Front Page Titles (by Subject) 145.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 19 FEB., 1832, P. 121 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
145.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 19 FEB., 1832, P. 121 - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
FRENCH NEWS 
For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, February 19, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.
several important retrenchments have been carried in the Chamber against the French Ministry; while others of still greater importance have been lost.1 On the whole, however, there appears fair promise of a saving considerably exceeding the ten millions of francs (£400,000), beyond which the Commission thought that retrenchment could not go.
The Ministers have been assailed with vigour in the Chamber for their prosecutions of the press, and of the Saint Simonians.2 We trust that these attacks will continue, and that the Opposition will never relax their exertions till they have extorted from the Ministry a real liberty of the press, and real security against arbitrary imprisonment. It is monstrous that such powers should exist as have been exerted in the recent case of M. Lennox, who has been detained in prison for nine months on a charge of a pretended Bonapartist conspiracy, and only now brought before the Chambre de mis en accusation, a body of judges performing the function of our grand juries, who have decided that there was no ground for putting him on his trial.3 But who is to compensate M. Lennox for his nine months’ confinement?
There seems to be nothing like a habeas corpus act in France. M. Roger, a member of the Opposition, brought into the Chamber of Deputies a bill of that nature several months ago: it has not yet come on for discussion, and cannot now pass in this session, if at all.4
M. Casimir Périer and his colleagues are constantly preaching respect to the law, and holding up what they term l’ordre légal as the one and only thing needful in France.5 “Liberty,” said the Prime Minister in one of his recent speeches, “is the despotism of the law.”6 This curious definition—according to which no amount of tyranny and slavery inflicted by means of bad laws, constitutes an infringement of liberty—cannot but be deemed peculiarly insolent and odious in France. For, the laws of France have been enacted at so many periods of distraction and difficulty, and under so great a variety of bad governments, that until they are revised, and purged of all which is inconsistent with the new order of things, but which has never been formally repealed, there is no stretch of power for which legal authority cannot somewhere be found. Decrees of the revolutionary governments and of the empire, which all the world thought had long fallen into utter desuetude, are continually raked up and recalled from oblivion, for the purposes of arbitrary power. The “despotism of the law” in France, is but a polite expression for the despotism of the Minister for the time being. It will hardly be believed that the famous article 291 of the penal code, which interdicts all public meetings without the consent of the government, and under which the meetings of the Amis du Peuple and of the Saint Simonians have been put an end to, was originally a decree of the Convention, passed during the reign of Robespierre, and re-enacted by Napoleon in the code pénal, from its suitableness to the purposes of his despotism.7 This reminds us of another curious circumstance. It is, we believe, a fact, that the Bourbons, on their restoration, freed themselves from their just debts, by taking advantage of the decree of the Convention which annulled all engagements with them, and rendered all correspondence with them a criminal offence.8 In virtue of this decree, they not only took back St. Cloud, but have never indemnified the intermediate occupant for the trees he had planted, and which had become valuable timber.9 Well is it said, “Put not your trust in princes.”10
The Times declares the motion for abolishing the compulsory observance of Sundays and holidays, to be a gratuitous insult to Christianity.11 It might as well be asserted that Christianity is gratuitously insulted, because people are not bound by legal penalties to go to church. The logic of the Times is precisely that of the Inquisition. How hard it seems to be for some people to understand, that it is possible to have a conscience, without seeking to compel men whose conscience is different, to square their conduct by yours.
The same journal is facetious upon the motion of M. Salverte, for transferring, after a certain period, the remains of great men to the national edifice called the Pantheon.12 Has the Times ever heard of such a thing as burial in St. Paul’s, or in Westminster Abbey? Methinks such things have been deemed, in other countries than France, suitable testimonials of public respect, but perhaps the Times considers no achievements but those of a warlike character as of sufficient dignity and value, to warrant such a mode of commemorating the dead, and inciting the living to go and do likewise. Such, at least, would seem to have been the judgment of those who, in England, have been the dispensers of these honours. In surveying the interior of St. Paul’s, it is difficult to behold without a certain feeling of shame, a hundred Lord Howes, and but a single Howard.13
[1 ]The retrenchments included cuts in the budgets of the Ministry of Justice and the Council of State as well as reductions in the pensions of peers and civil servants, but no changes were achieved in the state of the Sinking Fund or the public debt.
[2 ]For details, see No. 140, n7. The Saint-Simonian meeting-place had been closed, and their paper, Le Globe, had been forced to stop publishing by a malicious prosecution for back stamp duties (see CW, EL, Vol. XII, p. 106).
[3 ]Comte Lennox (1795-1836), born in Philadelphia, who had served in Napoleon’s guard of honour, supported the July Revolution and then resigned from the army after trying to start a general association. He bought the Révolution de 1830, which collapsed under heavy fines and seizures.
[4 ]Jacques François, baron de Roger (1787-1849), introduced, on 3 Sept., Projet de loi sur la liberté individuelle (Moniteur, 1831, pp. 1504-5), with similar intent to the British Habeas Corpus Act (31 Charles II, c. 2 ). The Bill was reported to the Deputies on 11 Jan., 1832, but it was dropped, and a similar proposal by Roger in the next session (29 Dec., 1832) was not considered by the Deputies.
[5 ]See, e.g., Périer’s speech (18 Mar.) on being elected President of the Council of Ministers (Moniteur, 1831, p. 566).
[6 ]Speech on the events in Lyons (17 Dec.), ibid., p. 2423.
[7 ]Article 291 of the Code pénal (Bull. 277 bis, Nos. 1-7 ) can be traced back to the Decree on Public Safety (Moniteur, 1792, pp. 635 and 958), the responsibility of Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (1758-94), the most prominent of the Jacobin leaders of the French Revolution.
[8 ]See the untitled decree of 31 July, 1793, taking away the émigrés’ property (Moniteur, 1793, p. 914), and the subsequent related decrees of 1795 (ibid., 1795, pp. 929-30, and 1065-6).
[9 ]St. Cloud was Napoleon’s favourite place of residence.
[10 ]Psalms, 146:3.
[11 ]Leading article, The Times, 15 Feb., 1832, p. 2, with reference to Portalis’s Proposition relative au travail des fêtes et dimanches (Moniteur, 1832, p. 425); for earlier comment, see No. 132, n7.
[12 ]In the leading article cited in n11; for Salverte’s motion, see Moniteur, 1831, pp. 2441-2, and 1832, p. 423.
[13 ]There was only one Howe commemorated (Richard, Earl Howe [1726-99], Admiral of the Fleet and commander in the Channel during the French Revolutionary Wars) and one Howard (John Howard [1726-90], the philanthropist and prison reformer); however, military and naval heroes outnumbered others by about five to one.