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expressed two things, between which there was still more difference than analogy.
“ If the first words had sufficed, the latter would not have been added. It is quite obvious, that if the framers of the Charter had understood that the safety of the state was in every case to be provided for only by the execution of the laws, these last words would have been sufficient. Why give an explanation in a special case, of the execution of the laws, after having decreed a general rule, including every case, whatever it might be ? Can it be imagined, that a legislator could have spoken thus,– You are to execute the laws; and, farther, if the safety of the state be in danger, still you shall execute the laws?'
“A very obvious necessity demands the admission, either, that the power to provide for the safety of the state was independent of the power to enforce the execution of the laws; or, that the rules commonly admitted in legislation must be abandoned, to the extent of assuming that a positive provision, which has a known object, an evident meaning, a natural and important reference,-means, however, nothing by itself, but is confounded and lost, as though it did not exist, in the preceding provision, to which it adds nothing. Lawyers, literary men, all men of sense, well know that such an assumption is inadmissible. When the law is clear, nothing remains but to execute it; and even when it is obscure, the right of interpretation only extends to the preferring one meaning to another ; it does not authorise the declaring it of no effect. The interpreter of the law does not annihilate it. He expounds and gives it life. • Quoties oratio ambigua est, commodissimum est id accipi, quo res de quâ agitur in tuto sit.' Whenever the meaning of a law is doubtful, that interpretation is to be adopted which will insure its effect. This is what the law pronounces of itself; and this maxim has been transmitted to us by the Romans.
“ Besides, what are the true interpreters of the law? They are, at first, example; and, subsequently, the opinions of persons of authority, expressed at the period of the publication of these laws. Let the provisions of the Charter be submitted to this double test, and it will be seen that, from the first days of the Restoration, the most enlightened, the most esteemed, and the most impartial men have explained this provision as I have done. Of this, the Moniteur has collected the proofs. It will be farther seen that, in 1814, 1815, and 1816, even the founder of the Charter exercised without dispute the right I refer to,-sometimes as regarded the press, sometimes in relation to the enemies of the crown, and sometimes, but in an opposite sense, as regarded the elections. No one has, however, asserted that the Ministers who signed these ordinances have been impeached as traitors, and threatened with death. On the contrary, they were not only obeyed, but applauded. Some have thought the ordinances of 1815 to have been just; others have considered those of 1816 salutary. Approval was general, and was given by all parties in succession. The measures were various, it is true, and could not fail to produce different results ; but the source whence they sprang was the same; the right to dictate them was the same; and thus, whoever has approved of these measures, has consequently admitted this right."
M. Peyronnet proceeds to confirm, by examples, what is here adduced in regard to the power reserved to the King by this clause, and the practice which had followed upon it. The following instances, in none of which the exercise of the dispensing power was challenged as illegal, afford sufficient evidence of this position.
"In 1822, when the law relating to the censorship of the press was proposed, the following declaration was addressed to the Chamber of Deputies by its commissioners :
" In virtue of the 14th article of the Charter, the King possesses the right to decree by an ordinance the measure which is submitted to you, and under this view it might be thought that this proposition was not necessary. But since the Government has thought that the intervention of the Chainbers would be attended with some advantages, they cannot hesitate to consent to it.'
" In 1828, when a new law was framed to abrogate and replace the former one, the commissioners, by their reporter M. Siméon, addressed the Chamber of Peers in the following terms :
• The 14th article of the Charter reserves to the King the power to make the regulations and ordinances necessary to insure the execution of the laws, and the safety of the state. It is not, therefore, necessary that the law should confirm to him that which he holds from the Charter, and from his prerogative as supreme head of the state. If any danger be imminent, a dictatorship, to the extent of providing against it, devolves upon him during the absence of the Chambers. He may also, in case of imminent danger, suspend personal liberty.
“But all this is only theory. Let us refer to acts. The Charter declared, that the laws which were not inconsistent with it should remain in force tilí they should be legally repealed. (Art 63.)
" It declared, also, that the election of deputies should be made by the electoral colleges, the organisation of which would be regulated by the laws. (Art. 35.)
“ Thus, then, according to the letter of the Charter, the electoral laws existing previous to 1814, were to continue in force until new laws were made. New laws,' be it well remembered.
" What happened, however ? On the 13th July 1815, and on the 5th September 1816, two new and different systems of election were created in turn; and they were created by ordinances.
“Where was the right to act thus found, if not in the 14th article of the Charter?
“But this is little : The Charter declares that no one can be elected who is not forty years of age, and that no one can be an elector under the age of thirty.- (Art. 38 and 40.)
“What happened, however? On the 13th of July 1815, it was decreed that a person might exercise the right of an elector at the age of twenty-one, and be chosen deputy at the age of twenty-five.
“ And how was this decreed? By what act was this important change in the Charter effected ? By a law? No!-By an ordinance.
“Where was the right to act thus found, if not in the 14th article of the Charter ?
“This is still but of minor importance : The Charter declared that each department should return the same number of deputies which it had hitherto done.—(Art. 36.) What, however, happened ?
“ On the 13th July 1815, the number of deputies was augmented from two hundred and sixty-two to three hundred and ninety-five; and by what authoTity? By an ordinance.
* Again, what happened? In 1816, when it was resolved to return to the number of deputies fixed by the Charter, instead of five deputies being returned for the department of l'Ain, three deputies for Corsica, and two for the department of Finistère, as was the case in 1814–three were allotted to the first, two to the second, and four to the third ; and by what act ? By an ordinance.
“ Where was the right to act thus found, if not in the 14th article of the Charter?
“Farther, the Charter declared that those persons only could be electors who themselves paid direct taxes to the amount of three hundred francs, and those only be deputies who paid them to the extent of one thousand francs. -(Art. 38 and 40.)
“However, what happened? In 1816 it was decided, that to become an elector, or a deputy, the individual need not possess property in bis own right chargeable with those taxes; but that it was sufficient if the requisite sums were paid by a wife, a minor child, a widowed mother, a mother-inlaw, a father-in-law, or a father.
“What farther happened? In 1815, and again in 1816, it was decided that members of the Legion of Honour might be admitted to vote in the minor assemblies of the arrondissement, without paying taxes of any kind; and on paying only three hundred francs in the superior assemblies of the departments, where only those were entitled to vote who were assessed at the highest rate of taxation.
“How were all these things decreed? By ordinances. And where was the right to act thus found? Evidently it existed only in the 14th article of the Charter. Now, let us recapitulate these facts. A double change of system-a double change of numbers—a double change as to age-a double change as to taxation-a change as to the particular rights of three departments. All this without any law. A direct, formal, and essential encroachment on the articles 35, 36, 38, 40, and 63, of the Charter. All this without any law; all established by ordinances; all this, by virtue of the 14th article; all this without crime-without condemnation—without even accusation : and now !"
These examples are worthy of the most serious consideration, and, in truth, are decisive of the legal question. How is it possible to stigmatise that right as illegal in 1830, which had been exercised to fully as great an extent, on more than a dozen different occasions, from 1815 onwards? How is the change on the electoral law in 1815 and 1816 to be vindicated ? And who ever complained of this ? But, above all, attend to the important changes introduced in 1815, as to the qualification of electors, and the representative body, by ordinances. The age of an elector was lowered from thirty to twenty-one years, and of a deputy from forty to twenty-five; the number of deputies was increased from 262 to 395, by an ordinance ? Did the French Liberals ever complain of these ordinances as illegal ? Did they ever object to that which declared that the 300 francs a-year, which is the qualification for an elector, might be paid not only by the elector, but by his wife, child, mother, mother-inlaw, father-in-law, or father? Or to that which admitted members of the Legion of Honour to vote in the minor assemblies without paying any taxes ? Why were not the Ministers impeached who signed the ordinances in favour of the Liberal party? Not a whisper was heard of their illegality on any of these occasions. But this is the uni
form conduct of the Revolutionists in all ages and countries, and in all matters, foreign and domestic. Whatever is done in their favour, is lauded to the skies as the height of liberality, wisdom, and justice ; whatever is aimed at their supremacy, is instantly stigmatised as the most illegal and oppressive act that was ever attempted by a bloodthirsty tyrant. Had the Ordinances of July, instead of restoring the number of deputies to something approaching to that fixed by the Charter, and, restraining the licentiousness of the press, been directed to the increase of democratic power, they would have been praised as the most constitutional act that ever emanated from the throne; and Charles X., for the brief period of popularity allotted to conceding sovereigns, have been styled “the most popular monarch that ever sat on the throne since the days of Charlemagne.
There are many other instances of the exercise of the same power by the Crown. In particular, in a report made in 1817 to the Chamber of Peers, respecting the jury law, which also contained several enactments, it is declared, to remove the fears expressed by the adversaries of the project of the law, that if these fears were realised," the king would have the resource of using the extraordinary power provided by the 14th article of the Charter.” This report was received without opposition by the liberal part of the Chamber. Prince Polignac bas adduced two instances, among a host of others which might be adduced, of the manner in which these acts of the Crown were received by the Liberal party in France. “ The Charter," says the National, “ without the 14th article, would have been an absurdity. The founder of the Charter said, and was right in saying, 'I am willing to make a concession ; but not such a concession as would injure me and mine. If, therefore, experience proves that I have conceded too much, I reserve to myself the power to revise the constitution, and it is that which I express by the 14th article. This was perfectly reasonable ; those who supported legitimacy and the restoration, were right in insisting that the king was not to yield up his sword.'
An equally decisive testimony was borne by a learned writer, in the tribune of the Chamber of Deputies, now a
* National, June 20, 1831.
Minister of France. “When the Charter appeared in 1814, what did the supreme authority do? It took care to put in the preamble the word 'octroyé,' and in the text the 14th article, which conferred the power of making ordinances for the safety of the state ; that is, he attributed to himself, before the Charter, an anterior right prior to the Charter; or, in other words, a sovereign, constituent, abso
It is quite another question, whether it was wise or constitutional to have conferred this power on the Crown. Suffice it to say, that it did possess it; that its exercise had repeatedly taken place, on many different occasions, with the full concurrence and applause of the popular party; and, therefore, that the legality of the ordinances is beyond a doubt.
The question remains, whether the exercise of the power was justified by necessity, or called for by expedience ?
Upon this subject, if any doubt existed, it has been removed by the events of the last two years. No one who contemplates the state of France during that period can doubt, that the power of the democracy has become too great, not merely for royalty, but for freedom ; that the balance has been altogether subverted; and that the martial law, arbitrary measures, and relentless prosecutions of the press, which has distinguished the administrations of Casimir Perier and Marshal Soult, were imperatively called for, to restrain the anarchy which was rapidly conducting society in France to its dissolution. What the power of the democracy was--what formidable weapons it possessed- how complete was its organisation, is proved by what it has done. It has subverted the most beneficent government that ever ruled in France since the days of Clovis; the wisdom and moderation of which had gone far to close the frightful wounds of the Revolution ; which gave perfect freedom to individuals, and absolute protection to property, during the fifteen years of its rule ; and the unexampled prosperity resulting from the administration of which all the anarchy and wretchedness consequent on the Revolution of July have
Sitting of Dec. 29, 1830.--POLIGNAC, 51, 52. Polignac justly disclaims so arbitrary a power as is here attributed to the 14th article by the Liberals, and contends only for such a power as is essential to save the remainder of the constitution.