Front Page Titles (by Subject) 53.: THE QUARTERLY REVIEW VERSUS FRANCE EXAMINER, 24 OCT., 1830, PP. 674-5 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I
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53.: THE QUARTERLY REVIEW VERSUS FRANCE EXAMINER, 24 OCT., 1830, PP. 674-5 - 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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THE QUARTERLY REVIEW VERSUS FRANCE
The stimulus for this leading article came from an unheaded article on the fall of the Bourbons in the Morning Chronicle, 14 Oct., 1830, p. 3, which criticized “Political History of France since the Restoration,” Quarterly Review, XLIII (Oct. 1830), 564-96, by Charles Ross (1799-1860), Conservative M.P. for St. Germains, 1826-32. Both the Morning Chronicle and Mill get the title of the article wrong, and mistakenly assume that it was by Basil Hall (1788-1844), a retired naval officer with both scientific and political interests, known for his travel books as well as his articles in the Quarterly Review. Among the latter was “Political Condition and Prospects of France” (XLIII [May 1830], 215-42), which probably caused the mistaken attribution and increased the abuse by the Morning Chronicle and Mill. Mill’s unsigned article, headed as title, immediately follows No. 52 in the “Political Examiner.” The description in Mill’s bibliography is of “A leading article in the Examiner of 24 Oct. 1830, headed ‘The Quarterly Review and France’ ” (MacMinn, p. 12), which is identified by MacMinn as this article; however, the title in the Examiner of No. 54 is “France and the Quarterly Review,” which might imply that the bibliography refers to No. 54 only. For the evidence supporting our conclusion that Mill wrote both, see the Textual Introduction, cvi. The epigraph, which may have been supplied by the editor, Fonblanque, has not been identified.
“We’re all a nodding.”
the chronicle has some masterly comments on an article in the Quarterly Review, entitled “The Political History of France, since the Revolution.” This is a subject with regard to which the Quarterly is in a false position. Captain Basil Hall served in the quality of evil spirit to Charles X; he marshalled him the way that he should go; he placed the bloody dagger before his eyes,1 and pointed the road to crime. Charles was hurled from his throne, the sceptre with which he had bruised his people was wrenched from his grasp, but Captain Basil Hall still sits at his desk; the pen with which he outrages reason and disgusts humanity remains in his hand, and he yet asserts his disgraced opinions in the Quarterly.
If we rejoiced in the fall of inimical organs, we should certainly observe with complacency the operations of the Charles X of the High Tory Journal; his magnificence is dealing in ordinances so fatal in recoil.
The writer [says the Chronicle] honestly avows that it would have afforded him great satisfaction had Charles X succeeded in establishing a despotism. “We certainly wished (he says) that in the struggle, which we had long foreseen, the immediate result might be the establishment of something like despotic power in the Throne of France; and we did so because we considered a despotism, in the present condition of the world, as likely to turn out a lesser evil in that mighty country than the other alternative. The past had satisfied us that if Charles X desired the influence of a dictator, he was incapable of using that influence for any unpatriotic purpose; that no fretfulness of idle vanity, no fervor of selfish ambition, had tormented his ‘chair days;’ and that whatever extraordinary power he might obtain, would be held conscientiously, as his only for an extraordinary and temporary purpose—that of endeavouring to lay the foundations of a national aristocracy.”2
Thus the good intentions of Charles were manifested in his breach of faith and violation of the laws. Innocent love! Amiable forsworn! Benevolent man of violence who attempted to upset the rights of his people all for their good, and was himself upset instead! Good-lack! We trust no kindred soul will steal his purse at Lulworth, with the intention of making an excellent use of the money.3 When power is reserved from magistrates, it is meant to place it beyond subserviency to their intentions, good or bad; but what exquisite simplicity in not recognising this design, and seizing unlawfully by virtue of good purposes! The Standard remarks upon the above text:
We must remark that this King, in reliance upon whose good dispositions the writer wishes for the establishment of a despotic power, is seventy-five years old—has passed the allotted period of man’s life by five years; but, non obstante the probability of his death or dotage, the reviewer would establish a permanent despotism, in reliance upon his good disposition.4
The Chronicle observes,
The principle which runs through this “Political History of France since the Revolution” is, that the only legitimate object of a Government is to create and preserve a powerful Aristocracy, and the various Ministries since the Restoration are praised or blamed in proportion as they pursued that object. A Church richly endowed, as subsidiary to the maintenance of a rich Aristocracy, is, of course, also an object of the writer’s admiration. The more important point—the happiness and prosperity of 30 millions of Frenchmen, and how far such happiness and prosperity are reconcileable with a rich and powerful Aristocracy and a richly-endowed Church—is not deemed deserving of his notice. He admits that the country never was more prosperous than during the period when things were advancing to a crisis which justified the establishment of a despotism:—“Beset as the exiled House was (he says), from the hour of its restoration, with jealousies bitterly conflicting, and perpetually threatening an explosion, it will not be denied that France enjoyed under their rule 15 years of greater prosperity than had ever before fallen to her lot. Such is the fact, ‘even their enemies themselves being judges;’5 never since the foundation of the Monarchy were personal liberty and property so safe. . . . Excluding certain political evils from our view, that fine country presented, on the whole, a picture of prosperity, which fixed the admiration of Europe.” But if France, since the foundation of the Monarchy, never exhibited such a picture of prosperity, does not this almost amount to a demonstration, that France was not indebted for that prosperity to the Bourbons, but to the circumstances wherein, during those 15 years, she differed from what she was during the rest of the Monarchy? During the rest of the Monarchy she had a richly-endowed Church and a rich Aristocracy; and during the 15 years she had a comparatively poor Aristocracy and a poor Church; and are we not, therefore, justified in inferring, it was precisely because she had a poor Aristocracy and a poor Church she was so prosperous as to attract the admiration of Europe, notwithstanding she had also foolish Monarchs, who created constant jealousies and heartburnings by their incessant endeavours to bring about the state of things from which the Revolution had liberated her? The Bourbons could not prevent the prosperity which the Institutions, growing out of the Revolution, produced in spite of their endeavours. The country prospered because they were impotent.
“They saw (says the Quarterly Reviewer) that the faction (by faction is meant all but the Aristocracy) which had never ceased to labour for the ruin of the Monarchy, were rapidly attaining the utmost height of rebellious audacity—and that the only question was, who should strike the first blow. They saw, that to go on with the Charter of Louis XVIII as it stood, was inevitably to shipwreck the vessel of the State, and they thought to give it a chance by cutting away the masts. The evolution was not successful, and the Monarchy went down.” It is questionable how far it may be prudent to accustom people to such phrases as Monarchy going down; for after the first shock which such portentous words are calculated to produce is over, men naturally ask themselves what the words really mean, and they find that the going down of a Monarchy is not such a bad thing. They see, notwithstanding the going down of the Monarchy, thirty millions of people exciting the admiration and respect of Europe by their gallant bearing and their magnanimity—they see them busied in improving their laws and institutions, encouraging education, removing the obstacles in the way of industry—and they see a weak and priest-ridden old man, who could not enjoy in quiet the wealth which this people heaped upon him and his family, but would persist in thwarting those to whose industry he was so deeply indebted, notwithstanding his crime, peaceably conducted out of the country he had outraged, and richly pensioned off. Truly there are worse things in the world, at this rate, than the going down of a Monarchy.6
They see, too, that the going down of the monarchy has been the rising up of a magistracy; that the going down of one king has led to the setting up of a better.
France is prosperous and moral, without a rich church or an aristocracy of boroughmongering capacity; this is the sum of the quarrel with her condition. She wants the main-spring of misrule, but she is deficient in no feature of happiness, wisdom, or virtue, nor is it pretended that she is deficient. She has every production but Lords and Squires, and the magistracy of the brambles. From an article on the decline of science in England, in the same number of the Quarterly which contains the pestilent trash quoted, the Chronicle extracts this admirable passage:
“Of all the kingdoms of Europe (says the Reviewer) France is undoubtedly the one in which the scientific establishments have been regulated by the most enlightened and liberal principles, and in which science is most successfully cultivated.” For scientific and literary establishments, 103,791l. is annually voted by the Government. “Nor (says the Reviewer) in her generous care for the respectability and comfort of her scientific men, has France overlooked the most powerful stimulus of genius and industry. All the honours of the State have been thrown open to her philosophers and literary characters. The sage and the hero deliberate in the same Cabinet; they are associated among the Privy Councillors of the King; they sit together in her House of Peers, and in her Chamber of Deputies; they bear the same titles; they are decorated with the same orders; and the arm and the mind of the nation are thus indissolubly united for its glory, or for its defence.” Let us turn to Aristocratical, Oligarchical England. “While (says the Reviewer) the mere possession of animal courage (which, of course, a well-fed Aristocracy, in a temperate country like this, can hardly fail to possess), one of the most common qualities of the species, has been loaded with every variety of honour, the possessor of the highest endowments of the mind—he to whom the Almighty has chosen to make known the laws and mysteries of his works—he who has devoted his life, and sacrificed his health and the interests of his family, in the most profound and ennobling pursuits,—is allowed to live in poverty and obscurity, and to sink into the grave without one mark of the affection and gratitude of his country. And why does England thus persecute the votaries of her science? Why does she depress them to the level of her hewers of wood and her drawers of water?7 It is because science flatters no courtier, mingles in no political strife, and brings up no reserve to the Minister, to swell his triumph or break his fall. She is persecuted because she is virtuous; dishonoured because she is weak.” “England’s liberality to Newton (he elsewhere observes) is the only striking instance which we have been able to record, because it is the only one in which the honour of a title was combined with an adequate pecuniary reward.”8
We prepare to treat Captain Basil Hall more at length in our next number.
[1 ]Cf. William Shakespeare, Macbeth, II, i, 32-43; in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 1319.
[2 ]Morning Chronicle, 14 Oct., 1830, p. 3, quoting Ross, p. 595. Charles X’s “chair days” refers to his chairing the Council of Ministers in his apartments at the Tuileries on Wednesdays and Sundays when, from Villèle’s departure in 1827 until 1829, there was no titular President of the Council. On Tuesdays and Saturdays the Council met in the offices of, and was chaired by, the ministers in rotation.
[3 ]Charles X had arrived at Lulworth Castle on the coast of Dorset on 23 Aug.
[4 ]Standard, 14 Oct., 1830, p. 2.
[5 ]Deuteronomy, 32:31.
[6 ]Morning Chronicle, 14 Oct., 1830, p. 3, quoting twice from Ross, p. 594.
[7 ]Cf. Deuteronomy, 29:11, and Joshua, 9:21, 23.
[8 ]Morning Chronicle, 14 Oct., 1830, p. 3, quoting “Decline of Science in England and Patent Laws,” Quarterly Review, XLIII (Oct. 1830), 315-16, 317, 330-1, and 315, by David Brewster (1781-1868), a prominent Scottish scientist and prolific author.