« ForrigeFortsæt »
rebellious municipalities, which are to be rendered obedient by furnishing them with the means of feducing the very armies of the state that are to keep them in order; all thefe chimeras of a monftrous and portentous policy must aggravate the confufions from which they have arifen. There must be blood.' The officers are to be nominated in the firft inftance by the King, with a referve of approbation by the National Affembly. The true feat of power, however, will foon be difcovered; and it will be perceived that thofe who can negative indefinitely, in reality appoint. The officers will be always intriguing in the aflembly, though they will begin their folicitations at court. By this double negociation, endless faction will be produced. Thofe officers, who lofe the promotion defigned for them by the crown, will become a faction oppofite to the affembly; and will nourish difcontents in the heart of the army against the ruling powers. On the other hand, thofe who fucceed by the intereft of the affembly, will flight the authority of the crown. If, to avoid thefe evils, feniority alone be confidered in the appointments, that will create an army of mere formality; and it must be remembered, that no army has ever been known to yield a regular obedience to a fenate, or popular authority: ftill lefs will they be difpofed to fubmit to a triennial dominion of a body of pleaders. [Mr. B. here not only fuppofes that the affembly now do, but that they are always hereafter to confift of the body chicane.] Mutiny will be introduced, and remain among the officers, till fome popular general fhall fecure their obedience; and then he will overturn the whole state, and make himself mafter of every thing. Laftly, The doctrine of the equal rights of men being fo industriously inculcated; and the foldiers being fo intimately blended with the municipalities who elect their own magiftrates; it will be impoffible to keep the troops long quiet, without allowing them to chufe their own officers. Mr. B. here pleads the rights of the foldiers, with as much vehemence as if he had been fee'd for it.
Revenue, the Right Hon. Gentleman confiders as the life and foul of the state. The revenue of the ftate, is the ftate. Its administration is the fphere of every active virtue*. By a report
This extravagant doctrine, of the paramount fupremacy of revenue, was advanced by fome politicians in the lower houfe, toward the clofe of the laft parliament. The maintainers of fuch tenets, instead of confecrating the ftate, and confidering the office of thofe who adminifter in the government of men as a holy function;' appear to us to profane the temple with their idolatry. This is furely fetting up the worship of Mammon. It is making adminiftration
report of M. Vernier, from the committee of finances, of the fecond of Auguft laft, he finds that the amount of the French national revenue, as compared with its produce before the revolution, was diminished by the fum of two hundred millions, or eight millions fterling of the annual income, confiderably more than one-third of the whole.' Mr. Burke charges the National Affembly with a great want of policy in condemning the falt monopoly as an oppreffive and partial tax, (which, however, he allows to be a true statement,) at the fame time, that they decreed to continue it, till they could find a revenue to replace it. The confequence was, that the provinces which had been always exempt from this tax, (fome of which were charged with other contributions, perhaps equivalent,) refused to bear any part of the burthen which, by an equal distribution, was to redeem others. The affembly were occupied with other matters. The falt provinces, growing impatient, relieved themselves by throwing off the whole burthen. Other provinces, judging of their own grievances by their own feelings, did as they pleafed with other taxes. To fupply the deficiencies of revenue, the affembly called for a voluntary benevolence, of one-fourth part of the income of all the citizens,
niftration a pitiful job,' and converting minifters into publicans, and tax-gatherers. It is filling the great court of the edifice with buyers and fellers, and money-changers. It is turning the house of prayer into a den of thieves.
That revenue is an object of very great importance, there can be no doubt becaufe, if the neceffary expences of obtaining any good be not paid, that good cannot be enjoyed: but it is not the chief object of civil fociety. The revenue of the ftate is not the ftate. The primary object of government is unquestionably the happiness of the people. Where this object is neglected, or poftponed to any other confideration, government becomes an evil; and men would do better without it. That a nation cannot be happy if the revenue be not properly paid, is certain: but then, on the other hand, it is very poffible, and perhaps very common, for an ample revenue to be duly collected, while the people are groaning under the most intolerable oppreffion and mifery.
Mr. Burke has a very fingular idea on this fubject. Perhaps it may be owing,' fays he, to the greatnefs of revenues, and to the urgency of flate neceffities, that old abufes in the conflitution of finances are difcovered, and their true nature and rational theory comes to be more perfectly understood.' This is the most curious apology for fcrewing up the people, that we ever faw! Gentlemen, why do you complain of the weight of your burthens? Do you not perceive that the more taxes you pay, and the more oppreffive they are, the more chance you have of discovering the peculation of your tax-gatherers, and the errors of your financiers?
to be estimated on the honour of those who were to pay. By this, they obtained more than could be rationally calculated, but not enough to answer their neceffities, much less their expectations. This tax, in the difguife of a benevolence, fcreened luxury, avarice, and felfifhnefs; and threw the load on productive capital, integrity, generofity, and public fpirit. To make good the failure of this patriotic contribution, a patriotic donation was fet on foot; and thus John Doe became fecurity for Richard Roe. Thefe contributions and donations materially injure the giver, and are of little or no fervice to the receiver. They are but temporary refources, and cannot be adopted a fecond time. As to the French credit, Mr. B. thinks they have none; and afks what offers have been made them from Holland, Hamburgh, Switzerland, Genoa, or England. Their paper money they have ruined by making it compulfory. Our English paper is of value in commerce, because in law it is of none. In this compulfory paper currency, however, founded on the land-bank of the church plunder, the French place all their hopes.
Their fanatical confidence in the omnipotence of church plunder, has induced thefe philofophers to overlook all care of the public eftate, juf as the dream of the philofopher's ftone induces dupes, under the more plaufible delufion of the hermetic art, to neglect all rational means of improving their fortunes. With these philofophic financiers, this univerfal medicine made of church mummy is to cure all the evils of the ftate. Thefe gentlemen perhaps do not believe a great deal in the miracles of piety; but it cannot be questioned, that they have an undoubting faith in the prodigies of facrilege. Is there a debt which preffes them-Iffue affignats. Are compenfations to be made, or a maintenance decreed to those whom they they have robbed of their freehold in their office, or expelled from their profeffion-Affignats. Is a fleet to be fitted out-Aignats. If fixteen millions iterling of thefe affignats, forced on the people, leave the wants of the ftate as urgent as ever-iffue, fays one, thirty millions fterling of affignats-fays another, iffue fourfcore millions more of affignats. The only difference among their finan cial factions is on the greater or the leffer quantity of afignats to be impofed on the publick fufferance. They are all profeffors of affignats. Even thofe, whofe natural good fenfe and knowledge of commerce, not obliterated by philofophy, furnish decifive arguments against this delufion, conclude their arguments, by propofing the emiffion of affignats. I fuppofe they muft talk of affignats, as no other language would be understood. All experience of their inefficacy does not in the leaft difcourage them. Are the old affignats depreciated at market? What is the remedy? Iffue new alignats—Mais fi maladia, opiniatria, non vult fe garire, quid illi facere? affignare-poftea affignare; enfuita affignare. The word is a trifle altered. The Latin of your prefent doctors may be better
1 i 4
than that of your old comedy; their wifdem, and the variety of their refources, are the fame. They have not more notes in their fong than the cuckow; though, far from the foftnefs of that harbinger of fummer and plenty, their voice is as harsh and as ominous as that of the raven.'
The great evil of this paper-money is, that it will metamorphofe France from a great kingdom into one great playtable; and turn its inhabitants into a nation of gamefters.' The confequences will be dreadful.
The truly melancholy part of the policy of fyftematically making a nation of gamefters is this; that though all are forced to play, few can understand the game; and fewer ftill are in a condition to avail themselves of the knowledge. The many must be the dupes of the few who conduct the machine of thefe fpeculations. What effect it must have on the country people is vifible. When the peafant fift brings his corn to market, the magistrate in the towns obliges him to take the affignat at par; when he goes to the fhop with this money, he finds it feven per cent. the worfe for croffing the way. This market he will not readily refort to again. The townfman can calculate from day to day: not fo the inhabitant of the country. The towns-people will be inflamed! they will force the country-people to bring their corn. Refiftance will begin, and the murders of Paris and St. Dennis may be rene ed through all France.'
All these confiderations leave no doubt on Mr. Burke's mind, that,
If this morfter of a conftitution can continue, France will be wholly governed by the agitators in corporations, by directors of affignats, truflees for the fale of church lands, attornies, agents, money-jobbers, fpeculators, and adventurers, compofing an ignoble oligarchy. Here will end all the deceitful dreams, and vifions of the equality and rights of men. this bafe oligarchy they will all be abforbed, funk, and loft for In the Sorbonian bog of
In the Right Hon. Gentleman's obfervations on thefe different arrangments, which, in his farcaftic mood, he ftyles ⚫ arrangements for general confufion,' there are undoubtedly many things well worthy of attention: but we think there is alfo much captioufnefs, and much cavil. Every evil is ftudiously brought forward and magnified, while every good is concealed. On this plan of criticizing, nothing can ever ftand the teft. Befide, if, as he fays, oid eltablifhments are to be tried only by their effects; and if various correctives are found out in practice to obviate the apparent defects in theory; why may we not fuppofe that when this new machine comes to act, correctives will, from time to time, be found fufficient to counterbalance its apparent defects? in theory, the new machine is not open to more obje&ions than the old machines; and are we to fup
pofe, that because it needs fewer correctives, thofe who manage it fhould be lefs able to find them?
After the general character which we have given of Mr. B.'s book, at the opening of our account; after the copious extracts, and abftracts, which we have laid before our readers; there' remains but little for us to add. The Right Hon. Gentleman is unquestionably entitled to the praife of brilliant genius; of fertile, and (if that be praife,) of exuberant fancy; and of various and extenfive information: but the warmth of his feelings, and the rapidity of his ideas, often hurry him into extravagance, and fometimes betray him into inconfiftency. Panegylic and invective are perpetually fubftituted for argument, and mistaken for reafoning: but yet, in the midft of his wildest effufions, we think we never lofe fight of great benevolence of heart, and goodness of intention. In judgment, however, which is certainly fuperior to all the qualities and virtues of the head, though it yields to thofe of the heart, he is very deficient: fo that, on the whole, Mr. Burke's character ftands much
higher as a worthy man, and as an eloquent writer, than as a 4,239.
Art. 18. Reports of Cafes argued and determined in the High Court of
MR. BROWN, proceeding on his plan of publishing the reports of