Изображения страниц

of animals. From hence they thought themselves obliged to dispose their citizens into such classes, and to place them in such fituations in the state as their peculiar habits might qualify them to fill, and to allot to them such appropriated privileges, as might secure to them what their specific occasions required, and which might furnish to each description fuch force as might protect it in the conflict caused by the diverfity of interests, that must exist, and must contend in all complex society : for the legii lator would have been ashamed, that the coarse husbandman should well know how to assort and to use his sheep, horses, and oxen, and should have enough of common sense not to abstract and equalize them all into animals, without providing for each kind an appropriate food, care, and employment; whilst he, the æconomist, disposer, and shepherd of his own kindred, subliming himself into an airy metaphysician, was resolved to know nothing of his flocks but as men in general. It is for this reason that Montesquieu observed very justly, that in their claslification of the citizens, the great legislators of antiquity made the greatest display of their powers, and even soared above themselves. It is here that your modern legislators have gone deep into the negative series, and sunk even below their own nothing. As the first sort of legislators attended to the different kinds of citizens, and combined them into one commonwealth, the others, the metaphysical and alchemistical legislators, have taken the direct contrary course. They have attempted to confound all sorts of citizens, as well as they could, into one homogeneous mass; and then they divided this their amalgama into a number of incoherent republics. They reduce men to loose counters merely for the sake of simple telling, and not to figures whose power is to arise from their place in the table. The elements of their own metaphysics might have taught them

better better leffons. The troll of their categorical table might have informed them that there was something else, in the intellectual world besides substance and quantity. They might learn from the catechism of metaphysics that there were eight heads more t, in every complex deliberation, which they have never thought of, though these, of all the ten, are the subject on which the skill of man can operate any thing at all.

So far from this able disposition of some of the old sepublican legislators, which follows with a solicitous accuracy, the moral conditions and propensities of men, they have levelled and crushed together all the orders which they found, even under the coarse unartificial aprangement of the monarchy, in which mode of government the classing of the citizens is not of so much importance as in a republịc. It is true, however, that every such claslification, if properly ordered, is good in aļl forms of government; and composes a strong barrier against the excesses of despotism, as well as it is the necessary means of giving effect and permanence to a republic, For want of something of this kind, if the present project of a republic Thould fail, all securities to a moderated freedom fail along with it; all the indirect restraints which mitigate despotism are removed ; insomuch that if monarchy should ever again obtain an entire ascendency in France, under this or undes any other dynasty, it will probably be, if not voluntarily tempered at setting out, by the 'wise and virtuous counsels of the prince, the most completely arbitrary power that has ever appeared on earth. This is to play a most desperate game,

The confusion, which attends on all such proceedings, they even declare to be one of their objects, and they hope to secure their constitution by a terror of a return of those


+ Qrulitas, Relatio, A&tio, Paífi , Ubi, Quando, Situs, Habitus,

evils whicli attended their making it. " By this," say they, “ its destruction will become difficult to “ authority, which cannot break it up without the “ entire disorganization of the whole state.” They presume, that if this authority should ever come

inion cal, ford deplo and

quired, it would make a more moderate and chastised use of it, and would piously tremble entirely to disorganize the state in the favage manner that they have done. They expect, from the virtues of returnịng despotism, the security which is to be enjoyed by the offspring of their popular vices.

I wish, Sir, that you and my readers would give an attentive perusal to the work of M. de Calonne, on this subject. It is indeed not only an eloquent but an able and instructive performance. I confine myself to what he fays relative to the constitution of the new state, and to the condition of the revenue. As to the disputes of this minister with his rivals, I do not wish to pronounce upon them. As little do I mean to hazard any opinion conceșning his ways and means, financial or political, for taking his country out of its present disgraceful and deplorable situation of servitude, anarchy, bankruptcy, and beggary. I cannot speculate quite so fanguinely as he does : but he is a Frenchman, and has a closer duty relative to those objects, and better means of judging of them, than I can have. I wish that the formal avowal which he refers to made by one of the principal leaders in the assembly, concerning the tendency of their fcheme to bring France not only from a monarchy to a republic, but from a republic to a mere confederacy, may be very particularly attended to. It adds new force to my observations; and indeed M. de Calonne's work supplies my deficiencies by many


tion, woudoved from parts. Each deputy

new and striking arguments on most of the subjects of this Letter f.

It is this resolution, to break their country into separate republics, which has driven them into the greatest number of their difficulties and contradictions. If it were not for this, all the questions of exact equality, and these balances, never to be settled, of individual rights, population, and contribution, would be wholly useless. The representation, though derived from parts, would be a duty which equally regarded the whole. Each deputy 10 the arfembly would be the representative of France, and of all its descriptions, of the many and of the few, of the rich and of the poor, of the great districts and of the small. All these districts would themselves be subordinate to some standing authority, exifting independently of them; an authority in which their representation, and every thing that belongs to it, originated, and to which it was pointed. This standing, unalterable, fundamental government would make, and it is the only thing which could make, that territory truly and properly an whole. With us, when we elect popular representatives, we send them to a council, in which each man individually is a subject, and submitted to a government complete in all its ordinary functions. With vou the elective assembly is the sovereign, and the sole sovereign: all the members are therefore integral parts of this role sovereignty. But with us it is totally different. With us the representative, separated from the other parts, can have no action and no existence. The government is the point of reference of the several members and districts of our representation. This is the center of our unity. This government of reference is a trustee for the whole, and not for the parts. So is the other


+ See L'Etat de la France, p. 363,

branch of our public council, I mean the house of lords. With us the king and the lords are several and joint securities for the equality of each district, each province, each city. When did you hear in Great Britain of any province suffering from the incquality of its representation; what district from haying no representation at all? Not only our monarchy and our peerage secure the equality on which our unity depends, but it is the spirit of the house of commons itself. The very inequality of representation, which is so foolishly complained of, is perhaps the very thing which prevents us from thinking or acting as members for districts. Cornwall elects as many members as all Scctland. But is Cornwall better taken care of than Scotland ? Few trouble their heads about any of your bases, out of some giddy clubs. Most of those, who wish for any change, upon any plausible grounds, desire it on different ideas.

Your new constitution is the very reverse of ours in its principle; and I am astonished how any per, fons could dream of holding out any thing done in it as an example for Great Britain, With you there is little, or rather no, connexion between the last representative and the first constituent. The member who goes to the national assembly is not chosen by the people, nor accountable to them. There are three elections before he is chosen : two sets of magiftracy intervene between him and the primary assembly, so as to render him, as I have said, an ambassador of a state, and not the representative of the people within a state. By this the whole spirit of the election is changed; nor can any corrective your constitutionmongers have devised render him any thing else than what he is. The very attempt to do it would inevitably introduce 'a confusion, if poflīble, more horrid than the present. There is no way to make a connexion between the original constituent and the representa

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »