Front Page Titles (by Subject) 173.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 24 JUNE, 1832, P. 408 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
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173.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 24 JUNE, 1832, P. 408 - 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 uprising, the suppression of which Mill traces here, see Nos. 171 and 172. For the entry in his bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, June 24, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.
the longer we reflect upon the present deplorable measures of the French Government, the more pregnant they appear to us with the most fatal consequences.
Have the struggles of forty-five years, and the sacrifice of an entire generation, brought France no nearer than this, we say not to a good government, but to any government of law? Is it still to be a matter of course, that whatever is the form of the government, the executive, in reality, does what it likes; and that a constitution or a charter is not a thing to be regarded when the Government finds the slightest momentary convenience in breaking it?
If there were any mode of rivetting in the minds of the French people a practical conviction that no restraints which they can impose on the instruments of government are the slightest security to them, and that the perpetually-impending terror of popular vengeance is alone sufficient to keep their public men in awe, Louis Philippe and his Ministers have found that mode. If any thing exists which can make the next French revolution a sanguinary one, this will do it.
How many years, rather how many ages, of legal protection seem necessary to engender that habitual reverence for law which is so deeply rooted in the minds of all classes of Englishmen, from the prince to the pauper! Never can we too much rejoice that we have accomplished the first and hardest stage of our national emancipation, and have therefore a reasonable chance of accomplishing the succeeding stages, without any sensible weakening of that salutary association; the first and fundamental condition of good government, and without which any people, however civilized they may imagine themselves, are little other than savages.
Is it not the vainest of fancies to look for any sensible improvement in the government or in the condition of the people, while even honest men are apt to consider any misconduct on the part of the Government a full justification for civil war, and when every King, every Minister, considers every act of resistance to Government a justification for suspending the constitution and assuming dictatorial power?
Of the two parties who are guilty of the present and of the impending mischief, incomparably the most guilty is the Government. That small part of the people of Paris who planned, or who joined the insurrection, are not without considerable excuse. To compare them with our own people under recent circumstances, would be to judge them unfairly. If we English could neither have formed Political Unions nor held public meetings, how could we have escaped the same extremity? And with those powers, it was seen in the case of Catholic emancipation,1 what even such a people as the Irish could do. Both these invaluable rights are denied to the French nation. There are no means left open in France, by which public dissatisfaction can manifest itself through a peaceable display of moral strength. The press is the only organ of public opinion which exists at all; and the press is weighed down by taxation, and persecuted by the law-officers of Government, to the extent, in the case of one single paper,2 of fifty-two prosecutions within two years.
For the Government, there is now no forgiveness. What no necessity could excuse, but that which would excuse a revolution, they have done without even an appearance of necessity. Paris was already quiet; and the ordinary tribunals would have served the vengeance of the conquerors but too well. The whole guilt of anarchy and confusion, should such hereafter ensue, will be on the heads of those who have severed the last cable which, for eighteen years, has held France, though agitated and even inundated by the waves, still steady to such anchorage as she had found, and saved her from drifting out into the unfathomable ocean. France has now no constitution. It has been well said, by one of her own writers, that a constitution which is violated is destroyed.3 How much so then a constitution of yesterday, to which, being consecrated by no ancient associations, when once relinquished there is no return? A friend who has been faithful to you from infancy, may be tempted and may succumb, and yet be trusted again; but the man whose first word to you is a lie, remains to you a liar for ever.
It is not many weeks since we idly amused ourselves and our readers with dreams of progressive improvement, and the growth and strengthening of the national mind, by sober study and manly discussion of the art of government itself, as distinguished from the mere instrument of government.4 It is no time now for such thoughts. One of the smallest evils of the present tyranny is, that all such prospects are now, for a season, overclouded. As the French themselves would say, tout est remis en question. The forty years war, which we did think was terminated by the final rupture with the fallen dynasty, has broken out afresh. The prize to be contended for is still, as heretofore, whether France shall or shall not have a constitutional government: the skeleton of absolute monarchy has been taken from its grave, clothed once more in flesh and blood, and re-enthroned in the Tuileries. Manuel, and Foy, and Constant, have lived, and the martyrs of the Three Days have died, in vain. Alas! it was the forecast of something like this, which abridged the life and embittered the dying moments of the most illustrious of those patriots.5
There is little novelty in the Paris intelligence of this week. The courts martial are sitting: two persons have been tried, and acquitted,—whether to give an air of mildness to the illegal transaction, or, as has been surmised, because the witnesses would not tell what they knew, before an unlawful tribunal. Two others have been convicted, and one of them sentenced to death.6 Whether, after the canting which the world remembers, on the occasion of a former trial, of far greater delinquents, Louis Philippe will dare to execute the sentence, time will disclose. Nothing is impossible; but if he take the life of this person, let him look to his own.
MM. Chateaubriand, Hyde de Neuville, and the Duc de Fitzjames,7 have been arrested and placed au secret. It is ridiculous to suppose that any, especially the first, of these three men is a conspirator. That they were named members of a Carlist Regency in nubibus, is likely enough, and may be true without the slightest blame on their part. They are, perhaps, of all the partisans of the exiled dynasty, the most likely to be ostensibly put forward, and the least likely to be actually implicated.
[1 ]Effected by 10 George IV, c. 7 (1829).
[2 ]La Tribune.
[3 ]Not located.
[4 ]In No. 162 (6 May, 1832).
[5 ]For Mill’s account of the death of Benjamin Constant, see No. 68.
[6 ]See “Premier conseil de guerre séant à Paris,” Le National, 17 June, 1832, pp. 3-4; ibid., 18 June, pp. 3-4; “Deuxième conseil de guerre séant à Paris,” ibid., 19 June, pp. 3-4; ibid., 20 June, pp. 3-4. Those acquitted were Pierre Théodore Florentin Pépin (1806-?) and Charles Boromée Wachez (1782-?); François Margot (1796-?) was sentenced to fifteen years; and Michel Auguste Geoffroy (1805-?) was condemned to death. Cf. Moniteur, 1832, pp. 1343-5, 1352-4, and 1563-4.
[7 ]Edouard, duc de Fitzjames (1776-1838), was a staunch royalist and, although he took the oath to Louis Philippe after 1830, was thought to be a supporter of the Duchess of Berry.