Page images

should always speak in the language of friendship) was laid in a subject of this kind, That Noble Lord had refused, in spite of his remonstrances, to proceed against a Printer, and upon that difference they parted; till the necessity of the times, and the voice of the Country, calling aloud for a Coalition, had brought them together again.

With regard to the morality and justice of this conduct in the Directory, he was aware, Mr. Fox said, that different opinions were avowed; for his own part, he had never entertained the least doubt upon the subject; the question seemed to him to lie in a very narrow compass indeed he was no friend to the pretended refinements and abstractions of Political Justice; in his opinion, there were rules sufficient for the direction of every man's conduct, lying upon the surface, and within every body's reach. Of this kind was that excellent rule, which an eminent writer, the late Mr. ADAM SMITH, had established as the only crue test upon which we could pretend to decide upon the conduct of other persons. We should put ourselves in their place, and unless we could be thoroughly convinced, that under the same circumstances, we ourselves should have acted differently, we might rest assured that the conscientious disapprobation which we were so ready to affect, was nothing better than a despi. cable farce of hypocrisy and self-delusion.

He would apply this rule to the conduct of the Directory - Let any man for a moment place himself in the situation of those Gentlemen (Messrs. BARRAS and REWBELL); could they, after all they had acted themselves, and all they had inflicted on others in the course of the Revolution - could they, admitting them to be men endowed with the common sentiment of self-preservation (he would put it to the feelings of every Gentleman) could they, consistently with that sentiment, permit for a single moment the expression of the Public Voice, which had almost unanimously declared against them? While human nature was human nature, it was impossible--and it was idle to imagine it. The conduct of the Directory was perfectly just and natural and he was at a loss for words to express his contempt of the hypocrisy of those who would assert, that under the same circumstances, they themselves would have acted differently.

With regard to the political propriety of the measure, he had ever held as a fixed and unalterable principle, the maxim which had been advanced upon this subject by MACHIAVEL-it was this, that when a Government, for practical purposes, had become exhausted and effete, there was only one method for renewing its energies; this was by having recourse to those principles upon which it had been originally constituted. In what did the essence of the French System consist? In the activity of the Insurrectionary Energy. - Through the whole course of the Revolution, whenever this energy had been suffered to lie dormant for any considerable time, the whole system had invariably been affected with a general torpor and lassitude. That period, the happy issue of which they were now commemorating, was in fact truly critical. If the Energy of Insurrection had not roused and exerted itself as it did, it must have sunk into the sleep of death ; or it would only have been awakened to return again under Monarchical Domination. – On the other hand, what had been the effect of this new stimulus ? Fresh lise and vigour had been infused into the whole System they had concluded a Peace with the Emperor on their own terms--they had resolutely dismissed our own Ne


gotiator from Lisle ; and they were now preparing for the Invasion of this Country! (Loud applauses.)

It remained only to speak of the means employed for effecting such a happy change. The Legislative Body representing the disaffected majority of the Nation, had been dispersed by a party of soldiery, acting under a temporary discretionary Insurrectionary Commission.-Mr. Fox here claimed the attention of his audience He was aware—he said that an attempt would be made to impute to him certain principles inconsistent with his approbation of this measure; an approbation which he was by no means disposed to disguise or qualify.—The principle briefly stated was this—« The subordination of the Mili. " tary to the Civil Power.”—It would be alledged, that at some time or other he had maintained and professed this principle — He anticipated the calumny, and he would answer it.

It would be sufficient for him to call back their recol. lection to a very late event. They all remembered the Mutiny (Loud applauses)-It was fresh in the recollection of every body-How happened it then, if in fact he had ever entertained this principle, that an event of such a magnitude should never have called it forth? Was the expression of any such principle to be found in the reports of his Speeches at that period ? Had he ever, directly or indirectly, intimated the least disapprobation of the conduct of the seamen then in a state of insurrection ? Or, the Mutineers, as some Gentlemen thought proper to call them.- Loud laugb and applause.) He appealed to the memory of his auditors-he challenged the malignant recollection of his enemies, and the Spies of Government, if any such were present. (Here a considerable tumult:) -He defied all the quibbling sophistry of the Minister VOL. I.



himself, to put such an interpretation on any word he had said. He had been upon his guard at the time he was aware of the use that might have been made of his name, and this consideration had suggested the necessity of caution.-Political caution he considered as no less necessary in public life than political courage-she had always thought and felt so, and never had this sentiment been impressed upon his mind with a more tremendous conviction, than at the period he was alluding to.

After concluding his defence of the conduct of the Di. rectory, and of his own consistency in approving it, Mr. Fox entered into the discussion of a very delicate point. « Since I am upon the subject of the Mutiny,” said Mr. Fox, (“ and I give it that name without meaning to con4. nect with it any idea of criminality or reproach, but « merely for the sake of a distinction, which we may here. « after have occasion for, between Civil and Military In« surrection); I am naturally led to take notice of a dif« ference of opinion between myself and an Hon. Friend « with whom I have long acted; that Gentleman thought .“ it his duty to declare in Parliament that he disliked “ Mutinies ;--now, for my part, I like them-And for 6 this plain reason, because in every Mutiny, as it arises, " I see the possibility, at least, of the accomplishment of « our great ultimate object-a change of System. But « if I should be — as I trust I ever shall be — The last “ man to discourage a Mutiny on practical grounds, still “ less should I object to it on principles of pure theory. .“ What does a Mutiny prove? If it proves any thing, it « proves this; That the principles of Liberty in the hu« man mind are inextinguishable. You must either go. “ vern in conformity with the will of the mass of the “ People, and of the individuals composing that mass, or


you must employ force there is no alternative-while u the individual is left at liberty to make his own Laws,

and when he is permitted to repeal them as he finds oc« casion-in such a case I am unable to conceive how it is « possible that, under any circumstances, he should be « tempted to disobey them.

< But no,' says the Government, this will not answer our purpose we will strip you of this privilegemowe

will go a step farther-We will not even permit you to • make your own Laws. Even this will not satisfy us

you are a single insulated being, and we have you in

our power—we will fetter you with laws and precedents i-we will bind you down with usages and statutes (which were enacted before you were born?'—" What u must be the state of things where such a system is « established? where it is acted upon without disguise ? “ where it is openly defended and avowed? what is to be « expected, but that which we daily witness in this « Country ? a state of sullen, ill-dissembled discontent ! « This discontent displays itself in actions which are in the

natural expression of such a sentiment. Now mark how « all this follows — Government, instead of removing the « discontent, can see no remedy but in coercion; but how « is coercion to be obtained? Why, by the very means « which have occasioned the discontent-by a still grosser « violation of individual liberty: they take a number of “ individuals, and when they have subjected them to a “ Military Discipline, they Aatter themselves that they u can employ them as a means for suppressing discontent « in others.-But what is the necessary consequence of all " this --The spirit of Freedom, which they are endea« vouring to keep down, explodes first in that body in “ which it had been comprest, with the greatest violence,

H 2

“ The

« PreviousContinue »