20 DECEMBER 1828, Page 1


SomE sensation has been excited in Paris by the trial, on the 10th instant, of Beranger the poet, of whose suppressed songs we gave an account in the 17th Number of the SPECTATOR.

Among the preliminary questions put to the accused in a French court, he is called upon to declare his profession. To this question, Beranger, with arch simplicity, replied that he was a " ballad-ma- ker." M. Champonet, the public prosecutor, began his accusation by stating that M. Beranger had seven years before been tried for a public libel, and been leniently punished ; but the luckless poet had again outrun the bounds " prescribed by his conscience," and had published verses much more reprehensible than his former productions. The present charge was founded on three chansons, —one, " The Guardian Angel," offensive to religion, as ridiculing one of the sacraments ; another, "The Gerontocracy," exciting hatred and contempt of the Government, by representing the total ruin of France as not very distant ; the third, " The Consecra- tion of Charles the Simple,' personally insulting to the reigning Monarch. Beranger's advocate attempted to justify the poet, by examples drawn from the writings of other satirists ; and his pleading excited the audience to animated applause; but it was lost on the Court of Correctional Police,— which condemned Beranger to pay a fine of ten thousand francs and suffer nine months' imprisonment, while his publisher should pay five hundred and suffer six months. • The Government cannot gain much by this prosecution in any way. The first effect is to give a boundless diffusion to the libels. It will be suspected that the Government which cannot stand the small shot of a lyrical satirist, must be weakly supported by reason. The poet himself is irreclaimable— punishment only hardens him.