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conducts her back to the errors of the Middle Ages. This achievement she owes to the “august mind” of Napoleon III.
And to us it seems also most lamentable that this law was carried in the French Senate by an overwhelming majority; that educated men were content to make themselves the instruments of this grievous oppression. Armies indeed, bodies of ignorant men, are ready, when guided by practised and unscrupulous hands, to be made the means of enslaving their countrymen; but that men of education and refinement should help to commit this great crime, that they should add to the physical force of military power the moral force of the apparent assent of the educated classes, was hardly to be expected. We had indeed thought that the descendants of Mirabeau and Roland possessed some of the wisdom and courage of their ancestors; that they had hearts and hands capable of doing something for their country's liberty: we find that we had forgotten that they have names capable of being buttered with titles, and pockets capable of being filled with Imperial gold.
The restrictions on the Press correspond in severity with the other repressive measures; no paper is allowed to be published or read in France which contains statements unfavourable to the Government: now either such statements are false or true; if they are false the Government can easily contradict them, and, since it is far wiser under the circumstances to refute than to prevent criticism even if unfair, in adopting a different course is guilty of folly; if they are true, as many of them certainly must be, they ought to be known, and the Government in suppressing them is guilty of dishonesty: it cannot avoid being charged with one of these alternatives. Thus we see too clearly that in France there now really exists neither liberty of person nor of speech.
Now so severely is this oppression felt, and so great is the impatience of it on the part of society at large, that we believe that if the French had now to vote whether the Emperor should continue on his throne or not, the majority would be against him, and would welcome on the spur of the moment almost any ruler, even a Bourbon: yet one of the worst things that could happen to France would be the return of the Bourbons, who would most probably give rise ere long to further troubles by their misgovernment; for the later descendants of Henri Quatre, though they failed to imitate his noble conduct in adversity, most religiously followed his example, in forgetting in their prosperity the severe lessons which they had received; Charles the Tenth and Louis Philippe each had a fair opportunity, but the incorrigible perversity of their race proved their ruin ; so that, judging from these failures, we believe that few occurrences could take place, less likely to conduce towards the establishment of permanent order in France, than the return to power of this family, which, imprudent by nature, has ever shown itself incapable of being either taught by experience, or convinced by adversity, and which, soured by long exile, and irritated by continual reverses, would now be more likely than ever obstinately to persevere in that traditional policy, which has so often proved fatal to it, and most injurious to France.
The French Government has lately laid its financial reports before the world, and to us they seem very unsatisfactory : the permanent annual expenditure has during the last few years been increased by £3,000,000, while the debts incurred by the Empire amount to £60,000,000. Any department of Government which finds itself in difficulties, through its extravagance or other causes, borrows at its own discretion; and in the beginning of 1857 the amount due for debts incurred in this unauthorized manner was £38,000,000. It certainly seems not unlikely that financial operations conducted in so reckless a manner will be brought before long, and with very little notice, to a complete standstill. This, although awkward enough as a reality, may be looked upon as also not a little ominous by a people so impressible as the French: for it would remind them vividly of something not easily to be forgotten; it would remind them that, in the reign of Louis XVI. this very system of reckless borrowing did result in bringing the whole administration of State to a deadlock; and so proved the immediate cause of the summoning of the Tiers état, which in its turn produced the most tremendous convulsion chronicled in Modern History. It is often prudent to pay regard to precedent, and it would therefore be wiser to prevent the possibility of the renewal even of the first link of so mighty a chain. Some of the causes of this extraordinary expenditure are declared, lest others be suspected; the late war of course bears all the burden which the extravagant Executive could succeed in laying to its charge; no slight one indeed, since in 1855 the public expenditure exceeded the receipts by £40,000,000. But there is another cause, all allusion to which in France is prevented by politeness, if not by necessity, to which we however wilt venture to allude—the exorbitant salaries received by some of the servants of the State: for instance, the Duke of Malakhoff is said to receive from his different offices under Government £20,000. a-year; and the salaries of some higher functionaries, relations of the Emperor, are on far too extravagant
a scale. When the exchequer was so much overtaxed, ordinary prudence might have induced the Emperor to moderate his expenses in this particular, to decide, upon inquiry into the practice of his predecessors or of other nations, what sum is a fair remuneration to his ministers for the work which they do: this amount would be justly due to them, and would of course-content them.
But still, profuse largesses to some of these gentlemen, though to be regretted, were to be expected, for we might easily have known that it was not for nothing that needy adventurers, hangers-on of an unscrupulous family, undertook to assist their leader in any attempt that seemed good to him ; whether in organizing piratical expeditions or coups d'état, or in kindly taking charge of the welfare and the purse of France. Yet if these ministers were really first-rate men their high salaries, although not to be justified, might be tolerated; but on the contrary they are of very inferior capacity: the only man of ability ever in the Cabinet, Monsieur Drouyn de Lhuys, retired from it long ago, fatigued by his differences with Count Walewski; the two could not remain in the Ministry, one must leave it; so mark what happened; Count Walewski triumphed over his superior,-unscrupulous devotion to the Emperor over honesty to France, relationship to him over ability to serve her well. For a ruler indeed such as Lamartine, France might now well afford to pay any price, but he is in that condition so pathetically described in the Works of the Emperor, the condition of an exile, and some of the most eminent Citizens of France bear
There is still one consideration which touches England more nearly than any other; the probability of a war with France : now although no prudent Frenchman would desire a war with England, it is certainly not very improbable that the French Army will become so unruly as to force the Emperor into such a war; not at his desire, or with his permission would this take place, -far from it;-he is sagacious enough to see the probable results of such a course, but he may, and, if the Army choose, will be forced into it against his wish: this would be a great misfortune, both for France and him; but for her only, and not for him, should we feel pity, for it would be his own fault; he has determined from the beginning to rule by means of the Army, and he therefore made it as powerful as was possible; he was once its master, it may ere long become his, and he, like Frankenstein, will be destroyed by the monster of his own creation. We are thus forced to the final conclusion that France is mistress neither of her internal administration nor her external political relations.
Having then thus briefly observed the aspect of the three important features which virtually determine the character of that great Country, its condition, social, financial, and political, we regret to find that the ruin of the first has been consummated,—of the second is far advanced,—and of the third is impending
MONG the popular complaints of the present day, and they
are not few in number, the loudest and perhaps the most frequent is the want of orators: why is it, we hear on all sides, that while we have good poets, good historians, good novelists, there is no such thing as a good public speaker? In vain we adduce Lord Derby, Gladstone, Lord Brougham, and Bright as proofs to the contrary; what are they, we are asked, when compared with the orators of the last generation, with Burke, Pitt, Fox, or even Sheridan; and, even allowing their title to celebrity, what are they among so many? Now although it is a vulgar error to exaggerate the past and depreciate the present, on the principle of “omne ignotum pro mirifico," yet there is very rarely a popular cry wholly without foundation. Madame de Sevigné with much pointedness says, “Mon ami le public a bon nez, et ne se méprend guère.” Allowing the fact then that oratory is on the decline, we propose shortly to examine into the causes of this decline.
In the ancient times of Greece and Rome any one who had the slightest pretensions to literary or political fame was necessarily
more or less an orator. Even à general had but a poor chance of success, if he lacked the art of carrying a popular assembly with him. Demosthenes (the general), Cleon, Pericles, Alcibiades, were all orators, and a hundred other instances might be added. Had not Homer been able to recite as well as compose his divine verses, we should have been ignorant even of his name. Those were the days when the sausage-seller Cleon and the tallow-chandler Hyperbolus flourished ;—the cleverness and wit of Themistocles were preferred to the probity and justice of Aristides, and a stammerer was a synonym for a fool. Demosthenes, had he lived in the present day, would have held his tongue, or contented himself with writing for the Saturday Review. As it was however, his ambition drove him to conquer his natural defects and to devote himself to public speaking, as the only way in which distinction was to be attained.
Great was the change produced by the invention of printing. A new and widely different channel was opened for genius,—a channel in which men of stammering lips and of