Paris under the Commune eBook

John Leighton Stuart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 389 pages of information about Paris under the Commune.

XXXVII.

The queen of the age is the Press.  Lately dethroned and somewhat shorn of her majesty, but still a queen.  It is in vain that the press has sometimes degraded itself in the eyes of honest men by stooping to applaud and approve of crimes and excesses, that journalists have done what they can to lower it; still the august offspring of the human mind, the press, has really lost neither its power nor its fascination.  Misunderstood, misapplied, it may have done some harm, but no one can question the signal service which it has been able to render, or the nobility of its mission.  If it has sometimes been the organ of false prophets, its voice has also been often raised to instruct and encourage.

When last night you went secretly, in a manner worthy of the act, to seize on the printing presses of the Journal des Debats, the Paris Journal, and the Constitutionnel, were you aware of what you were doing?  You imagined, perhaps, this act would have no other result than that of suppressing violently a private concern—­which is one kind of robbery—­and of reducing to a state of beggary—­which is a crime—­the numerous individuals, journalists, printers, compositors, and others who are employed on the journal, and who live by its means.  You have done worse than this.  You have stopped, as far as it was in your power, the current of human progress.  You have suppressed man’s noblest. right—­the right of expressing his opinions to the world; you are no better than the pickpocket who appropriates your handkerchief.  You have taken our freedom of thought by the throat, and said, “It is in my way, I will strangle it.”  Wherefore have you acted thus?  To shut the mouths of those who contradict you, is to admit that you are not so very sure of being in the right.  To suppress the journals is to confess your fear of them; to avoid the light is to excite our suspicion concerning the deeds you are perpetrating in the darkness.  We shut our windows when we do not desire to be seen.  Little confidence is inspired by closed doors.  Your councils at the Hotel de Ville are secret as the proceedings of certain legal cases, the details of which might be hurtful to public morality.  Again I say, wherefore this mystery?  What strange projects have you on foot?  Do you discuss among you, propositions of a nature which your modesty declines to make known to the world?  This fear of publicity, of opposition, you have proved afresh, by the nocturnal visits of your National Guards to the printing offices, wherein they forced an entrance like housebreakers.  Shall we be reduced to judge of your acts, and of the bloody incidents of the civil war, only by your own asseverations and those of your accomplices?  You must be very determined to act guiltily and to be obliged to tell lies, as you take so much trouble to get rid of those, who might pass sentence on you, and who might convict you of falsehood. 

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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