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of the people who exercised them. The great mass of Americans were in such a state of ungoverned freedom that to them the doctrine of the Rights of Man was hardly more than a declaration of existing conditions. The Frenchman was in no sense fit for freedom. Morris deals with Paris, finance and trade, Young travels the country districts, and examines agriculture and social conditions.
Both men seem to have seen very clearly the almost hopeless outlook of affairs. Young dwells much on the complete bankruptcy of the country and the impossibility of reform without the States General, which would mean Revolution. "A strong leaven of liberty,” he says, “increasing every hour since the American Revolution.” Morris, desiring the success of the revolt, despairs of its democracy. His judgments of the future course of the nations and their characters would appear to be just. Writing from Berlin, in 1796, to Lord Grenville, he says, “I have no doubt that when France, whether she falls under the dominion of a usurper (the natural termination of her present state), or whether she forms herself into some tolerable shape of Republic, may become dangerous to the liberty of all Europe. On the other hand, he says of the Prussians, “ The character of this people, formed by a succession of rapacious princes, is turned towards usurpation—the moral principles of a Prussian go to the possession of whatever he can acquire ; and so little is he the slave of what he calls vulgar prejudice that, give him the opportunity and means, he will save you the trouble of finding him a pretext.” Of Flanders, writing at Antwerp, he says, “The interest of France is to possess this country, by which means she keeps all enemies at a most respectable distance, and the interest of this country is to become subject to Britain, for by that means only can they enjoy the benefit of an extensive commerce."
Young, meanwhile, is noticing the severe effect of the Revolution on the manufacturers, already pressed hard by English rivalry. The anarchy diminished men's incomes, made them hoard and limited consumption and drove out of the kingdom both those who spent money and the workers who found themselves unemployed. The farmers meanwhile not only profited by not paying taxes and by the abolition of tithes and feudal imports, but by the high price of corn, owing to the government's
mischievous interference in its distribution. The public loss in revenue in 1789 was 175 million livres, which remained in the pockets of the small taxpayers. Meanwhile Philippe Égalité was financing the Revolution.
THE END OF THE CENTURY
i. The European Continent. France and Germany.-We have then this prospect in Europe at the end of the century; the peoples of nearly all European countries living under and accustomed to the yoke of absolute authority, lay and ecclesiastical, are encouraged to disobedience and revolt by the sight of the American colonists, the most free people in the world, wealthy and unthreatened by military danger, separating themselves by successful rebellion from their king, with the assistance of the kings of France, Spain and Holland. They hear, too, by rumours, of the doctrine of the Rights of Man set up by these colonists. The people of France, driven mad by hunger and oppressive taxation, a madness from which I venture to say they have never recovered, revolted against their government, and plunged their own country and their continental neighbours into a hopeless anarchy. “Sire,” said the Bishop of Nancy from the pulpit, May 4, 1789, “ the people over which you reign have given unmistakable proofs of its patience. They are martyrs in whom life seems to have been allowed to enable them to suffer the longer."
Do not let any writer persuade you that this or that man or nation was responsible for the European anarchy. It was a disease, just as much as in our day influenza is a disease; the power to resist the attack depends in either case on the healthy condition of the person or nation attacked. It ran its course like any other disease. But its direction was changed and its violence increased by the disturbance of war.
The “Wild Ass ” was frantic for war with Austria, but Leopold, who had succeeded Joseph, did everything that lay in his power to avoid war. When pressed by the Assembly to make war, the humane Louis says, “ Let the Assembly recollect that humanity forbids the mixture of enthusiasm in a deliberation upon war. A determination on that point should be an act of the most mature deliberation, for it is pronouncing in the name of the country that her interests require the sacrifice of a great number of her children.” (De Moleville.)
But the Assembly was determined on war, and in the end they succeeded. The Emperor had a good excuse for interference in the affairs of France, not only on account of anxiety for his sister, but by the fact that the German states in Alsace, Franche Comté and Lorraine, whose cession to Louis XIV. by the Treaty of Westphalia had been accompanied by the confirmation of the ecclesiastical and territorial rights of their German rulers, were included in the abolition by the Assembly of all such rights within the limits of France. The German princes, such as the electors of Mainz, Trèves, Cologne, and the Duke of Luxemburg had early made protest to Louis and had appealed to the German Diet, but without effect; Leopold, in spite of gross insults and the seizure by the Assembly of Avignon, a fief of the Empire, still avoided war.
In spite of a mutual distrust, he joined himself with Prussia in 1791, to gain a coalition of the neighbouring nations against France. The Netherlands made him pause, as they were still disloyal, and at the mercy of the French. Then followed the catastrophe of Varennes, and in July, 1791, Leopold published an appeal to the other powers. England refused to join, Pitt allowing the Netherlands to fall into the hands of France. On February 27, 1792, Leopold died, succeeded by Francis, and on March 1 France declared war on Austria. Meanwhile Kollontaj, a Polish reformer, had got through the Diet a new Constitution, creating a strong hereditary monarchy with representation of the people, and Frederick William of Prussia, in a treaty of defensive alliance solemnly guaranteed the free constitution and the integrity of Poland. But in 1792, he and Russians were preparing for further partition, taking advantage of a Confederation of a Polish minority which called upon Russia to overthrow the new Constitution. The second partition of Poland between Russia and Prussia followed in 1792, and in 1795 the three powers completed it by dividing the remainder. Such action by the absolute rulers of the East made much more difficult conciliatory approach towards France
and hindered any combination of the powers against the extremist revolutionaries now preparing to overrun Europe. When in 1795 Pitt asked for a loan of four millions for Austria, it was objected that the previous loan to the king of Prussia had been applied to the plunder of Poland.
The French continued their course of butchery, one series of massacres following another, leading to the murder or expulsion of all that was best in the country, until every element of social stability, every influence for moderation of thought or expression had been destroyed or driven out. In January, 1793, Louis XVI., after a mock trial, and in October of the same year, Marie Antoinette, were murdered, followed by Philip Égalité, Madame Roland and twenty-three deputies, and in 1794, by Madame Elizabeth, the saintly sister of Louis. Gustavus of Sweden, who had intended with the allies to invade France, was murdered by his nobles in 1792.
We leave Europe in 1793, when the French set out on their career of conquest and domination of other peoples. With this a new era of continental history begins into which the limits of space forbid me to enter.
ii. The British Islands. Revolution in Industry and Agriculture. In the islands the persecution of Warren Hastings, begun by the Whigs in 1788, only ended with his acquittal in 1795 ; Fox and Burke separated over the support of the French revolutionaries in 1790, Fox with a very small minority logically following the extremists of the Rights of Man; John Adams came as ambassador to Britain from the United States; Lord Macartney went on an embassy to China ; the war with Tippoo in India, which had followed that with Hyder Ali, ended in 1792, successfully; and Lord Cornwallis made his permanent settlement in Bengal. The abolition of the slave trade was becoming a prominent question.
Parliament went on as usual. When the younger Pitt came forward he had to fight the Whigs and North, as North had had to fight the Whigs and Chatham. They refused to fortify the dockyard on constitutional grounds that fortifications would need soldiers. When Pitt called for skilled men fortifying naval stations to be put under military law, Fox said, “It must operate to the surrender of our liberties.”
Separated by the sea from these armed anarchies, and anchored to the safe ground of the traditional common law, the tendency towards individual freedom in the islands was taking the form of great industrial development which brought them into the front rank of manufacturing and trading nations. By the side of and as a result of this change another was in progress of the most far reaching character. While Arthur Young was examining and deploring the pitiable condition of the French farming, he was comparing its decay with the advance in Britain. In striking contrast with the wasting fields he notes the revolution in agricultural methods which had been brought about by improved transport, increased credit, the advance in manufacture and trade in the islands, with a corresponding increase in spite of the ravages of war in the numbers of the people.
An urgent need had arisen for greater returns from the land than the pitiable results obtained from the system of farming in common then generally pursued. The necessity for providing food for the increased population when, owing to war, it could not be brought in from abroad led to a series of Enclosure Acts being passed through Parliament, by which the common lands were divided up among the co-owners in severalty in proportion to their common holdings. Such a fundamental change was open, of course, to much abuse and hardship on the poorer owners who could not afford costly litigation. It was accompanied by much evil gambling and speculation. At the same time the hand weaver and spinner were being supplanted by the machinery which, set up in the manufacturing centres, were giving England the lead in commerce and industry. The yeoman had his choice. He might stay on the land, farm his enclosure and rent from the richer men and perhaps manage their land, hoping by saving habits to rise, or he could sell out at a good figure to the big farmer, go into the towns where the factories were being erected, and put his little bit of capital into trade. In some instances he would fall into the ranks of day labour.
All through the century, side by side with this change, there had been very great advances in England in scientific farming, improved breeding of stock, new methods of all sorts, draining and building, all improvements requiring large outlay of capital