« AnteriorContinuar »
sue it. Where a great occasion occurred, he was, and while he continued in parliament, would be amongst the most active and the most earnest, as he hoped he had shewn on a late event.
With respect to the constitution itself, he wished few alterations in it. Happy if he left it not the worse for any share he had taken in its service.
Mr. Fox then rose, and declared, in substance, that so far as regarded the French army, he went no farther than the general principle, by which that army shewed itself indisposed to be an instrument in the servitude of their fellow citizens, but did not enter into the particulars of their conduct. He declared, that he did not affect a democracy. That he always thought any of the simple, unbalanced governments bad ; simple monarchy, simple aristocracy, simple democracy; he held them all imperfect or vicious : all were bad by themselves : the composition alone was good. That these had been always his principles, in which he had agreed with his friend Mr. Burke, of whom he said many kind and flattering things, which Mr. Burke, I take it for granted, will know himself too well to think he merits, from any thing but Mr. Fox's acknowledged good-nature. Mr. Fox thought, however, that, in many cases, Mr. Burke was rather carried too far by his hatred to innovation.
Mr. Burke said, he well knew that these had been Mr. Fox's invariable opinions ; that they were a sure ground for the confidence of his country. But he had been fearful, that cabals of very different intentions, would be ready to make use of his great name, against his character and sentiments, in order to derive a credit to their destructive machinations.
Mr. Sheridan then rose, and made a lively and eloquent speech against Mr. Burke ; in which, among other things, he said that Mr. Burke had libelled the national assembly of France, and had cast out reflections on such characters as those of the Marquis de la Fayette and Mr. Bailly.
Mr. Burke said, that he did not libel the national assembly of France, whom he considered very little in the discussion of these matters. That he thought all the substantial power resided in the republick of Paris, whose authority guided, or whose example was followed by, all the republicks of France.
The republick of Paris had an army under their orders, and not under those of the national assembly.
N. B. As to the particular gentlemen, I do not remember that Mr. Burke mentioned either of them-certainly not Mr. Bailly. He alluded, undoubtedly, to the case of the Marquis de la Fayette ; but whether what he asserted of him be a libel on him, must be left to those who are acquainted with the business.
Mr. Pitt concluded the debate with becoming gravity and dignity, and a reserve on both sides of the question, as related to France, fit for a person in a ministerial situation. He said, that what he had spoken only regarded France when she should unite, which he rather thought she soon might, with the liberty she had acquired, the blessings of law and order. He, too, said several civil things concerning the sentiments of Mr. Burke, as applied to this country.
REVOLUTION IN FRANCE,
AND ON THE
PROCEEDINGS IN CERTAIN SOCIETIES IN
RELATIVE TO THAT EVENT.
INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SENT TO A GENTLEMAN
It may not be unnecessary to inform the Reader, that the following Reflections had their origin in a correspondence between the Author and a very young gentleman at Paris, who did him the honour of desiring his opinion upon the important transactions, which then, and ever since, have so much occupied the attention of all men. An answer was written some time in the month of October 1789; but it was kept back upon prudential considerations. That letter is alluded to in the beginning of the following sheets. It has been since forwarded to the person to whom it was addressed. The reasons for the delay in sending it were assigned in a short letter to the same gentleman. This produced on his part a new and pressing application for the Author's sentiments.
The Author began a second and more full discussion on the subject. This he had some thoughts of publishing early in the last spring; but the matter gaining upon him, he found that what he had undertaken not only far exceeded the measure of a letter, but that its importance required rather a more detailed consideration than at that time he had any leisure to bestow upon it. However, having thrown down his first thoughts in the form of a letter, and indeed when he sat down to write, having intended it for a private letter, he found it difficult to change the form of address, when his sentiments had grown into a greater extent, and had received another direction. A different plan, he is sensible, might be more favourable to a commodious division and distribution of his matter.