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such a disorder destroy all the respect that is due intentions made the majority of the Assembly adopt to superiours, and all the mutual confidence with it; they would plant the tree of liberty in a foreign out which success cannot be hoped for? For the soil, under the shade of a people already free. spirit of distrust makes the soldier suspicious, and To the eyes of the people of Belgium it seemed intimidates the general. The first discerns treason but the mask of a new, foreign tyranny. This in every danger; the second, always placed be- opinion was erroneous; I will suppose it for a tween the necessity of conquest, and the image of moment; but still this opinion of Belgium deservthe scaffold, dares not raise himself to bold concep-ed to be considered. In general we have always tion, and those heights of courage which electrify considered our own opinions, and our own intenan army and ensure victory. Turenne, in our tions, rather than the people whose cause we detime, would have carried his head to the scaffold; fend. We have given those people a will; that is for he was sometimes beat : but the reason why he to say, we have more than ever alienated them more frequently conquered was, that his discipline from liberty. was severe : it was, that his soldiers, confiding in his How could the Belgick people believe themtalents, never muttered discontent instead of fight-selves free, since we exercise for them, and over ing:-Without reciprocal confidence between the them, the rights of sovereignty; when without soldier and the general, there can be no army, no consulting them, we suppress
, all in a mass, their victory, especially in a free government.
ancient usages, their abuses, their prejudices, those Is it not to the same system of anarchy, of equa-. classes of society which without doubt are contrary lization, and want of subordination, which has been to the spirit of liberty, but the utility of whose derecommended in some clubs, and defended even in struction was not as yet proved to them ?- How the Convention, that we owe the pillages, the mur-could they believe themselves free, and sovereign, ders, the enormities of all kinds, which it was diffi- when we made them take such an oath as we cult for the officers to put a stop to, from the gene- thought fit, as a test to give them the right of ral spirit of insubordination ; excesses which have voting? How could they believe themselves free, rendered the French name odious to the Belgians? when openly despising their religious worship, Again, is it not to this system of anarchy, and ot which religious worship that superstitious people robbery, that we are indebted for the revolutionary valued beyond their liberty, beyond even their power, which has so justly aggravated the hatred life ; when we proscribed their priests; when we of the Belgians against France ?
banished them from their assemblies, where they What did enlightened republicans think before were in the practice of seeing them govern; when the tenth of August, men who wished for liberty, we seized their revenues, their domains, and riches, not only for their own country, but for all to the profit of the nation; when we carried to the Europe? They believed that they could gene- very censer those hands which they regarded as rally establish it, by exciting the governed against profane? Doubtless these operations were founded the governors, in letting the people see the facility on principles; but those principles ought to have and the advantages of such insurrections. had the consent of the Belgians before they were
But how can the people be led to that point ? carried into practice; otherwise they necessarily By the example of good government established become our most cruel enemies. among us; by the example of order; by the care Arrived ourselves at the last bounds of liberty of spreading nothing but moral ideas among them; and equality, trampling under our feet all human to respect their properties and their rights; to superstitions, (after, however, a four years war with respect their prejudices, even when we combat them,) we attempt all at once to raise, to the same them; by disinterestedness in defending the peo- eminence, men, strangers even to the first elemenple, by a zeal to extend the spirit of liberty tary principles of liberty, and plunged for fifteen amongst them.
hundred years in ignorance and superstition; we This system was at first followed.* Excellent wished to force men to see, when a thick cataract pamphlets from the pen of Condorcet prepared the covered their eyes, even before we had removed people for liberty; the tenth of August, the re- that cataract; we would force men to see, whose publican decrees, the battle of Valmy, the retreat dullness of character had raised a mist before their of the Prussians, the victory of Jenappe, all spoke eyes, and before that character was altered.t in favour of France; all was rapidly destroyed by Do you believe that the doctrine which now the revolutionary power. Without doubt, good prevails in France would have found many parti
• The most seditious libels upon all governments, in order to excite insurrection in Spain, Holland, and other countries. Translator.
It may not be amiss, once for all, to remark on the style of all the philosophical politicians of France. Without any distinction in the several sects and parties, they agree in treating all nations who will not conform their government, laws, manners, and religion, to the new Franch fashion, as a herd of slaves. They consider the content with which men live under those governments as stupidity, and all attachment to religion as the effects of the grossest ignorance.
The people of the Netherlands, by their constitution, are as much entitled to be called free, as any nation upon earth. The Austrian government (until some wild attempts the emperour Joseph made on the French principle, but which have been since abandoned by the court of Vienna) has been remarkably mild.
No people were more at their ease than the Flemish subjects, particularly the lower classes. It is curious to hear this great oculist talk of couching the cataract by which the Netherlands were blinded, and hindered from seeing, in its proper colours, the beautiful vision of the French Republick, which he has himself painted with so masterly, a hand. That people must needs be dull, blind, and brutalized by fifteen hundred years of superstition, (the time elapsed since the introduction of Christianity amongst them,) who could prefer their former state to the present state of France! The reader will remark, that the only difference between Brissot and his adversaries, is in the mode of bringing other nations into the pale of the French Republick. They would abolish the order and classes of society, and all religion at a stroke ; Brissot would have just the same thing done, but with more address and management. Translator.
sans among us in 1789 ? No; a revolution in the standard of liberty should be displayed in ideas, and in prejudices, is not made with that Belgium ? Have we ever seen those treasures which rapidity; it moves gradually: it does not es- they were to count into our hands ? Can we either calade.
accuse the sterility of their country, or the penury Philosophy does not inspire by violence, nor by of their treasure, or the coldness of their love for seduction, nor is it the sword that begets love of liberty ? No! despotism and anarchy, these are liberty.
the benefits which we have transplanted into their Joseph the Second also borrowed the language soil. We have acted, we have spoken like masters; of philosophy, when he wished to suppress the and from that time we have found the Flemings monks in Belgium, and to seize upon their reve- nothing but jugglers, who made the grimace of
There was seen on him a mask only of liberty for money; or slaves, who in their hearts philosophy, covering the hideous countenance of cursed their new tyrants. Our commissioners a greedy despot; and the people ran to arms. address them in this sort; you have nobles and Nothing better than another kind of despotism has priests among you, drive them out without debeen seen in the revolutionary power.
lay, or we will neither be your brethren nor. We have seen, in the commissioners of the your patrons.” They answered, give us but National Convention, nothing but pro-consuls time; only leave to us the care of reforming these working the mine of Belgium for the profit of the institutions. Our answer to them was, “ No! it French nation ; seeking to conquer it for the so- must be at the moment; it must be on the spot, vereign of Paris ; either to aggrandize his empire, or we will treat you as enemies ; we will abanor to share the burdens of the debts, and furnish “ don you to the resentment of the Austrians.” a rich prize to the robbers who domineered in What could the disarmed Belgians object to all France.
this, surrounded as they were by seventy thousand Do you believe the Belgians have ever been men ? They had only to hold their tongues, and the dupes of those well-rounded periods, which to bow down their heads before their masters ! they vented in the pulpit, in order to familiarize They did hold their tongues, and their silence is them to the idea of an union with France ? Do received as a sincere and free assent. you believe they were ever imposed upon by those Have not the strangest artifices been adopted votes and resolutions, made by what is called ac- to prevent that people from retreating, and to clamation, for their union, of which corruption constrain them to an union ? It was foreseen, that, paid one part,* and fear forced the remainder ? as long as they were unable to effect an union, Who, at this time of day, is unacquainted with the states would preserve the supreme authority the springs and wires of their miserable puppet amongst themselves. Under pretence, therefore, show? Who does not know the farces of primary of relieving the people, and of exercising the assemblies, composed of a president, of a secre- sovereignty in their right, at one stroke they tary, and of some assistants, whose day's work abolished all the duties and taxes, they shut up was paid for ? No; it is not by means which be- all the treasuries. From that time no more relong only to thieves and despots, that the founda- ceipts, no more publick money, no more means tions of liberty can be laid in an enslaved country. of paying the salaries of any man in office apIt is not by those means, that a new-born repub-pointed by the states. Thus was anarchy organlick, a people who know not yet the elements of ized amongst the people, that they might be republican governments, can be united to us. compelled to throw themselves into our arms. It Even slaves do not suffer themselves to be seduced became necessary for those who administered their by such artifices; and if they have not the strength affairs, under the penalty of being exposed to to resist, they have at least the sense to know how sedition, and in order to avoid their throats being to appreciate the value of such an attempt. cut, to have recourse to the treasury of France.
If we would attach the Belgians to us, we must What did they find in this treasury ? ASSIGat least enlighten their minds by good writings ; NATS.—These Assignats were advanced at we must send to them missionaries, and not des- par to Belgium. By these means, on the one potick commissioners.† We ought to give them hand, they neutralized this currency in that countime to see; to perceive by themselves the ad- try; and on the other, they expected to make vantages of liberty; the unhappy effects of super- a good pecuniary transaction, Thus it is that stition ; the fatal spirit of priesthood. And whilst covetousness cut its throat with its own hands. we waited for this moral revolution, we should have The Belgians have seen in this forced introducaccepted the offers, which they incessantly repeated, tion of assignats, nothing but a double robbery; to join to the French army an army of 50,000 and they have only the more violently hated the men; to entertain them at their own expence; union with France, and to advance to France the specie of which she Recollect the solicitude of the Belgians on that stood in need.
subject. With what earnestness did they conjure But have we ever seen those fifty thousand you to take off a retroactive effect from these assoldiers, who were to join our army as soon as signats, and to prevent them from being applied
See the Correspondence of Dumourier, especially the letter of the 12th of March.
† They have not as yet proceeded farther with regard to the
English dominions. Here we only see as yet the good rritiros of Paine, and of his learned associates, and the labours of the missionary clubs, and other zealous instructors. Translator.
to the payment of debts that were contracted an- which gave France an execution on their goods ; terior to the union ?
do you believe, that those patriots would not have Did not this language energetically enough liked better to have remained under the governsignify that they looked upon the assignats as a ment of the Stadtholder, who took from them leprosy, and the union as a deadly contagion ? no more than a fixed portion of their property,
And yet what regard was paid to so just a de- than to pass under that of a revolutionary power, mand ? It was buried in the committee of finance. which would make a complete revolution in their That committee wanted to make anarchy the bureaus and strong boxes, and reduce them to means of an union. They only busied themselves wretchedness and rags ? 1 Robbery, and anarchy, in making the Belgick provinces subservient to instead of encouraging, will always stifle revotheir finances.
lutions. Cambon said loftily before the Belgians them- But why, they object to me, have not you and selves : The Belgian war costs us hundreds of mil- your friends chosen to expose these measures in lions. Their ordinary revenues, and even some the rostrum of the National Convention? Why extraordinary taxes, will not answer to our reim- have you not opposed yourself to all these fatal bursements; and yet we have occasion for them. projects of union ? The mortgage of our assignats draws near its There are two answers to make here, one general, end. What must be done? Sell the church pro- one particular. perty of Brabant. There is a mortgage of two You complain of the silence of honest men ! thousand millions (eighty millions sterling). You quite forget, then, honest men are the objects How shall we get possession of them ? By an of your suspicion. Suspicion, if it does not stain immediate union. Instantly they decreed this the soul of a courageous man, at least arrests his union. Men's minds were not disposed to it. thoughts in their passage to his lips. The suspiWhat does it signify? Let us make them vote cions of a good citizen freeze those men, whom the by means of money. Without delay, therefore, calumny of the wicked could not stop in their they secretly order the minister of foreign affairs progress. to dispose of four or five hundred thousand livres You complain of their silence! You forget, (20,0001. sterling) to make the vagabonds of then, that you have often established an insulting Brussels drunk, and to buy proselytes to the equality between them and men covered with union in all the states. But even these means, it crimes, and made up of ignominy.was said, will obtain but a weak minority in You forget, then, that you have twenty times our favour. What does that signify ? Revolutions, left them covered with opprobrium by your said they, are made only by minorities. It is galleries.the minority which has made the Revolution of You forget, then, that you have not thought France ; it is a minority which has made the yourselves sufficiently powerful to impose silence people triumph.
upon these galleries. The Belgick provinces were not sufficient to What ought a wise man to do in the midst of satisfy the voracious cravings of this financial sys- these circumstances? He is silent. He waits the tem. Cambon wanted to unite every thing, that moment when the passions give way; he waits till he might sell every thing. Thus he forced the reason shall preside, and till the multitude shall union of Savoy; in the war with Holland, he saw listen to her voice. nothing but gold to seize on, and assignats to sell What have been the tacticks displayed during at par.* Do not let us dissemble, said he one day all these unions? Cambon, incapable of political to the committee of general defence, in presence calculation, boasting his ignorance in the diploeven of the patriot deputies of Holland, you have matick, flattering the ignorant multitude, lendno ecclesiastical goods to offer us for our indem- ing his name and popularity to the anarchists, nity:-IT IS A REVOLUTION IN THEIR seconded by their vociferations, denounced inCOUNTERS AND IRON CHESTS, † that cessantly as counter-revolutionists, those intelmust be made amongst the Dutch. The word was ligent persons who were desirous, at least, of said, and the bankers Abema and Vanstaphorst having things discussed. To oppose the acts of understood it.
union, appeared to Cambon an overt act of Do you think that that word has not been treason. The wish so much as to reflect and to worth an army to the Stadtholder, that it has not deliberate, was in his eyes a great crime. He cooled the ardour of the Dutch patriots, that it calumniated our intentions. The voice of every has not commanded the vigorous defence of Wil- deputy, especially my voice, would infallibly liamstadt?
have been stifled. There were spies on the very Do you believe that the patriots of Amster- monosyllables that escaped our lips. * dam, when they read the preparatory decree
* The same thing will happen in Savoy. The persecution of movable property which may be represented in bonds, notes, the clergy has soured people's minds. The Commissaries re- bills, stocks, or any sort of públick or private securities. I do present them to us as good Frenchmen. I put them to the not know of a single word 'in English that answers it: I have proof. Where are the legions? How, thirty thousand Savoy- therefore substituted that of Iron Chests, as coming nearest to the ards-are they not armed to defend, in concert with us, their liberty? Brissol.
In the original letter, les reduire à la Sansculoterie. † Portefueille-is the word in the original. It signifies all
END OF VOL. I.