Front Page Titles (by Subject) 186.: FRENCH AND ENGLISH JOURNALS EXAMINER, 2 DEC., 1832, PP. 772-3 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
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186.: FRENCH AND ENGLISH JOURNALS EXAMINER, 2 DEC., 1832, PP. 772-3 - 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 AND ENGLISH JOURNALS
Mill mentions in passing this article as well as Nos. 191 and 195 (already written) to Carlyle in a letter of 27 Dec., 1832 (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 133), in which he again summarizes his strenuous activities, including the composition of “The Currency Juggle” and “What Is Poetry?” The long quotation from Le National and Mill’s comment on it signal his continuing, indeed growing, interest in its editor, Armand Carrel, who probably wrote the article Mill quotes (“Des correspondances des journaux anglais,” 31 Oct., 1832, pp. 2-3). The article, headed as title, is in the “Political Examiner.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘French and English Journals’ in the Ex. of 2d December” (MacMinn, p. 23). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “French and English Journals” and enclosed in square brackets.
we quote the following article from the National:
The English Newspapers have a very convenient method of treating the affairs of France. Their editors seem never to take the trouble of studying, or even of reading, the organs of public opinion in this country. The only Parisian Journals which reach London are those which have been long established. The wiseacres of London affect to despise our Newspapers, and seem to imagine that the French are too light-headed, too destitute of reason, to be judges of their own affairs. Even as narrators of facts we are completely disdained by our insular brethren. Their custom is to have a correspondent here, to whose statements and to whose single opinion they give implicit confidence. So long as these correspondents have merely put forth contradictions and absurdities, we have paid no attention to them; but as they have evinced a peculiar animosity against the National, we must at least request that the editor who treats us with so much incivility will take the trouble to inform himself who and what we are.
For a long time past, the Paris correspondent of the London Globe has made us the subject of violent attacks: a week never goes by without his throwing out against us an epigram obligato: and frequently the London editor, without even deigning to cast his eyes upon his antagonist, re-echoes the witticism as from himself.1 We were at first surprised, we admit, at this want of fair-dealing and politeness in a Journal which is not destitute either of liberality or of enlightened views. But the Globe is essentially doctrinaire: it has all the qualities of that coterie, even down to their pedantry; and as we are naturally honoured with the hatred of that amphibious breed of political writers, it was quite simple that their English brethren, the half-Tories, half-Whigs, should follow the example. We, therefore, do not complain of their animosity, but of their dishonesty; of which the following is an instance:—
Last week there appeared in our columns an article on the state of Ireland, and the progress which the question of the Repeal of the Union is making in that country.2 In confirmation of our assertion, we said, that the accession of Mr. Sheil to the Repeal Party was one of the surest signs of that progress, and of the ultimate success of the proposition.3 We reasoned thus, not because Mr. Sheil possesses sufficient personal influence to determine the adoption of the measure, but because he is essentially a man of moderation and prudence, an enemy of extreme courses, and embracing them only when it is impossible or impolitic to delay longer, that is, when extreme courses begin to prevail. We announced Mr. Sheil’s conversion not as a cause, but as a presage of the great measure of a legislative separation of England and Ireland. This conclusion may not be relished by the Globe, the organ of Mr. Stanley;4 but the editor would not have contemned our argument if he had taken the trouble to know what it was.
The Galignani’s Messenger had cut down the article of the National into these few words, that the repeal must be carried, because Mr. Sheil has become a convert to it.5 Hereupon the Globe, who, it seems, reads Galignani but not the National, quotes the version which the former gave of the opinion of the latter, and adds to the quotation a disdainful remark.6
This is but one example among a thousand of the dishonesty and levity with which all French affairs are treated in the juste-milieu Papers of London, while their brethren here are preaching about the possibility of an alliance with England. Within this day or two another Paper, the Courier, observed, that it was much to be regretted that French troops should have gone into Don Pedro’s service, because their presence in the constitutional army served only to exasperate the Miguelites. Such is the funeral oration which that Paper pronounces on the brave French battalion which has been almost exterminated in defending Oporto!7
From our complaints against the soi-disant liberal English Journals, we must however except the Times, whose columns are open to correspondents of all opinions on French affairs. One of the correspondents, evidently and avowedly a Frenchman, is lavish of eulogium on the doctrinaires;8 but the language of good society is not unknown to him. The Times too, and the Times alone, seems to be conversant with the French Papers; and though its spirit of exclusive and selfish nationality makes it substantially our antagonist, it often redeems this fault by touches of generosity for which we are bound to give it credit.
We subscribe to the justice of the above strictures on the English Journalists, who, however, must not be confounded with the English people. One reason why our Newspaper Editors do not judge of France by the French Newspapers is, that they cannot help feeling how erroneously England would be judged if it were judged by them. The truth is (and our friends of the National must not allow themselves to forget it), that while the French Journals represent the most generous and high-minded portion of the French public, our Newspapers represent, almost exclusively, the baser and more sordid part of ours. The French Papers are written by the most enthusiastic, or the most ambitious,—either way the most aspiring,—among the youth of the educated and refined classes. Ours are conducted by hirelings, and as a trade. The French Journalists, in powers of thought and scientific acquirements, are the élite of their country; the English, as a class, are little if at all above the average of theirs. Nor does there exist in France any class corresponding to one sort of the persons connected with the English newspapers,—adventurers, uneducated and low-bred, whose connexion with the Press gives them a power which they never could have gained by any other means, which they are wholly unfit to be trusted with, and with which they play such “fantastic tricks before high heaven”9 as are naturally to be looked for in men intoxicated with unmerited and unexpected importance.
There are exceptions to the general low state of the English press. The Editor of the Globe, for instance, who has used our brother of the National so ill, is a gentleman and a scholar; and not without a conscience either, though he squares it a little too much by respectability.10 But he labours under a grievous misfortune,—a misfortune to his country, whom it deprives of the enthusiastic services of such a man; but a misfortune beyond all measure or limit to the man himself, the very heart of whose moral being it eats out,—the affliction of despising every one who is in earnest. His literary career has been that of a man who not only has no faith, no convictions of his own, but in whose estimation, to have any strong convictions, and to care any thing about them, is a proof of weakness, rawness, and ignorance of the world. He should prefix a motto to his Paper, and that motto should be “Rub on.” We will paraphrase it thus: “Mankind are foolish enough to care about certain things, and to believe that their lot might be better than it is. No wise man will share any such delusion; but, also, no wise man will fly in the face of mankind, and tell them that they are following an ignis fatuus, because they would be angry, and their anger would disturb his tranquillity, and a wise man values his tranquillity above all things. Therefore, a wise man does not like change; but when it would be more troublesome to resist than to yield, a wise man will let the fools have their way.”
Of course, such a man must despise the writers of the National, together with all persons else who are for any kind of “movement,” and, in general, all who have any aspirations beyond quietness and respectability. The National will remember Signor Pococurante in Candide, and how all great men, even of past ages, appeared little in his eyes.11 Voltaire has nowhere shewn a deeper insight into human nature.
The Editor of the National, (let us drop the idle circumlocution, and call him by his name,) M. Carrel, then, should know that he does too much honour to such a Paper as the Courier, when he condescends to censure it.12 Nothing goes farther to convince us how ignorant the French Journalists are of the state of public opinion in England, than their continuing to quote from the Courier in 1832, because it was the Treasury Journal in 1817. We beg to assure them that nobody in this country ever seeks or cares to know what the Courier thinks or says on any one thing, or on any person. Englishmen, to their shame be it said, can bear a large measure of political profligacy, when combined with talent; but a Paper which changes its Editor and its principles every three months, without any change in the proprietorship,13 and never once in ten years says one word deserving to be remembered, is too much for our stomachs.
It is difficult to explain, in the limits of an article, all the causes which render the English Newspapers an imperfect exponent of the feelings of the English people towards the French. We may just allude to a few of them. The enormous stamp duty on Newspapers, which is six or seven times higher than in France, is one cause why our Daily Press is limited in its circulation almost exclusively to the monied classes, and if it represents any opinion at all, represents that of those classes. Now M. Carrel will allow that the corresponding classes in France, the subscribers to the Débats and the Constitutionnel,14 are a miserably bad sample of the French nation; and we implore him to believe that ours represent the English nation quite as ill. Another circumstance, the force of which we cannot expect him to feel in the same degree, is the engrossing character of the avocation of a London daily journalist. As a piece of complex and elaborate machinery, a French Daily Newspaper to an English is a wheelbarrow to the steam-carriages on the Manchester railway. The man whose hand gives the impulse and whose head the guidance to that great engine, cannot stir from his post: he can neither read, think, nor converse with the world: he can but write. He neither strengthens his powers nor adds to his knowledge: such as he at first was, he remains,—spinning a lengthening thread of thin talk out of his original raw material of thought, or improvising a judgment on passing events with such share of untutored sagacity as God gave him, and no more. Now, most of our Newspaper writers began to write in the piping times of Toryism and national antipathy; and the wonder is, not that so little but that so much of the new ideas and new feelings of the English public should have reached them. M. Carrel compliments the Times on its occasional relaxations of its anti-French spirit: we can assure him that the “touches of generosity” which he speaks of, find a responding chord in every English bosom which Toryism has not petrified; while the spirit to which those touches are exceptions is very generally regarded as an instance of the antiquated John-Bullism, which, in many other things besides this, distinguishes that Journal. We can assure him, moreover, that the close union between France and England, which he seems to think chimerical, is earnestly desired by all parties in this country except the Tories; for our juste-milieu feels its cause bound up with the French juste-milieu, and our mouvement with the French mouvement. The popular party in England think as ill of the present French Government as M. Carrel himself, and are as anxious as he can be that republican institutions, whether with an elective or hereditary chief, should be firmly established in France. It is true we are imperfectly acquainted with France, and are therefore, perhaps, the more fearful; and we often tremble lest some imprudence or precipitation on the part of our friends and brothers the French patriots, should compromise their avenir and our own. But though we may occasionally advise and deprecate, and even remonstrate, their cause is still our cause: it is the cause of improvement against stagnation, of public spirit and virtue against corruption and intrigue; it is the cause to which, and to all who in singleness of purpose have espoused it, our souls are wedded without possibility of divorce; and by that and them, in good or evil fortune, in good report or bad, and whether our advice is followed or not, we have made our election to stand.
[1 ]Gibbons Merle (ca. 1796-1855) was Paris correspondent of the Globe and Traveller from 1829 to his death. See his attacks in the Globe and Traveller, 23 Oct., 1832, p. 3, and 29 Oct., p. 2, for example, and the accompanying leading articles on French affairs of those dates, both on p. 2.
[2 ]Carrel, “Irlande.—Rappel de l’union.—Lois sur la presse,” Le National, 23 Oct., 1832, p. 2.
[3 ]Richard Lalor Sheil (1791-1851) started life as a dramatist. He supported O’Connell in the 1820s and became an M.P. in 1830, supporting repeal.
[4 ]Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley (1799-1869), later 14th Earl of Derby and Prime Minister, was elected as a Whig M.P. in 1822. At this time he was a moderate supporter of reform in Grey’s cabinet.
[5 ]Galignani’s Messenger, 24 Oct., 1832, p. 4.
[6 ]“By the way, . . . [Le National] informs its readers that ‘it may now be considered as almost certain that the repeal of the Union between England and Ireland will be effected.’ Can you tell why, gentle reader?—because Mr. Shiel, who had hitherto remained silent on the subject, has declared himself, at Clonmel, to be in favour of it!!! What a tit-bit for the Gallic gobe-mouches!” (Globe and Traveller, 25 Oct., 1832, p. 2.)
[7 ]Dom Pedro (1798-1834), Emperor of Brazil since 1822, succeeded to the Portuguese throne as Pedro IV in 1826, but abdicated in favour of his daughter Maria da Gloria, aged seven. His younger brother, the absolutist Dom Miguel (1802-66), however, declared himself king in 1828. In 1831 Pedro came from Brazil to fight for his daughter’s rights. The liberals in England supported Pedro, who landed with troops, including 500 French and 300 British, at Oporto in July 1832. The siege was lifted, and Pedro became Regent for his daughter, who had become Maria II.
[8 ]See Letter from Paris (16 Oct.), The Times, 20 Oct., 1832, pp. 2-3.
[9 ]Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, II, ii, 121; in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 561.
[10 ]Walter Coulson (1794-1860), lawyer, associate of Bentham and James Mill, who had edited the Globe and Traveller from the time when John Mill wrote his early pieces for it.
[11 ]Voltaire, Candide, ou L’optimisme (1767), in Oeuvres complètes, Vol. XXXIX, pp. 296-302 (Chap. xxv).
[12 ]The Courier, founded as an opposition journal in 1792, after 1807 was considered a mouthpiece for the Tory ministers, but when the Whigs came to power in 1830 it quickly changed sides, often expressing Brougham’s views.
[13 ]From 1828 to 1832, the short-reigned editors of the Courier were Thomas George Street (who had edited it also from 1811 to 1817), Eugenius Roche, a Mr. McEntaggart, John Galt, and Gibbons Merle. The proprietorship seems to have been a group of shareholders having control from 1827; in 1830 the principal proprietor was William Stewart, who had as partners the brothers George and John Rennie.
[14 ]For the Journal des Débats, see No. 50, n4. The Constitutionnel, a bourgeois and liberal newspaper, was founded during the early days of the Restoration. After the July Revolution, it loudly supported the new regime and declined markedly in quality and circulation.