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The people of France, without great proprietors; without corporations; with a mere shadow, as we shall inmediately see, of municipal administration; with a very imperfect and confined establishment of juries; * with aristocrats setting forth absurd
* The courts of justice in France present, from the number of judges who sit together, something like the exterior of a jury, but without any of its peculiar advantages,—that of mixing with the immutability and rigour of law which governs the Bench, something of the common sense and common feelings of men,-making strict rule bend to unforeseen circumstances, and placing arbitrary power in transitory hands least likely to abuse it.
The judicial organization is as follows. Justices of the Peace about 2700, appointed by the Government dur
ing pleasure, with a small salary. They try civil causes to a certain amount, beyond which they act only as mediators between the parties, who cannot proceed at law before this preliminary re
ference. Many compromises are effected through their means. Tribunaux de premiere instance, composed of 355 to 360 courts, and
3300 judges and assistant judges. An appeal lies from all these
to the Cours d'Appel. Cours d'Appel, or Cours Royales, composed of twenty-seven courts,
and about one thousand judges or assistant judges. Cour de Cassation, composed of 49 supreme judges--divided into
three distinct chambers. 1. For criminal cases. 2. & 3. Admit or reject petitions for new trials in civil cases, on the ground of de
fects of form. Tribunaux de Commerce, composed of merchants serving without a
salary, presented by the body of merchants, and appointed by the Government; deciding in all commercial cases to a limited amount, without appeal. 212 or 215 courts, of five judges each.
Criminal Cases are classed as follows. 1. Contraventions. 2. Délits (Misdemeanors.) 3. Crimes. Justices of the Peace try cases of contravention, and can inflict five
days' imprisonment at most, and a fine of fifteen francs.
peal lies to the Tribunaux Correctionnels. Tribunaux Correctionnels, composed of judges of the Tribunaux de
prémirre instance. They try misdemeanors without a jury, and can inflict five years' imprisonment, and a fine of twelve thousand franes.
.An appeal lies to the Cours d'Appel. Cours d'Assises, composed of five judges (those of the Cours d'Appel),
try crimes with a jury, and can inflict capital punishment. Conseils de Guerre. They sit permanently in each of the twenty-one
military divisions of the kingdom ; are composed of about 200 judges, all military men. They try, without a jury, not military cases only, but any crime committed by a military man even a
pretensions, but no aristocracy; with an ecclesiastical establishment which commands but little reverence; without any
institution older than the present century, scarcely even excepting Royalty, which is now a thing wholly different from what it was formerly,–presents an anomaly among nations. All political passions seem extinguished among the body of the people, except that for Equality. This was proclaimed at the time they became proprietors. The restoration of high and low in society is connected, in their mind, with the restoration of national property, with tythes and seigneurial privileges. They could do extremely well without civil liberty; but equality they must have. Their habeas corpus, or laws answering the same purpose, may be taken away or suspended without exciting material discontents. They are likewise unconcerned enough about the liberty of the press, whatever journalists may say to the contrary, and would not be sorry to get rid of trial by jury: But the very name of aristocrates is capable of exciting an insurrection at any time. In other respects, le peuple en France a donné sa demission witty but mortifying confession which one of the ablest of the French reformers suffered to escape from his lips.
From this slight outline, it is easy to see that the political machine among our neighbours is at this moment of very simple construction, consisting of two unconnected and opposite powers—the People, a promiscuous mass, in one scale—the King and Army in the other. If the king be warlike, he will have the army on his side, and soon find means of overruling the Legislature-if he be for a course of years weak or pacific, the Legislature elected by the people must in the end establish something very like a republic, of which a soldat heureux will in due time become the master. There is in that country no intermediate body, able to rally round the constitution when invaded by either of the opposed powers, and to resist the inroads either of despotism or of anarchy. Moreover, there are no materials to compose such a body. The old aristocracy has proved itself signally unfit for a duty of this description. Its marking character is an antipathy to all constitutional establishments.
gainst an individual not military! An appeal lies to a Conseil de Revision, composed likewise of military men.
N. B. This part of the Code is about to be amended. There are in France altogether about 5600 judges, exclusive of justices of the peace ;-a prodigious judicial establishment, compared to the twelve Judges in England, ten Masters in Chancery, and the Chancellor.
Under this point of view, it is a matter of regret, perhaps, that the government of Bonaparte did not last some years longer. He seemed to have felt the loneliness and consequent insecurity of his power, and the necessity of filling the immense and widening gulph between him and the promiscuous multitude, by some intermediate class which the nation could respect and confide in. He attempted, therefore, with great industry and perseverance, to reconstruct an aristocracy. The materials prepared were his Senate, his Legion of Honour, his titles of Nobility, his Majorats; but the transitory creation wanted the breath of life-independence. The senate was not a substantial, but a nominal power-not an auxiliary, but a mere servant of the Prince. As to the old noblesse, which through a mistaken policy, or rather through a childish vanity, Bonaparte was so anxious, during the latter part of his reign, to place in his household and government, and which was not at all backward in accepting the favour, the ill-assorted and base alliance could form no link between him and the people, and proved indeed a material injury to his popularity. His natural sagacity would in all probability have taught him to correct the defects of these institutions, for the sake of his own power, or rather of his dynasty; for although his own Sovereignty might be safe, enveloped as it was in the blaze of unrivalled glory, yet that of his posterity plainly required another base; and he could not but know a balanced constitution to be the only safe one. Europe in arms crushed in him the common enemy of their independence; but at the same time, perhaps, the only man who could arrest awhile the unsound and vicious tendency to perpetual political changes which haunts its repose, and afford time for something permanent to take root, some agglomeration of interests to be formed, some fortresses to be built on the debateable land of opinion, and check the sudden inroads of daring and restless innovation.
The history of Bonaparte affords, no doubt, a useful lesson to conquerors; but all princes might find in it something else to leam : for if his talents, his fame and his energy, could only silence for a while the spirit of civil liberty, or, if they please, of audacious independence, which burst forth the moment he fell; they, with their bare legitimacy, respectable and useful in principle as it undoubtedly is, cannot reasonably hope to overcome it effectually; and must see the necessity of compounding on reasonable terms, and keeping the conditions of the treaty faithfully, for their own sakes.
In order to form an opinion of the present state of France, we have thought expedient to compare some of the earliest and
some of the latest publications of the revolutionary period of which its ill-fated inhabitants have reached the thirty-first year, without being quite sure that it is the last. The first in date, M. Mounier's book, published in 1792, 'On the Causes which op• posed the Establishment of Public Liberty in France,' is justly deemed the best production of that distinguished patriot, and perhaps the best that has yet appeared on the subject; and the list is closed by the last week's brochure of M. de Pradt, who appears before the public in his usual character of political skirmisher.
French writers are accused of going farther back than is strictly necessary for the occasion, and giving to their readers the history of the first Oak, -apropos, of a treatise on shipbuilding. An inquiry into the nature of the aristocracies of Greece and Rome, might perhaps be deemed out of place in a political pamphlet on the circonstances actuelles de France : yet the question of an aristocracy or no aristocracy-what an aristocracy is, was, and ought to be mis so closely connected with the business of the day in France, that we find no fault with the historical learning of our author.
An aristocracy of birth, of wealth, of talents, and personal respectability and influence, exists under every form of government. · It is very little to the purpose, therefore, to inquire whether an aristocracy suits certain abstract principles of liberty, since it is impossible to prevent its existence: And the only question is, whether it had not better be regulated than proscribed-whether it should not rather be rendered useful, than left to hover in secret enmity beyond the pale of the social institutions. Montesquieu observes, that a sovereign aristocracy is distinguished by peculiar moderation ; a result less of the paternal spirit which is so often pretended, as of the fear of exposing a corporate power to the usurpation of ambitious individuals, on the one hand, or the resentment of oppressed numbers, on the other.
The feudal aristocracy of the middle ages, at all events, was the very reverse of a paternal one. Its relation to the people was that of conquerors to the conquered, without any judge but God' between them. The former encamped on the land of the latter; lived upon them at discretion for nearly seven centuries; yielding a sort of loose and reluctant obedience to the old General under whom they held their fee, or share of the conquered lands. The fate, however, of this species of aristocracy was not the same in different parts of Europe. In England, the descendants of the conquered were admitted to a sort of alliance with the descendants of the conquerors, for the purpose of re
sisting the encroachments of kingly power; and a salutary combination of interests took place, the effect of which has been observable from the days of King John to our own.
In France, the descendants of the conquered remained a long while passive spectators of the quarrels of the conquerors among themselves; or in other words, of the King with his feudal nobles. Louis le Gros granted, of his own accord, to the former, certain liberties by special charters, in order to strengthen himself. The alliance, there, was between the King and people, against the nobles. Submissive as the latter professed to be to the will of the monarch, they were in general the very
A vague notion of equality prevailed among them ;-a noble was like another noble, in his estimation; and the King was but one of them. Henry IV., in the warmth of his heart, chose to call himself le premier Gentilhomme de son Royaume ; and that other chivalrous king, Francis I., used the same expression. Their noblesse were naturally disposed to take them at their word. We must hear M. de Pradt on the subject (p. 145.) Depuis ce seigneur Dupujet, qui de sa tour de Monthéri soutenoit la guerre contre Louis le Gros, jusqu'au Duc Epernon, les rois n'ont pas cessé d'être combattus ou contrariés par ce qui les environnoit de plus près. La retraite d'un seigneur dans ses terres équivaloit à une déclaration de guerre. Jusqu'à la Fronde, les princes et les grands avoient leurs places fortes et leurs regimens ; les gouvernemens des provinces, les grandes charges étoient autant de propriétés d'où ils bravoient le mécontentement du prince. Il fallut Louis XIV. pour faire cesser ce desordre, &c. La puissance resultant autrefois de la feodalité a été remplacée dans modernes
les grandes richesses des courtisans et l'établissement royal fait à chaque prince. En France on ne conçoit pas plus un prince sans une cour, que le Roi lui-même sans cet entourage de la souveraineté ; il n'y a de difference que dans la quotité. Ces attribus de la souveraineté sont propres aux princes, comme au Roi lui-même, les dénominations de leurs officiers sont les mêmes que celles du souverain. Au lieu d'un Roi il y en a plusieurs ; de grandes dotations, des places éminentes de puissans moyens d'influence forment l'apanage des hommes qui approchent du monarque et des princes, &c. Le regne de l'infortuné Louis XVI. fut un tissu de machinations de ce genre qui ont beaucoup contribué aux malheurs dont il fut la victime, &c. Tous les autres états de l'Europe sont exempts de ce fleau : il n'est connu qu'en France. En Autriche, en Prusse, en Angleterre, en Russie les princes n'ont aucune parti. cipation au gouvernement : ils sont sujets comme les autres : on ne voit pas autour d'eux des gardes particulieres, attribut exclusif de la souveraineté ; on n'apperçoit pas davantage le cortege d'officiers sous les mêmes denominations que ceux de la couronne, &c.
Ces idées de pompe sont propres au midi de l'Europe ; les cours y sont un