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SUBSTANCE OF THE SPEECH ON THE ARMY ESTIMATES, 1790.
government, that we were to attend; because re- vailed in its government. The same character of publicks, as well as monarchies, were susceptible despotism insinuated itself into every court of Euof ambition, jealousy, and anger, the usual causes rope, the same spirit of disproportioned magnifi
-the same love of standing armies, above But if, while France continued in this swoon, the ability of the people. In particular, our then we should go on encreasing our expences, we sovereigns, King Charles and King James, fell in should certainly make ourselves less a match for love with the government of their neighbour, so her when it became our concern to arm.
flattering to the pride of kings. A similarity of It was said, that as she had speedily fallen, she sentiments brought on connexions equally dangermight speedily rise again. He doubted this. That ous to the interests and liberties of their country. the fall from an height was with an accelerated It were well that the infection had gone no farther velocity; but to lift a weight up to that height than the throne. The admiration of a government again was difficult, and opposed by the laws of Aourishing and successful, unchecked in its operaphysical and political gravitation.
tions, and seeming therefore to compass its objects In a political view, France was low indeed. She more speedily and effectually, gained something had lost every thing, even to her name.
upon all ranks of people. The good patriots of “ Jacet ingens littore truncus,
that day, however, struggled against it. They Avolsumque humeris caput, et sine nomine corpus.'
sought nothing more anxiously than to break off
all communication with France, and to beget a He was astonished at it-he was alarmed at it total alienation from its councils and its example; - he trembled at the uncertainty of all human which, by the animosity prevalent between the greatness.
abettors of their religious system and the assertors Since the house had been prorogued in the sum
m- of ours, was in some degree effected. mer much work was done in France. The French This day the evil is totally changed in France : had shewn themselves the ablest architects of ruin but there is an evil there. The disease is altered ; that had hitherto existed in the world. In that but the vicinity of the two countries remains, and very short space of time they had completely pull-must remain ; and the natural mental habits of ed down to the ground their monarchy, their mankind are such, that the present distemper of church, their nobility, their law, their revenue, France is far more likely to be contagious than the their army, their navy, their commerce, their arts, old one; for it is not quite easy to spread a pasand their manufactures. They had done their sion for servitude among the people; but in all business for us as rivals, in a way in which twenty evils of the opposite kind our natural inclinations Ramillies or Blenheims could never have done it. are flattered. In the case of despotism there is Were we absolute conquerors, and France to lie the fædum crimen servitutis ; in the last the falsa prostrate at our feet, we should be ashamed to species libertatis ; and accordingly, as the histosend a commission to settle their affairs, which rian says, pronis auribus accipitur. could impose so hard a law upon the French, and In the last age we were in danger of being enso destructive of all their consequence as a nation, tangled by the example of France in the net of a as that they had imposed on themselves.
relentless despotism. It is not necessary to say any France, by the mere circumstances of its vicinity, thing upon that example. It exists no longer. had been, and in degree always must be, an ob- Our present danger from the example of a people, ject of our vigilance, either with regard to her whose character knows no medium, is, with reactual power, or to her influence and example. gard to government, a danger from anarchy; a As to the former he had spoken ; as to the latter, danger of being led through an admiration of suc(her example, he should say a few words : for by cessful fraud and violence, to an imitation of the this example our friendship and our intercourse excesses of an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing, with that nation had once been, and might again confiscating, plundering, ferocious, bloody, and become, more dangerous to us than their worst tyrannical democracy. On the side of religion, hostility.
the danger of their example is no longer from In the last century, Louis the Fourteenth had | intolerance, but from atheism ; a foul, unnatural established a greater and better disciplined mili-vice, foe to all the dignity and consolation of mantary force than ever had been before seen in Eu-kind; which seems in France, for a long time, to rope, and with it a perfect despotism. Though have been embodied into a faction, accredited, that despotism was proudly arrayed in manners, and almost avowed. gallantry, splendour, magnificence, and even co- These are our present dangers from France : but, vered over with the imposing robes of science, in his opinion, the very worst part of the example literature, and arts, it was, in government, nothing set, is in the late assumption of citizenship by the better than a painted and gilded tyranny; in re- army, and the whole of the arrangement, or rather ligion, a hard, stern intolerance, the fit companion disarrangement, of their military. and auxiliary to the despotick tyranny which pre- He was sorry that his right honourable friend
Mr. Burke, probably, had in his mind the remainder of the passage, and was filled with some congenial apprehensions ;
“ Haec finis Priami fatorum; hic exitus illum
" Pergama; tot quondam populis, terrisque, superbum
(Mr. Fox) had dropped even a word expressive of | vented all real reformation, but introduced evils exultation on that circumstance; or that he seemed which would call, but perhaps call in vain, for of opinion that the objection from standing armies new reformation. was at all lessened by it. He attributed this opi- That he thought the French nation very unwise. nion of Mr. Fox entirely to his known zeal for What they valued themselves on, was a disgrace the best of all causes, Liberty. That it was with to them.
to them. They had gloried (and some people in a pain inexpressible he was obliged to have even England had thought fit to take share in that the shadow of a difference with his friend, whose glory) in making a revolution ; as if revolutions authority would always be great with him, and were good things in themselves. All the horrours, with all thinking people—Quæ maxima semper and all the crimes, of the anarchy which led to their censetur nobis, et erit quæ maxima semper.—His revolution, which attend its progress, and which confidence in Mr. Fox was such, and so ample, may virtually attend it in its establishment, pass as to be almost implicit. That he was not ashamed for nothing with the lovers of revolutions. The to avow that degree of docility. That when the French have made their way, through the destrucchoice is well made, it strengthens instead of option of their country, to a bad constitution, when pressing our intellect. That he who calls in the they were absolutely in possession of a good one. aid of an equal understanding doubles his own. They were in possession of it the day the states met He who profits of a superiour understanding raises in separate orders. Their business, had they been his powers to a level with the height of the supe- either virtuous or wise, or had they been left riour understanding he unites with. He had found their own judgment, was to secure the stability the benefit of such a junction, and would not light- and independence of the states, according to those ly depart from it. He wished almost, on all occorders, under the monarch on the throne. It was casions, that his sentiments were understood to be then their duty to redress grievances. conveyed in Mr. Fox's words; and he wished, as Instead of redressing grievances, and improving amongst the greatest benefits he could wish the the fabrick of their state, to which they were called country, an eminent share of power to that right by their monarch, and sent by their country, they honourable gentleman ; because he knew, that, to were made to take a very different course. They his great and masterly understanding, he had join- first destroyed all the balances and counterpoises ed the greatest possible degree of that natural which serve to fix the state, and to give it a steady moderation, which is the best corrective of power; direction ; and which furnish sure correctives to that he was of the most artless, candid, open, and any violent spirit which may prevail in any of the benevolent disposition ; disinterested in the ex-orders. These balances existed in their oldest contreme; of a temper mild and placable even to a stitution; and in the constitution of this country; fault; without one drop of gall in his whole con- and in the constitution of all the countries in Eustitution.
rope. These they rashly destroyed, and then they That the house must perceive, from his coming melted down the whole into one incongruous, forward to mark an expression or two of his best connected mass. friend, how anxious he was to keep the distemper When they had done this, they instantly, and of France from the least countenance in England, with the most atrocious perfidy and breach of all where he was sure some wicked persons had shewn faith among men, laid the axě to the root of all a strong disposition to recommend an imitation of property, and consequently of all national prosthe French spirit of reform. He was so strongly perity, by the principles they established, and the opposed to any the least tendency towards the example they set, in confiscating all the possessions means of introducing a democracy like theirs, as of the church. They made and recorded a sort of well as to the end itself, that much as it would institute and digest of anarchy, called the rights of afflict him, if such a thing could be attempted, and man, in such a pedantick abuse of elementary printhat
any friend of his could concur in such mea- ciples as would have disgraced boys at school; but sures, he was far
, very far, from believing they this declaration of rights was worse than trifling could,) he would abandon his best friends, and and pedantick in them; as by their name and aujoin with his worst enemies to oppose either the thority they systematically destroyed every hold means or the end ; and to resist all violent exer- of authority by opinion, religious or civil, on the tions of the spirit of innovation, so distant from minds of the people. By this mad declaration they all principles of true and safe reformation ; a spirit subverted the state ; and brought on such calamiwell calculated to overturn states, but perfectly ties as no country, without a long war, has ever unfit to amend them.
been known to suffer; and which may in the end That he was no enemy to reformation. Almost produce such a war, and perhaps, many
such. every business in which he was much concerned, With them the question was not between desfrom the first day he sat in that house to that potism and liberty. The sacrifice they made of hour, was a business of reformation; and when he the peace and power of their country was not had not been employed in correcting, he had been made on the altar of freedom. Freedom, and a employed in resisting, abuses. Some traces of this better security for freedom than that they have spirit in him now stand on their statute book. In taken, they might have had without any his opinion, any thing which unnecessarily tore to at all. They brought themselves into all the rapieces the contexture of the state, not only pre- lamities they suffer, not that through them the
might obtain a British constitution; they plunged they animated one another to rapine and murder; themselves headlong into those calamities, to pre- whilst abetted by ambitious men of another class, vent themselves from settling into that constitution, they were crushing every thing respectable and or into any thing resembling it.
virtuous in their nation, and to their power
disThat if they should perfectly succeed in what gracing almost every name, by which we formerly they propose, as they are likely enough to do, and knew there was such a country in the world as establish a democracy, or a mob of democracies, France. in a country circumstanced like France, they will He knew too well, and he felt as much as any establish bad
government- :- a very bad spe- man, how difficult it was to accommodate a standcies of tyranny.
ing army to a free constitution, or to any constiThat the worst effect of all their proceeding tution. An armed, disciplined body is, in its was on their military, which was rendered an essence, dangerous to liberty; undisciplined, it is army for every purpose but that of defence. ruinous to society. Its
component parts are, in That if the question was, whether soldiers were the latter case, neither good citizens nor good solto forget they were citizens, as an abstract pro
diers. What have they thought of in France, position, he could have no difference about it; under such a difficulty as almost puts the human though as it is usual, when abstract principles are faculties to a stand? They have put their army to be applied, much was to be thought on the under such a variety of principles of duty, that it manner of uniting the character of citizen and sol- is more likely to breed litigants, pettifoggers, and dier. But as applied to the events which had hap- mutineers, than soldiers.* They have set up, to pened in France, where the abstract principle was balance their crown army, another army, deriving clothed with its circumstances, he thought that under another authority, called a municipal armyhis friend would agree with him, that what was a balance of armies, not of orders. These latter done there furnished no matter of exultation, they have destroyed with every mark of insult and either in the act or the example. These soldiers oppression. States may, and they will best, exist were not citizens; but base hireling mutineers, with a partition of civil powers. Armies cannot exand mercenary sordid deserters, wholly destitute ist under a divided command. This state of things of any honourable principle. Their conduct was he thought, in effect, a state of war, or, at best, one of the fruits of that anarchick spirit, from the but a truce instead of peace, in the country. evils of which a democracy itself was to be resort
What a dreadful thing is a standing army for ed to, by those who were the least disposed to that the conduct of the whole or any part of which no form, as a sort of refuge. It was not an army in man is responsible! In the present state of the corps and with discipline, and embodied under French crown army, is the crown responsible for the respectable patriot citizens of the state in re- the whole of it? Is there any general who can be sisting tyranny. Nothing like it. It was the case responsible for the obedience of a brigade ? Any of common soldiers deserting from their officers, colonel for that of a regiment ? Any captain for to join a furious licentious populace. It was a de- that of a company? And as to the municipal army, sertion to a cause, the real object of which was to reinforced as it is by the new citizen-deserters, level all those institutions, and to break all those under whose command are they? Have we not connexions, natural and civil, that regulate and seen them, not led by, but dragging, their nominal hold together the community by a chain of sub- commander with a rope about his neck, when they, ordination ; to raise soldiers against their officers; or those whom they accompanied, proceeded to servants against their masters; tradesmen against the most atrocious acts of treason and murder ? their customers; artificers against their employers; Are any of these armies ? Are any of these cititenants against their landlords ; curates against zens ? their bishops; and children against their parents.
We have in such a difficulty as that of fitting a That this cause of theirs was not an enemy to ser- standing army to the state, he conceived, done vitude, but to society.
much better. We have not distracted our army He wished the house to consider, how the mem- by divided principles of obedience. We have put bers would like to have their mansions pulled them under a single authority, with a simple (our down and pillaged, their persons abused, insulted, common) oath of fidelity; and we keep the whole and destroyed; their title deeds brought out and under our annual inspection. This was doing all burned before their faces, and themselves and their that could be safely done. families driven to seek refuge in every nation He felt some concern that this strange thing, throughout Europe, for no other reason than this, called a Revolution in France, should be comthat, without any fault of theirs, they were born pared with the glorious event commonly called the gentlemen, and men of property, and were sus- Revolution in England; and the conduct of the pected of a desire to preserve their consideration soldiery, on that occasion, compared with the beand their estates. The desertion in France was to haviour of some of the troops of France in the preaid an abominable sedition, the very professed prin- sent instance. At that period the Prince of Orange, ciple of which was an implacable hostility to nobi- a prince of the blood-royal in England, was called lity and gentry, and whose savage war-whoop was in by the flower of the English aristocracy to de" à lAristocrate,” by which senseless, bloody cry, fend its ancient constitution, and not to level all
• They are sworn to obey the king, the nation, and the law.
distinctions. To this prince, so invited, the aristo-, energies of the country were awakened. England cratick leaders who commanded the troops went never preserved a firmer countenance, nor a more over with their several corps, in bodies, to the vigorous arm, to all her enemies, and to all her deliverer of their country. "Aristocratick leaders rivals. Europe under her respired and revived. brought up the corps of citizens who newly en- Every where she appeared as the protector, asserlisted in this cause. Military obedience changed tor, or avenger, of liberty. A war was made and its object; but military discipline was not for supported against fortune itself. The treaty of a moment interrupted in its principle. The Ryswick, which first limited the power of France, troops were ready for war, but indisposed to was soon after made: the grand alliance very mutiny.
shortly followed, which shook to the foundations But as the conduct of the English armies was the dreadful power which menaced the independifferent, so was that of the whole English nation dence of mankind. The states of Europe lay at that time. In truth, the circumstances of our happy under the shade of a great and free morevolution (as it is called) and that of France are narchy, which knew how to be great without enjust the reverse of each other in almost every par- dangering its own peace at home, or the internal ticular, and in the whole spirit of the transaction. or external peace of any of its neighbours. With us it was the case of a legal monarch at- Mr. Burke said he should have felt very unpleatempting arbitrary power—in France it is the case santly if he had not delivered these sentiments. of an arbitrary monarch, beginning, from what- He was near the end of his natural, probably still ever cause, to legalize his authority. The one was nearer the end of his political, career; that he was to be resisted, the other was to be managed and weak and weary; and wished for rest. That he directed; but in neither case was the order of was little disposed to controversies, or what is the state to be changed, lest government might be called a detailed opposition. That at his time of ruined, which ought only to be corrected and le- life, if he could not do something by some sort of galized. With us we got rid of the man, and pre- weight of opinion, natural or acquired, it was useserved the constituent parts of the state. There less and indecorous to attempt any thing by mere they get rid of the constituent parts of the state, struggle. T'urpe senex miles. That he had for and keep the man. What we did was in truth and that reason little attended the army business, or substance, and in a constitutional light, a revolu- that of the revenue, or almost any other matter of tion, not made, but prevented. We took solid detail, for some years past. That he had, however, securities; we settled doubtful questions; we cor- his task. He was far from condemning such oprected anomalies in our law. In the stable, fun- position; on the contrary, he most highly apdamental parts of our constitution we made no plauded it, where a just occasion existed for it, and revolution; no, nor any alteration at all. We did gentlemen had vigour and capacity to pursue it. not impair the monarchy. Perhaps it might be Where a great occasion occurred, he was, and, shewn that we strengthened it very considerably. while he continued in parliament, would be, The nation kept the same ranks, the same orders, amongst the most active and the most earnest ; as the same privileges, the same franchises, the same he hoped he had shewn on a late event. With rules for property, the same subordinations, the respect to the constitution itself, he wished few same order in the law, in the revenue, and in the alterations in it. Happy if he left it not the worse magistracy; the same lords, the same commons, for any share he had taken in its service. the same corporations, the same electors.
Mr. Fox then rose, and declared, in substance, The church was not impaired. Her estates, her that so far as regarded the French army, he went majesty, her splendour, her orders and gradations, no farther than the general principle, by which continued the same. She was preserved in her that army shewed itself indisposed to be an infull efficiency, and cleared only of a certain into strument in the servitude of their fellow citizens, lerance, which was her weakness and disgrace. but did not enter into the particulars of their conThe church and the state were the same after the duct. He declared, that he did not affect a deRevolution that they were before, but better se- mocracy. That he always thought any of the cured in every part.
simple, unbalanced governments bad; simple moWas little done because a revolution was not narchy, simple aristocracy, simple democracy; he made in the constitution ? No! Every thing was held them all imperfect cr vicious : all were bad done ; because we commenced with reparation, not by themselves: the composition alone was good. with ruin. Accordingly the state flourished. In- That these had been always his principles, in stead of laying as dead, in a sort of trance, or which he had agreed with his friend Mr. Burke, of exposed, as some others, in an epileptic fit, to the whom he said many kind and flattering things, pity or derision of the world, for her wild, ridicu- which Mr. Burke, I take it for granted, will know lous, convulsive movements, impotent to every himself too well to think he merits from any purpose but that of dashing out her brains against thing but Mr. Fox's acknowledged good-nature. the pavement, Great Britain rose above the stand- Mr. Fox thought, however, that, in many cases, ard even of her former self. An æra of a more Mr. Burke was rather carried too far by his hatred improved domestick prosperity then commenced, to innovation. and still continues not only unimpaired, but Mr. Burke said, he well knew that these had growing, under the wasting hand of time. All the been Mr. Fox's invariable opinions; that they
were a sure ground for the confidence of his coun- | orders, and not under those of the national try. But he had been fearful, that cabals of very assembly. different intentions would be ready to make use of N. B. As to the particular gentlemen, I do not his great name, against his character and senti- remember that Mr. Burke mentioned either of ments, in order to derive a credit to their destruc-them-certainly not Mr. Bailly. He alluded, untive machinations.
doubtedly, to the case of the Marquis de la FayMr. Sheridan then rose, and made a lively and ette; but whether what he asserted of him be a eloquent speech against Mr. Burke ; in which, libel on him, must be left to those who are acamong other things, he said that Mr. Burke had quainted with the business. libelled the national assembly of France, and had Mr. Pitt concluded the debate with becoming cast out reflections on such characters as those of gravity and dignity, and a reserve on both sides of tc Marquis de la Fayette and Mr. Bailly. the question, as related to France, fit for a person
Mr. Burke said, that he did not libel the national in a ministerial situation. He said, that what he assembly of France, whom he considered very little had spoken only regarded France when she should in the discussion of these matters. That he thought unite, which he rather thought she soon might, all the substantial power resided in the republick with the liberty she had acquired, the blessings of of Paris, whose authority guided, or whose ex- law and order. He, too, said several civil things ample was followed by, all the republicks of France. concerning the sentiments of Mr. Burke, as apThe republick of Paris had an army under their plied to this country.