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Speaking finally of these bonds, it was a question of no trifling import to his late Majesty, how far his liability extended to the liquidation of those which were still outstanding, and for which no provision had been made by either of his royal brothers deceased. The validity of the documents had been repeatedly acknowledged, either by payment in full, or by compromise ; and as several of the bonds appeared so late as 1829, it is not improbable that many others are still in existence, the payment of which might have been demanded, and which must have fallen solely on his late Majesty. It may be important to remark, that when the question of the payment of the Prince of Wales' debts was agitated in parliament, shortly after his marriage, it was stated by the Duke of Clarence, that this foreign loan was put a stop to by the Secretary of State. We have fully exposed the particular measures which that minister adopted for effecting the end in view.
The French Revolution, an event in comparison with which all the revolutions of states and empires recorded in the annals of history are insignificant, was at this period in full activity, and although the details of the circumstances which led to that great occurrence, must be sought in the History of France, yet it has in such an especial manner influenced the state of these kingdoms, that some notice of it is absolutely necessary. Human affairs are generally gradual in their progress, from infancy to perfect maturity, but the Revolution in France resembled the shock of an earthquake, or the eruption of a volcano; nothing could resist its impetuosity.
On the minds of the people of England the impression made by the passing events in France was various. The general opinion, however, was favourable to the Revolution, and even its most criminal excesses, seen through a distorting medium, were viewed by the multitude with a favourable aspect. Nor was this at all strange. Attachment to the British constitution naturally generates an abhorrence of despotism, under every possible form and shape; to this principle may, probably, be attributed the praise which many men of superior intellect, bestowed on what they considered the efforts of the French nation to shake off the shackles of tyranny, and to establish a new government, on the basis of civil liberty. But such men must have contemplated the Revolution in the abstract, and have looked to remote consequences, which their ardent imagination represented to them as certain, without descending to any minuteness of inquiry into the motives in which it originated, the means by which it was accomplished, or the effects which it actually produced. But while the love of freedom led many, certainly without due consideration, to admire the French Revolution, the admiration of others flowed
from a very different source—from a revolutionary ardour, and a fondness for innovation--which led them to look on all resistance to power as commendable, to confound revolt with liberty, and to convert conspirators into patriots. Amidst this general predilection for the new politics of France, there were some few who viewed them with horror, who considered the principles broached by the leading members of the National Assembly, and adopted by the majority, as striking at the very root of society; and who foresaw that those proceedings, instead of producing such a change in the condition of the French people, as every friend to rational and well-regulated freedom must desire, would bring forth the most calamitous consequences, and terminate either in popular anarchy, or in unqualified despotism. Amongst its most ardent admirers were an assembly of persons, who had associated themselves for the purpose of commemorating the British Revolution of 1668, of which Lord Stanhope was President. On the occasion of the anniversary meeting in 1789, one of the most distinguished members, Dr. Price, a dissenting minister, equally eminent for his talents and his zeal, strongly deciared his admiration of the new principles which had been promulgated at Paris and Versailles; and the committee resolved to congratulate the members of the Society on the glorious success of the French Revolution, and to express their ardent wishes, " that the influence of so glorious an example may be felt by all mankind, until tyranny and despotism shall be swept from the face of the globe.” The Doctor moved an address to the National Assembly of France, in which the Society offered to that assembly their congratulations on the revolution in that country, and on the prospects it gave to the two first kingdoms in the world, of a common participation in the blessings of civil and religious liberty. They expressed particular satisfaction with which they reflected on the tendency of the glorious example given in France, to encourage other nations to assist the inalienable rights of mankind, and thereby introduce a general reformation in the governments of Europe, and to make the world free and happy. The resolutions of their
club was accordingly transmitted to the National Assembly, whose President duly acknowledged the favour conferred upon them.
At the time that public opinion took this direction, Mr. Pitt and his colleagues remained perfectly quiescent, and contented themselves with a renewal of their assurances of continued unity with France, without expressing either approbation or disapprobation of the measures of internal policy which the Government, or rather the National Assembly, had thought proper to adopt.
Such was the state of affairs, when the British Parliament elected in 1734 assembled for its last session on the 21st of January, 1790. The King's speech contained nothing remarkable. It slightly glanced at the affairs of France, in declaring that the internal situation of the different parts of Europe had been productive of events which had engaged his Majesty's most serious attention. Early indications, however, appeared of the light in which recent transactions in that kingdom were viewed by the English Government. Lord Valletort in moving the address, took occasion to contrast the tranquil and prosperous situation of England with the anarchy and licentiousness of France, and to denounce the revolution in that kingdom as an event the most disastrous, and productive of consequences the most fatal, which had ever taken place since the foundation of monarchy.
Soon aftewards upon the debate which took place upon the estimates, Mr. Burke observed, that on a review of Europe, he did not find that we stood in the smallest danger from any one state or kingdom it contained, nor that any foreign power, but our own allies were likely to obtain a preponderance in the scale. “ France,” said he, “ has hitherto been our first object in all our considerations concerning the balance of power; but France is in a political light to be considered as expunged out of the system of Europe. Whether she could ever appear in it again as a leading power, was not easy to determine; but at present, he considered France as not politically existing, and most assuredly, it would take much time to restore her to her
former existence. It was said, as she had speedily fallen, she miglit speedily rise again. He doubted this. The fall from a height was with an accelerated velocity, and to lift a weight up to the height again it was difficult, and opposed by the laws of physical and political gravitation. In a political view, France was low indeed; she had lost every thing, even to her name. He was astonished at it, he was alarmed at it. He trembled at the uncertainty of all human greatness. The French had shewn themselves the ablest architects of ruin, that had hitherto appeared in the world. In one short summer they had completely pulled down to the ground their monarchy, their church, their law, their army, and their revenue. Were we absolute conquerors, and France to be prostrate at our feet, we should blush to impose upon them terms so destructive to all their consequences as a nation, as the durance they had imposed upon themselves. In the last age we were in danger of being entangled by the example, in the net of a relentless despotism ; a despotism, indeed, proudly arrayed in manners, gallantry, splendour, magnificence, and even covered over with the imposing robes of science and literature. Our present danger from the example of a people, whose character knows no medium, is with regard to government, a danger from licentious violence, a danger of being led from admiration to imitation; of the excess of an unprincipled, plundering, ferocious, bloody, and tyranical democracy of a people, whose government is anarchy, and whose religion is atheism. They had made and recorded a sort of institute and digest of anarchy, called · A Declaration of the Rights of Man,'” thus says he, “ materially destroying every hold of authority by opinion, religious or civil on the minds of the people. By this mad declaration, they had subverted the state, and brought on such calamities as no country without a long war had ever been known to suffer. He felt some concern that the strange thing called, a Revolution in France should be compared with the glorious event, commonly called the Revolution in England. In truth, the circumstances of our revolution, as it was called, and that of France, were just the reverse of each other in almost every particular, and in the whole spirit