Front Page Titles (by Subject) 140.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 29 JAN., 1832, PP. 72-3 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
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140.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 29 JAN., 1832, PP. 72-3 - 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 
Since this article contains a lengthy defence of the Saint Simonians, Mill sent a copy of it to Michel Chevalier (see n7) through his friend Gustave d’Eichthal (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 96). For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article, headed “London, January 29, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner, with two inked corrections: at 402.18, “been as long” is altered to “been long” and at 403.23 “instituting” is altered to “substituting”.
the french chamber of deputies has been occupied during all this week in the discussion of the budget.1 The opposition universally demands far greater retrenchments than those purposed by the commission. Of the manner in which this demand is met, the reader may judge, from the expressions of a young ministerial deputy and placeman, M. de Rémusat, who said, “It is time to renounce the chimera or the charlatanism of retrenchments. The taxes are the best possible investment of the people’s money:”2 and this, in fact, seems to be a general opinion among the supporters of the ministry, particularly those who are receivers of taxes,—they all think that the greatest service a Government can do to a country is to tax it highly, because the revenue is all spent in the country. It naturally never occurs to these gentlemen, that it would also be spent in the country, if it were left in the pockets of the payers.
On the other hand, we cannot help blaming many members of the Opposition, for the vehement rhetoric with which they insist on the distresses of the working classes, as a motive for lowering the taxes. Those distresses are not such as could be sensibly alleviated, even by the greatest reduction of taxes, which any one has proposed. They are not caused by the amount of the budgets, but by their present want of employment, and the means of remedying this, are, first, whatever conduces to the restoration of mercantile confidence, and general security: next, whatever by increasing the return to the national capital, extends the range of employment, such as—beneficial public works, and the removal of restrictions on trade or production, and lastly, improvements (and in no country are they more required) in the mode of levying the revenue: which is at present derived, in a very great proportion, from taxes pressing with disproportionate severity upon the very poorest classes. It is chiefly to these three purposes, that an enlightened member of the French Legislature would direct such of his exertions, as are intended for the relief of the immediate sufferings of the labouring classes, and we are happy to say, that there are, even now, many deputies whose exertions are thus directed.
It is remarkable, how far the French public is behind ours on some questions of finance. The absurdity of continuing the payments to the Sinking Fund,3 while actually borrowing money; of borrowing with one hand merely to pay off debt with the other, losing the commission, and the expenses of management;—this flagrant absurdity, which has been long seen through and given up, even by the most ignorant of our hacks in office, is gravely defended at this time of day, not only by the French ministry and the commission of the French Chamber, but even by such men as M. Laffitte; who, undoubtedly, among French financiers, must be deemed a highly instructed man.4
The war against the press continues; The Tribune is now under prosecution, for the thirty-third time since July 1830. The government prosecutions of the press under Louis Philippe have already exceeded in number all those of Louis XVIII and Charles X in the sixteen years of the Restoration. Although in nine cases out of ten the prisoners are acquitted, the vindictive severity of the sentence in the tenth case pays for the whole. M. Allier, an advocate, member of the Society of the Friends of the People, having recently been convicted, for what, if the whole resembles the passages we have seen, appears to us a perfectly innocent publication of political opinions, has been sentenced to a fine and two years imprisonment.5 Three successive editors of the Tribune are now in prison, and have little prospect of ever more being out of it.6 Can any one affect to wonder that men, who are thus treated, without being conscious of any guilt, should write in a tone of exasperation? It is impossible that a government which needs to support itself by such odious means, can have much longer to exist.
Not content with prosecuting the republicans for publishing their speculative opinions, M. Périer has now instituted a prosecution of a similar kind against the chiefs of the St. Simonians.7 The republicans have often been intemperate in addressing the public, and have shown that they would at least not be sorry if the consequence of their writings were an insurrection; but the St. Simonians are as mild and pacific in their opinions and in their language as the Quakers themselves, and have studiously impressed upon the minds of the working people, in every way in which they could gain access to them, that nothing can, in the present age, be so prejudicial to their chances of improving their condition as violence in any shape.
We anticipate nothing from this most contemptible attempt at putting down opinion by the law, except a still more rapid growth of this religious and political sect: who, whatever may be thought of their system as a whole, (and from some parts of it few can dissent more strongly than ourselves) are yet, in our opinion, eminently right in many other of their views, whose leaders are among the ablest and most highly instructed men in France; whose writings and preachings are distinguished for literary talent, and can be read by few, who are capable of thinking, without advantage—who, in the course of a year, have entirely changed the character of political discussion, in the provincial, and, in some measure, even the Paris papers, by substituting important ideas of practical improvement for mere phrases and abstractions; and whose extraordinary success, up to the present time, we ascribe wholly to their real superiority over all other parties, sects, or classes of thinkers and writers in France. We have little expectation that the St. Simonian society will hold together for many years, nor are we by any means convinced that it is desirable it should. But we are satisfied that its rise and progress is an important event in history; at once an evidence, and a cause, of an entirely new tone of thinking and feeling in France, as well among philosophers and publicists, as in the nation at large.
[1 ]For the measure, see No. 135, n16.
[2 ]François Marie Charles, comte de Rémusat (1797-1875), lawyer, a liberal journalist in the 1820s, married a niece of Casimir Périer and supported the government. His speech on the budget (20 Jan.) is in Moniteur, 1832, p. 209.
[3 ]The “Sinking Fund” (i.e., revenues periodically set aside to accumulate at interest, designed to reduce governmental debts) was established under Titre X, “De la caisse d’amortissement et de la caisse des dépôts,” of Bull. 81, No. 623 (28 Apr., 1816).
[4 ]See his speech on the budget (23 Jan.), Moniteur, 1832, p. 244.
[5 ]Joseph Allier (1794-?), a lawyer, was sentenced on 20 Jan., for publishing a letter praising Robespierre and St. Just (Moniteur, 1832, p. 219).
[6 ]As well as Ferdinand Bascans and Armand Marrast, Germain Marie Sarrut (1800-83), a teacher who became editor-in-chief of La Tribune, was frequently arrested, and was condemned to prison four times for publishing opinions distasteful to the regime.
[7 ]The followers of Claude Henri, comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), had formed, on quasi-religious, quasi-economic theories, communes wherein they could put into practice their views on co-operative living. They were accused of teaching anti-social doctrines subversive of the established order (see the Saint-Simonian organ, Le Globe, 23 Jan., 1832, p. 2). Those prosecuted were Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin (1796-1864), sociologist, who met and was converted by Saint-Simon in 1825, becoming head of the sect; Pierre Ange Casimir Emile Barrault (1799-1896), one of the principal editors of Le Globe; Michel Chevalier (1806-79), another of the editors of Le Globe; Charles Duveyrier (1803-66), another of the editors, who was then visiting London with d’Eichthal and spent some time in Mill’s company; and Benjamin Olinde Rodrigues (1794-1851), economist and reformer.