Front Page Titles (by Subject) 49.: ANSWER TO BOWRING'S CRITICISM OF PROSPECTS OF FRANCE, II EXAMINER, 3 OCT., 1830, P. 627 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I
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49.: ANSWER TO BOWRING’S CRITICISM OF PROSPECTS OF FRANCE, II EXAMINER, 3 OCT., 1830, P. 627 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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ANSWER TO BOWRING’S CRITICISM OF PROSPECTS OF FRANCE, II
Immediately following “Prospects of France, III” (No. 48) in the Examiner of 3 Oct., p. 627, is a letter from John Bowring (1792-1872), a disciple of Bentham who had been chosen by him to edit the Westminster Review; his relations with the two Mills had become difficult in the late 1820s, and they had both withdrawn from the Westminster. Bowring’s letter, commenting on No. 45, is dated from 5, Millman Street, 27 Sept., 1830, and headed “To the Editor of the Examiner”:
The grounds of the unpopularity of the French Chamber of Deputies are obvious. It does not represent the Revolution. The Revolution was the work of the young—of the unopulent. The Chamber has no individual of either of these classes among its members—nor was there one among the electors of the Deputies.
I am greatly surprised that so intelligent a writer as S. should denominate the Chamber of 1830 “the result of a compromise.” Nothing can be farther from the fact. The Chamber of 1830 consisted of the best men that could be found in the narrow circle of the qualified candidates, wherever popular opinion had any—the slightest—preponderance. The electors did all they could in these circumstances; and in no case, that I know of, did they take a worse where they could have returned a better man. The honor that belongs to them they should be allowed to bear; and it cannot, I think, be denied, that, considering the numerous limitations on the expression of the will of the electors, the Chamber of 1830 was a tolerably fair representation of the elective body.
But the ground of complaint, of just and reasonable complaint, lies far deeper. Not more than one individual in three hundred exercises any proportion of the elective franchise, in France. Deduct two-thirds for women, children, &c., and still not one in a hundred has a voice in the constitutive power of the country. That is, indeed, a grievance, severely and widely felt; and, till some steps are taken for its redress, it is desirable that discontent should find expression. I do not mean that a universal, or even a very extended, suffrage is demanded by the men of the revolution. The beautiful machinery of the ballot will extract public opinion from a comparatively small portion of society. If the number of electors were quadrupled, I think that would for the present satisfy the French people.
I never have heard from well-informed electors that their “sole object,” in the late election, was to upset an “obnoxious ministry:” such narrowness of purpose would have done little credit to their sagacity. Still less that the “liberal electors” sought the candidate who “differed the slightest shade possible from the obnoxious ministers.” There were—and I speak from pretty extensive intercourse with the electors of France—no such delicately spun refinements. The electors did the best they could; and I doubt the possibility of your intelligent correspondent’s producing a single instance where the liberals—for it is they who are accused of “compromise”—returned a member because he “differed the slightest shade possible from the obnoxious ministers.”
That the Chamber is unworthy to represent, and unwilling to develope, the Revolution is, to me, perfectly obvious; that the opinion of a hundred new representatives, many of whom will be chosen from among the young, will greatly improve its character, and liberalize its proceedings, is also clear; that the removal of the corrupt influence of the Polignac administration would tend to the rejection of an immense number of the present Deputies, I hold to be indisputable. The king, whose pride it is to be the king of the people, ought not to delay that appeal to the people which is loudly called for. Among the Doctrinaires, the Whigs, and the Aristocracy of France, there are, for him, many pitfalls and precipices; his strength and his security can only be established by his most intimate alliance with the nation. The reluctance of the Deputies to return to their constitutents, grows out of their knowledge that their constituents will now find better servants: and it is truly a grief and a grievance that the “triumphant nation” is not allowed to choose them.
This letter is in turn followed by an editorial comment, “We have communicated the above letter to our correspondent S—, who has furnished us with the following observations in reply:”, which introduces Mill’s unheaded reply on the same page. Mill’s English quotations are from Bowring’s letter. This item is not found in Mill’s bibliography, but the circumstances mark it as certainly his.
it rests with those who know the fact, to pronounce whether it accords with the statement of your other correspondent or with mine. The expression I made use of is not of my own invention, it is a literal translation from the express words of the French popular newspapers. Which of them has not reiterated, again and again, the expression, “La Chambre de 1830, fut le résultat d’une transaction”; and sometimes, “Le résultat d’une foule de transactions.”1 The assertion that the Chamber was elected for the sole purpose of overthrowing the Polignac Ministry, has been repeated by the same newspapers almost to tiresomeness. Nor does such narrowness of purpose, when fairly considered, reflect any discredit on the electors. The overthrow of the Ministry being the condition on which every thing depended, no sacrifice could have been too great which helped to render it more sure. The people universally felt the importance of re-electing the 221, who, it is notorious, were preferred in cases where even the “narrow circle of the qualified candidates” would have afforded persons in all other respects more acceptable to the majority of the electors.
Your correspondent appears not perfectly to have seized the nature of the “compromise” which was stated to have taken place. He denies that the “Liberals” made any compromise; but who, permit me to ask, are the Liberals? If he accounts all such who were enemies of the late Ministry, undoubtedly they made no compromise with its friends. But the majority of them made—and it is matter of praise, not of blame to them—a compromise with the minority. They elected, not the best man who could be got, but the best who could be sure of uniting all their suffrages; throwing thus the nomination into the hands of that portion of the opposition which differed least from the obnoxious Ministry, wherever there was any chance that the votes of that section of the electors might have it in their power to decide the majority. In the large towns, where the really popular party could afford to dispense with the assistance of semi-liberals, and to which places the enquiries of your correspondent have probably been confined, there was no compromise, because none was necessary. The electors did choose the best men who could be found among the persons legally eligible. But this is no more than I had previously asserted, in the paper to which that of your correspondent is a reply.
It is scarcely necessary to add that I fully concur in your correspondent’s estimate of the importance of extending the elective franchise; and I can most confidently add my testimony to his, concerning the very moderate extension which would at present content even the most dissatisfied of the French people.
[1 ]This idea was pursued by La Tribune: see, e.g., 7 July, 1830, pp. 1-2, and 14 July, pp. 1-2. The closest located wording to Mill’s is in Le Globe, 13 Aug., p. 1. Similar sentiments are found in “Elections du 12 juillet,” Journal de Paris, 16 July, p. 1.