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of which had been so ably pointed out by the What must have been the state into which the bishop of Nancy?
assembly has brought your affairs, that the But it is unnecessary to dwell on these ob- relief afforded by so vast a supply has been vious heads of incumbrance. Have they made hardly perceptible? This paper also felt an sit any clear state of the grand incumbrance almost immediate depreciation of five per cent. of all, I mean the whole of the general and which in a little time came to about seven. municipal establishments of all sorts, and com- The effect of these assignats on the receipt pared it with the regular income by revenue of the revenue is remarkable. Mr. Necker Every deficiency in these becomes a charge found that the collectors of the revenue, who on the confiscated estate, before the creditor received in coin, paid the treasury in assignats. can plant his cabbages on an acre of church The collectors made seven per cent. by thus property. There is no other prop than this receiving in money, and accounting in depreconfiscation to keep the whole state from tum- ciated paper. It was not very difficult to forebling to the ground. In this situation they see, that this must be inevitable. It was, have purposely covered all that they ought in- however, not the less embarrassing. Mr. dustriously to have cleared, with a thick fog; Necker was obliged (I believe, for a considerand then, blindfold themselves, like bulls that able part, in the market of London) to buy shut their eyes when they push, they drive, by gold and silver for the mint, which amounted the point of the bayonets, their slaves, blinds to about twelve thousand pounds above the folded indeed no worse than their lords, to take value of the commodity gained. That ministheir fictions for currencies, and to swallow ter was of opinion, that whatever their secret down paper pills by thirty-four millions ster- nutritive virtue might be, the state could not ling at a dose. Then they proudly lay in their live upon assignats alone; that some real silclaim to a future credit, on failure of all their ver was necessary, particularly for the satispast engagements, and at a time when (if in faction of those who, having iron in their such a matter any thing can be clear) it is hands, were not likely to distinguish themclear that the surplus estates will never answer selves for patience, when they should perceive even the first of their mortgages, I mean that that whilst an increase of pay was held out to of the four hundred millions (or sixteen mil- them in real money, it was again to be fraudulions sterling) of assignats. In all this proce- lently drawn back by depreciated paper. The dure I can discern neither the solid sense of minister, in this very natural distress, applied plain dealing, nor the subtle dexterity of inge to the assembly, that they should order the colnious fraud. The objection within the assem- lectors to pay in specie what in specie they bly to pulling up the flood-gates for this inun- had received. It could not escape him, that dation of fraud, are unanswered; but they are if the treasury paid three per cent. for the use thoroughly refuted by an hundred thousand of a currency, which should be returned seven financiers in the street. These are the num- per cent. worse than the minister issued it, bers by which the metaphysic arithmeticians such a dealing could not very greatly tend 10 compute. These are the grand calculations on enrich the public. The assembly took no which a philosophical public credit is founded notice of his recommendation. They were in in France. They cannot raise supplies; but this dilemma-If they continued to receive the they can raise mobs. Let them rejoice in the assignats, cash must become an alien to their applauses of the club at Dundee, for their wis- treasury: if the treasury should refuse those dom and patriotism in having thus applied the paper amulets, or should discountenance them plunder of the citizens to the service of the in any degree, they must destroy the credit of state. I hear of no address upon this subject their sole resource. They seem then to have from the directors of the bank of England; made their option; and to have given some though their approbation would be of a little sort of credit to their paper by taking it themmore weight in the scale of credit than that of selves; at the same time in their speeches the club at Dundee. But, to do justice to the they made a sort of swaggering declaration, club, I beliove the gentlemen who compose it something, I rather think, above legislative to be wiser than they appear; that they will competence ; that is, that there is no difference be less liberal of their money than of their in value between metallic money and their addresses; and that they would not give a dog's assignats. This was a good stout proof article ear of their most rumpled and ragged Scotch of faith, pronounced under an anathema, by paper for twenty of your fairest assignats. the venerable fathers of this philosophic sye Early in this year the assembly issued paper nod. Credat who will
certainly not Judawe to the amount of sixteen millions sterling: Apella.
A noble indignation rises in the minds of It is as little worth remarking any farther your popular leaders, on hearing the magic upon all their drawing and re-drawing, on lanthorn in their shew of finance compared to their circulation for putting off the evil day, the fraudulent exhibitions of Mr. Law. They on the play between the treasury and the cannot bear to hear the sands of his Missis- Caisse d'Escompte, and on all these old ex. sippi compared with the rock of the church, ploded contrivances of mercantile fraud, now on which they build their system. Pray let exalted into policy of state. The revenue them suppress this glorious spirit, until they will not be trifled with. The prattling about shew to the world what piece of solid ground the rights of men will not be accepted in paythere is for their assignats, which they have ment for a biscuit or a pound of gun-powder. not pre-occupied by other charges. They do Here then the metaphysicians descend from injustice to that great, mother fraud, to com- their airy speculations, and faithfully follow pare it with their degenerate imitation. It is examples. What examples? The examples not true that Law built solely on a speculation of bankrupts. But defeated, baffled, disgraced, concerning the Mississippi. He added the when their breath, their strength, their invenEast India trade; he added the African trade; tions, their fancies desert them, their confihe added the farms of all the farmed revenue dence still maintains its ground. In the maniof France. All these together unquestionably fest failure of their abilities, they take credit could not support the structure which the public for their benevolence. When the revenue enthusiasm, not he, choge to build upon these disappears in their hands, they have the prebases. But these wers, however, in compa- sumption, in some of their late proceedings, rison, generous delusions. They supposed, to value themselves on the relief given to the and thev aimed at an increase of the com- people. They did not relieve the people. If merce France. They opened to it the ihey entertained such intentions, why did they whole range of the two hemispheres. They order the obnoxious taxes to be paid? The did not think of feeding France from its own people relieved themselves in spite of the assubstance. A grand imagination found in sembly. this flight of commerce something to captivate. But waving all discussion on the parties It was wherewithal to dazzle the eye of an who may claim the merit of this fallacious eagle. It was not made to entice the smell of relief, has thero been, ir effect, any relief to a mole, nuzzling and burying himself in his the people in any form? Mr. Bailly, one of mother earth, as yours is. Men were not the grand agents of paper circulation, lets you then quite shrunk from their natural dimen- into the nature of this relief. His speech to sions by a degrading and sordid philosophy, the national assembly contained a high and and fitted for low and vulgar deceptions. laboured panegyric on the inhabitants of Paris Above all remember, that in imposing on the for the constancy and unbroken resolution with imagination, the then managers of the system which they have borne their distress and mimade a compliment to the freedom of men. sery. A fine picture of public felicity! What! In their fraud there was no mixture of force. great courage and unconquerable firmness of This was reserved to our time, to quench the mind to endure benefits, and sustain redress! little glimmerings of reason which might One would think from the speech of this break in upon the solid darkness of this en- learned lord mayor, that the Parisians, for lightened age.
this twelvemonth past, had been suffering the On recollection, I have said nothing of a straits of some dreadful blockade ; that Henry scheme of finance which may be urged in the Fourth had been stopping up the avenues favour of the abilities of these gentlemen, and to their supply, and Sully thundering with his which has been introduced with great pomp, ordnance at the gates of Paris ; when in though not yet finally adopted in the national reality they are besieged by no other enemies assembly. it comes with something solid in than their own madness and folly, their own aid of the credit of the paper circulation ; and credulity and perverseness. But Mr. Bailly much has been said of its utility and its ele- will sooner thaw the eternal ice of his atlangance. I mean the project for coining into tic regions, than restore the central heat to money the bells of the suppressed churches. Paris, whilst it remains "smitten with the This is their alchymy. There are some fol- cold, dry, petrific mace" of a false and unfeel. lies which baffle argument; which go beyond ing philosophy. Some time after this speech, ridicule; and which excite no feeling in us that is, on the thirteenth of last August, the but disgust; and therefore I say no more same magistrate, giving an account of his upon it.
government at the bar of the same assembly. expresses himself as follows: "In the month endeavour, they must be taught their consolaof July 1789," (the period of everlasting com- tion in the final proportions of eternal justice. memoration,) " the finances of the city of of this consolation whoever deprives them, Paris were yet in good order; the expenditure deadens their industry, and strikes at the root was counterbalanced by the receipt, and she of all acquisition as of all conservation. He had at that time a million” (forty thousand that does this is the cruel oppressor, the merpounds sterling) "in bank. The expenses ciless enemy of the poor and wretched; at the whick she has been constrained to incur, suba same time that by his wicked speculations he sequent to the revolution, amount to 2,500,000 exposes the fruits of successful industry, and livres. From these expenses, and the great the accumulations of fortune, to the plunder of falling off in the produci of the free gifts, not the negligent, the disappointed, and the unonly a momentary, but a total want of money prosperous. has taken place.
This is the Paris, upon Too many of the financiers by profession whose nourishment, in the course of the last are apt to see nothing in revenue but banks, year, such immense sums, drawn from the and circulations, and annuities on lives, and vitals of all France, have been expended. As tontines, and perpetual rents, and all the small long as Paris stands in the place of ancient wares of the shop. In a settled order of the Rome, so long she will be maintained by the state, these things are not to be slighted, nor subject provinces. It is an evil inevitably is the skill in them to be held of trivial estiattendant on the dominion of sovereign demo- mation. They are good, but then only good, cratic republics. As it happened in Rome, it when they assume the effects of that settled may survive that republican domination which order, and are built upon it. But when men gave rise to it. In that case despotism itself think that these beggarly contrivances may must submit to the vices of popularity. Rome, supply a resource for the evils which result under her emperours, united the evils of both from breaking up the foundations of public systems; and this unnatural combination was order, and from causing or suffering the prinone great cause of her ruin.
ciples of property to be subverted, they will, To tell the people that they are relieved by in the ruin of their country, leave a melanthe dilapidation of their public estate, is a choly and lasting monument of the effect of cruel and insolent imposition. Statesmen, preposterous politics, and presumptuous, shortbefore they valued themselves on the relief sighted, narrow-minded wisdom. given to the people by the destruction of their The effects of the incapacity shewn by the revenue, ought first to have carefully attended popular leaders in all the great members of the to the solution of this problem:-Whether it commonwealth are to be covered with the be more advantageous to the people to pay “ all-atoning name" of liberty. In some considerably, and to gain in proportion; or to people I see great liberty indeed; in many, gain little or nothing, and to be disburthened if not in the most, an oppressive degrading of all contribution ? My mind is made up to servitude. But what is liberty without wisdecide in favour of the first proposition. Ex. dom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of perience is with me, and, I believe, the best all possible evils ; for it is folly, vice, and madopinions also. To keep a balance between the ness, without twition or restraint. Those who power of acquisition on the part of the subject, know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to and the demands he is to answer on the part of see it disgraced by incapable heads, on acthe state, is a fundamental part of the skill of a count of their having high-sounding words in true politician. The means of acquisition are their mouths. Grand, swelling sentiments of prior in time and in arrangement. Good liberty, I am sure I do not despise. They order is the foundation of all good things. warm the heart; they enlarge and liberalize To be enabled to acquire, the people, without our minds"; they animate our courage in a being servile, must be tractable and obedient. time of conflict. Old as I am, I read the fine The magistrate must have his reverence, the raptures of Lucan and Corneille with pleasure. laws their authority. The body of the peo- Neither do I wholly condemn the little arts plo must not find the principles of natural and devices of popularity. They facilitate subordination by art rooted out of their the carrying of many points of moment; they minds. They must respect that property keep the people together ; they refresh tho of which they cannot partake. They must mind in its exertions; and they diffuse occaLabour to obtain whai by labour can be sional gaiety over the severe brow of moral obtained; and when they find, as they com- freedom. Every politician ought to sacrifice monly do, the success disproportioned to the to the graces; and to join compliance with reason. But in such an undertaking as that Some usages have been abolished on just in France, ail these subsidizry sentiments and grounds; but they were such, that if they had artifices are of little arzil. To make a go- stood as they were to all eternity, they would vernment requires no grcat prudence. Seule little detract from the happiness and prosperity the seat of power; tech obedience: and the of any state. The improvements of the nawork is done. To give freedom is still more tional assembly are superficial, their errours easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only fundamental. requires to let go the rein. But to form a free Whatever they are, I wish my countrynica government; that is, to temper together these rather to recommend to our neighbours the opposite d'ements of liberty and restraint in example of the British constitution, than to one consistent work, requires much thought, take models from them for the improvement of deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, and our own. In the former they have got an incombining mind. This I do not find in those valuable treasure. They are not, I think, who take the lead in the national assembly. without some causes of apprehension and Perhaps they are not so miserably deficient as complaint; but these they do not owe to their they appear. I rather believe it. It would constitution, but to their own conduct. I think put them below the common level of human our happy situation owing to our constitution: understanding. But when the leaders choose but owing to the whole of it, and not to any to make themselves bidders at an auction of part singly; owing in a great measure to what popularity, their talents, in the construction of we have left standing in our several reviews the state, will be of no service. They will and reformations, as well as to what we have become flatterers instead of legislators; the altered or superadded. Our people will find instruments, not the guides of the people. If employment enough for a truly patriotic, free, any of them should happen to propose a scheme and independent spirit, in guarding what they of liberty, soberly limited, and defined with possess from viola:ion. I would not exclude proper qualifications, he will be immediately alteration neither; but even when I changed, outbid by his competitors, who will produce it should be to preserve. I should be led to something moro splendiilly popular. Suspi- my remedy by a great grievance. In what I cions will be raised of his fidelity to his cause. did, I should follow the example of our ances. Moderation will be stigmatized as the virtue tors. I would make the reparation as nearly of cowards; and compromise as the prudence as possible in the style of the building. A of traitors ; until, in hopes of preserving the politic cantion, a guarded circumspection, a credit which may enable l'im to lemper and moral rather than a complexional timidity, moderate on some occasions, the popular leader were among the ruling principles of our foreis obliged to become active in propagating doc- fathers in their inost decided conduct. Not trines, and establishing powers, that will after being illuminated with the light of which the wards defeat any sober purpose at which he gentlemen of France tell us they have got so ultimately might have aimed.
abundant a share, they acted under a strong But am I so unreasonable as to see nothing impression of the ignorance and fallibility of at all that deserves commendation in the inde, mankind. He that had made them thus fallible, fatigable labours of this assembly? I do not rewarded them for having in their conduct atdeny that among an infinite number of acts of tended to their nature. Let us imitate their violence and folly, some good may have been caution, if we wish to deserve their forture, or done. They who destroy every thing certain to retain their beques Let us add, if we will remove some grievance. They who make please, but let us preserve what they have left; cvery thing new, have a chance that they may and, standing on the firm ground of the British ostablish sornething beneficial. To give them constitution, let us be satisfied to admire, racredit for what they have done in virtue of the ther than attempt to follow in their desperate authority they have usurped, or to excuse them flights the aéronauts of France. in the crimes by which that authority has been I have told you candidly my sentiments. I acquired, it mus. appear, that the same things think they are not likely to alter yours. I do could not have been accomplished without pro- not know that they ought. You are young; ducing such a revolution. Most assuredly they you cannot guide, but must follow the fortune might; because almost every one of the regu- of your country. But hereafter they may be lations made by them, which is not very equi- of some use to you, in some future form which vocal, was either in the cession of the king, your commonwealth may take. In the present voluntarily made at the meeting of the states, it can hardly reniain; but before its final setor in the concurrent instructions to the orders. tlement it may be obliged 10 pass, as one of
LETTER TO A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.
our poet says, "through great varieties of un- employed on your affairs; and who in so doing tried being,” and in all its transmigrations to persuades himself he has not departed from his be purified by fire and blood.
usual office: they come from one who desires I have little to recommend my opinions but honours, distinctions, and emoluments, but litlong observation and much impartiality. They tle; and who expects them not at all; who has come from one who has been no tool of power, no contempt for fame, and no fear of obloquy ; no flatterer of greatness; and who in his last who shuns contention, though he will hazard acts does not wish to belie the tenour of his an opinion : from one who wishes to preserve life. They come from one, almost the whole consistency; but who would preserve consisuf whose public exertion has been a struggle tency by varying his means to secure the unity for the liberty of others; from one in whose of his end ; and, when the equipoise of the breast no anger durable or vehement has ever vessel in which he sails may be endangered been kindled, but by what he considered as by overloading it upon one side, is desityranny; and who snatches from his share in rous of carrying the small weight of his the endeavours which are used by good men to reasons to that which may preserve its equidiscredit opulent oppression, the hours he has poise.
A LETTER FROM MR. BURKE TO A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY; IN ANSWER TO SOME
OBJECTIONS TO HIS BOOK ON FRENCH AFFAIRS. 1791.
SIR,-I had the honour to receive your letter design of the architects then in the execution of the 17th of November last ; in which, with of the masons. It was not worth my reader's some exceptions, you are pleased to consider while to occupy himself with the alterations by favourably the letter I have written on the which bungling practice corrects absurd theory. affairs of France. I shall ever accept any mark Such an investigation would be endless : beof approbation, attended with instruction, with cause every day's past experience of impracmore pleasure than general and unqualified ticability has driven, and every day's future praises. The latter can serve only to flatter experience will drive, those men to new deour vanity; the former, whilst it encourages us vices as exceptionable as the old; and which to proceed, may help to improve us in our are no otherwise worthy of observation than as progress.
they give a daily proof of the delusion of their Some of the errours you point out to me in promises, and the falsehood of their professions. my printed letter are really such. One only Had I followed all these changes, my letter I find to be material. It is corrected in the would have been only a gazette of their wanedition which I take the liberty of sending to derings; a journal of their march from errour you. As to the cavils which may be made on to errour, through a dky dreary desert, unguided some part of my remarks, with regard to the by the lights of heaven, or by the contrivance gradations in your new constitution, you ob which wisdom' has invented to supply their serve justly, that they do not affect the sub- place. stance of my objections. Whether there be a I am unalterably persuaded, that the attempt round more or less in the ladder of representa- to oppress, degrade, impoverish, confiscate, tion, by which your workmen ascend from their and extinguish the original gentlemen, and parochial tyranny to their federal anarchy, landed property of a whole nation, cannot be when the whole scalt is false, appears to me justified under any form it may assume. I am of little or no importance.
satisfied beyond a doubt, that the project of I published my thoughts on that constitution, turning a great empire into a vestry, or into a that my countrymen might be enabled 10 estis collection of vestries, and of governing it in mate the wisdom of the plans which were held the spirit of a parochial administration, is out to their imitation. I conceived that the senseless and absurd, in any mode, or with any true character of those plans would be best cole qualifications. I can never be convinced, that ected from the committee appointed to prepare the scheme of placing the highest powers of them. I thought that the scheme of their buils the state in churchuardens and constables, and ding would be be!ler comprehended in the other such officers, guided by the prudence of