Front Page Titles (by Subject) 135.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 8 JAN., 1832, PP. 24-5 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
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135.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 8 JAN., 1832, PP. 24-5 - 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, headed “London, January 8, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.
the remainder of M. du Molart’s letters on the revolt of Lyons have appeared.1 They contain no further information of importance, on the causes or circumstances of the insurrection; but they charge M. Périer with asserting a direct falsehood in the Chamber of Deputies. The particulars of the case are these:—
When the Chamber, shortly after its meeting, had under consideration the validity of the election of M. Jars, by one of the electoral colleges of Lyons, it was affirmed that the president of one of the sections of that college had, during the election, communicated to the electors a telegraphic dispatch, received from Paris on the 6th of June, to the following effect: “Paris is perfectly quiet: the elections are declaring themselves there, as well as in other places, under the most favourable auspices: considerable majorities are declaring themselves.”2
This proceeding was severely censured, not only by the Opposition, but by the bureau of the Chamber which had to report on the validity of the election. It was declared to be an attempt to influence the votes of the electors, in violation of an express law, by which the electoral colleges are interdicted from deliberations or proceedings of any kind whatsoever, except simple voting.3 Hereupon, M. Périer positively declared that no telegraphic dispatch was sent on the 6th or 7th of June, and that the dispatch in question was not sent till the 8th, after the elections were over in almost all parts of France.4
Now, this statement M. du Molart asserts to be a falsehood. He affirms that the story, as it was first told, was strictly true: that the telegraphic dispatch was couched exactly in the words mentioned; that it was received on the 6th; that he still possesses the original copy, as taken down from the telegraph; and that he can establish the fact by the most perfect evidence.
Whether M. Périer, according to his customary practice, has prosecuted M. du Molart for defamation, we have not learned. But whichever of the two parties has falsified the truth (that either can be merely mistaken is in the nature of the case impossible), the exhibition is a curious one, and little creditable to the French character. There are a hundred points on which the tone both of public and private morality is far higher among the French than among ourselves. It would not seem to be so, in the important point of personal veracity. England is the classic land of cant; the hypocritical pretence of feelings and opinions utterly foreign to the character of the person professing them, is so much a matter of course in our Parliament, so completely conventional, that hardly any body is sensible of its baseness. But we solemnly assure our friends in France, of our firm belief that no man, Whig or Tory, who has been a Cabinet Minister of England within the present generation, was ever suspected, by his worst enemies, of deliberately denying, in the face of the public, any act of his own individually; and that no man who has held high office within the same period would have been capable of the falsehood which, if M. Périer is innocent, must be imputed to M. du Molart: unless indeed, he be an Irishman: for that nation, also superior to ourselves in some highly valuable qualities, is well understood to be, in all ranks of society, considerably below the English and Scotch in adherence to truth.
The recent proceedings in a French court of justice, on the trial of two editors of newspapers for defamation of M. Casimir Périer and M. Vivien,5 afforded some very significant circumstances in illustration of the state of moral feeling in France with respect to personal veracity, and of several other curious points of national character. The libel, as it would be stiled in this country, consisted, as is well known, in charging the authorities with having hired some of the lowest order of workmen, at three francs a head, to aid the police in case of the apprehended disturbances on the anniversary of the destruction of the Bastille. These workmen had acted with unnecessary violence and brutality against some young men engaged in planting a tree of liberty; and had never been called to account for this conduct, while their paid-for services had been celebrated in the Moniteur as a proof of the excellent spirit which animated the working population.6 On the trial, it was established that the workmen had been regularly enrolled, and formed into a kind of organized force, by a man named Souchet, who kept a tavern in the Faubourg St. Antoine; and that the belief was general in the Faubourg, that they were to receive three francs a head. The doubtful question was, whether the police, and the ministry, or either of them, were parties to the transaction. Souchet himself was brought forward to swear that they were not; and M. Carlier, the head of the local police, and M. Bouvatier, mayor of one of the arrondissements of Paris, both swore positively that they themselves had no concern in the matter, beyond having merely heard of it.7 But on the succeeding day, M. Bouvatier spontaneously presented himself before the Court, and stated that in a moment of irritation, occasioned by a calumnious imputation made against him by a previous witness, he had sworn to a falsehood; and that this had caused him so much distress of mind, that he was anxious to make all the reparation in his power, by publicly confessing his fault, and declaring the truth. He then gave evidence implying a much greater degree of participation, or at least connivance on his part, with respect to the proceedings of Souchet, than he had admitted in his testimony of the day before. This received evidence of M. Bouvatier, combined with the obvious prevarication of Souchet, were what chiefly induced the jury to acquit the accused.
Thus, then, the matter stood, when, in the recent debate of four days on the policy of the ministers, M. Mauguin revived the subject of the enlistments, and produced a letter from Souchet.8 In this letter, which was addressed to the editor of the National (one of the defendants in the trial),9 Souchet declared, that he also had committed perjury before the tribunal; that he also, like M. Bouvatier, wished to make reparation by proclaiming the truth; which when he should have done, he should, he hoped, be restored to the esteem of honest men. He then proceeded to declare, that he had enlisted the workmen at the express instigation of M. Carlier, the head of the municipal police of Paris, who, as we have already mentioned, had sworn on the trial, that he had nothing to do with the matter. The principal agent in the affair, Souchet added, was an employé of the police, by name Alexandre, who was not produced as a witness, and who, it seems, has absconded.
M. Périer, in reply, remarked, that no witness had appeared on the trial, who was able to swear to having actually received money.10 He affirmed that no money had been furnished by Government; that whatever might have been Souchet’s proceedings, he alone was responsible for them, having acted without the cognizance either of the ministry or of the police; and if he had held out to the workmen any hopes of pecuniary reward, he must have intended to deceive them, and to make a merit with Government of his instrumentality in persuading them to volunteer their services gratuitously. M. Périer accordingly produced a letter from Souchet, written shortly after the occurrences, soliciting some recompense of his zeal; and insisted upon what, indeed, was sufficiently obvious, the little credit due to the assertions of a man who, when all the world is already convinced that he was perjured, at last confesses it himself, and presents himself with a second story, in direct contradiction to his first.
The probability of M. Périer’s participation rests wholly upon the circumstantial evidence derived from the disappearance of the police agent Alexandre, and from the fact that no attempt has been made on the part of Government to clear up the mystery of the transaction, and to remove from employment any of its officers who may be found to have participated in it. This evidence is certainly very far from conclusive: but whatever degree of suspicion it is calculated to engender, M. Périer has done nothing to dispel it, having offered no explanation of either of the above circumstances.
The Bill relating to the Peerage11 has passed the second Chamber without alteration, and is by this time part of the Constitution of France. The mischievous alteration mentioned in our last paper as having been proposed by the commission, was almost universally scouted.12 It is said, that even the Ministers were averse to it, being anxious that the Bill should not be sent back to the Chamber of Deputies.
The Peers are now engaged in the discussion of a Bill, introduced by the Ministry into their House, for a reform in that part of the French law which relates to imprisonment for debt.13 The law, even with the proposed alteration, has excited surprise in this country by its extreme harshness; but it is stated that the tribunals of commerce, which are composed of mercantile men, possess and exercise the power of confining the operation of its provisions to debtors who are criminal, and not merely unfortunate.
M. Salverte’s proposition14 for allowing bills which are lost by a prorogation, to be taken up in the succeeding session at the point at which their progress had been interrupted, has passed the Chamber of Deputies, with a slight modification, confining its benefit to bills on which a commission has reported.
The Commission on the Civil List has at length made its report:15 and the subject is fixed for immediate discussion. This debate will be immediately followed by that on the budget; the report on the expenses (or the estimates, as we should call them) having been received: that on the receipts (or the ways and means) will shortly follow.16 The subjects of public education and municipal institutions are therefore postponed till after the budget—that is to say, to the next session: but in consequence of the adoption of M. Salverte’s proposition, these bills will stand for discussion immediately after the meeting of the Chamber. It is to be hoped that the Commission on the Corn Bill will at least make its report before the prorogation, that this great subject may also be disposed of at an early period of the next session.17 We hope, indeed, for no other good from the report, in the hands to which the composition of it has been entrusted.
The Commission on the Budget has excited great dissatisfaction among the popular party, by proposing no greater retrenchment than 10½ millions of francs, upon estimates amounting to 956,000,000, independent of 140,000,000 of extraordinary expenses, occasioned by defensive military preparations.
The Commission on the Civil List were equally divided on the amount at which it should be fixed: four members proposing twelve millions and a half, and four others fourteen millions.18 The ninth Member of the Commission, M. de Cormenin, who is for a much smaller amount than either, stands aloof from both, and is now publishing in the French papers a most able series of letters on the Civil List.19 It is said that Louis Philippe, whose ruling passion seems to be avarice, is greatly offended at the smallness even of the largest sum suggested by the Commission.
The lawsuit on the will of the Duke of Bourbon makes but slow progress.20 The Spectator is severe upon us for having said, that if the case stated for the plaintiff is made out, Louis Philippe is scarcely fit to live.21 We ask the Spectator whether this is too much to say of a man, who is a party to extorting a will in his own favour, from a feeble old man, through a long series of perpetual annoyance and persecution, by a woman who, from being the mistress, had become the tyrant of her protector? Has our contemporary read the letter of the wretched old man to Louis Philippe himself, beseeching him to use his influence with Madame de Feuchères to prevail on her to cease importuning him on the subject; and the canting answer of Louis Philippe to this letter, containing every thing which a man of common delicacy would not have written in answer to such a request?22 Even to accept the inheritance, were there no proof except this letter of the means by which it was obtained, is an indelible disgrace; though he had been the most necessitous of mankind, instead of being the monarch of one of the greatest nations, and possessed besides of one of the greatest private fortunes, in Europe.
[1 ]For details, see No. 134, n4.
[2 ]Moniteur, 1831, p. 1269; the telegram was communicated by Troneller.
[3 ]Bull. 37, No. 105 (19 Apr., 1831), Titre IV, Art. 40.
[4 ]Speech of 26 July, Moniteur, 1831, p. 1270.
[5 ]For Mill’s earlier comment, see No. 131.
[6 ]Moniteur, 1831, p. 1215.
[7 ]Pierre Charles Joseph Carlier (1794-1858) was appointed commissioner of police in 1830 and director of the municipal police in 1831; François Bouvattier (ca. 1772-1856), mayor of the 8th (now the 11th) arrondissement, 1830-34. For the trial, see the reports from the Cour d’Assises de la Seine in La Tribune, 30 Nov., 1831, pp. 3-4, 1 Dec., pp. 3-6, and 2 Dec., pp. 5-8.
[8 ]For Mauguin’s speech on 19 Dec., 1831, see Moniteur, 1831, p. 2440.
[9 ]Le National was founded by Messrs. Thiers, Mignet, Sautelet, and Carrel in January 1830 to work for the overthrow of the Polignac ministry. After the July Revolution, it was under the direction of Carrel, who supported Louis Philippe until Périer took office in the spring of 1831. Growing progressively more exasperated with the regime, Le National declared itself republican in 1832. See also No. 131, n3.
[10 ]Speech of 21 Dec. (Moniteur, 1831, pp. 2451-4). Périer’s defence, although self-exculpatory, gives considerable detail about the event. He included the letter of 25 July from Souchet to the prefect (ibid., p. 2453).
[11 ]For details, see No. 115, n1.
[12 ]Not in fact the last, but the second last; see No. 133.
[13 ]Enacted as Bull. 73, No. 158 (17 Apr., 1832).
[14 ]For the measure, see No. 132, n10.
[15 ]The report was brought in by de Schonen on 29 Dec. (Moniteur, 1831, pp. 2542-7; text on p. 2545); it resulted in Bull. 65, No. 146 (2 Mar., 1832).
[16 ]For the introduction of the budget, see No. 116. As amended by a Commisson, it was printed in a special appendix to the Moniteur, Supplement to No. 365, 31 Dec., 1831, pp. i-xlii. For the report on the “ways and means,” see No. 143, n12.
[17 ]For the introduction of the measure, see No. 125, n2. For the next stage, see No. 172.
[18 ]Titre I, Art. 16, of Projet de loi amendé par la commission de la liste civile, reports the division of opinion (Moniteur, 1831, p. 2545).
[19 ]Cormenin’s letters on the civil list are in Le National, 24 Dec., 1831, pp. 3-4; 29 Dec., pp. 1-3; 31 Dec., pp. 1-2; and 4 Jan., 1832, p. 1.
[20 ]For details, see No. 132, n2.
[21 ]“The Duke of Bourbon’s Will,” Spectator, 31 Dec., 1831, p. 1256, with reference to No. 132.
[22 ]The letters (all of 20 Aug., 1829) exchanged between the duc de Bourbon and Louis Philippe are in Le National, 10 Dec., 1831, p. 4, and (in translation) in The Times, 21 Dec., 1831, p. 2.