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of its kings. Skilful in turning to advantage all discontents, and to excite all hatreds, it foments among the people a spirit of distrust and hostility towards power, and endeavours to sow every where the seeds of trouble and civil war.
And already, Sire, recent events have proved that political passions, hitherto confined to the summits of society, begin to penetrate the depths of it, and to stir up the popular classes. It is proved also, that these masses would never move without danger, even to those who endeavour to rouse them from repose.
A multitude of facts collected in the course of the electoral operations, confirm these data, and would offer us the too certain presage of new commotions, if it was not in the power of your Majesty to avert the misfortune.
Every where also, if we observe with attention, there exists a necessity of order, of strength, and of duration; and the agitations which appear to be the most contrary to it, are, in reality, only the expression and the testimony of it.
It must be acknowledged these agitations, which cannot be increased without great dangers, are almost exclusively produced and excited by the liberty of the press. A law on the elections, no less fruitful of disorders, has doubtless concurred in maintaining them, but it would be denying what is evident, to refuse seeing in the journals the principal focus of a corruption, the progress of which is every day more sensible, and the first source of the calamities which threaten the kingdom.
Experience, Sire, speaks more loudly than theories. Men who are doubtless enlightened, and whose good
faith is not suspected, led away by the ill-understood example of a neighbouring people, may have believed that the advantages of the periodical press would balance its inconveniences, and that its excesses would be neutralised by contrary excesses. It is not so; the proof is decisive, and the question is now judged in the public mind.
At all times, in fact, the periodical press has been, and it is in its nature to be, only an instrument of disorder and sedition.
What numerous and irrefragable proofs may be brought in support of this truth! It is by the violent and incessant action of the press, that the too sudden and too frequent variations of our internal policy are to be explained. It has not permitted a regular and stable system of government to be established in France, nor any constant attention to be devoted to introduce into all the branches of the Administration the ameliorations of which they are susceptible. All the Ministries since 1814, though formed under divers influences, and subject to opposite directions, have been exposed to the same attacks, and to the same licence of the passions. Sacrifices of every kind, concessions of power, alliances of party, nothing has been able to save them from this common destiny.
This comparison alone, so fertile in reflections, would suffice to assign to the press its true, its invariable character. It endeavours, by constant, persevering, daily-repeated efforts, to relax all the bonds of obedience and subordination, to weaken all the springs of public authority, to degrade and debase it in the opinion of the people, to create against it every where embarrassment and resistance.
Its art consists not in substituting for a too easy submission of mind a prudent liberty of examination, but to reduce to a problem the most positive truths ; not to excite upon political questions frank and useful controversy, but to place them in a false light, and to solve them by sophisms.
The press has thus excited confusion in the most upright minds, — has shaken the most firm convictions, and produced, in the midst of society, a confusion of principles which lends itself to the most fatal attempts. It is by anarchy in doctrines, that it paves the
way for anarchy in the state. It is worthy of remark, Sire, that the periodical press has not even fulfilled its most essential condition, - that of publicity. What is strange, but what may be said with truth, is, that there is no publicity in France, taking this word in its just and strict sense. In this state of things, facts, when they are not entirely fictitious, do not come to the knowledge of several millions of readers, except mutilated and disfigured in the most odious
A thick cloud raised by the journals conceals the truth, and in some manner intercepts the light between the Government and the people. The kings your predecessors, Sire, always loved to communicate with their subjects : this is a satisfaction which the press has not thought fit that your Majesty should enjoy.
A licentiousness which has passed all bounds, has, in fact, not respected, even on the most solemn occasions, either the express will of the King, or the words pronounced from the throne. Some have been misunderstood and misinterpreted; the others have been the subject of perfidious commentaries, or of bitter
derision. It is thus that the last act of the Royal power, — the proclamation, — was discredited by the public even before it was known to the electors.
This is not all. The press tends to no less than to subjugate the Sovereignty, and to invade the powers of the state. The pretended organ of public opinion, it aspires to direct the debates of the two Chambers ; it is incontestable that it brings into them the weight of an influence no less fatal than decisive. This domination has assumed, especially within these two or three years, in the Chamber of Deputies, a manifest character of oppression and tyranny. We have seen, in this interval of time, the journals pursue, with their insults and their outrages, the members whose votes appeared to them uncertain or suspected. Too often, Sire, the freedom of debate in that Chamber has sunk under the reiterated blows of the press.
The conduct of the opposition journals in the most recent circumstances, cannot be characterised in terms less severe.
After having themselves called forth an address derogatory to the prerogatives of the Throne, they have not feared to re-establish as a principle the election of the 221 Deputies whose work it is: and yet your Majesty repulsed the address as offensive; you had publicly blamed the refusal of concurrence which was expressed in it; you had announced your immutable resolution to defend the rights of your crown, which were so openly compromised. The periodical journals have paid no regard to this : on the contrary, they have taken it upon them to renew, to perpetuate, and to aggravate the offence. Your Majesty will decide whether this presumptuous attack shall remain longer unpunished.
But of all the excesses of the press, the most serious, perhaps, remains to be pointed out. From the very beginning of that expedition, the glory of which throws so pure and so durable a splendour on the noble crown of France, the press has criticised, with unheard-of violence, the causes, the means, the preparations, the chances of success. Insensible to the national honour, it was not its fault if our flag did not remain degraded by the insults of a barbarian. Indifferent to the great interests of humanity, it has not been its fault if Europe has not remained subject to a cruel slavery and a shameful tribute.
This was not enough. By a treachery which our laws might have reached, the press has eagerly published all the secrets of the armament; brought to the knowledge of foreigners the state of our forces, the number of our troops, and that of our ships; they pointed out the stations, the means to be employed to surmount the variableness of the winds, and to approach the coast. Every thing, even the place of landing, was divulged, as if to give the enemy more certain means of defence.
And, a thing unheard-of among civilised people, the press has not hesitated, by false alarms on the dangers to be incurred, to cause discouragement in the army, and pointing out to its hatred the commander of the enterprise, it has, as it were, excited the soldiers to raise against him the standard of revolt, or to desert their colours. This is what the organs of a party which pretends to be national have dared to do !
What it dares to do every day in the interior of the kingdom, tends to no less than to disperse the elements of public peace, to dissolve the bands of society, and