Images de page
PDF
ePub

King of France to choose a popular miniftry, the whole pretence for foreign hoftile interference would ceafe.-It is easy to prove this. The popular party in France have proceeded upon two data, fimple in themfelves, but which render confequent their whole conduct; the first of which is, that they have a right to fave their Consti tution by means exifting in, or even out of it; and fécondly, that the King of France has perfons about him, who give cause to fufpect, that the Executive Power will not co-operate with them. A popular administration obviates every difficulty, by removing every fufpicion, and admitting every exertion; especially, if at the fame time, England produced a ceflation of hoftilities, which her extreme influence through Europe would render eafy; and thus place her upon a very deserved eminence of popularity, both with France and with Europe, from which she might derive the highest advantages.—A moment however is not to be loft, as things may affume very rapidly a direction and impulse, which we may not be able to obviate, or redrefs.-And would the Emperor stand alone against France and the rest of us united? Would he perfift in infulting the King of France, by accufing him of falsehood, in his declarations of affent (for I need not call it choice) in favour of the Conftitution?-Would not the Concert of Princes fall to the ground, ipfo facto; and would not Poland in confequence, again be restored to itself and to happiness; and Pruffia once more be a power affectionately embraced, both on public and family accounts, by the British nation.

But this fond prospect must not seduce us from saying one or two parting words as to Poland. For this end, I fhall remind the public that the first divifion of Poland happened,

G

happened, (as the King of Pruffia relates in his posthumous works,) merely from the defire of finding a ceffion fuitable to Russia, which might give less umbrage to Auftria, than thofe poffeffions which Ruffia thought herself entitled to exact from the Turks.-A cafual incident led the triumvirate of the day to think of hapless Poland; and Poland was inftantly made the meal to gorge the appetite, not only of Ruffia who was a claimant; but also of Austria and Pruffia, who were only mediators between the parties then at war. As I fhall at an early day give an account of this fhameless transaction, in the words of the late King of Pruffia, I pass on to a second and concluding remark.-A voluntary fubfcription is propofed among us in favour of Poland, fimilar to that in favour of Corfica; (of Corfica, which has only a seventieth part of its population, which certainly was not more unjustly perfecuted, and whofe fate had far lefs influence upon human affairs.) Every individual has an easy mode now offered, of bearing teftimony in his own perfon to diftreffed merit, of affifting it by his purse, of difcountenancing perfecution by the weight of his name, and of fhewing to Princes, that let them concert in what manner they pleafe, there is a public exifting, whofe impofing and dignified majority it will become them to refpect. Should the fuccour prove too late to be useful in the field, the fanction given by refpectable men to the undertaking, will affift the fate of Poland in the negotiation which must follow. It is not every day, that private men can do good to nations; or have the fatisfaction when doing it, of thinking that it must indirectly contribute to the fafety of their own country. In short, there is no way in which a man can render more benefit to Europe and mankind in a private ftation, than by lending his aid, however small, to the

caufe

caufe of a fuffering Cato, and of the nation, whom he is endeavouring to train up in peace, in virtue, and in

happiness.

A CALM OBSERVER.

LETTER IV.

Published August 6, 1792.

SIR,

HE indignation of mankind will at laft rife to

THE

a pitch which armies cannot quell.--The declaration made by the Duke of Brunswick, in the name of Austria and Pruffia against France, portends death to all its inhabitants (except regular troops) who offer any obstacle to their forces. And what is their alledged object? The adjustment of the claims of the parties difpoffeffioned in the German Provinces of France, and the ceffation of anarchy.-As the Emperor however four weeks ago folemnly declared, that the first object little concerned him and was fufceptible of eafy arrangement, I fhall, after his example, lay it out of the question.

The whole then refpects the order of things in France. -But as the pretence of these pious princes in favour of a religion which is not profeffed by the King of Pruffia or by the Emprefs of Ruffia, and the coffers of which have been pillaged, and its rights invaded by the House of Auftria, carries with it its own refutation ;-I shall only touch upon the designs of a political nature announced respecting France, and the means to be employed for their execution.

[blocks in formation]

The political defigns announced, are to restore the French King to abfolute power.-He is, in more than ten paffages of a fhort manifefto, made the fole fountain of authority; and the allies exprefsly acknowledge no laws whatever in France, but thofe flowing from him. They fpeak indeed of his promises, in favour of the happiness of his fubjects; and fuppofe it poffible that he may convene certain bodies near him; but of what nature, they fay, depends entirely upon himself; adding in another place, that they fhall not intermeddle in the interior government of France.-Such is their benevolent and philosophic end.

Their means, which are correfponding, are fire and fword. If the militia (or national guards) oppofe them, they are to receive the punishment of rebellion; (which is the more remarkable, as half the King of Pruffia's forces, according to Hertfberg, are of this description.) If the inhabitants at large dare defend themselves, whether in the field, or under cover, they are to fuffer inftant military punishment, and their houfes to be deftroyed. The administrative bodies are made perfonally refponfible for all violences which they do not notoriously oppofe in their jurisdiction. All the members of the national affembly, and of the administrative bodies and national guard at Paris, are to answer with their lives for all accidents to the King, Queen, and royal family; and in cafe of any fuch accident, or even of the denial of permiffion to their going where they please, an exemplary, and never to be forgotten vengeance is to follow, and the city of Paris is to be delivered up to military execution, and even to total fubverfion.-Of the rights and liberties of citizens, thefe potentates take no concern; for "fubjects," they say, " are bound

to their fovereigns by the law of nature and of "nations ;"

nations;" of nature, though in a state of nature, kings are unknown; and of nations, though national law only regulates the concerns between nations. This would be a folecifm therefore in ethics, were correctness to be expected from princes, who do not study the rights of men to preserve them, but only to know how to control them.-It is another matter alfo of criticism, to observe tyrants perpetually infifting upon the neceffity of princes being at liberty, and of their fubjects being difarmed, before the former can be bound by any oath to any conftitution; and yet to find them requiring obedience from a nation towards its prince, as of right, though exacted by force from difarmed and helpless citizens. Surely this is setting mutual compact wholly at defiance, and implying that nations are made for princes, and not princes for nations.

If the French have only awakened from their fleep of defpotifm, in order that after a momentary trance in the arms of liberty, they may again fink into oppreffion, loaded with redoubled chains, it is hard to fay whether they deferve most of contempt, or of pity. France has imbibed fo much of a fenfe of liberty, that nothing but a tyranny within, re-inforced by a tyranny from without, can seem safe or fatisfactory to those who feek to become its mafters.-It never then can be poffible for a Fayette, or a Rochefoucauld, to be driven by democratic petulance to embrace fo foul a monster, prefented to them without the slightest difguife. They will rather trust the chance of returning fenfe in their own countrymen, or if it were neceffary, try a republic with all its hazards (and I allow them great, though happily, needlefs to be incurred,) than look for fecurity and liberty to fpring out of the tender mercies of military tyranny.-The difcontented conftitutionalifts

G 3

« PrécédentContinuer »