« ForrigeFortsæt »
parts. If there has been any difference in their malice, I think they have shown a worse disposition to the House of Commons than to the Crown. As to the House of Lords, they do not speculate · at all about it; and for reasons that are too obvious to detail.
The question will be concerning the effect of this French fraternity on the whole mass.
Have we any thing to apprehend from Jacobin communication, or have we not? If we have not, is it by our experience, before the war, that we are to presume, that, after the war, no dangerous communion can exist between those, who are well affected to the new constitution of France, and ill affected to the old constitution here?
In conversation I have not yet found, nor heard, of any persons, except those, who undertake to instruct the publick, so unconscious of the actual state of things, or so little prescient of the future, who do not shudder all over, and feel a secret horrour at the approach of this communication. I do not except from this observation those, who are willing, more than I find myself disposed, to submit to this fraternity. Never has it been mentioned in my hearing, or from what I can learn in any inquiry, without the suggestion of an Alien Bill, or some other measures of the same nature, as a defence against its manifest mischief.
Who does not see the utter insufficiency of such a remedy, if such a
remedy remedy could be at all adopted? We expel suspected foreigners from hence, and we suffer every Englishman to pass over into France, to be initiated in all the infernal discipline of the place, to cabal, and to be corrupted by every means of cabal and of corruption; and then to return to England, charged with their worst dispositions and designs. In France he is out of the reach of your police; and when he returns to England, one such English emissary is worse than a legion of French, who are either tongue-tied, or whose speech betrays thein. But the worst Aliens are the ambassador and his train. These you cannot expel without a proof (always difficult) of direct practice against the State. A French ambassador, at the head of a French party, is an evil, which we have never experienced. The mischief is by far more visible than the remedy. But, after all, every such measure as an Alien Bill is a measure of hostility, a preparation for it, or a cause of dispute, that shall bring it on. In effect, it is fundamentally contrary to a relation of amity, whose essence is a perfectly free cominunication. Every thing done to prevent it will provoke a foreign war. Every thing, when we let it proceed, will produce domestick distraction. We shall be in a perpetual dilemma; but it is easy to see, which side of the dilemma will be taken. The same temper, which brings us to solicit a Jacobin peace, will induce us to temporize with all the evils of it. By
degrees our minds will be made to our circumstances. The novelty of such things, which produces balf the horrour, and all the disgust, will be worn off. Our ruin will be disguised in profit, and the sale of a few wretched baubles will bribe a degenerate people to barter away the most precious jewel of their souls. Our constitution is not made for this kind of warfare. It provides greatly for our happiness, it furnishes few means for our defence. It is formed, in a great measure, upon the principle of jealousy of the crown ; and as things stood, when it took that turn, with very great reason. farther; it must keep alive some part of that fire of jealousy eternally and chastely burning, or it cannot be the British Constitution. At various periods we have had tyranny in this country, more than enough. We have had rebellions with more or less justification. Some of our Kings have made adulterous connections abroad, and trucked away, for foreign gold, the interests and glory of their crown. But, before this time, our liberty has never been corrupted. I mean to say, that it has never been debauched from its domestick relations. To this time it has been English Liberty, and English Liberty only. Our love of Liberty, and our love of our Country, were not distinct things. Liberty is now, it seems, put upon a larger and more liberal bottom. We are men, and as men, undoubtedly, nothing human is foreign to us. We cannot be too
wist maxim to the hold
liberal in our general wishes for the happiness of our kind. But in all questions on the mode of procuring it for any particular community, we ought to be fearful of admitting those, who have no interest in it, or who have, perhaps, an interest against it, into the consultation. Above all, we cannot be too claims g. cautious in our communication with those, who seek popustóin their happiness by other roads than those of humanity, morals and religion, and whose liberty consists, and consists alone, in being free from those restraints, which are imposed by the virtues upon the passions.
When we invite danger from a confidence in defensive measures, we ought, first of all, to be sure, that it is a species of danger, against which any defensive measures, that can be adopted, will be sufficient. Next we ought to know, that the spirit of our Laws, or that our own dispositions, which are stronger than Laws, are susceptible of all those defensive measures, which the occasion may require. A third consideration is, whether these measures will not bring more odium than strength to Government; and the last, whether the authority, that makes them, in a general corruption of manners and principles, can ensure their execution ? Let no one argue from the state of things, as he sees them at present, concerning what will be the means and capacities of Government when the time arrives, which shall call for remedies commensurate to enormous evils,
It is an obvious truth, that no constitution can defend itself: it must be defended by the wisdom and fortitude of men. These are what no constitution can give : they are the gifts of God; and he alone knows, whether we shall possess such gifts at the time we stand in need of them. Constitutions furnish the civil means of getting at the natural; it is all, that in this case they can do. But our Constitution has more impediments than helps. Its excellencies, when they come to be put to this sort of proof, may be found among its defects.
Nothing looks more awful and imposing than an ancient fortification. Its lofty embattled walls, its bold, projecting, rounded towers, that pierce the sky, strike the imagination and promise inexpugnable strength. But they are the very things, that make its weakness. You may as well think of opposing one of these old fortresses to the mass of artillery brought by a French irruption into the field, as to think of resisting, by your old laws,
old forms, the new destruction, which the corps of Jacobin engineers of to-day prepare for all such forms and all such laws. Besides the debility and false principle of their construction to resist the present modes of attack, the Fortress itself is in ruinous repair, and there is a practicable breach in every
part of it.
Such is the work. But miserable works have been defended by the constancy of the garrison.