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three orders, on the footing on which they stood Opposed to these, in appearance, but in appearin 1614, were capable of being brought into a ance only, is another band, who call themselves proper and harmonious combination with royal the moderate. These, if I conceive rightly of their authority. This constitution by estates, was the conduct, are a set of men who approve heartily natural and only just representation of France. of the whole new constitution, but wish to lay It grew out of the habitual conditions, relations, heavily on the most atrocious of those crimes, by and reciprocal claims of men. It grew out of the which this fine constitution of theirs has been obcircumstances of the country, and out of the state tained. They are a sort of people who affect to of property. The wretched scheme of your pre- proceed as if they thought that men may deceive sent masters is not to fit the constitution to the without fraud, rob without injustice, and overpeople, but wholly to destroy conditions, to dis- turn every thing without violence. They are men solve relations, to change the state of the nation, who would usurp the government of their country and to subvert property, in order to fit their coun- with decency and moderation. In fact they are try to their theory of a constitution.
nothing more or better, than men engaged in desUntil you make out practically that great work, perate designs, with feeble minds. They are not a combination of opposing forces, " a work of la- honest; they are only ineffectual and unsyste“ bour long, and endless praise,” the utmost cau- matick in their iniquity. They are persons who tion ought to have been used in the reduction of want not the dispositions, but the energy and the royal power, which alone was capable of hold- vigour, that is necessary for great evil machinaing together the comparatively heterogeneous mass tions. They find that in such designs they fall at of your states. But, at this day, all these consider- best into a secondary rank, and others take the ations are unseasonable. To what end should we place and lead in usurpation, which they are not discuss the limitations of royal power ? Your qualified to obtain or to hold. They envy to their king is in prison. Why speculate on the measure companions the natural fruit of their crimes; they and standard of liberty? I doubt much, very join to run them down with the hue and cry of much indeed, whether France is at all ripe for mankind, which pursues their common offences : liberty on any standard. Men are unqualified for and then hope to mount into their places on the civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition credit of the sobriety with which they shew themto put moral chains upon their own appetites; in selves disposed to carry on what may seem most proportion as their love to justice is above their plausible in the mischievous projects they pursue rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and in common. But these men are naturally desobriety of understanding is above their vanity and spised by those who have heads to know, and presumption; in proportion as they are more dis- hearts that are able to go through, the necessary posed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, demands of bold wicked enterprises. They are in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society naturally classed below the latter description, and cannot exist unless a controuling power upon will will only be used by them as inferiour instruments
. and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of They will be only the Fairfaxes of your Cromit there is within, the more there must be without. wells. If they mean honestly, why do they not It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, strengthen the arms of honest men, to support that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. their ancient, legal, wise, and free government, Their passions forge their fetters.
given to them in the spring of 1718, against the This sentence the prevalent part of your coun- inventions of craft, and the theories of ignorance trymen execute on themselves. They possessed not and folly? If they do not, they must continue long since, what was next to freedom, a mild pater- the scorn of both parties; sometimes the tool
, nal monarchy. They despised it for its weakness. sometimes the incumbrance, of that, whose views They were offered a well-poised, free constitution. they approve, whose conduct they decry. These It did not suit their taste nor their temper. They people are only made to be the sport of tyrants. carved for themselves; they flew out, murdered, They never can obtain or communicate freedom. robbed, and rebelled. They have succeeded, You ask me too, whether we have a committee and put over their country an insolent tyranny of research. No, Sir,—God forbid ! It is the made up of cruel and inexorable masters, and necessary instrument of tyranny and usurpation ; that too of a description hitherto not known in and therefore I do not wonder that it has had an the world. The powers and policies by which they early establishment under your present lords. We have succeeded are not those of great statesmen, do not want it. or great military commanders, but the practices Excuse my length. I have been somewhat ocof incendiaries, assassins, housebreakers, robbers, cupied since I was honoured with your letter; spreaders of false news, forgers of false orders and I should not have been able to answer it at from authority, and other delinquencies, of which all, but for the holidays, which have given me ordinary justice takes cognizance. Accordingly means of enjoying the leisure of the country. I the spirit of their rule is exactly correspondent to am called to duties which I am neither able nor the means by which they obtained it. They act willing to evade. I must soon return to my,
old more in the manner of thieves who have got pos- conflict with the corruptions and oppressions which session of a house, than of conquerors who have have prevailed in our eastern dominions. I must subdued a nation.
turn myself wholly from those of France.
In England we cannot work so hard as French- your measures on their objects. You cannot feel men. Frequent relaxation is necessary to us. You distinctly how far the people are rendered better are naturally more intense in your application. I and improved, or more miserable and depraved, did not know this part of your national character, by what you have done. You cannot see with until I went into France in 1773. At present, this your own eyes the sufferings and afflictions you your disposition to labour is rather encreased than
You know them but at a distance, on the lessened. In your Assembly you do not allow your statements of those who always flatter the reignselves a recess even on Sundays. We have two ing power, and who, amidst their representations days in the week, besides the festivals; and be- of the grievances, inflame your minds against those sides five or six months of the summer and who are oppressed. These are amongst the effects autumn. This continued, unremitted effort of the of unremitted labour, when men exhaust their members of your Assembly, I take to be one among attention, burn out their candles, and are left in the causes of the mischief they have done. They the dark.-Malo meorum negligentiam, quam who always labour can have no true judgment. istorum obscuram diligentiam. You never give yourselves time to cool. You
I have the honour, &c. can never survey, from its proper point of sight, the work you have finished, before you
(Signed) EDMUND BURKE. final execution. You can never plan the future hy the past. You never go into the country, so- Beaconsfield, berly and dispassionately to observe the effect of January 19th, 1791.
Α Ν Α Ρ Ρ Ε Α Ι
THE NEW TO THE OLD WHIGS,
IN CONSEQUENCE OP SOMK LATE
DISCUSSIONS IN PARLIAMENT,
RELATIVE TO THE
REFLECTIONS ON THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE SECOND EDITION.
There are some corrections in this edition, which tend to render the sense less obscure in one or two places. The order of the two last members is also changed, and I believe for the better. This change was made on the suggestion of a very learned person, to the partiality of whose friendship I owe much ; to the severity of whose judgment I owe more.
At Mr. Burke's time of life, and in his dis- ten nothing. But the sayings of his which are positions, petere honestam missionem was all he handed down by others are lively; and may be had to do with his political associates. This boon easily and aptly applied on many occasions by they have not chosen to grant him. With many those whose wit is not so perfect as their memory. expressions of good-will, in effect they tell him This Diogenes (as every one will recollect) was he has loaded the stage too long. They con- citizen of a little, bleak town situated on the coast ceive it though an harsh yet a necessary office, in of the Euxine, and exposed to all the buffets of full parliament to declare to the present age, and that inhospitable sea. He lived at a great disto as late a posterity as shall take any concern in tance from those weather-beaten walls, in ease the proceedings of our day, that by one book he and indolence, and in the midst of literary leisure, has disgraced the whole tenour of his life.—Thus when he was informed that his townsmen had conthey dismiss their old partner of the war. He is demned him to be banished from Sinope; he anadvised to retire, whilst they continue to serve swered coolly, “ And I condemn them to live in the publick upon wiser principles, and under better Sinope." auspices.
The gentlemen of the party in which Mr. Burke Whether Diogenes the Cynic was a true philo- has always acted, in passing upon him the sentence sopher, cannot easily be determined. He has writ- of retirement,* have done nothing more than to
• Newspaper intelligence ought always to be received with any of that description. The definitive sentence of "the great some degree of caution. I do not know ihat the following para- and firm body of the Whigs of England" (as this paper gives it graph is founded on any authority; but it comes with an air of out) is as follows: authority. The paper is professedly in the interest of the mo- " The great and firm body of the Whigs of England, true to dern Whigs, and under their direction. The paragraph is not “their principles, have decided on the dispute between Mr Fax disclained on their part. It professes to be the decision of those " and Mr. Burke; and the former is declared to have maintained whom its author calls “the great and firm body of the Whigs of " the pure doctrines by which they are bound together, and upa England.” Who are the Whigs of a different composition, which “which they have invariably acted. The consequence is that the promulgator of the sentence considers as composed of fleet- “ Mr. Burke retires from parliament."--Morning Chronicle, May ing and unsettled particles, I know not, nor whether there be 12, 1791.
confirm the sentence which he had long before in representation recognised by the body of the passed upon himself. When that retreat was people, than if he were to be ranked in point of choice, which the tribunal of his peers inflict as ability (and higher he could not be ranked) with punishment, it is plain he does not think their sen- those whose critical censure he has had the mistence intolerably severe. Whether they, who are fortune to incur. to continue in the Sinope which shortly he is to It is not from this part of their decision which leave, will spend the long years which, I hope, the author wishes an appeal. There are things remain to them, in a manner more to their satis- which touch him more nearly. To abandon them faction, than he shall slide down, in silence and would argue, not diffidence in his abilities, but obscurity, the slope of his declining days, is best treachery to his cause. Had his work been recogknown to Him who measures out years, and days, nised as a pattern for dexterous argument, and and fortunes.
powerful eloquence, yet if it tended to establish The quality of the sentence does not however maxims, or to inspire sentiments, adverse to the decide on the justice of it. Angry friendship is wise and free constitution of this kingdom, he sometimes as bad as calm enmity. For this reason would only have cause to lament, that it possessed the cold neutrality of abstract justice is, to a qualities fitted to perpetuate the memory of his good and clear cause, a more desirable thing than offence. Oblivion would be the only means of an affection liable to be any way disturbed. When his escaping the reproaches of posterity. But, the trial is by friends, if the decision should hap- after receiving the common allowance due to the pen to be favourable, the honour of the acquittal common weakness of a man, he wishes to owe no is lessened ; if adverse, the condemnation is ex- part of the indulgence of the world to its forgetceedingly embittered. It is aggravated by coming fulness. He is at issue with the party before the from lips professing friendship, and pronouncing present, and, if ever he can reach it, before the judgment with sorrow and reluctance. Taking in coming, generation. the whole view of life, it is more safe to live un- The author, several months previous to his pubder the jurisdiction of severe but steady reason, lication, well knew, that two gentlemen, both of than under the empire of indulgent but capri- them possessed of the most distinguished abilities, cious passion. It is certainly well for Mr. Burke and of a most decisive authority in the party, had that there are impartial men in the world. To differed with him in one of the most material them I address myself, pending the appeal which points relative to the French Revolution ; that is, on his part is made from the living to the dead, in their opinion of the behaviour of the French from the modern whigs to the ancient.
soldiery, and its revolt from its officers. At the The gentlemen, who, in the name of the party, time of their publick declaration on this subject, have passed sentence on Mr. Burke's book, in the he did not imagine the opinion of these two light of literary criticism, are judges above all gentlemen had extended a great way beyond challenge. He did not indeed flatter himself, that themselves. He was however well aware of the as a writer he could claim the approbation of men probability, that persons of their just credit and whose talents, in his judgment and in the publick influence would at length dispose the greater numjudgment, approach to prodigies; if ever such ber to an agreement with their sentiments; and persons should be disposed to estimate the merit perhaps might induce the whole body to a tacit of a composition upon the standard of their own acquiescence in their declarations, under a natural, ability.
and not always an improper, dislike of shewing a In their critical censure, though Mr. Burke may difference with those who lead their party. I will find himself humbled by it as a writer, as a man, not deny, that in general this conduct in parties and as an Englishman, he finds matter not only of is defensible; but within what limits the practice consolation, but of pride. He proposed to convey is to be circumscribed, and with what exceptions to a foreign people, not his own ideas, but the the doctrine which supports it is to be received, it prevalent opinions and sentiments of a nation, re- is not my present purpose to define. The present nowned for wisdom, and celebrated in all ages for question has nothing to do with their motives ; a well understood and well regulated love of free it only regards the publick expression of their dom. This was the avowed purpose of the far sentiments. greater part of his work. As that work has not The author is compelled, however reluctantly, been ill received, and as his criticks will not only to receive the sentence pronounced upon him in admit but contend, that this reception could not the house of commons as that of the party. It be owing to any excellence in the composition proceeded from the mouth of him who must be capable of perverting the public judgment, it is regarded as its authentiek organ. In a discussion clear that he is not disavowed by the nation whose which continued for two days, no one gentleman sentiments he had undertaken to describe. His re- of the opposition interposed a negative, or even a presentation is authenticated by the verdict of his doubt, in favour of him or his opinions. If an country. Had his piece, as a work of skill, been idea consonant to the doctrine of his book, or thought worthy of commendation, some doubt favourable to his conduct, lurks in the minds of any might have been entertained of the cause of his persons in that description, it is to be considered
But the matter stands exactly as he only as a peculiarity which they indulge to their wishes it.
He is more happy to have his fidelity own private liberty of thinking. The author can
not reckon upon it. It has nothing to do with | His words at the outset of his Reflections are them as members of a party. In their publick these : capacity, in every thing that meets the publick “ In the first letter I had the honour to write ear, or publick eye, the body must be considered to you, and which at length I send, I wrote as unanimous.
“ neither for, nor from, any description of men; They must have been animated with a very nor shall J in this. My errours, if any, are my warm zeal against those opinions, because they
My reputation alone is to answer for were under no necessity of acting as they did, from “ them.” In another place he says, (p. 126,) any just cause of apprehension that the errours of “ I have no man's proxy. I speak only from mythis writer should be taken for theirs. They might self, when I disclaim, as I do, with all possible disapprove; it was not necessary they should dis- “ earnestness, all communion with the actors in avow him, as they have done in the whole, and in “ that triumph, or with the admirers of it. When all the parts of his book ; because neither in the “ I assert any thing else, as concerning the people whole nor in any of the parts, were they directly,“ of England, I speak from observation, not from or by any implication, involved. The author was
“ authority.” known indeed to have been warmly, strenuously, To say then, that the book did not contain the and affectionately, against all allurements of am- sentiments of their party, is not to contradict the bition, and all possibility of alienation from pride, author, or to clear themselves. If the party had or personal pique, or peevish jealousy, attached to denied his doctrines to be the current opinions of the Whig party. With one of them he has had the majority in the nation, they would have put a long friendship, which he must ever remember the question on its true issue. There, I hope and with a melancholy pleasure. To the great; real, believe, his censurers will find on the trial, that and amiable virtues, and to the unequalled abili- the author is as faithful a representative of the ties, of that gentleman, he shall always join with general sentiment of the people of England, as his country in paying a just tribute of applause. any person amongst them can be of the ideas of There are others in that party for whom, without his own party. any shade of sorrow, he bears as high a degree of The French Revolution can have no connexion love as can enter into the human heart; and as with the objects of any parties in England formed much veneration as ought to be paid to human before the period of that event, unless they choose creatures; because he firmly believes, that they to imitate any of its acts, or to consolidate any are endowed with as many and as great virtues, principles of that Revolution with their own opias the nature of man is capable of producing, nions. The French Revolution is no part of their joined to great clearness of intellect, to a just judg- original contract. The matter, standing by itself, ment, to a wonderful temper, and to true wisdom. is an open subject of political discussion, like all His sentiments with regard to them can never the other revolutions (and there are many) which vary, without subjecting him to the just indigna- have been attempted or accomplished in our age. tion of mankind, who are bound, and are gene- But if any considerable number of British subjects, rally disposed, to look up with reverence to the taking a factious interest in the proceedings of best patterns of their species, and such as give a France, begin publickly to incorporate themselves dignity to the nature of which we all participate. for the subversion of nothing short of the whole For the whole of the party he has high respect. constitution of this kingdom; to incorporate themUpon a view indeed of the composition of all selves for the utter overthrow of the body of its parties, he finds great satisfaction. It is, that in laws, civil and ecclesiastical, and with them of leaving the service of his country, he leaves par- the whole system of its manners, in favour of the liament without all comparison richer in abilities new constitution, and of the modern usages, of than he found it. Very solid and very brilliant the French nation, I think no party principle could talents distinguish the ministerial benches. The bind the author not to express his sentiments opposite rows are a sort of seminary of genius, strongly against such a faction. On the contrary, and have brought forth such and so great talents he was perhaps bound to mark his dissent, when as never before (amongst us at least) have appear- the leaders of the party were daily going out of ed together. If their owners are disposed to serve their way to make publick declarations in parliatheir country, (he trusts they are,) they are in a ment, which, notwithstanding the purity of their
, condition to render it services of the highest im- intentions, had a tendency to encourage ill-deportance. If, through mistake or passion, they are signing men in their practices against our constiled to contribute to its ruin, we shall at least have tution. a consolation denied to the ruined country that The members of this faction leave no doubt of adjoins us—we shall not be destroyed by men of the nature and the extent of the mischief they mean mean or secondary capacities.
to produce. They declare it openly and decisively. All these considerations of party attachment, of Their intentions are not left equivocal. They are personal regard, and of personal admiration, ren- put out of all dispute by the thanks which formally, dered the Author of the Reflections extremely and as it were officially, they issue, in order to recautious, lest the slightest suspicion should arise commend and to promote the circulation of the of his having undertaken to express the senti- most atrocious and treasonable libels against all ments even of a single man of that description. the hitherto cherished objects of the love and