Imatges de pàgina
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n England to abolish 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 so oftentatiously produced. It is not the first time that we have had occasion to deliver this opinion. .

The arret of parliament in 1788 offered, according to our author, the fairert foundation for a system of liberty ; but it was rejected with scorn: it neither appeared in the metaphysic cal 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 shall add a short extract we think of consequence.

· 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 Efiale from choofanig a Gentilhomme for their representative, but an 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 bim as one of the popular reprelentatives. Hence arose that peculiar composition of the Third Eitare, that great proportion of lawyers, attoroies, 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 been distinctly described in any English publication of importance. We shall transcribe our author's account.

rist. The aristocratic party who were resolved to support, at a'l hazards, the separation of the fates in:0 three chambers, and the respective veto of each chamber on the others,

"Meff. d'Epresmesnil and Cazales led this party among the nobles, and l’Abbé Maury amongit the clergy, from his elon quence though not from his rank, for he is universally agreed (9

i jfit was posible, which happily it is noi, to taine English minds at onze with French principles, it is not merely onr Kir, ou Nobility, out Clercy, it is wur u bole budy of Country Gentlemen that would be ruiacd

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be one of the most able extempore speakers ; a talent which few Frenchman as yet poffefs.

" This party were supposed to be connected with the detested pasty of the Comte d'Artois, the princes of Condè and Conti, the Polignacs, the queen (influenced by the Polignacs who had long held supreme ascendency over her) and in hort, 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 must judge for himself. Not one member of che Third Estate ventured to declare himself of this faction.

ozi!!,. The moderate or middle party, who though averse to the distinction of three separate orders, wished for a British Con. ftitution, or as that phrase implies a little Britiso vanity, let it be called a Constitution founded on the principle of reciprocal controul. 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 she Comte de Clermont-Tonnerre led this party in the house of nobles, and the bishop 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 leait numerous pasty. Whoever compares that courtly work with the opposite letter of M. Depont to Mr. Burke, (laking its genuineness for granted) will find that the majority both on the cour y and popular sides, agreed in dis king a close imitation of the British conftitution. If the like prejudice should appear in some English wsiters against the new French inftitutions, their own example hould 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 bilop of Langres, have only staid behind to' experience repeated affronts and ill usage.

• In the third place must stand the most considerable and trivmphant democratic party, whose leaders are too numerous to recite. The bishop of Autun, and the curate Gregoire amongt 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 amongft 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 most of the cruel scenes which have disgraced the rising liberty of France.

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Mirabeau is represented, we believe with justice, in the moft odious colours: a man in private life detestable, in pub lic violent, inconsistent, interested, the tool of the duke of Orleans, who was inveterate againft 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 states-general, each return is scrutinised by the assembly. 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 contests, in consequence of the proposals for the union of the three orders are also 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 thows on every occasion, some aristocratical bias is, we believe, in this point misled. If the clergy consist of 130,000, more than 100,000 are benefited by the change ; and another circumstance, which he indeed reprobates, ihould have been rather the object of the warmest resentment, 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 ftipends; but, independent of thele 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 assembly, in the eagerness of their enthusiasm, have thrown into the general coffers, and for the benefit of the state, what must be again ifsued for the very purposes to which it has been hitherto allotted. When the

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allignats

allignats can be no longer issued, the provisions for the poor will make the deficit still 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; yét, in our author's opinion, it contains as much liberty as the French were then capable of enjoying. The historian apostrophises the democratical leaders in this part of his Sketch, and expoftulates with them on the enormities through which the metaphysical syitem has been pursued, when this rational one was within their reach. We dare not say that these gens tlemen, with all the future scenes before their eyes, would have rejected the visionary phantom now pursued ; nor let us be censured 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 deputatiun from the Three Orders of the State, charged with collecting materials to prove the neceflity of those laws in favour of perfonal liberty, which the king him felf 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 can. not yet see any reason to believe, but that such a glorious day would have taken place, if the constitution of the 230 of June had been accepted. M. But aş the event now stands, the feelings of impartial men eight to remain suspended. The taking of the Bafile has betrayed

be secret of all governments, republican as well as monarchical : it has proved that nothing can withstand the unanimons force of an enraged multitude : an awful truth ! upon which all kings cand senates should meditate in trembling filence, but of which the nulitede ought ever to remain ignorant. .

? Is this speaking like a friend of despotism? Then let me ak these scholars, with which our fee of independents is undoubted.

ly well provided, whether Tacitus is a friend to despotism ? and ixhen, whether he expreffes any transport at the fall of Noro? Can they rot perceive, through the veil of his obscure concisenels, has his deep searching mind was more adiected with the mi,for

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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 foldiery, 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 allistance of the military, the foldier was declared not to be a machine : when in pofleffion of power, the language is different. The esence of an armed military force is obedience. On the return of M. Necker, the failings of that weak inefficient politican are the subject of fome 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, occasions fome remarks which it may be neceflary to notice shortly. The whole number of abuses removed, 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 lasting concord between rich and poor, as one grievance removed by one bill framed in consequence of real enquiry and impartial discussion in the Engliih parliament. It is, indeed, probable, that what is thus rashly 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 incondstency, on one hand, with what was afterwards Hh 4

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