Imatges de pàgina
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But to this expenditure the public treasury only contributed about 60 millions yearly at the utmost; the rest was made up by taxes of various kinds in the departments, and the funds so raised were often withdrawn from the purposes of the interior administration, and applied to the more pressing demands of military operations. In order to supply the deficiences thus occasioned, many expenses which should have been borne by the general funds of the state, as salaries of police administrators, expense of the barracks, &c. were thrown upon the revenues of the communes, who, to defray these exorbitant charges, were compelled to increase the poll-tax, called communal octrois, until it was averaged at about seven livres (five shillings and ten-pence) a-head upon each inhabitant, and in some cities even amounted to seventeen livres, (or fourteen shillings and two-pence). The state of the poor and of the hospitals, thus plundered of all the tangible funds destined to support them, was represented as most deplorable; and the state of the roads and bridges, as neglected by the late government, and destroyed in the course of the invasion.

The expenses of the war establishment being the very root of the evil, complicated as they were during Buonaparte's prosperity, and while he had

all the resources which could be extorted from the other nations of Eu. rope, had, after the commencement of his misfortunes, and while he was compelled to seek all the necessary funds from the bosom of France herself, been plunged into a complete chaos. The report states, "On the 1st of May last, (1814), the land forces of France amounted to more than five hundred and twenty thousand men, including gend-armerie, veterans, invalids, and cannoniers, guarding the coasts. Besides this force, there are 122,597 military of all ranks enjoying half-pay. One hundred and sixty thousand prisoners are returning to us from Prussia, Austria, England, and Russia. The staff of the army, including engineers, inspectors, commissaries, &c. amounts to 1874 individuals.

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Total, 236,000,000

The war of 1812 and 1813 destroyed, in artillery and ammunition, a capital of 250 millions; and the fortified places in the countries ceded by France, had, since 1804, cost her 115 millions. The budget of the war ministry, properly so called, had been fixed under all heads, for 1814, at 360 millions. But in consequence of a division which had existed some years, there was, besides the department of the ministry at war, that of the war administration. The expences of this last were in 1812, 238,000,000 francs; in 1813, 374,000,000; and in 1814 they will be 380,000,000; which last sum will, for 1814, occasion a total expense, in these two branches, of 740 millions.

The arrear also of these two branches is enormous: That of the ministry at war amounts, according to present statements, to 104,000,000;

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and that of the war administration to 157,000,000, making a total arrear of 261 millions.

"But these statements are not yet complete: The arrears of the armies during the years 1811, 12, 13, and 14, are still unknown. Neither do they include a sum of 100 millions, ordonnanced by the two minstries, which they no longer reckon their debt, but which the treasury has not been able to pay. We must add, also, to the expenses occasioned by the war, the requisitions of which we have already spoken, the expense of the guards of honour, and of the offers of mounted and equipped horsemen. The expense of the two latter heads, for the departments of Old France, may be estimated at 15,611,000 francs."

The state of the marine department exhibited in the strongest colours the active and energetic, yet vain-glorious and miscalculating, disposition of Buonaparte. From the date of the projected invasion of England downwards, the most gigantic attempts had been made to render France a naval power. Dock-yards had been formed where scarce fishing-boats had formerly entered. Even Paris itself had seen a naval arsenal within its walls. One hundred and fifty millions of livres had been sacrificed to these visions, of which no trace now remained but a few rotten vessels, unfit even for their destined purpose while new, and works constructed at immense expense, abandoned to the winds and tides, which were daily burying them with sand. The great expenditure on the dock yard and basins at Antwerp, which had now passed away from the French empire, did not escape notice and censure. But above all, it was complained, that while the imperial government had thus emptied the arsenals, and exhausted the treasures of France, in efforts ostensibly to form a navy, the imperial mandates had virtually given

the lie to these measures, by forming into marching regiments and uniting with the army the crews with whom the intended vessels were to have been manned. And thus, while apparently intent upon forming with the one hand the material part of a naval power, Buonaparte annihilated with the other the very profession of the sailors, through whose means alone it could be rendered efficient and formidable.

In the financial department, a singular instance of Buonaparte's deceptive policy was exposed to the nation. Annual expositions of national receipt and expenditure had been periodically published since he assumed the reins of government, which were, to outward appearance, unchallengeably accurate; and, as they seemed to balance each other, afforded the fair prospect that, the revenues of the state being realized, the expenses could not fall into arrear. But in reality, a number of extraordinary expenses were withheld from the view of the public, while, on the other hand, the produce of the taxes was over-estimated. Thus the two budgets of 1812 and 1813, upon close examination, exhibited a deficit of upwards of three hundred and twelve millions of livres, or thirteen millions sterling. Buonaparte was not ignorant of this fact, but concealed it from the eyes of the nation, in hopes of replacing it, as in his more successful days, by foreign tribute, and, in the mean time, supplying himself by the anticipation of other funds; as an unfaithful book-keeper makes up a plausible balance to meet the eye of his master, and covers his peculations by his dexterity in the use of cyphers. Upon the whole, the debts of France appeared to have increased in the course of thirteen years to the extent of 1,645,469,000 francs, or more than sixty-eight millions and a half of sterling money.

The report proceeded to notice the

moral state of the country, and that of public instruction, and concluded with a passage which proved but too prophetic: "Unhappily we cannot also restore at once to France those moral habits and that public spirit which cruel misfortunes and long oppression have there almost annihilated! Noble sentiments were opposed; generous ideas were stifled; the government, not content with condemning to inaction the virtues which it dreaded, excited and fomented the passions which could do it service; to suppress public spirit, it called personal interest to its aid; it offered its favours to ambition, in order to silence conscience; it left no other state but that of serving it, no other hope but those which it could alone fulfil; no ambition appeared indiscreet, no pretension exaggerated; hence that incessant agitation of all interests and of all wishes; hence that instability of situation which left hardly any man the virtues of his condition, because all thought only of emerging from it; hence, in fine, incessant attacks upon every kind of probity by seductions against which the most generous characters could hardly defend themselves.

"Such were the melancholy effects of that destructive system which we have now to combat. The difficulties of the moment are great, but much may be expected from time; the nation will feel that its zealous concurrence is necessary to hasten the return of its own happiness; its confidence in the intentions of its king, the lights and wisdom of the two chambers, will render the task of government more easy. If any thing can prevent the speedy realization of these hopes, it will be that restless turbulence which wishes to enjoy, without delay, the blessings of which it has the prospect."

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This exposé, which was drawn up with great talent and perspicuity, (by

Talleyrand, as was supposed,) had for a time a happy effect on the temper of the nation, and prepared the two branches of the legislature to receive favourably the financial projects which the ministers were next to submit to them.

Upon the 23d of August, 1814, the budget proposed by the ministers of France, after undergoing the revi sion of the central committee, was presented to the Chamber of Deputies. The ministers, professing their resolution to keep faith with the creditors of the state of every description, announced that the pressing debts of the state, which could be instantly demanded by the creditors, amounted only to 759 millions of francs, not quite thirty-two millions sterling. For reimbursement of this sum, the first resource proposed was the sale of 300,000 hectaries (being about one-fifth part) of the national forests. Voluntary subscriptions, and the sale of the property of the communes, was to provide for the balance of the debt. In the meanwhile, ministers proposed to issue bills upon the royal treasury, bearing an interest of eight per cent., an advantage which was thought absolutely necessary to prevent depreciation of the government securities in the market.

The budget underwent a severe scrutiny in the Chamber of Deputies, where there was already a powerful and organized opposition to the administration. Messrs Faugergues, Dumoulard, and especially Monsieur Desgraves, attacked the means proposed to discharge the debt, as partly dangerous, partly delusive. The sale of the national forests, it was said, must destroy the means of supporting the French navy in future wars, and render her dependant on foreign countries for naval timber. But the granting treasury bonds, bearing the exorbitant interest of eight per cent.

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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 interest. 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 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

Sept. 4, 1814.


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 enthusiastic 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, so early as the 4th July, 1814, a motion in the Chamber of Deputies by Mons. Faure, 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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