Front Page Titles (by Subject) 133.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 25 DEC., 1831, P. 825 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
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133.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 25 DEC., 1831, P. 825 - 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 article is headed “London, December 25”; it is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.
m. casimir périer has read to the two Chambers a long report on the affair of Lyons.1 In this document, he does not state a single fact which was not previously known, nor give intimation of any intentions which had not been already expressed. He commences with a loud flourish of trumpets, and undertakes to enter fully into the subject of existing evils and their remedies, yet, for aught we can discover, his portefeuille may be overflowing with great projects for the promotion of the public prosperity, or he may meditate nothing but to sit with his arms folded, and consume his salary. All which this production discloses of the state of his mind, is a vehement inclination to have it thought that his conduct is highly praiseworthy.
This empty document, however, afforded an occasion which was sure to be eagerly seized, for a violent debate on the general policy of the Ministry; and the debate has accordingly commenced, and promises to last several days.2
These demonstrations of party hostility are however becoming less and less frequent; while debates on specific questions are rapidly increasing in frequency and interest. The Opposition will speedily find that their true policy, both for themselves and the good of their country, is to load the President’s table with motions for well-considered and practicable improvements, and concert together to secure upon each a vigorous and well-sustained debate; acquiring for themselves the éclat of suggesting measures, which the Ministry may afterwards adopt, or throwing upon M. Périer and his majority, the odium of resisting improvement.
We see reason to expect a stormy debate on the Corn Law.3 In the French Chamber, even more than in our own House of Commons, the great landed proprietors predominate, and seem equally disposed with our own squirearchy, to hold fast to their usurpations. The Ministry and the Opposition will fight side by side against a large portion of the phalanx by which the Ministers are usually supported. Some say that the question will be postponed to the next session; and really, if it is not, we fear the Ministry will have a hard account to settle with the great “practical authorities” of their party, M. Humann4 and M. Charles Dupin.
An excellent speech on the corn question has been made incidentally in the course of another debate, by M. Laguette-Mornay.5
The Commission on the budget has not yet completed its labours. Those members of the Opposition who formed part of it, among others MM. Laffitte, Bignon,6 and Dupont de l’Eure, have at length discontinued their attendance, disgusted at the absolute failure of their attempts to extort from the majority any considerable diminution of the public expenditure. The impossibility of voting the budget before the conclusion of the year, has compelled the Ministry to solicit from the Chamber the continuance of the existing taxes and expenses for three months longer. This has been agreed to, but under a proviso of a novel and highly important nature: that if in the budget when voted, any salary, pension, or other allowance shall be reduced, the reduction shall take effect retrospectively from the beginning of the year.7 The parties interested being thus forewarned, will of course make their arrangements accordingly.
We mentioned in our last paper, that the Chamber had already adopted one law for the extension of the warehousing system:8 it has now under its consideration another.9 The former law related to goods warehoused for re-exportation: the present, has reference to warehousing for home consumption. In France, as in England, articles which have been imported are allowed to remain under the King’s lock, jointly with that of the owner, and to be bought and sold in the warehouse as often as a purchaser can be found; the duty being demanded only when the goods are taken out to be finally sold for consumption. The advantage of this arrangement to the merchant, we need not insist upon, and the advantage to the nation is not less. A large portion of the trading capital of the country is allowed to remain in active employment, when it would otherwise be locked up unproductively, being paid into the hands of Government, and not reimbursed until the goods were sold, which might not be till long after they were imported.
This privilege however, of warehousing goods without payment of duties, has hitherto, in France, been confined to the few sea-ports, and to certain frontier towns. Paris itself, and all the other places in the interior, are excluded from it. The object of the measure now proposed by the Ministry, is, to extend to other places the advantage at present enjoyed exclusively by the sea-ports and frontier towns. The bill accordingly encounters a noisy opposition from the members for the privileged places, and there seems to be some doubt whether it will be suffered to pass.
A bill has been adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, almost without opposition, for re-establishing the dissolubility of the marriage contract.10 This bill restores the law of divorce, not as it stood during the Revolution, but nearly on the footing on which it was placed by the Code Napoleon. Divorce must be pronounced by a court of justice. It will be granted at the instance of either party, in certain cases which are nearly the same with those in which the tribunals will now grant a separation. Divorce by mutual consent will also be allowed; but this likewise must be pronounced by a tribunal: there must be a long period of probation; the parties, once divorced, cannot again be united; and half their property must be settled on their offspring. On the whole, this measure seems to do as much as can be done by any means hitherto proposed, towards solving the difficulty of allowing marriages to be dissolved where their continuance is a source of insupportable evil, and at the same time avoiding to afford inducements to forming so important an engagement without a reasonable prospect of its permanency.
The Commission of the Chamber of Peers has at length presented to that Chamber its report on the new law relative to the peerage.11 The members of the Commission were equally divided in opinion; but their reporter, the Duke Decazes, is in favour of the law. An alteration, however, is proposed, which will enable the Ministry, if they think proper, to render the abolition of the inheritableness a nullity.
Among the categories, or classes of persons, to whom the Commission of the Chamber of Deputies proposed that the nomination to peerages should be limited,—one consisted of landed proprietors or chiefs of commercial establishments, paying 3000 francs of direct taxes. The Chamber, not being of opinion that riches were of themselves a sufficient qualification for a legislator, required as a further condition that the persons belonging to this category should have served for six years as members of a municipal council or a chamber of commerce, both which functions are conferred by popular election. This amendment, though violently resisted by the Ministers and their adherents, was carried against them. The Commission of the Chamber of Peers now recommend that it should be struck out.
Should this recommendation be adopted, of which we fear there is little doubt, the eldest sons of Peers will generally be eligible to succeed their fathers. It is true that the general law of succession in France divides the property of the parent equally among all the children.12 But one of the acts of the Bourbons, after their restoration, was to permit the creation of majorats, or entails, to accompany a title of nobility; and to require, in particular, that the Peers should, as a matter of course, tie up a certain amount of property, and transmit it to the next heir, together with the Peerage, which otherwise, should not be transmissible.13 The eldest son of a Peer, in consequence, generally succeeds his father in the bulk of his landed property, and therefore in the payment of the bulk of his direct taxes. It is worthy of remark, that a ministerial deputy, M. Jaubert, at a very early period of the present session, laid upon the table a proposition for the abolition of majorats.14 It was received with universal approbation, but a day has never yet been fixed for the discussion of it, nor has it been referred to a Commission; and there is every appearance of an intention to allow it to drop.
That the Ministers will generally name the successor to the estate as successor also to the peerage, if the law allows them, they have taken care to leave no doubt, by naming the sons of Ney and of General Foy;15 young men who have not had time to shew themselves either fit for the office, or worthy of the honour; one of them not even of age, and neither having attained the age of thirty, before which, by the regulation of the Chamber, they are not permitted to vote;16 and this, too, although the recent creation of Peers was for the express purpose of outnumbering a hostile majority.
We have given in another part of our paper an abridgment of the law proceedings relative to the will of the Duke de Bourbon.17 We invite particular attention to it. The defence not having yet been heard, nor the witnesses examined, we forbear any further comment in this stage.
[1 ]On 17 Dec. (Moniteur, 1831, pp. 2422-4).
[2 ]The debate lasted four days, 19-22 Dec. (ibid., pp. 2438-40, 2442-50, 2451-8, 2462-6).
[3 ]For the Bill and its enactment, see No. 125, n2.
[4 ]Jean Georges Humann (1780-1842), a liberal deputy since 1820, supported the 221 and the July Revolution. He was a protectionist.
[5 ]Jules Frédéric Auguste Amédée, baron Laguette-Mornay (1780-1845), a moderate deputy since 1827, supported the July Revolution and free trade. For the speech on 12 Dec. referred to, see Moniteur, 1831, p. 2371.
[6 ]Louis Pierre Edouard, baron Bignon (1771-1841), a deputy since 1817; after the July Revolution he was for two months Minister of Education.
[7 ]Enacted in Art. 4 of Bull. 52, No. 122 (16 Dec., 1831).
[8 ]For the measure, see No. 132, n4.
[9 ]Projet de loi concernant les entrepôts dans l’intérieur et aux frontières (11 Nov.), Moniteur, 1831, pp. 2110-11; enacted as Bull. 63, No. 144 (27 Feb., 1832).
[10 ]The Proposition relative à la loi dudivorce was introduced by Auguste Jean Marie, baron de Schonen (1782-1849), on 11 Aug., 1831; it passed the Deputies on 15 Dec., but was rejected by the Peers on 28 Mar., 1832. (See Moniteur, 1831, pp. 1352, 2390-6 [the debate Mill is referring to], and 1832, pp. 897-900.) Divorce had been abolished by Bull. 84, No. 645 (8 May, 1816), which had revoked the provision of the Code Napoléon (Bull. 154 bis, No. 2653 bis [3 Sept., 1807]) in Livre I, Titre VI, Chaps. i-v. Divorce was not reintroduced in France until 1884.
[11 ]For the measure see No. 115, n1. The report is in Moniteur, 1831, pp. 2429-32.
[12 ]For details, see No. 50, n17.
[13 ]For the ordinances, see No. 61, n11.
[14 ]Introduced on 24 Aug. (Moniteur, 1831, pp. 1455-6) by Hippolyte François, comte Jaubert (1798-1874).
[15 ]For Mill’s comment on their elevation, see No. 129.
[16 ]By Art. 28 of the Charter of 1814, continued by Art. 24 of the Charter of 1830.
[17 ]Examiner, 25 Dec., 1831, pp. 824-5; for the background, see No. 132.