صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

It is necessary to take into consideration that in the whole south of the United States voting is a right of a privileged class, and that the proportion of abstainers is probably much smaller than it would be otherwise.

Against this calculation, however, so uniform in England, here and in France in former times, we have the vote of seven millions and a half for Mr. Bonaparte in 1852, when France was asked whether she approved of his breaking through oath and pledge, and of his proffered despotism, annihilating not only her constitution, which indeed was more than a frail one, but all the progress she had made in representative government, all her liberties, and all her civil dignity, and submitting her fortunes and all to a ruler who, never having been a soldier, tells civilized France that the history of armies is the history of nations, that responsible ministers are nothing but incumbrances, and that France desires a government which receives its whole impulse from one man."

The statement which the government of the president of France officially published regarding the election which surrendered everything to the unchecked sway of the despot was thus:

[blocks in formation]

however, no uncommon case in the English language to have a noun and an adjective which is not derived directly from the former but from an intermediate though "missing" verb, which would be derived from the noun, did it exist, I feel sure the reader will permit me to use the term Votant, in a language in which brevity is often considered to cover logical and etymological sins.

7 See the preamble to the constitution proclaimed by Louis Napoleon.

Whatever may be thought of the suspiciously small number of noes, I do not believe that there is a man living who knows anything of elections, and who at the same time is ready to accept the given number of abstinents as a correct statement. According to the official number, between three and four persons only in one hundred abstained from voting, or were prevented by illness, absence from home, old age and the like, from doing so a number utterly incredible, and which, it must be believed, would have been allowed to appear much larger had the officials who managed the whole business been acquainted with the usual number of abstinents. The minister of state, Mr. Persigny, stated himself, in a circular letter to the prefects at a later period, that there were about eight millions of voters in France. This agrees pretty well with the common rule of taking about onefourth of the whole population as the number of qualified voters where universal suffrage exists. There must then have been a great deal of manipulation within that number. This is further proved when we consider that, according to the official reports of the commissioners, whom the chief of the French state sent into the departments to see who of the political prisoners might be pardoned, many thousands were actually in prison at the time of the general election. Colonel Espinasse reports that in the departments of the Lot and Garonne, and the Eastern Pyrenees, there were 30,000 affiliated socialists, and in the department of the Hérault 60,000. In three departments alone 90,000 disaffected persons. If they voted, they must have been forced by the police to vote for the coup d'état : if they did not vote, what becomes of the given number of abstinents? But there is another fact which shows the falsification of the statement, either by actually falsifying the numbers, or by forcing people to give the desired vote, or by both.

Algeria is not so directly under the influence of the police, nor could the statement concerning that colony be so easily falsified. Accordingly we have the following: Out of 68,000 voters (the army included) 50,000 abstained; 5,735 voted for L. N. Bonaparte, and 6,527 against him. Eighteen thousand only seem to have voted out of 68,000, not even 29 in 100.

I think this will sufficiently show how little reliance can be placed upon such a vote in a centralized country, and how futile it is to found any right or pretension upon it. Votes, without liberty of the press, have no meaning; votes, without liberty of the press and with a vast standing army, itself possessing the right to vote, and considering itself above all law, have a sinister meaning; votes, without an unshackled press, with such an army, and with a compact body of officials, whose number, with those directly depending upon them, or upon government contracts, amounts to nearly a million, have no meaning, whether he who appeals to the people says that he leaves "the fate of France in the hands of the people," or not.

This paper was written, with the exception I have mentioned, after the vote on the coup d'état had been given. Since then, the plebiscitum, making Louis Napoleon emperor, has been added.

The vote of the people on the question: Shall, or shall not, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte assume the imperial crown? is officially stated to have been thus:

The number of electors inscrib

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

This shows a very different result from the vote on the coup d'état. It gives twenty-five abstinents in a hundred; but there are other points not easily understood. Of thirty-one persons, one only voted no. This is a state of harmony to which people of the Anglican tribe, with all their calmer temper, we venture to say, have never yet attained. It is equally inexplicable how, of a population, which, in 1851, amounted to 35,781,628, there can be, in the year 1852, as many as 10,203,428 authorized to vote, or males above twenty-one years old. The fourth part of 35,781,628 is only 8,945,407; and, if a fourth part is correct, there would be 1,258,021 unaccounted for. Nor can we forget, here, the immense number of persons, who, according to of ficial reports, are at any given moment in the prisons of France. These, too, must be deducted.

I add, in conclusion, the statement of a Paris paper, which gives a different account, so far as that city is concerned.

In Paris, the number of abstinents were:

[ocr errors]

In 1848, for the presidential election 0.25
In 1851, for the ratification of the coup

d'état, and the election of the presi

dent for ten years.

In 1852, for the imperial crown.



Only about one-half as many abstained from voting, fas

aut nefas, when the empire was to be re-established, as abstained in the excited times of the republic, when there were several candidates.


I do not believe that direct money-bribery exists in France to any great extent. Universal suffrage, it would seem, would preclude the possibility. But indirect bribery, by promises of promotion, or allowing shares in profitable undertakings, and, above all, intimidation, positive or indirect, I believe to have existed in the largest possible extent. We may certainly assume that every government officer, or person connected in some way with government, is worth his four or five votes at least-which he will direct as he in turn is directed to do by his superiors, or he loses his place. Then, we must take into account the influence of the priests in rural communities, or of the bishops in general. They openly exerted themselves, by word and letter, in favor of the present emperor.

8 On the 10th of December, 1848, when the first French president, for four years, was voted for:

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

France contained, in the year 1846, 35,400,486 inhabitants; consequently, in 1848, there were about 9,000,000 of authorized voters; and 7,327,345 having voted, about 80 in 100 went to the poll, according to this statement. Yet it must be supposed that the eagerness to go to the ballot-box was, in that year, much greater than after the coup d'état.

« السابقةمتابعة »