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distinctions. To this prince, so invited, the aristo- energies of the country were awakened. England cratick leaders who commanded the troops went never preserved a firmer countenance, nor a more over with their several corps, in bodies, to the vigorous arm, to all her enemies, and to all her deliverer of their country. . Aristocratick leaders rivals. Europe under her respired and revived. brought up the corps of citizens who newly en- Every where she appeared as the protector, asserlisted in this cause. Military obedience changed tor, or avenger, of liberty. A war was made and its object; but military discipline was not for supported against fortune itself. The treaty of a moment interrupted in its principle. The Ryswick, which first limited the power of France, troops were ready for war, but indisposed to was soon after made : the grand alliance very mutiny.
shortly followed, which shook to the foundation's But as the conduct of the English armies was the dreadful power which menaced the independifferent, so was that of the whole English nation dence of mankind. The states of Europe lay at that time. In truth, the circumstances of our happy under the shade of a great and free morevolution (as it is called) and that of France are narchy, which knew how to be great without enjust the reverse of each other in almost every par- dangering its own peace at home, or the internal ticular, and in the whole spirit of the transaction. or external peace of any
of its neighbours. With us it was the case of a legal monarch at- Mr. Burke said he should have felt very unpleatempting arbitrary power—in France it is the case santly if he had not delivered these sentiments. of an arbitrary monarch, beginning, from what He was near the end of his natural, probably still ever cause, to legalize his authority. The one was nearer the end of his political, career; that he was to be resisted, the other was to be managed and weak and weary; and wished for rest. That he directed; but in neither case was the order of was little disposed to controversies, or what is the state to be changed, lest government might be called a detailed opposition. That at his time of ruined, which ought only to be corrected and le- life, if he could not do something by some sort of galized. With us we got rid of the man, and pre- weight of opinion, natural or acquired, it was useserved the constituent parts of the state. There less and indecorous to attempt any thing by mere they get rid of the constituent parts of the state, struggle. Turpe senex miles. That he had for and keep the man. What we did was in truth and that reason little attended the army business, or substance, and in a constitutional light, a revolu- that of the revenue, or almost any other matter of tion, not made, but prevented. We took solid detail, for some years past. That he had, however, securities; we settled doubtful questions; we cor- his task. He was far from condemning such oprected anomalies in our law. In the stable, fun- position; on the contrary, he most highly apdamental parts of our constitution we made no plauded it, where a just occasion existed for it, and revolution; no, nor any alteration at all. We did gentlemen had vigour and capacity to pursue it. not impair the monarchy. Perhaps it might be Where a great occasion occurred, he was, and, shewn that we strengthened it very considerably. while he continued in parliament, would be, The nation kept the same ranks, the same orders, amongst the most active and the most earnest ; as the same privileges, the same franchises, the same he hoped he had shewn on a late event. With rules for property, the same subordinations, the respect to the constitution itself, he wished fer same order in the law, in the revenue, and in the alterations in it. Happy if he left it not the worse magistracy; the same lords, the same commons, for any share he had taken in its service. the same corporations, the same electors.
Mr. Fox then rose, and declared, in substance, The church was not impaired. Her estates, her that so far as regarded the French army, he went majesty, her splendour, her orders and gradations, no farther than the general principle, by which continued the same. She was preserved in her that army shewed itself indisposed to be an infull efficiency, and cleared only of a certain into strument in the servitude of their fellow citizens, lerance, which was her weakness and disgrace. but did not enter into the particulars of their conThe church and the state were the same after the duct. He declared, that he did not affect a deRevolution that they were before, but better se- mocracy. That he always thought any of the cured in every part.
simple, unbalanced governments bad ; simple moWas little done because a revolution was not narchy, simple aristocracy, simple democracy; he made in the constitution ? No! Every thing was held them all imperfect cr vicious: all were bad done ; because we commenced with reparation, not by themselves: the composition alone was good. with ruin. Accordingly the state flourished. In- That these had been always his principles, in stead of laying as dead, in a sort of trance, or which he had agreed with his friend Mr. Burke, of exposed, as some others, in an epileptic fit, to the whom he said many kind and flattering things, pity or derision of the world, for her wild, ridicu- which Mr. Burke, I take it for granted, will know lous, convulsive movements, impotent to every himself too well to think he merits from any purpose but that of dashing out her brains against thing but Mr. Fox's acknowledged good-nature. the pavement, Great Britain rose above the stand- Mr. Fox thought, however, that, in many cases, ard even of her former self. An æra of a more Mr. Burke was rather carried too far by his hatred improved domestick prosperity then commenced, to innovation. and still continues not only unimpaired, but Mr. Burke said, he well knew that these had growing, under the wasting hand of time. All the been Mr. Fox's invariable opinions; that they
were a sure ground for the confidence of his coun- | orders, and not under those of the national try. But he had been fearful, that cabals of very assembly. different intentions would be ready to make use of N. B. As to the particular gentlemen, I do not his great name, against his character and senti- remember that Mr. Burke mentioned either of ments, in order to derive a credit to their destruc-them-certainly not Mr. Bailly. He alluded, untive machinations.
doubtedly, to the case of the Marquis de la FayMr. Sheridan then rose, and made a lively and ette; but whether what he asserted of him be a eloquent speech against Mr. Burke ; in which, libel on him, must be left to those who are acamong other things, he said that Mr. Burke had quainted with the business. libelled the national assembly of France, and had Mr. Pitt concluded the debate with becoming cast out reflections on such characters as those of gravity and dignity, and a reserve on both sides of t'ic Marquis de la Fayette and Mr. Bailly. the question, as related to France, fit for a person
vir. Burke said, that he did not libel the national in a ministerial situation. He said, that what he assembly of France, whom he considered very little had spoken only regarded France when she should in the discussion of these matters. That he thought unite, which he rather thought she soon might, all the substantial power resided in the republick with the liberty she had acquired, the blessings of of Paris, whose authority guided, or whose ex- law and order. He, too, said several civil things ample was followed by, all the republicks of France. concerning the sentiments of Mr. Burke, as apThe republick of Paris had an army under their plied to this country.
MR. BURKE'S REFLECTIONS
THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE,
ON THE PROCEEDINGS IN CERTAIN SOCIETIES IN LONDON
RELATIVE TO THAT EVENT :
IN A LETTER
INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SENT TO A GENTLEMAN IN PARIS.
may not be unnecessary to inform the The Author began a second and more full disReader, that the following Reflections had their cussion on the subject. This he had some thoughts origin in a correspondence between the Author and of publishing early in the last spring; but, the a very young gentleman at Paris, who did him the matter gaining upon him, he found that what he honour of desiring his opinion upon the important had undertaken not only far exceeded the measure transactions, which then, and have ever since, so of a letter, but that its importance required rather much occupied the attention of all men.
a more detailed consideration than at that time swer was written some time in the month of Octo- he had any leisure to bestow upon it. However, ber 1789; but it was kept back upon prudential having thrown down his first thoughts in the form considerations. That letter is alluded to in the of a letter, and, indeed, when he sat down to write, beginning of the following sheets. It has been having intended it for a private letter, he found it
, since forwarded to the person to whom it was ad- difficult to change the form of address, when his dressed. The reasons for the delay in sending it sentiments had grown into a greater extent, and were assigned in a short letter to the same gentle had received another direction. A different plan, man. This produced on his part a new and press- he is sensible, might be more favourable to a coming application for the Author's sentiments. modious division and distribution of his matter.
Dear Sir, You are pleased to call again, and with some mitted to you, that though I do most heartily wish earnestness, for my thoughts on the late proceed that France may be animated by a spirit of rational ings in France. I will not give you reason to ima- liberty, and that I think you bound, in all honest gine that I think my sentiments of such value as policy, to provide a permanent body in which to wish myself to be solicited about them. They that spirit may reside, and an effectual organ by are of too little consequence to be very anxiously which it may act, it is my misfortune to entertain either communicated or withheld. It was from great doubts concerning several material points in attention to you, and to you only, that I hesitated your late transactions. at the time when you first desired to receive them. You imagined, when you wrote last, that I might In the first letter I had the honour to write to you, possibly be reckoned among the approvers of and which at length I send, I wrote neither for, certain proceedings in France, from the solemn nor from, any description of men; nor shall I in publick seal of sanction they have received from this. My errours, if any, are my own. My repu- iwo clubs of gentlemen in London, called the Contation alone is to answer for them.
stitutional Society, and the Revolution Society. You see, Sir, by the long letter I have trans- I certainly have the honour to belong, to more clubs than one, in which the constitution of this them as a kind of privileged persons; as no inkingdom, and the principles of the glorious Revo considerable members in the diplomatick body. lution, are held in high reverence; and I reckon This is one among the revolutions which have myself among the most forward in my zeal for given splendour to obscurity, and distinction to maintaining that constitution and those principles undiscerned merit. Until very lately I do not rein their utmost purity and vigour. It is because I collect to have heard of this club. I am quite sure do so that I think it necessary for me that there that it never occupied a moment of my thoughts : should be no mistake. Those who cultivate the nor, I believe, those of any person out of their memory of our Revolution, and those who are at- own set. I find, upon enquiry, that on the annitached to the constitution of this kingdom, will versary of the Revolution in 1688, a club of distake good care how they are involved with per- senters, but of what denomination I know not, sons, who under the pretext of zeal towards the have long had the custom of hearing a sermon in Revolution and constitution too frequently wan- one of their churches; and that afterwards they der from their true principles; and are ready on spent the day cheerfully, as other clubs do, at the every occasion to depart from the firm but cautious tavern. But I never heard that any publick meaand deliberate spirit which produced the one, and sure, or political system, much less that the merits which presides in the other. Before I proceed of the constitution of any foreign nation, had to answer the more material particulars in your been the subject of a formal proceeding at their letter, I shall beg leave to give you such informa- festivals; until, to my inexpressible surprise, I tion as I have been able to obtain of the two clubs found them in a sort of publick capacity, by a which have thought proper, as bodies, to interfere congratulatory address, giving an authoritative in the concerns of France; first assuring you, that sanction to the proceedings of the National AsI am not, and that I have never been, a member sembly in France. of either of those societies.
In the ancient principles and conduct of the The first, calling itself the Constitutional Society, club, so far at least as they were declared, I see or Society for Constitutional Information, or by nothing to which I could take exception. I think some such title, is, I believe, of seven or eight years it very probable, that for some purpose, new memstanding. The institution of this society appears bers' may have entered among them; and that to be of a charitable, and so far of a laudable, na- some truly christian politicians, who love to disture : it was intended for the circulation, at the pense benefits, but are careful to conceal the hand expence of the members, of many books, which which distributes the dole, may have made them few others would be at the expence of buying; the instruments of their pious designs. Whatand which might lie on the hands of the booksell- ever I may have reason to suspect concerning ers, to the great loss of an aseful body of men. private management, I shall speak of nothing as Whether the books, so charitably circulated, were of a certainty but what is publick. ever as charitably read, is more than I know. For one, I should be sorry to be thought, diPossibly several of them have been exported to rectly or indirectly, concerned in their proceedFrance; and, like goods not in request here, may ings. I certainly take my full share, along with with you have found a market. I have heard the rest of the world, in my individual and primuch talk of the lights to be drawn from books vate capacity, in speculating on what has been that are sent from hence. What improvements done, or is doing, on the publick stage, in any they have had in their passage (as it is said some place ancient or modern; in the republick of liquors are meliorated by crossing the sea) I can- | Rome, or the republick of Paris ; but having no not tell : but I never heard a man of common general apostolical mission, being a citizen of a judgment, or the least degree of information, speak particular state, and being bound up, in a cona word in praise of the greater part of the publica- siderable degree, by its publick will, I should think tions circulated by that society; nor have their it at least improper and irregular for me to open a proceedings been accounted, except by some of formal publick correspondence with the actual themselves, as of any serious consequence. government of a foreign nation, without the ex
Your national assembly seems to entertain much press authority of the government under which I the same opinion that I do of this poor charitable live. club. As a nation, you reserved the whole stock I should be still more unwilling to enter into of your eloquent acknowledgments for the Revo- that correspondence under any thing like an lution Society; when their fellows in the Consti- equivocal description, which to many, unacquainttutional were, in equity, entitled to some share. ed with our usages, might make the address, in Since
have selected the Revolution Society as which I joined, appear as the act of persons in some the great object of your national thanks and sort of corporate capacity, acknowledged by the praises, you will think me excusable in making its laws of this kingdom, and authorized to speak the late conduct the subject of my observations. The sense of some part of it. On account of the amNational Assembly of France has given importance biguity and uncertainty of unauthorized general to these gentlemen by adopting them: and they descriptions, and of the deceit which may be pracreturn the favour, by' acting as a committee in tised under them, and not from mere formality, England for extending the principles of the Na- the house of commons would reject the most tional Assembly. Henceforward we must consider | sneaking petition for the most trifling object, un
der that mode of signature to which you have and their heroick deliverer, the metaphysick thrown open the folding doors of your presence knight of the sorrowful countenance. chamber, and have ushered into your National When I see the spirit of liberty in action, I see Assembly with as much ceremony and parade, and a strong principle at work; and this, for a while, with as great a bustle of applause, as if you had is all I can possibly know of it. The wild gas, the been visited by the whole representative majesty of fixed air, is plainly broke loose : but we ought to the whole English nation. If what this society suspend our judgment until the first effervescence has thought proper to send forth had been a piece is a little subsided, till the liquor is cleared, and of argument, it would have signified little whose until we see something deeper than the agitation argument it was. It would be neither the more of a troubled and frothy surface. I must be tolenor the less convincing on account of the party it rably sure, before I venture publickly to congracame from. But this is only a vote and resolu- tulate men upon a blessing, that they have really tion. It stands solely on authority; and in this received one. Flattery corrupts both the receiver case it is the mere authority of individuals, few of and the giver ; and adulation is not of more serwhom appear. Their signatures ought, in my vice to the people than to kings. I should thereopinion, to have been annexed to their instrument. fore suspend my congratulations on the new liThe world would then have the means of knowing berty of France, until I was informed how it had how many they are ; who they are; and of what been combined with government; with publick value their opinions may be, from their personal force; with the discipline and obedience of arabilities, from their knowledge, their experience, mies; with the collection of an effective and wellor their lead and authority in this state. To me, distributed revenue; with morality and religion; who am but a plain man, the proceeding looks a with solidity and property; with peace and orlittle too refined, and too ingenious; it has too der ; with civil and social manners. All these (in much the air of a political stratagem, adopted for their way) are good things too ; and, without the sake of giving, under a high-sounding name, them, liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is an importance to the publick declarations of this not likely to continue long. The effect of liberty club, which, when the matter came to be closely to individuals, is, that they may do what they inspected, they did not altogether so well deserve. please : we ought to see what it will please them It is a policy that has very much the complexion to do, before we risk congratulations, which may of a fraud.
be soon turned into complaints. Prudence would I fatter myself that I love a manly, moral, re- dictate this in the case of separate, insulated, prigulated liberty as well as any gentleman of that vate men; but liberty, when men act in bodies, society, be he who he will : and perhaps I have is power. Considerate people, before they declare given as good proofs of my attachment to that themselves, will observe the use which is made of cause, in the whole course of my publick conduct. power ; and particularly of so trying a thing as I think I envy liberty as little as they do, to any new power in new persons, of whose principles, other nation. But I cannot stand forward, and tempers, and dispositions, they have little or no give praise or blame to any thing which relates to experience, and in situations, where those who human actions, and human concerns, on a simple appear the most stirring in the scene may possibly view of the object, as it stands stripped of every not be the real movers. relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of All these considerations however were below the metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which transcendental dignity of the Revolution Society. with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in Whilst I continued in the country, from whence reality to every political principle its distinguishing I had the honour of writing to you, I had but an colour and discriminating effect. The circum- imperfect idea of their transactions. On my comstances are what render every civil and political ing to town, I sent for an account of their proscheme beneficial or noxious to mankind. Ab- ceedings, which had been published by their austractedly speaking, government, as well as liberty, thority, containing a sermon of Dr. Price, with is good; yet could I, in common sense, ten years the Duke de Rochefaucault's and the Archbishop ago, have felicitated France on her enjoyment of of Aix's letter, and several other documents ana government (for she then had a government) nexed. The whole of that publication, with the without enquiry what the nature of that govern- manifest design of connecting the affairs of France ment was, or how it was administered? Can I with those of England, by drawing us into an now congratulate the same nation upon its free- imitation of the conduct of the National Assembly, dom? Is it because liberty in the abstract may gave me a considerable degree of uneasiness. The be classed amongst the blessings of mankind, that effect of that conduct upon the power, credit, prosI am seriously to felicitate a mad-man, who has perity, and tranquillity of France, became every escaped from the protecting restraint and whole-day more evident. The form of constitution to be some darkness of his cell, on his restoration to the settled, for its future polity, became more clear. enjoyment of light and liberty ? Am I to con- We are now in a condition to discern, with tolergratulate a highwayman and murderer, who has able exactness, the true nature of the object held broke prison, upon the recovery of his natural up to our imitation. If the prudence of reserve and rights? This would be to act over again the decorum dictates silence in some circumstances, scene of the criminals condemned to the gallies, in others prudence of a higher order may justify