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country are to be ascribed to the wishes, and the joy, and the speeches of Opposition.” O, miserable and unfortunate Ministry! .0, hlin and incapable men! whose measures are framed with so little furto sight, and executed with so little firmness, that they not only crumble to pieces, but bring on the ruin of their country, merely because one rash, weak, or wicked man, in the House of Commons, makes a spech against them!
But who is he who arraigns gentlemen on this side of the House with causing, hy their inflammatory speeches, the misfortunes of the r country? The accusation comes from one whose inflammatory barangues have led the Nation, step by step, from violence to violence, in that inhuman, umfeeling system of blood and massacre, which every honest man must detest, which every good man must abhor, and every wise man condemn! And this man imputes the guilt of such measures to those who had all along foretold the consequences; who hal prayer, entreated and supplicated, not only for America, but for the creilit of the Nation and its eventual welfare, to arrest the hand of l’ower, meditating slaughter, and directed by injustice!
What was the cousequence of the sanguinary measures recommendel in those hloody, inflammatory speeches? Though Boston was to be starved, though Hancock and Adams were proscribed, yet at the feet of these very men the Parliament of Great Britain was obliged to kneel, flatter, and cringe; and, as it had the cruelty at one time to denounce vengeance against these men, so it had the meanness afterwards to implore their forgiveness. Shall he who called the Americans “ Hancock and his crew," — shall he presume to reprehend any set of men for inflammatory speeches ? It is this accursed American war that has led us, step by step, into all our present misfortunes and national disgraces. What was the cause of our wasting forty millions of money, and sixty thousand lives? The American war! What was it that produced the French rescript and a French war? The American war! What was it that produced the Spanish manifesto and Spanish war ? The American war! What was it that armed forty-two thousand men in Ireland with the arguments carried on the points of forty thousand bayonets? The American war! For what are we about to incur an additional debt of twelve or fourteen millions? This accursed, cruel, diabolical American war!
79. TIE FOREIGN POLICY OF WASHINGTON, 1794. — Charles James For. Ilow infinitely superior must appear the spirit and principles of Generaı vashington, in his late address to Congress, compared with the policy of modern European Courts! Illustrious man! deriving honor less from the splendor of his situation than from the dignity of his mind! Grateful to France for the assistance received from her, in that great contest which secured the independence of America, he yet did not choose to give up the system of neutrality in her favor. Having once laid down the line of conduct most proper to be pursued, not
all the insults and provocations of the French minister, Genet,* could at all put him out of his way, or bend him from his purpose. It must, indeed, create astonishment, that, placed in circumstances so critical, ard filling a station só conspicuous, the character of Washington should never once have been called in question ; that he should, in no one instance, have been accused either of improper insolence, or of mean submission, in his transactions with foreign Nations. It has been reserved for him to run the race of glory without experiencing the smallest interruption to the brilliancy of his career. The breath of censure has not dared to impeach the purity of his conduct, nor the eye of envy to raise its malignant glance to the elevation of his virtues. Such has been the transcendent merit and the unparalleled fate of this illustrious man!
How did he act when insulted by Genet? Did he consider it as neces. sary to avenge himself for the misconduct or madness of an individual, by involving a whole continent in the horrors of war? No; he contented himself with procuring satisfaction for the insult, by causing Genet to be recalled; and thus, at once, consulted his own dignity and the interests of his country. Happy Americans! while the whirlwind flies over one quarter of the globe, and spreads everywhere desolation, you remain protected from its baneful effects by your own virtues, and the wisdom of your Government. Separated from Europe by an immense ocean, you feel not the effect of those prejudices and passions which convert the boasted seats of civilization into scenes of horror and bloodshed. You profit by the folly and madness of the contending Nations, and afford, in your more congenial clime, an asylum to those blessings and virtues which they wantonly contemn, or wickedly esclude from their bosom! Cultivating the arts of peace under the influence of freedom, you advance, by rapid strides, to opulence and distinction; and if, by any accident, you should be compelled to take part in the present unhappy contest, —- if you should find it necessary to avenge insult, or repel injury,- the world will bear witness to the equity of your sentiments and the moderation of your views; and the success of your arms will, no doubt, be proportioned to the justice of your cause !
80. LIBERTY IS STRENGTH. — Fox, 1797, on the State of Ireland. Opinions become dangerous to a State only when persecution makes it necessary for the People to communicate their ideas under the bond of secrecy. Publicity makes it impossible for artifice to succeed, and designs of a hostile nature lose their danger by the certainty of expos
But it is said that these bills will expire in a few years; that they will expire when we shall have peace and tranquillity restored to us. What a sentiment to inculcate! You tell the People that, when everything goes well, – when they are happy and comfortable, — then they may meet freely, to recognize their happiness, and pass eulogiums on their Government; but that, in a moment of war and calamity,- of listrust and misconduct, it is not permitted to meet together; because then, instead of eulogizing, they might think proper to condemn Ministers. What a mockery is this ! What an insult, to say that this is preserving to the People the right of petition ! To tell them that they shall have a right to applaud, a right to rejoice, a right to meet when they are happy; but not a right to condemn, not a right to deplore their misfortunes, not a right to suggest a remedy!
* Pronounced Zjennay.
Liberty is order. Liberty is strength. Look round the world, and admire, as you must, the instructive spectacle. You will see that liberty not only is power and order, but that it is power and order predominant and invincible, – that it derides all other sources of strength. And shall the preposterous imagination be fostered, that men bred in liberty - the first of human kind who asserted the glorious distinction of forming for themselves their social compact -- can be condemned to silence upon their rights? Is it to be conceived that men, who have enjoyed, for such a length of days, the light and happiness of freedom, can be restrained, and shut up again in the gloom of ignorance and de gradation? As well, Sir, might you try, by a miserable dam, to shut up the flowing of a rapid river! The rolling and impetuous tide would burst through every impediment that man might throw in its way; and the only consequence of the impotent attempt would be, that, having collected new force by its temporary suspension, enforcing itself through new channels, it would spread devastation and ruin on every side. The progress of liberty is like the progress of the stream. Kept within its bounds, it is sure to fertilize the country through which it runs; but no power can arrest it in its passage; and shortsighted, as well as wicked, must be the heart of the projector that would strive to divert its course.
81. VIGOR OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS, 1797.— Charles James Foz. When we look at the Democracies of the ancient world, we are compelled to acknowledge their oppressions to their dependencies; their horrible acts of injustice and of ingratitude to their own citizens; but they compel us, also, to admiration, by their vigor, their constaney, their spirit, and their exertions, in every great emergency in which they were called upon to act. We are compelled to own that the democratic form of government gives a power of which no other form is capable. Why? Because it incorporates every man with the same. Because it arouses everything that belongs to the soul, as well as to the body, of man. Because it makes every individual feel that he is fighting for himself; that it is his own cause, his own safety, his own dignity, on the face of the earth, that he is asserting. Who, that reads the history of the Persian War, — what hoy, whose heart je warmed by the grand and sublime actions which the democratic spirit produced, does not find, in this principle, the key to all the wonders which were achieved at Thermopyla and elsewhere, and of which the
recent and marvellous acts of the French People are pregnant exam. ples? Without disguising the vices of France, — without overlooking the horrors that have been committed, and that have tarnished the glory of the Revolution, it cannot be denied that they have exemplified the doctrine, that, if you wish for power, you must look to liberty. If ever there was a moment when this maxim ought to be dear to us. it is the present. We have tried all other means. We have addressed ourselves to all the base passions of the People. We have tried to terrify them into exertion; and all has been unequal to our emergency. Let us try them by the only means which experience demonstrates to be invincible. Let us address ourselves to their love! Let us identify them with ourselves ; — let us make it their own cause, as well as ours !
82. THE PARTITION OF POLAND, 1800. — Charles James Fox. Now, Sir, what was the conduct of your own allies to Poland ? Le there a single atrocity of the French in Italy, in Switzerland, in Egypt, if you please, more unprincipled and inhuman than that of Russia, Austria and Prussia, in Poland ? What has there been in the conduct of the French to foreign powers; what in the violation of solemn treaties; what in the plunder, devastation, and dismemberment of unoffending countries; what in the horrors and murders perpetrated upon the subdued victims of their rage in any district which they have overrun, - worse than the conduct of those three great powers in the miserable, devoted, and trampled-on Kingdom of Poland, and who have been, or are, our allies in this war for religion, social order, and the rights of Nations ? O, but you“ regretted the partition of Poland !” regretted! - you regretted the violence, and that is all you did. You united yourselves with the actors; you, in fact, by your acquiescence, confirmed the atrocity. But they are your allies; and though they overran and divided Poland, there was nothing, perhaps, in the manner of doing it, which stamped it with peculiar infamy and disgrace. The hero of Poland, perhaps, was merciful and mild ! He was “ as much superior to Bonaparte in bravery, and in the discipline which he maintained, as he was superior in virtue and humanity! He was animated by the purest principles of Christianity, and was restrained in his career by the benevolent precepts which it inculcates!”. Was he ?
Let unfortunate Warsaw, and the miserable inhabitants of the suburb of Praga in particular, tell! What do we understand to have been the conduct of this magnanimous hero, with whom, it seenis, Bonaparte is not to be compared ? He entered the suburb of Praga, the most populous suburb of Warsaw, and there he let his soldiery loose on the miserable, unarmed and unresisting people! Men, women and children, nay, infants at the breast, — were doomed to one indiscriminate massacre! Thousands of them were inhumanly, wantonly butchered! And for what? Because they had dared to join in a wish to meliorate their own condition as a Peop't, and to improve their Curstitution, which had been confessed, by their own sovereign, to be in want of amendment. And such is the hero upon whom the cause of
religion and social order " is to repose! And such is the man whom we praise for his discipline and his virtue, and whom we hold out as our boast and our dependence; while the conduct of Bonaparte untis him to be even treated with as an enemy!
83. AN ATHEISTICAL GOVERNMENT DIPOSSIBLE, 1794. – R. B. Sheridan. Richard Prinsley Sherilan was born in Dublin, September, 1751, and diedi July , 1:16, in London. Jl distingui-hed himself up atly, in company with Burke, in the pros rutin us Wurren lascings; but the reports of his speechs at the trial are imp-rfect and confiti.. Sheriilan's fame as a dramatist is quite equal to his Parliamentary reputation.
The noble Lord's purpose is to prove that France began the war with Great Britain. This he appears to think he has established, the moment he has shown that Brissot * and others have promulgated in print a great many foolish and a great many wicked general principles mischievous to all established Governments. But what was the sum of all that the noble Lord told the House ? What did it all prore? What, but that eternal and unalterable truth, that a long-establishet despotism so far degrade i and debased human nature, as to render its subjects, on the first recovery of their rights, unfit for the exercise of them; but never have I, or will I, meet, but with reprobation, that mode of argument which
goes, in fact, to establish, as an inference from this truth, that those who have been long slaves ought, therefore, tv remain so forever.
It is contended that the present state of things in France cannot stand. Without disputing any of his prenises, for the present, I will grant the noble Lord not only his principle, but the foundation upon which he builds it. I agree with him, that it is contrary to the eternal and unalterable laws of Nature, and to the decrees of the Maker of man and of Nations, that a Government, founded on and maintainel by injustice, rapine, murder and atheism, can have a fixed endurance or a permanent success; that there are, self-sown in its own bosom, the seeds of its own inevitable dissolution. But if so, whence is our mis. sion to become the destroying angel to guide and hasten the anger of the Deity? Who calls on us to offer, with more than mortal armgance, the alliance of a mortal arm to the Omnipotent? or to snatch the upliftel thun ler from His hand, and point our erring aim at the devotel fabric which IIis original will has fated to fall and crumble in that ruin which it is not in the means of man to accelerate or prevent ? I accedle to the noble Lord the piety of his principle : let him accede to me the justice of my conclusion.; or let him attend to experience. if not to reason; and must he not admit that hitherto all the attempts of his apparently powerful, but certainly presumptuous, cruside of vengeance, have appeared unfavored by fortune and hy Providence; that they have hitherto had no other effect than to strengthen the powers, to whet the rapacity, to harden the heart, to iníame the fury. and to augment the crimes, of that Government, and that People, whom we have rashly sworn to subdue, to chastise, and to reform?
* Pronounced Breesso.