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People, and theirs for you! What you cannot get rid of is the time that marches, and the hour that strikes; is the earth that revolves, the onward movement of ideas, the crippled pace of prejudices; the widening gulf between you and the age, between you and the coming generation, between you and the spirit of liberty, between you and the spirit of philosophy. What you cannot get rid of is the great fact that you and the Nation pass on opposite sides; that what is to you the East is to her the West; and that, while you turn your back on the Future, this great People of France, their foreheads all bathed in light from the day-spring of a new humanity, turn their back on the Past! Ah! Whether you will it or no, the Past is passed. Your law is null, void and dead, even before its birth : because it is not just; because it is not true; because, while it goes furtively to plunder the poor man and the weak of his right of suffrage, it encounters the withering glance of a Nation's probity and sense of right, before which your work of darkness shall vanish; because, in the depths of the conscience of every citizen, – of the humblest as well as the highest, — there is a sentiment sublime, sacred, indestructible, incorruptible, eternal, - the Right ! This sentiment, which is the very element of reason in man, the granite of the human conscience, — this Right, is the rock upon which shall split and go to pieces the iniquities, the hypocrisies, the bad laws and bad governments, of the world. There is the obstacle, concealed, invisible, — lost to view in the soul's profoundest deep, but eternally present and abiding, — against which you shall always strike, and which you shall never wear away, do what you will ! I repeat it, your efforts are in vain. You cannot deracinate, you cannot shake it. You might sooner tear up the eternal Rock from the bottom of the sea, than the Right from the heart of the People :
30. LIBERTY of THE PRESS, 1850–original Translation from Pictor Hugo.
HAving restricted universal suffrage and the right of public meetings, you now wage war against the liberty of the Press. In the crisis through which we are passing, it is asked, “Who is making all this trouble 2 Who is the culprit Whom must we punish : ” The alarm party in Europe say, “It is France!” In France they say, “It is Paris : " In Paris they say, “It is the Press : " The man of observation and reflection says, “The culprit is not the Press; it is not Paris; it is not France;— it is the human mind ' " Yes, it is the human mind, which has made the Nations what they are ; which, from the beginning, has scrutinized, examined, discussed, debated, doubted, contradicted, probed, affirmed, and pursued without ceasing, the solution of the problem, eternally placed before the creature by the Creator. It is the human mind which, continually persecuted, opposed, driven back, headed off, has disappeared only to appear again ; and, passing from one labor to another, has taken successively, from age to age, the figure of all the great agitators. It is the human mind, which was named John Huss, and which did not die on the funeral-pile of Constance; which was named Luther, and shook orthodoxy to its centre; which was named Voltaire, and shook faith; which was named Mirabeau, and shook royalty. It is the human mind, which, since history began, has transformed societies and governments according to a law progressively acceptable to the reason, — which has been theocracy, aristocracy, monarchy, and which is to-day democracy. It is the human mind, which has been Babylon, Tyre, Jerusalem, Athens, and which to-day is Paris; which has been, turn by turn, and sometimes all at once, error, illusion, schism, protestation, truth; it is the human mind, which is the great pastor of the generations, and which, in short, has always marched towards the Just, the Beautiful and the True, enlightening multitudes, elevating life, raising more and more the head of the People towards the Right, and the head of the individual towards God | And now I address myself to the alarm party, —not in this Chamber, but wherever they may be, throughout Europe, – and I say to them : Consider well what you would do; reflect on the task that you have undertaken ; and measure it well before you commence. Suppose you should succeed : when you have destroyed the Press, there will remain something more to destroy, - Paris! When you have destroyed Paris, there will remain France. When you have destroyed France, there will remain the human mind. I repeat it, let this great European alarm party measure the immensity of the task which, in their heroism, they would attempt. Though they annihilate the Press to the last journal, Paris to the last pavement, France to the last hamlet, they will have done nothing. There will remain yet for them to destroy something always paramount, above the generations, and, as it were, between man and his Maker; —something that has written all the books, invented all the arts, discovered all the worlds, founded all the civilizations; — something which will always grasp, under the form of Revolutions, what is not yielded under the form of progress; — something which is itself unseizable as the light, and unapproachable as the sun, – and which calls itself the human mind'
31. A REPUBLIC OR A MONARCHY? – Original Translation from Victor Hugo. On the question of revising the French Constitution, 1851.
GENTLEMEN, let us come at the pith of this debate. It is not our side of the House, but you, the Monarchists, who have provoked it. The question, a Republic or a Monarchy, is before us. No one has any longer the power or the right to elude it. For more than two years, this question, secretly and audaciously agitated, has harassed the country. It weighs upon the Present. It clouds the Future. The moment has come for our deliverance from it. Yes, the moment has come for us to regard it face to face — to see what it is made of Now, then, let us show our cards ! No more concealment " I affirm, then, in the name of the eternal laws of human morality, that Monarchy is an historical fact, and nothing more. Now, when the fact is extinct, nothing survives, and all is told. It is otherwise with right. Right, even when it no longer has fact to sustain it, — even when it no longer exerts a material authority, - preserves still its moral authority, and is always right. Hence is it that, in an overthrown Republic, there remains a right, while in a fallen Monarchy there remains only a ruin. Cease then, ye Legitimists, to appeal to us from the position of right ! Before the right of the People, which is sovereignty, there is no other right but the right of the individual, which is liberty. Beyond that, all is a chimera. To talk of the kingly right in this great age of ours, and at this great Tribune, is to pronounce a word void of meaning. But, if you cannot speak in the name of right, will you speak in the name of fact Will you say that political stability is the offspring of hereditary royalty, — and that Royalty is better than Democracy for a State 2 What ' You would have those scenes renewed, those experiences recommenced, which overwhelmed kings and princes: the feeble, like Louis the Sixteenth ; the able and strong, like Louis Philippe ; whole families of royal lineage, – high-born women, saintly widows, innocent children | And of those lamentable experiences you have not had enough You would have yet more ? But you are without pity, Royalists, – or without memory ! We ask your mercy on these unfortunate royal families. Good Heavens ! This Place, which you traverse daily, on your way to this House, – does it, then, teach you nothing?— when, if you but stamped on the pavement, two paces from those deadly Tuileries, which you covet still, -but stamped on that fatal pavement, — you could conjure up, at will, the SCAFFold from which the old Monarchy was plunged into the tomb, or the CAB in which the new royalty escaped into exile ! Ah, men of ancient parties! you will learn, ere long, that at this present time, – in this nineteenth century, -after the scaffold of Louis the Sixteenth, after the downfall of Napoleon, after the exile of Charles the Tenth, after the flight of Louis Philippe, after the French Revolution, in a word, – that is to say, after this renewal, complete, absolute, prodigious, of principles, convictions, opinions, situations. influences, and facts, –it is the Republic which is solid ground, and the Monarchy which is the perilous venture!
32. THE TWO NAPOLEONS. — Original Translation from Pictor Hugo.
THE monarchy of glory ! There are a class of monarchists in France who now speak to us of a monarchy of glory. Legitimacy is impossible. Monarchy by right divine, the monarchy of principle, is dead; but there is another monarchy, the monarchy of glory, - the Empire, we are told, which is not only possible, but necessary. This glory, where is it? What are its elements? Of what is it composed ? I am curious to witness the glory which this present Govement can show. What do we see? All our liberties, one after another, entrapped and bound; universal suffrage mutilated and betrayed; socialist manifestoes terminating in a jesuitical policy; and, for a Government, one immense intrigue, – history, perchance, will call it a conspiracy, — by which the Republic is to be made the basis of the Empire through the Bonapartist free-masonry of five hundred thousand office-holders; every reform postponed or smothered; burdensome taxes maintained or reëstablished; the Press shackled; juries packed; too little justice and too much police; misery at the foot, anarchy at the head, of the social state. Abroad, the wreck of the Roman Republic; Austria—that is to say, the gallows—with her foot upon Hungary, upon Lombardy, upon Milan, upon Venice; a latent coalition of Kings, waiting for an opportunity; our diplomacy dumb, I will not say an accomplice This is our situation. France bows her head; Napoleon quivers with shame in his tomb; and five or six thousand hirelings shout, “Wire l'empereur !”* But nobody dreams of the Empire, you tell us. What mean, then, those cries of Vire l'empereur 2 and who pays for them : What means this mendicant petition for a prolongation of the President's powers? What is a prolongation ? The Consulate for life And where leads the Consulate for life? To the Empire! Gentlemen, here is an intrigue. We will let in day-light upon it, if you please. France must not wake up, one of these fine mornings, and find herself emperor-ridden, without knowing why. An emperor! Let us consider the subject a little. Because there was once a man who gained the battle of Marengo, and who reigned, must the man who gained only the battle of Satory reign also 2 Because, ten centuries ago, Charlemagne, after forty years of glory, let fall on the face of the globe a sceptre and a sword of such proportions that no one dared to touch them; and because, a thousand years later, — for it requires a gestation of a thousand years to produce such men, – another genius appeared, who took up that sword and sceptre, and stood up erect under the weight; a man who chained Revolution in France, and unchained it in the rest of Europe; who added to his name the brilliant synónyms of Rivoli, Jéna,t Essling, Friedland, Montmirail; f because this man, after ten years of a glory almost fabulous in its grandeur, let fall, in his turn, that sceptre and sword which had accomplished such colossal exploits, you would come, – you, you would presume, after him, to catch them up as he did, – he, Napoleon, after Charlemagne, — and grasp in your feeble hands this sceptre of the giants, this sword of the Titans! What to do? What! after Augustus must we have Augustülus 2 Because we have had a Napoleon the Great, must we now have Napoleon the Little - —o33. THE END OF GOVERNMENT, 1641. –John Pym, born, 1583; died, 1643. My LoRDs, many days have been spent in maintenance of the impeachment of the Earl of Strafford by the House of Commons, whereby he stands charged with high treason; and your Lordships have heard his defence with patience, and with as much favor as justice will allow. We have passed through our evidence; and the result is, that it remains clearly proved that the Earl of Strafford hath endeavored by his words, actions and counsels, to subvert the fundamental laws of England and Ireland, and to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical government. This will best appear if the quality of the offence be examined by that law to which he himself appealed, that universal, that supreme law, - Salus Popili, - the welfare of the People ! This is the element of all laws, out of which they are derived; the end of all laws, to which they are designed, and in which they are perfected. The offence comprehends all other offences. Here you shall find several treasons, murders, rapines, oppressions, perjuries. The earth hath a seminary virtue, whereby it doth produce all herbs and plants, and other vegetables; there is in this crime a seminary of all evils hurtful to a State; and, if you consider the reason of it, it must needs be so.
The law is that which puts a difference betwixt good and evil, betwixt just and unjust. If you take away the law, all things will fall into a confusion. Every man will become a law to himself, which, in the depraved condition of human nature, must needs produce many great enormities. Lust will become a law, and envy will become a law; covetousness and ambition will become laws; and what dictates, what decisions, such laws will produce, may easily be discerned in the late government of Ireland! The law is the safeguard, the custody of all private interests. Your honors, your lives, your liberties and estates, are all in the keeping of the law. Without this, every man hath a like right to everything; and such is the condition into which the Irish were brought by the Earl of Strafford:
This arbitrary and tyrannical power, which the Earl of Strafford did exercise with his own person, and to which he did advise his Majesty, is inconsistent with the peace, the wealth, the prosperity, of a Nation; it is destructive to justice, the mother of peace; to industry, the spring of wealth; to valor, which is the active virtue whereby only the prosperity of a Nation can be produced, confirmed, and enlarged. It is the end of government, that virtue should be cherished, vice suppressed; but, where this arbitrary and unlimited power is set up, a way is open, not only for the security, but for the advancement and encouragement, of evil. It is the end of Government, that all accidents and events, all counsels and designs, should be improved to the public good; but this arbitrary power would dispose all to the maintenance of itself.
The following manly and pathetic speech is extracted from the two closing addresses of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, on his impeachment before the House of Lords, in Westpinster Hall, 1641. He was tried for high treason, in endeavoring “to subvert the ancient and fundamental laws of the realm, and to introduce arbitrary and tyrannical government.” He was found guilty, and was executed the 12th of May, 1641, in his 47th year.
My LoRDs, it is hard to be questioned upon a law which cannot be
shown. Where hath this fire lain hid so many hundred years, with