Front Page Titles (by Subject) 132.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 18 DEC., 1831, PP. 808-9 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
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132.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 18 DEC., 1831, PP. 808-9 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II, 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 
For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, December 18,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.
lyons appears to be in a state of complete pacification.1 Marshal Soult, by virtue of the extraordinary powers with which he was invested, has set aside the tariff, or scale of wages, the ineffectual attempt to enforce which, was the cause of the insurrection. It is now, therefore, manifest, that the submission of the workmen has not been purchased by any improper concessions on the subject of interference between them and their employers. No injustice has been promised to the workmen—it remains to be seen whether justice will be done. We shall see what measures the Ministry has to propose, for the alleviation of the burthens which press upon the poorer classes, and for increasing the demand for their labour, by removing the obstacles which stupid legislation has interposed to prevent capital from flowing into the most productive channels.
The French papers of the last week are replete with interesting matter.
A trial has commenced before one of the Paris tribunals, implicating, most seriously, the private character of the individual who now fills the French throne. We allude to the application of the heir-at-law of the late Duc de Bourbon, that the will by which that prince bequeathed the bulk of his immense property to the third son of the King of the French, may be set aside.2 We shall take care that the disclosures of which this law-suit is the occasion, shall, when complete, be fully made known to the English public. It is sufficient now to say, that unless the evidence to be hereafter produced shall greatly alter the present complexion of the case, the French people have fastened upon themselves as their ruler, a man not only unfit to reign, but scarcely fit to live.
Several important proceedings have taken place in the Chamber of Deputies.
The bill for the mitigation of the Penal Code3 has passed the Chamber; a clause having first been inserted, by which the law attaching penalties to the assumption of a title of nobility, unless conferred by the King, is repealed. Any person, therefore, may now give himself whatever title he chooses, without incurring any consequences, except the forfeiture of the nickname in case any one should take the trouble to prosecute him for assuming it. Titles were already sufficiently ridiculous in France; as they cannot fail to become every where, when they are shared by many thousands of persons, and have ceased to be connected with any civil or political privileges. Except the émigrés, and the survivors of the old court, few persons who possess titles ever assume or claim them. They will now, we imagine, fall into utter desuetude.
In addition to the law for the modification of the penal code, the Chamber has adopted another law, of very considerable importance. The object of this is the introduction of the warehousing system, which, strange to say, did not before exist, or only to a very limited extent, in France.4 The present law permits those articles, (with, however, a very numerous list of exceptions) the importation of which is either prohibited or subjected to a duty, to be imported and warehoused for re-exportation either from the same or from some other port or frontier place, without payment of duty. In the debates on this law, several members expressed opinions highly favourable to free trade; but what is still more encouraging, is the mitigated tone of the enemies of that great principle.5 Not one of them (except the unconvinceable M. Charles Dupin)6 contended that the restrictive system was not in itself an evil. They went no further than to recommend that it should not be altered suddenly, but gradually, with due regard to existing interests, and in concert with foreign powers. On the whole, we cannot doubt, from the signs of public opinion in France, that the era is approaching of a great relaxation in the prohibitive laws of that country.
A motion has been made by M. Auguste Portalis, and seems likely to be adopted, for abrogating the compulsory observance of Sundays and holidays.7 We should greatly deprecate such a proposition in our own country. We are convinced, that it would lead, and that speedily, to but one result: the labourer would perform the labour of seven days, for the wages which he now receives for that of six; and would be deprived of all the enjoyment, and of the innumerable moral advantages attendant on periodical repose. But we do not anticipate these baneful consequences from the measure which is now proposed in France. The experiment has in fact been tried, and no such consequences have been produced: for the observance of the Sunday, in so far as it is compulsory, has long been practically at an end. The French people are often not better fed or clothed than the English; but in no case are they so much over-worked. They will not submit to be so. They will live upon brown bread, which an English workman will not; but they will not work fourteen hours a day, which an English workman will; nor seven days in the week, which an English workman would. The English are not reduced to a potato diet, because they will not marry and multiply their species on such terms; and the French save themselves by the same means, from being worn down and brought to a premature death by incessant toil. Would that the English might do the like!
The same deputy has proposed, with the same prospect of success, to abolish the solemnization of the anniversary of Louis XVI’s execution.8 The object of this motion is to get rid of all the remaining traces which the doctrine of legitimacy or divine right has left in the French laws. A great majority of the French public, and probably all the members of the Chamber of Deputies, disapproved of the conduct of the Convention in putting Louis XVI to death. But they see no reason why this particular act of injustice should be selected as a subject of national humiliation and penance, more than any one among the many judicial assassinations committed during the reign of terror upon far worthier men; or than the execution of the unfortunate Lally, for example, under the old regime, or of Marshal Ney, in 1815, in violation of the capitulation of Paris.9 There was nothing in the case of Louis XVI to distinguish him from any other person who is improperly put to death on a charge of treason, except the circumstance of his being a king. And this does not in any way add to the degree of guilt in the estimation of Frenchmen, or rational persons of any other country, unless they are believers in divine right.
A third motion of importance has been made by M. Salverte, and is likely to be adopted in France, as it must ultimately be in the legislative assemblies of all other countries: this is, that all bills which, having passed through some of their stages, are lost, not by being negatived, but by the prorogation of the Chambers, may be resumed in the ensuing session (unless a dissolution has intervened) at the point at which their progress had been interrupted.10
[1 ]For the background, see Nos. 130 and 131.
[2 ]Louis Henri Joseph, duc de Bourbon, prince de Condé (1756-1830), as husband of Louise d’Orléans, sister of Philippe-Egalité, was uncle of Louis Philippe. Separated from his wife, he was dominated by his mistress, Mme de Feuchères (née Sophie Dawes, 1795-1841). To protect her position in his will, she sought the friendship of the Orléans family, and persuaded the duc to appoint as his heir Louis Philippe’s son, Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d’Orléans, duc d’Aumale (1822-97). The duc de Bourbon had apparently planned to leave Mme de Feuchères, but before he could accomplish his escape, he was found on the morning of 27 Aug., 1830, hanging by two handkerchiefs from the fastening of a window. It was pronounced a suicide. The heir-at-law—actually “heirs-at-law”—who disputed the will were the princes of Rohan (q.v. in App. J).
[3 ]For the introduction of the measure, see No. 119.
[4 ]Projet de loi sur le transit et les entrepôts (20 Aug.), Moniteur, 1831, pp. 1438-40; enacted as Bull. 59, No. 137 (9 Feb., 1832).
[5 ]Moniteur, 1831, pp. 2337-44 and 2345-6.
[6 ]See ibid., pp. 2339 and 2341; Mill somewhat distorts Dupin’s views.
[7 ]Auguste, baron Portalis (1801-55), lawyer, a deputy elected in 1831, introduced on 6 Dec., 1831, Proposition ayant pour but d’abroger la loi du 18 novembre 1814, relative au travail des dimanches et des fêtes (Moniteur, 1831, p. 2319). It went no farther at that time, and after being reintroduced on 11 Feb., 1832 (ibid., 1832, p. 425), it died on the order paper.
[8 ]On the same day that he brought in the proposition cited in n7, Portalis introduced Proposition tendant à abroger la loi du 19 janvier 1816, relative au deuil public du 21 janvier (Moniteur, 1831, p. 2319), with reference to Bull. 63, No. 401 (19 Jan., 1816). Approved by the Deputies on 23 Dec., it was rejected by the Peers on 3 Mar., 1832 (ibid., 1831, pp. 2472-3; 1832, pp. 642-3).
[9 ]Thomas Arthur, comte de Lally (1702-66), Governor of the French possessions in India, was captured in 1761 at Pondicherry and taken to England. When he returned to Versailles (his British captors having released him on his word to return) to face his French detractors, he was imprisoned by a lettre de cachet for nineteen months in the Bastille, and after a disgracefully unfair trial, beheaded for treason on 9 May, 1766. Marshal Michel Ney, having been one of Napoleon’s best loved and most loyal generals, negotiated the peace in 1814, and welcomed Louis XVIII back to Paris; he then fought for Napoleon during the Hundred Days, and was proscribed in 1815. Though he believed himself protected by Art. 12 of the terms of capitulation (see “Convention” [3 July, 1815], Moniteur, 1815, p. 765), he was tried as a traitor and executed before a firing squad on 7 Dec., 1815.
[10 ]Salverte introduced, on 7 Dec., Proposition pour la reprise à une autre session des travaux législatifs non terminés dans la session précédente (Moniteur, 1831, p. 2327).