Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF

ippe in 1830, its columns have been open to all the king's personal friends, both in the Chamber and in the House of Peers. In the Chamber of Deputies alone there are eight or ten members attached to the king personally, aid-de-camps and employés on the civil list, and such of these as are capable of wielding a quill, place it at the service of the ‘Débats.” Among the feuilleton writers of this journal, are some of the most celebrated in Paris—as Jules Janin, Alexandre Dumas, Theophile Gautier, &c. Since the size of the journal has been increased, the lucubrations of Jules Janin appear more rarely, and Theophile Gautier, too, does not seem to write so often ; but Alexandre Dumas often fills ten of the smaller columns with the productions of his inexhaustible pen. From two to four columns are generally dedicated to leading articles. The price of the journal is seven francs a month, 20 francs for two months, 40 francs for six months, and 80 francs for a year. The price in London is 31. 10s. the year, Il. 15s. the half year, and 17s.6d. the quarter. The ‘’Journal des Débats' is said now to have 9000 or 10,000 abonnés; and 10,000 abonnés at 80 francs a year, we need hardly say is equivalent to 20,000 at 40 francs, the price at which the ‘Constitutionnel,' the ‘Siècle, the ‘Presse,' and other journals, are published. The political articles in the “Débats' are superior in style and reasoning to any thing in the English periodical press. They are not merely distinguished by firstrate literary ability, but by the tone of wellbred and polished society. For these articles large sams are paid in money; but they bear a value to the writers far above any pecuniary recompense. An eminent writer in the ‘Debats' is sure of promotion, either to a professorship, to the situation of maitre de requêtes, or conseiller d’état, to a consulship, or, peradventure, to the post of minister at some second or third-rate court —a position attained by M. Bourquenay, a fourth or fifth-rate writer in that paper, at the period of the July revolution. It was the well-founded boast of the ‘Times,’ little more than a twelvemonth ago, that it had made the son of one of its proprietors, and its standing counsel, Mr. (now Baron) Platt, a judge; but the ‘Journal des Débats' may boast that it can give power as well as take it away. It has made and unmade ministers, ambassadors, prefects, councillors of state, and masters of requests, as well as poets, historians, orators,

musicians, dancers, modistes, perruquiers, —nay, even to that ninth part of a man called a tailor, or to that eighteenth fractional part of a man, unknown in England, called “a tailleur de chemises.’ The “Constitutionnel' was about twenty or twenty-five years ago, (i.e., from 1820 to 1825,) the most successful and flourishing, and certainly one of the best conducted papers in France. It had then a greater circulation than any paper in Paris, as the following figures will prove :

Débats, . - - 13,000 abonnés.

Quotidienne, - . 5,800 Journal de Paris, 4.175 Courrier Français, 2,975 — Etoile, - - 2,749 Journal de Commerce, 2,380 — Moniteur, . 2,250 Constitutionnel, 16,250

But the ‘Constitutionnel’ had, from 1815, two or three staple articles to trade in, of which it made a great literary market. First, there were the Voltairian principles and opinions, which it put forth daily; 2ndly, there were denunciations of the ‘Parti Prêtre’ and of the Jesuits, and the affair of the Abbé Contrefatto; and, 3rdly, there was the retrograde march of the government, caused by the intrigues of the Pavilion Marsan, which promoted, and indeed justified a vigorous opposition. The soul of this opposition was Charles William Etiénne, who had shortly before, somewhere about 1817 or 1818, acquired a single share in the paper. Etienne started in Paris as secretary to the Duke of Bassano, and was named, in 1810, as we have stated, one of the higher political writers of the ‘Journal des Débats.” From this position he was removed after the Restoration, and throwing himself with heart and soul into the Minerve Français, produced by his ‘Lettres sur Paris,' a prompt and prodigious Success. It was soon after these letters had been collected in a volume, and had gone through several editions, that Etienne became a shareholder in the “Constitutionnel.” His lively and piquant articles, full of strength and spirit, soon contributed to raise the paper. These efforts, so every way useful to the liberal cause, had fixed public attention on the most successful writer on that side of the question, and on a man who joined to this renown the additional merit of being the author of some of the very best comedies in the French language; such for instance as the ‘Deux Gendres,’ the “ Intriguante,' ‘Une Heure de Mariage,’ ‘Jeannot et Collin, &c., &c. The Department of the Meuse selected him, therefore, in 1820, as one of its deputies, and from that period to 1830, he continued to figure as one of the firmest and steadiest defenders of the liberties secured by the charter. M. Etienne displayed at the tribune the spirit and taste with which his literary productions are imbued. Some of his discourses produced a prodigious effect on the public mind, and his general political conduct procured for him the warm friendship and esteem of Manuel, who frequently contributed to the “Constitutionnel.” Within three years after this period, Manuel rendered him a signal service, in introducing to his notice a young and unknown writer, who within ten years was destined to be a minister of France. This was none other than Louis Adolphe Thiers, who had then just published, in conjunction with Felix Bodin, the two first volumes of his ‘Histoire de la Révolution Française.’ M. Etienne, with the sagacity of a practised man of the world, saw from the first the talent of his young contributor, and at once opened to him the columns of the “Constitutionnel.” The articles of Thiers bore the impress of that clearness and logical vigor, of that liveliness and lucidity of style, which constitute his greatest charm. For six years Thiers continued to write in the ‘Constitutionnel ;’ and it was not until August, 1829, when he founded the ‘National,’ in conjunction with the late Armand Carrel, of which Thiers was redacteur en chef, that he abandoned the small room in the first floor of the Rue Montmartre, No. 121, in which we have often sat in the last days of 1828, when Etienne conducted the paper, and in which very chamber our last visit was paid to M. Merruau—at present rédacteur en ches—in the month of April, 1846. During the period of Thiers' collaboration, his friend and countryman, Mignet, occasionally wrote articles, distinguished by neatness of style and correctness of view. During the Willèle administration, the “Constitutionnel’ may be said to have attained its highest prosperity. It then numbered nearly 30,000 subscribers, and existed on the cry of “a bas les Jesuites!' The “Constitutionnel' of those days had no Roman feuilleton, and lived altogether on its reputation as a political paper. Many were the prosecutions which this journal had to undergo; but the most celebrated, perhaps,

was that in which its articles were accused of “a tendency to bring the religion of the state into contempt.’ It was on the occasion of this suit, that M. Dupin, the friend and counsel of M. Etienne, shut himself up for a month in his study to read theology, in order to be enabled to tear to tatters the ‘ acte d’accusation,’ or indictment, of the attorney-general. In this he was successful, as was proved by the arrêt, or decision of the Cour Royale, and the triumph redounded to the credit of the advocate, while it greatly tended to increase the circulation of the paper. From the period of the Revolution of 1830, however, the “Constitutionnel began to decline, and in 1843, three years ago, it had but 3500 abonnes. In changing hands in 1844, the new proprietors reduced the price of the journal one half, i. e., from 80 to forty francs, while they raised the remuneration for the feuilleton from 150 to 500 francs. In consequence of this judicious liberality, the most popular writers of Paris contributed to its columns. From the 1st of April, 1845, Alexandre Dumas bound himself to produce only eighteen volumes in the year—nine in the ‘Presse,' and nine in the “Constitutionnel,’ —and Eugene Sue has also lent his exclusive co-operation to the ‘Constitutionnel' for a period of fourteen years, for which he is to receive an immense sum. “La Dame de Monsereau, by Dumas, and Les Sept Pechés Capitaux,” by Eugene Sue, have both had an immense success. The “Constitutionnel’ has agreed to give Eugene Sue 10,000 francs a volume, to take him from the ‘Presse;’ and Dumas receives a sum very nearly equal. There are half a dozen other novels at this moment in publication in the columns of this journal; among others, the ‘Cabinet Noir, by Charles Rabou; and the subscribers are to receive (gratis) all that has appeared in what they call their ‘Bibliotheque Choisie.’ In the political department, the “Constitutionnel has now first-rate assistance. De Remusat, ex-minister, Duvergier d'Hauranne, one of the most enlightened deputies of the Chamber, and M. Thiers, often lend their able aid. ' The editor of the ‘Constitutionnel' is M. Merruau, an able political writer, and a gentleman of the blandest and most winning manners. It was Merruau who reviewed the ‘History of the Consulate and the Empire,’ by Thiers, in the ‘Constitutionnel.” The ‘Constitutionnel’ consists of twenty columns, of which five are devoted to advertisements. The price in Paris is 40 francs a year, and the number of abonnes is 24,000—a number equal to the ‘Presse,' but failing far below that of the “Siècle,” which is said to possess 42,000. The Courier Français' is one of the oldest of the Parisian papers, but it has undergone many transformations of late. In 1827-28-29, it supported the same cause as the ‘Constitutionnel,’ with greater spirit, if not with equal talent. When the “Constitutionnel’ had become rather indifferent or lukewarm towards those principles with which its fortunes originated, the ‘Courrier Français,' though poor in respect to fortune, as compared with the “Constitutionnel,' was foremost boldly to attack the ministers, and to defy persecution, imprisonment, and pecuniary punishment, whilst the “Constitutionnel,” like those individuals who have amassed immense wealth, acted a more prudent part, and was content to appear as a safe auxiliary. The principal editor at the period of which we speak, was Benjamin Constant. His articles were remarkable for a fine and delicate spirit of observation, for a finesse and irony which, in saying the bitterest things, never transgressed the bounds of good breeding. The charm of his style, too, was most attractive. Shortly before the Revolution of July broke out, Gonstant had undergone a severe surgical operation, and had retired from Paris into the country; Lafayette wrote to him in these words—‘Il se joue ici un jeu terrible : nos tétes servent d'en jeu ; apportez la votre.’ Constant at once came and had an interview with the monarch now on the throne, who made to him certain propositions to which Constant replied, “Je veux restar independant, et si votre gouvernement fait des fautes je serai le premier a rallier l'opposition.” The faults of the new government hastened his death. He expired within a few months, almost despairing of the liberties of his country. Though the ‘Courrier Français' was, from 1825 to 1830, supported by the eloquent pens of Constant, Villemain, Cauchois, Lemaire, and Mignet who was at one period its editor, yet it never, in these days, numbered above 5000 abonnes. There is no more practical truth in literature than that no amount of good writing will raise the fortunes of a falling newspaper. To write up a failing literary

* We are indebted for these details concerning our lamented friend to Monsieur J. P. Pagès.

enterprise is a task for the pen of angels, and is almost beyond the power of mortal man. After the death of Constant there were many editors, among others, Leon Faucher, original editor of the ‘Temps’—a paper founded by an homme à projets, named Jacques Coste, originally a cooper at Bordeaux, and subsequently one of the editors of the “Constitutionnel.” This gentleman, who is an able, pains-taking, and well informed man, and who has recently made himself more advantageously known by a work called ‘’Etudes sur l’Angleterre,' continued at the ‘Courrier’ till the end of 1842. Under him it represented the Gauche, and he had the merit of operating a fusion with the Centre Gauche; but, notwithstanding this fact, and the occasional appearance of good articles, the fortunes of the ‘Courrier' did not improve. A change in the distribution of parts was next tried. M. Adolphe Boule was named directeur of the journal; M. E. de Reims, sécrétaire du comité du Centre Gauche, redacteur en chef, with M. Eugene Guinot as feuilletoniste, but this combination was no more successful than all previous ones. Some time at the latter end of November, or the beginning of December, the ‘Courrier' was sold, and it is now conducted by M. Xavier Durrieu, by M. de Limerac, and by M. du Coing, the defender of Rosas. The circulation is not more than 3000 or 4000. The “Gazette de France,’ as we stated at the beginning of this article, is one of the oldest newspapers in France. Under Willèle and Peyronnet, in 1827 and 1828, it was converted into an evening paper, and substituted for the “Etoile.' It was then the organ of the jesuitical party, and expressed in all its hideous nakedness the frenzy of the most fanatical ultraism. It had in 1827 no support whatever from private subscribers, but drew all its resources from the treasury, where it had powerful and influential friends. The Bishop of Hermopolis—Count Frassynous—at that period minister of worship and of public instruction, was one of its most able and influential supporters; M. de Genoude, then a married man, now an abbé and a priest, was the theatrical critic, and M. benabin, formerly of the “Etoile, his associate. Genoude, having since become a widower, entered holy orders, and is now a mundane abbé, so devoured by ambition, that he looks to the cardinalate. Though a regular priest, Genoude is a thorough

Jesuit at heart, and we verily believe neither honest nor sincere as a priest or politician. Like Henry of Exeter, his great object is personal advancement, and he endeavors to compass his ends by all and every means: to day by flattering the aristocracy; and to-morrow, by pandering to the lowest tastes of the lowest rabble. De Genoude pretends to write under the inspiration of M. de Willèle, who lives at Toulouse, altogether retired from public life, but it may be well doubted whether so able a man would commit himself in any way with such a charlatan. It would be unjust not to admit that there are occasionally (there were the contributions of Colnet, from 1836 to 1837) good articles in the Gazette ; but, on the other hand, it must be averred that it is generally an unreadable paper, unless to such as are strongly tinged with a Carlist or priestly bias. The great writer and chief support of the ‘Gazette de France ’-Colnet—died of cholera, in May 1832. The last time we spent a day in his company, was in September 1831. We had just returned from Russia, where the cholera was raging furiously, and well remember his making many inquiries as to the progress of the complaint, which had then reached Germany, and which he predicted would soon rage in France. Within sour months afterwards, it had reached France, and within seven, poor Colnet was a victim to it. Colnet was born a noble, being the son of a garde-du-corps who distinguished himself at the battle of Fontenoy. His first studies were made at the Military College of Bric, then at the Military College of Paris, where Bonaparte and Bertrand were his fellow-students and associates. Neither his taste nor his feeble health allowing him to enter the army, he studied medicine under Cabanis and Corvisart, but expelled from the capital, in 1793, as a noble, he passed more than two years in solitude at Chauny, at the house of a poor apothecary. Returning to Paris in 1796, he established himself as a bookseller at the corner of the Rue du Bac, opposite the Porte Royale. He was so prosperous in this enterprise, that in 1805 he was enabled to establish a second shop in the Quai Malaquais. Here, in a little room which he called his caverne, he assembled around him some able writers, a majority of whom were hostile to the imperial government. These half dozen men were deemed so formidable, that Fouché tried every means to silence or Wol, WIII. No. III. 61

bribe the chief. But Colnet was as inflexible as incorruptible. During fifteen years, i. e., from 1816 to 1831, he labored at the ‘Gazette de France,' signing all his articles with his name; and it may be truly said, that nine out of every ten readers only took up the journal to read Colnet. His lively and learned attacks against the apocryphal memoirs in vogue about twenty years ago, which he exposed with the hand of a master, induced the Minister of the Interior, Count Corbière, to thank him in a friendly and flattering letter. But we order these things differently in England. A man might now write with the eloquence of Burke, the wisdom of Plato and Socrates, and the wit of Sheridan, and neither the Peels, nor the Gladstones, nor the Goulburns, nor any of the mediocre fry whom we in our besotted ignorance call statesmen, would take the least notice of him. It was not always so. The minister Wyndham, within the memory of living men, wrote to that racy writer of pure Saxon, Cobbett, thanking him for his aid, and saying that he deserved a statue of gold. By the means of translations and open plagiarisms from Colnet, a late Right Hon. Secretary of the Admiralty and great Quarterly Reviewer, obtained the praise of being a good French scholar and historian. The staple of most of the articles on French literature and memoirs, published about ten or twelve years ago in the ‘Quarterly,’ was contraband, stolen from Colnet, and smuggled into the Review as though it were native produce. There was not a critic in England to detect or expose this plagiarism, or to prove to our countrymen that there was scarcely an original thought in the articles, all being borrowed or literally translated from the French. The ignorance of France and of French literature in England is astonishing. With the exception of Mr. Crowe, recently foreign editor of the ‘Morning Chronicle,' we do not believe there is a single man at the press of England well informed on France and French literature. Under the ministry of Willèle, Genoude was made a Counseiller d’Etat. He then placed the prefix to his name, and obtained, although son of a limonadier of Grenoble, letters of nobility. Now it suits M. de Genoude to demand assemblées primaires —or a general council of the nation—in the hope—the vain hope—that the people would call back the elder branch of the Bourbons. This cry has failed to cause any fusion of ultra-royalists and republicans, The people well know that Genoude and his party are not sincere, and that he and they only clamor for universal suffrage, under the impression that power would be transferred from the bourgeoisie to the grands and petits seigneurs and their dependents. M. Lourdoueix, formerly an ex chef des Belles Lettres in the Ministry of the Interior, is supposed to write many of the articles conceived in this spirit. He is undoubtedly a man of talent, but, to use a vulgar phrase, he has brought his talent to a wrong market. Theatres are supposed to be reviewed by M. de la Forest, and a few years ago the place of Colnet was filled —though his loss was not supplied—by another bookseller, M. Bossange, author of a theatrical piece. M. de Nettement, son of the late consulgeneral of France in London, frequently

writes in the “Gazette de France,’ and

also in the ‘Corsaire Satan,’ another paper of M. Genoude. The circulation of the * Gazette de France' has diminished within the last year. It had, a couple of years ago, about 1500 subscribers in Paris, and about 4000 in the provinces, but now the abonnes in Paris are scarcely a thousand, and it is said not to have 3000 in the provinces. The legitimist press is reported to have lost 4000 subscribers since the feuilletons of Alexandre Dumas, and of that lively writer, Theophile Gautier, have been admitted into it. Both these gentlemen are liberals, and your true Carlist, too much like some of the same breed among ourselves, would scorn to be instructed, and will not deign to be even entertained by the most amusing liberal in Christendom. The ‘Quotidienne’ was a most furiously bigoted high church paper in the days of Willèle, and it is so still. It detests the very name of the Revolution, and abhors the memory of all those who remained in France during its progress. In 1827 and 1828, the ‘Quotidienne' was written in a most obsolete and barbarous style, by young seminarists, who had never seen the world, and who were taught to admire the ages of monks and inquisitors. During the Martignac administration, the ‘Quotidienne’ was enthusiastically supported by the pure Ultras, at the head of whom were La Bourdonnaye, Delalot, and Hyde de Neuville. M. de la Bourdonnaye, then the leader of the Centre opposition, and afterwards, %, a short period, a member of the Polignac administration, frequently wrote

in it; and one of the recognized editors at this period was the founder of the journal, Joseph Michaud, author of the ‘History of the Crusades.” M. Merle used to write the theatrical, and M. Balzac the feuilletons; but of late, this latter person has ceased to write. The circulation of the ‘Quotidienne’ is under 4000. We are now about to speak of a remarkable man and a remarkable journal—the man, the late Armand Carrel—the journal, the ‘National.” Carrel was born at Rouen, in 1800, of a legitimist family. From his earliest youth, though his family were all engaged in commerce, he exhibited a predominant passion for the military profession, and was entered of the college of St. Cyr. While a sous-lieutenant of the 29th ; regiment of the line, in garrison at Béfort, T he took an active part in the conspiracy of 1821, which failed miserably. He was not either discovered or denounced, and proceeded with his regiment to Marseilles. The war of 1824 had just broken out in Spain, when, impelled by a love of adventure, he resigned the military service of his country, embarked on board a fishing-boat at Marseilles for Barcelona, and entered the French regiment of Napoleon the Second. This foreign legion, after much adverse fortune, capitulated to the French troops. The capitulation included the French as well as the Spanish soldiers. They were, nevertheless, thrown into prison, and ultimately dragged before a council of war. Carrel was tried and acquitted. But this affair put an end to all hope of preferment in the army, or, indeed, to a military career, and Carrel thought of studying the law. But he was not a Bachelor of Arts, or, as the French say, a Bachelor in Letters, and the law, too, he was obliged to renounce. He became the secretary of a distinguished historian, and in this way it was that his literary and political labors commenced. He wrote a resumé of the Histories of Scotland and Modern Greece for the booksellers; and various articles in the “Revue Americaine,' the “Constitutionnel,' the ‘Globe, the “Revue Française,’ and the ‘ Producteur.” In 1827, he published, in his twenty-seventh year, his ‘Histoire de la centre Révolution en Angleterre,’ a work of sterling merit, and was rising into the first eminence as author and journalist, when, in 1829, Jules de Polignac was called from the embassy of London, to fill the place of President of the Council of Ministers in France. Carrel's eager mind, weary

« VorigeDoorgaan »