Obrázky na stránke

lefs formality, according to her difcretion, to acknowledge this new fyftem; or fhe may recognise it as a government de facto, fetting afide all difcuffion of its original legality, and confidering the antient monarchy as at an end. The law of nations leaves our court open to its choice. We have no direction but what is found in the well-understood policy of the king and kingdom.

This declaration of a new species of government, on new principles, (fuch it profeffes itself to be) is a real crifis in the politicks of Europe. The conduct which prudence ought to dictate to Great Britain, will not depend (as hitherto our connexion or quarrel with other ftates has for fome time depended) upon merely external relations; but in a great measure also upon the system which we may think it right to adopt for the internal government of our own country.

If it be our policy to affimilate our government to that of France, we ought to prepare for this change, by encouraging the fchemes of authority established there. We ought to wink at the captivity and depofition of a prince, with whom, if not in close alliance, we were in friendship. We ought to fall in with the ideas of Monf. Montmorin's circular manifefto; and to do business of courfe with the functionaries who act under the new power, by which that king, to whom his majefty's minifter has been fent to refide, has been de


pofed and imprifoned. On that idea we ought alfo to with-hold all forts of direct or indirect counte nance from thofe who are treating in Germany for the re-establishment of the French monarchy and the ancient orders of that ftate. This conduct is fuitable to this policy.

The queftion is, whether this policy be suitable to the interests of the crown and subjects of Great Britain. Let us therefore a little confider the true nature and probable effects of the revolution which, in fuch a very unusual manner, has been twice diplomatically announced to his majefty.

There have been many internal revolutions in the government of countries, both as to perfons and forms, in which the neighbouring ftates have had little or no concern. Whatever the government might be with respect to those persons and those forms, the stationary interefts of the nation concerned, have most commonly influenced the new governments in the fame manner in which they influenced the old; and the revolution, turning on matter of local grievance or of local accommodation, did not extend beyond its territory."

Difference this revole


tion and o


the French

The present revolution in France feems to me Nature of to be quite of another character and description; revolution. and to bear little refemblance or analogy to any of those which have been brought about in Europe, upon principles merely political. It is a revolution of doctrine and theoretick dogma. It has a much


Its effects.

greater resemblance to those changes which have been made upon religious grounds,in which a spirit of profelytifm makes an effential part.

The laft revolution of doctrine and theory which has happened in Europe, is the reformation. It is not for my purpose to take any notice here of the merits of that revolution, but to state one only of its effects.

That effect was to introduce other interests into all countries, than those which arofe from their locality and natural circumstances. The principle of the refor mation was fuch, as by its effence, could not be local or confined to the country in which it had its origin. For inftance, the doctrine of " Jufti fication by faith or by works," which was the ori ginal basis of the reformation, could not have one of its alternatives true as to Germany, and false as to every other country. Neither are questions of theoretick truth and falfehood governed by circumftances any more than by places. On that occa, fion, therefore, the fpirit of profelytism expanded itself with great elafticity upon all fides; and great divifions were every where the refult,

These divifions, however, in appearance merely dogmatick, foon became mixed with the political; and their effects were rendered much more intense from this combination. Europe was for a long time divided into two great factions, under the name of Catholick and Proteftant, which not only


often alienated state from state, but also divided almoft every state within itself. The warm parties in each state were more affectionately attached to those of their own doctrinal interest in some other country than to their fellow citizens, or to their natural government, when they or either of them happened to be of a different perfuafion. These factions, wherever they prevailed, if they did not abfolutely deftroy, at least weakened and distracted the locality of patriotifm. The publick affections came to have other motives and other ties.

It would be to repeat the hiftory of the two laft centuries to exemplify the effects of this revolution.

Although the principles to which it gave rife, did not operate with a perfect regularity and conftancy, they never wholly ceafed to operate. Few wars were made, and few treaties were entered into, in which they did not come in for fome part. They gave a colour, a character, and direction to all the politicks of Europe.

Thefe principles of internal, as well as external. New system of politicks. divifion and coalition, are but juft now extinguifhed. But they who will examine into the true character and genius of fome late events, must be satisfied that other fources of faction, combining parties among the inhabitants of different countries into one connexion, are opened, and that from these fources are likely to arise effects full as


important as those which had formerly arifen from the jarring interefts of the religious fects. The intention of the feveral actors in the change in France, is not a matter of doubt. It is very openly profeffed.

In the modern world, before this time, there has been no inftance of this fpirit of general political faction, separated from religion, pervading several countries, and forming a principle of union between the partifans in each. But the thing is not lefs in human nature. The antient world has furnished a ftrong and striking inftance of fuch a ground for faction, full as powerful and full as mifchievous as our spirit of religious fyftem had ever been, exciting in all the states of Greece (European and Afiatick) the most violent animofities, and the most cruel and bloody perfecutions and profcriptions. These antient factions in each commonwealth of Greece, connected themselves with thofe of the fame description in some other states; and fecret cabals and publick alliances were carried on and made, not upon a conformity of general political interefts, but for the fupport and aggrandizement of the two leading ftates which headed the ariftocratick and democratick factions. For, as in later times, the king of Spain was at the head of a catholick, and the king of Sweden of a proteftant intereft, France, (though catholick, acting fubordinately to the latter,) in the like manner the Lacedemonians

« PredošláPokračovať »