Friday, 25 January 2013

PARIS

 During two centuries Europe has witnessed knowledge continually spreading from France. From the days of Bossuet, Arnaud, Pascal, the pretensions of Rome were opposed, jesuitism was so despised that it never reached the confessor who had misled his King. In the following century, France kindled the flame of philosophy. Montesquieu, d'Alembert, Rousseau, Voltaire, attacked political and religious prejudices which benighted Europe, They began the true reign of freedom of thought, and at their voice this freedom spread through the world. At Versailles as at Paris, the people, the Nobles, the courtiers, even the favourites, all except the King, who thought of nothing, all spoke as Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau spoke. Princes summoned these great men to educate their offspring. France assisted the oppressed Americans, and chased the Jesuits out of Europe. At the moment of the Revolution she did more. She proclaimed with the loudest voice, the principles of civil and religious liberty. She was not contented with proclaiming them, she took up arms to support them ; she had the glory, to combat for principles, and for principles she gained victories. Her flag floated in both hemispheres, and she pronounced the word Liberty on the banks of the Nile and the Jourdan, on the Tiber and the Adige,on the summit of St. Gothard, on the banks of the Danube and the Zuyder-zee; and all the shores of Ireland. Changed from a Republic to camp she proclaimed, under a military administration equal civil rights, submission to religious authority, and to temporal power —she spread civilization with her laws.
  What sudden change has occurred in her destiny? Forced back on herself, forced within her natural limits, deprived of glory and power does she possess political liberty compatible with the and her manners? Recovered from the enthusiasm of fresh-born liberty, from the drunkenness of conquest--does she appreciate the merits of a temperate Government ? Does she clothe herself in wisdom and science, and knowledge, in what covers defeat with honour, and makes the conquered superior to the conquerors. If Europe judges France by the results, it will see her political laws, on which experience was agreed from the first, made and remade, her Constitution, described as eternal, modified and altered unceasingly; one system of election substituted for another; the principles of equal succession, of equal division of land, attacked in every mode ; religious authority drawn from its retreat, to rival political power ; scholastic controversies revived in the country of Voltaire; the Jesuits banished from every country, by the voice of France recalled into her bosom ; popular instruction proscribed ; Professors of Science silenced ; finally the Press—the dearest, the most precious of all our liberties—oppressed , and subjected to Censors—a People for whom the privilege of speaking freely is the most essential of all—a people who, when they could not speak, could at least sing, and thus make their masters hear their voices this people, gagged and subjected to a silly tribunal, which metes out to its words each day —this is the appearance which France has to foreigners.

If a nation is always worthy of the Administration it supports, what will be said of us? The English have never suffered a Censorship, and were always able, even when Pitt was at the height of his power, to tell him he was a traitor. What will they say of us ? They will treat us as inconsistent, demanding, at one time what they reject at another ; loving yesterday liberty and glory, and to-day agreeing with Jesuits and Censors; now listening with as much pleasure to the sermons of a fanatic Monk, as they formerly had when they greeted the saviours of liberty at Fleurus or Zurich, Sympathy is lessened for us in Europe. In England and Germany we are described as given up to the Jesuits. When our tribunes spread abroad some truth—when the journals may express some generous sentiments, this sympathy will be awakened again. —Constitutionnel.

 The Monitor 23 April 1828,

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