페이지 이미지


I have said that these seizures are extremely frequent. I have said that on Saturday last the gerant, or manager, of the Siècle was condemned in a fine and imprisonment. On that same day was likewise the Courrier Français brought before the same tribunal, for the similar offence, of referring to the king the blame and responsibility of government, and also for pronouncing the Laws of September a violation of the Charter. Philippe Dupin, brother of the celebrated lawyer and statesman, was its defender. The interest awakened was general and intense. Thousands thronged the halls and passages of the Palais de Justice; and most noble personages, among whom was Lord Lyndhurst, were seen within the bar. After many hours of eloquent attack and defence, the jury acquitted the Courrier Français. Said blunt Lord Lyndhurst, “You understand little the nature of a representative government to arraign a journal for passages like those in the Courrier.' Said the Paix, that stern organ of doctrine and of ministers,— A jury of improvisated men are capable of deciding only material questions. They are little fit to judge on the high and refined matters of government and of law. Their verdict does not disappoint us.' You, my philosophical reader, will doubtless add, that mournful is the pass to which that country has come, whose government assails the press and denounces the jury.

But the Courrier Français does not furnish the most recent instance in illustration of my remark. On Monday last, only two days after the above-mentioned


acquittal, the Gazette de France, the Quotidienne, and the La France, were summoned before the same Cour d'Assises. They had each published an objectionable letter from Goritz. This letter contained an attack upon the rights which Louis Philippe holds from the French nation ; an attack upon the established order of succession to the French throne; and evidence of adhesion to that exiled family which has no longer any rights belonging to that throne. They were all found guilty. The gerant of the first-named journal was sentenced to four months' imprisonment, and a fine of three thousand francs. Baron Verteuil de Feuillas, gerant of the La France, notwithstanding the powerful defence of Berryer, one of the five great orators of the Chamber of Deputies, was condemned to pay a fine of fifteen hundred francs, and at this moment is in prison to fulfil the three months' sentence pronounced against him. The gerant of the Quotidienne was similarly condemned. But there is still another recent instance. On Tuesday, the day immediately subsequent to that whereon were pronounced the above sentences, the La Mode, of which Count Nugent is gerant, was arraigned and condemned. It had published an apology for acts which a certain law had forbidden as crimes, and had likewise assailed the Royal Family. To sustain the first charge, the journal was shown to have spoken thus in ironyProvidence wishes that the true servants of the old monarchy, should expiate in chains their loyalty and their devotion.' The second charge was substantiated by

[blocks in formation]

adducing a piece of waggery entitled, Congratulations of the expiring year 1836, to her successor 1837.' * Don't forget,' says the old crone, don't forget, my dear 1837, when you go to the Tuileries, to present a baton-d'angélique to Madame Adelaide, a sugar-candy mosque and a chocolate chaufrette to the Duke of Nemours, a pretty paper boat to M. de Joinville, and a sweet preserved orange to Mademoiselle Orleans.' The waggery

of the La Mode was not relished, and its gerant was condemned to pay a fine of three thousand francs, and to an imprisonment of one month. A fearful accumulation of condemnations is this, and all within so brief a space! They have not, indeed, produced a revolution ; but be assured that in the remembering heart of the nation, are they treasured up for some sad crisis in the future. One feature with respect to them, I here note down. It illustrates the time. When the Siècle and the Courrier Français were tried, the court-room was crowded, the Palais de Justice was all alive with Parisians. The excitement was universal, and now is each day's press abounding with wrathy comments on those trials. When, however, the Quotidienne, La France, La Mode, and the Gazette de France were arraigned, the bar was nearly empty; the Salle-des-pas-perdus was still; no party passions rushed fiercely over to the Isle de la cité, and the sentences pronounced against the culprits were almost echoed back from the vacant walls. This is the explanation. The two first-named journals are with the Age. The four last-named journals are for

go on.

the dynasty and opinions that have passed away. Were all these latter to be submerged at once beneath the tide of ministerial indignation, the Age would still

But had the Courrier Français been condemned, the Age-I am of course speaking only of France—the Age would have felt the blow. Its feelings, its opinions, its principles would have been wounded; nay more, its progress might for a moment have been checked. Well then may the Parisian press, as it has done and is doing, rejoice in triumph at this acquittal. It is one happy sign of the present time, one encouraging guaranty for the future.

The above extracted Laws of September, 1835, and these instances of practice under them, may give you some notion of the freedom of the French press. Compare this freedom with that in Austria, and Germany, in Spain, in England, and the United States. To what place in the scale is it entitled ? In far less bondage than that of the three former countries, this press is far less free than that of the two latter. In the most tranquil times, it would be frequently overstepping the lines traced around it by the law. But in this era, this very year, in this city, when and where political passions are up almost to the revolutionary point, hardly a day can pass without witnessing some greater or less transgression. What is to be done? is the frequently started question. Remove all restrictions, say some.

Let thought be perfectly emancipated and free. Let the untrammeled heart speak forth through untrammeled language. Vain imagination and worse than madness! As if while checks are imposed on all things else, one only agent should be exempt,and that an agent which, though not girt with a single sword, nor bearing a single bayonet, nor pointing a single cannon, is yet more wide and mighty in its action than all these powers put together. The wise question is, How great should be restriction upon the French press ? Are the Laws of September sufficient, or should enactments less or more severe be made ? The question is one of much moment. On its answer will depend much of the happiness of France, much of her progress onward to her mysterious and unknown destinies.

The Revolution of 1830 is said to have vastly increased the number of readers. A political curiosity has been awakened in minds that until lately had half slumbered. The press has new political wants to provide for. Since 1830, have arisen the Journal Général de la France, the Presse, the Siècle, the Monde, the Charte of 1830, the Revue du Peuple, and the Figaro. Among these, you find what is called the young press as contradistinguished from the old ; the press of the Jeunes Gens ; of the emphatically democratic spirits of the metropolis, of the gentry who stalk sublimely in sugar-loafed hats, dark down-hanging locks, and enormous eyes, horribly glowering. This is the press which assumes to be the peculiar conservator of political liberty. To secure its immediate success, a diminished price was resolved on. The fourteen great daily periodicals of Paris were fur

« 이전계속 »