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John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II [1831]

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John Stuart Mill, 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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About this Title:

Vol. 23 of the 33 vol. Collected Works contains Mill’s newspaper articles from 1831-1834, including many on the French Revolution of 1830 and a number on the Poor Law Report.

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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.

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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.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
volume xxiii
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]
Newspaper Writings
August 1831 - October 1834
Edited by ANN P. ROBSON Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto and JOHN M. ROBSON University Professor and Professor of English, University of Toronto
Introduction by ANN P. ROBSON Textual Introduction by JOHN M. ROBSON
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

© University of Toronto Press 1986

Toronto and Buffalo

Printed in Canada

ISBN 0-8020-2602-8

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

ISBN 0-7102-0983-5

Printed on acid-free paper

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Mill, John Stuart, 1806-1873.


Collected works of John Stuart Mill

Includes bibliographies and indexes.

Partial contents: v. 22-25. Newspaper writings / edited by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson.

ISBN 0-8020-2602-8 (v. 22-25).

1. Philosophy - Collected works.

2. Political science - Collected works.

3. Economics - Collected works.

I. Robson, John M., 1927-

II. Title.

B1602.A2 1963 192 C64-188-2 rev.

This volume has been published with the assistance of a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Edition: current; Page: [v]


  • August 1831 to July 1832 335
    • 113. French News [24] 335
    • 114. State of Parties in France 336
    • 115. The Peerage Question in France 341
    • 116. French News [25] 346
    • 117. French News [26] 346
    • 118. The Sugar Refinery Bill and the Slave Trade 347
    • 119. French News [27] 351
    • 120. French News [28] 351
    • 121. Dr. Whately’s Elevation to an Archbishopric 356
    • 122. French News [29] 356
    • 123. French News [30] 357
    • 124. French News [31] 357
    • 125. French News [32] 359
    • 126. French News [33] 359
    • 127. French News [34] 363
    • 128. French News [35] 364
    • 129. French News [36] 364
    • 130. French News [37] 367
    • 131. French News [38] 372
    • 132. French News [39] 373
    • 133. French News [40] 377
    • 134. French News [41] 381
    • 135. French News [42] 387
    • 136. French News [43] 392
    • 137. French News [44] 395
    • 138. The Irish Character 397
    • 139. Employment of Children in Manufactories 398
    • 140. French News [45] 401
    • 141. Hickson’s The New Charter 404
    • 142. French News [46] 405 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • 143. French News [47] 407
    • 144. Todd’s Book of Analysis 411
    • 145. French News [48] 417
    • 146. Female Emigrants 419
    • 147. French News [49] 421
    • 148. French News [50] 422
    • 149. French News [51] 423
    • 150. French News [52] 424
    • 151. Smart’s Outline of Sematology [1] 425
    • 152. French News [53] 427
    • 153. Smart’s Outline of Sematology [2] 429
    • 154. French News [54] 435
    • 155. Flower’s Songs of the Seasons 436
    • 156. French News [55] 438
    • 157. French News [56] 440
    • 158. Comparison of the Tendencies of French and English Intellect 442
    • 159. Lewis’s Remarks on the Use and Abuse of Political Terms 447
    • 160. French News [57] 452
    • 161. French News [58] 453
    • 162. The Close of the Session in France 453
    • 163. Property in Land 459
    • 164. French News [59] 460
    • 165. French News [60] 461
    • 166. Deaths of Casimir Périer and Georges Cuvier 462
    • 167. French News [61] 464
    • 168. Pemberton’s Lectures on Shakespeare 464
    • 169. French News [62] 466
    • 170. Death of Jeremy Bentham 467
    • 171. French News [63] 473
    • 172. French News [64] 474
    • 173. French News [65] 485
    • 174. Pledges [1] 487
    • 175. Lewin’s The Fisherman of Flamborough Head 494
    • 176. French News [66] 495
    • 177. Pledges [2] 496
    • 178. French News [67] 504
  • September 1832 to August 1833 507
    • 179. Recommendations of Candidates to Parliament 507
    • 180. French News [68] 509 Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • 181. French News [69] 511
    • 182. French News [70] 517
    • 183. French News [71] 519
    • 184. The Corn Laws 522
    • 185. French News [72] 523
    • 186. French and English Journals 525
    • 187. French News [73] 530
    • 188. French News [74] 532
    • 189. Death of Hyde Villiers 533
    • 190. French News [75] 533
    • 191. On the Necessity of Uniting the Question of Corn Laws with That of Tithes 534
    • 192. French News [76] 540
    • 193. Death of Charles Lameth 541
    • 194. The President’s Message 543
    • 195. Necessity of Revising the Present System of Taxation 545
    • 196. Errors and Truths on a Property Tax 549
    • 197. Flower’s Hymn of the Polish Exiles 554
    • 198. The Monthly Repository for March 1833 555
    • 199. French News [77] 560
    • 200. The Monthly Repository for April 1833 561
    • 201. Flower’s Mignon’s Song and When Thou Wert Here 562
    • 202. The Budget 563
    • 203. Confiscation Scheme of The Times 566
    • 204. French News [78] 568
    • 205. French News [79] 572
    • 206. Beolchi’s Saggio di poesie italiane 573
    • 207. The Monthly Repository for June 1833 574
    • 208. The Bank Charter Bill [1] 575
    • 209. The Ministerial Measure Respecting the Bank 576
    • 210. French News [80] 583
    • 211. Municipal Institutions 585
    • 212. The Bank Charter Bill [2] 590
  • September 1833 to October 1834 593
    • 213. The Quarterly Review on France 593
    • 214. The Monthly Repository for September 1833 595
    • 215. Note on Benefactors of Mankind 596
    • 216. The Ministerial Manifesto 596
    • 217. The Marvellous Ministry 608
    • 218. The Review of the Session Continued 618
    • 219. Lord Brougham’s Law Reforms 622 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • 220. The Corporation Bill 628
    • 221. Conduct of the Ministry with Respect to the Poor Laws 634
    • 222. Martineau’s A Tale of the Tyne 638
    • 223. Conduct of the Ministry with Respect to the Post-Office Department, and the Payment of Officers by Fees 643
    • 224. Napier’s The Colonies 647
    • 225. The Monthly Repository for December 1833 651
    • 226. French News [81] 656
    • 227. French News [82] 658
    • 228. War with Russia 658
    • 229. The Monthly Repository for January 1834 659
    • 230. French News [83] 661
    • 231. Wilson’s History of Rome 663
    • 232. French News [84] 664
    • 233. French News [85] 670
    • 234. Fontana and Prati’s St. Simonism in London 674
    • 235. French News [86] 680
    • 236. French News [87] 682
    • 237. French News [88] 684
    • 238. French News [89] 685
    • 239. The Poor Law Report 685
    • 240. The Poor Laws 686
    • 241. French News [90] 688
    • 242. French News [91] 689
    • 243. Reply to Dr. Prati 689
    • 244. State of Opinion in France 691
    • 245. French News [92] 698
    • 246. French News [93] 699
    • 247. French News [94] 700
    • 248. Flower’s Songs of the Months [1] 702
    • 249. French News [95] 703
    • 250. French News [96] 706
    • 251. French News [97] 706
    • 252. Walter on the Poor Law Amendment Bill 707
    • 253. The Poor Law Amendment Bill 713
    • 254. Death of Lafayette 716
    • 255. The English National Character 717
    • 256. Sarah Austin’s Translation of Cousin 727
    • 257. French News [98] 732
    • 258. French News [99] 733
    • 259. The New Colony [1] 733
    • 260. French News [100] 735 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • 261. The New Colony [2] 735
    • 262. French News [101] 737
    • 263. Wakefield’s The New British Province of South Australia 738
    • 264. French News [102] 743
    • 265. The Poor Law Bill 743
    • 266. French News [103] 745
    • 267. Garnier’s Deutsches Leben, Kunst, und Poesie [1] 746
    • 268. French News [104] 746
    • 269. French News [105] 747
    • 270. Garnier’s Deutsches Leben, Kunst, und Poesie [2] 748
    • 271. New Australian Colony 749
  • Facsimiles
    • Mill’s MS list of his articlesxi
      • bound with his copy of the Examiner, 1833
    • French News [78] xii
      • Examiner, 5 May, 1833, p. 281 xii
Edition: current; Page: [x] Edition: current; Page: [xi]

Mill’s MS list of his articles bound with his copy of the Examiner, 1833

Somerville College Library

Edition: current; Page: [xii]

French News [78]

Examiner, 5 May, 1833, p. 281

Somerville College Library

Edition: current; Page: [333]

August 1831 to October 1834

Edition: current; Page: [334] Edition: current; Page: [335]

August 1831 to July 1832

113.: FRENCH NEWS [24]
EXAMINER, 21 AUG., 1831, P. 538

Mill here resumes his regular comments on French political affairs, his last article having been on 24 Apr. (No. 102). Described in Mill’s bibliography as “A short summary of French affairs in the Examiner of 21st August 1831” (MacMinn, p. 17), the unheaded item is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the french chamber of deputies has continued, during the whole of the last week the important debate on the address.1 Several orators of considerable ability have appeared among the new members; and several of those who had already distinguished themselves have signalized the present discussion by some of their most successful efforts.

The debate, too, comprehends every topic, both of internal and foreign policy; and contributes greatly to make known, and in no small degree probably even to form, the political views which will predominate in the conduct of the new Chamber.

We shall wait for the termination of this discussion, before we offer to our readers the facts which it discloses, and the observations which it suggests. Few debates, within our recollection, have been calculated to suggest so many; few have afforded so complete a picture of the situation of parties, and the state of the public mind, or such abundant materials for conjectures diving deep into futurity.

The discussion has been stormy; the natural consequence, among an excitable people, of the arrival of two hundred new deputies unused to the forms of debate, and the violent passions excited by a division of parties so nearly equal as to afford a hope of victory to each on every division.

It is not often that we have had it in our power to applaud the articles of the Times on foreign affairs, and we have the greater pleasure in referring to that of Edition: current; Page: [336] Friday last, in which the sitting of the Monday preceding, the most tempestuous of all, is commented upon with great good sense, and in the best spirit.2

EXAMINER, 28 AUG., 1831, PP. 545-6

This article, headed as title, begins the “Political Examiner.” Described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘State of Parties in France’ in the Examiner of 28th August 1831” (MacMinn, p. 17), it is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

of the four hundred and fifty-nine members of the late Chamber of Deputies, two hundred have not been re-elected: and although several of these will obtain seats in the new Chamber by means of the vacancies occasioned by the double, triple, and quadruple returns, the change is sufficient to render the present legislature of France essentially a new body.

This renovation is most auspicious to the tranquility and improvement of France, and of all Europe. It is far more than was anticipated from the very limited constituency by which the French Parliament is even now elected; and it is sufficient to induce us to desire, that the people of France may rest satisfied with their present electoral qualification for some time longer, and postpone any further extension of popular rights, until the great step which their institutions have now made, shall have had leisure to produce its fruits.

A body, which in so large a proportion consists of new members, who have never before figured in politics, and are not yet pledged to any specific course of public measures, was not likely to assume a very decided character all at once. The majority in the New Chamber has hitherto been a fluctuating one; but it is ascertained that the Liberal party has sufficiently increased in strength, to influence, though not to govern, the decisions of the entire body; and that all propositions, tending to the removal of defects, and the introduction of progressive improvements in the institutions and social condition of France, will meet with a far more favourable reception from the present Chamber than from the last.

This large increase in the strength of the popular party has not been furnished, agreeably to the trite generalities of common-place politics, by the great towns and manufacturing districts. These, in France, are the seats of the wealthy and pusillanimous, and in these, consequently, the popular party has sustained numerous defeats; in Paris itself they have decidedly lost ground, and of the great cities, Strasbourg is the only one where the elections have gone wholly in their favour. As we are writing this, we perceive that the contrary proposition has been Edition: current; Page: [337] put forth in the British Parliament with an innocent naïveté of self-complacency, which irresistibly invites us to quote. In the House of Commons, on Wednesday last, according to the Times newspaper, Mr. Praed delivered himself as follows:

His historical studies had convinced him, that at all times, and in all nations, the inhabitants of towns had been prone to support, and the inhabitants of the country prone to oppose, all kinds of innovation. No man had analyzed so closely as he had the constitution of the present Chamber of Deputies in France, and he saw invariably that it was the Deputy for the vineyard and the corn-field that opposed, and the Deputy for the manufactory and the workshop that supported, the party of the movement.1

Perhaps this Senator, who in the prosecution of his “historical studies,” has “analyzed so closely the constitution of the present Chamber of Deputies,” will condescend to substantiate the accuracy of his analysis by accounting for the following facts:

That three of the four Members for Lyons, three of the four Members for Bordeaux, two of the three Members for Rouen, two of the three Members for Metz, the Member for Havre, the Member for St. Etienne, both the Members for Arras, and two of the three Members for Nantes,* belong to the Ministerial, or stationary party:

That the manufacturing departments of Artois and Flanders return twenty Deputies, of whom five only belong to the popular party:

That the department of Seine-Inférieure, the principal seat of manufactures in the North of France, returns eleven Deputies, of whom at least eight are ministerial: while the other three departments of the same province (Normandy) which are chiefly agricultural, return twenty-two Deputies, of whom all except seven belong to the opposition:

That the Member for Beaune is M. Mauguin, and that the departments of Côte d’Or and Saône-et-Loire, comprising the ancient Burgundy, and electing twelve Deputies, have furnished only four to the Ministerial benches:

And, finally, that the south and west of France, the most peculiarly agricultural districts, return a decided majority of Members belonging to the popular party. Thus the Pyrénées-Orientales return three Deputies, Landes three, Ariège three, all on the popular side: Gers, four out of five; Gard, four out of five; Aude, three, if not four, out of five; Var, three out of five; Isère, five out of seven; Dordogne, five out of seven; Charente-Inférieure, six out of seven; Tarn, four out of five; Vendée, we believe, all five; Vienne, four out of five; Haute-Vienne, all five; Deux-Sèvres, three out of four. When Mr. Praed shall have explained all this, we will allow him to make what he can of the elections for Champagne and the Gironde, the only conspicuous cases in accordance with his theory.

Edition: current; Page: [338]

The notion that there is an innovating tendency in manufactures and trade, while agriculture is essentially conservative, belongs to a mind accustomed to look at history only in the gross, without any capacity for scrutiny and analysis; and disappears on a more accurate sifting of the very facts which have suggested the theory. The principle of improvement in modern Europe has had its source in the towns, only because in them security and personal freedom were earliest enjoyed: resistance to innovation has generally been headed by the proprietors of the land, only because the institutions on which it was proposed to innovate, were usually of their making and for their advantage. It always affords a strong presumption of political quackery, to announce a principle of politics as true “at all times and in all nations;” but it may safely be set up, not as a universal but a very general truth, that the tendency to keep things as they are, prevails chiefly not among the town or the country population in particular, but among the wealthy: those who have most to lose and least to gain; those who have thriven under existing arrangements, and cannot be sure that they shall thrive equally if these arrangements are altered. And this conservative tendency (as it is called) belongs perhaps more strongly to manufacturing and commercial, than even to landed wealth; because the former descriptions of property are more precarious in their nature, more dependant for their value on general tranquillity, and more exposed even to total destruction. And hence, no doubt, it is, that in the great seats of French manufactures and commerce, the elections have for the most part afforded to the statu quo party the signal triumph evidenced by the facts which we have cited above.

The people of England must seek other informants than those in whom they at present trust, if they would understand the real character of the two great parties between whom the political public of France is at present divided.

There are thousands of good easy people who are simple enough to believe, that the whole of the opposition to the present Ministry of France consists of Republicans and Bonapartists. Now, the Bonapartists have for the most part far too much of the wisdom of this world, to place themselves in opposition to any Government; certainly not to that of Louis-Philippe, who being afraid of them, as he is afraid of all things whatsoever, made sure of them from the first, by scattering among them, with a lavish hand, places and honours. And as for the Republicans (though a great noise is kept up about them by the King and the Ministry, in order to make a bulwark for themselves of the superstitious terror which that word excites in the minds of the French nation), they are really very few in number; not accustomed to act in concert, confined almost entirely to Paris, consisting principally of very young men, and not likely, unless aided by some grievous blunder of the Government, to have any echo in France for many years to come. The Opposition party, on the contrary, is powerful and united, strong in the fame and abilities of its Parliamentary leaders, strong in its alliance with the prevailing tendencies of the national mind: long since predominant in Edition: current; Page: [339] the press and in the nation; already of equal strength, and certain to be soon a majority, in the strong-hold of its adversaries, the Chamber of Deputies.

It would give a very inadequate conception of the fundamental difference between the Ministerial party and the Opposition, were we merely to enumerate the acts, or state the professed principles, of either. The questions are but few, which there has yet been time to discuss, or on which they have made up their minds; and yet, whatever subject of debate may arise,—from the difference in their habitual feelings and modes of thinking it would not be difficult to predict which side they would respectively espouse. The leading minds on both sides have fixed principles, and systematically consistent opinions: but who is so wild as to inquire the fixed principles of five hundred men? In the age we live in, men class themselves according to their instincts, and not to their creeds: men’s characters are not determined by their opinions, but their opinions by their characters. The ministerial party is mainly governed by the instinct of conservation, the opposition by the instinct of progression. Dread of innovation is the strongest feeling in the one, desire of improvement in the other. They cannot be more happily characterized than by their current denominations, the party of Movement, and that of Resistance.

The stationary party, grouped round the King and the present Prime Minister,2 are anxious to keep all things unchanged, or to change as little as possible. Had it depended upon them, the nation must have been contented with a far smaller extension of the elective franchise: most of them voted against the principal clauses of the recent election law.3 They are mostly strong adherents of the hereditary peerage. They are averse to all further extension of popular privileges; averse to war, less on its own account, than because it would be a change; and enemies of the press, because it is perpetually thwarting their favourite purpose by calling for change.

The progressive party was that which extorted from the Government the recent change in the election law; and is about to extort from it, to its great displeasure, the abolition of a hereditary peerage.4 From them proceed the demands for complete liberty of the press, and its enfranchisement from the oppressive taxes, by which, as in our own country, it is almost weighed down. They it is who demand the abolition of the numerous monopolies, which restrain the free employment of industry in the interior of France. They are the most zealous advocates of popular municipal institutions, for managing the local concerns of the town or of the department. From them, too, proceeds the demand for abolishing the despotic surveillance which the government exercises over all Edition: current; Page: [340] places of education. They alone have manifested any real sympathy with the most numerous and poorest class: they alone have shown any disposition to retrenchment, or to altering the taxes so as to alleviate their pressure upon those least able to bear them; and it was they who caused to be inserted in the Address, a promise, though a distant and conditional one, of elementary education to be provided for the poorest classes at the public charge.5 They, too, are those who sympathise the most strongly with the oppressed patriots of foreign countries: and it is chiefly here that there is any danger lest they should drive their country into measures which, however generously intended, would be perilous to the progress of civilization and of the spirit of freedom in France and in Europe, which at this period, demands, above all other requisites, peace and tranquillity.

This is the party which, by the recent elections, is now barely not a majority in the new Chamber of Deputies. And until the national mind is formed by discussion and education, to a calmer and more practical weighing of public questions than it has yet proved itself to be capable of, there is perhaps nothing better to be hoped, than that the progressive and the conservative spirit, which fail to be properly tempered with one another in each individual mind, should yet be so equally distributed through the whole body, as to afford hope that between opposite passions reason may generally hold the balance. That it will be so, there are many gratifying indications, in the votes, and the general spirit of the new Chamber.

The progressive party are now sure of ultimate preponderance; for every month strengthens their hold upon the national mind, and every death or resignation which gives a younger deputy for an older, or one who is new to public life for one who is already committed, affords them a chance of an additional adherent. More rapid progress than this we do not desire for them; nor if they are wise, will they wish it for themselves. It is not always advisable that the strong should exert their strength, however conscious of a good cause. Great changes should not be made at the first moment when a bare majority can be obtained for them. The idlest fears, the most unfounded dislikes, must have some time allowed them to wear off. Nothing which can be gained by a slight acceleration of the improvement of institutions, is an equivalent for the danger incurred when they improve faster than the minds of a large and powerful part of the nation.

We now feel assured, that even the present ministry will not be allowed to carry on the government in a stationary spirit: that concessions, far beyond what seemed probable six months ago, must be made, and made continually, to the demands of the age for improvement: and, certain of this, we are not anxious that changes, even the safest in themselves, should take place with a rapidity Edition: current; Page: [341] alarming to the timid—that is, to the great majority of the possessors of considerable property. Nor have we any apprehension that the leaders of the popular party will urge its demands too impetuously, unless pressed forward with heedless violence by injudicious adherents out of doors. On the contrary, we perceive with pleasure, and if the phrase may be permitted us, with pride,—that while those who call themselves the moderate party have too often displayed an irritability and intemperance which has fixed on them the soubriquet of hommes furieux de modération,6 the popular leaders maintain, and have maintained throughout, a dignity, a calmness, and a forbearance, which entitles them, and them only, to the praise of genuine and honourable moderation. The two speeches of their principal orator, M. Odilon Barrot, in the discussion on the address, are not only temperate and conciliating in expression and tone, but he who can read them and ascribe violent sentiments or exaggeratedly democratic opinions to this wise and eloquent patriot, must have come predetermined to interpret the mind of an opponent in the spirit of his own perverseness.7

EXAMINER, 4 SEPT., 1831, PP. 563-4

The article, headed as title, appears in the “Political Examiner,” and is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘The Peerage Question in France’ in the Examiner of 4th September 1831” (MacMinn, p. 17). It is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set; that edition includes the subheading, “(From a Correspondent),” that is not in other sets.

the french ministry has proposed the abolition of the Hereditary Peerage.1

M. Casimir Périer does not disguise that this is a concession, extorted from him, contrary to his individual inclinations, by the spirit of the times. This avowal has brought upon him the severe reprehension of the more vehement partisans on both sides. They treat him as one who abandons his political creed, from motives of convenience: a censure in which we cannot join. Principles of government are not laws of eternal nature, but maxims of human prudence, fluctuating as the mind of man and the exigencies of society. A truth, in politics, Edition: current; Page: [342] which is no longer suited to the state of civilization and the tendencies of the human mind, has ceased to be a truth. The will of the majority is not to be obeyed as a law, but it is to be attended to as a fact: the opinions and feelings of the nation are entitled to consideration, not for their own sake, but as one of the circumstances of the times; one of the elements of that existing state of society, upon which your laws have to operate; an important part of the situation of the country: a cause, which produces effects not to be overlooked; a power, which so largely modifies and interferes with all you do, that unless it is allowed for in your calculations, you can predict nothing.

M. Périer is at liberty to think that it is the faults, and not the virtues, of his countrymen, which render a hereditary peerage unfit for them: it is enough that he perceives that institution to be radically incompatible with the feelings and habits of the French people. Solon has not been accused of tergiversation, for saying that he had given to the Athenians, not the best possible laws, but the best which they were capable of receiving;2 and M. Périer, apparently, considers himself to be following in the footsteps of the Athenian lawgiver.

Though we cannot join with the French Minister in lamenting that state of public opinion which renders a hereditary peerage no longer possible in France; its expediency, like that of most other political institutions, is, with us as with him, a question of time, place, and circumstance. This is not the place for determining, with precision, the conditions which are required to render that institution eligible. The consideration would lead us far beyond the present subject, and we are not writing a treatise on the art of government. But, that the most indispensable of those conditions is wanting in France, the most superficial knowledge of that country is sufficient to evince.

All arguments in favour of an Upper Chamber assume that the Lower one is liable to be too much under the immediate influence of public opinion; that it is too accessible to sudden gusts of popular feeling; and if not held in check by another body, would vacillate between opposite extremes, and innovate too frequently and too suddenly. Suppose, therefore, a people liable to these sudden gusts, and a Lower House so constituted as not to be likely to resist them: where shall the Upper House find strength to withstand the united impulse of the people and the Chamber of Deputies?—Not in the sword: for the sword, without some one to wield it, is but cold iron. Mankind, in these days, are not ruled by the sword, but by opinion; and a power which will dare resist the people, must be conscious of a moral ascendancy over them. But birth and wealth confer no moral ascendancy in France; and the French Peerage, moreover, possess, for the most part, neither the one nor the other.

Edition: current; Page: [343]

Persons who have never lived out of England imagine that the respect of mankind attaches itself to riches and genealogy by an inherent virtue; and the conception of those extrinsic advantages existing apart from unbounded deference and homage, is more than they are able to figure to themselves. Frenchmen, on the other hand, are no less astonished at finding that in this country the Duke of Northumberland3 is a greater man than Sir Humphrey Davy, and Mr. Baring than Sir Walter Scott. This is one of those broad and all-pervading differences between nations, which render it absurd to transfer institutions ready-made from one country to another. The only moral ascendancy in France is that of personal qualities; and personal qualities are not hereditary.

There is no great difference of opinion in France respecting the ends to be aimed at in the composition of a Second Chamber. The Courrier Français, one of the ablest and most stedfast of the popular journals, in a sober and well-reasoned article on the peerage question, lays down these principles: That the well-being of society depends upon the due intermixture of the conservative and the progressive spirit; that the progressive tendency is naturally predominant in an assembly purely popular in its constitution: and it is consequently desirable, that, in the other branch of the legislature, the balance should incline to the conservative side.4 A doctrine precisely similar was laid down by M. Casimir Périer, in his speech introducing the ministerial project. He said, that to each of the two Chambers was confided, in a more peculiar degree, the guardianship of one of the two principles, on the apt combination of which good government depends: to the Peers, the element of stability—to the Deputies, the element of improvement. The parties being thus sufficiently agreed on the question of principle, all that remains open to debate is a question of fact; namely, what are the materials in France for forming an assembly, which, with a decided overbalance of the conservative spirit, shall unite the greatest attainable amount of wisdom and virtue? With this view the popular party are ready to admit of rather a high qualification in age, and even in property, because the tendencies of age, and of riches, are generally adverse to change. And they contend that the Second Chamber should be exclusively composed of “les illustrations nationales;”5 of men of established reputation in all the greater concerns of mankind, in politics, judicature, literature, science, and war. Such persons, having little to gain in reputation and much to lose, have an interest against rash experiments, similar to that which men of large fortune have; while they possess also (what men of large fortune have not) tried abilities, to prevent their tardiness from degenerating into a stupid dread of innovation; and a natural influence on the public mind, which gives weight to their opinions, and ensures, as far as any Edition: current; Page: [344] thing can ensure, a willing acquiescence in their decrees. New men, on the contrary, who have their reputation to acquire, and who, having less of the self-distrust which is the fruit of experience, are supposed to be more easily fired by vast schemes of improvement, and less alive to difficulties and dangers, would find their fit place in the Chamber of Deputies, where this faulty excess of valuable qualities could do no harm, as all their acts would be subject to the revision of the more cautious body.

It is a great mistake, therefore, to suppose that the contest against the inheritableness of the Peerage arises from a levelling spirit, or a reckless impatience of any obstacle to the omnipotence of the popular will. It is an affair of philosophy and reflection, not of blind passion; although doubtless, in France, the hatred of unearned distinctions is a passion, and an almost universal one. Glad should we be, nevertheless, if we thought, that in our own country, such a question would be argued on either side with so impartial a judgment, or upon principles so unambiguous, definite, and comprehensive.

The project of M. Casimir Périer includes no change in the constitution of the Second Chamber, beyond the suppression of the hereditary principle. The Peers are to hold their seats for life, to be unlimited in their numbers, and to be named solely by the King. To the first of these three propositions, the popular party do not object; but the other two will be strongly opposed, and an attempt made for a partial introduction of the principle of popular election, either by requiring the King to select from candidates presented by the electors or by the Chamber of Deputies, or by giving the absolute nomination of a certain proportion to the King, and a certain proportion to the people.

On this occasion, as on almost every other, it will be found on trial how much easier it is to destroy than to rebuild; how much more obvious it commonly is, what is bad, than what is good. Yet we incline to the opinion that M. Périer’s plan has the advantage over every other which has been proposed. We are convinced that no functionary who holds his place for life, ought to be chosen by popular election. A numerous body (and the people are the most numerous of all bodies), is essentially unfit to perform any act that is to be irrevocable. Nothing but a keen sense of undivided responsibility is a guarantee for the degree of forethought and deliberation which such an act demands. What renders popular election endurable, and even causes it to work well upon the whole (more than this cannot yet be said of any government, in so imperfect a state of the human mind), is the frequent opportunities which the people have of correcting a first error. If they were held by an indissoluble tie to their first choice, how bitterly they would often repent of it. The public are scarcely judges of a man’s qualifications until he has been tried; and impostors, who knew that what was once gained could no more be lost, would exhaust all the resources of deception. On the other hand, if the election is for short periods, the Second Chamber is but another First Chamber, and may very well be spared.

Men who are nominated for life are, of course, irresponsible when once Edition: current; Page: [345] appointed; the utmost you can do is to secure a considerate choice: and this you are more likely to obtain from an officer responsible to the people, than from the people themselves. The King, it is true, is not responsible, but his Ministers are; that is to say (the only true meaning of ministerial responsibility), they incur more or less danger of losing their places by a misuse of this power, or of any other. If the constitution of the Lower House is not sufficient to prevent the systematic misapplication of the royal power, it is good for very little. The privilege of creating Peers is not more liable to abuse, under an adequately representative government, than that of appointing judges or general officers. The true wisdom of the people is, to take every possible security that whatever power is given to their supreme government shall not be abused to selfish ends, and then to let the measure of that power be large and liberal.

But the popular party in France are at present in a position which renders complete impartiality impossible. They are biassed by a well-grounded distrust of the present Ministry and King; who, during the transitional state of the national institutions, and the wavering and unsettled disposition of the representative Chamber, are sure to throw the whole weight of all the powers which may be entrusted to them, into the scale opposite to improvement. And it is feared, not altogether without reason, that the hereditary principle, though eliminated from the laws, may practically survive its nominal abrogation, in the hands of a King and Ministry avowed adherents of it, and empowered to confer the peerage, if it so please them, upon the lineal heir of every deceased Peer. If so, the new system will have all the disadvantages of the old one, together with the additional one of rendering the peerage still more dependant upon the Crown.

This danger, however, will probably be obviated by an amendment, which the Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, though composed almost entirely of adherents of the Minister, is expected to introduce, and by which the King, in his nominations to the peerage, will be restricted to persons of certain classes, or of a certain definite description. The limitations, no doubt, will leave ample scope for improper choice. But the promotions of the Dupin’s, and Jars’s, and Rambuteau’s,6 from one Chamber to the other, will at least have this advantage, that their places in the more influential body will be better filled; for the same electors who will not cashier an old representative, will often elect a fitter one in his place when he retires. And France will at least have gained the extinction of the hereditary principle; a good in itself, and an important step in the progress of constitutional improvement.

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116.: FRENCH NEWS [25]
EXAMINER, 4 SEPT., 1831, P. 569

This paragraph is headed “London, September 4.” The entry in Mill’s bibliography, covering this and forty-two other articles (up to and including No. 178), reads: “The summary of French news in the Examiner from 4th September 1831 to 15th July 1832 inclusive, missing only one Sunday (July 1st) and comprising many long articles” (MacMinn, p. 17). Actually one other issue, that for 13 Nov., 1831, also has no summary of French news. This brief notice is listed as “Paragraph on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the speech of the French Minister of Finance, on presenting the budget, holds out expectations of a considerable relaxation of the restrictions on the importation of foreign commodities.1 We hail this with joy, as the first indication of an improved spirit on these subjects in the French Government.

117.: FRENCH NEWS [26]
EXAMINER, 11 SEPT., 1831, P. 584

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The summary, headed “London, September 11,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the commission, or Select Committee, appointed by the French Chamber of Deputies to examine and report upon the proposed law relative to the Peerage,1 is expected almost immediately to present its report. A day will then be immediately appointed for the commencement of the debate.

In the mean while the Chamber has afforded an agreeable earnest of its disposition to retrenchment, by making a reduction of one half in the emoluments of its own President, and its two executive officers termed Quaestors. One of the Paris correspondents of The Times considers this measure to be of most evil augury, and writes with great apprehension of the spirit of economy which is abroad.2 We hope that this specimen of the juste-milieu party so warmly espoused by The Times, will not be lost upon the readers of that journal.

The advantages of a cheap government are visible by the light of mere good intentions. We fear that less is to be expected from the Chamber wherever Edition: current; Page: [347] reading, meditation, and political experience, are among the requisites of practical wisdom. The new members who compose nearly half the Chamber, consist chiefly of obscure men, who have never stirred, either bodily or mentally, out of their little country village. This is to be ascribed to a variety of causes. One cause is the needless and mischievous provision of the Charter, by which every department is required to select at least half its deputies from the inhabitants of the department.3 Another is the narrow limits within which the choice of the constituency is still restrained, by the pecuniary conditions of eligibility. A third is the breaking up of the constituent body into small fractions, by the narrow extent of the electoral districts; many of which do not muster more than from two to three hundred electors, who do not include any inhabitants of considerable towns, nor even are under the habitual influence of such, by personal intercourse either in politics or daily life. Neither must we omit to observe, that most of the politicians who figured in public affairs before the revolution of 1830 were disqualified by their servile habits, and retrograde or stationary spirit, from being the representatives of electors who repudiate those habits and that spirit, and whose choice, consequently, was unavoidably made, in a great measure, from the young or the untried.

Three elections have lately taken place for Paris, Lunéville, and Boulogne; all have terminated in favour of the ministerial candidates. The last of the three is a victory, for the retiring member belonged to the Opposition. In the other two cases the predecessors of the new members were of the same politics as themselves.

The remarks of our Paris correspondent on the character and disposition of the Chamber will be read with interest.4

EXAMINER, 18 SEPT., 1831, PP. 594-5

This article is in response to the temporary alliance between the West India planters and traders and the “Saints” (the Evangelical Clapham Sect) and their fellow opponents of slavery, in opposition to “A Bill to Continue and Amend the Provisions of the Acts for Allowing Sugar to Be Delivered out of Warehouse to Be Refined,” 1 & 2 William IV (29 Sept., 1831), PP, 1831, III, 437-40 (not enacted), which was designed to amend and continue 11 George IV & 1 William IV, c. 72 (23 July, 1830). Mill’s leading article, in the “Political Examiner,” is headed as title. Described in his bibliography as “An article headed ‘The Sugar Refinery Bill and the Slave Trade’ in the Examiner of 18th September 1831” (MacMinn, p. 18), it is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

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the saints and the west indians, those inveterate enemies, whose quarrels, next to those of the Orangemen and Catholics, engross the unceasing attention of the Ministry and Parliament; those rival powers between whom the administration of the day is perpetually engaged in negociating a compromise, not on the principle of giving to each his due, but on the simpler and easier one of giving to each half his demand—the Saints and the West Indians, strange to say, are now, for the first time, enlisted under the same banner,—fighting in a common cause against the Ministry. The subject of this contest is the proposed renewal of the temporary act, which permits foreign sugar to be refined in this country. The West Indians oppose this, because the sugar does not come from their plantations; the Saints, because it comes, in great part, from countries which have not effectually abolished the African Slave Trade.

While the Reform Bill is pending,1 the reasons are obvious for keeping all other questions precisely as they are; for attempting no change, which can be deferred until it can be subjected to the deliberation of a better legislature,—commencing no discussion to which the attention of the public, those persons excepted who have a personal interest in the question, would be very slackly and lazily directed. Since, therefore, the proposed Bill does not change the existing law, but keeps it as it is for a year longer, when it would otherwise revert from what it is to what it formerly was;2 the course of every wise and disinterested Member of Parliament should be to vote with the Minister,3 leaving the ultimate disposal of the question to a reformed Parliament.

It is not, however, to be disguised that the objections to the measure, considered as an indirect encouragement of the Slave Trade, are of very considerable weight. And no subject calls more loudly for consideration, so soon as there shall be leisure for it, than the large annual sacrifices which the English nation has long made, and still continues to make, for the suppression of the trade in negroes, while it has yet failed to discover the means of rendering those sacrifices really available for the truly virtuous purpose for which it readily and eagerly incurs them. What follows? Not any motive for abandoning the attempt; but merely a new illustration of the maxim of universal experience, that half-measures are in the end almost always more troublesome and costly than effectual ones.

The treaties for the abolition of the Slave Trade were a phenomenon previously unknown; an indication of an immense step in the progress of Edition: current; Page: [349] mankind; the first solemn recognition by the European powers that nations have duties, other than the merely negative one of not molesting one another; the first international compact which had both for its avowed and for its true object, not the security or aggrandizement, real or imaginary, of the contracting parties themselves—but the performance of a disinterested service to a third party, which that party had no claim to, except the claims of humanity.4 This great step having been achieved, and the possibility having been demonstrated that nations, as well as individuals, may be induced to bind themselves to perform an act of virtue, at the sacrifice of their immediate selfish interests; what is to hinder them from combining in a similar manner to overcome another and a much less appalling difficulty—that of compelling a few unprincipled individuals, or a few unprincipled governments, to abide by the general compact?

For many years it was affirmed, that the French Government was the principal obstacle to the complete annihilation of the slave trade. The French Government would now be no obstacle. It is eager to render its measures of prevention as effectual as possible. In the last session, a bill passed the Chambers, and became law, for this express purpose.5 The interests opposed to the cause of slave-trade abolition, in France, are comparatively feeble; and the public feeling would support the Government (of whose good inclination on this subject there is no doubt) in any reasonable measure which could be proposed to it by our Ministry, for giving effect to the wishes of every honest man in the two countries.

The real obstacles to the extirpation of the Slave Trade are Portugal and Brazil; and shall England and France, either of whom could conquer both countries in a single campaign, allow their noblest purposes to be baffled by these contemptible little powers, when for half the annual expense of Sierra Leone, they might take means for searching every vessel which enters the ports of either country?

In the mean time, England is spending immense sums, and the lives of thousands of her people, upon a pestilential swamp on the coast of Africa; and, finding that this does no good, she is meditating another experiment of the same kind in another spot, little better than the first; she has her Sierra Leone, and her Fernando Po (compare either of them with the American black colony of Liberia!).6 But this is not all: she is inflicting a real injustice upon her own colonists, by restrictive regulations, which do not at all conduce to the Edition: current; Page: [350] suppression of the African Slave Trade, but which greatly aggravate the inevitable ruin of our ancient Slave Colonies. We allude more particularly to the prohibition of the trade in slaves between colony and colony.

It is well known, that the numerous and extensive colonial possessions, which we acquired in the last war,7 have by their inexhaustible productiveness, and the immense increase of their cultivation, so greatly undersold our old Slave Islands (which were never equally fertile, and are now in a great degree exhausted) that the proprietors of the latter are utterly and irrecoverably impoverished.8 As their estates have sunk in value, and their produce has fallen off, there is of course no internal market for their slaves. On the other hand, in the thriving colonies whose competition has ruined them, the increase of the demand for labour is constantly raising the price of slaves; and the difficulty of increasing the number is an increasing temptation to overwork them more and more. We are informed, that in Tobago the price of an able-bodied slave is not more than thirty pounds sterling, while in the neighbouring island of Trinidad, a new and fertile colony, it is not less than eighty. The ruin of the former colony would be partly alleviated, if its proprietors were permitted to dispose of their slaves to those who are suffering for want of them. The old colonies would then be almost entirely abandoned; and the British legislature would no longer be deafened with the din of never-ceasing demands, that the people of England may be taxed to relieve the distress of those, whose distress admits of no permanent relief, unless they are to be maintained as pensioners of the English nation.

We can conceive no motive for the prohibition of the internal Slave Trade, except the fear, that under colour of importing slaves from our own colonies, they would be imported from Africa. But this there could be no difficulty in guarding against, as the slaves are all registered. Governments, when they really wish it, succeed every day in taking efficacious precautions for the observance of regulations far more difficult to enforce.

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119.: FRENCH NEWS [27]
EXAMINER, 18 SEPT., 1831, P. 601

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article, headed “London, September 18,” is listed as “Paragraphs on France” in the Somerville College set, where these two paragraphs are enclosed in square brackets (excluding the opening four paragraphs on the fall of Warsaw to the Russian army on 7 Sept., on which Mill comments in No. 120).

several partial elections have taken place in France, and have mostly gone against the Government. The most remarkable case was that of Dieppe, where the King has considerable property, and where the defeated candidate was his aide-de-camp, General Athalin.1

A bill has been brought in by the ministry for mitigating the penal code, by abolishing the punishment of death in certain cases, and mutilation, branding, and the pillory, in all cases whatever.2

120.: FRENCH NEWS [28]
EXAMINER, 25 SEPT., 1831, PP. 616-17

This article is headed “London, September 25.” For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set, where Mill makes one correction, here adopted: at 354.12 “academies, and of” is altered to “academies of”.

the intelligence of the fall of warsaw1 has produced much excitement in the public mind at Paris, and has been followed by serious disturbances. The shops of two gunsmiths have been pillaged, Casimir Périer and Sébastiani have been hanged in effigy, and their carriages pursued by the populace. A great part of the National Guard, sharing in the popular feeling, has refused to act against the rioters, who, however, have been put down by the troops of the line, in conjunction with another portion of the National Guard.2

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It seems to be generally thought that the fate of Poland has added so much to the unpopularity of the Ministers, as must speedily compel them to resign. They have sustained a signal defeat in the Chamber of Deputies, by the adoption of a proposition for restoring the military rank of the officers appointed during the hundred days, by Napoleon, and by the provisional government which succeeded him.3 A debate, which was originated by MM. Mauguin and Laurence,4 and which has already lasted several days,5 on the state of the nation (as we should say in England), is likely, in the opinion of many, to give the final blow to the Périer Administration.

Meanwhile, this Administration has given another manifestation of its hostility to popular institutions, and to the spirit of the nation.

Those who are acquainted with the institutions of France, are aware that very extensive functions of local taxation and administration are confided to deliberative bodies, varying in number from nine or ten to about thirty members, and called departmental councils, councils of arrondissement, and municipal councils. The authority of a departmental council extends over the whole of one of the eighty-six departments of France—that of a council of arrondissement comprises one of the four or five sections into which each department is divided—and a municipal council manages the affairs of a single commune; that is, a township or village.

Under the government of Napoleon, faithfully copied by the restored Bourbons, every member of every one of these bodies was named by the Crown, or by its agent, the préfet or maire.6 France, therefore, presented, under these rulers, the unique spectacle (unique at least in Europe, and certainly unknown to the feudal and despotic monarchy which preceded the French revolution) of a country which did not contain a vestige of any local authority, even down to a village watchman, that did not emanate from the Crown.

A law which passed subsequently to the revolution of July 1830, restored to the people, or rather to a small portion of the people, the choice of the municipal councils. The responsibility, however, of these bodies was reduced almost to nothing, by one absurd provision: they are elected for six years.7

The councils of the departments and of the arrondissements, are still named by the Crown. Universal opinion, however, has long required that this should cease. That the “intervention of the citizens” should be allowed in the choice of the local authorities, was one of the pledges given by the Chamber, on the revision Edition: current; Page: [353] of the charter after the revolution, and sworn to by Louis Philippe on his accession to the throne.8 To redeem this pledge, a bill has now been introduced by the Ministry.9 But we are much mistaken if it fulfils the hopes of the nation; and we are sure that it ought not to satisfy their wishes.

Not only does this bill extend to the other local bodies, the clause which renders popular election almost nugatory in the municipal councils, that which enacts that they be elected for six years—not only this, but it assumes a basis for the representation of the people in the local councils, scarcely wider than that which has been adopted for the Chamber of Deputies. All who have votes for the Chamber, are to have votes for the local councils, together with all who are inscribed on the jury list; but these last consist only of the former, and of certain liberal professions, not numerous anywhere, except in the large towns. Should the number of persons thus qualified in each arrondissement not amount to one two-hundredth part of the population, that proportion is to be made up by the addition of the most highly taxed; and in no case is the number to be less than fifty in each arrondissement. This last provision shows how clearly it is foreseen that in some, and probably in many arrondissements, the electoral body will be little better than a select vestry, meeting to choose a sub-committee of its own body.

The electors of the Chamber of Deputies are very far from sufficiently numerous, being only about 200,000 in a population of 32,000,000. But even were the fact otherwise, the qualification for local councils ought to be far lower than that which is usually thought desirable for the council of the nation. First, because less is risked, the interests at stake being less important, and the legislature being always there to interpose in case of serious mismanagement. Next, because the people at large, by superintending the management of their own local affairs, would be prepared and educated for the ultimate exercise of a more extensive share in the superintendence of the general government. And, lastly, because the local councils, not having, like the legislature, the eyes of a whole nation fixed upon them, stand in still greater need of the check of actual accountability to those whose interests are confided to them, and over whom they exercise their power.

In addition to this law respecting the composition of the departmental and arrondissemental councils, another law is proposed to define their functions and authorities;10 and a third to define, in like manner, the functions and authorities Edition: current; Page: [354] of the municipal councils,11 this object not having been provided for by the law passed in the previous session. These two bills ought to be attentively studied by our own statesmen; who will certainly be called upon, as one of the earliest duties of a Reformed Parliament, to create similar local councils for Great Britain, and to determine what portion of the public business shall devolve upon such bodies.

The commission, or select committee, appointed by the Chamber to examine the proposition of the Government respecting the peerage, have at last presented their report.12 The only material alterations which they propose in the ministerial plan, is the limitation of the royal choice to certain classes of persons, consisting chiefly of deputies, judges, law officers, and placemen of various descriptions, after a certain number of years service; members of the four academies of the Institute; military and naval officers of the rank of a lieutenant-general or a vice-admiral; and persons who pay 5,000 francs a year (about 200l.) of direct taxes. On the whole, the catalogue seems a very weak and ineffective attempt towards an enumeration of the sorts of persons who may be presumed fit to form part of a conservative branch of the legislature.

A law proposed some time ago by the ministry, for amending the existing laws on the recruiting of the army, has just been returned from the commission to which it was referred.13 The admirable practice of referring all bills and all propositions whatever to a select committee, whose duty it is thoroughly to examine the whole subject both in its principles and details, deserves to be introduced into every legislative assembly. The reports of these committees are frequently models of statesmanship, and practical political science. The excellent report just submitted on the loi du recrutement might be cited as an example. That steady and comprehensive perception of general principles, combined with a just appreciation of individual circumstances, which is characteristic of the better class of French public men, is nowhere more conspicuous than in these documents.

A most absurd petition has been presented to the Chamber of Deputies, for an application to the British Government to obtain the remains of Napoleon, in order that they may be buried under the column in the Place Vendôme.14 This gave rise to a debate, remarkable for the effusions of Bonapartism which several Edition: current; Page: [355] of the speakers thought it a favourable opportunity for giving vent to:—effusions which, however extravagant, may be excused in a Las Cases and a Bertrand, but which inspire unmingled disgust when emanating from Lamarque, Briqueville, Larabit, and others of the military faction.15 To hear these men, it might be supposed that Buonaparte had been not only the most virtuous and enlightened ruler, but the greatest man of modern times; the warmest well-wisher of free institutions; the most ardent promoter of civilisation; and that France would remember him, not as one of the most selfish, ungenerous, and narrow-minded adventurers who ever usurped supreme power, but as the greatest benefactor of his country during his life, and the man who sheds most glory upon her now when he is dead. In vain did M. Comte, the high-minded author of the Censeur Européen, lift up his voice against this senseless and degrading idolatry.16 The Chamber almost unanimously gave their countenance to the prayer of the petition, by referring it to the Council of Ministers.

M. Comte likewise laid on the table of the Chamber a proposition to abolish the vote by ballot in their own deliberations—in which its effect is obviously one of pure mischief; to shield the representatives from responsibility to their constituents.17 This proposition, however, obtaining the assent of no more than two out of the nine bureaux into which the Chamber is divided, was rejected without a public discussion. M. Comte should next propose the abolition of that most improper regulation of the Chamber, which prescribes that all propositions shall be discussed in the bureaux and in secret, before they can be debated in public; and that unless a motion passes three of the nine bureaux, it shall not be discussed, or so much as publicly declared, in the assembled legislature.18

Edition: current; Page: [356]

EXAMINER, 25 SEPT., 1831, P. 618

This unheaded comment, described in Mill’s bibliography as “A paragraph in the Examiner of 25th Sept. 1831 on Dr. Whately’s elevation to an Archbishopric” (MacMinn, p. 19), is listed (“Paragraph on Dr Whately’s elevation to an Archbishopric”) and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

it is stated, in several newspapers,1 that Dr. Whately has been, or is about to be, appointed to the vacant Archbishopric of Dublin. A minister desirous of saving the Church, by the only means by which it has now any chance of being saved—by improving its spirit—could not make a more advisable appointment. Dr. Whately is known to the public chiefly by his writings; and among these, less by the many which are of a religious character, than by such works as his Elements of Logic, his Elements of Rhetoric, and his Introductory Lectures on Political Economy.2 The merits of these are well known. Scarcely any writer of the present day has combined so great talents for popular exposition, with so much power of thought, so judiciously directed, on subjects of great importance in themselves, and not sufficiently cultivated even by the most educated class. His influence cannot but be most salutary in promoting among his clergy that general mental culture, now so rare in a profession which has heretofore produced so many great men. Dr. Whately’s works also display, along with abundant zeal for the established Church, an enlarged and liberal interpretation of religion, remote from the narrow and exclusive spirit of a sect, and more allied to the late lamented Bishop Heber3 than to the modern ascetics, who have inherited the worst qualities both of the Churchmen and the Puritans of former times, without the redeeming virtues of either.

122.: FRENCH NEWS [29]
EXAMINER, 2 OCT., 1831, P. 632

This article is headed “London, October 2.” For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

Edition: current; Page: [357]

the debate in the french chamber on the policy of the Ministers, was terminated by a decision in their favour. On their foreign policy, the Chamber pronounced, by a large majority, that it was satisfied with their explanations: on their internal policy, the previous question was moved, and carried without a division.1

The Chamber may thus be considered to have pledged itself to a pacific policy in future, and taken its share of the responsibility of all the measures, by which the Ministry has hitherto endeavoured to preserve peace. But, on the internal policy of the Ministers, the Chamber is in no way pledged. It has merely declared itself unprepared to pass a sweeping condemnation on the whole Ministerial system. Its own conduct has shown, up to the present time, that neither is it prepared, nor even inclined, sweepingly to approve. And, although the Chamber has shown no fixed system, or definite views of its own, it has manifested several times, by its votes, that it is disposed to go much further than the present Ministers, both in administrative, and even in constitutional improvements.

123.: FRENCH NEWS [30]
EXAMINER, 9 OCT., 1831, P. 652

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article, headed “London, October 9,” is listed as “Paragraphs on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the discussion in the Chamber of Deputies of France, on the Peerage question, has commenced. The orators, who have put down their names to speak upon it are so numerous, and the number of amendments moved so considerable, that the discussion cannot be terminated for several days.1

The partial elections which are taking place in different parts of France, go generally in favour of the opposition.

124.: FRENCH NEWS [31]
EXAMINER, 16 OCT., 1831, PP. 665-6

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article, headed “London, October 16,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

Edition: current; Page: [358]

the abolition of the Hereditary Peerage has passed the French Chamber of Deputies by a majority of 324 against 86.1 That it would pass, we never had the shadow of a doubt; but the greatness of the majority is wholly ascribed to the impression produced by the rejection of our Reform Bill,2—especially as the advocates of the hereditary principle had been sufficiently ignorant of the social condition of England to imagine that our Peerage was a very strong example in their favour, and a conclusive proof of the compatibility of such an institution with the highest degree of prosperity and good government. It is seldom that a false theory in politics meets with so decisive a refutation, from the course of events, in the very nick of time; on the very day when the representatives of a great nation are called upon to pronounce, by their votes, upon the truth or falsehood of the doctrine.

As the voting was by ballot, there cannot be the slightest colour for imputing the result to personal fear of falling under public disapprobation.

The Chamber has still to decide what system of election or nomination it is disposed to substitute for the hereditary succession. Among the multitude of systems proposed, there is likely to be much difficulty in obtaining for any one the concurrence of a majority of suffrages.

The Ministerial plan leaves the nomination entirely to the King. This plan does not seem likely to obtain the assent of the majority, who have not sufficient confidence in the King to expect from him a good choice. Almost every deputy of note has, therefore, his pet scheme for restricting the royal choice by some partial introduction of the principle of popular election.

All these schemes appear to us to be bad. If a certain proportion were named by the King, and a certain proportion by the people, the two halves might be expected to act as the mere attornies of the power to which they owed their seats. They would fancy themselves placed there, not to legislate for the general good, but to defend kingly power, or popular rights. If, again, the people elect candidates, and the King makes his choice among them, it would be far better to give the choice to the people at once,—for to them it would, in reality, belong. If the King had the sole choice, but were compelled to choose from certain classes, or categories (to use the French expression), the objection would be that the widest categories cannot include all the fit persons, while the narrowest would leave ample scope for appointing unfit ones.

Edition: current; Page: [359]

The best checks or restrictions which occur to us for preventing the abuse of the royal power of creating Peers, would be these:—That the ordonnance by which a Peer is created, should be countersigned by all the Ministers, and preceded by a particular statement of the merits or services which had entitled him to the Peerage; or that the Chamber of Deputies should have, not the right of electing Peers, or even candidates for the Peerage, but a negative on their appointment. Peers would then be created on the nomination of the King, with the concurrence and sanction of the Chamber of Deputies.

125.: FRENCH NEWS [32]
EXAMINER, 23 OCT., 1831, P. 681

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, October 23,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the discussion on the French Peerage is nearly closed. The Chamber has rejected all the schemes for making the Peerage elective, or for obliging the King to select from candidates presented by the people.1 The system adopted has been that of restricting the royal choice to certain categories, or classes of persons. On one point of some importance, the Ministry has been defeated. The Commission had proposed, that landed proprietors, or heads of commercial or banking establishments, paying 5000 francs of direct taxes, should be eligible to the Peerage; but the Chamber has added, as a necessary condition, that they should have been for six years members of one of the Departmental or Municipal Councils, elected by the people.

The French Government has taken a great step towards free trade. It has introduced a new corn law, abolishing prohibitions, and permitting importation and exportation at a reduced scale of duties.2

126.: FRENCH NEWS [33]
EXAMINER, 30 OCT., 1831, PP. 696-7

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, October 30,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

Edition: current; Page: [360]

the french ministry has proposed a bill for the establishment in every commune (parish or township) in France, of an elementary school, where instruction will be given, for a small fee, to those who can afford to pay it; and gratuitously to those who cannot.1 Education will thus be brought home to every man’s door. Nor will this education be confined to reading and writing; it will include (we quote from our contemporary, the Globe), “moral and religious instruction, according to the views of the parents; reading, writing, the French language, arithmetic, the legal system of weights and measures; and, according to the extent of local resources, drawing, surveying, and elementary notions of geography and history.”2

In none of the more civilized countries of the world was this great national measure more urgently required. It is computed by those Frenchmen who have most studied the statistics of their own country, that of the adult population of France not more than one-third can read. And we have been assured, that electors, and even members of the great or departmental colleges which existed before the late Revolution—men, therefore, who formed part of the twenty or thirty thousand richest persons in France—were obliged, in giving their votes, to have the name of the candidate for whom they voted written for them by others, being themselves unable to write.

On the details of the proposed Education Bill we shall give our opinion when it comes on for discussion. At present, we give from the English papers part of M. de Montalivet’s speech, to which we shall subjoin some excellent observations of the Globe.

M. de Montalivet passed in review the history of gratuitous elementary education in France, from the first dawn of the system, as originated at Rheims, in 1680, by the philanthropic Delasalle,3 to the present moment. Until after the breaking out of the French revolution, it can barely be said to have existed, but in 1791 the principle was adopted into the Constitution,4 and various laws regulating the mode and scale of retribution of the education of the lower classes, were passed in 1793 and 1794.5 Under the empire but little attention was paid to it, the nation being exclusively occupied by the ideas of military glory, but in 1816 the Lancasterian method was imported into France,6 and so fostered by Edition: current; Page: [361] various ordonnances and regulations of the government,7 that between 1816 and 1822 the number of pupils in the schools was nearly tripled. The impulse thus given to the system was sufficient to enable it to resist the effect of the Ordonnance prompted by the evil genius of the Restoration, which placed all the schools under the exclusive controul of the Bishops,8 and it is the proud office of the Revolution of 1830 to remove all the shackles which impede its progress, and render it fully available for the universal enlightenment of the mass of the population.9 The two great questions which present themselves in regulating the systems he stated to be—1st. Whether the reception of primary education should be voluntary or compulsory; and 2nd. Whether it should be open to free competition. On the first point he remarked, that in Germany all parents are compelled, under severe penalties, to send their children to the communal school,10 on the principle, that as, on the one hand, the government, in its paternal character, was bound to provide all its subjects with the means of education, it had on the other, a right to claim from them the filial duty of availing themselves of it in such a manner as to become useful members of the social body. He, however, stated that, powerful as this argument was, the system of compulsion was too much opposed to the character of the French nation, to admit of his recommending its adoption. He had, therefore, preferred leaving the system to make its way by the force of its intrinsic advantages, and that it would do so, was evident from the fact that since July 1830, three hundred new schools had been opened, and 600,000 volumes distributed. The second point was, he said, virtually decided by the promise of the Charter that education should be free; the most ample scope for competition would therefore be allowed (hear, hear), and every one who possessed the necessary moral and intellectual qualifications would be at liberty to open a school. (Hear, hear.) But in order not to leave education wholly to the fluctuating chances of private speculation, primary schools would be divided into two classes, communal and private, both of which would be subjected to the controul of a committee, in which the Government, the country, and the families of the children, would be alike efficiently represented; while misconduct in the masters of the private schools would be immediately punished by the civil tribunal of the arrondissement, which would be authorized to take cognisance of any complaint made by the committee, and for the rectitude of whose decisions there would be the additional guarantee of a power of appeal to the Cour Royale. The communal schools would afford gratuitous instruction to indigent families. Each master would be chosen by the commune through the mayor, and would have, in addition to his lodging, and whatever monthly sums he might receive from those able to pay for their instruction, a fixed salary, the amount to be fixed every five years by the municipal authority, the minimum of which would be 200 francs, and which would be raised by an addition to the principal of the direct taxes not exceeding five centimes. Provision would be made that such communes as were too poor to pay this salary should be assisted by the department, and that the State should come to the assistance of the department, in case that should not be able to discharge it. Retiring pensions for the masters would be provided from a fund formed by the annual payment by all the masters of one-twentieth part of their salary. The masters of the communal schools would, in case of misconduct, be amenable to, and liable to be suspended by, the committee of primary instruction, from whose decision an appeal would be to the academic council. In order to bring this system into action as fully and Edition: current; Page: [362] speedily as possible, each department would be authorized to establish one Ecole Primaire Normale for the education of young men intended to become masters of primary schools. The hon. member then read the bill, which was ordered to be printed.11

Briefly as we have been enabled, [says the Globe], to give the outline, it is of a nature to call for much attention in a country which piques itself on a passion for the diffusion of knowledge, and which possesses ample funds, too, for the purpose, were they administered wisely and honestly in the furtherance of instruction, congenial with the progress and the spirit of the age, instead of being frittered away by corporate bodies, and nominal trusts, too many of which are anything but trustworthy, and the interest of a great number of whom is directly opposed to the extension of the intended benefit. Allowing for the various difficulties and discrepancies which must necessarily be encountered, in maturing so extensive a scheme, is it possible to conceive the establishment of such a system of national education in France, for any time, without a necessity on the part of Great Britain of following the example? In spite of the satire, the squib, and the sneer of the multifarious cultivators of the department of Littlewit,12 the education of the many is a virtual emancipation from the monopoly and oppression of the few; and hence so much ultra, clerical, and patrician objection, cavil, discountenance, and ridicule. We will not say (for we are not for pressing down a corporation, which is so actively doing that business for itself) who they are who have never voluntarily stepped forward in the honourable path of promoting the instruction of their needy fellow-creatures, however forced in the sequel, by the activity of other people, to crawl after in the rear. Who cannot recollect the affected alarm, and sinister opposition, which the foremost man of the day had to encounter a few years ago, when he attempted to concoct the preliminaries of a plan that would render education general?13 We still hope to witness his master-mind engaged upon some scheme of kindred utility, with the countenance and support of the government, of which he forms a part. Were, indeed, Providence, in its anger to produce a Tory return to power, with this example of France before the national eye, something in the same line must be attempted, at least if the salutary operation of the two countries upon each other remain a substitute for the blind antipathy engendered by ignorance, and fostered by design.14

The forthcoming number of The Foreign Quarterly Review gives some very interesting information, with relation to the exertions made by private individuals in France, for the diffusion of knowledge, by the publication of elementary books of instruction, in the composition of which the French excel, as they do not (like most authors of elementary works in England) write upon the unfortunate presumption, that the reader is already, in some degree, acquainted with the subject.15

Edition: current; Page: [363]

We have great satisfaction in perceiving numerous indications that the organs of the public mind in France are approximating to a juster appreciation of the impolicy of the restrictive and prohibitory commercial system. M. Mauguin, a few days ago, made profession of opinions favourable to free trade, and the Ministry at once professed concurrence in them, promising the speedy introduction of a bill, modifying the whole of the present custom regulations and duties.16

127.: FRENCH NEWS [34]
EXAMINER, 6 NOV., 1831, PP. 712-13

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography see No. 116. The item, headed “London, November 6,” is listed as “Paragraphs on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the only circumstance of any considerable interest afforded by the French papers of the week, is the trial of the author and publishers of an article in the newspaper La Tribune, imputing to MM. Soult and Casimir Périer, the receipt of a corrupt consideration for a contract, concluded by them in England some months ago for the purchase of muskets.1 Enough was established to account for the general belief of this rumour, though not to prove it well-founded. The French Ministers, or their confidential agents, appear clearly to have paid a high price for bad fire-arms, when good ones were offered at a lower price. But they plead, in justification, that the necessity of immediately supplying the National Guard with arms, obliged them to close with the persons who could furnish them with the greatest number in the shortest time.

The Peerage Bill2 is not yet introduced into the Chamber of Peers, which is ascribed to the great difficulty found in securing a majority.

Edition: current; Page: [364]

128.: FRENCH NEWS [35]
EXAMINER, 20 NOV., 1831, PP. 744-5

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, November 20,” is listed as “Paragraphs on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the french chamber of deputies has passed the “loi du recrutement,1 and is now engaged in discussing a law for the regulation of promotions in the army.2

The Peerage Bill3 has not yet been carried up to the House of Peers; and it is still as uncertain in France as among ourselves, whether there will be a creation of Peers for the purpose of carrying the proposed Constitutional Reform.

129.: FRENCH NEWS [36]
EXAMINER, 27 NOV., 1831, P. 760

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, November 27,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the french minister has at length carried the Peerage Bill into the Chamber of Peers1—but not till after creating a batch of thirty-six peers, in order to secure its passing.

The list of newly-created Legislators, with one or two honourable exceptions, is utterly despicable. It puts an end at once to all those hopes, which alone induced the French nation to tolerate a second chamber not elected by the people. The Peerage ought to have been re-constituted, and if it was absurdly determined that the present members should retain their seats for life, it was at least understood that the chamber was to be recruited from the élite of France in politics, literature, science, industry, and art. Instead of this, the list is made up of fifth-rate diplomatists and prefects under the Imperial Government, and tenth-rate Bonapartist officers; all the eminent commanders whom France possesses being either peers already, or in the ranks of the opposition.

Science is represented in this batch of peers only by the weathercock Cuvier, Edition: current; Page: [365] who, with all his political demerits (and a more servile sycophant of every established government never existed),2 is, after all, the only man in the whole thirty-six possessing merits of any description which can justly be characterised as eminent in their kind.* The men of letters of France are represented solely by Count Philippe de Ségur.3 But the most egregious as well as the most ominous inconsequence is this—in a list of peers, created on purpose to carry a bill, abolishing the inheritableness of the peerage, are included persons whose only claim to that rank consists in the merits of their fathers. We allude to young Ney, Prince de la Moskwa, and to M. Bernard Foy.4

The minister has raised a storm by this proceeding, which appears to have taken our newspapers by surprise, though expected by all who have any acquaintance with French politics. The opposition intend to urge with their whole strength in the Chamber of Deputies a motion condemning this exercise of the royal prerogative. They contend that the creation of peers, while the article of the charter, which empowered such a creation, is actually undergoing revision, is beyond the legitimate powers of the executive, and, in fact, constitutes a coup d’état. We know not whether they will maintain that it is actually illegal, or merely unconstitutional; a violation of the written laws, or only of the unwritten maxims which jointly form the constitution of a state. The latter are as obligatory as the former upon a minister, and the breach of either would be an equally just ground for addressing the King to remove him.

It may be thought captious in the opposition to look so closely into the means adopted to carry an alteration in the constitution of the peerage, so earnestly demanded by themselves. To this we answer, that the opposition had gained their Edition: current; Page: [366] point from the moment when the Chamber of Deputies, by a majority of six or seven to one, had given their sanction to the doctrine of the unfitness of hereditary legislation to the present state of society, and of the human mind.5 The solemn recognition of this great principle was all the opposition wanted; whether the bill actually passes or not, they regard as of altogether secondary importance; for the hereditary chamber is so utterly discredited by this authoritative condemnation of its principle, that a breath will at any time sweep it away, if it should ever become an active obstruction to good legislation. And as for any practical good from the passing of the bill, if they have hitherto expected such a thing—which very few of them ever did, from a chamber nominated by the crown; this contemptible list of nominations must have completely altered their opinion.

It is now, at best, a matter of indifference to the opposition whether the bill passes or not. But if it is to pass, they contend, as they have always contended, that the Chamber of Deputies has a right to pass it, without the Peers, by their own sole authority as a constituent body. This, their opponents say, is unconstitutional. They answer, that it would be so, as a general rule; neither ought any article of the charter to be revised by a legislature elected by virtue of the charter, but only by a constituent Assembly or Convention elected for that express purpose. But it is a fact, that the Chamber of Deputies did, in August, 1830, take upon themselves the powers of a constituent body. They elected a king, and revised the entire charter. One article, that relating to the Peerage, they did not alter at the time; but formally reserved it to be altered now.6 This, therefore, is a peculiar case. In making the alteration by their own single authority, the popular branch of the legislature would merely continue and complete its own former act. On this principle the measure ought to have originated with the Chamber. The King himself did wrong in introducing the present bill. The King has, properly, no more to do with the revision of this article than he had with that of all the other articles, a year and a half ago. The King has no voice in making the constitution: it is tendered to him, and he simply accepts it; or else rejects it, and abdicates the throne.

The Chamber has waived its right as a constituent body, and thought fit to pass, with amendments, a bill presented by the Crown; and if the Peers also think fit to pass it, the Deputies will not object. But if the Peers reject it, then, says the opposition, is the time for the Chamber of Deputies to exert their constituent power. They have not claimed it: they have preferred not to raise the question. With that hope they have passed the measure in the forms of any ordinary law; but as it was optional at first, so it is at any time in their power to claim the right they have for the moment waived, and declare, that in the exercise of that right, Edition: current; Page: [367] they adopt either this or some other measure, and it becomes part of the constitution of France.

While this dispute is going on, the King has afforded the first example, since the establishment of a representative Government in 1814,7 of the refusal of the royal sanction to a bill which has passed the two Chambers. The bill in question was for restoring the military grades conferred by Napoleon, during the hundred days.8 If there is any part of French history of which all Frenchmen ought to be ashamed, it is the second usurpation of Napoleon; and nothing can be more foolish than to revive, and hold as valid, these acts of the usurper, which were set aside by the government which succeeded him. Many, indeed, of those who supported the bill, did so upon the principle that military rank, conferred by a Government de facto, is property, and that he who is deprived of it, on whatever pretext, suffers a wrong. Allowing this, however, the wrong was committed sixteen years ago; and why should one class of sufferers be compensated at the expense of the state,—partly, therefore, at the charge of many other classes of sufferers, whose wrongs go unredressed? The principle is untenable; it is the same upon which Villèle grounded the indemnity to the emigrants.9

130.: FRENCH NEWS [37]
EXAMINER, 4 DEC., 1831, PP. 776-7

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, December 4,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

an insurrection has taken place at Lyons.1 The silk-weavers have risen in arms; and how the greater part of those arms were obtained is still a mystery; after two, or, according to some accounts, three days’ fighting against the National Guard and the troops, they have remained masters of the town. The Edition: current; Page: [368] following description of their subsequent conduct, which we copy from the Times, is corroborated by every authentic account which has been received:

It is universally admitted that there has been no plunder or bloodshed beyond the two days, the 21st and 22d ultimo; that when the civil power had been overthrown, and the military force expelled, the directing chiefs of the workmen felt the necessity of order, and the utility of the laws which they had violated; that they had enacted severe penalties against pillagers, murderers, and disturbers; that they had appointed sentinels to protect the persons and magazines of their employers, whom they had overcome in the struggle; that they had placed themselves in amicable relations with the préfets and mayors, whom they had at first deposed; and that the city exhibited the strange and anomalous appearance of being at once loyal and rebellious—of uniting insurrection with legitimate authority—of maintaining a profound peace between hostile camps, and in the midst of civil contention. Those who had discarded the civil magistrate, who had beaten the troops of the line and the National Guard, acting under the magistracy, seem horrified at the very idea of being considered bad subjects, and loudly protest their “entire devotion to their citizen King, Louis Philip.”2

The Courrier Français might well say, “Même lorsqu’il est livré au plus terrible égarement, il y a maintenant chez le peuple français un instinct social qu’on ne rencontrerait dans aucun autre pays: certes, il y a loin des ouvriers de Lyon montant la garde avec les bourgeois, à la populace de Bristol se souillant des plus monstrueux excès.”3 Nevertheless, to moderate the honest triumph of the French journalist, and to avoid doing injustice to the morality and self-control of our own working classes, it is well to remark, that the outrages at Bristol were perpetrated by a very small fraction of the very worst part of the populace, mostly thieves, and other criminals by profession;4 who, in our great towns, owing to the defects of our police and criminal judicature, are more numerous in proportion to the population than in any other civilized community. If the affair at Bristol had been not a riot, but a general insurrection, events, even there, would have taken a far different turn. The superiority, in such emergencies, of the French working classes over ours, seems to consist less in their greater virtue or good sense, as compared with the corresponding class among our own people, than in that extraordinary power of extemporaneous organization, which belongs to the superior quickness and readiness of the French character, and to the military habits of a large proportion of the people. Englishmen, it is probable, could not have jumped out of anarchy into order by one leap, like the Lyonnese. But if a crisis should come, which we trust England may never know, but which we should never intermit to think of and be prepared Edition: current; Page: [369] for—if events like those of Lyons should, at any future period, take place at Manchester or Glasgow, or any other of our great towns where the people, by means of their Benefit Societies and Trade Unions, are accustomed to concert, and organize under chiefs whom they know, a new government would be ready at once to take the place of that which had been subverted; and though manifold horrors would too probably be perpetrated during the conflict, the moment it was over we are persuaded that these places would become as orderly and peaceful as Lyons at this moment.

The origin of the popular movement at Lyons, was what, in this country, would be termed a strike for wages. For some time past, the silks of France have been in a great degree supplanted in the foreign market by those of England and Switzerland.* The Lyonnese manufacturers, therefore, in attempting to maintain the competition, found themselves under the necessity of lowering wages. To this pre-existing pressure, was added that arising from the unsettled state of France during the last two years. The suspension of purchasers from want of confidence, which created the commercial distress, naturally fell heaviest upon articles like silk, of ornament and luxury. After long bearing their evils with exemplary patience, the workmen at last demanded an advance of wages. The Préfet, with that pestilent spirit of busy intermeddling, of which French officials can never divest themselves, sanctioned the increased rate of wages by an authoritative proclamation.5 The consequence was what might have been foreseen. Magistrates may fix a scale of wages, but it is beyond the power of any magistrate to compel the manufacturers to pay it. The employers could not afford to manufacture at a loss; they accordingly discharged their men, and the insurrection followed.

Troops will, of course, march against Lyons, and the revolt will be put down. But we do hope, though we scarcely dare expect, that the legislators of France, Edition: current; Page: [370] after this warning, will bethink themselves, and lay it to heart, that to pay some attention to the physical well-being of the class which composes fifteen-sixteenths of the whole nation, is really part of the duty of a Government. The Morning Chronicle will tell us, that the language we now use is mischievous, tending to make the working classes believe that their condition depends not upon themselves, but upon the Government. Undoubtedly any language would be mischievous, which should persuade the people that the Government could fix the rate of wages. But, without being able to raise wages, the Government has the power of making the present rate of wages sufficient for the subsistence of the labourers.

The French Government, with a reckless fiscality equal to that of the worst Ministries of our worst times, derives the greater part of its immense revenue, both general and local, from duties on the articles consumed by the great body of the people. The taxes which fall upon the most numerous and poorest class, yield most to the revenue; and this is all which a mere financier, either in France or in England, ever troubles himself with. It has been proved again and again, that the tax on salt, that on wine (which is to the French labourer what beer is to the English), the monopoly of tobacco, the octroi or town duties on all kinds of agricultural produce, and various other burthens imposed by the French system of finance, fall not only with greatest comparative, but with greatest absolute weight, upon those who are least able to bear it. A poor family actually pays a greater number of francs to the revenue, one year with another, on account of these taxes, than a rich family. Yet, whenever a voice has been raised (and few and faint have been such voices) in the late or present Chamber of Deputies, for the alleviation of these intolerable exactions, the sound has either been merely re-echoed from the bare walls, or has been drowned in clamour.

Were these taxes taken off, the silk-weavers of Lyons might be able to live, at least without danger of famine, upon such wages as their employers could allow consistently with being able to sell their fabrics in the northern markets at the same price with other nations.

Further, since the year 1821, a corn law, worse than our corn laws when at their worst, has artificially raised the price of food in all the manufacturing parts of France; and considerably more so in Lyons than in other places,—the importation price being, by the absurd provisions of the law, different in different districts.6 The French Ministry has lately proposed to the legislature a slight relaxation of this system; and the committee appointed by the Chamber of Deputies to examine the bill, have named for their President M. de Saint-Cricq, and for their Secretary M. Charles Dupin!7 They might have hunted through France for men more inveterately averse to free trade, and found none.

Edition: current; Page: [371]

Not only the food of the labourer, but almost every other article of his consumption which is not raised in price by excise duties, is so by restrictions on trade. The cottons in which he does, or might, clothe himself and his family, he must not import from England (save at an enormous duty), but must purchase a bad and dear article produced at home. If the woollens in which he clothes himself are foreign, they have paid a high duty, to protect French manufactures; if French, they have paid a high duty on the raw material, to protect French agriculture. If he purchases French manufactures of any description, they are dear and bad, because made by dear and bad machinery, owing to prohibitory duties on foreign iron; the iron of France being of notoriously bad quality, and the mines far from productive: but this is for the protection of French mining and French forests. The sugar and coffee which the poor silk-weaver consumes, he must pay for at an immense increase of price, to protect French beet-root, and to save from ruin three little islands, Martinique, Guadaloupe, and Bourbon; the fee simple of all three not being worth ten years purchase of the tax annually levied, on their account, from the consumers of colonial produce. Finally, even live cattle cannot be driven into France from beyond the Rhine, except at an enormous duty; and a riot took place only a few weeks since, at Strasburg, on this very account.

All these evils the French Ministry, and the leaders of the Opposition, are fully alive to, and would gladly remedy if they were able. But the Minister dares not propose an alteration of this monstrous system, to a Chamber composed of cotton and woollen manufacturers, and proprietors of forests and mines.

The dissatisfaction of the people, we know, does not always take the right side; but they are seldom dissatisfied without good cause. What is a Government for, but to find the means of removing evils which the people themselves, either from ignorance or want of power, are unable to cope with? If a Government did its duty to the people—if it never inflicted evil upon any part of them, save for the general good—if it showed itself always eager to search out the causes of their suffering, and administer remedies where remedies were practicable—if it let the people see that, where it had the means of doing aught to serve them, it wanted not the will,—very rarely would it find the people unreasonable in their demands, or expecting impossibilities. The working classes are not like their enervated and effeminate superiors; they are accustomed to suffering, and exercised in endurance. Evil is no new thing to them; and their habit is, to regard it as inherent in their lot. Let them but see common sympathy, and a very little active goodwill, in those whom society has placed over their heads, and they are even more ready than they should be to let themselves be persuaded that their sufferings are inevitable, and that governments can do nothing for them.

Edition: current; Page: [372]

131.: FRENCH NEWS [38]
EXAMINER, 11 DEC., 1831, P. 793

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, December 11,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the duke of orleans and Marshal Soult have entered Lyons without resistance; and regular government is to appearance restored.1 On what conditions the insurgents have submitted, is not known; and what will be the dénouement of this singular drama, no one can predict.

The Moniteur, and the papers in the Ministerial interest, talk so big, that one would imagine the revolt of the second city in the kingdom was a glorious tribute to the wisdom of the Government, and the surest guarantee of its stability.2

A most disgraceful disclosure has been made before the tribunals of the low tricks by which the Périer Ministry attempts to maintain itself in office. It is completely proved, that numbers of the poorer workmen were regularly hired by the police, at three francs a-head, to assist in putting down the young men who attempted to plant a tree of liberty on the anniversary of the destruction of the Bastille. The brutal violence which was displayed by these bought auxiliaries had excited much disgust; and the fact of their having been regularly enrolled and paid, was asserted in two newspapers, the National and the Tribune. These papers were accordingly prosecuted, at the suit of M. Casimir Périer and M. Vivien, who was at the head of the police when these occurrences happened.3 But so clearly was the truth of the accusation made out, that M. Vivien abandoned his share of the prosecution, and the accused have been acquitted.

There was much vapouring in the Moniteur, about that time, on the hostility of the working classes to the “agitators” and “eternal enemies of order,” evidenced Edition: current; Page: [373] by the voluntary assistance given by them in suppressing what the Ministry was pleased to call anarchy.4 The world will now know what value to set on the assertions of the official journal.

The Chamber is slowly winding its way through a long projet de loi for mitigating the penal code. This bill when adopted will be some improvement on the existing law, but not a very material one. It deserves attention chiefly from the provision which it contains for incorporating the new enactments in the text of the code.5 We fear it will be long before our legislators will have the wisdom to learn from the French the art of drawing up their laws.

It is well understood that the people of Paris will no longer permit the punishment of death to be inflicted in that place. Preparations were commenced a few weeks since in the Place de Grève for a public execution, but the intention was abandoned in consequence of the strong manifestations of public disgust which it excited. The Parisians will not endure that the lives of any other criminals should be taken, when, to save those of Polignac and his accomplices, the Chamber of Deputies and the King united in expressing a wish for the abolition of capital punishment.6

132.: FRENCH NEWS [39]
EXAMINER, 18 DEC., 1831, PP. 808-9

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, December 18,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

lyons appears to be in a state of complete pacification.1 Marshal Soult, by virtue of the extraordinary powers with which he was invested, has set aside the tariff, or scale of wages, the ineffectual attempt to enforce which, was the cause of the insurrection. It is now, therefore, manifest, that the submission of the workmen has not been purchased by any improper concessions on the subject of interference between them and their employers. No injustice has been promised to the workmen—it remains to be seen whether justice will be done. We shall see Edition: current; Page: [374] what measures the Ministry has to propose, for the alleviation of the burthens which press upon the poorer classes, and for increasing the demand for their labour, by removing the obstacles which stupid legislation has interposed to prevent capital from flowing into the most productive channels.

The French papers of the last week are replete with interesting matter.

A trial has commenced before one of the Paris tribunals, implicating, most seriously, the private character of the individual who now fills the French throne. We allude to the application of the heir-at-law of the late Duc de Bourbon, that the will by which that prince bequeathed the bulk of his immense property to the third son of the King of the French, may be set aside.2 We shall take care that the disclosures of which this law-suit is the occasion, shall, when complete, be fully made known to the English public. It is sufficient now to say, that unless the evidence to be hereafter produced shall greatly alter the present complexion of the case, the French people have fastened upon themselves as their ruler, a man not only unfit to reign, but scarcely fit to live.

Several important proceedings have taken place in the Chamber of Deputies.

The bill for the mitigation of the Penal Code3 has passed the Chamber; a clause having first been inserted, by which the law attaching penalties to the assumption of a title of nobility, unless conferred by the King, is repealed. Any person, therefore, may now give himself whatever title he chooses, without incurring any consequences, except the forfeiture of the nickname in case any one should take the trouble to prosecute him for assuming it. Titles were already sufficiently ridiculous in France; as they cannot fail to become every where, when they are shared by many thousands of persons, and have ceased to be connected with any civil or political privileges. Except the émigrés, and the survivors of the old court, few persons who possess titles ever assume or claim them. They will now, we imagine, fall into utter desuetude.

In addition to the law for the modification of the penal code, the Chamber has adopted another law, of very considerable importance. The object of this is the introduction of the warehousing system, which, strange to say, did not before Edition: current; Page: [375] exist, or only to a very limited extent, in France.4 The present law permits those articles, (with, however, a very numerous list of exceptions) the importation of which is either prohibited or subjected to a duty, to be imported and warehoused for re-exportation either from the same or from some other port or frontier place, without payment of duty. In the debates on this law, several members expressed opinions highly favourable to free trade; but what is still more encouraging, is the mitigated tone of the enemies of that great principle.5 Not one of them (except the unconvinceable M. Charles Dupin)6 contended that the restrictive system was not in itself an evil. They went no further than to recommend that it should not be altered suddenly, but gradually, with due regard to existing interests, and in concert with foreign powers. On the whole, we cannot doubt, from the signs of public opinion in France, that the era is approaching of a great relaxation in the prohibitive laws of that country.

A motion has been made by M. Auguste Portalis, and seems likely to be adopted, for abrogating the compulsory observance of Sundays and holidays.7 We should greatly deprecate such a proposition in our own country. We are convinced, that it would lead, and that speedily, to but one result: the labourer would perform the labour of seven days, for the wages which he now receives for that of six; and would be deprived of all the enjoyment, and of the innumerable moral advantages attendant on periodical repose. But we do not anticipate these baneful consequences from the measure which is now proposed in France. The experiment has in fact been tried, and no such consequences have been produced: for the observance of the Sunday, in so far as it is compulsory, has long been practically at an end. The French people are often not better fed or clothed than the English; but in no case are they so much over-worked. They will not submit to be so. They will live upon brown bread, which an English workman will not; but they will not work fourteen hours a day, which an English workman will; nor seven days in the week, which an English workman would. The English are not reduced to a potato diet, because they will not marry and multiply their species on such terms; and the French save themselves by the same means, from being worn down and brought to a premature death by incessant toil. Would that the English might do the like!

The same deputy has proposed, with the same prospect of success, to abolish Edition: current; Page: [376] the solemnization of the anniversary of Louis XVI’s execution.8 The object of this motion is to get rid of all the remaining traces which the doctrine of legitimacy or divine right has left in the French laws. A great majority of the French public, and probably all the members of the Chamber of Deputies, disapproved of the conduct of the Convention in putting Louis XVI to death. But they see no reason why this particular act of injustice should be selected as a subject of national humiliation and penance, more than any one among the many judicial assassinations committed during the reign of terror upon far worthier men; or than the execution of the unfortunate Lally, for example, under the old regime, or of Marshal Ney, in 1815, in violation of the capitulation of Paris.9 There was nothing in the case of Louis XVI to distinguish him from any other person who is improperly put to death on a charge of treason, except the circumstance of his being a king. And this does not in any way add to the degree of guilt in the estimation of Frenchmen, or rational persons of any other country, unless they are believers in divine right.

A third motion of importance has been made by M. Salverte, and is likely to be adopted in France, as it must ultimately be in the legislative assemblies of all other countries: this is, that all bills which, having passed through some of their stages, are lost, not by being negatived, but by the prorogation of the Chambers, may be resumed in the ensuing session (unless a dissolution has intervened) at the point at which their progress had been interrupted.10

Edition: current; Page: [377]

133.: FRENCH NEWS [40]
EXAMINER, 25 DEC., 1831, P. 825

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article is headed “London, December 25”; it is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

m. casimir périer has read to the two Chambers a long report on the affair of Lyons.1 In this document, he does not state a single fact which was not previously known, nor give intimation of any intentions which had not been already expressed. He commences with a loud flourish of trumpets, and undertakes to enter fully into the subject of existing evils and their remedies, yet, for aught we can discover, his portefeuille may be overflowing with great projects for the promotion of the public prosperity, or he may meditate nothing but to sit with his arms folded, and consume his salary. All which this production discloses of the state of his mind, is a vehement inclination to have it thought that his conduct is highly praiseworthy.

This empty document, however, afforded an occasion which was sure to be eagerly seized, for a violent debate on the general policy of the Ministry; and the debate has accordingly commenced, and promises to last several days.2

These demonstrations of party hostility are however becoming less and less frequent; while debates on specific questions are rapidly increasing in frequency and interest. The Opposition will speedily find that their true policy, both for themselves and the good of their country, is to load the President’s table with motions for well-considered and practicable improvements, and concert together to secure upon each a vigorous and well-sustained debate; acquiring for themselves the éclat of suggesting measures, which the Ministry may afterwards adopt, or throwing upon M. Périer and his majority, the odium of resisting improvement.

We see reason to expect a stormy debate on the Corn Law.3 In the French Chamber, even more than in our own House of Commons, the great landed proprietors predominate, and seem equally disposed with our own squirearchy, to hold fast to their usurpations. The Ministry and the Opposition will fight side by side against a large portion of the phalanx by which the Ministers are usually supported. Some say that the question will be postponed to the next session; and Edition: current; Page: [378] really, if it is not, we fear the Ministry will have a hard account to settle with the great “practical authorities” of their party, M. Humann4 and M. Charles Dupin.

An excellent speech on the corn question has been made incidentally in the course of another debate, by M. Laguette-Mornay.5

The Commission on the budget has not yet completed its labours. Those members of the Opposition who formed part of it, among others MM. Laffitte, Bignon,6 and Dupont de l’Eure, have at length discontinued their attendance, disgusted at the absolute failure of their attempts to extort from the majority any considerable diminution of the public expenditure. The impossibility of voting the budget before the conclusion of the year, has compelled the Ministry to solicit from the Chamber the continuance of the existing taxes and expenses for three months longer. This has been agreed to, but under a proviso of a novel and highly important nature: that if in the budget when voted, any salary, pension, or other allowance shall be reduced, the reduction shall take effect retrospectively from the beginning of the year.7 The parties interested being thus forewarned, will of course make their arrangements accordingly.

We mentioned in our last paper, that the Chamber had already adopted one law for the extension of the warehousing system:8 it has now under its consideration another.9 The former law related to goods warehoused for re-exportation: the present, has reference to warehousing for home consumption. In France, as in England, articles which have been imported are allowed to remain under the King’s lock, jointly with that of the owner, and to be bought and sold in the warehouse as often as a purchaser can be found; the duty being demanded only when the goods are taken out to be finally sold for consumption. The advantage of this arrangement to the merchant, we need not insist upon, and the advantage to the nation is not less. A large portion of the trading capital of the country is allowed to remain in active employment, when it would otherwise be locked up unproductively, being paid into the hands of Government, and not reimbursed until the goods were sold, which might not be till long after they were imported.

This privilege however, of warehousing goods without payment of duties, has hitherto, in France, been confined to the few sea-ports, and to certain frontier towns. Paris itself, and all the other places in the interior, are excluded from it. Edition: current; Page: [379] The object of the measure now proposed by the Ministry, is, to extend to other places the advantage at present enjoyed exclusively by the sea-ports and frontier towns. The bill accordingly encounters a noisy opposition from the members for the privileged places, and there seems to be some doubt whether it will be suffered to pass.

A bill has been adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, almost without opposition, for re-establishing the dissolubility of the marriage contract.10 This bill restores the law of divorce, not as it stood during the Revolution, but nearly on the footing on which it was placed by the Code Napoleon. Divorce must be pronounced by a court of justice. It will be granted at the instance of either party, in certain cases which are nearly the same with those in which the tribunals will now grant a separation. Divorce by mutual consent will also be allowed; but this likewise must be pronounced by a tribunal: there must be a long period of probation; the parties, once divorced, cannot again be united; and half their property must be settled on their offspring. On the whole, this measure seems to do as much as can be done by any means hitherto proposed, towards solving the difficulty of allowing marriages to be dissolved where their continuance is a source of insupportable evil, and at the same time avoiding to afford inducements to forming so important an engagement without a reasonable prospect of its permanency.

The Commission of the Chamber of Peers has at length presented to that Chamber its report on the new law relative to the peerage.11 The members of the Commission were equally divided in opinion; but their reporter, the Duke Decazes, is in favour of the law. An alteration, however, is proposed, which will enable the Ministry, if they think proper, to render the abolition of the inheritableness a nullity.

Among the categories, or classes of persons, to whom the Commission of the Chamber of Deputies proposed that the nomination to peerages should be limited,—one consisted of landed proprietors or chiefs of commercial establishments, paying 3000 francs of direct taxes. The Chamber, not being of opinion that riches were of themselves a sufficient qualification for a legislator, required as a further condition that the persons belonging to this category should have served for six years as members of a municipal council or a chamber of commerce, both which functions are conferred by popular election. This Edition: current; Page: [380] amendment, though violently resisted by the Ministers and their adherents, was carried against them. The Commission of the Chamber of Peers now recommend that it should be struck out.

Should this recommendation be adopted, of which we fear there is little doubt, the eldest sons of Peers will generally be eligible to succeed their fathers. It is true that the general law of succession in France divides the property of the parent equally among all the children.12 But one of the acts of the Bourbons, after their restoration, was to permit the creation of majorats, or entails, to accompany a title of nobility; and to require, in particular, that the Peers should, as a matter of course, tie up a certain amount of property, and transmit it to the next heir, together with the Peerage, which otherwise, should not be transmissible.13 The eldest son of a Peer, in consequence, generally succeeds his father in the bulk of his landed property, and therefore in the payment of the bulk of his direct taxes. It is worthy of remark, that a ministerial deputy, M. Jaubert, at a very early period of the present session, laid upon the table a proposition for the abolition of majorats.14 It was received with universal approbation, but a day has never yet been fixed for the discussion of it, nor has it been referred to a Commission; and there is every appearance of an intention to allow it to drop.

That the Ministers will generally name the successor to the estate as successor also to the peerage, if the law allows them, they have taken care to leave no doubt, by naming the sons of Ney and of General Foy;15 young men who have not had time to shew themselves either fit for the office, or worthy of the honour; one of them not even of age, and neither having attained the age of thirty, before which, by the regulation of the Chamber, they are not permitted to vote;16 and this, too, although the recent creation of Peers was for the express purpose of outnumbering a hostile majority.

We have given in another part of our paper an abridgment of the law proceedings relative to the will of the Duke de Bourbon.17 We invite particular attention to it. The defence not having yet been heard, nor the witnesses examined, we forbear any further comment in this stage.

Edition: current; Page: [381]

134.: FRENCH NEWS [41]
EXAMINER, 1 JAN., 1832, PP. 9-11

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article, headed “London, January 1, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the abolition of the Hereditary Peerage of France has passed the Chamber of Peers by a majority about equal in number to the new creation of Peers.1 The majority of speakers was, however, on the contrary side; and even of those who supported the bill, there was not one who did not openly lament the necessity of passing it.

The debate in the Chamber of Deputies occasioned by M. Périer’s statement respecting the revolt of Lyons,2 continued during four days. M. Périer, not denying that there was misconduct somewhere, threw the whole blame upon the local authorities: for which M. Bouvier du Molart, préfet of the Rhone, took a public opportunity of giving him the lie.3 After this proceeding, M. du Molart threw up his office, was struck off the roll of the Conseil d’Etat, and being thus freed from all connexion with the administration, commenced publishing in the newspapers a series of letters, of a highly interesting character, on the recent events.4

Omitting so much of the controversy, as consists only in crimination and recrimination between M. Périer and M. du Molart personally, we shall merely afford our readers the benefit of such light as is thrown by the disclosures now made, upon the causes of the insurrection.

The disturbances originated as the public are aware, in a tariff or scale of increased wages, promulgated under the sanction of the préfet; which was observed for a few days, but afterwards departed from by a portion of the manufacturers, who stopped their works, and refused to give employment to Edition: current; Page: [382] their workmen at the increased rate. Hereupon the operatives, who had previously had full confidence in the continuance of the tariff, and who, to use the expression of M. du Molart, regarded it as their charter, considered themselves to be cruelly injured; and their resentment broke out, in the manner which the public already know.

It now appears that when M. Périer was apprised of the promulgation of the tariff, he made an official intimation to M. du Molart of his disapprobation of it; and desired him, if possible, to allow it to fall into desuetude. This was imposing upon the préfet rather a difficult task; and we cannot be much surprised that no better result should have come of it.

M. du Molart, however, denies the circumstance, upon which the impropriety of the tariff principally depends. He denies that it was prescribed by the authority of government. He affirms, that it was the result of a free compact, concluded between delegates from the workmen, and delegates from the manufacturers; that a small minority only of the manufacturers had any objection to it; that these waived their objection; and that he, the civil magistrate, took no further part in the mutual agreement, than that of attesting and promulgating it. That on receiving M. Périer’s despatch, he hastened to lay before him the real state of the case, and hoped to induce him to withdraw his disapproval: but that in the meanwhile, the fact that the conduct of the préfet had been disapproved of, oozed out of the public offices at Paris (he says it was even mentioned by M. d’Argout, the minister of commerce, to the deputies for the place): that the news found its way to Lyons, and encouraged that small portion of the manufacturers who had originally disapproved of the tariff, to declare open hostility to it, some of them in a manner most unfeeling and insulting as respected the common people. Hereupon the revolt ensued. The conduct of M. du Molart throughout the trying circumstances in which he was afterwards placed, appears from all accounts to have been worthy of a hero.

If the statements of the ex-préfet are correct, it would seem that the fault, if any, imputable to him, was chiefly that of having taken any part in the convention between employers and workmen, even as a mere attesting witness, without first ascertaining that his conduct would meet with the approbation of his superiors. How far the blame of this want of concurrence between the government and its agent, lies with the agent, is a question which seems mainly to depend upon a despatch, which M. du Molart affirms that he wrote and sent, and which the minister denies having received. By what strange misadventure the two statements can both come to be true, or which of the two parties asserts a falsehood, we have no materials for conjecture.

A remarkable circumstance is, that M. du Molart denies the existence of any peculiar stagnation in the manufactures of Lyons. He affirms on the contrary, that they are in a state of unusual activity.

Edition: current; Page: [383]

The late political events, [says he,] which have in general exercised so unfavourable an influence over mercantile affairs, have had little effect upon the manufactures of Lyons. There has been no want of employment, thanks to immense orders given by the Americans. The year 1829 was that of the greatest activity of the manufacture, which reached almost 600,000 kilogrammes. The year following the revolution, from July 1830 to July 1831, fell short of this maximum by no more than 15,000 kilogrammes. Not only all the workmen have been constantly employed, but the length of their day’s work has been greatly increased, and six thousand machines have remained idle for want of hands. In this situation, however, the workmen complained; they addressed respectful petitions to the authorities; they assembled with order, calmness, and decency, in a private house; they named a committee to state and support their claims. Public opinion was in their favour; they inspired general interest, and all the manufacturers of proper feelings admitted, that these unfortunate people, by working eighteen hours a-day, did not gain even enough to sustain life.5

This is very unlike what has been stated in all other quarters, as to the decline of the trade; and M. du Molart, it must be remembered, is strongly interested in making out a case for that rise of wages, to which, in an evil hour for the city of Lyons, he gave his official authority. This statement, however, is specific; and being in figures, may be disproved if not correct. It is important that the truth should be known.

If M. du Molart’s statement is correct, a rise of wages was warranted by the state of the trade; but also, it would have been brought about by the state of the trade without his interference, and then it is likely the workmen might not have considered the new law of wages as “their charter,” justifying insurrection, like that of Paris, if it were violated. Wages at starvation point, and six thousand looms standing still for want of workmen, are two circumstances, M. du Molart may be assured, which could not have gone on for many days together. We confess, the fact that any number of the manufacturers should have dismissed their workmen rather than pay the advance of wages, throws very great doubt in our minds upon M. du Molart’s assertion, that the increased scale was called for by the prosperity of the trade.

Under all suppositions as to this matter, the practical conclusion is one and the same. There exists unhappily no doubt as to the miserably low wages of the Lyons’ operatives. They are admitted to be in consequence the worst fed, sallowest, and feeblest in bodily frame, of all the working people of France. Now, there is not a single article of importance consumed by the labourer, which is not taxed to an enormous amount, either for revenue or protection. His clothes are taxed by the duties on cottons and woollens; his fire is taxed by the high price of wood occasioned by the duties on iron, his bread and his meat are taxed by the duties on corn and cattle, for purposes of protection. His wine, (which corresponds to our small beer) is taxed, his salt is taxed, his only luxury, Edition: current; Page: [384] tobacco, is raised by a monopoly many hundred per cent. in price, and all articles of agricultural produce are taxed over again by the octroi, for purposes of revenue. The genius of fiscality has exhausted every device by which the iron hand of the tax-gatherer can be driven hard and deep into the pockets of the very poorest class; who being in a still greater ratio the most numerous class, are the payers of the most productive taxes.

Let the government do its duty on all these points; let it abstain from robbing the people for its own benefit, or for the benefit of landholders and great capitalists; and it may leave the question between them and their employers to be adjusted between them and their employers. How much of the great concerns of society may or may not be brought within the functions of government, when government shall be something very different from what it is, it would be premature for us to decide. But we are sure, that as governments are at present constituted, the less they have to do with the regulation of contracts between man and man the better for society; and the more strictly they confine themselves to the mere protection of person and property from force or fraud, the better they know their proper stations, and the more good, or rather the less intolerable evil they produce.

But of all these matters M. du Molart is so far from being sensible, that while he thinks the regulation of wages quite a proper subject for the interference of authority, he is a declared partisan of the droits réunis, as preferable to direct taxation; and goes so far as to condemn even the trifling alleviation of the duties on wine, which was granted at the close of 1830, when the wine countries on the south were in a state in which the tax could not otherwise have been collected but at the bayonet’s point. M. du Molart was one of Bonaparte’s préfets; and this, to any one who knows what these were, means, that in the eyes of M. du Molart, the only one requisite of a good tax, is to be productive to the revenue. We mistake; there is another virtue, namely, to take the people’s money as it were while they are asleep, and without their being sensible who takes it. This is the ground of the preference for indirect taxes.

M. Fiévée, who knew this kind of men well, divides them into two classes: the teachers of Bonaparte, and his pupils. Such men as M. du Molart belong to the latter class. It was of them (and more especially of M. Louis, the present minister of finance) that M. Fiévée, writing at a time when these very men were in power, said, “Je connais bien nos administrateurs actuels: ils sont d’une fiscalité qui déconcertait quelquefois Napoléon, le plus fiscal des hommes.”6 Apt scholars, who surpassed even their schoolmaster.

The debate on the budget will commence in a few days. We shall then see what the sages of the Palais-Bourbon will think proper to do with the Taxes on Poverty. As for the Corn Bill, poor and insignificant as is the palliative which it Edition: current; Page: [385] offers of a radically pernicious principle of legislation, there seems to be a general understanding that the Landlords’ House (for such the Chamber of Deputies truly is) will not pass it this session.7 It cannot come on before the budget, and when the budget is passed, it is expected that the Chambers will be prorogued, leaving all other questions in statu quo.

In the mean time, two commissions of the Chamber, on two very important bills, have presented reports more liberal (a rare occurrence) than the original scheme. One of these bills is the highly important one for national education.8 A majority of the commission on this bill consisted (Heaven knows how!) of members of the Opposition; including several of the most respected leaders, with the venerable M. Daunou at their head. This eminent patriot, eminent alike by his talents and his virtues, was named the reporter of the commission; and though we have not yet seen his report, there can be no doubt of the benevolent and enlightened character of a document on such a subject, emanating from the founder of the Institute of France.9 The ministry, we perceive, are violently adverse to some of the amendments which he proposes.

The other bill to which we have alluded, is for defining the functions of the municipal councils: the composition of those bodies, by popular election, having been provided for by a law passed in the preceding session.10 The ministerial projet, though it modified to a certain extent, maintained in all its main features Napoleon’s system of centralization;11 that system which, while it crushed the provinces under the oppressive weight of the metropolis, rendered the fit performance of public business impossible: the local authorities not having power to perform the most trifling act of administration (unless it were a matter of mere routine) without orders from Paris, which, in consequence of the immense quantity of such business which flowed in and accumulated, they often had to wait months for, the exigency in the mean time passing away, and endless mischiefs occurring for want of doing that which could not under this system be sooner done. The report of the commission proposes a far greater alteration in the existing system, and confers upon the inhabitants of the different localities, through their local representatives, a far greater share in the management of their local affairs, than the scheme of the Government.

Let us hope that leisure will be found for disposing of these two great Edition: current; Page: [386] questions before the prorogation; or at all events that by the adoption of M. Salverte’s proposition with respect to dropped bills,12 they may be allowed to come on at once for discussion at the opening of the following session; which cannot be long after the close of the present, for it takes three months to vote a budget, and the budget of 1833 has also to be voted in 1832. The deputies of France, by the way, take their legislative duties rather coolly; a sitting of five hours seems to be the very longest which they ever allow themselves. One night’s debating in the House of Commons, from four in the afternoon to three in the morning, is equivalent to nearly a week’s exertions of the French Chamber. It is true that their deputies are obliged to be more regular in attendance than members of the English Parliament, as the Chamber cannot deliberate unless a majority of its whole members be present.13

The commission on the civil list has not yet presented its report.14 This question must, by the terms of the Charter be disposed of in the present session.15 It is true that there is little need for being in any hurry to vote money to the Citizen King, as he is already expending provisionally a far larger sum per month than any Chamber, not having arrived at the last stage of profligate impudence, will venture permanently to grant to him. Statements have been made, which, if not refuted, prove that the expenses on account of the civil list since the accession of Louis-Philippe have amounted to nearly forty millions of francs; fully as much as Charles X ever expended in the same time, and greatly exceeding the eighteen millions a year (£720,000) which were all that Louis-Philippe himself dared ask for, in the bill which was presented last year,16 and immediately withdrawn, from the explosion of public indignation at the magnitude of the demand. Let it be recollected, that the Civil List in France includes none of the expenses of the state, unless that of keeping up the Gobelins and Sèvres manufactories, and a few other items of no great consequence, are so considered. All the rest goes to the support of the King and royal family, and the officers of their household, to defraying their private expenses, and keeping up the domains of Versailles, Fontainebleau, and about a dozen other old palaces and their appurtenances; to which, however, forests are attached, sufficient, it is affirmed, even now, and more than sufficient under proper managements, to pay all the expenses. Along with all this, we must take into account the private fortune of Louis-Philippe, which is estimated to yield annually five or six millions more; exclusive, we presume, of the ill-gotten inheritance of the poor Duc de Bourbon, now owned by one of Louis-Philippe’s younger sons,17 but Edition: current; Page: [387] which, if the facts asserted are made out, the verdict of a court of justice may shortly require back from his hands.

This remarkable trial, to which we believe we were the first to draw public notice in this country,18 but which has since been much discussed in the other papers,19 is still far from being concluded, no more than one day in every week being dedicated to it. We shall keep our eyes fixed upon the proceedings, and form the best opinion we can of the weight of evidence which may be produced on each side.

We must defer till next week some observations which we had intended to make upon that part of the four days’ debate in the Chamber of Deputies, which related to the enrollment of a hired rabble in aid of the police on the 14th of July last.20

135.: FRENCH NEWS [42]
EXAMINER, 8 JAN., 1832, PP. 24-5

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The article, headed “London, January 8, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the remainder of M. du Molart’s letters on the revolt of Lyons have appeared.1 They contain no further information of importance, on the causes or circumstances of the insurrection; but they charge M. Périer with asserting a direct falsehood in the Chamber of Deputies. The particulars of the case are these:—

When the Chamber, shortly after its meeting, had under consideration the validity of the election of M. Jars, by one of the electoral colleges of Lyons, it was affirmed that the president of one of the sections of that college had, during the election, communicated to the electors a telegraphic dispatch, received from Paris on the 6th of June, to the following effect: “Paris is perfectly quiet: the elections are declaring themselves there, as well as in other places, under the most favourable auspices: considerable majorities are declaring themselves.”2

This proceeding was severely censured, not only by the Opposition, but by the Edition: current; Page: [388] bureau of the Chamber which had to report on the validity of the election. It was declared to be an attempt to influence the votes of the electors, in violation of an express law, by which the electoral colleges are interdicted from deliberations or proceedings of any kind whatsoever, except simple voting.3 Hereupon, M. Périer positively declared that no telegraphic dispatch was sent on the 6th or 7th of June, and that the dispatch in question was not sent till the 8th, after the elections were over in almost all parts of France.4

Now, this statement M. du Molart asserts to be a falsehood. He affirms that the story, as it was first told, was strictly true: that the telegraphic dispatch was couched exactly in the words mentioned; that it was received on the 6th; that he still possesses the original copy, as taken down from the telegraph; and that he can establish the fact by the most perfect evidence.

Whether M. Périer, according to his customary practice, has prosecuted M. du Molart for defamation, we have not learned. But whichever of the two parties has falsified the truth (that either can be merely mistaken is in the nature of the case impossible), the exhibition is a curious one, and little creditable to the French character. There are a hundred points on which the tone both of public and private morality is far higher among the French than among ourselves. It would not seem to be so, in the important point of personal veracity. England is the classic land of cant; the hypocritical pretence of feelings and opinions utterly foreign to the character of the person professing them, is so much a matter of course in our Parliament, so completely conventional, that hardly any body is sensible of its baseness. But we solemnly assure our friends in France, of our firm belief that no man, Whig or Tory, who has been a Cabinet Minister of England within the present generation, was ever suspected, by his worst enemies, of deliberately denying, in the face of the public, any act of his own individually; and that no man who has held high office within the same period would have been capable of the falsehood which, if M. Périer is innocent, must be imputed to M. du Molart: unless indeed, he be an Irishman: for that nation, also superior to ourselves in some highly valuable qualities, is well understood to be, in all ranks of society, considerably below the English and Scotch in adherence to truth.

The recent proceedings in a French court of justice, on the trial of two editors of newspapers for defamation of M. Casimir Périer and M. Vivien,5 afforded some very significant circumstances in illustration of the state of moral feeling in France with respect to personal veracity, and of several other curious points of national character. The libel, as it would be stiled in this country, consisted, as is well known, in charging the authorities with having hired some of the lowest Edition: current; Page: [389] order of workmen, at three francs a head, to aid the police in case of the apprehended disturbances on the anniversary of the destruction of the Bastille. These workmen had acted with unnecessary violence and brutality against some young men engaged in planting a tree of liberty; and had never been called to account for this conduct, while their paid-for services had been celebrated in the Moniteur as a proof of the excellent spirit which animated the working population.6 On the trial, it was established that the workmen had been regularly enrolled, and formed into a kind of organized force, by a man named Souchet, who kept a tavern in the Faubourg St. Antoine; and that the belief was general in the Faubourg, that they were to receive three francs a head. The doubtful question was, whether the police, and the ministry, or either of them, were parties to the transaction. Souchet himself was brought forward to swear that they were not; and M. Carlier, the head of the local police, and M. Bouvatier, mayor of one of the arrondissements of Paris, both swore positively that they themselves had no concern in the matter, beyond having merely heard of it.7 But on the succeeding day, M. Bouvatier spontaneously presented himself before the Court, and stated that in a moment of irritation, occasioned by a calumnious imputation made against him by a previous witness, he had sworn to a falsehood; and that this had caused him so much distress of mind, that he was anxious to make all the reparation in his power, by publicly confessing his fault, and declaring the truth. He then gave evidence implying a much greater degree of participation, or at least connivance on his part, with respect to the proceedings of Souchet, than he had admitted in his testimony of the day before. This received evidence of M. Bouvatier, combined with the obvious prevarication of Souchet, were what chiefly induced the jury to acquit the accused.

Thus, then, the matter stood, when, in the recent debate of four days on the policy of the ministers, M. Mauguin revived the subject of the enlistments, and produced a letter from Souchet.8 In this letter, which was addressed to the editor of the National (one of the defendants in the trial),9 Souchet declared, that he also had committed perjury before the tribunal; that he also, like M. Bouvatier, wished to make reparation by proclaiming the truth; which when he should have Edition: current; Page: [390] done, he should, he hoped, be restored to the esteem of honest men. He then proceeded to declare, that he had enlisted the workmen at the express instigation of M. Carlier, the head of the municipal police of Paris, who, as we have already mentioned, had sworn on the trial, that he had nothing to do with the matter. The principal agent in the affair, Souchet added, was an employé of the police, by name Alexandre, who was not produced as a witness, and who, it seems, has absconded.

M. Périer, in reply, remarked, that no witness had appeared on the trial, who was able to swear to having actually received money.10 He affirmed that no money had been furnished by Government; that whatever might have been Souchet’s proceedings, he alone was responsible for them, having acted without the cognizance either of the ministry or of the police; and if he had held out to the workmen any hopes of pecuniary reward, he must have intended to deceive them, and to make a merit with Government of his instrumentality in persuading them to volunteer their services gratuitously. M. Périer accordingly produced a letter from Souchet, written shortly after the occurrences, soliciting some recompense of his zeal; and insisted upon what, indeed, was sufficiently obvious, the little credit due to the assertions of a man who, when all the world is already convinced that he was perjured, at last confesses it himself, and presents himself with a second story, in direct contradiction to his first.

The probability of M. Périer’s participation rests wholly upon the circumstantial evidence derived from the disappearance of the police agent Alexandre, and from the fact that no attempt has been made on the part of Government to clear up the mystery of the transaction, and to remove from employment any of its officers who may be found to have participated in it. This evidence is certainly very far from conclusive: but whatever degree of suspicion it is calculated to engender, M. Périer has done nothing to dispel it, having offered no explanation of either of the above circumstances.

The Bill relating to the Peerage11 has passed the second Chamber without alteration, and is by this time part of the Constitution of France. The mischievous alteration mentioned in our last paper as having been proposed by the commission, was almost universally scouted.12 It is said, that even the Ministers were averse to it, being anxious that the Bill should not be sent back to the Chamber of Deputies.

The Peers are now engaged in the discussion of a Bill, introduced by the Ministry into their House, for a reform in that part of the French law which relates to imprisonment for debt.13 The law, even with the proposed alteration, Edition: current; Page: [391] has excited surprise in this country by its extreme harshness; but it is stated that the tribunals of commerce, which are composed of mercantile men, possess and exercise the power of confining the operation of its provisions to debtors who are criminal, and not merely unfortunate.

M. Salverte’s proposition14 for allowing bills which are lost by a prorogation, to be taken up in the succeeding session at the point at which their progress had been interrupted, has passed the Chamber of Deputies, with a slight modification, confining its benefit to bills on which a commission has reported.

The Commission on the Civil List has at length made its report:15 and the subject is fixed for immediate discussion. This debate will be immediately followed by that on the budget; the report on the expenses (or the estimates, as we should call them) having been received: that on the receipts (or the ways and means) will shortly follow.16 The subjects of public education and municipal institutions are therefore postponed till after the budget—that is to say, to the next session: but in consequence of the adoption of M. Salverte’s proposition, these bills will stand for discussion immediately after the meeting of the Chamber. It is to be hoped that the Commission on the Corn Bill will at least make its report before the prorogation, that this great subject may also be disposed of at an early period of the next session.17 We hope, indeed, for no other good from the report, in the hands to which the composition of it has been entrusted.

The Commission on the Budget has excited great dissatisfaction among the popular party, by proposing no greater retrenchment than 10½ millions of francs, upon estimates amounting to 956,000,000, independent of 140,000,000 of extraordinary expenses, occasioned by defensive military preparations.

The Commission on the Civil List were equally divided on the amount at which it should be fixed: four members proposing twelve millions and a half, and four others fourteen millions.18 The ninth Member of the Commission, M. de Cormenin, who is for a much smaller amount than either, stands aloof from both, and is now publishing in the French papers a most able series of letters on the Civil List.19 It is said that Louis Philippe, whose ruling passion seems to be avarice, is greatly offended at the smallness even of the largest sum suggested by the Commission.

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The lawsuit on the will of the Duke of Bourbon makes but slow progress.20 The Spectator is severe upon us for having said, that if the case stated for the plaintiff is made out, Louis Philippe is scarcely fit to live.21 We ask the Spectator whether this is too much to say of a man, who is a party to extorting a will in his own favour, from a feeble old man, through a long series of perpetual annoyance and persecution, by a woman who, from being the mistress, had become the tyrant of her protector? Has our contemporary read the letter of the wretched old man to Louis Philippe himself, beseeching him to use his influence with Madame de Feuchères to prevail on her to cease importuning him on the subject; and the canting answer of Louis Philippe to this letter, containing every thing which a man of common delicacy would not have written in answer to such a request?22 Even to accept the inheritance, were there no proof except this letter of the means by which it was obtained, is an indelible disgrace; though he had been the most necessitous of mankind, instead of being the monarch of one of the greatest nations, and possessed besides of one of the greatest private fortunes, in Europe.

136.: FRENCH NEWS [43]
EXAMINER, 15 JAN., 1832, PP. 40-1

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, January 15, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the french chamber of deputies continues discussing the Civil List.1 The amount is not yet decided upon.

In the course of the debate, M. de Montalivet, the Minister of Public Instruction, employed the expression, “subjects of the King;”2 and a great number of the Opposition Members took offence at the term, declaring, that since the Revolution of July, Frenchmen were not the subjects, but the fellow-citizens, of their chief magistrate. The sensitiveness evinced on the subject of a word has excited much surprise and a little contempt on this side of the channel; and it must be allowed to have been excessive, when contrasted with the much less violent feelings which would have been displayed on subjects of Edition: current; Page: [393] much greater importance. But we consider the incapacity which has been evinced in this country, to understand and sympathise in such feelings, a far worse symptom of national character than a little excess in the feelings themselves. Let us not lay the pleasing unction to our souls,3 that it is a proof of our superior wisdom and manliness. It arises simply from this, that in France, words really mean things; while our political vocabulary is a mere conventional jargon. We have reached that last stage of political hypocrisy, in which we are even unconscious of using the language of deception; because nobody ever dreams that we intend the obvious meaning of our words. The courtesies of politics, with us, have gradually attained the pure no-meaning of the courtesies of private life among the Orientals; who, if they were really ready to sacrifice their lives for you, would have no words in which to tell you so, every phrase they could have used for that purpose having dwindled down into a mere form of politeness. With them, as with us, it cannot be said that the person who uses the lying language shows himself personally indifferent to truth, for custom causes the words to be taken in a purely complimentary sense. But the very fact that the words have thus altered their meaning, is a far greater proof of long habits of hypocrisy than any other which could be produced, since it is evidence against the whole nation.

All our institutions are based upon falsehoods. English law is one mass of fiction. The law of real property is entirely founded upon pretended feudal rights in the King and his vassals,—rights which once existed, but have long ceased to exist. The whole practice of our courts of justice is made up of fiction. Every summons to appear before a court of law pretends that the King is personally present to try the cause. A common subpoena to attend as a witness, is an order to appear before the King, in company with a fictitious personage, named John Doe. You cannot bring an action in one of the courts without pretending to be a debtor of the King, nor in another without saying that you are in the Marshalsea prison, nor in either without telling the most ridiculous falsehoods about the nature of your claim. It is not wonderful, where falsehoods without an object are in the common course of things, that falsehoods of servility should be universal: that the King’s exemption from legal responsibility should be dressed up into that notable piece of sycophancy, “the King can do no wrong;”4 that Ministers of the Crown should call the King their master, and themselves his servants, that he should be stiled in all legal documents, “our Lord the King;” and, to crown all, that expressions like these,—expressions identical with those used towards God Almighty,—should be uttered of the chief magistrate of the State, by highminded men, without any intention of hypocrisy or sense of degradation.

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Words have never been deemed a matter of indifference in politics, where anything like a healthful tone of political morality has prevailed. They were not deemed a matter of indifference in Greece or Rome, nor are they deemed so in the United States of America, nor in France. But they were so deemed at the Court of Darius, and at the Court of Louis XIV.5 They are so deemed in China, and in Hindostan, and in England. How should it be otherwise? When words are thought of no consequence, it is because feelings are thought of no consequence. It is words which bind together and call forth feelings. All but philosophers are mainly governed by the associations connected with words. Why did Julius Caesar wish to be a King, when he already seemed to have all the power of one?6 Because no one can have all the power, who has not the name. Why was the name of King necessary to France, after the three days of July? Because no other name would have had command over those associations, by which, far more than either by interest or duty, mankind are kept in obedience to established governments. Words are the grand instruments of educating the imagination; and all the affections except those of our daily life. And from this and other causes running parallel with it, arises the fact so often observed, that there exists no more certain symptom of national corruption than the corruption of the language. With the fall of Grecian liberty commenced the decline of the Greek language; the corruption of Latinity might be measured by the succession of the Roman Emperors: and our own language has advanced as much in effeminacy since the days of Milton and Harrington, and Bishop Taylor and Hobbes,7 as the French language has grown in masculine vigour since the death of Louis XV.8 For it is the national literature and the national character which first shape the language, and are afterwards reacted upon by the character which they have impressed upon it.

Of the immense advantages which France owes to her revolutions, it is not one of the least, that the language of her constitution is the expression of the real principles of her constitution. The words were framed to express things as they really exist; and being still new, they have not lost their original freshness of meaning. It is accordingly as much expected that a man shall mean what he says, in public as in private life. The language used by respectable men at the tribune, or through the press, is expected to be the expression of their real feelings; and there would be as much disgrace in substituting words of mere ceremony, as Edition: current; Page: [395] there is in practising hypocrisy towards an individual. When this shall be the case in England, Englishmen will be able to understand why the Opposition in the Chamber of Deputies, could not bear to be called the subjects of their shopkeeper-king. Till then, we shall probably continue to laugh at their folly, and to compliment ourselves on our good sense, upon the strength of our moral callousness.

The Morning Chronicle has had an able article on this subject, which was cleverly followed up in the same paper by an anonymous correspondent.9

There has been a conspiracy at Paris. An insurrectionary proclamation has been discovered: the conspirators were to sound the great bell of Notre Dame, and to set fire to a tower, by way of signal. Unhappily, however, the Times had awkwardly early information of the discovery. M. Périer had arranged that the conspiracy should break out on Monday, and informed the correspondent of the Times accordingly, but afterwards put off the discovery for two days longer, forgetting to give due notice to the said correspondent: who consequently wrote word to the Times on Tuesday, of what did not take place till Wednesday.10 This was a sad blunder of M. Périer. A conspiracy so miserably bungled can be of little use to any Government. It was well enough to have a plot, but it should not have been seen to be got up by the Ministers themselves.

137.: FRENCH NEWS [44]
EXAMINER, 22 JAN., 1832, P. 56

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, January 22, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the civil list of louis philippe is at length finally voted by the Chamber of Deputies. It amounts to twelve millions of francs (480,000l.)1 It is therefore a trifle less than the Civil List of our own King; who, however, has not a private fortune, amounting to about half as much more; who, unlike Louis Philippe, thinks himself bound to pay to the richest noblemen of the land, salaries worth the acceptance of such persons, for consenting to be officers of his household; and who never said any thing about surrounding his throne with republican institutions,2 nor ever claimed or affected to call himself a Citizen King.

Edition: current; Page: [396]

Even this large sum, however, is no more than two-thirds of that which was originally proposed, and which Louis Philippe has received provisionally up to this time. The Chamber has decided that he shall not be called upon to refund, although the disbursement was made without any legal authority.

Several young men, members of the Société des Amis du Peuple, have been tried for circulating some republican pamphlets. On the trial they avowed, and even ostentatiously proclaimed, their political opinions; for which conduct, although they were acquitted by the jury, the judge took upon himself to pass sentences of six, twelve, and fifteen months imprisonment on several of their number.3 The Times is as abusive on the occasion, as every one who knows the habits and character of that journal would naturally expect.4 Its indignation against the principles professed by these “fellows,” as it calls them, in that elegant and polished style of vituperation for which it is celebrated, renders it utterly blind to the flagrant injustice of which they are the victims. These young men were not conspirators; they were not put on their trial for conspiracy, but simply for publishing opinions in disapprobation of the existing form of government. When the jury have declared by their verdict, that men ought not to be punished for publishing republican opinions, is the judge to set aside the verdict of the jury, and condemn the prisoners, on his own authority, to sentences even more severe than would have been the consequences of conviction, on the pretext that they have adopted an improper course of defence?—The defence of some of them was intemperate and silly; probably the original publications were so: but a prisoner on his trial is, by the laws of all countries, privileged to enjoy a great latitude, both in the topics he brings forward, and in the language he employs. And we solemnly affirm, that if some of those who have been thus nefariously treated, afforded some colour at least for Edition: current; Page: [397] such treatment, others, if the report we have read is correct,5 were absolutely innocent of using a single expression which ought to have subjected them even to a reprimand.

EXAMINER, 22 JAN., 1832, P. 56

This unheaded leading article, an early indication of the interest in national character that led to Mill’s unfulfilled wish to write an “Ethology,” is described in his bibliography as “An article on the Irish character in reply to a correspondent signing himself ‘Erinensis,’ subjoined to the summary of French news [i.e., No. 137], in the Examiner of 22d January 1832” (MacMinn, p. 19). It is listed as “Article on the Irish character, in reply to a correspondent” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner. The letter by Erinensis, which was not published in the Examiner, has not been located.

we have received a letter, signed Erinensis, accusing us of having “taken advantage of the Périer and Cormenin controversy to fling a deliberate and wanton insult on the Irish character,” and calling upon us to state “from what sources of authority” we have derived our ideas of the Irish character, “or what the relative veracity of our respective countries had to do with the squabbles of Messrs. Périer and Cormenin.”1 As we should be much grieved to be thought capable of going out of our way to say what might hurt the feelings of any one, we shall answer the second question first. We were laying claim, in behalf of our countrymen, to a superiority in private veracity over the French. Now, as the Irish, though they do not consider themselves our countrymen, are considered such by foreigners, we thought it right, in order not to make a false impression, to state that we meant the assertion only of the English and Scotch.

As for our “sources of authority” in regard to the Irish character, we have none that are peculiar to ourselves: our evidence is public notoriety. To go no further, we have reason to believe that most tradesmen of respectability will inform—not our fiery correspondent—but any cooler person, or himself in a cooler mood, that they will give credit to an Englishman or a Scotchman, but not to an Irishman.

Having now answered our correspondent’s two questions, we hope he will not Edition: current; Page: [398] think ill of us for saying, that, as we never hesitate to denounce the national faults and vices of our own country, often at a great sacrifice of our interest as journalists, we think it but fair that we should use as little reserve in speaking of other nations and races of men. We can assure our correspondent that the feeling with which we wrote was any thing but one of reproach or of triumph. We are but too grievously sensible of the load of guilt which lies upon the conscience of England for the vices of Irishmen. Would misgovernment be the crying and dreadful evil that it is, if ages of it were not sufficient to leave any visible stain upon the national character? The only wonder is, that any virtue should survive, in a society the most wretchedly constituted which has existed in Europe since the commencement of modern civilisation. We believe from our hearts that the virtue of Englishmen would, in a few generations, have become utterly extinct under such treatment. What has preserved Ireland from the lowest stage of moral debasement, has been that susceptibility of ardent and generous emotion, which is common to her people with the French, and in which the inhabitants of our own island are, in comparison with either, most conspicuously deficient. But this noble quality, the fountain of so many virtues, is the characteristic excellence of an impressible people—a people all alive to the sensation of the moment, little addicted to calm reflection, and on whom distant motives have comparatively little influence. The virtues of spontaneous growth among such a people, can never be the virtues of self-control: if these are found in such a soil, they must be the fruit of sedulous moral culture. Such a people will be generous, brave, hospitable, keenly alive both to kindness and to unkindness, ardent in their private attachments, in their humanity, in their patriotism. But it requires highly favourable circumstances to render them equally remarkable for the virtues which consist in curbing impulse, and resisting temptation: stern integrity, justice, forethought, self-denial, veracity. In many of the positive virtues, the Irish are probably, the French certainly, our superiors. In many of the negative ones, both, we fear, have much to learn even from so imperfect an example as ours.

EXAMINER, 29 JAN., 1832, PP. 67-8

This leader, headed as title, is in the “Political Examiner.” See the further correspondence in No. 146. The article is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘Employment of children in Manufactories’ in the Examiner of 29th Jan. 1832” (MacMinn, p. 19), and listed as title and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner, where there is one correction: at 399.20, “this gradually; and” is changed to “this. Gradually, and”.

Edition: current; Page: [399]

we have received a most able and interesting paper, emanating from a committee of operative flax-spinners at Dundee, and entituled “Reasons for a Legislative measure (similar to that lately proposed by Sir J.C. Hobhouse) to limit and regulate the hours during which young persons may be employed to labour in flax-spinning mills throughout Scotland.”1 The force of argument, and dignified calmness of manner, displayed in this document, to which the ablest periodical works of the day could not produce on this important subject any thing superior, entitle it to be read and pondered over by every one who takes interest either in the physical well being of the manufacturing population, or in the symptoms and results of that remarkable intelligence which, under so many unfavourable circumstances, has so generally diffused itself among them.

The moral and physical evils occasioned by the over-working of male and female children in manufactories are powerfully depicted in this paper; all the arguments against legislative interference, which self-interest or the spirit of routine has suggested, are refuted with much dialectical skill, and an enquiry before a parliamentary committee is prayed for to substantiate all the facts stated. For our own part, we should most strenuously applaud, not merely the measure proposed, of restricting the employment of children in manufactories to a certain number of hours out of the twenty-four, but even a far wider measure than this. Gradually, and, with due consideration of existing interests and expectations, we should wish to see a law established, interdicting altogether the employment of children under fourteen, and females of any age, in manufactories.

No one can hesitate to acknowledge how desirable it is that such employment should cease. No well-wisher to his species can desire that children, up to the age of fourteen, should be employed otherwise than in fitting their bodies by exercise and freedom, and their minds by education, and that best of all moral training, that of the parental fireside, for the duties which they have to discharge in life. As little can it be desired that the mother of children should be employed in any gainful occupation which withdraws her from the midst of her family. Another thing is equally obvious.

The Dundee operatives profess themselves willing to submit to the diminution of earnings, which would be the effect of the measure they propose; but the truth is, that neither that, nor the more extensive measure which we advocate, would produce any diminution of earnings. It would withdraw a certain number of competitors from the labour market; and the wages of the remainder would immediately rise to the same aggregate amount. The diminished production Edition: current; Page: [400] would be a diminution solely of the capitalist’s profits; which would no doubt be reduced by this, in the same manner as by any other rise of wages. Such diminution is desirable; since it is of greater importance that the labourer should have wages sufficient for his comfort, than that his employer should receive £2000 a year instead of £1000. If the manufacturer requires compensation, let it be given by a repeal of the corn laws, and a commutation of all taxes falling upon the necessaries of life, or the materials of manufacture.

The objections which are to be anticipated from well-meaning and enlightened men, are not to the desirableness of the end in view, but to the propriety of attempting to effect it by legislative enactment. They consist of arguments drawn from the non-interference philosophy, and resting on the maxim, that government ought not to prohibit individuals, not under the influence of force or fraud, from binding themselves by any engagement which they may think fit to contract, provided it do not violate the legal rights of a third party.

Of this principle we are ourselves partisans up to a certain point; but it appears to us that there is a large class of cases, to which the reason of the principle does not apply, and to which, therefore, the principle itself cannot properly be applicable. The reason of the principle is, that an individual may be presumed a better judge of his own interest than the government, at least as governments are now constituted. But is it not very possible that cases may exist, in which it would be highly for the advantage of every body, if every body were to act in a certain manner, but in which it is not the interest of any individual to adopt the rule for the guidance of his own conduct, unless he has some security that all others will do so too? There are a thousand such cases: and when they arise, who is to afford the security that is wanting, except the legislature?

The case now under consideration is a case of this description. It would be highly for the advantage of the labouring classes, to agree never to allow their wives or young children to receive employment in manufactories. If this agreement were made and executed, wages would rise, so that the man alone would be able to earn all that is now earned by the entire family. But as soon as this was the case, it would become the private interest of individuals to break through the rule. Any man whose wife and children work while others abstain, gets the advantage of the high wages, both for his own labour and for theirs. All needy and selfish persons would take advantage of this; wages would gradually relapse to their present low rate; and then, it would be necessary for all to revert to present practice, in order to live.

This is therefore precisely the kind of case in which the government ought to interfere. It is a case in which the private immediate interest of each individual is necessarily in opposition to the general interest, unless a universal compact among all individuals is made and enforced. But the only power which can promulgate and guarantee a compact among all the labouring people of the community, is the government; and the only mode in which it can do so is by a Edition: current; Page: [401] law. If it is beyond the competency of government to do this, it is beyond their competency to do any thing. No objection would apply to their right to make this law, which would not prove that they had no right to prohibit stealing. Even if there were no government, it would be for the general interest of the community that nobody should steal. Why not leave it then to individual interest? Because, although nobody would benefit if all mankind were to steal, yet if some abstain voluntarily, that very abstinence enables others to benefit themselves by stealing. It is necessary therefore that the compact made among the community generally, should be enforced by penal sanctions against any individual who, while he reaps the benefit of its observance by others, does not himself conform to it.

140.: FRENCH NEWS [45]
EXAMINER, 29 JAN., 1832, PP. 72-3

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 Edition: current; Page: [402] 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 Edition: current; Page: [403] 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.

Edition: current; Page: [404]

EXAMINER, 5 FEB., 1832, P. 84

This review, another of Mill’s infrequent newspaper comments on the current battle for British reform, indicates his early acquaintance with William Hickson (1803-70), philanthropist and educational reformer, with whom he was later intimately involved in journalism and municipal reform. The review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “The New Charter. Humbly addressed to the King and both Houses of Parliament. Proposed as the basis of a Constitution for the Government of Great Britain and Ireland; and as a substitute for the Reform Bill rejected by the Lords. [London:] Strange, Paternoster-row. 1831. pp. 16.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of a pamphlet entitled ‘The New Charter’ (by William Hickson), in the Examiner of 5th February 1832” (MacMinn, p. 19), and is listed as “Review of ‘The New Charter,’ a pamphlet by William Hickson” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

this little tract, the production of one who enjoys great and deserved influence among the middle classes of London, to whom he himself belongs, is well-deserving of attention from all who wish to know what is passing in the minds of the most intelligent leaders of the people. It displays considerable reflection, and some reach of thought. The writer has a mind sufficiently enlarged to feel the value of principles in politics, without falling into the common error of those who, having a little cleverness and a large stock of self-conceit, imagine that some one principle, which they have caught a glimpse of, contains all political science within itself.

After a brief introduction, the author enumerates the leading maxims on which, in his opinion, governments should be founded. We think we can perceive a tendency in the writer, which we regret, to a belief that his principles are of universal application; that the science of politics is fixed and unchangeable, like a system of abstract truth, instead of being, as we consider it, progressive with civilization, and fluctuating with the exigencies of society. But to most of his maxims, as applied to the present state of Great Britain and Ireland, we have little to object. Some of them, when stated in a general way, have the air of barren truisms; but even these, when interpreted according to the explanations and remarks which accompany them like a running commentary, will occasionally, we might say invariably, be found to rise into unexpected significance and importance.

Among the principles enumerated, will be observed, along with some which are familiar texts of the democratic reformers, several which have probably been the result of the author’s individual meditations, there being few accessible sources whence he can have derived them. His most valuable idea, in our estimation, is that of the importance of local representative bodies for the management of local affairs: his greatest error, the opinion that, by the aid of Edition: current; Page: [405] such local arrangements, portions of the human race so heterogeneous as the people of England and those of India, for instance, or our Slave Colonies, can possibly be united under a uniform representative government. His plan, too, of a ladder of elections, mounting by successive stages from the village to the empire—A electing B, who elects C, who elects D—is a part of his system which we strongly urge him to reconsider.

142.: FRENCH NEWS [46]
EXAMINER, 5 FEB., 1832, P. 88

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, February 5, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

m. de cormenin has published a letter1 to M. Casimir Périer, which is the hardest blow the Minister has ever yet received. With this exception, scarcely any thing of importance has occurred in France during the last week. The discussion of the Budget continues. The Chamber has decided, by a small majority, that it will persevere in the detected juggle of paying off debt by borrowing; the preposterous and self-contradictory job of giving large profits to contractors and stockbrokers for allowing the French Government the use of its own money.

Several good speeches have been delivered in the Chamber on this question. Those of MM. Pagès, Jollivet, de Tracy, and Mauguin, have excited our particular attention.2 Yet there are several points on which even they have curiously missed the mark.

It was contended, for example, by the advocates of a Sinking Fund, that its operations tend to keep up the price of public securities, and thereby enable the State, when it stands in need of loans, to obtain them on easier terms. Now, the answer to this, though extremely obvious, was not given.

There is no doubt that the purchases of stock made in redemption of the debt have some slight effect in keeping up the price of the funds, when the redemption is bonâ fide, from a real surplus revenue—that is, when the State has not occasion to borrow. But when there is no surplus revenue, but, on the contrary, a deficit,—when the State must borrow to defray even the expenses of Edition: current; Page: [406] Government, it is surely obvious, that if it then employs any of its own money in redeeming old debt, it must borrow so much the more: if it redeems ten millions of old stock, it must, in consequence, create an additional ten millions of new, which it would not otherwise have had occasion for. If, therefore, the one operation tends to raise the funds, the other must have an equal tendency to depress them.

It has even a greater tendency. For, the contractor of the new loan must have his profits—seldom so little as four or five per cent. More, therefore, than ten millions of new debt must be contracted, in order to redeem ten millions of old. More new stock must be created and thrown into the market than is numerically equivalent to the stock redeemed. The funds, therefore, instead of being raised, are actually lowered, by keeping up the operations of the Sinking Fund while the country is obliged to borrow. And this piece of hocus-pocus, instead of rendering the terms of the new loan more favourable, renders them actually more unfavourable.

We can believe, indeed, that before the subject was understood, the Sinking Fund might, even under the circumstances we have described, have had some influence in keeping up the price of stocks; not by its effect on the real pecuniary interests of the buyers and sellers,—for that, as has just been shown, is all the other way; but by what, in France, is called a moral influence: an influence of mere feeling. During the currency of the notions which were prevalent at the commencement of Mr. Pitt’s system,3 respecting the magical virtues of compound interest—when the Sinking Fund was regarded as a mine of wealth, as something which (to use the expression of Lord Henry Petty, now Marquis of Lansdowne) creates something out of nothing;4—the vague feeling of confidence generated by this strange delusion, had a tendency, no doubt, to keep up the value of the funds, as of all other securities, public and private. In like manner we have no doubt that the funds would rise, if the public could be induced to believe that at ten o’clock every morning, beginning with to-morrow, food for twenty millions of people would be rained down from Heaven. But an increase of commercial confidence, arising from such a source, is not to be sought or desired: for the reasons which have led mankind, in all ages, to agree that delusion is an evil, and that it is a virtue to tell the truth.

Edition: current; Page: [407]

143.: FRENCH NEWS [47]
EXAMINER, 12 FEB., 1832, PP. 104-5

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, February 12, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

another conspiracy has broken out at Paris: whether of the same kind with that of which the “leading journal of Europe” had such timely information,1 it is impossible for us as yet to judge. Some hundreds of persons have been arrested, one of whom, a M. Poncelet, (a shoemaker), fired a pistol and wounded the sergent de ville who apprehended him. The conspirators are said to be a mixture of Carlists and Republicans: we shall see.2 If the plot was real, and Republicans had any concern in it, they have profited little by the advice given them by their leader, M. Cavaignac, in his defence, on a charge of conspiracy, about a year ago, when the prosecutors made so miserable a figure.3 But as far as we are yet able to judge, the imputation, so far as it affects Republicans, is sheer calumny.

All persons of any consideration in France, have long outgrown the juvenile folly of conspiracies. Experience to them has not been without its fruits. Eight or ten years ago, when anything like a popular government in France appeared hopeless; when M. de Villèle was lord of the ascendant, his famous chambre des trois cents in full glory, and events seemed to be rapidly retrograding towards jesuitry, superstition, and feudal privileges; such errors were pardonable: and at that time many persons of real virtue and ability were deeply involved in secret societies and Carbonaro intrigues. But they soon found that it is not possible to carry a great nation by a coup de main; and that nothing, in the present state of the world, is so idle or so insane, as a conspiracy; inasmuch as it cannot succeed, unless the public mind goes with it; and if this be the case, it is not needed. The only conspiracy which is not absurd, is a conspiracy of the public itself, in the face of day. Accordingly, though the government had never been able to get possession of more than a few detached threads of the great and well-knit web of French carbonarism, the combination speedily dissolved itself; and the men of talents and ardour who had taken the lead in it, found other and better means of doing their part towards improving the institutions of their country.

But if all men of tolerable judgment had found out, long before the revolution Edition: current; Page: [408] of July, that a conspiracy is a blunder, and therefore a crime; none but the most senseless of human beings can remain blind to the same conviction, after the memorable lesson of the three days—when that which so many had risked their lives in vainly striving to effect prematurely, came to pass as it were in a moment, almost without difficulty or resistance, when the hour had come, and the silent march of events had prepared the nation to see the overthrow of their government, some with joyful acclamation, the remainder with silent acquiescence.

The few, for there are but few, raw and hot-headed young men, who look with favour upon schemes for subverting the present French government by force, have yet to learn, that any attempt on the part of a minority, to impose upon a nation institutions not called for by a majority of those who habitually take part in public affairs, is a crime: still more so when the majority are not simply indifferent, but positively hostile: and that such an attempt, if it could be successful, is almost the only event which could now seriously retard the progress of political reform. It is the merest illusion to suppose that a government, established agaisnt the will of an active majority, whatever may be its name or forms, can be a free government. The Long Parliament, in our own country, made so miserable an end of its career simply from this one fault:4 and all the horrors of the Reign of Terror were the fruits of a mistake of the self-same nature in France.5 The men of our Commonwealth had, to a certain extent, a valid excuse in the force of circumstances, which rendered it extremely difficult for them to act otherwise than they did; and the same plea has been urged, though with far inferior force, in behalf of the more well-meaning among the abettors of the revolutionary government of 1793. But a similar miscalculation in a Frenchman of 1832 would be utterly without excuse. And every person in France of the slightest pretensions to sense or talents, to whom such designs have been specifically imputed, has been able, as might be expected, triumphantly to exculpate himself. The exertions of all such persons, whether in the Chamber or out of doors, are directed, so far as respects politics, to one only end, that of influencing the public mind. And this they will continue to do, in spite of the Citizen King, and his Attornies-General, who will not for a single moment let them alone.

The government of Louis Philippe regards, or pretends to regard, its own existence and that of a free press as incompatible. There needs not the gift of prophecy to predict, if this be the case, which of the two will be the survivor. The Edition: current; Page: [409] press, in France, has hitherto been more than a match for every government which has defied it to a contest.

Even the Times has, at length, pronounced its condemnation of these relentless persecutions of the Press.6 But it could not do so without hazarding the gratuitous and unfounded assertion, that all the journalists prosecuted would have been found guilty of seditious libel by an English jury. The case is so notoriously the reverse, that many of the pretended libels have been such as no English Attorney-General would have dared to bring before any jury. Is the Times aware that the juries, who, in nine cases out of ten, have dismissed the prosecutions, are much more select than even what are called in England special juries; being composed exclusively of electors paying 200 francs of direct taxes, and the members of a few liberal professions? Nine times out of ten, the convictions and feelings of these juries must have been unfavourable to the doctrines, for the promulgation of which the accused were put upon their trial. Principle, and not any fellow-feeling with the defendants, must have been the sole motive of the acquittals. Most fortunate was it that the law establishing Trial by Jury in political cases, passed the Chambers in the first temporary enthusiasm after the revolution of July.7 Had it been delayed till now, we may see, clearly enough, that it never would have been obtained while the present French government lasts.

The Chamber of Peers has thrown out M. Salverte’s proposition for allowing the unfinished business of one session to be taken up in statu quo in the next.8 The reason given by M. Roy against adopting this highly proper and useful measure, was, that if it were acceded to, the Committees on the bills pending at the time of the prorogation, might imagine that they had a right to convoke the Chambers, in violation of the royal prerogative!9 This, it will be allowed, is a notable specimen of a non-hereditary Peerage.

The Chamber of Deputies, after a long debate,10 has appointed a commission of its own body, to inquire into the deficiency in the public treasury, occasioned by the embezzlements and flight of the head cashier, M. Kesner;11 and to report through what defect in the manner of keeping the public accounts, this officer, and his predecessors before him, have been enabled to become defaulters to so Edition: current; Page: [410] great an amount. The monies abstracted from the Treasury by M. Kesner’s peculations, amounts to nearly six millions of francs; £240,000.

The Commission of the Budget has made its remaining report, that on the ways and means.12 In the present state of the finances of France, an increase of taxes was more to be expected than a relief from them: some change was however looked for in the mode of laying them on; which is even worse in France than it is among ourselves. This hope, however, finds little to encourage it in the report of the commission. The individual selected as the reporter, was M. Humann, the oracle of the non-improvement school; a man in whose estimation the existing system of finance, taxation, and commercial policy in France, is a pattern of perfection. Accordingly all the taxes which had been most justly complained of, as pressing with disproportionate severity on the poorest classes, are mercilessly adhered to; in particular, the salt-tax, and the tax on fermented liquors: imposts, which, independently of all other objections, are so vexatious in the mode of collection, that they, more than any other cause, have rendered every successive French government unpopular with the labouring people. It is proposed gradually to suppress the lottery; gradually enough, in all conscience,—the period fixed for its termination being 1836. The only real improvement recommended is the correction of an error committed last year,—that of increasing the impôt personnel, a kind of modified poll-tax, and the tax on doors and windows, and exacting them more rigorously from the poorer class of contributors.

The new taxes proposed are, an increased duty on cotton wool, and on sugar, whether imported from the colonies or manufactured from beet-root in France. There is also to be an additional tax on legacies and inheritances, beyond the fourth degree of consanguinity. There is something to be said in favour of a tax of this last description. Mr. Bentham, long ago, and others since his time, have proposed that the property of intestates should never pass to collateral relations at all, but, on failure of the descending and ascending line, should escheat to the State.13 This, however, though highly proper as a prospective measure, should not operate to the prejudice of existing interests and expectations: otherwise it is the height of injustice; and a peculiar tax on this class of inheritances is an injustice of the same kind, only less in degree.

It is melancholy to see, that an event so pregnant with meaning as the late insurrection of Lyons, should have made no deeper impression upon the men by whom France is now governed, than is indicated by all they do, and by all they Edition: current; Page: [411] fail to do, day after day, and month after month. Yet they have not been without better advisers. Not to mention any others, an excellent pamphlet by M. Decourdemanche, a Paris advocate, intituled, Lettres sur la Législation dans ses Rapports avec l’Industrie et la Propriété, and an able article in the Revue Encyclopédique, on the Budget of 1832, by M. Emile Péreire,14 contain, along with some errors, much valuable information and many profound views, which, if received with the attention they well deserve, would have placed the Government of the Citizen King in a very different position before the French people and the world, from that in which they now unhappily stand.

EXAMINER, 19 FEB., 1832, PP. 115-17

This article, reviewing the work of Tweedy John Todd (1789-1840), physician and medical writer, witnesses to Mill’s concurrent work on logic. The first item in the “Literary Examiner,” it is headed “The Book of Analysis, or, a New Method of Experience; whereby the Induction of the Novum Organon is made easy of application to Medicine, Physiology, Meteorology, and Natural History; to Statistics, Political Economy, Metaphysics, and the more complex departments of Knowledge. By Tweedy John Todd, M.D. Royal College of Physicians of London, &c. &c. [London:] Murray, 1831.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of a work entitled ‘The Book of Analysis, or a New Method of Experience’ by Tweedy John Todd, Esq. M.D.—In the Examiner of 19th February 1832.” (MacMinn, p. 19.) It is listed as “Review of ‘The Book of Analysis, by T.J. Todd, M.D.’ ” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

this is not a quackish book, though it is a book with rather a quackish title. When we first read the solemn announcement of “a new method of experience,” we expected to find a scheme for superseding the five senses: but it is not so: the author proposes no method of experience, other than the good old mode of seeing, hearing, and feeling. What he has invented is a method, not of experience, but of recording and marshalling our experience, in order to show more clearly and certainly the conclusions to which it leads.

In spite of the air of pretension about the title-page, the author seems a modest, sensible man. Indeed, the seemingly ostentatious manner in which he connects Edition: current; Page: [412] his own name with the words Experience and Induction, evidently arises from no worse cause than his understanding those terms in a peculiar sense. Else, what can he mean by saying that Lord Bacon was the discoverer of induction? (P. 6.) Lord Bacon was not the inventor of eyes and ears. The first person who discovered that fire burns, found it out by induction. Experience, in the received language both of philosophy and of the world, means seeing and feeling; and induction, judging from what we see and feel. But in our author’s sense, the two words mean, not the operations themselves, but some contrivances of our own to help us in performing those operations.

Not to dwell longer on the title, however, but to speak of the work itself; Dr. Todd has the merit of perceiving clearly and strongly the imperfect condition in which those branches of knowledge mostly remain, wherein we are chiefly dependant upon mere observation; as compared with those in which we possess almost unlimited power of making experiments, that is, of producing at pleasure such new combinations of circumstances, as we have reason to think will afford us a further insight into the laws of nature. To feel this imperfection of our existing knowledge, as vividly and keenly as Dr. Todd does, is already no inconsiderable indication of a philosophic intellect. If all who profess to be thinkers, had barely reached this one point of attainment, the knowledge of our present ignorance—the mouths of nine-tenths of the noisy persons we meet with in the world, would be closed, and the remaining tenth would seriously bestir themselves to acquire knowledge, instead of spending their time in trying to persuade themselves and other people that they have already got it. There would be an end at once, for example, to those clamorous appeals we daily hear, on the most complicated questions of state policy, to what are termed facts, that is, to history and statistics, by men, the sum total of whose knowledge of facts in history and statistics (though perhaps clever, well-informed men) is like an insect’s knowledge of the great earth; and their inductions, very like an oyster’s conjectures of the laws which govern the universe.

Dr. Todd, seeing the little progress which has been made towards a sufficient induction in the sciences of mere observation, and how inadequate to most practical purposes our experience has hitherto been, or else how inadequately that experience has yet been turned to account; being also well read in the standard works on logic and metaphysics, and in particular, being profoundly versed in the Novum Organum; very laudably determined to do what lay in him towards following up Lord Bacon’s great enterprise, and be himself also, in some sort, a reformer in philosophy. And in what he has done, it would be unjust to deny that there is both merit and utility, though we much question its power to produce such great results as he seems partly to expect from it.

The investigation of nature, consists in ascertaining by experience what are the facts which constantly occur in conjunction with one another. Whatever be the phenomenon which is the subject of inquiry, we discover the law of that Edition: current; Page: [413] phenomenon, by ascertaining what are the circumstances which are invariably found to be present whenever it occurs.

Now, this being the case, Dr. Todd’s plan is as follows:—To note down carefully all the circumstances of all the instances, or experiments, and arrange them in tables; the form of which tables, aided by a system of signs rather ingeniously contrived, shows at once, and almost at a glance, what are the circumstances which have been found to occur together in all the instances, and what are those which have been found not to occur together at all, or not with any regularity. If this were done, Dr. Todd thinks that much valuable experience would be preserved which is now lost, and that all the various generalizations which can be legitimately drawn from the instances which have been examined, would appear by simply reading off the signs. The principle on which the process rests, we give in his own words:

To recapitulate; having by the first process, the classification by affirmative circumstances, arranged and assorted the circumstances of all the instances, and formed them into classes; and having, by the second process of exclusion, or classification by negative circumstances, rejected from the classes all such circumstances as are not found constantly to belong to them; the circumstances which remain of each class may be collected and arranged together. Not having been able, by the evidence of any instance or individual fact, to separate these circumstances from each other, or from their class, it is allowed to conclude that they are connected with each other by some natural relation, either as cause or effect of each other as causes of a common effect, or effects of a common cause.

(Pp. 37-8.)

There is no doubt that where the complication of the subject is such, that it is impossible for the mind to take in at once the whole range of the evidence which it has to examine and decide upon, it becomes indispensable to bring our experience into a more compact and manageable shape. The utility of synoptic tables, for this purpose, is well known. And, of the immense increase of power which may be obtained by a well-contrived method of abridged notation, we have a memorable example in algebra; without the aid of which, our knowledge of the properties of numbers could never have reached much beyond common arithmetic. Dr. Todd’s is a contrivance somewhat similar. And that some invention of this sort will one day be brought into common use, for registering and methodizing the logical results of any extensive and varied series of observations, appears to us extremely probable. We only doubt whether the logical operation itself, which this plan is intended to facilitate, is one from which any great discoveries in philosophy are likely to flow.

In fact, when we consider the past history of philosophy, we find that not one of the great truths which have changed the face of science, was discovered in the manner which Lord Bacon and the author before us have laid down, namely, by collating an immense variety of very complicated instances, until, in the midst of the apparently inextricable confusion, there manifested itself something like an Edition: current; Page: [414] invariable order, or law. This is altogether a mistaken view of the nature of philosophical discovery; and Lord Bacon has here proved a false prophet. All the great laws of nature, yet known, have been ascertained by the observation of a few very simple, and generally very familiar phenomena; under circumstances of little complication, where the result of the experiment was not found liable to vary at each repetition from the effect of other unknown causes; where, therefore, that constancy of co-existence or of sequence, which constitutes the law of nature, is visible without any cumbrous apparatus of comparison, such as Lord Bacon conceived, and as our author has attempted to realize. These simple laws having thus been first brought to light in the simple cases, it was afterwards found, that we had only to suppose the same laws to be in operation universally—and all the phenomena of the more complex cases, however perplexed and intricate they had at first appeared, were, without any difficulty, fully accounted for.

Thus, (to use an example at once the grandest and the most familiar) when Newton discovered the laws of the motions of the heavenly bodies, it was not by comparing and collating a long series of astronomical observations. His conclusions were even, in many respects, contrary to those which had seemed to result from the method of direct observation. He did indeed most carefully and scrupulously examine every fact which authentic observation had brought to light respecting the solar system; but he did so, not in order to educe a theory from these facts, but to ascertain whether they corresponded to a theory already framed. The three laws of motion, the law of gravitation, and that of the composition of forces, had been ascertained in an unerring manner, by the simplest and most familiar experience; but experience confined of course to this earth. It occurred to Newton, that by merely supposing that these same laws extended to the whole solar system, all those phenomena of the sun, moon, and planets, which had till then been considered of so peculiar and mysterious a nature, might possibly be explained. And so, upon examination, it turned out. And in consequence of this discovery, there is scarcely any other science at the present day so perfect as astronomy; although (and this is one of the remarkable circumstances) a science of pure observation; for all mankind could not make the sun or moon budge an inch from its place, by their united efforts. But if we had remained destitute of the Newtonian theory till we could deduce it by generalization from the observed phenomena of the heavens, we probably should never, even with the aid of our author’s tabulae inveniendi,1 have made any nearer approach to it than Kepler’s discoveries.2

Edition: current; Page: [415]

We suspect that, when any more comprehensive views shall be arrived at, or any greater certainty shall hereafter be attained, in the sciences, physical, moral, or political, than we at present enjoy, it will be in some such way as Newton’s, rather than by the road which our author has taken so much pains in marking out. We can illustrate this by a recent and highly interesting example. Among the branches of knowledge which our author has pointed out as standing in most need of an improved method of induction, is Meteorology. Has he ever read Mr. Daniell’s admirable work on that subject?3 If he have, he must be aware in how low a state that distinguished natural philosopher found his science, if science it could be called in which not one leading principle was ascertained; and to how respectable a rank among the sciences he instantly raised it, by simply reversing the course theretofore pursued; no longer attempting a direct induction from the results of atmospheric observation, but starting from laws of nature previously ascertained under less intricate circumstances—namely, the laws of evaporation and condensation, the properties of elastic fluids, and especially those of air and aqueous vapour; and examining synthetically how many of the phenomena with which meteorology is conversant, these laws would suffice to explain. The result was, that he found he could explain them almost all; and there now remains a much smaller residuum of atmospheric phenomena yet unaccounted for, than almost any one had been inclined, à priori, to set down to the account of agents yet unknown.

Dr. Todd might have dissected meteorological observations without limit, and persevered till doomsday in “translating circumstances into signs,” before his “induction by classification” would have led him to such a result as this. [Pp. 24, 54.]

We regret that, instead of only giving blank forms, Dr. Todd has not presented us with a specimen of his art, by the actual analysis of some interesting set of instances. If he had done this, nothing, we think, could have prevented him from seeing how much less his method is capable of effecting than he imagines, towards removing the difficulties of induction. Suppose, for example (as Dr. Todd considers his plan peculiarly adapted to inquiries respecting the mind), that the subject of investigation were the formation of character, and the instances individual men and women: has Dr. Todd ever considered what would be implied in a complete enumeration of the circumstances of each instance? It would include the whole history of the life of each of the individuals. Suppose that the subject were politics, and the instances nations: has he calculated the number of square miles which his tables would cover? To begin with a single instance, as, for example, England: we should like to see Dr. Todd attempt the analysis of this instance. Every law on our statute-book, every decision of a judge, which has passed into a law; every book which is in the hands of our Edition: current; Page: [416] youth; every idea or opinion, every feeling, every habit of thought or of conduct, which prevails among our people or among any class of our people; all the natural qualities inherent in our soil, in our climate, in our geographical position; every invention we have produced in the useful, or every work of genius in the fine arts; the constitution of our schools, of our universities, of our corporations, of our learned societies, of our church; nay, even the personal character of every individual in every rank of life who has any character that can be properly termed his own: and in addition to this, all the thousand-and-one accidents which are daily happening, or have happened any day for the last thousand years, tending to modify more or less the relations in which we stand to one another, to other countries, and to external nature. All this would be but a part of the analysis of one single instance. We ask Dr. Todd whether he seriously believes that the certainty he desiderates can be attained in politics, by collating a few (and the world affords but a few) instances of such vast and unmanageable complication?

And, after all, Dr. Todd’s method, if it were practicable and fulfilled its ends, would afford no help towards resolving the most difficult part of the problem—namely, to know whether the induction is sufficient. This does not depend upon the mere number of the instances. For it is evident that we should learn much more of the nature of animals, for instance, by examining one quadruped, one bird, and one fish, than by examining a hundred sparrows or a hundred eels.

Yet such methods as Dr. Todd’s are of very considerable use. Though they may never directly lead to scientific knowledge, they often, on subjects of empirical and probable evidence, afford an approximation to it, sufficient to be of practical use. They afford data for what is called the calculation of chances. The best knowledge we have, is often merely knowledge that certain things happen more frequently than not; without our being able to perceive in what circumstances the cases of exception differ from those which constitute the rule. Now, any process which methodises the substance of any great number of observed cases, and reduces them within moderate compass, attracts attention to combinations which had not before been suspected to be other than casual, and the knowledge of which, besides being of use for the guidance of conduct, probably suggests experiments which in time may bring to light a general law. Dr. Todd’s tables and system of signs seem not ill adapted to be of this kind of use. They will show, no doubt, in very many cases, that some conjunctions of circumstances take place more frequently than others—when, from the vastness and intricacy of the field of observation, this had not before been perceived. And medicine, Dr. Todd’s own subject, being one of those in which mankind have hitherto been least successful in discovering general laws, and are obliged to rely most on empirical observation; Dr. Todd’s method, by extending the range of such observation, may contribute to the enlargement of our knowledge and the increase of our power, in a degree sufficient to entitle its author to considerable gratitude, and his name to lasting remembrance.

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145.: FRENCH NEWS [48]
EXAMINER, 19 FEB., 1832, P. 121

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 Edition: current; Page: [418] 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 Edition: current; Page: [419] 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

EXAMINER, 26 FEB., 1832, P. 131

This note (in square brackets) is appended to a letter in the “Political Examiner” headed “To the Editor of the Examiner,1 in which reference is made to No. 139, where Mill had responded to the address of the Dundee operatives. Described in Mill’s bibliography as “A paragraph in answer to a letter from ‘the female operatives of [Todmorden]’ in the Examiner of 26th February 1832” (MacMinn, p. 19), the item is listed as “Paragraph on a letter from ‘the Female Operatives of Todmorden’ ” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

we are much flattered by the favourable opinion of our fair Lancashire friends. To meet the case of females having no legitimate claim on any male relative for support, the interdiction might be confined to married females, and Edition: current; Page: [420] those whose parents are alive and not in the receipt of parish relief. But in spite of our correspondent’s jocular remarks on female emigrants, we must observe, that young women who have no parents or other near relatives to support and protect them, are exactly the persons to whom emigration holds out the greatest advantages. Our correspondent need not fear that on her first landing in Australia or Canada, the alternative will be straightway offered her, to marry or starve. On the contrary, labour of all kinds is so scarce, and consequently so highly paid, that for as long a period as she may prefer a single life, she may depend upon earning, with very moderate exertions, an abundant and comfortable subsistence.

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147.: FRENCH NEWS [49]
EXAMINER, 26 FEB., 1832, P. 136

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, February 26, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the chamber of deputies has disappointed the wishes of M. Casimir Périer, by making considerable reductions in the salaries of many of the high officers of state.1 This is so far well; but there is a much wider field of retrenchment open to them. Offices, great and small, are far too numerous: a reduction of their number would produce a far greater saving than a diminution of the emoluments.

The Chamber of Peers, which is daily setting itself more and more decidedly in opposition to the Deputies and to the nation, has determined that the anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI shall continue to be kept as a dies non by the courts of justice and the public offices.2 It is strange infatuation to incur the obloquy and danger of running counter to the national feeling for a matter of such trifling importance. The French people do not approve of the sentence upon Louis XVI, but they do not think it more iniquitous than a thousand other acts, both of the Revolution and of the ancien régime; they see no reason, therefore, for solemnizing it by any peculiar observances. They bear a particular aversion, moreover, to this celebration, because it was imposed upon them by the émigrés in 1816, as a studied insult to the defeated party. It is felt, and was intended to be felt, as an act of national penance and humiliation, much more for having attempted a republican government, than for having put a good kind of man to death without just cause.

The four young men, members of the Société des Amis du Peuple, who were arrested on pretence of being concerned in the late Carlist conspiracy, have been set at liberty.3 There was no ground for proceeding against them, and this was probably known from the first; but it is a favourite scheme of M. Périer, to propagate the belief, that the two extremes of opinion have united against his juste milieu.

The case of the Duc de Bourbon’s will has been decided in favour of the legatees.4 We are not minutely acquainted with the procedure of the French Edition: current; Page: [422] courts; but it seems strange, that judgment should have passed after hearing only the speeches of counsel, without examining a single witness.

148.: FRENCH NEWS [50]
EXAMINER, 4 MAR., 1832, P. 152

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, March 4, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets, with a pencilled emendation: at 422.14, “eighteen” is underlined, and “should be fifteen” is written at the foot of the page. In the Somerville College edition, the article is on pp. 152-3.

the court of cassation has confirmed the iniquitous sentence, by which five members of the Society of the Friends of the People, after being acquitted by the jury, were sentenced by the Judges to periods of imprisonment, for what they said in their defence.1 “Some months’ imprisonment,” says the mealy-mouthed correspondent of the Times.2 Yes, good sir; six, twelve, and fifteen months imprisonment, besides fines. And it is but justice to say, that the speeches of MM. Blanqui and Thouret, two of these persecuted men, were such as almost any man might be proud of.3

One of the correspondents of the Times, on Thursday last, after railing at the Chamber of Deputies for its retrenchments, and bitterly lamenting the error which was committed in extending the elective franchise, calls on the Times to give the aid of its pen to the enemies of cheap government in France, and to tell them how much more wisely we order these things in England.4 We trust that this Paris correspondence is read; and that the indications it gives, of the real spirit of the Journal which publishes it, are not thrown away.

The reason why no witnesses were heard in the law-suit on the will of the Duc de Bourbon5 is, that in French law oral testimony is not received to invalidate a will, unless a certain primâ facie case can be made out; which, in this case, the Court did not consider to have been established. The decision has been appealed from, and the cause will next be brought before the Cour Royale.

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149.: FRENCH NEWS [51]
EXAMINER, 11 MAR., 1832, P. 168

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, March 11, 1832,” is listed as “Article on the French expedition to Ancona” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the french expedition to Italy, which has landed and taken possession of Ancona, has excited much speculation and remark, mostly of a vituperative kind, in the English newspapers.1 M. Périer has not yet made any declaration of the purposes with which this expedition was undertaken; but there is little difficulty in conjecturing their nature. The truth apparently is, that M. Périer, however reluctant to incur any danger of war, in order to prevent free principles and free institutions, in a foreign country, from being overwhelmed by an invading army, has none of these scruples when the matter at stake is what, in the old slang, were called national interests,—that is to say, preventing some other country from obtaining any accession of territory and power. Accordingly we see the consequence. The patriots of central Italy attempted to establish a free government; Austria interfered by force, put a stop to their proceedings, and M. Périer had nothing to say. The Italian patriots having been baffled in this first attempt, and finding that they had no chance of establishing a free government as long as Italy is cut up into little straggling principalities, are now willing to acquiesce in any government which will restore their nationality; and to that end are ready to join with Austria, if Austria will turn out the Pope, and unite all Italy under its own dominion. And this is obviously the next best thing to what they attempted at first; but this will not suit M. Périer. That personage has no objection to let Austria govern the Italians through their detestable native governments, but he has no idea of allowing her to govern them directly and avowedly, when there would be some chance of her governing them comparatively well. Thus French interference at present, is as hostile to the good government of Italy, as French non-interference was before. As England and France allowed Russia to swallow up Poland, but would not hear of permitting her to conquer Turkey, so now the mutual jealousies of France and Austria appear to show themselves precisely where there is some good to be prevented, after having remained dormant where there was any good to be done.

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150.: FRENCH NEWS [52]
EXAMINER, 18 MAR., 1832, P. 184

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, March 18, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the new corn bill proposed by the French Ministry, has, at length, been returned by the Commission appointed by the Chamber to report upon it. Their report, the production of the statistical M. Charles Dupin, is a compromise between right and wrong.1 We do not mean that its principles are true, but so tempered in their application as to soften the transition, and avoid defeating existing expectations: this we should not disapprove. What we object to is, that the principles themselves are neither true nor false, but half-and-half; a piece of theoretical patchwork, a kind of juste-milieu mosaic, a square of black and a square of white alternately. It is as if the Newtonian system had to be voted by show of hands; and the parties being unable to convince one another, agreed to a resolution that there was much truth in Newton’s principles, but that Ptolemy also had a good deal to say.

The recommendations of the Commission are, however, a considerable improvement upon what exists; and the Bill is to be discussed this session. The debate is to come between the voting of the Estimates and that of the Ways and Means.

The Ministry are desirous of voting in the present session, or in another to commence almost immediately after, the Budget of the ensuing year, as well as that of the present;2 in order to return to the salutary practice of not expending any of the nation’s money upon mere votes of credit, when the Estimates have not been regularly laid before the Chamber and discussed. We know not how the Deputies will relish this prolongation of their labours. The Chambers have sat almost without intermission since the Revolution of July; one respite of a month in the latter part of 1830, and another of less than six weeks, mostly occupied in the general election, and in the preparations for it, have formed the only interval of leisure. Yet it is astonishing how little business they have found time to transact. None of the most important Bills presented in this session, that on the Peerage excepted,3 have yet come on for discussion. It is true, the Chamber of Deputies does not sit at an average so much as four hours out of the twenty-four.

Edition: current; Page: [425]

EXAMINER, 25 MAR., 1832, P. 195

This review of a work by Benjamin Humphrey Smart (ca. 1786-1872), teacher of elocution and author of manuals and pronouncing dictionaries, is of importance to Mill’s speculations about logic and truth. For the second and concluding part, see No. 153. Both reviews are in the “Literary Examiner.” This first part is headed “An Outline of Sematology; or an Essay towards establishing a New Theory of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. [London: Richardson,] 1831.” The review is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of a work entitled ‘An Outline of Sematology,’ in two parts, the first of which on the study of Metaphysics; both signed A.B. In the Examiner of 25th March 1832 and 1st April 1832.” (MacMinn, p. 20.) In the Somerville College set, where it is listed as “Review of ‘An Outline of Sematology’ ” and enclosed in square brackets, there is one correction: at 426.36, “others” is altered to “other”.

it is singular, that in an age like this, when old systems of opinions and of things are crumbling in pieces, and that spirit of scepticism which metaphysical pursuits are supposed to engender, pervades the great majority of educated minds, the study of metaphysics should be held in discredit, rather than in honour. Upon the causes of this fact it would be interesting to speculate; but at present we shall only say of the fact itself, that among civilized nations it seems to be peculiar to ourselves. The tendency of the Germans to metaphysical speculation is well known; and in France the word Philosophy continues, even in the schools, to be appropriated as it was originally by Socrates, (the inventor of the term) to the science of mind, exclusively; while in England, which has produced so many illustrious names in that department of thought, the man who can analyse a pebble is held in greater estimation that he who can analyse the mind of man.

It is time that this should cease; for, if metaphysics unsettles men’s minds, metaphysics also must settle them; the doubts which it raises, it alone is able to solve. If there is any period in man’s history in which the scientific study of the human mind is indispensable, it is at a period of moral transition like the present; when those general creeds, which had kept the diversities of individual character in subordination by a common rule of right, are breathing their last—and others, more adapted to the present condition of the species, are slowly and with difficulty evolving themselves out of the shapeless and tumultuous chaos of conflicting opinions. The ancient doctrines will never more regain the ascendancy they have lost: the causes which have overthrown them are not causes which ever pass away. That unity of doctrine, however, which formerly existed, must exist once more, though under other auspices, ere man can yet again have earnest, solemn convictions, and yield willing obedience to a new and steady rule of life. Now, this unity of doctrine can only be brought about through Edition: current; Page: [426] metaphysics; for when all the questions most deeply interesting to human nature are under discussion, each man deciding them according to his personal predilections, the philosophy of mind is the only common arbiter to whom all can appeal, and who can constrain all to acknowledge his authority.

There are indeed to be found men, the depth of whose sensibility, and the vigour and comprehensiveness of whose imagination, enable them to summon up within themselves all the varieties of feeling incident to the human constitution; to see, at pleasure, any subject, as it would be seen by persons of all dispositions and turns of mind; and so, to understand and sympathize with human nature in all its diversities. Such were Shakspeare, Göthe, and perhaps one or two other persons since the creation of the world. But in general, man’s capacity of putting himself into the position of another man, and identifying himself with that man’s feelings and modes of thinking, when these are any way different from his own, is extremely limited. Most men, in consequence, regard the feelings and ideas excited in men of an opposite character to themselves, by objects which excite no such feelings in them, as monstrous and unnatural; or at least, radically wrong, and meriting no kind of consideration or allowance, either in reasoning or in conduct:—and few can feel the force of any argument which is either founded on, or addressed to, feelings in which they themselves do not participate. Hence we have hundreds of systems founded on the partial views of one-sided minds; and each half or quarter truth, instead of seeking out all the remaining fractions, and uniting with them, shuns them, or endeavours to beat them down by violence.

Now, the only permanent cure for this is metaphysics. The analytical philosophy of mind, can alone enable persons of dissimilar characters to understand one another. It explains, from data which all have within them, the genesis and growth of the most opposite mental habits. It expounds, not only how each habit was likely to originate, but what are the other habits with which each is naturally connected, what those of which it is naturally exclusive; and is thus enabled to sit in judgment upon the many conflicting modes of feeling and thinking, and pronounce which of them are, and which are not, founded in any real defect, either of the understanding or of the heart. Through the reconciling medium of this great interpreter, we discover, nine times out of ten, that what we fancied to be sheer error, had perhaps as much of truth in it as our own contrary opinion; that what we ascribed to a mental defect, really arose from some good quality, not excessive in itself, but unaccompanied by some other which ought to have qualified and corrected it, and which, again, in our own mind, stands as much in need of correction from the former, over which, in its turn, it unduly predominates. And we learn, that instead of eradicating, or restraining the growth of a feeling, or a faculty, the only proper method, almost in every case, of guarding against its excesses, is by cultivating other feelings and faculties up to it.

Edition: current; Page: [427]

It is chiefly through metaphysics, that men can thus be brought practically to understand and admit, that feelings of which they themselves are incapable, are nevertheless legitimate feelings; and to correct their own partial views, by means of the partial views of other people. And so naturally do these effects seem to follow from habits of metaphysical analysis, that as it has been said that an astronomer must of necessity be pious, so we are almost tempted to say that it is impossible for a real metaphysician to be one-sided, intolerant, or scornful. How much this is at variance with the notion commonly entertained of metaphysicians, we are not ignorant: nor do we affirm that notion to be always destitute of foundation. It has befallen this science, as well as many others, that men have resorted to it less to form opinions, than to find reasons for opinions already held. And it has been the misfortune of this science, even more than of most others, that whereas its subject-matter is peculiarly concrete, and immersed in circumstances, the inquiries of those who cultivate it have, on the contrary, rested for the most part in the highest regions of abstract generality; insomuch that the same person, who may excel all others in analysing belief, or memory, or perception, or any other of the mental phenomena common to all mankind, would perhaps be farther to seek than many common men, if called upon to shew that he understood any one individual human mind, and could tell what are the few leading peculiarities which make it, in all important particulars, what it is. This however will not always be the case: it is not the case with all metaphysicians, even now; and if metaphysicians have not yet done all that ought to be required of them, it remains not the less true, that any one who has it in view to improve the moral nature of man through the understanding, can in no way dispense with an accurate and analytical study of the human mind.

These observations have been drawn from us by what is now no frequent occurrence, the publication of a new, and a clever and interesting work, on a portion of metaphysics. The book demands observations of greater length than we have left ourselves room to insert in the present number; we shall therefore return to it in our next.


152.: FRENCH NEWS [53]
EXAMINER, 25 MAR., 1832, PP. 200-1

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, March 25, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

there have been some disturbances at Grenoble, apparently not premeditated, Edition: current; Page: [428] but arising from a carnival frolic which took a political turn. All is now quiet.1

An important point has been carried in favour of the liberty of the press. Not contented with such verdicts as could be obtained against newspapers from Paris juries, M. Périer resolved, that as he found it difficult to get leave to punish his political opponents after trial, he would try whether it was feasible to punish them before. He accordingly commenced the practice of throwing journalists into prison as soon as process had commenced against them. After this had been done four times (the monstrous illegality was only attempted once during the sixteen years of the restoration; and in this one case, that of M. Cauchois-Lemaire,2 the explosion of public indignation was such as prevented the act of tyranny from being repeated), M. Armand Carrel, the principal editor of the National, published in his paper a declaration, signed with his name, that if such illegal violence should be attempted against himself, he would resist it by force, as he would any other assault upon his person or property.3 The Ministry, hereupon, discontinued the obnoxious practice, but prosecuted M. Carrel, and the editors of another paper, who had adhered, as the French phrase is, to his declaration.4 They have now been tried, and acquitted. This usurpation, therefore, is knocked on the head.

The Chamber continues to make various retrenchments; not indeed of great amount, but sufficient to excite the bile of M. Casimir Périer, who has accused the Deputies to their faces of an “esprit de vertige,” and “jalousie des supériorités sociales,” because they reduced a few salaries.5 The people now in power actually make a point of honour of their cupidity: they hold fast to the national purse-strings, with the feelings with which a soldier defends his post. Marshal Soult, the Minister of War, being accused of receiving, in defiance of an existing law, his emoluments as Minister, and his emoluments as a Marshal besides, burst out into a passionate exclamation, that his salary should only be Edition: current; Page: [429] torn from him with his life. On ne me l’ôtera qu’avec la vie!6 These were his very words. A new species of chivalry!

The French officer who broke open the gates of Ancona,7 is to be brought, it is said, to a court-martial. The Pope goes on protesting against the invasion of the French.8 His Holiness need not be alarmed. The French will not dethrone him, nor even suffer the Austrians to do so. The natural tendency of events when they are let alone is, that the better Governments swallow up the worse; but “French interests” will not allow this, though they allowed despotism to be re-established, and poor Menotti to be hanged.9 When will it be felt in this country, that there is more good in the most hot-headed republicans, than in the coterie of jobbers, tricksters, and low intrigans who form the existing Government of France!

EXAMINER, 1 APR., 1832, PP. 211-12

For the context and the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 151. This second part is headed “An Outline of Sematology; or, an Essay towards establishing a New Theory of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. / (Concluded from the Examiner of last week.)” It is listed as “Review of ‘An Outline of Sematology’ concluded” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set.

the principal fault of this work is its pretension to the character of a New Theory. There is no room now for a new theory in the sciences here treated of. We shall not, probably, be suspected of upholding old opinions because they are old, and we are less inclined than almost any one, to underrate the importance of original thinking. Much remains to be done towards perfecting these sciences: the author before us has contributed to this end something not inconsiderable, and has shown a capacity, which, if fitly improved, may enable him to effect much more; an abundant harvest will also remain for subsequent inquirers: but whatever scope there may be for new theories of particular points, now mysterious, or misunderstood, any thing which can justly be called a New Edition: current; Page: [430] Theory of Grammar, Logic, or Rhetoric, will most assuredly be erroneous. These subjects have now occupied the attention of thinking men for upwards of two thousand years, without intermission; and have formed the principal subject of the meditations of some of the most powerful and comprehensive intellects, which the world, we may safely predict, will ever see. No doubt, there still remains to be done, much which they have left undone, and to be undone, much which they have done. But it would argue a very slender faculty of appreciating the mass of valuable truth which their successive labours have called into existence, to imagine that what can be added to the heap by any single individual, can ever bear more than a very insignificant proportion to the entire bulk. A new contribution, whatever may be its absolute importance, cannot now alter the face of a science, as it might formerly have done. The most powerful thinker, in constructing a scheme of the entire science, can be indebted for a small part only of the materials to his own genius; the far greatest portion will be derived from the thoughts of his predecessors. Indeed, the greatest proof of genius, perhaps, which any person of our times has it in his power to give, consists in being able to see the worth of existing materials, from which half-taught mediocrity turns away in scorn; to disengage a great and pregnant thought from the trammels of a language suited to the comprehension of another age, or involving philosophical theories now exploded, and clothe it in the phraseology of the present day; to dare to think that a great man of a former age was substantially in the right, when some flaw, unavoidably or unguardedly left in the mere accidents of his theory, has sufficed to disguise the intrinsic truth of its essentials from the intellects of the minute philosophers who succeeded him. He who perpetually and systematically does this, is a great man; for, the very attempt to do it, or the conception of it as a thing proper to be done, seems to be a stretch of intelligence which not many have attained to. Without it, however, mankind would be no wiser after twenty generations than after one, since each generation would be unable to profit by any inquiries but its own.

The author before us has not afforded this evidence of genius; yet he is not so blind to the merits of his predecessors, as might be suspected from his laying claim to be the founder of a new theory of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric; that is, if the words have any meaning, to have placed those three sciences upon an entirely new foundation. We fully believe that whatever, in this work, is either expressly, or by implication, laid claim to as original, has been the bonâ fide produce of the writer’s own thoughts; and this is saying a great deal, even where the thought has occurred to others before him. He often shows, too, that he is acquainted with what others have done, and can appreciate it; so often, as to make us confident that he will hereafter feel the value of much which hitherto he has not known, or has not appreciated.

His own contribution to philosophy consists fundamentally of one idea; which Edition: current; Page: [431] having clearly conceived and firmly grasped, he has followed it out into numerous ramifications, and traced its bearings upon the general problems of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, in a manner evincing no ordinary capacity for metaphysical investigation. Where he has failed, it is, we suspect, from being in too great a hurry to finish his book. We do not blame him for not carrying the precept, nonum prematur in annum,1 into literal excecution; for we should have been sorry to forego for so long a period the pleasure and instruction which he has afforded us: but the results of any intellectual process must suffer greatly by being given out to the world the moment they are conceived in the author’s mind. The first principles of the work are set forth in a manner giving token of mature consideration; but as the exposition advances, marks of haste become visible:—after having arrived at some results which he thought important, the writer seems to have been impatient to bring the inquiry to a conclusion, and has therefore not unfrequently stopped short in an interesting train of thought, or left its results in a state of vagueness, which is, we think, the source of the only material errors we have to lay to his charge. This vagueness is by no means a general characteristic, either of our author’s conceptions, or of his style; both, wherever his mental powers seem to have been fully called into play, are clear, vigorous, and masculine.

Sematology, from σήματα, signs, is the name which our author gives to the doctrine of Language; the office of which, as an instrument of thought, he well understands, and the several uses of which he considers to form the subjects respectively of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Now the one idea, which is the basis of his speculations, is the following.

What we wish to communicate on any one occasion, by means of words, is some state of our consciousness; say, for instance, the bodily sensation we are experiencing at that particular moment. This we might express by one single word, if we chose; as many things are expressed in a state of nature by single cries. But, it being impossible to have a separate word for every state of feeling which we desire to communicate, we are obliged to express our states of feeling by a limited number of words, variously combined. Now, (says our author,) although the state of feeling we desire to express, may be complicated to any extent, and of course susceptible of being analysed into parts; it is by no means true, that the words which we put together to express this state of feeling, will, when separated, express severally those parts. It is not true that the meaning of a sentence, is made up of the separate meanings of the words composing the sentence. If we take the separate meanings of the separate words, and add them together, the sum total includes much more than is intended to be conveyed by Edition: current; Page: [432] that one sentence; for it includes all that we otherwise know of the objects which we find it necessary to name in order to convey a notion of that one matter of fact.

Let us take, for our first fact, the cry for food of a new-born infant. That is an instinctive cry, wholly unconnected, we presume, with reason and knowledge. In proportion as the knowledge grows, that the want, when it occurs, can be supplied, the cry becomes rational, and may at last be said to signify, “Give me food,” or, more at full, “I want you to give me food.” In what does the rational cry (rational when compared with the instinctive cry) differ from the still more rational sentence?—Not in its meaning, but simply thus, that the one is a sign suggested directly by nature, and the other is a sign arising out of such art, as, in its first acquirement, (we are about to presume) nature, or necessity, gradually teaches our species. Now, that the artificial sign is made up of parts, (namely the words that compose the sentence) and that the natural sign is not made up of significant parts, we affirm to be simply a consequence of the constitution of artificial speech, and not to follow from any thing in the nature of the communication which the mind has to make. The natural cry, if understood, is, for the purpose in view, quite as good as the sentence, nor does the sentence, as a whole, signify any thing more. Taking the words separately, there is indeed much more contained in the sentence than in the cry, namely, the knowledge of what it is to give, under other circumstances, as well as that of giving food; of food, under other circumstances, as well as that of being given to me; of me, under other circumstances, as well as that of wanting food; but all this knowledge, in this and similar cases for which a cry might suffice, is unnecessary, and the indivisible sign, if equally understood for the actual purpose, is, for this purpose, quite adequate to the artificially compounded sign.

[Pp. 7-8.]

. . . Collectively, that is in sentences, they (words) can signify any perception by the senses, or conception arising from such perception, any desire, emotion or passion—in short, any impression which nature would have prompted us to signify by an indivisible sign, if such a sign could have been found:—but individually (we repeat) each word belonging to such sentence, or to any sentence, is not the sign of any idea whatever which the mind passively receives, but of an abstraction which reason obtains by acts of comparison and judgment upon its passively-received ideas. The sentence, “John walks,” may express what is actually perceived by the senses; but neither word, separately, can be said to express a part of that perception, since the perception is of John walking, and if we perceive John separate from walking, then he is not walking, and consequently it is another perception; and so, if we perceive walking separate from John, it must be that we perceive somebody else walking, and not him. The separate words, then, do not stand for passively-received ideas, but for abstract notions:—so far as they express what is perceived by the senses, they have no separate meaning; it is only with reference to the understanding that each has a separate meaning. The separate meaning of the word John is a knowledge that John has existed and will exist, independently of the present perception, and the separate meaning of the word walks is a knowledge that another may walk as well as John. This is not an idea of John or an idea of walking such as the senses give, or such as memory revives; for the senses present no such object as John in the abstract, that is, neither walking, nor not walking; nor do they furnish any such idea as that of walking independently of one who walks. There is then a double force in these words,—their separate force, which is derived from the understanding, and their united force, by which, in this instance, they signify a perception by the senses.

[P. 10.]

This, as the reader will have perceived, is far from new; but it has never, Edition: current; Page: [433] perhaps, been presented precisely in this manner. Most metaphysical writers of name have said the same thing, or things distinctly implying it:—equally true is it, however, that they have said other things, as distinctly implying the contrary, and that much of the received language seems to take for granted that the meaning of a sentence is the sum of the meanings of the separate words. Our author has, therefore, rendered a useful service, by making the principle so clear, and illustrating it so copiously and forcibly, that no one who reads him with due care and thought, will be in danger of ever forgetting or overlooking it. And its consequences will be found to be more important than most persons would at first suspect.

For instance, our author is, we think, perfectly right in deeming the truth which he has expounded to be the only rational foundation for philosophical grammar, affording the only explanation of the real nature of the distinction among the parts of speech. It seems to be taken for granted, says he,

That the parts of speech have their origin in the mind, independently of the outward signs, when, in truth, they are nothing more than parts in the structure of language. . . . We are not to confound the instrument with the intelligence that uses it, nor to suppose that the parts of which it is composed, have, of necessity, any parts corresponding with them in the thought itself. It is not what a word signifies that determines it to be this or that part of speech, but how it assists other words in making up the sentence. . . . As to the meaning, that does not of necessity differ because a word is a different part of speech; the following words, for instance, all express the same notion: Add, Addition, Additional, Additionally, With,* And.

[Pp. 38-40.]

This view of the nature of the parts of speech accords in the main with that taken in a work, with which our author is apparently unacquainted, Mr. Mill’s Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind.2 It is not surprising that both writers should have fallen into the same train of thought, since it was evidently suggested to both by the etymological discoveries of Horne Tooke.3

In the spirit of these general observations, our author proceeds to inquire into the nature and object of each of the several parts of speech. There is much instruction to be gathered from this part of the work, and the results he brings out are, we think, substantially correct. His definition of the verb appears to us to fall short of perfect philosophical precision; the author should analyze more particularly the meaning of a phrase he often uses; viz., to make a communication. What is it we do when we assert a matter of fact, more than when we merely suggest the idea of the same fact? What is the difference between belief and simple conception? What do I communicate when I say there is a God, Edition: current; Page: [434] more than when I merely say God? When our author can answer this question, he will not only be able to perfect his definition of a verb, but he will discover that the distinction between the subject and the predicate of a proposition, is something more than a merely grammatical distinction, which is the notion he has of it.

The second chapter of the work, which relates to Logic, is that of which we think least highly. We are not surprised that our author should join in the common cry against the doctrine of the syllogism, since we find it is his opinion that errors in philosophising are always in the premises, and never in the reasoning process. But though men often reason from false premises, or without taking into consideration all the premises which might be obtained, it is surely very common also to conclude from the premises which we have, more than those premises will warrant. If our author will but duly advert to this circumstance, he will, we think, discover that nearly all which he says respecting the nature of the syllogism may be true, and the syllogistic doctrine may nevertheless be of great utility. But a popular journal is not the proper place for explaining ourselves fully on this topic.

Our author’s views as to the manner in which general terms serve us in the investigation of truth, are just and profound, notwithstanding some superficial inaccuracies and even contradictions, and although his language in many places is far from satisfying us in point of definiteness and precision, owing to his having not yet analyzed some of his notions into their ultimate elements.

The third chapter, on Rhetoric, is, in our opinion, the best of all: it is full of valuable truth and high moral feeling. We regret that the length to which this notice has extended, renders it impossible for us to attempt even the most meagre abstract of this portion of the work.

In addition to the other merits displayed in this volume, the author is evidently no contemptible scholar. On the whole, there are few works among those recently produced, which do so much credit to the writer.

What has most displeased us, is the tone with which, in more places than one, the author permits himself to speak of so eminent a person as Archbishop Whately, and which we are sure, on reflection, he must feel to be unworthy of him. He naturally cannot value very highly the Elements of Logic, from the opposite views which he himself entertains on the subject, but even that work he admits to possess considerable merit; and the author of the Elements of Rhetoric, the Lectures on the study of Political Economy, and The Errors of Romanism traced to their origin in Human Nature,4 has afforded evidences of intellectual power, which might have been sufficient to protect him against this disrespectful Edition: current; Page: [435] and jeering style of criticism; a style which certainly would not be adopted by those, if any such there be, who could be entitled to adopt it towards such a man.


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EXAMINER, 1 APR., 1832, P. 216

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, April 1, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the press and the chamber of deputies in France have, during the past week, been chiefly occupied with angry discussions respecting the late disturbances at Grenoble.1 It appears that several lives were lost, and many persons wounded; and the Opposition represents the affair as a sort of Manchester massacre, asserting that there was not the slightest justification for calling in the troops. This seems also to be the opinion of many competent witnesses who were present on the spot. What makes the matter worse is, that M. Casimir Périer does not scruple (it is said) to admit in private that the Préfet was greatly to blame, though in public he associates himself in that magistrate’s responsibility by sanctioning and commending his proceedings.2 This, however, is in the spirit of his entire administration: his subordinates are all made to understand that in the repression of tumults it is safe to go too far, but fatal not to go far enough. The Cour Royale of Grenoble has commenced a judicial investigation of the whole transaction; so that if not justice, publicity at least may be counted upon.

The Chamber, after interrupting the debate on the Budget in order to discuss the new Corn Bill, has, strangely enough, broken off the discussion of the Corn Bill to resume that of the Budget. The spirit of most of the speeches yet delivered on this important bill has been commendable. All, or nearly all, the speakers supported the measure, either as brought forward by the Government or as altered by the Commission: most were for the project of the Government, the most liberal of the two. Even M. de Saint-Cricq declared for altogether effacing the word prohibition from the corn laws of France.3

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EXAMINER, 8 APR., 1832, P. 230

For Mill’s first tribute to Eliza Flower, see No. 112. This item, in the “Musical Review,” is headed “Songs of the Seasons. By the author of the Musical Illustrations of the Waverley Novels. [London: Novello, 1832.]” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of Miss Flower’s ‘Songs of the Seasons,’ in the Examiner of 8th April 1832” (MacMinn, p. 20). In the Somerville College set it is listed as “Review of Miss Flower’s ‘Songs of the Seasons’ ” and enclosed in square brackets.

in the examiner of the 3d of July last, we paid such offering of admiration as we knew how to give, to Miss Flower’s Musical Illustrations of the Waverley Novels. If time and familiarity have shewn us anything to regret in the testimony we then rendered to that delightful work, it is that we hardly trusted ourselves to say all we might have said in its praise, nor to try it by so high a standard as that to which alone it can be referred, without a certain insensibility to what constitutes its highest excellence. There is in every strain that which denotes it to be the work not merely of an accomplished musician, but of a mind penetrated with the spirit of a true artist; of one who recognizes in art (what the mere trader in its productions, let him trade for fame or money, will never see in it) a language for the most earnest feelings of the most susceptible minds: for those feelings which, when they vent themselves in articulate sounds, give birth to poetry and eloquence—when in any other kind of language, to Art in all its branches. The language which Miss Flower has chosen is music, and she speaks it like one to whom none of its dialects is unfamiliar, because none of the feelings to which it is appropriate, from the loftiest to the most tender, is a stranger to her. When to these qualities of the inmost nature, is added originality of melody, together with adequate scientific knowledge of harmonic principles, we have all which constitutes musical genius, in the highest and most exclusive sense of the term. And whatever may be the place assigned to Miss Flower among the comparatively few, whom this union of endowments entitles to the rank of artists in music, that she belongs to the class, no competent judge, we are persuaded, will for a moment doubt.

We welcome a new work from the same hand, with the greater pleasure, as there are many motives not likely to be durable which may lead to the appearance of a first production, but it is the second which shews that the author has chosen her career—that she has found an answer to the question which every mind of any inherent power asks itself, what it is fittest for? in what manner the faculties which it possesses can be called into fullest exercise, and turned to the most valuable account? We are now authorized to hope that she will many more times Edition: current; Page: [437] have to receive our thanks, for benefitting and delighting us as she has already done.

The work before us consists of four songs, illustrative of the Four Seasons. This design did not allow of such lofty flights as her “Lament of Meg Merrilies” or her “Lady in St. Swithin’s Chair,”1 the unearthly character of which could only correspond to words as solemn and impressive; nor would the wild strains in which she has so characteristically shadowed out the mental wanderings of the dying Madge Wildfire, have suited an occasion where neither poetry nor music had anything more to do than embellishing familiar objects. Her present subject required not so much imagination as fancy, and a mind at peace and in sympathy with all nature. There are minds to whom Autumn and Winter are more congenial than Spring and Summer, or over whose emotions at least, those gloomier seasons have greater command. The contrary seems to be the case with Miss Flower; her disposition must be sunny and cheerful, for it is evident to us, that her heart is in the first two of her songs, and only her understanding in the two last.

The first in particular must be admired by every lover of chaste and expressive music. It is one of the sweetest pastoral duets which has been produced in this country for many years. Miss Flower, who is usually happy in the choice of her words, has been indebted for them in this case to a friend who is not named. They appear to us so delicate and fanciful, that we permit ourselves the pleasure of quoting them at length: they are worthy of the music, and the music of them.

    • Rose, rose! open thy leaves,
    • Spring is whispering love to thee;
    • Rose, rose! open thy leaves,
    • Near is the nightingale on the tree.
    • Rose, rose! open thy leaves,
    • And fill with sweet breath the ripening eves.
    • Lily, lily! awake, awake!
    • The fairy wanteth her flowery boat:
    • Lily, lily! awake, awake!
    • And set thy sweet laden bark afloat:
    • Lily, lily! awake, awake!
    • And cover with leaves the sleeping lake.
    • Flowers, come forth, come forth, ’tis Spring!
    • Stars of the woods, the hills and dells!
    • Fair valley-lilies, come forth, and ring
    • From your green turrets your silvery bells.
    • Flowers, come forth, ’tis Spring!

The second, “Summer,” we think little if at all inferior to the first. The words Edition: current; Page: [438] (by the author’s sister)2 mingle another expression with that belonging to the season, being a summons from a lover to his mistress, to partake of its delights. Both the words and the melody (the simplest of the collection) are overflowing with a gentle and placid tenderness.

“Autumn” is less a favourite with us than any of the others: we have met however, with persons who admired this most of them all. We should praise it too, if the author had not so often far excelled it.

“Winter” is highly original, but sounds to us somewhat odd and uncouth: perhaps because the rhythm of the words is unusual, and not very well adapted for music. Nowhere has Miss Flower scattered the materials both of melody and accompaniment with a more lavish hand, but we think she has been less felicitious than usual in putting them together. The air is not marked with that singleness of conception, which is the surest indication, and indeed, the only rational definition ever given, of true taste. It has the appearance of being not one air, but fragments of several. In particular, there is in the very middle a startling modulation from minor to major, which must have produced a great effect if there were at that place any corresponding change of sentiment in the words. A modulation exactly the converse of this, in “St. Swithin’s Chair,” was extremely striking and characteristic: but the higher resources of the art should be reserved for occasions to which its more ordinary means are not adequate.

Miss Flower’s worst pieces, however, are superior to the best of many popular composers, and her best are such as “will not willingly be let die.”3 We hope for many more, both of the one and of the other.*

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EXAMINER, 8 APR., 1832, P. 232

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, April 8, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the total number of persons who have been attacked by the cholera in Paris, from the commencement of the disease (that is, within one week) is 1,052. Of these, 395 have died. When considered with relation to the amount of population Edition: current; Page: [439] in the two cities, the disease has been in the proportion of three to one more destructive in Paris than in London. This greatly exceeds any proportion which we should have anticipated from the comparative unhealthiness, and greater average rate of mortality, in ordinary times, in Paris than in London.

The epidemic has also appeared in several parts of France simultaneously, and all quarantine restrictions have consequently been withdrawn.

There has been a riot at Paris (which seems to have been grossly exaggerated by some of the English papers),1 excited chiefly by the chiffonniers, or rag-pickers. This is an unfortunate class of men, more numerous than the nature of their occupation might have led us to expect, who gain their living by going with lanterns at night and picking up such rags as are to be found in the sweepings which are thrown out of the houses in the evening and carried away by the scavengers before morning. A new system which has been adopted, it seems, for cleaning the streets, threatened to deprive all or some of these poor creatures of their miserable livelihood; and this, together with some absurd misconceptions by the populace of Paris concerning the cholera and the sanitary measures of the civic authorities, gave rise to the disturbances.

The Bill for the amendment of the Corn Laws has passed the Chamber of Deputies, having first been mulcted of all its valuable provisions, except that which puts an end to absolute prohibition.2 Importation will in no case hereafter be prohibited, but only subjected to duties tantamount to a prohibition. This proves that on the great questions of commercial legislation, the Périer ministry, though not coming up to several of the leading members of the Opposition, is far ahead of the great bulk of either party. It is most unfortunate that the secret voting, so mischievously established by the regulations of the Chamber,3 prevents the disclosure of the names of the Deputies composing the majority and minority. Were these published, France would see who among the clamorous advocates of democratic principles are the real friends of the people, and who are merely disappointed aspirants for place.

The bill for the re-establishment of divorce, which had passed the Chamber of Deputies almost unanimously, has been thrown out, by a large majority, in the Chamber of Peers.4 Every day now widens the breach between the two Edition: current; Page: [440] Chambers. Nothing else was to be expected without an entire recomposition, as the French would say, of the personnel of the Second Chamber.

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EXAMINER, 15 APR., 1832, P. 250

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, April 15, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” in the Somerville College set, where brackets surround all but the first paragraph1 (before which a bracket has been erased).

the cholera has thus already carried off more than twice as many persons at Paris as have perished by it in London since its commencement. In one day the number of new cases amounted to 1024. We have abundant reason to rejoice that the disease broke out first in our own country. If it were yet to come, no one can think without horror of the alarm which would have been spread by these accounts of its ravages at Paris.

So little is known of the nature of this disease, that it is impossible to pronounce certainly why it has proved peculiarly fatal at Paris, peculiarly mild in London, and all over Great Britain. But we may suspect that the thin and low diet of the working classes at Paris, aggravated by long slackness of employment, has co-operated with their crowded mode of life, and with the bad draining and cleansing of the streets, to generate a predisposition to disease. No one who has ever passed through (to have lived there is impossible) certain quarters of Paris, seldom visited by foreigners—the Marais for example, eastward from the Rue St. Denis—can be astonished that such places should be foci of pestilential maladies.

The most absurd rumours were set afloat in the first few days after the irruption of the disease. Its symptoms were believed to be the result of poisoned provisions; and there seems to be little doubt that some individuals, whether madmen or worse, pretended to put, or did really put, into articles of food and drink, drugs of some kind, but not poison. However, the usual readiness of the French to suspect the most horrible crimes, on less evidence than would be required to make out the most trivial fact, has displayed itself, with even more Edition: current; Page: [441] than its wonted force. No less than five persons were massacred in the streets on suspicion of being poisoners.

The guilt of the murders rests with their perpetrators; but the reproach of credulity rests not with the populace alone. A proclamation by the Prefect of Police,2 which was placarded in the streets afforded so much countenance to the absurd and odious suspicions, that some of the newspapers would not make themselves parties to its probable consequences by inserting it in their columns.

The progress of the disease, which is not sparing the higher classes, and of which M. Périer himself is said to be even now lying ill, is wonderfully accelerating the proceedings of the Chamber of Deputies. Laws are now hurried through with an indecent precipitation, which prevents any resistance to the will of the ministers, except, indeed, where they meditate some real improvement. They had introduced a bill for reducing the enormous bounties on French fisheries;3 a considerable step towards a system of free and equal law, bribing no one branch of industry at the expense of other branches: but this law has not passed without suffering considerable mutilation, at the instance of the deputies for the maritime towns.

The whole of the estimates have been passed,4 and the Chamber is now debating on the Ways and Means.5 This debate, which will necessarily involve all the great questions of taxation, would, probably, have been long and interesting at any other time, but, under present circumstances, it is likely to be summary and insignificant.

We have now, at length, an authentic account of the events at Grenoble.6 The mayor of the town has made a long report to Government, more deeply inculpatory of the authorities than even the enemies of the Ministry had previously surmised. To this report all the members of the Municipal Council have given in their adhesion, except one,7 who abstains on the ground, that, as chief judge of the Cour Royale, he will have to pronounce judicially on the transaction.—We shall return to this subject hereafter.8

Edition: current; Page: [442]


This letter was sent to Charles Duveyrier for insertion in the Saint-Simonian newspaper Le Globe, where it appeared on 18 Apr., 1832, two days before Le Globe ceased publication. The letter witnesses to Mill’s continued friendship with the Saint-Simonians, who shared his interest in the formation of character and the influence of circumstance on national traits. That Mill’s letter was originally written in English is made clear in a letter to D’Eichthal and Duveyrier: “It was very well translated, though with some omissions & abbreviations which made it rather more St Simonian than I intended” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 109). Since the translation is not by Mill, it is given here as App. B. This English version of the letter, published in the Monthly Repository a year and a half later, is there headed as title. The added introductory paragraph (probably by Mill), explains the circumstances, as do the two entries in his bibliography. The first reads: “A letter to Charles Duveyrier, intended as introductory to a series of letters to the Editor of Le Globe, the S. Simonian paper at Paris. This was translated garbled in some passages and published in ‘Le Globe’ of 18th April 1832. The stoppage of the paper prevented any continuation. The English original of this letter with an introductory paragraph appeared in the Monthly Repository for November 1833, headed Comparison of the Tendencies of French and English intellect.” (MacMinn, p. 20.) The second reads: “An article headed ‘Comparison of the Tendencies of French and English intellect’ in the Monthly Repository for November 1833, being the [original] of my letter to [Duveyrier] published in the Globe with a new heading” (MacMinn, p. 35). The English version contains four passages (one of them the introductory paragraph) not included in the French; these are identified in the variant notes, where “32” stands for Le Globe of 18 Apr., 1832.

athe following letter appeared in a French dress, with some omissions and alterations, about a year and a half ago, in Le Globe, the journal of the political and religious sect of Saint-Simonians. It was intended to be the introduction to a series of letters, principally relating to the moral and social condition of Great Britain. In consequence of the discontinuance of the journal to which it was addressed, the design was never prosecuted. The original of the only letter which appeared has been communicated to us, and as it contains remarks which, though addressed to Frenchmen, concern Englishmen, and draws a parallel between the intellectual biasses of the two nations, which is at least not common-place, and is drawn (as we can certify) from nearly equal familiarity with the literature and politics of both, we offer it to our readers. In doing so we are requested to state, by way of apology for its somewhat egotistical style, that (although the observation may sound epigrammatic) the tone of French composition is naturally egotistical, and it is hardly possible not, after much mixing with Frenchmen, to assume the externals of egotism in discussing with them, whether orally or in writing.a

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you ask me to correspond occasionally with the editor of the Globe on those subjects on which an Englishman, well acquainted with your doctrines, has more to tell of what you would desire to know than is attainable by any Frenchman. I accept your proposal. The idea had already occurred to myself; and the honour which you have spontaneously tendered to me, I should probably sooner or later have solicited as a favour to myself.

But before I commence, it is due both to myself and to those for whom this correspondence is intended, that I should state somewhat more fully than I have yet done, even to yourself individually, the motives and views with which I undertake it. I do so the more readily, as this is in itself no unimportant element of that knowledge which you have done me the honour to suppose that the readers of the Globe may be able to derive from my letters. To a St. Simonian who desires to know England, it cannot be indifferent to learn what are the inducements which may lead an Englishman, himself no St. Simonian, and agreeing with the St. Simonians though partially on almost all points, entirely perhaps on none, to place himself in communication with the St. Simonian Society.

You will imagine, perhaps, that the motive is a desire to do my part towards what you are labouring for with so much success, namely, to enable two nations, each of which possesses so many of the elements of greatness and goodness, but developed in an unequal degree, to understand each other; to make them do justice mutually to each other’s merits, and acquiesce in the necessary results of those laws of human and of external nature which have made the characters of the two nations different, and in so doing have marked out to each of them a different vocation, and commanded each to pursue the end of our common existence by separate, yet not by opposite, roads. An arrangement which, viewing it as St. Simonians, you cannot but regard as providential. Viewed in any way in which it can be looked at by an enlarged intellect, and a soul aspiring to indefinite improvement, it is a subject of rejoicing; for it furnishes the philosopher with varied experiments on the education of the human race; and affords the only mode by which all the parts of our nature are enabled to move forward at once, none of them being choked (as some must be in every attempt to reduce all characters to a single invariable type) by the disproportionate growth of the remainder.

You are not wrong in supposing that I have this object deeply at heart, and that the earnestness with which you on your part pursue it, is not the weakest of the ties of sympathy which connect me and you. I am sensible, moreover, that at the point of view at which you are placed, this must be the principal source of any expectation of good which you can entertain from my correspondence. But such is not the only, nor even the principal, of the motives which induce me to choose Edition: current; Page: [444] the Globe as a vehicle (so far as your permission extends) of many of my feelings and opinions. There is a stronger still; it is, that among the readers of that journal I find a public capable of understanding those opinions, of entering into those feelings; and in the members of your society, a body of thinkers and writers with whom I think it may be of use publicly to discuss them.

It is not necessary for any one to remind you, that the St. Simonians are, just now, the only association of public writers existing in the world who systematically stir up from the foundation all the great social questions; even those which have been settled long ago upon a footing which revolution has not yet completely carried away; even those on which the ancient doctrines, howsoever they may have declined in their practical efficacy, have not yet ceased to be speculatively acknowledged by every one. You declare that all social questions must receive a new solution; and while you propound with that view the best ideas you have, you call upon all who are capable to do the same, and are yourselves willing to hear and desirous to understand all men.

If even in France to have done this has exposed you to the misinterpretation and the odium of which you are the objects, it is more utterly impossible than you yourselves are as yet able fully to understand, that any set of public writers should for a long time to come stand up openly in England and do the like. In England there is no scope at present for general theories; unless, indeed, they be generalizations of such narrow views as make no call even upon the most uncultivated mind to look beyond its own miserably contracted horizon.

M. Michel Chevalier has frequently propounded in the Globe, the doctrine that Germany excels all nations in science and intellect, England in industry, France (as having the most widely-spread sympathies) in morality.1 bThis was doubtless intended merely as a general indication, not to be taken literally, but with many explanations and modifications; some of which you are, I know, aware of, and I may have opportunity of suggesting others in the course of this correspondence. What I am now going to mention is, however, literally true, and is, I think, the principal truth contained in M. Chevalier’s remark.b It is, that the German nation is eminently speculative, the English essentially practical, and the French endeavour to unite both qualities, having an equal turn for framing general theories and for reducing them into cpractice. As far as this goes, the palm of intellectual superiority, you see, belongs to France, and not to Germany. Considered in other points of view, I could prove that it belongs to England. In short, I conceive it might be shown that every one of the three nations possesses some intellectual and some moral qualities in a higher state of development than Edition: current; Page: [445] either of the two other nations; and that each excels in some department, even of industry; witness the woollens of Saxony, and the well-known superiority of your country in almost all fancy articles.

But this is not the point I intended to enlarge upon just at present. What I meant to say was, that ifc any person has ideas which he thinks important to propound to the public of Germany, it is a positive recommendation to them that they are brought forward as part of a systematic theory, founded on a combined view of history, and on a general conception of philosophy, literature, and the arts. This would perfectly chime in with the tendency of the German mind. Views very extensive, and therefore, of necessity, promising only a gradual and distant realization, have a better chance of being listened to in that country, than those of a narrower kind. Even in France, though the general and systematic character of any opinions are no recommendation to the public attention, neither are they a positive hinderance. But in England they are so.

The extremely practical character of the English people, that which makes them, as men of business and industriels excel all the nations of Europe, has also the effect of making them very inattentive to any thing that cannot be carried instantly into practice. The English people have never had their political feelings called out by abstractions. They have fought for particular laws, but never for a principle of legislation. The doctrines of the sovereignty of the people, and the rights of man, never had any root in this country. The cry was always for a particular change in the mode of electing members of the House of Commons; for making an act of parliament to meet some immediate exigency; or for taking off some particular tax. The English public think nobody worth listening to, except in so far as he tells them of something to be done, and not only that, but of something which can be done immediately. What is more, the only reasons they will generally attend to, are those founded on the specific good consequences to be expected from the adoption of the specific proposition.

Whoever, therefore, wishes to produce much immediate effect upon the English public, must bring forward every idea upon its own independent grounds, and must, I was going to say, take pains to conceal that it is connected with any ulterior views. If his readers or his audience suspected that it was part of a system, they would conclude that his support even of the specific proposition, was not founded on any opinion he had that it was good in itself, but solely on its being connected with Utopian schemes, or at any rate with principles which they are “not prepared” (a truly English expression) to give their assent to.

To you, who know that politics are an essentially progressive science, and that none of the great questions of social organization can receive their true answer, except by being considered in connexion with views which ascend high into the past, and stretch far into the future; it is scarcely necessary to point out that any person, who thinks as you do on this point, must have much to say, which cannot with advantage be said, just at present, to the people of England. In writing to Edition: current; Page: [446] persuade the English, one must tell them only of the next step they have to take, keeping back all mention of any subsequent step. Whatever we may have to propose, we must contract our reasoning into the most confined limits; we must place the expediency of the particular measure upon the narrowest grounds on which it can rest; and endeavour to let out no more of general truth, than exactly as much as is absolutely indispensable to make out our particular conclusion.

Now, as the people of England will be treated in this manner, they must: and those who write for them, must write in the manner best calculated to make an impression upon their minds. When, therefore, I see, that parliament ought to enact a certain law to-day or to-morrow, and that it is my duty to exert myself for that purpose, I will state to the English people such immediate advantages as appear to me likely to result from the measure:—but when I wish to carry discussion into the field of science and philosophy, to state any general principles of politics, or propound doubts tending to put other people upon stating general principles for my instruction, I must go where I find readers capable of understanding and relishing such inquiries, and writers capable of taking part in them.

I come to you as littérateurs and artists come to Europe from that country of pure industrialism, the United States of America; because there is no call in their own country for the kind of labour which is their vocation. I conceive that, in political philosophy, the initiative belongs to France at this moment; not so much from the number of truths which have yet been practically arrived at, but rather from the far more elevated terrain on which the discussion is engaged; a terrain from which England is still separated by the whole interval which lies between 1789 and 1832. Every one, therefore, who can contribute any thing towards the elaboration of political principles, should carry his ideas, such as they are, to France, and if to France, to none rather than to you, who are in so many respects the furthest advanced of all persons in France at the present moment.

I have yet another reason for placing myself in communication with the readers of the Globe. Englishman as I am, I understand them better than I do almost any class of my own countrymen. The cause is, that you have determinate views on all the subjects most interesting to mankind; and you keep none of these back, but state them to the public on every fitting occasion. In England, on the contrary, whatever may be a man’s opinions, he never brings any of them before the general public, except those which are naturally suggested by the topics of the day; the rest he keeps to himself, or reserves for philosophical works. You can never tell what sort of persons those are who read the Times, or the Morning Chronicle, or the Edinburgh Review, or the Quarterly Review; except that you can in some measure guess whether they are Tories, Whigs, or radicals; even in this, your guess is often wrong, and at the best, how little this discloses of all that constitutes a man’s real belief (if he have any) or the real furniture of his mind, no one knows better than yourselves. But whoever reads Le Globe, tells you by Edition: current; Page: [447] that alone, an immense deal of his character and modes of thinking. And I, who have long read it assiduously, as well as almost every other publication which has proceeded from your society, may say that I now know the opinions of the St. Simonians, understand their language, desire to hear more of it on all subjects, and know in what manner my own ideas must be expressed, to find readiest access to their minds. I cannot say so much of any body of English readers, to whom I could address myself.

To these reasons for corresponding with you, permit me to add one, which needed not to be backed by any others in order to render it sufficient;—the high admiration which it is impossible for me not to entertain for you, your purposes, and your proceedings. When I see men doing all that the St. Simonians do, and sacrificing all that they sacrifice, for a doctrine which has as much truth in it as theirs has, and which, though I am unable to adopt it, must, in my opinion, do infinitely more good by its good, than it can do evil by its evil; when I see this, it is enough for me that such men think I can be of any use to them, to induce me eagerly to obey their call, as far as is consistent with what I owe to my own views of truth, and to the superior claims of my own country upon my labours and sacrifices.

dThis seems to be fully as suitable a termination to my letter as any formule of politeness, and with this, therefore, I will for the present conclude.d

EXAMINER, 22 APR., 1832, PP. 259-60

Mill reviewed this work at greater length in Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine for May 1832 (see CW, Vol. XVIII, pp. 1-13). On 29 May, 1832, outlining for Thomas Carlyle his recent activities, Mill evaluates his writings in the Examiner on France, his review of Smart, Nos. 151 and 153 (by implication), and his two reviews of Lewis: “On the whole, the opinions I have put forth in these different articles are, I think, rather not inconsistent with yours, than exactly corresponding to them; & are expressed so coldly and unimpressively that I can scarcely bear to look back on such poor stuff. I have not yet come up even with my friends the St. Simonians; & it would be saying very little even if I had.” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 105. Cf. the concluding sentence of the introductory paragraph of No. 158.) This review, the first in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “Remarks on the Use and Abuse of some Political Terms. By George Cornewall Lewis, Esq., Student of Christ Church, Oxford. [London: Fellowes, 1832.]” The item is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of Geo. Cornewall Lewis’s Remarks on the Use and Abuse of certain political terms. In the Examiner of 22d April 1832.” (MacMinn, p. 20.) It is listed as “Review of Geo. Cornewall Lewis’s ‘Use and Abuse of Political Terms’ ” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner, with one correction: at 450.33 “to other” is altered to “to draw other”. One passage of the Edition: current; Page: [448] “poor stuff” was deemed worthy of quotation in A System of Logic; in the variants resulting from its collation, “L” signifies A System of Logic.

mr. lewis is already known as one of the accomplished translators of Müller’s Dorians, and Böckh’s Public Economy of Athens;1 but, with the exception of a little tract on Logic, of considerable merit, published a few years ago,2 he now appears (we believe) for the first time before the public as the author of an original work.

The nature and purpose of the book are accurately enough expressed by its title. Such works are the natural results of the call which is now making itself heard, for stricter and more precise thinking on political topics. Whoever is au courant of the great intellectual movement of the age, is aware that the scientific study of politics as a branch of philosophy, (though scarcely half a century old), is now the chief and engrossing occupation of thinking and instructed minds throughout Europe: whether as embodied in the speculations of Mr. Bentham and his successors; in the labours of the French and English economists; or in the attempts which have been made with various success in France and Germany (from Herder and Johannes Müller3 down to Guizot and Saint-Simon), to philosophize upon the facts of history considered as a connected whole, governed by determinate and assignable laws. In England, (where the hindmost minds remain longer ignorant than in any other reading nation, of what is doing by the foremost) the bare idea that such studies exist, for any purpose which a sensible man can attach value to, has only within this last year or two, if at all, been diffused and popularized. Yet even in England all minds are now turned to politics, if not as yet with great comprehensiveness of views, at least with the certainty of great results, for good or for evil. And though the questions immediately at issue are likely to be decided by more summary methods than those of logic, yet on a subject on which the magnitude of the interests at stake forces all to think after some manner, such as have any capacity for philosophy will endeavour to think philosophically, and to contribute what lies in their power towards enabling as many others as are so disposed to do the like; of which this work of Mr. Lewis is an example.

It is a highly creditable production; less however in itself, than as an earnest of better things to come. Were it to be considered as the ultimatum of a completed Edition: current; Page: [449] and ripened mind, we should have nearly as much to say of it for ill as for good. But there is no other ill in it than that of not being good enough; the most hopeless of all faults in a mind which has attained maturity, the most excusable in one which is in a state of adolescence. Every thing in the book which is justly liable to objection, proves merely that Mr. Lewis has begun to think and to inquire, and has yet only partially realized any result from his thinking and inquiring. It is already no little matter to have fairly and in singleness of purpose set about the task:—above all, when we consider of how many voluminous and even popular writers and instructors it may be said, that they have never, properly speaking, thought at all; that to have had a thought of their own, or even to have made a thought completely their own which was originally another man’s, is an event in their lives which is yet to come, and which, if it ever should come, would most certainly effect an entire change in their whole manner of existence. Mr. Lewis belongs to a very different category; and we have far other hopes from him. Many a mind of the highest capabilities, if it had attempted to fix upon paper such views of things, or such views of other men’s views, as passed through it in the middle stage of its growth, while rising from the learner into the teacher, would have made a far less advantageous appearance than Mr. Lewis has done. This middle stage is the most critical period in any man’s intellectual history, and few are they who pass through it. There is nothing in the work before us which forbids us to believe that Mr. Lewis is destined to be one of those few; unless, unfortunately (what sometimes happens), impressions, some of which would naturally be evanescent, should derive from the very process of committing them to paper, that fixity and tenacity which is frequently given to a notion by much pondering over it.

Mr. Lewis’s purpose in this work, as a political philosopher, is to set people right in their use of terms. An important object; yet not all-important; and, indeed, essentially secondary in its nature, the primary end being, to set people right in their notions of things. True it is, that our judgments of things are frequently vitiated by fallacies which creep in by means of words; but this is only the common case of an effect reacting upon its cause, since an illogical use of words also still more frequently arises from an imperfect conception of the nature and properties of the things which these words are employed to designate. Almost all the faults of this book may be traced, we think, to the attempt to treat one of these two classes of errors independently of the other. aFew people have reflected how great a knowledge of bthingsb is required to enable a man to affirm that any given argument turns wholly upon words. There is, perhaps, not one of the leading terms of philosophy which is not used in almost innumerable shades of meaning, to express ideas more or less widely different from one another. Edition: current; Page: [450] Between two of these ideas a sagacious and penetrating mind will discern, as it were intuitively, an unobvious link of connection, upon which, though perhaps unable to give a logical account of it, he will found a perfectly valid argument, which his critic, not having so keen an insight into the cthingsc, will mistake for a fallacy turning on the double meaning of a term. And the greater the genius of him who thus safely leaps over the chasm, the greater will probably be the crowing and vain-glory of the mere logician, who, hobbling after him, evinces his own superior wisdom by pausing on its brink, and giving up as desperate his proper business of bridging it over.a

When it shall be deemed as essential to the character of a logician to be able to recognise the substance of sound reasoning, howsoever overshadowed, as to detect irregularities in the form; it will be acknowledged, that in order to sit in judgment upon any man’s philosophical phraseology, it is often necessary to be more thoroughly master of his ideas than he is himself.

But if there needs all this knowledge, not of words but of things, to ascertain whether one man has preserved sufficient clearness and consistency in the use of language, never to make a stumbling-block to himself of his own terminology; how much more of such knowledge does it require to determine what meanings can be annexed to what words, most conveniently for the general purposes of philosophy! Language to a philosopher is like an army to a general-in-chief; like that, too, it is often all too scanty for the work it has to do. To judge what positions must be occupied, and what may be left unguarded; to make the most advantageous disposition of a small force for the defence of an extensive territory,—requires the most familiar knowledge and careful study of the localities. To give the law to philosophical nomenclature, requires the most intimate acquaintance with the strong and the weak points of philosophy and of general opinion; so as to know where on one quarter a fallacy creeps in, because the most common name of an object suggests a part only of its essential properties, and not the whole; on another, an all-important distinction lies unheeded for want of a short and compact expression pointing it out:—to save words from being engrossed, as they are apt to be, by objects or thoughts which are safe from being overlooked by their own obviousness; and afford the aid of language to draw other less palpable and familiar (though possibly more important) combinations of ideas out of obscurity.

Yet we blame no one, if, in the present state of the human mind, he begins to be a critic in words, before he is adequately conversant with the things which they signify. The greatest intellects, in our time, have had scarcely any other beginnings.

Quintilian remarks, that in a youthful production, redundancy of invention and exuberance of fancy are faults which the teacher should see not merely with Edition: current; Page: [451] indulgence, but with pleasure; since every year of experience and culture helps to cure defects of judgment, but the imagination which is not overflowing in youth, will surely be jejune and scanty in maturer years.4 In our own times Quintilian’s observation must give place to its exact opposite. Circumstances for which no individual can with justice be held responsible, have reversed the order in which the capabilities of the youthful intellect successively unfold themselves. What even the best minds of our day are remarkable for in the outset, is seldom fertility and fulness, but the forced and premature predominance of the faculty of judgment, or rather, of judging; exercised, be it well understood, not upon their own stores, but upon other people’s. What remains to be accomplished by subsequent culture is nowise to root out weeds, and prune luxuriant growth, but rather to plant anything in the mind, which else would remain almost a waste. The first lesson, that which men begin by teaching themselves, is not to do anything, great or little, but to perceive that other people have not done it. Some imperfect faculty of criticism is what men first attain to. Imperfect it must necessarily be, for none know really what is false but he who knows also what is true: the knowledge of good and of evil are fruits which grow upon the same tree. Accordingly the criticism generally addresses itself not to the substance of what is taught, but chiefly to the qualifications of the teacher. Criticising in our time is mostly confutation only of the man, not of what he delivers as his opinion: it ends not in throwing any new light upon the subject treated of, but in shewing that some man who is undertaking to treat of it, is inconsistent, or puzzle-headed, and is incapable of giving instruction upon the matter to any one, or at least has not succeeded in giving any to the critic. It is scarcely necessary to add, that even the man, in this mode of proceeding, seldom meets with fair play; for when the presumption set out with is that every man, even though he be a great man, is at least as likely to be wrong as right, what more natural than to conclude that he is talking without a meaning, rather than take any considerable trouble to make out what his meaning is? The critic squares his author’s understanding by his own; and if the two do not exactly fit, with whom is it more natural to suppose the fault to lie—his author, or himself?

All this must be; or, at least, in an age of transition like the present, will be; which is all that in such a case can be meant by must. Numbers of persons who make considerable noise in the world, never emerge from the state of mind above described. Even the best must generally pass through such a state, but rapidly, and without exemplifying any of its more baneful consequences.

Mr. Lewis has begun where it is scarcely possible, just at present, even for the most vigorous minds, not to begin: he has obtained some insight, not into the truth, but into the deficiencies of others in seeking for it, or in setting it forth. Edition: current; Page: [452] And if amidst many sound and valuable criticisms on the established usage of language, and on the phraseology of particular writers, he occasionally condemns what he has not seen to the bottom of, and for want of sufficient familiarity with an author’s ideas, does not see correctly what that author means by his words; if at other times he is almost captious in refusing to writers the use of, perhaps, the only familiar terms which the language affords them to express their meaning, because he has laid hold of those terms to mark distinctions of his own, the importance of which he more clearly sees; all this is but the almost necessary consequence of attempting to settle the language of a science before mankind have agreed about the science itself. Instead of blaming Mr. Lewis because his work contains such blemishes, we will rather give him all praise that it consists of anything else; and will exhort him to persevere in his attempt to reform philosophical language, but to remember that such reform cannot proceed faster than the reform of the doctrines of philosophy; that the two must go hand in hand, and that it is as impossible to use language precisely while ideas are uncertain and confused, as it is for ideas to remain clear without a nomenclature suitable for the accurate expression of them.


160.: FRENCH NEWS [57]
EXAMINER, 22 APR., 1832, P. 264

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, April 22, 1832,” is listed as “Paragraphs on France” in the Somerville College set with the first two paragraphs of the article (to the printer’s rule) enclosed in square brackets.

the french chamber of deputies has galloped through the Ways and Means, disposed of all the great questions of taxation with scarcely a word of discussion, and then virtually adjourned, it being now impossible to make a house.1 It must be remembered that by the regulations of the French Parliament, the number necessary to form a quorum is not forty members, as with us, but a majority of the whole house.2 This is one of the causes which practically disable the Chamber from transacting public business after dinner time.

The Session will not close for some days, the Peers having yet to pass several bills already adopted by the other Chamber.

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161.: FRENCH NEWS [58]
EXAMINER, 29 APR., 1832, P. 280

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, April 29, 1832,” is listed as “Paragraphs on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the french chambers were prorogued on the 21st of April, after a session of nine months, in which but little that is of any real use has been even talked about; and of that little, nothing but the most paltry and insignificant fraction has been accomplished. The first session of the first Parliament elected under the Citizen King and the charte-vérité,1 has demonstrated nothing but the vices of the institutions of France, and the backwardness of her national mind.

In our next paper, we purpose giving a summary of the res gestae of the session; with the remarks, which such a survey naturally suggests, on the two comprehensive questions—what France now is, and what she has next to do and to become?

The illness of MM. Périer and d’Argout has set much vain speculation afloat concerning the chances of a change of ministry.

EXAMINER, 6 MAY, 1832, PP. 291-2

This comment on the background and meaning of the legislative session, with its companion article, No. 172, employs a genre later used by Mill for British sessions (see CW, Vol. VI). The article, headed as title, is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘Close of the Session’ in the Examiner of 6th May 1832” (MacMinn, p. 21). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner it is listed as “The Close of the Session in France” and enclosed in square brackets; at 455.11 “ong” in “longer” is inked over, but no obvious correction can be inferred.

when the french chambers met, after the general election in June 1831, the situation of France and of the French Government presented many features of resemblance with the position of affairs at the opening of the States General in 1789.

There was not, indeed, as at the former period, an accumulated pile of the abominations of centuries, to be carted off and flung into the bottomless pit. The Edition: current; Page: [454] extirpation of evil had ceased to be the first and greatest good; the destroying angel had done his work, and a gentler and more beneficent spirit must henceforth preside over the accomplishment of the milder task which remained. Neither had the men of 1831, like the far greater men of 1789, to construct a Government, from the foundation upwards. There was a Government: in a degree more or less perfect, it was, and could keep itself, obeyed; and had therefore full leisure to look about it and think of deserving to be so. What is called a Constitution, too, that is, the bare walls and rafters and doorways, the mere carcass of the social edifice, had been bequeathed to the new French Legislature by its immediate predecessors. What is deemed the great question of Government, the question who shall govern, (not how), had been provisionally decided, by those who had accidentally found the sceptre lying at their feet, when it fell from the incapable hands of its former holders. The workman had got his new tools, and fit was it that he should try how he could work with them, ere he flung them away and looked out again for another set. To this extent, therefore, the position of the French Chambers differed from that of the Constituent Assembly; and was a far easier one. But in other respects the two were strikingly analogous.

In both, the sense of the whole nation, or of that part of it which the law presumed to be the fit guide and guardian of the remainder, had been appealed to; in the one case, after the happening of a revolution; in the other, under circumstances which were in themselves a revolution. In both, a call had been made upon the people to choose out all their best and wisest men, and send these to assemble in one place and consider what could be done to make the condition of the French Nation better. Both bodies were invited by the circumstances under which they were called together, to review all the institutions and the general political condition of their country. Both assembled at the opening of a new era; and on the will of each it mainly depended, what, in the first instance, the character of that era should be.

But the two bodies were very differently fitted, by talents and acquirements, for the task which lay before them.

The Constituent Assembly, with all their faults, were the élite of France. There was scarcely a man in the kingdom who had given public proof of integrity and abilities to the nation, or to his own province or district, who did not find a place in that illustrious body. The ruling spirits were inexperienced, which was not their fault; they were also vain and presumptuous, which was. But they were, almost to a man, persons whose talents would in any sphere of life have made them conspicuous; well versed in the best studies and the most valuable ideas of their age. If any one doubts this, he does not know them; he has not read, or has not understood, their speeches and writings. It is true, such culture as their age afforded had possessed the most of them thoroughly and deep-rootedly, with little besides this, that Evil was Evil. That it was possible to extinguish the Evil Edition: current; Page: [455] and yet miss the Good, was a lesson which they had not learned, but which their best and bravest were destined to leave to posterity written in their blood. Yet they warred against evil with an undaunted spirit, and did unflinchingly and effectually the great work of their own time.

The work of our time requires far greater men, and is likely, for all we can perceive, to devolve upon far smaller.

It is a very simple matter, if we will but consider it, to see when things as they are, are wrong: the signs of a vicious constitution of society glare obviously upon us: though men who have slept over their evils for centuries, are apt to think that they have accomplished something mirific, because, when their eyes are no longer shut, they can see. But to know the essentials of a healthy state of society, and what it is in the power of a government to do towards realizing these, is quite another affair. Whatever requires only that we shall see what now is, many may accomplish; but to conceive and foresee things yet to come, the results which will ensue hereafter from our actions now, so as to be able to translate a mere opinion that things go wrong, into a practical effort of any profitable kind to make them go right—is a faculty given in any high degree to very few, and which even in its lower degrees, seems to be but sparingly possessed by the present generation of public men in France. There is but little of it in the nation; and the legislature represents most imperfectly even that little.

For sixteen years previous to the Revolution in 1830, France had enjoyed a practically free press, and an approach to a representative constitution. During this period, the minds of her youth, absorbed as they have even morbidly been in political speculation and discussion, might have been expected to make some advances in political knowledge; for, in the absence, there as elsewhere, of any systematic instruction on such subjects, it is to the collision of opinions on the questions which practically arise, that mankind are indebted for such faint light as they anywhere see, and guide themselves by. But this improvement, the peculiar character of the battle which French patriotism had then to fight, in a great measure forbade. The contest for good Government, under the Restoration, was essentially conservative. The legitimists and divine-right men were then the innovators. The Liberal party were struggling, not to acquire further good, but to hold fast that which they had, against ever-repeated efforts, both open and covert, to take it from them. Consequently, by a strange and unhappy fortune, although the cause of Representative Government against feudal monarchy seemed finally won, and had been followed up even to judgment and execution, it was yet kept open for a perpetual rehearing, and no new cause was ever called on. Still the endless, and then and there almost profitless, dispute about the mere instrument of Government, occupied all tongues and all minds, to the exclusion of every thought about Government itself: to say nothing of the still greater problem, in what fashion man, well governed or not, is called upon to conduct himself in this world. Any question which seemed to have no immediate bearing Edition: current; Page: [456] on that preliminary one, “The Charter, or the ancien régime,” was all but overlooked. The natural consequence followed. While patriotism was busily and noisily engaged in defending the mere external rampart of French legislation, the watchful eye and quiet hand of private interest were ever at work moulding the whole interior of the structure to its purposes. It was in the years of fiercest anti-Bourbonism, that the most systematic and all-comprehensive system of commercial monopoly under the name of protection, which the world has seen for centuries, was silently organized and brought to perfection. And how much of the public mind was taken up with this, during the process? About as much as was bestowed upon the dismissal of a single public officer, for having voted against orders at an election.1 During the same period, the roads of France, which Napoleon left in good order, were allowed (the public voice remaining nearly silent) to fall into such a state of dilapidation, and the canals to remain so heavily taxed, that except near the great rivers or the sea, France could produce little either in agriculture or manufactures, save what could be consumed on or near the spot where it was called into existence. No one asked why France, for her extent and population, had neither internal nor foreign commerce deserving of the name. If even the almost total extinction of the Lancasterian schools made any noise during its progressive accomplishment, the cause was chiefly, that, in the minds of the Liberals, it was inseparably connected with Jesuitism and the Camarilla.2

We mention not these things for censure, but for the light they throw on what France at present is. We may well lament, not indeed that France, but that man, can seldom think earnestly on more than one thing at a time. But when the sole and indispensable instrument of all other political good, freedom of thought and of utterance, and its accompaniments, exemption from the iron yoke of a caste-oligarchy over the body, and of a retrograde priesthood over the soul, when these were possessions which, while they seemed irrevocably gained, did not the less require to be perennially battled for with all the energy of manhood; it must even be set down to the mere infirmity of our nature, that the French, in the engrossing interest of the contest for a form of government, found little leisure to think of those things for which forms of government were intended.

During the short respite which the Martignac Ministry afforded, (a truce which it was hoped might be the preliminary of a lasting peace), the minds of the French youth eagerly turned from thinking only of the tools, to think of the work itself; and a strong tendency to the study of the details of government, with a view to substantial improvements, was beginning to impress itself on the national Edition: current; Page: [457] mind. The accession of the Polignac ministry brought this march of improvement to a dead halt. And then came the Revolution of July: the greatest advance which any nation perhaps ever made by a single step—an advance which no one expected, and for which no one’s habits and ideas were prepared—a change which gave the French nation a clear field to build on, before they had possessed themselves of the materials to build withal; a leap, which cleared in an instant a space of many years journey; and transported France through mid-air, away from the scenes with which she was familiar, into regions unvisited and unknown.

Nothing worse has ensued than ought to have been expected. The peculiarities of the French character render public opinion (when such really exists) in that country more even than elsewhere, all but irresistible: but there has been no public opinion since the Revolution of July; only public discontent and irritation, and a voice perpetually crying out “Do something,” but not telling what to do, not having any thing to tell. On one point, and no more, since the accession of Louis Philippe, has there been in France a public opinion: this was the Hereditary Peerage:3 and on this, accordingly, the Government, though with the worst grace in the world, yielded: it had no choice: and it will yield every thing which shall hereafter be demanded with like energy of conviction by the French people; but, unfortunately, the French people have not yet known what else to ask; their time, however, is coming.

Men have not always convictions, but they have always interests: with difficulty enough controlled even by the firmest convictions, but paramount and omnipotent wheresoever there are none. Accordingly, the most remarkable feature in the French literature of the day, whether books or newspapers, is the unceasing complaint proceeding from every earnest mind, that there is no faith, no strong persuasion of any kind; an all-pervading scepticism; nobody feeling sufficiently certain of what he calls his opinion, to be willing to part with five pounds because of its truth; and even the men from whom such conduct was least to be expected, sacrificing what seemed their most cherished principles of action for place or favour. Yet these are probably not bad men, nor incapable, even yet, of sacrifices for conscience sake. They have simply nothing for which their conscience commands them any sacrifice. The plain fact is, man doubts of every thing else, but feels perfectly certain that he has a stomach; for amidst all the changes of religious, moral, and political creeds, and even during the interval betwixt one creed and another, these truths remain eternally recognizable—that man lives by bread, and that sugar is pleasant to the palate.

In all this, France is neither worse, nor worse off, than other countries; she has only got forward into another phasis of the change which all Europe is passing through, and of which we ourselves are in the earlier stages, but which, we may trust, is destined to be softened to us by the example of our predecessors. The Edition: current; Page: [458] difference with us is, that more of the old house will probably be left standing until the new one is ready: but who is to build the new one, here any more than there? or who has arrived at any clear notion even of the principles of its construction? Whether the resting-place in which the mind provisionally houses herself, be an old ruin, or a temporary shed, certain it is that she never feels herself at home in it, but dwells in an uneasy uncertainty until Thought and Experience have enabled her to erect for herself a permanent abode. But for this, time is required; and it must be given.

In the meanwhile, for want of clear guiding perceptions to incite or to restrain, such activity as is still to be met with will be the result of passion and instinct. The young and ardent, who hope eagerly, and know not such a feeling as self-distrust, will be impatient and angry because nothing, or less than they expected, is done:—having, themselves, as yet, mostly nothing to propose but this, “Let the people decide:” as if those maxims of political wisdom which they, the friends and leaders of the people, have hitherto failed to discover in their own heads, were to be brought to light of a sudden through some magical incantation by means of balls in a balloting-box. On the other hand, the old and timid, but especially the class possessed of property, will be palsied by a nervous dread of innovation. They who have aught to lose—until improvement is brought before them in a palpable shape, so that they fancy they can see and touch all its consequences—are instinctively its enemies; for they love not a leap in the dark, and, it must be owned, do not trouble themselves greatly to seek for light, feeling easy in their bodily attitude where they now are, and unhappily being apt to esteem that the principal, or the only essential point. But by degrees, as the thinking minds of a country throw more and more light upon question after question, the demands of the one party become more definite and circumspect, the terrors of the other abate, and they lend a more willing ear to what originally appalled them; until, at length, not at one stroke, but by a series of partial efforts, new and wiser systems of policy are bodied forth and wrought into the people’s minds, and the practice of the state insensibly moulded thereon.

In spite of superficial appearances, in themselves affording no materials for right judgment, and seen besides with purblind and jaundiced eyes by the newspaper-writers of all parties in England; the public mind of France is already making a perceptible progress towards this desirable consummation. Great indeed are the obstacles, and long will it be ere they are entirely overcome: yet even now, not a day passes without some fresh indication of the good which is silently preparing: a sensible brightening has long indicated the commencement of the twilight which precedes the rising of the sun. Many are the new and practically important ideas which have for the first time been thrown into general circulation within the last year; and along with the increased tendency to the more directly applicable parts of the art of government, may be plainly discerned the natural accompaniment of a more careful study of that art—an increasing Edition: current; Page: [459] sense of its difficulties. It is chiefly from the press, that we gather these satisfactory indications. Such marks are not indeed wholly wanting in the Chambers also, but are almost imperceptible, and would not, perhaps, be detected there by any person who had not previously observed the same tokens elsewhere. For in this, as in all else, the French Legislature is but an indifferent representation of the good sense, the talent, or the acquirements of the nation, or of anything else therein which deserves to be represented. The proofs that it is so, deduced from the history of its last session, and the reasons why it must be so, drawn from its own constitution, we shall next lay before our readers. Be this, however, the work of a separate, and a future article.4

EXAMINER, 6 MAY, 1832, P. 295

This unheaded paragraph (in square brackets, here removed) is appended to a long letter to the editor, headed “Westminster Review—Landlords’ Claims,” in which “A Claimant of Justice” objects to a passage on p. 306 of “Saint-Simonianism, &c.,” Westminster Review, XVI (Apr. 1832), 279-321, by Thomas Perronet Thompson (1783-1869), Radical writer and proprietor of the review. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A paragraph in the same paper [as No. 162], on Property in Land, in answer to a Correspondent” (MacMinn, p. 21). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Paragraph on Property in Land, in reply to a correspondent” and enclosed in a second set of square brackets.

we agree entirely in all the doctrines of our correspondent, except the practical conclusion which they are probably intended to suggest. We cordially concur in the opinion that land, or any other possession or advantage for which the first possessor is not indebted to his own labour, but to accident or mere priority of occupation, ought to be retained and managed for the benefit of the community generally, and not granted away to individuals; but when it has been so appropriated, perhaps ages ago, it would be the height of iniquity to take it away from the possessors without full compensation. The lands of Great Britain, or of any other ancient community, have, for the most part, been acquired by the labour of the present owners, or of their progenitors; having been purchased from former proprietors, in exchange for property honestly earned by industry, and prudently accumulated by forethought and frugality. The land, therefore, considered as property, is just as much the produce of labour, as if it had been made with hands. That which was given for the land was made with hands, as fairly as any other kind of property: and the land is a mere equivalent obtained in exchange. We are speaking only of the land as a source of income; not of the land Edition: current; Page: [460] as a source of mischievous power. As far as the ownership of land gives any one an influence which it were desirable he did not possess over its cultivation, and over the interests of its inhabitants, so far, there would be no injustice in placing that kind of property on a different footing. Neither would there be any injustice in buying up all the land in the country, paying to the present proprietors its fair value. We only contend that it would be supremely unjust to take away from any person whatever, what the law has hitherto recognized as his property, without a full pecuniary equivalent. Property is made an idol in England; the sacredness of property is made a shield for every abuse; it should be clearly understood, that the State is at liberty to modify the general right of property as much as it likes; to new-model it altogether, if the public interest requires it: but never to the pecuniary injury of the present possessors, unless by a spontaneous sacrifice on their part.

164.: FRENCH NEWS [59]
EXAMINER, 6 MAY, 1832, P. 296

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, May 6, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” with the first three (of five) paragraphs enclosed in square brackets.

it is feared that M. Casimir Périer will not survive his present illness, and no one seems to believe that he will recover sufficiently to be again capable of public business. Notwithstanding this, the King has found so much difficulty in determining on the choice of a successor, that M. Périer still retains, nominally, the rank of President of the Council,—in other words, of Prime Minister. There is, therefore, no Prime Minister, that is, the King is his own Minister,—the flattest contradiction of all the principles of a free government, since the King, not being subject to be turned out by a change of Administration, is Minister without any responsibility.

The place of Minister of the Interior1 has been filled up by M. de Montalivet, who held that office under M. Laffitte. M. Girod de l’Ain succeeds M. de Montalivet as Minister of Public Instruction. We hail this gentleman’s appointment to this situation, as we should to almost any situation upon earth, which removed him from the function of President of the Chamber of Deputies. His gross partiality in that office, was only surpassed by his indecision, and want of presence of mind. The scenes of confusion and disturbance which have so often disgraced the sittings of the Chamber, during the session which has just expired, were mainly to be ascribed to his incapacity and unfairness.

Edition: current; Page: [461]

The Courrier Français observes on this appointment:

After great efforts of imagination, and when the matter seemed almost desperate, the name of M. Girod de l’Ain was hit upon; and, what is almost as extraordinary as the discovery, this name a fait merveille: nobody’s susceptibility was so easily excited, as to take any umbrage at the accession of such a colleague; accordingly, the decision was adopted almost at once. In this state were affairs this morning; and M. Girod de l’Ain will be Minister of Public Instruction, unless the difficulties proceed from himself, which is not probable. Since a strong ministry is wanted, this choice was judicious; it cannot be denied that a Cabinet which comprises M. de Montalivet and M. Girod de l’Ain, possesses a certain homogeneity. If this nomination gives rise to much criticism, it ought likewise to occasion lively and sincere congratulations; the Chamber of Deputies being the party to whom the latter are addressed.2

165.: FRENCH NEWS [60]
EXAMINER, 13 MAY, 1832, P. 314

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, May 13, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the telegraphic despatch given in the Standard,1 relative to an insurrection at Marseilles, and which we conceived to be a forgery, was, it seems, genuine: but the insurrection was of the most contemptible description, and was put down without shedding one drop of blood. The ringleaders have been arrested: and it is affirmed that a steam-vessel, which was bringing the Duchess of Berri from Italy, to join the conspirators, has been seized, and that personage made prisoner.2 Should this prove to be the fact, it is said that the French Government intends to dismiss the Duchess quietly to her family in Edinburgh, but to deal with her accomplices according to law.

M. Casimir Périer is said to be slowly recovering. The cholera at Paris is rapidly disappearing

The interest of foreign politics now fades before that of our own. The theatre of political excitement has changed. The current of the mouvement has now shifted to Great Britain: how rapidly to proceed, or in what latitudes to terminate, Edition: current; Page: [462] he must be a bold man who deems that he can foreknow: nor needs he: it is not now the time to hope, but to do.

EXAMINER, 20 MAY, 1832, PP. 329-30

This article on the deaths of Périer and Cuvier is headed “London, May 20, 1832.” Though presumably included in the entry in Mill’s bibliography given at No. 116, it is listed in the Somerville College copy of the Examiner not as “Article on France” but as “Obituary Notice of Casimir Périer, and of Cuvier”; it is there enclosed in square brackets.

m. casimir périer is dead:

  • He should have died hereafter—
  • There would have been a time for such a word.1

On no view of French politics has France any good to expect from his ceasing to be Minister. His successors, whosoever they be, will be chosen from no other party, nor will act upon any other views of policy, than his; but without the vigour of purpose, the resolute determination to make all things bend to his conviction, by which he gave a sort of dignity to the most uninspiring cause which any statesman ever devoted himself to uphold. In any other hands than his, all the evil of his system will become more evil, all the redeeming good which was in it will dwindle away. He was at least an able man—at least a brave man—not other than an honest man thus far, that the main springs of his conduct were public, not private motives. He was less scrupulous in the means he used for compassing what he deemed good ends, than a sound morality will approve. But where, save in a few instances, have been the French Ministers, of whom this might not be said? He should have lived, until there had been a hope of his being replaced by a better man, not by some one (it matters not whom) among a hundred worse.

We have been no admirers of the policy of M. Périer’s Ministry. But it is not one short twelvemonth’s alienation, which can efface from our memory the unwearied public services of fifteen years. We cannot forget, that to him, more than to any man, belonged the overthrow of the Villèle Administration; the first decisive check to the royalist faction: whose encroachments upon all that France had gained by her revolution, were then only stopped in their formidable advance. And the bodily constitution which has at length succumbed to a long series of labours and vexations, was first broken by the fatigues of the daily and hourly struggle of life and death which he maintained with Villèle at the tribune Edition: current; Page: [463] of that memorable chamber, which contained three hundred creatures of the Jesuits, and but sixteen representatives of the people.

This arduous contest, in which he displayed talents which excited the admiration even of the courtiers of Charles X (of him alone, among the leaders of the liberal party, they never spoke without respect) will be his chief title to the friendly remembrance of posterity; and to this, in order that the remembrance may be as affectionate as possible, let it go down to posterity that he in reality sacrificed his life. For it is ill dying a martyr to a falling cause, when that cause is also one which ought to fall. Cranmer and Latimer and Ridley2 will live for ever; but is it for his martyrdom that we remember Sir Thomas More? Devotion to a long line of kings, or to a constitution which has stood the shock of ages, though now rotten, and worm-eaten, and harbouring unclean vermin, we can understand. But to die for a temporary compromise, a patch-work of yesterday, a thing constructed on no principle, to which no human being ever carried hypocrisy so far as to pretend to have any attachment, to which nobody affects to look for any guidance, but only for keeping him from being robbed or murdered;—to be martyred for worshiping at an empty shrine—without an oracle, without a God, without even an idol; no Gothic cathedral or Grecian temple, but a wooden shed, run up in a hurry, because any shelter was better than the open sky, and which men resort to, not because it is good, but because they know not whither to seek for any other—is a death little worthy of an apotheosis; no dying for one’s country, but a common suicide.

It is not by this that M. Périer will hereafter be known. Happily for his fame, while the last year of his life, from the insignificance of its permanent results, will sink gradually into comparative oblivion, the former years, because their consequences become every day more momentous, will loom greater and greater in the distance, even as they recede from the eye of mankind still moving onward. And when the noisy and acrimonious disputes of the present day shall be stilled, and he and his contemporaries shall be judged, with those large allowances of which all the men of the present generation stand so sorely in need; then may the close of his career again be profitably reverted to, as a lesson of indulgence rather than as a subject of reproach; and errors, for which he has so cruelly suffered, and the evil effects of which shall long since have been cured and past away, may perhaps render him more interesting to men of those days, than even if his character had been a more perfect one.

For ourselves, we shall hereafter speak of him no otherwise than in honour; he Edition: current; Page: [464] now belongs to history; his greatest enemies may now be content that their quarrel with him should be buried in his grave.

Almost at the same time, France has lost another of her most eminent men, the celebrated naturalist, Cuvier; the most distinguished, perhaps, among the physical philosophers of his age; and less honourably noted, as the humble servant of all governments. M. Cuvier was far vainer of being supposed a man of importance in politics, than of his immense merit and reputation as a man of science, and was the laughing-stock of Paris, for the ridiculous consequence which he attached to his title of Baron. Yet, although a conseiller d’état for some fifteen years, and latterly a Peer of France, he continued lecturing at the Ecole de Médecine on comparative anatomy and physiology till within a few days of his death: a striking fact, and one which throws great light on the state of feeling in France on many important matters.

167.: FRENCH NEWS [61]
EXAMINER, 27 MAY, 1832, P. 345

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, May 27, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Paragraphs on France” with square brackets around the first two paragraphs.

no successor has yet been appointed to M. Casimir Périer, as Prime Minister; and there is no appearance of an intention to fill up the place. All the departments of the Ministry are filled, and the King will be his own Prime Minister. Good: but if so, he must recollect that there is such a thing as a change of Ministry.

It is now affirmed, that the lady found in the Carlo Alberto steam-packet is not the Duchess of Berri, and that the real Duchess has escaped.1 Some, on the other hand, surmise that this is the real Duchess; and that the Government, after officially announcing the fact, now asserts the contrary, to get rid of the embarrassing alternative of either bringing her to trial or liberating her by an assumption of authority contrary to law.

EXAMINER, 3 JUNE, 1832, P. 358

Charles Reece Pemberton (1790-1840) quickly abandoned an acting career in 1829 after receiving mixed notices of his Virginius and Shylock (under Charles Kemble’s Edition: current; Page: [465] management) and devoted himself to lecturing, largely at mechanics’ institutes. He also became a frequent contributor to the Monthly Repository. This unheaded review in the “Theatrical Examiner,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of Mr. Pemberton’s Lectures on Shakespeare in the Examiner of 3d June 1832” (MacMinn, p. 21). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Article on Mr Pemberton’s Lectures on the Characters of Shakespeare” and enclosed in square brackets.

mr. pemberton is now delivering, at Saville House, Leicester Square, a series of lectures on some of the principal characters of Shakspeare (illustrated by the characteristic delivery of the most striking passages), which we think highly worthy of the attention of the public.

Mr. Pemberton’s object is not solely to state and establish his view of the particular characters delineated by Shakspeare, but still more to set forth and illustrate his own theory on the subject of acting. This theory, though not the prevalent one, is not peculiar to him; and we conceive that it must have occurred to almost every one who has given himself the trouble to think long and attentively on the subject: we ourselves have stated the same doctrine pretty fully in this newspaper, just a year ago, (Examiner of the 22d May 1831), in our remarks on the admirable acting of Mademoiselle Léontine Fay.1 The proposition is simply this: that in acting, as in every thing else, genius does not consist in being a copyist; even from nature: That the actor of genius is not he who observes and imitates what men of particular characters, and in particular situations, do, but he who can, by an act of imagination, actually be what they are: who can so completely understand, and so vividly conceive, the state of their minds, that the conception shall call up in his own the very emotions, and thereby draw from him the very sounds and gestures, which would have been exhibited by the imaginary being whom he is personifying. Such a man’s representation of nature will have a consistency and keeping in it, and will reach depths in the human heart, which no man’s opportunities and powers of mere outward observation could ever have enabled him to attain to.

If any one doubts this, we exhort him to go without delay, and see and hear Madame Schröder Devrient;2 and if he does not admit that such acting as hers comes not from the eyes and ears, but from the heart, we give him up, as a person not competent, in respect of sensibility, to judge of Art.

Mr. Pemberton knows these truths so well, and explains them so happily, that he would be well worth listening to, even were he incapable of practically exemplifying them. But he also lays claim to the actual possession of the faculty Edition: current; Page: [466] to which we have alluded: the power to call up by a voluntary effort of imagination, what he not unhappily terms secondary feelings, that is, feelings suggested by a vivid conception of similar feelings in others: and by thus realizing for the time being, an imaginary character, to give a profoundly true dramatic representation of it. Though his claim to these powers cannot by us at least, be admitted without considerable explanation and qualification, yet we must, in the main, admit it; and we can at least promise to our intelligent readers both amusement and instruction from listening to him.

Mr. Pemberton has hitherto lectured on three characters only; Macbeth, Hamlet, and Shylock: we have heard him on the two former; and he has certainly succeeded in giving us a far clearer and more comprehensive view of those characters than we had before.

169.: FRENCH NEWS [62]
EXAMINER, 3 JUNE, 1832, P. 361

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, June 3, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.

the most important circumstance which has occurred in France during the last week was a meeting of the leading deputies of the Opposition, at the house of M. Laffitte, for the purpose of drawing up a collective address to the nation.1

When this manifesto shall be agreed upon, and shall make its appearance, it will doubtless excite much interest here; among those at least who do not think, with the Times of Friday last, that the internal affairs of France are no concern of the British public, because they are not connected with “English interests.”2 The Times wrongs the British public, and wrongs even itself. We should feel shame for our country if such things were true. We know not why it should be less shameful in a nation than in an individual, to care about nothing but its own interest; nor why we should impute to Englishmen the egregious folly of deeming the interests of good government and civilization throughout the world no interests of theirs. This is but a poor sample of English feeling from the “leading journal,” on the very day which brings us the news of a patriotic banquet at Paris, whereat M. Armand Carrel, the Editor of the only influential Paris newspaper in which there lingered some remains of anti-English feeling, was selected, perhaps Edition: current; Page: [467] for that very reason, to give, as a toast, “The People of England,” with expression of the warmest sympathy and congratulation upon our late glorious though pacific Three Days.3

A subscription is getting up among the friends and dependants of the Ministry for a monument to M. Casimir Périer. We predict that it will bear a closer resemblance to the subscription for Chambord, so felicitously shown up by the admirable Paul Louis Courier,4 than to the grateful adoption by the French nation of the children of General Foy; when the poorest and humblest citizens of France gave each his mite to shield the orphans of him who was her stay, from the honourable poverty which his virtues had bequeathed to them.5

EXAMINER, 10 JUNE, 1832, PP. 371-2

The death on 6 June of Jeremy Bentham, the day before the great triumph of the enactment of the Reform Bill, signalled the end of an epoch for the Reform movement, and for Mill, just approaching an assessment of his own role as a reformer. The text of this article is remarkably close in many respects to Thomas Southwood Smith’s dissection eulogy on the day before this article was published; see A Lecture Delivered over the Remains of Jeremy Bentham, Esq., in the Webb-Street School of Anatomy and Medicine on the 9th of June, 1832 (London: Wilson, 1832). Compare also Mill’s comments on Bentham in 1833 and 1838 (CW, Vol. X, pp. 3-18 and 75-115). The unsigned obituary, headed as title, appears in the “Political Examiner.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An obituary notice of Jeremy Bentham in the Examiner of 10th June 1832” (MacMinn, p. 21). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Death of Jeremy Bentham,” with square brackets around the portion ending at a printer’s rule; the rest of the article, not by Mill, gives the details of Bentham’s life.

jeremy bentham is no more! In him, the world has lost the great Teacher and Patriarch of his time; the man who of all men who were living on the day of his death, has exercised and is exercising over the fortunes of mankind the widest Edition: current; Page: [468] and most durable influence; and who is even now in some sort governing the world, although not yet recognized and looked up to as their leader by those who are daily obeying the impulse which he gave; no unusual fate of the real guides and rulers of mankind, especially in these latter days.

Had such a man died at an earlier period of his life of usefulness, when much of his task yet remained for him to perform, and many years of possible existence to perform it in, there would have been room for sorrow and lamentation. It is one of the evils of the untimely death of a great man, that it mixes other feelings with those with which alone the thought of a departed sage or hero ought to be associated—joy and pride that our nature has been found capable of again producing such a man, and affectionate gratitude for the good which we and our posterity have received from him. Such feelings only can find a fitting place near the tomb of Jeremy Bentham; nor know we, since all must die, what happier or more glorious end could have been desired for him, than to die just now, after living such a life. He has died full of years, and (so far as regards all minds throughout the world, which are yet fitted for appreciating him) of honours. He has lived to see many of the objects of his life in a train of accomplishment, and the realization of the remainder rendered certain at no remote period. He has achieved the hardest, but the noblest of problems, that of a well-directed and victorious existence, and has now finished his work and lain down to rest.

This is not the time for a complete estimate of the results of his labours. He is not like one of those who go to their grave and are no more thought of. The value of such a life to mankind, which is even now insensibly making itself acknowledged, will be felt more and more, as men shall become more capable of knowing the hand which guides them. Nor need we fear any lack of opportunities for commemorating what philosophy owes to him, when all which has been doing for ten years in English politics and legislation, and all which shall be done for twice ten more, proclaims and will proclaim his name and merits in no inaudible voice to all who can trace the influence of Opinion upon Events, and of a great mind upon Opinion. These things, however, are worthy of notice at the present hour, chiefly as they conduce to a due appreciation of his life; and under this aspect also, as under so many others, will they continue valuable, not for to-day or to-morrow only, (but so far as eternity can belong to any thing human) for ever.

Let it be remembered what was the state of jurisprudence and legislation, and of the philosophy of jurisprudence and legislation, when he began his career. A labyrinth without a clue—a jungle, through which no path had ever been cut. All systems of law then established, but most of all that in which he himself was nurtured, were masses of deformity, in the construction of which reason in any shape whatever had had little to do, a comprehensive consideration of ends and means nothing at all: their foundation the rude contrivances of a barbarous age, even more deeply barbarous in this than in aught else; the superstructure an Edition: current; Page: [469] infinite series of patches, some larger, some smaller, stuck on in succession wherever a hole appeared, and plastered one over another until the monstrous mass exceeded all measurable bulk, and went beyond the reach of the strongest understanding and the finest memory. Such was the practice of law: was its theory in any better state? And how could it be so? for of what did that theory consist, but either of purely technical principles, got at by abstraction from these established systems, (or rather, constructed, generally in utter defiance of logic, with the sole view of giving something like coherence and consistency in appearance to provisions which in reality were utterly heterogeneous); or of vague cloudy generalities arbitrarily assumed à priori, and called laws of nature, or principles of natural law.

Such was existing jurisprudence and that it should be such, was less surprising than the superstition by which, being such, it was protected. The English people had contrived to persuade themselves, and had to a great degree persuaded the rest of the world, that the English law, as it was when Mr. Bentham found it, was the perfection of reason.1 That it was otherwise, was the only political heresy, which no one had been found hardy enough to avow; even the English constitution you might (if you did it very gently) speak ill of,—but not the English law: Whig, Tory, and Democrat joined in one chorus of clamorous admiration, whenever the law or the courts of justice were the subject of discourse: and to doubt the merits of either appeared a greater stretch of absurdity than to question the doctrine of gravitation.

This superstition was at its height, when Mr. Bentham betook himself to the study of English law, with no other object than the ordinary one of gaining his living by practising a liberal profession. But he soon found that it would not do for him, and that he could have no dealing or concern with it in an honest way, except to destroy it. And there is a deep interest now, at the close of his life, in looking back to his very first publication, the Fragment on Government, which appeared considerably more than half a century ago,2 and which exhibits, at that remote period, a no less strong and steady conviction than appears in his very latest production, that the worship of the English law was a degrading idolatry—that instead of being the perfection of reason, it was a disgrace to the human understanding—and that a task worthy of him, or any other wise and brave man, to devote a life to, was that of utterly eradicating it and sweeping it away. This accordingly became the task of his own existence: glory to him! for he has successfully accomplished it. The monster has received from him its death wound. After losing many a limb, it still drags on, and will drag on for a few years more, a feeble and exanimate existence; but it never will recover. It is going down rapidly to the grave.

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Mr. Bentham has fought this battle for now almost sixty years; the greater part of that time without assistance from any human being, except latterly what M. Dumont gave him in putting his ideas into French;3 and for a long time almost without making one human being a convert to his opinions. He exhausted every mode of attack; he assailed the enemy with every weapon, and at all points; now he fell upon the generalities, now upon the details; now he combatted evil by stripping it naked, and showing that it was evil; and now by contrasting it with good. At length his energy and perseverance triumphed. Some of the most potent leaders of the public became convinced; and they, in their turn, convinced or persuaded others: until at last the English law, as a systematic whole, is given up by every body, and the question, with all thinking minds even among lawyers, is no longer about keeping it as it is, but only whether, in rebuilding, there be a possibility of using any of the old materials.*

Mr. Bentham was the original mover in this mighty change. His hand gave the impulse which set all the others at work. To him the debt is due, as much as any other great work has ever been owing to the man who first guided other men to the accomplishment of it. The man who has achieved this, can afford to die. He has done enough to render his name for ever illustrious.

But Mr. Bentham has been much more than merely a destroyer. Like all who discredit erroneous systems by arguments drawn from principles, and not from mere results, he could not fail, even while destroying the old edifice, to lay a solid foundation for the new. Indeed he considered it a positive duty never to assail what is established, without having a clear view of what ought to be substituted. It is to the intrinsic value of his speculations on the philosophy of law in general, that he owes the greater part of his existing reputation; for by these alone is he known to his continental readers, who are far the most numerous, and by whom, in general, he is far more justly appreciated than in England. There are some most important branches of the science of law, which were in a more wretched state than almost any of the others when he took them in hand, and which he has so exhausted, that he seems to have left nothing to be sought by future enquirers; we mean the departments of Procedure, Evidence,4 and the Edition: current; Page: [471] Judicial Establishment.5 He has done almost all that remained to perfect the theory of punishment.6 It is with regard to (what is the foundation of all) the civil code, that he has done least, and left most to be done.7 Yet even here his services have been invaluable, by making far clearer and more familiar than they were before, both the ultimate and the immediate ends of civil law; the essential characteristics of a good law; the expediency of codification, that is, of law written and systematic; by exposing the viciousness of the existing language of jurisprudence, guarding the student against the fallacies which lurk in it, and accustoming him to demand a more precise and logically-constructed nomenclature.

Mr. Bentham’s exertions have not been limited to the field of jurisprudence, or even to that of general politics, in which he ranks as the first name among the philosophic radicals. He has extended his speculations to morals, though never (at least in his published works) in any great detail; and on this, as on every other subject which he touched, he cannot be read without great benefit.

Some of his admirers have claimed for him the title of founder of the science of morals, as well as of the science of legislation; on the score of his having been the first person who established the principle of general utility, as the philosophic foundation of morality and law. But Mr. Bentham’s originality does not stand in need of any such exaggeration. The doctrine of utility, as the foundation of virtue, he himself professes to have derived from Hume:8 he applied it more consistently and in greater detail, than his predecessors; but the idea itself is as old as the earliest Greek philosophers, and has divided the philosophic world, in every age of philosophy, since their time. Mr. Bentham’s real merit, in respect to the foundation of morals, consists in his having cleared it more thoroughly than any of his predecessors, from the rubbish of pretended natural law, natural justice, and the like, by which men were wont to consecrate as a rule of morality, whatever they felt inclined to approve of without knowing why.

The most prominent moral qualities which appear in Mr. Bentham’s writings, are love of justice, and hatred of imposture: his most remarkable intellectual endowments, a penetrating deep-sighted acuteness, precision in the use of scientific language, and sagacity and inventiveness in matters of detail. There have been few minds so perfectly original. He has often, we think, been surpassed in powers of metaphysical analysis, as well as in comprehensiveness Edition: current; Page: [472] and many-sidedness of mind.9 He frequently contemplates a subject only from one or a few of its aspects; though he very often sees further into it, from the one side on which he looks at it, than was seen before even by those who had gone all round it. There is something very striking, occasionally, in the minute elaborateness with which he works out, into its smallest details, one half-view of a question, contrasted with his entire neglect of the remaining half-view, though equally indispensable to a correct judgment of the whole. To this occasional one-sidedness, he failed to apply the natural cure; for, from the time when he embarked in original speculation, he occupied himself very little in studying the ideas of others. This, in almost any other than himself, would have been a fault; in him, we shall only say, that, but for it, he would have been a greater man.

Mr. Bentham’s style has been much criticised; and undoubtedly, in his latter writings, the complicated structure of his sentences renders it impossible, without some familiarity, to read them with rapidity and ease. But his earlier, among which are some of his most valuable productions, are not only free from this defect, but may even, in point of ease and elegance, be ranked among the best English compositions. Felicity of expression abounds even in those of his works which are generally unreadable; and volumes might be filled with passages selected from his later as well as his earlier publications, which, for wit and eloquence, have seldom been surpassed.

Few persons have ever lived whose lot in life, viewed on the whole, can be considered more enviable than that of Mr. Bentham. During a life protracted far beyond the ordinary length, he enjoyed, almost without interruption, perfect bodily health. In easy circumstances, he was able to devote his whole time and energies to the pursuits of his choice, those which exercised his highest faculties, moral and intellectual, and supplied him with the richest fund of delightful excitement. His retired habits saved him from personal contact with any but those who sought his acquaintance because they valued it. Few men have had more enthusiastic admirers; and if the hack writers of his day, and some who ought to have known better, often spoke of him with ridicule and contempt, he never read them, and therefore they never disturbed his tranquillity. Along with his passion for abstruser studies, and the lively interest which he felt in public events, he retained to the last a childlike freshness and excitability, which enabled him to derive pleasure from the minutest trifles, and gave to his old age the playfulness, lightheartedness, and keen relish of life, so seldom found except in early youth. In his intercourse with his friends he was remarkable for gaiety Edition: current; Page: [473] and easy pleasantry; it was his season of relaxation; and in conversing he seldom touched upon the great subjects of his intellectual exertions.

His principal works are his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation;10 the Fragment on Government, already referred to; the Rationale of Judicial Evidence, in five volumes, including a very full examination of the procedure of the English courts;11 The Book of Fallacies; the Plan of a Judicial Establishment, one of his most finished productions, printed in 1792, but never regularly published; his Defence of Usury; Panopticon,12 an admirable work on prison discipline; and many others: besides the excellent treatises edited in French by M. Dumont, from the above works and various unpublished manuscripts, and containing all his most important doctrines, well stated and illustrated, though with little of the piquant criticism on existing institutions with which they were always interspersed in his own writings.

171.: FRENCH NEWS [63]
EXAMINER, 10 JUNE, 1832, P. 377

Since Mill’s last article on French affairs, the leftist leaders and secret societies, disappointed that Périer’s death had not been followed by a change in government policy, had tried to start an insurrection, using as occasion the funeral on 5 June of the popular General Lamarque. The turmoil was increased by the participation of the Bonapartists and Carlists. Fighting continued for two days, with 800 killed or wounded. Mill was much preoccupied in subsequent articles with the imposition of martial law by the government and the harsh trials of the alleged conspirators, signs of the fragility of the gains of July 1830. For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, June 10, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” with the first three paragraphs enclosed in square brackets (the rest of the article is in smaller type).

before this paper meets the eyes of our readers, it will be known whether a new revolution has or has not taken place at Paris. At the moment when we write, it is only known that an immense concourse of people assembled on Tuesday at the funeral of General Lamarque; that a collision, apparently unpremeditated, took place between the people and the troops; that a desperate struggle commenced in almost all parts of Paris, which, beginning in the afternoon, lasted till late at Edition: current; Page: [474] night; that the Government, by telegraph, the next day announced the suppression of the insurrection, but that hostilities afterwards broke out afresh, with what result it is yet unknown.1

A day or two before these events, civil war had also broken out in the West. The roving bands of Chouans, who had rendered life and property insecure for a twelvemonth before, and whom the Government had taken no means effectually to suppress, had at last swelled into a general rising of the Carlist party. The Duchess of Berri and M. Bourmont were among them, having, it is now ascertained, effected a landing near Marseilles before the capture of the vessel which brought them from Italy and Spain; and having contrived, either by the connivance, or the want of vigilance of the authorities, to make their way to La Vendée.2 But a few weeks before, the contemptible Ministry of Louis Philippe had obtained from the Chamber of Deputies a parting gift of three millions of francs for secret police expenses.3 The money, we may be very sure, has been spent; yet, in spite of passports and all the formalities and restraints of the French Police Administration, two persons, who must be so well known, have crossed France from one side to the other undiscovered.

General Clouet is said to be at the head of the Carlist insurgents.4 The National Guard has every where taken arms against them. Cathelineau, a son of the celebrated Vendean chief, has been killed by a party of Government troops.5

172.: FRENCH NEWS [64]
EXAMINER, 17 JUNE, 1832, PP. 392-4

This lengthy and detailed account follows up the general discussion of the session in No. 162. For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, June 17, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.

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the following article, on the results of the Session of the French Chambers, was written, and even in print, before the late catastrophe.1 It is as true now as it was then, and will be as useful, if it ever could have been useful; we, therefore, persevere in our intention of publishing it.

the nature and amount of the doings of the French Chambers, during the session which has just expired, raise a serious doubt of the capacity of those assemblies as at present constituted, we will not say to legislate tolerably, but to legislate at all. For our part we have watched the progress of the session from day to day, in hopes of learning what a Chamber of Deputies is intended for—what function it is designed to fulfil in the body politic: and we regret to be obliged to confess, that this remains as much a mystery to us as ever: the use and purpose of that somewhat noisy and vapouring member of the French sovereignty has not transpired. While Charles X reigned in France, it had a mission which was obvious enough; it was sent there to resist and overawe the King, in case he attempted to bring back the emigrants and the priests. The present King, however, is suspected of no such propensities; and, that the Chamber does not deem itself intended for an antagonist power to his, it demonstrates by throwing its whole weight into his scale. On the other hand, it clearly is not appointed to make laws. We have our suspicions that its allotted office is to prevent them from being made. For it is a fact, not unworthy of commemoration, that if the Chambers, instead of sitting nine months, had sat only one day, and had employed it in passing a vote of confidence in the Ministry, and another vote authorizing the King, until the opening of the next session, to enact whatever laws he pleased by ordonnance, France would now have been in the actual enjoyment of a considerable number of very passable laws, affecting some of her most important interests; for many such have been presented by the Government. But now we question if one single law has passed the Chambers during three-fourths of a year of continued sitting, for the passing of which the French, or any other portion of mankind, will be perceptibly the better:—the number of those which have had even an apparent tendency that way, is contemptibly small; while every measure of any intricacy or importance standing for debate, which could possibly be put by, without bringing all things to a dead stand, has not even come on for discussion.

There were three questions which could by no contrivance be put off to another session. There was the budget, a question of every year; the civil list, a question for the first year of every reign; and the reconstitution of the peerage, a question for this year in particular.2 These three things, in one way or another, it Edition: current; Page: [476] was absolutely indispensable to get through. And if it be asked, what has the Chamber done, the answer which must be returned is, these three things. The wise men of France have laid their heads together for nine months, or until the cholera morbus dispersed them, for the purpose of accomplishing these three things.

The Ministry, however, gave them the opportunity of effecting much besides this. The following, among other bills, were drawn up by Ministers, and laid before one or other of the two Chambers, mostly at an early period of the session:—

A bill for establishing a school or schools in every town and every village or parish in France, at which no inconsiderable amount of useful instruction would have been given to the whole of the rising generation; public provision being made for defraying the expense, where the parties themselves were not in a condition to sustain it;3

Three bills,4 which, together with the municipal law passed in the preceding session,5 were destined to substitute for Napoleon’s odious system of centralization, local representative assemblies, invested with adequate powers of local legislation, administration, and taxation;

A bill for the general revision of the custom laws of France, and for the relaxation of some of the restrictions on trade;6

A bill for abridging in some, though far from a sufficient degree, the tedious and expensive formalities and law proceedings, necessary for dispossessing individuals of landed property required for the purpose of public works, such as roads, railways, and canals7—a most serious obstacle to the improvement of the productive resources of that fine country,—as may be judged when we mention, that rather than resort to the legal process, road and canal companies or the state not unfrequently find it their interest to pay for a piece of land four or five times its value;

A bill for giving representative assemblies, and a government of law, to the French colonies8—which have hitherto, in defiance of a distinct promise in the Charter of 1814,9 remained under the illegal régime of royal proclamations;

A bill for securing to officers in the army and navy, the possession of their Edition: current; Page: [477] rank in the service, and preventing them from being dismissed from it, except after sentence of a court-martial.10

One of these bills, the last, has passed the Chamber of Peers, but did not come in time for discussion in the Chamber of Deputies: the seven others, neither of those hard-worked and ill-used bodies found leisure to enter upon. And when we consider the length and intricacy of the provisions they contain, and the snail’s pace at which these two assemblies travel at all times, except when the cholera is at their heels, the passing of these eight statutes is as much as there seems any likelihood of their accomplishing, together with the regular annual business, in several sessions to come. And yet (though all these bills are very defective, and stand greatly in need of being remodelled) whoever has sufficiently adverted to the proceedings of the two Chambers, to have formed an estimate of their fitness, moral and intellectual, to cope with such subjects, may safely predict that the sum of all the amendments they will introduce into the eight bills, are not worth the postponement of the first alone (the Education Bill) for one single year.

The Ministry proposed three other measures, of importance in themselves, and valuable still more highly as an earnest of further improvements to come: these were—

A corn bill, which permitted exportation and importation at all times, subject to much lower duties than before, and abolished, not entirely, but in a great measure, the absurd division of France into many districts, each with a separate corn law of its own;11

And two bills, reducing the exorbitant bounties on the whale and cod fisheries.12

For the corn bill of the Ministry, the Chamber substituted another of its own,13 abolishing indeed the prohibition, so far as respects importation, but retaining the high duties, and the division of the country, such as they were fixed by the very worst of all the previous corn bills.14 In the bounties to the fisheries, the Chamber made but a small reduction, instead of the great one proposed by the Ministry.

These specimens of what the Chambers have not found time to touch upon, and of what they have touched, and spoiled in the handling, give the measure of their fitness for legislation, as contrasted even with the second-rate statesmen who at present fill the various departments of the French Ministry.

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As a set-off to all these things which they could not find time to consider of, or which they considered of, and could not find in their hearts to do, the following is a table of the things which they have actually done. We omit the remodelling of the peerage, as a thing which they could not avoid, and of which, therefore, the credit or discredit depends wholly on the manner of doing it.

They have passed two bills for the extension of the warehousing system:15 measures right in principle, and, perhaps, not wholly useless in practice, but which might have been dispatched in the same number of days; and even at the slow rate at which the Chambers wind their way through the maze of additions and amendments which invariably start up on all sides, did not occupy them for more than a week, or thereabouts.

They have abolished in some small number of cases the punishment of death16—a penalty but rarely inflicted in France, comparatively speaking. This bill may possibly make the difference of one or two executions in a year. They have also mitigated in some measure the law of imprisonment for debt.17

They have tampered with the existing laws on the subject of recruiting, and of promotion in the army and navy;18 perhaps, the only part of the constitutional law of France with which the public was on the whole not discontented. Though possessing a specious equality which recommends them to the French people, and probably not ill-adapted to the circumstances of France, the principles of her military organization are open to well-grounded objection, being no other than the conscription on the one hand, and rigid legal restraints upon rapidity of promotion on the other. But these principles are not meddled with by the new enactments: all the alterations are in the details; and as far as we are able to judge, there is not one which is either decidedly for the worse, or decidedly for the better, though the passing of them has wasted as much time, and stirred up as much ill-blood, as if the destinies of the French nation hung suspended upon it.

Lastly, greatest achievement of all!—a bill has been passed, by which the elder branch of the Bourbon family is exiled from France.19 This statute does not even provide any penalty in case the parties concerned should attempt to return from banishment; it is, therefore, in every sense as harmless to all mankind, as a parliamentary recognition that there is a sun in heaven, or the legislative enactment by which the Convention, during the reign of Robespierre, determined Edition: current; Page: [479] that there was, or should thereafter be, a God.20 Of this crowning glory of the session of 1831, the Chambers are entitled to the undivided credit. The Ministers had no share in it, and the liberal press washed their hands of it. So important a matter, naturally could not be brought to a successful issue without some squabbles; accordingly a dispute broke out between the two houses, and the bill flew backwards and forwards from one to the other several times, like a shuttle-cock, before they could agree in what terms the unmeaning announcement should be made.

There remains only the unavoidable business of the session—the money bills, and the change in the constitution of the second branch of the legislature.

The inheritableness of the Peerage has been abolished. The majority of the deputies had given pledges to their constituents, which rendered this no longer optional with them. But it was not enough to regulate the succession to the Peerage, the Peers themselves remaining as they were before. If there has been any difference in their conduct since the passing of the bill, it is that they have been more audacious than ever in their resistance to public opinion. The law of divorce, which had passed the Chamber of Deputies with scarcely a dissenting voice, they ignominiously threw out.21 The bill abolishing the ridiculous celebration of the martyrdom of Louis XVI, met with the same fate.22 M. Salverte’s proposition for allowing the unfinished business of one session to be proceeded with in the next, which from its manifest expediency had met with universal assent in the elective chamber, was rejected by the Peers.23 The quarrel between the two houses respecting the bill for banishing the Bourbons, has been already alluded to; we wish that we had room to place it before our readers, in all its ridiculous details.24 Finally, they so fell out respecting a clause in the law for closing the accounts of the financial year 1829,25 that the prorogation took place Edition: current; Page: [480] before the dispute was brought to an issue; and that important part of the annual business of the country remains still unperformed.

With regard to the public expenditure, this has been a session of large prodigality, and petty economy. Seldom has there been seen in the memory of representative governments, an assembly so penny-wise, nor one so pound-foolish. Few governments excite an Englishman’s surprise so much as the French does by the absurd multitude of its public officers, and by the curiously small quantity of work, day by day, which seems to be expected from each of them; while at the same time, he is often no less astonished at the low rate at which some of the most important and dignified functionaries are remunerated. The Deputies, having come up from their departments boiling over with economy, vented their noble rage by curtailing, not the number of the officers of government, but their salaries; beginning with the most important of all, the judges, for which station if for any, there ought to be the means of purchasing first rate abilities; whose pay already was not large, even with reference to the average of incomes in France, and now falls short of what many English attornies give to their clerks. But there is fully as much jobbery as imbecility in this. The public voice insisted upon some retrenchment; and it was the desire of the deputies that places should at all events continue numerous, in order that they might retain the power of dispensing to as great a number of persons as possible, that swelling turkey-cock dignity and self-importance, which the lowest member of the French bureaucratie, though he touch but a few sous a day, feels himself equally a partaker of with the highest.

All the oppressive taxes on the necessaries of life have been continued; not a thought entertained of commuting them for any others less burthensome upon the many: but while borrowing with one hand to defray current expences, with the other they flung away into the lap of the landed proprietors, the extra land tax which was laid on afresh last year, after a reduction of double the amount a few years ago.26 The loss is supplied partly by a larger borrowing, partly by laying additional taxes upon the public at large.

Finally, so ignorant was the majority of the Chamber of the very first principles of finance, that they would not suspend the operation of paying off debt until there should be money to pay withal, but continued to buy up old debt by contracting new. That any human being, to say nothing of a whole people, should have been capable of being so far juggled as to be made firmly to believe that this was not only an advantageous financial operation, but a source of unexampled prosperity, was marvellous enough at any time, even the time of Pitt Edition: current; Page: [481] and Dundas.27 But that the French Legislature should believe it still, after so many years of argument, and when the subject has become too stale even for ridicule, with the newspapers shouting the true doctrine in their ears, day after day, turning it over in every way, viewing it under every aspect, and putting it with that pellucid clearness with which French writers almost always explain whatever they understand—is something which we should not have thought possible, and which might well render Dulness herself proud of such disciples among the élite of a people so renowned for quickness of apprehension.

Recent events give us unfortunately something to add to what may appear a disparaging estimate of the utility of the French representative constitution. We have said that it is of no use, but a hindrance, to the making of good laws; it is now proved to be quite equally useless as a protection to the French nation against arbitrary power. The government of the barricades has done what Charles X was not permitted to do. It has assumed the power of dispensing with the laws and the courts of justice. Paris is under martial law.28 Not during the insurrection, but after it was completely suppressed, and the authority of the regular tribunals was restored; Louis Philippe has assumed the power of trying all offences by a Court Martial, with the declared intention of exercising that power retrospectively—not only against persons taken in arms, or suspected of being concerned in the insurrection, but against the writers of any articles in newspapers which he affects to consider as constituting their authors accessaries to revolt. A warrant has been issued against M. Armand Carrel, the principal editor of the National, and the most powerful writer among the journalists in France. Never having been able to obtain a verdict against M. Carrel from a Paris jury, the Government has taken this method of depriving him and others of the protection of jury-trial.

Well was it said not long ago, by an enlightened Frenchman, no friend to a Republic or Republicans—“you, in England, are accustomed to see even bad Governments keep within the bounds of law; but, with us, it is universally understood that une constitution, c’est pour rire!29 This is the meaning of the fetish-worship professed by the rabid moderate party, for l’ordre légal.30 Respect for the law is easily observed, when you have the laws of the old régime, and those of the Reign of Terror, to fall back upon; and when you are able to Edition: current; Page: [482] revive an edict of the despot Napoleon,31 for the purpose of setting aside several distinct articles of the Charter. So, again, the Republicans, if they had prevailed, had no occasion to violate the law; they needed only to enforce the decree of the Convention banishing Louis-Philippe from France;32 for it has never been abrogated, and, consequently, by his Citizen Majesty’s own logic, is as valid as ever.

There is not an article of the Charter more express and formal than this, nul ne pourra être distrait de ses juges naturels, to which it was added, “there shall never more be created extraordinary commissions or tribunals.” In the Charter of 1814, one exception was reserved,—that of cours prévôtales: this exception was suppressed in the Charter of 1830, and the provision which it qualified remains without any qualification.33

Another article of the Charter declares expressly, that the King shall in no case whatever be at liberty to set aside the laws, or dispense with their execution.34

But what matters it? The people thought they had abolished the trial of political offences by packed commissions; but did not Napoleon once issue an edict authorising it?35 The Duke of Reichstadt, we suspect, is lawful Emperor of the French at this moment, by virtue of another edict of the same Napoleon.36

It is not yet known who is or is not compromised, or whom the Government means to make its victims. Its whole conduct with respect to émeutes, conspiracies, and the press, for the last twelve-month, convinces us that it will not be troubled with many scruples in taking this opportunity of ridding itself of any troublesome enemy. Fortunately, most of the leading Republicans were already in prison; so that it would be rather too great a stretch of audacity to impute any participation to them. Warrants have, it seems, been issued against three Deputies, MM. Garnier-Pagès, Laboissière, and Cabet.37

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All medical men have been ordered by the Government, under a penalty, to make a return of the wounded; which most of them have honourably and spiritedly refused to do.

These events have produced a salutary reaction of public opinion, in England, on the affairs of France. The real character of Louis-Philippe and his advisers might have been preached in the highways, and to all eternity; the public would never have believed it, until it was proved by some acts which left no room even for the most ignorant to doubt.

The Times is now furious against the French Government; and will not take the King into favour again, unless he will “endeavour to heal the wounds of the nation, by consulting the opinion of those in whom the nation has reposed its confidence. The formidable party who have signed the Laffitte manifesto, cannot now be despised with impunity, and must furnish Ministers either to modify the existing Cabinet, or to supply its place.”38

This prudent counsel has come somewhat late, methinks. It is scarcely kind, after having, for eighteen months, applauded and encouraged the course of policy which has brought on this catastrophe, and denounced all who opposed it as the silliest or the vilest of mankind, now, when nothing has changed but the interest of the Times newspaper, to turn round upon the man whom itself has contributed not a little to mislead to his ruin, and tell him that he is going wrong, and must alter his course. It is not quite so easy for a king to change his counsels, as for the Times to eat its words, or rather, without any confession of error, to bluster and bully on one side as it had just before blustered and bullied on the other. Louis-Philippe, thanks to counsellors like the Times, is so far committed, that it would not be in kingly nature to retract; and he will go on the remainder of the way to destruction. Even were he to retrace his steps, the blood which has been shed would scarcely be forgiven him. There is the barrier of mutual injuries between him and the Republicans: they are as the serpent and the man in the fable.39 But a time was, when Louis-Philippe was yet hesitating, or had a retreat still open behind him, and when the public opinion of England, energetically declared through the most subservient but the most powerful of its organs, might have arrested his blind and fatal career. The weight which might have decided him for good, was thrown into the scale of evil: and now, when he seems lost beyond redemption, his adviser turns round upon him, and bids him mend his ways. Just so was it with Polignac and Charles X.

But would not any man of common candour or feeling, who had written what the Times has been writing for two years, be now burning with shame and self-reproach for the calumnies he had propagated against the Mouvement party in France, painting them in the blackest colours, as men who, from low passions, Edition: current; Page: [484] reckless obstinacy, or personal ambition, sought to subvert the government by a Republican revolution? A Republican revolution is attempted; and the insurgents turn out to be few in number, with the whole people against them, and countenanced by no name known to the nation; and just then the Times discovers that the great bulk of the nation is with the Mouvement party; that its chiefs have alone the confidence of the French people; that the King and his Ministers are detested (the very word of the Times);40 and that the Opposition, who were before classed with the scum of the earth, ought to be taken into the Ministry.

When, till now, has the Times admitted that there was an opposition party at all, except Carlists, Napoleonists, and Republicans? or that any one who held more popular principles than Casimir Périer was a friend to kingly government, or any government of order and law? All at once it finds out that it has made the slight mistake of simply leaving out of its enumeration of parties the majority of the nation.

The wide circulation, and the audacious assuming manner of the Times, together with a skill and energy in popular writing, which it would be affectation to undervalue, render it so efficient a promoter of the popular cause as soon as it finds its account in joining the standard of improvement, that the real patriots are too apt to forgive, and omit taking note of its tergiversations. The men who by the labours and sacrifices of perhaps half their lives, have wrought some valuable idea into the public mind, and have at last triumphed over prejudices and indifference, and rendered their cause worth advocating to the mere trading politicians; having during all this period had to endure, in nine cases out of ten, all the scorn and contumely which the Times could express, by putting into requisition the whole of its copious vocabulary of coarse abuse,—such persons are generally too well pleased to find themselves sure of carrying their point (which they know they are when they see the Times advocating it), to be much inclined to quarrel with the enemy who deserts to them at the eleventh hour. The “leading journal” then thrusts itself forward to the front of the engagement, lifts up its loud voice till it drowns all the others, and struts in triumph over the field of battle, saying, aha! behold my victory. The real victors have gone forward hours before; they are not seekers of glory, but of a new work to perform; and are buckling on their armour to fight a fresh battle, knowing and foreseeing all the while that the Times will be, as before, their bitter and unscrupulous antagonist in the fight, and will again join them when on the point of victory.

Edition: current; Page: [485]

173.: FRENCH NEWS [65]
EXAMINER, 24 JUNE, 1832, P. 408

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 Edition: current; Page: [486] 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 Edition: current; Page: [487] 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.

174.: PLEDGES [1]
EXAMINER, 1 JULY, 1832, PP. 417-18

The final version of the Reform Bill, “A Bill to Amend the Representation of the People in England and Wales,” 2 William IV (12 Dec., 1831), PP, 1831-32, III, 1-54, had been enacted on 7 June. Thereafter, major campaigns to bind candidates to their constituents’ views were waged by thorough Radicals. Writing to Carlyle on 17 July, Mill says his two articles opposing pledges (this and No. 177) are “in very bad odour with some of our radicals”; he praises “the honest and brave character” of Fonblanque for including them, and hints that the circulation of the Examiner may have suffered as a result (EL, CW, Vol. XII, pp. 112-13). Late in 1835 he makes the same comment to Tocqueville, saying the articles “offensèrent beaucoup le public radical et lui fit perdre plusieurs de ses abonnés,” and adding that James Mill agrees with him (ibid., p. 288; 11 Dec.). In a note to the early Edition: current; Page: [488] draft of his Autobiography (later excised) he admits that the articles were ill-timed. They had been, he says, based on a mistaken impression that the fight for democracy had now been won: “The doctrine of these articles was right in itself, and very suitable to democratic institutions when firmly established and rooted in the habits of the people: then no doubt it would be wise in the electors to look out for the most honest and most instructed men whom they could induce to undertake the office of legislators, and refrain from binding them beforehand to any definite measures: but I did not sufficiently consider that the transition from bad to good institutions was only commencing” (CW, Vol. I, p. 180n). This is the first leader in the “Political Examiner,” headed as title. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘Pledges’ in the Examiner of 1st July” (MacMinn, p. 21). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Pledges” and enclosed in square brackets.

after the passing of the reform bill, the next thing to be thought of is how to make use of it. The steed is at the door, saddled and bridled, and it is time to mount and journey onward. The machine is in the people’s hands, but how to work it skilfully is the question.

The people of England have acquired by their own energies, the faculty of naming those who manage their affairs; they desire to name the fittest men, for what have they to gain by choosing wrong? But how shall they know who is the fittest? This leads to the question of pledges. On that all-important question we desire to state our sentiments; uncertain how far they will be acceptable to those who are most interested in the matter, and certain that we shall offend many of all parties; yet firmly convinced of the concurrence of all who understand and value the true principles of popular representation.

We have read of few things in the annals of insincerity more offensive to any person of the commonest moral perceptions, than the cant which has been canted by the enemies of the popular cause, ever since the last general election, against the exacting of pledges from candidates for seats in Parliament. Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes?1 To see venting a high moral indignation against the “delegates” of the British people, men who were themselves delegates of some single Boroughmonger, as much as his errand-boy, and much more so than his butler or his groom; to hear men who were put into Parliament solely in order that somebody might fatten himself and his family on the produce of their votes, insulting the plundered nation because it also sent men to the same place, commissioned solely to do the one thing which should put an end to all such plunder—was past all human endurance. Ikey Solomons inveighing against public robbers, would be the only suitable comparison.2

On the other hand, we have seen principles avowed, and to a certain extent acted upon, by professed Reformers, which if generally received would put an end to the very existence of a representative government. It is most important for Edition: current; Page: [489] the success of the great experiment upon which we are about to enter, not to forget what a popular government really means. The true idea of popular representation is not that the people govern in their own persons, but that they choose their governors. In a good government public questions are not referred to the suffrages of the people themselves, but to those of the most judicious persons whom the people can find. The sovereignty of the people is essentially a delegated sovereignty. Government must be performed by the few, for the benefit of the many: and the security of the many consists in being governed by those who possess the largest share of their confidence, and no longer than while that confidence lasts.

We deem it of the utmost importance at the present unprecedented epoch in English history, that this principle, together with the restrictions with which it must be taken to be applicable to existing circumstances, should be thoroughly understood and felt. We therefore urgently invite discussion on the subject, and shall begin by stating our own opinion upon it very fully and explicitly. We maintain that when the legislature is properly constituted, no pledges ought in any case whatever to be exacted from representatives: or never but in such rare and peculiar cases, as cannot be anticipated, and probably may never occur:—That, nevertheless, in the actual condition of Great Britain, pledges on some subjects may be, and ought to be, exacted; solely because, notwithstanding the Reform Bill, the Parliament is not yet properly constituted, and will be far from securing to the affairs of the public the best services of the best men in the nation.

The objection to pledges as an interference with the personal independence of the candidate, is good for nothing. If his personal independence stands in the way of his duty, he has no business there. Nobody is obliged to be a Member of Parliament. The electors do not impress a private gentleman as he walks the streets, and drag him obtorto collo3 to St. Stephen’s. If he undertakes the trust, it is quite optional, and if he cannot conscientiously perform it, his honesty is in his own keeping; nobody wishes him to be a scoundrel; he has only to resign. If it were really for the interest of the people that their representatives should go to Parliament not to judge and act for the best, but to execute a mandate already decided upon,—a man who of his own choice seeks an office, which it is no injury to any one not to obtain, has no right to quarrel with the conditions on which it is bestowed.

Our disapprobation of pledges is for the sake of the constituents; the representatives may take care of themselves.

If the House of Commons were constituted in the most perfect manner, whom would it consist of? Surely of the wisest and best men in the nation, or those Edition: current; Page: [490] whom the people believe to be such. Now, if I vote for a person because I think him the wisest man I know, am I afterwards to set myself up as his instructor, as if I were wiser than he? The wisest men are, we suppose, wiser than any one else. If you knew anybody wiser, why did you not choose him? If there is nobody wiser, why set the smaller wisdom to instruct the greater? Can you hope for more than to have your affairs managed according to the best judgment of the best and ablest men? What is the use of hankering after something better than the best?

Let those who, with Mr. Williams of the City of London, require a representative to “act agreeably to the wishes and instructions of a majority of his constituents, or resign his seat,”4 consider whether there is not at the bottom of this a little remnant of aristocratic vanity. Let them ask themselves whether it is not the fact, that they have no real intention of voting for the best and wisest man. They have no proper sense of the inappreciable value of honesty and wisdom; but they would like exceedingly to have a rich man or a man of rank to obey their commands, and they know that such are a kind of wild animals, who are not to be trusted unless you have first drawn their teeth and claws. They would rather choose a man in whom they have no confidence, so he be rich or a lord, than the ablest and most trustworthy person in the nation, who is no better, that is to say no richer, than themselves.

We suspect also, that the people have not yet completely found out how much hard study it requires to make a wise legislator. A people never understands until it has felt. Till now the English have never known what it was to have a government in whose honesty they could confide: and they have not yet learned what enormous mischief is capable of being effected by mere blundering. It has been one of the qualities of our legislature, as of all other selfish men and selfish bodies of men, that even its blunders have almost uniformly been on the selfish side. Being accustomed to so much selfishness, it is natural for the people to take securities chiefly against that: and to think that they cannot tie up the hands of their legislators too strictly. Experience must as usual be the mother of wisdom; we must learn the value of intellect as we have partly learnt that of honesty, by suffering for want of it. There is a period before us, in which, peradventure, we shall have opportunity enough to learn how wretchedly a country may be misgoverned by ignorant good intentions.

“Wisdom cometh by opportunity of leisure.”5 No man is fit to be a legislator whose whole life has been occupied with gaining his daily bread by quite other pursuits. We shall never have wise legislators, until legislation is a profession, and men study for it as any man now studies for the business of his life. Such men, indeed, are seldom now to be met with, and in the meantime we must be Edition: current; Page: [491] satisfied with an approximation. Since those who have their whole time upon their hands, have found no leisure for the systematic study of politics, the man who has spared some one or two hours a day from his countinghouse or his chambers for reading and reflecting on public questions, must meet with joyful acceptance. But when the value of knowledge is adequately felt, a man will choose his legislator as he chooses his physician. No man pretends to instruct his physician. No man exacts a pledge from his physician that he shall prescribe for him a particular treatment. Nobody pretends that it is the duty of a physician to act “according to the wishes and instructions” of his patient, or of a majority of his patients. Why should we have one rule for the body politic, another and an opposite one for the body natural? Politics is an uncertain science; but so is medicine: your representative may be a quack or an ignoramus; so may your physician. But though your physician, or your legislator, may cheat you, it is worth while purchasing his professional acquirements at that risk: and though he may not know every thing, if you have chosen him wisely, he will probably know much more than you: just as you probably know more than he does of your particular calling or profession.

At present men’s notions are quite rational about the choice of a physician. Nobody would endure hereditary medicine; nor would choose to have a physician named for him by the Government, whose advice he should be bound to take whether he would or not. But when you have chosen your medical adviser, you let him take his own way, until you are convinced from his ill success, or from his conversation and demeanour, that he does not understand your case; and then you try another. We wish to see the same rule acted upon in the choice of a Member of Parliament. It is singular, if nobody thinks himself a better tailor than his tailor, or a better shoemaker than his shoemaker, that yet everybody is a better legislator than his legislator, and cannot, do what he will, find any person who knows more about that subject that he himself.

But, how, then, it may be asked, are the people to judge of an untried man? Very easily. Inform yourselves of his previous life—learn in what manner his time has been spent; whether in idle dissipation, or in sober and severe study; learn whether he has been a jobber in vestries or corporations, or on the bench of magistrates; or an enemy of jobs: whether he has ever stopped up a path, or set a spring gun: whether he keeps game preserves, to decoy his poorer neighbours to their ruin. Enquire if he ever professed liberal opinions, before it could be his private interest to do so; if he ever professed any one opinion in favour of anything by which he could be a loser; or if his judgment has been always the humble servant of his interest. Find out whether he pays his tradesmen: if he be a landlord, whether his farmers have leases, or are kept as tenants-at-will for the sake of political power; ask if he ever turned out a tenant for voting against him at an election; if he keeps his farmers at a rack rent; if he has remitted his rents when they could not be paid without encroaching upon the tenant’s Edition: current; Page: [492] capital.—Prefer a man who has made himself known by giving his time or his money for any patriotic object; or whose speeches or writings, while they evince zeal for improvement and personal purity of motive, also show that he has bestowed thought and labour on great public questions. Next to such a person, prefer the man whom such persons recommend. When all other things are equal, give your votes to him who refuses to degrade himself and you by personal solicitation. To entrust a man with a burthensome duty (unless he means to betray it) is a compliment indeed, but no favour. The man who manifests the highest opinion of the electors, is not he who tries to gain them over individually by civil speeches, but he who assumes that their only object is to choose the fittest man, and abstains from all canvassing, except by laying his pretensions before them collectively, on the hustings, at public meetings, or through the press.

By these and a hundred other means, it is not difficult for the people to discern who it is that deserves enough of their confidence to be thought worthy of a trial. We believe that these means of selection, fairly used, would very seldom miscarry; and would generally give us a body of representatives whom we could trust without pledges, and whose opinion would deservedly carry weight with us, even when it was opposed to our own; if the representative system were properly constituted.

But with a representative system so imperfect as ours still is, we stand in need of some further security; chiefly on account of the enormity of the seven years lease of legislation6—which removes the sense of responsibility to such a distance as to be evanescent; gives the people no opportunity till it is too late, of correcting a first error; and gives time even for highly deserving persons to degenerate and become corrupt, from what has corrupted so many men, the long enjoyment of power.

Till short parliaments are restored, no representatives, however chosen, upon such imperfect knowledge as the electors can possibly have of them before trial, are to be depended upon for fidelity to their trust. If at suitable intervals they had to render an account of their acts after performance, it would be unnecessary to fetter them before. A liberal confidence should be, and naturally will be, given to a faithful trustee, to execute the trust according to his own judgment: but if he has time to ruin you long before it is in your power to get rid of him, you will trust him with nothing that you can by possibility keep in your own hands. A man who is his own physician, generally has a fool for his patient; but it is better that he prescribe for himself, than obey a physician whom he believes to have been bribed by his heir.

A pledge therefore should be exacted from every popular candidate, for Edition: current; Page: [493] shortening the duration of parliaments: and for any other measures, if they be so urgent that they cannot safely wait till after the repeal of the septennial act.

As a general rule, we would lay it down that pledges are allowable where there is a demand for changes in the constitution, or where, from any cause whatever, the people feel themselves obliged to choose an unfit man.

Of the propriety of changes in the constitution, the only proper judges are the people themselves. The trustee is to judge how he can best discharge his trust, but not upon what terms it is to be confided to him. It would be absurd that the members of the legislature should determine the conditions of their own power. The very supposition that a constitutional change can be necessary, implies that the present governors are not the best men, or that the system is not such as to secure their best services. Either way their judgment is not to be relied on, and least of all in what so nearly affects themselves. Whoever, therefore, on mature deliberation, with the proper means of knowledge, has made up his mind that the ballot, or annual parliaments, or any other change in the composition of the legislature, is desirable, cannot be blamed for annexing to the promise of his vote a stipulation for supporting these measures.

So again if the people are unable to find a really qualified candidate: which will doubtless be the case in many instances, and for a long time to come. Reform or no reform, the people must in fact continue to make their selection chiefly from a very narrow class; the class possessed of leisure, that is to say, of considerable property. Even of that class the majority are for the present disqualified by a rooted aversion to popular institutions; and the remainder too often by confirmed indolence; incapacity for mental exertion; a life spent in mere amusement, instead of any manly pursuit; ignorance of the world and of business, and a consequent timidity which makes them shrink from difficulty or responsibility instead of facing it bravely. Yet such will frequently be the persons in whose hands the electoral bodies must be fain to place their affairs, until the working of a free government shall have inspired our opulent classes with the ambition of earning honours by deserving them. For, as long as one of the highest and most arduous services which man can render to man, that of making laws for him to obey, shall be almost the only service which goes unremunerated, except by jobbing or underhand methods; as long as no indemnity is allowed to legislators for the value of their time, and, unless they are already rich, they have only to choose between corrupt gains and painful sacrifices; so long government will not be carried on by the wisest and best men. In France the case is somewhat different: for in France narrow circumstances are only an inconvenience, not a disgrace: a man who has but two rooms to live in, may enjoy as much respect, and may even, in those two rooms, receive as much of the best society of the capital, as if he lived in a palace. But here, while the income which is esteemed necessary to respectability is so great as few can inherit, and as scarcely any one can earn without devoting to that sordid pursuit Edition: current; Page: [494] every moment of his life; and while it requires the heroism of an Andrew Marvel,7 to maintain dignity of character in honourable poverty,—there will certainly be many representatives, in every parliament, whom it would be ridiculous to treat as if they were wiser, or even half so wise, as the general public when its opinion is deliberately formed. To such persons very strict instructions may properly be given. But it should be ever present to the mind both of the candidates and of the electors, that the exaction of pledges is always a testimony of the extreme unfitness of the representative. It is either a proof that no fit person is to be found, or it implies the disgraceful supposition, that the electors, having fit persons at command, prefer such as they themselves believe to be unfit.

EXAMINER, 8 JULY, 1832, P. 435

Charlotte Lewin (1796-1875), a devotee of vocal music who collaborated with Mill’s friend Hickson, was the sister of Harriet Grote (1792-1878), who, with her husband, George, played a large part in Mill’s life from the early 1820s. This review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed: “The Fisherman of Flamborough Head, now living at the age of Seventy-four. Collected from personal knowledge, during a visit to the East Riding of Yorkshire. By C— L—. Oliphant, Edinburgh; and Nisbet, London. [1832.]” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A short notice of Miss Charlotte Lewin’s account of a Fisherman at Flamborough Head in the Examiner of 8th July 1832” (MacMinn, p. 22). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Notice of ‘The Fisherman of Flamborough Head’ ” and enclosed in square brackets.

this is an account of one of those examples of a life of admirable virtue in the very humblest station, which, though not common, are far more so than is usually supposed, being seldom known beyond the circle of a narrow neighbourhood. The fair author of this little publication has the merit not only of an interesting literary composition, but, what is still better, of a good action: it was written and published in the hope of contributing to the relief of the excellent person who is the subject of it, and whose old age and infirmities now almost disable him from earning his livelihood.1 From saving he has been prevented by duties of self-imposed beneficence. In that same hope we now call the attention of our readers to this short history of his life, and would gladly, if we could, Edition: current; Page: [495] induce the whole world to profit by it; for there are none who might not, either in the way of sympathy or of example.

176.: FRENCH NEWS [66]
EXAMINER, 8 JULY, 1832, P. 440

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, July 8, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the prisoners condemned by the courts martial, for participation in the late insurrection at Paris, have appealed to the supreme law authority of France, the Court of Cassation, which has quashed all the sentences, and declared the trial of non-military persons, before military tribunals, to be illegal.1

This is a noble triumph for the cause of legal government; and goes far to undo the mischief which the late illegal measures had done.

Laws and a Constitution do yet exist in France. Though the executive disregards them, there is a power above the executive, which recals the executive to its duty; and whose admonition the King does not think himself strong enough to disregard.

The next day an ordonnance appeared, by which the “siege” of Paris was raised.2 It is affirmed that the Chambers will be convened for the 25th of the present month. The present ministry remain in office till the meeting of the Chambers. If they remain for a single week afterwards, a government of law is not valued in France as it is here, and should be every where.

MM. Chateaubriand, Hyde de Neuville, and Fitz-James, have been set at liberty; the chambre des mises en accusation (analogous to our grand jury) found that there was no ground for proceeding against them.3 M. Ledieu, one of the journalists who had been arrested, has been dismissed, because there was actually no charge against him.4

Immediately after the authority of the law was restored, the three deputies against whom warrants had been issued (MM. Garnier-Pagès, Cabet, and Laboissière) delivered themselves up to justice.5

Attempts have been made to strengthen the ministry by taking in M. de Edition: current; Page: [496] Talleyrand, M. Dupin, or M. Thiers:6 but the first, and wiliest of the three, is understood to have refused, and with the others it was not found possible to make terms.

177.: PLEDGES [2]
EXAMINER, 15 JULY, 1832, PP. 449-51

For the context, see the first part, No. 174. Mill’s observations had been contested in the Morning Chronicle, 10 July, 1832, pp. 2-3, by John Black, to whom he now replies. Like No. 174, this is a first leader, headed as title. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A sec. article headed ‘Pledges,’ in the Exam. of 15th July 1832” (MacMinn, p. 22). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Pledges” and enclosed in square brackets.

we have been surprised to find from an article in the Morning Chronicle of Tuesday, that the editor of that journal dissents wholly from the observations on the subject of Pledges in our last paper but one. It is from no deficiency of respect towards our excellent contemporary, or disposition to undervalue the great help he has rendered to the common cause, that we profess our inability to see anything in the arguments which he has brought against us, worthy either of himself or of the gravity of the subject. They have not even, as is usual with him, the appearance of being drawn from a matured and strong conviction, but rather resemble the first crude outpourings of a mind to which Thought, on the great questions of government, is new and unfamiliar. We learn at least one thing from our contemporary’s article; how much need there was and is, that the elementary and fundamental truths of politics should be frequently brought forward and insisted upon; for they have been kept out of view until they seem strange and unfashionable, and, if they remain longer in the background, are in positive danger of being forgotten. And in particular we see that it was high time to speak a few reasonable words on this subject of Pledges; when opinions so remote from all we deem true and useful, are professed even as axioms in politics, not by the unthinking vulgar of any rank, which would be less surprising, but by a public writer who has claims much higher than most men to be placed in the class of philosophic reformers.

We shall put first in order a few explanations, necessary to prevent ourselves from being misunderstood.

We acknowledge, as we did most fully in our preceding article, that the Edition: current; Page: [497] immediate application of the true principle of Representative Government, is complicated with a number of considerations arising from the surviving evil consequences of the vicious system under which we have hitherto lived. The state of society and manners in Great Britain almost compels the electors to make their selection from persons in whom it would not be natural that they should confide; persons to a great degree corrupted by aristocratic institutions. The leisured class, the class which ought to furnish statesmen and philosophers, has been bred in a very different school, and trained to far other occupations. The circumstances of their education were not such as to make them love wisdom or virtue for its own sake; and in the pursuit of power or distinction, both the one and the other were rather obstructions than helps. For a legislator, the sole qualification required was having bought the office, or being born to it; even in a minister, talents for government meant nothing but address in finding a colour for benefiting the few at the cost of the many, and in quieting the exorbitance of those among the few who demanded more than their share. Capacity for government, in any sense implying the good of the governed, was to such a degree unknown and unthought of, that the tradition of its having ever existed, and the opinion of its being required, were gradually dying away, and are all but absolutely extinct.

The evils of centuries are not to be remedied in a day. Great statesmen cannot be called out of the ground by stamping upon it.1 But there are still some men wiser than others. And let us here clearly understand whether this, among other things, is to be contested. Are all men possessed of an equal quantity of political knowledge and political foresight, aye or no? Let us have a categorical answer to this one question. If the Morning Chronicle, or any one else, maintains the affirmative, he shall hear further from us. But, for the present, we take it for granted, that according to the old proverb, “some are wise, and some are otherwise.” Now, all we contend for, all we have ever contended for, is, that the people ought to have the benefit of having their affairs managed by the wise, rather than by those who are otherwise. We will join with any one who pleases in deploring that the wise are not more wise, and shall be happy to unite with all the world in making both it and ourselves as wise as our faculties and opportunities will permit. Still, we return to our original position; there may be a wiser government in the moon, perhaps, than the government of the wisest persons that can be had, but how, in the name of reason, is it to be got at? Shall we mend the matter by setting a less wisdom to dictate to a greater? And, mind, we do not, like the Tories, first inculcate the necessity of wisdom, then quietly assume that a long purse is wisdom, and conclude for the government of the longest purse. There shall be no question between us and the people as to who is wisest; we will have no other arbiter of the matter than themselves: for our present purpose the Edition: current; Page: [498] wisest are whomsoever the people consider such; we own the people, not certainly as infallible judges, but as the only safe ones, and submit to them not from a blind confidence, but from the motive which we ourselves urge, namely, that they are the best that can be had. We only say, let them judge of the workman both before and after, but let them not attempt to teach him the way of his work. They are employing skilled labour; and they cannot as a body be more skilled than the most skilful labourer whom they have it in their power to choose.

In this, however, we are always supposing that a skilful and honest labourer is to be had. We acknowledge that the case is altered, when the people either cannot choose a sufficient person to serve them in Parliament, or will not.

While the office of a member of Parliament is unpaid, and while even those who have something, cannot be content without making it more, there will be a great reluctance among men of abilities to offer themselves for the people’s suffrages, unless they are already in what are called independent, that is, in affluent, circumstances. Now all such persons lie under a prima facie suspicion of sympathizing more strongly with the aristocracy than with the mass of the people. It ought never to be believed without the most positive experience, of any English gentleman, that the interests and feelings of gentlemen do not count with him for more than their just value, and the interests and feelings of all the other members of the community for less. There are different degrees of this caste-spirit, but those who have least of it in reality will not be the most confident and eager in their disclaimer of it. As the feelings proper to a free government gain the strength which time and habit alone can give, these wrongful partialities will wear away. But in the meantime they are to be presumed, and guarded against, in almost every case: and every candidate who cannot effectually rebut the presumption, is so far wanting in one of the most essential ingredients of a just title to that confidence, which, some time hence, all the representatives of the people will habitually deserve.

There is also another very important concession to be made. In general the people are better judges of men than of measures; naturally: since we commonly judge of men from past experience, of measures from what is so much more uncertain, prospective anticipation. But now, in some particulars, the case is reversed; there being various measures which, from long and earnest discussion, and the little difficulty of the subjects, the people have come to a tolerably correct understanding of; while in respect to men, the old bad habits which grew up under the exploded system, still subsist, and the fitness of a man is judged by a wrong criterion. This will partly account for the reluctance which we have seen evinced by some persons whom we greatly respect, to admit the true principle on the subject of pledges, as applicable to the present time. It is felt, justly enough, that any pledges which the people are disposed, just now, to exact, are mostly such as almost any candidate well affected to the popular cause could conscientiously give, while yet the same electors, if called upon to point out the man whom they think properest in the abstract to represent them in Parliament, Edition: current; Page: [499] would probably name the greatest landholder in the neighbourhood, if they are satisfied with his personal manners, and kindness as a landlord or a magistrate; though, perhaps, every act of his Parliamentary life might be hostile to their cause.

These are the considerations which can alone lead us to view with complacency the copious exaction of pledges which is taking place at this period. We regard it as a palliative for the consequences of a vicious state of mind both in the electors and in the candidates. As long as the personal prepossessions of the electors are in favour of the richest rather than of the ablest and most honest candidate, and as long as nine-tenths of the candidates may be suspected of being at heart insincere, or at least but cold, reformers, so long we must tolerate or approve the chaining up of the representative by much tighter bonds than would be allowable, if it were easier finding unexceptionable men, or if the people knew better how to distinguish them. If, therefore, we could think of any pledge to be tendered to a candidate, his acceptance or refusal of which would decide whether he is with us or against us,—whether he is for the Movement or the Resistance,—whether he voted for the Reform Bill as a prop to all our remaining institutions, or as a means of beating down such of them as are bad, and repairing such as are decaying,—we should not be averse to see such a test propounded. But, unhappily, there is no single question, nor small number of questions, which places this point out of doubt. The Ballot, or the Taxes on Knowledge,2 perhaps come nearest to a test, but not near enough. It cannot, however, be pretended that a man’s spontaneous professions, the style of his addresses, his own previous character and that of his leading supporters, commonly leave any doubt as to the main direction of his politics. We may be sure it will seldom be uncertain who is the Conservative, and who the Reforming candidate; or who is the most in earnest of two professed reformers. But if there should be any doubt, this is what justifies us in requiring pledges; this is the point which our pledges should be shaped to ascertain; and we should endeavour to ascertain it with the least possible restraint upon the discretion of the man whom we are employing to judge for us as well as to act.

The exaction of pledges should be felt as a slur upon the candidate; a slur which should never be inflicted except where it is deserved. When the pledge is not a slur upon the candidate, its exaction is a slur upon the electors; to be justified only if the electors are in reality bad judges of the fittest man.

Thus much by way of explanation and enforcement of our own opinion. We must now have a few words with the Morning Chronicle.

Our contemporary has very needlessly confounded two ideas, than which it is Edition: current; Page: [500] difficult to conceive any more perfectly distinct; he has supposed that because we object to tying up the representative from acting upon his own opinions, we must therefore be against asking him any questions about them. So remote is this from our sentiments, that we should regard any candidate, who did not explicitly state his present opinion without reserve or disguise, on any political question on which his constituents desired to know it, as disqualified by that single circumstance from being a good Member of Parliament. Because we feel the superiority of matured wisdom, does it follow that we are enemies to discussion? Because we think another man wiser than ourselves, does it follow that we think ourselves fools, and deem that he can learn nothing by talking over the subject with us? Let him tell us his own opinions and hear ours; but let us as well as him, hold and declare our opinions with becoming modesty; let us not suppose that we know everything and he nothing, because we happen to be the electors and he the candidate. By a free communication we may learn much from him, and he something from us: he will moreover learn the public opinion for the time being, which as a fact it is most important that he should know, howsoever as a rule of conduct it may occasionally be improper that he should be guided by it. “But,” it is said, “if the candidate is to tell all his opinions, this will be tantamount to exacting pledges.” We answer, no doubt it will, with all electors who are so narrow-minded and conceited, as to judge of a man’s intellect and virtue by the single test of his agreeing in opinion with themselves: but this is the very thing which we are contending that they ought not to do: we are maintaining that they ought to choose somebody whose opinion, if sincere, is more likely to be right than their own: and that it is only if they cannot find such a person, that they ought to send somebody as a mere instrument to execute their own decree: just as it is sometimes necessary to send instructions to a General or an Admiral how and when to fight; but only when he deserves to be superseded, and you have no means of immediately supplying his place.

The Chronicle does not well know what to do with our illustration of choosing a physician; he has found out fifty differences between the two cases, every one of which is altogether beside the purpose. He says that the patient cannot always understand the physician’s reasons! And can the citizen always understand the legislator’s reasons? Are all questions of legislation, then, so extremely simple? As is forcibly remarked by the Times, (whose powerful co-operation on this subject gives us much pleasure), what shall we say to the poor-laws, or the currency, or the mode of reforming the law, or the mode of reforming the Courts of Justice, or emigration, or the law of primogeniture, or the best principle of taxation, all subjects on which thinking and honest men are divided in opinion?3 Does it follow that a question is really simple, because the electors may happen to think it so? All questions appear simple while they are looked at only on one Edition: current; Page: [501] side. But though we cannot always judge of either the physician’s reasons, or the legislator’s, it is always advisable to hear them. Though we may not know much about the matter ourselves, we may generally give a shrewd guess from what a man says, whether he is speaking of a subject which he understands, or one which he is ignorant of. A wise man will have nothing to do either with a physician, or a representative, who conceals the principles of his treatment. Concealment is the refuge of quackery; a manly avowal is one of the signs both of true knowledge and of integrity.

The Chronicle also finds out that a physician differs from a legislator, because a physician has only to satisfy his patient, but a legislator the whole nation. One would think our contemporary was speaking of an actor, or a rope-dancer. The physician has not to satisfy his patient, he has to cure him. No doubt, if satisfaction were all, every man knows best what will satisfy him. But medicine, and government, are not a mere affair of taste. The reason why wisdom is required, either in a physician or a legislator, is because what satisfies a man to-day is not always best for his interest to-morrow. And why, because a nation’s good is at stake instead of a single person’s, the nation should not be guided by the same maxim of common sense which the individual members of it follow in every analogous case, our contemporary has not succeeded in shewing us.

But all this is nothing to what follows. The Chronicle next gives us his notion of a Representative Government. He says it is by the vote of each member, voting as the mere organ of his constituents, that we collect the opinion of the majority, and ensure the conformity of the acts of government to the general will. This is a step beyond Robespierre’s democratic constitution of 1793; for in that, although all laws were referred to the express sanction of the electors after they were passed, the electors were not consulted first, and each legislator gave his provisional vote according to the best of his judgment.4 If even this latitude is not to be allowed to a representative, we cannot see much use in the complex machinery of a representation. If the power of changing your representative every three years, or even every year, does not suffice you, but, in order that you may feel secure, the advantages of knowledge and deliberation must be sacrificed, government by a select body be given up, and government by the people en masse introduced, then it would be cheaper, more certain, and more expeditious for the electors to send their votes to town on every measure, under an official frank, through the post-office. A few clerks would then suffice to do the business of Parliament, and all danger of jobbing or encroachment on the part of the legislature would be effectually provided against. Nothing short of this will do. You will never be quite safe from Scylla till you are whirling round in the midst of Charybdis. You will always be in some danger of striking against the wall of rock on your right, till you have fallen down the precipice on your left.

Edition: current; Page: [502]

For our part, we avow, that when the Tory prints accused the Reformers of seeking to set up a government of mere numbers, instead of one of intelligence, our denial of the imputation was sincere. Such never was our object. A government of honesty and intelligence was all we sought, and our quarrel with the old government was, that its character was the very reverse. We know that the will of the people, even of the numerical majority, must in the end be supreme, for as Burke says, it would be monstrous that any power should exist capable of permanently defying it:5 but in spite of that, the test of what is right in politics is not the will of the people, but the good of the people, and our object is, not to compel but to persuade the people to impose, for the sake of their own good, some restraints on the immediate and unlimited exercise of their own will. One of our reasons for desiring a popular government was, that men whom the people themselves had selected for their wisdom and good affections, would have authority enough to withstand the will of the people when it is wrong. And it is surely some presumption that the people are in the wrong, if they cannot find any man of ability who will do as they wish him, without being pledged to it. We ourselves do not think that the public opinion, except where it has adhered to the impressions of early education, has often gone far wrong heretofore; but this is because the people have for the most part acted upon our principle, and have not yet learnt the doctrine that they are to hear appeals on all subjects, from the decision of the most competent judges. We must recollect, however, that the people are now the sovereign: as such, it is they who will now be the objects of flattery; it is to them that the interested, the discontented, and the impatient, will henceforth carry their complaints. Every factious minority, every separate class, every adventurer who seeks to rise by undermining those above him, will endeavour to obtain, not as before from the oligarchy, but from the people, what has been refused by the people’s representatives: and the grand instrument of success will be, persuading the people, that no thought, no study, no labour, give any superiority in judging of public measures, and that the question immediately on the tapis, whatever it be, no matter how complicated, is level to every man’s capacity. Where the popular mind is not kept steady by confidence in superior wisdom, these tactics will frequently succeed. The man who says, Judge for yourself, you are wise enough, has an immense advantage over him who can only say, I speak from study and experience, and I know better than you. An ignoramus in politics may deem lightly of this danger; all things appear easy to him, because he sees little in them, and cannot conceive that anything is to be seen, except what he can see. But a man who has thought and read as much as the Editor of the Chronicle, must know that the correct view of a political question is very often not the superficial one.

Edition: current; Page: [503]

We here conclude for the present our answer to the Chronicle. We have heard ourselves assailed by another objection, from which, to his credit, the writer in the Chronicle has abstained; that our doctrine is untimely. Untimely! why? Because this is a good opportunity for extorting by means of pledges a great number of good measures. According to this doctrine, we ought to withhold what we deem the truth, until by the production of it we can serve our immediate ends; to make our profit of error as long as we can, and first turn against it when it turns against ourselves. With what face could we shew ourselves before the public, or what opinion could we expect them to entertain of our sincerity, if we countenanced the practice of unlimited pledges now when it suits our convenience, and found out its impropriety only when it came to be put in force against our own opinions? Let those act upon such principles who relish them; they shall not be ours. We have never been able to discover any better or more universal maxim of expediency, than honesty, nor know we any occasion upon which the truth is untimely, if it is the truth, and not merely a little bit of the truth, worse than no truth at all. But if there be a time which is fittest of all for combatting errors, it is before they have strengthened into prejudices; and the best of occasions for putting forth the truth, is when it must be seen that we propound it because it is the truth, though something else, it might seem, would better serve our immediate turn. We may add too, that there are few persons from whom the objection to pledges can come with a better grace than from ourselves, since perhaps no pledge has yet been called for, by any considerable portion of the people, in favour of any measures but such as we in the main approve.

Not that we shall in reality carry these measures a day sooner, by violating for them the true principles of a representative government. They are all of them such as the people are sure to obtain, if they choose thorough reformers; and we have already allowed the utmost latitude of pledging, if you are obliged to choose men whom you do not know to be thorough reformers. If the pledges now proposed were to be the last ever asked, we should be as strong advocates of them as any one, for they accord with our own opinions: but how is a practice to be kept within due limits? Surely no otherwise than by pointing out, as often as the subject engages public attention, what the due limits are. It is the part of wisdom to look after as well as before; and not to let those doctrines and feelings which are the only permanent securities for good government, be played away for the mere stake of the moment. Once gone, they are not so easily recovered. And when able men have wandered so far from them as we now see, truly it was not too soon to put in our caveat for the established truths.

We did not expect that our view of the subject would find favour with the unreflecting; not because there was anything abstruse, or refined, or paradoxical, in it, for it was the broad common-sense view, which strikes a man of plain understanding as soon as the question is placed before him. But we were exhorting men to two things, either of which is more than a great number of Edition: current; Page: [504] persons are capable of; to doubt their own infallibility, and to forego an exercise of power.

It was for this reason; it was because we knew the formidable array of human weaknesses and passions which would be perpetually at work to make a Representative Democracy (what it has so often been asserted to be in its own essence) a mere mob-government; that we deemed it necessary thus early to call upon the intelligent leaders of the people that they might join in stemming the torrent before it becomes irresistible. And it disappoints and mortifies us that one who ranks so high among those leaders as the Editor of the Morning Chronicle, one who has done more in a few short years to extirpate abuses than any other periodical writer whatever, should have given the sanction of his authority to the most deplorable misapprehension of the nature of representative government, which can possibly prevail; an error of which the Tories have always delighted to accuse the reformers, but which we would gladly have believed that not one of the enlightened reformers really held, and which the Editor of the Chronicle may live to deplore his having ever, even for a moment, countenanced by the weight of his authority.

We wind up by a summary of the conclusions of our former article.

Pledges may be exacted for all organic, in other words, all constitutional, changes; such as the Ballot, and Triennial Parliaments:—

Also for all measures of immediate urgency, which cannot conveniently wait for the repeal of the septennial act:—

And finally, if the electors are obliged to choose a candidate of doubtful judgment, or of doubtful affections, any pledges may be taken, which they in their suspicion may deem necessary.

In all other cases, pledges ought not to be required.

178.: FRENCH NEWS [67]
EXAMINER, 15 JULY, 1832, P. 456

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 116. The item, headed “London, July 15, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

we have great pleasure in calling the attention of our readers to an article on the state of France, which has just appeared in the Westminster Review. It is obviously of French origin, and bears marks of the hand to which it is ascribed, one of the most enlightened and high-minded of patriots.1 We are proud to find Edition: current; Page: [505] in this retrospective view of the history of parties in France, the confirmation (with many additional particulars) of all that was written in this journal on French politics in the few months succeeding the Revolution in July.

We learn from the Paris correspondent of the Chronicle, that a half-penny paper for the people is about to be started at Paris, under the auspices of Laffitte, Odilon-Barrot, and Arago, (the leaders of the moderate Opposition) whose names appear in the prospectus;2 and under the gratuitous editorship of M. Cauchois-Lemaire, one of the ablest and most independent of the political writers of the day. The price will just cover the stamp duty to Government,—all the other expenses will be defrayed by subscription. A noble employment of wealth and talents, from which we augur the happiest consequences. These are the true Penny Magazines3 for this age of politics; all others, though not absolutely useless, are secondary in usefulness, and less than secondary as instruments of power.

The French Ministry has issued a precious circular to the different Procureurs du Roi, ordering a still more strenuous persecution of the newspaper press.4 Censure of the mere acts of the Government is to be permitted; but every body who professes, even as a speculative opinion, that a republic, or the restoration of the exiled family, would be desirable, is to be prosecuted. As the first fruits of this increase of “vigour,” several newspapers have been seized, and the Moniteur has been so obliging as to announce officially what are the exceptionable passages. In one case, that of the Tribune, the crime was publishing a list of subscriptions, in which one of the subscribers signs himself “A Good Republican,” another “An Enemy of Kings,” and a third “An Enemy of all Monarchs since the death of Napoleon.”5 This is the fifty-sixth prosecution of this one journal since the July Revolution. Truly the heroes of the barricades threw their lives away to some purpose.

The chambers are not to be summoned immediately. The King and his miserable Ministry are afraid to meet them.

In the meanwhile, the Government is weeding the public offices of the few remaining patriots, whom it had not hitherto ventured to touch.

Edition: current; Page: [506] Edition: current; Page: [507]

September 1832 to August 1833

EXAMINER, 2 SEPT., 1832, P. 569

This article is prompted by the candidacy in the Radical interest of some of Mill’s acquaintances in the elections for the first post-Reform Parliament. The unheaded article is described in Mill’s bibliography as “Recommendations of several candidates for seats in Parliament in the Exam. of 20 Sept. 1832. (Some were not mine. Mine were J. & E. Romilly, C. Buller, T.H. Lloyd, Hyde Villiers, Hutt, Hawkins, and W.H. Ord.)” (MacMinn, p. 22.) In the set of the Examiner in Somerville College, it is listed as “Recommendations of several candidates to Parliament,” with the relevant portions enclosed in square brackets, and two corrections indicated: at 508.4 “Love” is altered to “Looe”; and at 508.19 “districts, at” is altered to “districts. At”. Probably Albany Fonblanque, the editor of the Examiner, who wrote most of the material in the paper, was responsible for the paragraphs not here included, that is, the opening three (a first paragraph rejoicing that there are candidates of intellectual attainments, a recommendation of Grote for a City of London seat, and a note of regret that Birkbeck was too unwell to stand for Finsbury) and three interspersed with Mill’s (Bulwer for Lincoln, Roebuck for Bath, and Davenport Hill for Hull). One cannot, of course, infer that Mill disapproved of these.

bridport.The patriotic electors of this place are expected to return, (along with the present valuable member Mr. Warburton) Mr. John Romilly,1 second son of the late Sir Samuel Romilly. They could not have found a more courageous or a more enlightened reformer, or a person more devoted, through good and evil report to the people’s cause. To this it should be added, that Mr. Romilly, though a professional lawyer, and practising in the most defective of all our law courts, the Court of Chancery, is yet among the warmest friends of a radical and systematic Law Reform.

ludlow.In this stronghold of the Clive Family, Mr. Edward Romilly, a worthy participator in his brother’s opinions and purposes, is said to be certain of prevailing over the nominee of the Boroughmonger.2

Edition: current; Page: [508]

liskeard.The inhabitants of this borough, which is in Schedule B, and was a pocket borough of the St. Germain’s family are about to do themselves great honour by electing Mr. Charles Buller, nephew of Mr. Buller, of Morval, lately the patron of the (now happily disfranchised) borough of West Looe.3 Mr. Charles Buller is not one of those sprigs of Toryism who have only become reformers since it was no longer their interest to be otherwise. He has always been a reformer, and his disinterested adherence to the people’s cause under circumstances of great temptation, could not fail to recommend him to the suffrages of any of the reformed constituencies. He was brought into Parliament early in the Wellington administration by his family, whose ministerial influence together with his own talents, might easily have obtained for him place and favour, but he resisted all allurements, and would not compromise his independence. After the retirement of the Duke of Wellington, Mr. C. Buller was one of the minority of five or six who voted with Mr. Hume, against the increase of the army.4 In the interval between Earl Grey’s accession to power, and the introduction of the reform bill, Mr. C. Buller published one of the ablest of the pamphlets in favour of reform, in which he proposed a plan, still more extensive than that, afterwards adopted by the ministry, including the ballot, and a new division of the country, into electoral districts.5 At the general elections he lost his seat, for having voted for the bill. His support, both by word and vote, will certainly be given to all measures of enlightened reform.

lymington.In this borough, the liberal candidate is Mr. Hyde Villiers, a member of the present government, but deserving of support from all reformers, especially when opposed as he is at present, only by Tory candidates. He is one of the most valuable of the young and rising official men; his opinions are in accordance with the spirit of the age, and the nation is likely to be well served by him, both in Parliament and in office. Mr. Villiers also, was one of the members of the last Parliament, who voted for the disfranchisement of his family borough, and lost his seat in consequence.

stockport.We know of no candidate for the new Parliament, more deserving the support of all true reformers, than Mr. J.H. Lloyd, one of the Edition: current; Page: [509] candidates for this place, well known as a rising commercial lawyer, a thorough reformer in the fullest extent of the term, long before reform seemed likely to be accomplished in our own times, and well capable of supporting the popular cause, not only as a voter, but as a speaker.6

hull.Mr. William Hutt, a candidate for this important place, is, though a young man, an old and genuine reformer.7

newport.(Isle of Wight).—This patriotic place is about to return two highly meritorious members to Parliament; Mr. Hawkins, whose speeches on reform, the public will not soon forget, and who was thrown out of his family borough, because he voted for its disfranchisement; and Mr. W.H. Ord, (son of Mr. Ord, the member for Morpeth), whom we can certify to have been, in the worst times, an honest and enlightened reformer.8

180.: FRENCH NEWS [68]
EXAMINER, 9 SEPT., 1832, P. 585

After making a three-week walking tour (19 July to 6 Aug.) and then writing three major essays (“Corporation and Church Property,” “Austin’s Lectures on Jurisprudence,” and “On Genius”) and No. 179, Mill returns in this article to French affairs, with further comment on his Saint-Simonian friends and the trial of Carrel, soon to be taken by Mill as the model of a radical publicist. Writing to Carlyle, who shared his interest in the Saint-Simonians, on 17 Sept., he summarizes the article in a gossipy fashion, and mentions it again to him on 22 Oct. (EL, CW, Vol. XII, pp. 119-20, 125). The article, headed “London, September 9, 1832,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A summary of French affairs in the Examiner of 9th September 1832” (MacMinn, p. 22). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.

the head of the st. simonian sect, and two of its principal members, have been sentenced to a year’s imprisonment and a fine.1 This contemptible mode of putting down speculative opinions has been treated by the liberal press, both here Edition: current; Page: [510] and in France, as it deserves. The Times, it is true, with the ingrained vulgarity which so constantly distinguishes it even when advocating a right cause, recommends “ducking in a horsepond” as a substitute for fine and imprisonment.2 For our part, if the base and brutal propensity to illtreat those who think differently from us is to be indulged, we had rather that the operation, like the rest of the dirty work of society, should be executed by rule, and by a hired officer, than that the hands or the souls of the people themselves should be contaminated with it.

With regard to the St. Simonians, the strange attitude which their leaders have assumed since the retirement to Ménilmontant, is of itself enough to prevent any further good or harm that could have arisen from their exertions.3 En France c’est le ridicule qui tue, has often been said: and if the St. Simonians have been kept alive till now, it is because they have never till now been actually and truly ridiculous. We hope better things yet from several of them. Of their doctrines we still think, what we have in a measure stated, more than once,—that there is, out of all reckoning, more truth and substance in them than in any other of the numerous Utopian systems which are afloat. We agree in but few of their conclusions, yet we see an undeniable and permanent value in many of their premises; and we venture to assure any person who may desire to know more of them, that he must be either very wise or very foolish if he can read their writings without getting rid of many errors, and gaining a clearer insight into various important truths.

The editor of the National has been tried on a capital charge, for an article published just before the insurrection, and construed as an act of participation in it.4 He has been acquitted not only of the capital, but of the minor, offence. The trial was most interesting. General Pajol, who commanded the military on the 5th and 6th of June, was called as a witness for the defence. One of his own official reports was shown to him, in which he informed the Government that the conflict commenced on the part of the troops; who attacked the people merely because an attempt was made to change the course of the procession, in order to carry Lamarque’s remains to the Pantheon.5 General Pajol acknowledged the authenticity of the document; but, when the counsel for the defence attempted to interrogate him upon the truth of the statement which it contained, the public Edition: current; Page: [511] prosecutor objected, and the Court interfered, declaring that a witness could not be compelled to give publicity to the communications he might have made to the Government in the course of his duty.6

This is a curious specimen of the French law of evidence, which, indeed, is of a piece with the French law and practice in most other points; the rule there is, that all is fair in favour of the Government, and nothing against it. However, we think few will draw from the refusal of the Crown lawyer to allow General Pajol to confirm his own official statement, any inference but that the statement was true, and known by the Government to be such. If so, what condemnation can be too severe for the acharnement with which the Government pursues all who took part in a struggle, in which the military were the aggressors?

It will be remembered that warrants were issued against three deputies, MM. Garnier-Pagès (President of the Aide-toi Society), Cabet, and Laboissière, who refused to stand their trial before a court-martial, but surrendered as soon as the decree of the Court of Cassation had restored the course of law.7 The Chambre des mises en accusation, a court exercising the functions of our grand jury, has set these gentlemen at liberty, on the ground, not that the evidence is insufficient to justify putting them on their trial, but that there is actually no charge against them.8 How long will the French people bear such a Ministry? The three injured representatives of the people will not; for they have published in the newspapers a joint letter, pledging themselves to seek justice from the Chambers against the authors of the injury.9

It is said that poor M. Barthe, the ex-carbonaro, after being used for a twelvemonth, and worn out, is to be turned off to make room for M. Dupin.10

181.: FRENCH NEWS [69]
EXAMINER, 21 OCT., 1832, PP. 680-1

A further walking tour in Cornwall left Mill refreshed for another series on France. In his letter to Carlyle of 22 Oct., Mill says the Examiner he is just sending will bring his article “on the Doctrinaires & the new French Ministry, & from this time you may expect to see these notices resumed. As for other newspaper-writing, it has been suspended by the more serious work mentioned in my last letter to you [see the headnote to No. 180], which Edition: current; Page: [512] being over, other things will now have once more their turn.” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 125.) The series includes Nos. 182, 183, 185, 187, 188, 190, and 192. This article, headed “London, October 21, 1832,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “The summary of French news in the Examiner from 21st Oct. 1832, to 24th Dec. of the same year, inclusive—comprising [ten articles]” (MacMinn, p. 22). In the Somerville College set, this item is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.

the present french ministry is a Tory Ministry.1 We say this advisedly. It is true, that the Doctrinaires originally swore by our Whigs; but this was while the Whigs differed only by a shade from the Tories. The beau idéal of a Government, in the eyes of the Doctrinaires, is the British Constitution as settled in 1688, and Mr. Pitt the paragon of a patriot Minister. M. de Broglie passed a short time in England a few months since, and, it is well known, was perfectly aghast at the Reform Bill, bewailing our madness in casting away from us institutions so well proved by time, and which had showered down upon us so many blessings. The distinction between these men and the Carlists is but the difference between a Pittite and a Jacobite.

This is deeply to be lamented; for it is undeniable that the Doctrinaire leaders are among the most instructed and accomplished men in France—incomparably superior, as thinkers and writers, to any English Whigs, though they had the weakness to make these last their models. No French Ministry, probably, ever contained so much literary talent, and such extensive political and philosophical acquirements, as that which numbers among its members MM. de Broglie, Guizot, and Thiers, yet none ever was more certain of misgoverning France, and coming to a speedy and disgraceful end. In fact, it is the real mental superiority of these men, which, by becoming the foundation of a more than proportionate superstructure of philosophic pedantry and self-conceit, has rendered them far unfitter for actual dealing with the world than their English prototypes. One scarcely knew whether to smile or to sigh, when a man of M. Guizot’s real erudition and powers of thought, appeared sincerely to look up to a mere superficial pretender to learning and philosophy like Sir James Mackintosh; yet Sir James, like the rest of his party, could bend to the exigencies of the age, while M. Guizot is resolved to be the last person who gives up any of M. Guizot’s opinions.

The rise of Doctrinarism is naturally accounted for by the circumstances of France during the fifteen years of the Restoration. The dynasty which the Revolution had expelled, had just been replaced on the throne of France by foreign bayonets. The people, however, remained attached to the Revolution, and to the institutions and the habits which had grown up under it. The two rival Edition: current; Page: [513] powers being placed, as it were, en face, and the consequence of their continued hostility being inevitably another convulsion, a class of philosophers and politicians arose, who attempted to negotiate a compromise between the old dynasty and the spirit of the revolution: who professed attachment at once to liberty, and to legitimacy as the only sure guarantee of stability,—who professed to set both the Royalists and the Revolutionists right, as to the errors and excesses by which both alternately had been ruined, and to have found the way by which France, after so long vibrating between contrary extremes, might at last settle down into the golden mean, and find freedom, tranquillity, and happiness.

Unfortunately, these speculators, thinking it a fine thing to profit by the lessons of history,—and being a kind of people for whom history has no lessons, because they bring to its study no real knowledge of the human mind, or of the character of their own age,—could hit upon nothing better than erecting into universal maxims the conditions of the compromise which they fancied had been made at our Revolution of 1688, between the monarchical and the popular principle. This is an instructive experiment upon what is to be expected from those who affect to found their political wisdom principally on history, instead of looking to history merely for suggestions, to be brought to the test of a larger and surer experience. M. Guizot’s is no ordinary knowledge of history: that subject has been the pursuit of his life; he has written on it, and lectured on it, with great success; and has brought no ordinary powers of philosophising to bear upon the analysis of its evidences, and the explanation of its most remarkable events; as his Essais sur l’Histoire de France (to say nothing of any of his other works) amply evince.2 He has even produced an elaborate work on English history;3 and yet when he comes to judge of the English constitution, the historical knowledge which alone could be of use to him is precisely that in which he is found deficient, namely, a knowledge how that constitution actually works, in the country for which it was made—in the very age in which he lives and moves, and in three hours’ sail may personally commune with thousands of living witnesses, and have leave to cross-examine them as he will.

Now, whoever knows the French and the English, knows, among other things, this—that in England few, except the very greatest thinkers, think systematically, or aim at connecting their scattered opinions into a consistent scheme of general principles, from which they may reason downwards to fresh particulars; but in France everybody who thinks, be it never so contractedly, weaves a Edition: current; Page: [514] regular web of opinions, suspends it cunningly on one or some greater number of “principes,” and sits spider-like in the centre, surveying complacently the whole of the web, or, as he fancies, of the world. In England, accordingly, since Whig has ceased to be the correlative and opposite of Jacobite, no person has been able to tell what Whiggery is, or what a Whig believes. “Whig principles” simply meant, feeling and acting with the men called Whigs; who were united, no doubt, by a common spirit, and a general disposition to take similar views of most political questions as they arose, but not by any definite creed or profession of faith. The Whigs, therefore, gave up nothing, renounced no political doctrines, when they proposed the recent great change in the constitution. They did but, under the guidance of the same inclinations and general objects, take what seemed to be the measures required by the actual circumstances of the time. They were for the old system while they thought it worked well, and for a new one when the old would hold together no longer. Not so the Doctrinaires. They took the phrase “Whig principles” au pied de la lettre. For them it was the symbol of a real creed, got at by induction from the mere occasional dicta of their English instructors. Whig principles, with the Whigs themselves, are in the state of judiciary or common law: the Doctrinaires are the authors of the only Whig code in existence. The theory of the British Constitution, with the annotations of its Whig commentators, is in their eyes a system of absolute truth, and its realization the acme of political improvement. Whatever deviates from it, either to the right or to the left, is so far false and wrong, and a proof that the nation which sanctions or requires such deviation falls proportionally short of that highest point in civilization, of which, when attained, that Constitution is the natural and certain result. Of this political religion the main articles of faith are, hereditary Monarchy—a hereditary House of Peers—a powerful Aristocracy of wealth, to hold the balance between the King and the people—the elective franchise limited by requiring a very high property qualification, both from the elector and the elected—the Liberty of the Press, that is, no censorship, but a libel law as indefinite as the English, and to be executed, if necessary, as strictly and severely as the French is at this moment—trial by jury, namely, a special jury, to be composed as exclusively as possible of persons who think with the Doctrinaires—and so forth.

Now these principles having been once dovetailed together into a system, no departure from them, no modification of any sort, is to be conceded to any pressure of circumstances. They are an unchangeable rule of right, and are to be stickled for as if they concerned mankind’s eternal salvation. The Doctrinaires have not the wisdom of the beaver; they will never yield a part to save the remainder. They would not, like M. Casimir Périer, have given up the hereditary Peerage; and they in fact resisted its abolition to the last gasp, and would re-establish it to-morrow, if the Chambers could be induced to pass a bill to that effect. They are the most inflexible and impracticable of politicians. The men of Edition: current; Page: [515] the world and of temporary expediency, who are the other leaders of the juste milieu, consequently look upon them as Bonaparte looked upon ideologists and metaphysicians. M. Casimir Périer disliked nothing so much as to be identified with the doctrinaires; and one of the chief causes of the failure of the attempt to induce M. Dupin to take office, was (it is understood) his determined refusal to form part of any administration of which they were members.

At least it cannot be said that this Ministry, like the last, is composed of men mediocre in every respect, mere second-rate clerks in an office. The Times, which has chopped round so briskly in its French politics, but which has changed only its tack, not its mode of sailing, has permitted itself a very pitiful sneer at the abilities and reputation of M. Thiers.4 We dislike M. Theirs’ politics much, and his unbounded suffisance still more; but nobody is entitled to speak scornfully of the author of the best history in the French language, and the best specimen of historical narrative, of any length, perhaps in all modern literature.5 M. de Broglie’s speech on primogeniture, some years ago, gave tokens of a far other man than he has proved himself,6 and his writings on the administrative institutions of France have great merit.7 M. Guizot is one of the most instructed men, as well as one of the first orators in France. With so much talent and knowledge, it would have been impossible to form any other ministry so destitute of wisdom.

It is difficult to believe that they can stand. All parties dislike them. They are understood to have been the advisers of the ordonnance putting Paris under martial law.8 M. de Broglie has been the chief instigator of the Chamber of Peers to all its collisions with the other House. M. Guizot is probably at this moment the most unpopular man in France. Whilst he is odious to the Liberals and to the Republicans, by the contumelious language which he habitually uses towards them, he is offensive to the deputies of the juste milieu party by his tranchant dogmatical tone and professorial airs of superiority. Poor M. Thiers, on his late visit to his birth-place, Provence, took care to avoid the large towns for fear of a charivari, but reckoned without his host; for, no sooner did he stop for the night, though it were but in a village, than straightway the people assembled with cat-calls, frying-pans, and saucepan-lids, and gave him the unwelcome serenade which he had gone out of his way to avoid. As for the place-hunter Soult, the humble servant of all governments, minister under Louis XVIII, made a Peer by Charles X, as corrupt and rapacious as the rest of Napoleon’s military banditti, and said to have already filled his pockets largely by fraudulent contracts since he Edition: current; Page: [516] has been Minister of War; he is placed at the head of the ministry only that the King may be the real minister, it being believed that a Doctrinaire, if he were called Prime Minister, would expect to be so, and not simply a cat’s-paw.

The first act of the Ministry has been to create a batch of fifty-nine Peers.9 The list of names, to any one versed in the personnel of French politics, is amusing enough. Nearly twenty are ejected Deputies of the juste-milieu or the moderate Royalist party of the Martignac Chamber; men, who, even under the present law of election, which returns a decided majority of the stationary party, have not been able to get themselves re-elected any where, though some of them have tried in three or four places. The remainder are generals, préfets, ambassadors, and other public functionaries, of no political character at all, and full half of them either of notorious and laughable imbecility, or bad private character. The only men of real merit in the batch are two or three such as MM. Allent and De Fréville, hard-working and able men of business, of flexible and easy political convictions; together with the well-known M. de Montlosier; M. Thenard, eminent as a chemist and experimental philosopher, but the feeblest of politicians; and MM. Cousin and Villemain, the celebrated lecturers at the Sorbonne, doctrinaires of the first water.10 This last was once a Deputy for about three months, vacated his seat by accepting a place, and has ever since been vainly knocking at the door of one electoral college after another, without being able to obtain admission. Three hundred of the party could get into the Chamber, yet a man of M. Villemain’s merit as a writer and orator could not, simply because he was a doctrinaire.

One fact deserves notice. Forty or fifty of the supporters of the Government party in the present Chamber of Deputies, thought themselves entitled to Peerages, yet two only have obtained their wish—Marshal Gérard, and M. Bertin de Vaux,11 chief proprietor and editor of the Journal des Débats. Why is this? It must be because the Ministry dreads the consequences of any considerable number of new elections in the present state of the public mind.

Edition: current; Page: [517]

182.: FRENCH NEWS [70]
EXAMINER, 28 OCT., 1832, P. 696

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 181. The item, headed “London, October 28, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

in reading the trial of M. Berryer, we almost doubt whether the scenes that are unfolded took place in a civilized country.1 The papers of the accused falsified in order to manufacture evidence against him; the chief witness for the prosecution, indeed the only one who testified to anything, a man calling himself a Lieutenant-Colonel, so manifestly perjured that the avocat général was obliged to throw up the accusation;2 the procureur du roi at Nantes convicted by his own admission of having sent up to his official superiors a pretended confession of M. Berryer, on which three other persons were seized and thrown into prison,3 when in truth he had never seen M. Berryer, nor had M. Berryer made any disclosure to any one; this same procureur du roi now saying, by way of excuse, that if it was not M. Berryer who made the disclosures to him, it was another person;4 the avowed author of this manifest forgery not instantly dismissed from his situation, but called to Paris, as the Moniteur phrases it,5 to explain his conduct; then the reflection that on such evidence a Deputy was to have been tried by a Court-Martial, if the decree of the Court of Cassation had not averted the dire infliction6—altogether the picture of the French government and of the administration of justice and the state of public morality in France, is such as it is frightful to witness.

Another incident not unworthy of notice has recently happened. M. Audry de Puyraveau is one of the most steady and incorruptible members of the côté Edition: current; Page: [518] gauche, and one of the most esteemed private characters in France.7 He was one of the very small number of Deputies who gave active aid in the resistance to the Ordinances of Charles X; and, like so many other persons, he has been rewarded by the ruin of his private fortunes; for the greater part of his property was embarked in a roulage speculation; his fixed capital of carts and waggons was mostly taken to make barricades of, and rendered useless; he participated, too, in the losses occasioned by the subsequent commercial distress. His remaining property, consisting of three landed estates, being mortgaged for more than it would now sell for, M. Audry determined to dispose of it by lottery, as the only means of making the proceeds suffice to clear off the entire debt. Now there is a law, passed in the time of the French Republic, by which private lotteries are illegal.8 That law has never been deemed applicable to lotteries of this description. M. de Chateaubriand a few years ago was permitted to take this particular mode of selling an estate; and a lottery took place not many months since, for the benefit of the Poles. No matter: an Opposition Deputy had brought himself within the letter of the law; the Government pounced upon him, and not content with annulling the transaction, obtained from the Court of First Instance a judgment condemning M. Audry to fine, imprisonment, and the confiscation of the three landed estates! M. Audry appealed to a higher court, which set aside the confiscation as contrary to the charter, but confirmed the remainder of the judgment, and imposed a much larger fine upon M. Audry. There is another court of appeal still in reserve, and to this M. Audry has had recourse. We have here a specimen of the Citizen King: for the King it is, and not the Minister, who is the author of this, as well as of the persecution of the Press, and all the other odious proceedings of the Government. His Ministers are only the base instruments of his individual will.

The late préfet of Grenoble, M. Maurice Duval, who charged the unarmed people from both ends of a street at once, so that they had no escape, and were forced to remain and be butchered—a man whose conduct even Casimir Périer condemned in private, though he had the dishonesty to defend it in public—this man has been made a peer of France, and promoted to be préfet of Nantes.9 That hitherto peaceful city, in which the best understanding existed between the Edition: current; Page: [519] people and the former préfet,10 would not brook this insolent appointment. On the day of M. Duval’s arrival, he underwent a charivari of four hours; this was repeated the next day on a still grander scale, until the troops were called out, and the people dispersed.11

M. Guizot once said in a speech in the Chamber, that, in a well-constituted government, a good minister must expect to be unpopular.12 The ministry of which he himself forms a part, bears a very close resemblance to a good ministry in this particular. It is likely to prove too good, to be popular even with the Chamber of Deputies; and the newspapers already talk of a new modification, turning out M. Guizot, at least.13

183.: FRENCH NEWS [71]
EXAMINER, 4 NOV., 1832, PP. 710-11

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 181. The item, headed “London, November 4, 1832,” is listed in the Somerville College set of the Examiner as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets, with two corrections: at 520.25 “bar” is altered to “ban” and at 520.31 “history; and” is altered to “history and”.

the french government has performed an act worthy of commendation, if it be followed up in the spirit in which it is conceived, and which has escaped the notice of the English Newspapers,—the re-establishment of the Department of Moral and Political Science in the Institute.1

In the original scheme of the Institute, as suggested by Talleyrand in his report to the Constituent Assembly on National Education,2 as re-touched by Condorcet in another report submitted to the Assemblée Législative,3 and as ultimately Edition: current; Page: [520] adopted by the Convention on the proposition of one of the still surviving ornaments of that great period of history, M. Daunou,4 (and long may he yet survive!) the moral and political sciences occupied the prominent place which justly belongs to them in any attempt to bring together into one body the men who have done the greatest things for science and philosophy. But a despot came, in whose sight all which savoured of thought and inquiry in politics or morals was odious; and, with a stroke of the pen, the Department of Moral and Political Science was blotted out from the Institute.5 The Bourbons were as little disposed as Bonaparte to look with favour upon such pursuits. Casimir Périer, we suspect, would have fully sympathised with the “hero” and the “descendant of St. Louis”6 in an aversion so natural, and, for a selfish government, so reasonable. But the Doctrinaires, setting up for philosophers themselves, and owing all their reputation to the cultivation of philosophy, have no prejudice against it.

The new Academy of Moral and Political Science will, we suppose, publish Transactions, at the public expense; and the members will be allowed pensions sufficient to enable them to confine themselves to philosophic pursuits. This is so far good; provided the appointments are not given to favour, but bestowed exclusively on persons who, by what they have already done, have proved that it is for the interest of society to place them in such a situation that philosophy may have an exclusive claim upon their time and exertions. Further than this, we know not that such bodies are ever likely to be of much use; but if an institution exists which professes to embody the most distinguished men in all branches of science, it is a disgrace to the nation that the most important sciences of all should be excluded; and by removing this ban from moral and political philosophy, and publicly proclaiming that in the estimation of France they are sciences, and sciences of transcendant value, an impulse will be given to a really scientific study of them, for which the Guizot ministry are entitled to all praise.

The Academy is to consist of thirty members, and to be divided into five sections; namely, moral philosophy; legislation; droit public et jurisprudence; political economy and statistics; general history and the history of philosophy.

All who were members of this branch of the Institute when it was dissolved by Napoleon, and who still survive, are retained as the nucleus of the new Academy. It is interesting to review the list of these distinguished relics of the last age. Sieyès, Talleyrand, Daunou, Garat, Merlin (de Douai), Roederer, Edition: current; Page: [521] Pastoret, Lacuée de Cessac, Reinhardt, Dacier.7 To these are added those of the surviving corresponding members, who have since become members of the other branches of the Institute; namely, MM. Destutt-Tracy and de Gérando.8 These were to elect, by ballot, four more, which completes the number sixteen, (necessary by the former statutes) to supply the remaining vacancies. These sixteen are then to elect seven others, and those twenty-three are to elect the remaining seven. The first four were to be selected (for no good reason that we can see) from the ranks of the Institute itself. The successful candidates were, MM. Cousin, Dupin (the advocate), Alexandre Delaborde, and Naudet.9 The remaining fourteen are not yet elected. It is from their names that we shall judge whether the new institution is intended as an encouragement to philosophy, or as a mere trick for popularity.

Several of the Doctrinaires themselves ought unquestionably to be members of Edition: current; Page: [522] the body; especially M. Guizot himself, (who ought not, however, to draw the salary,) and MM. Royer-Collard and Jouffroy.10 These, we have no doubt, will be elected. But the list ought to contain various names, some of which are less acceptable to the party now in power. It ought to comprehend Say, the eminent political economist; Comte, and Dunoyer,11 the authors of the Censeur Européen, and various important works; Cormenin, the ablest political writer in France, whose works on Administration have earned him so well-merited a reputation;12 and others whom it would be tedious to enumerate. We shall see whether the suffrages of the Academy fall on such men, or what others are preferred to them.

EXAMINER, 18 NOV., 1832, P. 739

This comment is appended, in square brackets, to a long letter to the editor in the “Political Examiner” signed “W.P.G.,” and headed: “A Plan for Admitting Foreign Corn, Yet limiting the Extent of Importation, so far as is necessary for preserving some given Minimum of Price to the British Farmer.” The correspondent argues that the attempt to regulate grain imports according to previous prices is inefficient because fictitious sales cannot be prevented, and immense quantities of grain can be warehoused when the duty is low. He proposes an alternative, regulating the duty according to the quantity imported and sold. The item is described in Mill’s bibliography as “Two paragraphs of observations on a letter respecting the Corn Laws; in the Exam. of 18th Nov. 1832” (MacMinn, p. 23). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Paragraphs on the Corn Laws” and enclosed in a second set of square brackets.

we have great pleasure in giving publicity to this plan, which is founded on a just train of thought, though we think it unsuited to the character which the Corn Question has now assumed. The idea of facilitating the transition to free trade by limiting (for a time) the quantity imported, instead of imposing a gradually decreasing duty, was suggested a few years ago by some able and enlightened Edition: current; Page: [523] writers in the Parliamentary Review, a work which had not the success it deserved.1

But we should object to the plan of our correspondent, as applicable to the Corn Laws, on two grounds. First, because a small difference in the quantity of food makes a great difference in its price, so that no one could judge what number of quarters must be admitted to bring the price to 54s. And secondly, on a more enlarged ground, agreeing with W.P.G. that 54s. is a price that any reasonable farmer would now be contented with, we are convinced that the importation of Corn, duty free, would not sink the price below that point. Our reason is this:—Under the present Corn Law2 the wheat which has been imported has paid, on an average, no more than from 6s. to 7s. of duty. The present Corn Law, therefore, cannot be much more than equivalent to a fixed duty of that amount; consequently, if the average price in our Corn Market be, as our correspondent affirms, 63s., you might take off the duty entirely, and wheat could not be sold for much less than 56s.

185.: FRENCH NEWS [72]
EXAMINER, 25 NOV., 1832, P. 760

Mill here resumes his detailed account of the French legislative chambers, at the beginning of their new session on 19 Nov. The article is memorable for its tribute to Jean Baptiste Say, in whose house Mill had stayed during his boyhood visit to France. For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 181. The item, headed “London, November 25, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the french chambers have met. As the King was on his way to open the session, a pistol was fired at him. This will probably be found to be one of the low tricks with which the French police has long familiarised us. A real attempt to assassinate Louis-Philippe would probably prolong his lease of bad government for several years. Such acts have always, in modern times, proved Edition: current; Page: [524] fatal to the party in whose name they were perpetrated. We firmly believe that but for the murder of Marat by the unfortunate enthusiast Charlotte Corday, the heads of the Girondists would not have fallen under the guillotine;1 and every one knows that the assassination of the Duc de Berri was the signal of the reaction which brought the royalists into power, and kept them there for ten years.

The King’s speech evinces an obstinacy not unworthy of his Dutch counterpart.2 He means to brazen out the violation of the Charter and virtual suspension of all law through the arbitrary measures of June last,3 and to defy the constantly increasing strength of the hostile public opinion.

It was expected that the contest for the Presidentship of the Chamber would have been decisive of the strength of parties; but the ministry have eluded this trial by instructing their adherents to vote for M. Dupin, who, with a body of supporters, has gone into a qualified opposition. If, by the aid of this junction, M. Dupin obtain the majority over the other candidate, M. Laffitte, the result, we suppose, will be crowed over as a ministerial triumph.

A far greater event than these wretched ephemeral victories or defeats, is the death of an eminent man. France has this week lost another of her most distinguished writers and citizens, the celebrated political economist, M. Say. The invaluable branch of knowledge to which the greatest of his intellectual exertions were devoted, is indebted to him, amongst others, for those great and all-pervading truths which have elevated it to the rank of a science; and to him, far more than to any others, for its popularization and diffusion. Nor was M. Say a mere political economist; else had he been necessarily a bad one. He knew that a subject so “immersed in matter” (to use the fine expression of Lord Bacon)4 as a nation’s prosperity, must be looked at on many sides, in order to be seen rightly even on one. M. Say was one of the most accomplished minds of his age and country. Though he had given his chief attention to one particular aspect of human affairs, all their aspects were interesting to him; not one was excluded from his survey. His private life was a model of the domestic virtues. From the Edition: current; Page: [525] time when with Chamfort and Ginguené he founded the Décade Philosophique, the first work which attempted to revive literary and scientific pursuits during the storms of the French Revolution5—alike when courted by Napoleon and when persecuted by him, (he was expelled from the Tribunat for presuming to have an independent opinion); unchanged equally during the sixteen years of the Bourbons and the two of Louis Philippe—he passed unsullied through all the trials and temptations which have left a stain on every man of feeble virtue among his conspicuous contemporaries. He kept aloof from public life, but was the friend and trusted adviser of some of its brightest ornaments; and few have contributed more, though in a private station, to keep alive in the hearts and in the contemplation of men a lofty standard of public virtue.

If this feeble testimony, from one not wholly unknown to him, should meet the eye of any who loved him, may it, in so far as such things can, afford that comfort under the loss, which can be derived from the knowledge that others know and feel all its irreparableness!

EXAMINER, 2 DEC., 1832, PP. 772-3

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 Edition: current; Page: [526] 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

Edition: current; Page: [527]

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 Edition: current; Page: [528] 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 Edition: current; Page: [529] 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 Edition: current; Page: [530] 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.

187.: FRENCH NEWS [73]
EXAMINER, 2 DEC., 1832, P. 777

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 181. The item, headed “London, December 2, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

m. dupin has the ball at his feet. He has been elected President of the Chamber of Deputies by an overwhelming majority.1 MM. Bérenger and Etienne, the leaders of the intermediate party which has rallied round him, stand highest on the list of the Vice-Presidents.2 The Opposition is completely defeated. Of the nine office-bearers of the Chamber, (the President, four Vice-Presidents, and four Secretaries,) only one Secretary, M. Félix Réal, has been chosen from the ranks of the mouvement, and he stands lowest on the list.3 The strength of the Edition: current; Page: [531] Opposition in the Chamber amounts to about 150 members, being ten more than the number who signed the compte rendu.

This result coincides with our previous anticipations.4 The Chamber, as at present constituted, is for the status quo; it approves all that has been done hitherto, but is for doing nothing more. It is thus distinguished equally from the mouvement party, who advocate the further extension of popular rights, and from the doctrinaires, who advised the recent violation of the Constitution, who supported the hereditary peerage, and would restore it to-morrow if they could, who regret the downfal of the exiled dynasty, and accept the Revolution of 1830 only as an unavoidable misfortune. The bourgeois oligarchy, who have enthroned themselves in the yet warm seats of the feudal aristocracy, have that very common taste which makes men desire to level down to themselves, but not an inch lower.

In the Commission for preparing the address, not one single Deputy of the Opposition found a place, but MM. Etienne and Bérenger did.5 We expect to meet these gentlemen everywhere for some time to come. The former of them, who is the principal proprietor of the Constitutionnel, is already spoken of as the probable successor to M. Guizot, if the illness under which the latter is now suffering should cause a vacancy in his office.

We are somewhat impatient to know the part which the leaders of the intermediate party will take in the debate on the address. As for M. Dupin himself, his office of President will save him from the disagreeable necessity of committing himself to any opinion.

The King’s speech promised to bring forward the bills so long expected, for the education of the people, the responsibility of Ministers, municipal institutions, &c.; and also threatened the country with laws for strengthening the hands of justice, or some such phrase;—laws, we suppose, for gagging the press.6 Our chief anxiety is to see whether the Intermediates offer any vigorous opposition to these iniquitous projects.

If M. Dupin becomes Prime Minister by a total change of Ministry, he will, we suppose, bring in with him MM. Bérenger as Minister of Justice; Bignon, Edition: current; Page: [532] Foreign Affairs; Etienne, Public Instruction; probably M. Teste7 in some capacity or other; and so on. But if he comes in by an understanding with the present Cabinet, it is impossible to foresee how he will be forced to compose his own.

The pistol-plot would appear to be a trick of the young woman (Mademoiselle Boury) who pretended to have frustrated it.8 There is strong reason to believe that the pistol was loaded only with powder, and was fired by herself, on speculation, to obtain money from the Royal Family, and a place for a young man to whom she is attached.

188.: FRENCH NEWS [74]
EXAMINER, 9 DEC., 1832, P. 792

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 181. The item is headed “London, December 9, 1832.” In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Article on France” with this portion enclosed in square brackets (two preceding paragraphs deal with the siege of Antwerp).

the address of the French Chamber of Deputies was an exact echo of the King’s speech; with the single exception of a passage of ineffectual sympathy with the Poles, inserted on the motion of M. Bignon, and carried almost unanimously.1 All the amendments of the Opposition, or compte rendu party, in condemnation of the état de siége, or of any part of the policy of the present French Government, were defeated by large majorities. The Intermediates, or M. Dupin’s party, have for the present thrown their entire weight into the Ministerial scale. The address was drawn up by one of their leaders, M. Etienne.

The pistol-plot becomes every day more evidently apocryphal; but it has served the turn of the Ministry, by furnishing an excuse to those who only needed one, for rallying round the Government.2

Edition: current; Page: [533]

EXAMINER, 9 DEC., 1832, P. 792

This unheaded obituary of Mill’s friend is described in his bibliography as “Paragraph on the death of Mr. Hyde Villiers, in the Ex. of 9th December 1832” (MacMinn, p. 23). In the Somerville Collge copy of the Examiner, it is listed as “Obituary notice of Mr. Hyde Villiers” and enclosed in square brackets.

the nation has sustained a loss which will not soon be repaired, by the premature death of Mr. Hyde Villiers, the Secretary to the India Board.1 His intelligence and laborious habits, joined to his advantages of connexion and position, could not have failed to raise him, early in life, to great influence in the councils of his country; and few among the rising men in office, or those likely to be in office, were comparable to him in that public spirit, and enlarged liberality of sentiment and principle, which would have made his influence a source of benefits to his country and the world, whereof it is lamentable to think that they should thus unexpectedly be deprived. To his personal friends the loss is most severe, and will be felt even by those who only knew him in the way of official intercourse. Few men ever conciliated in a higher degree the esteem and good will even of political adversaries.

190.: FRENCH NEWS [75]
EXAMINER, 16 DEC., 1832, P. 808

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 181. The item, headed “London, December 16, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

there seems reason to believe that something will, at last, be done by the French Government to relax the absurd restrictions upon the importation of English and other foreign commodities.1

Edition: current; Page: [534]

The Ministry have introduced most of the promised bills;2 and, among others, the dreaded one for regulating the power of Government to declare a town in a state of siege. But as we have not yet seen the bills themselves, we defer till next week any particular notice of them.

EXAMINER, 23 DEC., 1832, PP. 817-18

Mentioned in Mill’s letter to Carlyle of 27 Dec. (see No. 186), this article, headed as title, is the first leader in the “Political Examiner.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘On the Necessity of Uniting the question of Corn Laws with that of Tithes.’ Exam. 23d Dec. 1832.” (MacMinn, p. 23.) In the Somerville College copy of the Examiner, it is listed as title and enclosed (including the final footnote) in square brackets.

on looking round and surveying the attitude and movements of the constituencies, both new and reformed, which have been created by the late Act, we see reason to congratulate the friends of improvement upon the definiteness of their objects, and the zeal and unanimity of their exertions. Scarcely a voice has been raised for any causeless or fantastic change, nor has any captiousness been exhibited about mere forms and phrases. This, indeed, would have been inconsistent with the positive, practical, matter-of-fact character of the English mind. Almost as seldom has the advocacy of any act of individual wrong—of the plunder of any man’s property, or the blighting of his reasonable prospects,—met with encouraging reception from any body of electors. There is enough of integrity and self-control, and respect for the just rights of others, in the English character, to forbid this. The reforming spirit has fastened upon the real grievances, and with the greatest intenseness upon the most crying and barefaced of these. General rectitude of purpose has produced unity of purpose. The Reformers in all parts of the island proclaim the same objects, proclaim them as with one voice—a voice destined ere long to silence all other sounds except its own echo.

To this unanimity one question forms a solitary exception. That indeed is an alarming one, and may even yet become a firebrand of discord in the ranks of the sincere Reformers, unless disposed of soon and well,—not with the kind of prudence which is synonymous with indecision and cowardice, but with that true and statesman-like kind which can foresee as well as see, and of which the foremost ingredient is courage. This question, the only one within the compass Edition: current; Page: [535] of probability from which a Tory reaction, among any considerable part of our population, can ever again be apprehended, is the Corn Laws.

On this question alone, among the many which are now vehemently agitated, is Reformer at variance with Reformer. On all other subjects the contest will be solely between the Stationary principle and the Progressive: between the spirit of Toryism, whether under its own or under Whig colours, and the spirit of Reform. On this alone a division is manifesting itself between the two great sections of the people; and there is imminent (though not immediate) danger, that the representatives of the manufacturing and commercial towns, and the representatives of the counties, the agricultural towns, and Ireland, will, by the artifices of the common enemy, be set one against the other;—the agriculturists under a total misapprehension of the nature of their interest in the question, the manufacturers greatly over-estimating the degree of theirs.

We may be sure that nothing would serve the purposes of the Tories so well, as to be able to pick a quarrel between the two great divisions of the reforming host, on this the only subject of dissension ever likely to afford them such an opportunity.

So deeply are we impressed with the importance of frustrating these tactics of our enemies, that if a question which affects, be it ever in so slight a degree, the condition of the most numerous class, were not in our eyes important beyond any other, we would gladly put off the discussion of this question, until others, on which there is less difference of sentiment and of apparent interest, shall have been set at rest. We do not, indeed, think that the immediate interests of the working classes are so deeply concerned in this as in several other questions. The effects of the present Corn Laws1 in any way, be it for good or for evil, are in our estimation far short of what either party habitually assumes. But when we consider the transcendant importance of the principle which is at issue, where the dispute is (what it here is) between the drones of society and the bees; when we see that both the drones and the bees think, however erroneously, that it is a question of life and death between them—when, too, we perceive how generally the members, both for the counties and for the towns, are coming to the new Parliament, if not positively pledged, at least with a distinct expectation on the part of their constituents, that they will give their strongest support or opposition to any abatement of the existing “protection to agriculture;” we cannot doubt that this discussion must be among the earliest which will come on, and that it is not too soon to begin to consider by what means it may be prevented from becoming a source of disunion among the Reformers, and of strength to the Conservatives, by rallying round the standard of Anti-reform in general, the enemies of one particular Reform.

An opportunity now offers itself, such as does not occur once in a century, and Edition: current; Page: [536] which might seem as if sent on purpose to carry England safely through this difficult passage.

The cry is now irresistible for the extinction of Tithes. There is not a rational person throughout the country, whatever be his wishes, who thinks it possible that this odious impost can exist one year longer. Now, the way to make peace for ever between the agriculturists and the manufacturers would be this: Unite the question of the Corn Laws with the question of Tithes. Throw yourselves upon the country with the boon of relief, at one stroke, from the two most flagrant of its grievances, the two most keenly felt of its burthens. Come with the Tithe in one hand—the freedom of the Corn trade in the other: hold out the one to the farmer, the other to the manufacturer. A minister who should thus act, would save the country from its worst chance of prolonged intestine divisions, himself from a perilous shoal on which even a strong administration can with difficulty avoid being wrecked, and would obtain a new lease of public confidence, which would enable him, with ordinary good sense and good intention, to retain as long as he pleased the control of the Movement in his own hands.

These two questions, of which policy so strongly dictates the union, are besides in their own nature so intimately allied, that no philosophical statesman would ever think of looking at either of the two, except with immediate reference to the other.

The people of England are supplied with food by two channels—home production, and importation. Both are taxed: what is Tithe, but a tax on the home growth? What are the Corn Laws, but a tax on the importation? Now, it is not only admitted by every one whose opinion is worth counting, but is obvious to the merest tyro in the principles of commerce, that these two modes of procuring corn, if taxed at all, ought to be taxed exactly alike. To lay any burthen exclusively on either of the two, is to tax the community for the sake of a factitious encouragement to the other. If, for instance, there were a Tithe, and no Corn Laws, the effect would be to force an importation, when additional food might be grown with less labour from our own soil. If, again, there were Corn Laws, and no Tithe there would be virtually a bounty on home production; forcing cultivation on bad soils, to raise a portion of food which the nation could obtain with a less expenditure of labour and capital by importing.

Accordingly, the only argument among those urged in favour of Corn Laws, to which a thinking man would pay the slightest regard, is the existence of Tithe, or of other burthens on the cultivation of the soil, generally, but erroneously, supposed to be analogous to Tithe. Take away the Tithe, and there is not a word to be said for the Corn Laws; but take away the Tithe, leaving the Corn Laws, and you add just so much to their pressure. Every weight taken off the shoulders of one of two competitors is tantamount to laying an exactly equal burthen upon the other.

Only consider how all the practical difficulties of both questions will be Edition: current; Page: [537] alleviated by disposing of them in conjunction. What, in truth, is the leading objection felt by every one to the total extinction of Tithes? The fear lest what is taken from the clergyman should be merely given to the landlord. To obviate this (a consequence which all agree in deprecating), fifty cumbrous, and trouble-some, and uncertain contrivances have been thought of and propounded, for not abolishing but commuting the Tithe into a land-tax, or rent-charge, to be collected on account of the Church or on account of the State. All this operose machinery is but needless perplexity. For giving the benefit of the remission of Tithe to the consumer, instead of the landlord, there is a far simpler way. Abolish the Corn Laws. That is the true commutation of Tithe. Do away with both the bread-taxes, utterly and at once. Let the Tithe disappear and be no more heard of. A provision, of course, must be made for lay impropriators and existing incumbents; at present, too, the time has not yet come when the endowments of the Church of England will be cut down to the value of the Church lands: some equivalent, probably, will this time be given to the clergy, for at least a portion of the Tithe. Let these expenses, then, be borne by the nation at large. Let them be included in the estimates of every session, with the other yearly expenses; or let stock to the necessary amount be created for the purpose, and placed, as Lord Henley proposes, in the name of a Parliamentary Commission.2 To grudge such a price for the repeal of the Corn Laws, would be that penny-wisdom which is pound-foolishness. The penny, it is true, may be taken before your face, and the pound behind your back: yet a penny is but a penny, and a pound is a pound.

This course, it will be found, and no other, will do justice to all. Yet, instead of being intricate, it is the simplest—instead of being difficult of execution, it is the easiest and most commodious—of all means of adjustment which have been proposed. It has the advantage, rare among reforms, that it alienates no one, not even those who profited by the abuse, since the redress of one wrong is made to operate as an indemnity to those who would suffer by the removal of another.

The agriculturists, indeed, if the matter were propounded in the abstract, might question the sufficiency of the compensation. But they could scarcely do so when their attention was drawn to the fact, to how very low a fixed duty the present Corn Law is equivalent. The whole of the wheat which has been imported since the act of 1828 came into force, has paid, on an average, not more than 6s. 6d. per quarter. The Tithe, if it were exacted in full, would, at the present average prices, be about an equal sum. It is not so, we know, in fact; because much of the land of the United Kingdom is either tithe-free or under a modus, and because the parson seldom obtains his full dues. But the inconvenience, and annoyance, and litigation arising from the tax in its present form, Edition: current; Page: [538] are of themselves a substantive burthen upon the occupation of a farmer, at least sufficient, we cannot but suppose, to make up all that the Tithe falls short of a full tenth of the produce. The gain of the Tithe, then, would be a full equivalent, both to the landlord and the farmer, for the loss of the Corn Laws: while, in common with the entire community, they would gain in the cheapness of their food, and the impulse given to the industry and wealth of the country; and the farmer, as a capitalist, would gain in addition, along with other capitalists, in the greater facility of maintaining his labourers.

With the exception of Tithe, there are no peculiar burthens on the growth of food which can form a reasonable pretext for keeping up a peculiar tax upon its importation.

The poor-rates are often erected into such a pretext, but improperly; as is apparent for several reasons:—

In the first place, a free trade in corn, by cheapening food, will reduce the burthen of the poor-rates. Take away the Corn Laws, then, and you take away, to a very great extent, this argument for having Corn Laws.

Secondly, if the poor-rates press more severely on the agriculturists than on other people, why is this? Solely because in the purely agricultural parishes the condition of the poor is worst, and those abuses of the poor-laws which have pauperised and demoralised the labouring classes have there been carried to the highest pitch. But of these abuses the landlords themselves, in their capacity of magistrates, have been the authors. They have no right to come upon the general public for an indemnity from the consequences of their own ignorance and imprudence.

Then, too, as they have been the causes of their own burthens, which by means of Corn Laws they now strive to shift off upon other people, so it rests with them, by reversing the cause which did the mischief, to undo it: either by a more judicious exercise of their powers, or (and to that they must at last come) by abdicating their functions into the hands of wiser men. We know from the best authority, that the inquiries recently made by the Poor Law Commission have ascertained that, in the very worst districts of the worst counties in England, parishes exist, where the exertions even of one wise and energetic country gentleman or clergyman have sufficed not only to correct the maladministration, and greatly diminish the amount, of the rates, but in a few years actually to unpauperise the whole labouring population.3 If this can be done in one parish, it can in another. Let the landlords then bestir themselves, or make way for better Edition: current; Page: [539] men; and cease to plead, as an argument for taxing every one who lives by bread (and putting the money into their own pockets), the enormity of a burthen which owes its very existence to their mismanagement, and which will continue to press upon them so long and no longer than that mismanagement shall endure.

As for the county rates, to claim “protection” on that score is absurd: other people pay for roads, and gaols, and paving and lighting, and police, as well as the landlords, and are not disposed to pay for themselves and the landlords too. We shall be told, perhaps, of the land-tax; but the landlords have no more title to be indemnified for that than for their debts. It is not a tax taken from the landlords, for they never had it. They bought their estates subject to that deduction from the income. The land-tax is a rent-charge in favour of the State, which is to that extent a co-proprietor in the soil. Besides, if the landlords bring to account every trifle they pay to the State, we on our side must be permitted to raise up in judgment against them every thing that they do not pay. They have exempted their land from the legacy duty,—a heavy tax, which is levied upon all other property without exception.4 This fact ought to stop their mouths whenever they presume to talk of their peculiar burthens.

Our conviction is, that if Tithes were abolished, the simultaneous removal of the present import duties (which we regard as little if any thing more than an equivalent for the Tithe) would not increase the importation of corn in a perceptible degree—would not throw a single acre out of cultivation, or a single agricultural labourer out of employment. But if the event should prove otherwise, the course of good sense and justice would be plain. Let it be ascertained what are the parishes which, from the prevalence of poor soils or other causes, had suffered by the change. Let it be found out in what parishes the rates had greatly and suddenly increased, without any assignable cause except the repeal of the Corn Laws. Wherever this fact could be established, the State ought to relieve that parish from this artificial increase of its poor, and should either assist them to emigrate, locate them on waste lands, or provide for them other permanent employment, if any more eligible can be found. To do that for labourers pauperised by a salutary reform, which it has so often been in contemplation to do for the whole surplus labouring population, is what no person with any pretensions to reason will, we presume, object to.

There is thus every imaginable motive for joining in one great scheme of national policy these three measures—the extinction of Tithe, the total abolition of the Corn Laws, and a vote of credit for the emigration of unemployed labourers, with the alternative of home colonisation. And to this, as part of a suitable programme of the approaching session, we invite the attention of public men.

We are fully satisfied that it would be the part of true prudence to face all Edition: current; Page: [540] the three questions at once. Such, however, is rarely the prudence of practical legislators. From those in whose hands the destinies of England are for the moment placed (though they are not worse, but, on the contrary, far better, than the generality of public men,) we wish rather than hope for any of the wisdom of which boldness is an ingredient. We have our fears that, shrinking from the difficulty of dealing with more than one question at a time, they will look only at half a question at a time; will never see where one reform would impede, and where, on the contrary, it would help another; and so will never accomplish any thing but some paltry botching, which will require to be undone in a future session by themselves or others—something which, instead of calming agitation, will prolong it—instead of settling men’s minds, will keep them unsettled, until they insist upon settling every thing their own way. An exaggerated dread of innovation, at this crisis, will adjourn the possibility of a stable government in England for an indefinite period.

But let us, in all conscience, see before we decide: let no man be condemned untried. A great change in the constitution should make a tabula rasa5 of past conduct and professions, and give every statesman who chooses to claim it, a clean character to set up with. Such a character the present ministers shall have with our hearty good will: but beware the first spot!*

192.: FRENCH NEWS [76]
EXAMINER, 23 DEC., 1832, P. 825

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 181. The item, headed “London, December 23, 1832,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the french minister of commerce has introduced a highly important bill for lowering various duties on importation, and removing various prohibitions; and in doing so, he announced that this was only the first of a series of measures for relaxing the restrictive and prohibitory system.1

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We suppose even the most inveterate “reciprocity” men will now be satisfied that our relaxations of that absurd system were well judged.2 They were not only wise in themselves, but they have inspired corresponding wisdom in the councils of other nations. The first receding step has been taken from the mischievous measures which have forced capital out of its natural channels in America,3 and now the French Government has entered boldly and decidedly into a course of liberal commercial policy.

EXAMINER, 6 JAN., 1833, P. 8

This article, headed “London, January 6, 1833,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An obituary notice of Charles Lameth in the Examiner of 6th Jany 1833” (MacMinn, p. 24). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets (including the note), with three corrections: at 542.15, “survivors” is altered to “survivor”, at 542n.15 “Marre” is altered to “Marne”, and at 542n.16 “Martin” is altered to “Merlin” (but “Douni” is not corrected to “Douai”).

charles lameth is dead.1 He was one of the few survivors of the Constituent Assembly; that illustrious body which contained within it so much of wisdom and virtue, and to which mankind have never yet acknowledged all the debt they owe. At the opening of the Revolution Charles de Lameth, then a high-spirited, young officer, of noble birth and high prospects, yet espoused warmly the cause of the Revolution. He was the friend of Barnave,2 and along with that lofty and pure spirit, with his own brother Alexandre de Lameth, and the most instructed and reflecting statesman in the assembly, Adrien Duport, formed what was then considered the extreme democratic party. Barnave, the greatest orator but one3 of that brilliant period, perished by the guillotine, when the Revolution (to use the Edition: current; Page: [542] words of Danton on the scaffold) began like Saturn to devour her children.4 Duport died in exile. The two Lameths returned to France with the Bourbons, and distinguished themselves in the côté gauche of the Chamber of Deputies. The elder died a few years since. Charles de Lameth, always the least conspicuous of the four in intellectual endowments, may be pardoned if his own personal sufferings, and the disappointment of his early enthusiastic hopes, made him go the way of the timid, and resist the democratic tendency of the times. He was a strenuous supporter of the juste milieu, or resistance party, after the July Revolution; but he never was false to the recollections of his better days, and but a few months since, he made a speech in the Chamber in affectionate vindication of the memory of his illustrious friend Barnave.5 Peace be with them both, and with the last immortal honour!

How few remain of that noble representative body, and these few how various! Lafayette is still spared to us. There are still alive Talleyrand, Sieyès, Montlosier, Roederer, Pontécoulant, the only survivor of the proscribed Girondists; Barrère,6 the only survivor of the terrible Committee of Public Safety:* and probably a few others whom we remember not. None now remain of that still nobler body, the signers of the American Declaration of Independence. The last of them, Carroll of Carrolton, died a few months ago at a most advanced age.7

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EXAMINER, 13 JAN., 1833, P. 19

In one of his rare early comments on the United States, Mill discusses Andrew Jackson’s Fourth Annual Message of 4 Dec., 1832, reported in The Times, 2 Jan., 1833, p. 3, where all the quotations will be found. This item, headed as title, appears in the “Political Examiner.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘The President’s Message’ in the Examiner of 13th January 1833” (MacMinn, p. 24). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, where it is listed as title, it is enclosed in square brackets, with two corrections: at 544.5, “busy” is altered to “losing”, and at 545.6 “prepared” is altered to “proposed”.

happy will it be for britain when the annual address of her first Magistrate on calling together her Parliament, shall be like that of the American President—an argumentative review of all the great political questions of the time, a full and clear, though condensed statement of the views of the head of the Government on every subject likely to come before the Legislature during the session, and particularly of the grounds of all the amendments which he deems requisite in every branch of the national institutions.

On the present occasion one of these amendments is no less than the entire abandonment of what is called the Tariff system, in other words the “protection” of domestic industry. General Jackson condemns the “American system” in toto, and proposes that the idea of forcing manufactures by means of duties should be given up, except with regard to articles for which it would be dangerous to depend on foreigners: (what these are, he does not specify.)

It was not too soon for Congress to begin repealing their absurd commercial laws. The Union was on the verge of civil war. The Southern States, having no manufactures, but exporting an immense quantity of raw produce, suffered in a twofold manner by the Tariff; first, by being compelled to buy dear and bad manufactures in New England, when they could have cheap and good ones in Europe; and, secondly, by the consequent limitation of the European market for their own commodities. The Legislature of one of the greatest of these States, South Carolina, has recently passed an Act, declaring that Congress has exceeded its powers in enacting the Tariff, being authorized by the Constitution to impose taxes for revenue only, but not for protection; and that, consequently, the Tariff laws are inoperative, and ought not to be obeyed.1

The President, in his message, comments in very measured terms on this bold Edition: current; Page: [544] proceeding;2 but there is no doubt that the Federal Government will be too strong for this single State, as none of the other anti-Tariff States are showing any disposition to follow the example. Let us hope, at least, that this act of resistance will draw universal attention to the iniquity of taxing the whole American people to enable a few manufacturers to carry on a losing trade; and that in this, as in so many other cases, intemperate violence may procure the redress which was denied to gentle remonstrance.

Another of the President’s suggestions appears to us of far more questionable policy, or rather decidedly and grossly impolitic. He declares himself in favour of giving up the revenue hitherto accruing to the United States from the sale of unoccupied lands; and proposes that the price be henceforth limited to an equivalent for the expence of surveying the land and granting a title. It is curious enough that the American Government should think of abandoning their own more rational mode of disposing of land and adopting ours, at the very time when our Colonial Office is abandoning its own and adopting theirs; the very time, too, when Mr. Wakefield’s admirable pamphlets have so clearly demonstrated that the great source of rapid growth and prosperity in a new colony is concentration, whether produced by natural causes, or by means artificially employed to promote it.3

The rent of land being a mere Godsent, coming into the possession of individuals by mere occupancy, and increasing as population and wealth increases, without any exertion on the part of the owner, ought, in all new countries, to be reserved in the hands of the State, as a fund which would in time be sufficient to supersede the necessity of taxation. But if for an immediate consideration the State chooses to dispose of this invaluable resource, it should at least put as high a price upon grants of land as it can get. If the United States adopt the President’s recommendation, they will give up a revenue, which costs nothing, to any body, and which must be replaced by taxes on industry or on the profits of capital; while they will add still further to their greatest social evil—that rapid dispersion of the inhabitants, which keeps the people of the more recently settled territories in a state of semibarbarism, and is prejudicial Edition: current; Page: [545] even to what alone it can ever have been supposed to promote—the increase of the national wealth.

Half the revenue of the last year has been applied to the liquidation of debt; and the National Debt of the United States is now almost entirely paid off. The small remainder consists chiefly of stock not redeemable for two or three years to come, which however it is proposed to buy up at the market price. The United States will then present the unique phenomenon of a great nation entirely free from debt. Several indeed of the State Governments have debts, but these were mostly contracted for productive purposes, such as the construction of canals and roads. Such debts are not like those of a spendthrift, but like those of a wealthy manufacturer or merchant, with whom to be in debt is merely to have the use, for profitable purposes, of other men’s capital as well as his own. The more he is in debt the greater are his gains. Such debts make the debtor rich instead of making him poor.

EXAMINER, 13 JAN., 1833, PP. 19-20

This article (probably with its continuation, No. 196) is said by Mill in his letter of 27 Dec., 1832, to have been already written (see No. 186); they are referred to again in a letter to Carlyle of 16 Jan., in which Mill says he has written little and published only this (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 141). Both are leading articles in the “Political Examiner,” headed as title. This one is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘Necessity of revising the present system of taxation,’ in the Examiner of the same date [as No. 194]” (MacMinn, p. 24). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Necessity of revising the present method of Taxation” and enclosed in square brackets.

among the most urgent duties of the parliament which is about to assemble, will be the revisal of our present fiscal system. Others of our abuses and grievances may be equally great, some possibly greater, but none are more palpable and glaring. We are overtaxed, and mistaxed. To the overtaxation many eyes have long been open; to the mistaxation, fewer. But the manner of our taxation begins at length to be thought of by popular constituencies, as well as the amount: and the voice which is raised for the repeal of so many taxes is not, as it was wont to be, a mere inarticulate outcry of the overburthened, eager to have the weight taken off their own particular shoulders, but a deliberate protest against an unjust mode of distributing the common load, and a claim to have the apportionment made on principle, with a due regard to the strength and convenience of all.

The two pervading evils of most fiscal systems, and of our own among others, are inequality and waste. There is inequality, when, to supply the public Edition: current; Page: [546] revenue, a greater sacrifice is required from one part of the people than from another part. There is waste, when a needlessly large portion of the proceeds of a tax is swallowed up in the expense of collection, or when the tax necessitates or encourages bad processes of production, or diverts labour and capital from the channels into which, being the most productive, they would spontaneously flow. In the revenue system of this country all these forms of evil abound. Nor are there wanting striking examples of a still worse mischief, taxes operating immorally; by precluding or discouraging the exercise of some virtue, (as the taxes on soap, and on insurance,)1 by obstructing access to wholesome instruction, (as the taxes on paper, pamphlets, newspapers, and book advertisements,)2 or, finally, by holding out a premium to smuggling; as is done by all high duties on importation, and in England, particularly, by those on foreign spirits and tobacco.3 But the objection of immorality applies to some parts only of our revenue system; the vices of inequality and waste pervade nearly the whole.

For instance, all our direct taxes proceed on the avowed principle of sparing the rich: the very poor are also, in some instances, spared; but the rich invariably. Thus the window tax stops at a certain maximum: a limit is fixed, beyond which windows in any number may be added without being taxed.4 The disgraceful inequalities of the house tax5 have lately attracted universal attention, though the whole extent of them is not even yet known to the public. The house tax besides, even if fairly assessed according to the common standard of fairness, that is, in proportion to the bonâ fide rent, must still be an unequal tax; for a person of moderate income generally expends a larger proportion of that income in the rent of his house or apartments, than the very rich: and the houseroom a man requires is proportioned, not to his riches, but rather to the number of his children; that is, to his poverty. The tax on probates of wills, a most objectionable impost on many accounts, stops, like the window tax, at a maximum.6 The same principle is carried into some branches of our indirect taxation. Thus the stamp duty on receipts does not rise in proportion to the amount of the sum paid: the ascending scale stops at a certain value.7 The legacy duty presents an inequality which, to a person unacquainted with the composition of the legislature by whom that duty was imposed, would look like an unaccountable anomaly: it is laid exclusively on what is called personal property; land is exempted.8

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Further, all taxes on articles of consumption, which either nature or universal habit has placed among the necessaries of life, are unequal in the highest degree: for of such articles the poor consume as much, or nearly as much, as the rich, sometimes far more. The tax on foreign corn, considered merely as a source of revenue, and apart from its other evils, has all the iniquity of a poll tax; for the poor man, unless he is actually starving, must eat as much bread as the rich, and (if we count children only, and not servants) has as many mouths to feed. The duty on raw cotton, recently substituted for the still worse tax on the manufactured article, is objectionable on the same ground.9 Cottons are the dress, not so much of the rich as of the poor; and the coarser article consumed by the poorer purchaser, contains more of the raw material, and consequently pays a higher duty thereon, than the fine muslins worn by the higher ranks.

Not only is inequality chargeable upon nearly the whole of our taxes, but from the additional evil of waste, in some one or other of its forms, very few of them are exempt. There are not many of our excise duties which do not subject the producers or dealers to vexatious and burthensome regulations, interfering, in many ways, with the best and cheapest processes of production. Our custom duties cause much unnecessary expense and annoyance to the merchants, for which the latter indemnify themselves at the cost of the consumer; and so far as those duties affect articles which can be produced in the country itself, or in the colonies, they are almost always purposely shaped to protect (as the phrase is) home and colonial industry; a term which always means, to set home or colonial industry upon producing some particular article (which it would not naturally take to) in preference to producing some other article, through the medium of which it could obtain the first in greater quantity and at a less expense. The loss to the mother country, from the discriminating duties on timber alone,10 is moderately estimated at a million sterling a-year. The measure, an approximation to which the machinations of the Tories defeated in 1831,11 would, if carried, have saved such a sum to the nation, as would have enabled us, without adding to any of the public burthens, to get rid of all the taxes on knowledge at one blow.

We had no intention to enter into a minute analysis of the vices of our revenue system; as a brief abstract the above may suffice. The question of most moment is, seeing the badness of most of the existing taxes, seeing, at the same time, that taxes of some one or other kind must be had, what should they be?

On this matter a principle is establishing itself in the public mind, which we consider an extremely salutary one; that among the modes of raising a revenue, those are commonly the most eligible which are the most direct. A tax which Edition: current; Page: [548] blends itself with the price of a commodity has indeed the seeming advantage, that by consenting to forego the use of the commodity it is possible to escape the tax, while from a direct tax on income or on property there is no escape: and this, no doubt, is one of the causes why a nation will submit to be taxed much more heavily when the taxes come in that shape. But this increased willingness to endure a burthen, which hitherto has almost always been too readily borne, is at least a doubtful advantage. On the other hand, the more direct you make your taxation—that is, the nearer you approach to making the person who is to pay it ultimately, pay it at once and avowedly—the greater is your security both against inequality and against waste. In the case of all indirect taxes, there is an apparent uncertainty hanging over the question, who pays them? an uncertainty at least sufficient to leave room for doubt and cavil; so that there being no sure standard acknowledged by all, to determine the real weight with which the taxes fall on different classes of the payers, an excuse may always be found for overcharging those who ought, on the contrary, to be relieved. We had an example of this in Lord Althorp’s budget, when it was proposed to tax the fundholder on the unfounded hypothesis that he was greatly undertaxed.12 It is further to be remarked, that all taxes on commodities, and on the transfer of commodities, have more or less effect in diverting production from its natural and most beneficial course; independently of which, by limiting the demand for the taxed article, they operate as a discouragement to all those improvements in production, which in order to be introduced with advantage, require that the productive operations should be on a large scale.

Taxes, therefore, ought, if possible, to be direct. But a direct tax, if it aims at equality at all, must be a property tax. To a property tax, therefore, we must come. There are difficulties of detail in valuing the different kinds of property, and assessing them to the revenue so as to avoid inequality, without doing violence to the feelings of individuals. But, to surmount these difficulties, we cannot believe anything more to be necessary, than that the practical skill and sagacity which exist in the community, should fairly turn themselves to the task. That skill and sagacity daily effect things far more difficult. In the meanwhile, now is the time for clearing up thoroughly the question of principle; setting right every incorrectness in any of the conceptions commonly entertained of a property tax, and rendering the idea of such a tax definite and tangible. And this we propose to attempt in our next number.13

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EXAMINER, 27 JAN., 1833, PP. 51-2

Under the title appears “(Continued from the week before last.)”; for the first half, see No. 195. The item is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article in continuation of the foregoing [No. 195] and headed ‘Errors and Truths in a Property Tax’ in the Examiner of 27th January 1833, and signed A.B.” (MacMinn, p. 24). It is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

two contrary errors prevail with respect to a property tax. One of these was realized in practice, when a tax actually existed bearing that name:1 the other is of recent growth, and is the logical opposite of the former. Both arise out of an indistinctness of meaning in the word property.

When we speak of a man’s property, we sometimes mean all that is his; all that constitutes his means of living; all he has to spend and to save. But sometimes the term is confined to actual accumulations; the saleable value of what he has actually belonging to him at any given instant. Thus, a physician or lawyer who gains 5000l. a-year by his practice, and spends it all, may be said in one sense to be a man of property; to have a property equal, or bearing some proportion to, the price of an annuity of that amount upon his life. But in the other sense, he may have no property, except the furniture of his house, and whatever other articles he may have momentarily in his possession for immediate use.

Now it would be a monstrous absurdity and injustice to enact that this man, though benefiting as much by legal protection as any other man in the nation, should remain untaxed merely because he spends all he gets; while the expense of protecting him is thrown upon the man who saves, to provide for old age or for a family, or to have leisure to employ himself in literature, science, or works of benevolence. On the other hand, it seems equally monstrous that one whose income is derived from his personal exertions, and depends on the continuance of his life, should be taxed at the same rate as he who derives his from land or capital, which remain permanently with him and can be transmitted to his descendants. Yet these contrary errors, that of leaving the wages of all kinds of labour untaxed, and that of taxing the earnings of labour at the same per centage as the income from land or stock, have gained a footing in many minds; and the latter, when the income tax existed in this kingdom, had established itself in our laws. The last circumstance, indeed, will surprise no one, who duly considers by whom those laws were made.

If there is to be a property tax, all income ought to be considered as property; but a temporary income ought to be deemed a less valuable property than a Edition: current; Page: [550] permanent one. It may be said, indeed, that if an income worth ten years’ purchase pays a given per centage for ten years, and an income worth twenty years’ purchase pays the same per centage for twenty years, the just proportion of taxation is observed, since there is the same ratio between the two payments as there is between the values of the two incomes. And this is true, if we confine our attention to a mere numerical equality; but not if we consider what is alone of any importance, equality of pressure upon the feelings of individuals. Suppose two men with equal incomes, one arising from land or capital, which can be transmitted to descendants, the other terminating with the life of the possessor: these two persons cannot afford to live in the same style of expence. The one may without imprudence spend his whole income; the other must lay by a part, as a provision for his children after his decease. It would be injustice if two men who for no purpose of comfort or enjoyment are equally rich, were to be treated as such solely for purposes of taxation.

The tax should, therefore, be so adjusted upon the person whose income is derived from the earnings of labour, as to enable him to exercise the forethought which duty requires of him, and does not require of the other, without any greater sacrifice of personal comforts and indulgences than is demanded from the owner of the permanent income. It would be impossible, indeed, to adapt the rate of taxation to the peculiarities of every individual case. There is no alternative but to be content with an average, and (what must so often be done in legislation) to cut the knot which it is found impracticable to untie. If a man whose income depends on his personal exertions, supposing him to live for the ordinary length of time, and to have the ordinary number of children, ought in prudence to lay by, throughout life (say) one-tenth part of his income; then an income of one hundred pounds, from the earnings of labour, ought to pay no more to the state, than an income of ninety pounds from a permanent source. By taking some such estimate as this for the foundation of a general rule, justice would be done in gross, though not in detail: to the class of labourers, though not to every individual contained in the class.

Reasons of an analogous kind may, perhaps, be found for taxing the incomes which persons in business derive from their stock in trade, at a lower percentage than those of the landholder, the fundholder, and other persons who can live in idleness, and whose income is not liable to vary. The income of a person in trade is partly the reward of his personal exertions, and comes within the proviso already made in favour of incomes which are the earnings of labour. It is also precarious, in a peculiar degree: and in the same manner as we would exempt from taxation that portion of income which prudence requires should be laid by as a provision for children, there seems equal reason for exempting such other portion, as may be considered equivalent to an insurance against peculiar risks or casualties.

But, if we may judge from newspapers, many well-meaning persons who Edition: current; Page: [551] desire a property tax, seem to understand by it a tax which is to fall solely upon landed and funded property, money lent, and (sometimes) stock in trade, and not at all (as the phrase is) upon industry. This doctrine appears to us fundamentally erroneous: yet in the prevalence of it we see proof of a very gratifying fact, namely, that there is no danger whatever of a confiscation of the funds. The demand for relief from taxes has taken another direction. A less noxious error, though still an error, has supplanted that worst of errors. The cry is not, to throw the whole load of the national debt on a single class, the fundholders, whose incomes are mostly small or moderate, and the bonâ fide earning of honest industry; but to lay this, together with the other public burthens, upon the collective body of the owners of accumulated property. The injustice here is far less heinous, because, being spread over a much larger body of persons, it would fall less heavily upon each: that body including, moreover, all the richest, and none of the absolutely poor. Still it is injustice, for it is partial taxation. The man who lives by his exertions, benefits by the existence of government as much as he who subsists by his accumulations, or by the accumulations of his forefathers. Without legal protection, the one could no more get what he spends, than the other could keep what he has saved: and both ought to contribute in the just ratio of their ability, to the support of that without which the existence of both would be alike precarious. Furthermore, a partial tax of the kind proposed would be a penalty on prudence; an encouragement held out to every man to dissipate all he gets, by taxing him if he saves, and leaving him untaxed if he squanders. And as the fund from which all labourers subsist while they labour, is derived from the savings of former labour, it may be judged what kind of relief that is, which could be afforded to industry by a tax on saving.

There is one case, and no more, in which the justice of laying an exclusive contribution on accumulations actually made, might admit of a valid defence. If a great national effort were to be made for paying off the national debt, there would be much to be said for demanding the sacrifice exclusively from the owners of property already in existence, and not requiring those whose sole property is their labour, to mortgage the future earnings of that labour in order to defray their share. The pecuniary engagements of a government (it may with much show of justice be contended) are a mortgage upon the property which existed in the country when those engagements were entered into. It is for him who inherited his father’s property to pay his father’s debts. In public as in private, the heir or successor is freed from the burthen of fulfilling his predecessor’s obligations, if he faithfully gives up the whole of the inheritance to the creditors.

We rather invite attention to this argument, than express any opinion as to its conclusiveness. The strongest objection to it which we can anticipate, is the impossibility of distinguishing, after the lapse of years, property inherited, from property acquired by industry and frugality since the national debt was Edition: current; Page: [552] contracted. Property accumulated during the interval, would have as good a title to exemption on the principle laid down, as property to be acquired hereafter. In proportion as the latter was relieved, the burthen would press heavier upon the former; and we seem to be placed in the alternative of continuing to do a smaller injustice to a larger number, or beginning to do a greater injustice to a smaller number.

A notice of motion was given on the last day of the session, by Mr. W.B. Evans, (who, we regret to observe, has retired from parliament,) for throwing the national debt upon property.2 Mr. Evans was probably moved to this proceeding by some such arguments as those we have now thrown out. But we must suggest to him that this idea, however good for paying off the national debt, is altogether unfit to be adopted in merely paying the interest of it. For, that way, the tax would extend to future accumulations as well as past: the burthen would not be taken off the coming generation, but, on the contrary, would be imposed with double weight upon as many of that generation as save. Those alone who spend all they get, and, as far as depends on themselves, add nothing permanently to the national wealth, would in consideration of their prodigality, and of their comparative uselessness to society, obtain exemption from the heaviest of the national burthens. This, therefore, would be not only in every way an inequitable, but a highly immoral tax.

There remains the question of what is called a graduated property tax; that is, a tax which demands from the larger incomes not only a larger quantity, but a larger proportion than from the smaller ones. We have not left ourselves space to treat this question at any length, and we will merely suggest the leading considerations which influence our own minds.

All persons who profess any regard for justice or morality, are advocates, at least in words, of equal taxation. To tax any class exclusively, though it be the class of rich; or to tax any class in a greater proportion than other classes, all men admit to be unjust. Now primâ facie it would appear that the only mode of taxing all members of the community equally, is to take the same percentage from all property alike; whatever that per centage be, whether the twentieth penny, (to use the ancient expression,) the hundredth penny, or the thousandth.

To this, however, it is answered, that equal taxation consists not in taking equal proportions from the incomes of individuals, but in taking equal proportions from their enjoyments. If you abstract from a rich man one-tenth of his income, and from a poor man one-tenth of his, you demand a greater sacrifice of enjoyment from the poor man than from the rich. The one you only compel to forego some object of fancy or luxury, while to the other you may cause actual physical distress.

Edition: current; Page: [553]

Up to a certain point there is truth in this. If from the man who has only ten shillings a-week you take one shilling, he is probably put to greater inconvenience than the man who has 1000l. a-year and from whom you demand 100l. But why? Because in the case of the poorer man the tax trenches upon the actual necessaries of life; upon the things which nature, not custom or convention, has rendered indispensable. If the tax spares actual necessaries, the maxim no longer holds: beyond that point it is scarcely true that numerical equality is real inequality. One-tenth of each man’s superfluities would seem to be no heavier tax on one man than on another, whatever may be the difference in their fortunes. And by superfluities we mean all that they possess beyond what suffices for the natural wants common to all mankind. Of artificial wants, created by fashion or habit, legislation can in this case take no cognizance; for if these be taken into the account, there are no such things as superfluities. Every class has its own standard of the comforts and indulgences necessary to its station; a standard proportional to its income, and usually determined by what that income is: and if, in deference to such conventional wants, the burthen of taxation were lightened upon any class, the sole effect would be to raise the conventional standard so much the higher.

Our plan therefore would be, to relieve the smaller incomes from direct taxation entirely, up to the income which might be deemed fully sufficient to satisfy those physical wants of a human being which are independent of habit and convention: to keep off hunger and cold, and provide for old age, and for the ordinary chances of sickness, or other inability to work. Having fixed this minimum for entire exemption, we would tax all permanent incomes exceeding this, in exact proportion to the excess. Thus, if 50l. a-year be the minimum, (we take the figures at random,) if it be deemed that any man, with a family such as all men might have without overstocking the labour market, cannot exist, free from physical discomfort, upon less than 50l.; incomes of that amount, or less, should be exempted from the tax, while all others should be taxed a certain per centage on whatever surplus they possess beyond 50l. If, for example, the tax were ten per cent., a man with 60l. a-year should pay out of the odd ten, one pound; the man of 100l. a-year, of the odd fifty, five pounds; the man of 1000l. a-year, of the odd 950, ninety-five. This kind of graduated property tax appears to us to be just, and no other. We would apply the same principle to incomes of temporary duration, such as those derived from the earnings of industry; with the reservation already made, that of leaving untaxed such portion of the income as ought to be saved to form the inheritance of descendants. If this portion be estimated at one-tenth,* the taxable part of the income of a professional man would be not the whole but nine-tenths only of the surplus which he earns beyond Edition: current; Page: [554] 50l. a-year; upon these nine-tenths however we would levy the same per centage as upon income from a permanent source.

We would not, however, leave all incomes below a given minimum wholly untaxed; we are inclined to retain a few such taxes on luxuries, at any rate on stimulants, as might by possibility touch those lowest incomes. It is but just that the indulgence which we suppose the state to extend to a poor man, because all his income is required for actual necessaries, should be contingent upon his really so expending it; and that if he thinks fit to encroach upon his own or his family’s necessaries, for the purchase of mere indulgences, he should contribute his share to the public revenue like the rest of the community. It is equally just that if the owner of a life income chooses to spend on his pleasures that proportion of his income which the state exempts from direct taxation, on the presumption that it is to be saved, he should, by means of that very expenditure, contribute indirectly to the necessities of the state, through taxes on consumption.


EXAMINER, 17 FEB., 1833, P. 101

After the military revolt late in 1830 against Russian domination was put down in September 1831, the rebel leaders were exiled to Siberia; many other Poles took part in the “great emigration” of the 1830s to 1850s to France, Britain, and other countries. Mill’s review of Eliza Flower’s Hymn of the Polish Exiles by the Siberian Sea (London: Novello and Fox, 1833) indicates his political sympathies as well as his interest in music (he played the piano and composed airs for his own pleasure), and his continuing encouragement of the work of Miss Flower (see Nos. 112 and 155). The review, in the “Musical” section, is headed “Hymn of the Polish Exiles by the Siberian Sea; composed by the Author of ‘Musical Illustrations of the Waverley Novels,’ ‘Songs of the Seasons,’ &c. The words from ‘The Charmed Sea,’ a Tale, by Harriet Martineau.” The Charmed Sea was No. 13 of the Illustrations of Political Economy, 9 vols. (London: Fox, 1833) by Harriet Martineau (1802-76), the prolific writer who was at this time contributing essays to the Monthly Repository for W.J. Fox. The “Hymn” that provided Flower’s text is on p. 104 of The Charmed Sea. The review is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of Miss Flower’s ‘Hymn of the Polish Exiles’ in the Examiner of 17th February 1833” (MacMinn, p. 25). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is similarly listed (“Review” replacing “A notice”) and enclosed in square brackets.

the words of this hymn or prayer, notwithstanding some faults, were not unworthy to be chosen by Miss Flower, as the vehicle of one of her inspired strains: and Miss Martineau, or any one else who writes with a meaning, may be congratulated on meeting with a composer who is able and resolved to make that meaning felt, even when the collocation and rhythm of the words renders this a Edition: current; Page: [555] task of some difficulty. The skilful manner in which the unpleasant effect of a fault in the metre of the first line is obviated in the music, exemplifies our remark.

The air is an Adagio in C minor, terminating in a chorus, and its expression accords with the imploring, desponding, yet not despairing character belonging to the words and to the situation. The composer has shown her usual command over the resources of her art, both in respect to harmony and modulation. The concluding passage, “Give us our heritage again,” is highly characteristic and beautiful. [P. 4.]

It is proper to mention that this composition, which, by the ordinary tricks of publishers, might easily have been spread over at least two sheets, is compressed into the compass of one.1 It is printed, not engraved, and is sold for one shilling. We trust that this low price will be made up for by extensive circulation, and that the song will contribute largely to the diffusion of that sympathy with Polish heroism and misfortune, which may still administer consolation for the woes it cannot remedy.

EXAMINER, 17 MAR., 1833, PP. 164-5

This is the first of six eulogistic notices by Mill (see Nos. 200, 207, 214, 225, and 229) of the Monthly Repository, a journal founded in 1806 as a Unitarian organ but transformed under the editorship (1828 to 1836) of Mill’s friend W.J. Fox into a wide-ranging journal of literature and politics. Mill himself had begun to contribute to the journal with “On Genius” in October 1832, followed by “What Is Poetry?” in January; he had nothing in the March number. The attack on marriage law in the notice may be compared with the contemporary essays on marriage by Mill and Harriet Taylor (CW, Vol. XXI, pp. 35-49 and 375-7). The review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “The Monthly Repository for March 1833 [n.s. VII]. Edited by W.J. Fox”; the references are to this volume. The review is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice in the Examiner of 17th March 1833 of the number of the ‘Monthly Repository’ for the same month, incl. [sic]” (MacMinn, p. 25). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Review of the Monthly Repository for March 1833” and enclosed in square brackets.

this valuable periodical, though its reputation and influence are rapidly extending, has not yet made so much way among the general public, as it will when it is better known; chiefly, as we believe, from the impression that, although conducted by the least sectarian of all ministers of religion, it is still in some degree what it once was avowedly, the organ of the theological opinions of a sect. Mr. Fox, however, is well known as a man with whom religion is not a thing apart, an interest which supersedes and excludes all others, but one which Edition: current; Page: [556] heightens and purifies them; in whose estimation the duty of a christian man or of a christian teacher, is not to abstain from worldly concerns, but to pursue them in an unworldly spirit. With him, the temporal welfare of man and the eternal are not two objects conflicting and contradictory, but the first is part and parcel of the last; the last, but the prolongation and amplification of the first. Reversing the order in which commonplace divines present the two ideas, he holds, not that human beings will best perform their duty here by keeping the internal eye constantly fixed in mystical contemplation upon hereafter; but that whatever is best calculated to fit mankind for this world, fits them best also for the world to come.

It would be strange if under such editorship a work could be sectarian. The controversial theology which occupied a large part of the pages of the Repository under the former management, is now banished to a separate publication, the Unitarian Chronicle;1 and the Repository has so completely divested itself of its original character, that the Unitarian Association, we are informed, have withdrawn their patronage from it; not from any disapprobation of its principles or tendencies, but on the declared ground that it is no longer a religious work.

A moral and political magazine, which in politics and legislation stedfastly advocates the principles of the philosophic reformers; which carries the same principles of really conservative reform through the whole range of social morality; and which, along with all that tends to improve the physical state and social relations of man, includes likewise in its comprehensive aim all that can elevate, refine, and beautify the individual mind; such a work ought not to be looked shyly upon by the general reader on suspicion of being sectarian, while it is losing the support of sectarians precisely because it is not so.

The most remarkable paper in the number which has just appeared—we might say one of the most remarkable which have appeared in any periodical for many months—is the recital, with its appropriate commentary, of an “ower true tale”2—the authentic history of the life of Mehetabel Wesley, a sister of the celebrated founder of Methodism.3 The writer has here given us the deeply affecting and most instructive narrative of the sufferings of a being formed to give and to enjoy happiness such as few are capable of, but whose life, from infancy till death, was a continued martyrdom. She was one of the most to be pitied of the victims of whom whole hecatombs have been and are sacrificed, first to a narrow and bigoted and chilling education, aiming deliberately to crush Edition: current; Page: [557] all independent exercise of the faculties whether of heart or of understanding: and next to a marriage-law, which, as at present constituted, is one of the worst of our social institutions—a law which permits the stronger party to evade with impunity every one of the essentials of the contract, while the misery of an ill-assorted union is left to press upon the weaker with unmitigated burden, and without a hope of relief, unless purchased by what the world have stamped as infamy.

Mehetabel Wesley had the misfortune “of being born into what is called a well-regulated family.” [P. 165.] After an animated description of the highly correct and respectable formalists whom she had the unhappiness to call father and mother,4 the writer proceeds as follows:

Under such auspices was the gentle, fragile, playful, lovely, loving, and sensitive Mehetabel Wesley ushered into the world. She sprang up like the chance seedling of a delicate acacia between the cold hard pebbles of a well-rolled gravel walk, in a square bedded garden, with its formal box and thorny fence, there to be trained, nailed up, and crucified to an iron frame, or a varnished brick-wall, and be tortured, chilled, and wither; beautiful even in her drooping and her death. Her first calamity was what there are too many who would still regard as the best of all possible educations. The industrious Mrs. Wesley, the paragon of moral and religious mothers, was soon hard at work upon her. The plans pursued are minutely detailed in a letter from the good lady herself, which is preserved as an almost infallible directory. It describes the law, order, and duty system, the fear, honour, reverence, and obey plan in its most complete development. Every thing is summed up in submission; submission of heart, mind, and limb, in thought, word, will, and deed.

[Pp. 166-7.]

Mrs. Wesley’s one thing needful5 in the education of children was to conquer their will.

To inform the understanding (we quote her words) is a work of time, and must proceed with children by slow degrees, as they are able to bear it; but the subjecting the will is a thing that must be done at once, and the sooner the better.

[P. 167; Fox’s parenthesis.]

Not one suspicion that it is possible in education to form and guide the will through the agency of the affections, ever seems to have crossed the mind of this paragon of mothers.

We had marked for extraction a passage which not only all parents but all human beings should lay to heart—a protest, noble in thought and animated in expression, against this servile and brutalizing theory of education, the favourite theory even now of the ascetic school of religionists. [Pp. 168-70.] But our readers should be readers of this admirable paper in its original integrity, not in such fragments as space permits us to transcribe.

Edition: current; Page: [558]

It was not, indeed, in the power even of Mrs. Wesley and her well-regulated family to crush the feelings, or altogether deaden the intellect of a being in whom “the spirit of love could not be quenched—it was in her very frame;” [p. 170] but what her wretched education could do to corrupt such a being it accomplished; it did pervert her opinions; it taught her that the subjugation of her own will, and the sacrifice of the entire happiness of her life to the arbitrary commands and to the noxious superstitions of others, was a religious duty. Here was the primary evil; in this lay the origin of “a costly wreck of thoughts, feelings, hopes, and capacities of enjoyment, which surely nothing in nature rendered necessary or unavoidable,” [p. 170] and which needed not even thus to have been so utter and so hopeless, had not the institutions which pass for the highest and holiest safeguards of morality, predetermined that, for the most heart-withering of all miseries, though nature allows a remedy, law should allow none.

In the bitterness of a disappointment in love, she made a vow to marry the first man who offered himself to her. “A creature as low in mind as in condition, ignorant and grovelling,” wholly illiterate and wholly unfeeling,—“a Caliban civilized into vulgarity by the pot-house, had the audacity to offer the violence of marriage to this Miranda, and her father compelled her to submit to the brutality. His enforcement of his daughter’s vow in misery, was far worse than Jephtha’s consummation of his own vow in blood.” [P. 172.]6 The importunities of her whole family, who would have regarded the breach of this irrational vow as one of the deadliest of sins, prevailed over a will “effectually broken down” [p. 174] by the notable education of her notable mother, and she offered herself up as a sacrifice.

The victim is bound to the altar. A brand never to be erased marks her for the property of a brute. The truthful burst of agony from the lips of disappointed love was false in its form of expression, and superstition has made it a spell whereby to conjure up more vows, which are false in essence, and defy volition, which pledge her for ever to love the unlovely, and honour the dishonoured, and obey what there were immorality in not resisting. It is done; and the long train of hopeless years commence their lagging march through a world whose beauty should only echo the voice of joy and singing; a wretched procession, in tears and anguish, slow winding to the grave.—And this endured, or rather she endured, through the quarter of a century. It was only in the six and twentieth year of her suffering, that she was dismissed to tell Milton in heaven that his doctrine was still immoral upon earth.

[P. 174.]7

For the greater part of that period “she lived in the hope of death.” [P. 176.] Edition: current; Page: [559] Well and truly does the writer say of this state of endurance, that “it cannot be read of or imagined without acute sympathy or irrepressible indignation.” [P. 171.]

We will not weaken by any words of ours the impression which must be left upon all minds not utterly callous, by the lofty and moving eloquence of the concluding passage: a passage in which (as indeed in the whole article) the noble soul of the writer actually shines through his words.

Mehetabel Wesley was the victim, as woman is yet continually the victim, of bad education, perverted religion, and unequal institution. The finer the individual nature, the more costly is the sacrifice. The feeling, taste, mental power, and moral purity, which some of her poems, and many passages of her life indicate, are such as to prove her capability, in favourable circumstances, of ministering most largely to social improvement and enjoyment, and, at the same time, to individual happiness, and of having both blessings amply measured back into her own bosom. And all this was wasted upon one for whom a comely scullion, with not a thought above her avocation, would have been as satisfactory a companion, probably much more so, and would have received from him much better treatment. How is this? Her brothers would have said that it pleased Heaven sorely to try her; and that is true as far as it goes; but we rather think it also pleases Heaven to show by this, and similar examples, that the true morality, that which conducts to happiness, is not always correctly interpreted by society, not even by that portion of society which claims to be eminently religious. The restraint which crippled her faculties, the awful rod which made her an infant slave, was an immorality. This was the source of her own errors. The twig was twisted, and so grew the tree, though graceful even in its distortion. Her marriage was an immorality. So was her continuing through life in a sexual companionship where mutual affection was impossible; not that she was conscious of viciousness, but the contrary; she no doubt thought her misery was her duty. Ill fare the machinery that wrought the perversion and the suffering. For woman so situated there ought to be redress, open and honourable redress, in every country that calls itself civilized. Her situation was even worse than if she had committed that act which, by the law of Moses, would have subjected her to death by stoning;8 for then she might have been liberated from an enforced and intolerable bond, and even have entered on a new state, perchance of the affection and enjoyment for which she was framed. But her mind was enslaved; it had been scourged into the faith that she was a property, and not a being; her father had divorced himself for a twelvemonth; her husband probably did worse; but she never suspected reciprocity of right or equality of will. And they never suspected that there was degradation in the species of mastery which they arrogated. Savage man kicks and beats woman, and makes her toil in the fields; semi-civilized man locks her up in a harem; and man three-quarters civilized, which is as far as we are got, educates her for pleasure and dependency, keeps her in a state of pupilage, closes against her most of the avenues of self-support, and cheats her by the false forms of an irrevocable contract into a life of subservience to his will. The reason for all which is “that he is the stronger.” And the result of which is that he often lacks an intelligent and sympathizing companion when most he needs one; a high-minded helpmate to cheer him in noble toils and bitter sacrifices; and a mother for his children who will take care that the next generation shall advance on the mental and moral attainments of the present. Truly he makes as bad a bargain as he deserves.

[Pp. 176-7.]
Edition: current; Page: [560]

199.: FRENCH NEWS [77]
EXAMINER, 31 MAR., 1833, P. 201

After a three-month gap, explained in his opening sentence, Mill here returns to French politics, though not on a weekly basis; his next summary, No. 204, was published five weeks later, on 5 May, as suggested in his concluding sentence. The article, headed “London, March 31, 1833,” is described in his bibliography as “The summary of French affairs in the Examiner of 31st March 1833” (MacMinn, p. 25). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.

we have discontinued of late our usual notices of French affairs, because all which has been doing in that country is so paltry, so devoid alike of any importance in the immediate result, and of any indication respecting the future, that we felt no inducement to record in our columns, in addition to the trivialities of our own country, the still smaller trivialities of another country, which, as foreigners, we have so little power of shaming into better things. The national subscription for M. Laffitte compels us to break our silence.1 Here, at least, is a manifestation worthy of the better days of France. As the French have been more fortunate than ourselves in the number of their examples of eminent public and private virtue in high stations, so the generosity of their national character has been more conspicuously called forth in behalf of such in the time of need. M. Laffitte is now enjoying the highest reward, next to his own self-approbation, of a life of unsullied and consistent nobleness in all public relations, and of a beneficence as unbounded as it was judicious and considerate, in the employment of a large fortune. The announcement for sale of his splendid mansion in the street which bears his name, (owing to the loss of almost all his property by the commercial crisis consequent upon the Revolution of 1830,) has been the occasion for this testimony of affectionate gratitude, in which the many whom he has personally obliged, often to the extent of saving them from ruin, participate with all classes of his countrymen,—from the banker, M. Aguado,2 with his munificent contribution of four thousand pounds, to the workman of the faubourgs with his one or two francs. The subscription bids fair, even in these times of apathy and discouragement, to rival that for the orphan children of General Foy.3

The French Government has declared its intention of convoking the Chambers Edition: current; Page: [561] for a second session this year, in order to vote the budget of 1834, that the salutary practice may be resumed of voting each year’s estimates in the year preceding.4 The present session is therefore likely soon to close; perhaps without having effected a single important legislative improvement: certainly without having passed a fifth part of the bills, on subjects of the first magnitude, which have been laid before the two houses. The ministry (if ministry it can be called, which is only the king and a set of clerks,) appears to have a firm hold of office: the chamber has no wish to turn them out, though it has given them several most unpalatable checks; by making serious alterations in some of their bills, refusing various money grants, and several times disallowing expenses which had been already incurred: these will doubtless be covered by part of the immense amount of secret service money which the Chamber complaisantly grants. When the prorogation takes place, we shall give a brief summary of the results of the session:5 they really are not worth an earlier or a more detailed notice.

EXAMINER, 14 APR., 1833, PP. 229-30

For the first of Mill’s notices of the Monthly Repository, see No. 198. Mill’s own “Writings of Junius Redivivus” was in the April number of the Monthly Repository. This review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “The Monthly Repository for April [n.s. VII]”; the page numbers refer to this volume. The review is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A short notice in the Examiner of 14th April 1833 of the number of the Monthly Repository for the same month” (MacMinn, p. 26). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Notice of the Monthly Repository for April” and enclosed in square brackets.

this we think decidedly the best number which has yet appeared of Mr. Fox’s excellent periodical. There is no one article in it of the surpassing merit which distinguished the affecting paper in the last number on Mehetabel Wesley;1 but the general average is decidedly higher than in that number; none of the articles, perhaps, are without some kind or degree of merit and usefulness, and several are almost too good to be limited to the transitory and perishable existence of articles in a magazine. Among these we must include the paper on the life, character, and writings of Dr. Priestley, the last of three articles on the same subject, exhibiting Edition: current; Page: [562] very considerable philosophical attainments and unusual skill in the analysis of character.2

There are many passages in this and other articles well worthy of extraction, but we prefer to copy out the following verses, which express feelings such as all poets must have expressed, with a perfect truth and yet with an originality of manner which marks, even in so slight a production, real genius:

  • To Kathleen

    • Thou hast jetty eyes in brightness glancing,
    • Glossy ringlets in the free air dancing,
    • Cheek from rose to lily ever changing,
    • As thro’ feeling’s world thy thought is ranging.
    • Thou bringest gifts of Nature’s fairest treasure
    • To those who reckon every flower a pleasure
    • Dewy darlings! exquisite creations!
    • E’en their shadows seem to have sensations.
    • Yet should beauty fade, and flowers wither,
    • I will bid thee ever welcome hither;
    • Though every charm beside were from thee parted,
    • Thou hast that best of all—thou’rt honest-hearted.
    • Then welcome, Kathleen, whatsoe’er thou bringest,
    • Welcome hither when this way thou wingest,
    • Not for eye, or cheek, or dewy blossom,
    • But the heart thou wear’st within thy bosom.3

EXAMINER, 21 APR., 1833, P. 245

For Mill’s previous notices of Flower, see Nos. 112, 155, and 197. This review is in the “Music” section, where it is headed “1. Mignon’s Song; or, A foreign sky above. By the Author of the Musical Illustrations of the Waverley novels, &c. 2. When thou wert here. Ballad, composed by the same author. Both published by J. Alfred Novello. [London, 1833.]” The words to the second song are by Sarah Flower, Eliza Flower’s sister. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A short notice of two of Miss Flower’s songs, in the Examiner of 21st April 1833” (MacMinn, p. 26). In the Somerville College set of the Edition: current; Page: [563] Examiner, it is listed as “Review of two of Miss Flower’s songs” and enclosed in square brackets, with one correction: at 563.18, “related” is altered to “selected”.

two beautiful songs, worthy of the genius and taste of the composer. Like all her other works they strike less at first hearing than they delight on a more familiar knowledge.

The second will perhaps add most to the composer’s musical reputation, being in a style more unlike her other compositions, and perhaps better calculated for general popularity. But the Song of Mignon is by far the most touching. This is not the well-known Kennst du das Land, which Beethoven, not very successfully, set to music, but an expansion and paraphrase of a shorter and still more affecting passage from the same work of Goethe.1 It begins thus:

  • A foreign sky above
  • A foreign earth below me,
  • To the south I look all day—
  • For the friends who love and know me
  • Are far, far away!
  • [P. 2.]

Words more adapted to musical expression never fell to the lot or were selected by the judgment of a composer. Miss Flower has entered fully into their spirit. The exquisitely pathetic close of the passage “the friends who love and know me are far, far away,” is in the best style of Spohr,2 one of whose loveliest passages it resembles, but without anything approaching to plagiarism.

EXAMINER, 28 APR., 1833, PP. 258-9

Though far from finished with French politics, Mill here reveals a growing tendency to concentrate on English affairs, as he did for the next five years, especially after the founding of the London Review in 1835. The details Mill mentions were given by Lord Althorp in introducing the budget on 19 Apr. (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 17, cols. 326-39). This leading article in the “Political Examiner” is headed as title. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘The Budget’ in the Examiner, of 28th April 1833” (MacMinn, p. 26). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets (excluding the footnote), with two corrections: at 564.32 Edition: current; Page: [564] “that when” is altered to “that the time when”, and at 565.6 “wisdom as” is altered to “wisdom and”.

the position of a minister who is able to propose taking off taxes, is a most favourable one: it is hardly possible for him to avoid being popular; whatever he proposes is sure to pass, and to pass with extraordinary facility.

Commutation of taxes is quite another thing; often fully as important as abolition, but always excessively difficult to accomplish.

As much harm may be done by raising the necessary amount of revenue in a bad way, as even by raising an extravagant amount. For instance, the taxes on paper, on pamphlets, on foreign books,1 and on newspapers, impede the diffusion of knowledge;2 the tax on soap operates against cleanliness; the taxes on insurance are direct discouragements to prudence; the auction-duty is, in most cases, a tax on distress;3 the malt tax4 and the excise, in all its branches, necessitates vexatious regulations, which render production troublesome and expensive, and prevent the introduction of improved processes, thereby taking far more out of the pockets of the people than the amount of the revenue afforded to Government. Many other taxes are objectionable on account of the great expenses of their collection. We speak not at present of those which are unequally assessed; bearing hard upon the poor or the middle classes, and lightly on the rich; such as almost all the stamp duties, and the house and window taxes.

Now, let a tax be bad to any excess, if, in taking it off, it be necessary to impose a new one, the measure is almost sure to be unpopular: there is far greater clamour from the newly-taxed than gratitude from the newly-relieved. The latter personage has usually been proclaiming his grievance to the four corners of the world for years before, and he considers its removal as a tardy act of justice, wrung from the Minister by importunity, obtained only because it could no longer be refused, and for which he makes quite a sufficient return of thankfulness if he cease complaining. The party, on the contrary, upon whom the new tax is imposed, resents it as a wrong of the deepest dye; resents the unexpected addition to his burthens, and resents, above all, that he should be called upon to pay more to the State in order that another may pay less.

What follows? This, surely; that the time when there is a surplus revenue, when taxes are to be absolutely remitted, not merely commuted, is an opportunity which should be eagerly seized for weeding out the worst taxes, and getting rid of them for ever. That is the way to retrench to most advantage. The nation saves the tax, and it saves two or three times the tax in the moral or Edition: current; Page: [565] economical ills which were produced by the particular taxes she is enabled to extirpate. When you can reduce taxation itself, then is the time to get rid of bad modes of taxation; by which, still more than by the mere amount, taxation is injurious.

Have the Ministers thought of this? Not the least; equally deficient in worldly wisdom and in any higher kind, they have positively accomplished the marvel of remitting a million of taxes without gaining one particle of credit from anybody. They might have so managed their remissions that the country would save far more than the revenue would lose; they have so managed them that the country will not save one farthing more, if even so much. Except the trifling duty on tiles,5 they have not abolished a single tax. They have pared off a little from one and a little from another; leaving the expenses of collection undiminished, and removing none of the collateral evils even of the taxes which are lowered. Does any one suppose, for instance, that a slight diminution of that most immoral tax—on marine assurances, will be of any avail while the greater part remains? The reduction of the duty on soap is partially an exception to this part of our censure, if, as Lord Althorp affirms, it will put a stop to the illicit manufacture; but this is still a problem. There is probably no one individual in the community who will feel in this reduction of taxes any sensible relief; who will be conscious of having five shillings in his pocket which he would not otherwise have had:—we mistake; we ought to except Mr. Warren, Messrs. Goss and Co.,6 and other frequent advertisers, who will grow rich upon even so small a reduction of the advertisement duty, especially if the plan be persevered in of making the reduction greater in proportion to the repetition of the same advertisement.7 The landlords, too, of the London shopkeepers may have reason to be thankful to Lord Althorp for an increase of their rents, if, as is by no means improbable, that portion of the house and window taxes which is to be remitted in favour of their tenants, will go into their already well-filled pockets.

A reduction, less called for than that of the extra tax on the importation of raw cotton, scarcely could have been found.8 Some nonsense was talked by Mr. Baring and others about the advantage of this remission to our export trade;9 but, surely, in cottons, if in any thing, we have little to fear from foreign rivalry; and besides, the duty might be (we believe it already is) drawn back on exportation.

Edition: current; Page: [566]

With the amount of remission which the Ministers had decided upon, they might have entirely abolished the stamp duty on newspapers, the taxes on fire and marine insurances, on pamphlets and foreign books, the auction duty, and perhaps the duty on soap. By equalizing the duties on foreign and colonial timber, which with their present large majority* they could surely accomplish, though a Tory manoeuvre defeated their former attempt to approximate to such an equalization,10 they might have raised, as has been shown again and again, an additional million on timber without any increase of burthen, and with that they might have dispensed with the tax on paper and the tax on bricks11 or glass. By equalizing the house tax and fairly assessing the houses of the rich, they might have got rid of the window tax entirely. By equalizing the stamp duties they might have raised as large a revenue as at present with less pressure on the middle classes.

EXAMINER, 5 MAY, 1833, P. 275

For Mill’s earlier comments on property taxes, see Nos. 195 and 196. This article, responding to and quoting one in The Times, 2 May, p. 2, in response to the budget (see No. 202), is in the “Political Examiner,” headed as title. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘Confiscation Scheme of the Times’ in the Examiner of 5th May 1833” (MacMinn, p. 26). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets (including the note).

the times is at the head of that class of brawlers for a property tax, who mean by it a tax on other people’s property, exempting their own.

The Times has resisted all former projects of confiscation; but it is now identifying itself with perhaps the most audaciously unjust scheme of confiscation yet broached: a “property tax” to be levied on landholders and public and private creditors exclusively, and falling, as may easily be shown, upon the present landholders and the present fundholders, to the exclusion even of future ones.

But we shall allow this scheme of iniquity to speak for itself.

The object which, in common with a large body of the public, we had most at heart on this late occasion, was, that Ministers themselves, in accordance with the spirit manifested throughout the great towns, the capital, and the country, should have seized the tide at flood, and proposed, not resisted, the abrogation of the obnoxious imposts, Edition: current; Page: [567] replacing them by a “property” tax. Now, with respect to this latter expedient of finance, as it has given rise to much controversy, and will be contested, we presume, during, at least, the present Session of Parliament, it seems to us most desirable to employ no terms in the designation of the tax that can be turned to the sinister end of raising artificial difficulties in the shape of causeless terror, or repugnance, or creating ambiguities susceptible of what determination artful partizans may by and by be pleased to give them, and thus unfairly disposing the minds of men to look at this great, equitable, and efficient measure as one fraught with oppression and iniquity. In one sense, and one only, a “property tax” and an “income tax” is the same thing, namely, a tax upon the income derived from every species of fixed and realized property. The question has been put forth in recent publications, as if a Property Tax must mean of necessity a tax upon landed and monied capital, however employed or circumstanced. This is not what we have ever deemed to be a true description of the tax, or an honest one, of such a tax as, in this commercial country, would ever be endured. To tax, generally, the capital engaged in active commerce, would be to fetter industry in all its branches, and to impede the progress of the merchant’s or manufacturer’s profits on their way to investment in some shape or other, under which they might be fairly made available to a tax on property. By a Property Tax, that Property Tax which, with all the casual inequalities inseparable from it, though we believe they have been much exaggerated, that the public may be discouraged from demanding it, with all these we have, nevertheless, more than once recommended, by that tax, our intention is, a per centage tax on revenue drawn from legally ascertained and secured property, whether land, buildings, or money at interest in the funds, on bond, or mortgage, in perpetuity, for a definite term, or for life. This is at once an “Income Tax,” and a “Property Tax.” But it is not a tax on profits, precarious or conjectural. It waits until the profits, whether professional or commercial, shall have been converted by investment into capital, to which they have a general tendency, as all streams have to the ocean. Nine-tenths of the outcry which was raised against the old Income Tax was because of its warfare upon the operations of commercial industry, and for what? For the sake of less than one-sixth of the produce of the tax.

(The Times of Thursday last.)

The “equitable adjustment,”1 while vindicated on the ground of the pretended change in the value of the currency, was honesty itself compared with this. The shallow attempt at fraud which lies in the words “fixed and realized property” is hardly worth the trouble of exposure. A has twenty thousand pounds with which he sets up a manufactory. B has other twenty thousand pounds which he has lent to A: B is to be taxed and A is to go free. Why, in Heaven’s name? for what useful, for what honest end? Say, if you will, that the amount of A’s property cannot be correctly estimated, or that the attempt to estimate it would be inquisitorial; (we believe that is the phrase;) these may be good reasons against laying the tax upon A; but they can be no reasons for leaving him and fastening upon B. If you will not endure to be taxed yourselves, gentlemen of the Times, that does not entitle you to tax other people who may not be so well able to evade the tax. This pretension of capital engaged in business, to be exempt from taxation because it may be taxed when it is withdrawn from business, is a Edition: current; Page: [568] pretension almost worthy of the pampered selfishness of a hereditary Legislature. A tax is to be laid on the man who has saved, in order not to “impede the progress” of the man who is saving; the man who does not save remaining untaxed. The tax is not to fall on “profits,” it is to wait until the profits are “converted by investment into capital;” capital belonging to a farmer, a manufacturer, a merchant, or a tradesman, not being, it seems, capital at all. By your good leave, gentlemen of the Times, the people of Great Britain will not allow those four denominations of persons to withdraw their necks from the burthen of taxation, throwing their portion of the public expenses upon other people. Depend upon it, whatever may be the case with the poor, the rich, at least, in the times that are coming, will be obliged to share and share alike. By their stupidity and rapacity they may succeed in weakening the security of all property; but let them rely upon this, that they will not be permitted to make scape-goats of any particular class of its possessors.

The proposers of this precious scheme cannot but be aware that being partial taxation, it is confiscation; but they probably are not aware that it would be a robbery of the present landholders and fundholders exclusively. If a tax of ten per cent. were laid upon the income from land and the funds, the price of both would, of course, fall ten per cent. immediately, and future purchasers coming in at the reduced price, would have an equivalent for the extra tax, they would bear no greater burthen than they did before. The measure, therefore, would amount simply to a seizure of one tenth of the land from the present landholders, and a cutting off one tenth of the funds from the present fundholders. It would be one of the most naked acts of spoliation recorded in history.*

204.: FRENCH NEWS [78]
EXAMINER, 5 MAY, 1833, PP. 281-2

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 Edition: current; Page: [569] “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, Edition: current; Page: [570] 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 Edition: current; Page: [571] 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

Edition: current; Page: [572]

205.: FRENCH NEWS [79]
EXAMINER, 19 MAY, 1833, P. 313

For the context and entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 204. The item, headed “London, May 19, 1833,” is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets in the Somerville College set of the Examiner.

the education bill has passed the Chamber of Deputies, and will probably pass into a law this Session.1 It will establish one or more elementary schools in every commune; (township or village;) a school of a somewhat higher order in every town containing 6000 inhabitants; and a number of normal schools for the education of schoolmasters to teach in those local institutions. The plan is an imitation of some parts of the admirable arrangements of the Prussian Government for the education of its subjects.2 Once introduced, it can scarcely be so ill-managed as not to be a most substantial benefit to France.

The Chamber is now winding its way through a long and intricate Bill for more precisely determining the powers and duties of the municipal or communal assemblies,3 which, by virtue of a law passed two years ago,4 are chosen by something approaching to popular election. If the Chamber of Deputies and the Departmental assemblies were chosen by as large a body of electors as the councils for managing the local affairs of the commune, France would have little to complain of in regard to the substantial reality of her representative government.

After these two laws come the money bills; and with them the Session of 1833 will close. The Budget now about to be discussed differs from that recently voted in this, that it professes to propose no new loans.5 It takes 20,000,000 of francs (800,000l.) from the sinking fund, by cancelling redeemed stock to that amount. It takes two or three millions more (millions of francs) from the same source, for the purpose of public works, by bringing a further portion of redeemed stock again into the market; which, though not called a new loan, is really such, but to no very large amount. It is proposed to raise 20,000,000 (800,000l.) more, by increased taxation on the already overburdened article of Edition: current; Page: [573] wine.6 By these means, and by a small reduction of the enormous army, the deficit is to be, as they phrase it, comblé; filled up and made level.

The Duchess of Berri has simultaneously produced a daughter, and a lawful husband in the person of a Neapolitan Count, named Hector de Lucchesi-Palli.7 The poor Carlists find it best to deny the whole story. It is all, they pretend, an imposture got up by the Government.

EXAMINER, 26 MAY, 1833, P. 326

Mill here calls attention to a fellow radical, Carlo Beolchi (1796-1867), who was exiled for his part in the Piedmontese revolutionary movement, and taught Italian in London. The review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “Saggio di Poesie Italiane, scelte da Carlo Beolchi, LL.D. Con notizie interno alla vita ed alle opere degli autori. Rolandi, Berners-street. [1833.]” This is the 2nd ed.; the 1st ed. (London: Rolandi, 1825) was entitled Saggio della poesia italiana. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A short notice of a selection of Italian Poetry by Signor Beolchi, in the Examiner of 26th May 1833” (MacMinn, p. 26). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Notice of Beolchi’s Saggio di Poesie Italiane” and enclosed in square brackets, with one correction: in the heading “auiori” is corrected to “autori”.

this little selection of Italian poetry deserves to be recommended for this reason—that Mr. Beolchi has not, as such compilers generally do, contented himself with reprinting poems and passages of poems, which every one is familiar with, but has chosen for himself; selecting in preference the less known and less hacknied productions of the various writers. He has also included in his choice, specimens of the best Italian poets of the present age, some of whom are not unworthy of the better times of their country: Manzoni, Monti, Foscolo, Pindemonte, Rossetti, and others.1

Edition: current; Page: [574]

EXAMINER, 16 JUNE, 1833, PP. 372-3

The third of Mill’s favourable reviews of Fox’s journal (see Nos. 198 and 200) contains interesting material relating to his theory of poetry. Mill had nothing in this number of the Monthly Repository, but his “Alison’s History” appeared in two parts in the numbers for July and August. The review, which appeared in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “The Monthly Repository for June [n.s. VII]. (Edited by W.J. Fox.)”; the page references are to this volume. The article is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of the Monthly Repository for June 1833, in the Examiner of 16th June 1833” (MacMinn, p. 32). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Review of the Monthly Repository for June” and enclosed in square brackets, with one correction: at 574.28 “as” is deleted in “occasions; as it”.

an excellent number of an excellent work. Each article deserves a separate commendation, for each has its own merit and its own interest; and there is more than usual variety both in the subjects and in the treatment of them. The article which contains most wisdom, as well as beauty, is ostensibly a description of scenery, under the quaint title of Local Logic;1 and it indeed proves many things; but chiefly, what perhaps the writer least thought of, that the highest beauty is not that which is received from the object, but that which is given to it by the perceiving mind: that—(as Pope says)—

  • —the difference is as great between
  • The optics seeing as the objects seen.2

It is the poetry of description and the philosophy both in one; because the description is only the outward part, the inward is the feelings and the thoughts of a highly sensitive and reflecting mind. These feelings and thoughts are the soul, the scenery described is the body, which gives impressions to the soul but receives them back tenfold. The wisdom is not in sentences and maxims equally fit for all occasions; it admits not of being extracted; it pervades the whole, and shines through from beneath the surface, but no more admits of being detached from its external vesture, than the flesh from the skin.

Among the other articles we would notice particularly a paper on Miss Martineau’s tale of The Parish, in which the writer takes up the cause of that lady against her reviewer in the Edinburgh Review.3 We have seldom read any article more characteristic of Whiggery, of the Edinburgh Review itself, and of the Edition: current; Page: [575] juste-milieu respectability spirit in general, than that same Whig article on Miss Martineau. With some just and some unjust criticism on the details of her various performances, the aim and purport of the article on the whole was to intimate to Miss Martineau, in as many and as various forms of words as the writer could, that she was and should be reputed a very clever, meritorious, indeed extraordinary person, provided always she would submit all her opinions to the previous ordeal of Whig wisdom; that it is a very fine thing in a woman to write, and write with earnestness, on politics and morals, so long as all she writes in politics is strictly Whig, and in morals strictly common-place, but vastly shocking if she writes anything else. Every approach to free, vigorous, far-reaching thought which we recollect to have seen in Miss Martineau’s Illustrations, her Edinburgh reviewer, with scarcely an exception, singles out for special animadversion; and reads a succession of solemn, prosing, good-natured lectures to one who is at least as well-qualified to lecture him; and who in the long run will be by many degrees the more successful lecturer, for the time is no more when the ballast of society was too ponderous for its quantity of sail.

Our friend “Junius Redivivus” has two able papers in this number,4 and the Autobiography of Pel. Verjuice is full of mournful truths on education and society as they now are;5 and as such writers as the Edinburgh reviewer would for ever keep them, not from evil intention, but from a most plentiful lack of intellectual audacity and comprehension of mind.

EXAMINER, 30 JUNE, 1833, P. 409

This is one of three items on the renewal of the Bank of England’s Charter (see also Nos. 209 and 212). The Bank had been established in 1694 (5 & 6 William and Mary, c. 20); its most recent Charter, that of 39 & 40 George III, c. 28 (1800), was due to expire on 1 Aug., 1833. The Bank’s original monopoly had been curtailed by the allowing of Edition: current; Page: [576] joint-stock banks (i.e., banks with more than six partners) of deposit and issue, located farther than sixty-five miles from London, by 7 George IV, c. 46 (1826); the main question now was whether the Bank’s partial monopoly was to be prolonged. Mill here refers to the “Resolutions proposed by Lord Viscount Althorp, in the Committee on the Bank Charter” (31 May, 1833), PP, 1833, XXIII, 299-300, and to Althorp’s outline of the ministry’s further plans. The debate, in which Colonel Torrens moved that consideration of renewal be postponed until the next session, began on 28 June, and continued on 1 and 3 July (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 18, cols. 1306-53, 1361-1408, and Vol. 19, cols. 82-110). The brief unheaded note is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A paragraph on the Bank Charter Bill, in the Examiner of 30th June 1833” (MacMinn, p. 32). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Paragraph on the Bank Question” and enclosed in square brackets.

the scheme of the ministers with respect to the renewal of the Bank Charter is full of crudities, and rests on no rational basis of principle.1 As there is nothing in the nature of the question which presses for a speedy decision, it would be wise in Ministers to pass a temporary Act for continuing the existing system one year longer, and employ part of that time in a reconsideration of the subject, with the advantage of the discussions which their plan now, when promulgated, cannot fail to engender.—We shall return to this topic next week.

EXAMINER, 7 JULY, 1833, PP. 417-18

Mill here redeems the promise in No. 208 (q.v.), though he seems not to have been proud of his performance, for he wrote to his friend J.P. Nichol on 10 July that “the article was superficial, and could not consistently with its purpose be otherwise” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 167). He is commenting on the “Bill for Giving to the Corporation of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England Certain Privileges, for a Limited Period, under Certain Conditions,” 4 William IV (5 July, 1833), PP, 1833, I, 69-76, eventually enacted as 3 & 4 William IV, c. 98; it had received first reading on 5 July. The leader, which appeared in the “Political Examiner,” headed as title, is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘The Ministerial Measure respecting the Bank’ in the Examiner of 7th July 1833” (MacMinn, p. 32). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets, with three emendations: at 577.31 “opinions” is altered to “opinion”; at 582.7 “lest” is changed to “last”; and at 582.10 “fact” is changed to “part”. The second of these is clearly an inaccurate correction, and we have given “least” as what the sense requires.

the proposed measure for the renewal of the Bank Charter is a specimen of the sort of legislation to be expected from the sort of men by whom, for want of Edition: current; Page: [577] better, the instrument of Government is likely for some time longer to be wielded. In one respect, the reputation of Ministers ought to benefit by it. Those who have been accustomed to see in the timid, vacillating, and truckling policy of the present Administration, evidence of intentions hostile to the interests of the community, may incline to a more charitable judgment on seeing them exhibit, even on a question like this, where their greatest enemies cannot suspect them of any undue bias in point of interest, exactly the same kind of mental incapacity; no power of grasping any principle; no attempt to ground their proceedings upon any comprehensive, even though false, views; no appearance of understanding the subject, or even of thinking they understand it; nothing contemplated which rises to the dignity of even a half-measure—only quarter and half-quarter measures; a little scratching on the surface of one or two existing evils, but no courage to attempt their excision, because there has been no vigour or skill to probe them to the bottom. It is only in points of comparative detail that even the tendency is towards improvement; the general system of our currency, so far as altered at all, is to be altered for the worse; the exclusive privileges of the Bank of England are to be even extended.

From the tenor of the evidence delivered before the Parliamentary Committee of last Session,1 joined to the fact that the Committee was not reappointed to hear the other side of the question this year, it was probable that Ministers had made up their minds, (as far as minds like theirs are ever made up,) to maintain the Bank monopoly unimpaired, at least in the leading point of being the sole bank of issue in the metropolis. They appear to have been wholly governed by the authority of the London bankers, who had the natural prejudice of practical men in favour of the system under which they had thriven, and against changes which would raise up powerful rivals to themselves. Even able and honest men are apt to confide too exclusively in the modes of transacting business with which they are familiar, and the securities on which they have been accustomed safely to rely; they do not learn all at once to have equal trust in other though perfectly effectual securities, nor even in the same securities when the circumstances are apparently different. The opinion of the London bankers in favour of the Bank monopoly does not appear to us to be the result of argument. If they had given no reasons whatever it might have been supposed they had excellent ones to give; but since they have given reasons, if those reasons are mere assumptions, it must be supposed that they had a predisposition, (though, we are convinced, in the case of some of them, a perfectly unconscious one,) in favour of the conclusion they have arrived at; and that the merit of their argument, like that of a jest, lies “in the favour of him that receives it.”2

The principal reason assigned, the only one upon which any stress is laid, is Edition: current; Page: [578] the danger of competition. If banking was free, and bankers striving against each other to put forth their notes, there would be over-issue. But why? Tell us why? In all other branches of business competition is the great preventive and corrector of excess: the greater the competition the more accurately is the supply proportioned to the demand. If the markets of London were supplied with provisions by one single dealer, or one single company of dealers, there would be frequent over-supply and frequent deficiency. Every blunder, every miscalculation of a single individual would inflict upon the town one of these evils or the other. If there were two dealers, or three, and no more, they might all chance to miscalculate the same way. But there is so great a number, that their mistakes neutralize one another, and the markets are consequently supplied with a regularity and an equality, which the foresight of the ablest man, or body of men, could not make the most distant approach to; accident seems to have lost its powers over this portion of human affairs; there is no fluctuation, except where there is rational cause for it.

We have never heard any argument to show that the currency of London could not safely be supplied by private bankers, which would not also show that the food of London cannot safely be supplied by private dealers. If London had always hitherto, like a town in expectation of a siege, been victualled by the Government, what a clamour would be raised when the first proposal was made of trusting to private interest for the supply! Every man of routine would prophesy the utter failure of the plan; would predict that the metropolis would one day be left without food, that another day food would be brought to market in such quantities that it would spoil before it could find a purchaser; the subsistence of a million and a half of people would be declared too vast a concern to be managed by private hands, too all-important to be risked upon the faith of theories. These fears, anterior to experience, would not have been altogether so absurd as they seem: but with this experience, trusting with the steadiest confidence to competition for our food, it is strange we should think ourselves unable to trust to it for our circulating medium.

But let us grapple with this question somewhat more closely. It would be the interest of private bankers to put forth a super-abundance of paper and depreciate the currency. What then? Such is also the interest of the Bank of England. In order to make it not the interest of the Bank of England, that body is required to pay its notes in gold, in order that when they become depreciated, they may be brought back to the Bank, and gold demanded in exchange. This security is either sufficient or it is not:—if not, we are liable to depreciation from the Bank of England; if it be sufficient, the same obligation to give gold for their notes will operate with the same efficacy as a restraint upon private bankers.

It is supposed that if competition were allowed, every bank would strive to fill the entire circulation with its own notes: that each would attempt to put forth as much paper as if itself were the sole bank of issue; hoping that while itself Edition: current; Page: [579] derived all the profit, its rivals would bear a share of the subsequent loss, as the run for gold, occasioned by depreciation, would probably affect all the banks, not that alone whose over-issues had occasioned it. We state the argument as strongly as it can be stated; much more strongly than it is commonly put by those whom we are supposing to be influenced by it.

Our answer is, that after the first rush consequent on the removal of the restriction was over, and the supply of the circulation had divided itself among the various banks according to the extent of their connexions, and of the credit reposed in them, they would be very cautious of extending their issues unless to fill up a gap in the circulation produced by the discrediting of a rival bank, or unless the state of the money transactions of the country was such as admitted of an increase of the currency without depreciating it. If one of the banks commenced an imprudent extension of its issues, the other banks would be immediately warned of the fact by the increased number of its notes which would come into their possession in the course of trade; and they would immediately return those notes on the hands of the issuers in exchange for gold. Indeed this would be done, even without any express design on their part, the very first day, by the ordinary operations of the clearing-house. It is well known that the London bankers every afternoon pay over to each other the cheques drawn upon any one of them which have been paid into any other house during the day, and receive or pay the differences. If they were banks of issue they would at the same time, and in the same manner, interchange their notes as well as cheques. Consequently if any one bank had increased its issues while others had not, more of its notes would be returned to it at the clearing-house, than would be balanced by the notes of other banks paid into itself, and it would be called upon to pay the difference in cash that very day. The check would, therefore, operate instantaneously.

This is not only a necessary conclusion from the theory of the subject, but is borne out by specific experience. The Scotch banks, which, as every one knows, are the most stable banking establishments in the world, actually do exchange their notes in this precise manner; and the consequence is that there is nothing like the dreaded struggle of rival banks to supplant one another, but each rests satisfied with the share of the circulation which custom has assigned to it. The system, however, altogether prevents the existence of any bank of doubtful credit. No such bank exists, or has existed, except in one or two instances and for very short periods, in all Scotland for the last hundred years.

The arguments, therefore, of the supporters of the Bank monopoly are equally in contradiction to the reason of the case and to the most obvious and particular experience on the very point.

An exclusive privilege of issuing paper-money, given to such an establishment as the Bank of England, is altogether an anomaly. Either the regulation of the currency may safely be left, under the security of convertibility, to the private Edition: current; Page: [580] interest of the issuers, or, if not, it is part of the business of Government, and should be under the control of a responsible Minister. The common notion seems to be, that if the issuers look only to their own interest they will best consult that by over-issue; and that it is necessary the currency should be every now and then tampered with on some principle of public policy. But if this were true, there could not be a more unfit body to be entrusted with absolute power of regulating the currency, than a private irresponsible company. We must have the security of private interest or the security of responsibility, one or the other; if we cannot trust to the former, we must be fools to let ourselves be jockeyed out of the latter. If issuing paper-money must be a public trust, it should be vested in a public functionary, who ought to be liable to displacement if he prove incompetent, to punishment if he neglect or violate the duties of his office.

Our own opinion is, that the interest of the issuers of notes when obliged to pay them in gold on demand, is identical with the interest of the public, and that by taking their measures prudently for their own interest, they are providing effectually against over-issue and all other dangers. We would, therefore have banking free. It is desirable, certainly, to secure to the public the largest possible share of the profits arising from the substitution of the cheaper for the more costly medium of exchange. This, however, might be accomplished, as it is to a certain extent even at present, by a stamp duty on bank notes.3 This duty we would raise as high as it would bear. We would then remove all restrictions on the establishment of banking partnerships, and would even allow the formation of joint-stock banking companies with limited responsibility, provided a certain large amount of capital was first paid up. With the example of Scotland before us, we can feel no doubt that the formation of safe banks would drive all unsafe ones out of the field, and that the failure of a bank would soon become as unheard of an event on this as it is on the other side of the Tweed: ultimately, therefore, the issue even of one pound notes might, as in Scotland, take place without any danger; but in the mean time we would even, if necessary, prohibit all notes below ten pounds, in order to confine the circulation of paper to those classes who may be trusted to judge for themselves of the solvency of a bank.

With this proviso we should have no apprehension of the effects of allowing the issues of paper money to be as free as that of bills of exchange. We should as soon dream of giving to one establishment a monopoly of the latter kind of security as of the former.*

Edition: current; Page: [581]

The tendency of the Ministerial measure is “clean contrary.” The Bank of England is not only to remain the only bank of issue in London, but the wish of Government is that it should progressively become the issuer of paper for the whole country. With this view it is proposed to permit the formation of joint-stock banking companies, with limited responsibility, on condition that these companies shall not issue paper of their own, but transact all their business with the notes of the Bank of England. As these banks would probably, by the greater confidence of the public in their solvency, drive all or most of the present country bankers out of the field, Bank of England paper would wholly or in great measure supersede all the existing country paper. What advantage Lord Althorp anticipated from this substitution his Lordship omitted to inform us; but it is easy to see one obvious and inevitable disadvantage—a great increase of forgery. A country note never circulates beyond the neighbourhood of the issuers, and forged notes are presented for payment, or come into the bankers’ hands as deposits so very speedily that it is almost impossible to throw many of them into circulation without beng detected. But if Bank of England notes were the common circulating medium of Cumberland or Cornwall, the forger might continue his operations for months before a forged note passed into the hands of any one who could detect the forgery.

Lord Althorp has announced that for the present at least he will not press that part of his plan on which we are now remarking.4 He has not changed his opinion, but he candidly confesses that the country bankers are too strong for him, and that he cannot carry it. Along with the evil of this part of the project, we are therefore to be deprived of the good. The principle of permitting the formation of joint-stock companies for banking is for the present abandoned.

For the continuance of the Bank monopoly, so far as respects the issue of notes, there was at least a colour, a semblance of reason; men who had paid attention to the subject had advocated that side of the question. But what excuse, what pretext is there for continuing the exclusive privileges of the Bank of England as a bank of mere deposit? Would it have been credible a few years ago that any Ministry would have had the folly, or the boldness, to propose the renewal of the prohibition on the formation of banks with more than six partners, Edition: current; Page: [582] in London and 65 miles round it? Amidst so much cant about making banks secure, here is a law for the express purpose of making them insecure. Who that remembers Lord Liverpool’s letter to the Bank in 1826,5 and the warning he gave them of the little reason they had to expect any further prolongation of their monopoly after the expiration of their present Charter, could have believed it possible that a reforming Ministry, a Ministry the professed enemy of monopolies, would have proposed the renewal of even the least atom of the Bank monopoly, even that part of it for which no human being, instructed or ignorant, has yet ventured to utter one word of defence?

The importance of that part of the Ministerial measure which permits the country-bankers to pay their notes in Bank of England notes instead of specie, appears to us to have been greatly exaggerated both by its supporters and by its opponents. If the monopoly of the Bank is to be continued, we should, perhaps, approve of this provision. Considered as a further extension of the privileges of that body, we view it with decided disapprobation.

But what shall we say of the grandest improvement of all, the publicity of the Bank issues? When convertibility is secured, the greatest additional security which can be given to the currency is to let in the light upon all the accounts, and all the transactions of all banks of issue without any exception or reserve; that the public may know instantaneously when there is any danger of insolvency, or any danger of an excessive circulation, and that the check of convertibility may operate without a moment’s delay. This is the principle improvement which our monetary system, so far as its security is concerned, now admits of. And what do the Ministers propose? Publication once in three months, of the amount of notes in circulation only; and not even of the amount of notes circulating at the particular time, but of the average amount for three months previous. To the Government, indeed, weekly accounts are to be furnished; but the Government is the very party from whose tampering with the Bank, most danger is to be apprehended; the great over-issues of 1824 and 1825 were encouraged by the Government. As for the country bankers, they also were to disclose the amount of their issues to the Government, but the public were not to know even once in three months the amount in circulation of the notes of each bank, but only of all the country banks taken together. Even this has not been persisted in. The affairs of country bankers are to remain in the dark.

Thus every party or class which has interests opposed to the public, contrives to hold its own, and the public only are sacrificed. But that is because parties and classes look after their own interests, and the public neglect theirs.

There is only one other point which we shall notice. Doubtless any relaxation Edition: current; Page: [583] of the mischievous and contemptible Usury Laws,6 is a step towards good: but what sort of figure do a Ministry exhibit to any rational person, when they propose to the Legislature to declare that it shall be accounted right to borrow money at more than five per cent. interest for three months, and wrong for four; right, if the money is lent on a bill of exchange, and wrong if it is lent on mortgage? The fact is, that the country gentlemen, in their ineffable stupidity, do not choose to be allowed to borrow money at six per cent.; they prefer, when they cannot do without it, to borrow it by circuitous methods, at nine or ten per cent. contrary to law. The Ministers, instead of shaming the country gentlemen out of their ridiculous prejudices, give way to them, and dare not propose any measure which those sages would not like to pass. They therefore compromise the matter: instead of taking off the tight shoe, they make an incision into it where it pinches hardest.

210.: FRENCH NEWS [80]
EXAMINER, 21 JULY, 1833, P. 457

This item, headed “London, July 21, 1833,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “The summary of French news in the Examiner of 21st July 1833” (MacMinn, p. 33). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, the article is listed as “Article on France” and enclosed in square brackets.

the french chambers have concluded the second of their two continuous Sessions. The labours of the former of the two we passed in review some time since, and found subject for marvel that two Assemblies could have remained together for so many months and accomplished nothing.1 The second has not been so totally unproductive. The salutary alteration in the standing orders of the Chamber of Deputies, whereby they were enabled to take up the unfinished business of one Session in the next, at the stage in which it was left,2 has enabled the two Houses to pass three of the important laws which were pending before them.

The first in importance of these is the long expected and long suspended Education Bill.3 This is at length carried, and every parish in France will now have an elementary school, every town of 6000 inhabitants a school of a Edition: current; Page: [584] somewhat higher order. In its passage through the Chamber of Peers this Bill has undergone part of the usual deteriorating process. The local Committees who are to look after the management of the schools, are to consist of three members, of whom the curé is, ex-officio, to be one.

A Bill has passed for facilitating the arrangements with the owners of land required for public works.4 The great number of small landed proprietors in France, their exorbitant claims for compensation, and the superstitious regard paid by the French law and the tribunals to all proprietary rights, have hitherto opposed barriers almost insuperable to the formation of canals, railways, and other works of public usefulness. These obstructions will now be considerably diminished, and all authorities agree in representing the Bill which has just passed as a measure of substantial improvement.

The last of the three laws to which we allude is one which gives to the people, or rather to an extremely limited class of the people, the election of the departmental councils or administrative bodies for voting and appropriating the taxes imposed for the local purposes of the department.5 This law has undergone large mutilations to adapt it to the Oligarchical spirit of the Chamber of Peers. The Deputies, though themselves the representatives of a body of electors not amounting to 200,000, had, in spite of the Ministry, admitted a class not short of 400,000 to a voice in the election of these local bodies. But the Peers, always ready to abet the executive in any opposition to the extension of popular privileges, restricted the suffrage to a narrower body, consisting of the 180,000, or thereabouts, who have votes in the election of the Legislature, together with those who, by the exercise of a liberal profession, are qualified to serve on juries.

Little, therefore, beyond the principle of popular election, has on this occasion been gained; but even that is much.

The Deputies hurried through their second Budget with the most indecent precipitation.6 In order to get through their business and leave Paris, they consented to give up retrenchments which they had insisted upon in the budgets of the two preceding years.7 The salaries of various public officers, which were reduced two years ago, have been raised to their former standard, at a time when the expenses of every year considerably exceed the revenues!

Edition: current; Page: [585]

EXAMINER, 11 AUG., 1833, PP. 497-8

Writing to Carlyle on 2 Aug., Mill remarks that he has recently not seen much of Fonblanque and has contributed very little to the Examiner, “almost the only paper” being one that will appear “in the next or”—as it did—in “the next but one”. He continues: “I will let you find it out if you can; there is not much in it; it is all political” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, pp. 171-2). This deprecation must be somewhat discounted, for Mill habitually played up Carlyle’s distaste for the merely political; in any case, the reform and health of local institutions were important matters for Mill throughout his career. The first leader in the “Political Examiner,” headed as title, it is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘Municipal Institutions’ in the Examiner of 11th August 1833” (MacMinn, p. 33). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets.

a commission has been appointed, and, judging from some of the names in the list, we anticipate that it will be an honest and efficient one, for inquiring into the state of Municipal Corporations, and, of course, for suggesting all possible amendments in the constitution and functions of those bodies.1

These commissioners have now a noble opportunity of planting in the public mind the germs of the most important improvements which remain to be made in the machinery of government in this country. But to do this they must take a liberal and expanded view of the subject of their inquiries. They must not consider themselves limited to the paltry office of devising means by which rude institutions, adapted to the exigencies and the conceptions of rude ages, may be patched and cobbled so as to hold together some years longer. The whole of our local institutions must be revised; there is no soundness in them; for many important purposes they do not exist at all; for no good purpose do they make effectual provision, while they are the seats of the most pervading and audacious political profligacy to be found in the kingdom.

It would certainly be an exaggeration to say that the character of the local functionaries, and the conduct of local business, is more important than the constitution and character of the general government; for the latter includes the former: if the general government is bad, the local administration will commonly be bad too; the only security for the working of the subordinate parts of the machinery, is in the construction of the great central wheel or lever which sets the rest in motion. But it is little, if any, over-statement, to affirm, that the excellence of the form of government is chiefly desirable as a means to obtaining Edition: current; Page: [586] good local institutions. The real business of government is, almost all of it, local business. All the visible apparatus of a windmill or a watermill, is for nothing but to bring two millstones together: some of the greatest steam-engines in the world do nothing but send down buckets into a well. The machinery of government is equally humble in its immediate ends. It is neither at the head nor the heart, but at the extremities, that the ruling body touches the ruled. With what magistrate of the state do the bulk of the citizens come in contact? Who, as far as they are concerned, constitutes the Government? The king? the prime minister? the lord chancellor? No; the justice of the peace, the overseer, and the parish constable. Except in order that these last may do their duty, it matters little to any but a very few persons, what happens with regard to the others. Even the Legislature, the power which controuls all, when it makes laws affecting the most vital interests of the humblest citizen, does but issue orders which those local functionaries are to execute. And it might as well issue no orders, as issue them to persons who are incapable of executing them properly. There are numbers of important laws which the legislature cannot enact, because it knows that it has no persons to whom it can trust for carrying them into effect. This is the great obstacle to many of the most necessary amendments in the details of our institutions. One only part of the business of government—the levying of taxes—the central authority shows itself well able to accomplish without help from any one: it takes care to have local officers fit for that, if for no other purpose. But even that function it but divides with the authorities of the county and of the parish. The taxes which are voted by local and irresponsible bodies, probably exceed in amount those levied by Parliament for the general purposes of government. And this is no more than reasonable: for those local bodies really do us more service in return for our money: what they do, they do unspeakably ill; but they do the greater part of what is done. We often wonder what the nominal Government does, or pretends to do, for all that it costs. The question must be a puzzling one to foreigners, and to those who have lived in foreign countries, where Governments do govern, where the public business really is transacted by the persons who are paid for transacting it.

In this country, the practice has always been that the Government shall not govern. That was the practice, all over Europe, in the feudal times. The king, by the custom of those times, only led the people to battle. The king did not govern: so far as there was any government, the barons governed; and the king, as one of those barons, governed his own domain. As the king gradually absorbed the power of the barons into his own, they were superseded in their function of governing: but scarcely any substitutes were provided. The king supplied scarcely any organs of government, except the officers whom he had originally employed to govern his private domain, and those to whom he had been in the habit of referring the petitions which were made to him complaining of the conduct of the barons; in particular, his private secretary, his cancellarius, Edition: current; Page: [587] seal-bearer or chancellor. There were neither local courts of justice, nor local officers of administration. The French talk of centralization; but where is the centralization to be compared with ours, where, from one end of England to the other, there is scarcely to be found a paid Government officer, except a soldier or a tax-gatherer, anywhere but in London? It is true that the public business is not transacted in London, because it cannot be. It therefore is left to transact itself. Whatever could only be done on the spot, or could not bear the delay and expense of a journey to London, and yet could not be left undone, was turned over to amateurs. The corporate towns retained the powers (which had been granted them as an exemption from the jurisdiction of their enemies the barons) of managing their own local affairs, and administering justice by their own officers. The rest of the local business was flung to any person of station who would consent to undertake it. Hence the “commission of the peace,” and the perpetually increasing powers of judicature and administration which were intrusted to “their worships, the justices.” In almost all cases affecting the mass of the people they are the sole tribunal, and without appeal, except to themselves in quarter sessions. Almost every function or duty of a local nature, out of the corporate towns, has been thrown upon them, for want of any one else to undertake it. The administration of the poor laws is under their absolute controul. Gaols must be superintended, therefore the magistracy must do it. Gaolers must be appointed, therefore the magistracy must appoint them. There must be somebody to impose county rates, and to regulate their expenditure: who but the magistracy? Power to make roads and footpaths, and to stop them up, must reside somewhere: where but in the magistracy? Power must exist to preserve order in public places; therefore the magistrates must have arbitrary power of licensing, and arbitrary powers of restricting or of dispersing, assemblages of all kinds.

Let any one tell who knows, how these powers, and others without end which might be enumerated, are actually used. Interrogate any barrister who practises at the quarter sessions, in which, of all places where the magistracy reign, they are most under observation, and consequently most under restraint; you will hear that of all places where public business is done, that is the place where the most flagrant acts of injustice are committed with the least scruple. And what wonder? The men who made corn laws and game laws2 are the élite, the “choice and prime”3 of these men; selected expressly as such, and exposed to the gaze of all mankind. If such are the best, what must the worst be! If such is their conduct in the great theatre of London and Parliament, with the press standing over them rod in hand, what must it be in the dark corners, where the light never penetrates, Edition: current; Page: [588] and where the voice of complaint is never loud enough to be heard beyond the walls of the beer-house?

These are the institutions of England which need reform: unless they be reformed it is idle in practice and vain in theory to affect to reform the Legislature. If the possession of a certain number of acres of land, without any other requisite whatever, qualifies a man to administer the laws in his own hall, why not in Westminster-hall? Let the man with the greatest number of acres preside in the highest court: let the Duke of Northumberland be Chief Justice, and the Duke of Sutherland, Chancellor.4 If landed property be sufficient title for imposing county taxes, why not for imposing king’s taxes? Why did we complain that the great landholders nominated the House of Commons? We demand that the principle which Earl Grey broadly laid down as the foundation of his Parliamentary Reform, be taken for the foundation of Municipal Reform: we demand “Representation, not Nomination.”5

The Local Courts of Justice which must speedily be established, and to which, if so constituted as to work well, more and more of the judicial business of the country will as certainly be confided; these will, in time, gradually and quietly supersede the judicial functions of the unpaid magistracy. Their administrative functions, including that of local taxation, ought to be intrusted to local representative bodies, in the election of which all rate-payers should have a voice. The representative principle, though in a corrupt state, already operates in the election of the authorities of many corporate towns, and by the late Vestry Act6 it has been partially introduced into the affairs of parishes. But, for most purposes, parochial management is on too small a scale; the persons interested do not form a sufficiently numerous public, nor is the publicity sufficient to fix the attention of that public with the needful energy and constancy.

For every town there should be, as in France, a municipal council: for every district equal in extent and population to an average county, there should also be a council. In these councils should reside the exclusive power of imposing local taxes, and of determining their appropriation to local purposes. All local functionaries should make periodical reports to them, and should act under their constant surveillance. They should have the right of addressing the king for the removal of any officer of Government within their district. The multitude of private bills which now occupy the time of Parliament, to the great hinderance of the proper duties of the Legislature, and the success or rejection of which is now invariably determined by private intrigue and jobbery, should (where they cannot be superseded, as in many cases they might be, by general statutes framed once for all) be turned over to these local assemblies. They should have the controul of Edition: current; Page: [589] the local police, and the superintendence of all schools and other establishments supported by public money or private endowments. The purposes for which such bodies might be made available will be found to be innumerable; and are mostly such as cannot be even tolerably performed but by such means.

The necessity of such institutions is borne out by the authority both of constitutional and of absolute Governments. In France, representative bodies exist, chosen by a portion of the people, for the local taxation and administration of every department, every arrondissement, and every commune (township or village). In Prussia, a country which by the excellence of the details of its institutions puts to shame all the constitutional Governments of Europe, there have for some time existed provincial assemblies, and other municipal bodies, on the principle of popular election.7

If our country were to be judged by her laws, well might M. Cousin give the palm of highest civilization to France and Prussia, “without excepting England herself, all bristling with prejudices, gothic institutions, and semibarbarous customs, over which there is awkwardly thrown the mantle d’une civilisation toute matérielle.* The opinion be it remembered of no Jacobin or Republican, but of a French Whig, a philosophic doctrinaire.

The Commissioners for Municipal Corporations should carry their views, and even their recommendations, to the full length of what we have now proposed. There would, indeed, be no hope that plans of so comprehensive a character would at once be adopted; but the Commissioners need not expect to carry all that they propose, let it be ever so little. Though they pare down their reforms to the most inconsiderable dimensions, there will be abundance of persons who will take care that not more than half of what they ask shall be granted them. A Commission has this advantage over a Ministry, that it is under no necessity of proposing no more than can be carried; it may cast its bread on the waters, certain that the world will find it after many days.8 A solemn declaration of opinion from an authoritative quarter, going the full length of a great principle, is worth ten paltry practical measures of nibbling amendment. The good which any mere enactment can do, is trifling compared with the effect of whatever helps to mature the public mind; without which, all attempts to improve institutions must be failures, or at best only palliatives. And besides, even in actual legislation, what is obtained always bears some proportion to what is asked. Men may be frightened by the extent of change proposed, but that very alarm makes changes which would otherwise have seemed almost equally formidable, appear Edition: current; Page: [590] moderate; and we always find that gradual reform proceeds by larger and more rapid steps, when the doctrines of radical reform are most uncompromisingly and intrepidly proclaimed.

EXAMINER, 18 AUG., 1833, P. 514

For the background, see Nos. 208 and 209. This leading article in the “Political Examiner” is headed as title. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘The Bank Charter Bill’ in the Examiner of 18th August 1833” (MacMinn, p. 33); in the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets.

this piece of weak and ignorant legislation has passed through the Committee, and may have passed the House of Commons before these lines are printed; not entirely without improvement, but without the only sufficient improvement, viz., annihilation.1 Never was the answer more applicable which some one made to Pope when he exclaimed “God mend me.” “God could more easily make twenty than mend the like of you.”2

The principal change for the better consists in the destruction of not perhaps the worst, but the most undefended and indefensible of all the exclusive privileges which the measure, as it originally stood,3 was intended to prolong. The monopoly of the Bank is to extend no further than to the supply of currency. For deposit and other banking purposes, banks with more than six partners may henceforth be established in any part of the United Kingdom. For this amendment we are indebted to no conviction, to no enlightenment of the understandings of our Whig Ministers, nor yet to the wisdom of the House overruling their folly. We owe it to a singular discovery. Till now it had been believed that by the law as it stood, no banking establishment with more than six partners, except the Bank of England, could exist in London, or a circle of sixty-five miles round it, or could have existed anywhere in the kingdom, previously to the Act of 1826.4 Of a sudden it is discovered that this interpretation of the law is wholly erroneous; that there is not, nor has ever been any legal hindrance to the establishment of banks with any number of partners; that the Legislature, every successive Ministry, all parties interested in upholding Edition: current; Page: [591] the monopoly, and all parties interested in breaking through it, have been entirely mistaken in what so nearly concerned their duties, their occupations, and their interests. A curious picture of the law and of legislation; and a curious example too, if the fact really be as stated, of the fallacy of the expectation that what it is peculiarly and strongly men’s individual pecuniary interest to know, they will know; for of all the innumerable adventurers, or those who would gladly have been adventurers, in banking speculations, or who have actually founded numerous associations for banking purposes in other parts of the kingdom since 1826, if there had been one who had inspected the Act and given a fee to Sir William Horne or Sir John Campbell for telling him its real meaning, he must have learnt the very fact which those functionaries, as the law authorities of the Crown, have just promulgated to a wondering public.5

However, this being announced, put it in the power of Lord Althorp to escape from the awkward position in which he had placed himself before Parliament and the public by his hasty and silly measure, at no greater expense than that of an evasion—the favourite resource of juste-milieu politicians, as of all other waverers whether in public or private life. Had Lord Althorp made confession to the Bank of a change of opinion; had he said, “I was ignorant of the subject—I am now better instructed;” or even, “This measure is unacceptable to Parliament and to the country, and must, therefore, be modified in conformity to public opinion,” he would have done that which, next to proposing at first a well considered and well digested plan, would have been the noblest and wisest part a Minister could have performed. A mere private arrangement between Ministers and an interested party cannot, in common sense, bind a servant of the nation to betray his trust by pressing a measure when he has ceased to think it expedient, or to resign his office when the sworn enemies of the people’s dearest principles and wishes must be his successors. Lord Althorp’s engagement with the Bank was fulfilled when he had proposed the measure. That engagement could not have been forfeited by altering, or even by withdrawing the Bill, on the occurrence of any real change in his opinion either of the measure itself, or of the consequences to the public of persisting in it. The use of the private correspondence was merely to ascertain what price the Bank were willing to pay for what privileges, and if the privileges were refused the Bank were released from paying the price; that was all.6

But this view of the matter was not adapted either to the optics or to the nerves Edition: current; Page: [592] of a Lord Althorp. Observe his mode of dealing with the pretended pledge. He owns it; but as it would be inconvenient to keep it, he keeps it only “to the ear.” His bargain was that the Bank should retain their existing exclusive privileges.7 It is true that when this promise was made, Lord Althorp believed, and the Bank believed, and the world believed that the Bank did possess the privilege now in question; and, as long as this was the case, it is obvious that they enjoyed all the advantages which the real possession of the privilege could have given them. However, as the Attorney and Solicitor-General affirm that the Bank had not what all the world thought they had, it is not an existing privilege; and to refuse it to them hereafter, though as complete a change in their position as if they had really had it, happens not to be an infringement of the actual letter of the engagement. This is enough for Lord Althorp; and to this trick we are indebted for a riddance, which the most potent arguments, urged and re-urged from the beginning to the end of a Session, never would have procured for us.

The only other alteration for the better which this Bill has undergone, is the permission given to country banks of issue, whatever be the number of partners, to have agents in London and to make their notes payable there. By means of this clause a door will, we trust, be opened for the ultimate defeat even of those provisions of the Act which are intended to secure to the Bank the exclusive supply of paper-currency to the metropolis.

All attempts have failed to procure a shortening of the period of time during which this Act, for which the best that can be hoped is that it supplies the means for its own nullification, is to remain binding on the country. The monopoly is granted for twenty years; once during that period, namely, ten years from this time, it is to be subject to revision. But, with the consent of the Bank it may be revised or repealed at any moment; and before ten years have passed over us, times may come at which, as in 1826, the voice of the public out of doors will “act upon the prudence” of the Bank.

Edition: current; Page: [593]

September 1833 to October 1834

EXAMINER, 1 SEPT., 1833, PP. 552-3

This article is a response to one by Mill’s consistent foe, John Wilson Croker (see Nos. 37, 39, 40, and 355-8), who had published “French Revolution of 1830,” Quarterly Review, XLIX (July 1833), 464-85. Mill’s unheaded article, which is in the place where the summary of French news normally appeared, is described in his bibliography as “An answer to a paragraph in the Quarterly Review, standing as the summary of French news in the Examiner of 1st September 1833” (MacMinn, p. 33). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Article on France, in reply to the Quarterly Review” and enclosed in square brackets.

towards the conclusion of an article on France, in the last number of the Quarterly Review, written in the true spirit of that review, which may now be defined Toryism pretending to have grown desperate, we find the following paragraph:

The state of siege, and the bold and bloody, yet necessary and justifiable suppression of the sedition in June, 1832, have quieted matters for the present; and the construction of a circle of fortresses round Paris, under the flimsy and disgraceful pretext of guarding against foreign invasion, but for the real and convenient (though not very constitutional) purpose of bridling that turbulent town—will transfer the national force from the populace to the army, and to him who can maintain an ascendency over the army. When Marshal Soult shall have finished the new Bastilles, for the erection of which the reformed Chamber of France has voted so many millions, we shall hear of no more revolutions made by the Faubourg St. Antoine, or the “gentlemen of the press,” or the Elèves of the schools; and so weary is France of her forty years of liberty, that she not only consents to enormous pecuniary burdens to accomplish this astonishing tyranny, but she consents to it for a reason which in other times would have made every Frenchman’s blood boil with indignation—namely, that foreign armies can, when they please, march unresisted to the very barriers of Paris!1

As an attempt to characterize the spirit and purposes of the present French government, and the fraudulent and impudent pretexts on which Louis-Philippe and Co. are not ashamed to rest the justification of a measure intended to place Paris under the fire of fourteen citadels, the statement of the Tory scribe does not Edition: current; Page: [594] even come up to the mark. To have done justice to the subject, he should have recited some of the evasions, tricks, and direct falsehoods, by which the ministers attempted to palm this precious scheme upon the Chamber, positively asserting (for instance) that no part of Paris was within reach of cannon shot from any of the proposed forts;2 until M. Arago, the eminent mathematician, demonstrated, in his place in the legislature, that there is no part of Paris which could not be reached by cannon shot from some one or other of them.3

However, the Quarterly Reviewer is out in one of his parts, and the most important one. The designs he imputes to the French Government were indeed entertained, but (thanks to the spirit of “liberty,” whereof, let him lay it to his soul that France is not yet weary,) they were not executed. The “reformed Chamber of France” did not vote “many millions” for the erection of Bastilles, but, on the contrary, refused to vote a single franc;4 and in consequence, the works, which had been already commenced, (a favourite artifice of these Ministers, for extorting money,) have been discontinued.

Let the Quarterly Reviewer look to this: he does not know his lesson; we advise him to learn it better another time.

While we are on the subject, we will pause to ask, what considerable improvement of the public mind is to be looked for under governors whom every patriotic citizen, who mingles in public affairs, must not only be perpetually watching with both his eyes, but perpetually holding with both his hands, to hinder them from seizing on absolute power? It required all the energy of the press and of public discussion applied unremittingly to the subject for six months, to raise such a storm as was sufficient to blow away these fourteen Bastilles; even now it is said, the scheme is only postponed, and the fight must be renewed next year; during all this time spent in repelling encroachments on the ground which has been already gained, no progress is made towards gaining more. While the public mind must be kept by its leaders and instructors perpetually en garde, for the purpose of parrying some expected or unexpected thrust at the very vitals of its freedom, it cannot find time or attention for literature or philosophy, or social morals, or education, or the best part of Edition: current; Page: [595] politics—the improvement of the spirit and details of its institutions. It is this which keeps back France. Great Britain is happy in having no such obstacles. With us it is, at the worst, a question of more or less rapid, and more or less skilful, improvements. We have no usurpation to dread—no coup d’ état, with or without the form of law. That is a boon we reserve for Ireland.

EXAMINER, 8 SEPT., 1833, P. 567

The fourth of Mill’s favourable notices of Fox’s periodical (see Nos. 198, 200, and 207) is headed “The Monthly Repository for September [n.s. VII]. Edited by W.J. Fox”; references are to this volume. The review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of the Monthly Repository for Septbr. 1833, in the Examiner of 18th [sic] Sept. 1833” (MacMinn, p. 34). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Notice of the Monthly Repository for September” and enclosed in square brackets.

this excellent periodical maintains its reputation. It continues to pursue unflinchingly the same lofty purposes, and with the same high range of merit in the execution. The best articles in the present number are those entitled “Characteristics of English Aristocracy,” [pp. 585-601,] and “A stray chapter of the Autobiography of Pel. Verjuice, with the Episode of the Dried Font.” [Pp. 623-44.] From the former we have marked several passages to be extracted in another department of our paper.1 Pel. Verjuice is full of the poetry of narrative and description, with occasional touches of profound observation and reflection. We rejoice to meet for the first time in the pages of this work, the author of “Corn Law Rhymes,” and of other poems of still greater merit.2 We regard this as an indication that the character and merits of the Repository are becoming more generally known among those for whom, above all others, it is designed, the single-hearted and ardent reformers. The many have so few periodical writers on their side, that they cannot too highly value one who, like the editor of this work, stands almost unrivalled among those few.

Edition: current; Page: [596]

EXAMINER, 8 SEPT., 1833, P. 570

This unheaded comment is described in the conclusion to the entry in Mill’s bibliography for No. 214: “and a foot-note to an extract from the Repository in the Notabilia of the same paper [i.e., the Examiner for 18 [sic] September]” (MacMinn, p. 34). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, the item is listed as “Passage appended to an extract from the Monthly Repository” and enclosed in square brackets.

true;1 but those who should look to it are not the Miltons and Marvels, but those whom the Miltons and Marvels serve. They are the losers. Such men do not serve for hire, or they would go serve other masters. They say, and have said, in all ages, in the words of Pope,

What then? is the reward of virtue bread?2

EXAMINER, 22 SEPT., 1833, PP. 593-5

This leader, strongly expressing Radical discontent with the Whig ministry, was followed in quick succession by six more (Nos. 217-21 and 223), all in reply to The Reform Ministry, and the Reformed Parliament (London: Ridgway, 1833), which went through nine editions. Though it was written in part by the ministers, its nominal author was Denis Le Marchant (1795-1874), a lawyer, principal secretary to Brougham, and intimate friend of Althorp’s, who had prepared reports for the ministers on the Reform Bill debates. Writing to Carlyle on 5 Oct., Mill says: “I have been very busy and active in writing lately; even on politics; did you detect me in those long-winded answers (in the Examiner) to the ministerial pamphlet? but I tell it not to the profane” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 181). At that date only the first had appeared, but obviously the second (which appeared the next day) and almost certainly all the others had been written, for he left for Paris on 10 Oct. for his romantic interlude with Harriet Taylor, not returning until about 20 Nov., by Edition: current; Page: [597] which time the series had concluded. Writing of “The Close of the Session” in the Monthly Repository, n.s. VIII (Sept. 1834), Mill has occasion to recall what the Examiner had said at the end of the previous year’s session (CW, Vol. VI, p. 286), though he does not admit the articles to be his. The whole series appears in the “Political Examiner,” headed as title; this article is a first leader. The leaders are described in Mill’s bibliography as “A series of articles in reply to a ministerial pamphlet which appeared in the Examiner of the following dates and under the following titles: September 22d 1833 ‘The Ministerial Manifesto’ / September 29th 1833 ‘The Marvellous Ministry’ / October 6th 1833 ‘The Review of the Session continued’ / October 13th 1833 ‘Lord Brougham’s Law Reforms’ / October 20th 1833 ‘The Corporation Bill’ (signed A.B.) / October 27th 1833 ‘Conduct of the Ministry with respect to the Poor Law’ (also signed A.B.) / November 10th 1833 ‘Conduct of the Ministry with respect to the Post Office Department, and the payment of officers by fees’ ” (MacMinn, p. 34). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, “The Ministerial Manifesto” is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets, with one correction: at 605.31-2 “from abuses” is altered to “from the reform of abuses”.

some one has remarked, that a political pamphlet is to our modern world what an oration was to the democracies of antiquity: and there is much justice in the comparison. Demosthenes, when all the acts of his administration were made the subject of a state prosecution, directed not against himself but against a friend who had proposed to confer honours upon him, vindicated his aspersed character by the noblest monument of inspiring and dignified eloquence which mankind have inherited.1 No one that we have heard of has placed himself in jeopardy, by proposing to confer any honours upon the present Ministry: yet they have thought themselves called upon to produce their little “Oration on the Crown,” and here it is.

One of the differences, however, between Demosthenes and Lord Althorp (besides others, which it is unnecessary to particularize) is, that Demosthenes composed and spoke his own vindication; Lord Althorp, or whomsoever else we are to consider as the representative of the Ministry, has caused his to be composed and sent forth by an understrapper. Now we confess a preference for the old ways. We like to hear what a man can find to say in his own justification. We would gladly learn, not what reasons can be found for one man’s doings after they are done, by another man who had no hand in them; but what were the very reasons which influenced the man’s own mind. Any person in office can find somebody to point to what he has done, and cry Huzza! but it is quite another matter when the Minister himself is called upon for his own explanation of the principles of his measures. A compte rendu by the Whig Ministry of the principles of theirs, would be worth having. It would do Lord Althorp infinite good to attempt the composition of one. Could but our Ministers once find in Edition: current; Page: [598] their hearts to commit themselves to a principle, fairly embark themselves with a principle, wed it for better for worse! But no—they are afraid of principles; they are of that kind of persons who never can see the consequences of principles: they are children, and principles are edge-tools: they have no confidence in principles, because they have no confidence, and do not deserve to have any, in their own capacity of either in the first place choosing right ones, or, in the second, of discerning where the dominion of one principle is limited by the conflicting operation of another. They are men of shifts and expedients. What they are from the necessity of their own want of knowledge and judgment, they fancy they are from the necessity of the case. It is their notion of statesmanship. It has been the notion of such statesmen as they are, in all ages.

But if this were statesmanship, and if all their measures, from the greatest to the smallest, had been such as absolute wisdom would have dictated, no Ministers who ever existed have done less, the Reform Bill excepted, to found vanity and self-complacency upon, than these. For, the little tricks and devices and moyens de gouvernement of other Ministers have sometimes been their own; but this Ministry has hardly ever done anything but give way to the suggestions of others. Never was there a Ministry whose own will, or whose own opinions, had so little to do with their actions; if actions they can be called which were the result of mere passiveness. The question with them has seldom been, what is right? but, what will meet with least resistance? what will be easiest to carry? And even in that, they have not looked beyond the two Houses of Lords and Commons to the nation, nor beyond the present year to the next. Yet a more self-complacent, self-applauding Ministry, one possessed with a profounder sense of its own absolute wisdom, is not perhaps recorded in history.

We can understand that a Minister who has taken office to realize some grand and long-cherished scheme of improvement, and who, by the wisdom and vigour of his councils, has triumphed over all the obstacles opposed to him by interest and ignorance, and accomplished his end, may look back to his successful efforts with feelings of self-gratulation and pride. We can pardon the Ministers for feeling considerable exultation at their success in carrying the Reform Bill. We can understand, again, that a Minister whose object has been to resist innovation, to keep things as they are, to uphold institutions, and when abuses are inextricably interwoven with the texture of the institutions, to uphold abuses; that a Minister who has been consistently conservative, who has opposed a bold and unyielding front to the spirit of the age, may feel elevated by the thought that he has done all that man could do for a good cause, and if he has not been wholly victorious, has at least prevented much evil. There is a third kind of Minister whom we could allow to take to himself, to whom we could cheerfully give, a large share of credit for his administration. This would be a man who, taking the reins of office in a period of transition, a period which is called, according to the opinions of the speaker, an age of reform, of destruction, or of renovation, Edition: current; Page: [599] should deem it his chief duty and his chief wisdom to moderate the shock: to mediate between adverse interests; to make no compromise of opinions, except by avoiding any ill-timed declaration of them, but to negociate the most advantageous compromises possible in actual measures: to reform bit-by-bit, when more rapid progress is impracticable, but always with a comprehensive and well-digested plan of thorough reform placed before him as a guide, and so that the partial reforms, one and all, may fit well into the general reform which is ultimately to be effected; to be ingenious in the contrivance of means by which the greatest amount of public good may be attained with the smallest loss to individual interests, and that loss again made up (when made up it ought to be) at the smallest expense to the public. Such a minister might be indulged in some feelings of triumph. But for a Ministry to sing hymns in their own glory for a set of measures in which they have had scarcely any share but as passive instruments, either of a strong popular cry or of some interested parties—which they have never known how to defend, even when defensible—of which they have shown themselves ready to give up the whole or any part, not indeed upon argument, but upon any show of strong opposition—into which they have really put nothing from their own minds, except such crudities as they were obliged to surrender at the first summons—and have had no resource for making the machinery work smoothly, but that of flinging public money to all who were dissatisfied, with a lavishness for which we can seek a parallel in none but the most profligate Governments,—this, truly, is too much. And yet these men are fully persuaded that no one, not perverted by factious motives or a splenetic disposition, can fail to join his voice in the chorus of praise!

It could be worth no man’s while to devote an article to the examination of the pamphlet before us. It is a summary of the legislative measures of the Session;2 as such, it serves the convenience of a day: beyond this, it has no merits to stand upon, but those of the cause it advocates; it shines, if at all, solely with the lustre of the deeds which it commemorates. Nearly all it does is to state the substance of each of the measures which the Ministry have carried through Parliament, and after each to applaud long and loudly. When ground is attempted to be laid for the applause by any arguments, it is by the most meagre abstract of those which were employed in the discussion.

This piece of advocacy, we must observe, is grounded on a part only of the facts. It passes over three-fourths of the essentials of the case. It builds a lofty eulogium of the Ministry, exclusively upon what they have done. But their merits or demerits are compounded of what they have done, of what they have opposed, and so prevented from being done, of what they have failed in doing, and of what they have said. This last is by no means the least, is perhaps even the Edition: current; Page: [600] most important. The words of a statesman are deeds: the words of a reforming statesman have often greater results of good or evil than any other of his actions; for doctrines, in times like ours, weigh heavier in the balance of events than Acts of Parliament; and the doctrines which a Minister lays down may be large and comprehensive, and may help to educate the public mind for better things, while the measures of even the best Minister must be, for a long time to come, the result of a thousand compromises with adverse interests and prejudices. The sayings, too, of a Minister, in these times, are so much more his own, so much stronger an indication of the direction of his inclinations, than the remainder of his doings. Public affairs and the public mind are in a state which must compel any Minister to adopt many measures of reform. But it is what he says that enables us to judge whether his heart goes with what he does; whether if he could he would do less, or whether if he could he would do more. Nothing can be more unfortunate in this respect than the conduct of the present Ministers. They might have been excused for proposing half-measures, and even for what it is harder to excuse, giving up half of even the half-measures they proposed; had they but so spoken as to give the public assurance that their will was greater than their power. But instead of this, they made professions and adopted language, which seemed even intended to persuade every body of what we believe to be quite unfounded, that not the doing so little good, but the doing even that little, was forced upon them.

The advocate of the Ministry has judiciously kept all these things out of sight. He sees not, or if he sees, owns not, that men who talk as Tories, will never be trusted to for continuing to act as Reformers; that men who defend sinecures, and impressment, and the jobs in the Post-office, and who say that nine of every ten Englishmen would regret to see the Bishops turned out of the House of Lords, and that triennial Parliaments are inconsistent with the Monarchy, will never gain much credit for loosing their hold of a few abuses which the most inveterate Tory could not any longer hope to maintain.3 The people are ready enough to take the will for the deed, but they will not, in opposition to all appearances, take the extorted deed for the will.

Had the acts of the first Session been all that could be expected, a really reforming Ministry would have declined to be judged by them. It would have said, for it would have felt, “We could not in the first Session rationally hope to effect much; receive ye the little which we have done as an earnest of the much which we intend, and judge whether our doctrines and professions are those of Edition: current; Page: [601] men who are determined to go forward, or of people who are looking both ways at once, and providing themselves beforehand with a cover for an eventual retreat.”

Thus would have felt and spoken a brave and high-minded Ministry. But the advocate of these, is forced to drop all notice of that part of their conduct which might have been grand and comprehensive and courageous, their declarations of opinion and intention; and has rested their claims to admiration upon that part which must, let the men be what they would, have been narrow and petty and half-and-half—their Acts of Parliament.

Take one glance at these Acts of Parliament. Look down the table of contents of this our pamphleteer; see, in heaven’s name, what they are, these gifts of the Reform Ministry, for which we can never laud them too extravagantly, or bow our heads too low to do them homage. Ten years, or even five years ago, some of these things might have been matter of praise; but now! to hear a Ministry deified for the Irish Church Bill! for the Slave Bill! for the East India Bill! for the Bank Bill! for the Factory Bill!4

Have we now a reformed House of Commons, or have we not? Is the deliberate and strong conviction of the middle classes, the arbiter of our government, or is it not? If it is, where is the mighty merit, where is the merit of any kind, if some one or two popular objects have been accomplished after the discomfiture of the boroughmongers, more than would have been adopted by Parliament while the boroughmongers were in their strength? Even this moderate claim on our applauses does not belong to all the above measures. What Minister, even with an unreformed Parliament, would not have opened the China trade?5 The Duke of Wellington had officially notified his intention of doing so.6 What Minister, when the Bank Charter expired, would not have made some new arrangement with the Bank? What Ministry after Parliamentary Reform, could have avoided making some reform in the Irish Church? and what Ministry could have made that reform less? What Ministry could have helped passing some Factory Bill? and what Ministry could have passed the Ten Hours’ Bill, without considerable amendments?7 What Ministry could have helped making retrenchments? and what other Ministry could have made so much retrenchment go such Edition: current; Page: [602] a little way in affording relief? What Ministry could have helped, in the excited state of the public mind at the opening of Parliament, introducing some measure to provide for the speedy and complete emancipation of the negroes?

The merit of doing all these things, as is obvious to any person of common sense, could not possibly consist in the things themselves, but in the manner of doing them. And in the manner, which alone could be a ground of either praise or blame to the Ministers, they have deserved scarcely any praise, and a large measure of blame.

Take, first, their Slave Bill. It is scarcely worth while to recall to the memory of the public, which speedily loses the impression of abortive absurdities, what this measure was in its native crudity, in its first unlicked state, when, after a fortnight’s gestation, it started forth, not like Minerva, from the brain of Mr. Stanley, and having staggered for a few paces tottered and fell.8 That precious scheme, by which the slave was to be called a freeman, and under that title was to work by compulsion three-fourths of his time for a master, and the other fourth for wages which he was not to receive, but which were to be paid to the Government in order to be repaid to the master; that notable scheme by which the master was to be indemnified out of his own pocket; one-fourth of the labour of his slave being taken from him without compensation, and he being compelled to buy it back, in order that the money thus extorted from himself might be returned to him as compensation for what had been taken away!—these marvellous contrivances deserve to live only as examples of the “strange tricks” which may be played “before high heaven”9 by a raw journeyman statesman, aptly, by Mr. O’Connell, denominated a shave-beggar,10 when he extemporizes an act of legislation in reliance upon intuitive genius, without either knowing, or consulting those who know, anything of the subject.

Edition: current; Page: [603]

These nonsensical phantasies, below the intelligence of an average schoolboy, could have passed, we confidently trust, no assembly of sane men in Christendom, and could not pass our House of Commons. Instead of them what have we got? Let us look at the provisions of the measure as they now stand.

The people of England were bent upon immediate emancipation: there were fears that in the imputed parsimony of a democratic Government, they would even demand the flagrant injustice of emancipation without compensation. The result proves one thing at least, that the danger did not lie that way. Have they obtained what they demanded? They have not. The slaves are not wholly and at once emancipated. Compulsory labour continues, and is to continue for six years. But though the slaves have obtained but a part, the people of England have paid the price of the whole. On the best official calculations which could be made, the twenty millions which have been granted are, as nearly as can be estimated, the full market price of all the slaves in our colonies. Emancipation without compensation was apprehended; but who ever dreamed that the gift of a reformed Parliament would be compensation without emancipation; that England would buy the slaves out and out, and not make them free! The masters are to have the full price of their slaves and part of the slaves’ labour too. An act of national justice is turned into a job for putting public money into the pockets of the owners of slaves.

And the slaves themselves; how is their well-being provided for? The opponents of immediate emancipation contended, and justly contended, that the good of the slave demanded a gradual relaxation of his bonds, in such a manner and by such steps that habits of voluntary industry, prudence, and self-controul, unnecessary in a state of slavery, but essential to the enjoyment and to the good use of freedom, might take root in his mind before he was altogether set free. To accomplish this purpose, what have the Ministers established? A system of pauper labour! ay, the very system the condemnation of which their own Poor Law Commissioners have made resound through every corner of the country;11 the system which awards subsistence to the labourer not according to his work, but according to his wants, and enforces labour, not by withholding wages, but by the powers of the magistrate; that most unhappy compromise between a state of slavery and a state of freedom, which combines only the evils of both; which renders labour odious by dissevering it from its reward, more completely than in slavery itself; the very system which has destroyed the industry and morality of the industrious and moral English peasant, have these sages adopted as a means of moralizing and training to voluntary industry men who have always been slaves!

It is for this that twenty millions have been added to the amount of the National Edition: current; Page: [604] Debt, and more than a hundred millions, as the event, we fear, will prove, to its unpopularity! Yet the sole chance for the working of such a system without the most calamitous consequences, lies in the very extravagance of the compensation. The only hope for the slaves is now in the colonial legislatures. The unexpected magnitude of the gift may allay their irritated feelings, and leave their eyes so far open to their true interest as to see the policy of exchanging the forced apprenticeship for a voluntary contract between master and servant for work and wages.

Let it not be said, that although this measure has its inconveniences, inconveniences of perhaps equal amount would have attended any attempt to accomplish at once the difficult transition from the disease of slavery to the healthful state of free labour. A most simple modification and extension of the Spanish system of manumission (actually advocated in Parliament by Mr. Charles Buller,)12 would at just one-sixth of the expense, have united compensation to the planters with a speedier emancipation to the slave. If the Legislature, instead of buying the whole of the slave’s labour, had bought for him the free use of one day in the week, and having fixed his price, had permitted him, on tendering one-sixth part of it, to purchase another and another day until completely emancipated; it may be shown by a simple calculation founded on the known rate of wages in the colonies, that a slave who employed the whole leisure thus obtained in working for wages, and the whole of those wages in purchasing the remainder of his freedom, would have achieved it, not in six but in about three years. Not only would the association have been the closest conceivable between labour and its reward, and the incentive to voluntary labour the strongest possible, but every slave would have had the power, if he chose to exert it, of being emancipated in a much shorter time than by the present plan; by means of voluntary, not as at present of forced labour: the moral, prudent, and industrious slave would have been emancipated first, and those who would have waited longest for freedom would have been precisely those who were least fitted for it. This combination of almost immediate emancipation with the best possible moral education for the negro, would have cost this country between three and four millions; and it is paying twenty for—what we have described.

But the Irish Church Bill! And what have the people gained by the Irish Church Bill? Except the Irish landlords, who will profit by the abolition of the Vestry Cess, what human creature will derive one particle of advantage from the Irish Church Bill? We beg pardon; we had overlooked the better cultivation of the church lands, which is a possible consequence of the abolition of fines for the renewal of leases.13 That is the sum total of the public benefit which will be derived from this vaunted Bill.

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The few who still believe that there ought to be a Protestant Church of Ireland, may deem it a wonderful gain that the number and emoluments of the Bishops and richer clergy of that Church are to be reduced, and the savings converted to the general purposes of the Establishment. But what rational person sees anything to care for in this? Not the manner in which the plunder is distributed, but that they are plundered at all, is the complaint of the Irish people: that tithes are wrung from them, and their national property is detained from them, for the emolument of a priesthood who are not of them, whose faith they believe not, by whose existence they benefit not. The question is not now concerning the abstract utility of Church Establishments. The warmest friends to the Church of England have thought and think, that rich endowments, if useful for maintaining a religion, are most ineffectual for propagating it, and that the only Protestant Church suited to the condition of Ireland is a Missionary Church. The famous clause which asserted the right of the State to divert, not the endowments, but the additional value which it was supposed was about to be given to the endowments, to other purposes than those of the church, was never of much value as the assertion of a principle; such as it was, however, it was given up, for a reason worthy of quack politicians, that a principle, unless much was to be gained by its being immediately acted upon, was not worth contending about!14 When will they learn that the assertion of a single great principle of political morality is worth any twenty of such paltry measures as theirs?

The Church of England in Ireland must be swept away altogether. We do not blame the Ministers for not having done this at once, but if we could we would do it at once: the nuisance and insult should disappear from the soil of Ireland without delay, and cease forthwith to irritate her people. Pensions however should be given to the existing incumbents, equal to the amount of their present net incomes, abating the expenses now required by their station. Nor let it be forgotten that in the first edition of this Bill, it was proposed by the Whig Ministers to tax existing incumbents, and that the Radical members were foremost among those who forced them to abandon that meditated infringement of an important principle.15 Those who are liable to suffer from the reform of abuses may be taught by this, that though they will obtain less favour, they will have more justice, from the thorough, than from the half-and-half reformers; and Edition: current; Page: [606] that it is at least as much their interest, as it is the interest of all the rest of the community, that the reforms which must come, should be effected by those who will effect them on principle—not by those who, remaining motionless till forced to move, and having then no rule but to trim between adverse parties and give a little to one and a little to the other, are as likely to make the just rights, as the unjust pretensions, of both sides, burnt-offerings in the propitiatory sacrifice.

But what consistency, what rational principle of action can be in the minds of men who with one hand eradicate ten Bishops from the Irish Church,16 with the other, plant a hopeful commencement of an Irish Church in India;17 adding two new Bishops to the one who already existed, at the expense not of the European residents, who alone can benefit by them, but of the poor, overburthened cultivators of the soil; the pretence at first made of incurring no additional expense being almost immediately abandoned; and, to buy off the opposition of Mr. O’Connell and of Mr. Sinclair,18 more money wrung from the poor Hindoos to pay more clergy for the Catholics and the Presbyterians! Was this a time to create new Bishoprics, when the word Bishop stinks in the nostrils of two-thirds of the people? Was this a time to add to the expenses of Church Establishments? The only opposition to this enormity was made by several of the Radical members;19 who almost alone took the trouble to attend the later discussions on the India Bill, and were the cause, almost exclusively, of the few improvements it has undergone. We have no room to show up all the crudities of this most ill-digested Bill; and enumerate all the modes in which it heaps additional expenses on a people, whose taxes, though higher than they can bear, do not even now suffice for the expenses of their government. We will only mention that the Bill originally contained a clause which would have raised a religious war all over India, by turning loose, on account of the mere name of slaves, the inmates of every harem in the country;20 and that in opposition to the unanimous opinion of the Court of Directors, the Bill perpetuates and enlarges the monopoly of the most signally ill-conducted public institution of education in Great Britain (and that is saying much)—the College at Haileybury.21

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The Bank Bill! here, at least, is a measure, vicious in its very principle, bad almost from the beginning to the end; a Bill for the prolongation and enlargement, not the extinction, of a monopoly which Lord Liverpool, seconded at that time by one of the members of the present Ministry, made no secret of his intention to destroy.22 We have entered fully into the demerits of this Bill on a recent occasion.23 The subject, no doubt, was intricate, and authorities differed; there is more excuse for the blunders of the Ministry on this question than on some others, but surely no ground for praise. Their mode of making up their opinion on this subject is characteristic of the quality of their minds. Incapable of forming his own judgment, Lord Althorp sought for authority on which he might rely;24 for practical authority, if we may adopt the phrase of those who have faith in blind routine, but not in reason. And whither resorted he for this trustworthy guidance? To the London bankers! as if dealing in money made men conversant with the principles of currency; or as if he should consult the man who drives his coach, concerning the best mode of building it. His coachman, at least, would have no interest different from his own: not so the London bankers; whose habits, whose riches, whose importance, were all identified with the system by which they had thriven, and could not, and cannot, but receive a considerable shock from even so slight a modification of that system as has actually taken place.

We must pause here; but the subject is not half exhausted. Undeserved panegyric provokes the utterance of censure, which else might have remained unspoken. Their own pamphlet has opened up the entire question of the merits of their administration; the papers in their interest have vaunted it as a triumphant display of merits beyond appreciation, to which none but Tories or Destructives25 can affect to be insensible; and by their good leave and that of the public, they shall hear the other side too. They shall learn what men who are neither Tories nor Destructives, but cautious though earnest reformers, think of them and of their measures. We shall resume our examination in the next paper.

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EXAMINER, 29 SEPT., 1833, PP. 609-11

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography and the context of this second leading article in reply to Le Marchant’s The Reform Ministry, see No. 216. In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, the article is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets.

we resume our examination of the Ministerial Manifesto.

The first Session of the Reformed Parliament has been prolific in legislation concerning Ireland. Besides producing an Irish Church Bill, it has also produced an Irish Tithe Bill, and an Irish Coercion Bill.1 Not only for the so-called Church Reform, but for the Tithe Bill, and even for the Coercion Bill, applause is claimed in behalf of the Ministry by this unwearied eulogist. They have placed Ireland under martial law, and outrages have ceased. “They made the giants first, and then they killed them.”2 The outrages were wholly a consequence of the insane attempt to enforce the collection of tithe; and have been put an end to, not by the Coercion Bill, but by the cessation of that dignified contest, in which horse, foot, and artillery took the field to enable a collector to sell a poor man’s pig, and the pig returned home unsold! The Tithe Bill set the final legislative seal to the relinquishment of claims which had already been tacitly abandoned. The lawless outbreakings of the Irish are of the nature of rebellion; they are the mode in which that nation resist what they deem oppression, and they have drawn off their forces because the enemy have sounded a retreat. Ministers chose rather to alienate a whole people than confess themselves vanquished, and their Coercion Bill, which looked so fierce and has proved so gentle, turns out to have been, as Lord Grey said of a foolish lord’s foolish speech, “all sound and fury, signifying nothing;”3 a mere flourish of trumpets, to give a defeat the air of a triumph; and John Bull pays for all. No marvel if the Irish are quiet, having got all they desired.

But to understand how far the wisdom, the foresight of Ministers has reached in the matter of Irish Tithe, it is necessary to go a little further back.

When they came into office the passive resistance had commenced: the clergy could not collect their tithe, and that unpopular impost had practically repealed Edition: current; Page: [609] itself. As usual, the redress which would have been denied to justice was granted to force, and the injury we had no longer the power of inflicting, we magnanimously resolved to forbear to inflict. Mr. Stanley, the “shave-beggar,”4 as careless of his words as of his actions, and equally incapable of weighing the consequences of either, proclaimed the “extinction of tithes.”5 But while tithes were to be extinguished in futurum, the existing arrear was to be exacted at the bayonet’s point; not, to be sure, for the value of the sum, which besides would be almost all swallowed up by the expense of collection, but to “enforce respect for the law.”6 And nobly the scheme has succeeded, and glorious is the respect which has redounded to the law and to all law from this well-advised enterprise! After exhibiting the whole strength of a Government, with all its civil and all its military apparatus, arrayed against an unarmed people, and by that unarmed people baffled and disgraced for two entire years; after teaching to the Irish, aye, and to the English and Scotch, a lesson of successful disobedience of the laws, which they will never forget, which they are even now putting in practice all over the land; after wantonly establishing for this single purpose a precedent, the reach of which passes the bounds of human conjecture, a precedent for placing a whole nation out the pale of law—it has even come to this, that the thing is impossible, and must be abandoned. But old rules are reversed; in these our days it is the beaten who triumph! They have not the excuse of the blind, that they had blind guides. They were warned of all this. They were told that the tithe would not be paid. They were told that all their efforts to exact it would only cover themselves with ridicule, and involve the law and the Government in still deeper detestation. They were told that of the two evils, if it were necessary to choose one, it was far preferable that England, even England, which from time immemorial has paid the price whoever else reaped the gain, should indemnify the parsons, and bribe them to let the tithe-payers alone: though the funds which ought on every rational principle to have borne the burthen, were the endowments of the Church of Ireland. The Ministers were deaf to these warnings. They persisted in their folly. As they have sown so have they reaped. We have had the disgraceful contest between the people and the Government. We have had the triumph of anarchy, the successful defiance of the law. We have had their Coercion Bill, their martial law, on the pretext of punishing that defiance. And after all this evil has been incurred we have likewise that other evil, which had it been inflicted to prevent the former, we might better have endured. Since the people of Ireland will not pay tithe, they will not be required to pay, and the people of England are paying it in their stead. Memorable result of the combined wisdom and vigour of a memorable Ministry! Were it only for Edition: current; Page: [610] this, they will live in the remembrance of men as long as a signal example shall be wanted of feebleness joined with presumption.

Even what they have at last done, they had not the good sense nor the courage to do spiritedly, directly, and above board. They could give twenty millions to the West India planters, but they did not like to propose to give one million to the Irish clergy: it was therefore lent. Lent to whom? to the clergy doubtless; to be repaid then by the clergy? not at all: to be repaid by the landlord. But the landlord! why the landlord? by what right? with what colour of justice? Why single out from the nation one class, (a class, it is true, little used to be selected for undergoing injustice,) and require them to pay a debt which is not theirs, which was incurred by the obstinacy and improvidence of the Government? True; it would be unjust to lay it on the landlords, on the landlords therefore it shall not lie. Where then to place it? Now will the historian of a future age open his eyes and stare with astonishment at the device which was hit upon to reconcile all difficulties. The clergy are to be indemnified by the State, the State is to be indemnified by the landlords, and the landlords, bless the mark! are to be indemnified by the tithe-owing tenant. The origin and motive of the whole proceeding was that the Government itself, having gone forth with soldiers and field-pieces to collect the tithes, had been unable to accomplish it; and what the State has given up as desperate, it turns over to the landlords, as satisfaction for what it forces them to pay in quite other coin; as though it should confiscate the whole of their earthly estates, and assign to them a corresponding number of acres in nubibus by way of compensation! The very best supposition the case admits of, for the credit of Ministers, is that the whole transaction was a premeditated fraud. They should instruct their friends to give out that they knew the indemnity was a delusion; that they knew the tenant could not be forced to pay to the landlord what he could not be forced to pay to the State; and that their object was to lay a partial tax upon the Irish landowners without avowing the intention.

We pass to their measures relating to the public revenue and expenditure, and the kindred subject of commercial legislation.

The Ministerial pamphleteer insists with great emphasis upon the retrenchments which have been accomplished, and of which he makes an elaborate display.7 He is much in the right; no part of the conduct of his patrons makes a fairer show; pity that it is but a show! Their advocate has seized, perhaps, the only moment in the history of their administration, at which the merit of economy could colourably be attributed to them. The expenses which they have retrenched have just ended, those which they have caused are only about to begin. They have remitted taxes, since they came into office, to the amount altogether of more than three millions; but unless the retrenchments they have Edition: current; Page: [611] effected are but a trifle to those they will yet effect, wait and see what are the new taxes they will be obliged to lay on. Twenty millions to the West India planters, of which all but about three and a half were sheer waste; a million to the Irish clergy; nearly two millions (we forget the exact sum) lent, or what is the same thing, given, to the baby King of Greece;8 the interest of all this has to be provided for by new taxes: besides an indefinite annual sum for supplying all the West India colonies with what the mother country has never yet had the good fortune to possess, viz., a stipendiary magistracy, a police, and universal education. Several millions are, moreover, to be repaid to the East India Company and to the Bank: sums which had been lent to Government, part of them, we believe, at no interest at all, the whole of them at less than the market rate. Some of these expenses Ministers proposed to meet by an extra tax on colonial sugar;9 but they must be very simple people who can believe that sugar will not already be extra-taxed beyond all endurance. Ministers have looked to that matter already. Perhaps it was an inevitable effect of the emancipation of the negroes in whatever manner, but certainly of their emancipation in the thoughtless and clumsy manner in which our present rulers have decreed it, that the supply of sugar from our colonies must greatly diminish, and its price rise in a corresponding proportion, perhaps to even treble or quadruple the existing prices. In order that this last desirable effect may be made more sure, Ministers, in so far as depended upon them, have guaranteed to the West Indians the continuance of their present monopoly of the home market. It is, indeed, quite out of the question that Parliament should pay the slightest regard to any such pretended engagement; but it will be many years before Asia can afford a supply equal to the demands of Europe: and to admit the produce of foreign slave colonies after abolishing slavery in ours, would be to stultify our own measure; it would be renouncing, not injustice, but only the fruits of injustice, and continuing to be accessaries in the guilt for the profit of others. Instead therefore of increasing, Ministers will, more probably, be compelled to diminish the duties on sugar; and either way, new taxes must be found to make up for the partial drying up of one of the largest sources of our revenue. A similar observation applies to another of the most productive of our taxes, the tax on tea.10 Hitherto this duty has been collected at absolutely no expense: hereafter the charges of collection will be as great as in the case of other taxes; and it is at least problematical whether the effect of opening the trade to the unlimited Edition: current; Page: [612] competition of buyers, while the sellers in China are a close company of monopolists, and smuggling* almost impossible, will not be to raise instead of lowering the price of the article in the English market, and consequently to diminish the consumption and the revenue.

Under these financial disadvantages, all of their own creating, Ministers must bestir themselves again, and vigorously, in the work of retrenchment, if they would avoid the humiliating necessity of laying on taxes to more than the amount of those which they have recently taken off.

And their choice of taxes to be remitted; could it have been more unhappily made? To their first Budget, indeed, this criticism does not apply.11 Memorable were the blunders of that Budget; but it was in laying on taxes, not in taking them off. In that one year, Ministers were luckily guided, in their remissions of taxes, by Sir Henry Parnell’s book;12 following that, they could not go far wrong; and they relieved us from several of the worst of our indirect taxes. There were two features of great merit in that first Budget, which have disappeared from the subsequent ones—an encroachment upon the Canada timber monopoly, (equal to a tax of one million a-year,) and a reduction of the Stamp Duty on Newspapers.13 Ministers were frightened out of the former of these meritorious purposes, by a single defeat, in the unreformed House of Commons. As to the latter, their hearts failed them; and whether it was pusillanimity or treachery, Lord Althorp, (disclaiming all the while any agency in the enforcement of the law,) said that the tax ought to be abolished, and took off a million and a half of other taxes instead.14 And what a selection! A sort of perverted genius was shown in finding the means of giving away a million and a half a-year in perpetuity, and pleasing no one—conferring a perceptible relief upon nobody. The secret of this was, excessive eagerness to do a little for everybody. Not a tax, except a few of trifling amount, was entirely repealed; only halves and quarters of taxes; the remaining part continuing to be collected at the same expense absolutely as the whole, and, of course, at a far greater proportionally; and the worst evil of indirect taxes, the onerous regulations and restrictions imposed for the convenience of collection, being perpetuated. The mere reduction of a tax, when the state of the revenue admits of its entire abolition, is hardly ever Edition: current; Page: [613] advisable; except for the prevention of smuggling, or when the lower duty is expected to be as productive as the higher. In the case of very few of the reductions was either of these results anticipated; nor was there any ground for anticipating them, nor any reason for reducing those particular taxes rather than many others; nor was the reduction in almost any case sufficient to make a perceptible difference in the yearly expenses of the consumer. Perhaps, indeed, if a sensible relief had been afforded to one portion of the dissatisfied, all the others would have been only the louder in their complaints. But a firm Ministry, strong in the authority of pure intentions and determination of purpose, could have overawed the interested and the peevish: our Ministers can overawe nobody, because they are afraid of everybody. These are the occasions which try the quality of men. A weak man cannot even confer a benefit, without losing more influence than he gains.

We are far from joining in the whole extent of the hostility entertained by the shopkeepers of the large towns against the House Tax; which, if impartially assessed, we incline to consider as one of the best of all our imposts, having many of the recommendations of a Property Tax, without its practical difficulties. Viewing it in this light, we should be ready to give some credit to Lord Althorp for the steadiness with which he has resisted the clamours of the representatives of the ten-pound voters for the repeal of the House Tax, had he not, with strange obtuseness, volunteered reiterated defences of those iniquitous inequalities in the assessment, sparing the rich and pressing upon the middle classes, which have disgusted the whole country, and mainly contributed to raise a storm that will scarcely now be allayed but by the destruction of that tax. It was coolly, gravely maintained, not by way of a joke, nor with any apparent consciousness that the proposition at all conflicted with the common sense and feeling of mankind—it was laid down by Lord Althorp as the just principle of assessment for the House Tax, that the overgrown houses of the very rich, which never can be suitable habitations for any other than the proprietor, should be taxed, not in the ratio of what the house, as a place to reside in, costs to the owner, who actually dwells in it, but of the amount which some other person, of far inferior income, could afford to pay for it as a residence!15 A House Tax is defensible at all, only on the assumption that what a person pays for his habitation is something approximating to a test of his general means of expenditure. Let this test then be applied. What the occupier of another man’s house pays for his habitation, is the house-rent; but what the Marquis of Westminster pays for Eaton Hall, is the interest of what it would cost to rebuild such a mansion if it were destroyed.16 Were he to let it to Mr. Thompson or Edition: current; Page: [614] Johnson, he might get only 300l. a-year for it; but those 300l. are proportioned to the means of Mr. Thompson or Johnson, and are the measure of what the tax-gatherer ought to demand from him, not from the Marquis of Westminster. It is idle, however, to prove what is self-evident.

Lord Althorp has done more to weaken himself and the Ministry, by standing up night after night in the House of Commons as the vindicator of this odious abuse, than they have done to strengthen themselves by any, the most popular, measure of the Session.

But to return to their retrenchments. Cutting off useless expenditure is always praiseworthy; and to the present Ministers it must in candour be conceded that they have diminished some large salaries as well as small ones, abolished some lucrative offices as well as insignificant ones. Still, it is to be remarked that their large sum-total has been made up by the addition of a great multitude of small savings; what have been termed, by persons interested in disparaging them, savings of cheese-parings and candle-ends: those reductions in the detail of the expenditure, which we have again and again been solemnly assured had been carried to the utmost extent possible, to an extent seriously prejudicial to the conduct of public business. We see, however, that when a real wish was entertained to make a still further reduction of this minimum, the minimum was found to be a maximum. One fifth of the actual expenses of governing the country, as this pamphleteer triumphantly proclaims, cut off in three years!17 After several retrenching ministries had done their worst—out of about fifteen millions a saving of three millions in cheese-parings and candle-ends alone! “Le mot impossible (said Napoleon) n’est pas Français.18—Credit after this who will, the impossibilities of heads of departments! But it is true, nevertheless, that these three millions are made up of small savings, and that the whole region of large ones is still untrodden. We refer particularly to the diplomatic service, the army and navy, and the colonies.

There are people who say, The diplomatic service is too expensive, it has not yet been reduced, it will bear reduction. We say, the diplomatic service ought to be abolished altogether. Consuls, at some places where the laws of the foreign country are an insufficient protection, we can discern a use for; and sometimes, but rarely, for an extraordinary envoy: for a stationary ambassador, never. At the time when statesmen could barely write their names, and when all business of importance was transacted by word of mouth, there was meaning in ambassadors. But now, when the art of written is so much more successfully cultivated than that of spoken composition; when the communication between court and court is as easy and safe, and almost as expeditious, as between any man and his next-door neighbour; when between the ambassador himself and the Edition: current; Page: [615] government to whom he is accredited, all negociations are conducted by means of written documents—why should not the writings pass between Governments themselves? What is the ambassador, but a middleman uselessly interposed between principal and principal? In the way of intelligence, again, what is there left to communicate, in an age of universal publicity, in an age of daily newspapers? Sufficient proof that there is nothing for an ambassador to do, is the quality of the men who are set to do it. They are fit enough for the purpose for which in reality they are kept up, viz. to give dinners to our aristocracy when abroad, and to keep a table for their idle younger sons in the character of attachés: but for what else?

Then the colonies: all which are worth keeping, all which for the good of the colonies themselves ought to be kept, might be made to defray their own expenses. Read Colonel Napier’s inestimable work on the Ionian Islands, if you would learn how a distant dependency ought not, and also how it ought, to be governed.19 When a colony cannot pay for its own government, the reason generally is, first, because we insist upon governing it as if it were an opulent nation: we carry out with us from England as the mining associations did to Mexico, and with a similar result, English ideas of efficiency, and English ideas of lavish expense: not knowing, that to a rude state of society the simplest machinery of government is best adapted, we must have the establishments, the salaries, and even the pomps and fripperies, of an old country. That is one cause. Another is, that we entrust the governorship of the colony to one of the family of the Feebles, who either employs his activity in doing mischief, or, by his indolence, allows, that is, encourages others to do it: one who neither knows the right time for spending money, nor the right time for saving it; one who wastes the resources of the colony by mere mismanagement; who alternately strains and relaxes the springs of government; every one of whose blunders costs money to repair its consequences; and whose most expensive blunder of all is his unpopularity. For all which, and much else, see again Colonel Napier; whose book should be in the hands, not only of every statesman and every public writer, but of every Englishman.

If the colonies were made to pay their own expenses, economy in our military establishment would be in a great measure accomplished; for the far greater portion of our army is kept up for the service of our colonies alone. By governing Ireland well, we might dispense with the greater part of the remainder. What need has England of an army, except one or two cavalry regiments, and the artillery? Can we ever be suddenly involved in a continental war? And if we were, can we possibly maintain such an army as would be a match, at the instant, for any one of the continental powers? Then why attempt it?

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No nation which is not perpetually at war, can have a veteran army; but to make the rawest new levies fight like lions, there is a sure resource. Proclaim the system of the French army, promotion from the ranks.20 Encourage the non-commissioned officers, even now confessedly the main strength of our army, by the hope of commissions; let every man of them know that if he have the soul of a Hoche, the fortune of a Hoche is open to him.21 That would be the true substitute for flogging, and for impressment too. Govern men by their hopes, and you need not by their fears: let your generals rise from the ranks, and your admirals from before the mast, and you need neither compel soldiers or sailors into the service, nor treat them like slaves or brutish beasts when in it; dismissal from it will be punishment enough. But neither from the Whig nor from any other Ministers shall we obtain this, until the spirit of aristocracy is completely purged out of our institutions. The monopoly of the army and navy is the last monopoly which will be wrested from the hands of the wealthy. There are many changes yet to come ere that comes. It will be much, when we shall no longer, to provide for gentlemen’s sons, keep up numerous admirals for every ship, numerous generals for every regiment. It will be much, when we shall no longer, to provide for gentlemen’s sons, make a retiring pension a perpetuity, and maintain our Dead Weight scarcely diminished during eighteen years of peace.22

Curious it is that the apologist of the Ministers reckons the Dead Weight among the public charges not susceptible of reduction. He means then, that officers not on the effective strength of the army, who have not been once on full pay since the peace, who are supernumerary, superfluous, and ought to have retained their half-pay on the footing merely of a life pension, shall, when it would in a very few years have lapsed by death, be allowed to sell their commission to a youth, who steps into the place of an old man, and continues to receive the old man’s retiring allowance after his death—a youth who will never be wanted until the next war, if even then, and in the mean time is only gathering seniority but not experience, eating his half-pay as the bread of idleness,23 a mere liveried footman of the aristocracy. The Ministry have appointed a Committee on Naval and Military Appointments, and the Committee has not Edition: current; Page: [617] recommended the abolition of this flagrant abuse.24 Ministers do not intend it, then; but unless they correct their intention, their boast of being a Ministry of retrenchment will deserve to count for very little.

Even in their own small way of clipping and paring the details of the public expenses, much is still to be done which they seem to have no thought of doing. To begin with themselves: of what earthly use is a Lord Privy Seal?25 The utility of a President and a Vice-President of the Board of Trade, or, indeed, of either of the two, is very questionable. Why were the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall excepted from the surrender of the hereditary revenues of the Crown?26 The expenditure of those duchies, being sheltered from any kind of publicity, are, we may be sure, the last hiding place of every job too openly disgraceful to be hazarded in the presence of the public. What need of the expensive foppery of household troops? Why should the Guards cost more than an equal number of other regiments? Economy has marched, with pruning-knife in hand, along the grand avenues of the public expenditure, but it has not yet peered into the bye-alleys. The harpies of corruption, frightened out of the open daylight, will be found skulking and cowering in the dark corners. Let Mr. Hume look narrowly into those little modest items of the Miscellaneous Estimates, the grants of 5000l. and 10,000l. under pretence of work to be done off the common highways of public business and public view. The two words Record Commission, alone speak volumes.27 The public eye has been let in, perhaps, upon the most expensive jobs, but we much doubt whether it has yet obtained a view of the most profligate ones.

We have demanded a large share of the reader’s indulgence; our excuse must be, that we are reviewing not a pamphlet, but an administration. We trust that all we shall at present deem it necessary to say, may be brought to a conclusion in another article.28

Edition: current; Page: [618]

EXAMINER, 6 OCT., 1833, PP. 625-6

For the entry in Mill’s bibliography and the context of this third leading article on Le Marchant’s The Reform Ministry, see Nos. 216 and 217. In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, the article is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets.

a few observations, which the length of our last article compelled us to defer, are still required to bring to a close the subject of retrenchment; after which we shall proceed to another department of the doings of the Ministry.

One of the most important of the measures of economy which still remain to be adopted, is an entire change in the constitution of the public offices. Without such a change, the retrenchments for which Ministry after Ministry have taken such unbounded credit, will cost to the public much more money than they will save. Any fool can carry on the public business cheaply and ill; but such cheap work is the dearest of all in the end. Unlimited pecuniary means may be squandered; but of a limited income every farthing must be turned to the best account. So long as the number of employés could be made as great as the head of the department felt an inclination to make it, the multitude of inefficient hands was a source of useless expense, but they were like so many sinecures, the most plain-dealing and cheapest of all jobs; if they did no good, they prevented none; it was but so many people of “connexion,” quartered upon the public instead of being kept by their “connexions,” or earning an honest livelihood: the incapables consumed their salaries, and capable officers were, or might have been, entertained in addition, to do the work. But when the public will has enforced a reduction of the numerical strength of an establishment to something not, perhaps, greatly exceeding the number which would barely suffice if every man were fit for his situation; from that time every inefficient man who is employed, deprives the public of the services of an efficient one. Has due regard been had to this principle in the reductions of the civil establishments? Is it not a fact, that young men of family continue to be engaged to do mere clerk’s work, but not at clerk’s salaries, and that the money lavished upon them leaves so little for the wages of real services, that the most valuable public officers are, not perhaps underpaid, but so few in number and so overworked, that it is by no means easy, when vacancies occur, to find fitting successors? If this be not so, let it be denied; but if, as we firmly believe, it is so, let it be remedied. There is no economy comparable to that of employing able men. It is the accumulation of useless expenses which weighs down a country; never the magnitude of the useful.

Above all, let the places of trust and power beyond the seas, where the control of the superintending authority is weak, and the surveillance of English public Edition: current; Page: [619] opinion is null—where the wisdom, honesty, and firmness of the delegated functionary are all in all—let those appointments, which are now, whether by Whig or Tory, given to aristocratic or official connexion exclusively, be given solely to merit; and, more scrupulously than even any other appointments, to merit of the highest grade, no matter in what rank of life. An incapable in high place is a more costly abuse than a hundred sinecures. Such a one, governor of a colony, receives a salary of 5000l.; but his caprices and his blunders, his self-conceit and his negligence, his want of foresight, and of capacity to avail himself of opportunities, and make the best use of his instruments, cost the nation forty or fifty thousand. The pamphleteer says nothing for his patrons on this point. We believe that they have followed the good old rule, of appointing, with a very moderate degree of regard for personal qualifications, their political friends.

Of retrenchment, and taking off taxes, no more at present. But there are taxes, which are not called taxes, because not paid to the tax-gatherer, but which are a subject for retrenchment, compared wherewith all that can possibly be cut off from the expenses of government is hardly worth notice; taxes the very existence of which is a crying enormity, and of which the repeal would afford a relief nearly equal to the entire interest of the national debt. Foremost among these is the odious Bread Tax. If, as appears to be the opinion of the best authorities, wheat is kept, by the operation of the Corn Laws, about 10s. a quarter above its natural price; and if, as is commonly assumed, the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, amounting to twenty millions, consume, one with another, one quarter of wheat in the year; here is a tax of ten millions in the article of wheat alone; to which when we add all other agricultural produce, every other retrenchment sinks into insignificance, and the word appears little better than a mockery when applied to anything except getting rid of this intolerable burthen. There is in this kind of retrenchment a further pre-eminence. Retrench by cutting down establishments, and all the gain to the public is loss to the functionaries who are discharged. Retrench by removing restrictions from commerce and industry, and, by restoring capital to its natural channels, an increase of production is created, which is a gain to the public beyond and in addition to what individuals lose.

The Ministry, as a Ministry, profess themselves friends of free trade. And here let us give “honour due” to one of their number, who has entitled himself to a kind of praise, which can be given to no other among them. Lord Palmerston, a short time before the prorogation of Parliament, signalized himself by the only speech of principle which has been made by any Minister during the Session; a speech which compromised nothing, and went to the very vitals of the subject.1 Edition: current; Page: [620] Lord Palmerston exposed the fallacies of protecting duties and of reciprocity with the hand of one who really understood the question, and without one vestige of Whig seesaw or reservation. But as he speaks, so will his colleagues act? Some minor monopolies and restrictions they have abolished or mitigated, and will, doubtless, relieve us from others. But from the giant monopoly, compared with which the heaviest of all our taxes is scarcely a burthen, it is not they who will deliver us. They have put off the subject for one year, by moving the previous question. Put it off much longer they cannot; certainly not beyond the first deficient harvest; and the day when they must face this great question will probably be the last of their administration. They are not unanimous. Some of them are reputed enemies of the Bread Tax; (Lord Ripon might have been deemed so, until he ate up his free-trade principles, on Lord Fitzwilliam’s motion;)2 others (and the Premier is of the number) are said to be among its most obstinate and bigoted partisans. This is enough. A Minister who supports the Bread Tax, is essentially neither a Reformer, nor an economical Minister: not the last, because he seeks to rivet on our necks the heaviest and most unprofitable burthen which the nation bears; not the first, because, whether he is aware of it or not, the interest of the landlords is paramount in his regard to the interest of all the rest of the community. The distinction between such a statesman and a Tory lies wholly in non-essentials; that between him and a Reformer is fundamental.

The topic of Law Reform occupies a very prominent station in the Ministerial pamphlet.3 On this subject more praise is really due to the Ministry, or rather to the Chancellor, than can be given to any other of their measures, except the Reform Bill. Though the substantial value of what has yet been accomplished, is immensely overrated by their panegyrist, the very fact of taking so much credit for law reform deserves praise; and the more, because what can be said of none of their other reforms, is true of this—that it was not forced upon them by the public. Lord Brougham is not in this case a mere passive instrument, for executing, and executing imperfectly, the peremptory mandates of popular opinion. The public are as yet but moderately interested in the subject; sufficiently to reward, yet not sufficiently to compel, the exertions of the Chancellor. And the degree of excitement which does exist respecting it, is mainly of his own creating. It is to those, indeed, who prepared the way, by laying the foundation of the philosophy of law, and dissecting piecemeal the absurdities of English practice; it is to those who fought the up-hill fight, who originated Law Reform, and carried it forward through every species of neglect, Edition: current; Page: [621] discouragement, and insult, to the point at which even a man like Henry Brougham could add to his reputation by adopting it, and making the cause his own; it is to them, no doubt, that the gratitude of mankind is chiefly due—not to him who came at the eleventh hour; yet neither to him should praise be given with a reluctant or sparing hand. He was the first public man who identified himself with the cause; the first who popularized the idea, that the law needed reform as a whole. Mr. Peel’s reforms had done much to discountenance the notion which strangely prevailed, of the absolute perfection of the law even in its form and details;4 and a notion was spreading that there was still considerable room for minute improvements. But everything which has been done, or attempted, in the way of reviewing the main body of the law—all idea, among the public at large, of its being susceptible, as a whole, of any considerable amelioration,—takes its date unquestionably from Mr. Brougham’s celebrated speech:5 nor, at the time when that speech was made, could any person of less weight than Mr. Brougham have pronounced so bold and sweeping a condemnation of the English law (greatly as even that condemnation fell short of its deserts) with much probability of being favourably listened to. The first fruits of the speech were the appointment of two Commissions, composed of lawyers of the first eminence, whose inquiries and recommendations have done more to bring Law Reform into vogue, and to liberalize the general feeling of the profession, than could have been hoped for in so short a time.6 Piecemeal reforms have multiplied in an accelerating ratio ever since. Some considerable changes, proposed by these Commissions, have been carried through Parliament in the Session which has just closed; together with others emanating directly from the Chancellor himself.7 And (a praise which the Ministers have seldom deserved) more has been attempted, than could be effected at the first trial, and more has been proclaimed desirable than has been attempted. Lord Brougham’s views of Law Reform, if not always as enlightened, are now at length as extensive, as the most philosophic reformer could desire. He has caused codification to be recommended in a King’s speech:8 he has appointed a Commission for making (though on a small scale, and beginning at the wrong end) an actual commencement of it;9 and he has committed himself irrevocably Edition: current; Page: [622] to the principle of Local Courts.10 These things, if accomplished, are the greater part of all which is to be desired. Codify the law, common and statute together, and establish Local Courts with unlimited jurisdiction, and all that will remain to complete a systematic reform of the law, is to simplify the procedure, and establish good courts of appeal.

Lord Brougham’s Law Reforms will be the leading subject of our next Paper.

EXAMINER, 13 OCT., 1833, PP. 643-4

This is the fourth of Mill’s leading articles on the parliamentary session of 1833 prompted by Le Marchant’s The Reform Ministry; see Nos. 216-18. In addition to those specifically mentioned in the text, Brougham’s Law Reforms include 2 William IV, cc. 34, 39 (1832); 2 & 3 William IV, cc. 51, 62, 116, 123 (1832); and 3 & 4 William IV, cc. 44, 67 (1833). For the context and bibliographic entry see No. 216. In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, the article is listed as title and enclosed in square brackets.

if the remarks by which we are about to qualify our applause of Lord Brougham’s Law Reforms should seem of a disparaging tendency, they are inspired by no love of disparagement, but by the conviction that there is no greater enemy of the good which is to come, than exaggerated praise of the good which has already been effected. Lord Brougham’s vocation is that of a popular orator rather than a legislator. The service which beyond all other men of his day he was fitted to render to Law Reform, was that of discrediting the existing system. This he has done, and is doing, as effectually perhaps as it could have been done by a mind of more philosophic habits and of more enlarged views. He is great as a destroyer; not great as a rebuilder. All that he has overthrown well deserved to fall; nothing that he has established, in the opinion of the most thorough law reformers in the profession, deserves to stand. Not only his reforms are partial and narrow, but they are such as cannot fit into any more comprehensive plan of reform. A great edifice cannot be built in a day; but his hasty erections will form no part of the building when it is completed; they are mere temporary sheds, occupying part of the ground—an actual obstruction in the way of the workmen, though a far less one than the cumbrous ruin which was cleared away to make room for them.

The old Bankruptcy Court was an abomination;1 the judicial arrangements relating to the affairs of lunatics were a mass of expensive absurdity;2 there could Edition: current; Page: [623] not be a worse constituted tribunal than the Privy Council, the sole court of appeal from the tribunals of the colonies;3 the Ecclesiastical Courts deserve to be swept away.4 But does any man, capable of forming the conception of a rational judicial establishment, believe that there will much longer be a court for bankruptcy alone, a court for lunacy alone, a court only for marriage causes and for proving wills, a court only to hear appeals from the colonies? Certainly not: and in the mean time all these new judgeships and commissionerships are so many vested interests, which, when the time comes, the public will be expected to buy off. All these nibbling reforms in Chancery, again, what are they? when every enlightened law reformer is convinced that the Court of Chancery as a separate Court must cease to exist, and that the same judges in the first instance, and the same judges of appeal, will ultimately administer both that part of the law which is called Law, and that other part of the law which is called Equity?

Of the defects in the details of Lord Brougham’s reforms, and of his views of reform, we can only select, nearly at random, a few instances as specimens.

He has abolished prospectively many legal sinecures, which yielded immense incomes to sons, nephews, and grandchildren of Chancellors and Judges, at the expense of suitors.5 Of the golden streams which flowed into the strong boxes of these lucky foster-children of the nation, a part, indeed, have been dammed up, but the remainder only diverted into the Exchequer of the State.6 Of the fees which unfortunate applicants for justice were forced to pay, avowedly for no purpose but to make an income for these sinecure placemen, a part only have been remitted; a part continue to be collected for the benefit of the public revenue! The most odious of all taxes—taxes on justice—abolished in 1823 by Lord Liverpool’s Ministry7—behold them re-established by the Reform Ministry! It was reserved for the Reform Ministry, and for the man who desires to go down to posterity as the reformer of the laws of England, to re-enact an abuse so odious, that it was abolished even by Tories, in the very first hour in which the words law reform were uttered in a public place. Once more it has been decided, that a man is to be selected as a fit object of taxation because he is suffering evil—that because he is put to immense expense by having had his rights disputed, or a wrong inflicted upon him, therefore he shall be put to further Edition: current; Page: [624] expense for the general purposes of the State—that because the King, and the Ministers, and the army, and the navy, and the courts of justice, having succeeded in protecting the rest of the community from injustice, have failed in protecting him, therefore he shall be picked out from the rest of the community as the person who shall be required to pay more money for the support of those establishments! And the Solicitor-General, Sir John Campbell, a man whom we regret to blame, for no person connected with the Government oftener gives utterance to sentiments deserving of praise, actually congratulated the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this accession to his financial resources.8 A few thousands a-year, wrung from the needy and from the injured—a noble subject of congratulation!

In a matter nearly connected with this, the House of Commons proved themselves better law reformers than Lord Brougham. The principle of remunerating judicial officers by fees instead of salaries, at the expense of suitors instead of the State, that is, at the expense of those who derive less benefit than any one else from the administration of justice, being put to trouble and expense for that protection which others obtain gratuitously; this pernicious principle, discarded by Lord Brougham in a great variety of cases, had been most inconsistently retained in others: but the House of Commons, in passing the Chancery Reform Bill, extirpated that mischief from it altogether.9 This roused the Chancellor; who, when the Bill returned to the House of Lords, entered into a vindication of his own views. He said, that unless the officers of the court were paid by fees, their reward would not be in proportion to their exertions, and they would have motives to retard instead of accelerating the despatch of business.10 Extraordinary as it may seem, in this doctrine the Chancellor was perfectly serious, and, we are persuaded, sincere. All it proves is, on how slender a foundation of principle his opinions rest, and with how little of reflection they are taken up. Strange not to see that this reason for payment by fees instead of salary, is applicable to all public officers whatever, if to any: still more strange not to see that a superior functionary stultifies himself, when he professes incapability of compelling his subordinates to do their duty, unless they are bribed to do it by the very person who least of all others in the community ought to bear that extra burthen. Formerly almost all public officers were paid by fees: the iniquity of the principle, and the abuses to which it was liable in practice, have caused payment Edition: current; Page: [625] by salaries to be almost universally substituted; and now what is it which keeps public functionaries to their duty? The good sense and vigilance of their official superiors: and is the Chancellor incapable of exercising similar vigilance? Say that it is necessary that his subordinates should have the additional inducement of a pecuniary remuneration proportional to the quantity of the work, (even if at the expense of the quality,) are there no means devisable by human ingenuity for giving them that pecuniary inducement, except out of the pockets of injured men petitioning for justice? When nobody but the public is interested in getting over a difficulty, the easiest effort of thought seems to be grudged for finding a solution. Not that the public good is not dear to these men, but that their zeal for it is a capricious and wavering, not a steady principle of action.

Though the Chancellor defended the principle of remuneration by fees, he did, we believe, throw out something like a condemnation of making those fees contingent upon any incident which the officer receiving the fees has the power of multiplying, for the purpose of increasing his own emoluments. But so completely are the acts of the Chancellor at issue with his professions, that the particular fees which the officers who profit by them have the greatest power of multiplying the occasions for, (and have exercised that power to the most mischievous extent,) those very fees, both in the Court of Chancery and in the Courts of Common Law, instead of abolishing, or diverting into other channels, the Chancellor has largely increased. We do not believe that this was done with evil consciousness for jobbing purposes. But is it at all wonderful that there should be thousands who do think so?

We are compelled to select as examples of the Chancellor’s defective notions of legislation, not the most important instances, but those which can be exhibited at least length. We