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"You add, with good reason, that concessions of principles, or sacrifices of persons, are always inefficient in presence of popular movements, and that a Government with any self-respect ought not to yield either to pressure, or persuasion, or riot.
"That view of the question is also mine, and I am well pleased that it is entertained by your constituents, as it is also, I am well convinced, by the great majority of the Chamber and of the country. "Believe in all my sentiments.
In another letter, a few days later, addressed by the Emperor to M. Schneider, who wished to resign the office of President of the Legislative Body, but which resignation his Majesty refused to accept, he said, "The policy of my Government is manifested with sufficient clearness to prevent any mistake about it. After, as before, the elections it will continue the work which it has undertaken-viz. the reconciling strong authority with institutions sincerely liberal." In June the Emperor visited the camp at Chalons, and in a speech addressed to the soldiers who took part in the Italian campaign of 1859, said,-
"Soldiers!-I am rejoiced to see that you have not forgotten the grand cause for which we fought ten years ago. Keep always in your hearts the remembrance of the battles of your fathers, and those in which you have taken part, since the history of our wars is the history of the progress of civilization. Thus you will preserve the military spirit which is the triumph of noble over vulgar passions. Fidelity to the standard is devotion to one's native country; continue as in the past, and you will always be worthy sons of the Great Nation."
In the same month M. Henri Rochefort was sentenced, on the charge of complicity in the illegal introduction of the Lanterne into France, to three years' imprisonment, to a fine of 10,000f., and to the forfeiture of his rights as a citizen for the same term of three years.
The newly elected Legislative Body met at the end of July for the purpose of verifying the elections, and M. Rouher, Minister of State, addressed the Members in the following words :
"The present extraordinary Session was necessary in order to hasten the verification of the elections, and thus put an end to all uncertainty respecting the validity of the electoral proceedings. According to the Government's intentions, the present session has no other object. The recomposition of the Legislative Body by the process of universal suffrage is a natural opportunity for the nation to manifest its thoughts, its wants, and its aspirations. But the examination of the political results of this manifestation on the part of the people should not be precipitate. At the ordinary session the Government will submit to the high consideration of the public bodies the resolutions and projects which seem to it the most calculated to realize the wishes of the country."
Constitutional change in the Imperial Government-Surrender by the Emperor of Personal Power-Message from his Majesty to the Legislative Body-Change in the personnel of the Ministry-Senatus Consultum-Report thereon-Remarkable Speech of Prince Napoleon-Speech of M. Michel Chevalier-Commercial Treaty with England-Le Père Hyacinthe-Postponement of the meeting of the Chambers -Manifesto of the Opposition-Illness of the Emperor-Reception of the Prussian Ambassador-Political Creed of the Party of the Left-Paris Election-Speech of the Emperor at the opening of the Chambers-Speech of the Minister of the Interior on the Policy of the Government-The Ecumenical Council at Rome-M. Rochefort in the Legislative Body-Debate on Electoral Returns-Change of Ministry.
A VERY important change took place this year in the Imperial régime. Hitherto the Government of France under the Second Empire had been very much personal Government by the Emperor, who had by no means acceded to the maxim which was in vogue under the Orleans dynasty-Le Roi régne, mais il ne gouverne pas. The Emperor was emphatically the Government, and the Ministers were the creatures of his will in every sense. One inconvenience of this was that all attacks on the Ministry were construed into attacks upon the personal authority of the Chief of the State, and opposition to the measures was apt to be considered disaffection to the Throne. In England we all know how completely the authority of the Sovereign is kept distinct from the responsibility of Ministers, who, although appointed by and nominally dependent on the Crown, practically hold their places at the will of a Parliamentary majority. The Emperor Napoleon thought the time had come when it would be expedient to introduce a similar principle into the Government of France, and for that purpose a Senatus Consultum was prepared, the object of which was to provide better guarantees for constitutional liberty and ministerial responsibility.
With reference to this subject, M. Rouher, Minister of State, read the following message from the Emperor at the sitting of the Legislative Body, on the 12th of August:
"By the declaration of the 28th ult. I announced that I should submit at the ordinary session of the Chamber the resolutions and plans which seemed most fitting to realize the wishes of the country. However, as the Legislative Body appears desirous to learn immediately what reforms have been decided upon, I think it right to anticipate its wishes. It is my firm intention to give to the powers of the Legislative Body that extension which is compatible with the cardinal bases of the Constitution. I now lay before you by this Message the decisions which have been taken at the Council. The Senate will be convoked as soon as possible to examine the following questions, viz.:
"1. The powers to be accorded to the Legislative Body, including the right of laying down the regulations relating to its proceedings and the right of electing its bureaux.
"2. The simplification of the mode of presenting and considering amendments.
"3. To make it obligatory upon the Government to submit to the Legislative Body all modifications of the tariffs in international
"4. The voting of the Budget by chapter in order to render the control of the Legislative Body more complete.
"5. The suppression of the incompatibility hitherto existing between the position of Deputy and the assumption of certain public functions, particularly those of Ministers.
"6. The extension of the right of interpellation. The Government will also deliberate upon questions relating to the position of the Senate and the more efficient 'solidarity' which will be established between the Chamber and the Government, the faculty of exercising simultaneously the functions of Minister and Deputy, the presence of all the Ministers in the Chambers, the discussion of affairs of State in the Council, the establishment of a real understanding with the majority elected by the country, and the creation of all those guarantees which we seek in our common solicitude. I have already shown several times how much I am disposed to relinquish in the public interest certain of my prerogatives. The modifications which I have decided to propose constitute the natural development of those which have successively been made in the institutions of the Empire. They must, at the same time, leave intact the prerogatives which the people have most explicitly confided to me, and which are the essential condition of power and of the preservation of order and society."
The intended measure was not approved of by several of the Ministers, and the consequence was that MM. Rouher, Duruy, Lavalette, and Baroche resigned office, and their places were supplied by MM. Bourbeau, Leroux, and Prince de la Tour d'Auvergne. M. Rouher was afterwards appointed President of the Senate.
The Senatus Consultum, as finally submitted to the Senate at the end of August, was as follows::
"Art. I. The Emperor and the Legislative Body possess the initiative of proposing laws.
"Art. 2. The Ministers are dependent on the Emperor alone. They deliberate in Council under his presidency; are responsible; can be impeached only by the Senate.
"Art. 3. The Ministers can be members of the Senate or of the Legislative Body. They can take their seats in either Assembly, and have a right to speak when they consider such a course advisable.
"Art. 4. The sittings of the Senate are public. On the demand of five members the House can resolve itself into a Secret Committee. It fixes its own internal regulations.
"Art. 5. The Senate can, on indicating the modifications of which any Bill before it appears to be susceptible, send the measure back to the Legislative Body for a new deliberation. It can, in every case, by a resolution with reasons assigned, oppose the promulgation of a Bill. [The words by a resolution with reasons assigned,' were suppressed, and the following added: The Bill of which the Senate opposes the promulgation cannot be again presented in the Legislative Body in the course of the same session.']
"Art. 6. The Legislative Body fixes its own internal regulations. At the opening of every session it nominates its President, VicePresidents, and Secretaries. It also appoints its Questors.
"Art. 7. Every member of the Senate or of the Legislative Body possesses the right of addressing an interpellation to the Government. Orders of the day with reasons assigned can be adopted. The reference to the bureaux of such orders of the day is a matter of right when demanded by the Government. The bureaux name a committee, on the summary report of which the Legislative Body pronounces.
"Art. 8. No amendment can be discussed if it has not been sent to the committee charged with the task of examining the Bill and communicated to the Government. When the Government does not accept the amendment, the Council of State gives its opinion; the Legislative Body then pronounces definitively.
"Art. 9. The Budget of Expenditure shall be presented to the Legislative Body by Chapters and Articles. The estimates of each Ministry are voted by Chapters, in conformity with the nomenclature annexed to the present Senatus Consultum.
"Art. 10. The modifications introduced in future into the Customs or postal tariffs by international treaties cannot be obligatory unless in virtue of a law.
"Art. 11. The relations, as fixed by the regulations, between the Senate and the Legislative Body, and with the Emperor's Government, are fixed by Imperial decree. The constitutional relations between the several powers are fixed by a Senatus Consultum.
"Art. 12. Are abrogated-all enactments contrary to the present Senatus Consultum, and especially those of Arts. 6 (par. 2), 8, 13, 24 (par. 2), 26, 40, 43, 44 of the Constitution, and 1 of the Senatus Cousultum of the 31st of December, 1861."
At a sitting of the Senate on the 26th of August, a long report on the Senatus Consultum was read by M. Devienne, the reporter of the Committee. It is an important document, and we give it in extenso.
"Messieurs les Sénateurs,-You had reason to expect that the report of your committee would be presented to you by your President, or by the Procureur-Général Delangle. For different causes they have declined the honour of this mission. You will regret the character of authority and superiority of views they would have brought to a labour of no difficulty for them. The first reflection which the presentation of the Senatus Consultum suggests to many minds, whether in France or elsewhere, is that the appeal to your
constituent action is very frequently renewed. These modifications, so often repeated, of the fundamental law give to our institutions an appearance of uncertainty, and to our nation, whose reputation for fickleness is not recent, a semblance of instability which is not without prejudice to our own country, and even to those that surround us. Moreover, experience demonstrates that nations which occupy themselves more in respecting their laws than in changing them are the greatest and most prosperous. But the situation of France, as must be admitted, is at this hour altogether exceptional; the movement in our constitutional laws is the inevitable and logical result of the events that preceded the establishment of the Empire. The political régime of 1852 was, therefore, a necessity, but a temporary one. In the year 1860 there were men who protested against the prudential laws of 1852, feeling convinced that the moment was come for a change in the political legislation. But such was not the general anxiety; and the postponement of all modification in the Constitution was not only possible, but was advocated by many sound thinkers. The memory of a recent past, the prosperity of the present-every thing authorized the maintenance of the existing situation, when the Emperor opened, by a purely personal initiative, the path in which he has since constantly marched, accelerating his steps as if he feared that the duration of one reign would not be sufficient to sweep away, for the advantage of liberty, the rubbish accumulated by our revolutions. We cannot say what will be the issue of this undertaking. But, whether the result be fortunate or not, history, if she preserves any truth, will declare that Napoleon III. inaugurated alone the liberal movement, not only without constraint, but in the midst of considerable resistance, and under the burden of the discouraging ingratitude which at the outset awaits, among ourselves, the most generous acts of the power existing. The new Senatus Consultum has appeared to your committee the wise, opportune, and even necessary continuation of the progress of internal policy undertaken by the Emperor; and we, therefore, propose to you, in principle, to adopt it. Article 1, declaring that the Emperor and the Legislative Body possess the initiative in proposing laws, has not undergone any alteration. Two observations were made on the wording-one, that no necessity existed for repeating what was already known, namely, that the Emperor had the right to propose Bills; and next, that too much power was thus given to the Lower Chamber. As to the first, the committee saw no reason why the privilege of the two to propose measures should not be clearly stated, since they both possessed it; and for the second, it certainly gave to the Legislative Body a considerable increase of power, but the course now proposed was necessary to complete the attributions of the Chamber, and was in fact called for by the fact of its having already the right of amendment and of interpellation. Article 2, asserting that the Ministers are dependent on the Emperor alone, deliberate in Council under his presidency, are responsible, and can be impeached only by the Senate, has not been modified in any way.