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OR, UNFETTERED THINKER AND PLAIN SPEAKER FOR
TRUTH, FREEDOM, AND PROGRESS.
“And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple! Who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?" - Milton's Areopagitica,
* FRIENDS OF ORDER' IN FRANCE_WHO ARE THEY ?
“ The good old times'--all times wlien old are good
Byron's Age of Bronce. Could anything in the world make us sympathise with anarchy, and take delight in the horrors of civil war, it would be the present conduct of that party in France who call themselves par excellence the Friends of Order.'
—These very respectable people aro now striving, might and main, under the false pretence of preserving peace, to bring all law and liberty as they should exist in a Republican government into hatred and contempt. Like certain oflicious busy bodies at public meetings who are continually ‘rising to order and shouting for 'silence', they merely add to the noise, and sow the seeds of increased turmoil. It is just this party who lay the foundations of revolutions, and pave the way for scenes of violence and bloodshed. They march about with an olive-branch in one hand, and a two-edged sword in the other. They shade their faces with the one, while they brandish the other in the faces of their neighbours. Their idea of order' appears to consist entirely of the right to order everybody to obey them, and to enforce obedience in the event of resistance. Of such a delicate texture are their nerves that no one must talk above a whisper, but themselves. To argue with them is out of the question ; they will not listen to argument. The bare mention of Reason throws them into a delirium tremens; and the sight of a newspaper, advocating the cause of labour and poverty against the monopoly of capital and bloated wealth, raises visions of guillotines and headless trunks. They have faith in nothing but cannon balls and bayonets, except when employed by their enemies, and then, of course, these are the instruments of impious rebellion. Without knowing, or giving themselves the trouble to find out what Socialism means, they assume that it is hostile to civilization and humanity, and by base misrepresentations, exaggerations, and petty persecution, by a venal press and a ħireling policy, in short, by a reign of terror, these canting apostles of a tomb-begotten Conservatism seek to perpetuate class tyranny, and keep the Many in subjection to the Few. The expression of opinion unfavourable to their notions of order' and 'law' must be instantly crushed, and thus we read day after day of journals seized, editors fined and imprisoned,
books and periodicals prohibited, public assemblies dispersed for presuming to discuss political questions, ótrees of liberty' torn up and carried away by an armed soldiery, and such kind of irritating and unnecessary interference with the rights of thought, and the peculiarities of a somewhat fanciful people. We say, unnecessary interference, because we believe the liberty of the press-the unlimited liberty of political writing—and the fluttering of a few yards of ribbon on a tall poplar, are not incompatible with the peace and prosperity even of the city of Paris--nay, this galling persecution of democratic ideas is far more likely to lead to an outbreak of popular passion, bringing with it a vengeful destruction of life and property, than if the feelings of the people were suffered to evaporate in print and songs.
But the 'friends of order' say, if this latitude is permitted it will be abused. We reply, then punish the abuse; if the liberty of the press is employed to instigate this or that faction to rise in revolt against the government, punish the revolters; but, on no account, wrong the sacred principle of liberty of thought. Had the French press never been shackled by restrictive laws, and subjected to a despotic censorship, but had been suffered to reflect the will of France, the revolutions which have occurred in that country would have had a different complexion. Where the mind is fettered, and the true sentiments of the heart stifled in their birth, where one form of opinion assumes the right to domincer over another form of opinion, where rank and riches are privileged, and lowly poverty enslaved, where gaudy idleness is worshipped, and dingy labour despised, where the people feel and know their rights and are prevented from asserting them in a manner consistent with tranquillity and unblended with the vindictive passions, society stands upon a mine of gunpowder which sooner or later must explode. And when the magazine of wrath does explode again in France, which we fear it will do ere long if these 'friends of order' pursue their insane repressive policy, terrific indeed will be the result, and the ultimate upshot it is impossible to predict.
But who are the “friends of order' in the French Republic ? Their grand principle is, they say, to respect the powers that be. And first of all let us take the 'Legitimists' who talk mighty loud about loyalty and
order. Instead of respecting the sovereignty of the People, instead of respecting the Republic, and nobly coming forward to aid in realising the holy idea of liberty, equality, and fraternity,' we find them intriguing and caballing to bring the Republic into disrepute at home, and into contempt abroad. Not content to share power equally with their fellow citizens, they are grasping at a monopoly. If the solecism is allowable, they are paying honour, not to the powers that be, but to powers that are not. But to seat Henri V. on the throne, a revolution, a bloody revolution, great disorder must necessarily occur ; this they are aware of, and yet have the impudence to style themselves “friends of order'! Away with such hypocrisy! Of the same kidney are the Bonapartists, and the Orleanists. They hate the Republic, and sigh for a dynasty-a king-an emperor, or some such incarnation of egotism. Even the moderate republican party is not wholly free from censure. They are two much led by their fears. They lend themselves to their enemies to hunt down şocalisin by physical force, probably because they are unable to combat its doctrines by force of argument. And the consequence will be another street campaign and barricade fighting
That the growing intelligence of the French people can ever subsist under any other than the republican form of government, we do not be lieve. We hope the 'friends of order' may not reap the whirlwind they are sowing. If they succeed in destroying the Republic for a time, it will rise again like a giant refreshed, and perhaps witness the final annihilation of all the dynasty factions which now disturb its repose. If they desire to promote and establish a sound and healthy 'order,' let them adhere reTigiously to the broad principles of Republicanism--the principles of truth, justice, and freedom.
WHAT THE POOR THINK IN FRANCE. A FRIEND has kindly furnished me with the following · Letter from a French Peasant'--for publishing which, the editor of the Republicain du Centre has been condemned to six months' imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 francs (about £83). It is translated as literally as the language will permit; and will better enable English working men to enter into the real Thoughts and feelings of the French agricultural poor, than twenty pompous leading-articles' in the newspapers.—T. C.
I am a husbandman, and very badly off, as I shall show you. As I don't know how to write, I dictate this letter to the schoolmaster of our village, and beg you to publish it, so that when they read your paper, any good people who are interested about us may know how we get on.
Ah! if men would only explain themselves and agree together, instead of each doing just what comes in his head, it seems to me that, with good-will for one another and both sides doing their part, people would be a good deal happier in the world. It is my opinion that there are very few rascals and derils incarnate who torment their neighbour only for the pleasure of seeing him pained : it is fear and ambition that spoil all, and people the world with foolish wicked people-wicked beasts,—there!
The worst of it is that our master looks cross at me ever since the revolution, and that I don't get a good word from him because I love the Republic. “You have'nt gained anything by the Republic, have you ?”—“That's true enough, I have'nt gained anything.” “On the contrary, there are more taxes, the 45 centimes, and others too that I shall see that you pay."-" True, you'll make me pay them, and though the money doesn't pass from my hands into the tax-gatherer's, you take it out of my pocket all the same." “ Well, don't split my head with your cursed song
The peasant's real republic,
When will it come? If I catch you at it again, I'll turn you off.”
That's the way he reasons to disgust me with the Republic. And he's strong. I have my reasons, too; but I keep them to myself—what am I to say? The Republic has done us no good, but I love it all the same. It is perhaps because it may do good to our child. ren, and some day when the good comes, our boys will be better taught and our girls bonnier, and they will all know how to read, and write, and speak, as well as our masters, and the schoolmaster, who puts this country speech into good French, and if one is not so easy now as before February, one is much more proud.
In short, I love the Republic because I love it. I have voted, I do vote, and I will vote for it. One is not master of his heart. This is what brings mo into trouble. They are going to turn me away. They have threatened me already. My God, what will become of me? For ten leagues round not another farm will hire me, Farewell, then, to the chesnut orchard that I planted, whcre I know all the trees like old friends !--the fields where I have worked for twenty years! Am I then a good-for-nothing fellow, that I am to be forced to leave the country ? And where to go to? Perhaps beyond the seas; and so be obliged to leave our eldest girl, who is married in the village : it would be the death of my poor wife, I am sure.
Just hear what our mistress, when she saw her crying, said to her to comfort her! That we had not any right to be here at all; that we must go away and separate without crying out so much; that it was our lot; that unless we had property we have no country or family. No country! No love of home! Why then do our conscripts, farm labourers, liko us, however far they send them, take the home-sickness and die, and never any of the offi. cers who go from tho great houses ? No family! Are we beasts then? Then let them take our girls to market, and sell our little ones like calves and sheep to the butcher. No family !-Hold! when I hear that, the blood comes into my face, my ears tingle, and Hold! I was going to say a very foolish thing, enough to get me thrown into prison. But its gone now.
Only if you hear speak of that good Cabet, who wants the land to be for everybody, give me, please, some news of him. The other farm-labourers think as above like me. To our minds, if our master would hear reason, it would be better for him and us too ; but he takes everything his own way, without caring even to tell us why or how. And because in writing the agreement, he put in bis devilish paper just what suited him and the very opposite of what he had said, one's to take his word! If one goes to complain to the magistrate, the old fox who dines and drinks with the master, always makes us wrong. We are like the fools in the play. And then that weighs on one's heart, and one gets food as one can, sometimes milk and butter, and sometimes eggs, or cuts wood where one has no business. It's trick against trick and nobody's the gainer.
The young folks in the village who have been over France, say that they have never seen any people so wretched as we are, though they know very well that there's no country in the world that's worth so much as this. How do they do then? To believe these folks, the labourers down there live in real good houses, with shutters and windows, and their pigs too will be having a sty where they carry their victuals to them, as they do here to our master's horse. It's well to be young pigs in those countries. But ours are brought up in our room, and don't soon forget the way out of it; and there's no great harm thought of it if they make a trough of the table; they get served the quicker, and nobody for that, big or little, looks black at the broth. But our pigs may behave as they're brought up : it is not that that annoys me.
One word more. I hear tell by a cousin of mine, who's a journeyman-potter, that at Limoges things are done different. When they fall out with their employers, they have their own judges, what they call a council of prud'hommes. If it was to come of the Repablic's goodness to do as much for us, to bring our masters a little to reason, we should like it all the better. There are some of our labourers who think that they won't refuse it; they are going to make a petition to our representatives that we too may have judges for our own side, a country council of prud'hommes. What do you think of it?
LEONARD, husbandman at Bessincs,
THE QUARTERLY, M. GUIZOT, AND DEMOCRACY. EVERY three months there issues from Albemarle-street, a thick periodical in a drab-coloured cover, the fulminating oracle of the high Church and Tory party. In hatred to all political reforms, and to anything savouring of a popular movement, in love for social follies and corruptions, provided these be sanctified by the venerable hand of antiquity, the Quarterly Review stands unrivalled. It is not, however, to be cast aside on this account. There is much to be learnt from its pages,- for we may often gather more valuable auguries from the fears of our enemies than from the brightest hopes of our friends. This is just the case in an article in the March number of the Quarterly, devoted to a consideration of several publications relating to the French Revolution of 1848. One of the works selected for review is M. Guizot's enquiry, "Why has the English Revolution succeeded?' And the writer, in the course of his criticism, alludes to past aristocracy, and points out the tendency of the present age to democratic government, in the following not uninstructive terms :
"If we were to consider M. Guizot's work abstractedly, and as a mere historical essay, we should have to suggest some doubts and to make some reserves in our general concurrence with his statements and opinions : for instance, we must have insisted on a most important consideration, which, (strangely enough), M. Guizot does not allude to, which is, that about the time when our Revolution gave such permanent weight to the principle of popular representation, there began almost simultaneously that countervailing system by
which the House of Commons itself was made indirectly sensible of the influence of the aristocracy and the Crown; and Gatton, Old Sarum, and their fellows, helped to maintain the practical balance of the constitution against what would otherwise have become a single absorbing and irresistible power. The Reform Bill deranged, and in a great measure destroyed, that moderating influence, which, however was and is so vitally necessary to the co-ordination of monarchy with popular representation, that the monarchy is now existing only on its remnants; and we must, therefore, confess, that we by no means take the flattering view which M. Guizot does of the stability of our constitutional system. Gratefully acknowledging that the Revolution of 1688 was followed by upwards of a century and it half of unprecedented order, freedom, and prosperity, we have the strongest apprehensions that the democratic tendencies of all our recent ineasures are preparing a certain—not slow, and yet we hope not violent-passage to a different state of things. We fear that M. Guizot may be the last that will have to congratulate us on the wise stability of our political and religious institutions."
Now, all this, put into straightforward English, is tantamount to saying that Queen Victoria sits on a very unsteady throne ; that the advancing waters of democracy will shortly wash away entirely, and carry off, in one mighty deluge, Church, Bishops, and Peers; that Universal Suffrage will be established, and the British Empire ultimately become a Republic. Dreadful thought! What a heart-quake must disturb the equanimity of the King-andQueen-loving public on reading such a prediction! And have they no reason to tremble? If they are patriotic, is not their perturbation natural ? England without a monarch to parade the streets in a gingerbread coach once in three or four years ! England without a House of Peers to stop the way of popular and beneficial measures ! England without Dukes and Lords to pet and pension ! England without a State Church to bicker about baptism? England with no aristocracy but that of intellect and moral worth! “Merrie' England with a cheap President instead of an expensive Sovereign ! Merrie' England a free and equal Commonwealth instead of a flunkey-ridden kingdom! No, no; the notion is too horrible ever to be realised—the British Lion won't stand that—the flag that has braved so many breezes won't be blown away by the breath of democracy; and so let us retrace our legislative steps—let us countermarch in double quick time back to those blessed days of rotten boroughs, civil disabilities, Test and Corporation Acts, religious persecution, commercial monopoly, landlord supremacy, corn laws, wars abroad, and class strife at home. Yes, let us "tak' our auld cloak about us," or mayhap we shall be obliged to wear a 'bran' new suit.
CURIOSITY IN KNOWLEDGE.-Nothing wraps a man in such a mist of errors, as his curiosity in searching into things which are beyond him. How happily do they live, who know nothing but what is necessary! Our knowledge does but show our ignorance. Our most studious researches, are but a discovery of what we cannot know. We see the effect, but we cannot guess at the cause. Learning is like a river, whose head being far in the land, is at its first rise, small and easily viewed : but still as you proceed, it gapes with a wider bank ; not without pleasant and delightful windings, while it is on both sides, set with trees, and the beauties of various flowers, but still, the farther you follow it, the deeper and broader it is ; till at last it empties itself into the unfathomable ocean ; there you see more water, but no shore, no end of that fluid expanse. Owen Felltham.
THE SEPTENNIAL ACT.--Dr. Johnson, one of the most furious of Tories, in his life of Addison, alluding to the royal prerogative of creating peers to make a majority says, “it was an act of authority violent enough yet certainly legal, and by no means to be compared with THAT CONTEMPT OF NATIONAL RIGHT with which, some time afterwards, by the instigation of Whiggism, the Commons, chosen by the people jor three ycars, CHOSE THEMSELVES FOR SEVEN!"