Page images

of all personal character,--almost of all private thought. The public functionaries unversally, who perform the parts, and speak the language assigned to them by their master, give up all moral liberty, sacrifice totally, and without reserve, truth, conviction, conscience, honour, and principle.'--p. 48.

* Falsehood is proclaimed as truth, ander the warrant of every possible official form, and attested as such in the face of those who know the fact to be otherwise. Every onie Esserts before the universe what he does not believe, and discards ai! pretensions to good faith in the opinion of those about him. Eve day-every hour is marked by some gross falsehood, which passing from mouth to mouth, begins at length to wear the guise of truth, in consequence of the unanimity with which it is repeated. The public functionaries, the chief ministers in this religion of imposture, if I may so express myself, support it, fortify it in the minutest details, and the most trivial acts of their official routine.'-p.53.

This monstrous system of organized fraud, one of the most incredible (on general principles) of all M. Faber's charges, is vevertheless one of the best authenticated.-It rests not on his testimony, nor on that of any other individual; it consists with the certain and personal knowledge of every man in Europe, who has had the occasion or opportunity of observing, in the conduct and relation of any affair foreign or domestic, the principles of the French government.

The interesting subject of the legal administration of France M. Faber treats, as usual, very superficially; but if he does not descend into details, at least his general opinion may be distinctly deduced; and coming from a source so prejudiced, we may almost say, against all that is French, his testimony in favour of the pure administration of justice in the courts of law will be admitted to have considerable weight. Indeed the professors of the law in France have always been eminently respectable. In the old constitution their share was considerable; they had, as members (in their various ranks) of the sovereign courts, important political duties, which we find them exercising, sometimes perhaps factiously, but in general, with an anxious, and, in some important cases, a successful endeavour to check the invasion of the crown on the rights of the people, and to preserve for the parliaments and the law', (as contra-distinguished from the will of the monarch,) some share of independance and power. It was, as we have already hinted, one of the evils of the revolution, that the legal profession had so little share in it. Few of them attained the bad eminence' of civic celebrity. Many, like De Seze and Malesherbes, dignified human nature by the heroic devotion to honour and virtue of their lives, and by their deaths. In general, however, too upright for party, and too hum

ble ble for persecution, this profession has carried through the revolution its name untarnished and its usefulness undiminished. We are not therefore surprised at M. Faber's admission, that justice is one of the bright sides of modern France;, it is expensive indeed, but it is not venal.' M. Faber complains heavily, that under the pretence of preserving legal deeds and proceedings from total loss, or partial alteration, but really for the purposes of taxation, a general system of registration has been adopted in France. We will not here discuss whether the principle of taxing legal proceedings be sound and politic; we think it would, on consideration, appear to be merely a question of degree :-if law were too cheap, litigation would undermine the morals and tranquillity of private society

if too dear, those who most want its protection could not always obtain it: but surely, if there is to be any such burthen imposed on justice, it cannot be better laid or levied than in connection with so great a public advantage as a universal registration, which, while it affords an ample revenue to the state, checks in a considerable degree the frauds to which individuals in a widely extended commerce and community are liable.

The trial by jury is one of the few relics of the first constitutions which still exist in France; if indeed the weak, mutilated, and uncertain state to which it is reduced deserves the name of existence.-M. Faber seems to think France is hardly ripe for this institution--that it requires a more cultivated understanding and better habits of reasoning than all classes of the French nation possess. In theory, this objection might perhaps be made to the trial by jury even in England, but, in practice, little inconvenience of this kind is ever felt; and M. Faber himself admits that the judges and lawyers of France have made this observation, that if the jurors individuully were considerably deficient in the qualities requisite to accomplish the purpose of the institution, yet it was fully answered by the juries collectivelythe intelligence of some of the members always fixes the opinion of a majority of the jury, and leads their good sense and upright minds to the verdict which ought to be returned.'

What then is the charge against this institution, on the pretence of which Buona parte bas assailed, and we may add, overthrown it? why this truly, that it leans to the side of mercy—that it rather absolves the guilty, than condeinns the innocent.' 'Such,' M. Faber proceeds to say, 'was the light in which Buonaparte chose to view the trial by jury. It is true that crimes of every kind were committed in France with alarming audacity, but the government, instead of seeking the causes of this general deluge of vice in the public indigence and a continual state of warfare, thought fit to impute them to the juries, and lay them to the charge of their humanity.


Laboured speeches were pronounced in the Tribunate, exaggerating every species of objection to the obnoxious institution; and to obviate the danger that might arise from it to a new order of things,' a law was passed, vesting in tribunals of exception, the cognizance of all crimes to which a political colouring could be given, specifying them in a variety of phrases, and with studied minuteness. M. Faber adds, that the government does not appear to have abused the power given to these tribunals. We can believe it-because it is not likely that they have had many opportunities; to be guilty of political crimes, requires more power, more courage, and more hope, than can remain to any individual under the terrific despotism of Buonaparte.

M. Faber has chosen to give his 4th chapter the title of the Throne and the Altar, for no other reason that we can discover, than that these words sound well together, and have been so used by the adversaries of the revolution. Of the throne, all that he says may be collected into two sentences, that no party in France is favourable to its occupation by its present possessor, and that no portion of France has been benefited by its erection. Yet, he adds, 'it must be admitted that the great majority of the nation, were their votes required, would give them in favour of the temporary preşervation of the throne of Buonaparte. Why the word temporary is introduced we know not: it appears, from the context, that the word permanent would have better expressed the sentiment of France, which he has described as anxious to submit to any oppression rather than run the risk of another revolution.

On the subject of the altar, M. Faber is hardly more consistent, though the facts which he produces are more precise and valuable. He attributes the 'concordat and the re-establishment of religion to the ambition and policy of Buonaparte, who wished to lay, apparently at least, in morals and in piety the foundations of his reign. Yet, in the very next sentence, he asserts, that the whole proceedings in this matter, and especially the speeches of MM. Portalis and Lucien Buonaparte, the selected agents of this artful design, were so imprudent and so clumsily ingenuous, as 'to scandalize all the pious, insult the clergy, and give to the adversaries of the government full opportunities of censure and reproach.'

M. Faber states, we apprehend with great truth, that the power of Buonaparte over the archbishops and bishops whom he has created, is complete and most disgraceful; that they are the instruments of his will rather than the pastors of his subjects; that to defend or sanctily his measures, they lay under impious contributions the sacred writings, and that to flatter his person, they do not refrain from blasphemy. The episcopal charges are frequently reudings (as the lawyers express it) on the code of the con

scription, scription, enforcing its laws, and endeavouring to prove the immediate derivation from heaven both of the system and its author. The Bishop of Liege sees in Buonaparte ' another Cyrus, the chosen of God; the confided in of the Lord of Hosts.' The Bishop of Metz finds that he resembles Judas Maccabæus,' and exhorts his flock to do heaven a holy violence by the concert of their praise for his success.' The Archbishop of Bourges considers Buonaparte's proceedings, as the handy-work of Almighty God, and Buonaparte himself as the man of his right hand ;-A Domino factum est istud, et est mirabile oculis nostris!

When such are its heads, we are not surprized to find the church in contempt, and religion in decay. We have the official admission of government that persons are not to be found to undertake the ministry; and in stating the deficiency of the inferior teachers, the profligate impiety of the higher orders, and the unreproved indifference of the laity to religious duties, we fear that M. Faber fairly sums up the present state of Christianity in France.

Previously to the revolution, there existed a very general system of public education, which though it was in some particulars outgrown by the progress of knowledge and the spirit of the age, possessed much that was useful and valuable, and had given to France some of the most distinguished ornaments of her literature. This was swept away in the general torrent, and the first years of the revolution were spent in forming theories of public instruction, and in absolute negligence of any practical measure. At last, the directorial constitution brought with it the laws of the 3d Brumaire, an, 4. (Nov. 13, 1796) instituting two degrees of instruction by the means of primary and central schools; but

in point of fact,' we are told, the former never existed, and the latter languished by the failure of the others.' Of this plan M. Faber seems to approve, and the little of it that was carried into effect, appears to have shewn that much advantage would have attended the execution of the whole. Buonaparte in the second year of his administration found his attention solicited to this subject by public and universal complaints ; and by the law of the 11th Floreal, year 10, he established a new system, consisting of three degrees of public instruction, the first attached to the primary, the next to the secondary schools, and the third to the Lyceums. M. Fourcroy, in the oration with which he opened this law, adverts to the failure of the former primary schools, explains its causes, and promises an infallible remedy. The means, however, taken to encourage these schools were rather strange, being simply to deprive them of the little pecuniary assistance, which they had hitherto derived from the public. The result has been what might have been expected from such penurious patronage; and


the success of the primary schools, and the diffusion of those humbler branches of knowledge which they were to teach, are to be placed in the long and disgraceful list of promises made by the French government, without the intention of performance.

The means assigned for the support of the secondary schools are, says M. Faber, still more ingenious.-M. Fourcroy tells them plainly, that the government can afford them no pecuniary assistance, and he generously invites the communes to form them at their own cost; but, as even this powerful invitation might not have been completely successful, recourse was had to an easy and most effectual process; that of 'creating the schools: 'In less than two years,' says the government orator, “370 communal secondary schools, and 377 private secondary schools have been created.' Created? Yes! upon paper, and by a stroke of the pen ; by dignifying with the name of a secondary school, every private or local seminary which existed in France. But Buonaparte was not inclined to do good by halves; and the law which thus created, went on also to reform and regulate them; and M. Faber states, (what we are well inclined to believe of such gratuitous meddling on the part of a government,) that the schools severely suffer, and bitterly complain under the burthensome honors of their new name and official régime.

In these two classes of schools, (where all must be taught, who are taught at all,) the total number of pupils of every kind is stated by M. Fourcroy to be 75,186, of which only 25,000 belong to the primary schools ; a number, as M. Faber observes, extremely disproportionate to a population of 32 millions, at which the French empire estimates itself. But besides the natural aversion which such a government as Buonaparte's must have to the diffusion of education among the people, the primary and secondary schools labour under the infliction of his marked and active preference of the Lyceums,-institutions of his own foundation, and to which, were it possible, he would limit the education of the youth of France. In these, 6,400 pupils are maintained by the state, and educated on a plan of instruction which M. Faber calls · half monastic, half military,' and which he details with a prolixity with which we shall not afflict our readers.

The chapter of the Old Times and the New' contains little worth repeating that is either old or new: it states the well known affectation with which Buona parte endeavours to surround himself with the titles, etiquettes, and manners of established monarchy; and it delights to bring into view the trite circumstances of his history, which offer the most striking contrasts to his present situation. · Buonaparte attends mass with all the ceremony and outward devotion of the ancient sovereigns of France, and yet it is


« PreviousContinue »