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:“-I have seen anti-ministerial papers suspended for having only praised such and such an opinion.
“_ I have seen the speeches of deputies mutilated by the censors, and even corrected by these obliging revisers.
“ I have seen ihe papers especially forbidden to mention a fact or a publication which happened to displease sowe minister.
66 ---I have seen a censor who had suffered eleven years imprisoriment as a royalist, dismissed from his employment for baving permitted one of the journals to insert an article in favour of the royalists.
" At last it has been discovered that these wrilten mandates from the police might involve the parties in some little difficulties; they have therefore been of late abandoried, and the editors have been acquainted, that they would henceforward receive their instructions verbally. Thus the proofs of unconstitutional interference are destroyed, and the commands of the minister may be, if necessary, explained away as the mistake of an editor.
“Thus it is that France is insulted, and Europe deceived ; thus it is that there is no sort of calumny which has not been heaped upon the Chambers. It is lucky that they are so fagrantly absurd and contradictory: we might have been alarmed at finding ourselves called aristocrats,-ultra-royalists, -enemies of the Chainber,-and white jacobins, if we had not found ourselves in the next page designated as democrats enemies of the royal prerogative-a faction stickling for the clerical errors of the charter--and finally black jacobins!! This consoled us.
“ It is utterly impossible, it is contrary to all principles of a free government, to leave the press in the control of ministers-to give them the power of indulging, through it, their caprices, their passions, and their interests; of disguising their crimes, and of poison. ing the sources of truth.
“If the press were free, the deputies and their assailants would be fairly at the bar of public opinion, which would then find no difficulty in deciding on the talents of the parties, and the justice of the cause.
" In the name of God, let us be at least consistent; renounce, if you will, this representative government; but if we pretend to maintain it, let us liave the liberty of the press. Under abuses such as I have described, no free constitution can exist.
« But the freedom of the press is not without inconvenience."
“Granted it is not without danger; and it can only be permitted to exist in the presence of a strong law, immanis lex, which should repress falsehood by ruin, calumny by disgrace, 'sedition by imprisonment or exile, and treason by death! but all this power must be in the laws alone. I demand for authors and editors the freedom of the press,—but at their own risk and peril; if we do not obtain it, tlie constitution is undone. "
“ As to the journals—the most dangerous weapon--the abuse
might be easily restrained, by obliging the proprietors to give secu. rity. This security would afford a guarantee for any fines---the simplest and safest mode of punishment—which the tribunals might inflict.
“ The security should be to the amount of a capital which supposes the contribution to the state of 1000 francs (about 45l.), which is the amount of contribution that qualifies a member of the Chamber of Deputies,
“I propose this rate, because I consider the functions of the deputy and the journalist to be, in one point of view, analogous; it is the privilege and the duty 'of both to discuss public men and public measures; to advise the people, and to influence in some degree the measures of the state: they ought both, therefore, to be persons who have some stake in the country, who have something to gain by good order and national prosperity, and something to lose by disorder and public calamity.
“ We should then be relieved from the swarms of public papers. The journalists, diminished in number, increased in respectability and independence, overlooked by a jealous and severe law, would learn to measure their expressions-they might be safely trusted. The opinion of the Chambers, the ministers, and the public, would be mutually communicated with their proper force, and with excellent effect.
“ At this moment, when the 4th article of the charter* is suspended, there is more occasion than ever for the free enunciation of the public opinion. In England, when the Habeas Corpus act sleeps, the liberty of the press is awake, and watches that public freedom may not sleep the sleep of death.t (p. 41-47.)
In the next chapter (xxi.) “ On the Liberty of the Press as it may affect Ministers,” M. de Chateaubriand says, “One thing I must concede; the liberty of the press would render it necessary that ministers should be men of talents and character.” Many English readers will be inclined either to doubt the truth of this opinion, or admitting it, to contend, that we are not so fortunate as to enjoy the liberty of the press in this country. Ministers may be either wise or fortunate, and those at present ruling in Oceana, may be fairly said to verify the old proverb, that " it is better to be born to good luck than to a good understanding.” They may “thank their stars that kept them from contempt," and
*Their Habeas Corpus.- Trans.
+ We hear a great deal of the great difficulty of making a good and effi. cient law on the subject of the press : there are, I admit, difficulties, but I think them not insurmountable. I have determined views upon the subject, which, however, the limits of this work do not permit me to explain.
those who live under them, witnessing their success, may
How can she see to wound desert so right
Marston's What you will, A. 1. The language and opinions of the author on the subject of the police of France, are most unrestrained and decisive : he utters his valuable thoughts with the freedom that would be not only tolerated but encouraged in such a government as he recommends. The reader shall judge for himself :
"As there are men who cannot be ministers under a legitimate monarcby, so there are ministers who ought not to exist under a constitutional government. Need I designate the minister of general police ? ?«« If the charter, which professes to secure individual liberty, is obeyed, the general police can have neither power nor object.
“Ifa transitory law should suspend this article of our charter, the general police is surely not necessary to execute this law.
“ And if no such suspension exists, if our rights are in full force, and that yet the general police takes those arbitrary steps, which belong to its peculiar character, such as suppression of publications, domiciliary visits, nocturnal searches, arrests, imprisonment, exilethe charter is annihilated.
" Oh, but the police will not take these steps.—Then it is useless.
“This general police is, in fact, a political police, a party engine; its chief tendency is to stifle the public opinion, if it cannot disguise it-to stab, in short, the roustitution to the heart. Unknown under the old regime-incompatible with the new it is a monster born of anarchy and despotism, and bred in the filth of the revolution. : “ The minister of general police is in the Chamber of Deputies What does he there?
“What a bitter irony is the word LIBERTY in his mouth, who, at the end of his eulogies on freedom, can arbitrarily and illegally arrest any of his Majesty's subjects !
“_What a farce is a speech on the budget from him, who levies taxes at bis own pleasure!
What a legislator is this official protector of gaming-houses, brothels, and all the sinks into which the palice rakes for its liveli. hood!
“ Can debates be free in presence of a bashaw who listens to them only to mark the man, whom he may at leisure denounce, and strike, if he canuot corrupt ?
"Such are the noble functions of his office!
“We affect to establish a free and constitutional government, and we do not see that we are reviving the blessed institutions, and consecrating the tender mercies of Buonaparte. . “I have said that the police levies taxes not sanctioned by law; these imposts are, a tax on gaming, and a tax on newspapers. *
“The gambling-houses are farmed out; their produce fluctu. ates ; it at present produces five millions (about 250,000l. sterling) per annum.
"The tax on newspapers, though not so odious, is not less arbitrary.
« The charter says, Art. 47, The Chamber of Deputies is to receive all propositions for taxes;' and Art. 48, • No tax can be enforced or levied till it has been voted by the two Chambers, and sanctioned by the King.'
“I am not so ignorant of human affairs as not to know that gam. ing-houses have been tolerated in modern society; but between mere toleration and high protection there is a wide difference: be. tween the obscure fee given under the old regime to some conniving clerk, and a revenue of five or six millions, levied arbitrarily by a minister who renders no account,-and all this, forsooth, under a constitutional monarchy.
“ The police, thus meddling with taxation, falls within the pro« visos of the 56th article of the charter as swindlers or peculators. But with what is it that it does not meddle ?
-“We find it in our criminal proceedings,--we see it there attack ing the first principles of judicial impartiality, as we have just seen that it attacks the first principles of political order.
“ The 14th article of the charter has these words : Trials in all criminal matters shall be PUBLIC, unless where publicity may be dangerous to the state or to public morals; and in this latter case, the tribunal shall, previously to closing its doors, PASS A JUDGMENT TO THIS EFFECT.' .“ But if one of the agents of the police happens to be involved in a criminal affair, as having been a voluntary accomplice with the intention of becoming an informer-if in the course of the trial the accused should adduce in their defence this fact, which tends to their exculpation by diminishing the credit due to a character thus doubly infamous—the police forbids the newspapers to report these parts of the evidence!
“ Thus complete publicity exists only against the accused; and thus an important ingredient in the cause is concealed from the pub... lic; whose opinion the law would introduce as an assistant to, or a check on, the conduct of the tribunals; and all the world (except the half dozen persons who attended the trial), remains ignorant wbether the criminal is the guilty cause of his own misfortunes, or whe
There is also a tax on prostitutes ; but the profits do not go to the genes. ral police,
ther he is the pitiable, if not pardonable, victim of a conspiracy of the police itself against bis liberty or life ;
“And yet we talk of a charter!" (p.65-71.) · Most of our readers are aware, that the police in France is not, as with us, a civil, but a military establishment, and its general title includes, not only the persons employed in seeing that the laws for the preservation of good order in society are obeyed, but those who have the regulation and collection of the revenues : the officers of excise and customs are military; and thus the King of France possesses a power and a patronage much exceeding any that is known to the sovereign of this country. It is to be recollected also, that the same regulations that exist in Great Britain to prevent their interference in elections, &c. do not prevail in France, or only in a very partial and imperfect manner, From the police, M. de Chateaubriand proceeds to animadvert upon the conduct of the first, second, and third cabinets of Louis XVIII.; of the last, viz, that now in power, and its system, he speaks in these terms:-
"The principal system of government, since the restoration-the base of all the others——is that from which the following beresies are derived; viz, there are no royalists in France the deputies do not represent the public opinion—the majority of the Chamber is not the organ of the nation—the royalists are incapable, &c. &c.
“ This system, which can only be supported by denying the evidence of facts—by misrepresenting things-by calumniating menby outraging common senseby quitting the straight high road for an intricate and dangerous path: this system is in one word, that FRANCE OUGHT TO BE GOVERNED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF REVOLUTIONARY INTERESTS.
“ This uncouth phrase, well worthy its authors, is the whole instruction which a modern minister need learn. Whoever does not understand it, is pronounced devoid of ministerial talents. He is not worth teaching; and they do not condescend to explain to him the meaning of the jargon used in the coteries of Paris, by the adepts in these high mysteries. (p. 116.)
We ought not to omit what is said to prove, that in truth the majority of the people of France are royalists : this part of the subject is peculiarly interesting in the present state of that kingdom :• “ The royalists, far from being the small minority, are the immense majority of France.
- “Oh,' say our opponents, • if they had been so, the revolution never could have happened.'