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SUBSTANCE OF THE SPEECH,
'R, BURKE's fpeech on the report of the army has not been correctly flated in fome of the public papers. It is of confequence to him not to be misunderstood. The matter which incidentally came into difcuffion is of the moft ferious importance. It is thought that the heads and fubftance of the fpeech will answer the purpofe fufficiently. If in making the abftract, through defect of memory in the perfon who now gives it, any difference at all fhould be perceived from the fpeech as it was fpoken, it will not, the editor imagines, be found in any thing which may amount to a retraction of the opinions he then maintained, or to any foftening in the expreflions in which they were conveyed.
Mr. Burke spoke a confiderable time in anfwer to various arguments which had been infifted upon by Mr. Grenville and Mr. Pitt, for keeping an increafed peace eftablishment, and against an improper jealoufy of the minifters, in whom a full con fidence, fubject to refponfibility, ought to be placed, on account of their knowledge of the real fituation of affairs; the exact state of which it frequently happened, that they could not difclofe, without viclating the conftitutional and political fecrefy, neceffary to the well being of their country.
Mr. Burke faid in fubftance, "that confidence might become a vice, and jealousy a virtue, according
ing to circumstances. That confidence, of all pub lic virtues, was the moft dangerous, and jealoufy in an House of Commons, of all public vices, the moft tolerable; efpecially where the number and the charge of standing armies, in time of peace, was the question.
That in the annual mutiny bill, the annual army was declaredly to be for the purpose of preferving the balance of power in Europe. The propriety of its being larger or fmaller depended, therefore, upon the true ftate of that balance. If the increase of peace establishments demanded of parliament agreed with the manifeft appearance of the balance, confidence in minifters, as to the particulars, would be very proper. If the increase was not at all fupported by any fuch appearance, he thought great jealoufy might, and ought to be, entertained on that fubject.
That he did not find, on a review of all Europe, that, politically, we flood in the fmallest degree of danger from any one ftate or kingdom it contained; nor that any other foreign powers than our own allies were likely to obtain a confiderable prepon derance in the scale.
That France had hitherto been our first object, in all confiderations concerning the balance of power. The presence or abfence of France totally varied every fort of fpeculation relative to that ba lance.
That France is, at this time, in a political light, to be confidered as expunged out of the fyftem of Europe. Whether fhe could ever appear in it again, as a leading power, was not eafy to deter mine: but at present he confidered France as not politically exifting; and most affuredly it would take up much time to reftore her to her former active existence Gallos quoque in bellis floruiffe audivimus, might poffibly be the language of the rifing generation. He did not mean to deny, that it was our duty to keep our eye on that nation, and
1790. 5 to regulate our preparation by the symptoms of her recovery.
That it was to her ftrength, not to her form of government which we were to attend; because republics, as well as monarchies, were fufceptible of ambition, Jealoufy, and anger, the ufual caufes of war.
But if, while France continued in this fwoon, we fhould go on increasing our expences, we fhould certainly make ourselves lefs a match for her, when it be
came our concern to arm.
It was faid, that as the had fpeedily fallen, fhe might speedily rife again. He doubted this. That the fall from an height was with an accelerated velocity; but to lift a weight up to that height again was difficult, and oppofed by the laws of phyfical and poitical gravitation.
In a political view, France was low indeed. She had loft every thing, even to her name.
Facet ingens littore truncus,
Avelfumque humeris caput, et fine nomine corpus."
He was aftonifhed at it-he was alarmed at it-he trembled at the uncertainty of all human greatness.
Since the house had been prorogued in the fummer much work was done in France. The French had fhewn themselves the ableft architects of ruin that had hitherto
Mr. Burke, probably, had in his mind the remainder of the paffage, and was filled with fome congenial apprehensions:
"Hæc finis Priami fatorum; hic exitus illum
hitherto exifted in the world. In that very short. ipace of time they had completely pulled down to the ground, their monarchy; their church; their nobility, their law; their revenue; their army; their navy; their commerce; their arts; and their manufactures. They had done their business for us as ivals, in a way in which twenty Ramilies or Blenheims could never have done it. Were we abfolute conquerors, and France to lie proftrate at our feet, we fhould be ashamed to fend a commiffion to fetle their affairs, which could impofe fo hard a law upon the French, and fo deftructive of all their confequence as a nation, as that they had impofed upon themselves.
France, by the mere circumstance of its vicinity, had been, and in a degree always muft be, an ob ject of our vigilance, either with regard to her actual power, or to her influence and example. As to the former, he had spoken; as to the latter, (her example) he should fay a few words: for by this example our friendship, and our intercourfe with that nation had once been, and might again become, more dangerous to us than their worst hoftility,
In the last century, Louis the Fourteenth had efta. blished a greater and better difciplined military force than ever had been before feen in Europe, and with it a perfect defpotifm. Though that defpotifm was proudly arrayed in manners, gallantry, fplendour, magnificence, and even covered over with the im rofing robes of feience, literature, and arts, it was, in government, nothing better than a painted and gilded tyranny, in religion, an hard ftern intolerance, the fit companion and auxiliary to the defpotic tyranny which prevailed in its government. The fame character of defpotifm infinuated itfelf into every court of Europe-the fame (pirit of difproportioned magnificence the fame love of standing ar