Page images
PDF
EPUB

better than I do. IIc has studied it in the fundamental part. For one election I have seen, he has been concerned in twenty. Nobody is less of a visionary theorist; nobody bias drawn bis speculations more from practice. No peer las condescended to superintend with more vigilance the declining franchises of the poor commons.

" With thrice great ITermes le has outwatched the Bear." Often have liis candles been burned to the snuff, and glimmered and stuk in the sockets, whilst ho grew palo at his constitutional studies ; long, sleepless nights las lic wasted, long, laborious, shiftless journeys bias lo mado, and great suns las he expended, in order to secure the purity, the independenco, and the sobriety of clections, and to give a check, if possible, to the ruinous charges that go nearly to the destruction of the right of clection itself.

Amidst thesc his labors, his Grace will be pleased to forgive me, if my zeal, less culightened, to be sure, than his by midnight lamps and studies, has pre sumed to talk too favorably of this Constitution, and even to say something sounding like approbation of that body which has the honor to reckon bis Grace at the head of it. Those who dislike this partiality, or, if his Grace pleases, this flattery of minc, have a comfort at hand. I may be refuted and brought to shame ly the most convincing of all refutations, a practical refutation. Every individual peer for himself may show that I was ridiculously wrong; the whole body of those nollo persons may refute me for the whole corps. If they please, they are more powerful advocates against theinselves than a thousand scribbler's like me can be in their favor. If I were even possessed of those powers which his Grace, in order to

[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

heighten my offence, is pleased to attribute to me, there would be little difference. The cloquence of Mi. Erskine might save Mr. ***** from the gallows, but no cloquence could savo Mr. Jackson from the effects of his own potion.

In that unfortunate book of inine, which is put in the Index Expurgatorius of the modern Whigs, I miglit have spoken too favorably not only of those who wear coronets, but of those who wcar crowns. Kings, howcver, have not only long arms, but strong ones too, A great Northern potentate, for instance, is able in one moment, and with one bold stroke of his diplomatic pen, to cilice all the volumes which I could write in a century, or which the most laborious puli licists of Germany ever carricd to the fair of Lcipisic, as an apology for monarchs and monarchy. Whilst I, or any other poor, puny, private sophist, was defonding the Declaration of Pilnitz, his Majesty miglit refute me by the Treaty of Basle. Such a monarch may destroy one republic because it had a king at its hcad, and he may balance this extraordinary act by founding another republic that has cut off the head of its king. I defended that great potentate for associating in a grand alliance for the prescrvation of the old governments of Europc; but lic puts me to silence by delivering up all those governments (his own virtually included) to the new system of France. 10 he is accused before the larisian tribunal (constituted for the trial of kings) for having polluted the soil of liberty by the tracks of his disciplined slaves, he clears himself by surrendering the finest parts of Germany (with a handsome cut of his own terri. torics) to the ollended majesty of the regicides of France. Can I resist this ? Am I responsible for

it, is, with a torch in his land, and a rope about his neck, lie inakes amende honorable to the sans-culotterie of the Republic one and indivisible? In that humiliating attitude, in spite of my protests, he may supplicato pardon for his menacing proclamations, and, as an expiation to those whom he failed to terrily with his threats, lic may abandon those whom ho had seduced by his promises. Jo may sacrifice the royalists of France, whom he had called to his standard, as a salutary example to those who shall adhere to their native sovereign, or shall confide in any other who undertakes the cause of oppressed kings and of loyal subjects.

llow can I help it, if this high-minded prince will subscribe to the invectives which the regicides have made against all kings, and particularly against himself? slow can I help it, if this royal propagandist will preach the doctrine of the Rights of Men ? Is it iny fault, if his professors of literature read lectures on that code in all his academics, and if all the pensioned managers of the newspapers in his dominions diffuse it throughout Europe in an hundred journals i Can it be attributed to me, if he will initiate all his grenadiers and all his hussars in these high mysteries ? Am I responsible, if he will makc Le Droit de l'Homme, or La Souveraineté du Peuple the favorite parole of his military orders ? Now that his troops are to act with the brave legions of freedom, no doubt ho will lit them for their fraternity. We will teach the Prussians to think, to feel, and to act like them, and to emulato the glories of the régiment de l'échafaud. Ile will employ the illustrious Citizen Santerre, the general of his new allies, to instruct the dull Gerinans how they shall conduct themselves towards

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

persons who, like Louis the Sixteenth, (whose causo and person he once took into luis protection,) shall dare, without the sanction of the people, or with it, to consider themselves as hereditary kings. Can I arrest this great potentate in his career of glory? Am I blamable in recommending virtue and religion as the true foundation of all monarchies, because the protector of the three religions of the Westphalian arrangement, to ingratiate himself with the Republic of Philosophy, shall abolish all the three? It is not in my power to prevent the grand patron of the Rvformed Church, if he chooses it, from annulling the Calvinistic sabbath, and cstablishing the décadi of atheism in all his states. Ile may even renounce and abjure his favorite mysticism in the Temple of Reason. In these things, at least, hıc is truly despotic. IIc has now shaken hands with everything which at first had inspired him with horror. It would be curious indeed to sec (what I shall not, however, travel so far to sec) the ingenious devices and the elegant transparencies which, on the restoration of peace and the commencement of Prussian liberty, are to decorate Potsdam and Charlottenburg festeggianti. What shades of his armed ancestors of thic JIouse of Brandenburg will the committee of Illuminés raise up in the opera-house of Berlin, to dance a grand ballet in the rejoicings for this auspicious event? Is it a grand master of the Teutonic order, or is it the great Elector? Is it the first king of Prussia, or the last ? or is the whole long line (long, I mean, a parte ante) io appear like Banquo's royal procession in the tragedy of Macbeth?

How can I prevent all these arts of royal policy, und all these displays of royal magnificence ? Ilow

can I prevent the successor of Frederick the Great from aspiring to a new, and, in this age, unexampled kind of glory? Is it in my power to say that he shall not make his confessions in the style of St. Austin or of Rousseau ? that he shall not assume the character of the penitent and flagellant, and, gialting monkery on philosophy, strip himself of his regal purple, clotho his gigantic limbs in tho sackcloth and the hair-shirt, and exercise on his broad shoulders the disciplinary scourge of the holy order of the Sans - Culottes ? It is not in me to hinder kings from making new orders of religious and martial knightJood. I am not Ilercules enough to uphold those orls which the Atlases of the world are so desirous of shifting from their weary shoulders. What can be done against the magnanimous resolution of the great to accomplish the degradation and the ruin of their own character and situation ?

What I say of the German princes, that I say of all the other dignities and all the other institutions of the Iloly Roman Empire. If they have a mind to destroy theinselves, they may put their advocates to silence and their advisers to shame. I have often praised the Aulic Council. It is very true, I did so. I thought it a tribunal as well formed as human wisdom could form a tribunal for cocrcing the great, the rich, and the powerful, – for obliging them to submit their necks to the imperial laws, and to thoso of Nature and of nations: a tribunal well conceived for extirpating peculation, corruption, and oppression from all the parts of that vast, heterogeneous mass, called the Germanic body. I should not be inclined to retract these praises upon any of the ol'dinary lapses into which human infirmity will fall;

« PreviousContinue »