ページの画像
PDF
ePub

sipateur, le Canton de Berne est le seul qui amasse des trésors. Le secret de l'état est si bien gardé, qu'il est difficile de le deviner. Stanian, ambassadeur d'Angleterre à Berne, qui avoit un esprit d'obseryation et de grandes facilités pour se bien informer, estimoit, il y a quarante ans, les sommes qu'il avoit dans les fonds publics de Londres à trois cens milles livres sterling, ou sept millions, et tout ce qui étoit resté dans le trésor de Berne, ou dispersé dans les autres banques de l'Europe, à dix huit cens mille livres sterling, ou quarante trois millions. On peut croire que ces trésors n'ont pas diminués depuis l'an 1722. Le moyen que le Canton employe pour s'enrichir est très simple. Il dépense beaucoup moins qu'il ne reçoit. Mais

que reçoit il? Je l'ignore; mais je vais tâcher de le deviner. Les douze bailliages du Pays de Vaud rendent dans leurs six ans, à peu près cinq cens

mille

the

money be

state which has amassed a large treasure. The secret has been so well kept, that it is not easy to ascertain its amount. Stanyan, the British envoy at Berne, a man inquisitive and possessed of good means of information, estimated forty years ago longing to that republic, in the English funds, at three hundred thousand pounds, or seven millions of Swiss livres; and the sum's remaining in the treasury of Berne, or dispersed through the other funds or banks of Europe, at eighteen hundred thousand pounds sterling, or forty-three millions Swiss. These treasures have not probably diminished since the year 1722. The Canton enriches itself by the simple means of receiving much and expending little. But what is the amount of its receipts ? I know not, but I will try to discover it. The twelve bailiwics, or districts, of the Païs de Vaud pay, one with another, during the six years that they are

governed

mille livres de Suisse, les uns portant les autres. Le revenu de douze, peut donc monter à un million de livres de rente. J'ai toujours entendu dire que les Baillis prennent le dix pour cent sur les revenus du souverain. Le voilà donc ce revenu d'un million par année. En rabattant les cent mille livres des Baillis, je compterois encore cent mille écus pour les charges de l'état, ce qui n'est point une supposition bâtie en l'air. Les autres deux cens mille écus, qui, dans un autre pays, fourniroient à l'entretien d'une cour et d'une armée, dont les dépenses feroient retomber sur la terre la rosée qui en étoit tirée, vont ici s'enfouir dans les coffres du souverain, ou se disperser dans les banques publiques, et précaires de l'Europe, pour être un jour une proye à l'infidélité d'un commis, ou à l'ambition d'un conquérant. Cette perte con

tinuelle

governed by the same magistrate, five hundred thousand Swiss livres. The contributions, therefore, of all the twelve amount to a million of livres annually. I have always been told that the bailiffs, or governors, retain ten per cent. on the revenues raised within their respective jurisdictions. The million of revenue, diminished by an hundred thousand livres consumed in the appointments of the bailiffs, is reduced to three hundred thousand crowns ; of which one hundred thousand may be allowed for the expenses of the state, a sum not chosen at random; and the other two hundred thousand crowns, which in other countries would be employed in the maintenance of a court and army, whose incomes would circulate through the general mass of the people on whom they had been raised, are here buried in the coffers of the sove reignty, or dispersed through the precarious banks of Europe, to become one day a prey to the knavery of a clerk, or the ambition

of

tinuelle des espèces éteint l'industrie, empêche tout effort, qui ne se peut faire sans argent, et appauvrit insensiblement le

pays. Tels sont vos maux, Monsieur. Eh bien ! me repondez vous, n'avez vous sondé nos playes que pour en aigrir la douleur? Quel conseil nous donnez vous? Aucun, si vous ne m'avez pas déjà prévenu. Il y a une voye que je puis vous conseiller, c'est celle de la remontrance. Mais il y a des maux tellement enracinés dans la constitution d'un état, que Platon lui même n'eût pas espéré du succès

pour une pareille députation. Ne tiendront ils pas contre les' remontrances, eux qui ont pu tenir contre deux cens ans de fidélité et de services? Il y a un autre remède plus prompt, plus entier, plus glorieux: Guillaume Tell vous l'eût conseillé; mais je ne vous le conseille point. Je sais que l'esprit du citoyen, comme celui de la charité,

souffre

of a conqueror. This continual absorption of specie extinguishes industry, deadens every enterprise that requites the aid of money, and gradually impoverishes the country.

These, Sir, are your hardships. But I think you will say to me, “ Have you thus probed our wounds merely to make us feel their smart? What advice do you give us?” None, unless you have already anticipated it. I would indeed advise

you

to remona strate. But there are evils so deeply rooted in governments, that Plato himself would despair of curing them. What could you expect to obtain from those masters by remonstrances, who have remained during two centuries insensible to the merit of your faithful service? There is another remedy, more prompt, more perfect, and more glorious. William Tell would have prescribed it; I do not. I know that the spirit of a good citizen is, like that of charity, long-suffering, and hoping all things. The citizen is in

the

souffre beaucoup, et espère longtems. Il a raison. Il connoit les malheurs attachés à la soumission. Il ignore ceux que la résistance pourroit entrainer. Vous, qui me connoissez, Monsieur, vous savez combien je respecte ces principes amis de la paix et des hommes. Tribun séditieux, je ne chercherai jamais à faire secouer au peuple le joug de l'autorité, pour le conduire du murmure, à la sédition ; de la sédition, à l'anarchie; et de l'anarchie, peutêtre, au despotisme.

Cependant avec la franchise, qui a partout conduit ma plume, je vais détruire quelques monstres de romans, qui vous peuvent effrayer. Que vous préfériez le parti de l'enterprise ou celui du repos, je voudrois que ce fût la raison, et non le préjugé, qui vous dictât ce parti.

Les Bernois ont les droits sur votre obéissance; vous craignez de leur faire une injustice en la retirant.

the right; since he knows the evils resulting from his submission, but knows not the greater evils which might be produced by his resistance. You know me too well to be ignorant how much I respect those principles, so friendly to the interests of peace and of human kind. I will never, in the language of a seditious tribune, persuade the people to shake off the yoke of authority, that they may proceed from murmur to sedition, from sedition to anarchy, and from anarchy perhaps to despotism.

Yet, with the freedom which has hitherto guided my pen, I will endeavour to destroy some giants of romance, which might otherwise inspire you with vain terror. Whether you prefer the road of bold enterprise or cautious repose, I wish that reason, not prejudice, should dictate your choice.

The magistrates of Berne have a right to expect your obedience; you fear to do them wrong in withholding it.

[ocr errors]

N° X.

Mr. GIBBON to Mrs. PORTEN.
DEAR MADAM,

Lausanne, 1756. FEAR no reproaches for your negligence, however great; for your silence, however, long. I love you too well to make you any. Nothing, in my opinion, is so ridiculous as some kind of friends, wives, and lovers, who look on no crime as so heinous as the letting slip a post without writing. The charm of friendship is liberty; and he that would destroy the one, destroys, without designing it, the better half of the other. I compare friendship to charity, and letters to alms; the last signifies nothing without the first, and very often the first is very strong, although it does not shew itself by the other. , It is not good-will which is wanting, it is only opportunities or means. However, one month---two months---three months---four months- I began not to be angry, but to be uneasy, for fear some accident had happened to you. I was often on the point of writing, but was always stopped by the hopes of hearing from you the next post. Besides, not to flatter you, your excuse is a very

You cannot entertain me by your letters. I think I ought to know that better than you; and I assure you that one of your plain sincere letters entertains me more than the most polished one of Pliny or Cicero. 'Tis your heart speaks, and I look on your heart as much better in its way than either of their heads.

Out

bad one.

VOL. II.

D

« 前へ次へ »