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when bank stock hardly bore three per cent., was especially reprobated, and considered as a ruinous measure of legalized usury, which, besides increasing the debt to the extent of 173 millions, would set a desperate example of contempt of the laws on the part of the government itself. It would be better, said these opposition members, to consolidate the whole debt, by inscribing all the floating balance in the great book of the state, and paying the creditors the legal in terest. It must be owned that this last measure would have been the more justifiable, as the creditors of Buonaparte's government, with whom that of Louis was now settling accounts, had no such favourable claims as could entitle them to challenge the mode of payment or settlement which should be most convenient for the country. But after the word indemnity, instead of that of interest, had been used to express the rate of usage on the treasury bonds, in order, as we suppose, to elude the charge of usury, the ministers, after a stormy discussion, and one or two Sept. 4, 1814. narrow divisions, carried through their project of finance. The difficulties which they experienced on this occasion, and the little weight which their opinions seemed to possess in the Chamber, augured ill for the future course of their administration. At the same time, it must be owned, that the opposition conducted themselves in a fair and constitutional manner during the whole debate, and seemed to be guided by no other motive than to discover and adopt the best means for relieving the difficulties of the


The next affair of importance which agitated the parties in monarchical France, respected the liberty of the press. This is a question on which, in the abstract, there can be but one

opinion. Without absolute freedom of the public press, (to be exercised always on the peril of such as misuse it) there can neither be enlightened patriotism nor liberal discussion; and although the forms of a free constitution may be preserved where this li berty is restricted, they will soon fail to have the necessary beneficial effects in protecting the rights of the community and the safety of individuals. The liberty of the press affords a channel through which the injured may challenge his oppressor at the bar of the public; it is the means by which public men may, in case of misconduct, be arraigned before their own and succeeding ages; it is the only mode in which bold and undisguised truth can press its way into the cabinets of monarchs; and it is the privilege by means of which he, who vainly lifts his voice against the corruptions or prejudices of his time, may leave his counsels upon record as a legacy to impartial posterity. The cruelty which would deafen the ear and extinguish the sight of an individual, resembles, in some similar degree, his guilt, who, by restricting the freedom of the press, would reduce a nation to the deafness of prejudice and the blindness of ignorance. The downfall of this species of freedom, as it is the first symptom of the decay of national liberty, has been in all ages followed by its total destruction, and it may be justly said that they cannot exist separately; or, as the elegiac poet has said of his hero and the country to which he belonged

Illa tibi supresse negat, tu non potes illi.

We must own, at the same time, that as no good comes to us unmixed with evil, the unlimited freedom of the press is attended with too obvious inconveniences, which, when a nation is in a certain state of excitation, ren

amenable to the public for the abuse of their power, and through which also they often see their just and temperate exercise of authority maligned and misconstrued. To princes, also, the license of the press is, for many reasons, distasteful. To put it under regulation, seems easy and desirable, and the hardship on the community not greater, in their account, than the enforcing of decent respect and subordination,-of the sort of etiquette, in short, which is established in all courts, and which forbids the saying, under any pretext, what may be rude or distasteful to a sovereign, or even unpleasing to be heard. Under these circumstances, and in the present state of France, men rather regretted than wondered that the ministers of Louis XVIII. were disposed to place restrictions on the freedom of the press.

The eighth article of the Charter provided that Frenchmen have a right to publish their opinions while conforming to the laws which repress the abuse of this liberty. In fair interpretation, this clause comprehends all that can be desired by the most en thusiastic lover of liberty, since the freedom of writing, like that of speaking or acting, must be limited by the laws which protect both the state and individuals against the speech and actions of others. But the inundation of libels, dispersed among the citizens and soldiers in prejudice of the new dynasty, and particularly by the jacobins or self-entitled patriots, alarmed the ministers by their numbers, while, as the authors were unknown and the printers not responsible, they eluded the punishment of the law. The ef fect produced by these insidious and inflammatory pamphlets occasioned, se early as the 4th July, 1814, a motion in the Chamber of Deputies by Mons. Foure, a knight of Buonaparte's empire, and a member of his commission of government for Hamburgh, and

der the exercise of it peculiarly dan gerous. This is especially the case when a people, as in France, are suddenly released from a state of bondage, and disposed, "like youthful colts broke loose," to make the most extravagant use of their liberty. With minds unprepared for discussion, with that degree of political misinformation which has done this age more dire mischief than absolute ignorance itself could have effected, subject to be influenced by the dashing pamphleteer, who soothes their prevailing passions, as the Athenians were by the orations of their popular demagogues, it has been the opinion of many statesmen, that to withhold from them the freedom of the press, is a measure justifiable alike by reason and necessity. We proportion, say these reasoners, liberty to the power of enjoying it. The considerate and the peaceful we suffer to walk at liberty, and armed, if their occasions require it; but we restrain the child, we withhold weapons from the ruffian, and we fetter the maniac. Why, therefore, they ask, should a nation, when in a state of fever, be supplied, without restriction, with the indulgences which must nesessarily increase the disorder? Our answer is ready, that, granting the abuse of the liberty of the press to exist in the most fearful latitude (and we need not look to France to see examples,) the advantages derived from it are so inestimable, that, to deprive us of them, would be as if an architect should shut up the windows which supply light and air to a mansion, because a certain proportion of cold, and perhaps of rain, may force their way in at the aperture. Besides, we acknowledge ourselves peculiarly jealous of the sentiments of the members of every government on this delicate subject. Their situation renders them doubtful friends to a privilege through which alone they can be rendered

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whom, therefore, no one could won der to find an active agent in the suppression of free discussion. Having observed that the liberty of the press necessarily enforced responsibility, the speaker stated, as the next question, "Would it not be better to prevent the evil, than to punish it after commission? He acknowledged that it would be desirable to abolish the censorial power, that natural enemy of freedom of thought and writing; but that was not possible,-it was only necessary to set limits to the authority of the censors; such was the only way of reconciling the rights of authors with the interests of the state, of religion, and of morals. The censorship, with proper modifications, might be used, as physicians sometimes employ poisons in the composition of their medicines. He must also strongly contend that printers should be made responsible. Thus only a mound could be raised against a torrent of worthless publications from so many pamphleteers."

Monsieur Faure proceeded to state his motion, which, in substance, went to establish a censorship of works under thirty pages, before publication, by officers to be nominated by the king. If two censors should agree that the intended publication contained any thing libellous, contrary to good morals or the public tranquillity, the printing should be staid, under reservation of the author's right of appeal to a committee of the two legislative bodies, who might, if they saw cause, remove the interdict. A second branch of the same project went to place at the king's pleasure the general controul of the national press. It was proposed, that no one should exercise the trade of printer or bookseller without the royal license, under heavy penalties of fine and imprisonment. If notice was not given to the director-general of the press, and a


copy lodged with him, the impression' of any work was liable to seizure, and the publisher to a fine of a thousand livres for the first offence, and double the sum for the second. The omission of the printer's name and residence, or the insertion of a false name and address on the title-page of any work, were liable, the former to a fine of three thousand, the latter to one of six thousand livres; and the bookseller who should sell a work without a printer's name, was to be subject to a fine of two thousand livres, to be reduced to one thousand if he should give up the printer.

The measure, thus recommended,' was sent to the consideration of a committee, who made their report on the 2d of August. It was unfavour able to the motion. Monsieur Raynouard, the reporter, stated, with considerable energy, the disadvantages attending the proposed censorship, and the elusory nature of the remedy provided by the measure of Monsieur Faure. "The establishment," he observed," of this previous censure excited alarm, and appeared to him incompatible with the liberty of the press, that right which was secured by the charter. The means also of repairing the injustice or error of the censors were equally illusory. Sometimes the whole recess of a session must expire before an author could exercise his right of complaint; and the stoppage of a work ordered during one of our sessions, could not be decided upon till the opening of the next. What reparation, in the mean time, was the author to receive, whose work was unjustly delayed? None whatever; and yet it was often of great importance to the honour or the fortune of a citizen that his work should appear at a certain determinate period. What punishment also was to be inflicted on the injustice of the censors? There was none. What gua


rantee could be found in their fear of being reprobated; for even if their decisions were reversed, what security was there for the condemnation being public? But were their acts of injustice even proclaimed and posted up, still the spirit of party would easily console them for the public disapprobation. Besides, would it be difficult to mention administrations where excess of zeal, though publicly discouraged by the heads of government, might yet be excused, and even rewarded in secret? Thus every thing in the establishment of a previous censorship appeared equally unjust, both in substance and form,"

The modifications of the measure did not escape the censure of the reporter. The law exempted from the censorship works printed in foreign languages. Foreigners, therefore, would possess within France a freedom of which the natives were thought unworthy. This argument, which could only be intended to catch the thoughtless vanity of his hearers, was followed by others of greater weight. "If," as the minister declared in his discourse," care was taken to exempt all writings whose authors afforded in their character and situation a sufficient guarantee, why was it not thought proper to extend to many others an exception made in favour of ecclesias tics and advocates? Would not members of the Chamber of Peers, or of deputies, counsellors of state, public functionaries, chief members of the University, of the Chamber of Commerce, and many others, be equally entitled to be included in the number of those who by their character or situation presented sufficient guarantee?

"By article 9, journals and other periodical writings were not to appear without the sanction of the king. This article, so short and incomplete, was only the more alarming for the liberty of the press. It would have been

proper to explain, whether it was only meant to apply to the establishment of future journals, or whether every morning the journalist would be obliged to require a sanction. We should at least have learned how this sanction was to be obtained, or on what grounds it might be refused; whether censors or co-editors were to be appointed, and up to what point injurious both to public and private rights, those who shall have the direction of the journals may exclusively distribute praise and blame, or pass judgment on men and things, for the purpose of leading astray or putting down public opinion.


"By art. 10, authors and printers may demand the previous examination of their works; and if approved, the author and printer are discharged from all responsibility, except towards private individuals who may be inju red.'

"What an alarming power does this confer on a couple of censors? In this way the most immoral book, works injurious to every public right or institution, outraging even the sacred person of the king himself, would be screened from all future enquiry! The author would be freed from all responsibility, because two censors may have accorded their perhaps guilty approbation. But at what period, or in what country, have magistrates ever been prohibited to exercise the rights of public justice, notwithstanding the imprimatur of doctors or censors?

"The 22d article, declaring that the law shall be reviewed within three years, announces sufficiently that it is not meant to be a temporary, but a definitive law; and besides, it has appeared to many, that the period of revision was too distant.

"These different motives, which have had more or less weight with the members of the committee, have determi

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ned them to declare unanimously, that the plan of the law, such as it has been proposed, cannot be adopted without some modifications. The question then arose, whether this plan was easily susceptible of amendments, by which it might be corrected, at the same time adopting its principal basis. That basis is previous censorship. "On this question the committee de cided by a mere majority of voices, that previous censorship ought not to serve as the basis of the law, unless the ministers should lay before the chamber a modified project, together with the peculiar motives which suggested so strange a measure.”

This important subject was resumed in several sittings, and certain ly the members shewed no reluctance to exercise the freedom of debate, however they might differ concerning that of the press. About eighty, including both sides of the Chamber, inscribed their names as desiring to be heard upon the proposed law. The strongest argument used by those who defended the law referred to the existing state of France, unprepared, it was stated, for the advantages of a free constitution and the unlimited freedom of the press. It was urged, "that the order of society has been disarranged; the people have lost all precise and cautious habits of think ing, and are prepared to receive every fanciful impression; if a complete freedom of opinion is tolerated, bold bad men' immediately know that the most daring opinions are the most vendible, if they have but wit to support them, and, in consequence, let their ambition and their interest go hand in hand to encompass themselves with unreflecting proselytes. The French government therefore seeks to repress those hasty and consequent ly dangerous ebullitions of opinions, which come reeking from the press, to set the vicious and the unthinking

in a periodical ferment. It does not seek to put down those arguments which extend themselves to the size of a moderate volume; it knows that twenty sheets of alse wit and sophis try would carry with them their own antidote; that an epigram or an essay may prepare men to be traitors or atheists, but that a wholesale heap of sedition or blasphemy is sure to be confuted and despised. Lastly, it wisely provides that the laws should be temporary, in the virtuous hope that wise and cautious regulations may so improve and establish the French character, that truth and justice may, in a few years, be left to make their own way to the hearts of men.'


After a warm debate, the ministers saw themselves compelled to adopt several modifications of the original motion. The length of the pamphlets to be subjected to the previous censorship, was restricted to twenty pages instead of thirty, and the operation of the law was made to extend only till the end of the session .816. In the Chamber of Peers another amendment was adopted, which went to oblige the director of the press and bookselling trade to submit his interdictions against printing works, with his reasons, to both Chambers. The projected law was in this stage warmly opposed by the celebrated Marshal Macdonald, called Duke of Tarentum. His speech touched upon one topic of fearful interest. He affected to vindicate the army from the calumnies which alleged that the soldiers were seduced from their allegiance by seditious publications, yet dropped the ominous question, “Ought we to be alarmed if a few obscure soldiers have swerved from their allegiance?” acknowleging thus the existence of the very agitation which he had endeavoured to palliate or deny. The Mar. shal alleged that the real cause of disaffection was not the multitude of

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