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run through all their declarations, they are more explicit than ever.
First, they more directly undertake to be the real representatives of the people of this kingdom : and on a supposition in which they agree with our parliamentary reformers, that the House of Commons is not that Representative, the function being vacant, they, as our true constitutional organ, inform his Majesty and the world of the sense of the nation. They tell us that the English people see with regret his Majesty's Government squandering away the funds which had been granted to him.' This astonishing assumption of the publick voice of England is but a slight foretaste of the usurpation which, on a peace, we may be assured they will make of all the powers in all the parts of our vassal constitution. 'If it be thus in the green leaf, what will it be in the dry?'.
Next they tell us, as a condition to our treaty, that 'this Government must abjure the unjust hatred it bears to them, and at last open it's ears to the voice of humanity.'— Truly this is even from them an extraordinary demand. Hitherto, it seems, we have put wax into our ears, to shut them up against the tender, soothing strains, in the affettuoso of humanity, warbled from the throats of Reubel, Carnot, Tallien, and the whole chorus of Confiscators, Domiciliary Visitors, Committee-men of Research, Jurors and Presidents of Revolutionary Tribunals, Regicides, Assassins, Massacrers, and Septembrizers. It is not difficult to discern what sort of humanity our Government is to learn from these syren singers. Our Government also, (I admit, with some reason,) as a step towards the proposed fraternity, is required to abjure the unjust hatred which it bears to this body of honour and virtue. I thank God I am neither a Minister nor a leader of Opposition. I protest I cannot do what they desirè, if I were under the guillotine, or as they ingeniously and pleasantly express it, “looking out of the
little national window.' Even at that opening I could receive none of their light. I am fortified against all such affections by the declaration of the Government, which I must yet consider as lawful, made on the 29th of October 1793, and
1. In their place has succeeded a system destructive of all publick order, maintained by proscriptions, exiles, and confiscations, without number: by arbitrary imprisonment; by massacres which cannot be remembered without horror; and at length by the execrable murder of a just and beneficent Sovereign, and of the illustrious Princess, who, with an unshaken firmness, has shared all the misfortunes of her Royal Consort, his protracted sufferings, his cruel captivity and his ignominious death.'— They (the allies) have had to encounter acts of aggression without pretext, open violations of all treaties, unprovoked declarations of war; in a word, whatever corruption, intrigue or violence could effect for the purpose so openly avowed, of subverting all the institutions of society, and of extending over all the nations of Europe that confusion, which has produced the misery of France.'—*This state of things cannot exist in France without involving all the surrounding powers in one common danger, without giving them the right, without imposing it upon them as a duty, to stop the progress of an evil, which exists only by the successive violation of all law and all property, and which attacks the fundamental principles by which mankind is united in the bonds of civil society.'-'The King would impose none other than equitable and moderate conditions, not such as the expence, the risques and the sacrifices of the war might justify; but such as his Majesty thinks himself under the indispensable necessity of requiring, with a view to these considerations, and still more to that of his own security and of the future tranquillity of Europe. His Majesty desires nothing more sincerely than thus to terminate a war, which he in vain endeavoured to avoid, and all the calamities of which, as now experienced by France, are to be attributed only to the ambition, the perfidy and the violence of those, whose crimes have involved their own country in misery, and disgraced all civilized nations.'—* The King promises on his part the suspension of hostilities, friendship, and (as far as the course of events will allow, of which the will of man cannot dispose) security and protection to all those who, by declaring for a monarchical form of Government, shall shake off the yoke of sanguinary anarchy; of that anarchy which has broken all the most sacred bonds of society, dissolved all the relations of civil life, violated every right, confounded every duty; which uses the name of liberty to exercise the most cruel tyranny, to annihilate all property, to seize on all possessions; which founds it's power on the pretended consent of the people, and itself carries fire and sword through extensive provinces for having demanded their laws, their religion and their lawful Sovereign.'
Declaration sent by his Majesty's command to the Commanders of
his Majesty's fleets and armies employed against France, and to his Majesty's Ministers employed at foreign Courts.-WHITEHALL, Oct. 29, 1793.
still ringing in my ears. This declaration was transmitted not only to all our commanders by sea and land, but to our Ministers in every Court of Europe. It is the most eloquent and highly finished in the style, the most judicious in the choice of topicks, the most orderly in the arrangement, and the most rich in the colouring, without employing the smallest degree of exaggeration, of any state paper that has ever yet appeared. An ancient writer, Plutarch, I think it is, quotes · some verses on the eloquence of Pericles, who is called 'the only orator that left stings in the minds of his hearers.' Like his, the eloquence of the declaration, not contradicting, but enforcing sentiments of the truest humanity, has left stings that have penetrated more than skin-deep into my mind; and never can they be extracted by all the surgery of murder ; never can the throbbings they have created, be assuaged by all the emollient cataplasms of robbery and confiscation.
The third point which they have more clearly expressed than ever, is of equal importance with the rest; and with them furnishes a complete view of the Regicide system. For they demand as a condition without which our ambassador of obedience cannot be received with any hope of success, that he shall be provided with full powers to negociate a peace between the French Republick and Great Britain, and to conclude it definitively BETWEEN THE TWO POWERS.' With their spear they draw a circle about us. They will hear nothing of a joint treaty. We must make a peace separately from our allies. We must, as the very first and preliminary step, be guilty of that perfidy towards our friends and associates, with which they reproach us in our transactions with them our enemies. We are called upon scandalously to betray the fundamental securities to ourselves and to all nations. In my opinion, (it is perhaps but a poor one) if we are meanly bold enough to send an ambassador, such as this official note of the enemy requires, we cannot
even dispatch our emissary without danger of being charged with a breach of our alliance. Government now understand the full meaning of the passport.
STRANGE revolutions have happened in the ways of thinking and in the feelings of men. But it requires a very extraordinary coalition of parties indeed, and a kind of unheard-of unanimity in public Councils, which can impose this newdiscovered system of negociation, as sound national policy, on the understanding of a spectator of this wonderful scene, who judges on the principles of any thing he ever before saw, read, or heard of, and above all, on the understanding of a person who has had in his eye the transactions of the last seven years.
I know it is supposed, that if good terms of capitulation are not granted, after we have thus so repeatedly hung out che white flag, the national spirit will revive with tenfold ardour. This is an experiment cautiously to be made. Reculer pour mieux sauter, according to the French by-word, cannot be trusted to as a general rule of conduct. To diet a man into weakness and languor, afterwards to give him the greater strength, has more of the empirick than the rational physician. It is true that some persons have been kicked into courage; and this is no bad hint to give to those who are too forward and liberal in bestowing insults and outrages on their passive companions. But such a course does not at first view appear a well-chosen discipline to form men to a nice sense of honour, or a quick resentment of injuries. A long habit of humiliation does not seem a very good preparative to manly and vigorous sentiment. It may not leave, perhaps, enough of energy in the mind fairly to discern what are good terms or what are not. Men low and dispirited may regard those terms as not at all amiss, which .in another state of mind they would think intolerable: if they grew peevish in this state of mind, they may be roused, not against the enemy whom they have been taught to fear, but against the Ministrył, who are more within their reach, and who have refused conditions that are not unseasonable, from power that they have been taught to consider as irresistible.
If all that for some months I have heard have the least foundation, (I hope it has not,) the Ministers are, perhaps, not quite so much to be blamed, as their condition is to be lamented. I have been given to understand, that these proceedings are not in their origin properly theirs. It is said that there is a secret in the House of Commons. It is said that Ministers act not according to the votes, but according to the dispositions, of the majority. I hear that the minority has long since spoken the general sense of the nation; and that to prevent those who compose it from having the open and avowed lead in that house, or perhaps in both Houses, it was necessary to pre-occupy their ground, and to take their propositions out of their mouths, even with the hazard of being afterwards reproached with a compliance which it was foreseen would be fruitless.
If the general disposition of the people be, as I hear it is, for an immediate peace with Regicide, without so much as considering our publick and solemn engagements to the party in France whose cause we had espoused, or the engagements expressed in our general alliances, not only without an enquiry into the terms, but with a certain knowledge that none but the worst terms will be offered, it is all over with us. It is strange, but it may be true, that as the danger from Jacobinism is increased in my eyes and in yours, the fear of it is lessened in the eyes of many people who formerly regarded it with horror.
* Ut lethargicus hic cum fit pugil, et medicum urget.-HOR.