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too between deliberation and doctrine: a man ought to be decided in his opinions before he attempts to teach. His fugitive lights may serve himself in some unknown region, but they can not free us from the effects of the errour, into which we have been betrayed. His active Will-o'-the-Wisp may be gone nobody can guess where, whilst he leaves us bemired and benighted in the bog.
Having premised these few reflections upon this new mode of teaching a lesson, which whilst the scholar is getting by heart the master forgets, I come to the lesson itself. On the fullest consideration of it, I am utterly incapable of saying with any great certainty what it is, in the detail, that the author means to affirm or deny, to dissuade or recommend. His march is mostly oblique, and his doctrine rather in the way of insinuation than of dogmatick assertion. It is not only fugitive in its duration, but is slippery in the extreme, “whilst it lasts. Examining it part by part, it seems almost every
where to contradict itself; and the author, who claims the privilege of varying his opinions, has exercised this privilege in every section of his remarks. For this reason, amongst others, I follow the advice, which the able writer gives in his last page, which is.“.to consider the impression of what “ he has urged, taken from the whole, and not from “ detached paragraphs.” That caution was not absolutely necessary. I should think it unfair to
the author and to myself, to have proceeded otherwise. This author's whole, however, like every other whole, can not be so well comprehended without some reference to the parts; but they shall be again referred to the whole. Without this latter attention, several of the passages would certainly remain covered with an impenetrable and truly oracular obscurity
The great general pervading purpose of the whole pamphlet is to reconcile us to peace with the present usurpation in France. In this general drift of the author I can hardly be mistaken. The other purposes, less general, and subservient to the preceding scheme, are to show, first, that the time of the remarks was the favourable time for making that peace upon our side; secondly, that on the enemy's side their disposition towards the acceptance of such terms, as he is pleased to offer, was rationally to be expected ; the third purpose was to make some sort of disclosure of the terms, which, if the Regicides are pleased to grant them, this nation ought to be contented to accept : these form the basis of the negotiation, which the author, whoever he is, proposes to open.
Before I confider these Remarks along with the other reasonings, which I hear on the same subject, I beg leave to recall to your mind the observation I made early in our correspondence, and which qught to attend us quite through the discussion of
this proposed peace, amity, or fraternity, or whatever you may call it; that is, the real quality and character of the party you have to deal with. This, I find, as a thing of no importance, has every where escaped the author of the October Remarks. That hostile power, to the period of the fourth week in that month, has been ever called and considered as an usurpation. In that week, for the first time, it changed its name of an usurped power, and took the simple name of France. The word France is slipped in just as if the government stood exactly as before that revolution, which has astonished, terrified, and almost overpowered Europe. “France,” " says the author, “will do this ;" “ it is the interest 6 of France ;” “ the returning honour and gene
rosity of France," &c. &c. always merely France; just as if we were in a common political war with an old recognized member of the commonwealth of Christian Europe, and as if our dispute had turned upon a mere matter of territorial or commercial controversy, which a peace might settle by the imposition or the taking off a duty, with the gain or the loss of a remote island, or a frontier town or two, on the one side or the other. This shifting of persons could not be done without the hocus-pocus of abstraction. We have been in a grievous errour; we thought that we had been at war with rebels against the lawful government, but that we were friends and allies of what is properly France;
friends and allies to the legal body politick of France. But by slight of hand the Jacobins are clean vanished, and it is France we have got under our cup. Blessings on his soul, that first invented sleep, said Don Sancho Pancha the wise! All those blessings, and ten thousand times more, on him who found out abstraction, personification, and impersonals. In certain cases they are the first of all soporificks. Terribly alarmed we should be if things were proposed to us in the concrete; and if fraternity was held out to us with the individuals, who coinpose this France, by their proper names and descriptions: if we were told that it was very proper to enter into the closest bonds of amity and good correspondence with the devout, pacifick, and tender-hearted Syeyes, with the all-accomplished Rewbel, with the humane guillotinists of Bourdeaux, Tallien and Isabeau; with the meek butcher Legendre, and with “the returned humanity and generosity” (that had been only on a visit abroad) of the virtuous regicide brewer Santerre. This would seem at the outset a very strange scheme of amity and concord;-nay, though we had held out to us, as an additional douceur, and assurance of the cordiał fraternal embrace of our pious and patriotick countryman Thomas Paine. But plain truth would here be shocking and absurd; therefore comes in abstraction and personification. “Make your Peace with France." That word France sounds quite as well as any other;
and it conveys no idea but that of a very pleasant country, and very hospitable inhabitants. Nothing absurd and shocking in amity and good correspondence with France. Permit me to say that I am not yet well acquainted with this new-coined France, and without a careful assay I am not willing to receive it in currency in place of the old Louis d'or.
Having therefore slipped the persons, with whom we are to treat, out of view, we are next to be satisfied that the French Revolution, which this peace is to fix and consolidate, ought to give us no just cause of apprehension. Though he labours this point, yet he confesses a fact, (indeed he could not conceal it) which renders all his labours utterly fruitless. He confesses that the Regicide means to dictate a pacification, and that this pacification, according to their decree passed but a very few days before his publication appeared, is to " unite to “ their Empire, either in possession or dependence, “ new barriers, many frontier places of strength, a
large sea-coast, and many sea-ports :" he ought to have stated it, that they would annex to their territory a country about a third' as large as France, and much more than half as rich; and in a situation the most important for command, that it would be possible for her
any To remove this terrour, (even if the Regicides should carry their point) and to give us perfect repose with regard to their Empire ; whatever they
where to possess.