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grace. It is, in fact, the cause that we are now at war. “Pay your bank-notes in spe“cie," said the Moniteur at the breaking out of the war, “ and then we will believe “ in your ability to continue the contest." Here we have, in a very few words, the opinion upon which the French cabinet proceeds in the war against us; and, I think, that there is no man in his senses who will venture to question the soundness of the opinion. If we continue to humour this paperaristocracy; if they continue to issue million upon million of their paper; or even, if they are much longer skreened from the payment of what they already have afloat, we must sink beneath the enemy, without his firing a shot at us. He has nothing to do but to stand where he is, now and then showing us an aspect somewhat more menacing, till the paper system shall have brought us to the
int at which we must arrive, and at which i. well knows we must arrive, in the course of a very few years. Nay, if an invasion were to take place at this time, our “chief “ domestic danger" would arise from the excessive quantity of bank notes. Does any man believe, that, if the enemy were landed in any considerable force, bank-notes would pass, especially near the enemy, in payment for provisions Most assuredly they would not; and the confusion that would ensue can hardly be conceived, much less described. Lord Grenville, during the last session of parliament, suggested the adoption of some measure of precaution against this danger;
but, by way of answer, he was reminded,
that he formed part of the ministry when the bank restriction bill was passed Precautions there are none adopted yet: the mipister seems to be as much a verse from making preparations against this contingency as some men are from making their wills: volunteers, men and horses, and even carriages, he is preparing in abundance, but not a word about money; though every man of the least reflection must perceive how extremely dangerous our situation will be, in case of actual invasion, if money, I mean real money, be not prepared in a considerable quantity for the payment of the army and the fleet. In returning to Mr. Thoroton and those persons in whose existence he professes to perceive our “chief domestic dan“ ger," I shall take the liberty to make an extract from that part of his speech where he states his principal objection to Sir Francis Burdett, as a member of parliament for the county of Middlesex. “The chief ground,” says he, “on which the defeat of Sir Francis “ was assumed to be so certain, was the cir“cumstance of his having connected him“self with various persons suspected of se
“dition and treason—Persons, of whom “ some have been acquitted, and some con“ victed by a jury of their countrymen. It “ was not believed that a gentleman who “ had been the companion of Despard and “ of O'Connor, who moreover had chosen. “ for the chief agents in his election Mr. Bonney, the secretary of the Correspond-, “ing Society, and Mr. Frost, the delegate “sent to the bar of the French Convention “ by the disaffected societies of this coun-. “try, a man who had also been sentenced to “ the pillory, could be so far acceptable to the county in general as to be selected “ as its representative. Mr. Thornton here “ observed, that he admitted it to be very possible for a person of a warm temper, and of merely opposition politics, to be“ come familiarly acquainted with one who “should afterwards prove to have been guilty of treason, but he contended that “Sir Francis Burdett by choosing for his “ principal agents such persons as he has . “ named, must be understood to have pro“ claimed himself as of their party; that he “ must be considered as wearing the colours “ of Mr. Frost, and as ranging himself un“ der the standard of Mr. Bonney, and the contest, therefore, was not of an ordinary political nature.”——Upon the c indcur of attempting to make Sir Francis Burdett answerable for the principles and even crimes of O'Connor and ijespard I remarked in the preceding sheet. But, Mr. Thornton, in his pious zeal for the welfare of the constitution (in church I warrant you, as well as state !) has discovered a new way of stating th: case. He had perceived, probably, that men were shocked at the promulgation of a principle that made every one answerable for all the sins of his acquaintance, future as well as past and present; and, therefore, he softened it down, allowing that “a person of warn “temper, and merely opposition politics, might. “ become familiarly acquainted with one who '. “should afterwards prove to have been guilty “ of treason;' but, as if exhausted by th:3 wonderful exertion of candour, the godly gettleman contends, that Sir Francis Buidett, “ in chusing such persons as Mr. “ Bonney and Mr. Frost as his agents, “ must be considered as proclaiming himself ‘ of their party, and ranging himself under * their standard, and, that, therefore, the “ contest was not of an ordinary political ** nature.” Such is the candour of a godly politician | Such is the candour of a potent prince of the paper-aristocracy . Of what party did Sir Francis Burdett thus proclaim himself? What standard must be be considered as having ranged himself under by his employing of these two per of s
amongst his agents * The answer which is intended to be conveyed by Mr. Thornton's statement is: ‘the party of the Corres• poliding Society of which Mr. Bonney • was secretary; the standard of the French • Convention to which Mr. Frost was sent • as a deligate." Let us see, then, how this mode of reasoning will be relished, if applied to the ministry; “to his Majesty's “ confidential servants.” I could mention a score or two of quondam “citizens,” who have been taken into high favour at Downing-street and Whitehall. Some of the loudest amongst Mr. Mainwaring's supporters have openly, and in print, accused a person, now very near Mr. Pitt, of having been a member of the Jacobin Club at Paris. The same prints accused Mr. Addington of giving the command of a regiment of volunteers to a person who had been a member of the Łol. Corresponding Society. But, to come to names: has not Mr. Mackintosh been forgiven Nay, taken into favour, and invested with an office of great profit, as well as great importance in a political point of view Mr. Mackintosh did not, however, belong, as far as I know at least, to the Corresponding Society, like Mr. Bonney; nor was he, I believe, sent as a delegate to the French Convention, like Mr. Frost. But, the list of those political sinners, who have been washed in the waters of Downing-street, affords us one who was both a member of the Corresponding Society and a delegate to the French Convention; I mean, that celebrated personage Mr. Redhead Yorke, who, though he did not, I believe, stand in the pillory, has very candidly acknowledged that je deserved it, and he was actually imprisoned, as is well known, during several years of last war. This person, then, be it known, was not only forgiven by the government, but was taken into favour, was caressed, employed, and paid. I do not say that he was an intimate friend of the Addingtons and the Lord Chancellor, but I do say, and possitively assert, that he was frequently with them : I be. lieve, and am almost sure, that he dined with them occasionally: he called himself
though he had been not only a revolutionist, not only a republican and a jacobin, but a bloody Septembrizer; though he had notoriously been all this; though his history, and particularly his conduct during the French revolution, was known, even in minute detail, by “his Majesty's confiden: “ tial servants,” they not only overlooked his crimes, but, if he states truth, they admitted him to great personal intimacy; they confided in him so far as to admit him to official consultations; they entrusted him with considerable sums of money, with important secrets of state, and exposed one, at least, of our foreign ministers to his mercy. “Aye,” say the committee of contractors, “but Macintosh “ and Yorke and Mehée de la Touche “ were enrolled under the banners of the “ministry". Exactly so! and thus the whole of Mr. Thornton's objection to Messrs. Bonney and Frost consists in their having been for “Burdett and Indepen“ dence,” while independence alone forms his objection to Burdett. The accepting of a place or a job is, therefore, with these persons, as was before observed, the only test of political reformation; but, if Sir Francis and his friends will take that test, though with as little sincerity as certain persons swallow the sacrament in order to qualify themselves for power and profit, if they will but become the “devoted instru“ ments" in the hands of the minister and his paper-aristocracy, they may not only obtain absolution for the past but a stock of forgiveness for the future. “Silent and soft as saints remov'd to heav'n, “ All ties dissolvd, and ev'ry sin forgiv'n. “There, where no passion, pride, or shame transport, “ Lull'd in the sweet nepenthe of a court; “There, where no father's, brother's, friend's disgrace “Once break their rest, or stir them from their lace : “ No co is known to blush, no heart to throb, “Save when they lose a question or a job." But, if they either will not or cannot take this test, then they are jacobins, particularly if they dare to talk of indedepence. For my part, I am no indiscriminate de: claimer against courts and courtiers : know there always must be placemen, as that there always will be and always ought to be pensioners; and I further know, that the cry of independence is frequently mere popular cant: lo, what I never can allow, is, that loyalty is the exclusive possess!"
of those who depend upon, and who, of | course, always support every measure an
Vol. VI. No. 11..] LONDON, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1804.
Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord,
385] FINANCIAL DISTRESSES
T H E PRINCI PAL CA U S E OF THE FR EN CH REVOLUTION. Si R, Although the consequences of the French revolution have occupied great part of the attention of the statesmen of Europe since it happened, they have bestowed little consideration on the causes by which it was produced; yet, without ascending to the causes it is impossible either to reason justly, or to act consistently in regard to the effects. To a deficiency in this respect the progress of the French revolution beyond the limits of that kingdom, is perhaps, as much owing as to its own internal force. It was about the beginning of the sixteenth century, that the French monarchy began to assume its present form, but it was not till after the middle of the seventeenth, that the royal authority was thoroughly established. In the intervening period, the country had been frequently distracted by the great feudatories of the crown, who often made use of a difference of religion as a pretext to cover their own ambition: though they were restrained by the enlightened government of Henry the IVth., and their power broke by the severe administration of Cardinal Richlieu, it was not till the last years of Mazarine that their influence was completely sunk in that of the crown. This gave additional sorce to the royal authority, but was by no means favourable to the strength of the government. The higher nobility had formerly resided much in the country, among their connexions and dependents, whose attachment they assiduously cultivated as the means of supporting their own conse. quence. This inade them formidable to the crown, but through them a connexion was formed with the lower noblesse, and from the latter with the inhabitants of the provinces, which established a chain of subordination from the throne to the cottage. When deprived of this source of imortance, they sought distinction at court rom the patronage of that power which they had formerly opposed; when they did visit their castles, it was no longer as hardy and turbulent barons to court the resort of he provinces, but as refined and effeminate
courtiers, who viewed the provincial with contempt, and his manners with disgust. This change operated still more powerfully by affecting the influence of the whole order of noblesse; no longer employed as leaders of the people in war and politics, they sunk into a sort of separate cast, almost distinct from the rest of the nation, and that gradation of authority which forms the basis and stability of all government was lost; consisting of more than an hundred thousand, they included all the men of birth, most of those of large property and liberal education, but divided amongst themselves into the old and the new, of the court and the province, cf the sword and the robe, without any point of union they were not formidable to the crown, but neither did they retain that influence of birth and property which is the great support of monarchy. The state of learning in France had likewise occasioned a considerable change in the opinions of part of the nation. To the classical age of Louis the XIVth. had succeeded a spirit of literature, the essential part of which was to ridicule the follies, the errors, and the superstitions of mankind, on moral, political, and religious subjects. It soon extended to the institutions themselves, and about the middle of the last century, the minds of the literary men in that country were brought to a contempt of the existing establishments, when the rudiments of that dogma peculiar to the new philosophy, that man is naturally good, that government is unnecessary, and is an imposition upon mankind, were first started and were received by them with avidity. No class of men have a higher opinion of their own importance than men of letters; they have ascribed the French revolution principally to their own labours, and the industry with which their tenets were propagated after it took place obtained them more credit than they were entitled to. But their opinions extended very little beyond the circle of the studious: notwithstanding the rage for the company of literary men that prevailed in France }. soil) e time, there was no appearance of their having made many proselytes; even during the very time that their speculations were
!" the height, the court, the parliaments, and the people ware engaged, and the nation divided about absolution and extreme unction. But these were alteratives, the effects of which might have long lain dormant in the constitution, if a much more active and powerful principle had not brought them to light. Legislative assemblies in France any way analogous to the parliament of Great Britain, are a subject only for the disquisitions of antiquaries, but the principal courts of justice which received that name, were the first and most active agents of the French revolution. The first parliament is of considerable antiquity; others were at different periods erected in several provinces of the kingdom. How they were originally constituted I am at a loss to say, but, I believe, it was about the middle of the sixteenth century, that places in them were first sold for a sum of money advanced to the government: this being an easy and ready mode of raising money, was so often resorted to as to make many of them numerous. They ceased to bear the character of courts of justice; instead of a judge or a few judges entering a court divested of prejudice and
a tiality to administer justice, they allowed themselves to be solicited for their votes, and appeared in the arena as combatants for the cause they had espoused. To compleat the errors or more properly abuses in the administration of justice in France, the King or rather his minister, freqxently stopped their proceedings and cancelled their judgments. . In a political light, the changes they underwent were of no less importance. The legislative power of France had for centuries centered in the grown. As a sorm of promulgating the laws, they had been registered by order of the King in the parliaments. They soon began to deliberate on the edicts sent them for registration, which furnished them with an opportunity of reviewing many acts of the government. However necessary some restraint might be on the despotism of the crown, it cannot be supposed that a thousand or fift to si hundred men divided into twelve or thirteen assemblies, dedicated to the practice of the law, and bred to the science of disputation, could be either a very salutary corrective or tend much to the peace of the state. In the interbal commotions they had likewise taken a part, and in those of the ruinority of Louis the XIVth. they were coun ed by all parties as the only constitutional body known in the state, During the reign of Louis the XIVth they were overawed, but he had no sooner expired, than instigated by the intrigues of "r
Duke of Orleans, the parliament of Paris cancelled the will of Louis the XIVth , and declared the Duke regent. He found it prur dent to flatter the parliament to get his authority a knowledged, but the prett nsions of the robe were so little consistent with the prerogative of the crown, that he had not acted long as regent before the usual disputes commenced. Some of the Duke's ministers were far from respectable, and his administration by no means steady; however, government suffered but little in his hands, except from the lic entiousness of manners and want of decorum that he introduced among the higher ranks, which did not add to the respect with which they were regarded by the other classes of society. The long reign of Louis the XVth seldom had claims either to vigour or ability. It probably had not escaped the observation of either the parliaments or the pecple, that the crown though the fountain of power had often suffered its mandates to be resisted, and that it had frequently even yielded to opposition, for soon after the peace of Aixla-Chapelle, the opposition of the parliaments assumed a more systematic form ; they entered strenuously into the religious differences that ensued, and were generally supported by the people. At first, these disputes between the clergy and the parliament, were a subject of mirth for the levies of Ver. sailles, but they afterwards came to so great a height, as to lay the foundation of distur: bances in several parts of the kingdom; and the parliaments became at last so trouble. some to Louis the XVth. that he entered warmly into the scheme of Mons. Maufroun, for effecting a change in the courts of justice, which that dextrous politician acconilished.
Taxes have been productive of more com
motions than all other causes together; they
were likewise the first subject of those dissensions that led to the French revolution. " For a considerable time the greatest part of the extraordinary demands on the Fre ch treasury, had been supplied by loans upon annuities for a term of years, or repayable by instalments, while at the same time, few new taxes had been laid or any provision made for making good the payments, by which means the debt increased rapidly. At the close of the American war, the revento was far below the expenditure, and the go vernment like a spendthrift who is afraid " look into his own affairs, for three or four years made good the deficiency by no" loans. It then amounted to about five millions stering, when it was at last seriously determined to put the finances upon a P"
Per footing. No kind of government can dip so freely into the purse of the subject as a free government. The French minister of finance would not venture to cover so large a deficiency by the power of the crown alone. He therefore, called an assembly of notables, the principle object of which was to sanction the taxes he intended to levy, although several reforms were submitted to their consideration to smooth the way for the inposts. Whether such an assembly appointed by the crown, had they given their full assent to the taxes, would have added much weight to the royal authority is to be doubted; but, they were no ways dispos d to that end. They so little answered the purpose intended, that the minister of finance was disgraced while they were sitting, and though little of their proceedingswas made public, I believe it was well known to those who were acquainted with the interior, that the principal opposition was among the first class of subjects, to which the partiality shewn for several years to a few favourites, had probably, contributed considerably. One of the chief reasons for which they were called together, and in which the higher orders were most interested, was to get their consent to a goneral land-tax in place of the twentieths; to that they gave almost a negative. The reforms or rather the reductions in the expenditure, which the court commenced with great activity, by no means tended to remove the coldness on their past, especially that in the article of pensions, many of which had been given to great families whose affairs were incumbered, and they even gave a positive opinion against reducing them. A project likewise for taking the debt that the clergy had contracted by their free gifts, into the debt of the nation upon extending the land-tax over their lands, was as ill received, and produced some strong remonstrances from them. Had the states general been called at that time, instead of the notables, it is probable, that the circumstances of those held in 1789 would have been reversed: that the opposition the crown would have experienced, would have been from the privileged orders; and, that if the tiers etat had not supported the crown, they would at least have remained passive. Louis the XVIth., on his accession to the throne, recalled the Count de Maurepas to be his minister, who had been disgraced about thirty years before for a court intrigue. In the earlier part of his life he had been more remarkable as a man of gaiety and pleasure, than for the depth of his under. standing, he was then nearly superannuated, and he having no favour for the adminis
tration of the laster part of the reign of Louis the XVth , which foo owed his disgrace, and the King as little on account of family considerations, the chancellor was disgraced and the parliaments restored. The expenses of the government having been . made good by loans and anticipations, few subjects of contention between the administration and them had occurred till the meeting of the notables, except in regard to regulations respecting their own body, and in the registration of the new loans, when some admonitions to economy were given in so free a stile, as to shew that they wanted only opportunity to equal if not surpass their former o The opportunity then occurred, and was not neglected. Notwithstanding the coolness or rather aversion of the notables, to the new financial arrangements, the court resolved on their dissolution to carry them into execution and began the registration of the edicts in the parliament of Paris, by those for the provincial assemblies, commutation of the labours for the roads, &c. So prone was that court to opposition, that though it might have been expected that most of these regulations would have been gratefully received, they were not registered without a great deal of discussion; but, when the edict for a stamp tax was brought forward, instead of complying, they called for a state of the receipt and expenditure, as if they had been a legislative body who were to grant subsidies upon the people." Without waiting for the issue of this contest, the King ordered the edict for the land-tax to be carried to them; in the additional altercation which it occasioned, the renewal of the states general was suggested by one of the most factious of the members, immediately approved, and afte wards persisted in as likely to catch the people, and embarrass the court. The King held a lit de justice, and ordered the edicts to be registered ; he had no sooner retired than the parliament • declared the registration null, and afterwards met to debate the propriety of the edicts themselves, upon which they were exiled to Troyes, and the King ordered the registration anew in the chambers of aids an accounts, where it likewise experienced resistance, as weli from those chambers themselves, as from the peeple. Their arrets were cancelled by the court, and afterwards the whole proceedings of the parian nt shared the same fate by an order sent to Ticyes. During this time the kingdom had been inundated with the most lice nicus publications, in the form of addr. sses and remonstrances, not only by the parliament
of Paris, but by the other parliaments, co