« PredošláPokračovať »
Republican spirit can only be combated by a spirit of the fame nature: of the fame nature, but informed with another principle and pointing to another end. I would perfuade a refiftance both to the corruption and to the reformation that prevails. It will not be the weaker, but much the ftronger, for combating both together. A victory over real corruptions would enable us to baffle the fpurious and pretended reformations. I would not wish to excite, or even to tolerate, that kind of evil spirit which evokes the powers of hell to rectify the disorders of the earth. No! I would add my voice with better, and I truft, more potent charms, to draw down justice,, and wisdom and fortitude from heaven, for the correction of human vice, and the recalling of human errour from the devious ways into which it has been betrayed. I would wish to call the impulfes of individuals at once to the aid and to the controul of authority. By this which I call the true republican spirit, paradoxical as it may appear, monarchies alone can be rescued from the imbecility of courts and the madnefs of the crowd. This republican spirit would not fuffer men in high place to bring ruin on their country and on themfelves. It would reform, not by deftroying, but by faving, the great, the rich and the powerful. Such a republican fpirit, we perhaps fondly conceive to have animated the diftinguished heroes
and patriots of old, who knew no mode of policy but religion and virtue. Thefe, they would have paramount to all conftitutions; they would not fuffer monarchs or fenates or popular affemblies, under pretences of dignity or authority, or freedom, to shake off those moral riders which reafon has appointed to govern every fort of rude power. Thefe, in appearance loading them by their weight, do by that preffure augment their effential force. The momentum is increafed by the extraneous weight. It is true in moral, as it is in mechanical science. It is true, not only in the draught, but in the race. These riders of the great, in effect, hold the reins which guide them in their course, and wear the spur that stimulates them to the goals of honour and of fafety. The great muft fubmit to the dominion of prudence and of virtue; or none will long fubmit to the dominion of the great.
"Dis te minorem quod geris imperas."
This is the feudal tenure which they cannot alter.
Indeed, my dear Sir, things are in a bad state. I do not deny a good share of diligence, a very great share of ability, and much publick virtue to those who direct our affairs. But they are encumbered, not aided, by their very inftruments, and by all the apparatus of the state. I think that our miniftry (though there are things against VOL. VII. Bb
them, which neither you nor I can diffemble, and which grieve me to the heart) is by far the most honeft and by far the wisest system of adminiftration in Europe. Their fall would be no trivial calamity.
Not meaning to depreciate the minority in parliament, whofe talents are also great, and to whom I do not deny virtues, their system seems to me to be fundamentally wrong. But whether wrong or right, they have not enough of coherence among themselves, nor of estimation with the publick, nor of numbers. They cannot make up an adminiftration. Nothing is more vifible. Many other things are against them, which I do not charge as faults, but reckon among national misfortunes. Extraordinary things muft be done, or one of the parties cannot stand as a ministry, nor the other even as an oppofition. They cannot change their fituations, nor can any ufeful coalition be made between them. I do not fee the mode of it, nor the way to it. This afpect of things I do not contemplate with pleasure.
I well know that every thing of the daring kind which I fpeak of, is critical-but the times are critical. New things in a new world! I fee no hopes in the common tracks. If men are not to be found who can be got to feel within them fome impulfe,
quod nequeo monftrare, & fentio tantum,
and which makes them impatient of the prefent; if none can be got to feel that private perfons may sometimes affume that fort of magiftracy which does not depend on the nomination of kings, or the election of the people, but has an inherent and felf-existent power which both would recog nife; I fee nothing in the world to hope.
If I faw fuch a group beginning to cluster, fuch as they are, they should have (all that I can give) my prayers and my advice. People talk of war, or cry for peace-Have they to the bottom confidered the questions either of war, or peace, upon the scale of the exifting world? No. I fear they have not.
Why should not you, yourself, be one of those to enter your name in fuch a lift as I fpeak of. You are young; you have great talents, you have a clear head, you have a natural, fluent and unforced elocution; your ideas are juft, your fentiments benevolent, open and enlarged-but this is too big for your modefty. Oh! this modefty in time and place is a charming virtue, and the grace of all other virtues. But it is fometimes the worst enemy they have. Let him, whose print I gave you the other day, be engraved in your memory! Had it pleased Providence to have spared him for the trying fituations that seem to be coming on, notwithstanding that he was fometimes a little difpirited by the difpofition which we thought shewn to deBb 2
prefs him and fet him afide; yet he was always buoyed up again; and on one or two occafions, he difcovered what might be expected from the vigour and elevation of his mind, from his unconquerable fortitude, and from the extent of his refources for every purpose of fpeculation and of action. Remember him, my friend, who in the highest degree honoured and refpected you, and remember that great parts are a great trust. Remember too that mistaken or mifapplied virtues, if they are not as pernicious as vice, frustrate at least their own natural tendencies, and difappoint the purposes of the Great Giver.