« ÎnapoiContinuă »
Other disasters for which the excesses of nature are not accountable, produced destruction of life or property to a considerable, though perhaps not above the average, amount. Fires and explosions, especially those arising from the combustion of inflammable substances, naphtha, nitro-glycerine, and petroleum, occasioned extensive loss of life and destruction of vessels and buildings. Among accidents of this nature was the dreadful railway disaster at Abergele, arising from the ignition of paraffin oil in the trucks, brought through the collision of a goods train into contact with the furnace of the engine. It may perhaps be affirmed that no railway accident in this country ever produced so profound an impression on the public mind.
The losses which the country sustained this year by the deaths of eminent and useful members of the community were rather more numerous than usual. The Church of England was deprived by death of her mild and justly-venerated Primate, Archbishop Longley ; of Dean Milman, the poet, scholar, and enlightened Christian historian ; of Hampden, Bishop of Hereford, Jeune, Bishop of Peterborough ; of Canons Ernest Hawkins and Bentinck, of Westminster; of the Colonial Bishops of Montreal and of Grafton and Armidale, and of the Rev. W. R. Dawes, the astronomer. Lord Brougham, one of the last survivors of a great constellation of brilliant lawyers, and much more than a lawyer in his attainments and fame_Lord Cranworth and Lord Wensleydale, both eminent though retired members of that learned fession; Sir William Shee, a Judge of the Queen's Bench, and Lord Curriehill, of the Scottish Bench, were removed from the scene. Literature was deprived of Sir Edmund Head, Samuel Lover, M. J. Higgins, Eyre Evans Crowe, Edward Jesse, and several more. Science, of Sir David Brewster; Art, of Abraham Cooper, R.A., J. Doyle (H. B.), John Burnet, and G. Cattermole ; the Stage, of Charles Kean; the Military and Naval services, of Sir Edward Blakeney, F.M., General Simpson, Sir Hew Ross, F.M., Sir George Wetherall, Sir Henry Chads, and a long list of other officers; while of those who had served their country in various capacities and with eminent desert, we may select for conspicuous mention the names of Sir James Brooke, of Sarawak, Sir Herbert Edwardes, a premature loss to his country, and Sir Richard Mayne. The survey of such a list of eminent citizens removed within the compass
of twelve short months from the scene of their labours, suggests, at first view a melancholy sense of our national bereavement; but when we consider that each recurring year is found to render a somewhat similar tribute of eminent victims to mortality, we derive from the fact at least this consolatory reflection, that a nation which is continually yielding such spoils to the grave must be rich in the power of producing the higher specimens of humanity, and of perennially renewing that supply of public virtues and intellectual energy which sustains, under Providence, the strength and greatness of the empire.
Political state of the Empire - Reception of the Diplomatic Body by the Emperor
Reports of debates in the Chambers by newspapers-Budget-Debate on the Army Organization Bill— Bill relating to the Liberty of the Press — Debate on the Bill for fixing the Army Contingent-Pamphlet on the Policy of the Second Empire_Speech of M. Baroche at Rambouillet-Discussion on Free Trade-Speech of the Emperor at Rouen-Discussion on the Budget-Municipal and Civic Loans--Approaching Ecumenical Council at Rome–M. Grévy opposition candidate for the JuraIncident at the distribution of prizes in the Sorbonne-New political map of France—The Baudin subscription - Death of M. Berryer-Changes in the French Ministry.
The view taken by the French Government of the political aspect of affairs at the beginning of the year, is shown by the following article which appeared in the Moniteur :
“The year begins under favourable auspices. Peace is not disturbed in any part of Europe. Thanks to the wisdom of nations and their Governments, it may be hoped that the questions which occupy the attention of diplomacy will be amicably settled upon satisfactory terms. The peoples, enlightened as to their interests
, and duties, are called upon to assist one another in the work of progress as the object of their common efforts. The lessons of 1867 will not be lost. The anarchical attempts in Spain, England, and Italy have encountered just reprobation from the good sense of the populations. Faithful to the traditions of her policy, France continues to fulfil her civilizing mission. The Universal Exhibition has become the symbol of those ideas of brotherhood and solidarity which form the honour of our age. At home France has understood how to reconcile the principle of authority with the regular exercise of wise and fertile liberty. The country has availed itself of every opportunity to testify its gratitude to the Emperor, and has once more shown in the recent debates of the Chambers the intimate agreement existing between it and the Government. Abroad France has exerted her influence in favour of the peace and general interests of Europe. If France has energetically supported the Pontifical throne, it was because the cause of the Holy See was that of right and justice, based upon treaties. France, by opposing the excesses of revolutianary factions, has rendered a signal service to the Papacy, to the Government of Victor Emmanuel, and to the whole of Italy. France, in inviting indiscriminately all the European Powers to facilitate by the moral authority of their collective counsels the work of conciliation, has given a new proof of her political impartiality. The Government of the Emperor, which has received the testimonies of sympathy from various Governments, hopes to cause the practical value of its proposals to be recognized.
But a very different view was given by the Opposition press, and we quote some passages from one of its journals which show the other side of the picture.
“Business is every where in a suffering state; the metallic reserve in the Bank exceeds a thousand millions of francs, the winter is severe, and we are receiving the most lamentable accounts from Rouen, Lyons, and all the great manufacturing centres. The state of other nations is not less disquieting. England, subject to a general conspiracy, is trembling, notwithstanding her moral force, and is uneasy for her material prosperity. Italy, humiliated and thrown into disorder by the second Roman expedition of France, is agitated by a crisis which may from one moment to another extend beyond her frontier and become general. Prussia and Russia, shrewdly taking advantage of the faults and shortsightedness of France, are advancing towards their ends, the one in Germany, and the other in the East, Prussia not concerning herself more for the treaty of Prague than Russia for that of Paris. Europe, become an immense barrack, is covering herself more and more with soldiers, who ruin the populations, and are leading the Governments to bankruptcy; the phantom of the old coalitions is begining to disturb the imaginations, and M. Gressier astonished no one in saying that war, and a great war, was the only means of putting an end to a state of affairs which is weighing on all minds and all interests. But if France is compelled, in spite of herself, to engage in war, on what conditions, and aided by whom, will it be carried on? We know who are our enemies; they are strong and numerous ! But where are our allies? Thus we have reason to repeat that the year which is ending is a melancholy one."
On receiving the congratulations of the Papal Nuncio as the representative of the diplomatic body at the Tuileries on New Year's Day, the Emperor replied,
"I am happy to begin the new year, as usual, surrounded by the representatives of all the Powers. I am able to affirm once more my constant desire to maintain the best relations with them. I thank you for the wishes you have been good enough to express in their name for France, my family, and myself.”
And in answer to the Archbishop of Paris the Emperor said :
“The prayers you address to Heaven for the Empress, the Prince Imperial, and myself affect me deeply. They spring from a noble heart. I know that you do not separate religious interests from those of the country and of civilization."
When Count von der Goltz, the newly accredited Minister to the French Court from the North German Confederation, was presented at the Tuileries, the Emperior thus addressed him :
"In notifying to me the new functions with which you are invested as the representative of the Confederation of the North, you renew the assurances of the friendship of the King of Prussia. I thank you for it. On my part, I embrace the opportunity with pleasure to confirm the good understanding existing between the two Governments. I beg of you to be the interpreter of my sentiments to the king. Having been able to appreciate the high qualities which distinguish you, I do not doubt that you will continue as heretofore to exert all your efforts to maintain between the two countries that friendly understanding which is the pledge of their prosperity, and a guarantee for the peace of Europe.”
By the forty-second Article of the Constitution, reports of the sittings of the Legislative body by the journals, or by any other medium of publicity, are to consist only of the reproduction of the minutes drawn up after each sitting, under the supervision of the President of the Legislative Corps. This was modified by the Senatus Consultum of the 2nd of February, 1861, by which an abridged report of the debates was to be made out for all the journals, except the official Moniteur, by the secretaries of the Chamber under the supervision of the President; and this was the only report which they were to be allowed to publish under a heavy penalty
Several journals at the beginning of the year had published comments or "articles” upon these reports, which they had faithfully copied as given to them by the secretaries of the Chamber, and this was considered by the Government as an infraction of the law, for which prosecutions were commenced against them all.
In the Corps Législatif, M. Picard censured these proceedings, and declared that the right of discussion had been suppressed by the prosecutions.
M. Rouher (Minister of State) replied that, despite the warnings given at the beginning of every Session by the Government to the newspapers, some of them still persisted in violating the fortysecond Article of the Constitution. The Government did not in any manner wish to challenge the right of discussion on Bills voted by the Chamber, but forbade a report to be published in addition to the official report. This was a question for the courts of law to consider.
M. Thiers asserted the full right of the public press to discuss the sittings of the Chambers; as all other public authorities were allowed to be discussed, the Corps Législatif could not be made an exception. This was a question of independence and dignity for the Corps Législatif.
M. Rouher replied that the terms of the Constitution allowed two official reports, but prohibited a third. The courts of law had to decide the point as to the right of the press to discuss or publish their own report of the legislative proceedings. Referring to an interpellation made in the Senate in 1861, M. Rouher concluded that the Government had not the slightest wish to paralyze the right of discussion, which remained intact.
All the journals were summarily convicted before the Juge d'Instruction, and the proprietors were condemned to pay fines of various amounts'.
In the middle of January the Minister of the Interior sent the following circular to each of the prefects of departments:
“M. le Préfet,—The Government has frequently declared, both before and during the debates on the Army Bill, that it desired peace, and that all its efforts would be directed to maintain it. The Administration cannot hold two different tones, because it has not two different policies. The essential point, therefore, is that the journals which support us should not accredit alarms nor propagate certain disquietudes. The discussions provoked by the Army Bill may have been carried too far, but they must now more than ever be brought into harmony with the pacific disposition which the Emperor and his Ministers have time after time expressed. I request you, therefore, to carefully see that the journals which support us do not depart from the declarations made by the Government. Nothing alarms the public mind so much as contradictions, and nothing reassures and fortifies it more than harmony of language and of guidance.”
The budget of the Minister of Finance, M. Magne, was presented to the Emperor at the end of January, and we extract the following paragraphs :
“An excessive importance is attributed to the amount of the floating debt when it is considered as the exact expression of the financial position of the country. That amount varies from day to day, and sometimes undergoes very large fluctuations, without the groundwork of things being changed. On the 1st of December,
1 A statement headed “Three Months of Liberal Empire” was published by the Temps, as showing what was meant by the Liberty of the Press in France. From this it appeared from the 1st of June to the 31st of August there were forty-one sentences for press offences, pronounced against fifty-eight persons, fifteen condemnations to imprisonment, and forty-nine to fines. Two of the fines were of the large amount of 10,000f., three were of 5000f., twenty ranged from 5000f. to 2000f. Only one paper, the Opinion Nationale was acquitted. Several, acquitted in the first instance, were condemned by the higher court to which the Government appealed. Three papers were suppressed altogether, and of several the sale in the streets was forbidden.