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They may, if they please, plant a withered stump in the Champ de Mars, the clergy may bless it, and M. Ledru Rollin may bail it as “a glorious symbol of deliverance and liberty”—but the bitterness of its fruit will nauseate all who taste it.
But, amongst the leading organs of public opinion, conducted by the master-spirits of the time, have none been found courageous enough to denounce a system which, within the space of “one little month," has given the lie to the broadest and most emphatic declarations of the chiefs of the revolutionary government?
Yes, the press has spoken, and by the voice of its noblest expositor, by that of the man who, if France can yet be redeemed from anarchy, appears destined to perform that glorious part! It is M. Emile de Girardin, who, in the midst of the storm that has whirled every thing along in its furious vortex, has made himself heard. His testimony is beyond suspicion, for no man's political principles have been more openly avowed. It was with no feigned sincerity that he acccepted the new order of things, and offered his services to the Provisional Government, to strengthen it in every act that really tended to the public good.
But within how short a space have the hopes and expectations of all who think with M. de Girardin been disappointed! Let us only look at one of the very earliest of the hundred and one decrees that have been issued, in which it was set forth that no system of taxation could be decided upon by the Provisional Government, who used these words : “ That it is the part of the delegates of the nation to judge supremely in this matter, and that any other conduct on its part would imply the rashest usurpation. The suspension of the most important services would be risked by it, and it would be almost impossible to think of facing events of which France and Europe may be the witness. All taxes, without exception, will continue to be levied as heretofore.”
A fortnight afterwards came the decree calling upon the people IMMEDIATELY to make contribution to the state amounting to forty-five hundredths on the total amount of the year's direct taxes!
That the Provisional Government wanted money there can be little doubt, when we find that its expenditure during its month of power has been, according to La Presse, four millions of francs a day! And the greater part of this enormous sum has been devoted to the purpose of establishing a system which is to prevail by violence alone. Well might M. Emile de Girardin denounce it, in language as truthful as it is eloquent !
In a forcible contrast which he has drawn between the two principles which he names “ La Dictature” and “ L'Arbitraire,” he
says: “ In the name of that Fraternity, too long misunderstood, let the new Power accomplish the social revolution now begun, and our zealous hands will add a stone, however small, to the edifice of the future, to the monument of the people; we shall never protest against it. But if Oppression and Exception are wrought in the name of Liberty and Equality, protest we will. It is more than our right to do so,-it is our duty. The revolution was accomplished in the name of a contested right,—the right of meeting. Throne and Charter have been broken down and destroyed; Kings and Ministers have been carried away. Abuses have remained ! But they have changed their name. Yesterday they were called Corruption! To-day they are called Intimidation! Yesterday they were called Prefect! To-day they are called Commissary! Yesterday they draped themselves in the mantle of Royalty! To-day they envelop themselves in the mantle of the Republic! Abuses among us are, then, like the hydra, from which we cannot strike off one head without another, more deformed, immediately arising. It is, then, impossible for us to protest against an excess without exceeding it; to avenge otherwise than by illegality, violated legality? No! no! Resistance will stop the abuse, if the cry which we utter be repeated from all parts--if it be repeated with such unanimity that all the members of the Provisional Government cannot close the ear against it.”
Again, he says: “ Those parties who believe that we are to be intimidated by menaces, are mistaken. They may destroy our printing presses, and thus deprive 500 persons employed at them of their daily bread; but we shall always find a sheet of paper on which to publish our ideas, and readers to peruse what we have written. They may put us to death by two modes-either by the hand of a coward, or by the blows of a multitude which has been led astray. But if the Republic and liberty must dishonour themselves by an act of murder, the sole honour we desire is to be their first victim. Glorious will be the first martyr who will sacrifice himself in order to give the example of resistance to terrorists! All Paris, except cowards and malefactors, should assist at his funeral; and France should wear mourning for him. They may, therefore, kill us without our attempting to defend ourselves, but violence shall never force us to be silent, or to fly.”
The man who has the boldness to speak thus, is the man best qualified to grapple with the dangers that surround the Republic. Like another Cassandra calling upon Priam, we are tempted to exclaim :
Lay hold upon him, Paris ! hold him fast,
Fall all together! PostSCRIPT, March 27.–At this, the latest hour at which the exigencies of going to press permit us to record our opinions, we have but a few words to add. The intelligence received by to-day's post falsifies in nothing the view we have taken of the acts of the Provisional Government. Their consequences, in a financial point of view, are tending inevitably to national bankruptcy, -in a political one, to a reign of communism–synonymous with terror! The banks of Lyons, Rouen, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Marseilles, Havre, Toulouse, and Orleans, compelled to follow the example of the Bank of France, have suspended cash payments. Public credit is utterly annihilated, the manufactories are everywhere closed, commerce is at a stand, and the resources of the government are diminished, according to the last bank returns, published on the 22nd, to less than twenty millions of francs, –a sum considerably less than the expenditure of the previous week! On the other hand, the Provisional Government, so far from repudiating the doctrines laid down in the circular of M. Ledru Rollin, have resolved to accept them. Replying obliquely to an address issued by M. Thiers to the electors of the Bouches du Rhone, the National says :
“We must have new men, and as such we recommend particularly to the electors the operatives and the labourers.......... The education of the college is not favourable, nor that of the workshop unfavourable for the eminent function of a deputy of the National Assembly.........With honesty and intelligence, every citizen is equal to his work without reference to his former position and circumstances.”
What, let us ask, are the prospects of a nation whose highest deliberative assembly is to be composed of men not only uneducated, but recommended for election precisely because they are uneducated, men who are sent to avenge themselves for past neglect by legislation ?
MR. BROOKE'S LATEST JOURNALS.*
After the opening of the ports of China, the new field presented to commerce and civilisation in the opening of the Eastern Archipelago offers the best possible answer to politicians who, like Mr. Cobden, aver that the trade of this country is no way indebted to its navy. The operations of her majesty's ship Iris in that great archipelago have done much towards making us better acquainted with the populous independent kingdoms of a fine island hitherto almost unknown — Celebes—where the rights of free citizens are acknowledged ; indeed, the only Mohammedan state known where the people have emancipated themselves from the fetters of despotism, and whose princes are most desirous of forming commercial relations with the English nation. But still the importance of the operations in Celebes, to which we may some day be led to devote a few pages, yield precedence, in point of importance, to the occupation of a lonely coal island, and the appointment by the natives to a local government, of a now well-known and patriotic Englishman—the Rajah Brooke- -a mere speck on the confines of the great island of Borneo ; yet who shall predict what may hereafter result from the gradual extension of the civilising influence now first planted on that little spot of earth?
In giving the journals of Mr. Brooke to the public, Captain Mundy goes back to the earliest movements of the Rajah in that country ; his voyage out in the Royalist ; his first interviews with Muda Hassim, and his gradual rise to power ; events with which the readers of the New Monthly Magazine have been already familiarised by an analysis previously given of the first journals of Mr. Brooke, of the expedition of her majesty's ship Dido, and of the operations of the Iris, and of the other ships of Sir Thomas Cochrane's squadron upon
the same coasts. It will be remembered that the Iris was not employed in Borneo till after that fatal insurrection at the capital, Brune, which had entailed the death of almost all of Mr. Brooke's more powerful friends, and at a period subsequent to the operations of the Dido. When Capt. Mundy first visited Sarawak in 1846, the town already contained a population of 12,000 inhabitants, whilst before the supreme authority had been vested in Mr. Brooke, it only contained a few mud huts with about 1500 persons, and these either relatives or armed retainers of the native princes! This was at the time that the squadron under Admiral Sir T. Cochrane was preparing to attack Brunė, the capital, and to revenge the massacre of thirteen of the Sultan's relatives and as many chiefs, who fell victims to their friendship to the English, and their honourable adherence to the treaties of commerce and friendly communication previously enacted.
On the way the river Rejang was steamed up in the Phlegethon, passing the first day Siriki, the residence of the piratical chief Pating
* Narrative of Events in Borneo and Celebes down to the Occupation of Labuan: from the Journals of James Brooke, Esq., Rajah of Sarawak and Governor of Labuan. Together with a Narrative of the Operations of H. M. S. Iris By Captain Rodney Mundy, R.N.
Abdulraman, whose residence, like most Dyak mansions of great dimensions, was erected on piles about twenty feet from the ground, and these again stuck into a high mound. It is obvious that such a method of con struction must be adopted to meet inundations, or to obviate the attackof insects or wild animals. The next day the steamer reached Kanowit, a remarkable town, built on piles, and situated 120 miles up the river.
Shortly after noon our pilots pointed out the neck of land round which, in a small bay, was situated the village of Kanowit; and above the trees we caught sight of numerous flags, and the matted roofs of houses. The admiral now ordered the steamer to be kept as close as possible to the overhanging palms ; and with our paddle-box just grazing their feathery branches, we shot rapidly round the point, and the surprise was complete; so complete, indeed, that groups of matrons and maidens who, surrounded by numerous children, were disporting their sable forms in the silvery stream, and enjoying, under the shade of the lofty palms, its refreshing waters, had scarcely time to screen themselves from the gaze of the bold intruders on their sylvan retreat.
It would be difficult to describe the horror and consternation of these wild Dyak ladies as the anchor of the Phlegethon dropped from her bows into the centre of the little bay selected for their bathing-ground. The first impression seemed to have stupitied both old and young, as they remained motionless with terror and astonishment. When conscious, however, of the terrible apparition before them, they set up a loud and simultaneous shriek, and, fleeing rapidly from the water, dragged children of all ages and sizes after them, and rushed up their lofty ladders for refuge: then we heard the tom-tom beat to arms, and in every direction the warriors were observed putting on their wooden and woollen armour, and seeking their spears and sumpitans.
In ten minutes all seemed ready for the fight, though evidently more anxious to find the extraordinary stranger inclined for peace. Meanwhile, the steamer swinging gradually to the young flood, and so drawing her stern within a few yards of the landing-place, brought into view the whole of the under part of the floor of this immense building erected at the brink of the very stream ; for the piles on which it was supported were forly feet in height, and although at this short distance, had the savages chosen to attack us, a few of the spears and poisoned arrows might have reached our decks, it was evident that their own nest thus raised in the air, though containing 300 desperate men, was entirely at our mercy,
Our guides or pilots had hailed them from the moment of our arrival, counselling them to desist from any aggressive act, telling them that the strangers were white men from the west, were friendly, and that the Great Sea Lord wished to receive a visit from the chief of the tribe, who might trust himself on board in safety ; but the fears of the people were too strong, and the chief not venturing to come forward, the admiral directed a white flag to be hoisted. After some little stir it was discovered that no flag of this colour was in the Indian code, and as no white bunting could be found on board, I had recourse to one of my linen sheets, which was quickly thriced up at the fore, and its effect seemed instantaneous.
In a moment from the large verandah, and from every window, strips of white cloth were hung out, and amidst loud shouts of joy, the men rushed down the ladders, some bringing the flags with them, and others launching their canoes, pulled direct to the steamer without apprehension.
The fame of Mr. Brooke had reached this remote spot, and the atrocities committed at Brunė, by the sultan, were also known ; proving that a communication exists throughout the greater part of Borneo Proper. The capture of the metropolis was a short affair. It was accomplished
by the Phlegethon and Spiteful, with the Royalist and the boats of the squadron in tow.
At half-past nine, A.M., the signal was made to proceed, and away we went, telegraphing the soundings. At ten we suddenly lessened the water to nine feet; the Spiteful, two cables' length astern, drawing fourteen feet six inches; however, she shot out clear of the danger, and I sent my gig down to keep sounding close under the large steamer's bow. At half-past ten, at a short turning of the river, which was here about half a mile wide, we got sight of four batteries, two of which were directly a-head, in a raking position, erected with much judgment, on a rising ground, wliere the course of the river suddenly changed at a right angle. The other two batteries were flanking ones on either bank, but did not appear manned.
As we neared those a-head, the colours were hoisted (a chequered yellow and white flag), and the artillerymen, dressed in red, were observed standing, with lighted matches, ready for action. The river at this point was staked across, and we were anxiously sounding our way through the piles, when the enemy's fire opened at a distance of a thousand yards. The shot, round and grape, passed between onr masts, orer the vessel, and even beyond the Spiteful, but did not strike us. We immediately returned the compliment, with rockets and the pivot guns of the ship, the Javanese crew under that able officer, Mr. Ross, behaving admirably. After a quarter of an hour's cannonade, I shoved off in the gun-boats, ordering Lieutenant Patey to pull for the shore and storm the batteries. This was soon accomplished, for so true had been our fire from the steamer and gun-boats, that what little conrage or resolution the enemy might originally have possessed soon evaporated, and the gallant crews had no further difficulty in forcing their way through the embrasures than was presented by the naturally strong position of the batteries. They were erected on a precipice, about eighty or a hundred feet in height from the brink of the river, and the pathway leading up to them may be said to have been nearly perpendicular. "The Hag was captured, and a skirmish took place between the leading party of our force and the rearguard of the artillerymen as they escaped into the jungle, which, at a few hundred yards' distance skirted the land-side of the forts. The ordnance, three of which were brass, of great beauty, eighteen-pounders, with all the magazines and ammunition, were captured, without loss on our side. The guns, excepting those of brass, were spiked, and the magazines and ammunition destroyed; after which, I was directed by the admiral to return to the Phlegethon, which I did forthwith, and after passing two other batteries, the steamers, with the Royalist and gun-boats in tow, anchored half a mile below the city, and all hands went to dinner.
At half-past one the expedition was again in motion, an ebb tide of three knots rendering our advance very slow. As the Phlegethon opened out round the point, the city battery, and the hill forts (the three together mounting eighteen guns), commenced firing. The first thirty-two-pound shot passed through the paddle-box, breaking part of the wheel, and, entering the galley amidship, killing the cook. This was followed by showers of grape and canister so well directed, that in the space of five minutes another man was killed and several wounded ; our return fire subsequently upset the enemy's aim, and we pushed on without further loss. We again shoved off in the gun-boats to attack the batteries at close quarters, but the Phlegethon's fire had been a settler, and before we could reach the shore the artillerymen fled in every direction.
The view of Brunè, with the steamers sailing up through the heart of the city to attack the upper batteries, and the little plan also given in Captain Mundy's work, impart great interest to this gallant action. Thirty-nine pieces of cannon, mostly of large calibre, fell into the hands of the conquerors. Nineteen of these were of brass, of Spanish manufacture and elaborately ornamented; the longest measured fourteen feet