|Jean-Jacques Cart (1748-1813)|
Introduction (Stephen Cowley)
Letter Six – The Administration of Justice, the Arrival of the French Émigrés and the Bernese Occupation
Lyon, 4 January 1793
If, in addition to Berne taking power over legislation, taxation and the judiciary, it also undertakes to judge us, we have fallen into an absolute slavery, for our fortune, freedom and lives depend on its will alone. This is a violation of public order and safety.
[The Martin Case]
|The Return of J-R Martin to Mézières by J-F Chatelanat.|
[The French Émigrés arrive]
[The Bernese Occupation and its Effects]
What crimes have been discovered? One of lèse-majesté that consisted of a toast at Ouchy to the National Assembly and Prosperity to the French people, of which Rosset and la Motte are accused. “In how many countries of Europe has as much not been done? In Birmingham, suborned persons disturbed the celebration, burned the house, of Dr Priestley, one of the principal celebrants. There resulted a criminal trial from it, but against whom was it conducted? Not against those who had celebrated the festival, but against those who had disturbed it.” (163-64)
|Joseph Priestley (1733-1804)|
Letter Seven [Cart’s Letter Nine] – [Montesquieu, the Separation of Powers and the Autonomy of the Vaud Judiciary]
Lyon, 20 January 1792
To recap, even a crime of high treason of the first degree that had been or would be committed in Vaud was tried in the first instance in the ordinary courts of that country. This follows from the general principles of public law and from the laws and customs of Vaud itself.
“When, in the same person or judicial body, the legislative power is joined to the executive power, there is no freedom, because of the fear that the same monarch or senate would make tyrannical laws to execute them tyrannically. There is no freedom at all, if the power of judging is not separate from the legislative or executive power, the power over the life and freedom of citizens would be arbitrary, for the judge would be legislator. If it was joined to the executive power, the judge could have the strength of an oppressor. All would be lost if the same man or body of principals, or nobles, or of the people, exercised these three powers, that of making the laws, that of executing public decisions and that of judging crimes or the disputes of individuals.
“In most of the kingdoms of Europe, the government is moderate, because the Prince who has the first two powers leaves to his subjects the exercise of the third. With the Turks, where these three powers are united in the head of the Sultan, there reigns a frightful despotism. [Book II, chapter 6] In the republics of Italy, where these three powers are united, there is less freedom than in our monarchies; the government also needs, to maintain itself, means as violent as the government of the Turks, witness the state inquisitors [of Venice], and the trunk in which each informer can, at any moment, throw his accusation with a letter.
“See what the situation of a citizen can be in these republics. The same judicial body has, as executor of laws, all the power it gives itself as legislator. It can ravage the state by its general decisions, and as it still has the power of judging, it can destroy each citizen by its particular decisions.” (173-74)
|Major Jean Daniel Abraham Davel (1670-1723)|
“Treason to the United States will consist only in making war against them, or in associating with their enemies by giving them aid.”
“In the shadows of the night, along byways, crossing the hills of Bougy, under the eye of God, my soul raised itself to him. My vows were for my country; I tell you frankly Sir, they were not for its oppressors. [...] Could you have left justice to its ordinary course? Far from fleeing, I would have embraced it, we would all have embraced it; not one would have fled.” (196)
“In a word, the dangers one may run on the highways, in the forests or amidst a people in insurrection, do not seem to me comparable to those that accompany arbitrary and absolute power and that, naming whatever it pleases a crime of high-treason, judges and destroys.” (198-99)
Letter Eight [Cart’s Letter Ten] – Military Authority in Vaud and Bernese Ambitions
Lyon, 25 January 1793
The constitution of the Vaud country is as wise as it is ignored in practice. If it were applied, the government would be loved and the people happy. We have the precious Charters of 1352, 1391, 1439 and 1487. These show that there was no-one of the ilk of Saumaise or Grotius among our ancestors. Freedom was as necessary to them as breathing. The Baron of Vaud recognised in 1439 the people’s right to make war against those who would harm them and to make alliances.
“While we are at peace, we suffer abuses whose remedy perhaps would be purchased too dearly by civil war; but, war for war, unless it were very evidently defensive, it is difficult to calculate what its outcome would be.” (256)
[Switzerland, Berne and France]
Letter Nine [Cart’s Letter Eleven] – Military Service Abroad
Lyon, 27 January 1793
The Bernese burghers have supplied regiments to foreign powers and this has damaged our reputation. Our young men from the countryside go to markets and fairs. Overwhelmed by new experiences, they meet a recruiting sergeant with drums and fiddlers. Wine flows, girls are promised and the image of debauchery is presented as an incentive to enlist.
“Our old customs, based on feeling and reason, gave a large scope to paternal authority. It was only at the age of 25 years that a son of a family could enter into a contract; before this age all kind of commitments on his part, be it with regard to his fortune or to himself, were void. But paternal authority has been made to bend before the interest of a few Bernese. A father can no longer reclaim his child; he loses all the rights that his solicitude and the law give to him when he enrols himself in the foreign service.“ (268)
Letter Ten [Cart’s Letter Twelve] – Berne exercises ecclesiastical Authority; Fate of the Vaud Archives
Lyon, 29 January 1793
Berne has all the trappings of absolute power in Vaud. Even in religion, they act like a papacy, exercising supremacy over the church. Berne’s bailiff has become permanent secretary at the Academy of Lausanne. He chairs its meetings and has authority over the professors and students. He witnesses the oath they give to be admitted into the ministry of the church. Bailiffs chair local and synod meetings, often old military men, themselves surprised to be placed in charge of church affairs. They can suspend ministers. They can require marriage and permit divorce in cases of fornication and adultery.
Letter Eleven [Cart’s Letter Thirteen] – The Bernese Bailiffs
Lyon, 6 February 1793
Cart writes: “My admiration for [Montesquieu’s] Spirit of the Laws is always accompanied by some astonishment. How did this excellent work escape burning and its author persecution? Had he been from the Vaud Country, the bastille of Arbourg or Chillon would have been his reward.” (288)
“The excessive remuneration of the bailiffs, all the gains that surround them, the part they are given in the confiscations and fines on which they pronounce as judges, such wicked institutions have for their goal only their private fortune, with no regard either to the public good, or the security of private property; they form, according to Montesquieu, the hardest of governments, for those who participate in them draw to themselves state monies, under the pretext of fines or remuneration for the functions they exercise, and they make the people their dependants in order to enrich themselves.” (314)
Letter Twelve [Cart’s Letter Fourteen) – Other Nobility
Lyon, 18 February, 1793
There are few aristocracies that exclude their subjects from intermediate or lower ranks of the government. However, these are all exclusively taken by the Bernese burghers. This extends to ushers, wardens and the like. Some restrictions are reasonable, but they are extended to the whole government. The administration of the hospital of Villeneuve, established not by Berne but in part by local charity, is a Bernese appointment.
Vaud has two main exports: some cheeses and above all wine. Here too Berne has taken control of the trade. Inhabitants of Sibenthal are not allowed to buy wine directly from the vineyards owners of Vevay and Vaud. Instead they must travel to Berne 20 leagues away. We cannot sell our own produce in the German canton under pain of confiscation. The innkeepers there can buy from us, but the payments that can be made in this way are limited whilst a Bernese merchant is paid in full.
|Vaudois cheese and wine.|
The government is not responsible for the imperfect canal of Entre-Roche or the Lake of Yverdun. [The never-finished canal d'Entre Roche was intended to connect the Rhine to the Mediterranean Sea. - SC] Yet Berne obliges us to send our wine by them.
|The canal d'Entre Roche.|
The Doge of Venice marries the Adriatic Sea by throwing a ring into it each year. The Bernese have no such vain ceremony, but they take our fish and navigation. The Athenians abandoned themselves to unrestrained luxury before their decadence. Berne had exhausted the ways it can exert pressure on us. Everyone has read [Jonathan Swift’s] Gulliver’s Travels [(1726)], almost as famous as those of Captain Cook. Berne is like the flying island of Laputa over Vaud, depriving it of sunlight and dew. Before becoming bailiffs, the Bernese had Austrian bailiffs. The world is turning. Cart wishes happiness to Vaud, as he does to Demuralt’s country.
[Cart’s Concluding Note]
Paris, 24 July 1793
“Sir, I told you so and I will keep my word: the thickest forests seem preferable to me to the most beautiful country of the universe when an arbitrary government rules over it. – I am going to those of America. I leave my country to be closer to it and to serve it better.” (332)