« PreviousContinue »
ments which repair the mischiefs which pride had produced and which adorn a country out of its owo spoils. England has erected no churches, no hospitals, no palaces, no schools ; England has built no bridges, made no high roads, cut no navigations, dug out no reservoirs. Every other conqueror of every other description has left some monument, either of state or beneficence, behind him. Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain, to tell, that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by any thing better than the ouran-outang or the tiger
There is nothing in the boys we send to India worse than the boys whom we are whipping at school, or that we see trailing a pike, or bending over a desk at home. But the English youth in India drink the intoxicating draught of authority and dominion before their heads are able to bear it, 'and as they are full grown in fortune long before they are ripe in principle, neither nature nor reason have any opportunity to exert themselves for remedy of the excesses of premature power. The consequences of their conduct, which in good minds, (and many of theirs are probably such) might produce penitence or amendment, are unable to pursue the rapidity of their flight. Their prey is lodged in England; and the cries of India are given to seas and winds, to be blown about, in every breaking up of the monsoon, over a remote and unhearing ocean. In India all the vices operate by which sudden fortune is acquired; in England are often displayed, by the same' persons, the virtues which dispense hereditary wealth. Arrived in England, the destroyers of the nobility and gentry of a whole kingdom will find the best company in this nation, at a board of elegance and hospitality. Here the manufacturer and husbandman will bless the just and punctual hand, that in India has torn the cloth from the loom, or wrested the scanty portion of rice and salt from the peasant of Bengal, or wrung from him the very opium in which he forgot his oppressions and his oppressor. They marry into your families; they enter into your senate; they ease your estates by loans; they raise their value by demand; they cherish and protect your relations which lie heavy under your patronage; and there is scarcely an house in the king: dom that does not feel some concern and interest that makes all reform of our eastern government appear officious and
disgusting; and, on the whole, a most discouraging attempt. In such an attempt you hurt those who are able to return kindness, or to resent injury. If you succeed, you save these who cannot so much as give you thanks. All these things shew the difficulty of the work we have on hand: but they shew its necessity too. Our Indian government is in its best state a grievance. It is necessary that the correctives should be "uncommonly vigorous, and the work of men sanguine, warm, and even impassioned in the cause. But it is an arduous thing to plead against abuses of a power which originates from your own country, and affects those whom we are used to consider as strangers.
(Am Schlusse sagt er zum Lobe von Fox folgendes:)
And now having done my duty to the bill, let me say'a word to the author. I should leave him to his own poble sentiments, if the unworthy and illiberal language with which he has been treated beyond all example of parliamentary liberty, did not make a few words necessary; not so much in justice to him, as to my own feelings. I must say then, that it will be a distinction honourable to the age, that the rescue of the greatest number of the human race that ever were so grievously oppressed, from the greatest tyranny that was ever exercised, has fallen to the lot of abilities and dispositions equal to the task ; that it has fallen to one who has the enlargement to comprehend, the spirit to undertake, and the eloquence to support so great a measure of hazardous bene volence. His spirit is not owing to his ignorance of the state of men and things; he well knows what snares are spread about his path, from personal animosity, from court intrigues and possibly from popular delusion. But he has put to hazard his ease, -his security, his interest, his power, even his darling popularity, for the benefit of a people whom he has never seen. This is the road that all beroes have trod before him. He is traduced and abused for his supposed motives. He will remember, that obloquy is a necessary ingredient in the composition of all true glory; he will remember, that it was not only in the Roman customs, but it is in the nature and constitution of things, that calumny and abuse are essential parts of triumph. These thoughts will support a mind, which only exists for honour, under the burthen of temporary reproach. He is doing indeed a great good; such as ra
rely falls to the lot, and almost as rarely coincides with the desires, of any man.
Let him 'use his time. , Let him give the whole length of the reins to his benevolence. He is now
a great eminence, where the eyes of mankind are turned to him. He may live long, he may do much. But here is the summit. He can never exceed what he does this day.
2) OLD CONSTITUTION OF FRANCE
CONSEQUENCES op tue REVOLUTION *). You might; if you pleased, have profited of our example, and bave given to your recovered freedom a correspondent dignity. Your privileges, though discontinued, were not lost to memory. Your constitution, it is true, whilst you wero out of possession, suffered waste and dilapidation ; but you possessed in some parts the walls, and in all the foundations of a noble and venerable castle. You might have repaired those walls; you might have built on those old foundations. Your constitution was suspended before it was perfected; but you had the elements of a constitution very nearly as good as could be wished. In your old states you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with the various descriptions of which your community was happily composed; you' bad all that combination, and all that opposition of interests, you had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws but the harmony of the universe. These opposed and conflicting interests, which you considered as gb great a blemish in your old and in our present constitution, interpose a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions. They render deliberation a matter not of choice, but of nécessity; they make all change a subject of compromise, which naturally begets moderation; they produce temperaments, preventing the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified reformations; and ren. dering all the headlong exertions of arbitrary power, in the few or in the many, for ever impracticable. Through that
diversity of members and interests, general liberty bad as many - sécurities as there were separate views in the several orders;
“) Reflections on the Revolution in France etc. in a Letter, intended to have been sent to a Gentleman in Paris 1790
whilst by pressing down the whole by the weight of a real monarchy, the separate parts would have been prevented from warping and starting trom their allotted places.
You had all these advantages in your ancient states; but you chose to act as if you had never been moulded into civil society, and had every thing to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising every thing that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital. If the last generations of your country appeared without much lustre in your eyes, you might have passed them by, and derived your claims from a more early race of ancestors. Under a pious predilection for those ancestors, your imaginations would have realized in them a standard, of virtue and wisdom, beyond the vulgar practice of the hour : and you would have risen with the example to whose imitation you aspired. Respecting your forefathers, you would bave been taught to respect yourselves. You would not bave thosen to consider the French as a people of yesterday, as a nation of low-born servile wretches until the emancipating year of 1789. In order to furnish, at the expence of your honour, an excuse to your apologists here for several enormities of yours, you would not have been .content to be represented as a gang of Maroon slaves, suddenly broke loose from the house of bondage, and therefore to be pardonied for your abuse of the liberty to wbich you were not accustomed, and ill fitted.
Would it not, my worthy friend, have been wiser to have you thought, what I, for one, always thought you, a generous and gallant nation, long misled to your disadvantage by your high and romantic sentiments of fidelity, honour, and loyalty; that events had been unfavourable to you, but that you were not enslaved through any illiberal or servile disposition; that in your most devoted submission, you were actuated by a principle of public spirit, and that it was your country you worshipped, in the person of your king? Had you made it to be understood, that in the delusion of this amiable error you had gone further than your wise ancestors: that you were resolved to resume your ancient privileges, whilst you preserved the spirit of your ancient and your recent loyalty and honour; or, if diffident of yourselves, and not clearly discerning the almost obliterated constitution of your ancestors, you had looked to your neighbours in this land, who had kept alive the ancient principles and models of the old common law of
Europe meliorated and adapted to its present state lowing wise examples you would have given new examples of wisdom to the world. You would have rendered the cause of liberty venerable in the eyes of every worthy : mind in every nation. You would have shamed despo1
tism from the earth, by shewing that freedom was not only reconcileable, but as, when well disciplined, it is auxiliary to law. You would have had an unoppressive but a productive revenue. You would have had a flourishing commerce to feed it. You would bave had a free constitution; a potent monarchy; a disciplined army; , à reformed "and venerated clergy; a mitigated but spirited nobility, to lead your virtue, not to overlay it; you would have had a liberal order of commons, to emulate and to recruit that nobility; you would bave had a protected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek and to recognize the happiness that is to bo found by virtue in all conditions; in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and aot in that monstrous fiction, which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and imbitter that real inequality, which it never can remove; and which the order of civil life establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in an humble state, as those whom it is able to exalt' to a condition more splendid, but not more happy. You had a smooth and easy career of felicity and glory laid open to you, beyond any thing recorded in the history of the world; but you have shewn that difficulty is good for man.
Compute your gains : see what is not by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the moment in which they became truly despicable. By following those false lights, France has brought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most unequivocal blessiogs ! France has bought poverty by crime! France has not sacrificed her virtue to her interest; but she has abandoned her interest, that she might prostitute her virtue. All other nations have begun the fabric of a new government, or the reformation of an old, by establishing originally, or by enforcing with greater exactness some rites or religion. All other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom in severer man