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'most fairly judged. It is the interregnum of law and the sa'turnalia of passion.' * In England, however, during the suspension of the power of the executive, there was scarcely an interregnum of law; for that which George Withers describes as
'— a yet augustcr thing,
still maintained its supremacy in the public mind. 'Independ-
* Chenevix on National Character, Vol. I. p. 315.
'cess of corruption in all its parts, and had become unfit even * for the government which it possessed in 1788.'* The contrast between the two revolutions is pursued in some subsequent paragraphs, which we cannot refrain from transcribing.
'The French revolution began by the most atrocious crimes; but those crimes mere not new; and they were accompanied by all the minutiae of horror which had characterized them in every period. There is not a single act of blood or treachery, not a single day of massacre or outrage, but has its melancholy precedent, often repeated, in the former history of France. The language, indeed, was changed; and an unusual term, liberty, was introduced, to be the excuse for all. Old crimes were committed under new names and new pretences, to make the world suppose them virtues;—a species of hypocrisy not demanded by the nation itself,-but practised in deference to those who heard of them from afar.
'Nothing can be more false than to assert, that the revolution was nndertalcen in the cause of freedom. The whole system of reform was a series of untruth and cunning, and all was carried on by treachery. The nearest ties of blood or friendship were allowed no confidence. Servants were bribed to betray their masters; and in every province, men and women were brought to the scaffold by fathers, friends, or brothers. The most eloquent apostle of French revolutionary liberty exclaimed, in his fervour: "Delation, a shame and a vice in despotic 'states, is a virtue among free men." And the principle was consecrated by the holiest practice.
* But the cruelty of this revolution surpassed even its perfidy. The number of persons massacred, not in battle, during the reign of the best assembly, the Constituent, was 3,753, or nearly five per day during about two years. The legislative body had the effrontery to countenance these massacres; and Mirabeau declared, that Liberty was a prostitute who delighted to revel among heaps of carcases. These were the virtuous days of French regeneration. The second assembly sat about 355 days, and encouraged the perpetration of 8044 massacres, or about twenty-five per day. The Convention lasted about three years, and at its instigation 1,026,606 massacres were committed, making about 1000 per day. But, besides this, 800,000 perished in civil war, 20,000 by famine, and 3,400 women died in premature child-birth, brought on by terror. The destruction of property was everywhere in the like proportion. After the reign of the Convention, .cruelty began to yield its place to cunning, and the most perfidious of •governments succeeded to the most sanguinary ....
'The manner in which the English and the French conducted themselves towards their sovereigns, though both events terminated in death, is characteristic. The provocation which the former had borne was great, and it was wonderful that the father did not suffer in the stead of the son. The demands of the English, just and reasonable as they were, had been constantly refused; and whenever any jioint was
gained, it was withdrawn again as soon as possible. Charles had eren waged war upon the Parliament that murdered him, and no man relied upon his word. But Louis XVI. was sincere r.nd gentle, upright in his intentions, had not violated any promise, and sincerely desired a true reform. He complied with every wish of his subjects, however unreasonable; and the only reproach which can be made to him is his weakness. When pushed to extremities, he did, indeed, attempt to save himself and family by flight; but the French were not wise or generous enough to allow him to escape. The English bore the misconduct of the Stuarts for near half a century, while the gentleness of Louis could not preserve him one-tenth part of the time from the scaffold.
'Charles was ill treated during his captivity, and his death was ignominious; but the sufferings of Louis were infinitely more agonizing. Given in charge to the lowest of wretches, he was compelled to bear their insults, as well to himself as to his wife, his children, and his sister: and his keepers spared him no affliction which could render his situation more bitter.
'When Charles was dead, the malice of the British was appeased. When the French king was no more, his family was persecuted; his wife, his son, his sister, three princes of his blood, were murdered, and the rest were pursued by imprecations. But it may be said, the English monarch had the precaution to send his family out of the kingdom. He did so, and how was his queen, Henrietta, the daughter of the most beloved monarch whom that nation ever knew—of Henri IV.—treated by her own nearest royal relations, in her own country? The French monarch was a better man than the British, and for this reason the murder of Louis XVI. is less excusable.
'Another characteristic which distinguishes the two revolutions, is, the fate of religion. Ever since the time of WicklifFe, the tendency in England was to simplify the forms of worship, even more than was consonant with a monarchical government. Such a system must lead to atheism, if not sincere;—to enthusiasm, if the heart be really strong enough to maintain its belief by spiritual feeling alone. Fortunately the latter prevailed; and though, no doubt, many may have perverted the practice, the principle which became prevalent was religious exaggeration. Even admitting an assertion which is not true, that enthusiasm is capable of producing as much evil as irreligion, still, the effects which each leaves behind are completely opposite. Fanaticism is a fever, but atheism is death. From the one, men may recover: from the other, they cannot. Irreligion leaves no limit to vice ; while enthusiasm, not daring to commit any act but in the name of devotion, has a boundary which it must not pass. It was in the name of the Lord that Cromwell condemned his sovereign to the block; but he never could have used such pretexts coolly to murder one thousand persons per day during one thousand days. Nothing but atheism could, in the present age, have tolerated such scenes of blood as were hourly committed in France.' Chenevix. Vol. I. pp. 339—343. •
• See, for a review of this work, Eel. Rev. vol. vii. (3d Series), p. 324. We deem it unnecessary, in using the above paragraphs for our
'It would be an injustice,' this intelligent Writer subsequently remarks, 'to the memory of the worst abettor of Cromwell, to 'compare him to the least atrocious member of the Convention.' It would be not merely injustice, but imbecility, to compare the characters of Hampden and Mirabeau, Fairfax and Robespierre, Cromwell and Bonaparte. Mirabeau, in particular, 'the genius 'of disorganization,' the Catiline of the Revolution, was such a personification of all the vices of the social system out of which he rose, as France alone could have given birth to. In no other country could Mirabeau have been Mirabeau, or Robespierre Robespierre.
As a further proof that such a Revolution as the French could not have taken place in England, we might advert to the happy and almost bloodless revolution of 1088; nay, to the American Revolution itself, which might equally be cited as a noble illustration of the English national character,—the character produced by the laws, the liberties, and the religion of England, and by the national habit of deference to those mutually conservative elements of her government and polity. But, if neither in the seventeenth nor in the eighteenth century, such a Revolution could by possibility have occurred in this country; the notion that such a catastrophe is now to be apprehended as the result of popular concessions, the ultimate consequence of reform in church and state, is surely as absurd as ever haunted a mind not deprived of sanity. Yet, the French Revolution is still held up by certain writers as a bug-bear; and the Quarterly Reviewer would fain have us look upon Lord Althorp as the Turgot (who will be the Calonne ?) of * the revolution now in progress here.' 'We, let it be observed,' is their oracular language, 'are but 'now in the second month of our States General: we are ap'proaching the Night of Sacrifices, and by just the tame steps 'which the French trod before Ms.' There can be no delusion in this assertion: it is pure audacity.
We should deem it an insult to the understandings of our readers to enter into a grave refutation of this absurd comparison. But we are tempted to pursue the contrast between the two countries a little further, in reference to the actual condition, moral and political, of the French people in the reign of Louis XVI., and of the English in that of William IV.
The state of France previous to the first movements of the revolutionary spirit, is thus forcibly described by the writer in the Quarterly. 'Exhausted with civil strife and bloodshed, the
present purpose, to advert to those points of opinion or religious sentiment upon which our own views differ from those of the learned Author.
'people gladly sought repose under the quiet shade of despotism/ 'Far from dreaming of resistance, the leaders of the public mind 'never even dreamed of murmurs.' This repose of exhaustion, this ominous passiveness, is the very state of feeling which might be expected to precede and forebode a frightful display of popular violence, when the tiger should be waked from his slumber. The general condition of the people has been described as a state of fear, suspicion, and wretchedness. If that wretchedness was not progressive, (for between the beginning of the century and the accession of Louis XVI., the social condition of the people in some parts of France appears to have improved,) they were made but the more sensible of the fiscal burdens and aristocratical oppression under which they groaned. Lord John Russell thus sums up his account of the state of. the kingdom, which cannot be charged with exaggeration.
'A nobility, disfigured by every vice, and possessing scarcely any virtue but courage, were privileged to insult and maltreat the peoplf, whose burdens they did not share. The tribunals were filled with persons who bought the power of administering justice, and very generallr sold it to the clients who appeared at their bar. The most outrageous violations of all the rules of equity, the most barbarous methods of inquiry and of punishment, were revered and hallowed by the government as the established forms of law. A small portion of the nation, divided front the rest, enjoyed all the patronage of the court, held the command of armies and the richest benefices in the church, and were seldom punished for any crime they committed. At the same time, their exemption from taxes did not prevent them from involving themselves in debt; and they exhibited to their countrymen the want of principle which is the cause, the recklessness which is the companion, and the embarrassment and poverty which are the consequences, of vice. On the other hand, the people were rendered thoroughly wretched by the vexations to which they were subject from the government and their landlords. Their misery proceeded from the arbitrary nature of every power in the state: the taxes were arbitrary; the administration of justice ; even their labour was controlled by arbitrary authority. Growing in importance, and struggling through all their difficulties into prosperity and comfort, their social condition improved, while their political condition remained stationary. They formed a mass long inert, and apparently lifeless; but the "matter of sedition" was abundant among them, and required onlv stirring to make it blaze at once into a flame.' pp. 80, 81.
Yet the Frenchman, while he hated the noble, still connected his greatness and glory with that of his king, le Grand Monarque. Lord Chesterfield, a keen observer, and one of the few 'who, at a later period, foresaw and foretold the Revolution, 'remarks, that a French• soldier will venture his life with alacrity 'pour rhonneur du roi, but that, if you were to change the 'object and propose to him le bien de la patrie, he would pro