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persons at discretion.
The rebel.officers replied, with dignity and generosity, that they had taken arms against the enemies of their country to punish their crimes, but not to imitate them.
I might push this parallel much further but it would be useless, and it is certainly disgusting: still, however, your question recurs-how instruments can be found in any country to execute such deeds as make us sometimes detest our very species, and almost wish to be of
other. Grave and true as this reflection is, let us not, my dearest friend, push it too far. And above all, in christian and charitable hope, let us presume, that all who have had part in these crimes, are not in equal guilt. Might it not be possible that even some are innocent
Without recurring to the tyrannies of remote or ancient nations, and all their histories are pregnant with such instances, let us take that of England alone in her civil wars. Multitudes have fallen, innocently, for what did not concern them. Witness the wars of the white and the red rose. Yet, in those wars, all the noble blood was attainted with treason and rebellion : whilst the vulgar rotted without name. All England was in action on one side or other ; but it would be too violent to say, there was no man of either party innocent.
At an after period, when in the name of the EverLiving God of Peace and Love, the pile was lighted to burn Heretics and Schismatics, and those who would neither swear nor subscribe to new doctrines,
and articles of credencé, understood by nobody, were cast into the flames : and those that did subscribe and swear to them, were, in their turn, as the balance of dominion shifted, cast into the flames.When the child yet unborn, was ripped from the mother's womb, and cast into the flames; and when the whole nation was fanaticised on the one side or the other-was no man innocent ?
In all the wars of conquest and of plunder, in which England has had her ample share—was no man innnocent?
In all the cruelties committed in America, in Africa, and in India, by the English-was no man innocent ?
In all the barbarous crimes committed by our ancestors, the English, against our ancestors, the Irish, as bloody as those which have happened in our own days—was no man innocent?
When you will have answered all these questions, you will have found the solution of your own.
Let us endeavor to cherish the most consolatory sentiment. Example, education, habit, ignorance; the influence of power, the smooth seductions of corruption and of luxury; the warmth of passion, the baneful effects of calumny and imposture; mistaken zeal, which degenerates into bigotry; the weakness of the coward, and the pressure of the tyrant; the temptations of wealth, and the goadings of necessity, are so many fatal snares ever lying in wait for the integrity of miserable man. None have ever suddenly become consummate in iniquity, the gradations
are often insensible! Few causes so bad but may put on some shew of fairness : 'and the human mind, seldom free from bias of some kind, finds too easy an excuse in sophistry and self-delusion, for its first deviations : but the path of rectitude, once forsaken, is not easily regained.
Such is the human heart ; its issues are strange and inscrutable; and the paths of error many and intricate. I have often witnessed, with deep regret, these early conflicts between virtue and error, in the breast of those I loved. I have seen them struggle ; I have seen them suffer ; I have seen them falter, and I have seen them fall. I have seen them turn away from me, whilst my heart was yet warm towards them; and have lamented it in vain : and I have seen, that when the soul first proves recreant to truth, and first swerves from the acknowledged principles of immutable and eternal justice, it is from that moment difficult to say how far its aberrations may extend. In the beginning it will search for pretexts and excuses ; by degrees it will be more easily satisfied until at length conscience becomes callous, and crime familiar.
Enough, my best friend, of this dismal subject. I have pursued it so far, in compliance with your request. It is for my own peace now, that I beg your permission to relinquish it, and proceed to your next enquiry, if not more easy of solution, at least more agreeable.
Of the Character of the French Nation.
On this head, I should greatly fear to add to the number of tourists and travellers, who have said much, and said little ; whose only merit has been to put together stale conceits, and garbled anecdotes. But you say that every nation has a character, and I readily admit it. In general, the lines of national character are as distinct as the features of the face. But truly to designate them, belongs only to a few favored geniuses, and would require the pencil of Hogarth, or the pen of Sterne. Every one knows that the French are gay, gallant, and courteous. I need not repeat, that they dance well, and that they fight well. They are said to be incincere, vain, and inconstant-all which perhaps is true, and may lessen the dignity and importance of their character. I am neither partial to them, nor bigotted against them. I may
be partial to my own country, perhaps the more because it is unfortunate. I may be partial to the country of my adoption, because I find in it that liberty which in my own is lost; but I am partial to
no other : yet it would be unjust to deny, that in that one, into which the wickedness of my enemies drove me to take refuge, and where I was compelled to remain near seven years, with little else to do than to observe, I have found friends as generous and sincere, as any I have known elsewhere. Şincere indeed, because my fortunes were too low to buy me friends. Nor had I ever any reason to feel or to suppose I had an enemy. I did not like all I saw in France I detested much of it. I grieved to find that a great event which had bid fair, as I once thought, and as good men hoped to extend the sphere of human happiness, and the empire of reason, knowledge, and philosophy, should, after deluges of human blood, serve to no other end, than to plunge mankind still deeper in the gulph of corruption and tyranny! But I held it as my duty to respect the power that protected me ; and though my opinions were not much disguised, I never was molested for them.
That the French are insincere, is perhaps true ; because they are naturally given to exaggeration : but with all that insincerity, I know of no people who will from mere kindness and politeness, confer so many favors, and that with so good a grace: it is therefore more agreeable to live among them, undoubtedly, insincere as they may be, than with a people disagreebly sincere and not more benevolent. As far as manners are in question, theirs are the most hospitable on the earth.,