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journals, is calculated to produce a great revulsion in his favour throughout the provinces, and the measure by which Cavaignac thought to crush his cause, may be the means of furthering it to no inconsiderable degree.
Paris, Sept. 5th, 1848. Saturn of old, having devoured his children, pro. ceeded, in bis impiety, to mutilate his father Uranus, fearing lest from his loins might arise some competitor for his usurped dominion; the modern French Republic, with the same fears and the same distrust, after devouring its offspring, the Lampion and the Aimable Faubourier, proceeds, in like manner, to emasculate its parent-journal
Such is the classical metaphor applicable to events in progress, and the trivial is no less apposite and true. The Republican faction having achieved fortune by a species of political gambling, refuse their adversaries the revanche to which they are entitled, and proscribe all such play as unsafe and demoralising. They win the game by the common trick, faire sauter le roi, and then throw the cards into the fire, like mauvais joueurs as they are; the Revolution, eating its own words as its daily bread, and propped upon its crutches
- bad faith and arbitrary rule-totters on, in premature decrepitude, to that bourne from which, let us devoutly pray, that no republic will ever return. You have seen, in the French papers, the false colouring given to the échauffourrée at Montpelier. The Government organ, and the democratic press in general, represented it as a Legitimist rising, when, in fact, it had its origin in the aggression of the ultra-Radicals, whose ill humour burst through all restraints of prudence and legality, when they found themselves out-voted at the municipal elections, by the respectable portion of the population. Again, with regard to the contemplated suppression of the " Constitutionnel,” even General Cavaignac would appear to have wanted frankness, when he told the committee that the question had never been debated in Council. The fact, I am credibly informed, is as follows:- About a hundred Members of the Extreme Lest presented a memorial to the General, demanding the suppression of the abovenamed journal, on account of its reactionary tendencies. The Council was summoned, and the matter refetred to the Minister of Justice, who was instructed to examine the file of the “ Constitutionnel” for a month back, and report whether it contained any articles that would justify its suppression. After examination, M. Marie declined the responsibility of advising such a measure, and the matter was allowed to drop. If this be the real state of the case, General Cavaignac's statement, thoug! true in the letter, is hardly candid in spirit. The jesuit's doctrine is, that a man with his band full of truth may, if it please him, open no more than his little finger; but, I should have thought, from the General's reputation for frankness, that he would, according to the Spanish saying, have carried "su alma en su palma. However, it is not for me to judge of the propriety of his Excellency's policy, and there may be some mistake in the particulars as I have heard them.
In spite of the interdict which he has laid upon the freedom of the press, the three leading journals, the “ · Débats," the “ Consti. tutionnel,” and the “ Presse,” ventured yesterday to remonstrate against the new régime. The first, covertly; the second, by implication ; the last, with its habitual fearlessness of thought and expression.
“ The commission," says the “Débats," charged to draw up the project of Constitution, was desirous of explaining why France had constituted herself a Republic. Having once proposed to itself this question, the commission had the choice between two solutions. The one, that France had constituted herself a Republic, because her habits and manners are Republican, and the aim and end of society is to model its government to its own image. The commission of the Constitution was not satisfied with this reply. The other, that the Republican form of government tends more than any other to the advancement of civilisation. The first answer was subject to the appreciation of France, the second falls under the domain of European controversy. Perhaps neither the one nor the other is the true solution. But, once more, why was the question mooted? Why say with what intention and for what purpose France constituted herself a Republic on the 24th of February? Why, in a word, divulge a secret about which no one feels the slightest curiosity ?” “ The public,” says the
Constitutionnel,” “ have some interest in knowing how M. Ledru Rollin's agents understood and fulfilled their electoral mission, and what was 'the style of the reports they made to the Minister of the Interior, in return for the 170,000f. which they cost the country. We make a few extracts from these reports, the originals of which are deposited in the archives of the National Assembly. We bave preserved the orthography of several of these documents, and give them, without comment, as curiosities of history."
Here follow various letters from three persons named-Garnier, Bultez, and Duval, so utterly ignoble, that I will not sully my paper by transcribing them.
Thavenet Belleville, a man of letters, writes thus :-" The new circular of Citizen Ledru Rollin arrived yesterday very opportunely, to intimidate the Reactionaries. Fleury, the Commissary, is lamentably soft.
He wants boldness to act with vigour. We have in vain asked him to dismiss the Mayor. He has, however, made up his mind to get rid of the inspector of schools. This last wrote in the two journals against our ideas."
Langlois, advocate, follows :="At Buzançais I find, to my great regret and surprise, that no gaol delivery has, as yet, taken place.
Moreau, à staff officer, would be the better of a little primary instruction in spelling."
Guy d'Amour, dentist, makes the following report:-"We have
here a man who is the finest orator and tribune I know (Citizen
-), and yet he has no chance of election. They say that he is always ready to tipple with the first comer. It is true that he is sometimes drunk, but his profession is generally the cause of it. An ardent and devoted Republican, this man is remarkably powerful in discussion; he understands and goes to the bottom of all questions, be they what they may. He is perfect. His success would be stun. ning in the Paris clubs, but he cannot present himself there, for want of money. Would you be disposed to expend a hundred crowns on such a recruit?"
Pointepoix Blay, painter, closes the list. He reports :-" I have left Chateaudun, and several country places which I have visited, well disposed, but have had difficulties enough to surmount. I know not what evil genius had whispered in their ears that the Citizen Minister of the Interior was a mischievous man, that he wanted the Republic in order to gain his own ends, that he was over head and ears in debt-in a word, a thousand rumours derogatory to the honour of Citizen Ledru Rollin. At Bonneval I rather made a mess of it, as you will presently hear. On my arrival at the club, I was receiv. ed with enthusiastic shouts of Vive Blay !-Vive Pointepoix !' But when I began to argue with Citizen Morin Travers, who enjoys a certain influence in the town, I was abused by some citizens, who called me a spy, and cried ' A bas Blay !'apostrophising me, and threatening to throw me out of window, and kill me.” He finishes off his letter with a little blasphemy, which you will excuse my repeating
In the leading article of yesterday's “ Presse" we read—“The National Assembly yesterday maintained the state of siege-maintained it for an indefinite period—before, during, and after the discussion of the Constitution: no one can now say when it will be raised, or if it ever will be raised at all. Yesterday's vote, therefore, is a new argument in favour of M. Crespel de Latouche's motion. The National Assembly declares that the courts of law alone are competent, even during the state of siege, to punish offences committed by the press. As the matter now stands, if a newspaper be of opinion that General Cavaignac is straying from the right pathif it say, for instance, that the Executive Chief yesterday committed an irreparable fault in the tribune- the mere fact that the journal gave utterance to its opinion, and was not suppressed in consequence, lays it under an obligation to General Cavaignac. To exist thus is neither more nor less than to exist under favour, and during the good pleasure of one who can, at will, confiscate your property, ruin widows and orphans, reduce hundreds of working men to a state of destitution, by depriving them of the exercise of their trade. It is to accept liberty as an alms. Rather than thus hold the pen, none but a dastard would hesitate to throw it from him. To beg one's bread is no disgrace-to beg one's freedom is slavish ignominy. It is impossible that M. Armand Marrast, once chief editor of the “Tribune,' now President of the National Assembly, should not be heartily on our side-he who wrote these words, inspired by the independence to which he owes both the triumph of his opinions and liis own elevation to power—' Shame upon the timid publicist who deserts h's duties because there is peril in their fulfilment.' It is impossible that M. Armand Marrast, that child of the press, to which he owes : everything, should fail to come down to-morrow from his fauteuil to succour and defend it—in a word, to support, with his voice and vote the adoption of M. de Latouche's proposition. For ourselves, we hold with the National,' which, on the 17th of October, 1835, thus expressed itself :-'We prefer a government which arms itself with the scissors, and boldly censures you, to one which condemns you to daily suicide."
General Cavaignac has given the challenge, and the gage of battle has been taken up. The lions' cage is opened, and one, at least, of its tenants will not fail to meet him. "If he is destined to earn the title of the Caballero de los Leones, it must be after a real struggle. A bold front will do much in ordinary cases, but here his adversary is as fearless as himself, and one or the other must succumb.
There is at last a movement among the provincial press. A circular has been addressed by the proprietors of several journals in the northern departments, to their contemporaries throughout the whole of France, inviting them to a congress at the central city of Tours. The object of this meeting is to put an end to that state of isolation which causes the weakness of the departmental press, and leaves it without that influence to which it is justly entitled.
“ United,” says the manifesto, we shall be strong, nay, we shall be the strongest, and it will be our own fault if the rights of the majority shall hereafter, as heretofore, be real in law, but illusory in fact. But, to this end, we must understand each other, and to understand each other it is not enough that we exchange letters and newspaper articles, we must, above all, see, enlighten, and convince one another by discussion."
We have seen the lamentable effects of the Reform banquets on this noble country, and here is a lever as powerful for good as they have been for evil. If every man now does his duty, the constitutional, social, and financial condition of France may one day be retrieved. The resources of the country are unbounded, and very few years would suffice to heal the sores which the last six months have opened. That journalism was the rock upon which the Republic would
go to pieces, has long been evident to the most careless ob.
A dominant faction, armed with unlimited powers, may for a time gag and silence the voice of public opinion. But the moment the pressure is removed, the torrent will burst forth again with redoubled force; just as a twitch will reduce a violent and unmanageable horse to temporary submission, but take it off, and the animal will bite, kick, and plunge as before ; you may paralyse his limbs, but
you cannot change his nature. A curious episode occurred the other day at the opening ceremony of the Calais Railway. The Prefect thought it incumbent on him
to address the guests at the banquet in a chaleureuse allocution in favour of the present form of government, winding up with “ Vive la Republique !” to which the guests responded with a shout, " Vire la France ?” Seeing this, the Minister of Public Works took up the cudgels, concluding bis oration, also, with a wave of the hand, and "Vive la Republique !” Again the same response, “ Vive la France !" Once more he rose to say that, in the hearts of all good Frenchmen, France and the Republic were inseparably united. “ Vive le France Républicaine !" But the shout was still —"Vive la France !" And so, the patient being refractory, the doctor could only give him over and leave him to his fate. This incident may, perhaps, account for General Cavaignac's unwonted heat in the Chamber yesterday“There is in France one voice, perhaps one only, raised in favour of Monarchy; there is my enemy, I challenge him to the lists !” That voice is the voice of public opinion, which will not sear to meet him, though the choice of arms rest with the General.
Montmorency, Sept. 12, 1848. * * The esprit of the French is like Oliver Goldsmith's philosophy, an excellent horse in the stable, but an arrant jade on the road." It cannot get over the first stage of its journey, but it falls lame, or casts a fore shoe, or has a surfeit or inflamma. tion, and wants bleeding and physicking ; in short, it is always in “dealer's condition,” and never fit for immediate work. And it is on such a sorry charger as this that France has ridden forth in search of adventure, to redress wrongs, and bring in a new age of gold.
I was at the National Assembly on Saturday, when the Twelve Hours (Work) Bill was under discussion ; one half of the House was making de l'esprit with pen and ink, in the shape of amendments, wbilst the other half was making du tapage, beating the générale on their desks with their paper-cutters. Honourable representatives were swarming up the steps of the bureau like ants, and forcing slips of paper into the President's unwilling hands, until poor M. Lacrosse was almost driven distracted. Some of these candidates for notoriety attempted to develop their amendments, which raised a perfect hurricane of remonstrance, and my neighbour in the Rédacteurs Gallery muttered audibly enough :—"A bas les bavards !” “ A la guillotine les bavards !" But when one more obstinate than the rest insisted on having his say in the tribune, my friend threw himself back, in utter disgust, exclaiming :—" Pardi? voila un mulet, j'espère !" I could not resist saying to him-“ Monsieur, la France se dit étre dans la voie de la civilisation ; si cela ast, on dirait qu'elle rebrousse chemin, car l'Assemblée Nationale me parait un peu moins civilisée que la Chambre des deputés.” He looked rather grave at this, but, as I had smiled at his jokes, it would have been hardly fair in him to have frowned at mine.