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by them, as too many were, into a desire of following them, he stood with firmness on the solid ground of experimental truth, and pointed out the deceitfulness of that Serbonian bog, which was the object of general wonder. At a very early period of the Revolution he expressed his sentiments upon it, to several of his friends, abroad and at home. One of his correspondents in France having solicited his opinion more in detail, Mr. BURKE drew up a long letter in compliance with his desire; but finding that the subject continued to be pregnant with fresh matter every week, and that as he proceeded in watching the agitated elements, the more alarming the prospect became, he extended his observations, till that which was meant for an epistle became a volume. He now thought, and justly, that the influenza of revolutionary principles called for a powerful antidote, on which account, and neither with a view to profit nor popularity, he sent his "Reflections on the French Revolution," to the press. The effect produced was so electrical, that in a few months several thousand copies were sold; and though, as was to be expected, a host of antagonists rose up in arms against the author, all agreed in paying a tribute to his genius. Among the rest, Dr. Samuel Parr having had occasion in one of his fugitive tracts to notice this performance, expressed himself in this remarkable manner: "Upon the first perusal of Mr. BURKE's book, I felt, like many other men, its magic force, and, like many other men, I was at last delivered from the illusions which had 'cheated my reason,' and borne me onward from admiration to assent. But, though the dazzling spell be now dissolved, I still remember with pleasure the gay and celestial visions, when my mind in sweet madness was robbed of itself.' I still look back, with a mixture of pity and holy awe, to the wizard himself, who having lately broken his wand in a start of phrenzy, has shortened the term of bis sorceries; and of drugs so potent to 'bathe the spirits in delight,' I must still acknowledge, that many were culled from the choicest and most virtuous plants of Paradise itself."
The phrenzy to which the philosophical divine here alluded, was the conduct of Mr. BURKE in the house of commons, where he seized every opportunity of
warning his countrymen against the dan gerous influence of French principles. He first drew the attention of the senate to this great subject at the commencement of the session in 1790, when the army estimates came under consideration. On that occasion Mr. Fox, in opposing the military establishment as being too high, adverted to the state of France, and in terms of exultation eulogized the Revolution that had taken place. Mr. BURKE rose upon this, and though he considered the proposed establishment as unneces sarily high, because England had nothing to apprehend from the powers of Europe, one of the most formidable of them having been blotted out of the map, yet he could not avoid noticing and differing with the principles professed by his friend. So far from agreeing that the examples of France were objects for imitation, he reprobated them as extremely pernicious, and even more dangerous than all her hostility. In the reign of the fourteenth Louis, they set an example of splendid despotism; in that of the sixteenth Louis, they had set one infinitely more dangerous; they had shown the way to innovation and destructive speculation; they had set an example by the establishment of a bloody, ferocious, and tyrannical democracy; they had destroyed in the space of two months, more than ages would restore; they had madly pulled down their monarchy-destroyed their church-annihilated their lawsruined the discipline of their army-put an end to their commerce; and by the exertions of a desperate faction, established, in the place of order, anarchy and confusion. They had an army without a head, accountable to no one, making their own will the law, to which the national assembly were forced to submit;-and yet, this Revolution, this army, was to be compared to the British Revolution. "It was, however," said Mr. BURKE, "a false comparison; for the Revolution in England was against a king, who was taking the first steps to make himself absolute; the Revolution in France was against a king who was taking the first steps to make his people free. The Revolution in England was not carried on for the subversion of the Constitution, but for its preservation; all order, and all the ties of civil government were not destroyed, but strengthened;
and England held up her head prouder on that event, than she had ever done before. England by her Revolution maintained her natural aristocracy, as well as the aristocracy of the people; France in her Revolution had destroyed aristocracy, and involved herself in depth of ruin." Mr. BURKE further observed, "That he could not well tell what they had done; but they had by their Revolution destroyed every bond of social order and regular government. They had separated the people from their king-tenants from their landlords-servants from their mastersand in a word, done a deed without a
Mr. Fox, in reply, endeavoured to soften down the warmth of his friend by a moderate explanation; but Sheridan appeared to take a delight in widening the breach, for he immediately condemned the speech of BURKE, as disgraceful to an Englishman, as supporting despotism, and as libelling those who were virtuously engaged in obtaining the rights of men.
It was impossible to sit silent under such an attack, and it was not in the nature of BURKE to bear a blow of this kind without a retort. He rose, and said, “That for some time he had apprehended that the affairs of France would be productive of a division among many in that house, who had frequently acted together; he had not, however, expected that upon a separation being about to take place between himself and that honourable gentleman whom he used to call his friend, that he would have treated him so harshly, so unjustly, and so unbecomingly, as he had done, in imputing to him conduct, of which he had never been guilty. He was no supporter of despotism, but a firm defender of a well-mixed monarchy. He was no libeller of freemen, or any other class of men, but he reprobated, as he always would do, the conduct of ferocious, bloody, and desperate democracies." Mr. BURKE then proceeded to observe, "That there were persons in this country, who would be happy to promote innova tion, and he cautioned the house against them. He entreated them to be on their guard, and to maintain as sacred the ground of the Constitution." Mr. BURKE concluded by declaring, that from henceforward he would never have any intercourse with Sheridan, but leave him to
enjoy his little popularity, and the mean applause of his clubs.
The schism now became more extended, and the opposition were divided into two parties, one headed by Fox, and the other by BURKE. In less than a month after the angry discussion here mentioned, the former brought forward a motion for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, which BURKE opposed, and in his speech again drew a fearful picture of the state of France, which country he still thought was the most miserable upon earth. In justification of the vote, which he meant to give on the present occasion, he said that some parties here had, like the French, got possession of the words NATIONAL RIGHTS, and on this they relied as their strongest hold. "But," said Mr. BURKE, "I have from my earliest years turned with aversion from all these chimerical and abstract rights, which have for some time past confounded human reason, and disturbed the imagination of statesmen. At the age of twenty, I thought that all abstract rights, natural rights, and such nonsense, were unfit for men to hear; and now, that my hair is silvered by age, I am more and more confirmed in my abhorrence and disgust of them. Natural rights are dangerous topics of discussion, for they supersede all social duties. They are paramount to the compact which introduced into the community new rights and other ideas. They bring us back to that stage of savage helplessness, when, whatever may be our rights, we enjoy them but precariously, depending on casual circumstances for the miserable indulgence of beastly appetite and ferocious passion. Society annihilates all those natural rights, and draws to its mass all the component parts of which these rights are made up. It takes in all the virtue of the good, and all the wisdom of the wise; it gives life, support, and action, to every faculty of the soul, and secures the possession of every comfort which these proud and boasting natural rights impotently hold out, but cannot ascertain. Society finds protection for all-it gives defence to the weak-employment to the industrious-consolation to the distressed; it nurses the infant, and it soothes the dying. In all the stages of the life of man, where either the instilment of principles or the consolations of hope are
wanting, society is ready; and to confer this succour, an established religion is a powerful and necessary instrument." Upon these solid principles, Mr. BURKE resisted the claims of the Dissenters in the present case, and defended the bulwarks which had been framed for the security of the national church. Though it was evident that the bond of union no longer subsisted between the two leaders of the opposition, the forms of courtesy were still kept up till the next session, when the bill for the government of Canada having brought the subject of the Revolution again into discussion, Mr. BURKE, in an elaborate speech, entered on the general principles of legislation, repeated what he had before observed on natural rights, and expressed his conviction, that there was a league formed in this country, the design of which was to subvert the Constitution.
Mr. Fox, after declaring his opinion, that the French Revolution was one of the most glorious events in the history of mankind, proceeded to denounce the doctrines of Mr. BURKE as inimical to liberty, and contrary to the sentiments formerly maintained by his right honourable friend. This charge of inconsistency, or rather of apostacy, provoked a reply, in the course of which, Mr. BURKE said, "Mr. Fox has treated me with harshness and malignity; after harassing me with his light troops in the skirmishes of order, he has brought the heavy artillery of his own great abilities to destroy
Mr. BURKE then went over the ground again, and maintained that the new French system was replete with anarchy, impiety, vice, and misery; that the principles which he now advanced were in perfect unison with the creed which he had always professed, and to which he would inflexibly adhere as long as he lived. " Hitherto," said he, "Mr. Fox and myself have often differed upon slight matters, without a loss of friendship on either side; but there is something in this cursed French Revolution that envenoms every thing." Mr. Fox upon this whispered, "There is no loss of friendship between us." But Mr. BURKE, instead of being softened by this conciliatory remark, exclaimed, "There is! I know the price of my conduct: our friendship is at an end!" This unexpected declaration had
such an effect upon the nerves of Mr. Fox, that he let drop some tears, while he endeavoured to appease the irritated mind of his old associate. But neither the concessions which he made, nor the interposing kindness of others, could bring about a reconciliation; and from that moment these two great men became almost as much strangers, as if there had never been the least intimacy between them.
Without going so far as to say, that the conduct of Mr. BURKE on this memoble occasion was free from blame, much must be allowed to the warmth of his feelings, and to much praise he is entitled, on the ground of general patriotism. He certainly had reason to complain, if not of Mr. Fox, yet of those with whom that gentleman maintained the most familiar intercourse. These subalterns were in the constant habit, through various channels, of impeaching Mr. BURKE before the bar of the public, and accusing him of a dereliction of principles; while Mr. Fox was panegyrised for his firmness, in adhering to the sound Whig doctrine of "The Rights of the People."
Upon this, Mr. BURKE drew up and published his "Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs," in which, after taking such a review of his political life as was necessary to his justification from the charge of apostacy, he entered into an historical discussion of the fundamental principles on which the English Revolution was established.
In the mean time his active mind was intent upon the proceedings going on in France, and every day brought a melancholy proof of the correctness of the opinion which at the beginning he had formed and expressed, of the awful change that had taken place. He was much affected by the condition of the French clergy, who were among the first sufferers by the Revolution. For those exiles of this venerable order, who sought and found an asylum in this country, Mr. BURKE exerted himself with benevolent alacrity; and while his calumniators were courting an alliance with the persecutors, he employed all the means that were in his power to relieve the afflicted.
This liberality procured him the thanks of the ecclesiastical dignitaries of France, conveyed to him by the archbishop of Aix; in return for which Mr. BURKE wrote to that prelate the following letter:
London, July 15, 1791.
It is with great satisfaction to me, that the generous victims of injustice and tyranny accept in good part the homage which I have offered to their virtues. It is a distinction which I would not have had occasion to merit from the clergy of France in the time of their credit and splendour. Your church, the intelligence of which was the ornament of the Christian world in its prosperity, is now more brilliant in the moment of its misfortunes, to the eyes who are capable of judging of it. Never did so great a number of men display a constancy so inflexible, a disinterestedness so manifest, a humility so magnanimous, so much dignity in their patience, and so much elevation in their sentiment of honour. Ages have not furnished so many noble examples as France has produced in the space of two years. It is odious to search in antiquity for the merit we admire, and to be insensible to that which passes under our eyes. France is in a deplorable situation, both in its political and moral state; but it seems to be in the order of the general economy of the world, that when the greatest and most detestable vices domineer, the most eminent and distinguished virtues raise their heads more proudly. Such is not the time for mediocrity. We may have some diversity in our opinions, but we have no difference in principles, There is but one kind of honour and virtue in the world; it consists in sacrificing every other consideration to the sentiments of our duty, of right, and of piety. It is this which the clergy of France have done. I will not examine scrupulously by what motives men like you have thought your duty to support all that you have done. All that I see, I am forced to admire. The rest is out of my reach-out, perhaps, of the reach of those, who are better instructed than me. One thing I see distinctly, because the bishops of France have proved it by their example; and that is, that they have made known to all the orders and all the classes of citizens, the advantages which even religion can derive from the alliance of its own proper dignity with the character which illustrious birth and the sentiment of honour gives to man.
It is with good reason, that in France the noblesse should be proud of the clergy,
and the clergy of the noblesse, although these two classes be for the present condemned to passive courage, which gives so much glory to the one and the other.
I shall present to the bishop of St. Paul de Leon your fine and affecting address; perhaps, he has already received it. I am sure that he will remain fixed; if I may judge from the little I have seen of him, he is a most estimable and a most amiable man. He has been received here by our high clergy, and by many others, not certainly in the manner due to his rank and merit, but with a respect for the one and the other, with which, from his natural goodness, he seems to be satisfied.
I do not know if it is to the complaisance of your lordship, that I owe the chefs-d'œuvres of ingenuity, intelligence, and superior eloquence, varied as the occasions require, in the different discourses and letters which I, from time to time, receive. They are the works of a great statesman, of a great prelate, and of a man versed in the science of administration. We cannot be astonished that the state, the clergy, the finances, and the trade of the kingdom should be ruined, when the author of these works, instead of having an important share in the councils of his country, is persecuted and undone. The proscription of such men is enough to cover a whole people with eternal reproach. Those who persecute them have, by this one act, done more injury to their country in depriving it of their services, than a million of men of their own standard can ever repair, even when they shall be disposed to build upon the ruins they have made.
Maintain, sir, the courage which you have hitherto shown; and be persuaded, that though the world is not worthy of you and your colleagues, we are not insensible of the honour which you do to our
and I cannot conceal the impression, that the suffrage of the man, the most celebrated for talents, virtues, and success, has made on my heart. Give me leave, above all, to acknowledge with an inte rest infinitely superior to all personal consideration, the eulogy which you have made on the respectable order of which I have the honour to partake the mis-, fortunes. The first orator of England has become the defender of the clergy of France. Yours is the voice that has so long directed, and balanced the opinion of a nation, of which France ought rather to be the rival by its progress in intelligence, than by its political interest. that the dark clouds which overhang my country may not for ever obscure the rays of light which the sciences, letters, and the arts bestow! We are in a time of trouble; we attend only to the noise of our discussions; we read only the productions of party; and how many wise men and enlightened citizens remain in silence! We can no longer judge for ourselves, and a foreign observer only can decide for us, what ought to be the judgment of posterity.
When my colleagues, in addressing themselves to you, chose me for their organ, I was penetrated with their sentiments, and with those of the ministers of all ranks, whom nothing can separate from their consciences. I spoke for them with the feeling which they gave me; and the noble thoughts, the touching expressions, I can boldly say, were only the daily impressions which the knowledge of their virtues inspires. It is wanting to their glory that you should see them, as I have seen them, simple in their conduct, tranquil in their adversity, and content with having fulfilled their duty. The church of France is the stranded bark which the waters have left after the tempest, and every one of us in the shipwreck contemplates with astonishment those new heavens, and this new earth, which were unknown before. By what destiny must it be, that after having supported, all my life, those maxims of Christian charity, of which the first ages of the church gave us both lessons and examples, I see myself the victim of intolerance and persecution! It is in the eighteenth century-it is in a nation that boasts of its philosophy-it is even in the moment that they announce the Revolution of Liberty, that they per
secute those who practise what they be lieve in religion, and who wish to preserve the worship of their fathers! We read in the Constitution, that "No one ought to be disturbed for his religious opinions;" we read in the laws concerning religion, oaths, deprivations, infamous penalti 3, and exile; and it is on the overthrow of their new Constitution that they found the civil Constitution of the clergy. What has become of all those natural laws, which were to serve for the basis of all their laws? We are the men whom, they wish to accuse with prejudices, who plead this day the rights of liberty. The cause, sir, that we have defended, is the noble, just, and holy cause of liberty, humanity, and religion. The clergy of France have demonstrated what it waspersuasion without fanaticism-courage without excess-and resistance without trouble, and without insurrection. We have suffered all kinds of loss; we have endured all sorts of rigour; and we remain tranquil and firm, because nothing is so unconquerable as the probity which supports itself on religion. Behold that of which they cannot judge in the world! They conceive that honour is the only sentiment which influences men of all conditions to the accomplishment of the most sacred duties. God forbid that I should weaken this noble instinct, which comes to the aid of reason, which rallies the warrior in the day of combat, and which can animate to the love of the public weal when it does not mislead us in the pursuit! But you have better defined this simple and true sentiment, "which consists in the habitual impression of our duty, of right and of piety." This sentiment ought to be in general that of good citizens, and there are no morals in a country where it is not acted upon. If they wish to destroy religion in France, it will be the first example of an empire without religion; and no one has proved, sir, with more eloquence than yourself, how much it imports to attach the principles of human society to something too high for man to outrage or destroy. They must consecrate by religion, respect for the laws; for what must the laws be, which an entire people obey only through constraint, and not by inclination? They will soon perceive that the force to which they yield is only the force which they give; this force will weaken of itself by