Front Page Titles (by Subject) 204.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 5 MAY, 1833, PP. 281-2 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
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204.: FRENCH NEWS  EXAMINER, 5 MAY, 1833, PP. 281-2 - 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 
Referring back to his similar accounts in May 1832 (see Nos. 162 and 172), Mill here summarizes with even more distaste the French legislative session, which had begun on 17 Nov., 1832, and ended on 25 Apr., 1833. The article is headed “London, May 5, 1833.” The entry in his bibliography covers this and No. 205: “The summary of French affairs in the Examiner of 5th and 19th May 1833” (MacMinn, p. 26). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, this article is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets, with seven corrections: at 569.4 “the year’s” is altered to “the last year’s”; at 569. 19 the comma after “colonies” is changed to a semi-colon; at 569.37 “which” becomes “who”; at 570.4 a comma is added after “qualification”; at 570.11 “abide” becomes “abides”; at 570.29 the comma after “budget” is changed to a colon; and at 571.24 “this an” becomes “this once an”.
at the close of the last year’s Session of the French Chambers, we made an inventory of the important measures of legislative improvement which had been submitted to the consideration of those Assemblies during the Session, and contrasting the great quantity of business laid before them, with the little which they had got through, we concluded that the use of a Chamber of Deputies as at present constituted in France, is not to make laws but to prevent them from being made. If we thought this last year, what are we to think now? Compared with the Session which has just closed, that of the preceding year was a prodigy of activity and usefulness. The measures of legislative improvement either real or pretended, which have been passed into laws this Session are exactly three. One of these abolishes the bounties on the re-exportation of French colonial sugar, substituting a drawback equal to the duty on importation, a slight approximation towards the principle of free trade, with which the interests of the public treasury happened in this instance fortunately to coincide.1 A short Act, in two short sentences, removed the political disabilities of free men of colour in the French colonies; and a third law gave to the slave-masters of those colonies the benefit of local representative assemblies, a privilege from which the slaves, who form the bulk of the population, will doubtless derive as great advantages and of the same kind as ours do in Jamaica.2
Two other Bills of far greater importance underwent a long and laborious discussion in the Chamber of Deputies, but the Session has terminated before either of them had even come on for consideration in the Chamber of Peers. One of these was a Bill for facilitating pecuniary arrangements with the owners of land required for public works, as roads, canals, and the like:3 a subject of great importance in France, where the multitude of small landed proprietors, their exorbitant claims of compensation, and the great delay and expense necessitated by the legal forms which must be gone through for compelling them to submit to a fair valuation, are obstacles to the improvement of the internal resources of France, often equivalent to an entire prohibition. The other Bill to which we allude, was one which public opinion has been demanding for the last fifteen years more urgently than any other single measure, the very question which turned out the Martignac Ministry. Its object was to render the departmental councils, who vote the local taxes and regulate the local affairs of the Departments (and who are now nominated by the Crown) elective bodies, appointed by the suffrages of at least some portion of the people.4 This portion, in the Bill as presented by Ministers, was not to exceed 150,000 electors, out of a population of 33,000,000 of souls. The Chamber of Deputies, in this instance more liberal than the King and his Ministers, lowered the qualification, and increased the number of electors to about 300,000.5 Even this electoral body was, one might think, rather circumscribed. But so displeasing to the “powers that be” was even this slight symptom of a democratic spirit, that after the Bill, as amended, had passed the Chamber of Deputies, Ministers delayed introducing it into the Chamber of Peers for a whole month, with the premeditated design of not leaving time for it to pass. By the close of the Session the Bill is lost, and the arbitrary nomination of these taxing and legislating bodies abides with Louis Philippe for at least another year.
What then has the Session produced? Produced! It has produced money. Its results are the vote of an enormous budget,6 and an endless series of extraordinary votes of credit.7 Meantime the French nation is falling deeper and deeper into difficulties. The revenue falls short of the expenditure by a large annual deficit, which is annually supplied partly by new loans, partly by the sale of what still remains of the forests belonging to the State. The national debt has, we believe, doubled since the fall of Napoleon, and augments largely every year. Meantime the mockery of a sinking fund is kept up;8 between three and four millions sterling of new debt are annually contracted for the redemption of old; and this process of transfer from the right pocket to the left, dropping a part by the way, is still vaunted by French financiers as the acme of financial knowledge and skill. M. Laffitte, long the main support of this ridiculous and exploded juggle, with the candour which distinguishes him, publicly renounced his error in a speech delivered in the late Session.9
Immediately after the prorogation, the Chambers were called together for a fresh Session.10 The sole object of this second convocation is more money: another year’s budget: and when that is obtained, as it will be (judging from experience) very promptly and easily, the Deputies will be dismissed.11 An alteration in the réglement, or standing orders of the Chamber of Deputies, fortunately enables the business which was commenced in one Session, to be taken up in the next at the point where it left off;12 and since many of the Bills introduced in the late Session and referred to select Committees, had been returned from these Committees before the prorogation and are ready for immediate discussion, it is to be hoped that the interval which must elapse before the budget of 1834 can have passed through the same preliminary stage, will be employed in passing some of those important Bills. The Chamber has now at length begun to deliberate on the Bill for establishing an elementary school in every parish.13 Let it but adopt this, and it will have done more for the substantial interests of France and mankind, than any French Legislature since the Bourbons were restored.
One solitary iota of commendation is due to the conduct of the Chambers during the Session which is just ended: they did not pass the Bill which the Ministers introduced for establishing an Irish Coercion system throughout France.14 This praise belongs to the Chamber of Peers; who are a conservative body in the genuine sense, determined neither to allow of new good nor new evil. The Chamber of Deputies had not the opportunity offered them of either adopting or throwing out this Bill, but they seem to have been desirous of leaving no doubt which of the two they would have done if the option had been given; so at least we judge from their conduct to the responsible editor of the Tribune newspaper. They summoned him before them to be tried for a libel upon themselves, (he had called them une chambre prostituée,) and having for this once an opportunity of being judges in their own cause, availed themselves of it to wreak upon poor M. Lionne, by the severest sentence consistent with the law, the accumulated vengeance due to the repeated refusals of Paris juries to assist by their verdicts in putting down the liberty of the press.15
[1 ]Bull. 95, No. 219 (26 Apr., 1833).
[2 ]Bull. 94, Nos. 215 and 216 (24 Apr., 1833).
[3 ]The bill was introduced on 12 Dec. (Moniteur, 1832, pp. 2137-8); it was reintroduced on 29 Apr. (ibid., 1833, p. 1200), and was enacted as Bull. 107, No. 241 (7 July, 1833).
[4 ]The bill, which had first been introduced on 15 Sept., 1831, was lost in the session suspended because of the cholera epidemic. Resubmitted in revised form on 8 Dec., 1832, it was reported back on 5 Jan. (Moniteur, 1833, pp. 42-4). Its progress continued in the next session and it was enacted as Bull. 104, No. 235 (22 June, 1833).
[5 ]A new Art. 9 resulted from an amendment on 16 Jan. (Moniteur, 1833, p. 126).
[6 ]For the measures, see No. 150, n2.
[7 ]See, e.g., Bull. 81, No. 188 (15 Dec., 1832), and Bull. 85, No. 195 (20 Mar., 1833).
[8 ]For its origin, see No. 140, n3.
[9 ]On 27 Feb. (Moniteur, 1833, pp. 549-50).
[10 ]It began the very day after the prorogation of the first session, on 26 Apr., and continued until 26 June.
[11 ]Mill’s prediction was fulfilled; when the budget (Bull. 106, Nos. 239 and 240) was approved, the session was prorogued.
[12 ]Salverte’s proposal (see No. 132) had finally been adopted by the Chamber of Deputies on 31 Dec., 1832, as Règlement relatif à la reprise des travaux législatifs interrompus par la clôture des sessions (Moniteur, 1833, p. 6).
[13 ]For earlier discussion, see Nos. 126 and 187, n6. The bill, after being promised in the Throne speech on 19 Nov., 1832, had been introduced on 31 Dec. (Moniteur, 1833, pp. 15-16); the repeated delays account for Mill’s frustrated tone.
[14 ]The Projet de loi relatif à l’état de siège of 10 Dec. (ibid., 1832, pp. 2118-19) was sent back to the commission (i.e., rejected) on 18 Feb. (ibid., 1833, pp. 425-30).
[15 ]The issue of La Tribune for 14 Mar. had been seized “comme excitant à la haine et au mépris du Gouvernement” (Moniteur, 1833, p. 703); in La Tribune of 2 Apr., p. 1, Lionne had written: “O le bon billet de La Châtre que nous donne là cette Chambre prostituée!” He was sentenced to three years in prison and 10,000 francs fine (Moniteur, 17 Apr., 1833, p. 1080).