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n England to abolith at once all prerogatives of lords of manor, the remains of a Gothic legislation. It was a subject to be touched with a gentle hand, but we have little doubt in Yaying, that it is a greater grievance than any which have been fo oftentatiously produced. It is not the first time that we have had occafion to deliver this opinioni
The arret of parliament in 1788 offered, according to our author, the faireft foundation for a fyftem of liberty ; but it was rejected with scorn: it neither appeared in the metaphyfical garb of modern philosophy, nor did it probably suit the ambitious view of some who intended to be the future leaders of a revolution. The meeting of the states occasioned much disturbance respecting the question of voting by orders, or by numbers, circumstances by no means of importance at this time, though on the result of one of these, the union of orders and the proportion of the deputies of the tiers etat, the revolution depended. These subjects are well known, but we fhall add a short extract we think of confequence.
The difference between England and France must, however, be summed up in a few words. In England, the younger branches of noble families are mixed with the people; and it is the ambition of the elder branches to have them sit in the house of commons. In France there was no law which prohibited the Third Ef are from choosing a Gentilhomme for their representative, but au unhappy prejudice had made it a matter of reproach, either for a Gentiibomme to offer himself, or for a body of popular electors to choose him as one of the popular repretentatives. Hence arose that peculiar composition of the Third Estate, that great proportion of lawyers, attornies, physicians, artists, authors, which surprises Mr. Burke, whilst the chamber of nobles was full of private gentlemen, who in England would fit in the house of com.nons as knights of the shire * '
The different parties, in the states-general, have not beeni distinctly described in any English publication of importance. We shall transcribe our author's account.
"ilt. The aristocratic party who were resolved to support, at all hazards, the separation of the fates in:o three chambers, and the respective veto of each chamber on the others,
• Met. d'Epresmernil and Cazales led this party anong the nobles, and l'Abbé Maury amongit the clergy, from his elos quence thougli not from his rank, for he is univerially agreed (9
If it was possible, which happily it is noi, to faint English minds at once with French principles, it is not merely onr King, ow Nobility, out Clergy, it is wur u bele body of Country Gentlemen that would be ruined.'
be one of the mot able extempore speakers ; a talent which few Frenchman as yet posless.
• This party were supposed to be connected with the detested party of the Comte d'Artois, the princes of Condè and Conti, thie Polignacs, the queen (influenced by the Polignacs who had Jong held fupreme ascendency over her) and in short, all the courtiers whose vices and expences were fa d to have occasioned the misfortunes of the state. I myself believe that it was the violence of the commons which drove the astocratics into this very augus, but in the common opinion very bad company : of this, however, every reader muft judge for himself. Not one member of the Third Estate ventured to declare himself of this faction.
21!!,. The moderáte or middle party, who though averse to the distinction of three separate orders, wished for a British Confitution, or as that phrase implies a little Britiso vanity, let it be called a Constrution founded on the principle of reciprocal control. Mounier led this party in the Third Estate, and along with him M. Bergasse, and M. Malouet, deputy from Auvergne. Lally Tolendal, son to the famous and unfortunate Lally, and the Comte de Clermont-Tonnerre led this party in the house of nobles, and the bifhop of Langres was its chief partisan amongst the clergy.
· The work called l’Ami du Roi, though it disapproves its principles, considers it as a party formed mostly of virtuous men, and hints, that for that reason it ever was and ever would be the Jeait numerous party. Whoever compares that courtly work with the opposite letter of M. Depont to Mr. Burke, (taking its genuineness for granted) will find that the majority both on the cour y and popular fides, agreed in disıking a close imitation of the British constitution. If the like prejudice should appear in fome English writers against the new French institutions, their own example Mould prevent Frenchmen and their admirers from severely condemning it. Of the five professed adherents to the British principle of reciprocal controul, Mounier and Lally are in exile, Clermont-Tonnerre, Malouet and the bilhop of Langres, have only said behind to experience repeated affronts and ill usage.
• In the third place must stand the most considerable and triumplant democratic party, whose leaders are too numerous to recite. The bishop of Autun, and the curate Gregoire amongst the clergy, M. Chapelier, a lawyer deputed from Rennes, Barnave, a protestant deputed from Dauphiny, Rabaud de St. Etienne, a protestant clergyman deputed from Nimes, Pethion de Villeneuve, Charles de Lameth, and Roberspierre amongst the commons, may be named as the principal. But it is private and separate
wiews of a subdivision of this party led by the famous Mirabeau' that the royalists attribute molt of the cruel scenes which have disgraced the rifing liberty of France.'
Mirabeau is represented, we believe with justice, in the most odious colours: a man in private life detestable, in public violent, inconsistent, interested, the tool of the duke of Orleans, who was inveterate against the court, that opposed the marriage of his daughter with the eldest son of the count d'Artois.
These were the parties in this great scene, and what is represented as the usual prelude to the opening of the states-general, the verification of powers was the awful signal of hoftilities. In England, the return of a member's name to the crown-office annexed to the writ, is the proof of election, which, if not petitioned against, is, by that return, considered as legal; in the ftates-general, each return is scrutinised by the affembly. The consequences of this first measure we have already noticed; but, when this arduous work was completed, and the assembly, in the new language of democracy, was become an active one,' their first Itep was, in our author's opinion, improper. They voted the contributions levied to be illegal, but no positive statute had declared their illegality, and it is an ex post facto law: they abolished also the old taxes before they provided new ones, and reduced the peaceable citizens, who continued to pay the taxes, to the imputation of irregularity and disobedience.
The conteils, in consequence of the proposals for the union of the three orders are allo sufficiently known, as well as the attention with which the clergy were courted by the democrats, by those who afterwards deprived them of their property. Yet our author, who shows on every occasion, some ariitocratical bias is, we believe, in this point mified. If the clergy consist of 130,000, more than 100,000 are benefited by the change; and another circumstance, which he indeed reprobates, thould have been rather the object of the warmest relentment, we mean the committee of mendicity. The riches of the church were partially divided : to many unworthy prelates much was given, and a great number of respectable curés were contented with a pittance much inferior to their present stipends; but, independent of these fonds, a great part of the revenues of the church were directed to the relief of the poor, and it will appear on the whole, that, independent of the injustice of the measure, the ailembly, in the eagerness of their enthusiasm, have thrown into the general coffers, and for the benefit of the state, what must be again issued for the very purposes to which it has been hitherto allotted. When the
H h 3
assignats can be no longer issued, the provisions for the poor will make the deficit ftill more enormous' than it was before.
The king's offer, at the royal feflions, is considered as in some respects too complicated, and in others not sufficiently explicit; yet, in our author's opinion, it contains as much liberty as the French were then capable of enjoying. The historian apostrophiles the democratical leaders in this part of his Sketch, and expoftulates with them on the enormities through which the metaphyfical syitem has been pursued, when this rational one was within their reach. We dare not say that these gen, tlemen, with all the future scenes before their eyes, would have rejected the visionary phantom now pursued ; nor let us be cenfured as uncharitable with facts and circumstances before our eyes, with opinions uttered with little reserve, still tingling in our ears. In our situation, we have treated them with a candour they have little merited, and which we know they would not have imitated. In their more secret moments, they have confessed as much. But to return,
We see no very particular subject of remark, though we must commend our author's reflections on the gifts of monarchs, which, when once seized by the people, they have been usually enabled to retain, till we arrive at the memorable surprize of the Bastile.
* Had the gates of that horrible fortress opened to a peaceable deputation from the Three Orders of the State, charged with collecting materials to prove the neceflity of those laws in favour of perronal liberty, which the king himfelf had left to their consideration and free votes, such a day would have deserved to be celebrated „by one universal jubilee of all the Friends of Freedom. And I cannot yet see any reason to believe, but that such a glorious day would have taken place, if the conftitution of the 23d of June had been accepted.
But as the event now stands, the feelings of impartial men oright to remain fufpended. The taking of the Bafile has betrayed ibe Secret of all governments, republican as well as monarchical: it has proved that nothing can withstand the unanimous force of an enraged multitude : an awful truth! upon which all kings and fenates frould meditate in trembling filence, but of which the multitede ooghrever to remain ignorant.
? Is this speaking like a friend of despotism? Then let me als these scholars, with which our fear of independents is undoubted. ly well provided, whether Tacitus is a friend to despotism? and : then, whether he expresses any transport at the fall of Nero? Cap they rot perceive, through the veil of his obscure concisene's, that his deep searching mind was more feated with the mi, for
tunes threatened to the Roman empire, from the want of subordination of the foldiery, than gratified by the death of a single tyrant, although he was the most enormous monster that ever disgraced humanity? What panegyrics are bestowed, both by Tacitus and by Pliny, on Virginius Rufus, whose uncommon merit was to have refused the empire from the hands of the soldiery, and told his army, that he would not take arms against a tyrant, until the Senare had ordered him!'.
It is remarked, in another place, that when the democrats wanted the altistance of the military, the Coldier was declared not to be a machine : when in .postihon of power, the language is different. The essence of an armed military force is obedience. On the return of M. Necker, the failings of that weak inefficient politican are the subject of tome remarks: but we think the historian docs not notice the principal error, that indecision which taught each party to look on him as an enemy, and gave no encouragement to either to trust him as a friend. The different facts supposed to have occurred in the provinces, we mean the licentious cruelties and enormiries of the mob, are also too particularly related, on the authority of M. Lally. The same facts are shortly mentioned, it is added on the authority of the democratic author of • L’Histore de la Revolution.' Mirabeau speaks of them with indifference, and the national assembly seemed always willing to elude the enquiry. They cannot be wholly true, and the line is with difficulty drawn'; yet the lowest of the mob, cowards the most contemptibe, poltroons the most detestable, when subordination is for a moment levelled, may, undoubtedly, be guilty of the worst enormities.
The glorious night, of the fourth of August, when by acclamation, almost by inspiration, privileges, immunities, tythes, &c. were resigned by all orders, occafions some rea inarks which it may be necessary to notice shortly. The whole number of abuses remover, or at least voted in this way, were not, in our author's opinion, likely to do so much real good, to promote such a laiting concord between rich and poor, as one grievance removed by one bill framed in confequence of real enquiry and impartial discuilion in the English parliament. It is, indeed, probable, that what is thus rashiy given away may be secretly resumed, or secret attempts will be made for that purpose : enthusiasm, in proportion to its violence is transitory, and the inconvenience remains, when the patriotic fit is at an end. The more cool metaphysical disquisition respecting the rights of man now engaged the affembly's notice; and it is remarked in the Sketch before us, that this curious work not only engaged them too long, but its inconGftency, on one hand, with what was afterwards