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commencement was 44,310,0001., and after advancing to 50,673,0001. it fell again to 49,488,0001. On the Paris Bourse the range of fluctuation in Rentes was 3) per cent., and the result of the movements of the year was to establish an advance of 21 per cent. The changes in the Bank rate of discount, which were only two in number in 1868, were seven in 1869. On the 1st of January the rate was 3 per cent., by the 6th of May it had risen to 45 per cent., in August it fell to 24 per cent., and for the last two months of the year stood at 3 per cent. In the cotton market the price of middling upland, which was about 10d. per lb. on the 1st of January, on December 31st was about 11jd. In the wheat market there was a decline of 98. in addition to that of 188. sustained in 1868, the average price, which in January was 52s. 8d., having fallen in December to 438. 8d.—the lowest price of the year.
The country sustained heavy losses, though not, perhaps, in greater proportion than in the average of years, from the decease of persons eminent for their services in the various departments of the Church and State, or distinguished in the spheres of art, literature, and science. One individual, indeed, deserves especial mention among the famous men who passed away from the scene, as he was not only the bearer of an illustrious historic name, but had been for a long period a conspicuous figure and a name of power in the political world. Edward Geoffrey, the fourteenth Earl of Derby, whose constitution had for some time shown signs of failure, and who had of late been gradually withdrawn, by successive attacks of illness, from the forefront of political life, closed in the autumn of this year his active and splendid career, having just completed the allotted term of seventy years. Concerning his wisdom as a statesman and his capacity as a political leader much difference of opinion will prevail, but there will be none as to his brilliant gifts, his powerful eloquence, his intrepid spirit; nor as to those qualities of character which made him in many respects a typical representative of the English nobleman, an honour to his order, and, though in his latter years he adhered to the unpopular side in politics, a favourite of the English people. In great emergencies, as in the Lancashire cotton famine, Lord Derby's generous public spirit and munificence were fully displayed. He filled most of the leading offices of the State with honour, he took a conspicuous part in all the great political controversies which occurred during his half-century of public life, and he was three times called upon to assume the highest elevation which a citizen of this country can aspire to—that of Prime Minister of the Crown.
Political situation-Speeches of the Emperor on New Year's Day-The Moniteur
Resignation of the Procureur-Impérial of Toulouse-Conference on the GræcoTurk Question-Report of the Minister of Finance-Opening of the French Chambers and Speech of the Emperor-Discussion on the Law relative to Public Meetings— The Army Contingent-Amalgamation of French and Belgian Railways -Speech of the Emperor at Council of State-Interference of Government at Elections— Debate on Foreign Policy of France-Letter of the Emperor on the centenary date of the Birth of Napoleon I.—Dissolution of the Chambers – Election Addresses-Disturbances — The Pamphlet L'Empereur-Result of the ElectionsLetter of the Emperor to M. de Machau–His Address to the Soldiers at the Camp of Chalons-Meeting of the Chambers to verify Elections - Speech of M. Rouher, Minister of State.
The attitude of France this year, as regards her external policy, was that of profound tranquillity. She was at peace with all her neighbours, and no question arose to disturb the world. A great and important measure of Constitutional reform was granted by the Emperor in surrendering a large share of the power he possessed by exercising what was known and called by the name of “personal government." He voluntarily abandoned this, and made his Ministers directly responsible to the Chambers, by avowing the principle that henceforth he would choose them from that party which could command a majority, and by the vote of the Chamber they must stand or fall. This, of course, did not satisfy the Republican party, or even those members of the extreme Opposition who are not Republicans, but who justify the name by which they are designated—the Irreconcilables. But their efforts have been entirely impotent, and the good sense of the nation is strongly opposed to their wild and impracticable theories. Perhaps the least satisfactory part of the policy of the French Government is the unscrupulous interference of the Executive with the elections. Corruption in France does not, as in England, assume the coarse feature of money but the Prefects and Sub-prefects everywhere attempt to influence the elections by bribes of another kind. They promise new roads, new bridges, and new railways, and hint to electors who are willing to vote
for the Government candidate that they will not be unduly pressed for the payment of arrears of taxes. The consequence is that it is difficult to ascertain how far the majority returned to the Legislative Body represents the real wishes of the nation, and a dangerous weapon of attack is placed in the hands of the Opposition.
On New Year's Day the Emperor received the Diplomatic Body, and thus addressed them :
“I am happy to say that a spirit of conciliation animates all the European powers, and that the moment a difficulty arises they agree among themselves to smooth away and avert complications. I hope the year now commencing will contribute, like the one just expired, towards removing many apprehensions and strengthening the bonds which should unite civilized nations." To the congratulations of the Deputies his Majesty replied, —
Every year the co-operation of the Legislative Body becomes more indispensable to the preservation in France of that real liberty which can only prosper through respect for the laws and a just balance of power. It is always, therefore, with lively satisfaction that I receive the expression of your devoted and patriotic sentiments."
To the members of the Court of Cassation the Emperor said,
“ The sense of justice must penetrate now more than ever our national customs; it is the most sure guarantee of liberty."
And to the clergy,
“ The congratulations of the clergy move me deeply; their prayers sustain and console me. From what is going on in the world we can see how indispensable it is to assert the great principles of Christianity, which teach us virtue, that we may know how to live, and immortality, that we may know how to die.”
Since the year 1789 the Moniteur had been the official organ of every Government that has existed in France. But it was not wholly an official newspaper, and claimed to exercise an independent judgment in that portion of its columns which was not the mouthpiece of the Ministry of the day. This, however, was a freedom which the Second Empire did not approve of. To quote the words of the Moniteur at the beginning of this year,
“ The Second Empire claimed to take from the Moniteur its character of a calm chronicler, and make of it a more active political organ; to stamp upon it more distinctly and more completely its own impress; in a word, to extend even to the smallest details, even to its literary articles, the same official character. But the old traditions of the paper resisted; an institution which counts nearly a century of existence does not easily allow itself to be transformed in a day, when it has proved that it knows how to march by itself, with progress. The Minister of State, irritated by this resistance, decided on undoing what the First Consul had done, and on having a journal for himself, in which every thing should be official, and in which not a line should be inserted but what the Government was responsible for.”
'Î'he consequence was that the alliance between the journal and
the Government, which had existed for eighty years, was at the commencement of the present year brought to an end, and a new newspaper, called the Journal Officiel de l'Empire Française, was established as the organ of the Empire, and it appeared for the first time on January 2, with a Ministerial ordinance authorizing its title.
In connexion with the question of the press, we may mention that early in January M. Seguier, the Procureur-Impérial of Toulouse, having incurred the censure of the Government for supposed remissness in his duties in not prosecuting newspapers, sent in his resignation, and addressed the following letter to the editor of the Emancipation of Toulouse, a journal against which proceedings were instituted :
“Sir,—The Keeper of the Seals (Minister of Justice) has accepted my resignation as Procureur-Impérial of Toulouse. I am the victim of my leniency towards the press. My cause is your own, and I ask of you to make known to my fellow-citizens the circumstances that have led me to adopt that resolution; the subjoined letter which I address to the Procureur-Général leaves no doubt on the subject :
“'M. le Procureur-Général,—I have the honour to thank you for having communicated to me the fresh reproaches addressed to me by the Keeper of the Seals, and I pray you to excuse the trouble I occasion you at this moment.
“ 'It appears from the letter of the Keeper of the Seals, dated the 30th of December, (1) that in my address, pronounced on the 24th against the Emancipation, I desired to commit you to the singular engagement I am said to have taken to accept the indulgence of the Tribunal.
«"I never uttered a word of the kind ; and this proves to me what, in point of fact, I already knew—that the persons who are charged with watching me during the proceedings in the court, and with repeating my words, have been ill-selected. You inform me (2) that the Keeper of the Seals does not think he can any longer tolerate my addresses as public prosecutor, on the ground of their being too weak as regards the press.
“Now, to address a court under the supervision of a secret police, and to adopt conclusions imposed beforehand by the Keeper of the Seals, are two things which, for my part, I cannot accept ; and therefore I pray you, M. le Procureur-Général, to be so good as to place my resignation as Procureur-Impérial of Toulouse in the hands of the Keeper of the Seals.
«. The resignation I offer is not a voluntary act. It is forced upon me by the unjust and offensive reproaches which have been lavished upon me for some time past, for my attitude towards the press; and it is a real disgrace I am subjected to at this moment for my desire to serve the Emperor with the moderation and dignity which the Keeper of the Seals himself recommended to us in his Circular of the 4th of June, 1868.'
“ I remain respectfully yours,
Upon this the law students of Toulouse, to the number of 300 or 400, presented an address to M. Seguier to this effect:
“Sir,—Calling to mind the noble words pronounced by M. Grévy on the opening of the Conference of the Licentiates of Paris, and imbued with the precepts of law, the study of which inspires independence and liberty, we applaud the courageous act which your conscience has dictated to you, as well as the noble sentiments which have directed your conduct. It is an example which shall not be lost on us, and to which the young men of the schools think it a duty to do honour."
We mentioned in our last volume that in consequence of the insurrection in Crete, and the hostile feeling between the Governments of Turkey and Greece, a Conference of the Great Powers had been proposed, and on the 3rd of January this year, the following announcement appeared in the Journal Officiel :
“ After the diplomatic rupture between Turkey and Greece, the Cabinets of Europe showed themselves animated by the desire to prevent serious consequences. Prussia proffered the advice that friendly relations should be resorted to on the part of the Powers which signed the Treaty of Paris assembling at a Conference. The Government of the Emperor recognized the opportuneness of this proposition, and recommended it without delay to all the Courts of Europe, with a view to obtain their assent, agreeing with them that the intended deliberations should be confined to the sole and welldefined purpose of examining to what extent compliance ought to be made with the demands of the Turkish ultimatum. A telegram has been received from M. Bourrée, the French Ambassador in Constantinople, dated the 31st of last month, announcing that the Porte had declared its readiness to join the Conference. It has also been agreed to admit a Greek plenipotentiary as merely taking part in the discussion, without a vote. Complete harmony, therefore, exists between the Powers as regards the assembling of a Conference at Paris.”
A Conference was held accordingly, and finished its labours in February. It recommended the Greek Government not to permit the assembly of armed bands on Greek territory to invade friendly states, nor allow ships to be armed in its ports for the purpose of attacking a neighbouring power with which it is at peace. It informed the Greeks that they are bound to respect the rules common to all Governments in their future dealings with the Ottoman Empire; and trusted that the Hellenic Government would, without delay or hesitation, reconcile its acts with the principles of right which had been called to its recollection, and that the causes for the complaints embodied in the ultimatum of the Porte would be entirely removed.
The diplomatic relations between Greece and Turkey were thereupon re-established as before.
The Annual Report of M. Magne, Minister of Finance to the