sessed the means before they were printed. their estates. According," said he, “ to the
But the chief consideration in estimating the calculations whsch I shall have the honour
advantages of the two modes is, that in a to lay before the chamber, the funds neces-
country where every work is permitted to be sary for these annuities will add but little to
published, the public at large can judge whe- the burdens of the public; while this mea-
ther, if punishment be inflicted, that punish sure, so just and politic, will at the same time
ment is deserved: whereas, where publica- compensate those who have lost their all, and
tions are suppressed, the public cannot know dissipate the apprehensions of the fair pur-
whether the suppression takes place because chasers of the estates sold as national pro
they are beneficial to society and hurtful only perty."
to the ruling powers, or because they are It was usual during the dominion of Buo-
really injurious to the community. In short, naparte for the minister of the interior to lay
where free discussion is not permitted, there before the senate and legislative body an
cannot be that controul of public opinion exposé of the state of France. Besides the
over governments which there ought to be, exaggeration which these exposés obtained,
both for the real interests of the governors they'dwelt with great pomp and ostentation
and the governed; nor can there exist in the of detail on particular improvements in ar-
public mind that calmness and comprehen chitecture and commerce of the most trifling
sion with respect to their duties as well as nature. Soon after the accession of Louis a
their rights, which will always constitute the similar exposé of the state of France was laid
most effectual guard against sudden and vio before the two chambers, and furnishes much
lent revolutions.

important and interesting information re-
.. The only other subject of debate, not con specting the state of the empire at this mo
nected with the political economy of France, mentous crisis.
related to the unsold estates of the emigrants. It was read by the abbé de Montesquiou,
One of the greatest safeguards of the throne minister of the interior, occupied 11 columns
of Louis arose from his declaration that pro of the Moniteur, and draws a deplorable pic-
perty should be respected; but while this ture of the state of France. The following
declaration was highly satisfactory to those is an abstract of its contents.
who had purchased estates, it was of course His majesty, on assuming the reins of
distressing and unpopular to the emigrants. government, was desirous to make known to
They naturally expected that on the restora his people the state in which he found France.
tion of Louis they should regain their pro The cause of the misfortunes which broke
perty; this object, however, could not be down our country has disappeared; but itą
accomplished to its full extent; and even the effects remain; and for a long time further,
proposal to restore the unsold estates created under a government which will devote itself
great alarm, as it was mistaken for a prelimi solely to reparation, France will suffer under
nary step to a further and more important the wounds inflicted by a government which
innovation, that of restoring all the estates


to the business of destruction. of the emigrants.

It is necessary, therefore, that the nation The law for restoring the unsold estates should be informed of the extent and the cause of the emigrants passed the chamber of de- of its misfortunes, in order to be able to set a puties by a large majority. It was then car due value upon, and to second the cares ried up

to the chamber of peers, where it which are to soothe and retrieve them. Thus passed by a majority of 100 to 3. The Duke enlightened upon the extent and nature of of Tarentum pronounced on this occasion a the mischief, it will in future be required discourse which had a great effect. At the only to participate in the labours and exerclose of his speech he announced his inten tions of the king, to re-establish what has tion of proposing, on an early day, a projet been destroy not by him, to heal wounds of a law to be submitted to the king, grant not inflicted by him, and to repair wrongs to

gave itself

« ПретходнаНастави »