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dom; every thing human and divine facrificed to the idol of publick credit, and national bankruptcy the confequence; and to crown all, the paper fecurities of new, precarious, tottering power, the difcredited paper fecurities of impoverished fraud, and beggared rapine, held out as a currency for the support of an empire, in lieu of the two great recognized fpecies that reprefent the lafting conventional credit of mankind, which difappeared and hid themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the principle of property, whofe creatures and reprefentatives they are, was fyftematically fubverted.

Were all these dreadful things neceffary? were they the inevitable refults of the defperate struggle of determined patriots, compelled to wade through blood and tumult, to the quiet fhore of a tranquil and profperous liberty? No! nothing like it. The fresh ruins of France, which fhock our feelings wherever we can turn our eyes, are not the devaftation of civil war; they are the fad but inftructive monuments of rash and ignorant counsel in time of profound peace. They are the difplay of inconfiderate and prefumptuous, because unrefifted and irresistible authority. The persons who have thus fquandered away the precious treasure of their crimes, the perfons who have made this prodigal and wild wafte of publick evils (the last stake referved for the ultimate ransom of the state) have


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met in their progress with little, or rather with no oppofition at all. Their whole march was more like a triumphal proceffion than the progrefs of a war. Their pioneers have gone before them, and demolished and laid every thing level at their feet. Not one drop of their blood have they shed in the caufe of the country they have ruined. They have made no facrifices to their projects of greater consequence than their fhoe-buckles, whilft they were imprisoning their king, murdering their fellow-citizens, and bathing in tears, and plunging in poverty and distress, thousands of worthy men and worthy families. Their cruelty has not even been the base refult of fear. It has been the effect of their sense of perfect fafety, in authorizing treafons, robberies, rapes, affaffinations, flaughters, and burnings, throughout their haraffed land. But the cause of all was plain from the beginning.

This unforced choice, this fond election of evil, would appear perfectly unaccountable, if we did not confider the compofition of the national affembly: I do not mean its formal conftitution, which as it now stands is exceptionable enough, but the materials of which, in a great measure, it is composed, which is of ten thousand times greater confequence than all the formalities in the world. If we were to know nothing of this affembly but by its title and function, no colours could paint to the imagination any thing more venerable. In that

light the mind of an inquirer, subdued by such an awful image as that of the virtue and wisdom of á whole people collected into one focus, would pause and hesitate in condemning things even of the very worst afpect. Inftead of blameable, they would appear only myfterious. But no name, no power, no function, no artificial inftitution whatfoever, can make the men of whom any system of authority is compofed, any other than God, and nature, and education, and their habits of life have made them. Capacities beyond these the people have not to give. Virtue and wisdom may be the objects of their choice; but their choice confers neither the one nor the other on those upon whom they lay their ordaining hands. They have not the engagement of nature, they have not the promise of revelation for any fuch powers.

After I had read over the lift of the perfons and descriptions elected into the Tiers Etat, nothing which they afterwards did could appear aftonishing. Among them, indeed, I saw some of known rank; fome of fhining talents; but of any practical experience in the state, not one man was to be found. The beft were only men of theory. But whatever the diftinguished few may have been, it is the substance and mafs of the body which conftitutes its character, and must finally determine its direction. In all bodies, those who will lead, muft alfo, in a confiderable degree, fol


low. They must conform their propofitions to the taste, talent, and disposition of those whom they wish to conduct: therefore, if an affembly is viciously or feebly compofed in a very great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree of virtue as very rarely appears in the world, and for that reafon cannot enter into calculation, will prevent the men of talents diffeminated through it from becoming only the expert inftruments of abfurd projects! If, what is the more likely event, instead of that unusual degree of virtue, they should be actuated by finister ambition, and a luft of meretricious glory, then the feeble part of the affembly, to whom at first they conform, becomes in its turn the dupe and inftrument of their designs. In this political traffick the leaders will be obliged to bow to the ignorance of their followers, and the followers to become fubfervient to the worst designs of their leaders,

To fecure any degree of sobriety in the propofitions made by the leaders in any publick affembly, they ought to respect, in fome degree perhaps to fear, those whom they conduct. To be led any otherwise than blindly, the followers must be qualified, if not for actors, at least for judges; they must also be judges of natural weight and authority. Nothing can fecure a fteady and moderate conduct in fuch affemblies, but that the body of them should be refpectably compofed, in point of


condition in life, of permanent property, of education, and of fuch habits as enlarge and liberalise the understanding.

In the calling of the states general of France, the first thing that ftruck me, was a great departure from the ancient courfe. I found the reprefentation for the third estate composed of six hundred perfons. They were equal in number to the reprefentatives of both the other orders. If the orders were to act separately, the number would not, beyond the confideration of the expence, be of much moment. But when it became apparent that the three orders were to be melted down into one, the policy and neceffary effect of this numerous representation became obvious. A very fmall

defertion from either of the other two orders muft throw the power of both into the hands of the third. In fact, the whole power of the state was foon refolved into that body. Its due compofition became therefore of infinitely the greater importance.

Judge, Sir, of my furprife, when I found that a very great proportion of the affembly (a majority, I believe, of the members who attended) was compofed of practitioners in the law. It was compofed, not of distinguished magiftrates, who had given pledges to their country of their science, prudence, and integrity; not of leading advocates,

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the glory of the bar; not of renowned profeffors

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