13 DECEMBER 1851, Page 1


THE usurpation in France looks baser and blacker the more closely it is examined. It has been carried into effect with wanton mas- sacre, and is supported by fraud and lies. The fiction, that Louis Napoleon was compelled to this foul course in order to defeat a plot hatched against himself by the Na- tional' Assembly or some of its members, is not believed by the veriest gobemouche in Paris. This story, when first told by the audacious tools of Louis Napoleon in the press, was disclaimed by his then Ministers ; he did not venture to allege it as his ground of action on the 2d of December ; he takes no steps to have the plot unveiled and its authors brought to trial.

Every day brings to light new atrocities committed by the sol- diery, as vouched by witnesses above suspicion. The attempts to raise barricades—few, isolated, withcut preparation, and manned by inconsiderable numbers—served as a pretext for firing upon the peaceable bourgeoisie in the streets and battering their houses with cannon. One after another, the assertions that the troops had been fired upon from the houses of respectable citizens are re- tracted. It now appears that the mass of the numerous victims were, of the middle and wealthier classes, and that groups of well- dressed women were fired upon as readily as men. The cowardice of these military executions was only exceeded by the callousness and levity of the executioners. The object has been unmistake- ably to strike terror into all ranks above the lower.

The suppression of evidence is systematic. Neither the provin- cial journals of France nor the English and Belgian newspapers are allowed to circulate in Paris; the Parisian papers, with the excep- tion of a few devoted to Louis Napoleon, are either suspended or gagged; and false or garbled accounts of the state of opinion in the provinces and in foreign countries are published by the Govern- ment. No pains are spared to distract public attention from the crimes of the usurping power, by throwing open the theatres and other places of public resort, and by receptions at the Elysee. The British Minister is said to have been present at the latter. The value of his presence, however, would be somewhat depreciated by the known extra-official intimacies of Lord Normanby and M. Bona- parte, which previously existed, and had been open to censorial remarks.

For the present, this last violent revolution seems to be com- pletely successful. There is no show of combined or resolute op- position, and a disposition to submit appears to pervade a large proportion of the proprietary and industrial classes. But many things concur to warrant the belief that the power of the new Government is not very substantial. Louis Napoleon reigns by the army ; or, as his own writers for the newspapers express it, rests on " the vote and on the sabre." But the means by which he has bribed the army to his interests have not been of a nature to render its devotion universal or per- manently reliable. The regiments attached to him have been favoured and placed in the most agreeable quarters ; the mere sus- picion of Republican sentiments in a regiment, or a leaning to any of his political rivals, has been promptly punished by relegation to Algeria. There are many moody and discontented men among the soldiery. The vote of the army on the continuance of the Presi- dential power in the person of Louis Napoleon was taken openly ; every officer or soldier who voted against him knew that he would thenceforth be a marked man; yet it is admitted by the Govern- ment organs, that out of sixty-five thousand votes already ascer- tained, nearly four thousand were recorded against him,—and this although the Generals known to be hostile to the President's schemes have been shut up in prison. Little weight is due to the alleged symptoms of reviving com- mercial confidence. A trifling and temporary rise in cotton at Rouen is ostentatiously recorded ; but in all other branches of [LATEST EDITION.]

trade it is only asserted that they will improve. At Marseilles, it is admitted that all business is at a stand. As for the public funds, their condition is too good. The arrangements of the French stock- exchange are extremely favourable to the operations of a reign of terror. There are only twelve licensed " agens de change "; their books are by law constantly open to inspection, and thus every transaction is known to Government, and every banker or private individual who should make a bargain indicating distrust in its stability would be exposed to its vengeance. Gold, the value of which before the coup-d'etat had indicated a slight downward ten- dency as compared with silver, has since risen 6 per cent; and

i gold is notoriously better adapted than silver for hoarding in troubled times.

Moreover, every man of note and respectability in politics and in the profession of the law continues to stand aloof from Louis Napoleon. The majority of the Assembly, and the members of the High Court of Justice, refuse to become his accomplices.

No long time will be required to show whether the usurper can in any degree preserve appearances. The finances of France have not yet recovered from the shock of 1848 ; the public expenditure is permanently in excess of the revenue. Where or how is he to raise money ?

Meanwhile, a systematic despotism and terrorism become daily more completely organized. The proclamation respecting parties subjected to the surveillance of the high police, or who may be ac- cused of having been at any time connected with secret societies, holds over the heads of indefinite numbers the prospect of banish- ment for lengthened periods to a penal colony and pestilential cli- mate. Military tribunals are organized for the trial of political offences. Marseilles, Bordeaux, and Lyons, are kept quiet by the same overwhelming military force as Paris. The provinces are quiet wherever there are troops in sufficient numbers ; where this is not the case, partial and desultory insurrections are breaking out in succession.

There lacked but one feature to complete the odious character of the usurpation—the hypocrisy of religious pretence—and that has been added. The man who expelled the Assembly from its hall by bayonets, imprisoned its leading members, and suspended. the High Court of Justice—the man who violated a solemn oath and repeated voluntary professions, in thus acting, has restored the church of St. Genevieve to the priesthood.