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fpirit of diftruft makes the foldier fufpicious, and intimidates the general. The first discerns treason in every danger; the fecond, always placed between the neceffity of conqueft, and the image of the fcaffold, dares not raife himself to bold conception, and those heights of courage which electrify an army and enfure victory. Turenne, in our time, would have carried his head to the scaffold; for he was sometimes beat: but the reason why he more frequently conquered was, that his discipline was fevere: It was, that his foldiers confiding in his talents, never muttered discontent instead of fighting. Without reciprocal confidence between the foldier and the general, there can be no army, no victory, especially in a free government.
Is it not to the fame fyftem of anarchy, of equa lisation, and want of fubordination, which has been recommended in fome clubs, and defended even in the Convention, that we owe the pillages, the murders, the enormities of all kinds which it was difficult for the officers to put a stop to, from the general fpirit of infubordination; exceffes which have. rendered the French name odious to the Belgians? Again, is it not to this system of anarchy, and of robbery, that we are indebted for the revolutionary power, which has fo juftly aggravated the hatred of the Belgians against France?
What did enlightened republicans think before the tenth of Auguft, men who wished for liberty,
not only for their own country, but for all Europe? They believed that they could generally establish it, by exciting the governed against the governors, in letting the people fee the facility and the advantages of fuch infurrections.
But how can the people be led to that point? By the example of good government established among us; by the example of order; by the care of fpreading nothing but moral ideas among them; to refpect their properties and their rights; to refpect their prejudices, even when we combat them; by difintereftednefs in defending the people, by a zeal to extend the fpirit of liberty amongst them.
This fyftem was at firft followed.* pamphlets from the pen of Condorcet prepared the people for liberty; the tenth of Auguft, the republican decrees, the battle of Valmy, the retreat of the Pruffians, the victory of Jemappe, all spoke in favour of France; all was rapidly deftroyed by the revolutionary power. Without doubt, good intentions made the majority of the Affembly adopt it; they would plant the tree of liberty in a foreign foil, under the fhade of a people already free. To the eyes of the people of Belgium it feemed but the mafk of a new foreign tyranny. This opinion was
*The moft feditious libels upon all governments, in order to excite infurrection in Spain, Holland, and other countries. Tranflator.
erroneous; I will fuppofe it for a moment; but ftill this opinion of Belgium deferved to be confidered. In general we have always confidered our own opinions and our own intentions, rather than the people whofe caufe we defend. We have given those people a will; that is to fay, we have more than ever alienated them from liberty.
How could the Belgick people believe themselves free, fince we exercise for them, and over them, the rights of fovereignty, when without confulting them, we fupprefs all in a mass, their ancient usages, their abuses, their prejudices, thofe claffes of fociety which without doubt are contrary to the fpirit of liberty, but the utility of whofe deftruction was not as yet proved to them? How could they believe themfelves free, and fovereign, when we made them take fuch an oath as we thought fit, as a teft to give them the right of voting? How could they believe themfelves free, when openly defpifing their religious worship, which religious worship that fuperftitious people valued beyond their liberty, beyond even their life; when we profcribed their priests; when we banished them from their affemblies, where they were in the practice of feeing them govern; when we feized their revenues, their domains, and riches, to the profit of the nation; when we carried to the very cenfer those hands which they regarded as profane? Doubtless thefe operations were founded on principles; but
those principles ought to have had the consent of the Belgians, before they were carried into practice, otherwise they neceffarily became our most cruel enemies.
Arrived ourselves at the laft bounds of liberty and equality, trampling under our feet all human fuperftitions, (after, however, a four years war with them,) we attempt all at once to raise to the fame eminence, men, ftrangers even to the firft elementary principles of liberty, and plunged for fifteen hundred years in ignorance and fuperftition; we wifhed to force men to fee, when a thick cataract covered their eyes, even before we had removed that cataract; we would force men to fee, whofe dullness of character had raised a mift before their eyes, and before that character was altered.*
Do you believe that the doctrine which now prevails in France would have found many partisans among us in 1789? No; a revolution in ideas, and
* It may not be amifs once for all to remark on the ftyle of all the philofophical politicians of France. Without any diftinction in their feveral fects and parties, they agree in treating all nations who will not conform their government, laws, manners, and religion, to the new French fashion, as an herd of flaves. They confider the content with which men live under those governments as stupidity, and all attachment to religion, as the effects of the groffeft ignorance.
The people of the Netherlands, by their conftitution, are as much entitled to be called free, as any nation upon earth. The
in prejudices, is not made with that rapidity; it moves gradually: it does not efcalade.
Philofophy does not infpire by violence, nor by seduction, nor is it the fword that begets love of liberty.
Jofeph the Second alfo borrowed the language of philofophy when he wished to fupprefs the monks in Belgium, and to feize upon their revenues. There was feen on him a mask only of philofophy, covering the hideous countenance of a greedy defpot, and the people ran to arms. Nothing better than another kind of defpotism has been seen in the revolutionary power.
Auftrian government (until fome wild attempts the emperour Jofeph made on the French principle, but which have been fince abandoned by the court of Vienna,) has been remarkably mild. No people were more at their ease than the Flemish fubjects, particularly the lower claffes. It is curious to hear this great oculift talk of couching the cataract by which the Netherlands were blinded, and hindered from feeing, in its proper colours, the beautiful vifion of the French Republick, which he has himself painted with fo masterly an hand. That people muf needs be dull, blind, and brutalized by fifteen hundred years of fuperftition, (the time elapfed fince the introduction of Chriftianity amongst them) who could prefer their former state to the prefent ftate of France! The reader will remark, that the only difference between Brissot and his adverfaries, is in the mode of bringing other nations into the pale of the French Republick— They would abolish the order and claffes of fociety and all religion at a stroke; Briffot would have just the fame thing done, but with more addrefs and management. Tranflator.