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take---and consider whether for their open and forward zeal in the royal cause they may not be thrust out from any sort of confidence and employment, where the interest of crowned heads is concerned.
These are the parties. I have said, and said truly, that I know of no neutrals. But as a general observation on this general principle of choosing neutrals on such occasions as the present, I have this to say--that it amounts to neither more nor less than this shocking proposition—that we ought to exclude men of honour and ability from serving their and our cause; and to put the dearest interests of ourselves and our posterity into the hands of men of no decided character, without judgment to choose, and without courage to profess any principle whatsoever.
Such men can serve no cause, for this plain reason--they have no cause at heart. They can at best work only as mere mercenaries. They have not been guilty of great crimes; but it is only because they have not energy of mind to rise to any height of wickedness. They are not hawks or kites; they are only miserable fowls whose flight is not above their dunghill or henroost. But they tremble before the authors of these horrours. They admire them at a safe and respectful distance. There never was a mean and abject mind that did not admire an intrepid and dexterous villain. In
the bottom of their hearts they believe such hardy miscreants to be the only men qualified for great affairs : if you set them to transact with such persons, they are instantly subdued. They dare not so much as look their antagonist in the face. They are made to be their subjects, not to be their arbiters or controllers.
These men to be sure can look at atrocious acts without indignation, and can behold suffering virtue without sympathy. Therefore they are considered as sober dispassionate men. But they have their passions, though of another kind, and which are infinitely more likely to carry them out of the path of their duty. They are of a tame, timid, languid, inert temper, wherever the welfare of others is concerned. In such causes, as they have no motives to action, they never possess any real ability, and are totally destitute of all resource.
Believe a man who has seen much, and observed something. I have seen in the course of my great many of that family of men. They are generally chosen because they have no opinion of their own; and as far as they can be got in good earnest to embrace any opinion, it is that of whoever happens to employ them (neither longer nor shorter, narrower nor broader) with whom they have no discussion or consultation. The only thing which occurs to such a man when he has got a business for others into his hands, is how to make M 2
his own fortune out of it. The person he is to treat with is not, with him, an adversary over whom he is to prevail, but a new friend he is to gain; therefore he always systematically betrays some part of his trust. Instead of thinking how he shall defend his ground to the last, and, if forced to retreat, how little he shall give up, this kind of man considers how much of the interest of his employer he is to sacrifice to his adversary. Having nothing but himself in view, he knows, that, in serving his principal with zeal, he must probably incur some resentment from the opposite party. His object is to obtain the good will of the person with whom he contends, that, when an agreement is made, he may join in rewarding him. I would not take one of these as my arbitrator in a dispute for so much as a fish-pond-for if he reserved the mud to me, he would be sure to give the water that fed the pool to my adversary. In a great cause I should certainly wish, that my agent should possess conciliating qualities; that he should be of a frank, open, and candid disposition, soft in his nature, and of a temper to soften animosities and to win confidence. He ought not to be a man odious to the person he treats with by personal injury, by violence, or by deceit, or, above all, by the dereliction of his cause in any former transactions. But I would be sure that my negotiator should be inine, that he should be as earnest in the cause as myself, and known to be so; that he should not be looked upon as a stipendiary advocate, but as a principled partisan. In all treaty it is a great point that all idea of gaining your agent is hopeless. I would not trust the cause of royalty with a man, who, professing neutrality, is half a republican. The enemy has already a great part of his suit without a struggle—and he contends with advantage for all the rest. The common principle allowed between your adversary and your agent gives your adversary the advantage in every discussion.
Before I shut up this discourse about neutral agency (which I conceive is not to be found, or, if found, ought not to be used) I have a few other remarks to make on the cause which, I conceive; gives rise to it.
In all that we do, whether in the struggle or after it, it is necessary that we should constantly have in our eye the nature and character of the enemy we have to contend with. The jacobin revolution is carried on by men of no rank, of no. consideration, of wild, savage minds, full of levity, arrogance, and presumption, without morals, without probity, without prudence. What have they then to supply their innumerable defects, and to make them terrible even to the firmest minds? One thing, and one thing only—but that one thing is worth a thousand-they have encrgy. In France, M 3
all things being put into an universal ferment, in the decomposition of society, no man comes forward but by his spirit of enterprise and the vigour
of his mind. If we meet this dreadful and portentous energy, restrained by no consideration of God or man, that is always vigilant, always on the attack, that allows itself no repose, and suffers none to rest an hour with impunity; if we meet this energy with poor common-place proceeding, with trivial maxims, paltry old saws, with doubts, fears, and suspicions, with a languid, uncertain hesitation, with a formal, official spirit, which is turned aside by every obstacle from its purpose, and which never sees a difficulty but to yield to it, or at best to evade it; down we go to the bottom of the abyss—and nothing short of Omnipotence
We must meet a vicious and distempered energy with a manly and rational vigour. As virtue is limited in its resources—we are doubly bound to use all that, in the circle drawn about us by our morals, we are able to command.
I do not contend against the advantages of distrust. In the world we live in it is but too necessary. Some of old call it the very sinews of discretion. But what signify common-places, that always run parallel and equal ? Distrust is good or it is bad, according to our position and our purpose. Distrust is a defensive principle. They who have much to lose have much to fear. But in
can save us.