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turn my eyes to the stupendous works of her ports and harbours, and to her whole naval apparatus, whether for war or trade; when I bring before
view the number of her fortifications, conštructed with so bold and masterly a skill, and made and maintained at so prodigious a charge, presenting an armed front and impenetrable barrier to her enemies upon every side; when I recollect how very small a part of that extensive region is without cultivation, and to what complete perfection the culture of many of the best productions of the earth have been brought in France; when I reflect on the excellence of her manufactures and fabricks, second to none but ours, and in some particulars not second; when I contemplate the grand foundations of charity, publick and private; when I survey the state of all the arts that beautify and polish life; when I reckon the men she has bred for extending her fame in war, her able statesmen, the multitude of her profound lawyers and theologians, her philosophers, her criticks, her historians and antiquaries, her poets and her orators, sacred and profane; I behold in all this something which awes and commands the imagination, which checks the mind on the brink of precipitate and indiscriminate censure, and which demands, that we should very seriously examine, what and how great are the latent vices that could authorize us at once to level VOL. V.
$0 specious a fabrick with the ground. I do mot recognise, in this view of things, the despotism of Turkey. Nor do I discern the character of a government, that has been, on the whole, 30 oppres. șive, or so corrupt, or so negligent, as to be utterly unfit for all reformation. I must think such a government well deserved to have its excellencies heightened; its faults corrected; and its capacities improved into a British constitution,
Whoever has examined mto the proceedings of that deposed government for several years back, cannot fail to have observed, amidst the inconştancy and fluctuation natural to courts, an earnest endeavour towards the prosperity and improvement of the country; he must admit, that it had long been employed, in some instances, wholly to remove, in many considerably to correct, the abusive practices and usages that had prevailed in the state ; and that even the unlimited power of the sovereign over the persons of his subjects, inconsistent, as undoubtedly it was, with law and liberty, had yet been every day growing more mitigated in the exercise. So far from refusing itself to reformation, that government was open, with a censurable degree of facility, to all sorts of projects and projectors on the subject. Rather too much countenance was given to the spirit of innovation, which soon was turned against those who fostered it, and ended in their ruin. It is but
cold, and no very flattering justice to that fallen mouarchy, to say, that, for many years, it trespassed more by levity and want of judgment in several of its schemes, than from any defect in diligence or in publick spirit. To compare the government of France for the last fifteen or sixteen years with wise and well-constituted establishments during that, or during any period, is not to act with fairness. But if in point of prodigality in the expenditure of money, or in point of rigour in the exercise, of power, it be compared with any of the former reigns, I believe candid judges will give little credit to the good intentions of those who dwell perpetually on the donations to favourites, or on the expences of the court, or on the horrours of the Bastile in the reign of Louis the Sixteenth *.
Whether the system, if it deserves such a name; now built on the ruins of that ancient monarchy, will be able to give a better account of the population and wealth of the country, which it has taken under its care, is a matter very doubtful. Instead of improving by the change, I apprehend that a long series of years must be told, before it
* The world is obliged to Mr. de Calonne for the pains he has taken to refute the scandalous exaggerations relative to some of the royal expences, and to detect the fallacious account given of pensions, for the wicked purpose of provoking the populace to all sorts of crimes. R 2
can recover in any degree the effects of this plailosophick revolution, and before the nation can be replaced on its former footing. If Dr. Price should think fit, a few years hence, to favour vs with an estimate of the population of France, he will hardly be able to make up his tale of thirty millions of souls, as computed in 1789, or the assembly's computation of twenty-six millions of that year; or even Mr. Necker's twenty-five millions in 1780. I hear that there are considerable emigrations from France; and that many quitting that voluptuous climate, and that seductive Circean liberty, have taken refuge in the frozen regions, and under the British despotism of Canada.
In the present disappearance of coin, no person could think it the same country, in which the present minister of the finances has been able to discover fourscore millions sterling in specie. From its general aspect one would conclude that it bad been for some time past under the special direction of the learned academicians of Laputa and Balnibarbi*. Already the population of Paris has so declined, that Mr. Necker stated to the national assembly the provision to be made for its subsistence at a fifth less than what had formerly been found
• Sce Gulliver's Travels for the idea of countries governed by philosophers.
requisite * It is said (and I have never heard it contradicted) that a hundred thousand people are out of employment in that city, though it it is become the seat of the imprisoned court and national assembly. Nothing, I ain credibly informed, can exceed the shocking and disgusting spectacle of mendicancy displayed in that capital. Indeed the votes of the national assembly leave no doubt of the fact. They have lately appointed a standing committee of mendicancy. They are contriving at once a vigorous police on this subject, and, for the first time, the imposition of a tax to maintain the poor,
for whose present relief great sums appear on the face of the publick accounts of the year f. In the mean time the leaders of the legis
* Mr. de Calonne states the falling off of the population of Paris as far more considerable; and it may be so, since the period of Mr. Necker's calculation, † Travaux de charité pour
subvenir au manque de travail à Livres,
S. d. Paris et dans les provinces 3,866,920 – 161,121 13 4 Destruction de vagabondage et i de la mendicité
1,671,417 69,642 76 Primes pour l'importation de grains
5,671,907 - 236,329 9 2 Dépenses relatives aux subsis
tances, déduction fait des réfouvrements qui ont eu lieu 39,871,790 1,661,324 11 8