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2. Palling into a law regulations for preventing inconvenience and delay, tumult and expence, at elections.
Mr. Wyvill, anticipating the objections that may be made to his plan, thus replies to them :
Against the plan of Mr. Pitt thus enlarged it may be foreseen that various objections will be urged; some of which will undoubtedly deserve serious consideration. But should the pensioned advocate of the present system of abuses contend, that the discontents of the people are groundless and unreasonable, that a parliament over which they have little regular influence, which has been named chiefly by the Crown and the aristocracy, is best calculated to obtain the great purpose of the constitution, viz. the happiness of the people ; and therefore, that no reformation is necessary or ought to be conceded ; the reader's patience shall not be wearied here by an attempt to refute palpable absurdities.' Or should the more cautious foe to liberty admit that reformation is expedient, yet infiit on the inexpe. diency of the time, the fallacy of that poor evasion, that frivolous but everlasting excuse, is too apparent to require detection. Or hould the uncandid adversary Mift his ground, and change the di. rection of his attack from the plan proposed to the person who pro. posed it, should he charge the author of this paper with the mean de. fign to disparage Mr. Pitt and his plan, or the malignant purpose to ir. ritate popular discontent, and to excite commotion by suggeiting more extensive propositions of reform, than those he formerly recommended ; little previous remark surely can be necesiary to obviate the impression of those expected illiberalities. The plan of Mr. Pitt, if examined by theoretical rules, will certainly be found to fall far short of perfection; it did not even aim to remove some of the grossest abuses which disgrace the British representation ; but it was a wise propofal, and well adapted to the state of public opinion in 1785; the guarded moderation of it evinced his sincerity at that time; and if more extensive changes had been proposed, they would have been unauthorized by the previously declared with of any considerable portion of the community. But since that time, the denial of redress, and a long protracted discussion have produced their usual effects ; upon the subject of constitutional rights, the ideas of the public have been expanded, and a more extensive redress is sought in many parts of England, and throughout Scotland, than Mr. Piti's original plan proposed to have given. The discontent of the people under their conftitutional grievances is the result of their enlarged, knowlege of their rights, and of the usurpations of ministers and peers ; much has been well written, much has been eloquently spoken, to demonstrate the injuries the conftitution has suffered; the fatal consequences which experience proves to flow from that source, and the necessity for some better security for the liberty of the people, have been insisted on with equal energy by the wiseft ministers and the most unblemished pa. triots. It is needless to enquire therefore, whether the discontent of the people be owing more to the parliamentary speeches of a Pitt and à Savile, or to the political writings of a Burgh and a Price ; to the late revolution in America; or to the more recent events in France. It is evident that discontent exists, and that it will be our true wil. dom to allay that discontent by timely accommodation.'
He He does not deny the right of universal fuffrage, but objects to it as inexpedient at this moment. For his realoning on this important part of his fabject, we refer to the pamphlet. . It is impoflible for a candid man to peruse this little performance without being convinced that the author is a fincere friend to liberty and to mankind; and that his aim is to procure, through peaceable and moderate means, the objects which we all have in view, but which others would hazard every thing to gain; and which were well worth ady hazard, if they were not, as they certainly are, attainable by the molt legal and conftitutional measures.
It is with this view, and only as the price of peace, that he propoles that a fund should be established for buying up the franchises of the rotten boroughs by degrees. To effect this, he proposes a scheme which merits aitention, but he offers it with becoming diffidence :--See p. 19 of the pamphlet. We wished to copy it, but are too much cramped for room.
On the whole, we mult in justice to this pamphlet say that it does its author's head as much credit as it reflects on his heart, evincing at the same time the clearness and foundness of the one, while it teems with proofs of the goodness of the other. May his moderation be imitated, and his plans be dilpassionately and candidly discussed, both by the friends and the oppolers of reform!
Sh. AFFAIRS OF FRANCE. Art. 31. 5. P. Brisot, Deputy of Eure and Loire, to his Constituents, on · the Situation of the National Convention; on the Influence of the · Anarchists, and the Evils it has caused; and on the Necesity of · annihilating that Influence in order to save the Republic. Translated from the French; with a Preface and occasional Notes by the
Translator. 8vo. pp. 122. 23. 6d. Stockdale. 1794.. Art. 32. The Hijiory of the Brisotins; or, Part of the Secret History
of the Revolution, and of the first Six Months of the Republic, in answer to Briflot's Address to his Constituents. Printed at Paris by order of the Jacobin Club, and disperied to their corresponding Clubs.—Translated from the French of Camille Desmoulins, Deputy of Paris, in the National Convention. Svo. pp. 68. is. 6d. Owen. 1794.
We shall consider these pamphlets in one article, because they are intimately connected; the one containing a charge of a very serious nature; the other purporting to answer it, but being in reality little more than a recrimination.
We confess that it was with some pain that we proceeded in the perufal of these performances; because, if we may believe either of them, we mult conclude that liberty has been trampled under foot in France, and the peace of Europe disturbed, by the most abandoned wretches on earth; for such Briffot declares the Jacobins to be, who have had the government of France, he says, since the revolution of the roth of August; and Desmoulins retorts the charge on Brissot and his friends, who poslefied the supreme power from the time at which the king was deposed till the 3! It of May laft, when Brissot and the Girondists, his partizans, were ordered into custody.
No man had a better opportunity of being acquainted with the subje:? on which he writes than Brislot; he was a member of the convention which he describes, and must be deemed no stranger to the secret springs and movements of the revolution during the period to which he refers, as he was then at the head of affairs, and might be said to be the leading man in France. He represents the convention as a body over which a party of anarchists actually domincered; - as an assembly incapable of giving efficacy to the laws,-seeing what was right, but not daring to pursue it;- one day pasling patriotic decrees after mature deliberation, and, the next, frightened or awed into a repcal of them at the command of the Jacobins ;-taking wise measures at one moment for securing the independence of the convention, by voting that guards should be brought for its protection from the departments, and then bowing to the clamours of the anarchisis, and abandoning their decrees through dread of aslasiination ;-mewing at one period a due regard for justice and an abhorrence of murder, by decrecing that the persons charged as the authors of the horrid massacres, in the beginning of September, should be brought to trial; and afterward, terrihed by the power of the accused, not only suspending the prosecution, but actually bestowing places of confidence and emolument on the very men by whom these massacres were ordered or perpetrated; sending them, not to the guillotine, but to the Departments, with the lordly character of COMMISSIONERS ;--- manifefting, by a great majority, an inclination to leave the fate of Louis XVI. to the decision of the fovereignty of the people, by referring to the people at large the sentence passed on him; and afterward, yielding to calumny, voci. feration, and terror, voting against an appeal, and adjudging that unfortunate prince to immediate death ;-expressing indignation against the persons concerned in the pillage and plunder of individuals, and of shops, in Paris, on the 26th of February (1793), but very soon after consigning to oblivion those flagitious acts, which, by Mew. ing the insecurity of property and the impunity of crimes,' were (says Briffot) the best adapted to raise the hopes of our external eneinies, and to augment the surfeits of liberty.' -In short, (continues he,) run over all the laws of the convention, and you will see the very best decrees, passed on the most mature discussion, repealed in a single instant. What then is the source of all these changes ? • With one single word you might compose the history of three assemblies; this word is-Fear.'
Such is the picture drawn of the convention by one who was a member of it, and who had by far the greatest sway in it for nine months!
M. Brissot was once a great advocate for insurrection and the revolutionary power; until he got to the head of the state, he was as loud as any man in proclaiming the • sacred duty of insurrection :' but, when he found himself raised to that station, he began to preach up order and the constitution. Every thing that he says on this subject is praise. worthy, and we subscribe to it moft cordially : but we think that his remarks on the occasion would come with a much better grace from a man, who, having overturned a hated government, had, like Washington, contented himself with a private station and patriotic obscurity. Wheo Briffot was pulling down ihe constitution for the
purpose of assuming the reins of empire, at the moment in which, after a dreadful conflict, he had wrested them from the king, the world might have applied to him that expreflion of Tacitus which he applies to the anarchists — Rerum potiri volunt; honores, quos quietâ republicà, desperant, perturbatii, confequi je posje arbitrantur.
The committee of inspectors of the hall of the convention, he says, had found out the secret of filling the galleries with creatures of their own, hired to hoot their adversaries; the circumference of the hall was made ' a fiage of gladiators;' and its environs, 'the lurking-places of afajination. The majority saw there outrages, but were afraid to repress them, and thought it wise to wink at what they must endure; thus, says Brissot, with Tacitus, quod legnitia erat, sapientia vocabatur.
Speaking of the revolutionary tribunal, (by which he himself was afterward tried and condemned,) M. Brissot says, “It makes one's hair stand an end! Yes, if it is a tribunal fit to make one regret the Baftiles of despotisi; if it is an institution proper for ripening and rapidly bringing about a counter-revolution in favour of royalty ; it is alio a tribunal as arbitrary in its forms, as absurd, as partial in its proofs, as iniquitous in some of its judgments.'
• In the club of the Jacobins, and not in the convention, (he says,) the supreme power of France is to be found;' this club, he contends, was the fovereign of the convention and of the ministers.'
These ministers, he afferts, disregarded the convention, and paid their court to the lacobins, and both plundered the country. This he proves by the official communications to the legislature. Bournonville, (he remarks,) on entering upon his administration, and after having examined the state of the expences, has deciared that there was a sum of 160 millions (of livres, about fix millions sterling) of the expenditure, of which there appeared no particulars. Cambon said to the committee, from the rostrum, that it was imposible to bring the expenditure of that department (that of minister of war) to light; that a funge must be drawn over it. I use his own words.' This great defaulter was Pache, now mayor of Paris ; and Brisfot observes that, though Cambon was prosecuting peity piłlagers, he had never insisted that Pache should be made to account for this enormous sum.
. You will fee (continues Brissot) the provisions of the army every where paid for two or three times over; warehouses hired at an ex. ceflive price; battalions, thoagh reduced to a third or a fixth, ftillo paid for at their full complement. Why? because the contractors, commissaries, and the clerks in all the offices, were all creatures of the anarchifts, all profited by the disorder; all enriched themselves ander the cover of their masquerade of rough stern virtue, and their continually sheeing and thouing each other.
Respecting the war wich England, &c. he plainly says that, « from the month of October, the possibility of a war with the maritime powers was foreseen; and the diplomatic committee, and that of general de. fence, had forewarned Monge, (the minister at the head of the naval department;) an ample supply was given to him, and he promised to have 30 sail of the line ready for sea in April, and go in June.' He admits that England did not begin to arm till three months after the French.
Briffot had been accused of being the author of the war with Eng. Land; he retorts the charge on his accusers, and says that the
anarchists, by voting the death of the king, were themselves the authors of the war.
He accuses the Jacobins of having prevented Holland from declaring for the French revolution, when they made declaration's which Shewed that, under the pretence of giving liberty to the Dutch, they wanted only to plunder them of their property. To prove this, he quotes a passage from a speech made by Cambon, who presided over the department of the finances; “Let us not diffemble, (said Cambon, one day, to the committee of general defence, in the presence even of the patriot deputies of Holland,) you have no church lands to offer us for our indemnity; it is a revolution in their iron chests that must be made among the Dutch,' This speech, Brissot observes, was worth an army to the Stadtholder.
He describes the commissioners of the convention as the greateft tyrants; • issuing in one day more thousands of lettres de cachet than were distributed in the old times by all the inquisitors.'
Respecting foreign nations treating with France at present, he thus expresses himself:
• Have order, have a good constitution, and your mal-contents will foon be dispersed.
"I go farther,- have order, have a constitution, and the foreign powers will soon ask peace of you. How can you expect, that in this uncertain and wavering fate in which you are, foreign powers can cona sent to treat with a Convention, which is every day dragged through the dirt; because it is the lowest disgrace to treat with an executive power which is without intermission denounced, humiliated, and tottering.'. ..
We have said sufficient, and have quoted enough from this writer, to justify the declaration with which we set out, that it was with disguit that we proceeded through a work in which the persons, on whom depends in a great measure the fate of Europe, appear, if they be fairly described, in the light of men lost to all sense of genuine par triotism.--Let it be remembered, however, that the picture is drawn by a man who, after having been a co-operator in their plans, turns evidence against them, and impeaches his accomplices.
Audi alteram partem is a dictum of justice: let us then hear what the champion of the Jacobins, CAMILLE DESMOULINS, says, in answer to the charges brought by BRISSOT. This champion begins by sounding the praise of Paris, a city which had lived only by the monarchy, and yet destroyed it, to create a republic. He then proceeds to charge the right side of the convention, and principally its leaders, with being almost all partizans of royalty, accomplices in the treason of Dumourier and Bournonville, and directed by the agents of Pitt, Orleans, and Prussia; and he says that they wanted to divide France into twenty or 'thirty federative republics, in order that no republic might exist.–To prevent his adversaries from presling him for con yincing proofs of this treason, he makes use of the following observa. tion ; which might be a sufficient argument ad hominem, when applied to Brissot, but can have no weight with the world at large:
• But in the first place one preliminary observation is indispensable. -There is little candor in asking from us facts which prove conSpiracy. The only trace which memory yet preserves of the famous orations of Brissot and Gensonné, in which they attempted to prove