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that his Majesty, after perusing the tract in manuscript, was fearful of its operation on the multitude, M. Carnot willingly suspended any further progress, in deference to the ruling powers.
A few manuscript copies had, however, been distributed, and a surreptitious impression was finished without consulting the author, who disavowed all share in it by public advertisement. The government were much dismayed at the transaction, and proceeded capitally against the publisher ; but were defeated by the refusal of the Cour d'Instruction Criminelle to confirm the bill of indictment. They now exerted themselves to suppress the work; but at the same time, with an indiscreet and inconsistent mani. festation of alarm, they rendered the journals under their control, a vehicle for calumnies against the author's person, , and elaborate replies to his arguments. After considerable difficulty, M. Carnot succeeded to justify himself through the medium of the public press; but, notwithstanding the prohibitions of the French court, some copies of the memorial have reached this country, where its merits and defects will be fairly appreciated. In the translation that is subjoined, the sense of the original, we trust, has been fol-. lowed as nearly as seemed consistent with a due attention to its spirit: to impart its characteristic manner and style is indeed more difficult, in a language whose genius and analogies must of course often vary from those of the prototype; and this we leave to other judges.
It remains to add a biographic sketch of the eminent author.
M. Carnot was born in 1753, at Nolay, in Burgundy. His father was a respectable lawyer, and placed his son in the artillery service, in which he was soon distinguished by
his progress in science. Before the age of twenty, he had published several mathematical works, an Eloge of Vauban, crowned by the academy of Dijon, and had acquired various literary honors. He was patronised by the Condé family, but had not passed the rank of captain, at the period of the revolution, and in the 36th year of his age. Being elected in Sep. 1791 a member of the Legislative Assembly, he disclosed a passionate republican tendency, and voted for the king's execution. Early in 1793, M. Carnot was sent, as representative of the nation, with the army of the north ; and, on his appointment to the Committee of Public Safety, was entrusted with the management of the war. Through all the bloody savagery of the French revolution, he main. tained a freedom of individual judgment, an abstinence from the friendship or the crimes of Robespierre and others, with whom he was associated in his public character. In opposing the proscription of Billaud Varennes, Collot d'Herbois, and their confederates, he sacrificed his personal enmities to public principle. In Sep. 1797 was accomplished the revolution of 18 Fructidor; and M. Carnot then voluntarily retired from political life, and passed several years in the pursuit of his studies.
His talents in the conduct of war will supply the records of history. On Buonaparte's return from Italy, he again placed at the head of the war department, the patron who had raised him to the direction of the French army. When M. Carnot found the liberties of his country endangered by the ambition of Buonaparte, he gave up his appointments, and cultivated his domestic affections. In March, 1802, he became a Member of the Tribunate, and was yet faithful to the dictates of his lofty genius. He frequently opposed the government-he voted against the
Consulship for life--and in 1804, he singly deprecated the gift of the imperial dignity to Buonaparte:
When the Tribunate was dissolved in 1806, M. Carnot devoted himself to the claims of his family and his intellect.
He left the government at peace; but in Jan. 1814, his reluctance to the meditated return of the Bourbons engaged him to offer his services, and the command of Antwerp was accordingly consigned to him. This place he held with inflexible fidelity, until the assent of Louis XVIII. to the Constitutional Charter enabled him to deliver it up, without violating the welfare of his country. .
Civil Government, in its present state, is nothing, properly speaking, but a continual struggle between the aggressions of despotism, and the endeavour to counteract them.
To the advocates of licentious freedom, all power, however bounded, appears illegitimate: to the partisans of absolute power, all liberty, however qualified, seems extravagant. The former class repine at the yoke of government, the latter do not perceive on what principle their authority can be circumscribed: these maintain the perfect equality of mankind; and their adversaries contend for the inborn right of hereditary command.
From this conflict of opinions and claims, have arisen our civil discords : and while they yet disturb our imagination, it is difficult to judge with impartiality: each faction is eager to impute every past error to some other party. Those who had the ascendancy under the old constitution, ascribe every disaster to the resistance of their inferiors ; and these latter attribute them to the arbitrary claims of the privileged class, and to their obstinacy in defending absurd and fantastic rights.
To decide the dispute with equity, we should be able to discard all prejudice : our minds should range into the times to come: and even then, we should forget the experience of History, and overcome that almost unconscious bias which leads us to judge of measures by the event.
True it is, that the errors incidental to abstract theories may in some degree justify the usual modē of determining on such topics. Our revolution affords a lamentable proof of it to future generations: it was incited by a swarm of writings, purely philosophical. Enraptured by the hope of an unknown good, our souls were hurried into the regions of fancy: we thought that we had clasped the phantom of national happiness; we thought it possible to obtain a republic without anarchy; a liberty, boundless without disordera perfect system of equality, impregnable by faction. Experience has cruelly enlightened us : what have we gained by the pursuit of these shadowy delusions ? remorse, a despair of all ideal perfection, the discouragement of numerous philanthropists, who have seen their efforts frustrated.
Men who aspired to freedom, are ye dismayed? Then every past enormity will have been your own : ye are culprits, who may only be pardoned conditionally: with a proviso, that ye receive your former chains, dealt out in weightier measure by the pride that ye so long humbled, and tempered in the name of Heaven, from the fount of vengeance.
How! while the tempest beat on our heads, what was the conduct of these who again enslave you? Can they have the right to accuse others of the evils they may have suffered ? Would not these titles, of assassins and regicides, which they shower upon you, much better become themselves? Do they not resemble those sharpers, who, to evade personal suspicion, raise the alarm of robbery with exaggerated vehemence, and seek to mingle with the crowd?
What-these deserters may say—are not those the regicides, who voted for the death of their king ? No! they were those who took up arms against their mother country-yourselves were they : the others only gave sentence in the character of national judges, who are not responsible for their decision. If they were deceived, they were but as other fallible judges : they erred, with the whole nation, which instituted the trial, and which afterwards supported it by millions of addresses from the commons: they were deceived,