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-Mox fuerat hoc ipfum exitio; furiifque refecti, Ardebant, ipfque fuos, jam morte fub ægra, Difciffos nudis laniabant dentibus artus.
Thus the potion which was given to ftrengthen the conflitution, to heal divifions, and to compofe the minds of men, became the fource of debility, phrenzy, difcord, and utter diffolution.
In this, perhaps, I have answered, I think, another of your questions-Whether the British conftitution is adapted to your circumftances? When I praised the British conftitution, and wifhed it to be well ftudied, I did not mean that its exterior form and pofitive arrangement fhould become a model for you, or for any people fervilely to copy. I meant to recommend the principles from which it has grown, and the policy on which it has been progreЛlively improved out of elements common to you and to us. I am fure it is no vifionary theory of mine. It is not an advice that fubjects you to the hazard of any experiment. I believed the antient principles to be wife in all cafes of a large empire that would be free. I thought you poffeffed our principles in your old forms, in as great a perfection as we did originally. If your ftates agreed (as I think they did) with your circumstances, they were best for you. As you had a conftitution formed upon principles fimilar to ours, my idea was, that you might have improved them as we have done, conforming them to the ftate and exigencies of the times, and the condition of property in your country, having the confervation of that property, and the fubftantial bafis of your monarchy, as principal objects in all your reforms.
I do not advife an houfe of lords to you. Your antient courfe by reprefentatives of the nobleffe (in your circumftances) appears to me rather a better inftitution. I know, that with you, a fet VOL. III.
of men of rank have betrayed their comlituents, their honour, their truft, their king, and their country, and levelled themselves with their footmen, that through this degradation they might afterwards put themselves above their natural equals. Sonte of these perfons have entertained a project, that in reward of this their black perfidy and corruption, they may be chofen to give rife to a new order, and to establish themselves into an houfe of lords. Do you think that, under the name of a British conftitution, I mean to recommend to you fuch lords, made of fuch kind of stuff? I do not however include in this defcription all of thofe who are fond of this fcheme.
If you were now to form fuch an house of peers, it would bear in my opinion, but little resemblance to our's in its origin, character, or the purposes which it might answer, at the fame time that it would deftroy your true natural nobility. But if you are not in a condition to frame an houfe of lords, ftill lefs are you capable, in my opinion, of framing any thing which virtually and fubftantially could be anfwerable (for the purposes of a ftable, regular government) to our house of commons. That houfe is, within itself, a much more fubtle and artificial combination of parts and powers, than people are generally aware of. What knits it to the other members of the conflitution; what fits it to be at once the great fupport, and the great controul of government; what makes it of fuch admirable fervice to that monarchy which, if it limits, it fecures and ftrengthens, would require a long difcourfe, belonging to the leiture of a contemplative man, not to one whofe duty it is to join in communicating practically to the people the bleflings of fuch a conftitution.
Your tiers etat was not in effect and fubftance an houfe of commons. You ftood in abfolute need of
fomething else to supply the manifeft defects in fuch a body as your tiers etat. On a fober and difpaffionate view of your old conftitution, as connected with all the prefent circumftances, I was fully perfuaded, that the crown, ftanding as things have ftood (and are likely to ftand, if you are to have any monarchy at all) was and is incapable, alone and by itself, of holding a just balance between the two orders, and at the fame time of effecting the interior and exterior purposes of a protecting government. I, whofe leading principle it is, in a reformation of the state, to make use of existing materials, am of opinion, that the representation of the clergy, as a feparate order, was an inftitution which touched all the orders' more nearly than any of them touched the other; that it was well fitted to connect them and to hold a place in any wife monarchical commonwealth. If I refer you to your original conftitution, and think it, as I do, fubftantially a good ore, I do not amuse you in this, more than in other things, with any inventions of mine. A certain intemperance of intellect is the disease of the time, and the fource of all its other difeafes. I will keep myself as untainted by it as I can. Your architects
build without a foundation. I would readily lend an helping hand to any fuperftructure, when once this is effectually fecured- but first I would fay
δος πε ςω.
You think, Sir, and you may think rightly, upon the first view of the theory, that to provide for the exigencies of an empire, fo fituated and fo related as that of France, its king ought to be invefted with powers very much fuperior to thofe which the king of England poffeffes under the letter of our conftitution. Every degree of power neceffary to the state, and not deftructive to the rational and moral freedom of individuals, to that perfonal liberty, and perfonal fecurity, which contribute fo much to the vigour, the
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profperity, the happiness, and the dignity of a nation -every degree of power which does not fuppose the total abfence of all control, and all refponfibility on the part of minifters,-a king of France, in common fenfe, ought to poffefs. But whether the exact meafure of authority, affigned by the letter of the law to the king of Great Britain, can answer to the exterior or interior purposes of the French monarchy, is a point which I cannot venture to judge upon. Here, both in the power given, and its limitations, we have always cautiously felt our way. The parts of our conftitution have gradually, and almoft infenfibly, in a long courfe of time, accommodated themselves to each other, and to their common, as well as to their feparate purposes. But this adaptation of contending parts, as it has not been in our's, fo it can never be in your's, or in any country, the effect of a fingle inftantaneous regulation, and no found heads could ever think of doing it in that manner.
I believe, Sir, that many on the continent altogether mistake the condition of a king of Great Britain. He is a real king, and not an executive officer. If he will not trouble himself with contemptible details, nor wifh to degrade himfelf by becoming a party in little fquabbles, I am far from fure, that a king of Great Britain, in whatever concerns him as a king, or indeed as a rational man, who combines his public intereft with his personal fatisfaction, does not poffefs a more real, folid, extenfive power, than the king of France
poffeffed of before this miferable revolution. The direct power of the king of England is confiderable. His indirect, and far more certain power, is great indeed. He ftands in need of nothing towards dignity; of nothing towards fplendour; of nothing towards authority; of nothing at all towards confideration abroad. When was it that a king of England wanted wherewithal to make him
refpected, courted, or perhaps even feared in every ftate in Europe?
I am conftantly of opinion, that your ftates, in three orders, on the footing on which they stood in 1614, were capable of being brought into a proper and har monious combination with royal authority. This conftitution by estates, was the natural, and only just representation of France. It grew out of the habitual conditions, relations, and reciprocal claims of men. It grew out of the circumstances of the country, and out of the state of property. The wretched scheme of your present masters, is not to fit the conftitution to the people, but wholly to deftroy conditions, to diffolve relations, to change the ftate of the nation, and to fubvert property, in order to fit their country to their theory of a constitution.
Until you could make out practically that great work, a combination of oppofing forces, a work of "labour long, and endless praise," the utmost caution ought to have been used in the reduction of the royal power, which alone was capable of holding together the comparatively heterogeneous mafs of your ftates. But at this day, all thefe confiderations are unfeafonable. To what end fhould we difcufs the limitations of royal power? Your king is in prifon. Why fpeculate on the measure and standard of liberty? I doubt much, very much indeed, whether France is at all ripe for liberty on any standard. Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their difpofition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love to juftice is above their rapacity, in proportion as their foundness and fobriety of understanding is above their vanity and prefumption; in proportion as they are more difpofed to liften to the counfels of the wife and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exift unless a controlling power upon