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New World, - in America, There shall you see a People, among whom all conditions of men are more on an equality even than among us; where the social state, the manners, the laws, — everything is democratic; where all emanates from the People, and returns to the People; and where, at the same time, every individual enjoys a greater amount of liberty, a more entire independence, than in any other part of the world, at any period of time;- a country, I repeat it, essentially Democratic; the only Democracy in the wide world at this day; and the only Republic, truly Democratic, which we know of in history. And in this Republic you will look in vain for Socialism. Not only have the theories of the Socialists gained no possession there of the public mind, but they have played so trifling a part in the discussions and affairs of that great Nation, that they have not even reached the dignity of being feared.
America is at this day that country, of the whole world, where the sovereignty of Democracy is most practical and complete ; and it is at the same time that where the doctrines of the Socialists, which you pretend to find so much in accordance with Democracy, are the least in
vogue ; the country, of the whole universe, where the men sustaining those doctrines would have the least chance of making an impression. For myself personally, I do not see, I confess, any great objection to the emigration of these proselyting gentlemen to America ; but I warn them that they will not find there any field for their labors.
No, Gentlemen, Democracy and Socialism are the antipodés of each other. While Democracy extends the sphere of individual independence, Socialism contracts it. Democracy develops a man's whole manhood , Socialism makes him an agent, an instrument, a cipher. Democracy and Socialism assimilate on one point only, — the equality which they introduce; but mark the difference : Democracy seeks equality in liberty, while Socialism seeks it in servitude and constraint.
27. PRACTICAL RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.- Original Translation from Victor Hugo.
The question is, shall we confide the public education of youth to a clerical party, independent of the State, — or to the State, independent of a clerical party. Free instruction — but free instruction under the superintendence of the State, and not of a sect — is what I would
It is not to the clerical party that I would intrust it. To that party I now address myself, and I say : In the proposition before the National Assembly, we see your hand; and, to be candid, we distrust you. The proposed law is a law with a mask. Under the disguise of liberty, it aims at subjection. But think not that I confound your doctrines, your ambitions, your intrigues, -- think not that I confound you, the clerical party, — with the Church, any more than I confound the mistletoe with the oak. You are the parasites of the Church, – the disease of the Church. Call her not your mother, when you would make her your slave. Leave her, this venerable Church, this venerable mother, to her solitude, her abnegation, her humility. All these compose her grandeur. Her solitude will attract the crowd; her abnegation is her power; her humility is her majesty.
You speak of religious instruction. Know you what it is, that veritable religious instruction, which must ever command our homage without awakening our distrust ? It is the Sister of Charity at the pillow of the dying. It is the Brother of Mercy ransoming the slave. It is Vincent de Paul rescuing the foundling. It is the Bishop of Marseilles ministering to the plague-stricken. It is the Archbishop of Paris entering with a smile that formidable Faubourg of St. Antoine, elevating his crucifix above the smoke of civil war, and counting it little loss to encounter death, so that he might bring peace ! This is the true, the real religious instruction, — profound, efficacious, popular; and which, happily for religion and for humanity, makes even more Christians than you unmake!
28. NECESSITY OF RELIGION.- Original Translation from Victor Hugo. GENTLEMEN, it is not because I would prevent religious instruction, but because I would prevent the union of Church and State, that I oppose this Bill. So far from wishing to proscribe religious instruction, I maintain that it is more essential at this day than ever. The more a man grows, the more he ought to believe. As he draws nearer to God, the better ought he to recognize His existence. It is the wretched tendency of our times to base all calculations, all efforts, on this life only, — to crowd everything into this narrow span.
In limiting man's end and aim to this terrestrial and material existence, we aggravate all his miseries by the terrible negation at its close. We add to the burthens of the unfortunate the insupportable weight of a hopeless hereafter. God's law of suffering we convert, by our unbelief, into hell's law of despair. Hence these deplorable social convulsions.
That I am one of those who desire – I will not say with sincerity merely, but, with inexpressible ardor, and by all possible means to ameliorate the material condition of the suffering classes in this life, no one in this Assembly will doubt. But the first and greatest of ameliorations is to impart hope. How do our finite miseries dwindle, in the presence of an infinite hope! Our first duty, then, whether we be clergymen or laymen, bishops or legislators, priests or writers, is not merely to direct all our social energies to the abatement of physical misery, but, at the same time, to lift every drooping head towards Heaven, — to fix the attention and the faith of every human soul on that ulterior life, where justice shall preside, where justice shall be awarded! Let us proclaim it aloud to all, No one shall unjustly or needlessly suffer! Death is restitution. The law of the material world is gravitation; of the moral world, equity. At the end of all, reappears God. Let us not forget — let us everywhere teach it — There would be no dignity in life, it would not be worth the holding, if in death we wholly perish. All that lightens labor, and sanctifies toil, all that renders man brave, good, wise, patient, benevolent, just, humble, and, at the same time, great, worthy of intelligence, worthy of liberty, is to have perpetually before him the vision of a better world darting its rays of celestial splendor through the dark shadows of this
* Pronounced Foboorg of San-tann-twauhnn.
For myself, since Chance will have it that words of such gravity should at this time fall from lips of such little authority, let me be permitted here to say, and to proclaim from the elevation of this Tribune, that I believe, that I most profoundly and reverently believe, in that better world. It is to me more real, more substantial, more positive in its effects, than this evanescence which we cling to and call life. It is unceasingly before my eyes. I believe in it with all the strength of my convictions; and, after many struggles, and much study and experience, it is the supreme certainty of my reason, as it is the supreme consolation of my soul !
I desire, therefore, most sincerely, strenuously and fervently, that there should be religious instruction; but let it be the instruction of the Gospel, and not of a party. Let it be sincere, not hypocritical Let it have Heaven, not earth, for its end !
29. UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE, MAY 20, 1850. — Victor Hugo. Original Translation.
UNIVERSAL suffrage ! - what is it but the overthrow of violence and brute force — the end of the material and the beginning of the moral fact? What was the Revolution of February intended to establish in France, if not this ? And now it is proposed to abolish this sacred right! And what is its abolition, but the reintroduction of the right of insurrection? Ye Ministers and men of State, who govern, wherefore do you venture on this mad attempt ? I will tell you. It is because the People have deemed worthy of their votes men whom you judge worthy of your insults! It is because the People have presumed to compare your promises with your acts; because they do not find your Administration altogether sublime; because they have dared peaceably to instruct you through the ballot-box! Therefore it is, that your anger is roused, and that, under the pretence that Society is in peril, you seek to chastise the People, to take them in hand ! And so, like that maniac of whom History tells, you beat the ocean with rods! And so you launch at us your poor little laws, furious but feeble! And so you defy the spirit of the age, defy the good sense of the public, defy the Democracy, and tear your unfortunate fingernails against the granite of universal suffrage!
Go on, Gentlemen! Proceed! Disfranchise, if you will, three millions of voters, four millions, nay, eight millions out of nine! Get rid of all these It will not matter. What you cannot get rid of is your own fatal incapacity and ignorance ; your own antipathy for the People, and theirs for you! What you cannot get rid of is the time that marches, and the hour that strikes; is the earth that revolves, the onward movement of ideas, the crippled pace of prejudices; the widening gulf between you and the age, between you and the coming generation, between you and the spirit of liberty, between you and the spirit of philosophy! What you cannot get rid of is the great fact that
you and the Nation pass on opposite sides; that what is to you the East is to her the West; and that, while you turn your back on the Future, this great People of France, their foreheads all bathed in light from the day-spring of a new humanity, turn their back on the Past!
Ah! Whether you will it or no, the Past is passed. Your law is null, void and dead, even before its birth : because it is not just; because it is not true; because, while it goes furtively to plunder the poor man and the weak of his right of suffrage, it encounters the withering glance of a Nation's probity and sense of right, before which your work of darkness shall vanish; because, in the depths of the conscience of every citizen, of the humblest as well as the highest, there is a sentiment sublime, sacred, indestructible, incorruptible, eternal, — the Right! This sentiment, which is the very element of reason in man, the granite of the human conscience, this Right, is the rock upon which shall split and go to pieces the iniquities, the hypocrisies, the bad laws and bad governments, of the world. There is the obstacle, concealed, invisible, — lost to view in the soul's profoundest deep, but eternally present and abiding, - against which you shall always strike, and which you shall never wear away, do what you will! I repeat it, your efforts are in vain. You cannot deracinate, you cannot shake it. You might sooner tear up the eternal Rock from the bottom of the sea, than the Right from the heart of the People !
30. LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, 1850.- Original Translation from Victor Hugo.
HAVING restricted universal suffrage and the right of public meetings, you now wage war against the liberty of the Press. In the crisis through which we are passing, it is asked, “Who is making all this trouble? Who is the culprit ? Whom must we punish ?” The alarm party in Europe say, “It is France !” In France they say, “ It is Paris !" In Paris they say, “ It is the Press ! ” of observation and reflection says, “The culprit is not the Press; it is not Paris ; it is not France; it is the human mind!” Yes, it is the human mind, which has made the Nations what they are; which, from the beginning, has scrutinized, examined, discussed, debated, doubted, contradicted, probed, affirmed, and pursued without ceasing, the solution of the problem, eternally placed before the creature by the Creator. It is the human mind which, continually persecuted, opposed, driven back, headed off, has disappeared only to appear again ; and, passing from one labor to another, has taken successively, from age to age, the figure of all the great agitators. It is the human mind, which was named John Huss, and which did not die on the funeral-pile of Constance; which was named Luther, and shook orthodoxy to its centre; which was named Voltaire, and shook faith ; which was named Mirabeau, and shook royalty. It is the human mind, which, since history began, has transformed societies and governments according to a law progressively acceptable to the reason, which has heen theocracy, aristocracy, monarchy, and which is to-day democracy. It is the human mind, which has been Babylon, Tyre, Jerusalem, Athens, and which to-day is Paris ; which has been, turn by turn, and sometimes all at once, error, illusion, schism, protestation, truth; it is 'the human mind, which is the great pastor of the generations, and which, in short, has always marched towards the Just, the Beautiful and the True, enlightening multitudes, elevating life, raising more and more the head of the People towards the Right, and the head of the individual towards God!
And now I address myself to the alarm party,- not in this Chamber, but wherever they may be, throughout Europe, -- and I say to them : Consider well what you would do ; reflect on the task that
have undertaken ; and measure it well before you commence. Suppose you should succeed : when you have destroyed the Press, there will remain something more to destroy, - Paris ! When you have destroyed Paris, there will remain France. When you have destroyed France, there will remain the human mind. I repeat it, let this great European alarm party measure the immensity of the task which, in their heroism, they would attempt. Though they annihilate the Press to the last journal, Paris to the last pavement, France to the last hamlet, they will have done nothing. There will remain yet for them to destroy something always paramount, above the generations, and, as it were, between man and his Maker ; — something that has written all the books, invented all the arts, discovered all the worlds, founded all the civilizations ; — something which will always grasp, under the form of Revolutions, what is not yielded under the form of progress ; — something which is itself unseizable as the light, and unapproachable as the sun, - and which calls itself the human mind!
31. A REPUBLIC OR A MONARCHY? - Original Translation from Victor Hugo.
On the question of revising the French Constitution, 1851. GENTLEMEN, let us come at the pith of this debate. It is not our side of the House, but you, the Monarchists, who have provoked it. The question, a Republic or a Monarchy, is before us. No one has any longer the power or the right to elude it. For more than two years, this question, secretly and audaciously agitated, has harassed the country. It weighs upon the Present. It clouds the Future. The moment has come for our deliverance from it. Yes, the moment has come for us to regard it face to face - to see what it is made of. Now, then, let us show our cards! No more concealment! I affirm, then, in the name of the eternal laws of human morality, that Mon