ページの画像
PDF
ePub

They too couf harát be the met continuous other kind, wo, presuming upon tér 1.Coreent undertadsg, could intrigue for a trust which led them from their natural re1zion to their flocks, and their natural spheres of acton, to undertake ite regeneration of kingdoms. This preponderating weight being added to the force of the body chicane in the Tiers Etat, compleated that momentum of ignorance, rashness, presumption, and lust of plunder, which nothing has been able to resist.

To observing men it must have appeared from the beginning, that the majority of the Third Estate, in conjunction with such a deputation from the clergy as I have described, whilst it pursued the destruction of the nobility, would inevitably becoine subservient to the worst designs of individuals in that classy

In the spoil and humiliation of their own order these individuals would possess a sure fund for the pay

of their new followers. To squander away the objects which made the happiness of their fellows, would be to them no sacrifice at all. Turbulent, discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their own order. One of the first symptoms they discover of a selfish and mischievous aimbition, is a proNigate disregard of a dignity which they partake with others. To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affcetions. It is the first link in the se

[ocr errors]

ries by which we proceed towards a love to our country and to mankind. The interests of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in 'abuse, none but traitors would barter 'it away for their own personal advantage.

There were, in the time of our civil troubles in England (I do not know whether

you
have

any such in your Assembly in France) several persons, like the then Earl of Holland, who by themselves or their families had brought an odium on the throne, by the prodigal dispensation of its bounties towards thein, who afterwards joined in the rebellions arising from the discontents of which they were themselves the cause; men who helped to subvert that throne to which they owed, some of them, their existence, others all that power which they employed to ruin their benefactor. If

any

bounds are set to the rapacious demands of that sort of people, or that Others are permitted to partake in the objects they would engross, revenge and envy soon fill up the craving void that is left in their ava

Confounded by the complication of distempered passions, their reason is disturbed; their views become vast and perplexed; to others inexplicable; to themselves uncertain. They find, on all sides, bounds to their unprincipled ambition in any fixed order of things. But in the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged, and appears without any limit.

F 3

When

rice.

When ren of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an ambition without a distinct objects and work with low instruments and for low ends, the whole composition becomes low and base. Does not something like this now appear in France? Does it not produce something ignoble and inglorious ? a kind of meann's in all the prevalent policy? a tendency in all that is done to lower along with individuals all the dignity and importance of the state ? Other revolutions have been conducted by persons, who whilst they attempted or effected changes in the commonwealth, sanctified their ambition by advancing the dignity of the people whose peace they troubled. They had long views. They aimed at the rule, not at the destruction of their country. They were men of great civil, and great military talents, and if the terror, the ornament of their age. They were not like Jew brokers contending with each other who could best remedy with fraudulent circulation and depreciated paper the wretchedness and ruin brought on their country by their degenerate councils. The compliment made to one of she great bad men of the old stamp (Cromwell) by his kinsman, a favourite poet of that time, shews what it was he proposed, and what indeed to a great degree he accomplished in the success of his ambition : 1. Still as you rife, the state, exalted too, «« Finds no distemper whilst 'tis chang'd by you ; “: Chang'd like the world's great scene, when without noise “ The rising fun night's vulgar lights destroys."

These,

These disturbers were not so much like men usurping power, as asserting their natural place in society. Their rising was to 'illuminate and beautify the world. Their conquest over their competitors was by outshining them. The hand that, like a destroying angel, smote the country, communicated to it the force and energy under which it suffered. I do not say (God forbid) I do not say, that the virtues of such men were to be taken as a balance to their crimes; but they were some corrective to their effects. Such was, as I said, our Cromwell. Such were your whole race of Guises, Condés, and Colignis. Such the Richlieus, who in more quiet times acted in the spirit of a civil war. Such, as better men, and in a less dubious cause, were your Henry the 4th and your Sully, though nursed in civil confusions, and not wholly without some of their taint. It is a thing to be wondered at, to see how very soon France, when she had a moment to respire, recovered and emerged from the longest and most dreadful civil war that ever was known in any nation. Why? Because, among all their massacres, they had not Nain the mind in their country. A conscious dignity, a noble pride, a generous sense of glory and emulation, was not extinguished, On the contrary, it was kindled and inflamed. The organs also of the state, however shattered, existed. All the prizes of honour and virtue, all the rewards, all the distinctions, remained. But your present confusion, like a palsy, has attacked the fountain

of life itself. Every person in your country, in a situation to be actuated by a principle of honour, is disgraced and degraded, and can entertain no sensation of life, except in a mortified and humiliated indignation. But this generation will quickly pass away. The next generation of the nobility will resemble the artificers and clowns, and money - jobbers, usurers, and Jews, who will be always their fellows, sometimes their masters. Believe me, Sir, those who atempt to level, never equalize. In all societies, consisting of various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost. The levellers therefore only change and pervert the natural order of things; they load the edifice of society, by setting up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground. The associations of taylors and carpenters,

of which the republic (of Paris, for instance), is composed, cannot be equal to the situation, into which, by the worst of usurpations, an usurpation on the prerogatives of nature, you attempt to force them.

The chancellor of France at the opening of the states, said, in a tone of oratorial flourish, that all occupations were honourable. If he meant only, that no honest employment was disgraceful, he would not have gone beyond the truth. But in asserting, that any thing is, honourable, we imply some distinction in its favour. The occupation of an hair-dresser, or of a working tallowchandler, cannot be a matter of honour to any

person

*

« 前へ次へ »