Imatges de pàgina

are none.

prying investigation ; they were on- the journals had been admitted even ly to strike out abuse and insult, and by the defenders of their liberty, had to protect persons and functionaries offended the majority of the Chamber against accusations a thousand times and foreign governments, and placed more formidable than those which are public liberty in danger. carried before tribunals, where there The warm and prolonged debate are means of defence, while here there which followed was much less employ

ed in the discussion of the particular The report of the Committee of De. project, than in a general attack and puties was favourable to the measure. defence of the whole system of miniThey began with stating indeed, that stry, and particularly of all that series some part of their number was decid- of measures of which the


formedly hostile to it. According to them ed a part. • We are at such a crisis," the liberty of the journals was insepa. exclaimed M. Bignon, " that if indirable from that of the press. Vigilant vidual liberty, the liberty of the press, sentinels, advanced guards, these checks and the liberty of elections, are taken were to a representative government from us, not only will there be neither what speech is to man ; they formed a charter nor constitutional monarchy, correspondence and a tye between all but there will be neither monarchy nor similar interests; they left no opinion despotism ; there will be nothing but without defence, no abuse in the shade, revolution and anarchy. The power no injustice without avengers. The will rest with the strongest ; who will minister learns beforehand what he has not then shudder at the dangers to to hope or fear ; the people what will which the nation will be exposed ?”— be useful or injurious to them; the “ It is not three months,” said Benjajournals give wings to thought, and min Constant, “ since, censuring what afford that sudden publicity and sea. did not accord with your doctrines, sonable manifestation which nothing you quoted to us the example of Spain! can supply; attack openly the liberty In that country there were no limits to of the press, or respect that of the power, no journals carrying liberal journals, the law makes no distinction ideas into all the villages, no legisla. between them.

tion separate from the religion of the In opposition to this opinion, how. state, no law of democratical election. ever, the majority of the committee On the contrary, all that you wish to thought that there were peculiar cir- give us, Spain possessed.' Your law cumstances in the stateof France which against individual liberty is only a poor rendered the unrestrained liberty of the copy of the measures which peopled journals at present unsafe. The diver- the castles, the convents, the galleys. sity of opinions and interests destroyed Your restrictions on the press would or created in a revolution of twenty- have made the inquisitors smile. Your five years, formed a terrible situation, law of oligarchical election will never which had no parallel in the history of be so good as the Council of Castile. nations.

It was important then to Well! what has been the result to maintain the rights acquired by the Spain of all that you seek to introduce nation, but without hatred and with- into France ?" out violence; to make France a uni- The strongest impression, however, ted people ; to conclude a treaty be. was made by the speech of Camille Jortween the belligerent parties ; to shut dan, an individual rendered highly rethe gates of that arsenal of abuse, spectable by age and talents, who had where every one went to seek poison- been intimately connected with minised arrow6.

The scandalous abuse of ters, and was still a member of the Council of State. “A member," said he,“ of he could place himself on the ruins of the committee whichexamined the pro- anarchy, while we owed anarchy only ject, and having differed from the opinion to the delirium of liberty. _Nothing, of the majority, I think myself called accordingly, was offered to France, but upon to explain my motives, and not to the lifeless semblance of a liberty of give an entirely silent vote on this

grave which she had never felt anything exoccasion. It is with feelings of deep cept the excesses.

Thus it was with grief that I mount this tribune. Anxi- the consular and imperial constitutions; ous respecting the destinies of the they were not really chosen by the nacountry and of the throne, I cannot tion, but deliberated and accepted in but be afflicted also at the painful si- the manner that it was then allowed to tuation in which my duty places me, deliberate and accept. Legitimacy fol. when, a functionary of the govern- lows another course ; she admits no ment, I feel myself called upon to re- forms but those which are real, and resist the measures proposed by it ; when, spects them when once adopted. It is united with many of his Majesty's mi. studiously repeated, that in 1814, the nisters by old ties of affection and es- charter was only a word, and existed teem, I am called to combat those only in name. But perhaps it was not whom I should have been so happy to possible at first to act otherwise. I defend. But I obey the voice of my ask, if those who pass censures so seconscience ; nor is it till after a scru. vere, and I venture to say so dangerpulous examination, and with the most ous, what government has been, in entire conviction, that I have decided point of fact, more liberal? The misupon such a dissent, and its public ex. fortunes of foreiga occupation were pression. It appeared peculiarly the doubtless terrible ; but how rash are part of us, old partizans of royalty, those who dare to reproach, even indi. early victims of revolutionary persecu- rectly, an august family with those tion, here to raise our voice, and to evils, which, without it, would have give to the opposition against ministry passed all imaginable measure! France, the character which it ought to havé, partitioned perhaps, orescaping this evil that of an opposition animated by no only by ten years of internal war, which feeling of bitterness

, founded upon would have spread devastation over the principle only, and whose fears are whole surface of this fine country; a still less for liberty than for the throne, national bankruptcy; a population de which is more directly and immediate. stroyed; an agriculture annihilated ; ly menaced.”

such are the evils from which we have Ministers, following the train of op- been a second time rescued by that position, directed their efforts to de- standard of the lily, which an orator fend less the law in question, than lately has scarcely feared

reproach the general system of administration, with the protection which we owe to and even the fundamental principles of it.” the constitution. “It is alleged," said The Minister for Foreign Affairs M. Pasquier," that the charter has not observed, that in all the speeches of been accepted by the nation, like all the the opposition, one principle reigned, other constitutions which have succes- which was, in case of the adoption by sively governed us. Strange accep- the Chambers of the laws proposed, to tances, to which nothing was ever want. invoke, to foretell, to threaten an in. ing, except freedom and conviction. surrection, in which the strongest Buonaparte found all routes easy to his should give the law. On this subject designs of supreme greatness, because however, the minister trusted that France had not yet lost all the fruits only the prelude to that tremendous of her experience. Her own history conflict, in all which the political ele. told her that the insurrections of sol- ments of France were to rush in battle diers are always mortal to liberty ; and array against each other, and the shock not their insurrection only, but even was to be felt in the farthest extremi. their intervention. She could not for- ties of the kingdom. The Parisians get days yet living in her annals, where looked forward with intense anxiety to they were written in characters of what they called the “ battle of the blood. Yet the enemies of government elections," which was to decide whehad looked abroad through Europe to ther an essential change, tending to infind, if possible, a spark out of which crease the power of the monarchy and they might kindle the conflagration the aristocracy, was to be made in the which they desired to exhibit. Å great constitution. movement had taken place in Spain, in According to the law of elections, which the troops had taken a share, established by the charter in 1815, the and even given the first impulse ; cries right of voting was made to depend of joy were raised. The ministry for upon the amount of direct taxes paid foreign affairs were already threaten- by every individual to the state. Every ed with an accusation for not having one paying 300 francs (about 121. 128.) shewn themselves sufficiently favour. was a voter. This test was not, perable to this new revolution. The mi- haps, very happy, since it was liable to nister ardently wished the happiness of fluctuate with every change in the fithe Spanish people, and that by erect- nancial system. At the same time, the ing upon new bases the alliance of the amount fixed did not tend to narrow throne and of the nation, they might the qualification so much as might in give at once to public liberty and to this country be supposed. The direct the rights of the crown every desirable taxes in France exceed those levied by security. At the same time, he feared any other mode. The land-tax forms not to say, that if liberty did not, from the largest source of its revenue ; and its very dawn, cause the arms to fall the contributions on trades and profrom the hands of those soldiers, who fessions are equally considerable. Procould for a moment forget that they bably, therefore, the direct taxes paid had received them only under an oath in France by all possessed of property, of obedience to the King ; if this er- rather exceed than fall short of the ror were prolonged beyond the first tenth of their income. In this manner, moments of its birth, all was over with the privilege of election was extended the liberty, the repose, the happiness, of to nearly the whole of the middling the Spaniards. Let Spain then be free, classes, a body, generally speaking, great, and happy, with her King ; but very well qualified to exercise it, and let us not forget that the point

which who are too much excluded under the she is rushing forward to, is that at British system. At the same time, as which France is already arrived. the proprietary classes form a pyramid,

In the discussion of the particular the breadth of which very rapidly inclauses, a number of amendments were creases as it descends, the consequence moved by the left side, which, how. follows, that in voting by numbers, ever, were all rejected, though by small the lowest class admitted carries every majorities. The law itself was finally thing before it. Thus the Chamber carried by a majority of 136 to 109. of Deputies was appointed almost en

Warm as had been the debates on tirely by the middling class, to the exthe two laws now passed, they were clusion of the higher and the lower;


and such a monopoly, even by the best francs of contribution, and chosen by class, cannot be considered as an eli. a majority of the general body of electgible mode of forming a national re- ors. Another article went to alter that presentation. Had it not been, there arrangement, by which the Chamber fore, for the great peril of shaking the was renewed, not at once, but by the basis of a constitution once establish- going out and re-election of one-fifth ed, there might be little objection to annually. This regulation had been an arrangement which should enable made in the hope of obviating that the

great proprietors to elect a certain wide tumult and agitation, which is exproportion of the assembly. Neither, cited throughout Britain by a general indeed, however little such an idea was election.

election. In fact, however, it proved likely to enter the minds of the French that election, going on throughout the government, and however little partial kingdom, though on a smaller scale, we ourselves are, on the whole, io uni- had very nearly the same effect ; and versal suffrage, should we have objec- that this period, whenever it occurred, tions to a few broad democratical elec

was marked by an increase of that tentions, such as we have in England dency to political discussion and agitato give a kind of life to the represent. tion, which it was the main object of ative system ; to form a tie between ministers to counteract. the Chamber of Deputies and the It soon appeared that this project was mass of the people, and to compose likely to meet with a very


recepa species of safety-valve, by tion in the Chamber. The liberals dewhich a large portion of popular effer- tested its aristocratic tendency; while vescence may escape. Nothing of this the royalists considered it still too pokind, however, entered at present into pular; and both, equally hostile to the contemplation. The ministers scarcely present ministry, were determined to even made it a secret that the object oppose any measure which tended to was to preserve in power themselves keep them in power. The committee and their own party, whose measures, named to examine the project, was so of course, they considered best calcu- composed as to afford a sure presage of lated to promote the national interests. its recommendation being entirely hosThey openly proclaimed the necessity tile to the measure. When, therefore, of that, which we complain of as a Decazes, its original proposer, withgrievance, a fixed and steady majority, drew from office, there remained no on which they might depend. "From longer any influence which could afthe great proprietors they hoped to ob- ford to its partizans the hope of suctain support against the republican cess. party, on the one hand, and on the

In this state of things, Count Siother, against the high royalists, whose meon, the new minister of the interior, views, being supposed to tend towards judged it prudent to withdraw the origithe resumption of emigrant property, nal proposition, and substitute another, struck terror into the numerous class essentially different in its character. by whom that property was held. The renewal of the Chambers by a

In the project of the new law, fifth annually was to remain unaltered, brought forward by the Duke Deca- and the only change to be in the mode zes, 162 members were added to the of election. The newly created, or deChamber. These were to be chosen partmental colleges, were to consist of by what were called departmental col- the fifth part of the electors of a disleges, to be formed of from 100 to trict which paid the highest amount of 600 electors, each paying at least 1000 taxes. The colleges of arrondissement, or those formed on the original plan, committed at Nismes and in the neighwere merely to elect candidates, out of bouring department. which the new, or aristocratic colleges, The minister, in reply, complained were to choose the deputies.

that Madier should have sent this reThis new project, it was alleged, port to the Chamber, instead of the made a smaller departure than the ori- King's Advocate, to whose jurisdiction ginal one from the letter of the char- it naturally belonged. The Count de ter. In fact, however, it aggravated in St Aulaire, deputy from Nismes, while the greatest degree all its offensive fea- admitting that there was no place where tures. The new colleges, though they political enmities were so violent, and could not directly choose an individual false alarms so readily spread, expressdeputy, could scarcely fail to find ed his astonishment at the incredulity among a number presented to them by shewn by the heads of a certain party. the colleges of arrondissement some Men, said he, otherwise honourable, one of the same political sentiments have received and protected in their with themselves. Politically speaking, houses the murderers of their fellowtherefore, the power of election was citizens ; they have denied facts, which entirely transferred to the department- the walls and streets of the city, coveral colleges, or those in which the greated with blood, testified to the eye ; proprietors predominated ; while the they have denied crimes committed in old colleges, in which the middling the face of day. “All the facts," said he, ranks prevailed, were allowed only a “attested by M. Madier de Montjau, reremote and nugatory interference.- lative to the organization of a secret Thus, indeed, the project was render- guard, its ranks, its pay, are no secrets ed more acceptable to the high royal. at Nismes. There is a party, belongists, but the enmity of the liberals, and ing to the highest ranks of society, of the nation in general, was increased which obeys the impulse of another tenfold.

party than that of the King's; or, raWhile the project was under the con- ther, if I must say all, which obeys ansideration of the committee, an event other King than the King himself." occurred, tending strongly to increase After a great deal of discussion, the the exasperation that prevailed in men's petition was referred to the President minds. A petition was presented from of the Council ; and Madier being acMadier de Montjau, counsellor of state cused of disrespectful conduct, was af. in the royal court of Nismes, a city fa. terwards brought before the Court of tally celebrated for the excesses of the Cassation, where he underwent a reultra-royal, and anti-protestant party. primand. The agitation, however, exThe petition stated, that the ma. cited in the Chamber, was greatly innæuvres of this party were still carried creased by the belief, that, if Madier on with the utmost activity ; that a had dared, he would have named a secret administration, and even a mili. Prince, the nearest heir to the throne, tary force, were organizing under di- as the head of this secret and dangerrections received from Paris; and notes ous party were produced, said to have been re- On the 6th May, the committee ceived from that capital, in which they brought in their report, which,' with were assured of ample aid, both in mo- the exception of some triling amend. ney and otherwise. The strictest pre- ments, was favourable to the proposed cautions, in his opinion, could alone law. Immediately, eighty-nine orators prevent the repetition of the crimes on the left side had their names inscri

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