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Presse universitaire Blaise Pascal. Talandier M et Roux E.
Aller au contenu principal. Affiliation :. Statut :. Domaines de recherche :. Courriel :. Talandier univ-grenoble-alpes. Bureau :. Site personnel :. Lien Google Scholar :. He believed that the problems of representation were similar in England and France, but more sharply defined and more clearly observed in the French context. Neither Duveyrier nor Mill gave the least hint of an upheaval soon to come.
Duveyrier argued specifically against the utility of another such event. It would be more than a dozen years before Mill conceded, not just for England with its tradition of compromise and its history of successful opposition to monarchical absolutism, but for every nation, the rightness of working for improvement within the prevailing arrangements.
He gave no hint of thinking that France would profit from a renewal of the experience. The remarks were puzzling. Mill made no allusion to the serious depression of an immense fall in French production, large-scale unemployment, a substantial part of the swollen population in the capital on relief, great rural distress and unrest. Mill of course was by no means exceptional in apprehending no general crisis; others closer to the scene than he were hardly less unaware.
He had never looked very far past the political scene in the capital. Thus he missed the profound movement that was taking place in the country.
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He followed the press to some extent, a steady diet of scandal and complaint, an endless skirmishing between the government and the opposition. There is no evidence that he noted the near-unity of the varieties of opposition in the banquet campaign as a possible signal that a trial of strength was at hand.
The explosion took him by surprise. Guizot was dismissed on 23 February; the King abdicated next day. First, Lamartine might be propelled into war with Austria as the result of popular pressure to help the Milanese expel the Habsburg occupant from Lombardy. Without Carrel, or, I fear, any one comparable to him, the futurity of France and of Europe is most doubtful. After Lamartine had moved to assure Europe that France would not abet a war of Italian liberation, Mill was satisfied the government would act wisely. As it happened, the drama of the Revolution was reaching its climax with the elections to a National Assembly.
The broad tide of rural conservatism that came in was in protest against neglect of the interests of the countryside by an urban leadership. In his view, Lamartine, now out of office, had done no more than repeat the Girondist strategy of calling in provincial France to hold the line against the revolutionary political clubs of Paris. In fact, the Revolution was now bound on a course leading to destruction of the Republic.
Mill followed events distantly. He knew that Marrast was no longer at the National, had left the Government, and was Mayor of Paris he was also the real leader of the majority in the Executive Commission. Mill could have no knowledge of the extraordinary political manoeuvrings in Paris. Alarmed by the numbers of unemployed men in the city, the government announced its intention of closing the ateliers nationaux.
With that, a spontaneous working-class insurrection was mounted against it, on June. The pitched battles that took place made it the bloodiest fratricidal rising the capital had known. The government was legitimately defending itself, but the repression was severe and the social fears unleashed were exaggerated. Within days, this rough prophecy began to be borne out.
In the immediate aftermath of the June Days, Marrast led the attack on him: he was indicted in the prevailing reaction that had developed steadily following the conservative results of the general election for a Constituent Assembly on 23 April. Rather than stand trial in the unpromising climate of opinion, he slipped away and was permitted to take the train to Ghent; he was arrested there briefly, and then at once crossed over to England.
Mill, without the possibility of knowing in detail what had happened during the months since February, considered Blanc and the other former ministers to be exemplary tribunes. But it was too late for them. In the election for the presidency of the Republic that December, Lamartine was swept aside, the radical candidates trailed distantly, and even Cavaignac was handily defeated by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. The great mass of the electorate, peasants, voted against the republicans they blamed for disregarding their grievances and increasing their taxes; they voted for a legendary name, as did much of the urban population and a majority of the political notables.
The Lamartine government had done the best they could in the situation with which they had been confronted. His analysis was political; he showed no strong sense of the social dimensions of the upheaval.
If there were errors, they were committed less by the government than by the political clubs. Mill knew little of the intrigues about the ateliers nationaux, which he defended, as he cleared Blanc of responsibility for their closing. Once again, his point was that the experiment had been made before adequate preparation could take place. His answer was that, ready or not for the Republic, France had to attempt the experiment.
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He thought universal suffrage had, if anything, returned too conservative a majority. This, of course, Louis Napoleon had not been. But he perceived the great rural and urban problems dimly; his concern was with representative government. Continental socialism had thrust itself on his attention late in the day: he had been ambivalent about Fourier and hostile to Proudhon, he knew little of Cabet and Blanc until Carrel had been tempted by Bonapartism; Mill never was.
Not least, Mill did not see that the tremendous power of the liberal press, durable and resilient, had almost come to an end. He did not understand what it meant that the National had become the unofficial newspaper of the Provisional Government: that men like Marrast had become part of the new establishment. He was disturbed by the repression of the opposition journals, but did not fully grasp that universal suffrage had swept the petite and moyenne bourgeoisies aside. He did not see what it meant that Bonaparte had been elected President against the majority of the press, that the extraordinary force it had been ever since was finished.
The constitution of 4 November, , was the most democratic France had ever had, with universal manhood suffrage, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of petition.
Even the droit au travail was alluded to in the preamble. But Cavaignac, for one, doubted that the country was republican, and the election of Louis Napoleon suggested he was right. The Revolution of faded into the past. So tyranny once more settled on the country. The young French historians who boldly celebrated the Revolution as prologue to the apparent triumph of liberalism forty or so years later, or who explained the present as the outcome of the liberal impulse working its way through the centuries, he acclaimed as the best of the time.
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The French scene was animated, creative, disputatious, sometimes explosive, but always instructive. It was his self-imposed task to try to make Englishmen see through the haze of their insularities and prejudices the essential lessons that France offered to all who shared in the common civilization. Some part of his special certainty about the relevance of France to English society flowed from his own peculiar acquaintance with the land and the people and their thought; some part was surely no more than the intelligent appraisal of intrinsic fact.
But time carried away both the observer and the observed. Despite his didactic purpose and immediate political and social concerns, Mill was too good a student of the past to permit disappointments and setbacks to break his commitment to France as the touchstone of Europe. He was far from being uncritical, he was by no means unprejudiced, he had his blind-spots. But he never went back on his conviction that, whatever the aberration of the moment, France and its destiny were central to civilization.
By , many hopes had foundered, and he felt it keenly that men had failed or been removed prematurely from the scene.
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