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TN sending forth the following pages we feel that it would
be unwise not to offer some words of introduction and explanation regarding our undertaking, and our efforts to establish a means of communication, by which members of this University may make public their opinions upon any subject in which they may be interested.
Knowing as we do that numerous votes of censure will be passed upon us for thus endeavouring to monopolise public attention, we should have shrunk from our undertaking had we not been buoyed up by the hope that these pages will meet with a welcome reception at the hands of many of our friends and contemporaries, whose edification and amusement we have in view. We do not however propose to hamper ourselves by fixing any limits to our subjects of discussion : for, whether the subject in hand be of Political, Literary, or Commercial interest, we shall endeavour, as far as we may be able, to bring to bear upon it every means of information that we can command, and to express our opinions unbiassed by prejudice or party-spirit.
Since however it is our good fortune to exist in that "rara temporum felicitas, ubi sentire quæ velis et quæ sentias dicere licet,' we shall avail ourselves of the privilege thereby afforded, that of freedom of speech; and shall consider the acts of all public men, and especially of those who are entrusted with the government of this country, to be fairly open to criticisms and other observations ; but whatever may be the opinions which we express regarding them, we expect that no one will approve these, and hope that no one will condemn them without examining, as far as he can, the truth of our facts, and the justice of our inferences from them.
As these papers are intended chiefly for the junior members of the University, to them also chiefly must we look for encouragement: from any who feel sufficient interest in us to assist us actively, we respectfully solicit either suggestions or contributions; and all we venture to hope may be willing to look over, as far as possible, our numerous defects. Those whose reputation at once institutes them critics of any literary production, we approach with greater diffidence, and to them we say only, that to their indulgence we commit ourselves, hoping that they will find us both inoffensive and unpretending
THE STATE OF FRANCE.
ON this, the first occasion of our entrance into the busy
world, whose attention and favour we wish to engage, we look timidly around us for subjects on which first to employ our infant pen; and we observe that Englishmen seem more than usually interested in the state of our relations with our nearest neighbour, and that Parliament itself is desirous that our ships of war should, just for the moment, be rendered serviceable, and placed in positions whence it is possible to launch them. In short, as there are few of our readers who have not during the last month reflected on the possibility of a war with France being at hand, we propose to offer to them some remarks upon the state of that Country
The first glance tells us that France is subjected to a military des potism; which means that any resistance to the acts, whatever they may be,'of him who rules the Army is prevented by military force : so that the reason and freedom of agency of thirty-six millions of people are in abeyance, and their place is—not supplied, for that were impossible, but occupied by those of one single individual. Most people will agree in considering this a great calamity. It is however the fashion for some persons, whose ignorance usually is as great as their presumption, to say, in reply to an expression of regret at the military despotism which oppresses France; “ Oh! but it is impossible to govern the French by. any other means than mere force.” Is it then impossible for a Government to rule the French, if it convince them that their welfare is likely to be promoted by its rule? if so, since when has human nature changed; since when has it lost the use of the reason which taught it that to be quiet and happy is better than to be turbulent and oppressed? An edifying discovery truly it would be for humanity, that, notwithstanding the action of Christianity and the spread of civilization, a nation, not the least intelligent of Europe, should now be weighed in the balance of reason, be found utterly wanting, and be handed over to the rule of brute force. This view however, although contrary to the principles of humanity, the precepts of religion, and the light of reason, is supposed to be strengthened by the fact that it is adopted by some of the Sovereigns of Europe, who apply it to other countries besides France, and whose
first object is to carry it out in practice: since this was in reality the object of the Holy Alliance, now, fortunately, numbered among the follies of the past, its efficacy during its existence having been on a par with its sanctity. This fact however, instead of confirming the theory, only supplies an additional proof, if any were wanting, of the utter unfitness of these rulers for the positions in which, as they say, the wisdom of God, but as some persons uncharitably believe, the folly of man permits them to remain.
There are doubtless times when men are so excited that they do reject the control of reason, and when repression by force is absolutely necessary; but, unless a man be so unreasonable as to believe this to be the permanent condition of the French, he cannot believe that the only system possible for permanently governing France is a military despotism; and if any other systems are possible, all are better than this, which has now been definitively adopted: whence we arrive at the serious and significant conclusion that France is governed on the very worst possible principle.
To turn from principle to practice: let us look for example at some of the measures that have marked the last four months; the most important of them is the “ Law of Public Safety," which provides, among other unjust regulations, that anybody who has been interné or expulsé for political causes during the last ten years shall be liable to be so treated again, without trial, at the discretion of the Government; a law which has not been allowed to remain a dead letter, but has been enforced in very many cases: its injustice, although obvious enough, and its virtual effect upon society, will be more fully appreciated if we make a historical comparison regarding it. In 1495 it was enacted as a law of England that, “no man should suffer forfeiture or attainder for taking arms in the service of the King for the time being;” the principle of the law evidently being that men should not be punished for actions, which at the time of their commission were legal; which principle, having been adopted by the good-sense of the nation, was, when the time arrived for a decision on the subject, embodied in the above law : now many persons in France who have fallen under the ban of the Law of Public Safety" were originally maltreated for resistance to a change of Government, which resistance was, of course, quite legal; nevertheless this law punishes them; so that we learn that at the point where England 360 years ago paused to decide, and whence she advanced to civilization by the path of justice, France, having now paused in her turn, has positively retrograded, and taken a step which