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ton immediately saw that the project of administering the commercial and territorial affairs of the Company by a junto, (however individually respectable) appointed by the proposer, would alarm the court, and turn the supporters of the bill out of office. He advised some of the members of the coalition party to dissuade the leaders from persisting in their plan. Mr. Sheridan, Mr.Courtenay, and several other men of high rank in the party, are understood to have privately signified their apprehensions of the consequences; and recommended to the Ministers to leave the management of their commercial concerns to the Company, as some of the Directors had, on that condition, intimated an acquiescence in the rest of the scheme. The advice of Hamilton, and the representation of those members, had not the desired effect. The consequence was as Hamilton had predicted. Soon after the Regency, he expressed an eager desire that Burke and he should return tỏ the footing of former times, Mr. Courtenay, who was
very intimate with both, was one of those who signified to Burke the wish of Hamilton. Burke said that there were several circumstances which would render it impossible for him to have the same pleasure in the company of Hamilton that he had formerly felt; and that he thought, without that, their meet. . ing would not answer any purpose to either. It does not appear that Burke meant to throw any blame on Hamilton himself: but their separation had caused much obloquy, (tho, very unjustly) that made a great impression on the sensibility of Burke, in so much, that though he knew it not to proceed from Hamilton, lie could not help associating that gentleman with a subject of uneasiness and displeasure.
I have carried the private history of Mr. Burke somewhat farther than his public, as I am now coming to a momentous subject of his inquiry and portion of his conduct, the series of which I did not wish to interrupt.
Soon after the close of the Regency deliberation commenced the
To enable us to estimate the conduct and reasoning of Burke respecting the French revolution, it is necessary to recall to our minds the old government; the causes and operations that produced and effected a change; the change itself; the actual state of opinions, sentiments, and affairs, after it had taken place. From the consideration of these subjects only can it be evinced, whether Burke's proceedings were or were not conformable to wisdom and rectitude. Subordinate to this general subject of discussion is the more special inquiry, whether they were or were not consonant to his former principles and actions ? The object of the first inquiry is THE INTEGRITY OF HIS INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL EXERTIONS, relatively to most momentous concerns of a great portion of mankind, whether his plans and counsels tended to the melioration of the human race: of the second, whether he has been conSISTENT WITH HIMSELF. The criterion of the former is the nature and tendency of the French revolution ; of the latter, his own antecedent principles, declarations, and conduct.
The legitimate object of government is the general good. That government is the best, which produces, FROM PERMANENT CAUSES, the greatest good, and least evil, to those within the sphere of its operation. That this is the true test by which to examine any system of polity, both in its principles and practical effects, will, I believe, be very generally granted. If we weigh the old government of France in this scale, it must be conceded by every impartial man, that it was wanting. Perfection, indeed, is to be expected in no system formed by man: but there are gradations of exoellence in human contrivances. There have been many plans of polity, and there are several, in which the general good has been and is much more steadily and successfully pursued than under
the old government of France. Instead of making a part subservient to the whole ; of estimating either permanent regulations or temporary measures by the aggregate of happiness they were calculated to produce, the pleasure and caprice of a very small part was frequently the motive and rule for
governing the whole. The comfort and welfare of twenty millions was of little account when compared wlth the freak or fancy of the Prince, the interest or inclination of his favourites. The suggestion of a priest or a prostitute would desolate a province, and drive from the country its most industrious inhabitants.
In the earlier ages, France had some semblance of a limited constitution. The monarch himself had his power sufficiently, and more than sufficiently, restrained by the feudal aristocracy; but even then, it was a liberty confined to individuals, not extending to the community at large; effecting therefore partial superiority, and not general benefit. The feudal aristocracy was destroyed by