Front Page Titles (by Subject) 72.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 2 JAN., 1831, P. 8 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I
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72.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 2 JAN., 1831, P. 8 - 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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FRENCH NEWS 
This ninth article on French affairs, headed “London, January 2,” is covered by the bibliographical entry in No. 55. Beginning in 1831, Mill’s bound set of the Examiner in Somerville College contains, on the front fly-leaf of each yearly volume, a list of his own articles, with page numbers. This article is listed as “Article on France.” At the same time Mill began the practice of enclosing his own articles in square brackets in his set of the Examiner. Of this article, which is divided by rules into three parts, only the first two parts are within brackets, while the third, on Belgian affairs, falls without.
Quand on n’a d’autre politique que de louvoyer selon le temps; quand, sous prétexte de fuir tout extrême, on évite le vrai comme l’extrême du faux; quand on étend l’esprit de conservation à tout, même aux abus, on est fait pour recevoir et non pour dicter des conditions. Assez long-temps les hommes de cette école ont joui d’une influence funeste; assez long-temps les habiles d’entre eux ont corrompu le pouvoir par les suggestions mesquines de leur petite sagesse. Le temps est venu des esprits fermes et des principes décidés.—Revue Française (the Guizot Review) for January, 1829. [Vol. VII, p. 268.]
the above passage is a faithful portraiture of the advisers by whom the King of the French is now swayed. By such advisers princes of honest intentions and weak judgment have always been ruined. They will be the ruin of Louis Philippe, who will never more know a tranquil hour while he remains on the throne.
It has been distinctly notified to the King, that he must now choose between the new oligarchy and the people. The alternative has been accepted. He has chosen the oligarchy; and Lafayette, Odilon-Barrot, and Dupont de l’Eure, are consequently no longer in office.
The breach, therefore, between the people and the government is now as wide and as ostensible as it was in the time of Charles X: with this difference, that as the new oligarchy, unlike the old, rests upon a real foundation of wealth and personal importance; as it has not, like the Bourbon Government, the most powerful of the constituted authorities, the Chamber of Deputies, in the ranks of the opposition; as it is not, therefore, obliged to govern in open defiance of all law, or not at all; and as it is not likely to be so ignorant of the universal feelings of the French people as to attempt to force Jesuits and mass-books down their throats; the future struggle, though probably pacific, will be a more arduous one than the preceding, and possibly more prolonged.
The revolution of July has left France almost exactly in the position in which the revolution of 1688 left ourselves. Both revolutions overthrew the doctrine of divine right; put an end to the political influence of the Catholic church; and established the omnipotence of Parliament. Both left the constitution of Parliament a mere oligarchy—but here we trust the parallel will end. The human mind is further advanced in 1830 than in 1688, and the French people have more sense and spirit than to wait a hundred and fifty years before they cry out for Parliamentary Reform in a voice which will carry all before it.
The ignorant and conceited Newspaper which used to stile itself the Leading Journal of Europe, appears to be of opinion that invectives against the Parliamentary Reformers of France are still saleable.1 It should certainly be the best judge; a successful tradesman is good authority on the tastes of his customers. We derive some consolation, however, from the thought, that ever since his memorable panegyric on the Polignac Ministry, and invectives against the French people for condemning them untried,2 our contemporary has never allowed a month to pass without attempting some disgusting appeal to the low prejudices, the malignant passions, or the dirty self-interest of the British public; which, within the month ensuing, we have had the satisfaction of seeing him compelled to eat up, bit by bit, to the very crumbs. These things have shaken our faith in the infallibility of our contemporary’s judgment in such matters, and have afforded us the satisfactory assurance that the reading public are not altogether in so degraded a state of intellect and feeling, as the daily perusal of his columns, and the reflection how carefully their contents are manufactured for the market, might well have inclined us to suppose.
The introduction of the new Election Law3 was fixed for Wednesday last; we, therefore, shall soon know whether the Ministry, now deprived of all which constituted its slender popularity, intends to place itself at the head of the oligarchy, or to see-saw between that body and the people. One thing, however, is clear; that the people will no longer be trifled with as they have been. The Chamber, notwithstanding the composition of its deplorable majority, contains within its body many of the popular leaders; and their unaccountable inaction and temporizing has caused us much suspicion and uneasiness. It is now accounted for. Their motive was the same which so greatly lowered the tone of the opposition journals while the Ex-ministers were on their trial. They were resolved, and the resolution does honour to the purity and nobleness of their purposes, to abstain from all which might excite or agitate the minds of the people, until it was certain that France would not be exposed to the dangers and evils of an insurrection for so miserable an object as the blood of four guilty and wretched conspirators. To avert this evil they had the virtue to make the greatest sacrifice which honest public men can make,—that of the favourable moment for advocating their opinions. They would not assume a popular tone, or introduce popular measures, while the fears of their opponents might have ensured a more favourable reception. They postponed the rupture until the enemy were flushed with undeserved success.
The exemplary demeanour of the National Guard during the last week, who with equal firmness and gentleness repressed every tendency to tumult on the part of men whose feelings and purposes were identical with their own; the general tranquillity of the people of Paris, under circumstances of all others the most exciting to a people as susceptible of strong emotions as the French; and the success with which the Law and Medical and Polytechnic Schools (“boys” and “lads,” as young men of five-and-twenty are stupidly called by our newspapers),4 exerted for the preservation of order, the popularity which they owed to their admirable conduct in July last; all this must have shown to every honest man throughout France how little reason there is for apprehending anarchical excesses, and with how little danger political rights might be extended at least to the National Guard, to say nothing of any larger portion of the people of France. To the jobbers and intrigans, however, who are at the head of the new oligarchy, these events inspired no other idea than that they were now safe from another Revolution, and might exploiter the people of France just as they pleased.
Although the office of Commander of the National Guard was one which no one pretended ought to be permanent, all until now had been apparently agreed in desiring that so long as it could be held by Lafayette it should continue; but as soon as the popularity of Lafayette was not indispensable to keep the people quiet, the Chamber passed a vote abolishing the office, and thereby declaring, in plain terms, that the Government had no further occasion for his services. He forthwith resigned, without waiting until the law which was to remove him should pass through all its stages.5 Being pressed by the King to resume the office, he refused, except on the two conditions of a more popular Ministry, and a popular Election Law. These conditions having been rejected, Dupont and Odilon-Barrot followed the example of Lafayette, and resigned; together with Mathieu-Dumas, second in command to Lafayette, and Carbonnel, chief of his staff.6
There are now symptoms of a strenuous and united opposition, both in the Chamber and without it. We may hope that now at least the scabbard will be thrown away. Even in the Chamber of 1830, an opposition party headed by Lafayette, and comprising such men as Dupont, de Tracy, de Cormenin, Voyer d’Argenson, de Salverte,7 Isambert, and Odilon-Barrot, (alas! that we cannot add Benjamin Constant), and backed by almost every man in France under five-and-thirty, is a power which no one dares despise; and, by earnest and well-directed exertions, is sure of ultimate victory.
Since the above observations were written, the Election Law has been presented. It just doubles the number of the electors, making them 180,000 instead of 90,000, and it reduces to 500 francs of direct taxation, the qualification for eligibility.
This is poor enough, but it is more than problematical whether even this will be allowed to pass without further alterations by a Chamber constituted like the present.
[1 ]I.e., The Times; see the articles cited below.
[2 ]Leading article, The Times, 17 June, 1830, p. 2, referred to at No. 43, n2.
[3 ]For Mill’s earlier speculation on this law, see Nos. 58 and 64. Introduced on 30 Dec., it was finally enacted as Bull. 37, No. 105 (19 Apr., 1831). It gave the vote to all males twenty-five or over who paid at least 200 francs in direct taxes. (A few others became electors through extraordinary franchises.) To be eligible for election, a man had to be thirty or over, and pay 500 francs in direct taxes. (Again a few more became eligible through peculiar qualifications.) Neither salaries nor expenses were to be paid to deputies. The electors represented about 2.4 percent of the adult male population in 1831; the number of possible candidates was probably less than a tenth the number of electors.
[4 ]The sentence on the ex-Ministers (Polignac, Peyronnet, Guernon-Ranville, and Chantelauze) was pronounced late on 21 Dec. About noon on 22 Dec., when crowds of demonstrators were gathering and cries of “Mort aux ministres” were heard, several hundred students from the law, medical, and polytechnical schools appeared bearing cards reading “Ordre public” and helped the National Guardsmen disperse the crowds. The Times, 24 Dec., 1830, p. 3, and the Spectator, 1 Jan., 1831, pp. 1-2, applied the term “boys” to the students; The Times, 29 Dec., 1830, p. 2, used “lads.” Mill, it may be noted, was himself in his twenty-fifth year at this time.
[5 ]The vote in the Chamber of Deputies on 24 Dec., approving Art. 50 of the law on the National Guard (see No. 54, n16), led to Lafayette’s resignation, the reasons for which he explained in a speech on the 27th (Moniteur, 1830, pp. 1818, and 1829-30).
[6 ]Gabriel Mathieu Dumas (1753-1837) had helped Lafayette organize the National Guard in 1789. He fled France as the Revolution accelerated, returning to serve under Napoleon and the Bourbons. Elected a deputy in 1828, he was instrumental in the accession of Louis Philippe, once again organizing the National Guard. Antoine François Carbonel (1779-1861) had risen through the ranks under Napoleon, had been inactive during the Bourbon regime, and had returned to the service under Louis Philippe; he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour on 31 Oct., 1830, and Brigadier General on 29 Dec.
[7 ]Anne Joseph Eusèbe Baconnière de Salverte (1771-1839), radical publicist and politician, had been active in public life since 1789.