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vithstanding the zealous opposition certain, and insignificant generaliif the Ministers, it was carried by a ties, and that, moreover, it was far aajority of 98 to 55.
from respectful to the King. “ In In the short space of time which the inconvenience, said he, which it iad elapsed from the introduction of pretends to point out, it has no other he proposition of M. Barthélemy, object in view than to cause that be ill its adoption by the Chamber of discussed and decided in 1819, which Deputies, the agitation which it cau. had been discussed and decided in sed had extended from Paris to the de. 1817 relative to the law of elections. partments, where numerous petitions of one of these inconveniences, the were in preparation against it. Per- difficulty of assembling the electors ceiving the impression which it had at the principal place of the departmade, some members of the Chamber ment, the commission has been able of Deputies thought that it would to obtain no proof. In point of fact,
be inexpedient to wait till the fate ever since there were elections in of the proposition was decided in France, the number of voters has the Upper Chamber; and according- uniformly borne an inconsiderable ly, on the 3d of March, M. le Cheva- proportion to the absolute number lier Lafitte proposed, in the Secret of electors. The commission asks, Committee of the Lower Chamber, where, and in what Electoral College that an address be presented to the have individuals been received, who, King, stating, that the Chamber con- having been recently enrolled as sidered the maintenance of the law liable to the patentes, had only paid of elections, such as it now stood, a twelfth part of that tax? No such and its punctual execution, as the thing, for example, has been found chief guarantees of public tranquil. in Paris; where, in the interval belity, and the most solid basis of a tween the assembling and the dissoconstitutional monarchy; and that, lution of the Electoral College, only
in consequence, the Chamber sup- four patentes had been delivered. *plicated his Majesty to preserve that We therefore require that persons, law in full and complete force. To this places, and facts, be condescendproposition, the Keeper of the Seals, ed on, in order that we may ascerM. de Serré, answered, that the Mi. tain whether the author of the pronistry shared in the sentiments which position has deceived himself, or it expressed; but that, in the present been deceived. For if none of his state of matters, it appeared to him allegations are correct, upon what, unseasonable and premature. The I ask, can we reason ? We cannot proposition was accordingly with. distinguish whether it be an existing drawn; and the discussion of the abuse which he pretends to remove, question, which so much interested or a possible abuse which he desires all parties, suspended till the 15th of to prevent. Article 40. of the CharMarch, when the resolution of the ter calls to the nomination of depu. Peers was presented to the Cham- ties, those who pay a direct tax to ber of Deputies. The commission ap- the amount of 300 francs; and surely, pointed to examine into the nature by the expression “ who pay,” can of this resolution, presented its re. only be understood those who have port to the Secret Committee on the actually paid the full amount of that 18th; on which occasion Count tax, and not those who having only Beugnot, who brought up the re- at the last election paid a twelfth port, declared, that he saw nothing part of the patente, decline the payin the proposition but vague, un- ment of the remainder.”
On the 20th, the discussion was re. whereas, in 1818, it had risen to 1993. sumed, when M. Martin de Gray first To this assertion M. de Saint-Auaddressed the Chamber. He ac- laire, President of the College of the cused the partisans of this measure of Gard in 1818, answered, that the bad faith, and of a desire to cause the deputies of that department having, aristocratical influence of the great at the ballot, obtained 1000 on proprietors to predominate in the of 1400 suffrages, it mattered little elections, and to usurp, or rather to that there were a few persons whose paralyse the democratical part of the right to vote would not hare borne a constitution, so essential to its exis- scrutiny. But it did not surely fol. tence, by submitting the elections to low from this, that these bad votes oligarchical influence. “Before the had been created by the influence Revolution," said he, “ the privile- of the prefect. As to the influence ged classes enjoyed a double re- exercised by the Government in this presentation ; but the Chamber of election, it was legitimate, as it had the tiers état was elected in a man- no other object than to persuade the ner incomparably more democrati. Protestants that they might appear cal than yours. In 1789 the tiers at the elections without danger of état obtained a representation equal being assassinated. “You speak," to that of the two other orders; but said the orator, of the elections of the aristocracy, such as it can now 1818, 6 but you seem to forget exist in France, is represented by of what took place at the elections the Chamber of Peers, while all or. 1815, when, four days before the Fotders are equally admissible into the ing commenced, thirteen Protestants elective chamber. Does the aristo- were murdered, and the rest fled in cracy wish to engross the whole re- consternation to the mountains. This presentation to seize upon the is what the partisans of this propoElectoral Colleges and Chamber of sition call peace; ubi solitudinem faDeputies, and to bring us back to ciunt, pacem appellant ! Last year the state of 1789 ?” He then went the deputies of 1815 again presented into a variety of other topics of a themselves to the colleges : the somewhat declamatory cast, and con- crimes then committed had not cluded by conjuring the Chamber been punished, and terror was in to preserve and maintain inviolate consequence excited : it became the liberty, public tranquillity, and the duty of the Government to destroy constitutional monarchy.
all ground for alarm." To the arguments of M. Martin On the sitting of the 22d, the disde Gray, M. de la Bourdonnaye re- cussion was resumed, but little new plied, that, by the existing law, in- in the shape of argument was ad. scription into the roll for the pay- dressed on either side. “ Each of ment of the patentes, and the pay- us,” said M. de la Fayette, “ knows ment of one-twelfth of the contribu- so well why he attacks the law of tion, conveyed an unquestionable elections, and why he defends it, that right to the privileges of an elector, we can hope for little additional light and that the prefects were the sole on the subject.” Perhaps the reader judges of the validity of such enrol- may think that we have dwelt longer ments. In support of this statement than was necessary on the discussion M. de Villèle cited the case of the of this ill-timed proposition ; but it department of the Gard, where, in is strongly illustrative of the French 1817, the number of electors was 991, character, and may serve to throw light on the state both of parties important subject. The first of these and opinions in France at this pe- was merely declaratory of the crimes riod. Nothing could surely be more and offences which may be commitpremature than to propose to decide ted by means of the press, or by as to the effects of a law which had any other method of publication, been only a year in operation; and and resolved the description of such nothing more unreasonable than to crimes and offences into the four folexpect that the good which it un- lowing heads : 1. Public provocation questionably produced should be to crime or offence; 2. Public of unalloyed by those partial abuses fences against the person of the and inconveniences which are inse- King; %. Outrages against public parable even from the wisest and morals; and, 4. Defamation and most enlightened acts of legislation. public injury. It also abrogated In this state, and without the assur- certain rigorous articles of the penal ed lights of experience to guide code, together with the whole law of them, the maxim, Laissez faire au the 9th of November 1815. In extemps, ought to have overruled eve. plaining the principles by which the ry objection. This seemed to be Ministry had been guided in preparthe sentiment of a great majority of ing this description of the offences the chamber, and, accordingly, when of the press, the Keeper of the Seals the vote was put, par appel nominal, particularly alluded to the substituthe resolution was rejected by 150 tion of the word defamation for the to 94. If we consider that the cham- word calumny, which had been hiber consists of only 258 members, therto employed in similar laws. 251 of which actually sit, the num- The latter word he considered as ber of deputies present on this occa- conveying the idea of the falsehood of sion will sufficiently mark the interest the facts imputed; which was unnewhich the discussion had excited. cessary, as no man had a right to
Our readers are already acquaint- publish facts relative to the life or ed with the proceedings of the le conduct of another, the publication gislative body, during last session, of which, however true, was calcuin relation to the press, and with the lated to do him a real injury: he rejection in the Chamber of Peers had therefore introduced the former of the project of a law for restrain. word, which pointed out the intening its abuses which had previously tion to injure, on the one part, and, passed the Chamber of Deputies, on the other, the injury sustained. though only by the small majority of The second project related to the 11. This powerful engine, which mode of prosecuting and punishing acts so directly on public opinion, libels. In the project of last year, and in no country more instantane. the deposit of a copy of a work in ously or forcibly than in France, the office of police was held equivastill, however, required to be put lent to publication, which, as our under some regulation; and accord. readers will perceive by referring to ingly the new Ministry, instructed our last volume, article France, gave no doubt by the fate of the project rise to long and keen discussions, of last year, brought forward, on the and was finally rejected even by the 22d of March, three distinct mea- Chamber of Deputies by whom the sures, considerably more liberal in project was passed. In the new protheir provisions, and forming toge. jeci it was proposed to seize the ther a sort of legislative code on this whole impression of a work denoun
ced as libellous, before judgment, they might hereafter incur in virtue but only after publication; while, in of the preceding laws, and subjected the case of the public, the offender to the formality of deposit, without, could only be prosecuted in the however, interfering with their publiplace where the deposit had been cation. The obligation to find securimade; and, in the case of a civil par- ty, in order to guarantee the payment ty, in the place where publication of fines that may be inflicted for had been effected, provided the par- offences to be committed, though ty prosecuting had his residence in it resembles one of the provisiota that place. Simple injuries were, as contained in the act of last session of heretofore, to be remitted to the the British Parliament, relative to police correctionnelle, while graver the stamp duty to be levied on puboffences were to be sent to a jury for lications which had hitherto been their verdict. The difficulty here exempted from that tax, appears seemed to be to draw a distinct line us to be extremely oppressive, when of demarcation between what are directed against the periodical press
denominated “ simple injuries,” and in general, and not, as in our coun· referable to the correctional police, try, against that part of it merely
and offences proper to be sent to a which, taking advantage of the law, jury; a difficulty which was by no had established a regular traffic in means removed, during the discus- sedition and blasphemy, which were sion, and which, in our opinion, viti- thereby circulated at a cheap rate. ates the whole provisions of the pro. We do not wonder, therefore, that it ject. In prosecutions at the instances was keenly, though we may regret of private individuals, it was rendered to say ineffectually assailed. The incompetent for the defendant to offer editors of journals were, moreover, to prove the truth of the defamatory subjected to another hardship. They matter imputed; but this was ex- were not only rendered amenable to pressly allowed in the case of public the same penal laws, and the same functionaries, against whom any forms of procedure, as the authors of charges of corruption or misconduct other publications, but were made had been preferred through the me. liable to double the fine inflicted dium of the press. The reason assign- upon other writers for the same of. ed for this provision appears to be ju- fence, and in case of a second condicious ; namely, that the private life viction to quadruple that amount. of functionaries concerns only them- Such is a brief outline of the reselves, whereas their public life is in gulations, or rather restrictions, to some measure the property of all. which by these laws the press was to It is not stated, however, whether in be subjected. As usual, they were rethe cases which were to be referred ferred to a committee, where they to a jury, they were to decide only on experienced no other alteration than the fact of publication, or on the law some modification in the terms, and and the fact together. This appears some limitation of the punishments to be an important omission. awarded, that is to say, in the term
The third project respected the of imprisonment and the amount of journals and periodical publications, the fines, it being left at the discrewhich it proposed to relieve from tion of the judge to inflict either, or the control of the censorship, but both of these punishments. For the obliged to find security to a certain sake of convenience, these projects amount, in guarantee of the fines were discussed in succession, and in
he order above given ; numerous sity of checking attempts to dissemimendments were proposed in both nate infidelity and blasphemy; but Chambers, but almost invariably ne- was convinced, if punishment had gatived ; and though the majorities, been awarded against what that law n some instances, were not great, termed an outrage to religion, a door hey were sufficient to show that the might have been opened to intolenew Ministry had a decided ascen- rance. Religion, said he, is compodancy in both Chambers, that in the sed of three parts; the doctrines Peers being rendered the more com. believed, the form of worship pracplete by the extraordinary measure tised, and the morality inculcated. of creating sixty new Peers at once, The doctrines and the forms differ ; who took their seals on the 24th the morality is as invariable as naof April, the very day in which the ture and reason. The law, therefore, first project, after having passed the which recognises different forms of Lower, was carried to the Upper the Christian religion, and which Chamber. The Ministry appear to affords all of them equal protection, have considered the addition of this cannot, without being inconsistent unprecedented batch of new Peers ne- with itself, forbid to one of them the cessary to secure a complete ascen- exposition and defence of its peculiar dancy in the Upper House ; and tenets and practices. But this sect they were probably induced to ad- perhaps sees nothing in the doctrines vise the measure from the circum- and forms of its opponent but an outstance that the law of last year re- rage to religion; and what seems to lative to the press had been thrown the friends of one form to be orthodox ont in the Peers. How precarious, doctrine, may to the partisans of apoand we may add, how inexperienced ther seem idolatry and superstition. a Government must be which resorts The law, however, affords them all to such violent expedients to ensure equal protection; wherefore the text a majority, it is needless to say: Sir of this law ought equally to secure Robert Walpole understood how to to them the liberty to which they manage these matters by other means; have a just claim, and the respect and from all we have seen or read of which is undoubtedly their due. the French Legislative Body, we Upon these grounds, he thought the have no reason to believe them in- term outrages against public morals, accessible to the same argument. which had been substituted in the
We cannot enter at any length in- law of this year, a more legitimate to the detailed discussion of these description of the particular class of laws; but it may be interesting to offences which it was proposed to mention a few prominent points. In reach; for morality forming a part presenting the report of the Com- of all forms of religion, and being mittee on the first project, M. Cour. indeed the great end to the promovoiser made some very just and tion of which they were directed, pointed remarks, on the vagueness of the above description had at once the terms which had been used in the the precision and generality which project of last year, in defining some was required in such a law. These of the crimes and offences which it remarks, however, did not prevent was proposed by that law to punish, the expression from being strongly and contrasted these with the pre objected to, on the very grounds on cision of the law submitted to the which the honourable member hard Chamber. He admitted the neces. rested his eulogy.