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SECRETARY Oå FJREIGN AFFAIRS TO CONGRESS IN THE AMERICAN
WAR, ETC., ETC.
HOLYOAKE AND CO., 147, FLEET STREET.
I present you a small treatise in defence of those principles of freedom which your exemplary virtue hath so eminently contri. buted to establish. That the Rights of Man may become as uni. versal as your benevolence can wish, and that you may enjoy the happiness of seeing the New World regenerate the Old is the prayer of
From the part Mr. Burke took in the American revolution, it was natural that I should consider him a friend to mankind; and as our acquaintance commenced on that ground, it would have been more agreeable to me to have had cause to continue in that opinion than to change it
At the time Mr. Burke made his violent speech last winter, in the English Parliament against the French revolution and the National Assembly, I was in Paris, and had written to him but a short time before, to inform him how prosperously matters were going on. Soon after this, I saw his advertisement of the Pamphlet he intended to publish. As the attack was to be made in a language but little studied, and less understood, in France, and as every thing suffers by translation, I promised some of the friends of the revolution in that country, that whenever Mr. Burke's Pamphlet came forth, I would answer it. This appeared to me the more necessary to be done, when I saw the flagrant misrepresentations which Mr. Burke's Pamphlet contains; and that while it is an outrageous abuse on the French revolution, and the principles of liberty, it is an imposition on the rest of the world.
I am the more astonished and disappointed at this conduct in Mr. Burke, as (from the circumstance I am going to mention) I had formed other expectations.
I had seen enough of the miseries of war to wish it might never more have existence in the world, and that some other mode might be found out to settle the differences that should occasionally arise in the neighbourhood of nations. This certainly might be done if Courts were a sposed to set honestly about it, or if countries were enlightened enough not to be made the dupes of Courts. The people of America had been bred up in the same prejudices against France, which at that time characterised the people of England; but experience and an acquaintance with the French nation, have most effectnally shown to the Americans the falsehood of those prejudices; and I do not believe that a more cordial and confidential intercourse exists between any two countries thap between America and France. When I came to France, in the spring of 1787, the Archbishop of houlouse was then minister, and at that time highly esteemed. i became much acquainted with the private secretary of that minister, a man of an enlarged benevolent heart; and found that his sentiments and my own perfectly agreed with respect to the madness of war, and
the wretched impolicy of two nations, like England and France, con. tinually worrying each other, to no other end than that of a mutual increase of burthens and taxes. That I might be assured I had not misunderstood him, nor he me, I put the substance of our opinions into writing, and sent it to him; subjoining a request, that if I should see among the people of England any disposition to cultivate a better understanding between the two nations than had hitherto prevailed, how far I might be authorised to say that the same disposition prevailed on the part of France ? He answered me by letter in the most unreserved manner, and that not for himself only, but for the minister, with whose knowledge the letter was declared to be written.
I put this letter into the hands of Mr. Burke, almost three years ago, and left it with him, where it still remains; hoping, and at the same time naturally expecting, from the opinion I had conceived of him, that he would find some opportunity of making a good use of it, for the purpose of removing those errors and prejudices, which two neighbouring nations, from the want of knowing each other, had euter. tained, to the injury of both.
When the French revolution broke out, it certainly afforded to Mr Burke an opportunity of doing some good, had he been disposed to it; instead of which, no sooner did he see the old prejudices wearing away, than he immediately began sowing the seeds of a new inveteracy, As if he were afraid that England and France would cease to be enemies. That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true ; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord, and cultivate prejudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.
With respect to a paragraph in this work, alluding to Mr. Burke's having a pension, the report has been some time in circulation, at least two months ; and as a person is often the last to hear what conceras him the most to know, I have mentioned it, that Mr. Burke may havo an opportunity of contradicting the rumour, if he thinks proper.
RIGHTS OF MAN.
AMONG the incivilities by which nations or individuals provoke and irritate each other, Mr. Burke's pamphlet on the French revolution is an extraordinary instance. Neither the People of France, nor the National Assembly, were troubling themselves about the affairs of England, or the English Parliament; and that Mr. Burke should commence an unprovoked attack upon them, both in Parliainent and n public, is a conduct that canuot be pardoned on the score of manbers, nor justified on that of policy.
There is scarcely an epithet of abuse to be found in the English language, with which Mr. Burke has not loaded the French Nation and the National Assembly. Every thing which rancour, prejudice, ignorance, or knowledge could suggest, are poured forth in the copious fury of near four hundred pages. In the strain and on the plan Mr. Burke was writing, he might have written on to as many thousands. When the tongue or the pen is let loose in a frenzy of passion, it is the man, and not the subject, that becomes exhausted.
Hitherto Mr. Burke has been mistaken and disappointed in the opinions he had formed of the affairs of France ; but such is the in. genuity of his hope, or the malignancy of his despair, that it furnishes him with new pretences to go on. There was a time when it was impossible to make Mr. Burke believe there would be any revolution in France. His opinion then was, that the French had neither spirit to undertake it, nor fortitude to support it; and now that there is one, he seeks an escape, by condemning it.
Not sufficiently content with abusing the National Assembly, a Great part of his work is taken up with abusing Dr. Price (one of the best-hearted men that lives), and the two societies in England known by the name of the Revolution Society, and the Society for Constitu tional Information.
Dr. Price had preached a sermon on the 4th of November, 1789. being the anniversary of what is called in England the Revolution, which took place 1688. Mr. Burke, speaking of this sermon, says, "The political Divine proceeds dogmatically to assert, that by the principles of the Revolution, the people of England have acquired three fundamental rights.
1. To choose our own governors.
Dr. Price does not say that the right to do these things exists in this or in that person, or in this or in that description of persons, but that it exists in the whole ; that it is a right resident in the nation.Mr. Burke, on the contrary, denies that such a right exists in the dation, either in whole or in part, or that it exists any where ; and, what is still more strange and marvellous, he says, " that the people of England utterly disclaim such a right, and that they will resist the practical assertion of it with their lives and fortunes." That men