Изображения страниц

every purpose but that of defence. That, if the quef tion was, whether foldiers were to forget they were citizens, as an abftract propofition, he could have no difference about it, though, as it is ufual, when abstract principles are to be applied, much was to be thought on the manner of uniting the character of citizen and foldier. But as applied to the events which had happened in France, where the abftract principle was cloathed with its circumftances, he thought that his friend would agree with him, that what was done there furnished no matter of exultation, either in the act or the example. Thefe foldiers were not citizens; but bafe hireling mutineers, and mercenary fordid deferters, wholly deftitute of any honourable principle. Their conduct was one of the fruits of that anarchic fpirit, from the evils of which a democracy itself was to be reforted to, by thofe who were the leaft difpofed to that form, as a fort of refuge. It was not an army in corps and with difcipline, and embodied under the refpectable patriot citizens of the state in refifting tyranny. Nothing like it. It was the cafe of com mon foldiers deferting from their officers, to join a furious, licentious populace. It was a desertion to a caufe, the real object of which was to level all thofe institutions, and to break all thofe connections, natural and civil, that regulate and hold together the community by a chain of fubordination; to raise foldiers against their officers; fervants against their mafters; tradesmen against their cuftomers; artificers against their employers; tenants against their landlords; curates against their bishops; and children against their parents. That this caufe of theirs was not an enemy to fervitude, but to fociety.

He wished the houfe to confider, how the members would like to have their manfions pulled down and pillaged, their perfons abufed, infulted, and deftroyed; their title deeds brought out and burned before their


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

-faces, and themfelves and their families driven to feek refuge in every nation throughout Europe, for no other reafon than this; that without any fault of theirs, they were born gentlemen, and men of property, and were fufpected of a defire to preferve their confideration and their eftates. The desertion in France was to aid an abominable fedition, the very profeffed principle of which was an implacable hoftility to nobility and gentry, and whofe favage warhoop was દ "al Ariftocrate," by which fenfelefs, bloody cry, they animated one another to rapine and murder; whilft abetted by ambitious men of another clafs, they were crufhing every thing refpectable and virtuous in their nation, and to their power difgracing almost every name, by which we formerly knew there was fuch a country in the world as France.

He knew too well, and he felt as much as any man, how difficult it was to accommodate a ftanding army to a free conftitution, or to any conftitution. An armed, difciplined body is, in its effence, dangerous to liberty; undisciplined, it is ruinous to fociety. Its component parts are, in the latter cafe, neither good citizens nor good foldiers. What have they thought of in France, under fuch a difficulty as almoft puts the human faculties to a ftand? They have put their army under fuch a variety of principles of duty, that it is more likely to breed litigants, pettifoggers, and mutineers, than foldiers *. They have fet up, to balance their crown army, another army, deriving under another authority, called a municipal armya balance of armies, not of orders. These latter they have deftroyed with every mark of infult and oppreffion. States may, and they will beft, exift with a partition of civil powers. Armies cannot exift under a divided command. This ftate of things he thought, VOL. III. B in

* They are fworn to obey the king, the nation, and the law.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

in effect, a state of war, or, at beft, but a truce inftead of peace, in the country.



What a dreadful thing is a standing army, for the conduct of the whole, or any part of which, no man is refponfible! In the prefent ftate of the French crown army, is the crown refponsible for the whole of it? Is there any general who can be refponfible for the obedience of a brigade? Any colonel for that of a regiment? Any captain for that of a company? And as to the municipal army, reinforced as it is by the new citizen-deferters, under whose command are they? Have we not seen them, not led by, but dragging their nominal commander with a rope about his neck, when they, or those whom they accompanied, proceeded to the most atrocious acts of treafon and murder? Are any of thefe armies? Are any of these citizens?

We have in fuch a difficulty as that of fitting a standing army to the ftate, he conceived, done much better. We have not distracted our army by divided principles of obedience. We have put them under a fingle authority, with a fimple (our common) oath of fidelity; and we keep the whole under our annual inspection. This was doing all that could be fafely done.

He felt fome concern that this ftrange thing, called a Revolution in France, fhould be compared with the glorious event, commonly called the Revolution in England; and the conduct of the foldiery, on that occafion, compared with the behaviour of fome of the troops of France in the prefent inftance. At that period the Prince of Orange, a prince of the blood royal in England, was called in by the flower of the English aristocracy to defend its antient conftitution, and not to level all diftinctions. To this prince, fo invited, the aristocratic leaders who commanded the troops went over with their feveral corps, in bodies, to the deliverer of their


country. Aristocratic leaders brought up the corps. of citizens who newly enlisted in this caufe. Military obedience changed its object; but military difcipline was not for a moment interrupted in its prin-. ciple. The troops were ready for war, but indif posed to mutiny.

But as the conduct of the English armies was dif-. ferent, fo was that of the whole English nation at that time. In truth, the circumftances of our revolution (as it is called) and that of France are just the reverfe of each other in almoft every particular, and in the whole fpirit of the transaction. With us it was the cafe of a legal monarch attempting arbitrary power -in France it is the cafe of an arbitrary monarch, beginning, from whatever cause, to legalife his authority. The one was to be refifted, the other was to be managed and directed; but in neither cafe was the order of the ftate to be changed, left government might be ruined, which ought only to be corrected and legalifed. With us we got rid of the man, and preferved the conftituent parts of the state. There they get rid of the constituent parts of the state, and keep the man. What we did was in truth and substance, and in a conftitutional light, a revolution, not made, but prevented. We took folid fecurities; we fettled doubtful questions; we corrected anomalies in our law. In the ftable fundamental parts of our conftitution we made no revolution; no, nor any alteration at all. We did not impair the monarchy. Perhaps it might be fhewn that we ftrengthened it very confiderably. The nation kept the fame ranks, the fame orders, the fame privileges, the fame franchises, the fame rules for property, the fame fubordinations, the fame order in the law, in the revenue, and in the magiftracy; the fame lords, the fame commons, the fame corporations, the fame electors.

The church was not impaired. Her eftates, her majefty, her fplendor, her orders and gradations continued the fame. She was preferved in her full

B 2

full efficiency, and cleared only of a certain into lerance, which was her weakness and difgrace. The church and the ftate were the fame after the revolution that they were before, but better fecured in every part.

Was little done because a revolution was not made in the conftitution? No! Every thing was done; because we commenced with reparation not with ruin. Accordingly the ftate flourished. Inftead of lying as dead, in a fort of trance, or expofed as fome others, in an epileptic fit, to the pity or derifion of the world, for her wild, ridiculous, convulfive movements, impotent to every purpofe but that of dafhing out her brains against the pavement, Great Britain rofe above the ftandard, even of her former felf. An æra of a more improved domeftic profperity then commenced, and ftill continues, not only unimpaired, but growing, under the wafting hand of time. All the energies of the country were awakened. England never prefented a firmer countenance, or a mere vigorous arm, to all her enemies, and to all her rivals. Europe under her refpired and revived. Every where the appeared as the protector, affertor, or avenger, of liberty. A war was made and fupported against fortune itfelf. The treaty of Ryfwick, which firft limited the power of France, was foon after made the grand alliance very fhortly followed, which fhook to the foundations the dreadful power which menaced the independence of mankind. The ftates of Europe lay happy under the fhade of a great and free monarchy, which knew how to be great without endangering its own peace at home, or the internal or external peace of any of its neighbours.

Mr. Burke faid he fhould have felt very unpleasantly if he had not delivered thefe fentiments. He was near the end of his natural, r .bly ftill nearer to the end of his political career at he was weak and weary; and

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »