Infomotions, Inc.The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 03 (of 12) / Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797

Author: Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797
Title: The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 03 (of 12)
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): nabob; rajah; lord macartney; debt; assembly
Contributor(s): Widger, David, 1932- [Editor]
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Title: The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. III. (of 12)

Author: Edmund Burke

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[Illustration: Burke Coat of Arms.]



  with an Appendix                                                     1

SUBSTANCE OF SPEECH ON THE ARMY ESTIMATES, February 9, 1790          211

REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE                              231






FEBRUARY 28, 1785.



[Greek: Entautha ti prattein hechren andra ton Platonos kai
Aristotelous zeloten dogmaton; ara perioran anthropous athlious
tois kleptais ekdidomenous, e kata dunamin antois amunein, oimai,
os ede to kukneion exadousi dia to themises ergasterion ton
toiouton; Emoi men oun aischrhon eivai dokei tous men
chiliarchous, otan leiposi ten taxin, katadikazein ... ten de
hyper athlion anthropon hapoleipein taxin, otan dee pros kleptas
agonizesthai toioutous kai tauta tou thiou summachountos hemin,
oster oun etaxen.]

JULIANI Epist. 17.


That the least informed reader of this speech may be enabled to enter
fully into the spirit of the transaction on occasion of which it was
delivered, it may be proper to acquaint him, that, among the princes
dependent on this nation in the southern part of India, the most
considerable at present is commonly known by the title of the Nabob of

This prince owed the establishment of his government, against the claims
of his elder brother, as well as those of other competitors, to the arms
and influence of the British East India Company. Being thus established
in a considerable part of the dominions he now possesses, he began,
about the year 1765, to form, at the instigation (as he asserts) of the
servants of the East India Company, a variety of designs for the further
extension of his territories. Some years after, he carried his views to
certain objects of interior arrangement, of a very pernicious nature.
None of these designs could be compassed without the aid of the
Company's arms; nor could those arms be employed consistently with an
obedience to the Company's orders. He was therefore advised to form a
more secret, but an equally powerful, interest among the servants of
that Company, and among others both at home and abroad. By engaging them
in his interests, the use of the Company's power might be obtained
without their ostensible authority; the power might even be employed in
defiance of the authority, if the case should require, as in truth it
often did require, a proceeding of that degree of boldness.

The Company had put him into possession of several great cities and
magnificent castles. The good order of his affairs, his sense of
personal dignity, his ideas of Oriental splendor, and the habits of an
Asiatic life, (to which, being a native of India, and a Mahometan, he
had from his infancy been inured,) would naturally have led him to fix
the seat of his government within his own dominions. Instead of this, he
totally sequestered himself from his country, and, abandoning all
appearance of state, he took up his residence in an ordinary house,
which he purchased in the suburbs of the Company's factory at Madras. In
that place he has lived, without removing one day from thence, for
several years past. He has there continued a constant cabal with the
Company's servants, from the highest to the lowest,--creating, out of
the ruins of the country, brilliant fortunes for those who will, and
entirely destroying those who will not, be subservient to his purposes.

An opinion prevailed, strongly confirmed by several passages in his own
letters, as well as by a combination of circumstances forming a body of
evidence which cannot be resisted, that very great sums have been by him
distributed, through a long course of years, to some of the Company's
servants. Besides these presumed payments in ready money, (of which,
from the nature of the thing, the direct proof is very difficult,) debts
have at several periods been acknowledged to those gentlemen, to an
immense amount,--that is, to some millions of sterling money. There is
strong reason to suspect that the body of these debts is wholly
fictitious, and was never created by money _bona fide_ lent. But even on
a supposition that this vast sum was really advanced, it was impossible
that the very reality of such an astonishing transaction should not
cause some degree of alarm and incite to some sort of inquiry.

It was not at all seemly, at a moment when the Company itself was so
distressed as to require a suspension, by act of Parliament, of the
payment of bills drawn on them from India,--and also a direct tax upon
every house in England, in order to facilitate the vent of their goods,
and to avoid instant insolvency,--at that very moment, that their
servants should appear in so flourishing a condition, as, besides ten
millions of other demands on their masters, to be entitled to claim a
debt of three or four millions more from the territorial revenue of one
of their dependent princes.

The ostensible pecuniary transactions of the Nabob of Arcot with very
private persons are so enormous, that they evidently set aside every
pretence of policy which might induce a prudent government in some
instances to wink at ordinary loose practice in ill-managed departments.
No caution could be too great in handling this matter, no scrutiny too
exact. It was evidently the interest, and as evidently at least in the
power, of the creditors, by admitting secret participation in this dark
and undefined concern, to spread corruption to the greatest and the most
alarming extent.

These facts relative to the debts were so notorious, the opinion of
their being a principal source of the disorders of the British
government in India was so undisputed and universal, that there was no
party, no description of men in Parliament, who did not think themselves
bound, if not in honor and conscience, at least in common decency, to
institute a vigorous inquiry into the very bottom of the business,
before they admitted any part of that vast and suspicious charge to be
laid upon an exhausted country. Every plan concurred in directing such
an inquiry, in order that whatever was discovered to be corrupt,
fraudulent, or oppressive should lead to a due animadversion on the
offenders, and, if anything fair and equitable in its origin should be
found, (nobody suspected that much, comparatively speaking, would be so
found,) it might be provided for,--in due subordination, however, to the
ease of the subject and the service of the state.

These were the alleged grounds for an inquiry, settled in all the bills
brought into Parliament relative to India,--and there were, I think, no
less than four of them. By the bill commonly called Mr. Pitt's bill, the
inquiry was specially, and by express words, committed to the Court of
Directors, without any reserve for the interference of any other person
or persons whatsoever. It was ordered that _they_ should make the
inquiry into the origin and justice of these debts, as far as the
materials in _their_ possession enabled them to proceed; and where
_they_ found those materials deficient, _they_ should order the
Presidency of Fort St. George (Madras) to complete the inquiry.

The Court of Directors applied themselves to the execution of the trust
reposed in them. They first examined into the amount of the debt, which
they computed, at compound interest, to be 2,945,600_l._ sterling.
Whether their mode of computation, either of the original sums or the
amount on compound interest, was exact, that is, whether they took the
interest too high or the several capitals too low, is not material. On
whatever principle any of the calculations were made up, none of them
found the debt to differ from the recital of the act, which asserted
that the sums claimed were "_very_ large." The last head of these debts
the Directors compute at 2,465,680_l._ sterling. Of the existence of
this debt the Directors heard nothing until 1776, and they say, that,
"although they had _repeatedly_ written to the Nabob of Arcot, and to
their servants, respecting the debt, yet they _had never been able to
trace the origin thereof, or to obtain any satisfactory information on
the subject_."

The Court of Directors, after stating the circumstances under which the
debts appeared to them to have been contracted, add as follows:--"For
these reasons we should have thought it our duty to inquire _very
minutely_ into those debts, even if the act of Parliament had been
silent on the subject, before we concurred in any measure for their
payment. But with the positive injunctions of the act before us to
examine into their nature and origin, we are indispensably bound to
direct such an inquiry to be instituted." They then order the President
and Council of Madras to enter into a full examination, &c., &c.

The Directors, having drawn up their order to the Presidency on these
principles, communicated the draught of the general letter in which
those orders were contained to the board of his Majesty's ministers, and
other servants lately constituted by Mr. Pitt's East India Act. These
ministers, who had just carried through Parliament the bill ordering a
specific inquiry, immediately drew up another letter, on a principle
directly opposite to that which was prescribed by the act of Parliament
and followed by the Directors. In these second orders, all idea of an
inquiry into the justice and origin of the pretended debts, particularly
of the last, the greatest, and the most obnoxious to suspicion, is
abandoned. They are all admitted and established without any
investigation whatsoever, (except some private conference with the
agents of the claimants is to pass for an investigation,) and a fund for
their discharge is assigned and set apart out of the revenues of the
Carnatic. To this arrangement in favor of their servants, servants
suspected of corruption and convicted of disobedience, the Directors of
the East India Company were ordered to set their hands, asserting it to
arise from their own conviction and opinion, in flat contradiction to
their recorded sentiments, their strong remonstrance, and their declared
sense of their duty, as well under their general trust and their oath as
Directors, as under the express injunctions of an act of Parliament.

The principles upon which this summary proceeding was adopted by the
ministerial board are stated by themselves in a number in the appendix
to this speech.

By another section of the same act, the same Court of Directors were
ordered to take into consideration and to decide on the indeterminate
rights of the Rajah of Tanjore and the Nabob of Arcot; and in this, as
in the former case, no power of appeal, revision, or alteration was
reserved to any other. It was a jurisdiction, in a cause between party
and party, given to the Court of Directors specifically. It was known
that the territories of the former of these princes had been twice
invaded and pillaged, and the prince deposed and imprisoned, by the
Company's servants, influenced by the intrigues of the latter, and for
the purpose of paying his pretended debts. The Company had, in the year
1775, ordered a restoration of the Rajah to his government, under
certain conditions. The Rajah complained, that his territories had not
been completely restored to him, and that no part of his goods, money,
revenues, or records, unjustly taken and withheld from him, were ever
returned. The Nabob, on the other hand, never ceased to claim the
country itself, and carried on a continued train of negotiation, that it
should again be given up to him, in violation of the Company's public

The Directors, in obedience to this part of the act, ordered an inquiry,
and came to a determination to restore certain of his territories to the
Rajah. The ministers, proceeding as in the former case, without hearing
any party, rescinded the decision of the Directors, refused the
restitution of the territory, and, without regard to the condition of
the country of Tanjore, which had been within a few years four times
plundered, (twice by the Nabob of Arcot, and twice by enemies brought
upon it solely by the politics of the same Nabob, the declared enemy of
that people,) and without discounting a shilling for their sufferings,
they accumulate an arrear of about four hundred thousand pounds of
pretended tribute to this enemy; and then they order the Directors to
put their hands to a new adjudication, directly contrary to a judgment
in a judicial character and trust solemnly given by them and entered on
their records.

These proceedings naturally called for some inquiry. On the 28th of
February, 1785, Mr. Fox made the following motion in the House of
Commons, after moving that the clauses of the act should be read:--"That
the proper officer do lay before this House copies or extracts of all
letters and orders of the Court of Directors of the United East India
Company, in pursuance of the injunctions contained in the 37th and 38th
clauses of the said act"; and the question being put, it passed in the
negative by a very great majority.

The last speech in the debate was the following; which is given to the
public, not as being more worthy of its attention than others, (some of
which were of consummate ability,) but as entering more into the detail
of the subject.


The times we live in, Mr. Speaker, have been distinguished by
extraordinary events. Habituated, however, as we are, to uncommon
combinations of men and of affairs, I believe nobody recollects anything
more surprising than the spectacle of this day. The right honorable
gentleman[1] whose conduct is now in question formerly stood forth in
this House, the prosecutor of the worthy baronet[2] who spoke after him.
He charged him with several grievous acts of malversation in office,
with abuses of a public trust of a great and heinous nature. In less
than two years we see the situation of the parties reversed; and a
singular revolution puts the worthy baronet in a fair way of returning
the prosecution in a recriminatory bill of pains and penalties, grounded
on a breach of public trust relative to the government of the very same
part of India. If he should undertake a bill of that kind, he will find
no difficulty in conducting it with a degree of skill and vigor fully
equal to all that have been exerted against him.

But the change of relation between these two gentlemen is not so
striking as the total difference of their deportment under the same
unhappy circumstances. Whatever the merits of the worthy baronet's
defence might have been, he did not shrink from the charge. He met it
with manliness of spirit and decency of behavior. What would have been
thought of him, if he had held the present language of his old accuser?
When articles were exhibited against him by that right honorable
gentleman, he did not think proper to tell the House that we ought to
institute no inquiry, to inspect no paper, to examine no witness. He did
not tell us (what at that time he might have told us with some show of
reason) that our concerns in India were matters of delicacy, that to
divulge anything relative to them would be mischievous to the state. He
did not tell us that those who would inquire into his proceedings were
disposed to dismember the empire. He had not the presumption to say,
that, for his part, having obtained, in his Indian presidency, the
ultimate object of his ambition, his honor was concerned in executing
with integrity the trust which had been legally committed to his charge:
that others, not having been so fortunate, could not be so
disinterested; and therefore their accusations could spring from no
other source than faction, and envy to his fortune.

Had he been frontless enough to hold such vain, vaporing language in the
face of a grave, a detailed, a specified matter of accusation, whilst he
violently resisted everything which could bring the merits of his cause
to the test,--had he been wild enough to anticipate the absurdities of
this day,--that is, had he inferred, as his late accuser has thought
proper to do, that he could not have been guilty of malversation in
office, for this sole and curious reason, that he had been in
office,--had he argued the impossibility of his abusing his power on
this sole principle, that he had power to abuse,--he would have left
but one impression on the mind of every man who heard him, and who
believed him in his senses: that in the utmost extent he was guilty of
the charge.

But, Sir, leaving these two gentlemen to alternate as criminal and
accuser upon what principles they think expedient, it is for us to
consider whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasurer of
the Navy, acting as a Board of Control, are justified by law or policy
in suspending the legal arrangements made by the Court of Directors, in
order to transfer the public revenues to the private emolument of
certain servants of the East India Company, without the inquiry into the
origin and justice of their claims prescribed by an act of Parliament.

It is not contended that the act of Parliament did not expressly ordain
an inquiry. It is not asserted that this inquiry was not, with equal
precision of terms, specially committed, under particular regulations,
to the Court of Directors. I conceive, therefore, the Board of Control
had no right whatsoever to intermeddle in that business. There is
nothing certain in the principles of jurisprudence, if this be not
undeniably true, that when, a special authority is given to any persons
by name to do some particular act, that no others, by virtue of general
powers, can obtain a legal title to intrude themselves into that trust,
and to exercise those special functions in their place. I therefore
consider the intermeddling of ministers in this affair as a downright
usurpation. But if the strained construction by which they have forced
themselves into a suspicious office (which every man delicate with
regard to character would rather have sought constructions to avoid)
were perfectly sound and perfectly legal, of this I am certain, that
they cannot be justified in declining the inquiry which had been
prescribed to the Court of Directors. If the Board of Control did
lawfully possess the right of executing the special trust given to that
court, they must take it as they found it, subject to the very same
regulations which bound the Court of Directors. It will be allowed that
the Court of Directors had no authority to dispense with either the
substance or the mode of inquiry prescribed by the act of Parliament. If
they had not, where in the act did the Board of Control acquire that
capacity? Indeed, it was impossible they should acquire it. What must we
think of the fabric and texture of an act of Parliament which should
find it necessary to prescribe a strict inquisition, that should descend
into minute regulations for the conduct of that inquisition, that should
commit this trust to a particular description of men, and in the very
same breath should enable another body, at their own pleasure, to
supersede all the provisions the legislature had made, and to defeat the
whole purpose, end, and object of the law? This cannot be supposed even
of an act of Parliament conceived by the ministers themselves, and
brought forth during the delirium of the last session.

My honorable friend has told you in the speech which introduced his
motion, that fortunately this question is not a great deal involved in
the labyrinths of Indian detail. Certainly not. But if it were, I beg
leave to assure you that there is nothing in the Indian detail which is
more difficult than in the detail of any other business. I admit,
because I have some experience of the fact, that for the interior
regulation of India a minute knowledge of India is requisite. But on
any specific matter of delinquency in its government you are as capable
of judging as if the same thing were done at your door. Fraud,
injustice, oppression, peculation, engendered in India, are crimes of
the same blood, family, and cast with those that are born and bred in
England. To go no farther than the case before us: you are just as
competent to judge whether the sum of four millions sterling ought or
ought not to be passed from the public treasury into a private pocket
without any title except the claim of the parties, when the issue of
fact is laid in Madras, as when it is laid in Westminster. Terms of art,
indeed, are different in different places; but they are generally
understood in none. The technical style of an Indian treasury is not one
jot more remote than the jargon of our own Exchequer from the train of
our ordinary ideas or the idiom of our common language. The difference,
therefore, in the two cases is not in the comparative difficulty or
facility of the two subjects, but in our attention to the one and our
total neglect of the other. Had this attention and neglect been
regulated by the value of the several objects, there would be nothing to
complain of. But the reverse of that supposition is true. The scene of
the Indian abuse is distant, indeed; but we must not infer that the
value of our interest in it is decreased in proportion as it recedes
from our view. In our politics, as in our common conduct, we shall be
worse than infants, if we do not put our senses under the tuition of our
judgment, and effectually cure ourselves of that optical illusion which
makes a brier at our nose of greater magnitude than an oak at five
hundred yards' distance.

I think I can trace all the calamities of this country to the single
source of our not having had steadily before our eyes a general,
comprehensive, well-connected, and well-proportioned view of the whole
of our dominions, and a just sense of their true bearings and relations.
After all its reductions, the British empire is still vast and various.
After all the reductions of the House of Commons, (stripped as we are of
our brightest ornaments and of our most important privileges,) enough
are yet left to furnish us, if we please, with means of showing to the
world that we deserve the superintendence of as large an empire as this
kingdom ever held, and the continuance of as ample privileges as the
House of Commons, in the plenitude of its power, had been habituated to
assert. But if we make ourselves too little for the sphere of our duty,
if, on the contrary, we do not stretch and expand our minds to the
compass of their object, be well assured that everything about us will
dwindle by degrees, until at length our concerns are shrunk to the
dimensions of our minds. It is not a predilection to mean, sordid,
home-bred cares that will avert the consequences of a false estimation
of our interest, or prevent the shameful dilapidation into which a great
empire must fall by mean reparations upon mighty ruins.

I confess I feel a degree of disgust, almost leading to despair, at the
manner in which we are acting in the great exigencies of our country.
There is now a bill in this House appointing a rigid inquisition into
the minutest detail of our offices at home. The collection of sixteen
millions annually, a collection on which the public greatness, safety,
and credit have their reliance, the whole order of criminal
jurisprudence, which holds together society itself, have at no time
obliged us to call forth such powers,--no, nor anything like them. There
is not a principle of the law and Constitution of this country that is
not subverted to favor the execution of that project.[3] And for what is
all this apparatus of bustle and terror? Is it because anything
substantial is expected from it? No. The stir and bustle itself is the
end proposed. The eye-servants of a short-sighted master will employ
themselves, not on what is most essential to his affairs, but on what is
nearest to his ken. Great difficulties have given a just value to
economy; and our minister of the day must be an economist, whatever it
may cost us. But where is he to exert his talents? At home, to be sure;
for where else can he obtain a profitable credit for their exertion? It
is nothing to him, whether the object on which he works under our eye be
promising or not. If he does not obtain any public benefit, he may make
regulations without end. Those are sure to pay in present expectation,
whilst the effect is at a distance, and may be the concern of other
times and other men. On these principles, he chooses to suppose (for he
does not pretend more than to suppose) a naked possibility that he shall
draw some resource out of crumbs dropped from the trenchers of penury;
that something shall be laid in store from the short allowance of
revenue-officers overloaded with duty and famished for want of
bread,--by a reduction from officers who are at this very hour ready to
batter the Treasury with what breaks through stone walls for an
_increase_ of their appointments. From the marrowless bones of these
skeleton establishments, by the use of every sort of cutting and of
every sort of fretting tool, he flatters himself that he may chip and
rasp an empirical alimentary powder, to diet into some similitude of
health and substance the languishing chimeras of fraudulent reformation.

Whilst he is thus employed according to his policy and to his taste, he
has not leisure to inquire into those abuses in India that are drawing
off money by millions from the treasures of this country, which are
exhausting the vital juices from members of the state, where the public
inanition is far more sorely felt than in the local exchequer of
England. Not content with winking at these abuses, whilst he attempts to
squeeze the laborious, ill-paid drudges of English revenue, he lavishes,
in one act of corrupt prodigality, upon those who never served the
public in any honest occupation at all, an annual income equal to two
thirds of the whole collection of the revenues of this kingdom.

Actuated by the same principle of choice, he has now on the anvil
another scheme, full of difficulty and desperate hazard, which totally
alters the commercial relation of two kingdoms, and, what end soever it
shall have, may bequeath a legacy of heartburning and discontent to one
of the countries, perhaps to both, to be perpetuated to the latest
posterity. This project is also undertaken on the hope of profit. It is
provided, that, out of some (I know not what) remains of the Irish
hereditary revenue, a fund, at some time, and of some sort, should be
applied to the protection of the Irish trade. Here we are commanded
again to task our faith, and to persuade ourselves, that, out of the
surplus of deficiency, out of the savings of habitual and systematic
prodigality, the minister of wonders will provide support for this
nation, sinking under the mountainous load of two hundred and thirty
millions of debt. But whilst we look with pain at his desperate and
laborious trifling, whilst we are apprehensive that he will break his
back in stooping to pick up chaff and straws, he recovers himself at an
elastic bound, and with a broadcast swing of his arm he squanders over
his Indian field a sum far greater than the clear produce of the whole
hereditary revenue of the kingdom of Ireland.[4]

Strange as this scheme of conduct in ministry is, and inconsistent with
all just policy, it is still true to itself, and faithful to its own
perverted order. Those who are bountiful to crimes will be rigid to
merit and penurious to service. Their penury is even held out as a blind
and cover to their prodigality. The economy of injustice is to furnish
resources for the fund of corruption. Then they pay off their protection
to great crimes and great criminals by being inexorable to the paltry
frailties of little men; and these modern flagellants are sure, with a
rigid fidelity, to whip their own enormities on the vicarious back of
every small offender.

It is to draw your attention to economy of quite another order, it is to
animadvert on offences of a far different description, that my honorable
friend has brought before you the motion of this day. It is to
perpetuate the abuses which are subverting the fabric of your empire,
that the motion is opposed. It is, therefore, with reason (and if he has
power to carry himself through, I commend his prudence) that the right
honorable gentleman makes his stand at the very outset, and boldly
refuses all Parliamentary information. Let him admit but one step
towards inquiry, and he is undone. You must be ignorant, or he cannot be
safe. But before his curtain is let down, and the shades of eternal
night shall veil our Eastern dominions from our view, permit me, Sir, to
avail myself of the means which were furnished in anxious and
inquisitive times to demonstrate out of this single act of the present
minister what advantages you are to derive from permitting the greatest
concern of this nation to be separated from the cognizance, and exempted
even out of the competence, of Parliament. The greatest body of your
revenue, your most numerous armies, your most important commerce, the
richest sources of your public credit, (contrary to every idea of the
known, settled policy of England,) are on the point of being converted
into a mystery of state. You are going to have one half of the globe hid
even from the common liberal curiosity of an English gentleman. Here a
grand revolution commences. Mark the period, and mark the circumstances.
In most of the capital changes that are recorded in the principles and
system of any government, a public benefit of some kind or other has
been pretended. The revolution commenced in something plausible, in
something which carried the appearance at least of punishment of
delinquency or correction of abuse. But here, in the very moment of the
conversion of a department of British government into an Indian mystery,
and in the very act in which the change commences, a corrupt private
interest is set up in direct opposition to the necessities of the
nation. A diversion is made of millions of the public money from the
public treasury to a private purse. It is not into secret negotiations
for war, peace, or alliance that the House of Commons is forbidden to
inquire. It is a matter of account; it is a pecuniary transaction; it is
the demand of a suspected steward upon ruined tenants and an embarrassed
master that the Commons of Great Britain are commanded not to inspect.
The whole tenor of the right honorable gentleman's argument is consonant
to the nature of his policy. The system of concealment is fostered by a
system of falsehood. False facts, false colors, false names of persons
and things, are its whole support.

Sir, I mean to follow the right honorable gentleman over that field of
deception, clearing what he has purposely obscured, and fairly stating
what it was necessary for him to misrepresent. For this purpose, it is
necessary you should know, with some degree of distinctness, a little of
the locality, the nature, the circumstances, the magnitude of the
pretended debts on which this marvellous donation is founded, as well as
of the persons from whom and by whom it is claimed.

Madras, with its dependencies, is the second (but with a long interval,
the second) member of the British empire in the East. The trade of that
city, and of the adjacent territory, was not very long ago among the
most flourishing in Asia. But since the establishment of the British
power it has wasted away under an uniform gradual decline, insomuch that
in the year 1779 not one merchant of eminence was to be found in the
whole country.[5] During this period of decay, about six hundred
thousand sterling pounds a year have been drawn off by English gentlemen
on their private account, by the way of China alone.[6] If we add four
hundred thousand, as probably remitted through other channels, and in
other mediums, that is, in jewels, gold, and silver, directly brought to
Europe, and in bills upon the British and foreign companies, you will
scarcely think the matter overrated. If we fix the commencement of this
extraction of money from the Carnatic at a period no earlier than the
year 1760, and close it in the year 1780, it probably will not amount to
a great deal less than twenty millions of money.

During the deep, silent flow of this steady stream of wealth which set
from India into Europe, it generally passed on with no adequate
observation; but happening at some periods to meet rifts of rocks that
checked its course, it grew more noisy and attracted more notice. The
pecuniary discussions caused by an accumulation of part of the fortunes
of their servants in a debt from the Nabob of Arcot was the first thing
which very particularly called for, and long engaged, the attention of
the Court of Directors. This debt amounted to eight hundred and eighty
thousand pounds sterling, and was claimed, for the greater part, by
English gentlemen residing at Madras. This grand capital, settled at
length by order at ten per cent, afforded an annuity of eighty-eight
thousand pounds.[7]

Whilst the Directors were digesting their astonishment at this
information, a memorial was presented to them from three gentlemen,
informing them that their friends had lent, likewise, to merchants of
Canton in China, a sum of not more than one million sterling. In this
memorial they called upon the Company for their assistance and
interposition with the Chinese government for the recovery of the debt.
This sum lent to Chinese merchants was at twenty-four per cent, which
would yield, if paid, an annuity of two hundred and forty thousand

Perplexed as the Directors were with these demands, you may conceive,
Sir, that they did not find themselves very much disembarrassed by being
made acquainted that they must again exert their influence for a new
reserve of the happy parsimony of their servants, collected into a
second debt from the Nabob of Arcot, amounting to two millions four
hundred thousand pounds, settled at an interest of twelve per cent. This
is known by the name of the Consolidation of 1777, as the former of the
Nabob's debts was by the title of the Consolidation of 1767. To this was
added, in a separate parcel, a little reserve, called the Cavalry Debt,
of one hundred and sixty thousand pounds, at the same interest. The
whole of these four capitals, amounting to four millions four hundred
and forty thousand pounds, produced at their several rates, annuities
amounting to six hundred and twenty-three thousand pounds a year: a good
deal more than one third of the clear land-tax of England, at four
shillings in the pound; a good deal more than double the whole annual
dividend of the East India Company, the nominal masters to the
proprietors in these funds. Of this interest, three hundred and
eighty-three thousand two hundred pounds a year stood chargeable on the
public revenues of the Carnatic.

Sir, at this moment, it will not be necessary to consider the various
operations which the capital and interest of this debt have successively
undergone. I shall speak to these operations when I come particularly to
answer the right honorable gentleman on each of the heads, as he has
thought proper to divide them. But this was the exact view in which
these debts first appeared to the Court of Directors, and to the world.
It varied afterwards. But it never appeared in any other than a most
questionable shape. When this gigantic phantom of debt first appeared
before a young minister, it naturally would have justified some degree
of doubt and apprehension. Such a prodigy would have filled any common
man with superstitious fears. He would exorcise that shapeless, nameless
form, and by everything sacred would have adjured it to tell by what
means a small number of slight individuals, of no consequence or
situation, possessed of no lucrative offices, without the command of
armies or the known administration of revenues, without profession of
any kind, without any sort of trade sufficient to employ a peddler,
could have, in a few years, (as to some, even in a few months,) amassed
treasures equal to the revenues of a respectable kingdom? Was it not
enough to put these gentlemen, in the novitiate of their administration,
on their guard, and to call upon them for a strict inquiry, (if not to
justify them in a reprobation of those demands without any inquiry at
all,) that, when all England, Scotland, and Ireland had for years been
witness to the immense sums laid out by the servants of the Company in
stocks of all denominations, in the purchase of lands, in the buying and
building of houses, in the securing quiet seats in Parliament or in the
tumultuous riot of contested elections, in wandering throughout the
whole range of those variegated modes of inventive prodigality which
sometimes have excited our wonder, sometimes roused our indignation,
that, after all, India was four millions still in debt to _them_? India
in debt to _them_! For what? Every debt, for which an equivalent of some
kind or other is not given, is, on the face of it, a fraud. What is the
equivalent they have given? What equivalent had they to give? What are
the articles of commerce, or the branches of manufacture, which those
gentlemen have carried hence to enrich India? What are the sciences they
beamed out to enlighten it? What are the arts they introduced to cheer
and to adorn it? What are the religious, what the moral institutions
they have taught among that people, as a guide to life, or as a
consolation when life is to be no more, that there is an eternal debt, a
debt "still paying, still to owe," which must be bound on the present
generation in India, and entailed on their mortgaged posterity forever?
A debt of millions, in favor of a set of men whose names, with few
exceptions, are either buried in the obscurity of their origin and
talents or dragged into light by the enormity of their crimes!

In my opinion the courage of the minister was the most wonderful part of
the transaction, especially as he must have read, or rather the right
honorable gentleman says he has read for him, whole volumes upon the
subject. The volumes, by the way, are not by one tenth part so numerous
as the right honorable gentleman has thought proper to pretend, in order
to frighten you from inquiry; but in these volumes, such as they are,
the minister must have found a full authority for a suspicion (at the
very least) of everything relative to the great fortunes made at Madras.
What is that authority? Why, no other than the standing authority for
all the claims which the ministry has thought fit to provide for,--the
grand debtor,--the Nabob of Arcot himself. Hear that prince, in the
letter written to the Court of Directors, at the precise period whilst
the main body of these debts were contracting. In his letter he states
himself to be, what undoubtedly he is, a most competent witness to this
point. After speaking of the war with Hyder Ali in 1768 and 1769, and of
other measures which he censures, (whether right or wrong it signifies
nothing,) and into which he says he had been led by the Company's
servants, he proceeds in this manner:--"If all these things were against
the real interests of the Company, they are ten thousand times more
against mine, and against the prosperity of my country and the happiness
of my people; for your interests and mine are the same. _What were they
owing to, then? To the private views of a few individuals, who have
enriched themselves at the expense of your influence and of my country:
for your servants HAVE NO TRADE IN THIS COUNTRY, neither do you pay them
high wages; yet in a few years they return to England with many lacs of
pagodas. How can you or I account for such immense fortunes acquired in
so short a time, without any visible means of getting them?_"

When he asked this question, which involves its answer, it is
extraordinary that curiosity did not prompt the Chancellor of the
Exchequer to that inquiry which might come in vain recommended to him by
his own act of Parliament. Does not the Nabob of Arcot tell us, in so
many words, that there was no fair way of making the enormous sums sent
by the Company's servants to England? And do you imagine that there was
or could be more honesty and good faith in the demands for what remained
behind in India? Of what nature were the transactions with himself? If
you follow the train of his information, you must see, that, if these
great sums were at all lent, it was not property, but spoil, that was
lent; if not lent, the transaction was not a contract, but a fraud.
Either way, if light enough could not be furnished to authorize a full
condemnation of these demands, they ought to have been left to the
parties, who best knew and understood each other's proceedings. It was
not necessary that the authority of government should interpose in favor
of claims whose very foundation was a defiance of that authority, and
whose object and end was its entire subversion.

It may be said that this letter was written by the Nabob of Arcot in a
moody humor, under the influence of some chagrin. Certainly it was; but
it is in such humors that truth comes out. And when he tells you, from
his own knowledge, what every one must presume, from the extreme
probability of the thing, whether he told it or not, one such testimony
is worth a thousand that contradict that probability, when the parties
have a better understanding with each other, and when they have a point
to carry that may unite them in a common deceit.

If this body of private claims of debt, real or devised, were a
question, as it is falsely pretended, between the Nabob of Arcot, as
debtor, and Paul Benfield and his associates, as creditors, I am sure I
should give myself but little trouble about it. If the hoards of
oppression were the fund for satisfying the claims of bribery and
peculation, who would wish to interfere between such litigants? If the
demands were confined to what might be drawn from the treasures which
the Company's records uniformly assert that the Nabob is in possession
of, or if he had mines of gold or silver or diamonds, (as we know that
he has none,) these gentlemen might break open his hoards or dig in his
mines without any disturbance from me. But the gentlemen on the other
side of the House know as well as I do, and they dare not contradict me,
that the Nabob of Arcot and his creditors are not adversaries, but
collusive parties, and that the whole transaction is under a false color
and false names. The litigation is not, nor ever has been, between their
rapacity and his hoarded riches. No: it is between him and them
combining and confederating, on one side, and the public revenues, and
the miserable inhabitants of a ruined country, on the other. These are
the real plaintiffs and the real defendants in the suit. Refusing a
shilling from his hoards for the satisfaction of any demand, the Nabob
of Arcot is always ready, nay, he earnestly, and with eagerness and
passion, contends for delivering up to these pretended creditors his
territory and his subjects. It is, therefore, not from treasuries and
mines, but from the food of your unpaid armies, from the blood withheld
from the veins and whipped out of the backs of the most miserable of
men, that we are to pamper extortion, usury, and peculation, under the
false names of debtors and creditors of state.

The great patron of these creditors, (to whose honor they ought to erect
statues,) the right honorable gentleman,[9] in stating the merits which
recommended them to his favor, has ranked them under three grand
divisions. The first, the creditors of 1767; then the creditors of the
cavalry loan; and lastly, the creditors of the loan in 1777. Let us
examine them, one by one, as they pass in review before us.

The first of these loans, that of 1767, he insists, has an indisputable
claim upon the public justice. The creditors, he affirms, lent their
money publicly; they advanced it with the express knowledge and
approbation of the Company; and it was contracted at the moderate
interest of ten per cent. In this loan, the demand is, according to him,
not only just, but meritorious in a very high degree: and one would be
inclined to believe he thought so, because he has put it last in the
provision he has made for these claims.

I readily admit this debt to stand the fairest of the whole; for,
whatever may be my suspicions concerning a part of it, I can convict it
of nothing worse than the most enormous usury. But I can convict, upon
the spot, the right honorable gentleman of the most daring
misrepresentation in every one fact, without any exception, that he has
alleged in defence of this loan, and of his own conduct with regard to
it. I will show you that this debt was never contracted with the
knowledge of the Company; that it had not their approbation; that they
received the first intelligence of it with the utmost possible surprise,
indignation, and alarm.

So for from being previously apprised of the transaction from its
origin, it was two years before the Court of Directors obtained any
official intelligence of it. "The dealings of the servants with the
Nabob were concealed from the first, until they were found out" (says
Mr. Sayer, the Company's counsel) "by the report of the country." The
Presidency, however, at last thought proper to send an official account.
On this the Directors tell them, "To your great reproach, it has been
_concealed from us_. We cannot but suspect this debt to have had its
weight in _your proposed aggrandizement of Mahomed Ali_ [the Nabob of
Arcot]; but whether it has or has not, certain it is you are guilty of
an high breach of duty in _concealing_ it from us."

These expressions, concerning the ground of the transaction, its effect,
and its clandestine nature, are in the letters bearing date March 17,
1769. After receiving a more full account, on the 23d March, 1770, they
state, that "Messrs. John Pybus, John Call, and James Bourchier, as
trustees for themselves and others of the Nabob's private creditors, had
proved a deed of assignment upon the Nabob and his son of FIFTEEN
districts of the Nabob's country, the revenues of which yielded, in time
of peace, eight lacs of pagodas [320,000_l._ sterling] annually; and
likewise an assignment of the yearly tribute paid the Nabob from the
Rajah of Tanjore, amounting to four lacs of rupees [40,000_l._]." The
territorial revenue at that time possessed by these gentlemen, without
the knowledge or consent of their masters, amounted to three hundred and
sixty thousand pounds sterling annually. They were making rapid strides
to the entire possession of the country, when the Directors, whom the
right honorable gentleman states as having authorized these
proceedings, were kept in such profound ignorance of this royal
acquisition of territorial revenue by their servants, that in the same
letter they say, "This assignment was obtained by _three of the members
of your board_ in January, 1767; yet we do not find the _least trace_ of
it upon your Consultations until August, 1768, nor do any of your
letters to us afford any information relative to such transactions till
the 1st of November, 1768. By your last letters of the 8th of May, 1769,
you bring the whole proceedings to light in one view."

As to the previous knowledge of the Company, and its sanction to the
debts, you see that this assertion of that knowledge is utterly
unfounded. But did the Directors approve of it, and ratify the
transaction, when it was known? The very reverse. On the same 3d of
March, the Directors declare, "upon an _impartial examination_ of the
whole conduct of our late Governor and Council of Fort George [Madras],
and on the fullest consideration, that the said Governor and Council
have, _in notorious violation of the trust_ reposed in them, manifestly
_preferred the interest of private individuals to that of the Company_,
in permitting the assignment of the revenues of certain valuable
districts, to a very large amount, from the Nabob to individuals"; and
then, highly aggravating their crimes, they add,--"We order and direct
that you do examine, in the most impartial manner, all the
above-mentioned transactions, and that you _punish_, by suspension,
degradation, dismission, or otherwise, as to you shall seem meet, all
and every such servant or servants of the Company who may by you be
found guilty of any of the above offences." "We had" (say the
Directors) "the mortification to find that the servants of the Company,
who had been _raised, supported, and owed their present opulence to the
advantages_ gained in such service, have in this instance most
_unfaithfully betrayed_ their trust, _abandoned_ the Company's interest,
and _prostituted_ its influence to accomplish the _purposes of
individuals, whilst the interest of the Company is almost wholly
neglected_, and payment to us rendered extremely precarious." Here,
then, is the rock of approbation of the Court of Directors, on which the
right honorable gentleman says this debt was founded. Any member, Mr.
Speaker, who should come into the House, on my reading this sentence of
condemnation of the Court of Directors against their unfaithful
servants, might well imagine that he had heard an harsh, severe,
unqualified invective against the present ministerial Board of Control.
So exactly do the proceedings of the patrons of this abuse tally with
those of the actors in it, that the expressions used in the condemnation
of the one may serve for the reprobation of the other, without the
change of a word.

To read you all the expressions of wrath and indignation fulminated in
this dispatch against the meritorious creditors of the right honorable
gentleman, who according to him have been so fully approved by the
Company, would be to read the whole.

The right honorable gentleman, with an address peculiar to himself,
every now and then slides in the Presidency of Madras, as synonymous to
the Company. That the Presidency did approve the debt is certain. But
the right honorable gentleman, as prudent in suppressing as skilful in
bringing forward his matter, has not chosen to tell you that the
Presidency were the very persons guilty of contracting this
loan,--creditors themselves, and agents and trustees for all the other
creditors. For this the Court of Directors accuse them of breach of
trust; and for this the right honorable gentleman considers them as
perfectly good authority for those claims. It is pleasant to hear a
gentleman of the law quote the approbation of creditors as an authority
for their own debt.

How they came to contract the debt to themselves, how they came to act
as agents for those whom they ought to have controlled, is for your
inquiry. The policy of this debt was announced to the Court of Directors
by the very persons concerned in creating it. "Till very lately," say
the Presidency, "the Nabob placed his dependence on the Company. Now he
has been taught by ill advisers that an interest out of doors may stand
him in good stead. He has been made to believe that _his private
creditors have power and interest to overrule the Court of
Directors_."[10] The Nabob was not misinformed. The private creditors
instantly qualified a vast number of votes; and having made themselves
masters of the Court of Proprietors, as well as extending a powerful
cabal in other places as important, they so completely overturned the
authority of the Court of Directors at home and abroad, that this poor,
baffled government was soon obliged to lower its tone. It was glad to be
admitted into partnership with its own servants. The Court of
Directors, establishing the debt which they had reprobated as a breach
of trust, and which was planned for the subversion of their authority,
settled its payments on a par with those of the public; and even so were
not able to obtain peace, or even equality in their demands. All the
consequences lay in a regular and irresistible train. By employing their
influence for the recovery of this debt, their orders, issued in the
same breath, against creating new debts, only animated the strong
desires of their servants to this prohibited prolific sport, and it soon
produced a swarm of sons and daughters, not in the least degenerated
from the virtue of their parents.

From that moment the authority of the Court of Directors expired in the
Carnatic, and everywhere else. "Every man," says the Presidency, "who
opposes the government and its measures, finds an immediate countenance
from the Nabob; even our discarded officers, however unworthy, are
received into the Nabob's service."[11] It was, indeed, a matter of no
wonderful sagacity to determine whether the Court of Directors, with
their miserable salaries to their servants, of four or five hundred
pounds a year, or the distributor of millions, was most likely to be
obeyed. It was an invention beyond the imagination of all the
speculatists of our speculating age, to see a government quietly settled
in one and the same town, composed of two distinct members: one to pay
scantily for obedience, and the other to bribe high for rebellion and

The next thing which recommends this particular debt to the right
honorable gentleman is, it seems, the moderate interest of ten per cent.
It would be lost labor to observe on this assertion. The Nabob, in a
long apologetic letter[12] for the transaction between him and the body
of the creditors, states the fact as I shall state it to you. In the
accumulation of this debt, the first interest paid was from thirty to
thirty-six per cent; it was then brought down to twenty-five per cent;
at length it was reduced to twenty; and there it found its rest. During
the whole process, as often as any of these monstrous interests fell
into an arrear, (into which they were continually falling,) the arrear,
formed into a new capital,[13] was added to the old, and the same
interest of twenty per cent accrued upon both. The Company, having got
some scent of the enormous usury which prevailed at Madras, thought it
necessary to interfere, and to order all interests to be lowered to ten
per cent. This order, which contained no exception, though it by no
means pointed particularly to this class of debts, came like a
thunderclap on the Nabob. He considered his political credit as ruined;
but to find a remedy to this unexpected evil, he again added to the old
principal twenty per cent interest accruing for the last year. Thus a
new fund was formed; and it was on that accumulation of various
principals, and interests heaped upon interests, not on the sum
originally lent, as the right honorable gentleman would make you
believe, that ten per cent was settled on the whole.

When you consider the enormity of the interest at which these debts were
contracted, and the several interests added to the principal, I believe
you will not think me so skeptical, if I should doubt whether for this
debt of 880,000_l._ the Nabob ever saw 100,000_l._ in real money. The
right honorable gentleman suspecting, with all his absolute dominion
over fact, that he never will be able to defend even this venerable
patriarchal job, though sanctified by its numerous issue, and hoary with
prescriptive years, has recourse to recrimination, the last resource of
guilt. He says that this loan of 1767 was provided for in Mr. Fox's
India bill; and judging of others by his own nature and principles, he
more than insinuates that this provision was made, not from any sense of
merit in the claim, but from partiality to General Smith, a proprietor,
and an agent for that debt. If partiality could have had any weight
against justice and policy with the then ministers and their friends,
General Smith had titles to it. But the right honorable gentleman knows
as well as I do, that General Smith was very far from looking on himself
as partially treated in the arrangements of that time; indeed, what man
dared to hope for private partiality in that sacred plan for relief to

It is not necessary that the right honorable gentleman should
sarcastically call that time to our recollection. Well do I remember
every circumstance of that memorable period. God forbid I should forget
it! O illustrious disgrace! O victorious defeat! May your memorial be
fresh and new to the latest generations! May the day of that generous
conflict be stamped in characters never to be cancelled or worn out from
the records of time! Let no man hear of us, who shall not hear, that, in
a struggle against the intrigues of courts and the perfidious levity of
the multitude, we fell in the cause of honor, in the cause of our
country, in the cause of human nature itself! But if fortune should be
as powerful over fame as she has been prevalent over virtue, at least
our conscience is beyond her jurisdiction. My poor share in the support
of that great measure no man shall ravish from me. It shall be safely
lodged in the sanctuary of my heart,--never, never to be torn from
thence, but with those holds that grapple it to life.

I say, I well remember that bill, and every one of its honest and its
wise provisions. It is not true that this debt was ever protected or
enforced, or any revenue whatsoever set apart for it. It was left in
that bill just where it stood: to be paid or not to be paid out of the
Nabob's private treasures, according to his own discretion. The Company
had actually given it their sanction, though always relying for its
validity on the sole security of the faith of him[14] who without their
knowledge or consent entered into the original obligation. It had no
other sanction; it ought to have had no other. So far was Mr. Fox's bill
from providing _funds_ for it, as this ministry have wickedly done for
this, and for ten times worse transactions, out of the public estate,
that an express clause immediately preceded, positively forbidding any
British subject from receiving assignments upon any part of the
territorial revenue, on any pretence whatsoever.[15]

You recollect, Mr. Speaker, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer
strongly professed to retain every part of Mr. Fox's bill which was
intended to prevent abuse; but in _his_ India bill, which (let me do
justice) is as able and skilful a performance, for its own purposes, as
ever issued from the wit of man, premeditating this iniquity,--

    Hoc ipsum ut strueret, Trojamque aperiret Achivis,--

expunged this essential clause, broke down the fence which was raised to
cover the public property against the rapacity of his partisans, and
thus levelling every obstruction, he made a firm, broad highway for sin
and death, for usury and oppression, to renew their ravages throughout
the devoted revenues of the Carnatic.

The tenor, the policy, and the consequences of this debt of 1767 are in
the eyes of ministry so excellent, that its merits are irresistible; and
it takes the lead to give credit and countenance to all the rest. Along
with this chosen body of heavy-armed infantry, and to support it in the
line, the right honorable gentleman has stationed his corps of black
cavalry. If there be any advantage between this debt and that of 1769,
according to him the cavalry debt has it. It is not a subject of
defence: it is a theme of panegyric. Listen to the right honorable
gentleman, and you will find it was contracted to save the country,--to
prevent mutiny in armies,--to introduce economy in revenues; and for
all these honorable purposes, it originated at the express desire and by
the representative authority of the Company itself.

First let me say a word to the authority. This debt was contracted, not
by the authority of the Company, not by its representatives, (as the
right honorable gentleman has the unparalleled confidence to assert,)
but in the ever-memorable period of 1777, by the usurped power of those
who rebelliously, in conjunction with the Nabob of Arcot, had overturned
the lawful government of Madras. For that rebellion this House
unanimously directed a public prosecution. The delinquents, after they
had subverted government, in order to make to themselves a party to
support them in their power, are universally known to have dealt jobs
about to the right and to the left, and to any who were willing to
receive them. This usurpation, which the right honorable gentleman well
knows was brought about by and for the great mass of these pretended
debts, is the authority which is set up by him to represent the
Company,--to represent that Company which, from the first moment of
their hearing of this corrupt and fraudulent transaction to this hour,
have uniformly disowned and disavowed it.

So much for the authority. As to the facts, partly true, and partly
colorable, as they stand recorded, they are in substance these. The
Nabob of Arcot, as soon as he had thrown off the superiority of this
country by means of these creditors, kept up a great army which he never
paid. Of course his soldiers were generally in a state of mutiny.[16]
The usurping Council say that they labored hard with their master, the
Nabob, to persuade him to reduce these mutinous and useless troops. He
consented; but, as usual, pleaded inability to pay them their arrears.
Here was a difficulty. The Nabob had no money; the Company had no money;
every public supply was empty. But there was one resource which no
season has ever yet dried up in that climate. The _soucars_ were at
hand: that is, private English money-jobbers offered their assistance.
Messieurs Taylor, Majendie, and Call proposed to advance the small sum
of 160,000_l._ to pay off the Nabob's black cavalry, provided the
Company's authority was given for their loan. This was the great point
of policy always aimed at, and pursued through a hundred devices by the
servants at Madras. The Presidency, who themselves had no authority for
the functions they presumed to exercise, very readily gave the sanction
of the Company to those servants who knew that the Company, whose
sanction was demanded, had positively prohibited all such transactions.

However, so far as the reality of the dealing goes, all is hitherto fair
and plausible; and here the right honorable gentleman concludes, with
commendable prudence, his account of the business. But here it is I
shall beg leave to commence my supplement: for the gentleman's discreet
modesty has led him to cut the thread of the story somewhat abruptly.
One of the most essential parties is quite forgotten. Why should the
episode of the poor Nabob be omitted? When that prince chooses it,
nobody can tell his story better. Excuse me, if I apply again to my
book, and give it you from the first hand: from the Nabob himself.

"Mr. Stratton became acquainted with this, and got Mr. Taylor and
others to lend me four lacs of pagodas towards discharging the arrears
of pay of my troops. Upon this, I wrote a letter of thanks to Mr.
Stratton; and upon the faith of this money being paid immediately, I
ordered many of my troops to be discharged by a certain day, and
lessened the number of my servants. Mr. Taylor, &c., some time after
acquainted me, that they had no ready money, but they would grant teeps
payable in four months. This astonished me; for I did not know what
might happen, when the sepoys were dismissed from my service. I begged
of Mr. Taylor and the others to pay this sum to the officers of my
regiments at the time they mentioned; and desired the officers, at the
same time, to pacify and persuade the men belonging to them that their
pay would be given to them _at the end of four months_, and that, till
those arrears were discharged, their pay should be continued to them.
_Two years_ are nearly expired since that time, but Mr. Taylor has not
yet entirely discharged the arrears of those troops, and I am obliged to
continue their pay from that time till this. I hoped to have been able,
by this expedient, to have lessened the number of my troops, and
discharged the arrears due to them, considering the trifle of interest
to Mr. Taylor and the others as no great matter; but instead of this, _I
am oppressed with the burden of pay due to those troops, and the
interest, which is going on to Mr. Taylor from the day the teeps were
granted to him_." What I have read to you is an extract of a letter from
the Nabob of the Carnatic to Governor Rumbold, dated the 22d, and
received the 24th of March, 1779.[17]

Suppose his Highness not to be well broken in to things of this kind,
it must, indeed, surprise so known and established a bond-vender as the
Nabob of Arcot, one who keeps himself the largest bond-warehouse in the
world, to find that he was now to receive in kind: not to take money for
his obligations, but to give his bond in exchange for the bond of
Messieurs Taylor, Majendie, and Call, and to pay, besides, a good, smart
interest, legally twelve per cent, (in reality, perhaps, twenty or
twenty-four per cent,) for this exchange of paper. But his troops were
not to be so paid, or so disbanded. They wanted bread, and could not
live by cutting and shuffling of bonds. The Nabob still kept the troops
in service, and was obliged to continue, as you have seen, the whole
expense to exonerate himself from which he became indebted to the

Had it stood here, the transaction would have been of the most audacious
strain of fraud and usury perhaps ever before discovered, whatever might
have been practised and concealed. But the same authority (I mean the
Nabob's) brings before you something, if possible, more striking. He
states, that, for this their paper, he immediately handed over to these
gentlemen something very different from paper,--that is, the receipt of
a territorial revenue, of which, it seems, they continued as long in
possession as the Nabob himself continued in possession of anything.
Their payments, therefore, not being to commence before the end of four
months, and not being completed in two years, it must be presumed
(unless they prove the contrary) that their payments to the Nabob were
made out of the revenues they had received from his assignment. Thus
they condescended to accumulate a debt of 160,000_l._ with an interest
of twelve per cent, in compensation for a lingering payment to the
Nabob of 160,000_l._ of his own money.

Still we have not the whole. About two years after the assignment of
those territorial revenues to these gentlemen, the Nabob receives a
remonstrance from his chief manager in a principal province, of which
this is the tenor. "The _entire_ revenue of those districts is by your
Highness's order set apart to discharge the tunkaws [assignments]
granted to the Europeans. The gomastahs [agents] of Mr. Taylor to Mr. De
Fries are there in order to collect those tunkaws; and as they receive
_all_ the revenue that is collected, your Highness's troops have _seven
or eight months' pay due_, which they cannot receive, and are thereby
reduced to the greatest _distress_. _In such times_ it is highly
necessary to provide for the sustenance of the troops, that they may be
ready to exert themselves in the service of your Highness."

Here, Sir, you see how these causes and effects act upon one another.
One body of troops mutinies for want of pay; a debt is contracted to pay
them; and they still remain unpaid. A territory destined to pay other
troops is assigned for this debt; and these other troops fall into the
same state of indigence and mutiny with the first. Bond is paid by bond;
arrear is turned into new arrear; usury engenders new usury; mutiny,
suspended in one quarter, starts up in another; until all the revenues
and all the establishments are entangled into one inextricable knot of
confusion, from which they are only disengaged by being entirely
destroyed. In that state of confusion, in a very few months after the
date of the memorial I have just read to you, things were found, when
the Nabob's troops, famished to feed English soucars, instead of
defending the country, joined the invaders, and deserted in entire
bodies to Hyder Ali.[18]

The manner in which this transaction was carried on shows that good
examples are not easily forgot, especially by those who are bred in a
great school. One of those splendid examples give me leave to mention,
at a somewhat more early period; because one fraud furnishes light to
the discovery of another, and so on, until the whole secret of
mysterious iniquity bursts upon you in a blaze of detection. The paper I
shall read you is not on record. If you please, you may take it on my
word. It is a letter written from one of undoubted information in Madras
to Sir John Clavering, describing the practice that prevailed there,
whilst the Company's allies were under sale, during the time of Governor
Winch's administration.

"One mode," says Clavering's correspondent, "of amassing money at the
Nabob's cost is curious. He is generally in arrears to the Company. Here
the Governor, being cash-keeper, is generally on good terms with the
banker, who manages matters thus. The Governor presses the Nabob for the
balance due from him; the Nabob flies to his banker for relief; the
banker engages to pay the money, and grants his notes accordingly, which
he puts in the cash-book as ready money; the Nabob pays him an interest
for it at two and three per cent _per mensem_, till the tunkaws he
grants on the particular districts for it are paid. Matters in the mean
time are so managed that there is no call for this money for the
Company's service till the tunkaws become due. By this means not a cash
is advanced by the banker, though he receives a heavy interest from the
Nabob, which is divided as lawful spoil."

Here, Mr. Speaker, you have the whole art and mystery, the true
free-mason secret, of the profession of _soucaring_; by which a few
innocent, inexperienced young Englishmen, such as Mr. Paul Benfield, for
instance, without property upon which any one would lend to themselves a
single shilling, are enabled at once to take provinces in mortgage, to
make princes their debtors, and to become creditors for millions.

But it seems the right honorable gentleman's favorite soucar cavalry
have proved the payment before the Mayor's Court at Madras! Have they
so? Why, then, defraud our anxiety and their characters of that proof?
Is it not enough that the charges which I have laid before you have
stood on record against these poor injured gentlemen for eight years? Is
it not enough that they are in print by the orders of the East India
Company for five years? After these gentlemen have borne all the odium
of this publication and all the indignation of the Directors with such
unexampled equanimity, now that they are at length stimulated into
feeling are you to deny them their just relief? But will the right
honorable gentleman be pleased to tell us how they came not to give this
satisfaction to the Court of Directors, their lawful masters, during all
the eight years of this litigated claim? Were they not bound, by every
tie that can bind man, to give them this satisfaction? This day, for the
first time, we hear of the proofs. But when were these proofs offered?
In what cause? Who were the parties? Who inspected, who contested this
belated account? Let us see something to oppose to the body of record
which appears against them. The Mayor's Court! the Mayor's Court!
Pleasant! Does not the honorable gentleman know that the first corps of
creditors (the creditors of 1767) stated it as a sort of hardship to
them, that they could not have justice at Madras, from the impossibility
of their supporting their claims in the Mayor's Court? Why? Because, say
they, the members of that court were themselves creditors, and therefore
could not sit as judges.[19] Are we ripe to say that no creditor under
similar circumstances was member of the court, when the payment which is
the ground of this cavalry debt was put in proof?[20] Nay, are we not in
a manner compelled to conclude that the court was so constituted, when
we know there is scarcely a man in Madras who has not some participation
in these transactions? It is a shame to hear such proofs mentioned,
instead of the honest, vigorous scrutiny which the circumstances of such
an affair so indispensably call for.

But his Majesty's ministers, indulgent enough to other scrutinies, have
not been satisfied with authorizing the payment of this demand without
such inquiry as the act has prescribed; but they have added the arrear
of twelve per cent interest, from the year 1777 to the year 1784, to
make a new capital, raising thereby 160 to 294,000_l._ Then they charge
a new twelve per cent on the whole from that period, for a transaction
in which it will be a miracle if a single penny will be ever found
really advanced from the private stock of the pretended creditors.

In this manner, and at such an interest, the ministers have thought
proper to dispose of 294,000_l._ of the public revenues, for what is
called the Cavalry Loan. After dispatching this, the right honorable
gentleman leads to battle his last grand division, the consolidated debt
of 1777. But having exhausted all his panegyric on the two first, he has
nothing at all to say in favor of the last. On the contrary, he admits
that it was contracted in defiance of the Company's orders, without even
the pretended sanction of any pretended representatives. Nobody, indeed,
has yet been found hardy enough to stand forth avowedly in its defence.
But it is little to the credit of the age, that what has not
plausibility enough to find an advocate has influence enough to obtain a
protector. Could any man expect to find that protector anywhere? But
what must every man think, when he finds that protector in the chairman
of the Committee of Secrecy[21], who had published to the House, and to
the world, the facts that condemn these debts, the orders that forbid
the incurring of them, the dreadful consequences which attended them?
Even in his official letter, when he tramples on his Parliamentary
report, yet his general language is the same. Read the preface to this
part of the ministerial arrangement, and you would imagine that this
debt was to be crushed, with all the weight of indignation which could
fall from a vigilant guardian of the public treasury upon those who
attempted to rob it. What must be felt by every man who has feeling,
when, after such a thundering preamble of condemnation, this debt is
ordered to be paid without any sort of inquiry into its
authenticity,--without a single step taken to settle even the amount of
the demand,--without an attempt so much as to ascertain the real persons
claiming a sum which rises in the accounts from one million three
hundred thousand pound sterling to two million four hundred thousand
pound, principal money,[22]--without an attempt made to ascertain the
proprietors, of whom no list has ever yet been laid before the Court of
Directors,--of proprietors who are known to be in a collusive shuffle,
by which they never appear to be the same in any two lists handed about
for their own particular purposes?

My honorable friend who made you the motion has sufficiently exposed the
nature of this debt. He has stated to you, that _its own agents_, in the
year 1781, in the arrangement _they proposed_ to make at Calcutta, were
satisfied to have twenty-five per cent at once struck off from the
capital of a great part of this debt, and prayed to have a provision
made for this reduced principal, without any interest at all. This was
an arrangement of _their own_, an arrangement made by those who best
knew the true constitution of their own debt, who knew how little favor
it merited,[23] and how little hopes they had to find any persons in
authority abandoned enough to support it as it stood.

But what corrupt men, in the fond imaginations of a sanguine avarice,
had not the confidence to propose, they have found a Chancellor of the
Exchequer in England hardy enough to undertake for them. He has cheered
their drooping spirits. He has thanked the peculators for not despairing
of their commonwealth. He has told them they were too modest. He has
replaced the twenty-five per cent which, in order to lighten themselves,
they had abandoned in their conscious terror. Instead of cutting off the
interest, as they had themselves consented to do, with the fourth of the
capital, he has added the whole growth of four years' usury of twelve
per cent to the first overgrown principal; and has again grafted on this
meliorated stock a perpetual annuity of six per cent, to take place from
the year 1781. Let no man hereafter talk of the decaying energies of
Nature. All the acts and monuments in the records of peculation, the
consolidated corruption of ages, the patterns of exemplary plunder in
the heroic times of Roman iniquity, never equalled the gigantic
corruption of this single act. Never did Nero, in all the insolent
prodigality of despotism, deal out to his praetorian guards a donation
fit to be named with the largess showered down by the bounty of our
Chancellor of the Exchequer on the faithful band of his Indian sepoys.

The right honorable gentleman[24] lets you freely and voluntarily into
the whole transaction. So perfectly has his conduct confounded his
understanding, that he fairly tells you that through the course of the
whole business he has never conferred with any but the agents of the
pretended creditors. After this, do you want more to establish a secret
understanding with the parties,--to fix, beyond a doubt, their collusion
and participation in a common fraud?

If this were not enough, he has furnished you with other presumptions
that are not to be shaken. It is one of the known indications of guilt
to stagger and prevaricate in a story, and to vary in the motives that
are assigned to conduct. Try these ministers by this rule. In their
official dispatch, they tell the Presidency of Madras that they have
established the debt for two reasons: first, because the Nabob (the
party indebted) does not dispute it; secondly, because it is mischievous
to keep it longer afloat, and that the payment of the European creditors
will promote circulation in the country. These two motives (for the
plainest reasons in the world) the right honorable gentleman has this
day thought fit totally to abandon. In the first place, he rejects the
authority of the Nabob of Arcot. It would, indeed, be pleasant to see
him adhere to this exploded testimony. He next, upon grounds equally
solid, abandons the benefits of that circulation which was to be
produced by drawing out all the juices of the body. Laying aside, or
forgetting, these pretences of his dispatch, he has just now assumed a
principle totally different, but to the full as extraordinary. He
proceeds upon a supposition that many of the claims may be fictitious.
He then finds, that, in a case where many valid and many fraudulent
claims are blended together, the best course for their discrimination is
indiscriminately to establish them all. He trusts, (I suppose,) as there
may not be a fund sufficient for every description of creditors, that
the best warranted claimants will exert themselves in bringing to light
those debts which will not bear an inquiry. What he will not do himself
he is persuaded will be done by others; and for this purpose he leaves
to any person a general power of excepting to the debt. This total
change of language and prevarication in principle is enough, if it stood
alone, to fix the presumption of unfair dealing. His dispatch assigns
motives of policy, concord, trade, and circulation: his speech proclaims
discord and litigations, and proposes, as the ultimate end, detection.

But he may shift his reasons, and wind and turn as he will, confusion
waits him at all his doubles. Who will undertake this detection? Will
the Nabob? But the right honorable gentleman has himself this moment
told us that no prince of the country can by any motive be prevailed
upon to discover any fraud that is practised upon him by the Company's
servants. He says what (with the exception of the complaint against the
Cavalry Loan) all the world knows to be true: and without that prince's
concurrence, what evidence can be had of the fraud of any the smallest
of these demands? The ministers never authorized any person to enter
into his exchequer and to search his records. Why, then, this shameful
and insulting mockery of a pretended contest? Already contests for a
preference have arisen among these rival bond-creditors. Has not the
Company itself struggled for a preference for years, without any attempt
at detection of the nature of those debts with which they contended?
Well is the Nabob of Arcot attended to in the only specific complaint he
has ever made. He complained of unfair dealing in the Cavalry Loan. It
is fixed upon him with interest on interest; and this loan is excepted
from all power of litigation.

This day, and not before, the right honorable gentleman thinks that the
general establishment of all claims is the surest way of laying open the
fraud of some of them. In India this is a reach of deep policy. But what
would be thought of this mode of acting on a demand upon the Treasury in
England? Instead of all this cunning, is there not one plain way
open,--that is, to put the burden of the proof on those who make the
demand? Ought not ministry to have said to the creditors, "The person
who admits your debt stands excepted to as evidence; he stands charged
as a collusive party, to hand over the public revenues to you for
sinister purposes. You say, you have a demand of some millions on the
Indian Treasury; prove that you have acted by lawful authority; prove,
at least, that your money has been _bona fide_ advanced; entitle
yourself to my protection by the fairness and fulness of the
communications you make"? Did an honest creditor ever refuse that
reasonable and honest test?

There is little doubt that several individuals have been seduced by the
purveyors to the Nabob of Arcot to put their money (perhaps the whole of
honest and laborious earnings) into their hands, and that at such high
interest as, being condemned at law, leaves them at the mercy of the
great managers whom they trusted. These seduced creditors are probably
persons of no power or interest either in England or India, and may be
just objects of compassion. By taking, in this arrangement, no measures
for discrimination and discovery, the fraudulent and the fair are in the
first instance confounded in one mass. The subsequent selection and
distribution is left to the Nabob. With him the agents and instruments
of his corruption, whom he sees to be omnipotent in England, and who may
serve him in future, as they have done in times past, will have
precedence, if not an exclusive preference. These leading interests
domineer, and have always domineered, over the whole. By this
arrangement, the persons seduced are made dependent on their seducers;
honesty (comparative honesty at least) must become of the party of
fraud, and must quit its proper character and its just claims, to
entitle itself to the alms of bribery and peculation.

But be these English creditors what they may, the creditors most
certainly not fraudulent are the natives, who are numerous and wretched
indeed: by exhausting the whole revenues of the Carnatic, nothing is
left for them. They lent _bona fide_; in all probability they were even
forced to lend, or to give goods and service for the Nabob's
obligations. They had no trusts to carry to his market. They had no
faith of alliances to sell. They had no nations to betray to robbery and
ruin. They had no lawful government seditiously to overturn; nor had
they a governor, to whom it is owing that you exist in India, to deliver
over to captivity, and to death in a shameful prison.[25]

These were the merits of the principal part of the debt of 1777, and the
universally conceived causes of its growth; and thus the unhappy natives
are deprived of every hope of payment for their real debts, to make
provision for the arrears of unsatisfied bribery and treason. You see in
this instance that the presumption of guilt is not only no exception to
the demands on the public treasury, but with these ministers it is a
necessary condition to their support. But that you may not think this
preference solely owing to their known contempt of the natives, who
ought with every generous mind to claim their first charities, you will
find the same rule religiously observed with Europeans too. Attend, Sir,
to this decisive case. Since the beginning of the war, besides arrears
of every kind, a bond-debt has been contracted at Madras, uncertain in
its amount, but represented from four hundred thousand pound to a
million sterling. It stands only at the low interest of eight per cent.
Of the legal authority on which this debt was contracted, of its
purposes for the very being of the state, of its publicity and fairness,
no doubt has been entertained for a moment. For this debt no sort of
provision whatever has been made. It is rejected as an outcast, whilst
the whole undissipated attention of the minister has been employed for
the discharge of claims entitled to his favor by the merits we have

I have endeavored to find out, if possible, the amount of the whole of
those demands, in order to see how much, supposing the country in a
condition to furnish the fund, may remain to satisfy the public debt and
the necessary establishments. But I have been foiled in my attempt.

About one fourth, that is, about 220,000_l._, of the loan of 1767
remains unpaid. How much interest is in arrear I could never discover:
seven or eight years' at least, which would make the whole of that debt
about 396,000_l._ This stock, which the ministers in their instructions
to the Governor of Madras state as the least exceptionable, they have
thought proper to distinguish by a marked severity, leaving it the only
one on which the interest is not added to the principal to beget a new

The Cavalry Loan, by the operation of the same authority, is made up to
294,000_l._; and this 294,000_l._, made up of principal and interest, is
crowned with a new interest of twelve per cent.

What the grand loan, the bribery loan of 1777, may be is amongst the
deepest mysteries of state. It is probably the first debt ever assuming
the title of Consolidation that did not express what the amount of the
sum consolidated was. It is little less than a contradiction in terms.
In the debt of the year 1767 the sum was stated in the act of
consolidation, and made to amount to 880,000_l._ capital. When this
consolidation of 1777 was first announced at the Durbar, it was
represented authentically at 2,400,000_l._ In that, or rather in a
higher state, Sir Thomas Rumbold found and condemned it.[26] It
afterwards fell into such a terror as to sweat away a million of its
weight at once; and it sunk to 1,400,000_l._[27] However, it never was
without a resource for recruiting it to its old plumpness. There was a
sort of floating debt of about four or five hundred thousand pounds more
ready to be added, as occasion should require.

In short, when you pressed this sensitive-plant, it always contracted
its dimensions. When the rude hand of inquiry was withdrawn, it expanded
in all the luxuriant vigor of its original vegetation. In the treaty of
1781, the whole of the Nabob's debt to private Europeans is by Mr.
Sulivan, agent to the Nabob and his creditors, stated at 2,800,000_l._,
which, if the Cavalry Loan and the remains of the debt of 1767 be
subtracted, leaves it nearly at the amount originally declared at the
Durbar in 1777: but then there is a private instruction to Mr. Sulivan,
which, it seems, will reduce it again to the lower standard of

Failing in all my attempts, by a direct account, to ascertain the extent
of the capital claimed, (where in all probability no capital was ever
advanced,) I endeavored, if possible, to discover it by the interest
which was to be paid. For that purpose, I looked to the several
agreements for assigning the territories of the Carnatic to secure the
principal and interest of this debt. In one of them,[28] I found, in a
sort of postscript, by way of an additional remark, (not in the body of
the obligation,) the debt represented at 1,400,000_l._: but when I
computed the sums to be paid for interest by instalments in another
paper, I found they produced an interest of two millions, at twelve per
cent; and the assignment supposed, that, if these instalments might
exceed, they might also fall short of, the real provision for that
interest.[29] Another instalment-bond was afterwards granted: in that
bond the interest exactly tallies with a capital of 1,400,000_l._:[30]
but pursuing this capital through the correspondence, I lost sight of it
again, and it was asserted that this instalment-bond was considerably
short of the interest that ought to be computed to the time

Here are, therefore, two statements of equal authority, differing at
least a million from each other; and as neither persons claiming, nor
any special sum as belonging to each particular claimant, is ascertained
in the instruments of consolidation, or in the installment-bonds, a
large scope was left to throw in any sums for any persons, as their
merits in advancing the interest of that loan might require; a power was
also left for reduction, in case a harder hand, or more scanty funds,
might be found to require it. Stronger grounds for a presumption of
fraud never appeared in any transaction. But the ministers, faithful to
the plan of the interested persons, whom alone they thought fit to
confer with on this occasion, have ordered the payment of the whole mass
of these unknown, unliquidated sums, without an attempt to ascertain
them. On this conduct, Sir, I leave you to make your own reflections.

It is impossible (at least I have found it impossible) to fix on the
real amount of the pretended debts with which your ministers have
thought proper to load the Carnatic. They are obscure; they shun
inquiry; they are enormous. That is all you know of them.

That you may judge what chance any honorable and useful end of
government has for a provision that comes in for the leavings of these
gluttonous demands, I must take it on myself to bring before you the
real condition of that abused, insulted, racked, and ruined country;
though in truth my mind revolts from it, though you will hear it with
horror, and I confess I tremble when I think on these awful and
confounding dispensations of Providence. I shall first trouble you with
a few words as to the cause.

The great fortunes made in India, in the beginnings of conquest,
naturally excited an emulation in all the parts and through the whole
succession of the Company's service. But in the Company it gave rise to
other sentiments. They did not find the new channels of acquisition flow
with equal riches to them. On the contrary, the high flood-tide of
private emolument was generally in the lowest ebb of their affairs. They
began also to fear that the fortune of war might take away what the
fortune of war had given. Wars were accordingly discouraged by repeated
injunctions and menaces: and that the servants might not be bribed into
them by the native princes, they were strictly forbidden to take any
money whatsoever from their hands. But vehement passion is ingenious in
resources. The Company's servants were not only stimulated, but better
instructed by the prohibition. They soon fell upon a contrivance which
answered their purposes far better than the methods which were
forbidden: though in this also they violated an ancient, but they
thought, an abrogated order. They reversed their proceedings. Instead of
receiving presents, they made loans. Instead of carrying on wars in
their own name, they contrived an authority, at once irresistible and
irresponsible, in whose name they might ravage at pleasure; and being
thus freed from all restraint, they indulged themselves in the most
extravagant speculations of plunder. The cabal of creditors who have
been the object of the late bountiful grant from his Majesty's
ministers, in order to possess themselves, under the name of creditors
and assignees, of every country in India, as fast as it should be
conquered, inspired into the mind of the Nabob of Arcot (then a
dependant on the Company of the humblest order) a scheme of the most
wild and desperate ambition that I believe ever was admitted into the
thoughts of a man so situated.[32] First, they persuaded him to
consider himself as a principal member in the political system of
Europe. In the next place, they held out to him, and he readily imbibed,
the idea of the general empire of Hindostan. As a preliminary to this
undertaking, they prevailed on him to propose a tripartite division of
that vast country: one part to the Company; another to the Mahrattas;
and the third to himself. To himself he reserved all the southern part
of the great peninsula, comprehended under the general name of the

On this scheme of their servants, the Company was to appear in the
Carnatic in no other light than as a contractor for the provision of
armies, and the hire of mercenaries for his use and under his direction.
This disposition was to be secured by the Nabob's putting himself under
the guaranty of France, and, by the means of that rival nation,
preventing the English forever from assuming an equality, much less a
superiority, in the Carnatic. In pursuance of this treasonable project,
(treasonable on the part of the English,) they extinguished the Company
as a sovereign power in that part of India; they withdrew the Company's
garrisons out of all the forts and strongholds of the Carnatic; they
declined to receive the ambassadors from foreign courts, and remitted
them to the Nabob of Arcot; they fell upon, and totally destroyed, the
oldest ally of the Company, the king of Tanjore, and plundered the
country to the amount of near five millions sterling; one after
another, in the Nabob's name, but with English force, they brought into
a miserable servitude all the princes and great independent nobility of
a vast country.[33] In proportion to these treasons and violences, which
ruined the people, the fund of the Nabob's debt grew and flourished.

Among the victims to this magnificent plan of universal plunder, worthy
of the heroic avarice of the projectors, you have all heard (and he has
made himself to be well remembered) of an Indian chief called Hyder Ali
Khan. This man possessed the western, as the Company, under the name of
the Nabob of Arcot, does the eastern division of the Carnatic. It was
among the leading measures in the design of this cabal (according to
their own emphatic language) to _extirpate_ this Hyder Ali.[34] They
declared the Nabob of Arcot to be his sovereign, and himself to be a
rebel, and publicly invested their instrument with the sovereignty of
the kingdom of Mysore. But their victim was not of the passive kind.
They were soon obliged to conclude a treaty of peace and close alliance
with this rebel, at the gates of Madras. Both before and since that
treaty, every principle of policy pointed out this power as a natural
alliance; and on his part it was courted by every sort of amicable
office. But the cabinet council of English creditors would not suffer
their Nabob of Arcot to sign the treaty, nor even to give to a prince at
least his equal the ordinary titles of respect and courtesy.[35] From
that time forward, a continued plot was carried on within the divan,
black and white, of the Nabob of Arcot, for the destruction of Hyder
Ali. As to the outward members of the double, or rather treble
government of Madras, which had signed the treaty, they were always
prevented by some overruling influence (which they do not describe, but
which cannot be misunderstood) from performing what justice and interest
combined so evidently to enforce.[36]

When at length Hyder Ali found that he had to do with men who either
would sign no convention, or whom no treaty and no signature could bind,
and who were the determined enemies of human intercourse itself, he
decreed to make the country possessed by these incorrigible and
predestinated criminals a memorable example to mankind. He resolved, in
the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious of such things, to leave the
whole Carnatic an everlasting monument of vengeance, and to put
perpetual desolation as a barrier between him and those against whom the
faith which holds the moral elements of the world together was no
protection. He became at length so confident of his force, so collected
in his might, that he made no secret whatsoever of his dreadful
resolution. Having terminated his disputes with every enemy and every
rival, who buried their mutual animosities in their common detestation
against the creditors of the Nabob of Arcot, he drew from every quarter
whatever a savage ferocity could add to his new rudiments in the arts of
destruction; and compounding all the materials of fury, havoc, and
desolation into one black cloud, he hung for a while on the declivities
of the mountains. Whilst the authors of all these evils were idly and
stupidly gazing on this menacing meteor, which blackened all their
horizon, it suddenly burst, and poured down the whole of its contents
upon the plains of the Carnatic. Then ensued a scene of woe, the like of
which no eye had seen, no heart conceived, and which no tongue can
adequately tell. All the horrors of war before known or heard of were
mercy to that new havoc. A storm of universal fire blasted every field,
consumed every house, destroyed every temple. The miserable inhabitants,
flying from their flaming villages, in part were slaughtered; others,
without regard to sex, to age, to the respect of rank or sacredness of
function, fathers torn from children, husbands from wives, enveloped in
a whirlwind of cavalry, and amidst the goading spears of drivers, and
the trampling of pursuing horses, were swept into captivity in an
unknown and hostile land. Those who were able to evade this tempest fled
to the walled cities; but escaping from fire, sword, and exile, they
fell into the jaws of famine.

The alms of the settlement, in this dreadful exigency, were certainly
liberal; and all was done by charity that private charity could do: but
it was a people in beggary; it was a nation which stretched out its
hands for food. For months together, these creatures of sufferance,
whose very excess and luxury in their most plenteous days had fallen
short of the allowance of our austerest fasts, silent, patient,
resigned, without sedition or disturbance, almost without complaint,
perished by an hundred a day in the streets of Madras; every day seventy
at least laid their bodies in the streets or on the glacis of Tanjore,
and expired of famine in the granary of India. I was going to awake your
justice towards this unhappy part of our fellow-citizens, by bringing
before you some of the circumstances of this plague of hunger: of all
the calamities which beset and waylay the life of man, this comes the
nearest to our heart, and is that wherein the proudest of us all feels
himself to be nothing more than he is: but I find myself unable to
manage it with decorum; these details are of a species of horror so
nauseous and disgusting, they are so degrading to the sufferers and to
the hearers, they are so humiliating to human nature itself, that, on
better thoughts, I find it more advisable to throw a pall over this
hideous object, and to leave it to your general conceptions.

For eighteen months,[37] without intermission, this destruction raged
from the gates of Madras to the gates of Tanjore; and so completely did
these masters in their art, Hyder Ali and his more ferocious son,
absolve themselves of their impious vow, that, when the British armies
traversed, as they did, the Carnatic for hundreds of miles in all
directions, through the whole line of their march they did not see one
man, not one woman, not one child, not one four-footed beast of any
description whatever. One dead, uniform silence reigned over the whole
region. With the inconsiderable exceptions of the narrow vicinage of
some few forts, I wish to be understood as speaking literally. I mean to
produce to you more than three witnesses, above all exception, who will
support this assertion in its full extent. That hurricane of war passed
through every part of the central provinces of the Carnatic. Six or
seven districts to the north and to the south (and these not wholly
untouched) escaped the general ravage.

The Carnatic is a country not much inferior in extent to England. Figure
to yourself, Mr. Speaker, the land in whose representative chair you
sit; figure to yourself the form and fashion of your sweet and cheerful
country from Thames to Trent, north and south, and from the Irish to the
German Sea, east and west, emptied and embowelled (may God avert the
omen of our crimes!) by so accomplished a desolation. Extend your
imagination a little further, and then suppose your ministers taking a
survey of this scene of waste and desolation. What would be your
thoughts, if you should be informed that they were computing how much
had been the amount of the excises, how much the customs, how much the
land and malt tax, in order that they should charge (take it in the most
favorable light) for public service, upon the relics of the satiated
vengeance of relentless enemies, the whole of what England had yielded
in the most exuberant seasons of peace and abundance? What would you
call it? To call it tyranny sublimed into madness would be too faint an
image; yet this very madness is the principle upon which the ministers
at your right hand have proceeded in their estimate of the revenues of
the Carnatic, when they were providing, not supply for the
establishments of its protection, but rewards for the authors of its

Every day you are fatigued and disgusted with this cant, "The Carnatic
is a country that will soon recover, and become instantly as prosperous
as ever." They think they are talking to innocents, who will believe,
that, by sowing of dragons' teeth, men may come up ready grown and ready
armed. They who will give themselves the trouble of considering (for it
requires no great reach of thought, no very profound knowledge) the
manner in which mankind are increased, and countries cultivated, will
regard all this raving as it ought to be regarded. In order that the
people, after a long period of vexation and plunder, may be in a
condition to maintain government, government must begin by maintaining
them. Here the road to economy lies not through receipt, but through
expense; and in that country Nature has given no short cut to your
object. Men must propagate, like other animals, by the mouth. Never did
oppression light the nuptial torch; never did extortion and usury spread
out the genial bed. Does any of you think that England, so wasted,
would, under such a nursing attendance, so rapidly and cheaply recover?
But he is meanly acquainted with either England or India who does not
know that England would a thousand times sooner resume population,
fertility, and what ought to be the ultimate secretion from both,
revenue, than such a country as the Carnatic.

The Carnatic is not by the bounty of Nature a fertile soil. The general
size of its cattle is proof enough that it is much otherwise. It is some
days since I moved that a curious and interesting map, kept in the
India House, should be laid before you.[38] The India House is not yet
in readiness to send it; I have therefore brought down my own copy, and
there it lies for the use of any gentleman who may think such a matter
worthy of his attention. It is, indeed, a noble map, and of noble
things; but it is decisive against the golden dreams and sanguine
speculations of avarice run mad. In addition to what you know must be
the case in every part of the world, (the necessity of a previous
provision of habitation, seed, stock, capital,) that map will show you
that the uses of the influences of Heaven itself are in that country a
work of art. The Carnatic is refreshed by few or no living brooks or
running streams, and it has rain only at a season; but its product of
rice exacts the use of water subject to perpetual command. This is the
national bank of the Carnatic, on which it must have a perpetual credit,
or it perishes irretrievably. For that reason, in the happier times of
India, a number, almost incredible, of reservoirs have been made in
chosen places throughout the whole country: they are formed, for the
greater part, of mounds of earth and stones, with sluices of solid
masonry; the whole constructed with admirable skill and labor, and
maintained at a mighty charge. In the territory contained in that map
alone, I have been at the trouble of reckoning the reservoirs, and they
amount to upwards of eleven hundred, from the extent of two or three
acres to five miles in circuit. From these reservoirs currents are
occasionally drawn over the fields, and these watercourses again call
for a considerable expense to keep them properly scoured and duly
levelled. Taking the district in that map as a measure, there cannot be
in the Carnatic and Tanjore fewer than ten thousand of these reservoirs
of the larger and middling dimensions, to say nothing of those for
domestic services, and the use of religious purification. These are not
the enterprises of your power, nor in a style of magnificence suited to
the taste of your minister. These are the monuments of real kings, who
were the fathers of their people,--testators to a posterity which they
embraced as their own. These are the grand sepulchres built by
ambition,--but by the ambition of an insatiable benevolence, which, not
contented with reigning in the dispensation of happiness during the
contracted term of human life, had strained, with all the reachings and
graspings of a vivacious mind, to extend the dominion of their bounty
beyond the limits of Nature, and to perpetuate themselves through
generations of generations, the guardians, the protectors, the
nourishers of mankind.

Long before the late invasion, the persons who are objects of the grant
of public money now before you had so diverted the supply of the pious
funds of culture and population, that everywhere the reservoirs were
fallen into a miserable decay.[39] But after those domestic enemies had
provoked the entry of a cruel foreign foe into the country, he did not
leave it, until his revenge had completed the destruction begun by their
avarice. Few, very few indeed, of these magazines of water that are not
either totally destroyed, or cut through with such gaps as to require a
serious attention and much cost to reestablish them, as the means of
present subsistence to the people and of future revenue to the state.

What, Sir, would a virtuous and enlightened ministry do, on the view of
the ruins of such works before them?--on the view of such a chasm of
desolation as that which yawned in the midst of those countries, to the
north and south, which still bore some vestiges of cultivation? They
would have reduced all their most necessary establishments; they would
have suspended the justest payments; they would have employed every
shilling derived from the producing to reanimate the powers of the
unproductive parts. While they were performing this fundamental duty,
whilst they were celebrating these mysteries of justice and humanity,
they would have told the corps of fictitious creditors, whose crimes
were their claims, that they must keep an awful distance,--that they
must silence their inauspicious tongues,--that they must hold off their
profane, unhallowed paws from this holy work; they would have
proclaimed, with a voice that should make itself heard, that on every
country the first creditor is the plough,--that this original,
indefeasible claim supersedes every other demand.

This is what a wise and virtuous ministry would have done and said.
This, therefore, is what our minister could never think of saying or
doing. A ministry of another kind would have first improved the country,
and have thus laid a solid foundation for future opulence and future
force. But on this grand point of the restoration of the country there
is not one syllable to be found in the correspondence of our ministers,
from the first to the last; they felt nothing for a land desolated by
fire, sword, and famine: their sympathies took another direction; they
were touched with pity for bribery, so long tormented with a fruitless
itching of its palms; their bowels yearned for usury, that had long
missed the harvest of its returning months;[40] they felt for
peculation, which had been for so many years raking in the dust of an
empty treasury; they were melted into compassion for rapine and
oppression, licking their dry, parched, unbloody jaws. These were the
objects of their solicitude. These were the necessities for which they
were studious to provide.

To state the country and its revenues in their real condition, and to
provide for those fictitious claims, consistently with the support of an
army and a civil establishment, would have been impossible; therefore
the ministers are silent on that head, and rest themselves on the
authority of Lord Macartney, who, in a letter to the Court of Directors,
written in the year 1781, speculating on what might be the result of a
wise management of the countries assigned by the Nabob of Arcot, rates
the revenue, as in time of peace, at twelve hundred thousand pounds a
year, as he does those of the king of Tanjore (which had not been
assigned) at four hundred and fifty. On this Lord Macartney grounds his
calculations, and on this they choose to ground theirs. It was on this
calculation that the ministry, in direct opposition to the remonstrances
of the Court of Directors, have compelled that miserable enslaved body
to put their hands to an order for appropriating the enormous sum of
480,000_l._ annually, as a fund for paying to their rebellious servants
a debt contracted in defiance of their clearest and most positive

The authority and information of Lord Macartney is held high on this
occasion, though it is totally rejected in every other particular of
this business. I believe I have the honor of being almost as old an
acquaintance as any Lord Macartney has. A constant and unbroken
friendship has subsisted between us from a very early period; and I
trust he thinks, that, as I respect his character, and in general admire
his conduct, I am one of those who feel no common interest in his
reputation. Yet I do not hesitate wholly to disallow the calculation of
1781, without any apprehension that I shall appear to distrust his
veracity or his judgment. This peace estimate of revenue was not
grounded on the state of the Carnatic, as it then, or as it had
recently, stood. It was a statement of former and better times. There is
no doubt that a period did exist, when the large portion of the Carnatic
held by the Nabob of Arcot might be fairly reputed to produce a revenue
to that, or to a greater amount. But the whole had so melted away by the
slow and silent hostility of oppression and mismanagement, that the
revenues, sinking with the prosperity of the country, had fallen to
about 800,000_l._ a year, even before an enemy's horse had imprinted his
hoof on the soil of the Carnatic. From that view, and independently of
the decisive effects of the war which ensued, Sir Eyre Coote conceived
that years must pass before the country could be restored to its former
prosperity, and production. It was that state of revenue (namely, the
actual state before the war) which the Directors have opposed to Lord
Macartney's speculation. They refused to take the revenues for more than
800,000_l._ In this they are justified by Lord Macartney himself, who,
in a subsequent letter, informs the court that his sketch is a matter of
speculation; it supposes the country restored to its ancient prosperity,
and the revenue to be in a course of effective and honest collection.
If, therefore, the ministers have gone wrong, they were not deceived by
Lord Macartney: they were deceived by no man. The estimate of the
Directors is nearly the very estimate furnished by the right honorable
gentleman himself, and published to the world in one of the printed
reports of his own committee;[41] but as soon as he obtained his power,
he chose to abandon his account. No part of his official conduct can be
defended on the ground of his Parliamentary information.

In this clashing of accounts and estimates, ought not the ministry, if
they wished to preserve even appearances, to have waited for information
of the actual result of these speculations, before they laid a charge,
and such a charge, not conditionally and eventually, but positively and
authoritatively, upon a country which they all knew, and which one of
them had registered on the records of this House, to be wasted, beyond
all example, by every oppression of an abusive government, and every
ravage of a desolating war? But that you may discern in what manner they
use the correspondence of office, and that thereby you may enter into
the true spirit of the ministerial Board of Control, I desire you, Mr.
Speaker, to remark, that, through their whole controversy with the Court
of Directors, they do not so much as hint at their ever having seen any
other paper from Lord Macartney, or any other estimate of revenue than
this of 1781. To this they hold. Here they take post; here they intrench

When I first read this curious controversy between the ministerial
board and the Court of Directors, common candor obliged me to attribute
their tenacious adherence to the estimate of 1781 to a total ignorance
of what had appeared upon the records. But the right honorable gentleman
has chosen to come forward with an uncalled-for declaration; he
boastingly tells you, that he has seen, read, digested, compared
everything,--and that, if he has sinned, he has sinned with his eyes
broad open. Since, then, the ministers will obstinately shut the gates
of mercy on themselves, let them add to their crimes what aggravations
they please. They have, then, (since it must be so,) wilfully and
corruptly suppressed the information which they ought to have produced,
and, for the support of peculation, have made themselves guilty of
spoliation and suppression of evidence.[42] The paper I hold in my hand,
which totally overturns (for the present, at least) the estimate of
1781, they have no more taken notice of, in their controversy with the
Court of Directors, than if it had no existence. It is the report made
by a committee appointed at Madras to manage the whole of the six
countries assigned to the Company by the Nabob of Arcot. This committee
was wisely instituted by Lord Macartney, to remove from himself the
suspicion of all improper management in so invidious a trust; and it
seems to have been well chosen. This committee has made a comparative
estimate of the only six districts which were in a condition to be let
to farm. In one set of columns they state the gross and net produce of
the districts as let by the Nabob. To that statement they oppose the
terms on which the same districts were rented for five years under
their authority. Under the Nabob, the gross farm was so high as
570,000_l._ sterling. What was the clear produce? Why, no more than
about 250,000_l._; and this was the whole profit of the Nabob's
treasury, under his own management of all the districts which were in a
condition to be let to farm on the 27th of May, 1782. Lord Macartney's
leases stipulated a gross produce of no more than about 530,000_l._; but
then the estimated net amount was nearly double the Nabob's. It,
however, did not then exceed 480,000_l._; and Lord Macartney's
commissioners take credit for an annual revenue amounting to this clear
sum. Here is no speculation; here is no inaccurate account clandestinely
obtained from those who might wish, and were enabled, to deceive. It is
the authorized, recorded state of a real, recent transaction. Here is
not twelve hundred thousand pound,--not eight hundred. The whole revenue
of the Carnatic yielded no more, in May, 1782, than four hundred and
eighty thousand pounds: nearly the very precise sum which your minister,
who is so careful of the public security, has carried from all
descriptions of establishment to form a fund for the private emolument
of his creatures.

In this estimate, we see, as I have just observed, the Nabob's farms
rated so high as 570,000_l._ Hitherto all is well: but follow on to the
effective net revenue; there the illusion vanishes; and you will not
find nearly so much as half the produce. It is with reason, therefore,
Lord Macartney invariably, throughout the whole correspondence,
qualifies all his views and expectations of revenue, and all his plans
for its application, with this indispensable condition, that the
management is not in the hands of the Nabob of Arcot. Should that fatal
measure take place, he has over and over again told you that he has no
prospect of realizing anything whatsoever for any public purpose. With
these weighty declarations, confirmed by such a state of indisputable
fact before them, what has been done by the Chancellor of the Exchequer
and his accomplices? Shall I be believed? They have delivered over those
very territories, on the keeping of which in the hands of the committee
the defence of our dominions, and, what was more dear to them, possibly,
their own job, depended,--they have delivered back again, without
condition, without arrangement, without stipulation of any sort for the
natives of any rank, the whole of those vast countries, to many of which
he had no just claim, into the ruinous mismanagement of the Nabob of
Arcot. To crown all, according to their miserable practice, whenever
they do anything transcendently absurd, they preface this their
abdication of their trust by a solemn declaration that they were not
obliged to it by any principle of policy or any demand of justice

I have stated to you the estimated produce of the territories of the
Carnatic in a condition to be farmed in 1782, according to the different
managements into which they might fall; and this estimate the ministers
have thought proper to suppress. Since that, two other accounts have
been received. The first informs us, that there has been a recovery of
what is called arrear, as well as of an improvement of the revenue of
one of the six provinces which were let in 1782.[43] It was brought
about by making a new war. After some sharp actions, by the resolution
and skill of Colonel Fullarton several of the petty princes of the most
southerly of the unwasted provinces were compelled to pay very heavy
rents and tributes, who for a long time before had not paid any
acknowledgment. After this reduction, by the care of Mr. Irwin, one of
the committee, that province was divided into twelve farms. This
operation raised the income of that particular province; the others
remain as they were first farmed. So that, instead of producing only
their original rent of 480,000_l._, they netted, in about two years and
a quarter, 1,320,000_l._ sterling, which would be about 660,000_l._ a
year, if the recovered arrear was not included. What deduction is to be
made on account of that arrear I cannot determine, but certainly what
would reduce the annual income considerably below the rate I have

The second account received is the letting of the wasted provinces of
the Carnatic. This I understand is at a growing rent, which may or may
not realize what it promises; but if it should answer, it will raise the
whole, at some future time, to 1,200,000_l._

You must here remark, Mr. Speaker, that this revenue is the produce of
_all_ the Nabob's dominions. During the assignment, the Nabob paid
nothing, because the Company had all. Supposing the whole of the lately
assigned territory to yield up to the most sanguine expectations of the
right honorable gentleman, and suppose 1,200,000_l._ to be annually
realized, (of which we actually know of no more than the realizing of
six hundred thousand,) out of this you must deduct the subsidy and rent
which the Nabob paid before the assignment,--namely, 340,000_l._ a year.
This reduces back the revenue applicable to the new distribution made by
his Majesty's ministers to about 800,000_l._ Of that sum five eighths
are by them surrendered to the debts. The remaining three are the only
fund left for all the purposes so magnificently displayed in the letter
of the Board of Control: that is, for a new-cast peace establishment, a
now fund for ordnance and fortifications, and a large allowance for what
they call "the splendor of the Durbar."

You have heard the account of these territories as they stood in 1782.
You have seen the _actual_ receipt since the assignment in 1781, of
which I reckon about two years and a quarter productive. I have stated
to you the expectation from the wasted part. For realizing all this you
may value yourselves on the vigor and diligence of a governor and
committee that have done so much. If these hopes from the committee are
rational, remember that the committee is no more. Your ministers, who
have formed their fund for these debts on the presumed effect of the
committee's management, have put a complete end to that committee. Their
acts are rescinded; their leases are broken; their renters are
dispersed. Your ministers knew, when they signed the death-warrant of
the Carnatic, that the Nabob would not only turn all these unfortunate
farmers of revenue out of employment, but that he has denounced his
severest vengeance against them, for acting under British authority.
With a knowledge of this disposition, a British Chancellor of the
Exchequer and Treasurer of the Navy, incited by no public advantage,
impelled by no public necessity, in a strain of the most wanton perfidy
which has ever stained the annals of mankind, have delivered over to
plunder, imprisonment, exile, and death itself, according to the mercy
of such execrable tyrants as Amir-ul-Omrah and Paul Benfield, the
unhappy and deluded souls who, untaught by uniform example, were still
weak enough to put their trust in English faith.[44] They have gone
farther: they have thought proper to mock and outrage their misery by
ordering them protection and compensation. From what power is this
protection to be derived, and from what fund is this compensation to
arise? The revenues are delivered over to their oppressor; the
territorial jurisdiction, from whence that revenue is to arise, and
under which they live, is surrendered to the same iron hands: and that
they shall be deprived of all refuge and all hope, the minister has made
a solemn, voluntary declaration that he never will interfere with the
Nabob's internal government.[45]

The last thing considered by the Board of Control among the debts of the
Carnatic was that arising to the East India Company, which, after the
provision for the cavalry, and the consolidation of 1777, was to divide
the residue of the fund of 480,000_l._ a year with the lenders of 1767.
This debt the worthy chairman, who sits opposite to me, contends to be
three millions sterling. Lord Macartney's account of 1781 states it to
be at that period 1,200,000_l._ The first account of the Court of
Directors makes it 900,000_l._ This, like the private debt, being
without any solid existence, is incapable of any distinct limits.
Whatever its amount or its validity may be, one thing is clear: it is of
the nature and quality of a public debt. In that light nothing is
provided for it, but an eventual surplus to be divided with one class
of the private demands, after satisfying the two first classes. Never
was a more shameful postponing a public demand, which, by the reason of
the thing, and the uniform practice of all nations, supersedes every
private claim.

Those who gave this preference to private claims consider the Company's
as a lawful demand; else why did they pretend to provide for it? On
their own principles they are condemned.

But I, Sir, who profess to speak to your understanding and to your
conscience, and to brush away from this business all false colors, all
false appellations, as well as false facts, do positively deny that the
Carnatic owes a shilling to the Company,--whatever the Company may be
indebted to that undone country. It owes nothing to the Company, for
this plain and simple reason: the territory charged with the debt is
their own. To say that their revenues fall short, and owe them money, is
to say they are in debt to themselves, which is only talking nonsense.
The fact is, that, by the invasion of an enemy, and the ruin of the
country, the Company, either in its own name, or in the names of the
Nabob of Arcot and Rajah of Tanjore, has lost for several years what it
might have looked to receive from its own estate. If men were allowed to
credit themselves upon such principles, any one might soon grow rich by
this mode of accounting. A flood comes down upon a man's estate in the
Bedford Level of a thousand pounds a year, and drowns his rents for ten
years. The Chancellor would put that man into the hands of a trustee,
who would gravely make up his books, and for this loss credit himself in
his account for a debt due to him of 10,000_l._ It is, however, on this
principle the Company makes up its demands on the Carnatic. In peace
they go the full length, and indeed more than the full length, of what
the people can bear for current establishments; then they are absurd
enough to consolidate all the calamities of war into debts,--to
metamorphose the devastations of the country into demands upon its
future production. What is this but to avow a resolution utterly to
destroy their own country, and to force the people to pay for their
sufferings to a government which has proved unable to protect either the
share of the husbandman or their own? In every lease of a farm, the
invasion of an enemy, instead of forming a demand for arrear, is a
release of rent: nor for that release is it at all necessary to show
that the invasion has left nothing to the occupier of the soil; though
in the present case it would be too easy to prove that melancholy
fact.[46] I therefore applauded my right honorable friend, who, when he
canvassed the Company's accounts, as a preliminary to a bill that ought
not to stand on falsehood of any kind, fixed his discerning eye and his
deciding hand on these debts of the Company from the Nabob of Arcot and
Rajah of Tanjore, and at one stroke expunged them all, as utterly
irrecoverable: he might have added, as utterly unfounded.

On these grounds I do not blame the arrangement this day in question, as
a preference given to the debt of individuals over the Company's debt.
In my eye it is no more than the preference of a fiction over a chimera;
but I blame the preference given to those fictitious private debts over
the standing defence and the standing government. It is there the public
is robbed. It is robbed in its army; it is robbed in its civil
administration; it is robbed in its credit; it is robbed in its
investment, which forms the commercial connection between that country
and Europe. There is the robbery.

But my principal objection lies a good deal deeper. That debt to the
Company is the pretext under which all the other debts lurk and cover
themselves. That debt forms the foul, putrid mucus in which are
engendered the whole brood of creeping ascarides, all the endless
involutions, the eternal knot, added to a knot of those inexpugnable
tape-worms which devour the nutriment and eat up the bowels of
India.[47] It is necessary, Sir, you should recollect two things. First,
that the Nabob's debt to the Company carries no interest. In the next
place, you will observe, that, whenever the Company has occasion to
borrow, she has always commanded whatever she thought fit at eight per
cent. Carrying in your mind these two facts, attend to the process with
regard to the public and private debt, and with what little appearance
of decency they play into each other's hands a game of utter perdition
to the unhappy natives of India. The Nabob falls into an arrear to the
Company. The Presidency presses for payment. The Nabob's answer is, "I
have no money." Good! But there are soucars who will supply you on the
mortgage of your territories. Then steps forward some Paul Benfield,
and, from his grateful compassion to the Nabob, and his filial regard
to the Company, he unlocks the treasures of his virtuous industry, and,
for a consideration of twenty-four or thirty-six per cent on a mortgage
of the territorial revenue, becomes security to the Company for the
Nabob's arrear.

All this intermediate usury thus becomes sanctified by the ultimate view
to the Company's payment. In this case, would not a plain man ask this
plain question of the Company: If you know that the Nabob must annually
mortgage his territories to your servants to pay his annual arrear to
you, why is not the assignment or mortgage made directly to the Company
itself? By this simple, obvious operation, the Company would be relieved
and the debt paid, without the charge of a shilling interest to that
prince. But if that course should be thought too indulgent, why do they
not take that assignment with such interest to themselves as they pay to
others, that is, eight per cent? Or if it were thought more advisable
(why it should I know not) that he must borrow, why do not the Company
lend their own credit to the Nabob for their own payment? That credit
would not be weakened by the collateral security of his territorial
mortgage. The money might still be had at eight per cent. Instead of any
of these honest and obvious methods, the Company has for years kept up a
show of disinterestedness and moderation, by suffering a debt to
accumulate to them from the country powers without any interest at all;
and at the same time have seen before their eyes, on a pretext of
borrowing to pay that debt, the revenues of the country charged with an
usury of twenty, twenty-four, thirty-six, and even eight-and-forty per
cent, with compound interest,[48] for the benefit of their servants. All
this time they know that by having a debt subsisting without any
interest, which is to be paid by contracting a debt on the highest
interest, they manifestly render it necessary to the Nabob of Arcot to
give the private demand a preference to the public; and, by binding him
and their servants together in a common cause, they enable him to form a
party to the utter ruin of their own authority and their own affairs.
Thus their false moderation, and their affected purity, by the natural
operation of everything false and everything affected, becomes pander
and bawd to the unbridled debauchery and licentious lewdness of usury
and extortion.

In consequence of this double game, all the territorial revenues have at
one time or other been covered by those locusts, the English soucars.
Not one single foot of the Carnatic has escaped them: a territory as
large as England. During these operations what a scene has that country
presented![49] The usurious European assignee supersedes the Nabob's
native farmer of the revenue; the farmer flies to the Nabob's presence
to claim his bargain; whilst his servants murmur for wages, and his
soldiers mutiny for pay. The mortgage to the European assignee is then
resumed, and the native farmer replaced,--replaced, again to be removed
on the new clamor of the European assignee.[50] Every man of rank and
landed fortune being long since extinguished, the remaining miserable
last cultivator, who grows to the soil, after having his back scored by
the farmer, has it again flayed by the whip of the assignee, and is
thus, by a ravenous, because a short-lived succession of claimants,
lashed from oppressor to oppressor, whilst a single drop of blood is
left as the means of extorting a single grain of corn. Do not think I
paint. Far, very far, from it: I do not reach the fact, nor approach to
it. Men of respectable condition, men equal to your substantial English
yeomen, are daily tied up and scourged to answer the multiplied demands
of various contending and contradictory titles, all issuing from one and
the same source. Tyrannous exaction brings on servile concealment; and
that again calls forth tyrannous coercion. They move in a circle,
mutually producing and produced; till at length nothing of humanity is
left in the government, no trace of integrity, spirit, or manliness in
the people, who drag out a precarious and degraded existence under this
system of outrage upon human nature. Such is the effect of the
establishment of a debt to the Company, as it has hitherto been managed,
and as it ever will remain, until ideas are adopted totally different
from those which prevail at this time.

Your worthy ministers, supporting what they are obliged to condemn, have
thought fit to renew the Company's old order against contracting private
debts in future. They begin by rewarding the violation of the ancient
law; and then they gravely reenact provisions, of which they have given
bounties for the breach. This inconsistency has been well exposed.[51]
But what will you say to their having gone the length of giving positive
directions for contracting the debt which they positively forbid?

I will explain myself. They order the Nabob, out of the revenues of the
Carnatic, to allot four hundred and eighty thousand pounds a year, as a
fund for the debts before us. For the punctual payment of this annuity,
they order him to give soucar security.[52] When a soucar, that is, a
money-dealer, becomes security for any native prince, the course is for
the native prince to counter-secure the money-dealer, by making over to
him in mortgage a portion of his territory equal to the sum annually to
be paid, with an interest of at least twenty-four per cent. The point
fit for the House to know is, who are these soucars to whom this
security on the revenues in favor of the Nabob's creditors is to be
given? The majority of the House, unaccustomed to these transactions,
will hear with astonishment that these soucars are no other than the
creditors themselves. The minister, not content with authorizing these
transactions in a manner and to an extent unhoped for by the rapacious
expectations of usury itself, loads the broken back of the Indian
revenues, in favor of his worthy friends, the soucars, with an
additional twenty-four per cent for being security to themselves for
their own claims, for condescending to take the country in mortgage to
pay to themselves the fruits of their own extortions.

The interest to be paid for this security, according to the most
moderate strain of soucar demand, comes to 118,000_l._ a year, which,
added to the 480,000_l._ on which it is to accrue, will make the whole
charge amount to 598,000_l._ a year,--as much as even a long peace will
enable those revenues to produce. Can any one reflect for a moment on
all those claims of debt, which the minister exhausts himself in
contrivances to augment with new usuries, without lifting up his hands
and eyes in astonishment at the impudence both of the claim and of the
adjudication? Services of some kind or other these servants of the
Company must have done, so great and eminent that the Chancellor of the
Exchequer cannot think that all they have brought home is half enough.
He hallooes after them, "Gentlemen, you have forgot a large packet
behind you, in your hurry; you have not sufficiently recovered
yourselves; you ought to have, and you shall have, interest upon
interest upon a prohibited debt that is made up of interest upon
interest. Even this is too little. I have thought of another character
for you, by which you may add something to your gains: you shall be
security to yourselves; and hence will arise a new usury, which shall
efface the memory of all the usuries suggested to you by your own dull

I have done with the arrangement relative to the Carnatic. After this it
is to little purpose to observe on what the ministers have done to
Tanjore. Your ministers have not observed even form and ceremony in
their outrageous and insulting robbery of that country, whose only crime
has been its early and constant adherence to the power of this, and the
suffering of an uniform pillage in consequence of it. The debt of the
Company from the Rajah of Tanjore is just of the same stuff with that of
the Nabob of Arcot.

The subsidy from Tanjore, on the arrear of which this pretended debt (if
any there be) has accrued to the Company, is not, like that paid by the
Nabob of Arcot, a compensation for vast countries obtained, augmented,
and preserved for him; not the price of pillaged treasuries, ransacked
houses, and plundered territories: it is a large grant, from a small
kingdom not obtained by our arms; robbed, not protected, by our power; a
grant for which no equivalent was ever given, or pretended to be given.
The right honorable gentleman, however, bears witness in his reports to
the punctuality of the payments of this grant of bounty, or, if you
please, of fear. It amounts to one hundred and sixty thousand pounds
sterling net annual subsidy. He bears witness to a further grant of a
town and port, with an annexed district of thirty thousand pound a year,
surrendered to the Company since the first donation. He has not borne
witness, but the fact is, (he will not deny it,) that in the midst of
war, and during the ruin and desolation of a considerable part of his
territories, this prince made many very large payments. Notwithstanding
these merits and services, the first regulation of ministry is to force
from him a territory of an extent which they have not yet thought proper
to ascertain,[53] for a military peace establishment the particulars of
which they have not yet been pleased to settle.

The next part of their arrangement is with regard to war. As confessedly
this prince had no share in stirring up any of the former wars, so all
future wars are completely out of his power; for he has no troops
whatever, and is under a stipulation not so much as to correspond with
any foreign state, except through the Company. Yet, in case the
Company's servants should be again involved in war, or should think
proper again to provoke any enemy, as in times past they have wantonly
provoked all India, he is to be subjected to a new penalty. To what
penalty? Why, to no less than the confiscation of all his revenues. But
this is to end with the war, and they are to be faithfully returned? Oh,
no! nothing like it. The country is to remain under confiscation until
all the debt which the Company shall think fit to incur in such war
shall be discharged: that is to say, forever. His sole comfort is, to
find his old enemy, the Nabob of Arcot, placed in the very same

The revenues of that miserable country were, before the invasion of
Hyder, reduced to a _gross_ annual receipt of three hundred and sixty
thousand pound.[54] From this receipt the subsidy I have just stated is
taken. This again, by payments in advance, by extorting deposits of
additional sums to a vast amount for the benefit of their soucars, and
by an endless variety of other extortions, public and private, is loaded
with a debt, the amount of which I never could ascertain, but which is
large undoubtedly, generating an usury the most completely ruinous that
probably was ever heard of: _that is, forty-eight per cent, payable
monthly, with compound interest_.[55]

Such is the state to which the Company's servants have reduced that
country. Now come the reformers, restorers, and comforters of India.
What have they done? In addition to all these tyrannous exactions, with
all these ruinous debts in their train, looking to one side of an
agreement whilst they wilfully shut their eyes to the other, they
withdraw from Tanjore all the benefits of the treaty of 1762, and they
subject that nation to a perpetual tribute of forty thousand a year to
the Nabob of Arcot: a tribute never due, or pretended to be due, to
_him_, even when he appeared to be something; a tribute, as things now
stand, not to a real potentate, but to a shadow, a dream, an incubus of
oppression. After the Company has accepted in subsidy, in grant of
territory, in remission of rent, as a compensation for their own
protection, at least two hundred thousand pound a year, without
discounting a shilling for that receipt, the ministers condemn this
harassed nation to be tributary to a person who is himself, by their own
arrangement, deprived of the right of war or peace, deprived of the
power of the sword, forbid to keep up a single regiment of soldiers, and
is therefore wholly disabled from all protection of the country which is
the object of the pretended tribute. Tribute hangs on the sword. It is
an incident inseparable from real, sovereign power. In the present case,
to suppose its existence is as absurd as it is cruel and oppressive. And
here, Mr. Speaker, you have a clear exemplification of the use of those
false names and false colors which the gentlemen who have lately taken
possession of India choose to lay on for the purpose of disguising their
plan of oppression. The Nabob of Arcot and Rajah of Tanjore have, in
truth and substance, no more than a merely civil authority, held in the
most entire dependence on the Company. The Nabob, without military,
without federal capacity, is extinguished as a potentate; but then he is
carefully kept alive as an independent and sovereign power, for the
purpose of rapine and extortion,--for the purpose of perpetuating the
old intrigues, animosities, usuries, and corruptions.

It was not enough that this mockery of tribute was to be continued
without the correspondent protection, or any of the stipulated
equivalents, but ten years of arrear, to the amount of 400,000_l._
sterling, is added to all the debts to the Company and to individuals,
in order to create a new debt, to be paid (if at all possible to be paid
in whole or in part) only by new usuries,--and all this for the Nabob of
Arcot, or rather for Mr. Benfield and the corps of the Nabob's creditors
and their soucars. Thus these miserable Indian princes are continued in
their seats for no other purpose than to render them, in the first
instance, objects of every species of extortion, and, in the second, to
force them to become, for the sake of a momentary shadow of reduced
authority, a sort of subordinate tyrants, the ruin and calamity, not the
fathers and cherishers, of their people.

But take this tribute only as a mere charge (without title, cause, or
equivalent) on this people; what one step has been taken to furnish
grounds for a just calculation and estimate of the proportion of the
burden and the ability? None,--not an attempt at it. They do not adapt
the burden to the strength, but they estimate the strength of the
bearers by the burden they impose. Then what care is taken to leave a
fund sufficient to the future reproduction of the revenues that are to
bear all these loads? Every one, but tolerably conversant in Indian
affairs, must know that the existence of this little kingdom depends on
its control over the river Cavery. The benefits of Heaven to any
community ought never to be connected with political arrangements, or
made to depend on the personal conduct of princes, in which the mistake,
or error, or neglect, or distress, or passion of a moment, on either
side, may bring famine on millions, and ruin an innocent nation perhaps
for ages. The means of the subsistence of mankind should be as immutable
as the laws of Nature, let power and dominion take what course they
may.--Observe what has been done with regard to this important concern.
The use of this river is, indeed, at length given to the Rajah, and a
power provided for its enjoyment _at his own charge_; but the means of
furnishing that charge (and a mighty one it is) are wholly out off. This
use of the water, which ought to have no more connection than clouds and
rains and sunshine with the politics of the Rajah, the Nabob, or the
Company, is expressly contrived as a means of enforcing demands and
arrears of tribute. This horrid and unnatural instrument of extortion
had been a distinguishing feature in the enormities of the Carnatic
politics, that loudly called for reformation. But the food of a whole
people is by the reformers of India conditioned on payments from its
prince, at a moment that he is overpowered with a swarm of their
demands, without regard to the ability of either prince or people. In
fine, by opening an avenue to the irruption of the Nabob of Arcot's
creditors and soucars, whom every man, who did not fall in love with
oppression and corruption on an experience of the calamities they
produced, would have raised wall before wall and mound before mound to
keep from a possibility of entrance, a more destructive enemy than Hyder
Ali is introduced into that kingdom. By this part of their arrangement,
in which they establish a debt to the Nabob of Arcot, in effect and
substance, they deliver over Tanjore, bound hand and foot, to Paul
Benfield, the old betrayer, insulter, oppressor, and scourge of a
country which has for years been an object of an unremitted, but,
unhappily, an unequal struggle, between the bounties of Providence to
renovate and the wickedness of mankind to destroy.

The right honorable gentleman[56] talks of his fairness in determining
the territorial dispute between the Nabob of Arcot and the prince of
that country, when he superseded the determination of the Directors, in
whom the law had vested the decision of that controversy. He is in this
just as feeble as he is in every other part. But it is not necessary to
say a word in refutation of any part of his argument. The mode of the
proceeding sufficiently speaks the spirit of it. It is enough to fix his
character as a judge, that he _never heard the Directors in defence of
their adjudication, nor either of the parties in support of their
respective claims_. It is sufficient for me that he takes from the Rajah
of Tanjore by this pretended adjudication, or rather from his unhappy
subjects, 40,000_l._ a year of his and their revenue, and leaves upon
his and their shoulders all the charges that can be made on the part of
the Nabob, on the part of his creditors, and on the part of the Company,
without so much as hearing him as to right or to ability. But what
principally induces me to leave the affair of the territorial dispute
between the Nabob and the Rajah to another day is this,--that, both the
parties being stripped of their all, it little signifies under which of
their names the unhappy, undone people are delivered over to the
merciless soucars, the allies of that right honorable gentleman and the
Chancellor of the Exchequer. In them ends the account of this long
dispute of the Nabob of Arcot and the Rajah of Tanjore.

The right honorable gentleman is of opinion that his judgment in this
case can be censured by none but those who seem to act as if they were
paid agents to one of the parties. What does he think of his Court of
Directors? If they are paid by either of the parties, by which of them
does he think they are paid? He knows that their decision has been
directly contrary to his. Shall I believe that it does not enter into
his heart to conceive that any person can steadily and actively interest
himself in the protection of the injured and oppressed without being
well paid for his service? I have taken notice of this sort of discourse
some days ago, so far as it may be supposed to relate to me. I then
contented myself, as I shall now do, with giving it a cold, though a
very direct contradiction. Thus much I do from respect to truth. If I
did more, it might be supposed, by my anxiety to clear myself, that I
had imbibed the ideas which, for obvious reasons, the right honorable
gentleman wishes to have received concerning all attempts to plead the
cause of the natives of India, as if it were a disreputable employment.
If he had not forgot, in his present occupation, every principle which
ought to have guided him, and I hope did guide him, in his late
profession, he would have known that he who takes a fee for pleading the
cause of distress against power, and manfully performs the duty he has
assumed, receives an honorable recompense for a virtuous service. But if
the right honorable gentleman will have no regard to fact in his
insinuations or to reason in his opinions, I wish him at least to
consider, that, if taking an earnest part with regard to the oppressions
exercised in India, and with regard to this most oppressive case of
Tanjore in particular, can ground a presumption of interested motives,
he is himself the most mercenary man I know. His conduct, indeed, is
such that he is on all occasions the standing testimony against himself.
He it was that first called to that case the attention of the House; the
reports of his own committee are ample and affecting upon that
subject;[57] and as many of us as have escaped his massacre must
remember the very pathetic picture he made of the sufferings of the
Tanjore country, on the day when he moved the unwieldy code of his
Indian resolutions. Has he not stated over and over again, in his
reports, the ill treatment of the Rajah of Tanjore (a branch of the
royal house of the Mahrattas, every injury to whom the Mahrattas felt as
offered to themselves) as a main cause of the alienation of that people
from the British power? And does he now think that to betray his
principles, to contradict his declarations, and to become himself an
active instrument in those oppressions which he had so tragically
lamented, is the way to clear himself of having been actuated by a
pecuniary interest at the time when he chose to appear full of
tenderness to that ruined nation?

The right honorable gentleman is fond of parading on the motives of
others, and on his own. As to himself, he despises the imputations of
those who suppose that anything corrupt could influence him in this his
unexampled liberality of the public treasure. I do not know that I am
obliged to speak to the motives of ministry, in the arrangements they
have made of the pretended debts of Arcot and Tanjore. If I prove fraud
and collusion with regard to public money on those right honorable
gentlemen, I am not obliged to assign their motives; because no good
motives can be pleaded in favor of their conduct. Upon that case I
stand; we are at issue; and I desire to go to trial. This, I am sure, is
not loose railing, or mean insinuation, according to their low and
degenerate fashion, when they make attacks on the measures of their
adversaries. It is a regular and juridical course; and unless I choose
it, nothing can compel me to go further.

But since these unhappy gentlemen have dared to hold a lofty tone about
their motives, and affect to despise suspicion, instead of being careful
not to give cause for it, I shall beg leave to lay before you some
general observations on what I conceive was their duty in so delicate a

If I were worthy to suggest any line of prudence to that right honorable
gentleman, I would tell him that the way to avoid suspicion in the
settlement of pecuniary transactions, in which great frauds have been
very strongly presumed, is, to attend to these few plain
principles:--First, to hear all parties equally, and not the managers
for the suspected claimants only; not to proceed in the dark, but to act
with as much publicity as possible; not to precipitate decision; to be
religious in following the rules prescribed in the commission under
which we act; and, lastly, and above all, not to be fond of straining
constructions, to force a jurisdiction, and to draw to ourselves the
management of a trust in its nature invidious and obnoxious to
suspicion, where the plainest letter of the law does not compel it. If
these few plain rules are observed, no corruption ought to be suspected;
if any of them are violated, suspicion will attach in proportion; if all
of them are violated, a corrupt motive of some kind or other will not
only be suspected, but must be violently presumed.

The persons in whose favor all these rules have been violated, and the
conduct of ministers towards them, will naturally call for your
consideration, and will serve to lead you through a series and
combination of facts and characters, if I do not mistake, into the very
inmost recesses of this mysterious business. You will then be in
possession of all the materials on which the principles of sound
jurisprudence will found, or will reject, the presumption of corrupt
motives, or, if such motives are indicated, will point out to you of
what particular nature the corruption is.

Our wonderful minister, as you all know, formed a new plan, a plan
_insigne, recens, indictum ore alio_, a plan for supporting the freedom
of our Constitution by court intrigues, and for removing its corruptions
by Indian delinquency. To carry that bold, paradoxical design into
execution, sufficient funds and apt instruments became necessary. You
are perfectly sensible that a Parliamentary reform occupies his
thoughts day and night, as an essential member in this extraordinary
project. In his anxious researches upon this subject, natural instinct,
as well as sound policy, would direct his eyes and settle his choice on
Paul Benfield. Paul Benfield is the grand Parliamentary reformer, the
reformer to whom the whole choir of reformers bow, and to whom even the
right honorable gentleman himself must yield the palm: for what region
in the empire, what city, what borough, what county, what tribunal in
this kingdom is not full of his labors? Others have been only
speculators; he is the grand practical reformer; and whilst the
Chancellor of the Exchequer pledges in vain the man and the minister, to
increase the provincial members, Mr. Benfield has auspiciously and
practically begun it. Leaving far behind him even Lord Camelford's
generous design of bestowing Old Sarum on the Bank of England, Mr.
Benfield has thrown in the borough of Cricklade to reinforce the county
representation. Not content with this, in order to station a steady
phalanx for all future reforms, this public-spirited usurer, amidst his
charitable toils for the relief of India, did not forget the poor,
rotten Constitution of his native country. For her, he did not disdain
to stoop to the trade of a wholesale upholsterer for this House,--to
furnish it, not with the faded tapestry figures of antiquated merit,
such as decorate, and may reproach, some other houses, but with real,
solid, living patterns of true modern virtue. Paul Benfield made
(reckoning himself) no fewer than eight members in the last Parliament.
What copious streams of pure blood must he not have transfused into the
veins of the present!

But what is even more striking than the real services of this
new-imported patriot is his modesty. As soon as he had conferred this
benefit on the Constitution, he withdrew himself from our applause. He
conceived that the duties of a member of Parliament (which with the
elect faithful, the true believers, the _Islam_ of Parliamentary reform,
are of little or no merit, perhaps not much better than specious sins)
might he as well attended to in India as in England, and the means of
reformation to Parliament itself be far better provided. Mr. Benfield
was therefore no sooner elected than he set off for Madras, and
defrauded the longing eyes of Parliament. We have never enjoyed in this
House the luxury of beholding that minion of the human race, and
contemplating that visage which has so long reflected the happiness of

It was therefore not possible for the minister to consult personally
with this great man. What, then, was he to do? Through a sagacity that
never failed him in these pursuits, he found out, in Mr. Benfield's
representative, his exact resemblance. A specific attraction, by which
he gravitates towards all such characters, soon brought our minister
into a close connection with Mr. Benfield's agent and attorney, that is,
with the grand contractor, (whom I name to honor,) Mr. Richard
Atkinson,--a name that will be well remembered as long as the records of
this House, as long as the records of the British Treasury, as long as
the monumental debt of England, shall endure.

This gentleman, Sir, acts as attorney for Mr. Paul Benfield. Every one
who hears me is well acquainted with the sacred friendship and the
steady mutual attachment that subsists between him and the present
minister. As many members as chose to attend in the first session of
this Parliament can best tell their own feelings at the scenes which
were then acted. How much that honorable gentleman was consulted in the
original frame and fabric of the bill, commonly called Mr. Pitt's India
Bill, is matter only of conjecture, though by no means difficult to
divine. But the public was an indignant witness of the ostentation with
which the measure was made his own, and the authority with which he
brought up clause after clause, to stuff and fatten the rankness of that
corrupt act. As fast as the clauses were brought up to the table, they
were accepted. No hesitation, no discussion. They were received by the
new minister, not with approbation, but with implicit submission. The
reformation may be estimated by seeing who was the reformer. Paul
Benfield's associate and agent was held up to the world as legislator of
Hindostan. But it was necessary to authenticate the coalition between
the men of intrigue in India and the minister of intrigue in England by
a studied display of the power of this their connecting link. Every
trust, every honor, every distinction, was to be heaped upon him. He was
at once made a Director of the India Company, made an alderman of
London, and to be made, if ministry could prevail, (and I am sorry to
say how near, how very near, they were prevailing,) representative of
the capital of this kingdom. But to secure his services against all
risk, he was brought in for a ministerial borough. On his part, he was
not wanting in zeal for the common cause. His advertisements show his
motives, and the merits upon which he stood. For your minister, this
worn-out veteran submitted to enter into the dusty field of the London
contest; and you all remember that in the same virtuous cause he
submitted to keep a sort of public office or counting-house, where the
whole business of the last general election was managed. It was openly
managed by the direct agent and attorney of Benfield. It was managed
upon Indian principles and for an Indian interest. This was the golden
cup of abominations,--this the chalice of the fornications of rapine,
usury, and oppression, which was held out by the gorgeous Eastern
harlot,--which so many of the people, so many of the nobles of this land
had drained to the very dregs. Do you think that no reckoning was to
follow this lewd debauch? that no payment was to be demanded for this
riot of public drunkenness and national prostitution? Here, you have it
here before you! The principal of the grand election-manager must be
indemnified; accordingly, the claims of Benfield and his crew must be
put above all inquiry.

For several years Benfield appeared as the chief proprietor, as well as
the chief agent, director, and controller of this system of debt. The
worthy chairman of the Company has stated the claims of this single
gentleman on the Nabob of Arcot as amounting to five hundred thousand
pound.[58] Possibly at the time of the chairman's state they might have
been as high. Eight hundred thousand pound had been mentioned some time
before;[59] and, according to the practice of shifting the names of
creditors in these transactions, and reducing or raising the debt itself
at pleasure, I think it not impossible that at one period the name of
Benfield might have stood before those frightful figures. But my best
information goes to fix his share no higher than four hundred thousand
pounds. By the scheme of the present ministry for adding to the
principal twelve per cent from the year 1777 to the year 1781, four
hundred thousand pounds, that smallest of the sums ever mentioned for
Mr. Benfield, will form a capital of 592,000_l._ at six per cent. Thus,
besides the arrears of three years, amounting to 106,500_l._, (which, as
fast as received, may be legally lent out at twelve per cent,) Benfield
has received, by the ministerial grant before you, an annuity of
35,520_l._ a year, charged on the public revenues.

Our mirror of ministers of finance did not think this enough for the
services of such a friend as Benfield. He found that Lord Macartney, in
order to frighten the Court of Directors from the project of obliging
the Nabob to give soucar security for his debt, assured them, that, if
they should take that step, Benfield[60] would infallibly be the soucar,
and would thereby become the entire master of the Carnatic. What Lord
Macartney thought sufficient to deter the very agents and partakers with
Benfield in his iniquities was the inducement to the two right honorable
gentlemen to order this very soucar security to be given, and to recall
Benfield to the city of Madras from the sort of decent exile into which
he had been relegated by Lord Macartney. You must therefore consider
Benfield as soucar security for 480,000_l._ a year, which, at
twenty-four per cent, (supposing him contented with that profit,) will,
with the interest of his old debt, produce an annual income of
149,520_l._ a year.

Here is a specimen of the new and pure aristocracy created by the right
honorable gentleman,[61] as the support of the crown and Constitution
against the old, corrupt, refractory, natural interests of this kingdom;
and this is the grand counterpoise against all odious coalitions of
these interests. A single Benfield outweighs them all: a criminal, who
long since ought to have fattened the region kites with his offal, is by
his Majesty's ministers enthroned in the government of a great kingdom,
and enfeoffed with an estate which in the comparison effaces the
splendor of all the nobility of Europe. To bring a little more
distinctly into view the true secret of this dark transaction, I beg you
particularly to advert to the circumstances which I am going to place
before you.

The general corps of creditors, as well as Mr. Benfield himself, not
looking well into futurity, nor presaging the minister of this day,
thought it not expedient for their common interest that such a name as
his should stand at the head of their list. It was therefore agreed
amongst them that Mr. Benfield should disappear, by making over his debt
to Messrs. Taylor, Majendie, and Call, and should in return be secured
by their bond.

The debt thus exonerated of so great a weight of its odium, and
otherwise reduced from its alarming bulk, the agents thought they might
venture to print a list of the creditors. This was done for the first
time in the year 1783, during the Duke of Portland's administration. In
this list the name of Benfield was not to be seen. To this strong
negative testimony was added the further testimony of the Nabob of
Arcot. That prince[62] (or rather Mr. Benfield for him) writes to the
Court of Directors a letter[63] full of complaints and accusations
against Lord Macartney, conveyed in such terms as were natural for one
of Mr. Benfield's habits and education to employ. Amongst the rest he is
made to complain of his Lordship's endeavoring to prevent an intercourse
of politeness and sentiment between him and Mr. Benfield; and to
aggravate the affront, he expressly declares Mr. Benfield's visits to be
only on account of respect and of gratitude, as no pecuniary transaction
subsisted between them.

Such, for a considerable space of time, was the outward form of the loan
of 1777, in which Mr. Benfield had no sort of concern. At length
intelligence arrived at Madras, that this debt, which had always been
renounced by the Court of Directors, was rather like to become the
subject of something more like a criminal inquiry than of any patronage
or sanction from Parliament. Every ship brought accounts, one stronger
than the other, of the prevalence of the determined enemies of the
Indian system. The public revenues became an object desperate to the
hopes of Mr. Benfield; he therefore resolved to fall upon his
associates, and, in violation of that faith which subsists among those
who have abandoned all other, commences a suit in the Mayor's Court
against Taylor, Majendie, and Call, for the bond given to him, when he
agreed to disappear for his own benefit as well as that of the common
concern. The assignees of his debt, who little expected the springing of
this mine, even from such an engineer as Mr. Benfield, after recovering
their first alarm, thought it best to take ground on the real state of
the transaction. They divulged the whole mystery, and were prepared to
plead that they had never received from Mr. Benfield any other
consideration for the bond than a transfer, in trust for himself, of his
demand on the Nabob of Arcot. An universal indignation arose against the
perfidy of Mr. Benfield's proceeding; the event of the suit was looked
upon as so certain, that Benfield was compelled to retreat as
precipitately as he had advanced boldly; he gave up his bond, and was
reinstated in his original demand, to wait the fortune of other
claimants. At that time, and at Madras, this hope was dull indeed; but
at home another scene was preparing.

It was long before any public account of this discovery at Madras had
arrived in England, that the present minister and his Board of Control
thought fit to determine on the debt of 1777. The recorded proceedings
at this time knew nothing of any debt to Benfield. There was his own
testimony, there was the testimony of the list, there was the testimony
of the Nabob of Arcot, against it. Yet such was the ministers' feeling
of the true secret of this transaction, that they thought proper, in the
teeth of all these testimonies, to give him license to return to Madras.
Here the ministers were under some embarrassment. Confounded between
their resolution of rewarding the good services of Benfield's friends
and associates in England, and the shame of sending that notorious
incendiary to the court of the Nabob of Arcot, to renew his intrigues
against the British government, at the time they authorize his return,
they forbid him, under the severest penalties, from any conversation
with the Nabob or his ministers: that is, they forbid his communication
with the very person on account of his dealings with whom they permit
his return to that city. To overtop this contradiction, there is not a
word restraining him from the freest intercourse with the Nabob's second
son, the real author of all that is done in the Nabob's name; who, in
conjunction with this very Benfield, has acquired an absolute dominion
over that unhappy man, is able to persuade him to put his signature to
whatever paper they please, and often without any communication of the
contents. This management was detailed to them at full length by Lord
Macartney, and they cannot pretend ignorance of it.[64]

I believe, after this exposure of facts, no man can entertain a doubt of
the collusion of ministers with the corrupt interest of the delinquents
in India. Whenever those in authority provide for the interest of any
person, on the real, but concealed state of his affairs, without regard
to his avowed, public, and ostensible pretences, it must be presumed
that they are in confederacy with him, because they act for him on the
same fraudulent principles on which he acts for himself. It is plain
that the ministers were fully apprised of Benfield's real situation,
which he had used means to conceal, whilst concealment answered his
purposes. They were, or the person on whom they relied was, of the
cabinet council of Benfield, in the very depth of all his mysteries. An
honest magistrate compels men to abide by one story. An equitable judge
would not hear of the claim of a man who had himself thought proper to
renounce it. With such a judge his shuffling and prevarication would
have damned his claims; such a judge never would have known, but in
order to animadvert upon, proceedings of that character.

I have thus laid before you, Mr. Speaker, I think with sufficient
clearness, the connection of the ministers with Mr. Atkinson at the
general election; I have laid open to you the connection of Atkinson
with Benfield; I have shown Benfield's employment of his wealth in
creating a Parliamentary interest to procure a ministerial protection; I
have set before your eyes his large concern in the debt, his practices
to hide that concern from the public eye, and the liberal protection
which he has received from the minister. If this chain of circumstances
does not lead you necessarily to conclude that the minister has paid to
the avarice of Benfield the services done by Benfield's connections to
his ambition, I do not know anything short of the confession of the
party that can persuade you of his guilt. Clandestine and collusive
practice can only be traced by combination and comparison of
circumstances. To reject such combination and comparison is to reject
the only means of detecting fraud; it is, indeed, to give it a patent
and free license to cheat with impunity.

I confine myself to the connection of ministers, mediately or
immediately, with only two persons concerned in this debt. How many
others, who support their power and greatness within and without doors,
are concerned originally, or by transfers of these debts, must be left
to general opinion. I refer to the reports of the Select Committee for
the proceedings of some of the agents in these affairs, and their
attempts, at least, to furnish ministers with the means of buying
General Courts, and even whole Parliaments, in the gross.[65]

I know that the ministers will think it little less than acquittal, that
they are not charged with having taken to themselves some part of the
money of which they have made so liberal a donation to their partisans,
though the charge may be indisputably fixed upon the corruption of their
politics. For my part, I follow their crimes to that point to which
legal presumptions and natural indications lead me, without considering
what species of evil motive tends most to aggravate or to extenuate the
guilt of their conduct. But if I am to speak my private sentiments, I
think that in a thousand cases for one it would be far less mischievous
to the public, and full as little dishonorable to themselves, to be
polluted with direct bribery, than thus to become a standing auxiliary
to the oppression, usury, and peculation of multitudes, in order to
obtain a corrupt support to their power. It is by bribing, not so often
by being bribed, that wicked politicians bring rum on mankind. Avarice
is a rival to the pursuits of many. It finds a multitude of checks, and
many opposers, in every walk of life. But the objects of ambition are
for the few; and every person who aims at indirect profit, and therefore
wants other protection than innocence and law, instead of its rival,
becomes its instrument. There is a natural allegiance and fealty due to
this domineering, paramount evil, from all the vassal vices, which
acknowledge its superiority, and readily militate under its banners; and
it is under that discipline alone that avarice is able to spread to any
considerable extent, or to render itself a general, public mischief. It
is therefore no apology for ministers, that they have not been bought by
the East India delinquents, but that they have only formed an alliance
with them for screening each other from justice, according to the
exigence of their several necessities. That they have done so is
evident; and the junction of the power of office in England with the
abuse of authority in the East has not only prevented even the
appearance of redress to the grievances of India, but I wish it may not
be found to have dulled, if not extinguished, the honor, the candor, the
generosity, the good-nature, which used formerly to characterize the
people of England. I confess, I wish that some more feeling than I have
yet observed for the sufferings of our fellow-creatures and
fellow-subjects in that oppressed part of the world had manifested
itself in any one quarter of the kingdom, or in any one large
description of men.

That these oppressions exist is a fact no more denied than it is
resented as it ought to be. Much evil has been done in India under the
British authority. What has been done to redress it? We are no longer
surprised at anything. We are above the unlearned and vulgar passion of
admiration. But it will astonish posterity, when they read our opinions
in our actions, that, after years of inquiry, we have found out that the
sole grievance of India consisted in this, that the servants of the
Company there had not profited enough of their opportunities, nor
drained it sufficiently of its treasures,--when they shall hear that the
very first and only important act of a commission specially named by act
of Parliament is, to charge upon an undone country, in favor of a
handful of men in the humblest ranks of the public service, the enormous
sum of perhaps four millions of sterling money.

It is difficult for the most wise and upright government to correct the
abuses of remote, delegated power, productive of unmeasured wealth, and
protected by the boldness and strength of the same ill-got riches. These
abuses, full of their own wild native vigor, will grow and flourish
under mere neglect. But where the supreme authority, not content with
winking at the rapacity of its inferior instruments, is so shameless and
corrupt as openly to give bounties and premiums for disobedience to its
laws,--when it will not trust to the activity of avarice in the pursuit
of its own gains,--when it secures public robbery by all the careful
jealousy and attention with which it ought to protect property from such
violence,--the commonwealth then is become totally perverted from its
purposes; neither God nor man will long endure it; nor will it long
endure itself. In that case, there is an unnatural infection, a
pestilential taint, fermenting in the constitution of society, which
fever and convulsions of some kind or other must throw off, or in which
the vital powers, worsted in an unequal struggle, are pushed back upon
themselves, and, by a reversal of their whole functions, fester to
gangrene, to death,--and instead of what was but just now the delight
and boast of the creation, there will be cast out in the face of the sun
a bloated, putrid, noisome carcass, full of stench and poison, an
offence, a horror, a lesson to the world.

In my opinion, we ought not to wait for the fruitless instruction of
calamity to inquire into the abuses which bring upon us ruin in the
worst of its forms, in the loss of our fame and virtue. But the right
honorable gentleman[66] says, in answer to all the powerful arguments of
my honorable friend, "that this inquiry is of a delicate nature, and
that the state will suffer detriment by the exposure of this
transaction." But it is exposed; it is perfectly known in every member,
in every particle, and in every way, except that which may lead to a
remedy. He knows that the papers of correspondence are printed, and that
they are in every hand.

He and delicacy are a rare and a singular coalition. He thinks that to
divulge our Indian politics may be highly dangerous. He! the mover, the
chairman, the reporter of the Committee of Secrecy! he, that brought
forth in the utmost detail, in several vast, printed folios, the most
recondite parts of the politics, the military, the revenues of the
British empire in India! With six great chopping bastards,[67] each as
lusty as an infant Hercules, this delicate creature blushes at the sight
of his new bridegroom, assumes a virgin delicacy; or, to use a more fit,
as well as a more poetic comparison, the person so squeamish, so timid,
so trembling lest the winds of heaven should visit too roughly, is
expanded to broad sunshine, exposed like the sow of imperial augury,
lying in the mud with all the prodigies of her fertility about her, as
evidence of her delicate amours,--

    Triginta capitum foetus enixa jacebat,
    Alba, solo recubans, albi circum ubera nati.

Whilst discovery of the misgovernment of others led to his own power, it
was wise to inquire, it was safe to publish: there was then no
delicacy; there was then no danger. But when his object is obtained, and
in his imitation he has outdone the crimes that he had reprobated in
volumes of reports and in sheets of bills of pains and penalties, then
concealment becomes prudence, and it concerns the safety of the state
that we should not know, in a mode of Parliamentary cognizance, what all
the world knows but too well, that is, in what manner he chooses to
dispose of the public revenues to the creatures of his politics.

The debate has been long, and as much so on my part, at least, as on the
part of those who have spoken before me. But long as it is, the more
material half of the subject has hardly been touched on: that is, the
corrupt and destructive system to which this debt has been rendered
subservient, and which seems to be pursued with at least as much vigor
and regularity as ever. If I considered your ease or my own, rather than
the weight and importance of this question, I ought to make some apology
to you, perhaps some apology to myself, for having detained your
attention so long. I know on what ground I tread. This subject, at one
time taken up with so much fervor and zeal, is no longer a favorite in
this House. The House itself has undergone a great and signal
revolution. To some the subject is strange and uncouth; to several,
harsh and distasteful; to the relics of the last Parliament it is a
matter of fear and apprehension. It is natural for those who have seen
their friends sink in the tornado which raged during the late shift of
the monsoon, and have hardly escaped on the planks of the general wreck,
it is but too natural for them, as soon as they make the rocks and
quicksands of their former disasters, to put about their new-built
barks, and, as much as possible, to keep aloof from this perilous lee

But let us do what we please to put India from our thoughts, we can do
nothing to separate it from our public interest and our national
reputation. Our attempts to banish this importunate duty will only make
it return upon us again and again, and every time in a shape more
unpleasant than the former. A government has been fabricated for that
great province; the right honorable gentleman says that therefore you
ought not to examine into its conduct. Heavens! what an argument is
this! We are not to examine into the conduct of the Direction, because
it is an old government; we are not to examine into this Board of
Control, because it is a new one. Then we are only to examine into the
conduct of those who have no conduct to account for. Unfortunately, the
basis of this new government has been laid on old, condemned
delinquents, and its superstructure is raised out of prosecutors turned
into protectors. The event has been such as might be expected. But if it
had been otherwise constituted, had it been constituted even as I
wished, and as the mover of this question had planned, the better part
of the proposed establishment was in the publicity of its proceedings,
in its perpetual responsibility to Parliament. Without this check, what
is our government at home, even awed, as every European government is,
by an audience formed of the other states of Europe, by the applause or
condemnation of the discerning and critical company before which it
acts? But if the scene on the other side of the globe, which tempts,
invites, almost compels, to tyranny and rapine, be not inspected with
the eye of a severe and unremitting vigilance, shame and destruction
must ensue. For one, the worst event of this day, though it may deject,
shall not break or subdue me. The call upon us is authoritative. Let who
will shrink back, I shall be found at my post. Baffled, discountenanced,
subdued, discredited, as the cause of justice and humanity is, it will
be only the dearer to me. Whoever, therefore, shall at any time bring
before you anything towards the relief of our distressed fellow-citizens
in India, and towards a subversion of the present most corrupt and
oppressive system for its government, in me shall find a weak, I am
afraid, but a steady, earnest, and faithful assistant.


[1] Right Honorable Henry Dundas.

[2] Sir Thomas Rumbold, late Governor of Madras.

[3] Appendix, No. 1.

[4] The whole of the net Irish hereditary revenue is, on a medium of the
last seven years, about 330,000_l._ yearly. The revenues of all
denominations fall short more than 150,000_l._ yearly of the charges. On
the _present_ produce, if Mr. Pitt's scheme was to take place, he might
gain from seven to ten thousand pounds a year.

[5] Mr. Smith's Examination before the Select Committee. Appendix, No.

[6] Appendix, No. 2.

[7] Fourth Report, Mr. Dundas's Committee, p. 4.

[8] A witness examined before the Committee of Secrecy says that
eighteen per cent was the usual interest, but he had heard that more had
been given. The above is the account which Mr. B. received.

[9] Mr. Dundas.

[10] For the threats of the creditors, and total subversion of the
authority of the Company in favor of the Nabob's power and the increase
thereby of his evil dispositions, and the great derangement of all
public concerns, see Select Committee Fort St. George's letters, 21st
November, 1769, and January 31st, 1770; September 11, 1772; and Governor
Bourchier's letters to the Nabob of Arcot, 21st November, 1769, and
December 9th, 1769.

[11] "He [the Nabob] is in a great degree the cause of our present
inability, by diverting the revenues of the Carnatic through _private
channels_." "Even this peshcush [the Tanjore tribute], circumstanced as
he and we are, he has assigned over to others, _who now set themselves
in opposition to the Company_."--Consultations, October 11, 1769, on the
12th communicated to the Nabob.

[12] Nabob's letter to Governor Palk. Papers published by the Directors
in 1775; and papers printed by the same authority, 1781.

[13] See papers printed by order of a General Court in 1780, pp. 222 and
224; as also Nabob's letter to Governor Dupre, 19th July, 1771: "I have
taken up loans by which I have suffered a loss of _upwards of a crore of
pagodas_ [four millions sterling] _by interest on an heavy interest_."
Letter 15th January, 1772: "Notwithstanding I have taken much trouble,
and have made many payments to my creditors, yet the load of my debt,
_which became so great by interest and compound interest_, is not

[14] The Nabob of Arcot.

[15] Appendix, No. 3.

[16] See Mr. Dundas's 1st, 2d, and 3d Reports.

[17] See further Consultations, 3d February, 1778.

[18] Mr. Dundas's 1st Report, pp. 26, 29, and Appendix, No. 2, 10, 18,
for the mutinous state and desertion of the Nabob's troops for want of
pay. See also Report IV. of the same committee.

[19] Memorial from the creditors to the Governor and Council, 22d
January, 1770.

[20] In the year 1778, Mr. James Call, one of the proprietors of this
specific debt, was actually mayor. (Appendix to 2d Report of Mr.
Dundas's committee, No. 65.) The only proof which appeared on the
inquiry instituted in the General Court of 1781 was an affidavit of _the
lenders themselves_, deposing (what nobody ever denied) that they had
_engaged_ and _agreed_ to pay--not that they _had_ paid--the sum of
160,000_l._ This was two years after the transaction; and the affidavit
is made before George Proctor, mayor, an attorney for certain of the old
creditors.--Proceedings of the President and Council of Fort St. George,
22d February, 1779.

[21] Right Honorable Henry Dundas.

[22] Appendix to the 4th Report of Mr. Dundas's committee, No 15.

[23] "No sense of the common danger, in case of a war, can prevail on
him [the Nabob of Arcot] to furnish the Company with what is absolutely
necessary to assemble an army, though it is beyond a doubt that money to
a large amount is now hoarded up in his coffers at Chepauk; and tunkaws
are granted to _individuals_, upon some of his most _valuable
countries_, for payment of part of those debts which he has contracted,
and _which certainly will not bear inspection, as neither debtor nor
creditors have ever had the confidence to submit the accounts to our
examination_, though they expressed a wish to consolidate the debts
under the auspices of this government, agreeably to a plan they had
formed."--Madras Consultations, 20th July, 1778. Mr. Dundas's Appendix
to 2nd Report, 143. See also last Appendix to ditto Report, No. 376, B.

[24] Transcriber's note: Footnote missing in original text.

[25] Lord Pigot

[26] In Sir Thomas Rumbold's letter to the Court of Directors, March
15th, 1778, he represents it as higher, in the following manner:--"How
shall I paint to you my astonishment, on my arrival here, when I was
informed, that, independent of this four lacs of pagodas [the Cavalry
Loan], independent of the Nabob's debt to his old creditors, and the
money due to the Company, he had contracted a debt to the enormous
amount of sixty-three lacs of pagodas [2,520,000_l._]. I mention this
circumstance to you _with horror_; for the creditors being in general
_servants of the Company_ renders my task, on the part of the Company,
_difficult and invidious_." "I have freed the sanction of this
government from so _corrupt_ a transaction. It is in my mind the most
venal of all proceedings to give the Company's protection to debts that
cannot bear the light; and though it appears exceedingly alarming, that
a country on which you are to depend for resources should be so involved
as to be nearly three years' revenue in debt,--in a country, too, where
one year's revenue can never be called _secure_, by men who know
anything of the politics of this part of India." "I think it proper to
mention to you, that, although _the Nabob reports his private debt to
amount to upwards of sixty lacs_, yet I understand that it is not quite
so much." Afterwards Sir Thomas Rumbold recommended this debt to the
favorable attention of the Company, but without any sufficient reason
for his change of disposition. However, he went no further.

[27] Nabob's proposals, November 25th, 1778; and memorial of the
creditors, March 1st, 1779.

[28] Nabob's proposals to his new consolidated creditors, November 25th,

[29] Paper signed by the Nabob, 6th January, 1780.

[30] Kistbundi to July 31, 1780.

[31] Governor's letter to the Nabob, 25th July, 1779.

[32] Report of the Select Committee, Madras Consultations, January 7,
1771. See also papers published by the order of the Court of Directors
in 1776; and Lord Macartney's correspondence with Mr. Hastings and the
Nabob of Arcot. See also Mr. Dundas's Appendix, No 376, B. Nabob's
propositions through Mr. Sulivan and Assam Khan, Art. 6, and indeed the

[33] "The principal object of the expedition is, to get money from
Tanjore to pay the Nabob's debt: if a surplus, to be applied in
discharge of the Nabob's debts to his private creditors."
(Consultations, March 20, 1771; and for further lights, Consultations,
12th June, 1771.) "We are alarmed lest this debt to _individuals_ should
have been the _real_ motive for the aggrandizement of Mahomed Ali [the
Nabob of Arcot], and that _we are plunged into a war_ to put him in
possession of the Mysore revenues _for the discharge of the
debt_."--Letter from the Directors, March 17, 1769.

[34] Letter from the Nabob, May 1st, 1768; and ditto, 24th April, 1770,
1st October; ditto, 16th September, 1772, 16th March, 1773.

[35] Letter from the Presidency at Madras to the Court of Directors,
27th June, 1769.

[36] Mr. Dundas's committee. Report L, Appendix, No. 29.

[37] Appendix, No. 4, Report of the Committee of Assigned Revenue.

[38] Mr. Barnard's map of the Jaghire

[39] See Report IV., Mr. Dundas's committee, p. 46.

[40] Interest is rated in India by the month.

[41] Mr. Dundas's committee. Rep. I. p. 9, and ditto, Rep. IV. 69, where
the revenue of 1777 stated only at 22 lacs,--30 lacs stated as the
revenue, "_supposing_ the Carnatic to be _properly_ managed."

[42] See Appendix, No. 4, statement in the Report of the Committee of
Assigned Revenue.

[43] The province of Tinnevelly.

[44] Appendix, No. 5.

[45] See extract of their letter in the Appendix, No. 9.

[46] "It is certain that the incursion of a _few_ of Hyder's horse into
the Jaghire, in 1767, cost the Company upwards of pagodas 27,000, _in
allowances for damages_."--Consultations, February 11th, 1771.

[47] Proceeding at Madras, 11th February, 1769, and throughout the
correspondence on this subject; particularly Consultations, October 4th,
1769, and the creditors' memorial, 20th January, 1770.

[48] Appendix, No. 7.

[49] For some part of these usurious transactions, see Consultation,
28th January, 1781; and for the Nabob's excusing his oppressions on
account of these debts, Consultation, 26th November, 1770. "Still I
undertook, first, the payment of the money belonging to the Company, who
are my kind friends, and by borrowing, and _mortgaging my jewels, &c._,
by _taking from every one of my servants_, in proportion to their
circumstances, by _fresh severities_ also on my country,
_notwithstanding its distressed state_, as you know."--The Board's
remark is as follows: after controverting some of the facts, they say,
"That his countries are oppressed is most certain, but not from real
necessity; _his debts, indeed, have afforded him a constant pretence_
for using severities and cruel oppressions."

[50] See Consultation, 28th January, 1781, where it is asserted, and not
denied, that the Nabob's farmers of revenue seldom continue for three
months together. From this the state of the country may be easily judged

[51] In Mr. Fox's speech.

[52] The amended letter, Appendix, No. 9.

[53] Appendix, No. 8.

[54] Mr. Petrie's evidence before the Select Committee, Appendix, No. 7.

[55] Appendix, No. 7.

[56] Mr. Dundas.

[57] See Report IV., Committee of Secrecy, pp. 73 and 74; and Appendix,
in sundry places.

[58] Mr. Smith's protest.

[59] Madras correspondence on this subject.

[60] Appendix, No 6.

[61] Right Honorable William Pitt.

[62] Appendix, No. 10.

[63] Dated 13th October. For further illustration of the style in which
these letters were written, and the principles on which they proceed,
see letters from the Nabob to the Court of Directors, dated August 16th
and September 7th, 1783, delivered by Mr. James Macpherson, minister to
the Nabob, January 14, 1784. Appendix, No. 10.

[64] Appendix, No. 6.

[65] Second Report of Select (General Smith's) Committee.

[66] Mr. Dundas.

[67] Six Reports of the Committee of Secrecy.


       *       *       *       *       *

No. 1.


Referred to from p. 17.

_Appointing Commissioners to inquire into the Fees, Gratuities,
Perquisites, Emoluments, which are, or have been lately, received in the
several Public Offices therein mentioned; to examine into any Abuses
which may exist in the same, &c._

And be it further enacted, that it shall and may be lawful to and for
the said commissioners, or any two of them, and they are hereby
empowered, authorized, and required, _to examine upon oath_ (which oath
they, or any two of them, are hereby authorized to administer) the
several persons, of _all_ descriptions, belonging to any of the offices
or departments before mentioned, and _all other persons_ whom the said
commissioners, or any two of them, shall think fit to examine, touching
_the business_ of each office or department, and _the fees, gratuities,
perquisites, and emoluments taken therein_, and touching all other
matters and things necessary for the execution of the powers vested in
the said commissioners by this act; _all which persons_ are hereby
required and directed punctually to attend the said commissioners, _at
such time and place as they, or any two of them, shall appoint, and also
to observe and execute such orders and directions_ as the said
commissioners, or any two of them, shall make or give for the purposes
before mentioned.

And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the said
commissioners, or any two of them, shall be and are hereby empowered to
examine into any corrupt and fraudulent practices, or other misconduct,
committed by any person or persons concerned in the management of any of
the offices or departments hereinbefore mentioned; and for the better
execution of this present act, the said commissioners, or _any two of
them, are hereby authorized to meet and sit, from time to time, in such
place or places as they shall find most convenient, with, or without
adjournment, and to send their precept or precepts, under their hands
and seals, for any person or persons whatsoever, and for such books,
papers, writings, or records, as they shall judge necessary for their
information, relating to any of the offices or departments hereinbefore
mentioned; and all bailiffs, constables, sheriffs, and other his
Majesty's officers, are hereby required to obey and execute such orders
and precepts aforesaid as shall be sent to them, or any of them, by the
said commissioners, or any two of them, touching the premises._

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 2.

Referred to from p. 22.


Mr. George Smith being asked, Whether the debts of the Nabob of Arcot
have increased since he knew Madras? he said, Yes, they have. He
distinguishes his debts into two sorts: those contracted before the
year 1766, and those contracted from that year to the year in which he
left Madras.--Being asked, What he thinks is the original amount of the
old debts? he said, Between twenty-three and twenty-four lacs of
pagodas, as well as he can recollect.--Being asked, What was the amount
of that debt when he left Madras? he said, Between four and five lacs of
pagodas, as he understood.--Being asked, What was the amount of the new
debt when he left Madras? he said, In November, 1777, that debt
amounted, according to the Nabob's own account, and published at
Chepauk, his place of residence, to sixty lacs of pagodas, independent
of the old debt, on which debt of sixty lacs of pagodas the Nabob did
agree to pay an interest of twelve per cent per annum.--Being asked,
Whether this debt was approved of by the Court of Directors? he said, He
does not know it was.--Being asked, Whether the old debt was recognized
by the Court of Directors? he said, Yes, it has been; and the Court of
Directors have sent out repeated orders to the President and Council of
Madras to enforce its recovery and payment.--Being asked, If the
interest upon the new debt is punctually paid? he said, It was not
during his residence at Madras, from 1777 to 1779, in which period he
thinks no more than five per cent interest was paid, in different
dividends of two and one per cent.--Being asked, What is the usual
course taken by the Nabob concerning the arrears of interest? he said,
Not having ever lent him moneys himself, he cannot fully answer as to
the mode of settling the interest with him.

Being asked, Whether he has reason to believe the sixty lacs of pagodas
was all principal money really and truly advanced to the Nabob of
Arcot, or a fictitious capital, made up of obligations given by him,
where no money or goods were received, or which was increased by the
uniting into it a greater interest than the twelve per cent expressed to
be due on the capital? he said, He has no reason to believe that the sum
of sixty lacs of pagodas was lent in money or goods to the Nabob,
because that sum he thinks is of more value than all the money, goods,
and chattels in the settlement; but he does not know in what mode or
manner this debt of the Nabob's was incurred or accumulated.--Being
asked, Whether it was not a general and well-grounded opinion at Madras,
that a great part of this sum was accumulated by obligations, and was
for services performed or to be performed for the Nabob? he said, He has
heard that a part of this debt was given for the purposes mentioned in
the above question, but he does not know that it was so.--Being asked,
Whether it was the general opinion of the settlement? he said, He cannot
say that it was the general opinion, but it was the opinion of a
considerable part of the settlement.--Being asked, Whether it was the
declared opinion of those that were concerned in the debt, or those that
were not? he said, It was the opinion of both parties, at least such of
them as he conversed with.--Being asked, Whether he has reason to
believe that the interest really paid by the Nabob, upon obligations
given, or money lent, did not frequently exceed twelve per cent? he
said, Prior to the 1st of August, 1774, he had had reason to believe
that a higher interest than twelve per cent was paid by the Nabob on
moneys lent to him; but from and after that period, when the last act of
Parliament took place in India, he does not know that more than twelve
per cent had been paid by the Nabob, or received from him.--Being asked,
Whether it is not his opinion that the Nabob has paid more than twelve
per cent for money due since the 1st of August, 1774? he said, He has
heard that he has, but he does not know it.--Being asked, Whether he has
been told so by any considerable and weighty authority, that was like to
know? he said, He has been so informed by persons who he believes had a
very good opportunity of knowing it.--Being asked, Whether he was ever
told so by the Nabob of Arcot himself? he said, He does not recollect
that the Nabob of Arcot directly told him so, but from what he said he
did infer that he paid a higher interest than twelve per cent.

Mr. Smith being asked, Whether, in the course of trade, he ever sold
anything to the Nabob of Arcot? he said, In the year 1775 he did sell to
the Nabob of Arcot pearls to the amount of 32,500 pagodas, for which the
Nabob gave him an order or tankah on the country of Tanjore, payable in
six months, without interest.--Being asked, Whether, at the time he
asked the Nabob his price for the pearls, the Nabob beat down that
price, as dealers commonly do? he said, No; so far from it, he offered
him more than he asked by 1000 pagodas, and which he rejected.--Being
asked, Whether, in settling a transaction of discount with the Nabob's
agent, he was not offered a greater discount than 12_l._ per cent? he
said, In discounting a soucar's bill for 180,000 pagodas, the Nabob's
agent did offer him a discount of twenty-four per cent per annum, saving
that it was the usual rate of discount paid by the Nabob; but which he
would not accept of, thinking himself confined by the act of Parliament
limiting the interest of moneys to twelve per cent, and accordingly he
discounted the bill at twelve per cent per annum only.--Being asked,
Whether he does not think those offers were made him because the Nabob
thought he was a person of some consequence in the settlement? he said,
Being only a private merchant, he apprehends that the offer was made to
him more from its being a general practice than from any opinion of his

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 3.

Referred to from p. 38.

_A Bill for the Better Government of the Territorial Possessions and
Dependencies in India_.


And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Nabob of
Arcot, the Rajah of Tanjore, or any other native protected prince in
India, shall not assign, mortgage, or pledge any territory or land
whatsoever, or the produce or revenue thereof, to any British subject
whatsoever; neither shall it be lawful to and for any British subject
whatsoever to take or receive any such assignment, mortgage, or pledge;
and the same are hereby declared to be null and void; and all payments
or deliveries of produce or revenue, under any such assignment, shall
and may be recovered back, by such native prince paying or delivering
the same, from the person or persons receiving the same, or his or their

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 4.

Referred to from pp. 64 and 73.


27th May, 1782.

_Letter from the Committee of Assigned Revenue, to the President and
Select Committee, dated 27th May, 1782; with Comparative Statement, and
Minute thereon._

To the Right Honorable LORD MACARTNEY, K.B., President, and Governor,
&c., Select Committee of Fort St. George.


Although we have, in obedience to your commands of the 5th January,
regularly laid before you our proceedings at large, and have
occasionally addressed you upon such points as required your resolutions
or orders for our guidance, we still think it necessary to collect and
digest in a summary report those transactions in the management of the
assigned revenue which have principally engaged our attention, and
which, upon the proceeding, are too much intermixed with ordinary
occurrences to be readily traced and understood.

Such a report may be formed with the greater propriety at this time,
when your Lordship, &c., have been pleased to conclude your arrangements
for the rent of several of the Nabob's districts. Our aim in it is
briefly to explain the state of the Carnatic at the period of the
Nabob's assignment,--the particular causes which existed to the
prejudice of that assignment, after it was made,--and the measures which
your Lordship, &c., have, upon our recommendation, adopted for removing
those causes, and introducing a more regular and beneficial system of
management in the country.

Hyder Ali having entered the Carnatic with his whole force, about the
middle of July, 1780, and employed fire and sword in its destruction for
near eighteen months before the Nabob's assignment took place, it will
not be difficult to conceive the state of the country at that period. In
those provinces which were fully exposed to the ravages of horse, scarce
a vestige remained either of population or agriculture: such of the
miserable inhabitants as escaped the fury of the sword were either
carried into the Mysore country or left to struggle under the horrors of
famine. The Arcot and Trichinopoly districts began early to feel the
effects of this desolating war. Tinnevelly, Madura, and Ramnadaporum,
though little infested with Hyder's troops, became a prey to the
incursions of the Polygars, who stripped them of the greatest part of
the revenues. Ongole, Nellore, and Palnaud, the only remaining
districts, had suffered, but in a small degree.

The misfortunes of war, however, were not the only evils which the
Carnatic experienced. The Nabob's aumildars, and other servants, appear
to have taken advantage of the general confusion to enrich themselves. A
very small part of the revenue was accounted for; and so high were the
ordinary expenses of every district, that double the apparent produce of
the whole country would not have satisfied them.

In this state, which we believe is no way exaggerated, the Company took
charge of the assigned countries. Their prospect of relief from the
heavy burdens of the war was, indeed, but little advanced by the
Nabob's concession; and the revenues of the Carnatic seemed in danger of
being irrecoverably lost, unless a speedy and entire change of system
could be adopted.

On our minutes of the 21st January we treated the subject of the
assignment at some length, and pointed out the mischiefs which, in
addition to the effects of the war, had arisen from what we conceived to
be wrong and oppressive management. We used the freedom to suggest an
entire alteration in the mode of realizing the revenues. We proposed a
considerable and immediate reduction of expenses, and a total change of
the principal aumildars who had been employed under the Nabob.

Our ideas had the good fortune to receive your approbation; but the
removal of the Nabob's servants being thought improper at that
particular period of the collections, we employed our attention chiefly
in preserving what revenue was left the country, and acquiring such
materials as might lead to a more perfect knowledge of its former and
present state.

These pursuits, as we apprehended, met with great obstructions from the
conduct of the Nabob's servants. The orders they received were evaded
under various pretexts; no attention was paid to the strong and repeated
applications made to them for the accounts of their management; and
their attachment to the Company's interest appeared, in every instance,
so feeble, that we saw no prospect whatever of success, but in the
appointment of renters under the Company's sole authority.

Upon this principle, we judged it expedient to recommend that such of
the Nabob's districts as were in a state to be farmed out might be
immediately let by a public advertisement, issued in the Company's
name, and circulated through every province of the Carnatic; and, with
the view of encouraging bidders, we proposed that the countries might be
advertised for the whole period of the Nabob's assignment, and the
security of the Company's protection promised in the fullest manner to
such persons as might become renters.

This plan had the desired effect; and the attempts which were secretly
made to counteract it afforded an unequivocal proof of its necessity:
but the advantages resulting from it were more pleasingly evinced by the
number of proposals that were delivered, and by the terms which were in
general offered for the districts intended to be farmed out.

Having so far attained the purposes of the assignment, our attention was
next turned to the heavy expenses entailed upon the different provinces;
and here, we confess, our astonishment was raised to the highest pitch.
In the Trichinopoly country the standing disbursements appeared, by the
Nabob's own accounts, to be one lac of rupees more than the receipts. In
other districts the charges were not in so high a proportion, but still
rated on a most extravagant scale; and we saw, by every account that was
brought before us, the absolute necessity of retrenching considerably in
all the articles of expense.

Our own reason, aided by such inquiries as we were able to make,
suggested the alterations we have recommended to your Lordship, &c.,
under this head. You will observe that we have not acted sparingly, but
we chose rather, in cases of doubt, to incur the hazard of retrenching
too much than too little; because it would be easier, after any stated
allowance for expenses, to add what might be necessary than to
diminish. We hope, however, there will be no material increase in the
articles, as they now stand.

One considerable charge upon the Nabob's country was for extraordinary
sibbendies, sepoys, and horsemen, who appeared to us to be a very
unnecessary incumbrance on the revenue. Your Lordship, &c., have
determined to receive such of these people as will enlist into the
Company's service, and discharge the rest. This measure will not only
relieve the country of a heavy burden, but tend greatly to fix in the
Company that kind of authority which is requisite for the due collection
of the revenues.

In consequence of your determination respecting the Nabob's sepoys, &c.,
every charge under that head has been struck out of our account of
expenses. If the whole number of these people be enlisted by the
Company, there will probably be no more than sufficient to complete
their ordinary military establishment. But should the present reduction
of the Nabob's artillery render it expedient, after the war, to make any
addition to the Company's establishment for the purposes of the assigned
countries, the expense of such addition, whatever it be, must be
deducted from the present account of savings.

In considering the charges of the several districts, in order to
establish better regulations, we were careful to discriminate those
incurred for troops, kept or supposed to be kept up for the defence of
the country, from those of the sibbendy, servants, &c., for the
cultivation of the lands and the collection of the revenues, as well as
to pay attention, to such of the established customs of the country,
ancient privileges of the inhabitants, and public charities, as were
necessarily allowed, and appeared proper to be continued, but which,
under the Nabob's government, were not only rated much higher, but had
been blended under one confused and almost unintelligible title of
expenses of the districts: so joined, perhaps, to afford pleas and means
of secreting and appropriating great part of the revenues to other
purposes than fairly appeared; and certainly betraying the utmost
neglect and mismanagement, as giving latitude for every species of fraud
and oppression. Such a system has, in the few latter years of the
Nabob's necessities, brought all his countries into that situation from
which nothing but the most rigid economy, strict observance of the
conduct of managers, and the most conciliating attention to the rights
of the inhabitants can possibly recover them.

It now only remains for us to lay before your Lordship, &c., the
inclosed statement of the sums at which the districts lately advertised
have been let, compared with the accounts of their produce delivered by
the Nabob, and entered on our proceedings of the 21st January,--likewise
a comparative view of the former and present expenses.

The Nabob's accounts of the produce of these districts state, as we have
some reason to think, the sums which former renters engaged to pay to
him, (and which were seldom, if ever, made good,) and not the sums
actually produced by the districts; yet we have the satisfaction to
observe that the present aggregate rents, upon an average, are equal to
those accounts. Your Lordship, &c., cannot, indeed, expect, that, in the
midst of the danger, invasion, and distress which assail the Carnatic on
every side, the renters now appointed will be able at present to fulfil
the terms of their leases; but we trust, from the measures we have
taken, that very little, if any, of the actual collections will be lost,
even during the war,--and that, on the return of peace and tranquillity,
the renters will have it in their power fully to perform their
respective agreements.

We much regret that the situation of the Arcot province will not admit
of the same settlement which has been made for the other districts; but
the enemy being in possession of the capital, together with several
other strongholds, and having entirely desolated the country, there is
little room to hope for more from it than a bare subsistence to the few
garrisons we have left there.

We shall not fail to give our attention towards obtaining every
information respecting this province that the present times will permit,
and to take the first opportunity to propose such arrangements for the
management as we may think eligible.

We have the honor to be

Your most obedient humble servants,


FORT ST. GEORGE, 27th May, 1782.

A true copy.


COMPARATIVE STATEMENT _of the Revenues and Expenses of the Nellore,
Ongole, Palnaud, Trichinopoly, Madura, and Tinnevelly Countries, while
in the Hands of the Nabob, with those of the same Countries on the Terms
of the Leases lately granted for Four Years, to commence with the
Beginning of the Phazeley, 1192, or the 12th July, 1782. Abstracted from
the Accounts received from the Nabob, and from the Rents stipulated for
and Expenses allowed by the present Leases_.

|               | Annual Gross Rent| Annual Rent by   |
|               | by the Nabob's   | the present      |
|               | Account.         | Leases, at an    |
|               | Average of the   | Average of       |
|               | Four Years imme- | Four Years.      |
|               | diately preceding|                  |
|               | the present War. |                  |
|               | Star Pagodas.    |  Star Pagodas.   |
| Nellore and   |                  |                  |
|     Sarapilly |      3,22,830    |      3,61,900    |
| Ongole        |      1,10,967[68]|        55,000    |
| Palnaud       |        51,355    |        53,500    |
| Trichinopoly  |      2,89,993[69]|      2,73,214    |
| Madura        |      1,02,756    |        60,290    |
| Tinnevelly    |      5,65,537    |      5,79,713    |
| Total         |     14,43,438    |     13,83,617    |

|               | Annual Expenses  | Annual Expenses  | Reduction in the |
|               | by the Nabob's   | allowed by the   | Annual Expenses. |
|               | Accounts.        | present Leases   |                  |
|               |                  | at an Estimate.  |                  |
|               |  Star Pagodas.   |  Star Pagodas.   |  Star Pagodas.   |
| Nellore and   |                  |                  |                  |
|     Sarapilly |      1,98,794    |        33,000    |      1,65,794    |
| Ongole        |        88,254    |           ...    |        88,254    |
| Palnaud       |        25,721    |         5,698    |        20,023    |
| Trichinopoly  |      2,82,148    |        13,143    |      2,63,005    |
| Madura        |        63,710    |        12,037    |        51,673    |
| Tinnevelly    |      1,64,098    |        70,368    |        93,730    |
| Total         |      8,22,725    |      1,40,246    |      6,82,479    |

|               | Net Revenue      | Net Revenue      | Increase of      |
|               | by the Nabob's   | by the           | Net Revenue.     |
|               | Accounts.        | present Leases.  |                  |
|               |  Star Pagodas.   |  Star Pagodas.   |  Star Pagodas.   |
| Nellore and   |                  |                  |                  |
|     Sarapilly |      1,24,036    |      3,28,900    |      2,04,864    |
| Ongole        |        22,713    |        55,000    |        32,287    |
| Palnaud       |        25,634    |        47,802    |        22,168    |
| Trichinopoly  |         7,845    |      2,54,071    |      2,46,226    |
| Madura        |        39,046    |        48,253    |         9,207    |
| Tinnevelly    |      4,01,439    |      5,09,345    |      1,07,906    |
| Total         |      6,20,713    |     12,43,371    |      6,22,658    |

N.B. In this statement, Madras Pagodas are calculated at 10 per cent
Batta; Chuckrums at two thirds of a Porto Novo Pagoda, which are
reckoned at 115 per 100 Star Pagodas; and Rupees at 350 per 100 Star
Pagodas. To avoid fractions, the nearest integral numbers have been



FORT ST. GEORGE, 27th May, 1782.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 5.

Referred to from p. 73.

_Case of certain Persons renting the Assigned Lands wider the Authority
of the East India Company._

Extract of a Letter from the President and Council of Fort St. George,
25th May, 1783.

One of them [the renters], Ram Chunder Raus, was, indeed, one of those
unfortunate rajahs whose country, _by being near to the territories of
the Nabob_, forfeited its title to independence, and became the prey of
ambition and cupidity. This man, though not able to resist the Company's
arms, _employed in such a deed at the Nabob's instigation_, had industry
and ability. He acquired, _by a series of services_, even the confidence
of the Nabob, who suffered him to _rent apart of the country of which he
had deprived him of the property_. This man had afforded no motive for
his rejection by the Nabob, but that of being ready to engage with the
Company: a motive most powerful, indeed, but not to be avowed.

[This is the person whom the English instruments of the Nabob of Arcot
have had the audacity to charge with a corrupt transaction with Lord
Macartney, and, in support of that charge, to produce a forged letter
from his Lordship's steward. The charge and letter the reader may see in
this Appendix, under the proper head. It is asserted by the unfortunate
prince above mentioned, that the Company first settled on the coast of
Coromandel under the protection of one of his ancestors. If this be
true, (and it is far from unlikely,) the world must judge of the return
the descendant has met with. The case of another of the victims given up
by the ministry, though not altogether so striking as the former, is
worthy of attention. It is that of the renter of the Province of

It is, with a wantonness of falsehood, and indifference to detection,
asserted to you, in proof of the validity of the Nabob's objections,
that this man's failures had already forced us to remove him: though in
fact he has continued invariably in office; though our _greatest
supplies have been received from him_; and that, in the disappointment
of your remittances [the remittances from Bengal] and of other
resources, the specie sent us _from Nellore alone_ has sometimes enabled
us to carry on the public business; and that the _present expedition
against the French_ must, without _this_ assistance from the assignment,
have been laid aside, or delayed until it might have become too late.

[This man is by the ministry given over to the mercy of persons capable
of making charges on him "_with a wantonness of falsehood, and
indifference to detection_." What is likely to happen to him and the
rest of the victims may appear by the following.]

       *       *       *       *       *

_Letter to the Governor-General and Council, March 13th, 1782._

The speedy termination, to which the people were taught to look, of the
Company's interference in the revenues, and the vengeance denounced
against those who, contrary to the mandate of the Durbar, should be
connected with them, as reported by Mr. Sullivan, may, as much as the
former exactions and oppressions of the Nabob in the revenue, as
reported by the commander-in-chief, have deterred some of the fittest
men from offering to be concerned in it.

The timid disposition of the Hindoo natives of this country was not
likely to be insensible to the specimen of that vengeance given by his
Excellency the Amir, who, upon the mere rumor, that a Bramin, of the
name of Appagee Row, had given proposals to the Company for the
rentership of Vellore, had the temerity to send for him, and to put him
in confinement.

A man thus seized by the Nabob's sepoys within the walls of Madras gave
a general alarm, and government found it necessary to promise the
protection of the Company, in order to calm the apprehensions of the

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 6.

Referred to from pp. 101 and 105.

_Extract of a Letter from the Council and Select Committee at Fort St.
George, to the Governor-General and Council, dated 25th May, 1783._

In the prosecution of our duty, we beseech you to consider, as an act of
strict and necessary justice, previous to reiteration of your orders for
the surrender of the assignment, how far it would be likely to affect
third persons who do not appear to have committed any breach of their
engagements. You command us to compel our aumils to deliver over their
respective charges as shall be appointed by the Nabob, or to retain
their trust under his sole authority, if he shall choose to confirm
them. These aumils are really renters; they were appointed in the room
of the Nabob's aumils, and contrary to his wishes; they have already
been rejected by him, and are therefore not likely to be confirmed by
him. They applied to this government, in consequence of public
advertisements in our name, as possessing in this instance the joint
authority of the Nabob and the Company, and have entered into mutual and
strict covenants with us, and we with them, relative to the certain
districts not actually in the possession of the enemy; by which
covenants, as they are bound to the punctual payment of their rents and
due management of the country, so we, and our constituents, and the
public faith, are in like manner bound to maintain them in the enjoyment
of their leases, during the continuance of the term. That term was for
five years, agreeably to the words of the assignment, which declare that
the time of renting shall be for three or five years, as the Governor
shall settle with the renters.--Their leases cannot be legally torn from
them. Nothing but their previous breach of a part could justify our
breach of the whole. Such a stretch and abuse of power would, indeed,
not only savor of the assumption of sovereignty, but of arbitrary and
oppressive despotism. In the present contest, whether the Nabob be
guilty, or we be guilty, the renters are not guilty. Whichever of the
contending parties has broken the condition of the assignment, the
renters have not broken the condition of their leases. These men, in
conducting the business of the assignment, have acted in opposition to
the designs of the Nabob, in despite of the menaces denounced against
all who should dare to oppose the mandates of the Durbar justice.
Gratitude and humanity require that provision should be made by you,
before you set the Nabob's ministers loose on the country, for the
protection of the victims devoted to their vengeance.

Mr. Benfield, to secure the permanency of his power, and the perfection
of his schemes, thought it necessary to render the Nabob an absolute
stranger to the state of his affairs. He assured his Highness that full
justice was not done to the strength of his sentiments and the keenness
of his attacks, in the translations that were made by the Company's
servants from the original Persian of his letters. He therefore proposed
to him that they should for the future be transmitted in English.--Of
the English language or writing his Highness or the Amir cannot read one
word, though the latter can converse in it with sufficient fluency. The
Persian language, as the language of the Mahomedan conquerors, and of
the court of Delhi, as an appendage or signal of authority, was at all
times particularly affected by the Nabob. It is the language of all acts
of state, and all public transactions, among the Mussulman chiefs of
Hindostan. The Nabob thought to have gained no inconsiderable point, in
procuring the correspondence from our predecessors to the Rajah of
Tanjore to be changed from the Mahratta language, which that Hindoo
prince understands, to the Persian, which he disclaims understanding. To
force the Rajah to the Nabob's language was gratifying the latter with a
new species of subserviency. He had formerly contended with considerable
anxiety, and, it was thought, no inconsiderable cost, for particular
forms of address to be used towards him in that language. But all of a
sudden, in favor of Mr. Benfield, he quits his former affections, his
habits, his knowledge, his curiosity, the increasing mistrust of age, to
throw himself upon the generous candor, the faithful interpretation, the
grateful return, and eloquent organ of Mr. Benfield!--_Mr. Benfield
relates and reads what he pleases to his Excellency the Amir-ul-Omrah;
his Excellency communicates with the Nabob, his father, in the language
the latter understands. Through two channels so pure, the truth must
arrive at the Nabob in perfect refinement; through this double trust,
his Highness receives whatever impression it may be convenient to make
on him: he abandons his signature to whatever paper they tell him
contains, in the English language, the sentiments with which they had
inspired him. He thus is surrounded on every side. He is totally at
their mercy, to believe what is not true, and to subscribe to what he
does not mean. There is no system so new, so foreign to his intentions,
that they may not pursue in his name, without possibility of detection:
for they are cautious of who approach him, and have thought prudent to
decline, for him, the visits of the Governor_, even upon the usual
solemn and acceptable occasion of delivering to his Highness the
Company's letters. _Such is the complete ascendency gained by Mr.
Benfield._ It may be partly explained by the facts observed already,
some years ago, by Mr. Benfield himself, in regard to the Nabob, of the
infirmities natural to his advanced age, joined to the decays of his
constitution. To this ascendency, in proportion as it grew, must chiefly
be ascribed, if not the origin, at least the continuance and increase,
of the Nabob's disunion with this Presidency: a disunion which creates
the importance and subserves the resentments of Mr. Benfield; _and an
ascendency which, if you effect the surrender of the assignment, will
entirely leave the exercise of power and accumulation of fortune at his
boundless discretion: to him, and to the Amir-ul-Omrah, and to Seyd
Assam Cawn, the assignment would in fact be surrendered. HE WILL (IF
ANY) BE THE SOUCAR SECURITY; and security in this country is
counter-secured by possession. You would not choose to take the
assignment from the Company, to give it to individuals_. Of the
impropriety of its returning to the Nabob, Mr. Benfield would now again
argue from his former observations, that, under his Highness's
management, his country declined, his people emigrated, his revenues
decreased, and his country was rapidly approaching to a state of
political insolvency. Of Seyd Assam Cawn we judge only from the
observations this letter already contains. But of the other two persons
[Amir-ul-Omrah and Mr. Benfield] we undertake to declare, not as parties
in a cause, or even as voluntary witnesses, but as executive officers,
reporting to you, in the discharge of our duty, and under the impression
of the sacred obligation which binds us to truth, as well as to justice,
that, from every observation of their principles and dispositions, and
every information of their character and conduct, they have prosecuted
projects to the injury and danger of the Company and individuals; _that
it would be improper to trust, and dangerous to employ them, in any
public or important situation; that the tranquillity of the Carnatic
requires a restraint to the power of the Amir; and that the Company,
whose service and protection Mr. Benfield has repeatedly and recently
forfeited, would be more secure against danger and confusion, if he
were removed from their several Presidencies._

[After the above solemn declaration from so weighty an authority, the
principal object of that awful and deliberate warning, instead of being
"removed from the several Presidencies," is licensed to return to one of
the principal of those Presidencies, and the grand theatre of the
operations on account of which the Presidency recommends his total
removal. The reason given is, for the accommodation of that very debt
which has been the chief instrument of his dangerous practices, and the
main cause of all the confusions in the Company's government.]

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 7.

Referred to from pp. 82, 88, and 89.

_Extracts from the Evidence of Mr. Petrie, late Resident for the Company
at Tanjore, given to the Select Committee, relative to the Revenues and
State of the Country, &c., &c._

9th May, 1782.

William Petrie, Esq., attending according to order, was asked, In what
station he was in the Company's service? he said, He went to India in
the year 1765, a writer upon the Madras establishment: he was employed,
during the former war with Hyder Ali, in the capacity of paymaster and
commissary to part of the army, and was afterwards paymaster and
commissary to the army in the first siege of Tanjore, and the
subsequent campaigns; then secretary to the Secret Department from 1772
to 1775; he came to England in 1775, and returned again to Madras the
beginning of 1778; he was resident at the durbar of the Rajah of Tanjore
from that time to the month of May; and from that time to January, 1780,
was chief of Nagore and Carrical, the first of which was received from
the Rajah of Tanjore, and the second was taken from the French.--Being
asked, Who sent him to Tanjore? he said, Sir Thomas Rumbold, and the
Secret Committee.--Being then asked, Upon what errand? he said, He went
first up with a letter from the Company to the Rajah of Tanjore: he was
directed to give the Rajah the strongest assurances that he should be
kept in possession of his country, and every privilege to which he had
been restored; he was likewise directed to negotiate with the Rajah of
Tanjore for the cession of the seaport and district of Nagore in lieu of
the town and district of Devicotta, which he had promised to Lord Pigot:
these were the principal, and, to the best of his recollection at
present, the only objects in view, when he was first sent up to Tanjore.
In the course of his stay at Tanjore, other matters of business occurred
between the Company and the Rajah, which came under his management as
resident at that durbar.--Being asked, Whether the Rajah did deliver up
to him the town and the annexed districts of Nagore voluntarily, or
whether he was forced to it? he said, When he made the first proposition
to the Rajah, agreeable to the directions he had received from the
Secret Committee at Madras, in the most free, open, and liberal manner,
the Rajah told him the seaport of Nagore was entirely at the service of
his benefactors, the Company, and that he was happy in having that
opportunity of testifying his gratitude to them. These may be supposed
to be words of course; but, from every experience which he had of the
Rajah's mind and conduct, whilst he was at Tanjore, he has reason to
believe that his declarations of gratitude to the Company were perfectly
sincere. He speaks to the town of Nagore at present, and a certain
district,--not of the districts to the amount of which they afterwards
received. The Rajah asked him, To what amount he expected a jaghire to
the Company? And the witness further said, That he acknowledged to the
committee that he was not instructed upon that head; that he wrote for
orders to Madras, and was directed to ask the Rajah for a jaghire to a
certain amount; that this gave rise to a long negotiation, the Rajah
representing to him his inability to make such a gift to the Company as
the Secret Committee at Madras seemed to expect; while he (the witness)
on the other hand, was directed to make as good a bargain as he could
for the Company. From the view that he then took of the Rajah's
finances, from the situation of his country, and from the load of debt
which pressed hard upon him, he believes he at different times, in his
correspondence with the government, represented the necessity of their
being moderate in their demands, and it was at last agreed to accept of
the town of Nagore, valued at a certain annual revenue, and a jaghire
annexed to the town, the whole amounting to 250,000 rupees.--Being
asked, Whether it did turn out so valuable? he said, He had not a doubt
but it would turn out more, as it was let for more than that to farmers
at Madras, if they had managed the districts properly; _but they were
strangers to the manners and customs of the people; when they came
down, they oppressed the inhabitants, and threw the whole district into
confusion; the inhabitants, many of them, left the country, and deserted
the cultivation of their lands; of course the farmers were disappointed
of their collections, and they have since failed, and the Company have
lost a considerable part of what the farmers were to pay for the
jaghire_.--Being asked, Who these farmers were? he said, One of them was
the renter of the St. Thome district, near Madras, and the other, and
the most responsible, was a Madras dubash.--Being asked, Whom he was
dubash to? he said, To Mr. Cass-major.

Being asked, Whether the lease was made upon higher terms than the
district was rated to him by the Rajah? he said, It was.--Being then
asked, What reason was assigned why the district was not kept under the
former management by aumildars, or let to persons in the Tanjore country
acquainted with the district? he said, No reasons were assigned: he was
directed from Madras to advertise them to be let to persons of the
country; but before he received any proposal, he received accounts that
they were let at Madras, in consequence of public advertisements which
had been made there: he believes, indeed, there were very few men in
those districts responsible enough to have been intrusted with the
management of those lands.--Being asked, Whether, at the time he was
authorized to negotiate for Nagore in the place of Devicotta, Devicotta
was given up to the Rajah? he said, No.--Being asked, Whether the Rajah
of Tanjore did not frequently desire that the districts of Arnee and
Hanamantagoody should be restored to him, agreeable to treaty, and the
Company's orders to Lord Pigot? he said, Many a time; and he
transmitted his representations regularly to Madras.--Being then asked,
Whether those places were restored to him? he said, Not while he was in

Being asked, Whether he was not authorized and required by the
Presidency at Madras to demand a large sum of money over and above the
four lacs of pagodas that were to be annually paid by a grant of the
Rajah, made in the time of Lord Pigot? he said, He was: to the amount,
he believes, of four lacs of pagodas, commonly known by the name of
deposit-money.--Being asked, Whether the Rajah did not frequently plead
his inability to pay that money? he said, He did every time he mentioned
it, and complained loudly of the demand.--Being asked, Whether he thinks
those complaints were well founded? he says, He thinks the Rajah of
Tanjore was not only not in a state of ability to pay the deposit-money,
but that the annual payment of four lacs of pagodas was more than his
revenues could afford.--Being asked, Whether he was not frequently
obliged to borrow money, in order to pay the instalments of the annual
payments, and such parts as he paid of the deposit? he said, Yes, he
was.--Being asked, Where he borrowed the money? he said, He believes
principally from soucars or native bankers, and some at Madras, as he
told him.--Being asked, Whether he told him that his credit was very
good, and that he borrowed upon moderate interest? he said, That he told
him he found great difficulties in raising money, and was obliged to
borrow at a most exorbitant interest, even some of it at forty-eight per
cent, and he believes not a great deal under it. _He desired him (the
witness) to speak to one of the soucars or bankers at Tanjore to
accommodate him with a loan of money: that man showed him an account
between him and the Rajah, from which it appeared that he charged
forty-eight per cent, besides compound interest_.--Being asked, Whether
the sums duo were large? he said, Yes, they were considerable; though he
does not recollect the amount.--Being asked, Whether the banker lent the
money? he said, He would not, unless the witness could procure him
payment of his old arrears.

Being asked, What notice did the government of Madras take of the king
of Tanjore's representations of the state of his affairs, and his
inability to pay? he said, He does not recollect, that, in their
correspondence with him, there was any reasoning upon the subject; and
in his correspondence with Sir Thomas Rumbold, upon the amount of the
jaghire, he seemed very desirous of adapting the demand of government to
the Rajah's circumstances; but, whilst he stayed at Tanjore, the Rajah
was not exonerated from any part of his burdens.--Being asked, Whether
they ever desired the Rajah to make up a statement of his accounts,
disbursements, debts, and payments to the Company, in order to ascertain
whether the country was able to pay the increasing demands upon it? he
said, Through him he is certain they never did.--Being then asked, If he
ever heard whether they did through any one else? he said, He never did.

Being asked, Whether the Rajah is not bound to furnish the cultivators
of land with seed for their crops, according to the custom of the
country? he said, _The king of Tanjore, as proprietor of the land,
always makes advances of money for seed for the cultivation of the
land._--Being then asked, If money beyond his power of furnishing should
be extorted from him, might it not prevent, in the first instance, the
means of cultivating the country? he said, It certainly does; _he knows
it for a fact; and he knows, that, when he left the country, there were
several districts which were uncultivated from that cause_.--Being
asked, Whether it is not necessary to be at a considerable expense in
order to keep up the mounds and watercourses? he said, _A very
considerable one annually_.--Being asked, What would be the consequence,
if money should fail for that? he said, _In the first instance, the
country would be partially supplied with water, some districts would be
overflowed, and others would be parched_.--Being asked, Whether there is
not a considerable dam called the Anicut, on the keeping up of which the
prosperity of the country greatly depends, and which requires a great
expense? he said, Yes, there is: the whole of the Tanjore country is
admirably well supplied with water, nor can he conceive any method could
be fallen upon more happily adapted to the cultivation and prosperity of
the country; but, as the Anicut is the source of that prosperity, any
injury done to that must essentially affect all the other works in the
country: it is a most stupendous piece of masonry, but, from the very
great floods, frequently requiring repairs, which if neglected, not only
the expense of repairing must be greatly increased, but a general injury
done to the whole country.--Being asked, Whether that dam has been kept
in as good preservation since the prevalence of the English government
as before? he said, From his own knowledge he cannot tell, but from
everything he has read or heard of the former prosperity and opulence of
the kings of Tanjore, he should suppose not.--Being asked, Whether he
does not know of several attempts that have been made to prevent the
repair, and even to damage the work? he said, The Rajah himself
frequently complained of that to him, and he has likewise heard it from
others at Tanjore.--Being asked, Who it was that attempted those acts of
violence? he said, He was told it was the inhabitants of the Nabob's
country adjoining to the Anicut.--Being asked, Whether they were not set
on or instigated by the Nabob? he answered, The Rajah said so.--And
being asked, What steps the President and Council took to punish the
authors and prevent those violences? he said, To the best of his
recollection, the Governor told him he would make inquiries into it, but
he does not know that any inquiries were made; that Sir Thomas Rumbold,
the Governor, informed him that he had laid his representations with
respect to the Anicut before the Nabob, who denied that his people had
given any interruption to the repairs of that work.

       *       *       *       *       *

10th May.

Being asked, What he thinks the real clear receipt of the revenues of
Tanjore were worth when he left it? he said, He cannot say what was the
net amount, as he does not know the expense of the Rajah's collection;
but while he was at Tanjore, he understood from the Rajah himself, and
from his ministers, that the gross collection did not exceed nine lacs
of pagodas (360,000_l._).--Being asked, Whether he thinks the country
could pay the eight lacs of pagodas which had been demanded to be paid
in the course of one year? he said, Clearly not.--Being asked, Whether
there was not an attempt made to remove the Rajah's minister, upon some
delay in payment of the deposit? he said, The Governor of Madras wrote
to that effect, which he represented to the Rajah.--Being asked, Who was
mentioned to succeed to the minister that then was, in case he should be
removed? he said, When Sir Hector Munro came afterwards to Tanjore, the
old daubiere was mentioned, and recommended to the Rajah as successor to
his then dewan.--Being asked, Of what age was the daubiere at that time?
he said, Of a very great age: upwards of fourscore.--Being asked,
Whether a person called Kanonga Saba Pilla was not likewise named? he
said, Yes, he was: he was recommended by Sir Thomas Rumbold; and one
recommendation, as well as I can recollect, went through me.--Being
asked, What was the reason of his being recommended? he said, He
undertook to pay off the Rajah's debts, and to give security for the
regular payment of the Rajah's instalments to the Company.--Being asked,
Whether he offered to give any security for preserving the country from
oppression, and for supporting the dignity of the Rajah and his people?
he said, He does not know that he did, or that it was asked of
him.--Being asked, Whether he was a person agreeable to the Rajah? he
said, He was not.--Being asked, Whether he was not a person who had fled
out of the country to avoid the resentment of the Rajah? he said, He
was.--Being asked, Whether he was not charged by the Rajah with
malpractices, and breach of trust relative to his effects? he said, He
was; but he told the Governor that he would account for his conduct, and
explain everything to the satisfaction of the Rajah.--Being asked,
Whether the Rajah did not consider this man as in the interest of his
enemies, and particularly of the Nabob of Arcot and Mr. Benfield? he
said, He does not recollect that he did mention that to him: he
remembers to have heard him complain of a transaction between Kanonga
Saba Pilla and Mr. Benfield; but he told him he had been guilty of a
variety of malpractices in his administration, that he had oppressed the
people, and defrauded him.--Being asked, In what branch of business the
Rajah had formerly employed him? he said, He was at one time, he
believes, renter of the whole country, was supposed to have great
influence with the Rajah, and was in fact dewan some time.--Being asked,
Whether the nomination of that man was not particularly odious to the
Rajah? he said, He found the Rajah's mind so exceedingly averse to that
man, that he believes he would almost as soon have submitted to his
being deposed as to submit to the nomination of that man to be his

       *       *       *       *       *

13th May.

Mr. Petrie being asked, Whether he was informed by the Rajah, or by
others, at Tanjore or Madras, that Mr. Benfield, whilst he managed the
revenues at Tanjore, during the usurpation of the Nabob, did not treat
the inhabitants with great rigor? he said, He did hear from the Rajah
that Mr. Benfield did treat the inhabitants with rigor during the time
he had anything to do with the administration of the revenues of
Tanjore.--Being asked, If he recollects in what particulars? he said,
The Rajah particularly complained that grain had been delivered out to
the inhabitants, for the purposes of cultivation, at a higher price than
the market price of grain in the country; he cannot say the actual
difference of price, but it struck him at the time as something very
considerable.--Being asked, Whether that money was all recovered from
the inhabitants? he said, The Rajah of Tanjore told him that the money
was all recovered from the inhabitants.--Being asked, Whether he did not
hear that the Nabob exacted from the country of Tanjore, whilst he was
in possession of it? he said, From the accounts which he received at
Tanjore of the revenues for a number of years past, it appeared that the
Nabob collected from the country, while he was in possession, rather
more than sixteen lacs of pagodas annually; whereas, when he was at
Tanjore, it did not yield more than nine lacs.--Being asked, From whence
that difference arose? he said, When Tanjore was conquered for the
Nabob, he has been told that many thousand of the native inhabitants
fled from the country, some into the country of Mysore, and others into
the dominions of the Mahrattas; he understood from the same authority,
that, while the Nabob was in possession of the country, many inhabitants
from the Carnatic, allured by the superior fertility and opulence of
Tanjore, and encouraged by the Nabob, took up their residence there,
which enabled the Nabob to cultivate the whole country; and upon the
restoration of the Rajah, he has heard that the Carnatic inhabitants
were carried back to their own country, which left a considerable blank
in the population, which was not replaced while he was there,
principally owing to an opinion which prevailed through the country that
the Rajah's government was not to be permanent, but that another
revolution was fast approaching. During the Nabob's government, the
price of grain was considerably higher (owing to a very unusual scarcity
in the Carnatic) than when he was in Tanjore.--Being asked, Whether he
was ever in the Marawar country? he said, Yes; he was commissary to the
army in that expedition.--Being asked, Whether that country was much
wasted by the war? he said, Plunder was not permitted to the army, nor
did the country suffer from its operations, except in causing many
thousands of the inhabitants, who had been employed in the cultivation
of the country, to leave it.--Being asked, Whether he knows what is done
with the palace and inhabitants of Ramnaut? he said, The town was taken
by storm, but not plundered by the troops; it was immediately delivered
up to the Nabob's eldest son.--Being asked, Whether great riches were
not supposed to be in that palace and temple? he said, It was
universally believed so.--Being asked, What account was given of them?
he said, He cannot tell; everything remained in the possession of the
Nabob.--Being asked, What became of the children and women of the family
of the prince of that country? he said, The Rajah was a minor; the
government was in the hands of the Ranny, his mother: from general
report he has heard they were carried to Trichinopoly, and placed in
confinement there.--Being asked, Whether he perceived any difference in
the face of the Carnatic when he first knew it and when he last knew it?
he said, He thinks he did, particularly in its population.--Being asked,
Whether it was better or worse? he said, It was not so populous.--Being
asked, What is the condition of the Nabob's eldest son? he said, He was
in the Black Town of Madras, when he left the country.--Being asked,
Whether he was entertained there in a manner suitable to his birth and
expectations? he said, No: he lived there without any of those exterior
marks of splendor which princes of his rank in India are particularly
fond of.--Being asked, Whether he has not heard that his appointments
were poor and mean? he said, He has heard that they were not equal to
his rank and expectations.--Being asked, Whether he had any share in the
government? he said, He believes none: for some years past the Nabob has
delegated most of the powers of government to his second son.--Being
asked, Whether the Rajah did not complain to him of the behavior of Mr.
Benfield to himself personally; and what were the particulars? he said,
He did so, and related to him the following particulars. About fifteen
days after Lord Pigot's confinement, Mr. Benfield came to Tanjore, and
delivered the Rajah two letters from the then Governor, Mr.
Stratton,--one public, and the other private. He demanded an immediate
account of the presents which had been made to Lord Pigot, payment of
the tunkahs which he (Mr. Benfield) had received from the Nabob upon the
country, and that the Rajah should only write such letters to the Madras
government as Mr. Benfield should approve and give to him. The Rajah
answered, that he did not acknowledge the validity of any demands made
by the Nabob upon the country; that those tunkahs related to accounts
which he (the Rajah) had no concern with; that he never had given Lord
Pigot any presents, but Lord Pigot had given him many; and that as to
his correspondence with the Madras government, he would not trouble Mr.
Benfield, because he would write his letters himself. That the Rajah
told the witness, that by reason of this answer he was much threatened,
in consequence of which he desired Colonel Harper, who then commanded at
Tanjore, to be present at his next interview with Mr. Benfield; when
Mr. Benfield denied many parts of the preceding conversation, and threw
the blame upon his interpreter, Comroo. When Mr. Benfield found (as the
Rajah informed him) that he could not carry these points which had
brought him to Tanjore, he prepared to set off for Madras; that the
Rajah sent him a letter which he had drawn out in answer to one which
Mr. Benfield had brought him; that Mr. Benfield disapproved of the
answer, and returned it by Comroo to the durbar, who did not deliver it
into the Rajah's hands, but threw it upon the ground, and expressed
himself improperly to him.

Being asked, Whether it was at the king of Tanjore's desire, that such
persons as Mr. Benfield and Comroo had been brought into his presence?
he said, The Rajah told him, that, when Lord Pigot came to Tanjore, to
restore him to his dominions, Comroo, without being sent for, or desired
to come to the palace, had found means to get access to his person: he
made an offer of introducing Mr. Benfield to the Rajah, which he
declined.--Being asked, Whether the military officer commanding there
protected the Rajah from the intrusion of such people? he said, The
Rajah did not tell him that he called upon the military officer to
prevent these intrusions, but that he desired Colonel Harper to be
present as a witness to what might pass between him and Mr.
Benfield.--Being asked, If it is usual for persons of the conditions and
occupations of Mr. Benfield and Comroo to intrude themselves into the
presence of the princes of the country, and to treat them with such
freedom? he said, Certainly it is not: less there than in any other
country.--Being asked, Whether the king of Tanjore has no ministers to
whom application might be made to transact such business as Mr. Benfield
and Comroo had to do in the country? he said, Undoubtedly: his minister
is the person whose province it is to transact that business.--Being
asked, Before the invasion of the British troops into Tanjore, what
would have been the consequence, if Mr. Benfield had intruded himself
into the Rajah's presence, and behaved in that manner? he said, He could
not say what would have been the consequence; but the attempt would have
been madness, and could not have happened.--Being asked, Whether the
Rajah had not particular exceptions to Comroo, and thought he had
betrayed him in very essential points? he said, Yes, he had.--Being
asked, Whether the Rajah has not been apprised that the Company have
made stipulations that their servants should not interfere in the
concerns of his government? he said, He signified it to the Rajah, that
it was the Company's positive orders, and that any of their servants so
interfering would incur their highest displeasure.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 8.

Referred to from p. 87, &c.

_Commissioners' Amended Clauses for the Fort St. George Dispatch,
relative to the Indeterminate Mights and Pretensions of the Nabob of
Arcot and Rajah of Tanjore._

In our letter of the 28th January last we stated the reasonableness of
our expectation that certain contributions towards the expenses of the
war should be made by the Rajah of Tanjore. Since writing that letter,
we have received one from the Rajah, of the 15th of October last, which
contains at length his representations of his inability to make such
further payment. We think it unnecessary here to discuss whether these
representations are or are not exaggerated, because, from the
explanations we have given of our wishes for a new arrangement in
future, both with the Nabob of Arcot and the Rajah of Tanjore, and the
directions we have given you to carry that arrangement into execution,
we think it impolitic to insist upon any demands upon the Rajah for the
expenses of the late war, beyond the sum of four lacs of pagodas
annually: such a demand might tend to interrupt the harmony which should
prevail between the Company and the Rajah, and impede the great objects
of the general system we have already so fully explained to you.

But although it is not our opinion that any further claim should be made
on the Rajah for his share of the extraordinary expenses of the late
war, it is by no means our intention in any manner to affect the just
claim which the Nabob has on the Rajah for the arrears due to him on
account of peshcush, for the regular payment of which we became guaranty
by the treaty of 1762; but we have already expressed to you our hopes
that the Nabob may be induced to allow these arrears and the growing
payments, when due, to be received by the Company, and carried in
discharge of his debt to us. You are at the same time to use every means
to convince him, that, when this debt shall be discharged, it is our
intention, as we are bound by the above treaty, to exert ourselves to
the utmost of our power to insure the constant and regular payment of it
into his own hands.

We observe, by the plan sent to us by our Governor of Fort St. George,
on the 30th October, 1781, that an arrangement is there proposed for the
receipt of those arrears from the Rajah in three years.

We are unable to decide how far this proposal may be consistent with the
present state of the Rajah's resources; but we direct you to use all
proper means to bring these arrears to account as soon as possible,
consistently with a due attention to this consideration.

       *       *       *       *       *


You will observe, that, by the 38th section of the late act of
Parliament, it is enacted, that, for settling upon a permanent
foundation the present indeterminate rights of the Nabob of Arcot and
the Rajah of Tanjore with respect to each other, we should take into our
immediate consideration the said indeterminate rights and pretensions,
and take and pursue such measures as in our judgment and discretion
shall be best calculated to ascertain and settle the same, according to
the principles and the terms and stipulations contained in the treaty of
1762 between the said Nabob and the said Rajah.

On a retrospect of the proceedings transmitted to us from your
Presidency, on the subject of the disputes which have heretofore arisen
between the Nabob and the Rajah, we find the following points remain
unadjusted, viz.

1st, Whether the jaghire of Arnee shall be enjoyed by the Nabob, or
delivered up, either to the Rajah, or the descendants of Tremaul Row,
the late jaghiredar.

2d, Whether the fort and district of Hanamantagoody, which is admitted
by both parties to be within the Marawar, ought to be possessed by the
Nabob, or to be delivered up by him to the Rajah.

3rd, To whom the government share of the crop of the Tanjore country, of
the year 1775-6, properly belongs.

Lastly, Whether the Rajah has a right, by usage and custom, or ought,
from the necessity of the case, to be permitted to repair such part of
the Anicut, or dam and banks of the Cavery, as lie within the district
of Trichinopoly, and to take earth and sand in the Trichinopoly
territory for the repairs of the dam and banks within either or both of
those districts.

In order to obtain a complete knowledge of the facts and circumstances
relative to the several points in dispute, and how far they are
connected with the treaty of 1762, we have with great circumspection
examined into all the materials before us on these subjects, and will
proceed to state to you the result of our inquiries and deliberations.

The objects of the treaty of 1762 appear to be restricted to the arrears
of tribute to be paid to the Nabob for his past claims, and to the
quantum of the Rajah's future tribute or peshcush; the cancelling of a
certain bond given by the Rajah's father to the father of the Nabob; the
confirmation to the Rajah of the districts of Coveladdy and Elangaud,
and the restoration of Tremaul Row to his jaghire of Arnee, in
condescension to the Rajah's request, upon certain stipulations, viz.,
that the fort of Arnee and Doby Gudy should be retained by the Nabob;
that Tremaul Row should not erect any fortress, walled pagoda, or other
stronghold, nor any wall round his dwelling-house exceeding eight feet
high or two feet thick, and should in all things behave himself with
due obedience to the government; and that he should pay yearly, in the
month of July, unto the Nabob or his successors, the sum of ten thousand
rupees: the Rajah thereby becoming the security for Tremaul Row, that he
should in all things demean and behave himself accordingly, and pay
yearly the stipulated sum.

Upon a review of this treaty, the only point now in dispute, which
appears to us to be so immediately connected with it as to bring it
within the strict line of our duty to ascertain and settle according to
the terms and stipulations of the treaty, is that respecting Arnee. For,
although the other points enumerated may in some respects have a
relation to that treaty, yet, as they are foreign to the purposes
expressed in it, and could not be in the contemplation of the
contracting parties at the time of making it, those disputes cannot in
our comprehension fall within the line of description of rights and
pretensions to be now ascertained and settled by us, according to any of
the terms and stipulations of it.

In respect to the jaghire of Arnee, we do not find that our records
afford us any satisfactory information by what title the Rajah claims
it, or what degree of relationship or connection has subsisted between
the Rajah and the Killadar of Arnee, save only that by the treaty of
1762 the former became the surety for Tremaul Row's performance of his
engagements specified therein, as the conditions for his restoration to
that jaghire; on the death of Tremaul Row, we perceive that he was
succeeded by his widow, and after her death, by his grandson
Seneewasarow, both of whom were admitted to the jaghire by the Nabob.

From your Minutes of Consultation of the 31st October, 1770, and the
Nabob's letter to the President of the 21st March, 1771, and the two
letters from Rajah Beerbur Atchenur Punt (who we presume was then the
Nabob's manager at Arcot) of the 16th and 18th March, referred to in the
Nabob's letter, and transmitted therewith to the President, we observe,
that, previous to the treaty of 1762, Mr. Pigot concurred in the
expediency of the Nabob's taking possession of this jaghire, on account
of the troublesome and refractory behavior of the Arnee braminees, by
their affording protection to all disturbers, who, by reason of the
little distance between Arnee and Arcot, fled to the former, and were
there protected, and not given up, though demanded;--that, though the
jaghire was restored in 1762, it was done under such conditions and
restrictions as were thought best calculated to preserve the peace and
good order of the place and due obedience to government;--that,
nevertheless, the braminees (quarrelling among themselves) did
afterwards, in express violation of the treaty, enlist and assemble many
thousand sepoys, and other troops; that they erected gaddies and other
small forts, provided themselves with wall-pieces, small guns, and other
warlike stores, and raised troubles and disturbances in the neighborhood
of the city of Arcot and the forts of Arnee and Shaw Gaddy; and that,
finally, they imprisoned the hircarrahs of the Nabob, sent with his
letters and instructions, in pursuance of the advice of your board, to
require certain of the braminees to repair to the Nabob at Chepauk, and,
though peremptorily required to repair thither, paid no regard to those,
or to any other orders from the circar.

By the 13th article contained in the instructions given by the Nabob to
Mr. Dupre, as the basis for negotiating the treaty made with the Rajah
in 1771, the Nabob required that the Arnee district should be delivered
up to the circar, because the braminees had broken the conditions which
they were to have observed. In the answers given by the Rajah to these
propositions, he says, "I am to give up to the circar the jaghire
district of Arnee"; and on the 7th of November, 1771, the Rajah, by
letter to Seneewasarow, who appears by your Consultations and country
correspondence to have been the grandson of Tremaul Row, and to have
been put in possession of the jaghire at your recommendation, (on the
death of his grandmother,) writes, acquainting him that he had given the
Arnee country, then in his (Seneewasarow's) possession, to the Nabob, to
whose aumildars Seneewasarow was to deliver up the possession of the
country. And in your letter to us of the 28th February, 1772, you
certified the district of Arnee to be one of the countries acquired by
this treaty, and to be of the estimated value of two lacs of rupees per

In our orders dated the 12th of April, 1775, we declared our
determination to replace the Rajah upon the throne of his ancestors,
upon certain terms and conditions, to be agreed upon for the mutual
benefit of himself and the Company, without infringing the rights of the
Nabob. We declared that our faith stood pledged by the treaty of 1762 to
obtain payment of the Rajah's tribute to the Nabob, and that for the
insuring such payment the fort of Tanjore should be garrisoned by our
troops. We directed that you should pay no regard to the article of the
treaty of 1771 which respected the alienation of part of the Rajah's
dominions; and we declared, that, if the Nabob had not a just title to
those territories before the conclusion of the treaty, we denied that he
obtained any right thereby, except such temporary sovereignty, for
securing the payment of his expenses, as is therein mentioned.

These instructions appear to have been executed in the month of April,
1776; and by your letter of the 14th May following you certified to us
that the Rajah had been put into the possession of the whole country his
father held in 1762, when the treaty was concluded with the Nabob; but
we do not find that you came to any resolution, either antecedent or
subsequent to this advice, either for questioning or impeaching the
right of the Nabob to the sovereignty of Arnee, or expressive of any
doubt of his title to it. Nevertheless, we find, that, although the
Board passed no such resolution, yet your President, in his letter to
the Nabob of the 30th July and 24th August, called upon his Highness to
give up the possession of Arnee to the Rajah; and the Rajah himself, in
several letters to us, particularly in those of 21st October, 1776, and
the 7th of June, 1777, expressed his expectation of our orders for
delivering up that fort and district to him; and so recently as the 15th
of October, 1783, he reminds us of his former application, and states,
that the country of Arnee being guarantied to him by the Company, it of
course is his right, but that it has not been given up to him, and he
therefore earnestly entreats our orders for putting him into the
possession of it. We also observe by your letter of the 14th of October,
1779, that the Rajah had not then accounted for the Nabob's peshcush
since his restoration, but had assigned as a reason for his withdrawing
it, that the Nabob had retained from him the district of Arnee, with a
certain other district, (Hanamantagoody,) which is made the subject of
another part of our present dispatches.

We have thus stated to you the result of our inquiry into the grounds of
the dispute relative to Arnee; and as the research has offered no
evidence in support of the Rajah's claim, nor even any lights whereby we
can discover in what degree of relationship, by consanguinity, caste, or
other circumstances, the Rajah now stands, or formerly stood, with the
Killadar of Arnee, or the nature of his connection with or command over
that district, or the authority he exercised or assumed previous to the
treaty of 1771, we should think ourselves highly reprehensible in
complying with the Rajah's request,--and the more so, as it is expressly
stated, in the treaty of 1762, that this fort and district were then in
the possession of the Nabob, as well as the person of the jaghiredar, on
account of his disobedience, and were restored him by the Nabob, in
condescension to the Rajah's request, upon such terms and stipulations
as could not, in our judgment, have been imposed by the one or submitted
to by the other, if the sovereignty of the one or the dependency of the
other had been at that time a matter of doubt.

Although these materials have not furnished us with evidence in support
of the Rajah's claim, they are far from satisfactory to evince the
justice of or the political necessity for the Nabob's continuing to
withhold the jaghire from the descendants of Tremaul Row; his hereditary
right to that jaghire seems to us to have been fully recognized by the
stipulations of the treaty of 1762, and so little doubted, that, on his
death, his widow was admitted by the Nabob to hold it, on account, as
may be presumed, of the nonage of his grandson and heir, Seneewasarow,
who appears to have been confirmed in the jaghire, on her death, by the
Nabob, as the lineal heir and successor to his grandfather.

With respect to Seneewasarow, it does not appear, by any of the
Proceedings in our possession, that he was concerned in the misconduct
of the braminees, complained of by the Nabob in the year 1770, which
rendered it necessary for his Highness to take the jaghire into his own
hands, or that he was privy to or could have prevented those

We therefore direct, that, if the heir of Tremaul Row is not at present
in possession of the jaghire, and has not, by any violation of the
treaty, or act of disobedience, incurred a forfeiture thereof, he be
forthwith restored to the possession of it, according to the terms and
stipulations of the treaty of 1762. But if any powerful motive of regard
to the peace and tranquillity of the Carnatic shall in your judgment
render it expedient to suspend the execution of these orders, in that
case you are with all convenient speed to transmit to us your
proceedings thereupon, with the full state of the facts, and of the
reasons which have actuated your conduct.

We have before given it as our opinion that the stipulations of the
treaty of 1762 do not apply to the points remaining to be decided. But
the late act of Parliament having, from the nature of our connection
with the two powers in the Carnatic, pointed out the expediency, and
even necessity, of settling the several matters in dispute between them
by a speedy and permanent arrangement, we now proceed to give you our
instructions upon, the several other heads of disputes before

With respect to the fort and district of Hanamantagoody, we observe,
that, on the restoration of the Rajah in 1776, you informed us in your
letter of the 14th of May, That the Rajah had been put into possession
of the whole of the country his father held in 1762, when the treaty was
concluded with the Nabob; and on the 25th of June you came to the
resolution of putting the Rajah into possession of Hanamantagoody, on
the ground of its appearing, on reference to the Nabob's instructions to
Mr. Dupre in June, 1762, to his reply, and to the Rajah's
representations of 25th March, 1771, that Hanamantagoody was actually in
the hands of the late Rajah at the time of making the treaty of 1762. We
have referred as well to those papers as to all the other proceedings on
this subject, and must confess they fall very short of demonstrating to
us the truth of that fact. And we find, by the Secret Consultations of
Fort William of the 7th of August, 1776, that the same doubt was
entertained by our Governor-General and Council.

But whether, in point of fact, the late Rajah was or was not in
possession of Hanamantagoody in 1762, it is notorious that the Nabob had
always claimed the dominion of the countries of which this fort and
district are a part.

We observe that the Nabob is now in the actual possession of this fort
and district; and we are not warranted, by any document we have seen, to
concur with the wishes of the Rajah to dispossess him.

With regard to the government share of the crop of 1775-6, we observe by
the dobeer's memorandum, recited in your Consultations of the 13th of
May, 1776, that it was the established custom of the Tanjore country to
gather in the harvest and complete the collections within the month of
March, but that, for the causes therein particularly stated, the harvest
(and of course the collection of the government share of the crop) was
delayed till the month of March was over. We also observe that the Rajah
was not restored to his kingdom until the 11th of April, 1776; and from
hence we infer, that, if the harvest and collection had been finished at
the usual time, the Nabob (being then sovereign of the country) would
have received the full benefit of that year's crop.

Although the harvest and collection were delayed beyond the usual time,
yet we find by the Proceedings of your government, and particularly by
Mr. Mackay's Minute of the 29th of May, 1776, and also by the dobeer's
account, that the greatest part of the grain was cut down whilst the
Nabob remained in the government of the country.

It is difficult, from the contradictory allegations on the subject, to
ascertain what was the precise amount of the collections made after the
Nabob ceased to have the possession of the country. But whatever it was,
it appears from General Stuart's letter of the 2d of April, 1777, that
it had been asserted with good authority that the far greater part of
the government share of the crop was plundered by individuals, and never
came to account in the Rajah's treasury.

Under all the circumstances of this case, we must be of opinion that the
government share of the crop of 1776 belonged to the Nabob, as the then
reigning sovereign of the kingdom of Tanjore, he being, _de facto_, in
the full and absolute possession of the government thereof; and
consequently that the assignments made by him of the government share of
the crop were valid.

Nevertheless, we would by no means be understood by this opinion to
suggest that any further demands ought to be made upon the Rajah, in
respect of such parts of the government share of the crop as were
collected by his people.

For, on the contrary, after so great a length of time as hath elapsed,
we should think it highly unjust that the Rajah should be now compelled
either to pay the supposed balances, whatever they may be, or be called
upon to render a specific account of the collection made by his people.

The Rajah has already, in his letter to Governor Stratton of the 21st of
April, 1777, given his assurance, that the produce of the preceding
year, accounted for to him, was little more than one lac of pagodas; and
as you have acquainted us, by your letter of the 14th of October, 1779,
that the Rajah has actually paid into our treasury one lac of pagodas,
by way of deposit, on account of the Nabob's claims to the crop, till
our sentiments should be known, we direct you to surcease any further
demands from the Rajah on that account.

We learn by the Proceedings, and particularly by the Nabob's letter to
Lord Pigot of the 6th of July, 1776, that the Nabob, previous to the
restoration of the Rajah, actually made assignments or granted tunkaws
of the whole of his share of the crop to his creditors and troops; and
that your government, (entertaining the same opinion as we do upon the
question of right to that share,) by letter to the Rajah of the 20th of
August, 1776, recommended to him "to restore to Mr. Benfield (one of the
principal assignees or tunkaw-holders of the Nabob) the grain of the
last year, which was in possession of his people, and said to be
forcibly taken from them,--and farther, to give Mr. Benfield all
reasonable assistance in recovering such debts as should appear to have
been justly due to him from the inhabitants; and acquainted the Rajah
that it had been judged by a majority of the Council that it was the
Company's intention to let the Nabob have the produce of the crop of
1776, but that you had no intention that the Rajah should be accountable
for more than the government share, whatever that might be; and that you
did not mean to do more than recommend to him to see justice done,
leaving the manner and time to himself." Subsequent representations
appear to have been made to the Rajah by your government on the same
subject, in favor of the Nabob's mortgages.

In answer to these applications, the Rajah, in his letter to Mr.
Stratton of the 12th January, 1777, acquainted you "that he had given
orders respecting the grain which Mr. Benfield had heaped up in his
country; and with regard to the money due to him by the farmers, that he
had desired Mr. Benfield to bring accounts of it, that he might limit a
time for the payment of it proportionably to their ability, and that the
necessary orders for stopping this money out of the inhabitants' share
of the crop had been sent to the ryots and aumildars; that Mr.
Benfield's gomastah was then present there, and oversaw his affairs; and
that in everything that was just he (the Rajah) willingly obeyed our
Governor and Council."

Our opinion being that the Rajah ought to be answerable for no more than
the amount of what he admits was collected by his people for the
government share of the crop; and the Proceedings before us not
sufficiently explaining whether, in the sum which the Rajah, by his
before-mentioned letter of the 21st April, 1777, admits to have
collected, are included those parts of the government share of the crop
which were taken by his people from Mr. Benfield, or from any other of
the assignees or tunkaw-holders; and uninformed, as we also are, what
compensation the Rajah has or has not made to Mr. Benfield, or any other
of the parties from whom the grain was taken by the Rajah's people; or
whether, by means of the Rajah's refusal so to do, or from any other
circumstance, any of the persons dispossessed of their grain may have
had recourse to the Nabob for satisfaction: we are, for these reasons,
incompetent to form a proper judgment what disposition ought in justice
to be made of the one lac of pagodas deposited by the Rajah. But as our
sentiments and intentions are so fully expressed upon the whole subject,
we presume you, who are upon the spot, can have no doubt or difficulty
in making such an application of the deposit as will be consistent with
those principles of justice whereon our sentiments are founded. But
should any such difficulty suggest itself, you will suspend any
application of the deposit, until you have fully explained the same to
us, and have received our further orders.

With respect to the repairs of the Anicut and banks of the Cavery we
have upon various occasions fully expressed to you our sentiments, and
in particular in our general letter of the 4th July, 1777, we referred
you to the investigation and correspondence on that subject of the year
1764, and to the report made by Mr. James Bourchier, on his personal
survey of the waters, and to several letters of the year 1765 and 1767;
we also, by our said general letter, acquainted you that it appeared to
us perfectly reasonable that the Rajah should be permitted to repair
those banks, and the Anicut, in the same manner as had been practised in
times past; and we directed you to establish such regulations, by
reference to former usage, for keeping the said banks in repair, as
would be effectual, and remove all cause of complaint in future.

Notwithstanding such our instructions, the Rajah, in his letter to us of
the 15th October, 1783, complains of the destruction of the Anicut; and
as the cultivation of the Tanjore country appears, by all the surveys
and reports of our engineers employed on that service, to depend
altogether on a supply of water by the Cavery, which can only be secured
by keeping the Anicut and banks in repair, we think it necessary to
repeat to you our orders of the 4th July, 1777, on the subject of those

And further, as it appears by the survey and report of Mr. Pringle, that
those repairs are attended with a much heavier expense, when done with
materials taken from the Tanjore district, than with those of
Trichinopoly, and that the last-mentioned materials are far preferable
to the other, it is our order, that, if any occurrences should make it
necessary or expedient, you apply to the Nabob, in our name, to desire
that his Highness will permit proper spots of ground to be set out, and
bounded by proper marks on the Trichinopoly side, where the Rajah and
his people may at all times take sand and earth sufficient for these
repairs; and that his Highness will grant his lease of such spots of
land for a certain term of years to the Company, at a reasonable annual
rent, to the intent that through you the cultivation of the Tanjore
country may be secured, without infringing or impairing the rights of
the Nabob.

If any attempts have been or shall be hereafter made to divert the water
from the Cavery into the Coleroon, by contracting the current of the
Upper or Lower Cavery, by planting long grass, as mentioned in Mr.
Pringle's report, or by any other means, we have no doubt his Highness,
on a proper representation to him in our name, will prevent his people
from taking any measures detrimental to the Tanjore country, in the
prosperity of which his Highness, as well as the Company, is materially

Should you succeed in reconciling the Nabob to this measure, we think it
but just that the proposed lease shall remain no longer in force than
whilst the Rajah shall be punctual in the payment of the annual peshcush
to the Nabob, as well as the rent to be reserved for the spots of
ground. And in order effectually to remove all future occasions of
jealousy and complaint between the parties,--that the Rajah, on the one
hand, may be satisfied that all necessary works for the cultivation of
his country will be made and kept in repair, and that the Nabob, on the
other hand, may be satisfied that no encroachment on his rights can be
made, nor any works detrimental to the fertility of his country
erected,--we think it proper that it should be recommended to the
parties, as a part of the adjustment of this very important point, that
skilful engineers, appointed by the Company, be employed at the Rajah's
expense to conduct all the necessary works, with the strictest attention
to the respective rights and interests of both parties. This will remove
every probability of injury or dispute. But should either party
unexpectedly conceive themselves to be injured, immediate redress might
be obtained by application to the government of Madras, under whose
appointment the engineer will act, without any discussion between the
parties, which might disturb that harmony which it is so much the wish
of the Company to establish and preserve, as essential to the prosperity
and peace of the Carnatic.

Having now, in obedience to the directions of the act of Parliament,
upon the fullest consideration of the indeterminate rights and
pretensions of the Nabob and Rajah, pointed out such measures and
arrangements as in our judgment and discretion will be best calculated
to ascertain and settle the same, we hope, that, upon a candid
consideration of the whole system, although each of the parties may feel
disappointed in our decision on particular points, they will be
convinced that we have been guided in our investigation by principles of
strict justice and impartiality, and that the most anxious attention has
been paid to the substantial interests of both parties, and such a
general and comprehensive plan of arrangement proposed as will most
effectually prevent all future dissatisfaction.

Approved by the Board.


WHITEHALL, October 27, 1784.

No. 9.

Referred to from pp. 78 and 85.

_Extract of a Letter from the Court of Directors to the President and
Council of Fort St. George, as amended and approved by the Board of

We have taken into our consideration the several advices and papers
received from India, relative to the assignment of the revenues of the
Carnatic, from the conclusion of the Bengal treaty to the date of your
letter in October, 1783, together with the representations of the Nabob
of the Carnatic upon that subject; and although we might contend that
the agreement should subsist till we are fully reimbursed his Highness's
proportion of the expenses of the war, yet, from a principle of
moderation, and personal attachment to our old ally, his Highness the
Nabob of the Carnatic, for whose dignity and happiness we are ever
solicitous, and to cement more strongly, if possible, that mutual
harmony and confidence which our connection makes so essentially
necessary for our reciprocal safety and welfare, _and for removing from
his mind every idea of secret design on our part to lessen his authority
over the internal government of the Carnatic_, and the collection and
administration of its revenues, we have resolved that the assignment
shall be surrendered; and we do accordingly direct our President, in
whose name the assignment was taken, _without delay_, to surrender the
same to his Highness. But while we have adopted this resolution, we
repose entire confidence in his Highness, that, actuated by the same
motives of liberality, and feelings of old friendship and alliance, he
will cheerfully and instantly accede to such arrangements as are
necessary to be adopted for our common safety, and for preserving the
respect, rights, and interests we enjoy in the Carnatic. The following
are the heads and principles of such an arrangement as we are decisively
of opinion must be adopted for these purposes, viz.

That, for making a provision for discharging the Nabob's just debts to
the Company and individuals, (for the payment of which his Highness has
so frequently expressed the greatest solicitude,) _the Nabob shall give
soucar security for the punctual payment, by instalments_, into the
Company's treasury, of twelve lacs of pagodas per annum, (as voluntarily
proposed by his Highness,) until those debts, with interest, shall be
discharged; and shall also consent that the equitable provision lately
made by the British legislature for the liquidation of those debts, _and
such resolutions and determinations as we shall hereafter make_, under
the authority of that provision for the liquidation and adjustment of
the said debts, _bona fide_ incurred, shall be carried into full force
and effect.

Should any difficulty arise between his Highness and our government of
Fort St. George, in respect to _the responsibility of the soucar
security_, or the times and terms of the instalments, it is our pleasure
that you pay obedience to the orders and resolutions of our
Governor-General and Council of Bengal in respect thereto, not doubting
but the Nabob will in such case consent to abide by the determination of
our said supreme government.

Although, from the great confidence we repose in the honor and integrity
of the Nabob, and from an earnest desire not to subject him to any
embarrassment on this occasion, we have not proposed any specific
assignment of territory or revenue for securing the payments aforesaid,
we nevertheless think it our duty, as well to the private creditors,
whose interests in this respect have been so solemnly intrusted to us by
the late act of Parliament, as from regard to the debt due to the
Company, to insist on a declaration, that, in the event of the failure
of the security proposed, or in default of payment at the stipulated
periods, we reserve to ourselves full right to demand of the Nabob such
_additional security_, by assignment on his country, as shall be
effectual for answering the purposes of the agreement.

After having conciliated the mind of the Nabob to this measure, and
adjusted the particulars, you are to carry the same into execution by a
formal deed between his Highness and the Company, according to the tenor
of these instructions.

As the administration of the British interests and connections in India
has in some respects assumed a new shape by the late act of Parliament,
and a general peace in India has been happily accomplished, the present
appears to us to be the proper period, and which cannot without great
imprudence be omitted, to settle and arrange, by a just and equitable
treaty, a plan for the future defence and protection of the Carnatic,
both in time of peace and war, on a solid and lasting foundation.

For the accomplishment of this great and necessary object, we direct
you, in the name of the Company, to use your utmost endeavors to impress
the expediency of, and the good effects to be derived from this measure,
so strongly upon the minds of the Nabob and the Rajah of Tanjore, as to
prevail upon them, jointly or separately, to enter into one or more
treaty or treaties with the Company, grounded on this principle of
equity: That all the contracting parties shall be bound to contribute
jointly to the support of the military force and garrisons, as well in
peace as in war.

That the military peace establishment shall be forthwith settled and
adjusted by the Company, in pursuance of the authority and directions
given to them by the late act of Parliament.

As the payment of the troops and garrisons, occasional expenses in the
repairs and improvements of fortifications, and other services
incidental to a military establishment, must of necessity be punctual
and accurate, no latitude of personal assurance or reciprocal confidence
of either of the parties on the other must be accepted or required; but
the Nabob and Rajah must of necessity specify particular districts and
revenues for securing the due and regular payment of their contributions
into the treasury of the Company, with whom the charge of the defence of
the coast, and of course the power of the sword, must be exclusively
intrusted, with power for the Company, in case of failure or default of
such payments at the stipulated times and seasons, to enter upon and
possess such districts, and to let the same to renters, to be confirmed
by the Nabob and the Rajah respectively; but, trusting that in the
execution of this part of the arrangement no undue obstruction will be
given by either of those powers, we direct that this part of the treaty
be coupled with a most positive assurance, on our part, of our
determination to support the dignity and authority of the Nabob and
Rajah in the exclusive administration of the civil government and
revenues of their respective countries;--and further, that, in case of
_any_ hostility committed against the territories of either of the
contracting parties on the coast of Coromandel, the whole revenues of
their respective territories shall be considered as one common stock, to
be appropriated in the common cause of their defence; that the Company,
on their part, shall engage to refrain, _during the war_, from the
application of any part of their revenues to any commercial purposes
whatsoever, but apply the whole, save only the ordinary charges of their
civil government, to the purposes of the war; that the Nabob and the
Rajah shall in like manner engage, on their parts, to refrain, during
the war, from the application of any part of their revenues, save only
what shall be actually necessary for the support of themselves and the
civil government of their respective countries, to any other purposes
than that of defraying the expenses of such military operations as the
Company may find it necessary to carry on for the common safety of their
interests on the coast of Coromandel.

And to obviate any difficulties or misunderstanding which might arise
from leaving indeterminate the sum necessary to be appropriated for the
civil establishment of each of the respective powers, that the sum be
now ascertained which is indispensably necessary to be applied to those
purposes, and which is to be held sacred under every emergency, and set
apart previous to the application of the rest of the revenues, as hereby
stipulated, for the purposes of mutual or common defence against any
enemy, for _clearing_ the incumbrance which may have become necessarily
incurred in addition to the expenditure of those revenues _which must be
always deemed part of the war establishment_. This we think absolutely
necessary; as nothing can tend so much to the preservation of peace, and
to prevent the renewal of hostilities, as the early putting the finances
of the several powers upon a clear footing, and the showing to all other
powers that the Company, the Nabob, and the Rajah are firmly united in
one common cause, and combined in one system of permanent and vigorous
defence, for the preservation of their respective territories and the
general tranquillity.

That the whole aggregate revenue of the contracting parties shall,
during the war, be under the application of the Company, and shall
continue as long after the war _as shall be necessary, to discharge the
burdens contracted by it_; but it must be declared that this provision
shall in no respect extend to deprive either the Nabob or the Rajah of
the substantial authority necessary to the collection of the revenues of
their respective countries. But it is meant that they shall faithfully
perform the conditions of this arrangement; and if a division of any
part of the revenues to any other than the stipulated purposes shall
take place, the Company shall be entitled to take upon themselves the
collection of the revenue.

The Company are to engage, during the time they shall administer the
revenues, to produce to the other contracting parties regular accounts
of the application thereof to the purposes stipulated by the treaty, and
faithfully apply them in support of the war.

And, lastly, as the defence of the Carnatic is thus to rest with the
Company, the Nabob shall be satisfied of the propriety of avoiding all
unnecessary expense, and will therefore agree not to maintain a greater
number of troops than shall be necessary for the support of his dignity
and the splendor of the durbar, which number shall be specified in the
treaty; and if any military aid is requisite for the security and
collection of his revenues, other than the fixed establishment employed
to enforce the ordinary collections and preserve the police of the
country, the Company must be bound to furnish him with such aid: the
Rajah of Tanjore must likewise become bound by similar engagements, and
be entitled to similar aid.

As, in virtue of the powers vested in Lord Macartney by the agreement of
December, 1781, sundry leases, of various periods, have been granted to
renters, we direct that you apply to the Nabob, in our name, for his
consent that they may be _permitted_ to hold their leases to the end of
the stipulated term; and we have great reliance[70] on the liberality
and spirit of accommodation manifested by the Nabob on so many
occasions, that he will be disposed to acquiesce in a proposition so
_just and reasonable_. But if, contrary to our expectations, his
Highness should be impressed with any particular aversion to comply with
this proposition, we do not desire you to insist upon it as an essential
part of the arrangement to take place between us; but, in that event,
you must take especial care to give such indemnification to the renters
for any loss they may sustain as you judge to be reasonable.

It equally concerns the honor of our government, that such natives as
may have been put in any degree of authority over the collections, in
consequence of the deed of assignment, and who have proved faithful to
their trust, shall not suffer inconvenience on account of their

Having thus given our sentiments at large, as well for the surrender of
the assignment as with regard to those arrangements which we think
necessary to adopt in consequence thereof, we cannot dismiss this
subject without expressing our highest approbation of _the ability,
moderation, and command of temper_ with which our President at Madras
has conducted himself in the management of a very delicate and
embarrassing situation. His conduct, and that of the Select Committee of
Fort St. George, in the execution of the trust delegated to Lord
Macartney by the Nabob Mahomed Ali, has been vigorous and effectual, for
the purpose of realizing as great a revenue, at a crisis of necessity,
as the nature of the case admitted; and the imputation of corruption,
suggested in some of the Proceedings, appears to be totally groundless
and unwarranted.

While we find so much to applaud, it is with regret we are induced to
advert to anything which may appear worthy of blame: as the step of
issuing the Torana Chits in Lord Macartney's own name can only be
justified upon the ground of absolute necessity;[71] and as his Lordship
had every reason to believe that the demand, when made, would be
irksome and disagreeable to the feelings of Mahomed Ali, every
precaution ought to have been used and more time allowed for proving
that necessity, by previous acts of address, civility, and conciliation,
applied for the purposes of obtaining his authority to such a measure.
It appears to us that more of this might have been used; and therefore
we cannot consider the omission of it as blameless, consistent with our
wishes of sanctifying no act contrary to the spirit of the agreement, or
derogatory to the authority of the Nabob of the Carnatic, in the
exercise of any of his just rights in the government of the people under
his authority.

We likewise observe, the Nabob has complained that no official
communication was made to him of the peace, for near a month after the
cessation of arms took place. This, and every other mark of disrespect
to the Nabob, will ever appear highly reprehensible in our eyes; and we
direct that you do, upon all occasions, pay the highest attention to him
and his family.

Lord Macartney, in his Minute of the 9th of September last, has been
fully under our consideration. We shall ever applaud the prudence and
foresight of our servants which induces them to collect and communicate
to us every opinion, or even ground of suspicion they may entertain,
relative to any of the powers in India with whose conduct our interest
and the safety of our settlements is essentially connected. At the same
time we earnestly recommend that those opinions and speculations be
communicated to us with prudence, discretion, and all possible secrecy,
_and the terms in which they are conveyed be expressed in a manner as
little offensive as possible to the powers whom they may concern and
into whose hands they may fall._[72]

We next proceed to give you our sentiments respecting the private debts
of the Nabob; _and we cannot but acknowledge_ that the origin and
justice, both of the loan of 1767, and the loan of 1777, commonly called
the Cavalry Loan, appear to us clear and indisputable, agreeable to the
true sense and spirit of the late act of Parliament.

In speaking of the loan of 1767, we are to be understood as speaking of
the debt as constituted by the original bonds of that year, bearing
interest at 10_l._ per cent; and therefore, if any of the Nabob's
creditors, under a pretence that their debts made part of the
consolidated debt of 1767, although secured by bonds of a subsequent
date, carrying an interest exceeding 10_l._ per cent, shall claim the
benefit of the following orders, we direct that you pay no regard to
such claims, without further especial instructions for that purpose.

With respect to the consolidated debt of 1777, it certainly stands upon
a less favorable footing. So early as the 27th March, 1769, it was
ordered by our then President and Council of Fort St. George, that, for
the preventing all persons living under the Company's protection from
having any dealings with any of the country powers or their ministers
without the knowledge or consent of the Board, an advertisement should
be published, by fixing it up at the sea-gate, and sending round a copy
to the Company's servants and inhabitants, and to the different
subordinates, and our garrisons, and giving it out in general orders,
stating therein that the President and Council did consider the
irreversible order of the Court of Directors of the year 1714 (whereby
their people were prohibited from having any dealings with the country
governments in money matters) to be in full force and vigor, and thereby
expressly forbidding all servants of the Company, and other Europeans
under their jurisdiction, to make loans or have any money transactions
with any of the princes or states in India, without special license and
permission of the President and Council for the time being, except only
in the particular cases there mentioned, and declaring that any wilful
deviation therefrom should be deemed a breach of orders, and treated as
such. And on the 4th of March, 1778, it was resolved by our President
and Council of Fort St George, that the consolidated debt of 1777 was
not, on any respect whatever, conducted under the auspices or protection
of that government; and on the circumstance of the consolidation of the
said debt being made known to us, we did, on the 23rd of December, 1778,
write to you in the following terms: "Your account of the Nabob's
private debts is very alarming; but from whatever cause or causes those
debts have been contracted or increased, we hereby repeat our orders,
that the sanction of the Company be on no account given to any kind of
security for the payment or liquidation of any part thereof, (except by
the express authority of the Court of Directors,) on any account or
pretence whatever."

The loan of 1777, therefore, has no sanction or authority from us; and
in considering the situation and circumstances of this loan, we cannot
omit to observe, that the creditors could not be ignorant how greatly
the affairs of the Nabob were at that time deranged, and that his debt
to the Company was then very considerable,--the payment of which the
parties took the most effectual means to postpone, by procuring an
assignment of such specific revenues for the discharge of their own
debts as alone could have enabled the Nabob to have discharged that of
the Company.

Under all these circumstances, we should be warranted to refuse our aid
or protection in the recovery of this loan. But when we consider the
inexpediency of keeping the subject of the Nabob's debts longer afloat
than is absolutely necessary,--when we consider how much the final
conclusion of this business will tend to promote tranquillity, credit,
and circulation of property in the Carnatic,--and when we consider that
the debtor concurs with the creditor in establishing the justice of
those debts consolidated in 1777 into gross sums, for which bonds were
given, liable to be transferred to persons different from the original
creditors, and having no share or knowledge of the transactions in which
the debts originated, and of course how little ground there is to expect
any substantial good to result from an unlimited investigation into
them, we have resolved so far to recognize the justice of those debts as
to extend to them that protection which, upon _more_ forcible grounds,
we have seen cause to allow to the other two classes of debts. But
although we so far adopt the general presumption in their favor as to
admit them to a participation in the manner hereafter directed, we do
not mean to debar you from receiving any complaints against those debts
of 1777, at the instance either of the Nabob himself, or of other
creditors injured by their being so admitted, or by any other persons
having a proper interest, or stating reasonable grounds of objection;
and if any complaints are offered, we order that the grounds of all such
be attentively examined by you, and be transmitted to us, together with
the evidence adduced in support of them, for our final decision; and as
we have before directed that the sum of twelve lacs of pagodas, to be
received annually from the Nabob, should be paid into our treasury, it
is our order that the same be distributed according to the following

That the debt be made up in the following manner, viz.

The debt consolidated in 1767 to be made up to the end of the year 1784,
with the current interest at ten per cent.

The Cavalry Loan to be made up to the same period, with the current
interest at twelve per cent.

The debt consolidated in 1777 to be made up to the same period, with the
current interest at twelve per cent, to November, 1781, and from thence
with the current interest at six per cent.

The twelve lacs annually to be received are then to be applied,--

1. To the growing interest on the Cavalry Loan, at twelve per cent.

2. To the growing interest on the debt of 1777, at six per cent.

The remainder to be equally divided: one half to be applied to the
extinction of the Company's debt; the other half to be applied to the
payment of growing interest at 10_l._ per cent, and towards the
discharge of the principal of the debt of 1767.

This arrangement to continue till the principal of the debt 1767 is

The application of the twelve lacs is, then, to be,--

1. To the interest of the debt of 1777, as above. The remainder to be
then equally divided,--one half towards the discharge of the current
interest and principal of the Cavalry Loan, and the other half towards
the discharge of the Company's debt.

When the Cavalry Loan shall be thus discharged, there shall then be paid
towards the discharge of the Company's debt seven lacs.

To the growing interest and capital of the 1777 loan, five lacs.

When the Company's debt shall be discharged, the whole is then to be
applied in discharge of the debt 1777.

If the Nabob shall be prevailed upon to apply the arrears and growing
payments of the Tanjore peshcush in further discharge of his debts, over
and above the twelve lacs of pagodas, we direct that the whole of that
payment, when made, shall be applied towards the reduction of the
Company's debt.

We have laid down these general rules of distribution, as appearing to
us founded on justice, and the relative circumstances of the different
debts; and therefore we give our authority and protection to them only
on the supposition that they who ask our protection acquiesce in the
condition upon which it is given; and therefore we expressly order,
that, if any creditor of the Nabob, a servant of the Company, or being
under our protection, shall refuse to express his acquiescence in these
arrangements, he shall not only be excluded from receiving any share of
the fund under your distribution, but shall be prohibited from taking
any separate measures to recover his debt from the Nabob: it being one
great inducement to our adopting this arrangement, that the Nabob shall
be relieved from all further disquietude by the importunities of his
individual creditors, and be left at liberty to pursue those measures
for the prosperity of his country which the embarrassments of his
situation have hitherto deprived him of the means of exerting. And we
further direct, that, if any creditor shall be found refractory, or
disposed to disturb the arrangement we have suggested, he shall be
dismissed the service, and sent home to England.

The directions we have given only apply to the three classes of debts
which have come under our observation. It has been surmised that the
Nabob has of late contracted further debts: if any of these are due to
British subjects, we forbid any countenance or protection whatever to be
given to them, until the debt is fully investigated, the nature of it
reported home, and our special instructions upon it received.

We cannot conclude this subject without adverting in the strongest terms
to the prohibitions which have from time to time issued under the
authority of different Courts of Directors against any of our servants,
or of those under our protection, having any money transactions with any
of the country powers, without the knowledge and previous consent of our
respective governments abroad. We are happy to find that the Nabob,
sensible of the great embarrassments, both to his own and the Company's
affairs, which the enormous amount of their private claims have
occasioned, is willing to engage not to incur any new debts with
individuals, and we think little difficulty will be found in persuading
his Highness into a positive stipulation for that purpose. And though
the legislature has thus humanely interfered in behalf of such
individuals as might otherwise have been reduced to great distress by
the past transactions, we hereby, in the most pointed and positive
terms, repeat our prohibition upon this subject, and direct that no
person, being a servant of the Company, or being under our protection,
shall, on any pretence whatever, be concerned in any loan or other money
transaction with any of the country powers, unless with the knowledge
and express permission of our respective governments. And if any of our
servants, or others, being under our protection, shall be discovered in
any respect counteracting these orders, we strictly enjoin you to take
the first opportunity of sending them home to England, to be punished as
guilty of disobedience of orders, and no protection or assistance of the
Company shall be given for the recovery of any loans connected with such
transactions. Your particular attention to this subject is strictly
enjoined; and any connivance on your parts to a breach of our orders
upon it will incur our highest displeasure. In order to put an end to
those intrigues which have been so successfully carried on at the
Nabob's durbar, we repeat our prohibition in the strongest terms
respecting any intercourse between British subjects and the Nabob and
his family; as we are convinced that such an intercourse has been
carried on greatly to the detriment and expense of the Nabob, and merely
to the advantage of individuals. We therefore direct that all persons
who shall offend against the letter and spirit of this necessary order,
whether in the Company's service or under their protection, be forthwith
sent to England.

Approved by the Board.
WHITEHALL, 15th Oct. 1784.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Extract from the Representation of the Court of Directors of the East
India Company._


It is with extreme concern that we express a difference of opinion with
your right honorable board, in this early exercise of your controlling
power; but in so novel an institution, it can scarce be thought
extraordinary, if the exact boundaries of our respective functions and
duties should not at once, on either side, be precisely and familiarly
understood, and therefore confide in your justice and candor for
believing that we have no wish to invade or frustrate the salutary
purposes of your institution, as we on our part are thoroughly satisfied
that you have no wish to encroach on the legal powers of the East India
Company. We shall proceed to state our objections to such of the
amendments as appear to us to be either insufficient, inexpedient, or

     6th. Concerning the private debts of the Nabob of Arcot, and the
     application of the fund of twelve lacs of pagodas per annum.

Under this head you are pleased, in lieu of our paragraphs, to
substantiate at once the justice of all those demands which the act
requires us to investigate, subject only to a right reserved to the
Nabob, or any other party concerned, to question the justice of any debt
falling within the last of the three classes. We submit, that at least
the opportunity of questioning, within the limited time, the justice of
any of the debts, ought to have been fully preserved; and supposing the
first and second classes to stand free from imputation, (as we incline
to believe they do,) no injury can result to individuals from such
discussion: and we further submit to your consideration, how far the
express direction of the act to examine the nature and origin of the
debts has been by the amended paragraphs complied with; and whether at
least the rate of interest, according to which the debts arising from
soucar assignment of the land-revenues to the servants of the Company,
acting in the capacity of native bankers, have been accumulated, ought
not to be inquired into, as well as the reasonableness of the deduction
of twenty-five per cent which the Bengal government directed to be made
from a great part of the debts on certain conditions. But to your
appropriation of the fund our duty requires that we should state our
strongest dissent. Our right to be paid the arrears of those expenses by
which, almost to our own ruin, we have preserved the country and all
the property connected with it from falling a prey to a foreign
conqueror, surely stands paramount to all claims for former debts upon
the revenues of a country so preserved, even if the legislature had not
expressly limited the assistance to be given the private creditors to be
such as should be consistent with our own rights. The Nabob had, long
before passing the act, by treaty with our Bengal government, agreed to
pay us seven lacs of pagodas, as part of the twelve lacs, in liquidation
of those arrears; of which seven lacs the arrangement you have been
pleased to lay down would take away from us more than the half, and give
it to private creditors, of whose demands there are only about a sixth
part which do not stand in a predicament that you declare would not
entitle them to any aid or protection from us in the recovery thereof,
were it not upon grounds of expediency, as will more particularly appear
by the annexed estimate. Until our debt shall be discharged, we can by
no means consent to give up any part of the seven lacs to the private
creditors; and we humbly apprehend that in this declaration we do not
exceed the limits of the authority and rights vested in us.

       *       *       *       *       *


_The Representation of the Court of Directors of the East India

My Lords and Gentlemen,--

The Court, having duly attended to your reasonings and decisions on the
subjects of Arnee and Hanamantagoody, beg leave to observe, with due
deference to your judgment, that the directions we had given in these
paragraphs which did not obtain your approbation still appear to us to
have been consistent with justice, and agreeable to the late act of
Parliament, which pointed out to us, as we apprehended, the treaty of
1762 as our guide.

Signed by order of the said Court,


EAST INDIA HOUSE, the 3rd November, 1784.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Extract of a Letter from the Commissioners for the Affairs of India, to
the Court of Directors, dated 3rd November, 1784, in Answer to their


We think it proper, considering the particular nature of the subject, to
state to you the following remarks on that part of your representation
which relates to the plan for the discharging of the Nabob's debts.

1st. You compute the revenue which the Carnatic may be expected to
produce only at twenty lacs of pagodas. If we concurred with you in this
opinion, we should certainly feel our hopes of advantage to all the
parties from this arrangement considerably diminished. But we trust that
we are not too sanguine on this head, when we place the greatest
reliance on the estimate transmitted to you by your President of Fort
St. George, having there the best means of information upon the fact,
and stating it with a particular view to the subject matter of these
paragraphs. Some allowance, we are sensible, must be made for the
difference of collection in the Nabob's hands, but, we trust, not such
as to reduce the receipt nearly to what you suppose.

2ndly. In making up the amount of the private debts, you take in
compound interest at the different rates specified in our paragraph.
This it was not our intention to allow; and lest any misconception
should arise on the spot, we have added an express direction that the
debts be made up with simple interest only, from the time of their
respective consolidation. Clause F f.

3rdly. We have also the strongest grounds to believe that the debts will
be in other respects considerably less than they are now computed by
you; and consequently, the Company's annual proportion of the twelve
lacs will be larger than it appears on your estimate. But even on your
own statement of it, if we add to the 150,000_l._, or 3,75,000 pagodas,
(which you take as the annual proportion to be received by the Company
for five years to the end of 1789,) the annual amount of the Tanjore
peshcush for the same period, and the arrears on the peshcush, (proposed
by Lord Macartney to be received in three years,) the whole will make a
sum not falling very short of pagodas 35,00,000, the amount of pagodas
7,00,000 per annum for the same period. And if we carry our calculations
farther, it will appear, that, both by the plan proposed by the Nabob
and adopted in your paragraphs, and by that which we transmitted to you,
the debt from the Nabob, if taken at 3,000,000_l._, will be discharged
nearly at the same period, viz., in the course of the eleventh year. We
cannot, therefore, be of opinion that there is the smallest ground for
objecting to this arrangement, as injurious to the interests of the
Company, even if the measure were to be considered on the mere ground
of expediency, and with a view only to the wisdom of reestablishing
credit and circulation in a commercial settlement, without any
consideration of those motives of attention to the feelings and honor of
the Nabob, of humanity to individuals, and of justice to persons in your
service and living under your protection, which have actuated the
legislature, and which afford not only justifiable, but commendable
grounds for your conduct.

Impressed with this conviction, we have not made any alteration in the
general outlines of the arrangement which we had before transmitted to
you. But, as the amount of the Nabob's revenue is matter of uncertain
conjecture, and as it does not appear just to us that any deficiency
should fall wholly on any one class of these debts, we have added a
direction to your government of Fort St. George, that, if,
notwithstanding the provisions contained in our former paragraphs, any
deficiency should arise, the payments of what shall be received shall be
made in the same proportion which would have obtained in the division of
the whole twelve lacs, had they been paid.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 10.

Referred to from p. 103.

[The following extracts are subjoined, to show the matter and the style
of representation employed by those who have obtained that ascendency
over the Nabob of Arcot which is described in the letter marked No. 6 of
the present Appendix, and which is so totally destructive of the
authority and credit of the lawful British government at Madras. The
charges made by these persons have been solemnly denied by Lord
Macartney; and to judge from the character of the parties accused and
accusing, they are probably void of all foundation. But as the letters
are in the name and under the signature of a person of great rank and
consequence among the natives,--as they contain matter of the most
serious nature,--as they charge the most enormous crimes, and
corruptions of the grossest kind, on a British governor,--and as they
refer to the Nabob's minister in Great Britain for proof and further
elucidation of the matters complained of,--common decency and common
policy demanded an inquiry into their truth or falsehood. The writing is
obviously the product of some English pen. If, on inquiry, these charges
should be made good, (a thing very unlikely,) the party accused would
become a just object of animadversion. If they should be found (as in
all probability they would be found) false and calumnious, and supported
by _forgery_, then the censure would fall on the accuser; at the same
time the necessity would be manifest for proper measures towards the
security of government against such infamous accusations. It is as
necessary to protect the honest fame of virtuous governors as it is to
punish the corrupt and tyrannical. But neither the Court of Directors
nor the Board of Control have made any inquiry into the truth or
falsehood of these charges. They have covered over the accusers and
accused with abundance of compliments; they have insinuated some oblique
censures; and they have recommended perfect harmony between the chargers
of corruption and peculation and the persons charged with these

13th October, 1782. _Extract of a Translation of a Letter from the Nabob
of Arcot to the Chairman of the Court of Directors of the East India

Fatally for me, and for the public interest, the Company's favor and my
unbounded confidence have been lavished on a man totally unfit for the
exalted station in which he has been placed, and unworthy of the trusts
that have been reposed in him. When I speak of one who has so deeply
stabbed my honor, my wounds bleed afresh, and I must be allowed that
freedom of expression which the galling reflection of my injuries and my
misfortunes naturally draws from me. Shall your servants, unchecked,
unrestrained, and unpunished, gratify their private views and ambition
at the expense of my honor, my peace, and my happiness, and to the ruin
of my country, as well as of all your affairs? No sooner had Lord
Macartney obtained the favorite object of his ambition than he betrayed
the greatest insolence towards me, the most glaring neglect of the
common civilities and attentions paid me by all former governors in the
worst of times, and even by the most inveterate of my enemies. He
insulted my servants, endeavored to defame my character by unjustly
censuring my administration, and extended his boundless usurpation to
the whole government of my dominions, in all the branches of judicature
and police; and, in violation of the express articles of the agreements,
proceeded to send renters into the countries, unapproved of by me, men
of bad character, and unequal to my management or responsibility.
Though he is chargeable with the greatest acts of cruelty, even to the
shedding the blood and cutting off the noses and ears of my subjects, by
those exercising his authority in the countries, and that even the
duties of religion and public worship have been interrupted or
prevented, and though he carries on all his business by the arbitrary
exertion of military force, yet does he not collect from the countries
one fourth of the revenue that should be produced. The statement he
pretends to hold forth of expected revenue is totally fallacious, and
can never be realized under the management of his Lordship, in the
appointment of renters totally disqualified, rapacious, and
irresponsible, who are actually embezzling and dissipating the public
revenues that should assist in the support of the war. Totally occupied
by his private views, and governed by his passions, he has neglected or
sacrificed all the essential objects of public good, and by want of
cooeperation with Sir Eyre Coote, and refusal to furnish the army with
the necessary supplies, has rendered the glorious and repeated victories
of the gallant general ineffectual to the expulsion of our cruel enemy.
To cover his insufficiency, and veil the discredit attendant on his
failure in every measure, he throws out the most illiberal expressions,
and institutes unjust accusations against me; and in aggravation of all
the distresses imposed upon me, he has abetted the meanest calumniators
to bring forward false charges against me and my son, Amir-ul-Omrah, in
order to create embarrassment, and for the distress of my mind. My
papers and writings sent to you must testify to the whole world the
malevolence of his designs, and the means that have been used to
forward them. He has violently seized and opened all letters addressed
to me and my servants, on my public and private affairs. My vackeel,
that attended him according to ancient custom, has been ignominiously
dismissed from his presence, and not suffered to approach the
Government-House. He has in the meanest manner, and as he thought in
secret, been tampering and intriguing with my family and relations for
the worst of purposes. And if I express the agonies of my mind under
these most pointed injuries and oppressions, and complain of the
violence and injustice of Lord Macartney, I am insulted by his affected
construction that my communications are dictated by the insinuations of
others, at the same time that his conscious apprehensions for his
misconduct have produced the most abject applications to me to smother
my feelings, and entreaties to write in his Lordship's favor to England,
and to submit all my affairs to his direction. When his submissions have
failed to mould me to his will, he has endeavored to effect his purposes
by menaces of his secret influence with those in power in England, which
he pretends to assert shall be effectual to confirm his usurpation, and
to deprive me, and my family, in succession, of my rights of sovereignty
and government forever. To such a length have his passions and violences
carried him, that all my family, my dependants, and even my friends and
visitors, are persecuted with the strongest marks of his displeasure.
Every shadow of authority in my person is taken from me, and respect to
my name discouraged throughout the whole country. When an officer of
high rank in his Majesty's service was some time since introduced to me
by Lord Macartney, his Lordship took occasion to show a personal
derision and contempt of me. Mr. Richard Sulivan, who has attended my
durbar under the commission of the Governor-General and Council of
Bengal, has experienced his resentment; and Mr. Benfield, _with whom I
have no business_, and who, as he has been accustomed to do for many
years, has continued to pay me his visits of respect, has felt the
weight of his Lordship's displeasure, and has had every unmerited
insinuation thrown out against him, to prejudice him, and deter him from
paying me his compliments as usual.

Thus, Gentlemen, have you delivered me over to a stranger; to a man
unacquainted with government and business, and too opinionated to learn;
to a man whose ignorance and prejudices operate to the neglect of every
good measure, or the liberal cooeperation with any that wish well to the
public interests; to a man who, to pursue his own passions, plans, and
designs, will certainly ruin all mine, as well as the Company's affairs.
His mismanagement and obstinacy have caused the loss of many lacs of my
revenues, dissipated and embezzled, and every public consideration
sacrificed to his vanity and private views. I beg to offer an instance
in proof of my assertions, and to justify the hope I have that you will
cause to be made good to me all the losses I have sustained by the
maladministration and bad practices of your servants, according to all
the account of receipts of former years, and which I made known to Lord
Macartney, amongst other papers of information, in the beginning of his
management in the collections. The district of Ongole produced annually,
upon a medium of many years, 90,000 pagodas; but Lord Macartney, _upon
receiving a sum of money from Ramchundry_[73] let it out to him, in
April last, for the inadequate rent of 50,000 pagodas per annum,
diminishing, in this district alone, near half the accustomed revenues.
After this manner hath he exercised his powers over the countries, to
suit his own purposes and designs; and this secret mode has he taken to
reduce the collections.

       *       *       *       *       *

1st November, 1782. _Copy of a Letter from the Nabob of Arcot to the
Court of Directors, &c._ Received 7th April, 1783.

The distresses which I have set forth in my former letters are now
increased to such an alarming pitch by the imprudent measures of your
Governor, and by the arbitrary and impolitic conduct pursued with the
merchants and importers of grain, that the very existence of the Fort of
Madras seems at stake, and that of the inhabitants of the settlement
appears to have been totally overlooked: many thousands have died, and
continue hourly to perish of famine, though the capacity of one of your
youngest servants, with diligence and attention, by doing justice, and
giving reasonable encouragement to the merchants, and by drawing the
supplies of grain which the northern countries would have afforded,
might have secured us against all those dreadful calamities. I had with
much difficulty procured and purchased a small quantity of rice, for the
use of myself, my family, and attendants, and with a view of sending off
the greatest part of the latter to the northern countries, with a little
subsistence in their hands. But what must your surprise be, when you
learn that even this rice was seized by Lord Macartney, with a military
force! and thus am I unable to provide for the few people I have about
me, who are driven to such extremity and misery that it gives me pain to
behold them. I have desired permission to get a little rice from the
northern countries for the subsistence of my people, without its being
liable to seizure by your sepoys: this even has been refused me by Lord
Macartney. What must your feelings be, on such wanton cruelty exercised
towards me, when you consider, that, of thousands of villages belonging
to me, a single one would have sufficed for my subsistence!

       *       *       *       *       *

22d March, 1783. _Translation of a Letter from the Nabob of Arcot to the
Chairman and Directors of the East India Company_. Received from Mr.
James Macpherson, 1st January, 1784.

I am willing to attribute this continued usurpation to the fear of
detection in Lord Macartney: he dreads the awful day when the scene of
his enormities will be laid open, at my restoration to my country, and
when the tongues of my oppressed subjects will be unloosed, and proclaim
aloud the cruel tyrannies they have sustained. These sentiments of his
Lordship's designs are corroborated by his sending, on the 10th instant,
two gentlemen to me and my son, Amir-ul-Omrah; and these gentlemen from
Lord Macartney especially set forth to me, and to my son, that all
dependence on the power of the superior government of Bengal to enforce
the intentions of the Company to restore my country was vain and
groundless,--that the Company confided in his Lordship's judgment and
discretion, and upon his representations, and that if I, and my son,
Amir-ul-Omrah, would enter into friendship with Lord Macartney, and sign
a paper declaring all my charges and complaints against him to be false,
that his Lordship might be induced to write to England that all his
allegations against me and my son were not well founded, and,
notwithstanding his declarations to withhold my country, yet, on these
considerations, it might be still restored to me.

What must be your feelings for your ancient and faithful friend, on his
receiving such insults to his honor and understanding from your
principal servant, armed with your authority! From these manoeuvres,
amongst thousands I have experienced, the truth must evidently appear to
you, that I have not been loaded with those injuries and oppressions
from motives of public service, but to answer the private views and
interests of his Lordship and his secret agents: _some papers to this
point are inclosed_; others, almost without number, must be submitted to
your justice, when time and circumstances shall enable me fully to
investigate those transactions. This opportunity will not permit the
full representation of my load of injuries and distresses: I beg leave
to refer you to my minister, Mr. Macpherson, for the papers, according
to the inclosed list, which accompanied my last dispatches by the
Rodney, which I fear have failed; and my correspondence with Lord
Macartney subsequent to that period, such as I have been able to prepare
for this opportunity, are inclosed.

Notwithstanding all the violent acts and declarations of Lord Macartney,
yet a consciousness of his own misconduct was the sole incentive to the
menaces and overtures he has held out in various shapes. He has been
insultingly lavish in his expressions of high respect for my person;
has had the insolence to say that all his measures flowed from his
affectionate regard alone; has presumed to say that all his enmity and
oppression were levelled at my son, Amir-ul-Omrah, to whom he before
acknowledged every aid and assistance; and his Lordship being without
any just cause or foundation for complaint against us, or a veil to
cover his own violences, he has now had recourse to the meanness and has
dared to intimate of my son, in order to intimidate me and to strengthen
his own wicked purposes, to be in league with our enemies the French.
You must doubtless be astonished, no less at the assurance than at the
absurdity of such a wicked suggestion.

       *       *       *       *       *


P.S. In my own handwriting I acquainted Mr. Hastings, as I now do my
ancient friends the Company, with the insult offered to my honor and
understanding, in the extraordinary propositions sent to me by Lord
Macartney, through two gentlemen, on the 10th instant, so artfully
veiled with menaces, hopes, and promises. But how can Lord Macartney add
to his enormities, after his wicked and calumniating insinuations, so
evidently directed against me and my family, through my faithful, my
dutiful, and beloved son, Amir-ul-Omrah, who, you well know, has been
ever born and bred amongst the English, whom I have studiously brought
up in the warmest sentiments of affection and attachment to
them,--sentiments that in his maturity have been his highest ambition to
improve, insomuch that he knows no happiness but in the faithful support
of our alliance and connection with the English nation?

     12th August, and Postscript of the 16th August, 1783. _Translation
     of a Letter to the Chairman and Directors of the East India
     Company._ Received from Mr. James Macpherson, 14th January, 1784.

Your astonishment and indignation will be equally raised with mine, when
you hear that your President _has dared_, contrary to your intention, to
continue to usurp the privileges and hereditary powers of the Nabob of
the Carnatic, your old and unshaken friend, and the declared ally of the
king of Great Britain.

I will not take up your time by enumerating the particular acts of Lord
Macartney's violence, cruelty, and injustice: _they, indeed, occur too
frequently, and fall upon me and my devoted subjects and country too
thick, to be regularly related_. I refer you to my minister, Mr. James
Macpherson, _for a more circumstantial account of the oppressions and
enormities by which he has brought both mine_ and the Company's affairs
to the brink of destruction. I trust that such flagrant violations of
all justice, honor, and the faith of treaties will receive the severest
marks of your displeasure, and that Lord Macartney's conduct, in making
use of your name and authority as a sanction for the continuance of his
usurpation, will be disclaimed with the utmost indignation, and followed
with the severest punishment. I conceive that his Lordship's arbitrary
retention of my country and government can only originate in his
_insatiable cravings_, in his implacable malevolence against me, and
through fear of detection, which must follow the surrender of the
Carnatic into my hands, of those nefarious proceedings which are now
suppressed by the arm of violence and power.

I did not fail to represent to the supreme government of Bengal the
deplorable situation to which I was reduced, and the unmerited
persecutions I have unremittingly sustained from Lord Macartney; and I
earnestly implored them to stretch forth a saving arm, and interpose
that controlling power which was vested in them, to check _rapacity and
presumption_, and preserve the honor and faith of the Company from
violation. The Governor-General and Council not only felt the cruelty
and injustice I had suffered, but were greatly alarmed for the fatal
consequences that might result from the distrust of the country powers
in the professions of the English, when they saw the Nabob of the
Carnatic, the friend of the Company, and the ally of Great Britain, thus
stripped of his rights, his dominions, and his dignity, by the most
fraudulent means, and under the mask of friendship. The Bengal
government had already heard both the Mahrattas and the Nizam urge, as
an objection to an alliance with the English, the faithless behavior of
Lord Macartney to a prince whose life had been devoted and whose
treasures had been exhausted in their service and support; and they did
not hesitate to give positive orders to Lord Macartney for the
restitution of my government and authority, on such terms as were not
only strictly honorable, but equally advantageous to my friends the
Company: for they justly thought that my honor and dignity and
_sovereign rights_ were the first objects of my wishes and ambition. But
how can I paint my astonishment at Lord Macartney's presumption in
continuing his usurpation after their positive and reiterated mandates,
and, as if nettled by their interference, which he disdained, in
redoubling the fury of his violence, and sacrificing the public and
myself to his malice and ungovernable passions?

I am, Gentlemen, at a loss to conceive where his usurpation will stop
and have an end. Has he not solemnly declared that the assignment was
only made for the support of war? and if neither your instructions nor
the orders of his superiors at Bengal were to be considered as
effectual, has not the treaty of peace virtually determined the period
of his tyrannical administration? But so far from surrendering the
Carnatic into my hands, he has, since that event, affixed advertisements
to the walls and gates of the Black Town for letting to the best bidder
the various districts for the term of three years,--and has continued
the Committee of Revenue, which you positively ordered to be abolished,
to whom he has allowed enormous salaries, from 6000 to 4000 pagodas per
annum, which each member has received from the time of his appointment,
though his Lordship well knows that most of them are by your orders
disqualified by being my principal creditors.

If those acts of violence and outrage had been productive of public
advantage, I conceive his Lordship might have held them forward in
extenuation of his conduct; but whilst he cloaks his justification under
the veil of your records, it is impossible to refute his assertions or
to expose to you their fallacy; and when he is no longer able to support
his conduct by argument, he refers to those records, where, I
understand, he has exercised all his sophistry and malicious
insinuations to render me and my family obnoxious in the eyes of the
Company and the British nation. And when the glorious victories of Sir
Eyre Coote have been rendered abortive by a constant deficiency of
supplies,--and when, since the departure of that excellent general to
Bengal, whose loss I must ever regret, a dreadful famine, at the close
of last year, occasioned by his Lordship's neglect to lay up a
sufficient stock of grain at a proper season, and from his prohibitory
orders to private merchants,--and when no exertion has been made, nor
advantage gained over the enemy,--when Hyder's death and Tippoo's return
to his own dominions operated in no degree for the benefit of our
affairs,--in short, when all has been a continued series of
disappointment and disgrace under Lord Macartney's management, (and in
him alone has the management been vested,)--I want words to convey those
ideas of his insufficiency, ignorance, and obstinacy which I am
convinced you would entertain, had you been spectators of his ruinous
and destructive conduct.

But against me, and my son, Amir-ul-Omrah, has his Lordship's vengeance
chiefly been exerted: even the Company's own subordinate zemindars have
found better treatment, probably because they were more rich; those of
Nizanagoram have been permitted, contrary to your pointed orders, to
hold their rich zemindaries at the old disproportionate rate of little
more than a sixth part of the real revenue; and my zemindar of Tanjore,
though he should have regarded himself equally concerned with us in the
event of the war, and from whose fertile country many valuable harvests
have been gathered in, which have sold at a vast price, has, I
understand, only contributed, last year, towards the public exigencies,
the very inconsiderable sum of one lac of pagodas, and a few thousand
pagodas' worth of grain.

I am much concerned to acquaint you that ever since the peace a dreadful
famine has swept away many thousands of the followers and sepoys'
families of the army, from Lord Macartney's neglect to send down grain
to the camp, though the roads are crowded with vessels: but his Lordship
has been too intent upon his own disgraceful schemes to attend to the
wants of the army. The negotiation with Tippoo, which he has set on foot
through the mediation of Monsieur Bussy, has employed all his thoughts,
and to the attainment of that object he will sacrifice the dearest
interests of the Company to gratify his malevolence against me, and for
his own private advantages. The endeavor to treat with Tippoo, through
the means of the French, must strike you, Gentlemen, as highly improper
and impolitic; but it must raise your utmost indignation to hear, that,
by intercepted letters from Bussy to Tippoo, as well as from their
respective vakeels, and from various accounts from Cuddalore, we have
every reason to conclude that his Lordship's secretary, Mr. Staunton,
when at Cuddalore, as his agent to settle the cessation of arms with the
French, was informed of all their operations and projects, and
_consequently that Lord Macartney has secretly connived at Monsieur
Bussy's recommendation to Tippoo to return into the Carnatic, as the
means of procuring the most advantageous terms, and furnishing Lord
Macartney with the plea of necessity for concluding a peace after his
own manner_: and what further confirms the truth of this fact is, that
repeated reports, as well as the alarms of the inhabitants to the
westward, leave us no reason to doubt that Tippoo is approaching
towards us. His Lordship has issued public orders that the garrison
store of rice, for which we are indebted to the exertions of the Bengal
government, should be immediately disposed of, and has strictly forbid
all private grain to be sold; by which act he effectually prohibits all
private importation of grain, and may eventually cause as horrid a
famine as that which we experienced at the close of last year from the
same shortsighted policy and destructive prohibitions of Lord Macartney.

But as he has the fabrication of the records in his own hands, he trusts
to those partial representations of his character and conduct, because
the signatures of those members of government whom he seldom consults
are affixed, as a public sanction; but you may form a just idea of their
correctness and propriety, when you are informed that his Lordship,
_upon my noticing the heavy disbursements made for secret service money,
ordered the sums to be struck off, and the accounts to be erased from
the cash-book of the Company_; and I think I cannot give you a better
proof of his management of my country and revenues than by calling your
attention to his conduct in the Ongole province, and by referring you to
his Lordship's administration of your own jaghire, from whence he has
brought to the public account the sum of twelve hundred pagodas for the
last year's revenue, yet blazons forth his vast merits and exertions,
and expects to receive the thanks of his Committee and Council.

I will beg leave to refer you to my minister, James Macpherson, Esq.,
for a more particular account of my sufferings and miseries, to whom I
have transmitted copies of all papers that passed with his Lordship.

I cannot conclude without calling your attention to _the situation of my
different creditors_, whose claims are the claims of justice, and whose
demands I am bound by honor and every moral obligation to discharge; it
is not, therefore, without great concern I have heard insinuations
tending to question the legality of their right to the payment of those
just debts: they proceeded from advances made by them openly and
honorably for the support of my own and the public affairs. But I hope
the tongue of calumny will never drown the voice of truth and justice;
and while that is heard, the wisdom of the English nation cannot fail to
accede to an effectual remedy for their distresses, by any arrangement
in which their claims may be duly considered and equitably provided for:
and for this purpose, my minister, _Mr. Macpherson, will readily
subscribe, in my name, to any agreement you may think proper to adopt,
founded on the same principles_ with either of the engagements I entered
into with the supreme government of Bengal for our mutual interest and

I always pray for your happiness and prosperity.

       *       *       *       *       *

     6th September, and Postscript of 7th September, 1783. _Translation
     of a Letter from the Nabob of Arcot to the Chairman and Directors
     of the East India Company._ Received from Mr. James Macpherson,
     14th January, 1784.

I refer you, Gentlemen, to my inclosed duplicate, as well as to my
minister, Mr. Macpherson, for the particulars of my sufferings. There is
no word or action of mine that is not perverted; and though it was my
intention to have sent my son, Amir-ul-Omrah, who is well versed in my
affairs, to Bengal, to impress those gentlemen with a full sense of my
situation, yet I find myself obliged to lay it aside, from the
insinuations of the calumniating tongue of Lord Macartney, that takes
every license to traduce every action of my life and that of my son. I
am informed that Lord Macartney, at this late moment, intends to write a
letter: I am ignorant of the subject, but fully perceive, that, by
delaying to send it till the very eve of the dispatch, he means to
deprive me of all possibility of communicating my reply, and forwarding
it for the information of my friends in England. Conscious of the weak
ground on which he stands, he is obliged to have recourse to these
artifices to mislead the judgment, and support for a time his
unjustifiable measures by deceit and imposition. I wish only to meet and
combat his charges and allegations fairly and openly, and I have
repeatedly and urgently demanded to be furnished with copies of those
parts of his _fabricated_ records relative to myself; but as he well
knows I should refute his sophistry, I cannot be surprised at his
refusal, though I lament that it prevents you, Gentlemen, from a clear
investigation of his conduct towards me.

Inclosed you have a translation of an arzee from the Killidar of
Vellore. _I have thousands of the same kind_; but this, just now
received, will serve to give you some idea of the miseries brought upon
this my devoted country, and the wretched inhabitants that remain in it,
by the oppressive hand of Lord Macartney's management: nor will the
_embezzlements of collections_ thus obtained, when brought before you in
_proof_, appear less extraordinary,--which _shall certainly be done in
due time_.

     _Translation of an Arzee, in the Persian Language, from
     Uzzim-ul-Doen Cawn, the Killidar of Vellore, to the Nabob_, dated
     1st September, 1783. Inclosed in the Nabob's Letter to the Court of
     Directors, September, 1783.

I have repeatedly represented to your Highness the violences and
oppressions exercised by the present aumildar [collector of revenue], of
Lord Macartney's appointment, over the few remaining inhabitants of the
districts of Vellore, Amboor, Saulguda, &c.

The outrages and violences now committed are of that astonishing nature
as were never known or heard of during the administration of the Circar.
Hyder Naik, the cruellest of tyrants, used every kind of oppression in
the Circar countries; but even his measures were not like those now
pursued. Such of the inhabitants as had escaped the sword and pillage of
Hyder Naik, by taking refuge in the woods, and within the walls of
Vellore, &c., on the arrival of Lord Macartney's aumildar to Vellore,
and in consequence of his cowle of protection and support, most
cheerfully returned to the villages, set about the cultivation of the
lands, and with great pains rebuilt their cottages.--But now the
aumildar has imprisoned the wives and children of the inhabitants,
seized the few jewels that were on the bodies of the women, and then,
before the faces of their husbands, flogged them, in order to make them
produce other jewels and effects, which he said they had buried
somewhere under ground, and to make the inhabitants bring him money,
notwithstanding there was yet no cultivation in the country. Terrified
with the flagellations, some of them produced their jewels and
wearing-apparel of their women, to the amount of ten or fifteen pagodas,
which they had hidden; others, who declared they had none, the aumildar
flogged their women severely, tied cords around their breasts, and tore
the sucking children from their teats, and exposed them to the scorching
heat of the sun. Those children died, as did the wife of Ramsoamy, an
inhabitant of Bringpoor. Even this could not stir up compassion in the
breast of the aumildar. Some of the children that were somewhat large he
exposed to sale. In short, the violences of the aumildar are so
astonishing, that the people, on seeing the present situation, remember
the loss of Hyder with regret. With whomsoever the aumildar finds a
single measure of natchinee or rice, he takes it away from him, and
appropriates it to the expenses of the sibindy that he keeps up. No
revenues are collected from the countries, but from the effects of the
poor, wretched inhabitants. Those ryots [yeomen] who intended to return
to their habitations, hearing of those violences, have fled for refuge,
with their wives and children, into Hyder's country. Every day is
ushered in and closed with these violences and disturbances. I have no
power to do anything; and who will hear what I have to say? My business
is to inform your Highness, who are my master. The people bring their
complaints to me, and I tell them I will write to your Highness.[74]

     _Translation of a Tellinga Letter from Veira Permaul, Head Dubash
     to Lord Macartney, in his own Handwriting, to Rajah Ramchunda, the
     Renter of Ongole._ Dated 25th of the Hindoo month Mausay, in the
     year Plavanamal, corresponding to 5th March, 1782.

I present my respects to you, and am very well here, wishing to hear
frequently of your welfare.

Your peasher Vancatroyloo has brought the Visseel Bakees, and delivered
them to me, as _also what you sent him for me to deliver to my master,
which I have done. My master at first refused to take it, because he is
unacquainted with your disposition_, or what kind of a person you are.
But after I made encomiums on your goodness and greatness of mind, and
took my oath to the same, and that _it would not become public_, but be
held as precious as our lives, _my master accepted it_. You may remain
satisfied that I will get the Ongole business settled in your name; I
will cause the jamaubundee to be settled agreeable to your desire. It
was formerly the Nabob's intention to give this business to you, as the
Governor knows full well, but did not at that time agree to it, which
you must be well acquainted with.

Your peasher Vancatroyloo is a very careful, good man; he is well
experienced in business; _he has bound me by an oath to keep all this
business secret, and that his own, yours, and my lives are responsible
for it_. I write this letter to you with the greatest reluctance, and I
signified the same to your peasher, and declared that I would not write
to you by any means. To this the peasher urged, that, _if I did not
write to his master, how could he know to whom he (the peasher)
delivered the money_, and what must his master think of it? Therefore I
write you this letter, and send it by my servant Ramanah, accompanied by
the peasher's servant, and it will come safe to your hands. After
perusal, you will send it back to me immediately: until I receive it, I
don't like to eat my victuals or take any sleep. Your peasher took his
oath, and urged me to write this for your satisfaction, and has engaged
to me that I shall have this letter returned to me in the space of
twelve days.

The present Governor is not like the former Governors: he is a very
great man in Europe; and all the great men of Europe are much obliged,
to him for his condescension in accepting the government of this place.
It is his custom, when he makes friendship with any one, to continue it
always; and if _he is at enmity with any one, he never will desist till
he has worked his destruction. He is now exceedingly displeased with
the Nabob, and you will understand by-and-by that the Nabob's business
cannot be carried on_; he (the Nabob) will have no power to do anything
in his own affairs: _you have, therefore, no room to fear him_; you may
remain with a contented mind. I desired the Governor to write you a
letter for your satisfaction: the Governor said he would do so, when the
business was settled. This letter you must peruse as soon as possible,
and send it back with all speed by the bearer, Ramadoo, accompanied by
three or four of your people, to the end that no accident may happen on
the road. These people must be ordered to march in the night only, and
to arrive here with the greatest dispatch. You sent ten mangoes for my
master and two for me, all of which I have delivered to my master,
thinking that ten was not sufficient to present him with. I write this
for your information, and salute you with ten thousand respects.

     I, Muttu Kistnah, of Madras Patnam, dubash, declare that I
     perfectly understand the Gentoo language, and do most solemnly
     affirm that the foregoing is a true translation of the annexed
     paper writing from the Gentoo language.


     Muttu Kistnah.


[68] In this statement, the Ongole country, though it is included under
the head of gross revenue, has been let for a certain sum, exclusive of
charges. If the expenses specified in the Nabob's vassool accounts for
this district are added, the present gross revenue even would appear to
exceed the Nabob's; and as the country is only let for one year, there
may hereafter be an increase of its revenue.

[69] The Trichinopoly countries let for the above sum, exclusive of the
expenses of sibbendy and saderwared, amounting, by the Nabob's accounts,
to rupees 1,30,00 per annum, which are to be defrayed by the renter. And
the jaghires of Amir-ul-Omrah and the Begum are not included in the
present lease.

[70] For the ground of this "great reliance," see the papers in this
Appendix, No. 5; as also the Nabob's letters to the Court of Directors
in this Appendix, No. 10.

[71] For the full proof of this necessity, Lord Macartney's whole
correspondence on the subject may be referred to. Without the act here
condemned, not one of the acts commended in the preceding paragraph
could be performed. By referring to the Nabob's letters in this Appendix
it will be seen what sort of task a governor has on his hands, who is to
use, according to the direction of this letter, "acts of address,
civility, and conciliation," and to pay, upon _all_ occasions, _the
highest attention_, to persons who at the very time are falsely, and in
the grossest terms, accusing him of peculation, corruption, treason, and
every species of malversation in office. The recommendation, under
menaces of such behavior, and under such circumstances, conveys a lesson
the tendency of which cannot be misunderstood.

[72] The delicacy here recommended, in the _expressions_ concerning
conduct "with which the safety of our settlements is essentially
connected," is a lesson of the same nature with the former. Dangerous
designs, if truly such, ought to be expressed according to their nature
and qualities. And as for the _secrecy_ recommended concerning the
designs here alluded to, nothing can be more absurd; as they appear very
fully and directly in the papers published by the authority of the Court
of Directors in 1775, and may be easily discerned from the propositions
for the Bengal treaty, published in the Reports of the Committee of
Secrecy, and in the Reports of the Select Committee. The keeping of such
secrets too long has been one cause of the Carnatic war, and of the ruin
of our affairs in India.

[73] See Tellinga letter, at the end of this correspondence.

[74] The above-recited practices, or practices similar to them, have
prevailed in almost every part of the miserable countries on the coast
of Coromandel for near twenty years past. That they prevailed as
strongly and generally as they could prevail, under the administration
of the Nabob, there can be no question, notwithstanding the assertion in
the beginning of the above petition; nor will it ever be otherwise,
whilst affairs are conducted upon the principles which influence the
present system. Whether the particulars here asserted are true or false
neither the Court of Directors nor their ministry have thought proper to
inquire. If they are true, in order to bring them to affect Lord
Macartney, it ought to be proved that the complaint was made _to him,
and that he had refused redress_. Instead of this fair course, the
complaint is carried to the Court of Directors.--The above is one of the
documents transmitted by the Nabob, in proof of his charge of corruption
against Lord Macartney. If genuine, it is conclusive, at least against
Lord Macartney's principal agent and manager. If it be a forgery, (as in
all likelihood it is,) it is conclusive against the Nabob and his evil
counsellors, and folly demonstrates, if anything further were necessary
to demonstrate, the necessity of the clause in Mr. Fox's bill
prohibiting the residence of the native princes in the Company's
principal settlements,--which clause was, for obvious reasons, not
admitted into Mr. Pitt's. It shows, too, the absolute necessity of a
severe and exemplary punishment on certain of his English evil
counsellors and creditors, by whom such practices are carried on.









Mr. Burke's speech on the report of the army estimates has not been
correctly stated in some of the public papers. It is of consequence to
him not to be misunderstood. The matter which incidentally came into
discussion is of the most serious importance. It is thought that the
heads and substance of the speech will answer the purpose sufficiently.
If, in making the abstract, through defect of memory in the person who
now gives it, any difference at all should be perceived from the speech
as it was spoken, it will not, the editor imagines, be found in anything
which may amount to a retraction of the opinions he then maintained, or
to any softening in the expressions in which they were conveyed.

Mr. Burke spoke a considerable time in answer to various arguments,
which had been insisted upon by Mr. Grenville and Mr. Pitt, for keeping
an increased peace establishment, and against an improper jealousy of
the ministers, in whom a full confidence, subject to responsibility,
ought to be placed, on account of their knowledge of the real situation
of affairs, the exact state of which it frequently happened that they
could not disclose without violating the constitutional and political
secrecy necessary to the well-being of their country.

Mr. Burke said in substance, That confidence might become a vice, and
jealousy a virtue, according to circumstances. That confidence, of all
public virtues, was the most dangerous, and jealousy in an House of
Commons, of all public vices, the most tolerable,--- especially where
the number and the charge of standing armies in time of peace was the

That in the annual Mutiny Bill the annual army was declared to be for
the purpose of preserving the balance of power in Europe. The propriety
of its being larger or smaller depended, therefore, upon the true state
of that balance. If the increase of peace establishments demanded of
Parliament agreed with the manifest appearance of the balance,
confidence in ministers as to the particulars would be very proper. If
the increase was not at all supported by any such appearance, he thought
great jealousy might be, and ought to be, entertained on that subject.

That he did not find, on a review of all Europe, that, politically, we
stood in the smallest degree of danger from any one state or kingdom it
contained, nor that any other foreign powers than our own allies were
likely to obtain a considerable preponderance in the scale.

That France had hitherto been our first object in all considerations
concerning the balance of power. The presence or absence of France
totally varied every sort of speculation relative to that balance.

That France is at this time, in a political light, to be considered as
expunged out of the system of Europe. Whether she could ever appear in
it again, as a leading power, was not easy to determine; but at present
be considered France as not politically existing; and most assuredly it
would take up much time to restore her to her former active existence:
_Gallos quoque in bellis floruisse audivimus_ might possibly be the
language of the rising generation. He did not mean to deny that it was
our duty to keep our eye on that nation, and to regulate our preparation
by the symptoms of her recovery.

That it was to her _strength_, not to her _form of government_, which we
were to attend; because republics, as well as monarchies, were
susceptible of ambition, jealousy, and anger, the usual causes of war.

But if, while France continued in this swoon, we should go on increasing
our expenses, we should certainly make ourselves less a match for her
when it became our concern to arm.

It was said, that, as she had speedily fallen, she might speedily rise
again. He doubted this. That the fall from an height was with an
accelerated velocity; but to lift a weight up to that height again was
difficult, and opposed by the laws of physical and political

In a political view, France was low indeed. She had lost everything,
even to her name.

        Jacet ingens littore truncus,
    Avolsumque humeris _caput_, et sine _nomine_ corpus.[75]

He was astonished at it; he was alarmed at it; he trembled at the
uncertainty of all human greatness.

Since the House had been prorogued in the summer much work was done in
France. The French had shown themselves the ablest architects of ruin
that had hitherto existed in the world. In that very short space of time
they had completely pulled down to the ground their monarchy, their
church, their nobility, their law, their revenue, their army, their
navy, their commerce, their arts, and their manufactures. They had done
their business for us as rivals in a way in which twenty Ramillies or
Blenheims could never have done it. Were we absolute conquerors, and
France to lie prostrate at our feet, we should be ashamed to send a
commission to settle their affairs which could impose so hard a law upon
the French, and so destructive of all their consequence as a nation, as
that they had imposed upon themselves.

France, by the mere circumstance of its vicinity, had been, and in a
degree always must be, an object of our vigilance, either with regard to
her actual power or to her influence and example. As to the former he
had spoken; as to the latter (her example) he should say a few words:
for by this example our friendship and our intercourse with that nation
had once been, and might again become, more dangerous to us than their
worst hostility.

In the last century, Louis the Fourteenth had established a greater and
better disciplined military force than ever had been before seen in
Europe, and with it a perfect despotism. Though that despotism was
proudly arrayed in manners, gallantry, splendor, magnificence, and even
covered over with the imposing robes of science, literature, and arts,
it was, in government, nothing better than a painted and gilded
tyranny,--in religion, a hard, stern intolerance, the fit companion and
auxiliary to the despotic tyranny which prevailed in its government. The
same character of despotism insinuated itself into every court of
Europe,--the same spirit of disproportioned magnificence,--the same love
of standing armies, above the ability of the people. In particular, our
then sovereigns, King Charles and King James, fell in love with the
government of their neighbor, so flattering to the pride of kings. A
similarity of sentiments brought on connections equally dangerous to the
interests and liberties of their country. It were well that the
infection had gone no farther than the throne. The admiration of a
government flourishing and successful, unchecked in its operations, and
seeming, therefore, to compass its objects more speedily and
effectually, gained something upon all ranks of people. The good
patriots of that day, however, struggled against it. They sought nothing
more anxiously than to break off all communication with France, and to
beget a total alienation from its councils and its example,--which, by
the animosity prevalent between the abettors of their religious system
and the assertors of ours, was in some degree effected.

This day the evil is totally changed in France: but there is an evil
there. The disease is altered; but the vicinity of the two countries
remains, and must remain; and the natural mental habits of mankind are
such, that the present distemper of France is far more likely to be
contagious than the old one: for it is not quite easy to spread a
passion for servitude among the people; but in all evils of the opposite
kind our natural inclinations are flattered. In the case of despotism,
there is the _foedum crimen servitutis_: in the last, the _falsa SPECIES
libertatis_; and accordingly, as the historian says, _pronis auribus

In the last age we were in danger of being entangled by the example of
France in the net of a relentless despotism. It is not necessary to say
anything upon that example. It exists no longer. Our present danger from
the example of a people whose character knows no medium is, with regard
to government, a danger from anarchy: a danger of being led, through an
admiration of successful fraud and violence, to an imitation of the
excesses of an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing, confiscating,
plundering, ferocious, bloody, and tyrannical democracy. On the side of
religion, the danger of their example is no longer from intolerance, but
from atheism: a foul, unnatural vice, foe to all the dignity and
consolation of mankind; which seems in France, for a long time, to have
been embodied into a faction, accredited, and almost avowed.

These are our present dangers from France. But, in his opinion, the very
worst part of the example set is in the late assumption of citizenship
by the army, and the whole of the arrangement, or rather disarrangement,
of their military.

He was sorry that his right honorable friend (Mr. Fox) had dropped even
a word expressive of exultation on that circumstance, or that he seemed
of opinion that the objection from standing armies was at all lessened
by it. He attributed this opinion of Mr. Fox entirely to his known zeal
for the best of all causes, liberty. That it was with a pain
inexpressible he was obliged to have even the shadow of a difference
with his friend, whose authority would always be great with him, and
with all thinking people,--_Quae maxima semper censetur nobis, et_ ERIT
_quae maxima semper_;--his confidence in Mr. Fox was such, and so ample,
as to be almost implicit. That he was not ashamed to avow that degree of
docility. That, when the choice is well made, it strengthens, instead of
oppressing our intellect. That he who calls in the aid of an equal
understanding doubles his own. He who profits of a superior
understanding raises his powers to a level with the height of the
superior understanding he unites with. He had found the benefit of such
a junction, and would not lightly depart from it. He wished almost, on
all occasions, that his sentiments were understood to be conveyed in Mr.
Fox's words. And that he wished, as amongst the greatest benefits he
could wish the country, an eminent share of power to that right
honorable gentleman; because he knew that to his great and masterly
understanding he had joined the greatest possible degree of that natural
moderation which is the best corrective of power: that he was of the
most artless, candid, open, and benevolent disposition; disinterested in
the extreme; of a temper mild and placable even to a fault; without one
drop of gall in his whole constitution.

That the House must perceive, from his coming forward to mark an
expression or two of his best friend, how anxious he was to keep the
distemper of France from the least countenance in England, where he was
sure some wicked persons had shown a strong disposition to recommend an
imitation of the French spirit of reform. He was so strongly opposed to
any the least tendency towards the _means_ of introducing a democracy
like theirs, as well as to the _end_ itself, that, much as it would
afflict him, if such a thing could be attempted, and that any friend of
his could concur in such measures, (he was far, very far, from believing
they could,) he would abandon his best friends, and join with his worst
enemies, to oppose either the means or the end,--and to resist all
violent exertions of the spirit of innovation, so distant from all
principles of true and safe reformation: a spirit well calculated to
overturn states, but perfectly unfit to amend them.

That he was no enemy to reformation. Almost every business in which he
was much concerned, from the first day he sat in that House to that
hour, was a business of reformation; and when he had not been employed
in correcting, he had been employed in resisting abuses. Some traces of
this spirit in him now stand on their statute-book. In his opinion,
anything which unnecessarily tore to pieces the contexture of the state
not only prevented all real reformation, but introduced evils which
would call, but perhaps call in vain, for new reformation.

That he thought the French nation very unwise. What they valued
themselves on was a disgrace to them. They had gloried (and some people
in England had thought fit to take share in that glory) in making a
Revolution, as if revolutions were good things in themselves. All the
horrors and all the crimes of the anarchy which led to their Revolution,
which attend its progress, and which may virtually attend it in its
establishment, pass for nothing with the lovers of revolutions. The
French have made their way, through the destruction of their country, to
a bad constitution, when they were absolutely in possession of a good
one. They were in possession of it the day the states met in separate
orders. Their business, had they been either virtuous or wise, or had
been left to their own judgment, was to secure the stability and
independence of the states, according to those orders, under the monarch
on the throne. It was then their duty to redress grievances.

Instead of redressing grievances, and improving the fabric of their
state, to which they were called by their monarch and sent by their
country, they were made to take a very different course. They first
destroyed all the balances and counterpoises which serve to fix the
state and to give it a steady direction, and which furnish sure
correctives to any violent spirit which may prevail in any of the
orders. These balances existed in their oldest constitution, and in the
constitution of this country, and in the constitution of all the
countries in Europe. These they rashly destroyed, and then they melted
down the whole into one incongruous, ill-connected mass.

When they had done this, they instantly, and with the most atrocious
perfidy and breach of all faith among men, laid the axe to the root of
all property, and consequently of all national prosperity, by the
principles they established and the example they set, in confiscating
all the possessions of the Church. They made and recorded a sort of
_institute_ and _digest_ of anarchy, called the Rights of Man, in such a
pedantic abuse of elementary principles as would have disgraced boys at
school: but this declaration of rights was worse than trifling and
pedantic in them; as by their name and authority they systematically
destroyed every hold of authority by opinion, religious or civil, on the
minds of the people. By this mad declaration they subverted the state,
and brought on such calamities as no country, without a long war, has
ever been known to suffer, and which may in the end produce such a war,
and perhaps many such.

With them the question was not between despotism and liberty. The
sacrifice they made of the peace and power of their country was not made
on the altar of freedom. Freedom, and a better security for freedom than
that they have taken, they might have had without any sacrifice at all.
They brought themselves into all the calamities they suffer, not that
through them they might obtain a British constitution; they plunged
themselves headlong into those calamities to prevent themselves from
settling into that constitution, or into anything resembling it.

That, if they should perfectly succeed in what they propose, as they are
likely enough to do, and establish a democracy, or a mob of democracies,
in a country circumstanced like France, they will establish a very bad
government,--a very bad species of tyranny.

That the worst effect of all their proceeding was on their military,
which was rendered an army for every purpose but that of defence. That,
if the question was, whether soldiers were to forget they were citizens,
as an abstract proposition, he could have no difference about it;
though, as it is usual, when abstract principles are to be applied, much
was to be thought on the manner of uniting the character of citizen and
soldier. But as applied to the events which had happened in France,
where the abstract principle was clothed with its circumstances, he
thought that his friend would agree with him, that what was done there
furnished no matter of exultation, either in the act or the example.
These soldiers were not citizens, but base, hireling mutineers, and
mercenary, sordid deserters, wholly destitute of any honorable
principle. Their conduct was one of the fruits of that anarchic spirit
from the evils of which a democracy itself was to be resorted to, by
those who were the least disposed to that form, as a sort of refuge. It
was not an army in corps and with discipline, and embodied under the
respectable patriot citizens of the state in resisting tyranny. Nothing
like it. It was the case of common soldiers deserting from their
officers, to join a furious, licentious populace. It was a desertion to
a cause the real object of which was to level all those institutions,
and to break all those connections, natural and civil, that regulate and
hold together the community by a chain of subordination: to raise
soldiers against their officers, servants against their masters,
tradesmen against their customers, artificers against their employers,
tenants against their landlords, curates against their bishops, and
children against their parents. That this cause of theirs was not an
enemy to servitude, but to society.

He wished the House to consider how the members would like to have their
mansions pulled down and pillaged, their persons abused, insulted, and
destroyed, their title-deeds brought out and burned before their faces,
and themselves and their families driven to seek refuge in every nation
throughout Europe, for no other reason than this, that, without any
fault of theirs, they were born gentlemen and men of property, and were
suspected of a desire to preserve their consideration and their estates.
The desertion in France was to aid an abominable sedition, the very
professed principle of which was an implacable hostility to nobility and
gentry, and whose savage war-whoop was, _"A l'Aristocrate!"_--by which
senseless, bloody cry they animated one another to rapine and murder;
whilst abetted by ambitious men of another class, they were crushing
everything respectable and virtuous in their nation, and to their power
disgracing almost every name by which we formerly knew there was such a
country in the world as France.

He knew too well, and he felt as much as any man, how difficult it was
to accommodate a standing army to a free constitution, or to any
constitution. An armed disciplined body is, in its essence, dangerous to
liberty; undisciplined, it is ruinous to society. Its component parts
are in the latter case neither good citizens nor good soldiers. What
have they thought of in France, under such a difficulty as almost puts
the human faculties to a stand? They have put their army under such a
variety of principles of duty, that it is more likely to breed
litigants, pettifoggers, and mutineers than soldiers.[76] They have set
up, to balance their crown army, another army, deriving under another
authority, called a municipal army,--a balance of armies, not of orders.
These latter they have destroyed with every mark of insult and
oppression. States may, and they will best, exist with a partition of
civil powers. Armies cannot exist under a divided command. This state of
things he thought in effect a state of war, or at best but a truce,
instead of peace, in the country.

What a dreadful thing is a standing army for the conduct of the whole or
any part of which no man is responsible! In the present state of the
French crown army, is the crown responsible for the whole of it? Is
there any general who can be responsible for the obedience of a
brigade, any colonel for that of a regiment, any captain for that of a
company? And as to the municipal army, reinforced as it is by the new
citizen deserters, under whose command are they? Have we not seen them,
not led by, but dragging, their nominal commander, with a rope about his
neck, when they, or those whom they accompanied, proceeded to the most
atrocious acts of treason and murder? Are any of these armies? Are any
of these citizens?

We have in such a difficulty as that of fitting a standing army to the
state, he conceived, done much better. We have not distracted our army
by divided principles of obedience. We have put them under a single
authority, with a simple (our common) oath of fidelity; and we keep the
whole under our annual inspection. This was doing all that could be
safely done.

He felt some concern that this strange thing called a Revolution in
France should be compared with the glorious event commonly called the
Revolution in England, and the conduct of the soldiery on that occasion
compared with the behavior of some of the troops of France in the
present instance. At that period, the Prince of Orange, a prince of the
blood-royal in England, was called in by the flower of the English
aristocracy to defend its ancient Constitution, and not to level all
distinctions. To this prince, so invited, the aristocratic leaders who
commanded the troops went over with their several corps, in bodies, to
the deliverer of their country. Aristocratic leaders brought up the
corps of citizens who newly enlisted in this cause. Military obedience
changed its object; but military discipline was not for a moment
interrupted in its principle. The troops were ready for war, but
indisposed to mutiny.

But as the conduct of the English armies was different, so was that of
the whole English nation at that time. In truth, the circumstances of
our Revolution (as it is called) and that of France are just the reverse
of each other in almost every particular, and in the whole spirit of the
transaction. With us it was the case of a legal monarch attempting
arbitrary power; in France it is the case of an arbitrary monarch
beginning, from whatever cause, to legalize his authority. The one was
to be resisted, the other was to be managed and directed; but in neither
case was the order of the state to be changed, lest government might be
ruined, which ought only to be corrected and legalized. With us we got
rid of the man, and preserved the constituent parts of the state. There
they get rid of the constituent parts of the state, and keep the man.
What we did was in truth and substance, and in a constitutional light, a
revolution, not made, but prevented. We took solid securities; we
settled doubtful questions; we corrected anomalies in our law. In the
stable, fundamental parts of our Constitution we made no
revolution,--no, nor any alteration at all. We did not impair the
monarchy. Perhaps it might be shown that we strengthened it very
considerably. The nation kept the same ranks, the same orders, the same
privileges, the same franchises, the same rules for property, the same
subordinations, the same order in the law, in the revenue, and in the
magistracy,--the same lords, the same commons, the same corporations,
the same electors.

The Church was not impaired. Her estates, her majesty, her splendor, her
orders and gradations, continued the same. She was preserved in her
full efficiency, and cleared only of a certain intolerance, which was
her weakness and disgrace. The Church and the State were the same after
the Revolution that they were before, but better secured in every part.

Was little done because a revolution was not made in the Constitution?
No! Everything was done; because we commenced with reparation, not with
ruin. Accordingly, the state flourished. Instead of lying as dead, in a
sort of trance, or exposed, as some others, in an epileptic fit, to the
pity or derision of the world, for her wild, ridiculous, convulsive
movements, impotent to every purpose but that of dashing out her brains
against the pavement, Great Britain rose above the standard even of her
former self. An era of a more improved domestic prosperity then
commenced, and still continues, not only unimpaired, but growing, under
the wasting hand of time. All the energies of the country were awakened.
England never preserved a firmer countenance or a more vigorous arm to
all her enemies and to all her rivals. Europe under her respired and
revived. Everywhere she appeared as the protector, assertor, or avenger
of liberty. A war was made and supported against fortune itself. The
treaty of Ryswick, which first limited the power of France, was soon
after made; the grand alliance very shortly followed, which shook to the
foundations the dreadful power which menaced the independence of
mankind. The states of Europe lay happy under the shade of a great and
free monarchy, which knew how to be great without endangering its own
peace at home or the internal or external peace of any of its

Mr. Burke said he should have felt very unpleasantly, if he had not
delivered these sentiments. He was near the end of his natural, probably
still nearer the end of his political career. That he was weak and
weary, and wished for rest. That he was little disposed to
controversies, or what is called a detailed opposition. That at his time
of life, if he could not do something by some sort of weight of opinion,
natural or acquired, it was useless and indecorous to attempt anything
by mere struggle. _Turpe senex miles_. That he had for that reason
little attended the army business, or that of the revenue, or almost any
other matter of detail, for some years past. That he had, however, his
task. He was far from condemning such opposition; on the contrary, he
most highly applauded it, where a just occasion existed for it, and
gentlemen had vigor and capacity to pursue it. Where a great occasion
occurred, he was, and, while he continued in Parliament, would be,
amongst the most active and the most earnest,--as he hoped he had shown
on a late event. With respect to the Constitution itself, he wished few
alterations in it,--happy if he left it not the worse for any share he
had taken in its service.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Fox then rose, and declared, in substance, that, so far as regarded
the French army, he went no farther than the general principle, by which
that army showed itself indisposed to be an instrument in the servitude
of their fellow-citizens, but did not enter into the particulars of
their conduct. He declared that he did not affect a democracy: that he
always thought any of the simple, unbalanced governments bad: simple
monarchy, simple aristocracy, simple democracy,--he held them all
imperfect or vicious; all were bad by themselves; the composition alone
was good. That these had been always his principles, in which he had
agreed with his friend Mr. Burke,--of whom he had said many kind and
flattering things, which Mr. Burke, I take it for granted, will know
himself too well to think he merits from anything but Mr. Fox's
acknowledged good-nature. Mr. Fox thought, however, that, in many cases,
Mr. Burke was rather carried too far by his hatred to innovation.

Mr. Burke said, he well knew that these had been Mr. Fox's invariable
opinions; that they were a sure ground for the confidence of his
country. But he had been fearful that cabals of very different
intentions would be ready to make use of his great name, against his
character and sentiments, in order to derive a credit to their
destructive machinations.

Mr. Sheridan then rose, and made a lively and eloquent speech against
Mr. Burke; in which, among other things, he said that Mr. Burke had
libelled the National Assembly of France, and had cast out reflections
on such characters as those of the Marquis de La Fayette and Mr. Bailly.

Mr. Burke said, that he did not libel the National Assembly of France,
whom he considered very little in the discussion of these matters. That
he thought all the substantial power resided in the republic of Paris,
whose authority guided, or whose example was followed by, all the
republics of France. The republic of Paris had an army under their
orders, and not under those of the National Assembly.

N.B. As to the particular gentlemen, I do not remember that Mr. Burke
mentioned either of them,--certainly not Mr. Bailly. He alluded,
undoubtedly, to the case of the Marquis de La Fayette; but whether what
he asserted of him be a libel on him must be left to those who are
acquainted with the business.

Mr. Pitt concluded the debate with becoming gravity and dignity, and a
reserve on both sides of the question, as related to France, fit for a
person in a ministerial situation. He said, that what he had spoken only
regarded France when she should unite, which he rather thought she soon
might, with the liberty she had acquired, the blessings of law and
order. He, too, said several civil things concerning the sentiments of
Mr. Burke, as applied to this country.


[75] Mr. Burke probably had in his mind the remainder of the passage,
and was filled with some congenial apprehensions:--

    Haec finis Priami fatorum; hic exitus illum
    Sorte tulit, Trojam incensam et prolapsa videntem
    Pergama, tot quondam populis terrisque superbum
    Regnatorem Asiae. Jacet ingens littore truncus,
    Avolsumque humeris caput, et sine nomine corpus.
    _At me_ tum primum saevus circumstetit horror.
    Obstupui: _subiit chari genitoris imago_.

[76] They are Sworn to obey the king, the nation, and the law.









It may not be unnecessary to inform the reader that the following
Reflections had their origin in a correspondence between the author and
a very young gentleman at Paris, who did him the honor of desiring his
opinion upon the important transactions which then, and ever since have,
so much occupied the attention of all men. An answer was written some
time in the month of October, 1789; but it was kept back upon prudential
considerations. That letter is alluded to in the beginning of the
following sheets. It has been since forwarded to the person to whom it
was addressed. The reasons for the delay in sending it were assigned in
a short letter to the same gentleman. This produced on his part a new
and pressing application for the author's sentiments.

The author began a second and more full discussion on the subject. This
he had some thoughts of publishing early in the last spring; but the
matter gaining upon him, he found that what he had undertaken not only
far exceeded the measure of a letter, but that its importance required
rather a more detailed consideration than at that time he had any
leisure to bestow upon it. However, having thrown down his first
thoughts in the form of a letter, and, indeed, when he sat down to
write, having intended it for a private letter, he found it difficult to
change the form of address, when his sentiments had grown into a greater
extent and had received another direction. A different plan, he is
sensible, might be more favorable to a commodious division and
distribution of his matter.




Dear Sir,--You are pleased to call again, and with some earnestness, for
my thoughts on the late proceedings in France. I will not give you
reason to imagine that I think my sentiments of such value as to wish
myself to be solicited about them. They are of too little consequence to
be very anxiously either communicated or withheld. It was from attention
to you, and to you only, that I hesitated at the time when you first
desired to receive them. In the first letter I had the honor to write to
you, and which at length I send, I wrote neither for nor from any
description of men; nor shall I in this. My errors, if any, are my own.
My reputation alone is to answer for them.

You see, Sir, by the long letter I have transmitted to you, that, though
I do most heartily wish that France may be animated by a spirit of
rational liberty, and that I think you bound, in all honest policy, to
provide a permanent body in which that spirit may reside, and an
effectual organ by which it may act, it is my misfortune to entertain
great doubts concerning several material points in your late

You imagined, when you wrote last, that I might possibly be reckoned
among the approvers of certain proceedings in France, from the solemn
public seal of sanction they have received from two clubs of gentlemen
in London, called the Constitutional Society, and the Revolution

I certainly have the honor to belong to more clubs than one in which the
Constitution of this kingdom and the principles of the glorious
Revolution are held in high reverence; and I reckon myself among the
most forward in my zeal for maintaining that Constitution and those
principles in their utmost purity and vigor. It is because I do so that
I think it necessary for me that there should be no mistake. Those who
cultivate the memory of our Revolution, and those who are attached to
the Constitution of this kingdom, will take good care how they are
involved with persons who, under the pretext of zeal towards the
Revolution and Constitution, too frequently wander from their true
principles, and are ready on every occasion to depart from the firm, but
cautious and deliberate, spirit which produced the one and which
presides in the other. Before I proceed to answer the more material
particulars in your letter, I shall beg leave to give you such
information as I have been able to obtain of the two clubs which have
thought proper, as bodies, to interfere in the concerns of
France,--first assuring you that I am not, and that I have never been, a
member of either of those societies.

The first, calling itself the Constitutional Society, or Society for
Constitutional Information, or by some such title, is, I believe, of
seven or eight years' standing. The institution of this society appears
to be of a charitable, and so far of a laudable nature: it was intended
for the circulation, at the expense of the members, of many books which
few others would be at the expense of buying, and which might lie on the
hands of the booksellers, to the great loss of an useful body of men.
Whether the books so charitably circulated were ever as charitably read
is more than I know. Possibly several of them have been exported to
France, and, like goods not in request here, may with you have found a
market. I have heard much talk of the lights to be drawn from books that
are sent from hence. What improvements they have had in their passage
(as it is said some liquors are meliorated by crossing the sea) I cannot
tell; but I never heard a man of common judgment or the least degree of
information speak a word in praise of the greater part of the
publications circulated by that society; nor have their proceedings been
accounted, except by some of themselves, as of any serious consequence.

Your National Assembly seems to entertain much the same opinion that I
do of this poor charitable club. As a nation, you reserved the whole
stock of your eloquent acknowledgments for the Revolution Society, when
their fellows in the Constitutional were in equity entitled to some
share. Since you have selected the Revolution Society as the great
object of your national thanks and praises, you will think me excusable
in making its late conduct the subject of my observations. The National
Assembly of France has given importance to these gentlemen by adopting
them; and they return the favor by acting as a committee in England for
extending the principles of the National Assembly. Henceforward we must
consider them as a kind of privileged persons, as no inconsiderable
members in the diplomatic body. This is one among the revolutions which
have given splendor to obscurity and distinction to undiscerned merit.
Until very lately I do not recollect to have heard of this club. I am
quite sure that it never occupied a moment of my thoughts,--nor, I
believe, those of any person out of their own set. I find, upon inquiry,
that, on the anniversary of the Revolution in 1688, a club of
Dissenters, but of what denomination I know not, have long had the
custom of hearing a sermon in one of their churches, and that afterwards
they spent the day cheerfully, as other clubs do, at the tavern. But I
never heard that any public measure or political system, much less that
the merits of the constitution of any foreign nation, had been the
subject of a formal proceeding at their festivals, until, to my
inexpressible surprise, I found them in a sort of public capacity, by a
congratulatory address, giving an authoritative sanction to the
proceedings of the National Assembly in France.

In the ancient principles and conduct of the club, so far at least as
they were declared, I see nothing to which I could take exception. I
think it very probable, that, for some purpose, new members may have
entered among them,--and that some truly Christian politicians, who love
to dispense benefits, but are careful to conceal the hand which
distributes the dole, may have made them the instruments of their pious
designs. Whatever I may have reason to suspect concerning private
management, I shall speak of nothing as of a certainty but what is

For one, I should be sorry to be thought directly or indirectly
concerned in their proceedings. I certainly take my full share, along
with the rest of the world, in my individual and private capacity, in
speculating on what has been done, or is doing, on the public stage, in
any place, ancient or modern,--in the republic of Rome, or the republic
of Paris; but having no general apostolical mission, being a citizen of
a particular state, and being bound up, in a considerable degree, by its
public will, I should think it at least improper and irregular for me to
open a formal public correspondence with the actual government of a
foreign nation, without the express authority of the government under
which I live.

I should be still more unwilling to enter into that correspondence under
anything like an equivocal description, which to many, unacquainted with
our usages, might make the address in which I joined appear as the act
of persons in some sort of corporate capacity, acknowledged by the laws
of this kingdom, and authorized to speak the sense of some part of it.
On account of the ambiguity and uncertainty of unauthorized general
descriptions, and of the deceit which may be practised under them, and
not from mere formality, the House of Commons would reject the most
sneaking petition for the most trifling object, under that mode of
signature to which you have thrown open the folding-doors of your
presence-chamber, and have ushered into your National Assembly with as
much ceremony and parade, and with as great a bustle of applause, as if
you had been visited by the whole representative majesty of the whole
English nation. If what this society has thought proper to send forth
had been a piece of argument, it would have signified little whose
argument it was. It would be neither the more nor the less convincing on
account of the party it came from. But this is only a vote and
resolution. It stands solely on authority; and in this case it is the
mere authority of individuals, few of whom appear. Their signatures
ought, in my opinion, to have been annexed to their instrument. The
world would then have the means of knowing how many they are, who they
are, and of what value their opinions may be, from their personal
abilities, from their knowledge, their experience, or their lead and
authority in this state. To me, who am but a plain man, the proceeding
looks a little too refined and too ingenious; it has too much the air of
a political stratagem, adopted for the sake of giving, under a
high-sounding name, an importance to the public declarations of this
club, which, when the matter came to be closely inspected, they did not
altogether so well deserve. It is a policy that has very much the
complexion of a fraud.

I flatter myself that I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty as well
as any gentleman of that society, be he who he will; and perhaps I have
given as good proofs of my attachment to that cause, in the whole course
of my public conduct. I think I envy liberty as little as they do to any
other nation. But I cannot stand forward, and give praise or blame to
anything which relates to human actions and human concerns on a simple
view of the object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the
nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which
with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in reality to every political
principle its distinguishing color and discriminating effect. The
circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme
beneficial or noxious to mankind. Abstractedly speaking, government, as
well as liberty, is good; yet could I, in common sense, ten years ago,
have felicitated France on her enjoyment of a government, (for she then
had a government,) without inquiry what the nature of that government
was, or how it was administered? Can I now congratulate the same nation
upon its freedom? Is it because liberty in the abstract may be classed
amongst the blessings of mankind, that I am seriously to felicitate a
madman who has escaped from the protecting restraint and wholesome
darkness of his cell on his restoration to the enjoyment of light and
liberty? Am I to congratulate a highwayman and murderer who has broke
prison upon the recovery of his natural rights? This would be to act
over again the scene of the criminals condemned to the galleys, and
their heroic deliverer, the metaphysic Knight of the Sorrowful

When I see the spirit of liberty in action, I see a strong principle at
work; and this, for a while, is all I can possibly know of it. The wild
gas, the fixed air, is plainly broke loose: but we ought to suspend our
judgment until the first effervescence is a little subsided, till the
liquor is cleared, and until we see something deeper than the agitation
of a troubled and frothy surface. I must be tolerably sure, before I
venture publicly to congratulate men upon a blessing, that they have
really received one. Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver;
and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings. I
should therefore suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of
France, until I was informed how it had been combined with government,
with public force, with the discipline and obedience of armies, with the
collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue, with morality
and religion, with solidity and property, with peace and order, with
civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things, too;
and without them, liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not
likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals is, that
they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them
to do, before we risk congratulations, which may be soon turned into
complaints. Prudence would dictate this in the case of separate,
insulated, private men. But liberty, when men act in bodies, is _power_.
Considerate people, before they declare themselves, will observe the use
which is made of _power_,--and particularly of so trying a thing as
_new_ power in _new_ persons, of whose principles, tempers, and
dispositions they have little or no experience, and in situations where
those who appear the most stirring in the scene may possibly not be the
real movers.

All these considerations, however, were below the transcendental dignity
of the Revolution Society. Whilst I continued in the country, from
whence I had the honor of writing to you, I had but an imperfect idea of
their transactions. On my coming to town, I sent for an account of their
proceedings, which had been published by their authority, containing a
sermon of Dr. Price, with the Duke de Rochefoucault's and the Archbishop
of Aix's letter and several other documents annexed. The whole of that
publication, with the manifest design of connecting the affairs of
France with those of England, by drawing us into an imitation of the
conduct of the National Assembly, gave me a considerable degree of
uneasiness. The effect of that conduct upon the power, credit,
prosperity, and tranquillity of France became every day more evident.
The form of constitution to be settled, for its future polity, became
more clear. We are now in a condition to discern with tolerable
exactness the true nature of the object held up to our imitation. If the
prudence of reserve and decorum dictates silence in some circumstances,
in others prudence of a higher order may justify us in speaking our
thoughts. The beginnings of confusion with us in England are at present
feeble enough; but with you we have seen an infancy still more feeble
growing by moments into a strength to heap mountains upon mountains, and
to wage war with Heaven itself. Whenever our neighbor's house is on
fire, it cannot be amiss for the engines to play a little on our own.
Better to be despised for too anxious apprehensions than ruined by too
confident a security.

Solicitous chiefly for the peace of my own country, but by no means
unconcerned for yours, I wish to communicate more largely what was at
first intended only for your private satisfaction. I shall still keep
your affairs in my eye, and continue to address myself to you. Indulging
myself in the freedom of epistolary intercourse, I beg leave to throw
out my thoughts and express my feelings just as they arise in my mind,
with very little attention to formal method. I set out with the
proceedings of the Revolution Society; but I shall not confine myself to
them. Is it possible I should? It looks to me as if I were in a great
crisis, not of the affairs of France alone, but of all Europe, perhaps
of more than Europe. All circumstances taken together, the French
Revolution is the most astonishing that has hitherto happened in the
world. The most wonderful things are brought about in many instances by
means the most absurd and ridiculous, in the most ridiculous modes, and
apparently by the most contemptible instruments. Everything seems out of
nature in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of
crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies. In viewing this
monstrous tragi-comic scene, the most opposite passions necessarily
succeed and sometimes mix with each other in the mind: alternate
contempt and indignation, alternate laughter and tears, alternate scorn
and horror.

It cannot, however, be denied that to some this strange scene appeared
in quite another point of view. Into them it inspired no other
sentiments than those of exultation and rapture. They saw nothing in
what has been done in France but a firm and temperate exertion of
freedom,--so consistent, on the whole, with morals and with piety as to
make it deserving not only of the secular applause of dashing
Machiavelian politicians, but to render it a fit theme for all the
devout effusions of sacred eloquence.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the forenoon of the fourth of November last, Doctor Richard Price, a
Non-Conforming minister of eminence, preached at the Dissenting
meeting-house of the Old Jewry, to his club or society, a very
extraordinary miscellaneous sermon, in which there are some good moral
and religious sentiments, and not ill expressed, mixed up with a sort of
porridge of various political opinions and reflections: but the
Revolution in France is the grand ingredient in the caldron. I consider
the address transmitted by the Revolution Society to the National
Assembly, through Earl Stanhope, as originating in the principles of
the sermon, and as a corollary from them. It was moved by the preacher
of that discourse. It was passed by those who came reeking from the
effect of the sermon, without any censure or qualification, expressed or
implied. If, however, any of the gentlemen concerned shall wish to
separate the sermon from the resolution, they know how to acknowledge
the one and to disavow the other. They may do it: I cannot.

For my part, I looked on that sermon as the public declaration of a man
much connected with literary caballers and intriguing philosophers, with
political theologians and theological politicians, both at home and
abroad. I know they set him up as a sort of oracle; because, with the
best intentions in the world, he naturally _philippizes_, and chants his
prophetic song in exact unison with their designs.

That sermon is in a strain which I believe has not been heard in this
kingdom, in any of the pulpits which are tolerated or encouraged in it,
since the year 1648,--when a predecessor of Dr. Price, the Reverend Hugh
Peters, made the vault of the king's own chapel at St. James's ring with
the honor and privilege of the saints, who, with the "high praises of
God in their mouths, and a _two_-edged sword in their hands, were to
execute judgment on the heathen, and punishments upon the _people_; to
bind their _kings_ with chains, and their _nobles_ with fetters of
iron."[77] Few harangues from the pulpit, except in the days of your
League in France, or in the days of our Solemn League and Covenant in
England, have ever breathed less of the spirit of moderation than this
lecture in the Old Jewry. Supposing, however, that something like
moderation were visible in this political sermon, yet politics and the
pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be heard
in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of
civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion
by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character to
assume what does not belong to them are, for the greater part, ignorant
both of the character they leave and of the character they assume.
Wholly unacquainted with the world, in which they are so fond of
meddling, and inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce
with so much confidence, they have nothing of politics but the passions
they excite. Surely the church is a place where one day's truce ought to
be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.

This pulpit style, revived after so long a discontinuance, had to me the
air of novelty, and of a novelty not wholly without danger. I do not
charge this danger equally to every part of the discourse. The hint
given to a noble and reverend lay-divine, who is supposed high in office
in one of our universities,[78] and other lay-divines "of _rank_ and
literature," may be proper and seasonable, though somewhat new. If the
noble _Seekers_ should find nothing to satisfy their pious fancies in
the old staple of the national Church, or in all the rich variety to be
found in the well-assorted warehouses of the Dissenting congregations,
Dr. Price advises them to improve upon Non-Conformity, and to set up,
each of them, a separate meeting-house upon his own particular
principles.[79] It is somewhat remarkable that this reverend divine
should be so earnest for setting up new churches, and so perfectly
indifferent concerning the doctrine which may be taught in them. His
zeal is of a curious character. It is not for the propagation of his own
opinions, but of any opinions. It is not for the diffusion of truth, but
for the spreading of contradiction. Let the noble teachers but dissent,
it is no matter from whom or from what. This great point once secured,
it is taken for granted their religion will be rational and manly. I
doubt whether religion would reap all the benefits which the calculating
divine computes from this "great company of great preachers." It would
certainly be a valuable addition of nondescripts to the ample collection
of known classes, genera, and species, which at present beautify the
_hortus siccus_ of Dissent. A sermon from a noble duke, or a noble
marquis, or a noble earl, or baron bold, would certainly increase and
diversify the amusements of this town, which begins to grow satiated
with the uniform round of its vapid dissipations. I should only
stipulate that these new _Mess-Johns_ in robes and coronets should keep
some sort of bounds in the democratic and levelling principles which are
expected from their titled pulpits. The new evangelists will, I dare
say, disappoint the hopes that are conceived of them. They will not
become, literally as well as figuratively, polemic divines,--nor be
disposed so to drill their congregations, that they may, as in former
blessed times, preach their doctrines to regiments of dragoons and corps
of infantry and artillery. Such arrangements, however favorable to the
cause of compulsory freedom, civil and religious, may not be equally
conducive to the national tranquillity. These few restrictions I hope
are no great stretches of intolerance, no very violent exertions of

But I may say of our preacher, "_Utinam nugis tota illa dedisset et
tempora saevitiae_." All things in this his fulminating bull are not of so
innoxious a tendency. His doctrines affect our Constitution in its vital
parts. He tells the Revolution Society, in this political sermon, that
his Majesty "is almost the _only_ lawful king in the world, because the
_only_ one who owes his crown to _the choice of his people_." As to the
kings of _the world_, all of whom (except one) this arch-pontiff of the
_rights of men_, with all the plenitude and with more than the boldness
of the Papal deposing power in its meridian fervor of the twelfth
century, puts into one sweeping clause of ban and anathema, and
proclaims usurpers by circles of longitude and latitude over the whole
globe, it behooves them to consider how they admit into their
territories these apostolic missionaries, who are to tell their subjects
they are not lawful kings. That is their concern. It is ours, as a
domestic interest of some moment, seriously to consider the solidity of
the _only_ principle upon which these gentlemen acknowledge a king of
Great Britain to be entitled to their allegiance.

This doctrine, as applied to the prince now on the British throne,
either is nonsense, and therefore neither true nor false, or it affirms
a most unfounded, dangerous, illegal, and unconstitutional position.
According to this spiritual doctor of politics, if his Majesty does not
owe his crown to the choice of his people, he is no _lawful_ king. Now
nothing can be more untrue than that the crown of this kingdom is so
held by his Majesty. Therefore, if you follow their rule, the king of
Great Britain, who most certainly does not owe his high office to any
form of popular election, is in no respect better than the rest of the
gang of usurpers, who reign, or rather rob, all over the face of this
our miserable world, without any sort of right or title to the
allegiance of their people. The policy of this general doctrine, so
qualified, is evident enough. The propagators of this political gospel
are in hopes their abstract principle (their principle that a popular
choice is necessary to the legal existence of the sovereign magistracy)
would be overlooked, whilst the king of Great Britain was not affected
by it. In the mean time the ears of their congregations would be
gradually habituated to it, as if it were a first principle admitted
without dispute. For the present it would only operate as a theory,
pickled in the preserving juices of pulpit eloquence, and laid by for
future use. _Condo et compono quae mox depromere passim_. By this policy,
whilst our government is soothed with a reservation in its favor, to
which it has no claim, the security which it has in common with all
governments, so far as opinion is security, is taken away.

Thus these politicians proceed, whilst little notice is taken of their
doctrines; but when they come to be examined upon the plain meaning of
their words and the direct tendency of their doctrines, then
equivocations and slippery constructions come into play. When they say
the king owes his crown to the choice of his people, and is therefore
the only lawful sovereign in the world, they will perhaps tell us they
mean to say no more than that some of the king's predecessors have been
called to the throne by some sort of choice, and therefore he owes his
crown to the choice of his people. Thus, by a miserable subterfuge, they
hope to render their proposition safe by rendering it nugatory. They are
welcome to the asylum they seek for their offence, since they take
refuge in their folly. For, if you admit this interpretation, how does
their idea of election differ from our idea of inheritance? And how does
the settlement of the crown in the Brunswick line, derived from James
the First, come to legalize our monarchy rather than that of any of the
neighboring countries? At some time or other, to be sure, all the
beginners of dynasties were chosen by those who called them to govern.
There is ground enough for the opinion that all the kingdoms of Europe
were at a remote period elective, with more or fewer limitations in the
objects of choice. But whatever kings might have been here or elsewhere
a thousand years ago, or in whatever manner the ruling dynasties of
England or France may have begun, the king of Great Britain is at this
day king by a fixed rule of succession, according to the laws of his
country; and whilst the legal conditions of the compact of sovereignty
are performed by him, (as they are performed,) he holds his crown in
contempt of the choice of the Revolution Society, who have not a single
vote for a king amongst them, either individually or collectively:
though I make no doubt they would soon erect themselves into an
electoral college, if things were ripe to give effect to their claim.
His Majesty's heirs and successors, each in his time and order, will
come to the crown with the same contempt of their choice with which his
Majesty has succeeded to that he wears.

Whatever may be the success of evasion in explaining away the gross
error _fact_, which supposes that his Majesty (though he holds it in
concurrence with the wishes) owes his crown to the choice of his people,
yet nothing can evade their full, explicit declaration concerning the
principle of a right in the people to choose,--which right is directly
maintained, and tenaciously adhered to. All the oblique insinuations
concerning election bottom in this proposition, and are referable to it.
Lest the foundation of the king's exclusive legal title should pass for
a mere rant of adulatory freedom, the political divine proceeds
dogmatically to assert,[80] that, by the principles of the Revolution,
the people of England have acquired three fundamental rights, all of
which, with him, compose one system, and lie together in one short
sentence: namely, that we have acquired a right

1. "To choose our own governors."

2. "To cashier them for misconduct."

3. "To frame a government for ourselves."

This new, and hitherto unheard-of bill of rights, though made in the
name of the whole people, belongs to those gentlemen and their faction
only. The body of the people of England have no share in it. They
utterly disclaim it. They will resist the practical assertion of it with
their lives and fortunes. They are bound to do so by the laws of their
country, made at the time of that very Revolution which is appealed to
in favor of the fictitious rights claimed by the society which abuses
its name.

These gentlemen of the Old Jewry, in all their reasonings on the
Revolution of 1688, have a revolution which happened in England about
forty years before, and the late French Revolution, so much before their
eyes and in their hearts, that they are constantly confounding all the
three together. It is necessary that we should separate what they
confound. We must recall their erring fancies to the _acts_ of the
Revolution which we revere, for the discovery of its true _principles_.
If the _principles_ of the Revolution of 1688 are anywhere to be found,
it is in the statute called the _Declaration of Right_. In that most
wise, sober, and considerate declaration, drawn up by great lawyers and
great statesmen, and not by warm and inexperienced enthusiasts, not one
word is said, nor one suggestion made, of a general right "to choose our
own _governors_, to cashier them for misconduct, and to _form_ a
government for _ourselves_."

This Declaration of Right (the act of the 1st of William and Mary, sess.
2, ch. 2) is the corner-stone of our Constitution, as reinforced,
explained, improved, and in its fundamental principles forever settled.
It is called "An act for declaring the rights and liberties of the
subject, and for _settling_ the _succession_ of the crown." You will
observe that these rights and this succession are declared in one body,
and bound indissolubly together.

A few years after this period, a second opportunity offered for
asserting a right of election to the crown. On the prospect of a total
failure of issue from King William, and from the princess, afterwards
Queen Anne, the consideration of the settlement of the Crown, and of a
further security for the liberties of the people, again came before the
legislature. Did they this second time make any provision for legalizing
the crown on the spurious Revolution principles of the Old Jewry? No.
They followed the principles which prevailed in the Declaration of
Right; indicating with more precision the persons who were to inherit in
the Protestant line. This act also incorporated, by the same policy, our
liberties and an hereditary succession in the same act. Instead of a
right to choose our own governors, they declared that the _succession_
in that line (the Protestant line drawn from James the First) was
absolutely necessary "for the peace, quiet, and security of the realm,"
and that it was equally urgent on them "to maintain a _certainty in the
succession_ thereof, to which the subjects may safely have recourse for
their protection." Both these acts, in which are heard the unerring,
unambiguous oracles of Revolution policy, instead of countenancing the
delusive gypsy predictions of a "right to choose our governors," prove
to a demonstration how totally adverse the wisdom of the nation was from
turning a case of necessity into a rule of law.

Unquestionably there was at the Revolution, in the person of King
William, a small and a temporary deviation from the strict order of a
regular hereditary succession; but it is against all genuine principles
of jurisprudence to draw a principle from a law made in a special case
and regarding an individual person. _Privilegium non transit in
exemplum_. If ever there was a time favorable for establishing the
principle that a king of popular choice was the only legal king, without
all doubt it was at the Revolution. Its not being done at that time is
a proof that the nation was of opinion it ought not to be done at any
time. There is no person so completely ignorant of our history as not to
know that the majority in Parliament, of both parties, were so little
disposed to anything resembling that principle, that at first they were
determined to place the vacant crown, not on the head of the Prince of
Orange, but on that of his wife, Mary, daughter of King James, the
eldest born of the issue of that king, which they acknowledged as
undoubtedly his. It would be to repeat a very trite story, to recall to
your memory all those circumstances which demonstrated that their
accepting King William was not properly a _choice_; but to all those who
did not wish in effect to recall King James, or to deluge their country
in blood, and again to bring their religion, laws, and liberties into
the peril they had just escaped, it was an act of _necessity_, in the
strictest moral sense in which necessity can be taken.

In the very act in which, for a time, and in a single case, Parliament
departed from the strict order of inheritance, in favor of a prince who,
though not next, was, however, very near in the line of succession, it
is curious to observe how Lord Somers, who drew the bill called the
Declaration of Right, has comported himself on that delicate occasion.
It is curious to observe with what address this temporary solution of
continuity is kept from the eye; whilst all that could be found in this
act of necessity to countenance the idea of an hereditary succession is
brought forward, and fostered, and made the most of, by this great man,
and by the legislature who followed him. Quitting the dry, imperative
style of an act of Parliament, he makes the Lords and Commons fall to a
pious legislative ejaculation, and declare that they consider it "as a
marvellous providence, and merciful goodness of God to this nation, to
preserve their said Majesties' _royal_ persons most happily to reign
over us _on the throne of their ancestors_, for which, from the bottom
of their hearts, they return their humblest thanks and praises." The
legislature plainly had in view the Act of Recognition of the first of
Queen Elizabeth, chap. 3rd, and of that of James the First, chap. 1st,
both acts strongly declaratory of the inheritable nature of the crown;
and in many parts they follow, with a nearly literal precision, the
words, and even the form of thanksgiving which is found in these old
declaratory statutes.

The two Houses, in the act of King William, did not thank God that they
had found a fair opportunity to assert a right to choose their own
governors, much less to make an election the _only lawful_ title to the
crown. Their having been in a condition to avoid the very appearance of
it, as much as possible, was by them considered as a providential
escape. They threw a politic, well-wrought veil over every circumstance
tending to weaken the rights which in the meliorated order of succession
they meant to perpetuate, or which might furnish a precedent for any
future departure from what they had then settled forever. Accordingly,
that they might not relax the nerves of their monarchy, and that they
might preserve a close conformity to the practice of their ancestors, as
it appeared in the declaratory statutes of Queen Mary[81] and Queen
Elizabeth, in the next clause they vest, by recognition, in their
Majesties _all_ the legal prerogatives of the crown, declaring "that in
them they are most _fully_, rightfully, and _entirely_ invested,
incorporated, united, and annexed." In the clause which follows, for
preventing questions, by reason of any pretended titles to the crown,
they declare (observing also in this the traditionary language, along
with the traditionary policy of the nation, and repeating as from a
rubric the language of the preceding acts of Elizabeth and James) that
on the preserving "a _certainty_ in the SUCCESSION thereof the unity,
peace, and tranquillity of this nation doth, under God, wholly depend."

They knew that a doubtful title of succession would but too much
resemble an election, and that an election would be utterly destructive
of the "unity, peace, and tranquillity of this nation," which they
thought to be considerations of some moment. To provide for these
objects, and therefore to exclude forever the Old Jewry doctrine of "a
right to choose our own governors," they follow with a clause containing
a most solemn pledge, taken from the preceding act of Queen
Elizabeth,--as solemn a pledge as ever was or can be given in favor of
an hereditary succession, and as solemn a renunciation as could be made
of the principles by this society imputed to them:--"The Lords Spiritual
and Temporal, and Commons, do, in the name of all the people aforesaid,
most humbly and faithfully submit _themselves, their heirs, and
posterities forever_; and do faithfully promise that they will stand to,
maintain, and defend their said Majesties, and also the _limitation of
the crown_, herein specified and contained, to the utmost of their
powers," &c., &c.

So far is it from being true that we acquired a right by the Revolution
to elect our kings, that, if we had possessed it before, the English
nation did at that time most solemnly renounce and abdicate it, for
themselves, and for all their posterity forever. These gentlemen may
value themselves as much as they please on their Whig principles; but I
never desire to be thought a better Whig than Lord Somers, or to
understand the principles of the Revolution better than those by whom it
was brought about, or to read in the Declaration of Right any mysteries
unknown to those whose penetrating style has engraved in our ordinances,
and in our hearts, the words and spirit of that immortal law.

It is true, that, aided with the powers derived from force and
opportunity, the nation was at that time, in some sense, free to take
what course it pleased for filling the throne,--but only free to do so
upon the same grounds on which they might have wholly abolished their
monarchy, and every other part of their Constitution. However, they did
not think such bold changes within their commission. It is, indeed,
difficult, perhaps impossible, to give limits to the mere _abstract_
competence of the supreme power, such as was exercised by Parliament at
that time; but the limits of a _moral_ competence, subjecting, even in
powers more indisputably sovereign, occasional will to permanent reason,
and to the steady maxims of faith, justice, and fixed fundamental
policy, are perfectly intelligible, and perfectly binding upon those who
exercise any authority, under any name, or under any title, in the
state. The House of Lords, for instance, is not morally competent to
dissolve the House of Commons,--no, nor even to dissolve itself, nor to
abdicate, if it would, its portion in the legislature of the kingdom.
Though a king may abdicate for his own person, he cannot abdicate for
the monarchy. By as strong, or by a stronger reason, the House of
Commons cannot renounce its share of authority. The engagement and pact
of society, which generally goes by the name of the Constitution,
forbids such invasion and such surrender. The constituent parts of a
state are obliged to hold their public faith with each other, and with
all those who derive any serious interest under their engagements, as
much as the whole state is bound to keep its faith with separate
communities: otherwise, competence and power would soon be confounded,
and no law be left but the will of a prevailing force. On this
principle, the succession of the crown has always been what it now is,
an hereditary succession by law: in the old line it was a succession by
the Common Law; in the new by the statute law, operating on the
principles of the Common Law, not changing the substance, but regulating
the mode and describing the persons. Both these descriptions of law are
of the same force, and are derived from an equal authority, emanating
from the common agreement and original compact of the state, _communi
sponsione reipublicae_, and as such are equally binding on king, and
people too, as long as the terms are observed, and they continue the
same body politic.

It is far from impossible to reconcile, if we do not suffer ourselves to
be entangled in the mazes of metaphysic sophistry, the use both of a
fixed rule and an occasional deviation,--the sacredness of an hereditary
principle of succession in our government with a power of change in its
application in cases of extreme emergency. Even in that extremity, (if
we take the measure of our rights by our exercise of them at the
Revolution,) the change is to be confined to the peccant part only,--to
the part which produced the necessary deviation; and even then it is to
be effected without a decomposition of the whole civil and political
mass, for the purpose of originating a new civil order out of the first
elements of society.

A state without the means of some change is without the means of its
conservation. Without such means it might even risk the loss of that
part of the Constitution which it wished the most religiously to
preserve. The two principles of conservation and correction operated
strongly at the two critical periods of the Restoration and Revolution,
when England found itself without a king. At both those periods the
nation had lost the bond of union in their ancient edifice: they did
not, however, dissolve the whole fabric. On the contrary, in both cases
they regenerated the deficient part of the old Constitution through the
parts which were not impaired. They kept these old parts exactly as they
were, that the part recovered might be suited to them. They acted by the
ancient organized states in the shape of their old organization, and not
by the organic _moleculae_ of a disbanded people. At no time, perhaps,
did the sovereign legislature manifest a more tender regard to that
fundamental principle of British constitutional policy than at the time
of the Revolution, when it deviated from the direct line of hereditary
succession. The crown was carried somewhat out of the line in which it
had before moved; but the new line was derived from the same stock. It
was still a line of hereditary descent; still an hereditary descent in
the same blood, though an hereditary descent qualified with
Protestantism. When the legislature altered the direction, but kept the
principle, they showed that they held it inviolable.

On this principle, the law of inheritance had admitted some amendment in
the old time, and long before the era of the Revolution. Some time after
the Conquest great questions arose upon the legal principles of
hereditary descent. It became a matter of doubt whether the heir _per
capita_ or the heir _per stirpes_ was to succeed; but whether the heir
_per capita_ gave way when the heirdom _per stirpes_ took place, or the
Catholic heir when the Protestant was preferred, the inheritable
principle survived with a sort of immortality through all

                            Multosque per annos
    Stat fortuna domus, et avi numerantur avorum.

This is the spirit of our Constitution, not only in its settled course,
but in all its revolutions. Whoever came in, or however he came in,
whether he obtained the crown by law or by force, the hereditary
succession was either continued or adopted.

The gentlemen of the Society for Revolutions see nothing in that of 1688
but the deviation from the Constitution; and they take the deviation
from the principle for the principle. They have little regard to the
obvious consequences of their doctrine, though they may see that it
leaves positive authority in very few of the positive institutions of
this country. When such an unwarrantable maxim is once established, that
no throne is lawful but the elective, no one act of the princes who
preceded this era of fictitious election can be valid. Do these
theorists mean to imitate some of their predecessors, who dragged the
bodies of our ancient sovereigns out of the quiet of their tombs? Do
they mean to attaint and disable backwards all the kings that have
reigned before the Revolution, and consequently to stain the throne of
England with the blot of a continual usurpation? Do they mean to
invalidate, annul, or to call into question, together with the titles of
the whole line of our kings, that great body of our statute law which
passed under those whom they treat as usurpers? to annul laws of
inestimable value to our liberties,--of as great value at least as any
which have passed at or since the period of the Revolution? If kings who
did not owe their crown to the choice of their people had no title to
make laws, what will become of the statute _De tallagio non concedendo?_
of the _Petition of Right?_ of the act of _Habeas Corpus?_ Do these new
doctors of the rights of men presume to assert that King James the
Second, who came to the crown as next of blood, according to the rules
of a then unqualified succession, was not to all intents and purposes a
lawful king of England, before he had done any of those acts which were
justly construed into an abdication of his crown? If he was not, much
trouble in Parliament might have been saved at the period these
gentlemen commemorate. But King James was a bad king with a good title,
and not an usurper. The princes who succeeded according to the act of
Parliament which settled the crown on the Electress Sophia and on her
descendants, being Protestants, came in as much by a title of
inheritance as King James did. He came in according to the law, as it
stood at his accession to the crown; and the princes of the House of
Brunswick came to the inheritance of the crown, not by election, but by
the law, as it stood at their several accessions, of Protestant descent
and inheritance, as I hope I have shown sufficiently.

The law by which this royal family is specifically destined to the
succession is the act of the 12th and 13th of King William. The terms of
this act bind "us, and our _heirs_, and our _posterity_, to them, their
_heirs_, and their _posterity_," being Protestants, to the end of time,
in the same words as the Declaration of Right had bound us to the heirs
of King William and Queen Mary. It therefore secures both an hereditary
crown and an hereditary allegiance. On what ground, except the
constitutional policy of forming an establishment to secure that kind of
succession which is to preclude a choice of the people forever, could
the legislature have fastidiously rejected the fair and abundant choice
which our own country presented to them, and searched in strange lands
for a foreign princess, from whose womb the line of our future rulers
were to derive their title to govern millions of men through a series of

The Princess Sophia was named in the act of settlement of the 12th and
13th of King William, for a _stock_ and root of _inheritance_ to our
kings, and not for her merits as a temporary administratrix of a power
which she might not, and in fact did not, herself ever exercise. She was
adopted for one reason, and for one only,--because, says the act, "the
most excellent Princess Sophia, Electress and Duchess Dowager of
Hanover, is _daughter_ of the most excellent Princess Elizabeth, late
Queen of Bohemia, _daughter_ of our late _sovereign lord_ King James the
First, of happy memory, and is hereby declared to be the next in
_succession_ in the Protestant line," &c., &c.; "and the crown shall
continue to the _heirs_ of her body, being Protestants." This limitation
was made by Parliament, that through the Princess Sophia an inheritable
line not only was to be continued in future, but (what they thought very
material) that through her it was to be connected with the old stock of
inheritance in King James the First; in order that the monarchy might
preserve an unbroken unity through all ages, and might be preserved
(with safety to our religion) in the old approved mode by descent, in
which, if our liberties had been once endangered, they had often,
through all storms and struggles of prerogative and privilege, been
preserved. They did well. No experience has taught us that in any other
course or method than that of an _hereditary crown_ our liberties can be
regularly perpetuated and preserved sacred as our _hereditary right_. An
irregular, convulsive movement may be necessary to throw off an
irregular, convulsive disease. But the course of succession is the
healthy habit of the British Constitution. Was it that the legislature
wanted, at the act for the limitation of the crown in the Hanoverian
line, drawn through the female descendants of James the First, a due
sense of the inconveniences of having two or three, or possibly more,
foreigners in succession to the British throne? No!--they had a due
sense of the evils which might happen from such foreign rule, and more
than a due sense of them. But a more decisive proof cannot be given of
the full conviction of the British nation that the principles of the
Revolution did not authorize them to elect kings at their pleasure, and
without any attention to the ancient fundamental principles of our
government, than their continuing to adopt a plan of hereditary
Protestant succession in the old line, with all the dangers and all the
inconveniences of its being a foreign line full before their eyes, and
operating with the utmost force upon their minds.

A few years ago I should be ashamed to overload a matter so capable of
supporting itself by the then unnecessary support of any argument; but
this seditious, unconstitutional doctrine is now publicly taught,
avowed, and printed. The dislike I feel to revolutions, the signals for
which have so often been given from pulpits,--the spirit of change that
is gone abroad,--the total contempt which prevails with you, and may
come to prevail with us, of all ancient institutions, when set in
opposition to a present sense of convenience, or to the bent of a
present inclination,--all these considerations make it not unadvisable,
in my opinion, to call back our attention to the true principles of our
own domestic laws, that you, my French friend, should begin to know, and
that we should continue to cherish them. We ought not, on either side of
the water, to suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by the counterfeit
wares which some persons, by a double fraud, export to you in illicit
bottoms, as raw commodities of British growth, though wholly alien to
our soil, in order afterwards to smuggle them back again into this
country, manufactured after the newest Paris fashion of an improved

The people of England will not ape the fashions they have never tried,
nor go back to those which they have found mischievous on trial. They
look upon the legal hereditary succession of their crown as among their
rights, not as among their wrongs,--as a benefit, not as a
grievance,--as a security for their liberty, not as a badge of
servitude. They look on the frame of their commonwealth, _such as it
stands_, to be of inestimable value; and they conceive the undisturbed
succession of the crown to be a pledge of the stability and perpetuity
of all the other members of our Constitution.

I shall beg leave, before I go any further, to take notice of some
paltry artifices which the abettors of election as the only lawful title
to the crown are ready to employ, in order to render the support of the
just principles of our Constitution a task somewhat invidious. These
sophisters substitute a fictitious cause, and feigned personages, in
whose favor they suppose you engaged, whenever you defend the
inheritable nature of the crown. It is common with them to dispute as if
they were in a conflict with some of those exploded fanatics of slavery
who formerly maintained, what I believe no creature now maintains, "that
the crown is held by divine, hereditary, and indefeasible right." These
old fanatics of single arbitrary power dogmatized as if hereditary
royalty was the only lawful government in the world,--just as our new
fanatics of popular arbitrary power maintain that a popular election is
the sole lawful source of authority. The old prerogative enthusiasts, it
is true, did speculate foolishly, and perhaps impiously too, as if
monarchy had more of a divine sanction than any other mode of
government,--and as if a right to govern by inheritance were in
strictness _indefeasible_ in every person who should be found in the
succession to a throne, and under every circumstance, which no civil or
political right can be. But an absurd opinion concerning the king's
hereditary right to the crown does not prejudice one that is rational,
and bottomed upon solid principles of law and policy. If all the absurd
theories of lawyers and divines were to vitiate the objects in which
they are conversant, we should have no law and no religion left in the
world. But an absurd theory on one side of a question forms no
justification for alleging a false fact or promulgating mischievous
maxims on the other.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second claim of the Revolution Society is "a right of cashiering
their governors for _misconduct_." Perhaps the apprehensions our
ancestors entertained of forming such a precedent as that "of cashiering
for misconduct" was the cause that the declaration of the act which
implied the abdication of King James was, if it had any fault, rather
too guarded and too circumstantial.[82] But all this guard, and all this
accumulation of circumstances, serves to show the spirit of caution
which predominated in the national councils, in a situation in which men
irritated by oppression, and elevated by a triumph over it, are apt to
abandon themselves to violent and extreme courses; it shows the anxiety
of the great men who influenced the conduct of affairs at that great
event to make the Revolution a parent of settlement, and not a nursery
of future revolutions.

No government could stand a moment, if it could be blown down with
anything so loose and indefinite as an opinion of "_misconduct_." They
who led at the Revolution grounded their virtual abdication of King
James upon no such light and uncertain principle. They charged him with
nothing less than a design, confirmed by a multitude of illegal overt
acts, to _subvert the Protestant Church and State_, and their
_fundamental_, unquestionable laws and liberties: they charged him with
having broken the _original contrast_ between king and people. This was
more than _misconduct_. A grave and overruling necessity obliged them to
take the step they took, and took with infinite reluctance, as under
that most rigorous of all laws. Their trust for the future preservation
of the Constitution was not in future revolutions. The grand policy of
all their regulations was to render it almost impracticable for any
future sovereign to compel the states of the kingdom to have again
recourse to those violent remedies. They left the crown, what in the eye
and estimation of law it had ever been, perfectly irresponsible. In
order to lighten the crown still further, they aggravated responsibility
on ministers of state. By the statute of the first of King William,
sess. 2d, called "_the act for declaring the rights and liberties of the
subject, and for settling the succession of the crown_," they enacted
that the ministers should serve the crown on the terms of that
declaration. They secured soon after the _frequent meetings of
Parliament_, by which the whole government would be under the constant
inspection and active control of the popular representative and of the
magnates of the kingdom. In the next great constitutional act, that of
the 12th and 13th of King William, for the further limitation of the
crown, and _better_ securing the rights and liberties of the subject,
they provided "that no pardon under the great seal of England should be
pleadable to an impeachment by the Commons in Parliament." The rule laid
down for government in the Declaration of Right, the constant inspection
of Parliament, the practical claim of impeachment, they thought
infinitely a better security not only for their constitutional liberty,
but against the vices of administration, than the reservation of a right
so difficult in the practice, so uncertain in the issue, and often so
mischievous in the consequences, as that "cashiering their governors."

Dr. Price, in this sermon,[83] condemns, very properly, the practice of
gross adulatory addresses to kings. Instead of this fulsome style, he
proposes that his Majesty should be told, on occasions of
congratulation, that "he is to consider himself as more properly the
servant than the sovereign of his people." For a compliment, this new
form of address does not seem to be very soothing. Those who are
servants in name, as well as in effect, do not like to be told of their
situation, their duty, and their obligations. The slave in the old play
tells his master, "_Haec commemeratio est quasi exprobratio_." It is not
pleasant as compliment; it is not wholesome as instruction. After all,
if the king were to bring himself to echo this new kind of address, to
adopt it in terms, and even to take the appellation of Servant of the
People as his royal style, how either he or we should be much mended by
it I cannot imagine. I have seen very assuming letters signed, "Your
most obedient, humble servant." The proudest domination that ever was
endured on earth took a title of still greater humility than that which
is now proposed for sovereigns by the Apostle of Liberty. Kings and
nations were trampled upon by the foot of one calling himself "The
Servant of Servants"; and mandates for deposing sovereigns were sealed
with the signet of "The Fisherman."

I should have considered all this as no more than a sort of flippant,
vain discourse, in which, as in an unsavory fume, several persons suffer
the spirit of liberty to evaporate, if it were not plainly in support of
the idea, and a part of the scheme, of "cashiering kings for
misconduct." In that light it is worth some observation.

Kings, in one sense, are undoubtedly the servants of the people, because
their power has no other rational end than that of the general
advantage; but it is not true that they are, in the ordinary sense, (by
our Constitution, at least,) anything like servants,--the essence of
whose situation is to obey the commands of some other, and to be
removable at pleasure. But the king of Great Britain obeys no other
person; all other persons are individually, and collectively too, under
him, and owe to him a legal obedience. The law, which knows neither to
flatter nor to insult, calls this high-magistrate, not our servant, as
this humble divine calls him, but "_our sovereign lord the king_"; and
we, on our parts, have learned to speak only the primitive language of
the law, and not the confused jargon of their Babylonian pulpits.

As he is not to obey us, but we are to obey the law in him, our
Constitution has made no sort of provision towards rendering him, as a
servant, in any degree responsible. Our Constitution knows nothing of a
magistrate like the _Justicia_ of Aragon,--nor of any court legally
appointed, nor of any process legally settled, for submitting the king
to the responsibility belonging to all servants. In this he is not
distinguished from the commons and the lords, who, in their several
public capacities, can never be called to an account for their conduct;
although the Revolution Society chooses to assert, in direct opposition
to one of the wisest and most beautiful parts of our Constitution, that
"a king is no more than the first servant of the public, created by it,
_and responsible to it_."

Ill would our ancestors at the Revolution have deserved their fame for
wisdom, if they had found no security for their freedom, but in
rendering their government feeble in its operations and precarious in
its tenure,--if they had been able to contrive no better remedy against
arbitrary power than civil confusion. Let these gentlemen state who that
_representative_ public is to whom they will affirm the king, as a
servant, to be responsible. It will be then time enough for me to
produce to them the positive statute law which affirms that he is not.

The ceremony of cashiering kings, of which these gentlemen talk so much
at their ease, can rarely, if ever, be performed without force. It then
becomes a case of war, and not of constitution. Laws are commanded to
hold their tongues amongst arms; and tribunals fall to the ground with
the peace they are no longer able to uphold. The Revolution of 1688 was
obtained by a just war, in the only case in which any war, and much more
a civil war, can be just. "_Justa bella quibus_ NECESSARIA." The
question of dethroning, or, if these gentlemen, like the phrase better,
"cashiering kings," will always be, as it has always been, an
extraordinary question of state, and wholly out of the law: a question
(like all other questions of state) of dispositions, and of means, and
of probable consequences, rather than of positive rights. As it was not
made for common abuses, so it is not to be agitated by common minds. The
speculative line of demarcation, where obedience ought to end and
resistance must begin, is faint, obscure, and not easily definable. It
is not a single act or a single event which determines it. Governments
must be abused and deranged indeed, before it can be thought of; and the
prospect of the future must be as bad as the experience of the past.
When things are in that lamentable condition, the nature of the disease
is to indicate the remedy to those whom Nature has qualified to
administer in extremities this critical, ambiguous, bitter potion to a
distempered state. Times and occasions and provocations will teach their
own lessons. The wise will determine from the gravity of the case; the
irritable, from sensibility to oppression; the high-minded, from disdain
and indignation at abusive power in unworthy hands; the brave and bold,
from the love of honorable danger in a generous cause: but, with or
without right, a revolution will be the very last resource of the
thinking and the good.

       *       *       *       *       *

The third head of right asserted by the pulpit of the Old Jewry, namely,
the "right to form a government for ourselves," has, at least, as little
countenance from anything done at the Revolution, either in precedent or
principle, as the two first of their claims. The Revolution was made to
preserve our _ancient_ indisputable laws and liberties, and that
_ancient_ constitution of government which is our only security for law
and liberty. If you are desirous of knowing the spirit of our
Constitution, and the policy which predominated in that great period
which has secured it to this hour, pray look for both in our histories,
in our records, in our acts of Parliament and journals of Parliament,
and not in the sermons of the Old Jewry, and the after-dinner toasts of
the Revolution Society. In the former you will find other ideas and
another language. Such a claim is as ill-suited to our temper and wishes
as it is unsupported by any appearance of authority. The very idea of
the fabrication of a new government is enough to fill us with disgust
and horror. We wished at the period of the Revolution, and do now wish,
to derive all we possess as _an inheritance from our forefathers_. Upon
that body and stock of inheritance we have taken care not to inoculate
any scion alien to the nature of the original plant. All the
reformations we have hitherto made have proceeded upon the principle of
reference to antiquity; and I hope, nay, I am persuaded, that all those
which possibly may be made hereafter will be carefully formed upon
analogical precedent, authority, and example.

Our oldest reformation is that of Magna Charta. You will see that Sir
Edward Coke, that great oracle of our law, and indeed all the great men
who follow him, to Blackstone,[84] are industrious to prove the pedigree
of our liberties. They endeavor to prove that the ancient charter, the
Magna Charta of King John, was connected with another positive charter
from Henry the First, and that both the one and the other were nothing
more than a reaffirmance of the still more ancient standing law of the
kingdom. In the matter of fact, for the greater part, these authors
appear to be in the right; perhaps not always: but if the lawyers
mistake in some particulars, it proves my position still the more
strongly; because it demonstrates the powerful prepossession towards
antiquity with which the minds of all our lawyers and legislators, and
of all the people whom they wish to influence, have been always filled,
and the stationary policy of this kingdom in considering their most
sacred rights and franchises as an _inheritance_.

In the famous law of the 3rd of Charles the First, called the _Petition
of Right,_ the Parliament says to the king, "Your subjects have
_inherited_ this freedom": claiming their franchises, not on abstract
principles, "as the rights of men," but as the rights of Englishmen, and
as a patrimony derived from their forefathers. Selden, and the other
profoundly learned men who drew this Petition of Right, were as well
acquainted, at least, with all the general theories concerning the
"rights of men" as any of the discoursers in our pulpits or on your
tribune: full as well as Dr. Price, or as the Abbe Sieyes. But, for
reasons worthy of that practical wisdom which superseded their theoretic
science, they preferred this positive, recorded, _hereditary_ title to
all which can be dear to the man and the citizen to that vague,
speculative right which exposed their sure inheritance to be scrambled
for and torn to pieces by every wild, litigious spirit.

The same policy pervades all the laws which have since been made for the
preservation of our liberties. In the 1st of William and Mary, in the
famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two Houses utter not
a syllable of "a right to frame a government for themselves." You will
see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and
liberties that had been long possessed, and had been lately endangered.
"Taking[85] into their most serious consideration the _best_ means for
making such an establishment that their religion, laws, and liberties
might not be in danger of being again subverted," they auspicate all
their proceedings by stating as some of those _best_ means, "in the
_first place_," to do "as their _ancestors in like cases have usually_
done for vindicating their _ancient_ rights and liberties, to
_declare_";--and then they pray the king and queen "that it may be
_declared_ and enacted that _all and singular_ the rights and liberties
_asserted and declared_ are the true _ancient_ and indubitable rights
and liberties of the people of this kingdom."

You will observe, that, from Magna Charta to the Declaration of Right,
it has been the uniform policy of our Constitution to claim and assert
our liberties as an _entailed inheritance_ derived to us from our
forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity,--as an estate
specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference
whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means our
Constitution preserves an unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We
have an inheritable crown, an inheritable peerage, and a House of
Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties
from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection,--or
rather the happy effect of following Nature, which is wisdom without
reflection, and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result
of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to
posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the
people of England well know that the idea of inheritance furnishes a
sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission,
without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves
acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages
are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in
a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever.
By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of Nature, we
receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges, in the
same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives.
The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of
Providence, are handed down to us, and from us, in the same course and
order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and
symmetry with the order of the world, and with the mode of existence
decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts,--wherein, by
the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great
mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is
never old or middle-aged or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable
constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall,
renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of Nature in
the conduct of the state, in what we improve we are never wholly new, in
what we retain we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner
and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided, not by the
superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy.
In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the
image of a relation in blood: binding up the Constitution of our country
with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the
bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with
the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our
state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to Nature in our artificial
institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful
instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason,
we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from
considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting
as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom,
leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful
gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of
habitual native dignity, which prevents that upstart insolence almost
inevitably adhering to and disgracing those who are the first acquirers
of any distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom.
It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and
illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It
has its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records,
evidences, and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions on
the principle upon which Nature teaches us to revere individual men: on
account of their age, and on account of those from whom they are
descended. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to
preserve a rational and manly freedom than the course that we have
pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our
breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and
magazines of our rights and privileges.

       *       *       *       *       *

You might, if you pleased, have profited of our example, and have given
to your recovered freedom a correspondent dignity. Your privileges,
though discontinued, were not lost to memory. Your Constitution, it is
true, whilst you were out of possession, suffered waste and
dilapidation; but you possessed in some parts the walls, and in all the
foundations, of a noble and venerable castle. You might have repaired
those walls; you might have built on those old foundations. Your
Constitution was suspended before it was perfected; but you had the
elements of a Constitution very nearly as good as could be wished. In
your old states you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with
the various descriptions of which your community was happily composed;
you had all that combination and all that opposition of interests, you
had that action and counteraction, which, in the natural and in the
political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers draws
out the harmony of the universe. These opposed and conflicting
interests, which you considered as so great a blemish in your old and in
our present Constitution, interpose a salutary check to all precipitate
resolutions. They render deliberation a matter, not of choice, but of
necessity; they make all change a subject of _compromise_, which
naturally begets moderation; they produce _temperaments_, preventing the
sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified reformations, and rendering all
the headlong exertions of arbitrary power, in the few or in the many,
forever impracticable. Through that diversity of members and interests,
general liberty had as many securities as there were separate views in
the several orders; whilst by pressing down the whole by the weight of a
real monarchy, the separate parts would have been prevented from warping
and starting from their allotted places.

You had all these advantages in your ancient states; but you chose to
act as if you had never been moulded into civil society, and had
everything to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising
everything that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a
capital. If the last generations of your country appeared without much
lustre in your eyes, you might have passed them by, and derived your
claims from a more early race of ancestors. Under a pious predilection
for those ancestors, your imaginations would have realized in them a
standard of virtue and wisdom beyond the vulgar practice of the hour;
and you would have risen with the example to whose imitation you
aspired. Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to
respect yourselves. You would not have chosen to consider the French as
a people of yesterday, as a nation of low-born, servile wretches until
the emancipating year of 1789. In order to furnish, at the expense of
your honor, an excuse to your apologists here for several enormities of
yours, you would not have been content to be represented as a gang of
Maroon slaves, suddenly broke loose from the house of bondage, and
therefore to be pardoned for your abuse of the liberty to which you were
not accustomed, and were ill fitted. Would it not, my worthy friend,
have been wiser to have you thought, what I for one always thought you,
a generous and gallant nation, long misled to your disadvantage by your
high and romantic sentiments of fidelity, honor, and loyalty; that
events had been unfavorable to you, but that you were not enslaved
through any illiberal or servile disposition; that, in your most devoted
submission, you were actuated by a principle of public spirit; and that
it was your country you worshipped, in the person of your king? Had you
made it to be understood, that, in the delusion of this amiable error,
you had gone further than your wise ancestors,--that you were resolved
to resume your ancient privileges, whilst you preserved the spirit of
your ancient and your recent loyalty and honor; or if, diffident of
yourselves, and not clearly discerning the almost obliterated
Constitution of your ancestors, you had looked to your neighbors in this
land, who had kept alive the ancient principles and models of the old
common law of Europe, meliorated and adapted to its present state,--by
following wise examples you would have given new examples of wisdom to
the world. You would have rendered the cause of liberty venerable in the
eyes of every worthy mind in every nation. You would have shamed
despotism from the earth, by showing that freedom was not only
reconcilable, but, as, when well disciplined, it is, auxiliary to law.
You would have had an unoppressive, but a productive revenue. You would
have had a flourishing commerce to feed it. You would have had a free
Constitution, a potent monarchy, a disciplined army, a reformed and
venerated clergy,--a mitigated, but spirited nobility, to lead your
virtue, not to overlay it; you would have had a liberal order of
commons, to emulate and to recruit that nobility; you would have had a
protected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek and
to recognize the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all
conditions,--in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and
not in that monstrous fiction which, by inspiring false ideas and vain
expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of
laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real
inequality which it never can remove, and which the order of civil life
establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in an
humble state as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more
splendid, but not more happy. You had a smooth and easy career of
felicity and glory laid open to you, beyond anything recorded in the
history of the world; but you have shown that difficulty is good for

Compute your gains; see what is got by those extravagant and
presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all
their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise
themselves, until the moment in which they became truly despicable. By
following those false lights, France has bought undisguised calamities
at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most unequivocal
blessings. France has bought poverty by crime. France has not sacrificed
her virtue to her interest; but she has abandoned her interest, that she
might prostitute her virtue. All other nations have begun the fabric of
a new government, or the reformation of an old, by establishing
originally, or by enforcing with greater exactness, some rites or other
of religion. All other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom
in severer manners, and a system of a more austere and masculine
morality. France, when she let loose the reins of regal authority,
doubled the license of a ferocious dissoluteness in manners, and of an
insolent irreligion in opinions and practices,--and has extended through
all ranks of life, as if she were communicating some privilege, or
laying open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy corruptions that
usually were the disease of wealth and power. This is one of the new
principles of equality in France.

France, by the perfidy of her leaders, has utterly disgraced the tone of
lenient council in the cabinets of princes, and disarmed it of its most
potent topics. She has sanctified the dark, suspicious maxims of
tyrannous distrust, and taught kings to tremble at (what will hereafter
be called) the delusive plausibilities of moral politicians. Sovereigns
will consider those who advise them to place an unlimited confidence in
their people as subverters of their thrones,--as traitors who aim at
their destruction, by leading their easy good-nature, under specious
pretences, to admit combinations of bold and faithless men into a
participation of their power. This alone (if there were nothing else) is
an irreparable calamity to you and to mankind. Remember that your
Parliament of Paris told your king, that, in calling the states
together, he had nothing to fear but the prodigal excess of their zeal
in providing for the support of the throne. It is right that these men
should hide their heads. It is right that they should bear their part in
the ruin which their counsel has brought on their sovereign and their
country. Such sanguine declarations tend to lull authority asleep,--to
encourage it rashly to engage in perilous adventures of untried
policy,--to neglect those provisions, preparations, and precautions
which distinguish benevolence from imbecility, and without which no man
can answer for the salutary effect of any abstract plan of government or
of freedom. For want of these, they have seen the medicine of the state
corrupted into its poison. They have seen the French rebel against a
mild and lawful monarch, with more fury, outrage, and insult than ever
any people has been known to rise against the most illegal usurper or
the most sanguinary tyrant. Their resistance was made to concession;
their revolt was from protection; their blow was aimed at a hand holding
out graces, favors, and immunities.

This was unnatural. The rest is in order. They have found their
punishment in their success. Laws overturned; tribunals subverted;
industry without vigor; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the
people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil
and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; everything
human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national
bankruptcy the consequence; and, to crown all, the paper securities of
new, precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securities of
impoverished fraud and beggared rapine, held out as a currency for the
support of an empire, in lieu of the two great recognized species that
represent the lasting, conventional credit of mankind, which disappeared
and hid themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the
principle of property, whose creatures and representatives they are, was
systematically subverted.

Were all these dreadful things necessary? Were they the inevitable
results of the desperate struggle of determined patriots, compelled to
wade through blood and tumult to the quiet shore of a tranquil and
prosperous liberty? No! nothing like it. The fresh ruins of France,
which shock our feelings wherever we can turn our eyes, are not the
devastation of civil war: they are the sad, but instructive monuments of
rash and ignorant counsel in time of profound peace. They are the
display of inconsiderate and presumptuous, because unresisted and
irresistible authority. The persons who have thus squandered away the
precious treasure of their crimes, the persons who have made this
prodigal and wild waste of public evils, (the last stake reserved for
the ultimate ransom of the state,) have met in their progress with
little, or rather with no opposition at all. Their whole march was more
like a triumphal procession than the progress of a war. Their pioneers
have gone before them, and demolished and laid everything level at their
feet. Not one drop of _their_ blood have they shed in the cause of the
country they have ruined. They have made no sacrifices to their projects
of greater consequence than their shoe-buckles, whilst they were
imprisoning their king, murdering their fellow-citizens, and bathing in
tears and plunging in poverty and distress thousands of worthy men and
worthy families. Their cruelty has not even been the base result of
fear. It has been the effect of their sense of perfect safety, in
authorizing treasons, robberies, rapes, assassinations, slaughters, and
burnings, throughout their harassed land. But the cause of all was plain
from the beginning.

       *       *       *       *       *

This unforced choice, this fond election of evil, would appear perfectly
unaccountable, if we did not consider the composition of the National
Assembly: I do not mean its formal constitution, which, as it now
stands, is exceptionable enough, but the materials of which in a great
measure it is composed, which is of ten thousand times greater
consequence than all the formalities in the world. If we were to know
nothing of this assembly but by its title and function, no colors could
paint to the imagination anything more venerable. In that light, the
mind of an inquirer, subdued by such an awful image as that of the
virtue and wisdom of a whole people collected into one focus, would
pause and hesitate in condemning things even of the very worst aspect.
Instead of blamable, they would appear only mysterious. But no name, no
power, no function, no artificial institution whatsoever, can make the
men, of whom any system of authority is composed, any other than God,
and Nature, and education, and their habits of life have made them.
Capacities beyond these the people have not to give. Virtue and wisdom
may be the objects of their choice; but their choice confers neither the
one nor the other on those upon whom they lay their ordaining hands.
They have not the engagement of Nature, they have not the promise of
Revelation for any such powers.

After I had read over the list of the persons and descriptions elected
into the _Tiers Etat_, nothing which they afterwards did could appear
astonishing. Among them, indeed, I saw some of known rank, some of
shining talents; but of any practical experience in the state not one
man was to be found. The best were only men of theory. But whatever the
distinguished few may have been, it is the substance and mass of the
body which constitutes its character, and must finally determine its
direction. In all bodies, those who will lead must also, in a
considerable degree, follow. They must conform their propositions to the
taste, talent, and disposition of those whom they wish to conduct:
therefore, if an assembly is viciously or feebly composed in a very
great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree of virtue as very
rarely appears in the world, and for that reason cannot enter into
calculation, will prevent the men of talents disseminated through it
from becoming only the expert instruments of absurd projects. If, what
is the more likely event, instead of that unusual degree of virtue, they
should be actuated by sinister ambition and a lust of meretricious
glory, then the feeble part of the assembly, to whom at first they
conform, becomes, in its turn, the dupe and instrument of their designs.
In this political traffic, the leaders will be obliged to bow to the
ignorance of their followers, and the followers to become subservient to
the worst designs of their leaders.

To secure any degree of sobriety in the propositions made by the leaders
in any public assembly, they ought to respect, in some degree perhaps to
fear, those whom they conduct. To be led any otherwise than blindly, the
followers must be qualified, if not for actors, at least for judges;
they must also be judges of natural weight and authority. Nothing can
secure a steady and moderate conduct in such assemblies, but that the
body of them should be respectably composed, in point of condition in
life, of permanent property, of education, and of such habits as enlarge
and liberalize the understanding.

In the calling of the States-General of France, the first thing that
struck me was a great departure from the ancient course. I found the
representation for the third estate composed of six hundred persons.
They were equal in number to the representatives of both the other
orders. If the orders were to act separately, the number would not,
beyond the consideration of the expense, be of much moment. But when it
became apparent that the three orders were to be melted down into one,
the policy and necessary effect of this numerous representation became
obvious. A very small desertion from either of the other two orders
must throw the power of both into the hands of the third. In fact, the
whole power of the state was soon resolved into that body. Its due
composition became, therefore, of infinitely the greater importance.

Judge, Sir, of my surprise, when I found that a very great proportion of
the Assembly (a majority, I believe, of the members who attended) was
composed of practitioners in the law. It was composed, not of
distinguished magistrates, who had given pledges to their country of
their science, prudence, and integrity,--not of leading advocates, the
glory of the bar,--not of renowned professors in universities,--but for
the far greater part, as it must in such a number, of the inferior,
unlearned, mechanical, merely instrumental members of the profession.
There were distinguished exceptions; but the general composition was of
obscure provincial advocates, of stewards of petty local jurisdictions,
country attorneys, notaries, and the whole train of the ministers of
municipal litigation, the fomenters and conductors of the petty war of
village vexation. From the moment I read the list, I saw distinctly, and
very nearly as it has happened, all that was to follow.

The degree of estimation in which any profession is held becomes the
standard of the estimation in which the professors hold themselves.
Whatever the personal merits of many individual lawyers might have been,
(and in many it was undoubtedly very considerable,) in that military
kingdom no part of the profession had been much regarded, except the
highest of all, who often united to their professional offices great
family splendor, and were invested with great power and authority. These
certainly were highly respected, and even with no small degree of awe.
The next rank was not much esteemed; the mechanical part was in a very
low degree of repute.

Whenever the supreme authority is vested in a body so composed, it must
evidently produce the consequences of supreme authority placed in the
hands of men not taught habitually to respect themselves,--who had no
previous fortune in character at stake,--who could not be expected to
bear with moderation or to conduct with discretion a power which they
themselves, more than any others, must be surprised to find in their
hands. Who could flatter himself that these men, suddenly, and as it
were by enchantment, snatched from the humblest rank of subordination,
would not be intoxicated with their unprepared greatness? Who could
conceive that men who are habitually meddling, daring, subtle, active,
of litigious dispositions and unquiet minds, would easily fall back into
their old condition of obscure contention, and laborious, low, and
unprofitable chicane? Who could doubt but that, at any expense to the
state, of which they understood nothing, they must pursue their private
interests, which they understood but too well? It was not an event
depending on chance or contingency. It was inevitable; it was necessary;
it was planted in the nature of things. They must _join_ (if their
capacity did not permit them to _lead_) in any project which could
procure to them a _litigious constitution_,--which could lay open to
them those innumerable lucrative jobs which follow in the train of all
great convulsions and revolutions in the state, and particularly in all
great and violent permutations of property. Was it to be expected that
they would attend to the stability of property, whose existence had
always depended upon whatever rendered property questionable, ambiguous,
and insecure? Their objects would be enlarged with their elevation; but
their disposition, and habits, and mode of accomplishing their designs
must remain the same.

Well! but these men were to be tempered and restrained by other
descriptions, of more sober minds and more enlarged understandings. Were
they, then, to be awed by the supereminent authority and awful dignity
of a handful of country clowns, who have seats in that assembly, some of
whom are said not to be able to read and write,--and by not a greater
number of traders, who, though somewhat more instructed, and more
conspicuous in the order of society, had never known anything beyond
their counting-house? No! both these descriptions were more formed to be
overborne and swayed by the intrigues and artifices of lawyers than to
become their counterpoise. With such a dangerous disproportion, the
whole must needs be governed by them.

To the faculty of law was joined a pretty considerable proportion of the
faculty of medicine. This faculty had not, any more than that of the
law, possessed in France its just estimation. Its professors, therefore,
must have the qualities of men not habituated to sentiments of dignity.
But supposing they had ranked as they ought to do, and as with us they
do actually, the sides of sick-beds are not the academies for forming
statesmen and legislators. Then came the dealers in stocks and funds,
who must be eager, at any expense, to change their ideal paper wealth
for the more solid substance of land. To these were joined men of other
descriptions, from whom as little knowledge of or attention to the
interests of a great state was to be expected, and as little regard to
the stability of any institution,--men formed to be instruments, not
controls.--Such, in general, was the composition of the _Tiers Etat_ in
the National Assembly; in which was scarcely to be perceived the
slightest traces of what we call the natural landed interest of the

We know that the British House of Commons, without shutting its doors to
any merit in any class, is, by the sure operation of adequate causes,
filled with everything illustrious in rank, in descent, in hereditary
and in acquired opulence, in cultivated talents, in military, civil,
naval, and politic distinction, that the country can afford. But
supposing, what hardly can be supposed as a case, that the House of
Commons should be composed in the same manner with the _Tiers Etat_ in
France,--would this dominion of chicane be borne with patience, or even
conceived without horror? God forbid I should insinuate anything
derogatory to that profession which is another priesthood, administering
the rights of sacred justice! But whilst I revere men in the functions
which belong to them, and would do as much as one man can do to prevent
their exclusion from any, I cannot, to flatter them, give the lie to
Nature. They are good and useful in the composition; they must be
mischievous, if they preponderate so as virtually to become the whole.
Their very excellence in their peculiar functions may be far from a
qualification for others. It cannot escape observation, that, when men
are too much confined to professional and faculty habits, and, as it
were, inveterate in the recurrent employment of that narrow circle, they
are rather disabled than qualified for whatever depends on the
knowledge of mankind, on experience in mixed affairs, on a
comprehensive, connected view of the various, complicated, external, and
internal interests which go to the formation of that multifarious thing
called a State.

After all, if the House of Commons were to have an wholly professional
and faculty composition, what is the power of the House of Commons,
circumscribed and shut in by the immovable barriers of laws, usages,
positive rules of doctrine and practice, counterpoised by the House of
Lords, and every moment of its existence at the discretion of the crown
to continue, prorogue, or dissolve us? The power of the House of
Commons, direct or indirect, is, indeed, great: and long may it be able
to preserve its greatness, and the spirit belonging to true greatness,
at the full!--and it will do so, as long as it can keep the breakers of
law in India from becoming the makers of law for England. The power,
however, of the House of Commons, when least diminished, is as a drop of
water in the ocean, compared to that residing in a settled majority of
your National Assembly. That assembly, since the destruction of the
orders, has no fundamental law, no strict convention, no respected usage
to restrain it. Instead of finding themselves obliged to conform to a
fixed constitution, they have a power to make a constitution which shall
conform to their designs. Nothing in heaven or upon earth can serve as a
control on them. What ought to be the heads, the hearts, the
dispositions, that are qualified, or that dare, not only to make laws
under a fixed constitution, but at one heat to strike out a totally new
constitution for a great kingdom, and in every part of it, from the
monarch on the throne to the vestry of a parish? But

    "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

In such a state of unbounded power, for undefined and undefinable
purposes, the evil of a moral and almost physical inaptitude of the man
to the function must be the greatest we can conceive to happen in the
management of human affairs.

Having considered the composition of the third estate, as it stood in
its original frame, I took a view of the representatives of the clergy.
There, too, it appeared that full as little regard was had to the
general security of property, or to the aptitude of the deputies for
their public purposes, in the principles of their election. That
election was so contrived as to send a very large proportion of mere
country curates to the great and arduous work of new-modelling a state:
men who never had seen the state so much as in a picture; men who knew
nothing of the world beyond the bounds of an obscure village; who,
immersed in hopeless poverty, could regard all property, whether secular
or ecclesiastical, with no other eye than that of envy; among whom must
be many who, for the smallest hope of the meanest dividend in plunder,
would readily join in any attempts upon a body of wealth in which they
could hardly look to have any share, except in a general scramble.
Instead of balancing the power of the active chicaners in the other
assembly, these curates must necessarily become the active coadjutors,
or at best the passive instruments, of those by whom they had been
habitually guided in their petty village concerns. They, too, could
hardly be the most conscientious of their kind, who, presuming upon
their incompetent understanding, could intrigue for a trust which led
them from their natural relation to their flocks, and their natural
spheres of action, to undertake the regeneration of kingdoms. This
preponderating weight, being added to the force of the body of chicane
in the _Tiers Etat_, completed that momentum of ignorance, rashness,
presumption, and lust of plunder, which nothing has been able to resist.

To observing men it must have appeared from the beginning, that the
majority of the third estate, in conjunction with such a deputation from
the clergy as I have described, whilst it pursued the destruction of the
nobility, would inevitably become subservient to the worst designs of
individuals in that class. In the spoil and humiliation of their own
order these individuals would possess a sure fund for the pay of their
new followers. To squander away the objects which made the happiness of
their fellows would be to them no sacrifice at all. Turbulent,
discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with
personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their own order. One of
the first symptoms they discover of a selfish and mischievous ambition
is a profligate disregard of a dignity which they partake with others.
To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong
to in society, is the first principle (the germ, as it were) of public
affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed
towards a love to our country and to mankind. The interest of that
portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who
compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but
traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.

There were, in the time of our civil troubles in England, (I do not know
whether you have any such in your Assembly in France,) several persons,
like the then Earl of Holland, who by themselves or their families had
brought an odium on the throne by the prodigal dispensation of its
bounties towards them, who afterwards joined in the rebellions arising
from the discontents of which they were themselves the cause: men who
helped to subvert that throne to which they owed, some of them, their
existence, others all that power which they employed to ruin their
benefactor. If any bounds are set to the rapacious demands of that sort
of people, or that others are permitted to partake in the objects they
would engross, revenge and envy soon fill up the craving void that is
left in their avarice. Confounded by the complication of distempered
passions, their reason is disturbed; their views become vast and
perplexed,--to others inexplicable, to themselves uncertain. They find,
on all sides, bounds to their unprincipled ambition in any fixed order
of things; but in the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged, and
appears without any limit.

When men of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an ambition without a
distinct object, and work with low instruments and for low ends, the
whole composition becomes low and base. Does not something like this now
appear in France? Does it not produce something ignoble and inglorious:
a kind of meanness in all the prevalent policy; a tendency in all that
is done to lower along with individuals all the dignity and importance
of the state? Other revolutions have been conducted by persons who,
whilst they attempted or affected changes in the commonwealth,
sanctified their ambition by advancing the dignity of the people whose
peace they troubled. They had long views. They aimed at the rule, not at
the destruction of their country. They were men of great civil and great
military talents, and if the terror, the ornament of their age. They
were not like Jew brokers contending with each other who could best
remedy with fraudulent circulation and depreciated paper the
wretchedness and ruin brought on their country by their degenerate
councils. The compliment made to one of the great bad men of the old
stamp (Cromwell) by his kinsman, a favorite poet of that time, shows
what it was he proposed, and what indeed to a great degree he
accomplished in the success of his ambition:--

    "Still as _you_ rise, the _state_, exalted too,
    Finds no distemper whilst 't is changed by _you_;
    Changed like the world's great scene, when without noise
    The rising sun night's _vulgar_ lights destroys."

These disturbers were not so much like men usurping power as asserting
their natural place in society. Their rising was to illuminate and
beautify the world. Their conquest over their competitors was by
outshining them. The hand, that, like a destroying angel, smote the
country, communicated to it the force and energy under which it
suffered. I do not say, (God forbid!) I do not say that the virtues of
such men were to be taken as a balance to their crimes; but they were
some corrective to their effects. Such was, as I said, our Cromwell.
Such were your whole race of Guises, Condes, and Colignys. Such the
Richelieus, who in more quiet times acted in the spirit of a civil war.
Such, as better men, and in a less dubious cause, were your Henry the
Fourth, and your Sully, though nursed in civil confusions, and not
wholly without some of their taint. It is a thing to be wondered at, to
see how very soon France, when she had a moment to respire, recovered
and emerged from the longest and most dreadful civil war that ever was
known in any nation. Why? Because, among all their massacres, they had
not slain the _mind_ in their country. A conscious dignity, a noble
pride, a generous sense of glory and emulation, was not extinguished. On
the contrary, it was kindled and inflamed. The organs also of the state,
however shattered, existed. All the prizes of honor and virtue, all the
rewards, all the distinctions, remained. But your present confusion,
like a palsy, has attacked the fountain of life itself. Every person in
your country, in a situation to be actuated by a principle of honor, is
disgraced and degraded, and can entertain no sensation of life, except
in a mortified and humiliated indignation. But this generation will
quickly pass away. The next generation of the nobility will resemble the
artificers and clowns, and money-jobbers, usurers, and Jews, who will be
always their fellows, sometimes their masters. Believe me, Sir, those
who attempt to level never equalize. In all societies consisting of
various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost.
The levellers, therefore, only change and pervert the natural order of
things: they load the edifice of society by setting up in the air what
the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground. The
associations of tailors and carpenters, of which the republic (of Paris,
for instance) is composed, cannot be equal to the situation into which,
by the worst of usurpations, an usurpation on the prerogatives of
Nature, you attempt to force them.

The Chancellor of France, at the opening of the States, said, in a tone
of oratorial flourish, that all occupations were honorable. If he meant
only that no honest employment was disgraceful, he would not have gone
beyond the truth. But in asserting that anything is honorable, we imply
some distinction in its favor. The occupation of a hair-dresser, or of a
working tallow-chandler, cannot be a matter of honor to any person,--to
say nothing of a number of other more servile employments. Such
descriptions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but
the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually or
collectively, are permitted to rule. In this you think you are combating
prejudice, but you are at war with Nature.[86]

I do not, my dear Sir, conceive you to be of that sophistical, captious
spirit, or of that uncandid dullness, as to require, for every general
observation or sentiment, an explicit detail of the correctives and
exceptions which reason will presume to be included in all the general
propositions which come from reasonable men. You do not imagine that I
wish to confine power, authority, and distinction to blood and names and
titles. No, Sir. There is no qualification for government but virtue and
wisdom, actual or presumptive. Wherever they are actually found, they
have, in whatever state, condition, profession, or trade, the passport
of Heaven to human place and honor. Woe to the country which would madly
and impiously reject the service of the talents and virtues, civil,
military, or religious, that are given to grace and to serve it; and
would condemn to obscurity everything formed to diffuse lustre and glory
around a state! Woe to that country, too, that, passing into the
opposite extreme, considers a low education, a mean, contracted view of
things, a sordid, mercenary occupation, as a preferable title to
command! Everything ought to be open,--but not indifferently to every
man. No rotation, no appointment by lot, no mode of election operating
in the spirit of sortition or rotation, can be generally good in a
government conversant in extensive objects; because they have no
tendency, direct or indirect, to select the man with a view to the duty,
or to accommodate the one to the other. I do not hesitate to say that
the road to eminence and power, from obscure condition, ought not to be
made too easy, nor a thing too much of course. If rare merit be the
rarest of all rare things, it ought to pass through some sort of
probation. The temple of honor ought to be seated on an eminence. If it
be opened through virtue, let it be remembered, too, that virtue is
never tried but by some difficulty and some struggle.

Nothing is a due and adequate representation of a state, that does not
represent its ability, as well as its property. But as ability is a
vigorous and active principle, and as property is sluggish, inert, and
timid, it never can be safe from the invasions of ability, unless it be,
out of all proportion, predominant in the representation. It must be
represented, too, in great masses of accumulation, or it is not rightly
protected. The characteristic essence of property, formed out of the
combined principles of its acquisition and conservation, is to be
_unequal_. The great masses, therefore, which excite envy, and tempt
rapacity, must be put out of the possibility of danger. Then they form a
natural rampart about the lesser properties in all their gradations. The
same quantity of property which is by the natural course of things
divided among many has not the same operation. Its defensive power is
weakened as it is diffused. In this diffusion each man's portion is less
than what, in the eagerness of his desires, he may flatter himself to
obtain by dissipating the accumulations of others. The plunder of the
few would, indeed, give but a share inconceivably small in the
distribution to the many. But the many are not capable of making this
calculation; and those who lead them to rapine never intend this

The power of perpetuating our property in our families is one of the
most valuable and interesting circumstances belonging to it, and that
which tends the most to the perpetuation of society itself. It makes our
weakness subservient to our virtue; it grafts benevolence even upon
avarice. The possessors of family wealth, and of the distinction which
attends hereditary possession, (as most concerned in it,) are the
natural securities for this transmission. With us the House of Peers is
formed upon this principle. It is wholly composed of hereditary
property and hereditary distinction, and made, therefore, the third of
the legislature, and, in the last event, the sole judge of all property
in all its subdivisions. The House of Commons, too, though not
necessarily, yet in fact, is always so composed, in the far greater
part. Let those large proprietors be what they will, (and they have
their chance of being amongst the best,) they are, at the very worst,
the ballast in the vessel of the commonwealth. For though hereditary
wealth, and the rank which goes with it, are too much idolized by
creeping sycophants, and the blind, abject admirers of power, they are
too rashly slighted in shallow speculations of the petulant, assuming,
short-sighted coxcombs of philosophy. Some decent, regulated
preeminence, some preference (not exclusive appropriation) given to
birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor impolitic.

It is said that twenty-four millions ought to prevail over two hundred
thousand. True; if the constitution of a kingdom be a problem of
arithmetic. This sort of discourse does well enough with the lamp-post
for its second: to men who _may_ reason calmly it is ridiculous The will
of the many, and their interest, must very often differ; and great will
be the difference when they make an evil choice. A government of five
hundred country attorneys and obscure curates is not good for
twenty-four millions of men, though it were chosen by eight-and-forty
millions; nor is it the better for being guided by a dozen of persons of
quality who have betrayed their trust in order to obtain that power. At
present, you seem in everything to have strayed out of the high road of
Nature. The property of France does not govern it. Of course property
is destroyed, and rational liberty has no existence. All you have got
for the present is a paper circulation, and a stock-jobbing
constitution: and as to the future, do you seriously think that the
territory of France, upon the republican system of eighty-three
independent municipalities, (to say nothing of the parts that compose
them,) can ever be governed as one body, or can ever be set in motion by
the impulse of one mind? When the National Assembly has completed its
work, it will have accomplished its ruin. These commonwealths will not
long bear a state of subjection to the republic of Paris. They will not
bear that this one body should monopolize the captivity of the king, and
the dominion over the assembly calling itself national. Each will keep
its own portion of the spoil of the Church to itself; and it will not
suffer either that spoil, or the more just fruits of their industry, or
the natural produce of their soil, to be sent to swell the insolence or
pamper the luxury of the mechanics of Paris. In this they will see none
of the equality, under the pretence of which they have been tempted to
throw off their allegiance to their sovereign, as well as the ancient
constitution of their country. There can be no capital city in such a
constitution as they have lately made. They have forgot, that, when they
framed democratic governments, they had virtually dismembered their
country. The person whom they persevere in calling king has not power
left to him by the hundredth part sufficient to hold together this
collection of republics. The republic of Paris will endeavor, indeed, to
complete the debauchery of the army, and illegally to perpetuate the
Assembly, without resort to its constituents, as the means of
continuing its despotism. It will make efforts, by becoming the heart
of a boundless paper circulation, to draw everything to itself: but in
vain. All this policy in the end will appear as feeble as it is now

       *       *       *       *       *

If this be your actual situation, compared to the situation to which you
were called, as it were by the voice of God and man, I cannot find it in
my heart to congratulate you on the choice you have made, or the success
which has attended your endeavors. I can as little recommend to any
other nation a conduct grounded on such principles and productive of
such effects. That I must leave to those who can see further into your
affairs than I am able to do, and who best know how far your actions are
favorable to their designs. The gentlemen of the Revolution Society, who
were so early in their congratulations, appear to be strongly of opinion
that there is some scheme of politics relative to this country, in which
your proceedings may in some way be useful. For your Dr. Price, who
seems to have speculated himself into no small degree of fervor upon
this subject, addresses his auditors in the following very remarkable
words:--"I cannot conclude without recalling _particularly_ to your
recollection a consideration which I have _more than once alluded to_,
and which probably your thoughts have _been all along anticipating_; a
consideration with which _my mind is impressed more than can express_: I
mean the consideration of the _favorableness of the present times to all
exertions in the cause of liberty_."

It is plain that the mind of this _political_ preacher was at the time
big with some extraordinary design; and it is very probable that the
thoughts of his audience, who understood him better than I do, did all
along run before him in his reflection, and in the whole train of
consequences to which it led.

Before I read that sermon, I really thought I had lived in a free
country; and it was an error I cherished, because it gave me a greater
liking to the country I lived in. I was, indeed, aware that a jealous,
ever-waking vigilance, to guard the treasure of our liberty, not only
from invasion, but from decay and corruption, was our best wisdom and
our first duty. However, I considered that treasure rather as a
possession to be secured than as a prize to be contended for. I did not
discern how the present time came to be so very favorable to all
_exertions_ in the cause of freedom. The present time differs from any
other only by the circumstance of what is doing in France. If the
example of that nation is to have an influence on this, I can easily
conceive why some of their proceedings which have an unpleasant aspect,
and are not quite reconcilable to humanity, generosity, good faith, and
justice, are palliated with so much milky good-nature towards the
actors, and borne with so much heroic fortitude towards the sufferers.
It is certainly not prudent to discredit the authority of an example we
mean to follow. But allowing this, we are led to a very natural
question:--What is that cause of liberty, and what are those exertions
in its favor, to which the example of France is so singularly
auspicious? Is our monarchy to be annihilated, with all the laws, all
the tribunals, and all the ancient corporations of the kingdom? Is every
landmark of the country to be done away in favor of a geometrical and
arithmetical constitution? Is the House of Lords to be voted useless?
Is Episcopacy to be abolished? Are the Church lands to be sold to Jews
and jobbers, or given to bribe new-invented municipal republics into a
participation in sacrilege? Are all the taxes to be voted grievances,
and the revenue reduced to a patriotic contribution or patriotic
presents? Are silver shoe-buckles to be substituted in the place of the
land-tax and the malt-tax, for the support of the naval strength of this
kingdom? Are all orders, ranks, and distinctions to be confounded, that
out of universal anarchy, joined to national bankruptcy, three or four
thousand democracies should be formed into eighty-three, and that they
may all, by some sort of unknown attractive power, be organized into
one? For this great end is the army to be seduced from its discipline
and its fidelity, first by every kind of debauchery, and then by the
terrible precedent of a donative in the increase of pay? Are the curates
to be seduced from their bishops by holding out to them the delusive
hope of a dole out of the spoils of their own order? Are the citizens of
London to be drawn from their allegiance by feeding them at the expense
of their fellow-subjects? Is a compulsory paper currency to be
substituted in the place of the legal coin of this kingdom? Is what
remains of the plundered stock of public revenue to be employed in the
wild project of maintaining two armies to watch over and to fight with
each other? If these are the ends and means of the Revolution Society, I
admit they are well assorted; and France may furnish them for both with
precedents in point.

I see that your example is held out to shame us. I know that we are
supposed a dull, sluggish race, rendered passive by finding our
situation tolerable, and prevented by a mediocrity of freedom from ever
attaining to its full perfection. Your leaders in France began by
affecting to admire, almost to adore, the British Constitution; but as
they advanced, they came to look upon it with a sovereign contempt. The
friends of your National Assembly amongst us have full as mean an
opinion of what was formerly thought the glory of their country. The
Revolution Society has discovered that the English nation is not free.
They are convinced that the inequality in our representation is a
"defect in our Constitution _so gross and palpable_ as to make it
excellent chiefly in _form_ and _theory_";[87]--that a representation in
the legislature of a kingdom is not only the basis of all constitutional
liberty in it, but of "_all legitimate government_; that without it a
_government_ is nothing but an _usurpation_";--that, "when the
representation is _partial_, the kingdom possesses liberty only
_partially_; and if extremely partial, it gives only a _semblance_; and
if not only extremely partial, but corruptly chosen, it becomes a
_nuisance_." Dr. Price considers this inadequacy of representation as
our _fundamental grievance_; and though, as to the corruption of this
semblance of representation, he hopes it is not yet arrived to its full
perfection of depravity, he fears that "nothing will be done towards
gaining for us this _essential blessing_, until some _great abuse of
power_ again provokes our resentment, or some _great calamity_ again
alarms our fears, or perhaps till the acquisition of a _pure and equal
representation by other countries,_ whilst we are _mocked_ with the
_shadow_, kindles our shame." To this he subjoins a note in these
words:--"A representation chosen chiefly by the Treasury, and a _few_
thousands of the _dregs_ of the people, who are generally paid for their

You will smile here at the consistency of those democratists who, when
they are not on their guard, treat the humbler part of the community
with the greatest contempt, whilst, at the same time, they pretend to
make them the depositories of all power. It would require a long
discourse to point out to you the many fallacies that lurk in the
generality and equivocal nature of the terms "inadequate
representation." I shall only say here, in justice to that old-fashioned
Constitution under which we have long prospered, that our representation
has been found perfectly adequate to all the purposes for which a
representation of the people can be desired or devised. I defy the
enemies of our Constitution to show the contrary. To detail the
particulars in which it is found so well to promote its ends would
demand a treatise on our practical Constitution. I state here the
doctrine of the revolutionists, only that you and others may see what an
opinion these gentlemen entertain of the Constitution of their country,
and why they seem to think that some great abuse of power, or some great
calamity, as giving a chance for the blessing of a Constitution
according to their ideas, would be much palliated to their feelings; you
see _why they_ are so much enamored of your fair and equal
representation, which being once obtained, the same effects might
follow. You see they consider our House of Commons as only "a
semblance," "a form," "a theory," "a shadow," "a mockery," perhaps "a

These gentlemen value themselves on being systematic, and not without
reason. They must therefore look on this gross and palpable defect of
representation, this fundamental grievance, (so they call it,) as a
thing not only vicious in itself, but as rendering our whole government
absolutely _illegitimate_, and not at all better than a downright
_usurpation_. Another revolution, to get rid of this illegitimate and
usurped government, would of course be perfectly justifiable, if not
absolutely necessary. Indeed, their principle, if you observe it with
any attention, goes much further than to an alteration in the election
of the House of Commons; for, if popular representation, or choice, is
necessary to the _legitimacy_ of all government, the House of Lords is,
at one stroke, bastardized and corrupted in blood. That House is no
representative of the people at all, even in "semblance" or "in form."
The case of the crown is altogether as bad. In vain the crown may
endeavor to screen itself against these gentlemen by the authority of
the establishment made on the Revolution. The Revolution, which is
resorted to for a title, on their system, wants a title itself. The
Revolution is built, according to their theory, upon a basis not more
solid than our present formalities, as it was made by a House of Lords
not representing any one but themselves, and by a House of Commons
exactly such as the present, that is, as they term it, by a mere "shadow
and mockery" of representation.

Something they must destroy, or they seem to themselves to exist for no
purpose. One set is for destroying the civil power through the
ecclesiastical; another for demolishing the ecclesiastic through the
civil. They are aware that the worst consequences might happen to the
public in accomplishing this double ruin of Church and State; but they
are so heated with their theories, that they give more than hints that
this ruin, with all the mischiefs that must lead to it and attend it,
and which to themselves appear quite certain, would not be unacceptable
to them, or very remote from their wishes. A man amongst them of great
authority, and certainly of great talents, speaking of a supposed
alliance between Church and State, says, "Perhaps _we must wait for the
fall of the civil powers_, before this most unnatural alliance be
broken. Calamitous, no doubt, will that time be. But what convulsion in
the political world ought to be a subject of lamentation, if it be
attended with so desirable an effect?" You see with what a steady eye
these gentlemen are prepared to view the greatest calamities which can
befall their country!

It is no wonder, therefore, that, with these ideas of everything in
their Constitution and government at home, either in Church or State, as
illegitimate and usurped, or at best as a vain mockery, they look abroad
with an eager and passionate enthusiasm. Whilst they are possessed by
these notions, it is vain to talk to them of the practice of their
ancestors, the fundamental laws of their country, the fixed form of a
Constitution whose merits are confirmed by the solid test of long
experience and an increasing public strength and national prosperity.
They despise experience as the wisdom of unlettered men; and as for the
rest, they have wrought under ground a mine that will blow up, at one
grand explosion, all examples of antiquity, all precedents, charters,
and acts of Parliament. They have "the rights of men." Against these
there can be no prescription; against these no argument is binding:
these admit no temperament and no compromise: anything withheld from
their full demand is so much of fraud and injustice. Against these their
rights of men let no government look for security in the length of its
continuance, or in the justice and lenity of its administration. The
objections of these speculatists, if its forms do not quadrate with
their theories, are as valid against such an old and beneficent
government as against the most violent tyranny or the greenest
usurpation. They are always at issue with governments, not on a question
of abuse, but a question of competency and a question of title. I have
nothing to say to the clumsy subtilty of their political metaphysics.
Let them be their amusement in the schools.

        _Illa_ se jactet in aula
    AEolus, et clauso ventorum carcere regnet.

But let them not break prison to burst like a Levanter, to sweep the
earth with their hurricane, and to break up the fountains of the great
deep to overwhelm us!

Far am I from denying in theory, full as far is my heart from
withholding in practice, (if I were of power to give or to withhold,)
the _real_ rights of men. In denying their false claims of right, I do
not mean to injure those which are real, and are such as their pretended
rights would totally destroy. If civil society be made for the advantage
of man, all the advantages for which it is made become his right. It is
an institution of beneficence; and law itself is only beneficence acting
by a rule. Men have a right to live by that rule; they have a right to
justice, as between their fellows, whether their fellows are in politic
function or in ordinary occupation. They have a right to the fruits of
their industry, and to the means of making their industry fruitful.
They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents, to the
nourishment and improvement of their offspring, to instruction in life
and to consolation in death. Whatever each man can separately do,
without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself; and
he has a right to a fair portion of all which society, with all its
combinations of skill and force, can do in his favor. In this
partnership all men have equal rights; but not to equal things. He that
has but five shillings in the partnership has as good a right to it as
he that has five hundred pounds has to his larger proportion; but he has
not a right to an equal dividend in the product of the joint stock. And
as to the share of power, authority, and direction which each individual
ought to have in the management of the state, that I must deny to be
amongst the direct original rights of man in civil society; for I have
in my contemplation the civil social man, and no other. It is a thing to
be settled by convention.

If civil society be the offspring of convention, that convention must be
its law. That convention must limit and modify all the descriptions of
constitution which are formed under it. Every sort of legislative,
judicial, or executory power are its creatures. They can have no being
in any other state of things; and how can any man claim, under the
conventions of civil society, rights which do not so much as suppose its
existence,--rights which are absolutely repugnant to it? One of the
first motives to civil society, and which becomes one of its fundamental
rules, is, _that no man should be judge in his own cause_. By this each
person has at once divested himself of the first fundamental right of
uncovenanted man, that is, to judge for himself, and to assert his own
cause. He abdicates all right to be his own governor. He inclusively, in
a great measure, abandons the right of self-defence, the first law of
Nature. Men cannot enjoy the rights of an uncivil and of a civil state
together. That he may obtain justice, he gives up his right of
determining what it is in points the most essential to him. That he may
secure some liberty, he makes a surrender in trust of the whole of it.

Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, which may and do
exist in total independence of it,--and exist in much greater clearness,
and in a much greater degree of abstract perfection: but their abstract
perfection is their practical defect. By having a right to everything
they want everything. Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to
provide for human _wants_. Men have a right that these wants should be
provided for by this wisdom. Among these wants is to be reckoned the
want, out of civil society, of a sufficient restraint upon their
passions. Society requires not only that the passions of individuals
should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body, as well as in
the individuals, the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted,
their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection. This
can only be done _by a power out of themselves_, and not, in the
exercise of its function, subject to that will and to those passions
which it is its office to bridle and subdue. In this sense the
restraints on men, as well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among
their rights. But as the liberties and the restrictions vary with times
and circumstances, and admit of infinite modifications, they cannot be
settled upon any abstract rule; and nothing is so foolish as to discuss
them upon that principle.

The moment you abate anything from the full rights of men each to govern
himself, and suffer any artificial, positive limitation upon those
rights, from that moment the whole organization of government becomes a
consideration of convenience. This it is which makes the constitution of
a state, and the due distribution of its powers, a matter of the most
delicate and complicated skill. It requires a deep knowledge of human
nature and human necessities, and of the things which facilitate or
obstruct the various ends which are to be pursued by the mechanism of
civil institutions. The state is to have recruits to its strength and
remedies to its distempers. What is the use of discussing a man's
abstract right to food or medicine? The question is upon the method of
procuring and administering them. In that deliberation I shall always
advise to call in the aid of the farmer and the physician, rather than
the professor of metaphysics.

The science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovating it, or
reforming it, is, like every other experimental science, not to be
taught _a priori_. Nor is it a short experience that can instruct us in
that practical science; because the real effects of moral causes are not
always immediate, but that which in the first instance is prejudicial
may be excellent in its remoter operation, and its excellence may arise
even from the ill effects it produces in the beginning. The reverse also
happens; and very plausible schemes, with very pleasing commencements,
have often shameful and lamentable conclusions. In states there are
often some obscure and almost latent causes, things which appear at
first view of little moment, on which a very great part of its
prosperity or adversity may most essentially depend. The science of
government being, therefore, so practical in itself, and intended for
such practical purposes, a matter which requires experience, and even
more experience than any person can gain in his whole life, however
sagacious and observing he may be, it is with infinite caution that any
man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice which has answered in
any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on
building it up again without having models and patterns of approved
utility before his eyes.

These metaphysic rights entering into common life, like rays of light
which pierce into a dense medium, are, by the laws of Nature, refracted
from their straight line. Indeed, in the gross and complicated mass of
human passions and concerns, the primitive rights of men undergo such a
variety of refractions and reflections that it becomes absurd to talk of
them as if they continued in the simplicity of their original direction.
The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the
greatest possible complexity: and therefore no simple disposition or
direction of power can be suitable either to man's nature or to the
quality of his affairs. When I hear the simplicity of contrivance aimed
at and boasted of in any new political constitutions, I am at no loss to
decide that the artificers are grossly ignorant of their trade or
totally negligent of their duty. The simple governments are
fundamentally defective, to say no worse of them. If you were to
contemplate society in but one point of view, all these simple modes of
polity are infinitely captivating. In effect each would answer its
single end much more perfectly than the more complex is able to attain
all its complex purposes. But it is better that the whole, should be
imperfectly and anomalously answered than that while some parts are
provided for with great exactness, others might be totally neglected, or
perhaps materially injured, by the over-care of a favorite member.

The pretended rights of these theorists are all extremes; and in
proportion as they are metaphysically true, they are morally and
politically false. The rights of men are in a sort of _middle_,
incapable of definition, but not impossible to be discerned. The rights
of men in governments are their advantages; and these are often in
balances between differences of good,--in compromises sometimes between
good and evil, and sometimes between evil and evil. Political reason is
a computing principle: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing,
morally, and not metaphysically or mathematically, true moral

By these theorists the right of the people is almost always
sophistically confounded with their power. The body of the community,
whenever it can come to act, can meet with no effectual resistance; but
till power and right are the same, the whole body of them has no right
inconsistent with virtue, and the first of all virtues, prudence. Men
have no right to what is not reasonable, and to what is not for their
benefit; for though a pleasant writer said, "_Liceat perire poetis_,"
when one of them, in cold blood, is said to have leaped into the flames
of a volcanic revolution, "_ardentem frigidus AEtnam insiluit_," I
consider such a frolic rather as an unjustifiable poetic license than
as one of the franchises of Parnassus; and whether he were poet, or
divine, or politician, that chose to exercise this kind of right, I
think that more wise, because more charitable, thoughts would urge me
rather to save the man than to preserve his brazen slippers as the
monuments of his folly.

       *       *       *       *       *

The kind of anniversary sermons to which a great part of what I write
refers, if men are not shamed out of their present course, in
commemorating the fact, will cheat many out of the principles and
deprive them of the benefits of the Revolution they commemorate. I
confess to you, Sir, I never liked this continual talk of resistance and
revolution, or the practice of making the extreme medicine of the
Constitution its daily bread. It renders the habit of society
dangerously valetudinary; it is taking periodical doses of mercury
sublimate, and swallowing down repeated provocatives of cantharides to
our love of liberty.

This distemper of remedy, grown habitual, relaxes and wears out, by a
vulgar and prostituted use, the spring of that spirit which is to be
exerted on great occasions. It was in the most patient period of Roman
servitude that themes of tyrannicide made the ordinary exercise of boys
at school,--_cum perimit saevos classis numerosa tyrannos_. In the
ordinary state of things, it produces in a country like ours the worst
effects, even on the cause of that liberty which it abuses with the
dissoluteness of an extravagant speculation. Almost all the high-bred
republicans of my time have, after a short space, become the most
decided, thorough-paced courtiers; they soon left the business of a
tedious, moderate, but practical resistance, to those of us whom, in
the pride and intoxication of their theories, they have slighted as not
much better than Tories. Hypocrisy, of course, delights in the most
sublime speculations; for, never intending to go beyond speculation, it
costs nothing to have it magnificent. But even in cases where rather
levity than fraud was to be suspected in these ranting speculations, the
issue has been much the same. These professors, finding their extreme
principles not applicable to cases which call only for a qualified, or,
as I may say, civil and legal resistance, in such cases employ no
resistance at all. It is with them a war or a revolution, or it is
nothing. Finding their schemes of politics not adapted to the state of
the world in which they live, they often come to think lightly of all
public principle, and are ready, on their part, to abandon for a very
trivial interest what they find of very trivial value. Some, indeed, are
of more steady and persevering natures; but these are eager politicians
out of Parliament, who have little to tempt them to abandon their
favorite projects. They have some change in the Church or State, or
both, constantly in their view. When that is the case, they are always
bad citizens, and perfectly unsure connections. For, considering their
speculative designs as of infinite value, and the actual arrangement of
the state as of no estimation, they are, at best, indifferent about it.
They see no merit in the good, and no fault in the vicious management of
public affairs; they rather rejoice in the latter, as more propitious to
revolution. They see no merit or demerit in any man, or any action, or
any political principle, any further than as they may forward or retard
their design of change; they therefore take up, one day, the most
violent and stretched prerogative, and another time the wildest
democratic ideas of freedom, and pass from the one to the other without
any sort of regard to cause, to person, or to party.

In France you are now in the crisis of a revolution, and in the transit
from one form of government to another: you cannot see that character of
men exactly in the same situation in which we see it in this country.
With us it is militant, with you it is triumphant; and you know how it
can act, when its power is commensurate to its will. I would not be
supposed to confine those observations to any description of men, or to
comprehend all men of any description within them,--no, far from it! I
am as incapable of that injustice as I am of keeping terms with those
who profess principles of extremes, and who, under the name of religion,
teach little else than wild and dangerous politics. The worst of these
politics of revolution is this: they temper and harden the breast, in
order to prepare it for the desperate strokes which are sometimes used
in extreme occasions. But as these occasions may never arrive, the mind
receives a gratuitous taint; and the moral sentiments suffer not a
little, when no political purpose is served by the depravation. This
sort of people are so taken up with their theories about the rights of
man, that they have totally forgot his nature. Without opening one new
avenue to the understanding, they have succeeded in stopping up those
that lead to the heart. They have perverted in themselves, and in those
that attend to them, all the well-placed sympathies of the human breast.

This famous sermon of the Old Jewry breathes nothing but this spirit
through all the political part. Plots, massacres, assassinations, seem
to some people a trivial price for obtaining a revolution. A cheap,
bloodless reformation, a guiltless liberty, appear flat and vapid to
their taste. There must be a great change of scene; there must be a
magnificent stage effect; there must be a grand spectacle to rouse the
imagination, grown torpid with the lazy enjoyment of sixty years'
security, and the still unanimating repose of public prosperity. The
preacher found them all in the French Revolution. This inspires a
juvenile warmth through his whole frame. His enthusiasm kindles as he
advances; and when he arrives at his peroration, it is in a full blaze.
Then viewing, from the Pisgah of his pulpit, the free, moral, happy,
flourishing, and glorious state of France, as in a bird-eye landscape of
a promised land, he breaks out into the following rapture:--

"What an eventful period is this! I am _thankful_ that I have lived to
it; I could almost say, _Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in
peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation_.--I have lived to see a
_diffusion_ of knowledge which has undermined superstition and error.--I
have lived to see _the rights of men_ better understood than ever, and
nations panting for liberty which seemed to have lost the idea of it.--I
have lived to see _thirty millions of people_, indignant and resolute,
spurning at slavery, and demanding liberty with an irresistible voice;
_their king led in triumph, and an arbitrary monarch surrendering
himself to his subjects_."[88]

Before I proceed further, I have to remark that Dr. Price seems rather
to overvalue the great acquisitions of light which he has obtained and
diffused in this age. The last century appears to me to have been quite
as much enlightened. It had, though in a different place, a triumph as
memorable as that of Dr. Price; and some of the great preachers of that
period partook of it as eagerly as he has done in the triumph of France.
On the trial of the Reverend Hugh Peters for high treason, it was
deposed, that, when King Charles was brought to London for his trial,
the Apostle of Liberty in that day conducted the _triumph_. "I saw,"
says the witness, "his Majesty in the coach with six horses, and Peters
riding before the king _triumphing_." Dr. Price, when he talks as if he
had made a discovery, only follows a precedent; for, after the
commencement of the king's trial, this precursor, the same Dr. Peters,
concluding a long prayer at the royal chapel at Whitehall, (he had very
triumphantly chosen his place,) said, "I have prayed and preached these
twenty years; and now I may say with old Simeon, _Lord, now lettest thou
thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy
salvation_."[89] Peters had not the fruits of his prayer; for he neither
departed so soon as he wished, nor in peace. He became (what I heartily
hope none of his followers may be in this country) himself a sacrifice
to the triumph which he led as pontiff. They dealt at the Restoration,
perhaps, too hardly with this poor good man. But we owe it to his memory
and his sufferings, that he had as much illumination and as much zeal,
and had as effectually undermined all _the superstition and error_ which
might impede the great business he was engaged in, as any who follow and
repeat after him in this age, which would assume to itself an exclusive
title to the knowledge of the rights of men, and all the glorious
consequences of that knowledge.

After this sally of the preacher of the Old Jewry, which differs only in
place and time, but agrees perfectly with the spirit and letter of the
rapture of 1648, the Revolution Society, the fabricators of governments,
the heroic band of _cashierers_ of _monarchs_, electors of sovereigns,
and leaders of kings in triumph, strutting with a proud consciousness of
the diffusion of knowledge, of which every member had obtained so large
a share in the donative, were in haste to make a generous diffusion of
the knowledge they had thus gratuitously received. To make this
bountiful communication, they adjourned from the church in the Old Jewry
to the London Tavern, where the same Dr. Price, in whom the fumes of his
oracular tripod were not entirely evaporated, moved and carried the
resolution, or address of congratulation, transmitted by Lord Stanhope
to the National Assembly of France.

I find a preacher of the Gospel profaning the beautiful and prophetic
ejaculation, commonly called "_Nunc dimittis_," made on the first
presentation of our Saviour in the temple, and applying it, with an
inhuman and unnatural rapture, to the most horrid, atrocious, and
afflicting spectacle that perhaps ever was exhibited to the pity and
indignation of mankind. This "_leading in triumph_," a thing in its best
form unmanly and irreligious, which fills our preacher with such
unhallowed transports, must shock, I believe, the moral taste of every
well-born mind. Several English were the stupefied and indignant
spectators of that triumph. It was (unless we have been strangely
deceived) a spectacle more resembling a procession of American savages
entering into Onondaga after some of their murders called victories, and
leading into hovels hung round with scalps their captives overpowered
with the scoffs and buffets of women as ferocious as themselves, much
more than it resembled the triumphal pomp of a civilized martial
nation;--if a civilized nation, or any men who had a sense of
generosity, were capable of a personal triumph over the fallen and

This, my dear Sir, was not the triumph of France. I must believe, that,
as a nation, it overwhelmed you with shame and horror. I must believe
that the National Assembly find themselves in a state of the greatest
humiliation in not being able to punish the authors of this triumph or
the actors in it, and that they are in a situation in which any inquiry
they may make upon the subject must be destitute even of the appearance
of liberty or impartiality. The apology of that assembly is found in
their situation; but when we approve what they _must_ bear, it is in us
the degenerate choice of a vitiated mind.

With a compelled appearance of deliberation, they vote under the
dominion of a stern necessity. They sit in the heart, as it were, of a
foreign republic: they have their residence in a city whose constitution
has emanated neither from the charter of their king nor from their
legislative power. There they are surrounded by an army not raised
either by the authority of their crown or by their command, and which,
if they should order to dissolve itself, would instantly dissolve them.
There they sit, after a gang of assassins had driven away some hundreds
of the members; whilst those who held the same moderate principles, with
more patience or better hope, continued every day exposed to outrageous
insults and murderous threats. There a majority, sometimes real,
sometimes pretended, captive itself, compels a captive king to issue as
royal edicts, at third hand, the polluted nonsense of their most
licentious and giddy coffee-houses. It is notorious that all their
measures are decided before they are debated. It is beyond doubt, that,
under the terror of the bayonet, and the lamp-post, and the torch to
their houses, they are obliged to adopt all the crude and desperate
measures suggested by clubs composed of a monstrous medley of all
conditions, tongues, and nations. Among these are found persons in
comparison of whom Catiline would be thought scrupulous, and Cethegus a
man of sobriety and moderation. Nor is it in these clubs alone that the
public measures are deformed into monsters. They undergo a previous
distortion in academies, intended as so many seminaries for these clubs,
which are set up in all the places of public resort. In these meetings
of all sorts, every counsel, in proportion as it is daring and violent
and perfidious, is taken for the mark of superior genius. Humanity and
compassion are ridiculed as the fruits of superstition and ignorance.
Tenderness to individuals is considered as treason to the public.
Liberty is always to be estimated perfect as property is rendered
insecure. Amidst assassination, massacre, and confiscation, perpetrated
or meditated, they are forming plans for the good order of future
society. Embracing in their arms the carcasses of base criminals, and
promoting their relations on the title of their offences, they drive
hundreds of virtuous persons to the same end, by forcing them to subsist
by beggary or by crime.

The Assembly, their organ, acts before them the farce of deliberation
with as little decency as liberty. They act like the comedians of a
fair, before a riotous audience; they act amidst the tumultuous cries of
a mixed mob of ferocious men, and of women lost to shame, who, according
to their insolent fancies, direct, control, applaud, explode them, and
sometimes mix and take their seats amongst them,--domineering over them
with a strange mixture of servile petulance and proud, presumptuous
authority. As they have inverted order in all things, the gallery is in
the place of the house. This assembly, which overthrows kings and
kingdoms, has not even the physiognomy and aspect of a grave legislative
body,--_nec color imperii, nec frons erat ulla senatus_. They have a
power given to them, like that of the Evil Principle, to subvert and
destroy,--but none to construct, except such machines as may be fitted
for further subversion and further destruction.

Who is it that admires, and from the heart is attached to national
representative assemblies, but must turn with horror and disgust from
such a profane burlesque and abominable perversion of that sacred
institute? Lovers of monarchy, lovers of republics, must alike abhor it.
The members of your Assembly must themselves groan under the tyranny of
which they have all the shame, none of the direction, and little of the
profit. I am sure many of the members who compose even the majority of
that body must feel as I do, notwithstanding the applauses of the
Revolution Society. Miserable king! miserable assembly! How must that
assembly be silently scandalized with those of their members who could
call a day which seemed to blot the sun out of heaven "_un beau
jour_"![90] How must they be inwardly indignant at hearing others who
thought fit to declare to them, "that the vessel of the state would fly
forward in her course towards regeneration with more speed than ever,"
from the stiff gale of treason and murder which preceded our preacher's
triumph! What must they have felt, whilst, with outward patience and
inward indignation, they heard of the slaughter of innocent gentlemen in
their houses, that "the blood spilled was not the most pure"! What must
they have felt, when they were besieged by complaints of disorders which
shook their country to its foundations, at being compelled coolly to
tell the complainants that they were under the protection of the law,
and that they would address the king (the captive king) to cause the
laws to be enforced for their protection, when the enslaved ministers of
that captive king had formally notified to them that there were neither
law nor authority nor power left to protect! What must they have felt at
being obliged, as a felicitation on the present new year, to request
their captive king to forget the stormy period of the last, on account
of the great good which _he_ was likely to produce to his people,--to
the complete attainment of which good they adjourned the practical
demonstrations of their loyalty, assuring him of their obedience when he
should no longer possess any authority to command!

This address was made with much good-nature and affection, to be sure.
But among the revolutions in France must be reckoned a considerable
revolution in their ideas of politeness. In England we are said to learn
manners at second-hand from your side of the water, and that we dress
our behavior in the frippery of France. If so, we are still in the old
cut, and have not so far conformed to the new Parisian mode of good
breeding as to think it quite in the most refined strain of delicate
compliment (whether in condolence or congratulation) to say, to the most
humiliated creature that crawls upon the earth, that great public
benefits are derived from the murder of his servants, the attempted
assassination of himself and of his wife, and the mortification,
disgrace, and degradation that he has personally suffered. It is a topic
of consolation which our ordinary of Newgate would be too humane to use
to a criminal at the foot of the gallows. I should have thought that the
hangman of Paris, now that he is liberalized by the vote of the National
Assembly, and is allowed his rank and arms in the Herald's College of
the rights of men, would be too generous, too gallant a man, too full of
the sense of his new dignity, to employ that cutting consolation to any
of the persons whom the _leze-nation_ might bring under the
administration of his _executive powers_.

A man is fallen indeed, when he is thus flattered. The anodyne draught
of oblivion, thus drugged, is well calculated to preserve a galling
wakefulness, and to feed the living ulcer of a corroding memory. Thus to
administer the opiate potion of amnesty, powdered with all the
ingredients of scorn and contempt, is to hold to his lips, instead of
"the balm of hurt minds," the cup of human misery full to the brim, and
to force him to drink it to the dregs.

Yielding to reasons at least as forcible as those which were so
delicately urged in the compliment on the new year, the king of France
will probably endeavor to forget these events and that compliment. But
History, who keeps a durable record of all our acts, and exercises her
awful censure over the proceedings of all sorts of sovereigns, will not
forget either those events, or the era of this liberal refinement in the
intercourse of mankind. History will record, that, on the morning of the
sixth of October, 1789, the king and queen of France, after a day of
confusion, alarm, dismay, and slaughter, lay down, under the pledged
security of public faith, to indulge nature in a few hours of respite,
and troubled, melancholy repose. From this sleep the queen was first
startled by the voice of the sentinel at her door, who cried out to her
to save herself by flight,--that this was the last proof of fidelity he
could give,--that they were upon him, and he was dead. Instantly he was
cut down. A band of cruel ruffians and assassins, reeking with his
blood, rushed into the chamber of the queen, and pierced with a hundred
strokes of bayonets and poniards the bed, from whence this persecuted
woman had but just time to fly almost naked, and, through ways unknown
to the murderers, had escaped to seek refuge at the feet of a king and
husband not secure of his own life for a moment.

This king, to say no more of him, and this queen, and their infant
children, (who once would have been the pride and hope of a great and
generous people,) were then forced to abandon the sanctuary of the most
splendid palace in the world, which they left swimming in blood,
polluted by massacre, and strewed with scattered limbs and mutilated
carcasses. Thence they were conducted into the capital of their kingdom.
Two had been selected from the unprovoked, unresisted, promiscuous
slaughter which was made of the gentlemen of birth and family who
composed the king's body-guard. These two gentlemen, with all the parade
of an execution of justice, were cruelly and publicly dragged to the
block, and beheaded in the great court of the palace. Their heads were
stuck upon spears, and led the procession; whilst the royal captives who
followed in the train were slowly moved along, amidst the horrid yells,
and shrilling screams, and frantic dances, and infamous contumelies, and
all the unutterable abominations of the furies of hell, in the abused
shape of the vilest of women. After they had been made to taste, drop by
drop, more than the bitterness of death, in the slow torture of a
journey of twelve miles, protracted to six hours, they were, under a
guard composed of those very soldiers who had thus conducted them
through this famous triumph, lodged in one of the old palaces of Paris,
now converted into a Bastile for kings.

Is this a triumph to be consecrated at altars, to be commemorated with
grateful thanksgiving, to be offered to the Divine Humanity with fervent
prayer and enthusiastic ejaculation?--These Theban and Thracian orgies,
acted in France, and applauded only in the Old Jewry, I assure you,
kindle prophetic enthusiasm in the minds but of very few people in this
kingdom: although a saint and apostle, who may have revelations of his
own, and who has so completely vanquished all the mean superstitions of
the heart, may incline to think it pious and decorous to compare it
with the entrance into the world of the Prince of Peace, proclaimed in
an holy temple by a venerable sage, and not long before not worse
announced by the voice of angels to the quiet innocence of shepherds.

At first I was at a loss to account for this fit of unguarded transport.
I knew, indeed, that the sufferings of monarchs make a delicious repast
to some sort of palates. There were reflections which might serve to
keep this appetite within some bounds of temperance. But when I took one
circumstance into my consideration, I was obliged to confess that much
allowance ought to be made for the society, and that the temptation was
too strong for common discretion: I mean, the circumstance of the Io
Paean of the triumph, the animating cry which called for "_all_ the
BISHOPS to be hanged on the lamp-posts,"[91] might well have brought
forth a burst of enthusiasm on the foreseen consequences of this happy
day. I allow to so much enthusiasm some little deviation from prudence.
I allow this prophet to break forth into hymns of joy and thanksgiving
on an event which appears like the precursor of the Millennium, and the
projected Fifth Monarchy, in the destruction of all Church
establishments. There was, however, (as in all human affairs there is,)
in the midst of this joy, something to exercise the patience of these
worthy gentlemen, and to try the long-suffering of their faith. The
actual murder of the king and queen, and their child, was wanting to the
other auspicious circumstances of this "_beautiful day_". The actual
murder of the bishops, though called for by so many holy ejaculations,
was also wanting. A group of regicide and sacrilegious slaughter was,
indeed, boldly sketched, but it was only sketched. It unhappily was left
unfinished, in this great history-piece of the massacre of innocents.
What hardy pencil of a great master, from the school of the rights of
men, will finish it, is to be seen hereafter. The age has not yet the
complete benefit of that diffusion of knowledge that has undermined
superstition and error; and the king of France wants another object or
two to consign to oblivion, in consideration of all the good which is to
arise from his own sufferings, and the patriotic crimes of an
enlightened age.[92]

Although this work of our new light and knowledge did not go to the
length that in all probability it was intended it should be carried, yet
I must think that such treatment of any human creatures must be shocking
to any but those who are made for accomplishing revolutions. But I
cannot stop here. Influenced by the inborn feelings of my nature, and
not being illuminated by a single ray of this new-sprung modern light,
I confess to you, Sir, that the exalted rank of the persons suffering,
and particularly the sex, the beauty, and the amiable qualities of the
descendant of so many kings and emperors, with the tender age of royal
infants, insensible only through infancy and innocence of the cruel
outrages to which their parents were exposed, instead of being a subject
of exultation, adds not a little to my sensibility on that most
melancholy occasion.

I hear that the august person who was the principal object of our
preacher's triumph, though he supported himself, felt much on that
shameful occasion. As a man, it became him to feel for his wife and his
children, and the faithful guards of his person that were massacred in
cold blood about him; as a prince, it became him to feel for the strange
and frightful transformation of his civilized subjects, and to be more
grieved for them than solicitous for himself. It derogates little from
his fortitude, while it adds infinitely to the honor of his humanity. I
am very sorry to say it, very sorry indeed, that such personages are in
a situation in which it is not unbecoming in us to praise the virtues of
the great.

I hear, and I rejoice to hear, that the great lady, the other object of
the triumph, has borne that day, (one is interested that beings made for
suffering should suffer well,) and that she bears all the succeeding
days, that she bears the imprisonment of her husband, and her own
captivity, and the exile of her friends, and the insulting adulation of
addresses, and the whole weight of her accumulated wrongs, with a serene
patience, in a manner suited to her rank and race, and becoming the
offspring of a sovereign distinguished for her piety and her courage;
that, like her, she has lofty sentiments; that she feels with the
dignity of a Roman matron; that in the last extremity she will save
herself from the last disgrace; and that, if she must fall, she will
fall by no ignoble hand.

It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France,
then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this
orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw
her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere
she just began to move in,--glittering like the morning-star, full of
life and splendor and joy. Oh! what a revolution! and what an heart must
I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall!
Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of
enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged
to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom!
little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen
upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of
cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their
scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the
age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators
has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never,
never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that
proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the
heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an
exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of
nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone!
It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which
felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated
ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice
itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness!

This mixed system of opinion and sentiment had its origin in the ancient
chivalry; and the principle, though varied in its appearance by the
varying state of human affairs, subsisted and influenced through a long
succession of generations, even to the time we live in. If it should
ever be totally extinguished, the loss, I fear, will be great. It is
this which has given its character to modern Europe. It is this which
has distinguished it under all its forms of government, and
distinguished it to its advantage, from the states of Asia, and possibly
from those states which flourished in the most brilliant periods of the
antique world. It was this, which, without confounding ranks, had
produced a noble equality, and handed it down through all the gradations
of social life. It was this opinion which mitigated kings into
companions, and raised private men to be fellows with kings. Without
force or opposition, it subdued the fierceness of pride and power; it
obliged sovereigns to submit to the soft collar of social esteem,
compelled stern authority to submit to elegance, and gave a domination,
vanquisher of laws, to be subdued by manners.

But now all is to be changed. All the pleasing illusions which made
power gentle and obedience liberal, which harmonized the different
shades of life, and which by a bland assimilation incorporated into
politics the sentiments which beautify and soften private society, are
to be dissolved by this new conquering empire of light and reason. All
the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the superadded
ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the
heart owns and the understanding ratifies, as necessary to cover the
defects of our naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in
our own estimation, are to be exploded, as a ridiculous, absurd, and
antiquated fashion.

On this scheme of things, a king is but a man, a queen is but a woman, a
woman is but an animal,--and an animal not of the highest order. All
homage paid to the sex in general as such, and without distinct views,
is to be regarded as romance and folly. Regicide, and parricide, and
sacrilege, are but fictions of superstition, corrupting jurisprudence by
destroying its simplicity. The murder of a king, or a queen, or a
bishop, or a father, are only common homicide,--and if the people are by
any chance or in any way gainers by it, a sort of homicide much the most
pardonable, and into which we ought not to make too severe a scrutiny.

On the scheme of this barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of
cold hearts and muddy understandings and which is as void of solid
wisdom as it is destitute of all taste and elegance, laws are to be
supported only by their own terrors, and by the concern which each
individual may find in them from his own private speculations, or can
spare to them from his own private interests. In the groves of _their_
academy, at the end of every visto, you see nothing but the gallows.
Nothing is left which engages the affections on the part of the
commonwealth. On the principles of this mechanic philosophy, our
institutions can never be embodied, if I may use the expression, in
persons,--so as to create in us love, veneration, admiration, or
attachment. But that sort of reason which banishes the affections is
incapable of filling their place. These public affections, combined with
manners, are required sometimes as supplements, sometimes as
correctives, always as aids to law. The precept given by a wise man, as
well as a great critic, for the construction of poems, is equally true
as to states:--"_Non satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto_."
There ought to be a system of manners in every nation which a
well-formed mind would be disposed to relish. To make us love our
country, our country ought to be lovely.

But power, of some kind or other, will survive the shock in which
manners and opinions perish; and it will find other and worse means for
its support. The usurpation, which, in order to subvert ancient
institutions, has destroyed ancient principles, will hold power by arts
similar to those by which it has acquired it. When the old feudal and
chivalrous spirit of _fealty_, which, by freeing kings from fear, freed
both kings and subjects from the precautions of tyranny, shall be
extinct in the minds of men, plots and assassinations will be
anticipated by preventive murder and preventive confiscation, and that
long roll of grim and bloody maxims which form the political code of all
power not standing on its own honor and the honor of those who are to
obey it. Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels
from principle.

When ancient opinions and rules of life are taken away, the loss cannot
possibly be estimated. From that moment we have no compass to govern us,
nor can we know distinctly to what port we steer. Europe, undoubtedly,
taken in a mass, was in a flourishing condition the day on which your
Revolution was completed. How much of that prosperous state was owing to
the spirit of our old manners and opinions is not easy to say; but as
such causes cannot be indifferent in their operation, we must presume,
that, on the whole, their operation was beneficial.

We are but too apt to consider things in the state in which we find
them, without sufficiently adverting to the causes by which they have
been produced, and possibly may be upheld. Nothing is more certain than
that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are
connected with manners and with, civilization, have, in this European
world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles, and were, indeed,
the result of both combined: I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the
spirit of religion. The nobility and the clergy, the one by profession,
and the other by patronage, kept learning in existence, even in the
midst of arms and confusions, and whilst governments were rather in
their causes than formed. Learning paid back what it received to
nobility and to priesthood, and paid it with usury, by enlarging their
ideas, and by furnishing their minds. Happy, if they had all continued
to know their indissoluble union, and their proper place! Happy, if
learning, not debauched by ambition, had been satisfied to continue the
instructor, and not aspired to be the master! Along with its natural
protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire and
trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude.[93]

If, as I suspect, modern letters owe more than they are always willing
to own to ancient manners, so do other interests which we value full as
much as they are worth. Even commerce, and trade, and manufacture, the
gods of our economical politicians, are themselves perhaps but
creatures, are themselves but effects, which, as first causes, we choose
to worship. They certainly grew under the same shade in which learning
flourished. They, too, may decay with their natural protecting
principles. With you, for the present at least, they all threaten to
disappear together. Where trade and manufactures are wanting to a
people, and the spirit of nobility and religion remains, sentiment
supplies, and not always ill supplies, their place; but if commerce and
the arts should be lost in an experiment to try how well a state may
stand without these old fundamental principles, what sort of a thing
must be a nation of gross, stupid, ferocious, and at the same time poor
and sordid barbarians, destitute of religion, honor, or manly pride,
possessing nothing at present, and hoping for nothing hereafter?

I wish you may not be going fast, and by the shortest cut, to that
horrible and disgustful situation. Already there appears a poverty of
conception, a coarseness and vulgarity, in all the proceedings of the
Assembly and of all their instructors. Their liberty is not liberal.
Their science is presumptuous ignorance. Their humanity is savage and

It is not clear whether in England we learned those grand and decorous
principles and manners, of which considerable traces yet remain, from
you, or whether you took them from us. But to you, I think, we trace
them best. You seem to me to be _gentis incunabula nostrae_. France has
always more or less influenced manners in England; and when your
fountain is choked up and polluted, the stream will not run long or not
run clear with us, or perhaps with any nation. This gives all Europe, in
my opinion, but too close and connected a concern in what is done in
France. Excuse me, therefore, if I have dwelt too long on the atrocious
spectacle of the sixth of October, 1789, or have given too much scope to
the reflections which have arisen in my mind on occasion of the most
important of all revolutions, which may be dated from that day: I mean a
revolution in sentiments, manners, and moral opinions. As things now
stand, with everything respectable destroyed without us, and an attempt
to destroy within us every principle of respect, one is almost forced to
apologize for harboring the common feelings of men.

       *       *       *       *       *

Why do I feel so differently from the Reverend Dr. Price, and those of
his lay flock who will choose to adopt the sentiments of his
discourse?--For this plain reason: Because it is _natural_ I should;
because we are so made as to be affected at such spectacles with
melancholy sentiments upon the unstable condition of mortal prosperity,
and the tremendous uncertainty of human greatness; because in those
natural feelings we learn great lessons; because in events like these
our passions instruct our reason; because, when kings are hurled from
their thrones by the Supreme Director of this great drama, and become
the objects of insult to the base and of pity to the good, we behold
such disasters in the moral as we should behold a miracle in the
physical order of things. We are alarmed into reflection; our minds (as
it has long since been observed) are purified by terror and pity; our
weak, unthinking pride is humbled under the dispensations of a
mysterious wisdom. Some tears might be drawn from me, if such a
spectacle were exhibited on the stage. I should be truly ashamed of
finding in myself that superficial, theatric sense of painted distress,
whilst I could exult over it in real life. With such a perverted mind, I
could never venture to show my face at a tragedy. People would think the
tears that Garrick formerly, or that Siddons not long since, have
extorted from me, were the tears of hypocrisy; I should know them to be
the tears of folly.

Indeed, the theatre is a better school of moral sentiments than churches
where the feelings of humanity are thus outraged. Poets who have to deal
with an audience not yet graduated in the school of the rights of men,
and who must apply themselves to the moral constitution of the heart,
would not dare to produce such a triumph as a matter of exultation.
There, where men follow their natural impulses, they would not bear the
odious maxims of a Machiavelian policy, whether applied to the
attainment of monarchical or democratic tyranny. They would reject them
on the modern, as they once did on the ancient stage, where they could
not bear even the hypothetical proposition of such wickedness in the
mouth of a personated tyrant, though suitable to the character he
sustained. No theatric audience in Athens would bear what has been borne
in the midst of the real tragedy of this triumphal day: a principal
actor weighing, as it were in scales hung in a shop of horrors, so much
actual crime against so much contingent advantage,--and after putting in
and out weights, declaring that the balance was on the side of the
advantages. They would not bear to see the crimes of new democracy
posted as in a ledger against the crimes of old despotism, and the
book-keepers of politics finding democracy still in debt, but by no
means unable or unwilling to pay the balance. In the theatre, the first
intuitive glance, without any elaborate process of reasoning, would show
that this method of political computation would justify every extent of
crime. They would see, that, on these principles, even where the very
worst acts were not perpetrated, it was owing rather to the fortune of
the conspirators than to their parsimony in the expenditure of treachery
and blood. They would soon see that criminal means, once tolerated, are
soon preferred. They present a shorter cut to the object than through
the highway of the moral virtues. Justifying perfidy and murder for
public benefit, public benefit would soon become the pretext, and
perfidy and murder the end,--until rapacity, malice, revenge, and fear
more dreadful than revenge, could satiate their insatiable appetites.
Such must be the consequences of losing, in the splendor of these
triumphs of the rights of men, all natural sense of wrong and right.

But the reverend pastor exults in this "leading in triumph," because,
truly, Louis the Sixteenth was "an arbitrary monarch": that is, in other
words, neither more nor less than because he was Louis the Sixteenth,
and because he had the misfortune to be born king of France, with the
prerogatives of which a long line of ancestors, and a long acquiescence
of the people, without any act of his, had put him in possession. A
misfortune it has indeed turned out to him, that he was born king of
France. But misfortune is not crime, nor is indiscretion always the
greatest guilt. I shall never think that a prince, the acts of whose
whole reign were a series of concessions to his subjects, who was
willing to relax his authority, to remit his prerogatives, to call his
people to a share of freedom not known, perhaps not desired, by their
ancestors,--such a prince, though he should be subject to the common
frailties attached to men and to princes, though he should have once
thought it necessary to provide force against the desperate designs
manifestly carrying on against his person and the remnants of his
authority,--though all this should be taken into consideration, I shall
be led with great difficulty to think he deserves the cruel and
insulting triumph of Paris, and of Dr. Price. I tremble for the cause of
liberty, from such an example to kings. I tremble for the cause of
humanity, in the unpunished outrages of the most wicked of mankind. But
there are some people of that low and degenerate fashion of mind that
they look up with a sort of complacent awe and admiration to kings who
know to keep firm in their seat, to hold a strict hand over their
subjects, to assert their prerogative, and, by the awakened vigilance of
a severe despotism, to guard against the very first approaches of
freedom. Against such as these they never elevate their voice. Deserters
from principle, listed with fortune, they never see any good in
suffering virtue, nor any crime in prosperous usurpation.

If it could have been made clear to me that the king and queen of France
(those, I mean, who were such before the triumph) were inexorable and
cruel tyrants, that they had formed a deliberate scheme for massacring
the National Assembly, (I think I have seen something like the latter
insinuated in certain publications,) I should think their captivity
just. If this be true, much more ought to have been done, but done, in
my opinion, in another manner. The punishment of real tyrants is a noble
and awful act of justice; and it has with truth been said to be
consolatory to the human mind. But if I were to punish a wicked king, I
should regard the dignity in avenging the crime. Justice is grave and
decorous, and in its punishments rather seems to submit to a necessity
than to make a choice. Had Nero, or Agrippina, or Louis the Eleventh, or
Charles the Ninth been the subject,--if Charles the Twelfth of Sweden,
after the murder of Patkul, or his predecessor, Christina, after the
murder of Monaldeschi, had fallen into your hands, Sir, or into mine, I
am sure our conduct would have been different.

If the French king, or king of the French, (or by whatever name he is
known in the new vocabulary of your Constitution,) has in his own person
and that of his queen really deserved these unavowed, but unavenged,
murderous attempts, and those frequent indignities more cruel than
murder, such a person would ill deserve even that subordinate executory
trust which I understand is to be placed in him; nor is he fit to be
called chief in a nation which he has outraged and oppressed. A worse
choice for such an office in a new commonwealth than that of a deposed
tyrant could not possibly be made. But to degrade and insult a man as
the worst of criminals, and afterwards to trust him in your highest
concerns, as a faithful, honest, and zealous servant, is not consistent
in reasoning, nor prudent in policy, nor safe in practice. Those who
could make such an appointment must be guilty of a more flagrant breach
of trust than any they have yet committed against the people. As this is
the only crime in which your leading politicians could have acted
inconsistently, I conclude that there is no sort of ground for these
horrid insinuations. I think no better of all the other calumnies.

In England, we give no credit to them. We are generous enemies; we are
faithful allies. We spurn from us with disgust and indignation the
slanders of those who bring us their anecdotes with the attestation of
the flower-de-luce on their shoulder. We have Lord George Gordon fast in
Newgate; and neither his being a public proselyte to Judaism, nor his
having, in his zeal against Catholic priests and all sorts of
ecclesiastics, raised a mob (excuse the term, it is still in use here)
which pulled down all our prisons, have preserved to him a liberty of
which he did not render himself worthy by a virtuous use of it. We have
rebuilt Newgate, and tenanted the mansion. We have prisons almost as
strong as the Bastile, for those who dare to libel the queens of France.
In this spiritual retreat let the noble libeller remain. Let him there
meditate on his Talmud, until he learns a conduct more becoming his
birth and parts, and not so disgraceful to the ancient religion to which
he has become a proselyte,--or until some persons from your side of the
water, to please your new Hebrew brethren, shall ransom him. He may then
be enabled to purchase, with the old hoards of the synagogue, and a very
small poundage on the long compound interest of the thirty pieces of
silver, (Dr. Price has shown us what miracles compound interest will
perform in 1790 years,) the lands which are lately discovered to have
been usurped by the Gallican Church. Send us your Popish Archbishop of
Paris, and we will send you our Protestant Rabbin. We shall treat the
person you send us in exchange like a gentleman and an honest man, as he
is: but pray let him bring with him the fund of his hospitality, bounty,
and charity; and, depend upon it, we shall never confiscate a shilling
of that honorable and pious fund, nor think of enriching the Treasury
with the spoils of the poor-box.

To tell you the truth, my dear Sir, I think the honor of our nation to
be somewhat concerned in the disclaimer of the proceedings of this
society of the Old Jewry and the London Tavern. I have no man's proxy. I
speak only from myself, when I disclaim, as I do with all possible
earnestness, all communion with the actors in that triumph, or with the
admirers of it. When I assert anything else, as concerning the people of
England, I speak from observation, not from authority; but I speak from
the experience I have had in a pretty extensive and mixed communication
with the inhabitants of this kingdom, of all descriptions and ranks, and
after a course of attentive observation, begun in early life, and
continued for near forty years. I have often been astonished,
considering that we are divided from you but by a slender dike of about
twenty-four miles, and that the mutual intercourse between the two
countries has lately been very great, to find how little you seem to
know of us. I suspect that this is owing to your forming a judgment of
this nation from certain publications, which do, very erroneously, if
they do at all, represent the opinions and dispositions generally
prevalent in England. The vanity, restlessness, petulance, and spirit
of intrigue of several petty cabals, who attempt to hide their total
want of consequence in bustle and noise, and puffing and mutual
quotation of each other, makes you imagine that our contemptuous neglect
of their abilities is a general mark of acquiescence in their opinions.
No such thing, I assure you. Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a
fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands
of great cattle reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak chew the
cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise
are the only inhabitants of the field,--that, of course, they are many
in number,--or that, after all, they are other than the little,
shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the

I almost venture to affirm that not one in a hundred amongst us
participates in the "triumph" of the Revolution Society. If the king and
queen of France and their children were to fall into our hands by the
chance of war, in the most acrimonious of all hostilities, (I deprecate
such an event, I deprecate such hostility,) they would be treated with
another sort of triumphal entry into London. We formerly have had a king
of France in that situation: you have read how he was treated by the
victor in the field, and in what manner he was afterwards received in
England. Four hundred years have gone over us; but I believe we are not
materially changed since that period. Thanks to our sullen resistance to
innovation, thanks to the cold sluggishness of our national character,
we still bear the stamp of our forefathers. We have not (as I conceive)
lost the generosity and dignity of thinking of the fourteenth century;
nor as yet have we subtilized ourselves into savages. We are not the
converts of Rousseau; we are not the disciples of Voltaire; Helvetius
has made no progress amongst us. Atheists are not our preachers; madmen
are not our lawgivers. We know that _we_ have made no discoveries, and
we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality,--nor many in
the great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which
were understood long before we were born altogether as well as they will
be after the grave has heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the
silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity. In England
we have not yet been completely embowelled of our natural entrails: we
still feel within us, and we cherish and cultivate, those inbred
sentiments which are the faithful guardians, the active monitors of our
duty, the true supporters of all liberal and manly morals. We have not
been drawn and trussed, in order that we may be filled, like stuffed
birds in a museum, with chaff and rags, and paltry, blurred shreds of
paper about the rights of man. We preserve the whole of our feelings
still native and entire, unsophisticated by pedantry and infidelity. We
have real hearts of flesh and blood beating in our bosoms. We fear God;
we look up with awe to kings, with affection to Parliaments, with duty
to magistrates, with reverence to priests, and with respect to
nobility.[94] Why? Because, when such ideas are brought before our
minds, it is _natural_ to be so affected; because all other feelings are
false and spurious, and tend to corrupt our minds, to vitiate our
primary morals, to render us unfit for rational liberty, and, by
teaching us a servile, licentious, and abandoned insolence, to be our
low sport for a few holidays, to make us perfectly fit for and justly
deserving of slavery through the whole course of our lives.

You see, Sir, that in this enlightened age I am bold enough to confess
that we are generally men of untaught feelings: that, instead of casting
away all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable
degree; and, to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because
they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more
generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. We are afraid
to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason;
because we suspect that the stock in each man is small, and that the
individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and
capital of nations and of ages. Many of our men of speculation, instead
of exploding general prejudices, employ their sagacity to discover the
latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find what they seek, (and
they seldom fail,) they think it more wise to continue the prejudice,
with the reason involved, than to cast away the coat of prejudice, and
to leave nothing but the naked reason; because prejudice, with its
reason, has a motive to give action to that reason, and an affection
which will give it permanence. Prejudice is of ready application in the
emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom
and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of
decision, skeptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man's
virtue his habit, and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just
prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.

Your literary men, and your politicians, and so do the whole clan of the
enlightened among us, essentially differ in these points. They have no
respect for the wisdom of others; but they pay it off by a very full
measure of confidence in their own. With them it is a sufficient motive
to destroy an old scheme of things, because it is an old one. As to the
new, they are in no sort of fear with regard to the duration of a
building run up in haste; because duration is no object to those who
think little or nothing has been done before their time, and who place
all their hopes in discovery. They conceive, very systematically, that
all things which give perpetuity are mischievous, and therefore they are
at inexpiable war with all establishments. They think that government
may vary like modes of dress, and with as little ill effect; that there
needs no principle of attachment, except a sense of present conveniency,
to any constitution of the state. They always speak as if they were of
opinion that there is a singular species of compact between them and
their magistrates, which binds the magistrate, but which has nothing
reciprocal in it, but that the majesty of the people has a right to
dissolve it without any reason but its will. Their attachment to their
country itself is only so far as it agrees with some of their fleeting
projects: it begins and ends with that scheme of polity which falls in
with their momentary opinion.

These doctrines, or rather sentiments, seem prevalent with your new
statesmen. But they are wholly different from those on which we have
always acted in this country.

I hear it is sometimes given out in France, that what is doing among you
is after the example of England. I beg leave to affirm that scarcely
anything done with you has originated from the practice or the prevalent
opinions of this people, either in the act or in the spirit of the
proceeding. Let me add, that we are as unwilling to learn these lessons
from France as we are sure that we never taught them to that nation. The
cabals here who take a sort of share in your transactions as yet consist
of but a handful of people. If, unfortunately, by their intrigues, their
sermons, their publications, and by a confidence derived from an
expected union with the counsels and forces of the French nation, they
should draw considerable numbers into their faction, and in consequence
should seriously attempt anything here in imitation of what has been
done with you, the event, I dare venture to prophesy, will be, that,
with some trouble to their country, they will soon accomplish their own
destruction. This people refused to change their law in remote ages from
respect to the infallibility of Popes, and they will not now alter it
from a pious implicit faith in the dogmatism of philosophers,--though
the former was armed with the anathema and crusade, and though the
latter should act with the libel and the lamp-iron.

Formerly your affairs were your own concern only. We felt for them as
men; but we kept aloof from them, because we were not citizens of
France. But when we see the model held up to ourselves, we must feel as
Englishmen, and, feeling, we must provide as Englishmen. Your affairs,
in spite of us, are made a part of our interest,--so far at least as to
keep at a distance your panacea or your plague. If it be a panacea, we
do not want it: we know the consequences of unnecessary physic. If it be
a plague, it is such a plague that the precautions of the most severe
quarantine ought to be established against it.

I hear on all hands, that a cabal, calling itself philosophic, receives
the glory of many of the late proceedings, and that their opinions and
systems are the true actuating spirit of the whole of them. I have heard
of no party in England, literary or political, at any time, known by
such a description. It is not with you composed of those men, is it?
whom the vulgar, in their blunt, homely style, commonly call Atheists
and Infidels? If it be, I admit that we, too, have had writers of that
description, who made some noise in their day. At present they repose in
lasting oblivion. Who, born within the last forty years, has read one
word of Collins, and Toland, and Tindal, and Chubb, and Morgan, and that
whole race who called themselves Freethinkers? Who now reads
Bolingbroke? Who ever read him through? Ask the booksellers of London
what is become of all these lights of the world. In as few years their
few successors will go to the family vault of "all the Capulets." But
whatever they were, or are, with us they were and are wholly unconnected
individuals. With us they kept the common nature of their kind, and were
not gregarious. They never acted in corps, nor were known as a faction
in the state, nor presumed to influence in that name or character, or
for the purposes of such a faction, on any of our public concerns.
Whether they ought so to exist, and so be permitted to act, is another
question. As such cabals have not existed in England, so neither has the
spirit of them had any influence in establishing the original frame of
our Constitution, or in any one of the several reparations and
improvements it has undergone. The whole has been done under the
auspices, and is confirmed by the sanctions, of religion and piety. The
whole has emanated from the simplicity of our national character, and
from a sort of native plainness and directness of understanding, which
for a long time characterized those men who have successively obtained
authority among us. This disposition still remains,--at least in the
great body of the people.

We know, and, what is better, we feel inwardly, that religion is the
basis of civil society, and the source of all good, and of all
comfort.[95] In England we are so convinced of this, that there is no
rust of superstition, with which the accumulated absurdity of the human
mind might have crusted it over in the course of ages, that ninety-nine
in a hundred of the people of England would not prefer to impiety. We
shall never be such fools as to call in an enemy to the substance of any
system to remove its corruptions, to supply its defects, or to perfect
its construction. If our religious tenets should ever want a further
elucidation, we shall not call on Atheism to explain them. We shall not
light up our temple from that unhallowed fire. It will be illuminated
with other lights. It will be perfumed with other incense than the
infectious stuff which is imported by the smugglers of adulterated
metaphysics. If our ecclesiastical establishment should want a revision,
it is not avarice or rapacity, public or private, that we shall employ
for the audit or receipt or application of its consecrated revenue.
Violently condemning neither the Greek nor the Armenian, nor, since
heats are subsided, the Roman system of religion, we prefer the
Protestant: not because we think it has less of the Christian religion
in it, but because, in our judgment, it has more. We are Protestants,
not from indifference, but from zeal.

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a
religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our
instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of
riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the
alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should
uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has
hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of
civilization amongst us, and among many other nations, we are
apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void)
that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take
place of it.

For that reason, before we take from our establishment the natural,
human means of estimation, and give it up to contempt, as you have done,
and in doing it have incurred the penalties you well deserve to suffer,
we desire that some other may be presented to us in the place of it. We
shall then form our judgment.

On these ideas, instead of quarrelling with establishments, as some do,
who have made a philosophy and a religion of their hostility to such
institutions, we cleave closely to them. We are resolved to keep an
established church, an established monarchy, an established aristocracy,
and an established democracy, each in the degree it exists, and in no
greater. I shall show you presently how much of each of these we

It has been the misfortune (not, as these gentlemen think it, the glory)
of this age, that everything is to be discussed, as if the Constitution
of our country were to be always a subject rather of altercation than
enjoyment. For this reason, as well as for the satisfaction of those
among you (if any such you have among you) who may wish to profit of
examples, I venture to trouble you with a few thoughts upon each of
these establishments. I do not think they were unwise in ancient Rome,
who, when they wished to new-model their laws, sent commissioners to
examine the best-constituted republics within their reach.

       *       *       *       *       *

First I beg leave to speak of our Church Establishment, which is the
first of our prejudices,--not a prejudice destitute of reason, but
involving in it profound and extensive wisdom. I speak of it first. It
is first, and last, and midst in our minds. For, taking ground on that
religious system of which we are now in possession, we continue to act
on the early received and uniformly continued sense of mankind. That
sense not only, like a wise architect, hath built up the august fabric
of states, but, like a provident proprietor, to preserve the structure
from profanation and ruin, as a sacred temple, purged from all the
impurities of fraud and violence and injustice and tyranny, hath
solemnly and forever consecrated the commonwealth, and all that
officiate in it. This consecration is made, that all who administer in
the government of men, in which they stand in the person of God Himself,
should have high and worthy notions of their function and destination;
that their hope should be full of immortality; that they should not look
to the paltry pelf of the moment, nor to the temporary and transient
praise of the vulgar, but to a solid, permanent existence, in the
permanent part of their nature, and to a permanent fame and glory, in
the example they leave as a rich inheritance to the world.

Such sublime principles ought to be infused into persons of exalted
situations, and religious establishments provided that may continually
revive and enforce them. Every sort of moral, every sort of civil, every
sort of politic institution, aiding the rational and natural ties that
connect the human understanding and affections to the divine, are not
more than necessary, in order to build up that wonderful structure,
Man,--whose prerogative it is, to be in a great degree a creature of his
own making, and who, when made as he ought to be made, is destined to
hold no trivial place in the creation. But whenever man is put over men,
as the better nature ought ever to preside, in that case more
particularly he should as nearly as possible be approximated to his

The consecration of the state by a state religious establishment is
necessary also to operate with a wholesome awe upon free citizens;
because, in order to secure their freedom, they must enjoy some
determinate portion of power. To them, therefore, a religion connected
with the state, and with their duty towards it, becomes even more
necessary than in such societies where the people, by the terms of their
subjection, are confined to private sentiments, and the management of
their own family concerns. All persons possessing any portion of power
ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in
trust, and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to
the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society.

This principle ought even to be more strongly impressed upon the minds
of those who compose the collective sovereignty than upon those of
single princes. Without instruments, these princes can do nothing.
Whoever uses instruments, in finding helps, finds also impediments.
Their power is therefore by no means complete; nor are they safe in
extreme abuse. Such persons, however elevated by flattery, arrogance,
and self-opinion, must be sensible, that, whether covered or not by
positive law, in some way or other they are accountable even here for
the abuse of their trust. If they are not cut off by a rebellion of
their people, they may be strangled by the very janissaries kept for
their security against all other rebellion. Thus we have seen the king
of France sold by his soldiers for an increase of pay. But where popular
authority is absolute and unrestrained, the people have an infinitely
greater, because a far better founded, confidence in their own power.
They are themselves in a great measure their own instruments. They are
nearer to their objects. Besides, they are less under responsibility to
one of the greatest controlling powers on earth, the sense of fame and
estimation. The share of infamy that is likely to fall to the lot of
each individual in public acts is small indeed: the operation of opinion
being in the inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power. Their
own approbation of their own acts has to them the appearance of a public
judgment in their favor. A perfect democracy is therefore the most
shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also
the most fearless. No man apprehends in his person that he can be made
subject to punishment. Certainly the people at large never ought: for,
as all punishments are for example towards the conservation of the
people at large, the people at large can never become the subject of
punishment by any human hand.[96] It is therefore of infinite importance
that they should not be suffered to imagine that their will, any more
than that of kings, is the standard of right and wrong. They ought to be
persuaded that they are full as little entitled, and far less qualified,
with safety to themselves, to use any arbitrary power whatsoever; that
therefore they are not, under a false show of liberty, but in truth to
exercise an unnatural, inverted domination, tyrannically to exact from
those who officiate in the state, not an entire devotion to their
interest, which is their right, but an abject submission to their
occasional will: extinguishing thereby, in all those who serve them, all
moral principle, all sense of dignity, all use of judgment, and all
consistency of character; whilst by the very same process they give
themselves up a proper, a suitable, but a most contemptible prey to the
servile ambition of popular sycophants or courtly flatterers.

When the people have emptied themselves of all the lust of selfish will,
which without religion it is utterly impossible they ever should,--when
they are conscious that they exercise, and exercise perhaps in a higher
link of the order of delegation, the power which to be legitimate must
be according to that eternal, immutable law in which will and reason are
the same,--they will be more careful how they place power in base and
incapable hands. In their nomination to office, they will not appoint to
the exercise of authority as to a pitiful job, but as to a holy
function; not according to their sordid, selfish interest, nor to their
wanton caprice, nor to their arbitrary will; but they will confer that
power (which any man may well tremble to give or to receive) on those
only in whom they may discern that predominant proportion of active
virtue and wisdom, taken together and fitted to the charge, such as in
the great and inevitable mixed mass of human imperfections and
infirmities is to be found.

When they are habitually convinced that no evil can be acceptable,
either in the act or the permission, to Him whose essence is good, they
will be better able to extirpate out of the minds of all magistrates,
civil, ecclesiastical, or military, anything that bears the least
resemblance to a proud and lawless domination.

But one of the first and most leading principles on which the
commonwealth and the laws are consecrated is lest the temporary
possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received
from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act
as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it
amongst their rights to cut off the entail or commit waste on the
inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric
of their society: hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin
instead of an habitation,--and teaching these successors as little to
respect their contrivances as they had themselves respected the
institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of
changing the state as often and as much and in as many ways as there are
floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the
commonwealth would be broken; no one generation could link with the
other; men would become little better than the flies of a summer.

And first of all, the science of jurisprudence, the pride of the human
intellect, which, with all its defects, redundancies, and errors, is the
collected reason of ages, combining the principles of original justice
with the infinite variety of human concerns, as a heap of old exploded
errors, would be no longer studied. Personal self-sufficiency and
arrogance (the certain attendants upon all those who have never
experienced a wisdom greater than their own) would usurp the tribunal.
Of course no certain laws, establishing invariable grounds of hope and
fear, would keep the actions of men in a certain course, or direct them
to a certain end. Nothing stable in the modes of holding property or
exercising function could form a solid ground on which any parent could
speculate in the education of his offspring, or in a choice for their
future establishment in the world. No principles would be early worked
into the habits. As soon as the most able instructor had completed his
laborious course of institution, instead of sending forth his pupil
accomplished in a virtuous discipline fitted to procure him attention
and respect in his place in society, he would find everything altered,
and that he had turned out a poor creature to the contempt and derision
of the world, ignorant of the true grounds of estimation. Who would
insure a tender and delicate sense of honor to beat almost with the
first pulses of the heart, when no man could know what would be the test
of honor in a nation continually varying the standard of its coin? No
part of life would retain its acquisitions. Barbarism with regard to
science and literature, unskilfulness with regard to arts and
manufactures, would infallibly succeed to the want of a steady education
and settled principle; and thus the commonwealth itself would in a few
generations crumble away, be disconnected into the dust and powder of
individuality, and at length dispersed to all the winds of heaven.

To avoid, therefore, the evils of inconstancy and versatility, ten
thousand times worse than those of obstinacy and the blindest prejudice,
we have consecrated the state, that no man should approach to look into
its defects or corruptions but with due caution; that he should never
dream of beginning its reformation by its subversion; that he should
approach to the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with
pious awe and trembling solicitude. By this wise prejudice we are taught
to look with horror on those children of their country who are prompt
rashly to hack that aged parent in pieces and put him into the kettle of
magicians, in hopes that by their poisonous weeds and wild incantations
they may regenerate the paternal constitution and renovate their
father's life.

Society is, indeed, a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of
mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure; but the state
ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership
agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some
other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest,
and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on
with other reverence; because it is not a partnership in things
subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and
perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science, a partnership in
all art, a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the
ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it
becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between
those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.
Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great
primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher
natures, connecting the visible and invisible world, according to a
fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath which holds all physical
and all moral natures each in their appointed place. This law is not
subject to the will of those who, by an obligation above them, and
infinitely superior, are bound to submit their will to that law. The
municipal corporations of that universal kingdom are not morally at
liberty, at their pleasure, and on their speculations of a contingent
improvement, wholly to separate and tear asunder the bands of their
subordinate community, and to dissolve it into an unsocial, uncivil,
unconnected chaos of elementary principles. It is the first and supreme
necessity only, a necessity that is not chosen, but chooses, a necessity
paramount to deliberation, that admits no discussion and demands no
evidence, which alone can justify a resort to anarchy. This necessity is
no exception to the rule; because this necessity itself is a part, too,
of that moral and physical disposition of things to which man must be
obedient by consent or force: but if that which is only submission to
necessity should be made the object of choice, the law is broken, Nature
is disobeyed, and the rebellious are outlawed, cast forth, and exiled,
from this world of reason, and order, and peace, and virtue, and
fruitful penitence, into the antagonist world of madness, discord, vice,
confusion, and unavailing sorrow.

These, my dear Sir, are, were, and, I think, long will be, the
sentiments of not the least learned and reflecting part of this kingdom.
They who are included in this description form their opinions on such
grounds as such persons ought to form them. The less inquiring receive
them from an authority which those whom Providence dooms to live on
trust need not be ashamed to rely on. These two sorts of men move in the
same direction, though in a different place. They both move with the
order of the universe. They all know or feel this great ancient
truth:--"_Quod illi principi et praepotenti Deo qui omnem hunc mundum
regit nihil eorum quae quidem fiant in terris acceptius quam concilia et
coetus hominum jure sociati quae civitates appellantur_." They take this
tenet of the head and heart, not from the great name which it
immediately bears, nor from the greater from whence it is derived, but
from that which alone can give true weight and sanction to any learned
opinion, the common nature and common relation of men. Persuaded that
all things ought to be done with reference, and referring all to the
point of reference to which all should be directed, they think
themselves bound, not only as individuals in the sanctuary of the heart,
or as congregated in that personal capacity, to renew the memory of
their high origin and cast, but also in their corporate character to
perform their national homage to the Institutor and Author and Protector
of civil society, without which civil society man could not by any
possibility arrive at the perfection of which his nature is capable, nor
even make a remote and faint approach to it. They conceive that He who
gave our nature to be perfected by our virtue willed also the necessary
means of its perfection: He willed, therefore, the state: He willed its
connection with the source and original archetype of all perfection.
They who are convinced of this His will, which is the law of laws and
the sovereign of sovereigns, cannot think it reprehensible that this our
corporate fealty and homage, that this our recognition of a signiory
paramount, I had almost said this oblation of the state itself, as a
worthy offering on the high altar of universal praise, should be
performed, as all public, solemn acts are performed, in buildings, in
music, in decoration, in speech, in the dignity of persons, according to
the customs of mankind, taught by their nature,--that is, with modest
splendor, with unassuming state, with mild majesty and sober pomp. For
those purposes they think some part of the wealth of the country is as
usefully employed as it can be in fomenting the luxury of individuals.
It is the public ornament. It is the public consolation. It nourishes
the public hope. The poorest man finds his own importance and dignity in
it, whilst the wealth and pride of individuals at every moment makes the
man of humble rank and fortune sensible of his inferiority, and degrades
and vilifies his condition. It is for the man in humble life, and to
raise his nature, and to put him in mind of a state in which the
privileges of opulence will cease, when he will be equal by nature, and
may be more than equal by virtue, that this portion of the general
wealth of his country is employed and sanctified.

I assure you I do not aim at singularity. I give you opinions which have
been accepted amongst us, from very early times to this moment, with a
continued and general approbation, and which, indeed, are so worked into
my mind that I am unable to distinguish what I have learned from others
from the results of my own meditation.

It is on some such principles that the majority of the people of
England, far from thinking a religious national establishment unlawful,
hardly think it lawful to be without one. In France you are wholly
mistaken, if you do not believe us above all other things attached to
it, and beyond all other nations; and when this people has acted
unwisely and unjustifiably in its favor, (as in some instances they have
done, most certainly,) in their very errors you will at least discover
their zeal.

This principle runs through the whole system of their polity. They do
not consider their Church establishment as convenient, but as essential
to their state: not as a thing heterogeneous and separable,--something
added for accommodation,--what they may either keep up or lay aside,
according to their temporary ideas of convenience. They consider it as
the foundation of their whole Constitution, with which, and with every
part of which, it holds an indissoluble union. Church and State are
ideas inseparable in their minds, and scarcely is the one ever mentioned
without mentioning the other.

Our education is so formed as to confirm and fix this impression. Our
education is in a manner wholly in the hands of ecclesiastics, and in
all stages from infancy to manhood. Even when our youth, leaving schools
and universities, enter that most important period of life which begins
to link experience and study together, and when with that view they
visit other countries, instead of old domestics whom we have seen as
governors to principal men from other parts, three fourths of those who
go abroad with our young nobility and gentlemen are ecclesiastics: not
as austere masters, nor as mere followers; but as friends and companions
of a graver character, and not seldom persons as well born as
themselves. With them, as relations, they most commonly keep up a close
connection through life. By this connection we conceive that we attach
our gentlemen to the Church; and we liberalize the Church by an
intercourse with the leading characters of the country.

So tenacious are we of the old ecclesiastical modes and fashions of
institution, that very little alteration has been made in them since the
fourteenth or fifteenth century: adhering in this particular, as in all
things else, to our old settled maxim, never entirely nor at once to
depart from antiquity. We found these old institutions, on the whole,
favorable to morality and discipline; and we thought they were
susceptible of amendment, without altering the ground. We thought that
they were capable of receiving and meliorating, and above all of
preserving, the accessions of science and literature, as the order of
Providence should successively produce them. And after all, with this
Gothic and monkish education, (for such it is in the groundwork,) we may
put in our claim to as ample and as early a share in all the
improvements in science, in arts, and in literature, which have
illuminated and adorned the modern world, as any other nation in Europe:
we think one main cause of this improvement was our not despising the
patrimony of knowledge which was left us by our forefathers.

It is from our attachment to a Church establishment, that the English
nation did not think it wise to intrust that great fundamental interest
of the whole to what they trust no part of their civil or military
public service,--that is, to the unsteady and precarious contribution of
individuals. They go further. They certainly never have suffered, and
never will suffer, the fixed estate of the Church to be converted into a
pension, to depend on the Treasury, and to be delayed, withheld, or
perhaps to be extinguished by fiscal difficulties: which difficulties
may sometimes be pretended for political purposes, and are in fact often
brought on by the extravagance, negligence, and rapacity of politicians.
The people of England think that they have constitutional motives, as
well as religious, against any project of turning their independent
clergy into ecclesiastical pensioners of state. They tremble for their
liberty, from the influence of a clergy dependent on the crown; they
tremble for the public tranquillity, from the disorders of a factious
clergy, if it were made to depend upon any other than the crown. They
therefore made their Church, like their king and their nobility,

From the united considerations of religion and constitutional policy,
from their opinion of a duty to make a sure provision for the
consolation of the feeble and the instruction of the ignorant, they have
incorporated and identified the estate of the Church with the mass of
_private property_, of which the state is not the proprietor, either for
use or dominion, but the guardian only and the regulator. They have
ordained that the provision of this establishment might be as stable as
the earth on which it stands, and should not fluctuate with the Euripus
of funds and actions.

The men of England, the men, I mean, of light and leading in England,
whose wisdom (if they have any) is open and direct, would be ashamed, as
of a silly, deceitful trick, to profess any religion in name, which by
their proceedings they appear to contemn. If by their conduct (the only
language that rarely lies) they seemed to regard the great ruling
principle of the moral and the natural world as a mere invention to keep
the vulgar in obedience, they apprehend that by such a conduct they
would defeat the politic purpose they have in view. They would find it
difficult to make others believe in a system to which they manifestly
gave no credit themselves. The Christian statesmen of this land would,
indeed, first provide for the _multitude_, because it is the
_multitude_, and is therefore, as such, the first object in the
ecclesiastical institution, and in all institutions. They have been
taught that the circumstance of the Gospel's being preached to the poor
was one of the great tests of its true mission. They think, therefore,
that those do not believe it who do not take care it should be preached
to the poor. But as they know that charity is not confined to any one
description, but ought to apply itself to all men who have wants, they
are not deprived of a due and anxious sensation of pity to the
distresses of the miserable great. They are not repelled, through a
fastidious delicacy, at the stench of their arrogance and presumption,
from a medicinal attention to their mental blotches and running sores.
They are sensible that religious instruction is of more consequence to
them than to any others: from the greatness of the temptation to which
they are exposed; from the important consequences that attend their
faults; from the contagion of their ill example; from the necessity of
bowing down the stubborn neck of their pride and ambition to the yoke of
moderation and virtue; from a consideration of the fat stupidity and
gross ignorance concerning what imports men most to know, which prevails
at courts, and at the head of armies, and in senates, as much as at the
loom and in the field.

The English people are satisfied, that to the great the consolations of
religion are as necessary as its instructions. They, too, are among the
unhappy. They feel personal pain and domestic sorrow. In these they have
no privilege, but are subject to pay their full contingent to the
contributions levied on mortality. They want this sovereign balm under
their gnawing cares and anxieties, which, being less conversant about
the limited wants of animal life, range without limit, and are
diversified by infinite combinations in the wild and unbounded regions
of imagination. Some charitable dole is wanting to these, our often
very unhappy brethren, to fill the gloomy void that reigns in minds
which have nothing on earth to hope or fear; something to relieve in the
killing languor and over-labored lassitude of those who have nothing to
do; something to excite an appetite to existence in the palled satiety
which attends on all pleasures which may be bought, where Nature is not
left to her own process, where even desire is anticipated, and therefore
fruition defeated by meditated schemes and contrivances of delight, and
no interval, no obstacle, is interposed between the wish and the

The people of England know how little influence the teachers of religion
are likely to have with the wealthy and powerful of long standing, and
how much less with the newly fortunate, if they appear in a manner no
way assorted to those with whom they must associate, and over whom they
must even exercise, in some cases, something like an authority. What
must they think of that body of teachers, if they see it in no part
above the establishment of their domestic servants? If the poverty were
voluntary, there might be some difference. Strong instances of
self-denial operate powerfully on our minds; and a man who has no wants
has obtained great freedom and firmness, and even dignity. But as the
mass of any description of men are but men, and their poverty cannot be
voluntary, that disrespect which attends upon all lay poverty will not
depart from the ecclesiastical. Our provident Constitution has therefore
taken care that those who are to instruct presumptuous ignorance, those
who are to be censors over insolent vice, should neither incur their
contempt nor live upon their alms; nor will it tempt the rich to a
neglect of the true medicine of their minds. For these reasons, whilst
we provide first for the poor, and with a parental solicitude, we have
not relegated religion (like something we were ashamed to show) to
obscure municipalities or rustic villages. No! we will have her to exalt
her mitred front in courts and parliaments. We will have her mixed
throughout the whole mass of life, and blended with all the classes of
society. The people of England will show to the haughty potentates of
the world, and to their talking sophisters, that a free, a generous, an
informed nation honors the high magistrates of its Church; that it will
not suffer the insolence of wealth and titles, or any other species of
proud pretension, to look down with scorn upon what they look up to with
reverence, nor presume to trample on that acquired personal nobility
which they intend always to be, and which often is, the fruit, not the
reward, (for what can be the reward?) of learning, piety, and virtue.
They can see, without pain or grudging, an archbishop precede a duke.
They can see a bishop of Durham or a bishop of Winchester in possession
of ten thousand pounds a year, and cannot conceive why it is in worse
hands than estates to the like amount in the hands of this earl or that
squire; although it may be true that so many dogs and horses are not
kept by the former, and fed with the victuals which ought to nourish the
children of the people. It is true, the whole Church revenue is not
always employed, and to every shilling, in charity; nor perhaps ought
it; but something is generally so employed. It is better to cherish
virtue and humanity, by leaving much to free will, even with some loss
to the object, than to attempt to make men mere machines and instruments
of a political benevolence. The world on the whole will gain by a
liberty without which virtue cannot exist.

When once the commonwealth has established the estates of the Church as
property, it can consistently hear nothing of the more or the less. Too
much and too little are treason against property. What evil can arise
from the quantity in any hand, whilst the supreme authority has the
full, sovereign superintendence over this, as over any property, to
prevent every species of abuse,--and whenever it notably deviates, to
give to it a direction agreeable to the purposes of its institution?

In England most of us conceive that it is envy and malignity towards
those who are often the beginners of their own fortune, and not a love
of the self-denial and mortification of the ancient Church, that makes
some look askance at the distinctions and honors and revenues which,
taken from no person, are set apart for virtue. The ears of the people
of England are distinguishing. They hear these men speak broad. Their
tongue betrays them. Their language is in the _patois_ of fraud, in the
cant and gibberish of hypocrisy. The people of England must think so,
when these praters affect to carry back the clergy to that primitive
evangelic poverty which in the spirit ought always to exist in them,
(and in us, too, however we may like it,) but in the thing must be
varied, when the relation of that body to the state is altered,--when
manners, when modes of life, when indeed the whole order of human
affairs, has undergone a total revolution. We shall believe those
reformers to be then honest enthusiasts, not, as now we think them,
cheats and deceivers, when we see them throwing their own goods into
common, and submitting their own persons to the austere discipline of
the early Church.

With these ideas rooted in their minds, the Commons of Great Britain, in
the national emergencies, will never seek their resource from the
confiscation of the estates of the Church and poor. Sacrilege and
proscription are not among the ways and means of our Committee of
Supply. The Jews in Change Alley have not yet dared to hint their hopes
of a mortgage on the revenues belonging to the see of Canterbury. I am
not afraid that I shall be disavowed, when I assure you that there is
not _one_ public man in this kingdom, whom you wish to quote,--no, not
one, of any party or description,--who does not reprobate the dishonest,
perfidious, and cruel confiscation which the National Assembly has been
compelled to make of that property which it was their first duty to

It is with the exultation of a little national pride I tell you that
those amongst us who have wished to pledge the societies of Paris in the
cup of their abominations have been disappointed. The robbery of your
Church has proved a security to the possessions of ours. It has roused
the people. They see with horror and alarm that enormous and shameless
act of proscription. It has opened, and will more and more open, their
eyes upon the selfish enlargement of mind and the narrow liberality of
sentiment of insidious men, which, commencing in close hypocrisy and
fraud, have ended in open violence and rapine. At home we behold similar
beginnings. We are on our guard against similar conclusions.

I hope we shall never be so totally lost to all sense of the duties
imposed upon us by the law of social union, as, upon any pretest of
public service, to confiscate the goods of a single unoffending citizen.
Who but a tyrant (a name expressive of everything which can vitiate and
degrade human nature) could think of seizing on the property of men,
unaccused, unheard, untried, by whole descriptions, by hundreds and
thousands together? Who that had not lost every trace of humanity could
think of casting down men of exalted rank and sacred function, some of
them of an age to call at once for reverence and compassion,--of casting
them down from the highest situation in the commonwealth, wherein they
were maintained by their own landed property, to a state of indigence,
depression, and contempt?

The confiscators truly have made some allowance to their victims from
the scraps and fragments of their own tables, from which they have been
so harshly driven, and which have been so bountifully spread for a feast
to the harpies of usury. But to drive men from independence to live on
alms is itself great cruelty. That which might be a tolerable condition
to men in one state of life, and not habituated to other things, may,
when all these circumstances are altered, be a dreadful revolution, and
one to which a virtuous mind would feel pain in condemning any guilt,
except that which would demand the life of the offender. But to many
minds this punishment of _degradation_ and _infamy_ is worse than death.
Undoubtedly it is an infinite aggravation of this cruel suffering, that
the persons who were taught a double prejudice in favor of religion, by
education, and by the place they held in the administration of its
functions, are to receive the remnants of their property as alms from
the profane and impious hands of those who had plundered them of all the
rest,--to receive (if they are at all to receive) not from the
charitable contributions of the faithful, but from the insolent
tenderness of known and avowed atheism, the maintenance of religion,
measured out to them on the standard of the contempt in which it is
held, and for the purpose of rendering those who receive the allowance
vile and of no estimation in the eyes of mankind.

But this act of seizure of property, it seems, is a judgment in law, and
not a confiscation. They have, it seems, found out in the academies of
the Palais Royal and the Jacobins, that certain men had no right to the
possessions which they held under law, usage, the decisions of courts,
and the accumulated prescription of a thousand years. They say that
ecclesiastics are fictitious persons, creatures of the state, whom at
pleasure they may destroy, and of course limit and modify in every
particular; that the goods they possess are not properly theirs, but
belong to the state which created the fiction; and we are therefore not
to trouble ourselves with what they may suffer in their natural feelings
and natural persons on account of what is done towards them in this
their constructive character. Of what import is it, under what names you
injure men, and deprive them of the just emoluments of a profession in
which they were not only permitted, but encouraged by the state to
engage, and upon the supposed certainty of which emoluments they had
formed the plan of their lives, contracted debts, and led multitudes to
an entire dependence upon them?

You do not imagine, Sir, that I am going to compliment this miserable
distinction of persons with any long discussion. The arguments of
tyranny are as contemptible as its force is dreadful. Had not your
confiscators by their early crimes obtained a power which secures
indemnity to all the crimes of which they have since been guilty, or
that they can commit, it is not the syllogism of the logician, but the
lash of the executioner, that would have refuted a sophistry which
becomes an accomplice of theft and murder. The sophistic tyrants of
Paris are loud in their declamations against the departed regal tyrants
who in former ages have vexed the world. They are thus bold, because
they are safe from the dungeons and iron cages of their old masters.
Shall we be more tender of the tyrants of our own time, when we see them
acting worse tragedies under our eyes? Shall we not use the same liberty
that they do, when we can use it with the same safety, when to speak
honest truth only requires a contempt of the opinions of those whose
actions we abhor?

This outrage on all the rights of property was at first covered with
what, on the system of their conduct, was the most astonishing of all
pretexts,--a regard to national faith. The enemies to property at first
pretended a most tender, delicate, and scrupulous anxiety for keeping
the king's engagements with the public creditor. These professors of the
rights of men are so busy in teaching others, that they have not leisure
to learn anything themselves; otherwise they would have known that it is
to the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor
of the state, that the first and original faith of civil society is
pledged. The claim of the citizen is prior in time, paramount in title,
superior in equity. The fortunes of individuals, whether possessed by
acquisition, or by descent, or in virtue of a participation in the goods
of some community, were no part of the creditor's security, expressed or
implied. They never so much as entered into his head, when he made his
bargain. He well knew that the public, whether represented by a monarch
or by a senate, can pledge nothing but the public estate; and it can
have no public estate, except in what it derives from a just and
proportioned imposition upon the citizens at large. This was engaged,
and nothing else could be engaged, to the public creditor. No man can
mortgage his injustice as a pawn for his fidelity.

It is impossible to avoid some observation on the contradictions, caused
by the extreme rigor and the extreme laxity of this new public faith,
which influenced in this transaction, and which influenced not according
to the nature of the obligation, but to the description of the persons
to whom it was engaged. No acts of the old government of the kings of
France are held valid in the National Assembly, except its pecuniary
engagements: acts of all others of the most ambiguous legality. The rest
of the acts of that royal government are considered in so odious a light
that to have a claim under its authority is looked on as a sort of
crime. A pension, given as a reward for service to the state, is surely
as good a ground of property as any security for money advanced to the
state. It is a better; for money is paid, and well paid, to obtain that
service. We have, however, seen multitudes of people under this
description in France, who never had been deprived of their allowances
by the most arbitrary ministers in the most arbitrary times, by this
assembly of the rights of men robbed without mercy. They were told, in
answer to their claim to the bread earned with their blood, that their
services had not been rendered to the country that now exists.

This laxity of public faith is not confined to those unfortunate
persons. The Assembly, with perfect consistency, it must be owned, is
engaged in a respectable deliberation how far it is bound by the
treaties made with other nations under the former government; and their
committee is to report which of them they ought to ratify, and which
not. By this means they have put the external fidelity of this virgin
state on a par with its internal.

It is not easy to conceive upon what rational principle the royal
government should not, of the two, rather have possessed the power of
rewarding service and making treaties, in virtue of its prerogative,
than that of pledging to creditors the revenue of the state, actual and
possible. The treasure of the nation, of all things, has been the least
allowed to the prerogative of the king of France, or to the prerogative
of any king in Europe. To mortgage the public revenue implies the
sovereign dominion, in the fullest sense, over the public purse. It goes
far beyond the trust even of a temporary and occasional taxation. The
acts, however, of that dangerous power (the distinctive mark of a
boundless despotism) have been alone held sacred. Whence arose this
preference given by a democratic assembly to a body of property deriving
its title from the most critical and obnoxious of all the exertions of
monarchical authority? Reason can furnish nothing to reconcile
inconsistency; nor can partial favor be accounted for upon equitable
principles. But the contradiction and partiality which admit no
justification are not the less without an adequate cause; and that cause
I do not think it difficult to discover.

By the vast debt of France a great moneyed interest has insensibly grown
up, and with it a great power. By the ancient usages which prevailed in
that kingdom, the general circulation of property, and in particular the
mutual convertibility of land into money and of money into land, had
always been a matter of difficulty. Family settlements, rather more
general and more strict than they are in England, the _jus retractus_,
the great mass of landed property held by the crown, and, by a maxim of
the French law, held unalienably, the vast estates of the ecclesiastic
corporations,--all these had kept the landed and moneyed interests more
separated in France, less miscible, and the owners of the two distinct
species of property not so well disposed to each other as they are in
this country.

The moneyed property was long looked on with rather an evil eye by the
people. They saw it connected with their distresses, and aggravating
them. It was no less envied by the old landed interests,--partly for the
same reasons that rendered it obnoxious to the people, but much more so
as it eclipsed, by the splendor of an ostentatious luxury, the unendowed
pedigrees and naked titles of several among the nobility. Even when the
nobility, which represented the more permanent landed interest, united
themselves by marriage (which sometimes was the case) with the other
description, the wealth which saved the family from ruin was supposed to
contaminate and degrade it. Thus the enmities and heart burnings of
these parties were increased even by the usual means by which discord is
made to cease and quarrels are turned into friendship. In the mean time,
the pride of the wealthy men, not noble, or newly noble, increased with
its cause. They felt with resentment an inferiority the grounds of which
they did not acknowledge. There was no measure to which they were not
willing to lend themselves, in order to be revenged of the outrages of
this rival pride, and to exalt their wealth to what they considered as
its natural rank and estimation. They struck at the nobility through the
crown and the Church. They attacked them particularly on the side on
which they thought them the most vulnerable,--that is, the possessions
of the Church, which, through the patronage of the crown, generally
devolved upon the nobility. The bishoprics and the great commendatory
abbeys were, with few exceptions, held by that order.

In this state of real, though not always perceived, warfare between the
noble ancient landed interest and the new moneyed interest, the
greatest, because the most applicable, strength was in the hands of the
latter. The moneyed interest is in its nature more ready for any
adventure, and its possessors more disposed to new enterprises of any
kind. Being of a recent acquisition, it falls in more naturally with any
novelties. It is therefore the kind of wealth which will be resorted to
by all who wish for change.

Along with the moneyed interest, a new description of men had grown up,
with whom that interest soon formed a close and marked union: I mean the
political men of letters. Men of letters, fond of distinguishing
themselves, are rarely averse to innovation. Since the decline of the
life and greatness of Louis the Fourteenth, they were not so much
cultivated either by him, or by the Regent, or the successors to the
crown; nor were they engaged to the court by favors and emoluments so
systematically as during the splendid period of that ostentatious and
not impolitic reign. What they lost in the old court protection they
endeavored to make up by joining in a sort of incorporation of their
own; to which the two academies of France, and afterwards the vast
undertaking of the Encyclopaedia, carried on by a society of these
gentlemen, did not a little contribute.

The literary cabal had some years ago formed something like a regular
plan for the destruction of the Christian religion. This object they
pursued with a degree of zeal which hitherto had been discovered only in
the propagators of some system of piety. They were possessed with a
spirit of proselytism in the most fanatical degree,--and from thence, by
an easy progress, with the spirit of persecution according to their
means.[97] What was not to be done towards their great end by any direct
or immediate act might be wrought by a longer process through the medium
of opinion. To command that opinion, the first step is to establish a
dominion over those who direct it. They contrived to possess themselves,
with great method and perseverance, of all the avenues to literary fame.
Many of them, indeed, stood high in the ranks of literature and science.
The world had done them justice, and in favor of general talents forgave
the evil tendency of their peculiar principles. This was true
liberality; which they returned by endeavoring to confine the reputation
of sense, learning, and taste to themselves or their followers. I will
venture to say that this narrow, exclusive spirit has not been less
prejudicial to literature and to taste than to morals and true
philosophy. These atheistical fathers have a bigotry of their own; and
they have learnt to talk against monks with the spirit of a monk. But in
some things they are men of the world. The resources of intrigue are
called in to supply the defects of argument and wit. To this system of
literary monopoly was joined an unremitting industry to blacken and
discredit in every way, and by every means, all those who did not hold
to their faction. To those who have observed the spirit of their conduct
it has long been clear that nothing was wanted but the power of carrying
the intolerance of the tongue and of the pen into a persecution which
would strike at property, liberty, and life.

The desultory and faint persecution carried on against them, more from
compliance with form and decency than with serious resentment, neither
weakened their strength nor relaxed their efforts. The issue of the
whole was, that, what with opposition, and what with success, a violent
and malignant zeal, of a kind hitherto unknown in the world, had taken
an entire possession of their minds, and rendered their whole
conversation, which otherwise would have been pleasing and instructive,
perfectly disgusting. A spirit of cabal, intrigue, and proselytism
pervaded all their thoughts, words, and actions. And as controversial
zeal soon turns its thoughts on force, they began to insinuate
themselves into a correspondence with foreign princes,--in hopes,
through their authority, which at first they flattered, they might
bring about the changes they had in view. To them it was indifferent
whether these changes were to be accomplished by the thunderbolt of
despotism or by the earthquake of popular commotion. The correspondence
between this cabal and the late king of Prussia will throw no small
light upon the spirit of all their proceedings.[98] For the same purpose
for which they intrigued with princes, they cultivated, in a
distinguished manner, the moneyed interest of France; and partly through
the means furnished by those whose peculiar offices gave them the most
extensive and certain means of communication, they carefully occupied
all the avenues to opinion.

Writers, especially when they act in a body and with one direction, have
great influence on the public mind; the alliance, therefore, of these
writers with the moneyed interest[99] had no small effect in removing
the popular odium and envy which attended that species of wealth. These
writers, like the propagators of all novelties, pretended to a great
zeal for the poor and the lower orders, whilst in their satires they
rendered hateful, by every exaggeration, the faults of courts, of
nobility, and of priesthood. They became a sort of demagogues. They
served as a link to unite, in favor of one object, obnoxious wealth to
restless and desperate poverty.

As these two kinds of men appear principal leaders in all the late
transactions, their junction and politics will serve to account, not
upon any principles of law or of policy, but as a _cause_, for the
general fury with which all the landed property of ecclesiastical
corporations has been attacked, and the great care which, contrary to
their pretended principles, has been taken of a moneyed interest
originating from the authority of the crown. All the envy against wealth
and power was artificially directed against other descriptions of
riches. On what other principle than that which I have stated can we
account for an appearance so extraordinary and unnatural as that of the
ecclesiastical possessions, which had stood so many successions of ages
and shocks of civil violences, and were guarded at once by justice and
by prejudice, being applied to the payment of debts comparatively
recent, invidious, and contracted by a decried and subverted government?

Was the public estate a sufficient stake for the public debts? Assume
that it was not, and that a loss _must_ be incurred somewhere. When the
only estate lawfully possessed, and which the contracting parties had in
contemplation at the time in which their bargain was made, happens to
fail, who, according to the principles of natural and legal equity,
ought to be the sufferer? Certainly it ought to be either the party who
trusted, or the party who persuaded him to trust, or both; and not third
parties who had no concern with the transaction. Upon any insolvency,
they ought to suffer who were weak enough to lend upon bad security, or
they who fraudulently held out a security that was not valid. Laws are
acquainted with no other rules of decision. But by the new institute of
the rights of men, the only persons who in equity ought to suffer are
the only persons who are to be saved harmless: those are to answer the
debt who neither were lenders nor borrowers, mortgagers nor mortgagees.

What had the clergy to do with these transactions? What had they to do
with any public engagement further than the extent of their own debt? To
that, to be sure, their estates were bound to the last acre. Nothing can
lead more to the true spirit of the Assembly, which sits for public
confiscation with its new equity and its new morality, than an attention
to their proceeding with regard to this debt of the clergy. The body of
confiscators, true to that moneyed interest for which they were false to
every other, have found the clergy competent to incur a legal debt. Of
course they declared them legally entitled to the property which their
power of incurring the debt and mortgaging the estate implied:
recognizing the rights of those persecuted citizens in the very act in
which they were thus grossly violated.

If, as I said, any persons are to mate good deficiencies to the public
creditor, besides the public at large, they must be those who managed
the agreement. Why, therefore, are not the estates of all the
comptrollers-general confiscated?[100] Why not those of the long
succession of ministers, financiers, and bankers who have been enriched
whilst the nation was impoverished by their dealings and their counsels?
Why is not the estate of M. Laborde declared forfeited rather than of
the Archbishop of Paris, who has had nothing to do in the creation or in
the jobbing of the public funds? Or, if you must confiscate old landed
estates in favor of the money-jobbers, why is the penalty confined to
one description? I do not know whether the expenses of the Duke de
Choiseul have left anything of the infinite sums which he had derived
from the bounty of his master, during the transactions of a reign which
contributed largely, by every species of prodigality in war and peace,
to the present debt of France. If any such remains, why is not this
confiscated? I remember to have been in Paris during the time of the old
government. I was there just after the Duke d'Aiguillon had been
snatched (as it was generally thought) from the block by the hand of a
protecting despotism. He was a minister, and had some concern in the
affairs of that prodigal period. Why do I not see his estate delivered
up to the municipalities in which it is situated? The noble family of
Noailles have long been servants (meritorious servants I admit) to the
crown of France, and have had of course some share in its bounties. Why
do I hear nothing of the application of their estates to the public
debt? Why is the estate of the Duke de Rochefoucault more sacred than
that of the Cardinal de Rochefoucault? The former is, I doubt not, a
worthy person; and (if it were not a sort of profaneness to talk of the
use, as affecting the title to property) he makes a good use of his
revenues; but it is no disrespect to him to say, what authentic
information well warrants me in saying, that the use made of a property
equally valid, by his brother,[101] the Cardinal Archbishop of Rouen,
was far more laudable and far more public-spirited. Can one hear of the
proscription of such persons, and the confiscation of their effects,
without indignation, and horror? He is not a man who does not feel such
emotions on such occasions. He does not deserve the name of a free man
who will not express them.

Few barbarous conquerors have ever made so terrible a revolution in
property. None of the heads of the Roman factions, when they established
_crudelem illam hastam_ in all their auctions of rapine, have ever set
up to sale the goods of the conquered citizen to such an enormous
amount. It must be allowed in favor of those tyrants of antiquity, that
what was done by them could hardly be said to be done in cold blood.
Their passions were inflamed, their tempers soured, their understandings
confused with the spirit of revenge, with the innumerable reciprocated
and recent inflictions and retaliations of blood and rapine. They were
driven beyond all bounds of moderation by the apprehension of the return
of power with the return of property to the families of those they had
injured beyond all hope of forgiveness.

These Roman confiscators, who were yet only in the elements of tyranny,
and were not instructed in the rights of men to exercise all sorts of
cruelties on each other without provocation, thought it necessary to
spread a sort of color over their injustice. They considered the
vanquished party as composed of traitors, who had borne arms, or
otherwise had acted with hostility, against the commonwealth. They
regarded them as persons who had forfeited their property by their
crimes. With you, in your improved state of the human mind, there was no
such formality. You seized upon five millions sterling of annual rent,
and turned forty or fifty thousand human creatures out of their houses,
because "such was your pleasure." The tyrant Harry the Eighth of
England, as he was not better enlightened than the Roman Mariuses and
Syllas, and had not studied in your new schools, did not know what an
effectual instrument of despotism was to be found in that grand
magazine of offensive weapons, the rights of men. When he resolved to
rob the abbeys, as the club of the Jacobins have robbed all the
ecclesiastics, he began by setting on foot a commission to examine into
the crimes and abuses which prevailed in those communities. As it might
be expected, his commission reported truths, exaggerations, and
falsehoods. But truly or falsely, it reported abuses and offences.
However, as abuses might be corrected, as every crime of persons does
not infer a forfeiture with regard to communities, and as property, in
that dark age, was not discovered to be a creature of prejudice, all
those abuses (and there were enough of them) were hardly thought
sufficient ground for such a confiscation as it was for his purposes to
make. He therefore procured the formal surrender of these estates. All
these operose proceedings were adopted by one of the most decided
tyrants in the rolls of history, as necessary preliminaries, before he
could venture, by bribing the members of his two servile Houses with a
share of the spoil, and holding out to them an eternal immunity from
taxation, to demand a confirmation of his iniquitous proceedings by an
act of Parliament. Had fate reserved him to our times, four technical
terms would have done his business, and saved him all this trouble; he
needed nothing more than one short form of incantation:--"_Philosophy,
Light, Liberality, the Rights of Men_."

I can say nothing in praise of those acts of tyranny, which no voice has
hitherto ever commended under any of their false colors; yet in these
false colors an homage was paid by despotism to justice. The power which
was above all fear and all remorse was not set above all shame. Whilst
shame keeps its watch, virtue is not wholly extinguished in the heart,
nor will moderation be utterly exiled from the minds of tyrants.

I believe every honest man sympathizes in his reflections with our
political poet on that occasion, and will pray to avert the omen,
whenever these acts of rapacious despotism present themselves to his
view or his imagination:--

                      "May no such storm
    Fall on our times, where rain must reform!
    Tell me, my Muse, what monstrous, dire offence,
    What crime could any Christian king incense
    To such a rage? Was't luxury, or lust
    Was _he_ so temperate, so chaste, so just?
    Were these their crimes? They were his own much more:
    But wealth is crime enough to him that's poor."[102]

This same wealth, which is at all times treason and _leze-nation_ to
indigent and rapacious despotism, under all modes of polity, was your
temptation to violate property, law, and religion, united in one
object. But was the state of France so wretched and undone, that no
other resource but rapine remained to preserve its existence? On this
point I wish to receive some information. When the States met, was the
condition of the finances of France such, that, after economizing, on
principles of justice and mercy, through all departments, no fair
repartition of burdens upon all the orders could possibly restore them?
If such an equal imposition would have been sufficient, you well know it
might easily have been made. M. Necker, in the budget which he laid
before the orders assembled at Versailles, made a detailed exposition of
the state of the French nation.[103]

If we give credit to him, it was not necessary to have recourse to any
new impositions whatsoever, to put the receipts of France on a balance
with its expenses. He stated the permanent charges of all descriptions,
including the interest of a new loan of four hundred millions, at
531,444,000 livres; the fixed revenue at 475,294,000: making the
deficiency 56,150,000, or short of 2,200,000 _l._ sterling. But to
balance it, he brought forward savings and improvements of revenue
(considered as entirely certain) to rather more than the amount of that
deficiency; and he concludes with these emphatical words (p. 39):--"Quel
pays, Messieurs, que celui, ou, _sans impots_ et avec de simples objets
_inapercus_, on peut faire disparoitre un deficit qui a fait tant de
bruit en Europe!" As to the reimbursement, the sinking of debt, and the
other great objects of public credit and political arrangement indicated
in Monsieur Necker's speech, no doubt could be entertained but that a
very moderate and proportioned assessment on the citizens without
distinction would have provided for all of them to the fullest extent of
their demand.

If this representation of M. Necker was false, then the Assembly are in
the highest degree culpable for having forced the king to accept as his
minister, and, since the king's deposition, for having employed as
_their_ minister, a man who had been capable of abusing so notoriously
the confidence of his master and their own: in a matter, too, of the
highest moment, and directly appertaining to his particular office. But
if the representation was exact, (as, having always, along with you,
conceived a high degree of respect for M. Necker, I make no doubt it
was,) then what can be said in favor of those who, instead of moderate,
reasonable, and general contribution, have in cold blood, and impelled
by no necessity, had recourse to a partial and cruel confiscation?

Was that contribution refused on a pretext of privilege, either on the
part of the clergy, or on that of the nobility? No, certainly. As to the
clergy, they even ran before the wishes of the third order. Previous to
the meeting of the States, they had in all their instructions expressly
directed their deputies to renounce every immunity which put them upon a
footing distinct from the condition of their fellow-subjects. In this
renunciation the clergy were even more explicit than the nobility.

But let us suppose that the deficiency had remained at the fifty-six
millions, (or 2,200,000 _l._ sterling,) as at first stated by M. Necker.
Let us allow that all the resources he opposed to that deficiency were
impudent and groundless fictions, and that the Assembly (or their lords
of articles[104] at the Jacobins) were from thence justified in laying
the whole burden of that deficiency on the clergy,--yet allowing all
this, a necessity of 2,200,000 _l._ sterling will not support a
confiscation to the amount of five millions. The imposition of 2,200,000
_l._ on the clergy, as partial, would have been oppressive and unjust,
but it would not have been altogether ruinous to those on whom it was
imposed; and therefore it would not have answered the real purpose of
the managers.

Perhaps persons unacquainted with the state of France, on hearing the
clergy and the noblesse were privileged in point of taxation, may be led
to imagine, that, previous to the Revolution, these bodies had
contributed nothing to the state. This is a great mistake. They
certainly did not contribute equally with each other, nor either of them
equally with the commons. They both, however, contributed largely.
Neither nobility nor clergy enjoyed any exemption from the excise on
consumable commodities, from duties of custom, or from any of the other
numerous _indirect_ impositions, which in France, as well as here, make
so very large a proportion of all payments to the public. The noblesse
paid the capitation. They paid also a land-tax, called the twentieth
penny, to the height sometimes of three, sometimes of four shillings in
the pound: both of them _direct_ impositions, of no light nature, and no
trivial produce. The clergy of the provinces annexed by conquest to
France (which in extent make about an eighth part of the whole, but in
wealth a much larger proportion) paid likewise to the capitation and the
twentieth penny, at the rate paid by the nobility. The clergy in the old
provinces did not pay the capitation; but they had redeemed themselves
at the expense of about twenty-four millions, or a little more than a
million sterling. They were exempted from the twentieths: but then they
made free gifts; they contracted debts for the state; and they were
subject to some other charges, the whole computed at about a thirteenth
part of their clear income. They ought to have paid annually about forty
thousand pounds more, to put them on a par with the contribution of the

When the terrors of this tremendous proscription hung over the clergy,
they made an offer of a contribution, through the Archbishop of Aix,
which, for its extravagance, ought not to have been accepted. But it was
evidently and obviously more advantageous to the public creditor than
anything which could rationally be promised by the confiscation. Why was
it not accepted? The reason is plain:--There was no desire that the
Church should be brought to serve the State. The service of the State
was made a pretext to destroy the Church. In their way to the
destruction of the Church they would not scruple to destroy their
country: and they have destroyed it. One great end in the project would
have been defeated, if the plan of extortion had been adopted in lieu of
the scheme of confiscation. The new landed interest connected with the
new republic, and connected with it for its very being, could not have
been created. This was among the reasons why that extravagant ransom was
not accepted.

The madness of the project of confiscation, on the plan that was first
pretended, soon became apparent. To bring this unwieldy mass of landed
property, enlarged by the confiscation of all the vast landed domain of
the crown, at once into market was obviously to defeat the profits
proposed by the confiscation, by depreciating the value of those lands,
and indeed of all the landed estates throughout France. Such a sudden
diversion of all its circulating money from trade to land must be an
additional mischief. What step was taken? Did the Assembly, on becoming
sensible of the inevitable ill effects of their projected sale, revert
to the offers of the clergy? No distress could oblige them to travel in
a course which was disgraced by any appearance of justice. Giving over
all hopes from a general immediate sale, another project seems to have
succeeded. They proposed to take stock in exchange for the Church lands.
In that project great difficulties arose in equalizing the objects to be
exchanged. Other obstacles also presented themselves, which threw them
back again upon some project of sale. The municipalities had taken an
alarm. They would not hear of transferring the whole plunder of the
kingdom to the stockholders in Paris. Many of those municipalities had
been (upon system) reduced to the most deplorable indigence. Money was
nowhere to be seen. They were therefore led to the point that was so
ardently desired. They panted for a currency of any kind which might
revive their perishing industry. The municipalities were, then, to be
admitted to a share in the spoil, which evidently rendered the first
scheme (if ever it had been seriously entertained) altogether
impracticable. Public exigencies pressed upon all sides. The Minister of
Finance reiterated his call for supply with, a most urgent, anxious, and
boding voice. Thus pressed on all sides, instead of the first plan of
converting their bankers into bishops and abbots, instead of paying the
old debt, they contracted a new debt, at three per cent, creating a new
paper currency, founded on an eventual sale of the Church lands. They
issued this paper currency to satisfy in the first instance chiefly the
demands made upon them by the _bank of discount_, the great machine or
paper-mill of their fictitious wealth.

The spoil of the Church was now become the only resource of all their
operations in finance, the vital principle of all their politics, the
sole security for the existence of their power. It was necessary, by
all, even the most violent means, to put every individual on the same
bottom, and to bind the nation in one guilty interest to uphold this
act, and the authority of those by whom it was done. In order to force
the most reluctant into a participation of their pillage, they rendered
their paper circulation compulsory in all payments. Those who consider
the general tendency of their schemes to this one object as a centre,
and a centre from which afterwards all their measures radiate, will not
think that I dwell too long upon this part of the proceedings of the
National Assembly.

To cut off all appearance of connection between the crown and public
justice, and to bring the whole under implicit obedience to the
dictators in Paris, the old independent judicature of the Parliaments,
with all its merits and all its faults, was wholly abolished. Whilst the
Parliaments existed, it was evident that the people might some time or
other come to resort to them, and rally under the standard of their
ancient laws. It became, however, a matter of consideration, that the
magistrates and officers in the courts now abolished _had purchased
their places_ at a very high rate, for which, as well as for the duty
they performed, they received but a very low return of interest. Simple
confiscation is a boon only for the clergy: to the lawyers some
appearances of equity are to be observed; and they are to receive
compensation to an immense amount. Their compensation becomes part of
the national debt, for the liquidation of which there is the one
exhaustless fund. The lawyers are to obtain their compensation in the
new Church paper, which is to march with the new principles of
judicature and legislature. The dismissed magistrates are to take their
share of martyrdom with the ecclesiastics, or to receive their own
property from such a fund and in such a manner as all those who have
been seasoned with the ancient principles of jurisprudence, and had been
the sworn guardians of property, must look upon with horror. Even the
clergy are to receive their miserable allowance out of the depreciated
paper, which is stamped with the indelible character of sacrilege, and
with the symbols of their own ruin, or they must starve. So violent an
outrage upon credit, property, and liberty, as this compulsory paper
currency, has seldom been exhibited by the alliance of bankruptcy and
tyranny, at any time, or in any nation.

In the course of all these operations, at length comes out the grand
_arcanum_,--that in reality, and in a fair sense, the lands of the
Church (so far as anything certain can be gathered from their
proceedings) are not to be sold at all. By the late resolutions of the
National Assembly, they are, indeed, to be delivered to the highest
bidder. But it is to be observed, that _a certain portion only of the
purchase-money is to be laid down_. A period of twelve years is to be
given for the payment of the rest. The philosophic purchasers are
therefore, on payment of a sort of fine, to be put instantly into
possession of the estate. It becomes in some respects a sort of gift to
them,--to be held on the feudal tenure of zeal to the new establishment.
This project is evidently to let in a body of purchasers without money.
The consequence will be, that these purchasers, or rather grantees, will
pay, not only from the rents as they accrue, which might as well be
received by the state, but from the spoil of the materials of buildings,
from waste in woods, and from whatever money, by hands habituated to the
gripings of usury, they can wring from the miserable peasant. He is to
be delivered over to the mercenary and arbitrary discretion of men who
will be stimulated to every species of extortion by the growing demands
on the growing profits of an estate held under the precarious
settlement of a new political system.

When all the frauds, impostures, violences, rapines, burnings, murders,
confiscations, compulsory paper currencies, and every description of
tyranny and cruelty employed to bring about and to uphold this
Revolution have their natural effect, that is, to shock the moral
sentiments of all virtuous and sober minds, the abettors of this
philosophic system immediately strain their throats in a declamation
against the old monarchical government of France. When they have
rendered that deposed power sufficiently black, they then proceed in
argument, as if all those who disapprove of their new abuses must of
course be partisans of the old,--that those who reprobate their crude
and violent schemes of liberty ought to be treated as advocates for
servitude. I admit that their necessities do compel them to this base
and contemptible fraud. Nothing can reconcile men to their proceedings
and projects but the supposition that there is no third option between
them and some tyranny as odious as can be furnished by the records of
history or by the invention of poets. This prattling of theirs hardly
deserves the name of sophistry. It is nothing but plain impudence. Have
these gentlemen never heard, in the whole circle of the worlds of theory
and practice, of anything between the despotism of the monarch and the
despotism of the multitude? Have they never heard of a monarchy directed
by laws, controlled and balanced by the great hereditary wealth and
hereditary dignity of a nation, and both again controlled by a judicious
check from the reason and feeling of the people at large, acting by a
suitable and permanent organ? Is it, then, impossible that a man may be
found who, without criminal ill intention or pitiable absurdity, shall
prefer such a mixed and tempered government to either of the
extremes,--and who may repute that nation to be destitute of all wisdom
and of all virtue, which, having in its choice to obtain such a
government with ease, _or rather to confirm it when actually possessed_,
thought proper to commit a thousand crimes, and to subject their country
to a thousand evils, in order to avoid it? Is it, then, a truth so
universally acknowledged, that a pure democracy is the only tolerable
form into which human society can be thrown, that a man is not permitted
to hesitate about its merits, without the suspicion of being a friend to
tyranny, that is, of being a foe to mankind?

I do not know under what description to class the present ruling
authority in France. It affects to be a pure democracy, though I think
it in a direct train of becoming shortly a mischievous and ignoble
oligarchy. But for the present I admit it to be a contrivance of the
nature and effect of what it pretends to. I reprobate no form of
government merely upon abstract principles. There may be situations in
which the purely democratic form will become necessary. There may be
some (very few, and very particularly circumstanced) where it would be
clearly desirable. This I do not take to be the case of France, or of
any other great country. Until now, we have seen no examples of
considerable democracies. The ancients were better acquainted with them.
Not being wholly unread in the authors who had seen the most of those
constitutions, and who best understood them, I cannot help concurring
with their opinion, that an absolute democracy no more than absolute
monarchy is to be reckoned among the legitimate forms of government.
They think it rather the corruption and degeneracy than the sound
constitution of a republic. If I recollect rightly, Aristotle observes,
that a democracy has many striking points of resemblance with a
tyranny.[105] Of this I am certain, that in a democracy the majority of
the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon
the minority, whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity,
as they often must,--and that oppression of the minority will extend to
far greater numbers, and will be carried on with much greater fury, than
can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single sceptre. In
such a popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more
deplorable condition than in any other. Under a cruel prince they have
the balmy compassion of mankind to assuage the smart of their wounds,
they have the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy
under their sufferings: but those who are subjected to wrong under
multitudes are deprived of all external consolation; they seem deserted
by mankind, overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species.

But admitting democracy not to have that inevitable tendency to party
tyranny which I suppose it to have, and admitting it to possess as much
good in it when unmixed as I am sure it possesses when compounded with
other forms; does monarchy, on its part, contain nothing at all to
recommend it? I do not often quote Bolingbroke, nor have his works in
general left any permanent impression on my mind. He is a presumptuous
and a superficial writer. But he has one observation which in my opinion
is not without depth and solidity. He says that he prefers a monarchy to
other governments, because you can better ingraft any description of
republic on a monarchy than anything of monarchy upon the republican
forms. I think him perfectly in the right. The fact is so historically,
and it agrees well with the speculation.

I know how easy a topic it is to dwell on the faults of departed
greatness. By a revolution in the state, the fawning sycophant of
yesterday is converted into the austere critic of the present hour. But
steady, independent minds, when they have an object of so serious a
concern to mankind as government under their contemplation, will disdain
to assume the part of satirists and declaimers. They will judge of human
institutions as they do of human characters. They will sort out the good
from the evil, which is mixed in mortal institutions as it is in mortal

Your government in France, though usually, and I think justly, reputed
the best of the unqualified or ill-qualified monarchies, was still full
of abuses. These abuses accumulated in a length of time, as they must
accumulate in every monarchy not under the constant inspection of a
popular representative. I am no stranger to the faults and defects of
the subverted government of France; and I think I am not inclined by
nature or policy to make a panegyric upon anything which is a just and
natural object of censure. But the question is not now of the vices of
that monarchy, but of its existence. Is it, then, true, that the French
government was such as to be incapable or undeserving of reform, so that
it was of absolute necessity the whole fabric should be at once pulled
down, and the area cleared for the erection of a theoretic, experimental
edifice in its place? All France was of a different opinion in the
beginning of the year 1789. The instructions to the representatives to
the States-General, from every district in that kingdom, were filled
with projects for the reformation of that government, without the
remotest suggestion of a design to destroy it. Had such a design been
then even insinuated, I believe there would have been but one voice, and
that voice for rejecting it with scorn and horror. Men have been
sometimes led by degrees, sometimes hurried, into things of which, if
they could have seen the whole together, they never would have permitted
the most remote approach. When those instructions were given, there was
no question but that abuses existed, and that they demanded a reform:
nor is there now. In the interval between the instructions and the
Revolution things changed their shape; and in consequence of that
change, the true question at present is, whether those who would have
reformed or those who have destroyed are in the right.

To hear some men speak of the late monarchy of France, you would imagine
that they were talking of Persia bleeding under the ferocious sword of
Thamas Kouli Khan,--or at least describing the barbarous anarchic
despotism of Turkey, where the finest countries in the most genial
climates in the world are wasted by peace more than any countries have
been worried by war, where arts are unknown, where manufactures
languish, where science is extinguished, where agriculture decays, where
the human race itself melts away and perishes under the eye of the
observer. Was this the case of France? I have no way of determining the
question but by a reference to facts. Facts do not support this
resemblance. Along with much evil, there is some good in monarchy
itself; and some corrective to its evil from religion, from laws, from
manners, from opinions, the French monarchy must have received, which
rendered it (though by no means a free, and therefore by no means a good
constitution) a despotism rather in appearance than in reality.

Among the standards upon which the effects of government on any country
are to be estimated, I must consider the state of its population as not
the least certain. No country in which population flourishes, and is in
progressive improvement, can be under a _very_ mischievous government.
About sixty years ago, the Intendants of the Generalities of France
made, with other matters, a report of the population of their several
districts. I have not the books, which are very voluminous, by me, nor
do I know where to procure them, (I am obliged to speak by memory, and
therefore the less positively,) but I think the population of France was
by them, even at that period, estimated at twenty-two millions of
souls. At the end of the last century it had been generally calculated
at eighteen. On either of these estimations, France was not ill-peopled.
M. Necker, who is an authority for his own time at least equal to the
Intendants for theirs, reckons, and upon apparently sure principles, the
people of France, in the year 1780, at twenty-four millions six hundred
and seventy thousand. But was this the probable ultimate term under the
old establishment? Dr. Price is of opinion that the growth of population
in France was by no means at its acme in that year. I certainly defer to
Dr. Price's authority a good deal more in these speculations than I do
in his general politics. This gentleman, taking ground on M. Necker's
data, is very confident that since the period of that minister's
calculation the French population has increased rapidly,--so rapidly,
that in the year 1789 he will not consent to rate the people of that
kingdom at a lower number than thirty millions. After abating much (and
much I think ought to be abated) from the sanguine calculation of Dr.
Price, I have no doubt that the population of France did increase
considerably during this latter period: but supposing that it increased
to nothing more than will be sufficient to complete the twenty-four
millions six hundred and seventy thousand to twenty-five millions, still
a population of twenty-five millions, and that in an increasing
progress, on a space of about twenty-seven thousand square leagues, is
immense. It is, for instance, a good deal more than the proportionable
population of this island, or even than that of England, the best
peopled part of the United Kingdom.

It is not universally true that France is a fertile country.
Considerable tracts of it are barren, and labor under other natural
disadvantages. In the portions of that territory where things are more
favorable, as far as I am able to discover, the numbers of the people
correspond to the indulgence of Nature.[106] The Generality of Lisle,
(this I admit is the strongest example,) upon an extent of four hundred
and four leagues and a half, about ten years ago contained seven hundred
and thirty-four thousand six hundred souls, which is one thousand seven
hundred and seventy-two inhabitants to each square league. The middle
term for the rest of France is about nine hundred inhabitants to the
same admeasurement.

I do not attribute this population to the deposed government; because I
do not like to compliment the contrivances of men with what is due in a
great degree to the bounty of Providence. But that decried government
could not have obstructed, most probably it favored, the operation of
those causes, (whatever they were,) whether of Nature in the soil, or
habits of industry among the people, which has produced so large a
number of the species throughout that whole kingdom, and exhibited in
some particular places such prodigies of population. I never will
suppose that fabric of a state to be the worst of all political
institutions which by experience is found to contain a principle
favorable (however latent it may be) to the increase of mankind.

The wealth of a country is another, and no contemptible standard, by
which we may judge whether, on the whole, a government be protecting or
destructive. France far exceeds England in the multitude of her people;
but I apprehend that her comparative wealth is much inferior to
ours,--that it is not so equal in the distribution, nor so ready in the
circulation. I believe the difference in the form of the two governments
to be amongst the causes of this advantage on the side of England: I
speak of England, not of the whole British dominions,--which, if
compared with those of France, will in some degree weaken the
comparative rate of wealth upon our side. But that wealth, which will
not endure a comparison with the riches of England, may constitute a
very respectable degree of opulence. M. Necker's book, published in
1785,[107] contains an accurate and interesting collection of facts
relative to public economy and to political arithmetic; and his
speculations on the subject are in general wise and liberal. In that
work he gives an idea of the state of France, very remote from the
portrait of a country whose government was a perfect grievance, an
absolute evil, admitting no cure but through the violent and uncertain
remedy of a total revolution. He affirms, that from the year 1726 to the
year 1784 there was coined at the mint of France, in the species of gold
and silver, to the amount of about one hundred millions of pounds

It is impossible that M. Necker should be mistaken in the amount of the
bullion which has been coined in the mint. It is a matter of official
record. The reasonings of this able financier concerning the quantity of
gold and silver which remained for circulation, when he wrote in 1785,
that is, about four years before the deposition and imprisonment of the
French king, are not of equal certainty; but they are laid on grounds so
apparently solid, that it is not easy to refuse a considerable degree of
assent to his calculation. He calculates the _numeraire_, or what we
call _specie_, then actually existing in France, at about eighty-eight
millions of the same English money. A great accumulation of wealth for
one country, large as that country is! M. Necker was so far from
considering this influx of wealth as likely to cease, when he wrote in
1785, that he presumes upon a future annual increase of two per cent
upon the money brought into France during the periods from which he

Some adequate cause must have originally introduced all the money coined
at its mint into that kingdom; and some cause as operative must have
kept at home, or returned into its bosom, such a vast flood of treasure
as M. Necker calculates to remain for domestic circulation. Suppose any
reasonable deductions from M. Necker's computation, the remainder must
still amount to an immense sum. Causes thus powerful to acquire and to
retain cannot be found in discouraged industry, insecure property, and a
positively destructive government. Indeed, when I consider the face of
the kingdom of France, the multitude and opulence of her cities, the
useful magnificence of her spacious high-roads and bridges, the
opportunity of her artificial canals and navigations opening the
conveniences of maritime communication through a solid continent of so
immense an extent,--when I turn my eyes to the stupendous works of her
ports and harbors, and to her whole naval apparatus, whether for war or
trade,--when I bring before my view the number of her fortifications,
constructed with so bold and masterly a skill, and made and maintained
at so prodigious a charge, presenting an armed front and impenetrable
barrier to her enemies upon every side,--when I recollect how very small
a part of that extensive region is without cultivation, and to what
complete perfection the culture of many of the best productions of the
earth have been brought in France,--when I reflect on the excellence of
her manufactures and fabrics, second to none but ours, and in some
particulars not second,--when I contemplate the grand foundations of
charity, public and private,--when I survey the state of all the arts
that beautify and polish life,--when I reckon the men she has bled for
extending her fame in war, her able statesmen, the multitude of her
profound lawyers and theologians, her philosophers, her critics, her
historians and antiquaries, her poets and her orators, sacred and
profane,--I behold in all this something which awes and commands the
imagination, which checks the mind on the brink of precipitate and
indiscriminate censure, and which demands that we should very seriously
examine what and how great are the latent vices that could authorize us
at once to level so spacious a fabric with the ground. I do not
recognize in this view of things the despotism of Turkey. Nor do I
discern the character of a government that has been on the whole so
oppressive, or so corrupt, or so negligent, as to be utterly unfit _for
all reformation_. I must think such a government well deserved to have
its excellences heightened, its faults corrected, and its capacities
improved into a British Constitution.

Whoever has examined into the proceedings of that deposed government
for several years back cannot fail to have observed, amidst the
inconstancy and fluctuation natural to courts, an earnest endeavor
towards the prosperity and improvement of the country; he must admit
that it had long been employed, in some instances wholly to remove, in
many considerably to correct, the abusive practices and usages that had
prevailed in the state,--and that even the unlimited power of the
sovereign over the persons of his subjects, inconsistent, as undoubtedly
it was, with law and liberty, had yet been every day growing more
mitigated in the exercise. So far from refusing itself to reformation,
that government was open, with a censurable degree of facility, to all
sorts of projects and projectors on the subject. Rather too much
countenance was given to the spirit of innovation, which soon was turned
against those who fostered it, and ended in their ruin. It is but cold,
and no very flattering justice to that fallen monarchy, to say, that,
for many years, it trespassed more by levity and want of judgment in
several of its schemes than from any defect in diligence or in public
spirit. To compare the government of France for the last fifteen or
sixteen years with wise and well-constituted establishments during that,
or during any period, is not to act with fairness. But if in point of
prodigality in the expenditure of money, or in point of rigor in the
exercise of power, it be compared with any of the former reigns, I
believe candid judges will give little credit to the good intentions of
those who dwell perpetually on the donations to favorites, or on the
expenses of the court, or on the horrors of the Bastile, in the reign of
Louis the Sixteenth.[109]

Whether the system, if it deserves such a name, now built on the ruins
of that ancient monarchy, will be able to give a better account of the
population and wealth of the country which it has taken under its care,
is a matter very doubtful. Instead of improving by the change, I
apprehend that a long series of years must be told, before it can
recover in any degree the effects of this philosophic Revolution, and
before the nation can be replaced on its former footing. If Dr. Price
should think fit, a few years hence, to favor us with an estimate of the
population of France, he will hardly be able to make up his tale of
thirty millions of souls, as computed in 1789, or the Assembly's
computation of twenty-six millions of that year, or even M. Necker's
twenty-five millions in 1780. I hear that there are considerable
emigrations from France,--and that many, quitting that voluptuous
climate, and that seductive Circean liberty, have taken refuge in the
frozen regions and under the British despotism of Canada.

In the present disappearance of coin, no person could think it the same
country in which the present minister of the finances has been able to
discover fourscore millions sterling in specie. From its general aspect
one would conclude that it had been for some time past under the special
direction of the learned academicians of Laputa and Balnibarbi.[110]
Already the population of Paris has so declined, that M. Necker stated
to the National Assembly the provision to be made for its subsistence
at a fifth less than what had formerly been found requisite.[111] It is
said (and I have never heard it contradicted) that a hundred thousand
people are out of employment in that city, though it is become the seat
of the imprisoned court and National Assembly. Nothing, I am credibly
informed, can exceed the shocking and disgusting spectacle of mendicancy
displayed in that capital. Indeed, the votes of the National Assembly
leave no doubt of the fact. They have lately appointed a standing
committee of mendicancy. They are contriving at once a vigorous police
on this subject, and, for the first time, the imposition of a tax to
maintain the poor, for whoso present relief great sums appear on the
face of the public accounts of the year.[112] In the mean time the
leaders of the legislative clubs and coffee-houses are intoxicated with
admiration at their own wisdom and ability. They speak with the most
sovereign contempt of the rest of the world. They toll the people, to
comfort them in the rags with which they have clothed them, that they
are a nation of philosophers; and sometimes, by all the arts of
quackish parade, by show, tumult, and bustle, sometimes by the alarms
of plots and invasions, they attempt to drown the cries of indigence,
and to divert the eyes of the observer from the ruin and wretchedness of
the state. A brave people will certainly prefer liberty accompanied with
a virtuous poverty to a depraved and wealthy servitude. But before the
price of comfort and opulence is paid, one ought to be pretty sure it is
real liberty which is purchased, and that she is to be purchased at no
other price. I shall always, however, consider that liberty as very
equivocal in her appearance, which has not wisdom and justice for her
companions, and does not lead prosperity and plenty in her train.

The advocates for this Revolution, not satisfied with exaggerating the
vices of their ancient government, strike at the fame of their country
itself, by painting almost all that could have attracted the attention
of strangers, I mean their nobility and their clergy, as objects of
horror. If this were only a libel, there had not been much in it. But it
has practical consequences. Had your nobility and gentry, who formed
the great body of your landed men and the whole of your military
officers, resembled those of Germany, at the period when the Hanse towns
were necessitated to confederate against the nobles in defence of their
property,--had they been like the Orsini and Vitelli in Italy, who used
to sally from their fortified dens to rob the trader and traveller,--had
they been such as the Mamelukes in Egypt, or the Nayres on the coast of
Malabar,--I do admit that too critical an inquiry might not be advisable
into the means of freeing the world from such a nuisance. The statues of
Equity and Mercy might be veiled for a moment. The tenderest minds,
confounded with the dreadful exigence in which morality submits to the
suspension of its own rules in favor of its own principles, might turn
aside whilst fraud and violence were accomplishing the destruction of a
pretended nobility, which disgraced, whilst it persecuted, human nature.
The persons most abhorrent from blood and treason and arbitrary
confiscation might remain silent spectators of this civil war between
the vices.

But did the privileged nobility who met under the king's precept at
Versailles in 1789, or their constituents, deserve to be looked on as
the Nayres or Mamelukes of this age, or as the Orsini and Vitelli of
ancient times? If I had then asked the question, I should have passed
for a madman. What have they since done, that they were to be driven
into exile, that their persons should be hunted about, mangled, and
tortured, their families dispersed, their houses laid in ashes, and that
their order should be abolished, and the memory of it, if possible,
extinguished, by ordaining them to change the very names by which they
were usually known? Read their instructions to their representatives.
They breathe the spirit of liberty as warmly, and they recommend
reformation as strongly, as any other order. Their privileges relative
to contribution were voluntarily surrendered; as the king, from the
beginning, surrendered all pretence to a right of taxation. Upon a free
constitution there was but one opinion in France. The absolute monarchy
was at an end. It breathed its last without a groan, without struggle,
without convulsion. All the struggle, all the dissension, arose
afterwards, upon the preference of a despotic democracy to a government
of reciprocal control. The triumph of the victorious party was over the
principles of a British Constitution.

I have observed the affectation which for many years past has prevailed
in Paris, even to a degree perfectly childish, of idolizing the memory
of your Henry the Fourth. If anything could put any one out of humor
with that ornament to the kingly character, it would be this overdone
style of insidious panegyric. The persons who have worked this engine
the most busily are those who have ended their panegyrics in dethroning
his successor and descendant: a man as good-natured, at the least, as
Henry the Fourth; altogether as fond of his people; and who has done
infinitely more to correct the ancient vices of the state than that
great monarch did, or we are sure he ever meant to do. Well it is for
his panegyrists that they have not him to deal with! For Henry of
Navarre was a resolute, active, and politic prince. He possessed,
indeed, great humanity and mildness, but an humanity and mildness that
never stood in the way of his interests. He never sought to be loved
without putting himself first in a condition to be feared. He used soft
language with determined conduct. He asserted and maintained his
authority in the gross, and distributed his acts of concession only in
the detail. Ho spent the income of his prerogative nobly, but he took
care not to break in upon the capital,--never abandoning for a moment
any of the claims which he made under the fundamental laws, nor sparing
to shed the blood of those who opposed him, often in the field,
sometimes upon the scaffold. Because he knew how to make his virtues
respected by the ungrateful, he has merited the praises of those whom,
if they had lived in his time, he would have shut up in the Bastile, and
brought to punishment along with the regicides whom he hanged after he
had famished Paris into a surrender.

If these panegyrists are in earnest in their admiration of Henry the
Fourth, they must remember that they cannot think more highly of him
than he did of the noblesse of France,--whose virtue, honor, courage,
patriotism, and loyalty were his constant theme.

But the nobility of France are degenerated since the days of Henry the
Fourth.--This is possible; but it is more than I can believe to be true
in any great degree. I do not pretend to know France as correctly as
some others; but I have endeavored through my whole life to make myself
acquainted with human nature,--otherwise I should be unfit to take even
my humble part in the service of mankind. In that study I could not pass
by a vast portion of our nature as it appeared modified in a country but
twenty-four miles from the shore of this island. On my best observation,
compared with my best inquiries, I found your nobility for the greater
part composed of men of a high spirit, and of a delicate sense of
honor, both with regard to themselves individually, and with regard to
their whole corps, over whom they kept, beyond what is common in other
countries, a censorial eye. They were tolerably well bred; very
officious, humane, and hospitable; in their conversation frank and open;
with a good military tone; and reasonably tinctured with literature,
particularly of the authors in their own language. Many had pretensions
far above this description. I speak of those who were generally met

As to their behavior to the inferior classes, they appeared to me to
comport themselves towards them with good-nature, and with something
more nearly approaching to familiarity than is generally practised with
us in the intercourse between the higher and lower ranks of life. To
strike any person, even in the most abject condition, was a thing in a
manner unknown, and would be highly disgraceful. Instances of other
ill-treatment of the humble part of the community were rare; and as to
attacks made upon the property or the personal liberty of the commons, I
never heard of any whatsoever from _them_,--nor, whilst the laws were in
vigor under the ancient government, would such tyranny in subjects have
been permitted. As men of landed estates, I had no fault to find with
their conduct, though much to reprehend, and much to wish changed, in
many of the old tenures. Where the letting of their land was by rent, I
could not discover that their agreements with their farmers were
oppressive; nor when they were in partnership with the farmer, as often
was the case, have I heard that they had taken the lion's share. The
proportions seemed not inequitable. There might be exceptions; but
certainly they were exceptions only. I have no reason to believe that in
these respects the landed noblesse of France were worse than the landed
gentry of this country,--certainly in no respect more vexatious than the
landholders, not noble, of their own nation. In cities the nobility had
no manner of power; in the country very little. You know, Sir, that much
of the civil government, and the police in the most essential parts, was
not in the hands of that nobility which presents itself first to our
consideration. The revenue, the system and collection of which were the
most grievous parts of the French government, was not administered by
the men of the sword; nor were they answerable for the vices of its
principle, or the vexations, where any such existed, in its management.

Denying, as I am well warranted to do, that the nobility had any
considerable share in the oppression of the people, in cases in which
real oppression existed, I am ready to admit that they were not without
considerable faults and errors. A foolish imitation of the worst part of
the manners of England, which impaired their natural character, without
substituting in its place what perhaps they meant to copy, has certainly
rendered them worse than formerly they were. Habitual dissoluteness of
manners, continued beyond the pardonable period of life, was more common
amongst them than it is with us; and it reigned with the less hope of
remedy, though possibly with something of less mischief, by being
covered with more exterior decorum. They countenanced too much that
licentious philosophy which has helped to bring on their ruin. There was
another error amongst them more fatal. Those of the commons who
approached to or exceeded many of the nobility in point of wealth were
not fully admitted to the rank and estimation which wealth, in reason
and good policy, ought to bestow in every country,--though I think not
equally with that of other nobility. The two kinds of aristocracy were
too punctiliously kept asunder: less so, however, than in Germany and
some other nations.

This separation, as I have already taken the liberty of suggesting to
you, I conceive to be one principal cause of the destruction of the old
nobility. The military, particularly, was too exclusively reserved for
men of family. But, after all, this was an error of opinion, which a
conflicting opinion would have rectified. A permanent Assembly, in which
the commons had their share of power, would soon abolish whatever was
too invidious and insulting in these distinctions; and even the faults
in the morals of the nobility would have been probably corrected, by the
greater varieties of occupation and pursuit to which a constitution by
orders would have given rise.

All this violent cry against the nobility I take to be a mere work of
art. To be honored and even privileged by the laws, opinions, and
inveterate usages of our country, growing out of the prejudice of ages,
has nothing to provoke horror and indignation in any man. Even to be too
tenacious of those privileges is not absolutely a crime. The strong
struggle in every individual to preserve possession of what he has found
to belong to him, and to distinguish him, is one of the securities
against injustice and despotism implanted in our nature. It operates as
an instinct to secure property, and to preserve communities in a settled
state. What is there to shock in this? Nobility is a graceful ornament
to the civil order. It is the Corinthian capital of polished society.
"_Omnes boni nobilitati semper favemus_," was the saying of a wise and
good man. It is, indeed, one sign of a liberal and benevolent mind to
incline to it with some sort of partial propensity. He feels no
ennobling principle in his own heart, who wishes to level all the
artificial institutions which have been adopted for giving a body to
opinion and permanence to fugitive esteem. It is a sour, malignant,
envious disposition, without taste for the reality, or for any image or
representation of virtue, that sees with joy the unmerited fall of what
had long nourished in splendor and in honor. I do not like to see
anything destroyed, any void produced in society, any ruin on the face
of the land. It was therefore with no disappointment or dissatisfaction
that my inquiries and observations did not present to me any
incorrigible vices in the noblesse of France, or any abuse which could
not be removed by a reform very short of abolition. Your noblesse did
not deserve punishment; but to degrade is to punish.

It was with the same satisfaction I found that the result of my inquiry
concerning your clergy was not dissimilar. It is no soothing news to my
ears, that great bodies of men are incurably corrupt. It is not with
much credulity I listen to any, when they speak evil of those whom they
are going to plunder. I rather suspect that vices are feigned or
exaggerated, when profit is looked for in their punishment. An enemy is
a bad witness; a robber is a worse. Vices and abuses there were
undoubtedly in that order, and must be. It was an old establishment, and
not frequently revised. But I saw no crimes in the individuals that
merited confiscation of their substance, nor those cruel insults and
degradations, and that unnatural persecution, which have been
substituted in the place of meliorating regulation.

If there had been any just cause for this new religions persecution, the
atheistic libellers, who act as trumpeters to animate the populace to
plunder, do not love anybody so much as not to dwell with complacence on
the vices of the existing clergy. This they have not done. They find
themselves obliged to rake into the histories of former ages (which they
have ransacked with a malignant and profligate industry) for every
instance of oppression and persecution which has been made by that body
or in its favor, in order to justify, upon very iniquitous because very
illogical principles of retaliation, their own persecutions and their
own cruelties. After destroying all other genealogies and family
distinctions, they invent a sort of pedigree of crimes. It is not very
just to chastise men for the offences of their natural ancestors; but to
take the fiction of ancestry in a corporate succession, as a ground for
punishing men who have no relation to guilty acts, except in names and
general descriptions, is a sort of refinement in injustice belonging to
the philosophy of this enlightened age. The Assembly punishes men, many,
if not most, of whom abhor the violent conduct of ecclesiastics in
former times as much as their present persecutors can do, and who would
be as loud and as strong in the expression of that sense, if they were
not well aware of the purposes for which all this declamation is

Corporate bodies are immortal for the good of the members, but not for
their punishment. Nations themselves are such corporations. As well
might we in England think of waging inexpiable war upon all Frenchmen
for the evils which they have brought upon us in the several periods of
our mutual hostilities. You might, on your part, think yourselves
justified in falling upon all Englishmen on account of the unparalleled
calamities brought upon the people of France by the unjust invasions of
our Henrys and our Edwards. Indeed, we should be mutually justified in
this exterminatory war upon each other, full as much as you are in the
unprovoked persecution of your present countrymen, on account of the
conduct of men of the same name in other times.

We do not draw the moral lessons we might from history. On the contrary,
without care it may be used to vitiate our minds and to destroy our
happiness. In history a great volume is unrolled for our instruction,
drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and
infirmities of mankind. It may, in the perversion, serve for a magazine,
furnishing offensive and defensive weapons for parties in Church and
State, and supplying the means of keeping alive or reviving dissensions
and animosities, and adding fuel to civil fury. History consists, for
the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride,
ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal,
and all the train of disorderly appetites, which shake the public with
the same

            "troublous storms that toss
    The private state, and render life unsweet."

These vices are the _causes_ of those storms. Religion, morals, laws,
prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the _pretexts_.
The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real
good. You would not secure men from tyranny and sedition by rooting out
of the mind the principles to which these fraudulent pretexts apply? If
you did, you would root out everything that is valuable in the human
breast. As these are the pretexts, so the ordinary actors and
instruments in great public evils are kings, priests, magistrates,
senates, parliaments, national assemblies, judges, and captains. You
would not cure the evil by resolving that there should be no more
monarchs, nor ministers of state, nor of the Gospel,--no interpreters of
law, no general officers, no public councils. You might change the
names: the things in some shape must remain. A certain _quantum_ of
power must always exist in the community, in some hands, and under some
appellation. Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to
names,--to the causes of evil, which are permanent, not to the
occasional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which
they appear. Otherwise you will be wise historically, a fool in
practice. Seldom have two ages the same fashion in their pretexts, and
the same modes of mischief. Wickedness is a little more inventive.
Whilst you are discussing fashion, the fashion is gone by. The very same
vice assumes a new body. The spirit transmigrates; and, far from losing
its principle of life by the change of its appearance, it is renovated
in its new organs with the fresh vigor of a juvenile activity. It walks
abroad, it continues its ravages, whilst you are gibbeting the carcass
or demolishing the tomb. You are terrifying yourselves with ghosts and
apparitions, whilst your house is the haunt of robbers. It is thus with
all those who, attending only to the shell and husk of history, think
they are waging war with intolerance, pride, and cruelty, whilst, under
color of abhorring the ill principles of antiquated parties, they are
authorizing and feeding the same odious vices in different factions, and
perhaps in worse.

Your citizens of Paris formerly had lent themselves as the ready
instruments to slaughter the followers of Calvin, at the infamous
massacre of St. Bartholomew. What should we say to those who could think
of retaliating on the Parisians of this day the abominations and horrors
of that time? They are, indeed, brought to abhor _that_ massacre.
Ferocious as they are, it is not difficult to make them dislike it,
because the politicians and fashionable teachers have no interest in
giving their passions exactly the same direction. Still, however, they
find it their interest to keep the same savage dispositions alive. It
was but the other day that they caused this very massacre to be acted on
the stage for the diversion of the descendants of those who committed
it. In this tragic farce they produced the Cardinal of Lorraine in his
robes of function, ordering general slaughter. Was this spectacle
intended to make the Parisians abhor persecution and loathe the effusion
of blood? No: it was to teach them to persecute their own pastors; it
was to excite them, by raising a disgust and horror of their clergy, to
an alacrity in hunting down to destruction an order which, if it ought
to exist at all, ought to exist not only in safety, but in reverence. It
was to stimulate their cannibal appetites (which one would think had
been gorged sufficiently) by variety and seasoning,--and to quicken them
to an alertness in new murders and massacres, if it should suit the
purpose of the Guises of the day. An Assembly in which sat a multitude
of priests and prelates was obliged to suffer this indignity at its
door. The author was not sent to the galleys, nor the players to the
house of correction. Not long after this exhibition, those players came
forward to the Assembly to claim the rites of that very religion which
they had dared to expose, and to show their prostituted faces in the
senate, whilst the Archbishop of Paris, whose function was known to his
people only by his prayers and benedictions, and his wealth only by
alms, is forced to abandon his house, and to fly from his flock, (as
from ravenous wolves,) because, truly, in the sixteenth century, the
Cardinal of Lorraine was a rebel and a murderer.[113]

Such is the effect of the perversion of history by those who, for the
same nefarious purposes, have perverted every other part of learning.
But those who will stand upon that elevation of reason which places
centuries under our eye and brings things to the true point of
comparison, which obscures little names and effaces the colors of little
parties, and to which nothing can ascend but the spirit and moral
quality of human actions, will say to the teachers of the Palais
Royal,--The Cardinal of Lorraine was the murderer of the sixteenth
century; you have the glory of being the murderers in the eighteenth;
and this is the only difference between you. But history in the
nineteenth century, better understood and better employed, will, I
trust, teach a civilized posterity to abhor the misdeeds of both these
barbarous ages. It will teach future priests and magistrates not to
retaliate upon the speculative and inactive atheists of future times
the enormities committed by the present practical zealots and furious
fanatics of that wretched error, which, in its quiescent state, is more
than punished, whenever it is embraced. It will teach posterity not to
make war upon either religion or philosophy for the abuse which the
hypocrites of both have made of the two most valuable blessings
conferred upon us by the bounty of the universal Patron, who in all
things eminently favors and protects the race of man.

If your clergy, or any clergy, should show themselves vicious beyond the
fair bounds allowed to human infirmity, and to those professional faults
which can hardly be separated from professional virtues, though their
vices never can countenance the exercise of oppression, I do admit that
they would naturally have the effect of abating very much of our
indignation against the tyrants who exceed measure and justice in their
punishment. I can allow in clergymen, through all their divisions, some
tenaciousness of their own opinion, some overflowings of zeal for its
propagation, some predilection to their own state and office, some
attachment to the interest of their own corps, some preference to those
who Us ten with docility to their doctrines beyond those who scorn and
deride them. I allow all this, because I am a man who have to deal with
men, and who would not, through a violence of toleration, run into the
greatest of all intolerance. I must bear with infirmities, until they
fester into crimes.

Undoubtedly, the natural progress of the passions, from frailty to vice,
ought to be prevented by a watchful eye and a firm hand. But is it true
that the body of your clergy had passed those limits of a just
allowance? Prom the general style of your late publications of all
sorts, one would be led to believe that your clergy in France were a
sort of monsters: an horrible composition of superstition, ignorance,
sloth, fraud, avarice, and tyranny. But is this true? Is it true that
the lapse of time, the cessation of conflicting interests, the woful
experience of the evils resulting from party rage, have had no sort of
influence gradually to meliorate their minds? Is it true that they were
daily renewing invasions on the civil power, troubling the domestic
quiet of their country, and rendering the operations of its government
feeble and precarious? Is it true that the clergy of our times have
pressed down the laity with an iron hand, and were in all places
lighting up the fires of a savage persecution? Did they by every fraud
endeavor to increase their estates? Did they use to exceed the due
demands on estates that were their own? Or, rigidly screwing up right
into wrong, did they convert a legal claim into a vexatious extortion?
When not possessed of power, were they filled with the vices of those
who envy it? Were they inflamed with a violent, litigious spirit of
controversy? Goaded on with the ambition of intellectual sovereignty,
were they ready to fly in the face of all magistracy, to fire churches,
to massacre the priests of other descriptions, to pull down altars, and
to make their way over the ruins of subverted governments to an empire
of doctrine, sometimes flattering, sometimes forcing, the consciences of
men from the jurisdiction of public institutions into a submission to
their personal authority, beginning with a claim of liberty and ending
with an abuse of power?

These, or some of these, were the vices objected, and not wholly
without foundation, to several of the churchmen of former times, who
belonged to the two great parties which then divided and distracted

If there was in France, as in other countries there visibly is, a great
abatement, rather than any increase of these vices, instead of loading
the present clergy with the crimes of other men and the odious character
of other times, in common equity they ought to be praised, encouraged,
and supported, in their departure from a spirit which disgraced their
predecessors, and for having assumed a temper of mind and manners more
suitable to their sacred function.

When my occasions took me into France, towards the close of the late
reign, the clergy, under all their forms, engaged a considerable part of
my curiosity. So far from finding (except from one set of men, not then
very numerous, though very active) the complaints and discontents
against that body which some publications had given me reason to expect,
I perceived little or no public or private uneasiness on their account.
On further examination, I found the clergy, in general, persons of
moderate minds and decorous manners: I include the seculars, and the
regulars of both sexes. I had not the good fortune to know a great many
of the parochial clergy: but in general I received a perfectly good
account of their morals, and of their attention to their duties. With
some of the higher clergy I had a personal acquaintance, and of the rest
in that class a very good means of information. They were almost all of
them persons of noble birth. They resembled others of their own rank;
and where there was any difference, it was in their favor. They were
more fully educated than the military noblesse,--so as by no means to
disgrace their profession by ignorance, or by want of fitness for the
exercise of their authority. They seemed to me, beyond the clerical
character, liberal and open, with the hearts of gentlemen and men of
honor, neither insolent nor servile in their manners and conduct. They
seemed to me rather a superior class,--a set of men amongst whom you
would not be surprised to find a Fenelon. I saw among the clergy in
Paris (many of the description are not to be met with anywhere) men of
great learning and candor; and I had reason to believe that this
description was not confined to Paris. What I found in other places I
know was accidental, and therefore to be presumed a fair sample. I spent
a few days in a provincial town, where, in the absence of the bishop, I
passed my evenings with three clergymen, his vicars-general, persons who
would have done honor to any church. They were all well-informed; two of
them of deep, general, and extensive erudition, ancient and modern,
Oriental and Western,--particularly in their own profession. They had a
more extensive knowledge of our English divines than I expected; and
they entered into the genius of those writers with a critical accuracy.
One of these gentlemen is since dead: the Abbe Morangis. I pay this
tribute without reluctance to the memory of that noble, reverend,
learned, and excellent person; and I should do the same with equal
cheerfulness to the merits of the others, who I believe are still
living, if I did not fear to hurt those whom I am unable to serve.

Some of these ecclesiastics of rank are, by all titles, persons
deserving of general respect. They are deserving of gratitude from me,
and from many English. If this letter should ever come into their hands,
I hope they will believe there are those of our nation who feel for
their unmerited fall, and for the cruel confiscation of their fortunes,
with no common sensibility. What I say of them is a testimony, as far as
one feeble voice can go, which I owe to truth. Whenever the question of
this unnatural persecution is concerned, I will pay it. No one shall
prevent me from being just and grateful. The time is fitted for the
duty; and it is particularly becoming to show our justice and gratitude,
when those who have deserved well of us and of mankind are laboring
under popular obloquy and the persecutions of oppressive power.

You had before your Revolution about a hundred and twenty bishops. A few
of them were men of eminent sanctity, and charity without limit. When we
talk of the heroic, of course we talk of rare virtue. I believe the
instances of eminent depravity may be as rare amongst them as those of
transcendent goodness. Examples of avarice and of licentiousness may be
picked out, I do not question it, by those who delight in the
investigation which leads to such discoveries. A man as old as I am will
not be astonished that several, in every description, do not lead that
perfect life of self-denial, with regard to wealth or to pleasure, which
is wished for by all, by some expected, but by none exacted with more
rigor than by those who are the most attentive to their own interests or
the most indulgent to their own passions. When I was in France, I am
certain that the number of vicious prelates was not great. Certain
individuals among them, not distinguishable for the regularity of their
lives, made some amends for their want of the severe virtues in their
possession of the liberal, and wore endowed with qualities which made
them useful in the Church and State. I am told, that, with few
exceptions, Louis the Sixteenth had been more attentive to character, in
his promotions to that rank, than his immediate predecessor; and I
believe (as some spirit of reform has prevailed through the whole reign)
that it may be true. But the present ruling power has shown a
disposition only to plunder the Church. It has punished _all_ prelates:
which is to favor the vicious, at least in point of reputation. It has
made a degrading pensionary establishment, to which no man of liberal
ideas or liberal condition will destine his children. It must settle
into the lowest classes of the people. As with you the inferior clergy
are not numerous enough for their duties, as these duties are beyond
measure minute and toilsome, as you have left no middle classes of
clergy at their ease, in future nothing of science or erudition can
exist in the Gallican Church. To complete the project, without the least
attention to the rights of patrons, the Assembly has provided in future
an elective clergy: an arrangement which will drive out of the clerical
profession all men of sobriety, all who can pretend to independence in
their function or their conduct,--and which will throw the whole
direction of the public mind into the hands of a set of licentious,
bold, crafty, factious, flattering wretches, of such condition and such
habits of life as will make their contemptible pensions (in comparison
of which the stipend of an exciseman is lucrative and honorable) an
object of low and illiberal intrigue. Those officers whom they still
call bishops are to be elected to a provision comparatively mean,
through the same arts, (that is, electioneering arts,) by men of all
religious tenets that are known or can be invented. The new lawgivers
have not ascertained anything whatsoever concerning their
qualifications, relative either to doctrine or to morals, no more than
they have done with regard to the subordinate clergy; nor does it appear
but that both the higher and the lower may, at their discretion,
practise or preach any mode of religion or irreligion that they please.
I do not yet see what the jurisdiction of bishops over their
subordinates is to be, or whether they are to have any jurisdiction at

In short, Sir, it seems to me that this new ecclesiastical establishment
is intended only to be temporary, and preparatory to the utter
abolition, under any of its forms, of the Christian religion, whenever
the minds of men are prepared for this last stroke against it by the
accomplishment of the plan for bringing its ministers into universal
contempt. They who will not believe that the philosophical fanatics who
guide in these matters have long entertained such a design are utterly
ignorant of their character and proceedings. These enthusiasts do not
scruple to avow their opinion, that a state can subsist without any
religion better than with one, and that they are able to supply the
place of any good which may be in it by a project of their own,--namely,
by a sort of education they have imagined, founded in a knowledge of the
physical wants of men, progressively carried to an enlightened
self-interest, which, when well understood, they tell us, will identify
with an interest more enlarged and public. The scheme of this education
has been long known. Of late they distinguish it (as they have got an
entirely new nomenclature of technical terms) by the name of a _Civic

I hope their partisans in England (to whom I rather attribute very
inconsiderate conduct than the ultimate object in this detestable
design) will succeed neither in the pillage of the ecclesiastics nor in
the introduction of a principle of popular election to our bishoprics
and parochial cures. This, in the present condition of the world, would
be the last corruption of the Church, the utter ruin of the clerical
character, the most dangerous shock that the state ever received through
a misunderstood arrangement of religion. I know well enough that the
bishoprics and cures, under kingly and seigniorial patronage, as now
they are in England, and as they have been lately in France, are
sometimes acquired by unworthy methods; but the other mode of
ecclesiastical canvass subjects them infinitely more surely and more
generally to all the evil arts of low ambition, which, operating on and
through greater numbers, will produce mischief in proportion.

Those of you who have robbed the clergy think that they shall easily
reconcile their conduct to all Protestant nations, because the clergy
whom they have thus plundered, degraded, and given over to mockery and
scorn, are of the Roman Catholic, that is, of _their own_ pretended
persuasion. I have no doubt that some miserable bigots will be found
here as well as elsewhere, who hate sects and parties different from
their own more than they love the substance of religion, and who are
more angry with those who differ from them in their particular plans and
systems than displeased with those who attack the foundation of our
common hope. These men will write and speak on the subject in the manner
that is to be expected from their temper and character. Burnet says,
that, when he was in France, in the year 1683, "the method which carried
over the men of the finest parts to Popery was this: they brought
themselves to doubt of the whole Christian religion: when that was once
done, it seemed a more indifferent thing of what side or form they
continued outwardly." If this was then the ecclesiastic policy of
France, it is what they have since but too much reason to repent of.
They preferred atheism to a form of religion not agreeable to their
ideas. They succeeded in destroying that form; and atheism has succeeded
in destroying them. I can readily give credit to Burnet's story; because
I have observed too much of a similar spirit (for a little of it is
"much too much") amongst ourselves. The humor, however, is not general.

The teachers who reformed our religion in England bore no sort of
resemblance to your present reforming doctors in Paris. Perhaps they
were (like those whom they opposed) rather more than could be wished
under the influence of a party spirit; but they were most sincere
believers; men of the most fervent and exalted piety; ready to die (as
some of them did die) like true heroes in defence of their particular
ideas of Christianity,--as they would with equal fortitude, and more
cheerfully, for that stock of general truth for the branches of which
they contended with their blood. These men would have disavowed with
horror those wretches who claimed a fellowship with them upon no other
titles than those of their having pillaged the persons with whom they
maintained controversies, and their having despised the common religion,
for the purity of which they exerted themselves with a zeal which
unequivocally bespoke their highest reverence for the substance of that
system which they wished to reform. Many of their descendants have
retained the same zeal, but (as less engaged in conflict) with more
moderation. They do not forget that justice and mercy are substantial
parts of religion. Impious men do not recommend themselves to their
communion by iniquity and cruelty towards any description of their

We hear these new teachers continually boasting of their spirit of
toleration. That those persons should tolerate all opinions, who think
none to be of estimation, is a matter of small merit. Equal neglect is
not impartial kindness. The species of benevolence which arises from
contempt is no true charity. There are in England abundance of men who
tolerate in the true spirit of toleration. They think the dogmas of
religion, though in different degrees, are all of moment, and that
amongst them there is, as amongst all things of value, a just ground of
preference. They favor, therefore, and they tolerate. They tolerate, not
because they despise opinions, but because they respect justice. They
would reverently and affectionately protect all religions, because they
love and venerate the great principle upon which they all agree, and the
great object to which they are all directed. They begin more and more
plainly to discern that we have all a common cause, as against a common
enemy. They will not be so misled by the spirit of faction as not to
distinguish what is done in favor of their subdivision from those acts
of hostility which, through some particular description, are aimed at
the whole corps in which they themselves, under another denomination,
are included. It is impossible for me to say what may be the character
of every description of men amongst us. But I speak for the greater
part; and for them, I must tell you, that sacrilege is no part of their
doctrine of good works; that, so far from calling you into their
fellowship on such title, if your professors are admitted to their
communion, they must carefully conceal their doctrine of the lawfulness
of the proscription of innocent men, and that they must make restitution
of all stolen goods whatsoever. Till then they are none of ours.

You may suppose that we do not approve your confiscation of the revenues
of bishops, and deans, and chapters, and parochial clergy possessing
independent estates arising from land, because we have the same sort of
establishment in England. That objection, you will say, cannot hold as
to the confiscation of the goods of monks and nuns, and the abolition of
their order. It is true that this particular part of your general
confiscation does not affect England, as a precedent in point; but the
reason applies, and it goes a great way. The Long Parliament confiscated
the lands of deans and chapters in England on the same ideas upon which
your Assembly set to sale the lands of the monastic orders. But it is in
the principle of injustice that the danger lies, and not in the
description of persons on whom it is first exercised. I see, in a
country very near us, a course of policy pursued, which sets justice,
the common concern of mankind, at defiance. With the National Assembly
of France possession is nothing, law and usage are nothing. I see the
National Assembly openly reprobate the doctrine of prescription, which
one of the greatest of their own lawyers[114] tells us, with great
truth, is a part of the law of Nature. He tells us that the positive
ascertainment of its limits, and its security from invasion, were among
the causes for which civil society itself has been instituted. If
prescription be once shaken, no species of property is secure, when it
once becomes an object large enough to tempt the cupidity of indigent
power. I see a practice perfectly correspondent to their contempt of
this great fundamental part of natural law. I see the confiscators begin
with bishops, and chapters, and monasteries; but I do not see them end
there. I see the princes of the blood, who, by the oldest usages of that
kingdom, held large landed estates, (hardly with the compliment of a
debate,) deprived of their possessions, and, in lieu of their stable,
independent property, reduced to the hope of some precarious charitable
pension at the pleasure of an Assembly, which of course will pay little
regard to the rights of pensioners at pleasure, when it despises those
of legal proprietors. Flushed with the insolence of their first
inglorious victories, and pressed by the distresses caused by their lust
of unhallowed lucre, disappointed, but not discouraged, they have at
length ventured completely to subvert all property of all descriptions
throughout the extent of a great kingdom. They have compelled all men,
in all transactions of commerce, in the disposal of lands, in civil
dealing, and through the whole communion of life, to accept, as perfect
payment and good and lawful tender, the symbols of their speculations on
a projected sale of their plunder. What vestiges of liberty or property
have they left? The tenant-right of a cabbage-garden, a year's interest
in a hovel, the good-will of an ale-house or a baker's shop, the very
shadow of a constructive property, are more ceremoniously treated in our
Parliament than with you the oldest and most valuable landed
possessions, in the hands of the most respectable personages, or than
the whole body of the moneyed and commercial interest of your country.
We entertain a high opinion of the legislative authority; but we have
never dreamt that Parliaments had any right whatever to violate
property, to overrule prescription, or to force a currency of their own
fiction in the place of that which is real, and recognized by the law of
nations. But you, who began with refusing to submit to the most moderate
restraints, have ended by establishing an unheard-of despotism. I find
the ground upon which your confiscators go is this: that, indeed, their
proceedings could not be supported in a court of justice, but that the
rules of prescription cannot bind a legislative assembly.[115] So that
this legislative assembly of a free nation sits, not for the security,
but for the destruction of property,--and not of property only, but of
every rule and maxim which can give it stability, and of those
instruments which can alone give it circulation.

When the Anabaptists of Munster, in the sixteenth century, had filled
Germany with confusion, by their system of levelling, and their wild
opinions concerning property, to what country in Europe did not the
progress of their fury furnish just cause of alarm? Of all things,
wisdom is the most terrified with epidemical fanaticism, because of all
enemies it is that against which she is the least able to furnish any
kind of resource. We cannot be ignorant of the spirit of atheistical
fanaticism, that is inspired by a multitude of writings dispersed with
incredible assiduity and expense, and by sermons delivered in all the
streets and places of public resort in Paris. These writings and sermons
have filled the populace with a black and savage atrocity of mind, which
supersedes in them the common feelings of Nature, as well as all
sentiments of morality and religion; insomuch that these wretches are
induced to bear with a sullen patience the intolerable distresses
brought upon them by the violent convulsions and permutations that have
been made in property.[116] The spirit of proselytism attends this
spirit of fanaticism. They have societies to cabal and correspond at
home and abroad for the propagation of their tenets. The republic of
Berne, one of the happiest, the most prosperous, and the best-governed
countries upon earth, is one of the great objects at the destruction of
which they aim. I am told they have in some measure succeeded in sowing
there the seeds of discontent. They are busy throughout Germany. Spain
and Italy have not been untried. England is not left out of the
comprehensive scheme of their malignant charity: and in England we find
those who stretch out their arms to them, who recommend their example
from more than one pulpit, and who choose, in more than one periodical
meeting, publicly to correspond with them, to applaud them, and to hold
them up as objects for imitation; who receive from them tokens of
confraternity, and standards consecrated amidst their rites and
mysteries;[117] who suggest to them leagues of perpetual amity, at the
very time when the power to which our Constitution has exclusively
delegated the federative capacity of this kingdom may find it expedient
to make war upon them.

It is not the confiscation of our Church property from this example in
France that I dread, though I think this would be no trifling evil. The
great source of my solicitude is, lest it should ever be considered in
England as the policy of a state to seek a resource in confiscations of
any kind, or that any one description of citizens should be brought to
regard any of the others as their proper prey.[118] Nations are wading
deeper and deeper into an ocean of boundless debt. Public debts, which
at first were a security to governments, by interesting many in the
public tranquillity, are likely in their excess to become the means of
their subversion. If governments provide for these debts by heavy
impositions, they perish by becoming odious to the people. If they do
not provide for them, they will be undone by the efforts of the most
dangerous of all parties: I mean an extensive, discontented moneyed
interest, injured and not destroyed. The men who compose this interest
look for their security, in the first instance, to the fidelity of
government; in the second, to its power. If they find the old
governments effete, worn out, and with their springs relaxed, so as not
to be of sufficient vigor for their purposes, they may seek new ones
that shall be possessed of more energy; and this energy will be
derived, not from an acquisition of resources, but from a contempt of
justice. Revolutions are favorable to confiscation; and it is impossible
to know under what obnoxious names the next confiscations will be
authorized. I am sure that the principles predominant in France extend
to very many persons, and descriptions of persons, in all countries, who
think their innoxious indolence their security. This kind of innocence
in proprietors may be argued into inutility; and inutility into an
unfitness for their estates. Many parts of Europe are in open disorder.
In many others there is a hollow murmuring under ground; a confused
movement is felt, that threatens a general earthquake in the political
world. Already confederacies and correspondences of the most
extraordinary nature are forming in several countries.[119] In such a
state of things we ought to hold ourselves upon our guard. In all
mutations (if mutations must be) the circumstance which will serve most
to blunt the edge of their mischief, and to promote what good may be in
them, is, that they should find us with our minds tenacious of justice
and tender of property.

But it will be argued, that this confiscation in France ought not to
alarm other nations. They say it is not made from wanton rapacity; that
it is a great measure of national policy, adopted to remove an
extensive, inveterate, superstitious mischief.--It is with the greatest
difficulty that I am able to separate policy from justice. Justice is
itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent
departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of
being no policy at all.

When men are encouraged to go into a certain mode of life by the
existing laws, and protected in that mode as in a lawful
occupation,--when they have accommodated all their ideas and all their
habits to it,--when the law had long made their adherence to its rules a
ground of reputation, and their departure from them a ground of disgrace
and even of penalty,--I am sure it is unjust in legislature, by an
arbitrary act, to offer a sudden violence to their minds and their
feelings, forcibly to degrade them from their state and condition, and
to stigmatize with shame and infamy that character and those customs
which before had been made the measure of their happiness and honor. If
to this be added an expulsion from their habitations and a confiscation
of all their goods, I am not sagacious enough to discover how this
despotic sport made of the feelings, consciences, prejudices, and
properties of men can be discriminated from the rankest tyranny.

If the injustice of the course pursued in France be clear, the policy of
the measure, that is, the public benefit to be expected from it, ought
to be at least as evident, and at least as important. To a man who acts
under the influence of no passion, who has nothing in view in his
projects but the public good, a great difference will immediately strike
him, between what policy would dictate on the original introduction of
such institutions, and on a question of their total abolition, where
they have cast their roots wide and deep, and where, by long habit,
things more valuable than themselves are so adapted to them, and in a
manner interwoven with them, that the one cannot be destroyed without
notably impairing the other. He might be embarrassed, if the case were
really such as sophisters represent it in their paltry style of
debating. But in this, as in most questions of state, there is a middle.
There is something else than the mere alternative of absolute
destruction or unreformed existence. _Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna_.
This is, in my opinion, a rule of profound sense, and ought never to
depart from the mind of an honest reformer. I cannot conceive how any
man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider
his country as nothing but _carte blanche_, upon which he may scribble
whatever he pleases. A man full of warm, speculative benevolence may
wish his society otherwise constituted than he finds it; but a good
patriot, and a true politician, always considers how he shall make the
most of the existing materials of his country. A disposition to
preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my
standard of a statesman. Everything else is vulgar in the conception,
perilous in the execution.

There are moments in the fortune of states, when particular men are
called to make improvements by great mental exertion. In those moments,
even when they seem to enjoy the confidence of their prince and country,
and to be invested with full authority, they have not always apt
instruments. A politician, to do great things, looks for a _power_, what
our workmen call a _purchase_; and if he finds that power, in politics
as in mechanics, he cannot be at a loss to apply it. In the monastic
institutions, in my opinion, was found a great _power_ for the mechanism
of politic benevolence. There were revenues with a public direction;
there were men wholly set apart and dedicated to public purposes,
without any other than public ties and public principles,--men without
the possibility of converting the estate of the community into a private
fortune,--men denied to self-interests, whose avarice is for some
community,--men to whom personal poverty is honor, and implicit
obedience stands in the place of freedom. In vain shall a man look to
the possibility of making such things when he wants them. The winds blow
as they list. These institutions are the products of enthusiasm; they
are the instruments of wisdom. Wisdom cannot create materials; they are
the gifts of Nature or of chance; her pride is in the use. The perennial
existence of bodies corporate and their fortunes are things particularly
suited to a man who has long views,--who meditates designs that require
time in fashioning, and which propose duration when they are
accomplished. He is not deserving to rank high, or even to be mentioned
in the order of great statesmen, who, having obtained the command and
direction of such a power as existed in the wealth, the discipline, and
the habits of such corporations as those which you have rashly
destroyed, cannot find any way of converting it to the great and lasting
benefit of his country. On the view of this subject, a thousand uses
suggest themselves to a contriving mind. To destroy any power growing
wild from the rank productive force of the human mind is almost
tantamount, in the moral world, to the destruction of the apparently
active properties of bodies in the material. It would be like the
attempt to destroy (if it were in our competence to destroy) the
expansive force of fixed air in nitre, or the power of steam, or of
electricity, or of magnetism. These energies always existed in Nature,
and they were always discernible. They seemed, some of them
unserviceable, some noxious, some no better than a sport to
children,--until contemplative ability, combining with practic skill,
tamed their wild nature, subdued them to use, and rendered them at once
the most powerful and the most tractable agents, in subservience to the
great views and designs of men. Did fifty thousand persons, whose mental
and whose bodily labor you might direct, and so many hundred thousand a
year of a revenue, which was neither lazy nor superstitious, appear too
big for your abilities to wield? Had you no way of using the men, but by
converting monks into pensioners? Had you no way of turning the revenue
to account, but through the improvident resource of a spendthrift sale?
If you were thus destitute of mental funds, the proceeding is in its
natural course. Your politicians do not understand their trade; and
therefore they sell their tools.

But the institutions savor of superstition in their very principle; and
they nourish it by a permanent and standing influence.--This I do not
mean to dispute; but this ought not to hinder you from deriving from
superstition itself any resources which may thence be furnished for the
public advantage. You derive benefits from many dispositions and many
passions of the human mind which are of as doubtful a color, in the
moral eye, as superstition itself. It was your business to correct and
mitigate everything which was noxious in this passion, as in all the
passions. But is superstition the greatest of all possible vices? In its
possible excess I think it becomes a very great evil. It is, however, a
moral subject, and of course admits of all degrees and all
modifications. Superstition is the religion of feeble minds; and they
must be tolerated in an intermixture of it, in some trifling or some
enthusiastic shape or other, else you will deprive weak minds of a
resource found necessary to the strongest. The body of all true religion
consists, to be sure, in obedience to the will of the Sovereign of the
world, in a confidence in His declarations, and in imitation of His
perfections. The rest is our own. It may be prejudicial to the great
end,--it may be auxiliary. Wise men, who, as such, are not _admirers_,
(not admirers at least of the _munera terrae_,) are not violently
attached to these things, nor do they violently hate them. Wisdom is not
the most severe corrector of folly. They are the rival follies which
mutually wage so unrelenting a war, and which make so cruel a use of
their advantages, as they can happen to engage the immoderate vulgar, on
the one side or the other, in their quarrels. Prudence would be neuter;
but if, in the contention between fond attachment and fierce antipathy
concerning things in their nature not made to produce such heats, a
prudent man were obliged to make a choice of what errors and excesses of
enthusiasm he would condemn or bear, perhaps he would think the
superstition which builds to be more tolerable than that which
demolishes,--that which adorns a country, than that which deforms
it,--that which endows, than that which plunders,--that which disposes
to mistaken beneficence, than that which stimulates to real
injustice,--that which leads a man to refuse to himself lawful
pleasures, than that which snatches from others the scanty subsistence
of their self-denial. Such, I think, is very nearly the state of the
question between the ancient founders of monkish superstition and the
superstition of the pretended philosophers of the hour.

For the present I postpone all consideration of the supposed public
profit of the sale, which, however, I conceive to be perfectly delusive.
I shall here only consider it as a transfer of property. On the policy
of that transfer I shall trouble you with a few thoughts.

In every prosperous community something more is produced than goes to
the immediate support of the producer. This surplus forms the income of
the landed capitalist. It will be spent by a proprietor who does not
labor. But this idleness is itself the spring of labor, this repose the
spur to industry. The only concern for the state is, that the capital
taken in rent from the land should be returned again to the industry
from whence it came, and that its expenditure should be with the least
possible detriment to the morals of those who expend it and to those of
the people to whom it is returned.

In all the views of receipt, expenditure, and personal employment, a
sober legislator would carefully compare the possessor whom he was
recommended to expel with the stranger who was proposed to fill his
place. Before the inconveniences are incurred which _must_ attend all
violent revolutions in property through extensive confiscation, we ought
to have some rational assurance that the purchasers of the confiscated
property will be in a considerable degree more laborious, more virtuous,
more sober, less disposed to extort an unreasonable proportion of the
gains of the laborer, or to consume on themselves a larger share than is
fit for the measure of an individual,--or that they should be qualified
to dispense the surplus in a more steady and equal mode, so as to
answer the purposes of a politic expenditure, than the old possessors,
call those possessors bishops, or canons, or commendatory abbots, or
monks, or what you please. The monks are lazy. Be it so. Suppose them no
otherwise employed than by singing in the choir. They are as usefully
employed as those who neither sing nor say,--as usefully even as those
who sing upon the stage. They are as usefully employed as if they worked
from dawn to dark in the innumerable servile, degrading, unseemly,
unmanly, and often most unwholesome and pestiferous occupations to which
by the social economy so many wretches are inevitably doomed. If it were
not generally pernicious to disturb the natural course of things, and to
impede in any degree the great wheel of circulation which is turned by
the strangely directed labor of these unhappy people, I should be
infinitely more inclined forcibly to rescue them from their miserable
industry than violently to disturb the tranquil repose of monastic
quietude. Humanity, and perhaps policy, might better justify me in the
one than in the other. It is a subject on which I have often reflected,
and never reflected without feeling from it. I am sure that no
consideration, except the necessity of submitting to the yoke of luxury
and the despotism of fancy, who in their own imperious way will
distribute the surplus product of the soil, can justify the toleration
of such trades and employments in a well-regulated state. But for this
purpose of distribution, it seems to me that the idle expenses of monks
are quite as well directed as the idle expenses of us lay loiterers.

When the advantages of the possession and of the project are on a par,
there is no motive for a change. But in the present case, perhaps, they
are not upon a par, and the difference is in favor of the possession. It
does not appear to me that the expenses of those whom you are going to
expel do in fact take a course so directly and so generally leading to
vitiate and degrade and render miserable those through whom they pass as
the expenses of those favorites whom you are intruding into their
houses. Why should the expenditure of a great landed property, which is
a dispersion of the surplus product of the soil, appear intolerable to
you or to me, when it takes its course through the accumulation of vast
libraries, which are the history of the force and weakness of the human
mind,--through great collections of ancient records, medals, and coins,
which attest and explain laws and customs,--through paintings and
statues, that, by imitating Nature, seem to extend the limits of
creation,--through grand monuments of the dead, which continue the
regards and connections of life beyond the grave,--through collections
of the specimens of Nature, which become a representative assembly of
all the classes and families of the world, that by disposition
facilitate, and by exciting curiosity open, the avenues to science? If
by great permanent establishments all these objects of expense are
better secured from the inconstant sport of personal caprice and
personal extravagance, are they worse than if the same tastes prevailed
in scattered individuals? Does not the sweat of the mason and carpenter,
who toil in order to partake the sweat of the peasant, flow as
pleasantly and as salubriously in the construction and repair of the
majestic edifices of religion as in the painted booths and sordid sties
of vice and luxury? as honorably and as profitably in repairing those
sacred works which grow hoary with innumerable years as on the momentary
receptacles of transient voluptuousness,--in opera-houses, and brothels,
and gaming-houses, and club-houses, and obelisks in the Champ de Mars?
Is the surplus product of the olive and the vine worse employed in the
frugal sustenance of persons whom the fictions of a pious imagination
raise to dignity by construing in the service of God than in pampering
the innumerable multitude of those who are degraded by being made
useless domestics, subservient to the pride of man? Are the decorations
of temples an expenditure less worthy a wise man than ribbons, and
laces, and national cockades, and petit maisons, and petit soupers, and
all the innumerable fopperies and follies in which opulence sports away
the burden of its superfluity?

We tolerate even these,--not from love of them, but for fear of worse.
We tolerate them, because property and liberty, to a degree, require
that toleration. But why proscribe the other, and surely, in every point
of view, the more laudable use of estates? Why, through the violation of
all property, through an outrage upon every principle of liberty,
forcibly carry them from the better to the worse?

This comparison between the new individuals and the old corps is made
upon a supposition that no reform could be made in the latter. But, in a
question of reformation, I always consider corporate bodies, whether
sole or consisting of many, to be much more susceptible of a public
direction, by the power of the state, in the use of their property, and
in the regulation of modes and habits of life in their members, than
private citizens ever can be, or perhaps ought to be; and this seems to
me a very material consideration for those who undertake anything which
merits the name of a politic enterprise.--So far as to the estates of

With regard to the estates possessed by bishops and canons and
commendatory abbots, I cannot find out for what reason some landed
estates may not be held otherwise than by inheritance. Can any
philosophic spoiler undertake to demonstrate the positive or the
comparative evil of having a certain, and that, too, a large, portion of
landed property passing in succession through persons whose title to it
is, always in theory and often in fact, an eminent degree of piety,
morals, and learning; a property which by its destination, in their
turn, and on the score of merit, gives to the noblest families
renovation and support, to the lowest the means of dignity and
elevation; a property, the tenure of which is the performance of some
duty, (whatever value you may choose to set upon that duty,) and the
character of whose proprietors demands at least an exterior decorum and
gravity of manners,--who are to exercise a generous, but temperate
hospitality,--part of whose income they are to consider as a trust for
charity,--and who, even when they fail in their trust, when they slide
from their character, and degenerate into a mere common secular nobleman
or gentleman, are in no respect worse than those who may succeed them in
their forfeited possessions? Is it better that estates should be held by
those who have no duty than by those who have one? by those whose
character and destination point to virtues than by those who have no
rule and direction in the expenditure of their estates but their own
will and appetite? Nor are these estates held altogether in the
character or with the evils supposed inherent in mortmain. They pass
from hand to hand with a more rapid circulation than any other. No
excess is good, and therefore too great a proportion of landed property
may be held officially for life; but it does not seem to me of material
injury to any common wealth that there should exist some estates that
have a chance of being acquired by other means than the previous
acquisition of money.

       *       *       *       *       *

This letter is grown to a great length, though it is, indeed, short with
regard to the infinite extent of the subject. Various avocations have
from time to time called my mind from the subject. I was not sorry to
give myself leisure to observe whether in the proceedings of the
National Assembly I might not find reasons to change or to qualify some
of my first sentiments. Everything has confirmed me more strongly in my
first opinions. It was my original purpose to take a view of the
principles of the National Assembly with regard to the great and
fundamental establishments, and to compare the whole of what you have
substituted in the place of what you have destroyed with the several
members of our British Constitution. But this plan is of greater extent
than at first I computed, and I find that you have little desire to take
the advantage of any examples. At present I must content myself with
some remarks upon your establishments, reserving for another time what I
proposed to say concerning the spirit of our British monarchy,
aristocracy, and democracy, as practically they exist.

I have taken a view of what has been done by the governing power in
France. I have certainly spoke of it with freedom. Those whose principle
it is to despise the ancient, permanent sense of mankind, and to set up
a scheme of society on new principles, must naturally expect that such
of us who think better of the judgment of the human race than, of theirs
should consider both them and their devices as men and schemes upon
their trial. They must take it for granted that we attend much to their
reason, but not at all to their authority. They have not one of the
great influencing prejudices of mankind in their favor. They avow their
hostility to opinion. Of course they must expect no support from that
influence, which, with every other authority, they have deposed from the
seat of its jurisdiction.

I can never consider this Assembly as anything else than a voluntary
association of men who have availed themselves of circumstances to seize
upon the power of the state. They have not the sanction and authority of
the character under which they first met. They have assumed another of a
very different nature, and have completely altered and inverted all the
relations in which they originally stood. They do not hold the authority
they exercise under any constitutional law of the state. They have
departed from the instructions of the people by whom they were sent;
which instructions, as the Assembly did not act in virtue of any ancient
usage or settled law, were the sole source of their authority. The most
considerable of their acts have not been done by great majorities; and
in this sort of near divisions, which carry only the constructive
authority of the whole, strangers will consider reasons as well as

If they had set up this new, experimental government as a necessary
substitute for an expelled tyranny, mankind would anticipate the time of
prescription, which through long usage mellows into legality governments
that were violent in their commencement. All those who have affections
which lead them to the conservation of civil order would recognize, even
in its cradle, the child as legitimate, which has been produced from
those principles of cogent expediency to which all just governments owe
their birth, and on which they justify their continuance. But they will
be late and reluctant in giving any sort of countenance to the
operations of a power which has derived its birth from no law and no
necessity, but which, on the contrary, has had its origin in those vices
and sinister practices by which the social union is often disturbed and
sometimes destroyed. This Assembly has hardly a year's prescription. We
have their own word for it that they have made a revolution. To make a
revolution is a measure which, _prima fronte_, requires an apology. To
make a revolution is to subvert the ancient state of our country; and no
common reasons are called for to justify so violent a proceeding. The
sense of mankind authorizes us to examine into the mode of acquiring new
power, and to criticize on the use that is made of it, with less awe and
reverence than that which is usually conceded to a settled and
recognized authority.

In obtaining and securing their power, the Assembly proceeds upon
principles the most opposite from those which appear to direct them in
the use of it. An observation on this difference will let us into the
true spirit of their conduct. Everything which they have done, or
continue to do, in order to obtain and keep their power, is by the most
common arts. They proceed exactly as their ancestors of ambition have
done before them. Trace them through all their artifices, frauds, and
violences, you can find nothing at all that is new. They follow
precedents and examples with the punctilious exactness of a pleader.
They never depart an iota from the authentic formulas of tyranny and
usurpation. But in all the regulations relative to the public good the
spirit has been the very reverse of this. There they commit the whole to
the mercy of untried speculations; they abandon the dearest interests of
the public to those loose theories to which none of them would choose to
trust the slightest of his private concerns. They make this difference,
because in their desire of obtaining and securing power they are
thoroughly in earnest; there they travel in the beaten road. The public
interests, because about them they have no real solicitude, they abandon
wholly to chance: I say to chance, because their schemes have nothing in
experience to prove their tendency beneficial.

We must always see with a pity not unmixed with respect the errors of
those who are timid and doubtful of themselves with regard to points
wherein the happiness of mankind is concerned. But in these gentlemen
there is nothing of the tender parental solicitude which fears to cut up
the infant for the sake of an experiment. In the vastness of their
promises and the confidence of their predictions they far outdo all the
boasting of empirics. The arrogance of their pretensions in a manner
provokes and challenges us to an inquiry into their foundation.

I am convinced that there are men of considerable parts among the
popular leaders in the National Assembly. Some of them display eloquence
in their speeches and their writings. This cannot be without powerful
and cultivated talents. But eloquence may exist without a proportionable
degree of wisdom. When I speak of ability, I am obliged to distinguish.
What they have done towards the support of their system bespeaks no
ordinary men. In the system itself, taken as the scheme of a republic
constructed for procuring the prosperity and security of the citizen,
and for promoting the strength and grandeur of the state, I confess
myself unable to find out anything which displays, in a single instance,
the work of a comprehensive and disposing mind, or even the provisions
of a vulgar prudence. Their purpose everywhere seems to have been to
evade and slip aside from _difficulty_. This it has been the glory of
the great masters in all the arts to confront, and to overcome,--and
when they had overcome the first difficulty, to turn it into an
instrument for new conquests over new difficulties: thus to enable them
to extend the empire of their science, and even to push forward, beyond
the reach of their original thoughts, the landmarks of the human
understanding itself. Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by
the supreme ordinance of a parental Guardian and Legislator, who knows
us better than we know ourselves, as He loves us better too. _Pater ipse
colendi haud facilem esse viam voluit_. He that wrestles with us
strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our
helper. This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an intimate
acquaintance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its
relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial. It is the want of
nerves of understanding for such a task, it is the degenerate fondness
for tricking short-outs and little fallacious facilities, that has in so
many parts of the world created governments with arbitrary powers. They
have created the late arbitrary monarchy of France. They have created
the arbitrary republic of Paris. With them defects in wisdom are to be
supplied by the plenitude of force. They get nothing by it. Commencing
their labors on a principle of sloth, they have the common fortune of
slothful men. The difficulties, which they rather had eluded than
escaped, meet them again in their course; they multiply and thicken on
them; they are involved, through a labyrinth of confused detail, in an
industry without limit and without direction; and in conclusion, the
whole of their work becomes feeble, vicious, and insecure.

It is this inability to wrestle with difficulty which has obliged the
arbitrary Assembly of France to commence their schemes of reform with
abolition and total destruction.[120] But is it in destroying and
pulling down that skill is displayed? Your mob can do this as well at
least as your assemblies. The shallowest understanding, the rudest hand,
is more than equal to that task. Rage and frenzy will pull down more in
half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in
a hundred years. The errors and defects of old establishments are
visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out; and
where absolute power is given, it requires but a word wholly to abolish
the vice and the establishment together. The same lazy, but restless
disposition, which loves sloth and hates quiet, directs these
politicians, when they come to work for supplying the place of what they
have destroyed. To make everything the reverse of what they have seen is
quite as easy as to destroy. No difficulties occur in what has never
been tried. Criticism is almost baffled in discovering the defects of
what has not existed; and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all
the wide field of imagination, in which they may expatiate with little
or no opposition.

At once to preserve and to reform is quite another thing. When the
useful parts of an old establishment are kept, and what is superadded is
to be fitted to what is retained, a vigorous mind, steady, persevering
attention, various powers of comparison and combination, and the
resources of an understanding fruitful in expedients are to be
exercised; they are to be exercised in a continued conflict with the
combined force of opposite vices, with the obstinacy that rejects all
improvement, and the levity that is fatigued and disgusted with
everything of which it is in possession. But you may object,--"A process
of this kind is slow. It is not fit for an Assembly which glories in
performing in a few months the work of ages. Such a mode of reforming,
possibly, might take up many years." Without question it might; and it
ought. It is one of the excellences of a method in which time is amongst
the assistants, that its operation is slow, and in some cases almost
imperceptible. If circumspection and caution are a part of wisdom, when
we work only upon inanimate matter, surely they become a part of duty
too, when the subject of our demolition and construction is not brick
and timber, but sentient beings, by the sudden alteration of whose
state, condition, and habits, multitudes may be rendered miserable. But
it seems as if it were the prevalent opinion in Paris, that an unfeeling
heart and an undoubting confidence are the sole qualifications for a
perfect legislator. Far different are my ideas of that high office. The
true lawgiver ought to have a heart full of sensibility. He ought to
love and respect his kind, and to fear himself. It may be allowed to his
temperament to catch his ultimate object with an intuitive glance; but
his movements towards it ought to be deliberate. Political arrangement,
as it is a work for social ends, is to be only wrought by social means.
There mind must conspire with mind. Time is required to produce that
union of minds which alone can produce all the good we aim at. Our
patience will achieve more than our force. If I might venture to appeal
to what is so much out of fashion in Paris,--I mean to experience,--I
should tell you, that in my course I have known, and, according to my
measure, have cooeperated with great men; and I have never yet seen any
plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were
much inferior in understanding to the person who took the lead in the
business. By a slow, but well-sustained progress, the effect of each
step is watched; the good or ill success of the first gives light to us
in the second; and so, from light to light, we are conducted with safety
through the whole series. We see that the parts of the system do not
clash. The evils latent in the most promising contrivances are provided
for as they arise. One advantage is as little as possible sacrificed to
another. We compensate, we reconcile, we balance. We are enabled to
unite into a consistent whole the various anomalies and contending
principles that are found in the minds and affairs of men. From hence
arises, not an excellence in simplicity, but one far superior, an
excellence in composition. Where the great interests of mankind are
concerned through a long succession of generations, that succession
ought to be admitted into some share in the councils which are so deeply
to affect them. If justice requires this, the work itself requires the
aid of more minds than one age can furnish. It is from this view of
things that the best legislators have been often satisfied with the
establishment of some sure, solid, and ruling principle in
government,--a power like that which some of the philosophers have
called a plastic Nature; and having fixed the principle, they have left
it afterwards to its own operation.

To proceed in this manner, that is, to proceed with a presiding
principle and a prolific energy, is with me the criterion of profound
wisdom. What your politicians think the marks of a bold, hardy genius
are only proofs of a deplorable want of ability. By their violent haste,
and their defiance of the process of Nature, they are delivered over
blindly to every projector and adventurer, to every alchemist and
empiric. They despair of turning to account anything that is common.
Diet is nothing in their system of remedy. The worst of it is, that this
their despair of curing common distempers by regular methods arises not
only from defect of comprehension, but, I fear, from some malignity of
disposition. Your legislators seem to have taken their opinions of all
professions, ranks, and offices from the declamations and buffooneries
of satirists,--who would themselves be astonished, if they were held to
the letter of their own descriptions. By listening only to these, your
leaders regard all things only on the side of their vices and faults,
and view those vices and faults under every color of exaggeration. It is
undoubtedly true, though it may seem paradoxical,--but, in general,
those who are habitually employed in finding and displaying faults are
unqualified for the work of reformation; because their minds are not
only unfurnished with patterns of the fair and good, but by habit they
come to take no delight in the contemplation of those things. By hating
vices too much, they come to love men too little. It is therefore not
wonderful that they should be indisposed and unable to serve them. From
hence arises the complexional disposition of some of your guides to pull
everything in pieces. At this malicious game they display the whole of
their _quadrimanous_ activity. As to the rest, the paradoxes of eloquent
writers, brought forth purely as a sport of fancy, to try their talents,
to rouse attention, and excite surprise, are taken up by these
gentlemen, not in the spirit of the original authors, as means of
cultivating their taste and improving their style: these paradoxes
become with them serious grounds of action, upon which they proceed in
regulating the most important concerns of the state. Cicero ludicrously
describes Cato as endeavoring to act in the commonwealth upon the school
paradoxes which exercised the wits of the junior students in the Stoic
philosophy. If this was true of Cato, these gentlemen copy after him in
the manner of some persons who lived about his time,--_pede nudo
Catonem_. Mr. Hume told me that he had from Rousseau himself the secret
of his principles of composition. That acute, though eccentric observer,
had perceived, that, to strike and interest the public, the marvellous
must be produced; that the marvellous of the heathen mythology had long
since lost its effects; that giants, magicians, fairies, and heroes of
romance, which succeeded, had exhausted the portion of credulity which
belonged to their age; that now nothing was left to a writer but that
species of the marvellous, which might still be produced, and with as
great an effect as ever, though in another way,--that is, the marvellous
in life, in manners, in characters, and in extraordinary situations,
giving rise to new and unlooked-for strokes in politics and morals. I
believe, that, were Rousseau alive, and in one of his lucid intervals,
he would be shocked at the practical frenzy of his scholars, who in
their paradoxes are servile imitators, and even in their incredulity
discover an implicit faith.

Men who undertake considerable things, even in a regular way, ought to
give us ground to presume ability. But the physician of the state, who,
not satisfied with the cure of distempers, undertakes to regenerate
constitutions, ought to show uncommon powers. Some very unusual
appearances of wisdom ought to display themselves on the face of the
designs of those who appeal to no practice and who copy after no model.
Has any such been manifested? I shall take a view (it shall for the
subject be a very short one) of what the Assembly has done, with regard,
first, to the constitution of the legislature; in the next place, to
that of the executive power; then to that of the judicature; afterwards
to the model of the army; and conclude with the system of finance: to
see whether we can discover in any part of their schemes the portentous
ability which may justify these bold undertakers in the superiority
which they assume over mankind.

It is in the model of the sovereign and presiding part of this new
republic that we should expect their grand display. Here they were to
prove their title to their proud demands. For the plan itself at large,
and for the reasons on which it is grounded, I refer to the journals of
the Assembly of the 29th of September, 1789, and to the subsequent
proceedings which have made any alterations in the plan. So far as in a
matter somewhat confused I can see light, the system remains
substantially as it has been originally framed. My few remarks will be
such as regard its spirit, its tendency, and its fitness for framing a
popular commonwealth, which they profess theirs to be, suited to the
ends for which any commonwealth, and particularly such a commonwealth,
is made. At the same time I mean to consider its consistency with itself
and its own principles.

Old establishments are tried by their effects. If the people are happy,
united, wealthy, and powerful, we presume the rest. We conclude that to
be good from whence good is derived. In old establishments various
correctives have been found for their aberrations from theory. Indeed,
they are the results of various necessities and expediences. They are
not often constructed after any theory: theories are rather drawn from
them. In them we often see the end best obtained, where the means seem
not perfectly reconcilable to what we may fancy was the original scheme.
The means taught by experience may be better suited to political ends
than those contrived in the original project. They again react upon the
primitive constitution, and sometimes improve the design itself, from
which they seem to have departed. I think all this might be curiously
exemplified in the British Constitution. At worst, the errors and
deviations of every kind in reckoning are found and computed, and the
ship proceeds in her course. This is the case of old establishments; but
in a new and merely theoretic system, it is expected that every
contrivance shall appear, on the face of it, to answer its ends,
especially where the projectors are no way embarrassed with an endeavor
to accommodate the new building to an old one, either in the walls or on
the foundations.

The French builders, clearing away as mere rubbish whatever they found,
and, like their ornamental gardeners, forming everything into an exact
level, propose to rest the whole local and general legislature on three
bases of three different kinds,--one geometrical, one arithmetical, and
the third financial; the first of which they call _the basis of
territory_; the second, _the basis of population_; and the third, _the
basis of contribution_. For the accomplishment of the first of these
purposes, they divide the area of their country into eighty-three
pieces, regularly square, of eighteen leagues by eighteen. These large
divisions are called _Departments_. These they portion, proceeding by
square measurement, into seventeen hundred and twenty districts, called
_Communes_. These again they subdivide, still proceeding by square
measurement, into smaller districts, called _Cantons_, making in all

At first view this geometrical basis of theirs presents not much to
admire or to blame. It calls for no great legislative talents. Nothing
more than an accurate land-surveyor, with his chain, sight, and
theodolite, is requisite for such a plan as this. In the old divisions
of the country, various accidents at times, and the ebb and flow of
various properties and jurisdictions, settled their bounds. These bounds
were not made upon any fixed system, undoubtedly. They were subject to
some inconveniences; but they were inconveniences for which use had
found remedies, and habit had supplied accommodation and patience. In
this new pavement of square within square, and this organization and
semi-organization, made on the system of Empedocles and Buffon, and not
upon any politic principle, it is impossible that innumerable local
inconveniences, to which men are not habituated, must not arise. But
these I pass over, because it requires an accurate knowledge of the
country, which I do not possess, to specify them.

When these state surveyors came to take a view of their work of
measurement, they soon found that in politics the most fallacious of all
things was geometrical demonstration. They had then recourse to another
basis (or rather buttress) to support the building, which tottered on
that false foundation. It was evident that the goodness of the soil, the
number of the people, their wealth, and the largeness of their
contribution, made such infinite variations between square and square
as to render mensuration a ridiculous standard of power in the
commonwealth, and equality in geometry the most unequal of all measures
in the distribution of men. However, they could not give it up,--but,
dividing their political and civil representation into three parts, they
allotted one of those parts to the square measurement, without a single
fact or calculation to ascertain whether this territorial proportion of
representation was fairly assigned, and ought upon any principle really
to be a third. Having, however, given to geometry this portion, (of a
third for her dower,) out of compliment, I suppose, to that sublime
science, they left the other two to be scuffled for between the other
parts, population and contribution.

When they came to provide for population, they were not able to proceed
quite so smoothly as they had done in the field of their geometry. Here
their arithmetic came to bear upon their juridical metaphysics. Had they
stuck to their metaphysic principles, the arithmetical process would be
simple indeed. Men, with them, are strictly equal, and are entitled to
equal rights in their own government. Each head, on this system, would
have its vote, and every man would vote directly for the person who was
to represent him in the legislature. "But soft,--by regular degrees, not
yet." This metaphysic principle, to which law, custom, usage, policy,
reason, were to yield, is to yield itself to their pleasure. There must
be many degrees, and some stages, before the representative can come in
contact with his constituent. Indeed, as we shall soon see, these two
persons are to have no sort of communion with each other. First, the
voters in the _Canton_, who compose what they call _primary
assemblies_, are to have a _qualification_. What! a qualification on the
indefeasible rights of men? Yes; but it shall be a very small
qualification. Our injustice shall be very little oppressive: only the
local valuation of three days' labor paid to the public. Why, this is
not much, I readily admit, for anything but the utter subversion of your
equalizing principle. As a qualification it might as well be let alone;
for it answers no one purpose for which qualifications are established;
and, on your ideas, it excludes from a vote the man of all others whose
natural equality stands the most in need of protection and defence: I
mean the man who has nothing else but his natural equality to guard him.
You order him to buy the right which you before told him Nature had
given to him gratuitously at his birth, and of which no authority on
earth could lawfully deprive him. With regard to the person who cannot
come up to your market, a tyrannous aristocracy, as against him, is
established at the very outset, by you who pretend to be its sworn foe.

The gradation proceeds. These primary assemblies of the _Canton_ elect
deputies to the _Commune_,--one for every two hundred qualified
inhabitants. Here is the first medium put between the primary elector
and the representative legislator; and here a new turnpike is fixed for
taxing the rights of men with a second qualification: for none can be
elected into the _Commune_ who does not pay the amount of ten days'
labor. Nor have we yet done. There is still to be another
gradation.[121] These _Communes_, chosen by the _Canton_, choose to the
_Department_; and the deputies of the _Department_ choose their deputies
to the _National Assembly_. Here is a third barrier of a senseless
qualification. Every deputy to the National Assembly must pay, in direct
contribution, to the value of a _mark of silver_. Of all these
qualifying barriers we must think alike: that they are impotent to
secure independence, strong only to destroy the rights of men.

In all this process, which in its fundamental elements affects to
consider only _population_, upon a principle of natural right, there is
a manifest attention to _property_,--which, however just and reasonable
on other schemes, is on theirs perfectly unsupportable.

When they come to their third basis, that of _Contribution_, we find
that they have more completely lost sight of the rights of men. This
last basis rests _entirely_ on property. A principle totally different
from the equality of men, and utterly irreconcilable to it, is thereby
admitted: but no sooner is this principle admitted than (as usual) it is
subverted; and it is not subverted (as we shall presently see) to
approximate the inequality of riches to the level of Nature. The
additional share in the third portion of representation (a portion
reserved exclusively for the higher contribution) is made to regard the
_district_ only, and not the individuals in it who pay. It is easy to
perceive, by the course of their reasonings, how much they were
embarrassed by their contradictory ideas of the rights of men and the
privileges of riches. The Committee of Constitution do as good as admit
that they are wholly irreconcilable. "The relation with regard to the
contributions is without doubt _null_, (say they,) when the question is
on the balance of the political rights as between individual and
individual; without which _personal equality would be destroyed_, and
_an aristocracy of the rich_ would be established. But this
inconvenience entirely disappears, when the proportional relation of the
contribution is only considered in the _great masses_, and is solely
between province and province; it serves in that case only to form a
just reciprocal proportion between the cities, without affecting the
personal rights of the citizens."

Here the principle of _contribution_, as taken between man and man, is
reprobated as _null_, and destructive to equality,--and as pernicious,
too, because it leads to the establishment of an _aristocracy of the
rich_. However, it must not be abandoned. And the way of getting rid of
the difficulty is to establish the inequality as between department and
department, leaving all the individuals in each department upon an exact
par. Observe, that this parity between individuals had been before
destroyed, when the qualifications within the departments were settled;
nor does it seem a matter of great importance whether the equality of
men be injured by masses or individually. An individual is not of the
same importance in a mass represented by a few as in a mass represented
by many. It would be too much to tell a man jealous of his equality,
that the elector has the same franchise who votes for three members as
he who votes for ten.

Now take it in the other point of view, and let us suppose their
principle of representation according to contribution, that is according
to riches, to be well imagined, and to be a necessary basis for their
republic. In this their third basis they assume that riches ought to be
respected, and that justice and policy require that they should entitle
men, in some mode or other, to a larger share in the administration of
public affairs; it is now to be seen how the Assembly provides for the
preeminence, or even for the security of the rich, by conferring, in
virtue of their opulence, that larger measure of power to their district
which is denied to them personally. I readily admit (indeed, I should
lay it down as a fundamental principle) that in a republican government,
which has a democratic basis, the rich do require an additional security
above what is necessary to them in monarchies. They are subject to envy,
and through envy to oppression. On the present scheme it is impossible
to divine what advantage they derive from the aristocratic preference
upon which the unequal representation of the masses is founded. The rich
cannot feel it, either as a support to dignity or as security to
fortune: for the aristocratic mass is generated from purely democratic
principles; and the prevalence given to it in the general representation
has no sort of reference to or connection with the persons upon account
of whose property this superiority of the mass is established. If the
contrivers of this scheme meant any sort of favor to the rich, in
consequence of their contribution, they ought to have conferred the
privilege either on the individual rich, or on some class formed of rich
persons (as historians represent Servius Tullius to have done in the
early constitution of Rome); because the contest between the rich and
the poor is not a struggle between corporation and corporation, but a
contest between men and men,--a competition, not between districts, but
between descriptions. It would answer its purpose better, if the scheme
were inverted: that the votes of the masses were rendered equal, and
that the votes within each mass were proportioned to property.

Let us suppose one man in a district (it is an easy supposition) to
contribute as much as a hundred of his neighbors. Against these he has
but one vote. If there were but one representative for the mass, his
poor neighbors would outvote him by an hundred to one for that single
representative. Bad enough! But amends are to be made him. How? The
district, in virtue of his wealth, is to choose, say ten members instead
of one: that is to say, by paying a very large contribution he has the
happiness of being outvoted, an hundred to one, by the poor, for ten
representatives, instead of being outvoted exactly in the same
proportion for a single member. In truth, instead of benefiting by this
superior quantity of representation, the rich man is subjected to an
additional hardship. The increase of representation within his province
sets up nine persons more, and as many more than nine as there may be
democratic candidates, to cabal and intrigue and to flatter the people
at his expense and to his oppression. An interest is by this means held
out to multitudes of the inferior sort, in obtaining a salary of
eighteen livres a day, (to them a vast object,) besides the pleasure of
a residence in Paris, and their share in the government of the kingdom.
The more the objects of ambition are multiplied and become democratic,
just in that proportion the rich are endangered.

Thus it must fare between the poor and the rich in the province deemed
aristocratic, which in its internal relation is the very reverse of that
character. In its external relation, that is, in its relation to the
other provinces, I cannot see how the unequal representation which is
given to masses on account of wealth becomes the means of preserving the
equipoise and the tranquillity of the commonwealth. For, if it be one of
the objects to secure the weak from being crushed by the strong, (as in
all society undoubtedly it is,) how are the smaller and poorer of these
masses to be saved from the tyranny of the more wealthy? Is it by adding
to the wealthy further and more systematical means of oppressing them?
When we come to a balance of representation between corporate bodies,
provincial interests, emulations, and jealousies are full as likely to
arise among them as among individuals; and their divisions are likely to
produce a much hotter spirit of dissension, and something leading much
more nearly to a war.

I see that these aristocratic masses are made upon what is called the
principle of direct contribution. Nothing can be a more unequal standard
than this. The indirect contribution, that which arises from duties on
consumption, is in truth a better standard, and follows and discovers
wealth more naturally than this of direct contribution. It is difficult,
indeed, to fix a standard of local preference on account of the one, or
of the other, or of both, because some provinces may pay the more of
either or of both on account of causes not intrinsic, but originating
from those very districts over whom they have obtained a preference in
consequence of their ostensible contribution. If the masses were
independent, sovereign bodies, who were to provide for a federative
treasury by distinct contingents, and that the revenue had not (as it
has) many impositions running through the whole, which affect men
individually, and not corporately, and which, by their nature, confound
all territorial limits, something might be said for the basis of
contribution as founded on masses. But, of all things, this
representation, to be measured by contribution, is the most difficult to
settle upon principles of equity in a country which considers its
districts as members of a whole. For a great city, such as Bordeaux or
Paris, appears to pay a vast body of duties, almost out of all
assignable proportion to other places, and its mass is considered
accordingly. But are these cities the true contributors in that
proportion? No. The consumers of the commodities imported into Bordeaux,
who are scattered through all France, pay the import duties of Bordeaux.
The produce of the vintage in Guienne and Languedoc give to that city
the means of its contribution growing out of an export commerce. The
landholders who spend their estates in Paris, and are thereby the
creators of that city, contribute for Paris from the provinces out of
which their revenues arise. Very nearly the same arguments will apply to
the representative share given on account of _direct_ contribution:
because the direct contribution must be assessed on wealth, real or
presumed; and that local wealth will itself arise from causes not local,
and which therefore in equity ought not to produce a local preference.

It is very remarkable, that, in this fundamental regulation which
settles the representation of the mass upon the direct contribution,
they have not yet settled how that direct contribution shall be laid,
and how apportioned. Perhaps there is some latent policy towards the
continuance of the present Assembly in this strange procedure. However,
until they do this, they can have no certain constitution. It must
depend at last upon the system of taxation, and must vary with every
variation in that system. As they have contrived matters, their taxation
does not so much depend on their constitution as their constitution on
their taxation. This must introduce great confusion among the masses; as
the variable qualification for votes within the district must, if ever
real contested elections take place, cause infinite internal

To compare together the three bases, not on their political reason, but
on the ideas on which the Assembly works, and to try its consistency
with itself, we cannot avoid observing that the principle which the
committee call the basis of _population_ does not begin to operate from
the same point with the two other principles, called the bases of
_territory_ and of _contribution_, which are both of an aristocratic
nature. The consequence is, that, where all three begin to operate
together, there is the most absurd inequality produced by the operation
of the former on the two latter principles. Every canton contains four
square leagues, and is estimated to contain, on the average, 4,000
inhabitants, or 680 voters in the _primary assemblies_, which vary in
numbers with the population of the canton, and send _one deputy_ to the
_commune_ for every 200 voters. _Nine cantons_ make a _commune_.

Now let us take _a canton_ containing _a seaport town of trade_, or _a
great manufacturing town_. Let us suppose the population of this canton
to be 12,700 inhabitants, or 2,193 voters, forming _three primary
assemblies_, and sending _ten deputies_ to the _commune_.

Oppose to this _one_ canton _two_ others of the remaining eight in the
same commune. These we may suppose to have their fair population, of
4,000 inhabitants, and 680 voters each, or 8,000 inhabitants and 1,360
voters, both together. These will form only _two primary assemblies_,
and send only _six_ deputies to the _commune_.

When the assembly of the _commune_ comes to vote on the _basis of
territory_, which principle is first admitted to operate in that
assembly, the _single canton_, which has _half_ the territory of the
_other two_, will have _ten_ voices to _six_ in the election of _three
deputies_ to the assembly of the department, chosen on the express
ground of a representation of territory. This inequality, striking as it
is, will be yet highly aggravated, if we suppose, as we fairly may, the
_several_ other cantons of the _commune_ to fall proportionally short of
the average population, as much as the _principal canton_ exceeds it.

Now as to _the basis of contribution_, which also is a principle
admitted first to operate in the assembly of the _commune_. Let us again
take _one_ canton, such as is stated above. If the whole of the direct
contributions paid by a great trading or manufacturing town be divided
equally among the inhabitants, each individual will be found to pay much
more than an individual living in the country according to the same
average. The whole paid by the inhabitants of the former will be more
than the whole paid by the inhabitants of the latter,--we may fairly
assume one third more. Then the 12,700 inhabitants, or 2,193 voters of
the canton, will pay as much as 19,050 inhabitants, or 3,289 voters of
the _other cantons_, which are nearly the estimated proportion of
inhabitants and voters of _five_ other cantons. Now the 2,193 voters
will, as I before said, send only _ten_ deputies to the assembly; the
3,289 voters will send _sixteen_. Thus, for an _equal_ share in the
contribution of the whole _commune_, there will be a difference of
_sixteen_ voices to _ten_ in voting for deputies to be chosen on the
principle of representing the general contribution of the whole

By the same mode of computation, we shall find 15,875 inhabitants, or
2,741 voters of the _other_ cantons, who pay _one sixth_ LESS to the
contribution of the whole _commune_, will have _three_ voices MORE than
the 12,700 inhabitants, or 2,193 voters of the _one_ canton.

Such is the fantastical and unjust inequality between mass and mass, in
this curious repartition of the rights of representation arising out of
_territory_ and _contribution_. The qualifications which these confer
are in truth negative qualifications, that give a right in an inverse
proportion to the possession of them.

In this whole contrivance of the three bases, consider it in any light
you please, I do not see a variety of objects reconciled in one
consistent whole, but several contradictory principles reluctantly and
irreconcilably brought and held together by your philosophers, like wild
beasts shut up in a cage, to claw and bite each other to their mutual

I am afraid I have gone too far into their way of considering the
formation of a Constitution. They have much, but bad,
metaphysics,--much, but bad, geometry,--much, but false, proportionate
arithmetic; but if it were all as exact as metaphysics, geometry, and
arithmetic ought to be, and if their schemes were perfectly consistent
in all their parts, it would make only a more fair and sightly vision.
It is remarkable, that, in a great arrangement of mankind, not one
reference whatsoever is to be found to anything moral or anything
politic,--nothing that relates to the concerns, the actions, the
passions, the interests of men. _Hominem non sapiunt_.

You see I only consider this Constitution as electoral, and leading by
steps to the National Assembly. I do not enter into the internal
government of the departments, and their genealogy through the communes
and cantons. These local governments are, in the original plan, to be as
nearly as possible composed in the same manner and on the same
principles with the elective assemblies. They are each of them bodies
perfectly compact and rounded in themselves.

You cannot but perceive in this scheme, that it has a direct and
immediate tendency to sever France into a variety of republics, and to
render them totally independent of each other, without any direct
constitutional means of coherence, connection, or subordination, except
what may be derived from their acquiescence in the determinations of the
general congress of the ambassadors from each independent republic. Such
in reality is the National Assembly; and such governments, I admit, do
exist in the world, though, in forms infinitely more suitable to the
local and habitual circumstances of their people. But such associations,
rather than bodies politic, have generally been the effect of necessity,
not choice; and I believe the present French power is the very first
body of citizens who, having obtained full authority to do with their
country what they pleased, have chosen to dissever it in this barbarous

It is impossible not to observe, that, in the spirit of this geometrical
distribution and arithmetical arrangement, these pretended citizens
treat France exactly like a country of conquest. Acting as conquerors,
they have imitated the policy of the harshest of that harsh race. The
policy of such barbarous victors, who contemn a subdued people, and
insult their feelings, has ever been, as much as in them lay, to destroy
all vestiges of the ancient country, in religion, in polity, in laws,
and in manners; to confound all territorial limits; to produce a general
poverty; to put up their properties to auction; to crush their princes,
nobles, and pontiffs; to lay low everything which had lifted its head
above the level, or which could serve to combine or rally, in their
distresses, the disbanded people, under the standard of old opinion.
They have made France free in the manner in which those sincere friends
to the rights of mankind, the Romans, freed Greece, Macedon, and other
nations. They destroyed the bonds of their union, under color of
providing for the independence of each of their cities.

When the members who compose these new bodies of cantons, communes, and
departments, arrangements purposely produced through the medium of
confusion, begin to act, they will find themselves in a great measure
strangers to one another. The electors and elected throughout,
especially in the rural _cantons_, will be frequently without any civil
habitudes or connections, or any of that natural discipline which is the
soul of a true republic. Magistrates and collectors of revenue are now
no longer acquainted with their districts, bishops with their dioceses,
or curates with their parishes. These new colonies of the rights of men
bear a strong resemblance to that sort of military colonies which
Tacitus has observed upon in the declining policy of Rome. In better and
wiser days (whatever course they took with foreign nations) they were
careful to make the elements of a methodical subordination and
settlement to be coeval, and even to lay the foundations of discipline
in the military.[122] But when all the good arts had fallen into ruin,
they proceeded, as your Assembly does, upon the equality of men, and
with as little judgment, and as little care for those things which make
a republic tolerable or durable. But in this, as well as almost every
instance, your new commonwealth is born and bred and fed in those
corruptions which mark degenerated and worn-out republics. Your child
comes into the world with the symptoms of death; the _facies
Hippocratica_ forms the character of its physiognomy and the prognostic
of its fate.

The legislators who framed the ancient republics knew that their
business was too arduous to be accomplished with no better apparatus
than the metaphysics of an undergraduate and the mathematics and
arithmetic of an exciseman. They had to do with men, and they were
obliged to study human nature. They had to do with citizens, and they
were obliged to study the effects of those habits which are
communicated by the circumstances of civil life. They were sensible
that the operation of this second nature on the first produced a new
combination,--and thence arose many diversities amongst men, according
to their birth, their education, their professions, the periods of their
lives, their residence in towns or in the country, their several ways of
acquiring and of fixing property, and according to the quality of the
property itself, all which rendered them, as it were, so many different
species of animals. From hence they thought themselves obliged to
dispose their citizens into such classes, and to place them in such
situations in the state, as their peculiar habits might qualify them to
fill, and to allot to them such appropriated privileges as might secure
to them what their specific occasions required, and which might furnish
to each description such force as might protect it in the conflict
caused by the diversity of interests that must exist, and must contend,
in all complex society: for the legislator would have been ashamed that
the coarse husbandman should well know how to assort and to use his
sheep, horses, and oxen, and should have enough of common sense not to
abstract and equalize them all into animals, without providing for each
kind an appropriate food, care, and employment,--whilst he, the
economist, disposer, and shepherd of his own kindred, subliming himself
into an airy metaphysician, was resolved to know nothing of his flocks
but as men in general. It is for this reason that Montesquieu observed,
very justly, that, in their classification of the citizens, the great
legislators of antiquity made the greatest display of their powers, and
even soared above themselves. It is here that your modern legislators
have gone deep into the negative series, and sunk even below their own
nothing. As the first sort of legislators attended to the different
kinds of citizens, and combined them into one commonwealth, the others,
the metaphysical and alchemistical legislators, have taken the directly
contrary course. They have attempted to confound all sorts of citizens,
as well as they could, into one homogeneous mass; and then they divided
this their amalgama into a number of incoherent republics. They reduce
men to loose counters, merely for the sake of simple telling, and not to
figures, whose power is to arise from their place in the table. The
elements of their own metaphysics might have taught them better lessons.
The troll of their categorical table might have informed them that there
was something else in the intellectual world besides _substance_ and
_quantity_. They might learn from the catechism of metaphysics that
there were eight heads more,[123] in every complex deliberation, which
they have never thought of; though these, of all the ten, are the
subject on which the skill of man can operate anything at all.

So far from this able disposition of some of the old republican
legislators, which follows with a solicitous accuracy the moral
conditions and propensities of men, they have levelled and crushed
together all the orders which they found, even under the coarse,
unartificial arrangement of the monarchy, in which mode of government
the classing of the citizens is not of so much importance as in a
republic. It is true, however, that every such classification, if
properly ordered, is good in all forms of government, and composes a
strong barrier against the excesses of despotism, as well as it is the
necessary means of giving effect and permanence to a republic. For want
of something of this kind, if the present project of a republic should
fail, all securities to a moderated freedom fail along with it, all the
indirect restraints which mitigate despotism are removed; insomuch that,
if monarchy should ever again obtain an entire ascendency in France,
under this or any other dynasty, it will probably be, if not voluntarily
tempered, at setting out, by the wise and virtuous counsels of the
prince, the most completely arbitrary power that has ever appeared on
earth. This is to play a most desperate game.

The confusion which attends on all such proceedings they even declare to
be one of their objects, and they hope to secure their Constitution by a
terror of a return of those evils which attended their making it. "By
this," say they, "its destruction will become difficult to authority,
which cannot break it up without the entire disorganization of the whole
state." They presume, that, if this authority should ever come to the
same degree of power that they have acquired, it would make a more
moderate and chastised use of it, and would piously tremble entirely to
disorganize the state in the savage manner that they have done. They
expect from the virtues of returning despotism the security which is to
be enjoyed by the offspring of their popular vices.

I wish, Sir, that you and my readers would give an attentive perusal to
the work of M. de Calonne on this subject. It is, indeed, not only an
eloquent, but an able and instructive performance. I confine myself to
what he says relative to the Constitution of the new state, and to the
condition of the revenue. As to the disputes of this minister with his
rivals, I do not wish to pronounce upon them. As little do I mean to
hazard any opinion concerning his ways and means, financial or
political, for taking his country out of its present disgraceful and
deplorable situation of servitude, anarchy, bankruptcy, and beggary. I
cannot speculate quite so sanguinely as he does: but he is a Frenchman,
and has a closer duty relative to those objects, and better means of
judging of them, than I can have. I wish that the formal avowal which he
refers to, made by one of the principal leaders in the Assembly,
concerning the tendency of their scheme to bring France not only from a
monarchy to a republic, but from a republic to a mere confederacy, may
be very particularly attended to. It adds new force to my observations:
and, indeed, M. de Calonne's work supplies my deficiencies by many new
and striking arguments on most of the subjects of this letter.[124]

It is this resolution to break their country into separate republics
which has driven them into the greatest number of their difficulties and
contradictions. If it were not for this, all the questions of exact
equality, and these balances, never to be settled, of individual rights,
population, and contribution, would be wholly useless. The
representation, though derived from parts, would be a duty which equally
regarded the whole. Each deputy to the Assembly would be the
representative of France, and of all its descriptions, of the many and
of the few, of the rich and of the poor, of the great districts and of
the small. All these districts would themselves be subordinate to some
standing authority, existing independently of them,--an authority in
which their representation, and everything that belongs to it,
originated, and to which it was pointed. This standing, unalterable,
fundamental government would make, and it is the only thing which could
make, that territory truly and properly a whole. With us, when we elect
popular representatives, we send them to a council in which each man
individually is a subject, and submitted to a government complete in all
its ordinary functions. With you the elective Assembly is the sovereign,
and the sole sovereign; all the members are therefore integral parts of
this sole sovereignty. But with us it is totally different. With us the
representative, separated from the other parts, can have no action and
no existence. The government is the point of reference of the several
members and districts of our representation. This is the centre of our
unity. This government of reference is a trustee for the _whole_, and
not for the parts. So is the other branch of our public council: I mean
the House of Lords. With us the King and the Lords are several and joint
securities for the equality of each district, each province, each city.
When did you hear in Great Britain of any province suffering from the
inequality of its representation? what district from having no
representation at all? Not only our monarchy and our peerage secure the
equality on which our unity depends, but it is the spirit of the House
of Commons itself. The very inequality of representation, which is so
foolishly complained of, is perhaps the very thing which prevents us
from thinking or acting as members for districts. Cornwall elects as
many members as all Scotland. But is Cornwall better taken care of than
Scotland? Few trouble their heads about any of your bases, out of some
giddy clubs. Most of those who wish for any change, upon any plausible
grounds, desire it on different ideas.

Your new Constitution is the very reverse of ours in its principle; and
I am astonished how any persons could dream of holding out anything done
in it as an example for Great Britain. With you there is little, or
rather no, connection between the last representative and the first
constituent. The member who goes to the National Assembly is not chosen
by the people, nor accountable to them. There are three elections before
he is chosen; two sets of magistracy intervene between him and the
primary assembly, so as to render him, as I have said, an ambassador of
a state, and not the representative of the people within a state. By
this the whole spirit of the election is changed; nor can any corrective
your Constitution-mongers have devised render him anything else than
what he is. The very attempt to do it would inevitably introduce a
confusion, if possible, more horrid than the present. There is no way to
make a connection between the original constituent and the
representative, but by the circuitous means which may lead the candidate
to apply in the first instance to the primary electors, in order that by
their authoritative instructions (and something more perhaps) these
primary electors may force the two succeeding bodies of electors to make
a choice agreeable to their wishes. But this would plainly subvert the
whole scheme. It would be to plunge them back into that tumult and
confusion of popular election, which, by their interposed gradation of
elections, they mean to avoid, and at length to risk the whole fortune
of the state with those who have the least knowledge of it and the
least interest in it. This is a perpetual dilemma, into which they are
thrown by the vicious, weak, and contradictory principles they have
chosen. Unless the people break up and level this gradation, it is plain
that they do not at all substantially elect to the Assembly; indeed,
they elect as little in appearance as reality.

What is it we all seek for in an election? To answer its real purposes,
you must first possess the means of knowing the fitness of your man; and
then you must retain some hold upon him by personal obligation or
dependence. For what end are these primary electors complimented, or
rather mocked, with a choice? They can never know anything of the
qualities of him that is to serve them, nor has he any obligation
whatsoever to them. Of all the powers unfit to be delegated by those who
have any real means of judging, that most peculiarly unfit is what
relates to a _personal_ choice. In case of abuse, that body of primary
electors never can call the representative to an account for his
conduct. He is too far removed from them in the chain of representation.
If he acts improperly at the end of his two years' lease, it does not
concern him for two years more. By the new French Constitution the best
and the wisest representatives go equally with the worst into this
_Limbus Patrum_. Their bottoms are supposed foul, and they must go into
dock to be refitted. Every man who has served in an Assembly is
ineligible for two years after. Just as these magistrates begin to learn
their trade, like chimney-sweepers, they are disqualified for exercising
it. Superficial, new, petulant acquisition, and interrupted, dronish,
broken, ill recollection, is to be the destined character of all your
future governors. Your Constitution has too much of jealousy to have
much of sense in it. You consider the breach of trust in the
representative so principally that you do not at all regard the question
of his fitness to execute it.

This purgatory interval is not unfavorable to a faithless
representative, who may be as good a canvasser as he was a bad governor.
In this time he may cabal himself into a superiority over the wisest and
most virtuous. As, in the end, all the members of this elective
Constitution are equally fugitive, and exist only for the election, they
may be no longer the same persons who had chosen him, to whom he is to
be responsible when he solicits for a renewal of his trust. To call all
the secondary electors of the _commune_ to account is ridiculous,
impracticable, and unjust: they may themselves have been deceived in
their choice, as the third set of electors, those of the _department_,
may be in theirs. In your elections responsibility cannot exist.

Finding no sort of principle of coherence with each other in the nature
and constitution of the several new republics of France, I considered
what cement the legislators had provided for them from any extraneous
materials. Their confederations, their _spectacles_, their civic feasts,
and their enthusiasm I take no notice of; they are nothing but mere
tricks; but tracing their policy through their actions, I think I can
distinguish the arrangements by which they propose to hold these
republics together. The first is the _confiscation_, with the compulsory
paper currency annexed to it; the second is the supreme power of the
city of Paris; the third is the general army of the state. Of this last
I shall reserve what I have to say, until I come to consider the army
as an head by itself.

As to the operation of the first (the confiscation and paper currency)
merely as a cement, I cannot deny that these, the one depending on the
other, may for some time compose some sort of cement, if their madness
and folly in the management, and in the tempering of the parts together,
does not produce a repulsion in the very outset. But allowing to the
scheme some coherence and some duration, it appears to me, that, if,
after a while, the confiscation should not be found sufficient to
support the paper coinage, (as I am morally certain it will not,) then,
instead of cementing, it will add infinitely to the dissociation,
distraction, and confusion of these confederate republics, both with
relation to each other and to the several parts within themselves. But
if the confiscation should so far succeed as to sink the paper currency,
the cement is gone with the circulation. In the mean time its binding
force will be very uncertain, and it will straiten or relax with every
variation in the credit of the paper.

One thing only is certain in this scheme, which is an effect seemingly
collateral, but direct, I have no doubt, in the minds of those who
conduct this business; that is, its effect in producing an _oligarchy_
in every one of the republics. A paper circulation, not founded on any
real money deposited or engaged for, amounting already to four-and-forty
millions of English money, and this currency by force substituted in the
place of the coin of the kingdom, becoming thereby the substance of its
revenue, as well as the medium of all its commercial and civil
intercourse, must put the whole of what power, authority, and influence
is left, in any form whatsoever it may assume, into the hands of the
managers and conductors of this circulation.

In England we feel the influence of the Bank, though it is only the
centre of a voluntary dealing. He knows little, indeed, of the influence
of money upon mankind, who does not see the force of the management of a
moneyed concern which is so much more extensive, and in its nature so
much more depending on the managers, than any of ours. But this is not
merely a money concern. There is another member in the system
inseparably connected with this money management. It consists in the
means of drawing out at discretion portions of the confiscated lands for
sale, and carrying on a process of continual transmutation of paper into
land and land into paper. When we follow this process in its effects, we
may conceive something of the intensity of the force with which this
system must operate. By this means the spirit of money-jobbing and
speculation goes into the mass of land itself, and incorporates with it.
By this kind of operation, that species of property becomes, as it were,
volatilized; it assumes an unnatural and monstrous activity, and thereby
throws into the hands of the several managers, principal and
subordinate, Parisian and provincial, all the representative of money,
and perhaps a full tenth part of all the land in France, which has now
acquired the worst and most pernicious part of the evil of a paper
circulation, the greatest possible uncertainty in its value. They have
reversed the Latonian kindness to the landed property of Delos. They
have sent theirs to be blown about, like the light fragments of a wreck,
_oras et littora circum_.

The new dealers, being all habitually adventurers, and without any fixed
habits or local predilections, will purchase to job out again, as the
market of paper or of money or of land shall present an advantage. For
though a holy bishop thinks that agriculture will derive great
advantages from the "_enlightened_" usurers who are to purchase the
Church confiscations, I, who am not a good, but an old farmer, with
great humility beg leave to tell his late Lordship that usury is not a
tutor of agriculture; and if the word "enlightened" be understood
according to the new dictionary, as it always is in your new schools, I
cannot conceive how a man's not believing in God can teach him to
cultivate the earth with the least of any additional skill or
encouragement. "_Diis immortalibus sero_," said an old Roman, when he
held one handle of the plough, whilst Death held the other. Though you
were to join in the commission all the directors of the two Academies to
the directors of the _Caisse d'Escompte_, an old experienced peasant is
worth them all. I have got more information upon a curious and
interesting branch of husbandry, in one short conversation with an old
Carthusian monk, than I have derived from all the bank directors that I
have ever conversed with. However, there is no cause for apprehension
from the meddling of money-dealers with rural economy. These gentlemen
are too wise in their generation. At first, perhaps, their tender and
susceptible imaginations may be captivated with the innocent and
unprofitable delights of a pastoral life; but in a little time they will
find that agriculture is a trade much more laborious and much less
lucrative than that which they had left. After making its panegyric,
they will turn their backs on it, like their great precursor and
prototype. They may, like him, begin by singing, "_Beatus ille_"--but
what will be the end?

    Haec ubi locutus foenerator Alphius,
      Jam jam futurus rusticus,
    Omnem relegit Idibus pecuniam,
      Quaerit Calendis ponere.

They will cultivate the _Caisse d'Eglise_, under the sacred auspices of
this prelate, with much more profit than its vineyards and its
corn-fields. They will employ their talents according to their habits
and their interests. They will not follow the plough, whilst they can
direct treasuries and govern provinces.

Your legislators, in everything new, are the very first who have founded
a commonwealth upon gaming, and infused this spirit into it as its vital
breath. The great object in these politics is to metamorphose France
from a great kingdom into one great play-table,--to turn its inhabitants
into a nation of gamesters,--to make speculation as extensive as
life,--to mix it with all its concerns,--and to divert the whole of the
hopes and fears of the people from their usual channels into the
impulses, passions, and superstitions of those who live on chances. They
loudly proclaim their opinion, that this their present system of a
republic cannot possibly exist without this kind of gaming fund, and
that the very thread of its life is spun out of the staple of these
speculations. The old gaming in funds was mischievous enough,
undoubtedly; but it was so only to individuals. Even when it had its
greatest extent, in the Mississippi and South Sea, it affected but few,
comparatively; where it extends further, as in lotteries, the spirit has
but a single object. But where the law, which in most circumstances
forbids, and in none countenances gaming, is itself debauched, so as to
reverse its nature and policy, and expressly to force the subject to
this destructive table, by bringing the spirit and symbols of gaming
into the minutest matters, and engaging everybody in it, and in
everything, a more dreadful epidemic distemper of that kind is spread
than yet has appeared in the world. With you a man can neither earn nor
buy his dinner without a speculation. What he receives in the morning
will not have the same value at night. What he is compelled to take as
pay for an old debt will not be received as the same, when he comes to
pay a debt contracted by himself; nor will it be the same, when by
prompt payment he would avoid contracting any debt at all. Industry must
wither away. Economy must be driven from your country. Careful provision
will have no existence. Who will labor without knowing the amount of his
pay? Who will study to increase what none can estimate? Who will
accumulate, when he does not know the value of what he saves? If you
abstract it from its uses in gaming, to accumulate your paper wealth
would be, not the providence of a man, but the distempered instinct of a

The truly melancholy part of the policy of systematically making a
nation of gamesters is this,--that, though all are forced to play, few
can understand the game, and fewer still are in a condition to avail
themselves of that knowledge. The many must be the dupes of the few who
conduct the machine of these speculations. What effect it must have on
the country-people is visible. The townsman can calculate from day to
day; not so the inhabitant of the country. When the peasant first brings
his corn to market, the magistrate in the towns obliges him to take the
assignat at par; when he goes to the shop with this money, he finds it
seven per cent the worse for crossing the way. This market he will not
readily resort to again. The towns-people will be inflamed; they will
force the country-people to bring their corn. Resistance will begin, and
the murders of Paris and St. Denis may be renewed through all France.

What signifies the empty compliment paid to the country, by giving it,
perhaps, more than its share in the theory of your representation? Where
have you placed the real power over moneyed and landed circulation?
Where have you placed the means of raising and falling the value of
every man's freehold? Those whose operations can take from or add ten
per cent to the possessions of every man in France must be the masters
of every man in France. The whole of the power obtained by this
Revolution will settle in the towns among the burghers, and the moneyed
directors who lead them. The landed gentleman, the yeoman, and the
peasant have, none of them, habits or inclinations or experience which
can lead them to any share in this the sole source of power and
influence now left in France. The very nature of a country life, the
very nature of landed property, in all the occupations and all the
pleasures they afford, render combination and arrangement (the sole way
of procuring and exerting influence) in a manner impossible amongst
country-people. Combine them by all the art you can, and all the
industry, they are always dissolving into individuality. Anything in the
nature of incorporation is almost impracticable amongst them. Hope,
fear, alarm, jealousy, the ephemerous tale that does its business and
dies in a day, all these things, which are the reins and spurs by which
leaders check or urge the minds of followers, are not easily employed,
or hardly at all, amongst scattered people. They assemble, they arm,
they act, with the utmost difficulty, and at the greatest charge. Their
efforts, if ever they can be commenced, cannot be sustained. They cannot
proceed systematically. If the country-gentlemen attempt an influence
through the mere income of their property, what is it to that of those
who have ten times their income to sell, and who can ruin their property
by bringing their plunder to meet it at market? If the landed man wishes
to mortgage, he falls the value of his land and raises the value of
assignats. He augments the power of his enemy by the very means he must
take to contend with him. The country-gentleman, therefore, the officer
by sea and land, the man of liberal views and habits, attached to no
profession, will be as completely excluded from the government of his
country as if he were legislatively proscribed. It is obvious, that, in
the towns, all the things which conspire against the country-gentleman
combine in favor of the money manager and director. In towns combination
is natural. The habits of burghers, their occupations, their diversion,
their business, their idleness, continually bring them into mutual
contact. Their virtues and their vices are sociable; they are always in
garrison; and they come embodied and half-disciplined into the hands of
those who mean to form them for civil or military action.

All these considerations leave no doubt on my mind, that, if this
monster of a Constitution can continue, France will be wholly governed
by the agitators in corporations, by societies in the towns, formed of
directors in assignats, and trustees for the sale of Church lands,
attorneys, agents, money-jobbers, speculators, and adventurers,
composing an ignoble oligarchy, founded on the destruction of the crown,
the Church, the nobility, and the people. Here end all the deceitful
dreams and visions of the equality and rights of men. In "the Serbonian
bog" of this base oligarchy they are all absorbed, sunk, and lost

Though human eyes cannot trace them, one would be tempted to think some
great offences in France must cry to Heaven, which has thought fit to
punish it with a subjection to a vile and inglorious domination, in
which no comfort or compensation is to be found in any even of those
false splendors which, playing about other tyrannies, prevent mankind
from feeling themselves dishonored even whilst they are oppressed. I
must confess I am touched with a sorrow mixed with some indignation, at
the conduct of a few men, once of great rank, and still of great
character, who, deluded with specious names, have engaged in a business
too deep for the line of their understanding to fathom,--who have lent
their fair reputation and the authority of their high-sounding names to
the designs of men with whom they could not be acquainted, and have
thereby made their very virtues operate to the ruin of their country.

So far as to the first cementing principle.

The second material of cement for their new republic is the superiority
of the city of Paris; and this, I admit, is strongly connected with the
other cementing principle of paper circulation and confiscation. It is
in this part of the project we must look for the cause of the
destruction of all the old bounds of provinces and jurisdictions,
ecclesiastical and secular, and the dissolution of all ancient
combinations of things, as well as the formation of so many small
unconnected republics. The power of the city of Paris is evidently one
great spring of all their politics. It is through the power of Paris,
now become the centre and focus of jobbing, that the leaders of this
faction direct, or rather command, the whole legislative and the whole
executive government. Everything, therefore, must be done which can
confirm the authority of that city over the other republics. Paris is
compact; she has an enormous strength, wholly disproportioned to the
force of any of the square republics; and this strength is collected and
condensed within a narrow compass. Paris has a natural and easy
connection of its parts, which will not be affected by any scheme of a
geometrical constitution; nor does it much signify whether its
proportion of representation be more or less, since it has the whole
draught of fishes in its drag-net. The other divisions of the kingdom,
being hackled and torn to pieces, and separated from all their habitual
means and even principles of union, cannot, for some time at least,
confederate against her. Nothing was to be left in all the subordinate
members, but weakness, disconnection, and confusion. To confirm this
part of the plan, the Assembly has lately come to a resolution that no
two of their republics shall have the same commander-in-chief.

To a person who takes a view of the whole, the strength of Paris, thus
formed, will appear a system of general weakness. It is boasted that the
geometrical policy has been adopted, that all local ideas should be
sunk, and that the people should be no longer Gascons, Picards, Bretons,
Normans,--but Frenchmen, with one country, one heart, and one Assembly.
But, instead of being all Frenchmen, the greater likelihood is that the
inhabitants of that region will shortly have no country. No man ever was
attached by a sense of pride, partiality, or real affection, to a
description of square measurement. He never will glory in belonging to
the chequer No. 71, or to any other badge-ticket. We begin our public
affections in our families. No cold relation is a zealous citizen. We
pass on to our neighborhoods, and our habitual provincial connections.
These are inns and resting-places. Such divisions of our country as have
been formed by habit, and not by a sudden jerk of authority, were so
many little images of the great country, in which the heart found
something which it could fill. The love to the whole is not extinguished
by this subordinate partiality. Perhaps it is a sort of elemental
training to those higher and more large regards by which alone men come
to be affected, as with their own concern, in the prosperity of a
kingdom so extensive as that of France. In that general territory
itself, as in the old name of Provinces, the citizens are interested
from old prejudices and unreasoned habits, and not on account of the
geometric properties of its figure. The power and preeminence of Paris
does certainly press down and hold these republics together as long as
it lasts: but, for the reasons I have already given you, I think it can
not last very long.

Passing from the civil creating and the civil cementing principles of
this Constitution to the National Assembly, which is to appear and act
as sovereign, we see a body in its constitution with every possible
power and no possible external control. We see a body without
fundamental laws, without established maxims, without respected rules of
proceeding, which nothing can keep firm to any system whatsoever. Their
idea of their powers is always taken at the utmost stretch of
legislative competency, and their examples for common cases from the
exceptions of the most urgent necessity. The future is to be in most
respects like the present Assembly; but, by the mode of the new
elections and the tendency of the new circulations, it will be purged of
the small degree of internal control existing in a minority chosen
originally from various interests, and preserving something of their
spirit. If possible, the next Assembly must be worse than the present.
The present, by destroying and altering everything, will leave to their
successors apparently nothing popular to do. They will be roused by
emulation and example to enterprises the boldest and the most absurd. To
suppose such an Assembly sitting in perfect quietude is ridiculous.

Your all-sufficient legislators, in their hurry to do everything at
once, have forgot one thing that seems essential, and which, I believe,
never has been before, in the theory or the practice, omitted by any
projector of a republic. They have forgot to constitute a _senate_, or
something of that nature and character. Never, before this time, was
heard of a body politic composed of one legislative and active assembly,
and its executive officers, without such a council: without something to
which foreign states might connect themselves,--something to which, in
the ordinary detail of government, the people could look up,--something
which might give a bias and steadiness, and preserve something like
consistency in the proceedings of state. Such a body kings generally
have as a council. A monarchy may exist without it; but it seems to be
in the very essence of a republican government. It holds a sort of
middle place between the supreme power exercised by the people, or
immediately delegated from them, and the mere executive. Of this there
are no traces in your Constitution; and in providing nothing of this
kind, your Solons and Numas have, as much as in anything else,
discovered a sovereign incapacity.

Let us now turn our eyes to what they have done towards the formation of
an executive power. For this they have chosen a degraded king. This
their first executive officer is to be a machine, without any sort of
deliberative discretion in any one act of his function. At best, he is
but a channel to convey to the National Assembly such matter as may
import that body to know. If he had been made the exclusive channel, the
power would not have been without its importance, though infinitely
perilous to those who would choose to exercise it. But public
intelligence and statement of facts may pass to the Assembly with equal
authenticity through any other conveyance. As to the means, therefore,
of giving a direction to measures by the statement of an authorized
reporter, this office of intelligence is as nothing.

To consider the French scheme of an executive officer, in its two
natural divisions of civil and political.--In the first it must be
observed, that, according to the new Constitution, the higher parts of
judicature, in either of its lines, are not in the king. The king of
France is not the fountain of justice. The judges, neither the original
nor the appellate, are of his nomination. He neither proposes the
candidates nor has a negative on the choice. He is not even the public
prosecutor. He serves only as a notary, to authenticate the choice made
of the judges in the several districts. By his officers he is to execute
their sentence. When we look into the true nature of his authority, he
appears to be nothing more than a chief of bumbailiffs,
sergeants-at-mace, catchpoles, jailers, and hangmen. It is impossible to
place anything called royalty in a more degrading point of view. A
thousand times better it had been for the dignity of this unhappy
prince, that he had nothing at all to do with the administration of
justice, deprived as he is of all that is venerable and all that is
consolatory in that function, without power of originating any process,
without a power of suspension, mitigation, or pardon. Everything in
justice that is vile and odious is thrown upon him. It was not for
nothing that the Assembly has been at such pains to remove the stigma
from certain offices, when they were resolved to place the person who
had lately been their king in a situation but one degree above the
executioner, and in an office nearly of the same quality. It is not in
Nature, that, situated as the king of the French now is, he can respect
himself or can be respected by others.

View this new executive officer on the side of his political capacity,
as he acts under the orders of the National Assembly. To execute laws is
a royal office; to execute orders is not to be a king. However, a
political executive magistracy, though merely such, is a great trust. It
is a trust, indeed, that has much depending upon its faithful and
diligent performance, both in the person presiding in it and in all its
subordinates. Means of performing this duty ought to be given by
regulation; and dispositions towards it ought to be infused by the
circumstances attendant on the trust. It ought to be environed with
dignity, authority, and consideration, and it ought to lead to glory.
The office of execution is an office of exertion. It is not from
impotence we are to expect the tasks of power. What sort of person is a
king to command executory service, who has no means whatsoever to reward
it:--not in a permanent office; not in a grant of land; no, not in a
pension of fifty pounds a year; not in the vainest and most trivial
title? In France the king is no more the fountain of honor than he is
the fountain of justice. All rewards, all distinctions, are in other
hands. Those who serve the king can be actuated by no natural motive but
fear,--by a fear of everything except their master. His functions of
internal coercion are as odious as those which he exercises in the
department of justice. If relief is to be given to any municipality, the
Assembly gives it. If troops are to be sent to reduce them to obedience
to the Assembly, the king is to execute the order; and upon every
occasion he is to be spattered over with the blood of his people. He has
no negative; yet his name and authority is used to enforce every harsh
decree. Nay, he must concur in the butchery of those who shall attempt
to free him from his imprisonment, or show the slightest attachment to
his person or to his ancient authority.

Executive magistracy ought to be constituted in such a manner that those
who compose it should be disposed to love and to venerate those whom
they are bound to obey. A purposed neglect, or, what is worse, a
literal, but perverse and malignant obedience, must be the ruin of the
wisest counsels. In vain will the law attempt to anticipate or to follow
such studied neglects and fraudulent attentions. To make them act
zealously is not in the competence of law. Kings, even such as are truly
kings, may and ought to bear the freedom of subjects that are obnoxious
to them. They may, too, without derogating from themselves, bear even
the authority of such persons, if it promotes their service. Louis the
Thirteenth mortally hated the Cardinal de Richelieu; but his support of
that minister against his rivals was the source of all the glory of his
reign, and the solid foundation of his throne itself. Louis the
Fourteenth, when come to the throne, did not love the Cardinal Mazarin;
but for his interests he preserved him in power. When old, he detested
Louvois; but for years, whilst he faithfully served his greatness, he
endured his person. When George the Second took Mr. Pitt, who certainly
was not agreeable to him, into his councils, he did nothing which could
humble a wise sovereign. But these ministers, who were chosen by
affairs, not by affections, acted in the name of and in trust for kings,
and not as their avowed constitutional and ostensible masters. I think
it impossible that any king, when he has recovered his first terrors,
can cordially infuse vivacity and vigor into measures which he knows to
be dictated by those who, he must be persuaded, are in the highest
degree ill affected to his person. Will any ministers, who serve such a
king (or whatever he may be called) with but a decent appearance of
respect, cordially obey the orders of those whom but the other day in
his name they had committed to the Bastile? will they obey the orders
of those whom, whilst they were exercising despotic justice upon them,
they conceived they were treating with lenity, and for whom in a prison
they thought they had provided an asylum? If you expect such obedience,
amongst your other innovations and regenerations, you ought to make a
revolution in Nature, and provide a new constitution, for the human
mind: otherwise your supreme government cannot harmonize with its
executory system. There are cases in which we cannot take up with names
and abstractions. You may call half a dozen leading individuals, whom we
have reason to fear and hate, the nation. It makes no other difference
than to make us fear and hate them the more. If it had been thought
justifiable and expedient to make such a revolution by such means and
through such persons as you have made yours, it would have been more
wise to have completed the business of the fifth and sixth of October.
The new executive officer would then owe his situation to those who are
his creators as well as his masters; and he might be bound in interest,
in the society of crime, and (if in crimes there could be virtues) in
gratitude, to serve those who had promoted him to a place of great lucre
and great sensual indulgence,--and of something more: for more he must
have received from those who certainly would not have limited an
aggrandized creature as they have done a submitting antagonist.

A king circumstanced as the present, if he is totally stupefied by his
misfortunes, so as to think it not the necessity, but the premium and
privilege of life, to eat and sleep, without any regard to glory, can
never be fit for the office. If he feels as men commonly feel, he must
he sensible that an office so circumstanced is one in which he can
obtain no fame or reputation. He has no generous interest that can
excite him to action. At best, his conduct will be passive and
defensive. To inferior people such an office might be matter of honor.
But to be raised to it and to descend to it are different things, and
suggest different sentiments. Does he _really_ name the ministers? They
will have a sympathy with him. Are they forced upon him? The whole
business between them and the nominal king will be mutual counteraction.
In all other countries the office of ministers of state is of the
highest dignity. In France it is full of peril, and incapable of glory.
Rivals, however, they will have in their nothingness, whilst shallow
ambition exists in the world, or the desire of a miserable salary is an
incentive to short-sighted avarice. Those competitors of the ministers
are enabled by your Constitution to attack them in their vital parts,
whilst they have not the means of repelling their charges in any other
than the degrading character of culprits. The ministers of state in
Prance are the only persons in that country who are incapable of a share
in the national councils. What ministers! What councils! What a
nation!--But they are responsible. It is a poor service that is to be
had from responsibility. The elevation of mind to be derived from fear
will never make a nation glorious. Responsibility prevents crimes. It
makes all attempts against the laws dangerous. But for a principle of
active and zealous service, none but idiots could think of it. Is the
conduct of a war to be trusted to a man who may abhor its
principle,--who, in every step he may take to render it successful,
confirms the power of those by whom he is oppressed? Will foreign
states seriously treat with him who has no prerogative of peace or
war,--no, not so much as in a single vote by himself or his ministers,
or by any one whom he can possibly influence? A state of contempt is not
a state for a prince: better get rid of him at once.

I know it will be said that these humors in the court and executive
government will continue only through this generation, and that the king
has been brought to declare the dauphin shall be educated in a
conformity to his situation. If he is made to conform to his situation,
he will have no education at all. His training must be worse even than
that of an arbitrary monarch. If he reads,--whether he reads or not,
some good or evil genius will tell him his ancestors were kings.
Thenceforward his object must be to assert himself and to avenge his
parents. This you will say is not his duty. That may be; but it is
Nature; and whilst you pique Nature against you, you do unwisely to
trust to duty. In this futile scheme of polity, the state nurses in its
bosom, for the present, a source of weakness, perplexity, counteraction,
inefficiency, and decay; and it prepares the means of its final ruin. In
short, I see nothing in the executive force (I cannot call it authority)
that has even an appearance of vigor, or that has the smallest degree of
just correspondence or symmetry or amicable relation with the supreme
power, either as it now exists, or as it is planned for the future

You have settled, by an economy as perverted as the policy, two[125]
establishments of government,--one real, one fictitious: both
maintained at a vast expense; but the fictitious at, I think, the
greatest. Such a machine as the latter is not worth the grease of its
wheels. The expense is exorbitant; and neither the show nor the use
deserve the tenth part of the charge.--Oh! but I don't do justice to the
talents of the legislators: I don't allow, as I ought to do, for
necessity. Their scheme of executive force was not their choice. This
pageant must be kept. The people would not consent to part with
it.--Right: I understand you. You do, in spite of your grand theories,
to which you would have heaven and earth to bend, you do know how to
conform yourselves to the nature and circumstances of things. But when
you were obliged to conform thus far to circumstances, you ought to have
carried your submission farther, and to have made, what you were obliged
to take, a proper instrument, and useful to its end. That was in your
power. For instance, among many others, it was in your power to leave to
your king the right of peace and war.--What! to leave to the executive
magistrate the most dangerous of all prerogatives?--I know none more
dangerous; nor any one more necessary to be so trusted. I do not say
that this prerogative ought to be trusted to your king, unless he
enjoyed other auxiliary trusts along with it, which he does not now
hold. But, if he did possess them, hazardous as they are undoubtedly,
advantages would arise from such a Constitution, more than compensating
the risk. There is no other way of keeping the several potentates of
Europe from intriguing distinctly and personally with the members of
your Assembly, from intermeddling in all your concerns, and fomenting,
in the heart of your country, the most pernicious of all
factions,--factions in the interest and under the direction of foreign
powers. From that worst of evils, thank God, we are still free. Your
skill, if you had any, would be well employed to find out indirect
correctives and controls upon this perilous trust. If you did not like
those which in England we have chosen, your leaders might have exerted
their abilities in contriving better. If it were necessary to exemplify
the consequences of such an executive government as yours, in the
management of great affairs, I should refer you to the late reports of
M. de Montmorin to the National Assembly, and all the other proceedings
relative to the differences between Great Britain and Spain. It would be
treating your understanding with disrespect to point them out to you.

I hear that the persons who are called ministers have signified an
intention of resigning their places. I am rather astonished that they
have not resigned long since. For the universe I would not have stood in
the situation in which they have been for this last twelvemonth. They
wished well, I take it for granted, to the Revolution. Let this fact be
as it may, they could not, placed as they were upon an eminence, though
an eminence of humiliation, but be the first to see collectively, and to
feel each in his own department, the evils which have been produced by
that Revolution. In every step which they took, or forbore to take, they
must have felt the degraded situation of their country, and their utter
incapacity of serving it. They are in a species of subordinate servitude
in which no men before them were ever seen. Without confidence from
their sovereign on whom they were forced, or from the Assembly who
forced them upon him, all the noble functions of their office are
executed by committees of the Assembly, without any regard whatsoever to
their personal or their official authority. They are to execute, without
power; they are to be responsible, without discretion; they are to
deliberate, without choice. In their puzzled situation, under two
sovereigns, over neither of whom they have any influence, they must act
in such a manner as (in effect, whatever they may intend) sometimes to
betray the one, sometimes the other, and always to betray themselves.
Such has been their situation; such must be the situation of those who
succeed them. I have much respect, and many good wishes, for M. Necker.
I am obliged to him for attentions. I thought, when his enemies had
driven him from Versailles, that his exile was a subject of most serious
congratulation. _Sed multae urbes et publica vota vicerunt_. He is now
sitting on the ruins of the finances and of the monarchy of France.

A great deal more might be observed on the strange constitution of the
executory part of the new government; but fatigue must give bounds to
the discussion of subjects which in themselves have hardly any limits.

As little genius and talent am I able to perceive in the plan of
judicature formed by the National Assembly. According to their
invariable course, the framers of your Constitution have begun with the
utter abolition of the parliaments. These venerable bodies, like the
rest of the old government, stood in need of reform, even though there
should be no change made in the monarchy. They required several more
alterations to adapt them to the system of a free Constitution. But
they had particulars in their constitution, and those not a few, which
deserved approbation from the wise. They possessed one fundamental
excellence: they were independent. The most doubtful circumstance
attendant on their office, that of its being vendible, contributed,
however, to this independency of character. They held for life. Indeed,
they may be said to have held by inheritance. Appointed by the monarch,
they were considered as nearly out of his power. The most determined
exertions of that authority against them only showed their radical
independence. They composed permanent bodies politic, constituted to
resist arbitrary innovation; and from that corporate constitution, and
from most of their forms, they were well calculated to afford both
certainty and stability to the laws. They had been a safe asylum to
secure these laws, in all the revolutions of humor and opinion. They had
saved that sacred deposit of the country during the reigns of arbitrary
princes and the struggles of arbitrary factions. They kept alive the
memory and record of the Constitution. They were the great security to
private property; which might be said (when personal liberty had no
existence) to be, in fact, as well guarded in France as in any other
country. Whatever is supreme in a state ought to have, as much as
possible, ifs judicial authority so constituted as not only not to
depend upon it, but in some sort to balance it. It ought to give a
security to its justice against its power. It ought to make its
judicature, as it were, something exterior to the state.

Those parliaments had furnished, not the best certainly, but some
considerable corrective to the excesses and vices of the monarchy. Such
an independent judicature was ten times more necessary when a democracy
became the absolute power of the country. In that Constitution,
elective, temporary, local judges, such as you have contrived,
exercising their dependent functions in a narrow society, must be the
worst of all tribunals. In them it will be vain to look for any
appearance of justice towards strangers, towards the obnoxious rich,
towards the minority of routed parties, towards all those who in the
election have supported unsuccessful candidates. It will be impossible
to keep the new tribunals clear of the worst spirit of faction. All
contrivances by ballot we know experimentally to be vain and childish to
prevent a discovery of inclinations. Where they may the best answer the
purposes of concealment, they answer to produce suspicion, and this is a
still more mischievous cause of partiality.

If the parliaments had been preserved, instead of being dissolved at so
ruinous a change to the nation, they might have served in this new
commonwealth, perhaps not precisely the same, (I do not mean an exact
parallel,) but near the same purposes as the court and senate of
Areopagus did in Athens: that is, as one of the balances and correctives
to the evils of a light and unjust democracy. Every one knows that this
tribunal was the great stay of that state; every one knows with what
care it was upheld, and with what a religious awe it was consecrated.
The parliaments were not wholly free from faction, I admit; but this
evil was exterior and accidental, and not so much the vice of their
constitution itself as it must be in your new contrivance of sexennial
elective judicatories. Several English commend the abolition of the old
tribunals, as supposing that they determined everything by bribery and
corruption. But they have stood the test of monarchic and republican
scrutiny. The court was well disposed to prove corruption on those
bodies, when they were dissolved in 1771; those who have again dissolved
them would have done the same, if they could; but both inquisitions
having failed, I conclude that gross pecuniary corruption must have been
rather rare amongst them.

It would have been prudent, along with the parliaments, to preserve
their ancient power of registering, and of remonstrating at least upon,
all the decrees of the National Assembly, as they did upon those which
passed in the time of the monarchy. It would be a means of squaring the
occasional decrees of a democracy to some principles of general
jurisprudence. The vice of the ancient democracies, and one cause of
their ruin, was, that they ruled, as you do, by occasional decrees,
_psephismata_. This practice soon broke in upon the tenor and
consistency of the laws; it abated the respect of the people towards
them, and totally destroyed them in the end.

Your vesting the power of remonstrance, which, in the time of the
monarchy, existed in the Parliament of Paris, in your principal
executive officer, whom, in spite of common sense, you persevere in
calling king, is the height of absurdity. You ought never to suffer
remonstrance from him who is to execute. This is to understand neither
council nor execution, neither authority nor obedience. The person whom
you call king ought not to have this power, or he ought to have more.

Your present arrangement is strictly judicial. Instead of imitating your
monarchy, and seating your judges on a bench of independence, your
object is to reduce them to the most blind obedience. As you have
changed all things, you have invented new principles of order. You first
appoint judges, who, I suppose, are to determine according to law, and
then you let them know, that, at some time or other, you intend to give
them some law by which they are to determine. Any studies which they
have made (if any they have made) are to be useless to them. But to
supply these studies, they are to be sworn to obey all the rules,
orders, and instructions which from time to time they are to receive
from the National Assembly. These if they submit to, they leave no
ground of law to the subject. They become complete and most dangerous
instruments in the hands of the governing power, which, in the midst of
a cause, or on the prospect of it, may wholly change the rule of
decision. If these orders of the National Assembly come to be contrary
to the will of the people who locally choose those judges, such
confusion must happen as is terrible to think of. For the judges owe
their place to the local authority, and the commands they are sworn to
obey come from those who have no share in their appointment. In the mean
time they have the example of the court of _Chatelet_ to encourage and
guide them in the exercise of their functions. That court is to try
criminals sent to it by the National Assembly, or brought before it by
other courses of delation. They sit under a guard to save their own
lives. They know not by what law they judge, nor under what authority
they act, nor by what tenure they hold. It is thought that they are
sometimes obliged to condemn at peril of their lives. This is not
perhaps certain, nor can it be ascertained; but when they acquit, we
know they have seen the persons whom they discharge, with perfect
impunity to the actors, hanged at the door of their court.

The Assembly, indeed, promises that they will form a body of law, which
shall be short, simple, clear, and so forth. That is, by their short
laws, they will leave much to the discretion of the judge, whilst they
have exploded the authority of all the learning which could make
judicial discretion (a thing perilous at best) deserving the appellation
of a _sound_ discretion.

It is curious to observe, that the administrative bodies are carefully
exempted from the jurisdiction of these new tribunals. That is, those
persons are exempted from the power of the laws who ought to be the most
entirely submitted to them. Those who execute public pecuniary trusts
ought of all men to be the most strictly held to their duty. One would
have thought that it must have been among your earliest cares, if you
did not mean that those administrative bodies should be real, sovereign,
independent states, to form an awful tribunal, like your late
parliaments, or like our King's Bench, where all corporate officers
might obtain protection in the legal exercise of their functions, and
would find coercion, if they trespassed against their legal duty. But
the cause of the exemption is plain. These administrative bodies are the
great instruments of the present leaders in their progress through
democracy to oligarchy. They must therefore be put above the law. It
will be said that the legal tribunals which you have made are unfit to
coerce them. They are, undoubtedly. They are unfit for any rational
purpose. It will be said, too, that the administrative bodies will be
accountable to the general Assembly. This, I fear, is talking without
much consideration of the nature of that Assembly or of these
corporations. However, to be subject to the pleasure of that Assembly is
not to be subject to law, either for protection or for constraint.

This establishment of judges as yet wants something to its completion.
It is to be crowned by a new tribunal. This is to be a grand state
judicature; and it is to judge of crimes committed against the nation,
that is, against the power of the Assembly. It seems as if they had
something in their view of the nature of the high court of justice
erected in England during the time of the great usurpation. As they have
not yet finished this part of the scheme, it is impossible to form a
direct judgment upon it. However, if great care is not taken to form it
in a spirit very different from that which has guided them in their
proceedings relative to state offences, this tribunal, subservient to
their inquisition, _the Committee of Research_, will extinguish the last
sparks of liberty in France, and settle the most dreadful and arbitrary
tyranny ever known in any nation. If they wish to give to this tribunal
any appearance of liberty and justice, they must not evoke from or send
to it the causes relative to their own members, at their pleasure. They
must also remove the seat of that tribunal out of the republic of

Has more wisdom been displayed in the constitution of your army than
what is discoverable in your plan of judicature? The able arrangement of
this part is the more difficult, and requires the greater skill and
attention, not only as a great concern in itself, but as it is the third
cementing principle in the new body of republics which you call the
French nation. Truly, it is not easy to divine what that army may become
at last. You have voted a very large one, and on good appointments, at
least fully equal to your apparent means of payment. But what is the
principle of its discipline? or whom is it to obey? You have got the
wolf by the ears, and I wish you joy of the happy position in which you
have chosen to place yourselves, and in which you are well circumstanced
for a free deliberation relatively to that army, or to anything else.

The minister and secretary of state for the War Department is M. de La
Tour du Pin. This gentleman, like his colleagues in administration, is a
most zealous assertor of the Revolution, and a sanguine admirer of the
new Constitution which originated in that event. His statement of facts
relative to the military of France is important, not only from his
official and personal authority, but because it displays very clearly
the actual condition of the army in France, and because it throws light
on the principles upon which the Assembly proceeds in the administration
of this critical object. It may enable us to form some judgment how far
it may be expedient in this country to imitate the martial policy of

M. de La Tour du Pin, on the fourth of last June, comes to give an
account of the state of his department, as it exists under the auspices
of the National Assembly. No man knows it so well; no man can express it
better. Addressing himself to the National Assembly, he says,--

"His Majesty has _this day_ sent me to apprise you of the multiplied
disorders of which _every day_ he receives the most distressing
intelligence. The army [_le corps militaire_] threatens to fall into the
most turbulent anarchy. Entire regiments have dared to violate at once
the respect due to the laws, to the king, to the order established by
your decrees, and to the oaths which they have taken with the most awful
solemnity. Compelled by my duty to give you information of these
excesses, my heart bleeds, when I consider who they are that have
committed them. Those against whom it is not in my power to withhold the
most grievous complaints are a part of that very soldiery which to this
day have been so full of honor and loyalty, and with whom for fifty
years I have lived the comrade and the friend.

"What incomprehensible spirit of delirium and delusion has all at once
led them astray? Whilst you are indefatigable in establishing uniformity
in the empire and moulding the whole into one coherent and consistent
body, whilst the French are taught by you at once the respect which the
laws owe to the rights of man and that which the citizens owe to the
laws, the administration of the army presents nothing but disturbance
and confusion. I see in more than one corps the bonds of discipline
relaxed or broken,--the most unheard-of pretensions avowed directly and
without any disguise,--the ordinances without force,--the chiefs without
authority,--the military chest and the colors carried off,--the
authority of the king himself [_risum teneatis_] proudly defied,--the
officers despised, degraded, threatened, driven away, and some of them
prisoners in the midst of their corps, dragging on a precarious life in
the bosom of disgust and humiliation. To fill up the measure of all
these horrors, the commandants of places have had their throats out
under the eyes and almost in the arms of their own soldiers.

"These evils are great; but they are not the worst consequences which
may be produced by such military insurrections. Sooner or later they may
menace the nation itself. _The nature of things requires_ that the army
should never act but as _an instrument_. The moment that, erecting
itself into a deliberate body, it shall act according to its own
resolutions, _the government, be it what it may, will immediately
degenerate into a military democracy_: a species of political monster
which has always ended by devouring those who have produced it.

"After all this, who must not be alarmed at the irregular consultations
and turbulent committees formed in some regiments by the common soldiers
and non-commissioned officers, without the knowledge, or even in
contempt of the authority, of their superiors?--although the presence
and concurrence of those superiors could give no authority to such
monstrous democratic assemblies [_comices_]."

It is not necessary to add much to this finished picture,--finished as
far as its canvas admits, but, as I apprehend, not taking in the whole
of the nature and complexity of the disorders of this military
democracy, which, the minister at war truly and wisely observes,
wherever it exists, must be the true constitution of the state, by
whatever formal appellation it may pass. For, though he informs the
Assembly that the more considerable part of the army have not cast off
their obedience, but are still attached to their duty, yet those
travellers who have seen the corps whose conduct is the best rather
observe in them the absence of mutiny than the existence of discipline.

I cannot help pausing here for a moment, to reflect upon the expressions
of surprise which this minister has let fall relative to the excesses he
relates. To him the departure of the troops from their ancient
principles of loyalty and honor seems quite inconceivable. Surely those
to whom he addresses himself know the causes of it but too well. They
know the doctrines which they have preached, the decrees which they have
passed, the practices which they have countenanced. The soldiers
remember the sixth of October. They recollect the French guards. They
have not forgot the taking of the king's castles in Paris and at
Marseilles. That the governors in both places were murdered with
impunity is a fact that has not passed out of their minds. They do not
abandon the principles, laid down so ostentatiously and laboriously, of
the equality of men. They cannot shut their eyes to the degradation of
the whole noblesse of France, and the suppression of the very idea of a
gentleman. The total abolition of titles and distinctions is not lost
upon them. But M. du Pin is astonished at their disloyalty, when the
doctors of the Assembly have taught them at the same time the respect
due to laws. It is easy to judge which of the two sorts of lessons men
with arms in their hands are likely to learn. As to the authority of the
king, we may collect from the minister himself (if any argument on that
head were not quite superfluous) that it is not of more consideration
with these troops than it is with everybody else. "The king," says he,
"has over and over again repeated his orders to put a stop to these
excesses; but in so terrible a crisis, _your_ [the Assembly's]
concurrence is become indispensably necessary to prevent the evils which
menace the state. _You_ unite to the force of the legislative power
_that of opinion_, still more important." To be sure, the army can have
no opinion of the power or authority of the king. Perhaps the soldier
has by this time learned, that the Assembly itself does not enjoy a much
greater degree of liberty than that royal figure.

It is now to be seen what has been proposed in this exigency, one of the
greatest that can happen in a state. The minister requests the Assembly
to array itself in all its terrors, and to call forth all its majesty.
He desires that the grave and severe principles announced by them may
give vigor to the king's proclamation. After this we should have looked
for courts civil and martial, breaking of some corps, decimating of
others, and all the terrible means which necessity has employed in such
cases to arrest the progress of the most terrible of all evils;
particularly, one might expect that a serious inquiry would be made into
the murder of commandants in the view of their soldiers. Not one word of
all this, or of anything like it. After they had been told that the
soldiery trampled upon the decrees of the Assembly promulgated by the
king, the Assembly pass new decrees, and they authorize the king to make
new proclamations. After the secretary at war had stated that the
regiments had paid no regard to oaths, _pretes avec la plus imposante
solennite_, they propose--what? More oaths. They renew decrees and
proclamations as they experience their insufficiency, and they multiply
oaths in proportion as they weaken in the minds of men the sanctions of
religion. I hope that handy abridgments of the excellent sermons of
Voltaire, D'Alembert, Diderot, and Helvetius, on the Immortality of the
Soul, on a Particular Superintending Providence, and on a Future State
of Rewards and Punishments, are sent down to the soldiers along with
their civic oaths. Of this I have no doubt; as I understand that a
certain description of reading makes no inconsiderable part of their
military exercises, and that they are full as well supplied with the
ammunition of pamphlets as of cartridges.

To prevent the mischiefs arising from conspiracies, irregular
consultations, seditious committees, and monstrous democratic assemblies
[_comitia, comices_] of the soldiers, and all the disorders arising from
idleness, luxury, dissipation, and insubordination, I believe the most
astonishing means have been used that ever occurred to men, even in all
the inventions of this prolific age. It is no less than this:--The king
has promulgated in circular letters to all the regiments his direct
authority and encouragement, that the several corps should join
themselves with the clubs and confederations in the several
municipalities, and mix with them in their feasts and civic
entertainments! This jolly discipline, it seems, is to soften the
ferocity of their minds, to reconcile them to their bottle companions of
other descriptions, and to merge particular conspiracies in more general
associations.[127] That this remedy would be pleasing to the soldiers,
as they are described by M. de La Tour du Pin, I can readily
believe,--and that, however mutinous otherwise, they will dutifully
submit themselves to _these_ royal proclamations. But I should question
whether all this civic swearing, clubbing, and feasting would dispose
them, more than at present they are disposed, to an obedience to their
officers, or teach them better to submit to the austere rules of
military discipline. It will make them admirable citizens after the
French mode, but not quite so good soldiers after any mode. A doubt
might well arise, whether the conversations at these good tables would
fit them a great deal the better for the character of _mere
instruments_, which this veteran officer and statesman justly observes
the nature of things always requires an army to be.

Concerning the likelihood of this improvement in discipline by the free
conversation of the soldiers with the municipal festive societies, which
is thus officially encouraged by royal authority and sanction, we may
judge by the state of the municipalities themselves, furnished to us by
the war minister in this very speech. He conceives good hopes of the
success of his endeavors towards restoring order _for the present_ from
the good disposition of certain regiments; but he finds something cloudy
with regard to the future. As to preventing the return of confusion,
"for this the administration" (says he) "cannot be answerable to you, as
long as they see the municipalities arrogate to themselves an authority
over the troops which your institutions have reserved wholly to the
monarch. You have fixed the limits of the military authority and the
municipal authority. You have bounded the action which you have
permitted to the latter over the former to the right of requisition; but
never did the letter or the spirit of your decrees authorize the commons
in these municipalities to break the officers, to try them, to give
orders to the soldiers, to drive them from the posts committed to their
guard, to stop them in their marches ordered by the king, or, in a word,
to enslave the troops to the caprice of each of the cities or even
market-towns through which they are to pass."

Such is the character and disposition of the municipal society which is
to reclaim the soldiery, to bring them back to the true principles of
military subordination, and to lender them machines in the hands of the
supreme power of the country! Such are the distempers of the French
troops! Such is their cure! As the army is, so is the navy. The
municipalities supersede the orders of the Assembly, and the seamen in
their turn supersede the orders of the municipalities. From my heart I
pity the condition of a respectable servant of the public, like this war
minister, obliged in his old age to pledge the Assembly in their civic
cups, and to enter with a hoary head into all the fantastic vagaries of
these juvenile politicians. Such schemes are not like propositions
coming from a man of fifty years' wear and tear amongst mankind. They
seem rather such as ought to be expected from those grand compounders in
politics who shorten the road to their degrees in the state, and have a
certain inward fanatical assurance and illumination upon all
subjects,--upon the credit of which, one of their doctors has thought
fit, with great applause, and greater success, to caution the Assembly
not to attend to old men, or to any persons who value themselves upon
their experience. I suppose all the ministers of state must qualify, and
take this test,--wholly abjuring the errors and heresies of experience
and observation. Every man has his own relish; but I think, if I could
not attain to the wisdom, I would at least preserve something of the
stiff and peremptory dignity of age. These gentlemen deal in
regeneration: but at any price I should hardly yield my rigid fibres to
be regenerated by them,--nor begin, in my grand climacteric, to squall
in their new accents, or to stammer, in my second cradle, the elemental
sounds of their barbarous metaphysics.[128] _Si isti mihi largiantur ut
repuerascam, et in eorum cunis vagiam, valde recusem!_

The imbecility of any part of the puerile and pedantic system which they
call a Constitution cannot be laid open without discovering the utter
insufficiency and mischief of every other part with which it comes in
contact, or that bears any the remotest relation to it. You cannot
propose a remedy for the incompetence of the crown, without displaying
the debility of the Assembly. You cannot deliberate on the confusion of
the army of the state, without disclosing the worse disorders of the
armed municipalities. The military lays open the civil, and the civil
betrays the military anarchy. I wish everybody carefully to peruse the
eloquent speech (such it is) of Mons. de La Tour du Pin. He attributes
the salvation of the municipalities to the good behavior of some of the
troops. These troops are to preserve the well-disposed part of the
municipalities, which is confessed to be the weakest, from the pillage
of the worst disposed, which is the strongest. But the municipalities
affect a sovereignty, and will command those troops which are necessary
for their protection. Indeed, they must command them or court them. The
municipalities, by the necessity of their situation, and by the
republican powers they have obtained, must, with relation to the
military, be the masters, or the servants, or the confederates, or each
successively, or they must make a jumble of all together, according to
circumstances. What government is there to coerce the army but the
municipality, or the municipality but the army? To preserve concord
where authority is extinguished, at the hazard of all consequences, the
Assembly attempts to cure the distempers by the distempers themselves;
and they hope to preserve themselves from a purely military democracy by
giving it a debauched interest in the municipal.

If the soldiers once come to mix for any time in the municipal clubs,
cabals, and confederacies, an elective attraction will draw them to the
lowest and most desperate part. With them will be their habits,
affections, and sympathies. The military conspiracies which are to be
remedied by civic confederacies, the rebellious municipalities which are
to be rendered obedient by furnishing them with the means of seducing
the very armies of the state that are to keep them in order,--all these
chimeras of a monstrous and portentous policy must aggravate the
confusion from which they have arisen. There must be blood. The want of
common judgment manifested in the construction of all their descriptions
of forces, and in all their kinds of civil and judicial authorities,
will make it flow. Disorders may be quieted in one time and in one
part. They will break out in others; because the evil is radical and
intrinsic. All these schemes of mixing mutinous soldiers with seditious
citizens must weaken still more and more the military connection of
soldiers with their officers, as well as add military and mutinous
audacity to turbulent artificers and peasants. To secure a real army,
the officer should be first and last in the eye of the soldier,--first
and last in his attention, observance, and esteem. Officers, it seems,
there are to be, whose chief qualification must be temper and patience.
They are to manage their troops by electioneering arts. They must bear
themselves as candidates, not as commanders. But as by such means power
may be occasionally in their hands, the authority by which they are to
be nominated becomes of high importance.

What you may do finally does not appear: nor is it of much moment,
whilst the strange and contradictory relation between your army and all
the parts of your republic, as well as the puzzled relation of those
parts to each other and to the whole, remain as they are. You seem to
have given the provisional nomination of the officers, in the first
instance, to the king, with a reserve of approbation by the National
Assembly. Men who have an interest to pursue are extremely sagacious in
discovering the true seat of power. They must soon perceive that those
who can negative indefinitely in reality appoint. The officers must
therefore look to their intrigues in the Assembly as the sole certain
road to promotion. Still, however, by your new Constitution, they must
begin their solicitation at court. This double negotiation for military
rank seems to me a contrivance, as well adapted as if it were studied
for no other end, to promote faction in the Assembly itself relative to
this vast military patronage,--and then to poison the corps of officers
with factions of a nature still more dangerous to the safety of
government, upon any bottom on which it can be placed, and destructive
in the end to the efficacy of the army itself. Those officers who lose
the promotions intended for them by the crown must become of a faction
opposite to that of the Assembly which has rejected their claims, and
must nourish discontents in the heart of the army against the ruling
powers. Those officers, on the other hand, who, by carrying their point
through an interest in the Assembly, feel themselves to be at best only
second in the good-will of the crown, though first in that of the
Assembly, must slight an authority which would not advance and could not
retard their promotion. If, to avoid these evils, you will have no other
rule for command or promotion than seniority, you will have an army of
formality; at the same time it will become more independent and more of
a military republic. Not they, but the king is the machine. A king is
not to be deposed by halves. If he is not everything in the command of
an army, he is nothing. What is the effect of a power placed nominally
at the head of the army, who to that army is no object of gratitude or
of fear? Such a cipher is not fit for the administration of an object of
all things the most delicate, the supreme command of military men. They
must be constrained (and their inclinations lead them to what their
necessities require) by a real, vigorous, effective, decided, personal
authority. The authority of the Assembly itself suffers by passing
through such a debilitating channel as they have chosen. The army will
not long look to an Assembly acting through the organ of false show and
palpable imposition. They will not seriously yield obedience to a
prisoner. They will either despise a pageant, or they will pity a
captive king. This relation of your army to the crown will, if I am not
greatly mistaken, become a serious dilemma in your politics.

It is besides to be considered, whether an Assembly like yours, even
supposing that it was in possession of another sort of organ, through
which its orders were to pass, is fit for promoting the obedience and
discipline of an army. It is known that armies have hitherto yielded a
very precarious and uncertain obedience to any senate or popular
authority; and they will least of all yield it to an Assembly which is
to have only a continuance of two years. The officers must totally lose
the characteristic disposition of military men, if they see with perfect
submission and due admiration the dominion of pleaders,--especially when
they find that they have a new court to pay to an endless succession of
those pleaders, whose military policy, and the genius of whose command,
(if they should have any,) must be as uncertain as their duration is
transient. In the weakness of one kind of authority, and in the
fluctuation of all, the officers of an army will remain for some time
mutinous and full of faction, until some popular general, who
understands the art of conciliating the soldiery, and who possesses the
true spirit of command, shall draw the eyes of all men upon himself.
Armies will obey him on his personal account. There is no other way of
securing military obedience in this state of things. But the moment in
which that event shall happen, the person who really commands the army
is your master,--the master (that is little) of your king, the master of
your Assembly, the master of your whole republic.

How came the Assembly by their present power over the army? Chiefly, to
be sure, by debauching the soldiers from their officers. They have begun
by a most terrible operation. They have touched the central point about
which the particles that compose armies are at repose. They have
destroyed the principle of obedience in the great, essential, critical
link between the officer and the soldier, just where the chain of
military subordination commences, and on which the whole of that system,
depends. The soldier is told he is a citizen, and has the rights of man
and citizen. The right of a man, he is told, is, to be his own governor,
and to be ruled only by those to whom he delegates that self-government.
It is very natural he should think that he ought most of all to have his
choice where he is to yield the greatest degree of obedience. He will
therefore, in all probability, systematically do what he does at present
occasionally: that is, he will exercise at least a negative in the
choice of his officers. At present the officers are known at best to be
only permissive, and on their good behavior. In fact, there have been
many instances in which they have been cashiered by their corps. Here is
a second negative on the choice of the king: a negative as effectual, at
least, as the other of the Assembly. The soldiers know already that it
has been a question, not ill received in the National Assembly, whether
they ought not to have the direct choice of their officers, or some
proportion of them. When such matters are in deliberation, it is no
extravagant supposition that they will incline to the opinion most
favorable to their pretensions. They will not bear to be deemed the army
of an imprisoned king, whilst another army in the same country, with
whom too they are to feast and confederate, is to be considered as the
free army of a free Constitution. They will cast their eyes on the other
and more permanent army: I mean the municipal. That corps, they well
know, does actually elect its own officers. They may not be able to
discern the grounds of distinction on which they are not to elect a
Marquis de La Fayette (or what is his new name?) of their own. If this
election of a commander-in-chief be a part of the rights of men, why not
of theirs? They see elective justices of peace, elective judges,
elective curates, elective bishops, elective municipalities, and
elective commanders of the Parisian army. Why should they alone be
excluded? Are the brave troops of France the only men in that nation who
are not the fit judges of military merit, and of the qualifications
necessary for a commander-in-chief? Are they paid by the state, and do
they therefore lose the rights of men? They are a part of that nation
themselves, and contribute to that pay. And is not the king, is not the
National Assembly, and are not all who elect the National Assembly,
likewise paid? Instead of seeing all these forfeit their rights by their
receiving a salary, they perceive that in all these cases a salary is
given for the exercise of those rights. All your resolutions, all your
proceedings, all your debates, all the works of your doctors in religion
and politics, have industriously been put into their hands; and you
expect that they will apply to their own case just as much of your
doctrines and examples as suits your pleasure.

Everything depends upon the army in such a government as yours; for you
have industriously destroyed all the opinions and prejudices, and, as
far as in you lay, all the instincts which support government. Therefore
the moment any difference arises between your National Assembly and any
part of the nation, you must have recourse to force. Nothing else is
left to you,--or rather, you have left nothing else to yourselves. You
see, by the report of your war minister, that the distribution of the
army is in a great measure made with a view of internal coercion.[129]
You must rule by an army; and you have infused into that army by which
you rule, as well as into the whole body of the nation, principles which
after a time must disable you in the use you resolve to make of it. The
king is to call out troops to act against his people, when the world has
been told, and the assertion is still ringing in our ears, that troops
ought not to fire on citizens. The colonies assert to themselves an
independent constitution and a free trade. They must be constrained by
troops. In what chapter of your code of the rights of men are they able
to read that it is a part of the rights of men to have their commerce
monopolized and restrained for the benefit of others? As the colonists
rise on you, the negroes rise on them. Troops again,--massacre, torture,
hanging! These are your rights of men! These are the fruits of
metaphysic declarations wantonly made and shamefully retracted! It was
but the other day that the farmers of land in one of your provinces
refused to pay some sorts of rents to the lord of the soil. In
consequence of this, you decree that the country-people shall pay all
rents and dues, except those which as grievances you have abolished; and
if they refuse, then you order the king to march troops against them.
You lay down metaphysic propositions which infer universal consequences,
and then you attempt to limit logic by despotism. The leaders of the
present system tell them of their rights, as men, to take fortresses, to
murder guards, to seize on kings without the least appearance of
authority even from the Assembly, whilst, as the sovereign legislative
body, that Assembly was sitting in the name of the nation; and yet these
leaders presume to order out the troops which have acted in these very
disorders, to coerce those who shall judge on the principles and follow
the examples which have been guarantied by their own approbation.

The leaders teach the people to abhor and reject all feodality as the
barbarism of tyranny; and they tell them afterwards how much of that
barbarous tyranny they are to bear with patience. As they are prodigal
of light with regard to grievances, so the people find them sparing in
the extreme with regard to redress. They know that not only certain
quit-rents and personal duties, which you have permitted them to redeem,
(but have furnished no money for the redemption,) are as nothing to
those burdens for which you have made no provision at all; they know
that almost the whole system of landed property in its origin is
feudal,--that it is the distribution of the possessions of the original
proprietors made by a barbarous conqueror to his barbarous
instruments,--and that the most grievous effects of the conquest axe the
land-rents of every kind, as without question they are.

The peasants, in all probability, are the descendants of these ancient
proprietors, Romans or Gauls. But if they fail, in any degree, in the
titles which they make on the principles of antiquaries and lawyers,
they retreat into the citadel of the rights of men. There they find that
men are equal; and the earth, the kind and equal mother of all, ought
not to be monopolized to foster the pride and luxury of any men, who by
nature are no better than themselves, and who, if they do not labor for
their bread, are worse. They find, that, by the laws of Nature, the
occupant and subduer of the soil is the true proprietor,--that there is
no prescription against Nature,--and that the agreements (where any
there are) which have been made with the landlords during the time of
slavery are only the effect of duresse and force,--and that, when the
people reentered into the rights of men, those agreements were made as
void as everything else which had been settled under the prevalence of
the old feudal and aristocratic tyranny. They will tell you that they
see no difference between an idler with a hat and a national cockade and
an idler in a cowl or in a rochet. If you ground the title to rents on
succession and prescription, they tell you from the speech of M. Camus,
published by the National Assembly for their information, that things
ill begun cannot avail themselves of prescription,--that the title of
those lords was vicious in its origin,--and that force is at least as
bad as fraud. As to the title by succession, they will tell you that the
succession of those who have cultivated the soil is the true pedigree of
property, and not rotten parchments and silly substitutions,--that the
lords have enjoyed their usurpation too long,--and that, if they allow
to these lay monks any charitable pension, they ought to be thankful to
the bounty of the true proprietor, who is so generous towards a false
claimant to his goods.

When the peasants give you back that coin of sophistic reason on which
you have set your image and superscription, you cry it down as base
money, and tell them you will pay for the future with French guards and
dragoons and hussars. You hold up, to chastise them, the second-hand
authority of a king, who is only the instrument of destroying, without
any power of protecting either the people or his own person. Through
him, it seems, you will make yourselves obeyed. They answer,--"You have
taught us that there are no gentlemen; and which of your principles
teach us to bow to kings whom we have not elected? We know, without your
teaching, that lands were given for the support of feudal dignities,
feudal titles, and feudal offices. When you took down the cause as a
grievance, why should the more grievous effect remain? As there are now
no hereditary honors and no distinguished families, why are we taxed to
maintain what you tell us ought not to exist? You have sent down our old
aristocratic landlords in no other character and with no other title but
that of exactors under your authority. Have you endeavored to make these
your rent-gatherers respectable to us? No. You have sent them to us with
their arms reversed, their shields broken, their impresses defaced,--and
so displumed, degraded, and metamorphosed, such unfeathered two-legged
things, that we no longer know them. They are strangers to us. They do
not even go by the names of our ancient lords. Physically they may be
the same men,--though we are not quite sure of that, on your new
philosophic doctrines of personal identity. In all other respects they
are totally changed. We do not see why we have not as good a right to
refuse them their rents as you have to abrogate all their honors,
titles, and distinctions. This we have never commissioned you to do; and
it is one instance among many, indeed, of your assumption of undelegated
power. We see the burghers of Paris, through their clubs, their mobs,
and their national guards, directing you at their pleasure, and giving
that as law to you, which, under your authority, is transmitted as law
to us. Through you, these burghers dispose of the lives and fortunes of
us all. Why should not you attend as much to the desires of the
laborious husbandman with regard to our rent, by which we are affected
in the most serious manner, as you do to the demands of these insolent
burghers relative to distinctions and titles of honor, by which neither
they nor we are affected at all? But we find you pay more regard to
their fancies than to our necessities. Is it among the rights of man to
pay tribute to his equals? Before this measure of yours we might have
thought we were not perfectly equal; we might have entertained some old,
habitual, unmeaning prepossession in favor of those landlords; but we
cannot conceive with what other view than that of destroying all respect
to them you could have made the law that degrades them. You have
forbidden us to treat them with any of the old formalities of respect;
and now you send troops to sabre and to bayonet us into a submission to
fear and force which you did not suffer us to yield to the mild
authority of opinion."

The ground of some of these arguments is horrid and ridiculous to all
rational ears; but to the politicians of metaphysics, who have opened
schools for sophistry, and made establishments for anarchy, it is solid
and conclusive. It is obvious, that, on a mere consideration of the
right, the leaders in the Assembly would not in the least have scrupled
to abrogate the rents along with the titles and family ensigns. It would
be only to follow up the principle of their reasonings, and to complete
the analogy of their conduct. But they had newly possessed themselves of
a great body of landed property by confiscation. They had this commodity
at market; and the market would have been wholly destroyed, if they were
to permit the husbandmen to riot in the speculations with which they so
freely intoxicated themselves. The only security which property enjoys
in any one of its descriptions is from the interests of their rapacity
with regard to some other. They have left nothing but their own
arbitrary pleasure to determine what property is to be protected and
what subverted.

Neither have they left any principle by which any of their
municipalities can be bound to obedience,--or even conscientiously
obliged not to separate from the whole, to become independent, or to
connect itself with some other state. The people of Lyons, it seems,
have refused lately to pay taxes. Why should they not? What lawful
authority is there left to exact them? The king imposed some of them.
The old States, methodized by orders, settled the more ancient. They may
say to the Assembly,--"Who are you, that are not our kings, nor the
States we have elected, nor sit on the principles on which we have
elected you? And who are we, that, when we see the _gabelles_ which you
have ordered to be paid wholly shaken off, when we see the act of
disobedience afterwards ratified by yourselves, who are we, that we are
not to judge what taxes we ought or ought not to pay, and are not to
avail ourselves of the same powers the validity of which you have
approved in others?" To this the answer is, "We will send troops." The
last reason of kings is always the first with your Assembly. This
military aid may serve for a time, whilst the impression of the increase
of pay remains, and the vanity of being umpires in all disputes is
flattered. But this weapon will snap short, unfaithful to the hand that
employs it. The Assembly keep a school, where, systematically, and with
unremitting perseverance, they teach principles and form regulations
destructive to all spirit of subordination, civil and military,--and
then they expect that they shall hold in obedience an anarchic people by
an anarchic army.

The municipal army, which, according to their new policy, is to balance
this national army, if considered in itself only, is of a constitution
much more simple, and in every respect less exceptionable. It is a mere
democratic body, unconnected with the crown or the kingdom, armed and
trained and officered at the pleasure of the districts to which the
corps severally belong; and the personal service of the individuals who
compose, or the fine in lieu of personal service, are directed by the
same authority.[130] Nothing is more uniform. If, however, considered in
any relation to the crown, to the National Assembly, to the public
tribunals, or to the other army, or considered in a view to any
coherence or connection between its parts, it seems a monster, and can
hardly fail to terminate its perplexed movements in some great national
calamity. It is a worse preservative of a general constitution than the
systasis of Crete, or the confederation of Poland, or any other
ill-devised corrective which has yet been imagined, in the necessities
produced by an ill-constructed system of government.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having concluded my few remarks on the constitution of the supreme
power, the executive, the judicature, the military, and on the
reciprocal relation of all these establishments, I shall say something
of the ability showed by your legislators with regard to the revenue.

In their proceedings relative to this object, if possible, still fewer
traces appear of political judgment or financial resource. When the
States met, it seemed to be the great object to improve the system of
revenue, to enlarge its collection, to cleanse it of oppression and
vexation, and to establish it on the most solid footing. Great were the
expectations entertained on that head throughout Europe. It was by this
grand arrangement that France was to stand or fall; and this became, in
my opinion very properly, the test by which the skill and patriotism of
those who ruled in that Assembly would be tried. The revenue of the
state is the state. In effect, all depends upon it, whether for support
or for reformation. The dignity of every occupation wholly depends upon
the quantity and the kind of virtue that may be exerted in it. As all
great qualities of the mind which operate in public, and are not merely
suffering and passive, require force for their display, I had almost
said for their unequivocal existence, the revenue, which is the spring
of all power, becomes in its administration the sphere of every active
virtue. Public virtue, being of a nature magnificent and splendid,
instituted for great things, and conversant about great concerns,
requires abundant scope and room, and cannot spread and grow under
confinement, and in circumstances straitened, narrow, and sordid.
Through the revenue alone the body politic can act in its true genius
and character; and therefore it will display just as much of its
collective virtue, and as much of that virtue which may characterize
those who move it, and are, as it were, its life and guiding principle,
as it is possessed of a just revenue. For from hence not only
magnanimity, and liberality, and beneficence, and fortitude, and
providence, and the tutelary protection of all good arts derive their
food, and the growth of their organs, but continence, and self-denial,
and labor, and vigilance, and frugality, and whatever else there is in
which the mind shows itself above the appetite, are nowhere more in
their proper element than in the provision and distribution of the
public wealth. It is therefore not without reason that the science of
speculative and practical finance, which must take to its aid so many
auxiliary branches of knowledge, stands high in the estimation not only
of the ordinary sort, but of the wisest and best men; and as this
science has grown with the progress of its object, the prosperity and
improvement of nations has generally increased with the increase of
their revenues; and they will both continue to grow and flourish as long
as the balance between what is left to strengthen the efforts of
individuals and what is collected for the common efforts of the state
bear to each other a due reciprocal proportion, and are kept in a close
correspondence and communication. And perhaps it may be owing to the
greatness of revenues, and to the urgency of state necessities, that old
abuses in the constitution of finances are discovered, and their true
nature and rational theory comes to be more perfectly understood;
insomuch that a smaller revenue might have been more distressing in one
period than a far greater is found to be in another, the proportionate
wealth even remaining the same. In this state of things, the French
Assembly found something in their revenues to preserve, to secure, and
wisely to administer, as well as to abrogate and alter. Though their
proud assumption might justify the severest tests, yet, in trying their
abilities on their financial proceedings, I would only consider what is
the plain, obvious duty of a common finance minister, and try them upon
that, and not upon models of ideal perfection.

The objects of a financier are, then, to secure an ample revenue; to
impose it with judgment and equality; to employ it economically; and
when necessity obliges him to make use of credit, to secure its
foundations in that instance, and forever, by the clearness and candor
of his proceedings, the exactness of his calculations, and the solidity
of his funds. On these heads we may take a short and distinct view of
the merits and abilities of those in the National Assembly who have
taken to themselves the management of this arduous concern.

Far from any increase of revenue in their hands, I find, by a report of
M. Vernier, from the Committee of Finances, of the second of August
last, that the amount of the national revenue, as compared with its
produce before the Revolution, was diminished by the sum of two hundred
millions, or _eight millions sterling_, of the annual
income,--considerably more than one third of the whole.

If this be the result of great ability, never surely was ability
displayed in a more distinguished manner or with so powerful an effect.
No common folly, no vulgar incapacity, no ordinary official negligence,
even no official crime, no corruption, no peculation, hardly any direct
hostility, which we have seen in the modern world, could in so short a
time have made so complete an overthrow of the finances, and, with them,
of the strength of a great kingdom.--_Cedo qui vestram rempublicam
tantam amisistis tam cito?_

The sophisters and declaimers, as soon as the Assembly met, began with
decrying the ancient constitution of the revenue in many of its most
essential branches, such as the public monopoly of salt. They charged
it, as truly as unwisely, with being ill-contrived, oppressive, and
partial. This representation they were not satisfied to make use of in
speeches preliminary to some plan of reform; they declared it in a
solemn resolution or public sentence, as it were judicially passed upon
it; and this they dispersed throughout the nation. At the time they
passed the decree, with the same gravity they ordered the same absurd,
oppressive, and partial tax to be paid, until they could find a revenue
to replace it. The consequence was inevitable. The provinces which had
been always exempted from this salt monopoly, some of whom were charged
with other contributions, perhaps equivalent, were totally disinclined
to bear any part of the burden, which by an equal distribution was to
redeem the others. As to the Assembly, occupied as it was with the
declaration and violation of the rights of men, and with their
arrangements for general confusion, it had neither leisure nor capacity
to contrive, nor authority to enforce, any plan of any kind relative to
the replacing the tax, or equalizing it, or compensating the provinces,
or for conducting their minds to any scheme of accommodation with the
other districts which were to be relieved. The people of the salt
provinces, impatient under taxes damned by the authority which had
directed their payment, very soon found their patience exhausted. They
thought themselves as skilful in demolishing as the Assembly could be.
They relieved themselves by throwing off the whole burden. Animated by
this example, each district, or part of a district, judging of its own
grievance by its own feeling, and of its remedy by its own opinion, did
as it pleased with other taxes.

We are next to see how they have conducted themselves in contriving
equal impositions, proportioned to the means of the citizens, and the
least likely to lean heavy on the active capital employed in the
generation of that private wealth from whence the public fortune must be
derived. By suffering the several districts, and several of the
individuals in each district, to judge of what part of the old revenue
they might withhold, instead of better principles of equality, a new
inequality was introduced of the most oppressive kind. Payments were
regulated by dispositions. The parts of the kingdom which were the most
submissive, the most orderly, or the most affectionate to the
commonwealth, bore the whole burden of the state. Nothing turns out to
be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government. To fill up all the
deficiencies in the old impositions, and the new deficiencies of every
kind which were to be expected, what remained to a state without
authority? The National Assembly called for a voluntary
benevolence,--for a fourth part of the income of all the citizens, to be
estimated on the honor of those who were to pay. They obtained something
more than could be rationally calculated, but what was far indeed from
answerable to their real necessities, and much less to their fond
expectations. Rational people could have hoped for little from this
their tax in the disguise of a benevolence,--tax weak, ineffective, and
unequal,--a tax by which luxury, avarice, and selfishness were screened,
and the load thrown upon productive capital, upon integrity, generosity,
and public spirit,--a tax of regulation upon virtue. At length the mask
is thrown off, and they are now trying means (with little success) of
exacting their benevolence by force.

This benevolence, the rickety offspring of weakness, was to be supported
by another resource, the twin brother of the same prolific imbecility.
The patriotic donations were to make good the failure of the patriotic
contribution. John Doe was to become security for Richard Roe. By this
scheme they took things of much price from the giver, comparatively of
small value to the receiver; they ruined several trades; they pillaged
the crown of its ornaments, the churches of their plate, and the people
of their personal decorations. The invention of those juvenile
pretenders to liberty was in reality nothing more than a servile
imitation of one of the poorest resources of doting despotism. They took
an old, huge, full-bottomed periwig out of the wardrobe of the
antiquated frippery of Louis the Fourteenth, to cover the premature
baldness of the National Assembly. They produced this old-fashioned
formal folly, though it had been so abundantly exposed in the Memoirs of
the Duke de Saint-Simon,--if to reasonable men it had wanted any
arguments to display its mischief and insufficiency. A device of the
same kind was tried in my memory by Louis the Fifteenth, but it answered
at no time. However, the necessities of ruinous wars were some excuse
for desperate projects. The deliberations of calamity are rarely wise.
But here was a season for disposition and providence. It was in a time
of profound peace, then enjoyed for five years, and promising a much
longer continuance, that they had recourse to this desperate trifling.
They were sure to lose more reputation by sporting, in their serious
situation, with these toys and playthings of finance, which have filled
half their journals, than could possibly be compensated by the poor
temporary supply which they afforded. It seemed as if those who adopted
such projects were wholly ignorant of their circumstances, or wholly
unequal to their necessities. Whatever virtue may be in these devices,
it is obvious that neither the patriotic gifts nor the patriotic
contribution can ever be resorted to again. The resources of public
folly are soon exhausted. The whole, indeed, of their scheme of revenue
is to make, by any artifice, an appearance of a full reservoir for the
hour, whilst at the same time they cut off the springs and living
fountains of perennial supply. The account not long since furnished by
M. Necker was meant, without question, to be favorable. He gives a
flattering view of the means of getting through the year; but he
expresses, as it is natural he should, some apprehension for that which
was to succeed. On this last prognostic, instead of entering into the
grounds of this apprehension, in order, by a proper foresight, to
prevent the prognosticated evil, M. Necker receives a sort of friendly
reprimand from the President of the Assembly.

As to their other schemes of taxation, it is impossible to say anything
of them with certainty, because they have not yet had their operation;
but nobody is so sanguine as to imagine they will fill up any
perceptible part of the wide gaping breach which their incapacity has
made in their revenues. At present the state of their treasury sinks
every day more and more in cash, and swells more and more in fictitious
representation. When so little within or without is now found but paper,
the representative not of opulence, but of want, the creature not of
credit, but of power, they imagine that our flourishing state in England
is owing to that bank-paper, and not the bank-paper to the flourishing
condition of our commerce, to the solidity of our credit, and to the
total exclusion of all idea of power from any part of the transaction.
They forget that in England not one shilling of paper money of any
description is received but of choice,--that the whole has had its
origin in cash actually deposited,--and that it is convertible at
pleasure, in an instant, and without the smallest loss, into cash again.
Our paper is of value in commerce, because in law it is of none. It is
powerful on 'Change, because in Westminster Hall it is impotent. In
payment of a debt of twenty shillings a creditor may refuse all the
paper of the Bank of England. Nor is there amongst us a single public
security, of any quality or nature whatsoever, that is enforced by
authority. In fact, it might be easily shown that our paper wealth,
instead of lessening the real coin, has a tendency to increase
it,--instead of being a substitute for money, it only facilitates its
entry, its exit, and its circulation,--that it is the symbol of
prosperity, and not the badge of distress. Never was a scarcity of cash
and an exuberance of paper a subject of complaint in this nation.

Well! but a lessening of prodigal expenses, and the economy which has
been introduced by the virtuous and sapient Assembly, make amends for
the losses sustained in the receipt of revenue. In this at least they
have fulfilled the duty of a financier.--Have those who say so looked at
the expenses of the National Assembly itself? of the municipalities? of
the city of Paris? of the increased pay of the two armies? of the new
police? of the new judicatures? Have they even carefully compared the
present pension-list with the former? These politicians have been cruel,
not economical. Comparing the expenses of the former prodigal government
and its relation to the then revenues with the expenses of this new
system as opposed to the state of its new treasury, I believe the
present will be found beyond all comparison more chargeable.[131]

It remains only to consider the proofs of financial ability furnished
by the present French managers when they are to raise supplies on
credit. Here I am a little at a stand; for credit, properly speaking,
they have none. The credit of the ancient government was not, indeed,
the best; but they could always, on some terms, command money, not only
at home, but from most of the countries of Europe where a surplus
capital was accumulated; and the credit of that government was improving
daily. The establishment of a system of liberty would of course be
supposed to give it new strength: and so it would actually have done, if
a system of liberty had been established. What offers has their
government of pretended liberty had from Holland, from Hamburg, from
Switzerland, from Genoa, from England, for a dealing in their paper? Why
should these nations of commerce and economy enter into any pecuniary
dealings with a people who attempt to reverse the very nature of
things,--amongst whom they see the debtor prescribing at the point of
the bayonet the medium of his solvency to the creditor, discharging one
of his engagements with another, turning his very penury into his
resource, and paying his interest with his rags?

Their fanatical confidence in the omnipotence of Church plunder has
induced these philosophers to overlook all care of the public estate,
just as the dream of the philosopher's stone induces dupes, under the
more plausible delusion of the hermetic art, to neglect all rational
means of improving their fortunes. With these philosophic financiers,
this universal medicine made of Church mummy is to cure all the evils of
the state. These gentlemen perhaps do not believe a great deal in the
miracles of piety; but it cannot be questioned that they have an
undoubting faith in the prodigies of sacrilege. Is there a debt which
presses them? Issue _assignats_. Are compensations to be made or a
maintenance decreed to those whom they have robbed of their freehold in
their office or expelled from their profession? _Assignats_. Is a fleet
to be fitted out? _Assignats_. If sixteen millions sterling of these
_assignats_ forced on the people leave the wants of the state as urgent
as ever, Issue, says one, thirty millions sterling of _assignats_,--says
another, Issue fourscore millions more of _assignats_. The only
difference among their financial factions is on the greater or the
lesser quantity of _assignats_ to be imposed on the public sufferance.
They are all professors of _assignats_. Even those whose natural good
sense and knowledge of commerce, not obliterated by philosophy, furnish
decisive arguments against this delusion, conclude their arguments by
proposing the emission of _assignats_. I suppose they must talk of
_assignats_, as no other language would be understood. All experience of
their inefficacy does not in the least discourage them. Are the old
_assignats_ depreciated at market? What is the remedy? Issue new
_assignats_.--_Mais si maladia opiniatria non vult se garire, quid illi
facere? Assignare; postea assignare; ensuita assignare_. The word is a
trifle altered. The Latin of your present doctors may be better than
that of your old comedy; their wisdom and the variety of their resources
are the same. They have not more notes in their song than the cuckoo;
though, far from the softness of that harbinger of summer and plenty,
their voice is as harsh and as ominous as that of the raven.

Who but the most desperate adventurers in philosophy and finance could
at all have thought of destroying the settled revenue of the state, the
sole security for the public credit, in the hope of rebuilding it with
the materials of confiscated property? If, however, an excessive zeal
for the state should have led a pious and venerable prelate (by
anticipation a father of the Church[132]) to pillage his own order, and,
for the good of the Church and people, to take upon himself the place of
grand financier of confiscation and comptroller-general of sacrilege, he
and his coadjutors were, in my opinion, bound to show, by their
subsequent conduct, that they knew something of the office they assumed.
When they had resolved to appropriate to the _fisc_ a certain portion of
the landed property of their conquered country, it was their business to
render their bank a real fund of credit,--as far as such a bank was
capable of becoming so.

To establish a current circulating credit upon any _land-bank_, under
any circumstances whatsoever, has hitherto proved difficult at the very
least. The attempt has commonly ended in bankruptcy. But when the
Assembly were led, through a contempt of moral, to a defiance of
economical principles, it might at least have been expected that nothing
would be omitted on their part to lessen this difficulty, to prevent
any aggravation of this bankruptcy. It might be expected, that, to
render your land-bank tolerable, every means would be adopted that could
display openness and candor in the statement of the security, everything
which could aid the recovery of the demand. To take things in their most
favorable point of view, your condition was that of a man of a large
landed estate which he wished to dispose of for the discharge of a debt
and the supply of certain services. Not being able instantly to sell,
you wished to mortgage. What would a man of fair intentions and a
commonly clear understanding do in such circumstances? Ought he not
first to ascertain the gross value of the estate, the charges of its
management and disposition, the incumbrances perpetual and temporary of
all kinds that affect it,--then, striking a net surplus, to calculate
the just value of the security? When that surplus (the only security to
the creditor) had been clearly ascertained, and properly vested in the
hands of trustees, then he would indicate the parcels to be sold, and
the time and conditions of sale; after this he would admit the public
creditor, if he chose it, to subscribe his stock into this new fund,--or
he might receive proposals for an _assignat_ from those who would
advance money to purchase this species of security. This would be to
proceed like men of business, methodically and rationally, and on the
only principles of public and private credit that have an existence. The
dealer would then know exactly what he purchased; and the only doubt
which could hang upon his mind would be the dread of the resumption of
the spoil, which one day might be made (perhaps with an addition of
punishment) from the sacrilegious gripe of those execrable wretches who
could become purchasers at the auction of their innocent

An open, and exact statement of the clear value of the property, and of
the time, the circumstances, and the place of sale, were all necessary,
to efface as much as possible the stigma that has hitherto been branded
on every kind of land-bank. It became necessary on another
principle,--that is, on account of a pledge of faith previously given on
that subject, that their future fidelity in a slippery concern might be
established by their adherence to their first engagement. When they had
finally determined on a state resource from Church booty, they came, on
the fourteenth of April, 1790, to a solemn resolution on the subject,
and pledged themselves to their country, "that, in the statement of the
public charges for each year, there should be brought to account a sum
sufficient for defraying the expenses of the R.C.A. religion, the
support of the ministers at the altars, the relief of the poor, the
pensions to the ecclesiastics, secular as well as regular, of the one
and of the other sex, _in order that the estates and goods which are at
the disposal of the nation may be disengaged of all charges, and
employed by the representatives, or the legislative body, to the great
and most pressing exigencies of the state."_ They further engaged, on
the same day, that the sum necessary for the year 1791 should be
forthwith determined.

In this resolution they admit it their duty to show distinctly the
expense of the above objects, which, by other resolutions, they had
before engaged should be first in the order of provision. They admit
that they ought to show the estate clear and disengaged of all charges,
and that they should show it immediately. Have they done this
immediately, or at any time? Have they ever furnished a rent-roll of the
immovable estate, or given in an inventory of the movable effects, which
they confiscate to their assignats? In what manner they can fulfil their
engagements of holding out to public service "an estate disengaged of
all charges," without authenticating the value of the estate or the
quantum of the charges, I leave it to their English admirers to explain.
Instantly upon this assurance, and previously to any one step towards
making it good, they issue, on the credit of so handsome a declaration,
sixteen millions sterling of their paper. This was manly. Who, after
this masterly stroke, can doubt of their abilities in finance?--But
then, before any other emission of these financial _indulgences_, they
took care at least to make good their original promise.--If such
estimate, either of the value of the estate or the amount of the
incumbrances, has been made, it has escaped me. I never heard of it.

At length they have spoken out, and they have made a full discovery of
their abominable fraud in holding out the Church lands as a security for
any debts or any service whatsoever. They rob only to enable them to
cheat; but in a very short time they defeat the ends both of the robbery
and the fraud, by making out accounts for other purposes, which blow up
their whole apparatus of force and of deception. I am obliged to M. de
Calonne for his reference to the document which proves this
extraordinary fact: it had by some means escaped me. Indeed, it was not
necessary to make out my assertion as to the breach of faith on the
declaration of the fourteenth of April, 1790. By a report of their
committee it now appears that the charge of keeping up the reduced
ecclesiastical establishments, and other expenses attendant on religion,
and maintaining the religious of both sexes, retained or pensioned, and
the other concomitant expenses of the same nature, which they have
brought upon themselves by this convulsion in property, exceeds the
income of the estates acquired by it in the enormous sum of two millions
sterling annually,--besides a debt of seven millions and upwards. These
are the calculating powers of imposture! This is the finance of
philosophy! This is the result of all the delusions held out to engage a
miserable people in rebellion, murder, and sacrilege, and to make them
prompt and zealous instruments in the ruin of their country! Never did a
state, in any case, enrich itself by the confiscations of the citizens.
This new experiment has succeeded like all the rest. Every honest mind,
every true lover of liberty and humanity, must rejoice to find that
injustice is not always good policy, nor rapine the high-road to riches.
I subjoin with pleasure, in a note, the able and spirited observations
of M. de Calonne on this subject.[133]

In order to persuade the world of the bottomless resource of
ecclesiastical confiscation, the Assembly have proceeded to other
confiscations of estates in offices, which could not be done with any
common color without being compensated out of this grand confiscation of
landed property. They have thrown upon this fund, which was to show a
surplus disengaged of all charges, a new charge, namely, the
compensation to the whole body of the disbanded judicature, and of all
suppressed offices and estates: a charge which I cannot ascertain, but
which unquestionably amounts to many French millions. Another of the new
charges is an annuity of four hundred and eighty thousand pounds
sterling, to be paid (if they choose to keep faith) by daily payments,
for the interest of the first assignats. Have they ever given themselves
the trouble to state fairly the expense of the management of the Church
lands in the hands of the municipalities, to whose care, skill, and
diligence, and that of their legion of unknown under-agents, they have
chosen to commit the charge of the forfeited estates, and the
consequence of which had been so ably pointed out by the Bishop of

But it is unnecessary to dwell on these obvious heads of incumbrance.
Have they made out any clear state of the grand incumbrance of all, I
mean the whole of the general and municipal establishments of all sorts,
and compared it with the regular income by revenue? Every deficiency in
these becomes a charge on the confiscated estate, before the creditor
can plant his cabbages on an acre of Church property. There is no other
prop than this confiscation to keep the whole state from tumbling to the
ground. In this situation they have purposely covered all, that they
ought industriously to have cleared, with a thick fog; and then,
blindfold themselves, like bulls that shut their eyes when they push,
they drive, by the point of the bayonets, their slaves, blindfolded
indeed no worse than their lords, to take their fictions for currencies,
and to swallow down paper pills by thirty-four millions sterling at a
dose. Then they proudly lay in their claim to a future credit, on
failure of all their past engagements, and at a time when (if in such a
matter anything can be clear) it is clear that the surplus estates will
never answer even the first of their mortgages,--I mean that of the four
hundred millions (or sixteen millions sterling) of assignats. In all
this procedure I can discern neither the solid sense of plain dealing
nor the subtle dexterity of ingenious fraud. The objections within the
Assembly to pulling up the flood-gates for this inundation of fraud are
unanswered; but they are thoroughly refuted by an hundred thousand
financiers in the street. These are the numbers by which the metaphysic
arithmeticians compute. These are the grand calculations on which a
philosophical public credit is founded in France. They cannot raise
supplies; but they can raise mobs. Let them rejoice in the applauses of
the club at Dundee for their wisdom and patriotism in having thus
applied the plunder of the citizens to the service of the state. I hear
of no address upon this subject from the directors of the Bank of
England,--though their approbation would be of a _little_ more weight in
the scale of credit than that of the club at Dundee. But to do justice
to the club, I believe the gentlemen who compose it to be wiser than
they appear,--that they will be less liberal of their money than of
their addresses, and that they would not give a dog's ear of their most
rumpled and ragged Scotch paper for twenty of your fairest assignats.

Early in this year the Assembly issued paper to the amount of sixteen
millions sterling. What must have been the state into which the Assembly
has brought your affairs, that the relief afforded by so vast a supply
has been hardly perceptible? This paper also felt an almost immediate
depreciation of five per cent, which in a little time came to about
seven. The effect of these assignats on the receipt of the revenue is
remarkable. M. Necker found that the collectors of the revenue, who
received in coin, paid the treasury in assignats. The collectors made
seven per cent by thus receiving in money, and accounting in depreciated
paper. It was not very difficult to foresee that this must be
inevitable. It was, however, not the less embarrassing. M. Necker was
obliged (I believe, for a considerable part, in the market of London) to
buy gold and silver for the mint, which amounted to about twelve
thousand pounds above the value of the commodity gained. That minister
was of opinion, that, whatever their secret nutritive virtue might be,
the state could not live upon assignats alone,--that some real silver
was necessary, particularly for the satisfaction of those who, having
iron in their hands, were not likely to distinguish themselves for
patience, when they should perceive, that, whilst an increase of pay was
held out to them in real money, it was again to be fraudulently drawn
back by depreciated paper. The minister, in this very natural distress,
applied to the Assembly, that they should order the collectors to pay in
specie what in specie they had received. It could not escape him, that,
if the Treasury paid three per cent for the use of a currency which
should be returned seven per cent worse than the minister issued it,
such a dealing could not very greatly tend to enrich the public. The
Assembly took no notice of his recommendation. They were in this
dilemma: If they continued to receive the assignats, cash must become an
alien to their Treasury; if the Treasury should refuse those paper
_amulets_, or should discountenance them in any degree, they must
destroy the credit of their sole resource. They seem, then, to have made
their option, and to have given some sort of credit to their paper by
taking it themselves; at the same time, in their speeches, they made a
sort of swaggering declaration, something, I rather think, above
legislative competence,--that is, that there is no difference in value
between metallic money and their assignats. This was a good, stout,
proof article of faith, pronounced under an anathema by the venerable
fathers of this philosophic synod. _Credat_ who will,--certainly not
_Judaeus Apella_.

A noble indignation rises in the minds of your popular leaders, on
hearing the magic-lantern in their show of finance compared to the
fraudulent exhibitions of Mr. Law. They cannot bear to hear the sands
of his Mississippi compared with the rock of the Church, on which they
build their system. Pray let them suppress this glorious spirit, until
they show to the world what piece of solid ground there is for their
assignats, which they have not preoccupied by other charges. They do
injustice to that great mother fraud, to compare it with their
degenerate imitation. It is not true that Law built solely on a
speculation concerning the Mississippi. He added the East India trade;
he added the African trade; he added the farms of all the farmed revenue
of France. All these together unquestionably could not support the
structure which the public enthusiasm, not he, chose to build upon these
bases. But these were, however, in comparison, generous delusions. They
supposed, and they aimed at, an increase of the commerce of France. They
opened to it the whole range of the two hemispheres. They did not think
of feeding France from its own substance. A grand imagination found in
this flight of commerce something to captivate. It was wherewithal to
dazzle the eye of an eagle. It was not made to entice the smell of a
mole, nuzzling and burying himself in his mother earth, as yours is. Men
were not then quite shrunk from their natural dimensions by a degrading
and sordid philosophy, and fitted for low and vulgar deceptions. Above
all, remember, that, in imposing on the imagination, the then managers
of the system made a compliment to the freedom of men. In their fraud
there was no mixture of force. This was reserved to our time, to quench
the little glimmerings of reason which might break in upon the solid
darkness of this enlightened age.

On recollection, I have said nothing of a scheme of finance which may be
urged in favor of the abilities of these gentlemen, and which has been
introduced with great pomp, though not yet finally adopted in the
National Assembly. It comes with something solid in aid of the credit of
the paper circulation; and much has been said of its utility and its
elegance. I mean the project for coining into money the bells of the
suppressed churches. This is their alchemy. There are some follies which
baffle argument, which go beyond ridicule, and which excite no feeling
in us but disgust; and therefore I say no more upon it.

It is as little worth remarking any farther upon all their drawing and
re-drawing, on their circulation for putting off the evil day, on the
play between the Treasury and the _Caisse d'Escompte_, and on all these
old, exploded contrivances of mercantile fraud, now exalted into policy
of state. The revenue will not be trifled with. The prattling about the
rights of men will not be accepted in payment of a biscuit or a pound of
gunpowder. Here, then, the metaphysicians descend from their airy
speculations, and faithfully follow examples. What examples? The
examples of bankrupts. But defeated, baffled, disgraced, when their
breath, their strength, their inventions, their fancies desert them,
their confidence still maintains its ground. In the manifest failure of
their abilities, they take credit for their benevolence. When the
revenue disappears in their hands, they have the presumption, in some of
their late proceedings, to value _themselves_ on the relief given to the
people. They did not relieve the people. If they entertained such
intentions, why did they order the obnoxious taxes to be paid? The
people relieved themselves, in spite of the Assembly.

But waiving all discussion on the parties who may claim the merit of
this fallacious relief, has there been, in effect, any relief to the
people in any form? M. Bailly, one of the grand agents of paper
circulation, lets you into the nature of this relief. His speech to the
National Assembly contained a high and labored panegyric on the
inhabitants of Paris, for the constancy and unbroken resolution with
which they have borne their distress and misery. A fine picture of
public felicity! What! great courage and unconquerable firmness of mind
to endure benefits and sustain redress? One would think, from the speech
of this learned lord mayor, that the Parisians, for this twelvemonth
past, had been suffering the straits of some dreadful blockade,--that
Henry the Fourth had been stopping up the avenues to their supply, and
Sully thundering with his ordnance at the gates of Paris,--when in
reality they are besieged by no other enemies than their own madness and
folly, their own credulity and perverseness. But M. Bailly will sooner
thaw the eternal ice of his Atlantic regions than restore the central
heat to Paris, whilst it remains "smitten with the cold, dry, petrific
mace" of a false and unfeeling philosophy. Some time after this speech,
that is, on the thirteenth of last August, the same magistrate, giving
an account of his government at the bar of the same Assembly, expresses
himself as follows:--"In the month of July, 1789," (the period of
everlasting commemoration,) "the finances of the city of Paris were
_yet_ in good order; the expenditure was counterbalanced by the receipt,
and she had at that time a million [forty thousand pounds sterling] in
bank. The expenses which she has been constrained to incur, _subsequent
to the Revolution_, amount to 2,500,000 livres. From these expenses, and
the great falling off in the product of the _free gifts_, not only a
momentary, but a _total_, want of money has taken place." This is the
Paris upon whose nourishment, in the course of the last year, such
immense sums, drawn from the vitals of all France, have been expended.
As long as Paris stands in the place of ancient Rome, so long she will
be maintained by the subject provinces. It is an evil inevitably
attendant on the dominion of sovereign democratic republics. As it
happened in Rome, it may survive that republican domination which gave
rise to it. In that case despotism itself must submit to the vices of
popularity. Rome, under her emperors, united the evils of both systems;
and this unnatural combination was one great cause of her ruin.

To tell the people that they are relieved by the dilapidation of their
public estate is a cruel and insolent imposition. Statesmen, before they
valued themselves on the relief given to the people by the destruction
of their revenue, ought first to have carefully attended to the solution
of this problem:--Whether it be more advantageous to the people to pay
considerably and to gain in proportion, or to gain little or nothing and
to be disburdened of all contribution? My mind is made up to decide in
favor of the first proposition. Experience is with me, and, I believe,
the best opinions also. To keep a balance between the power of
acquisition on the part of the subject and the demands he is to answer
on the part of the state is the fundamental part of the skill of a true
politician. The means of acquisition are prior in time and in
arrangement. Good order is the foundation of all good things. To be
enabled to acquire, the people, without being servile, must be tractable
and obedient. The magistrate must have his reverence, the laws their
authority. The body of the people must not find the principles of
natural subordination by art rooted out of their minds. They must
respect that property of which they cannot partake. They must labor to
obtain what by labor can be obtained; and when they find, as they
commonly do, the success disproportioned to the endeavor, they must be
taught their consolation in the final proportions of eternal justice. Of
this consolation whoever deprives them deadens their industry, and
strikes at the root of all acquisition as of all conservation. He that
does this is the cruel oppressor, the merciless enemy of the poor and
wretched; at the same time that by his wicked speculations he exposes
the fruits of successful industry and the accumulations of fortune to
the plunder of the negligent, the disappointed, and the unprosperous.

Too many of the financiers by profession are apt to see nothing in
revenue but banks, and circulations, and annuities on lives, and
tontines, and perpetual rents, and all the small wares of the shop. In a
settled order of the state, these things are not to be slighted, nor is
the skill in them to be held of trivial estimation. They are good, but
then only good when they assume the effects of that settled order, and
are built upon it. But when men think that these beggarly contrivances
may supply a resource for the evils which result from breaking up the
foundations of public order, and from causing or suffering the
principles of property to be subverted, they will, in the ruin of their
country, leave a melancholy and lasting monument of the effect of
preposterous politics, and presumptuous, short-sighted, narrow-minded

The effects of the incapacity shown by the popular leaders in all the
great members of the commonwealth are to be covered with the
"all-atoning name" of Liberty. In some people I see great liberty,
indeed; in many, if not in the most, an oppressive, degrading servitude.
But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the
greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness,
without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is
cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their
having high-sounding words in their mouths. Grand, swelling sentiments
of liberty I am sure I do not despise. They warm the heart; they enlarge
and liberalize our minds; they animate our courage in a time of
conflict. Old as I am, I read the fine raptures of Lucan and Corneille
with pleasure. Neither do I wholly condemn the little arts and devices
of popularity. They facilitate the carrying of many points of moment;
they keep the people together; they refresh the mind in its exertions;
and they diffuse occasional gayety over the severe brow of moral
freedom. Every politician ought to sacrifice to the Graces, and to join
compliance with reason. But in such an undertaking as that in France all
these subsidiary sentiments and artifices are of little avail. To make a
government requires no great prudence. Settle the seat of power, teach
obedience, and the work is done. To give freedom is still more easy. It
is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to
form a _free government_, that is, to temper together these opposite
elements of liberty and restraint in one consistent work, requires much
thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, and combining mind.
This I do not find in those who take the lead in the National Assembly.
Perhaps they are not so miserably deficient as they appear. I rather
believe it. It would put them below the common level of human
understanding. But when the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at
an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the
state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of
legislators,--the instruments, not the guides of the people. If any of
them should happen to propose a scheme of liberty soberly limited, and
defined with proper qualifications, he will be immediately outbid by his
competitors, who will produce something more splendidly popular.
Suspicions will be raised of his fidelity to his cause. Moderation will
be stigmatized as the virtue of cowards, and compromise as the prudence
of traitors,--until, in hopes of preserving the credit which may enable
him to temper and moderate on some occasions, the popular leader is
obliged to become active in propagating doctrines and establishing
powers that will afterwards defeat any sober purpose at which he
ultimately might have aimed.

       *       *       *       *       *

But am I so unreasonable as to see nothing at all that deserves
commendation in the indefatigable labors of this Assembly? I do not
deny, that, among an infinite number of acts of violence and folly, some
good may have been done. They who destroy everything certainly will
remove some grievance. They who make everything new have a chance that
they may establish something beneficial. To give them credit for what
they have done in virtue of the authority they have usurped, or to
excuse them in the crimes by which that authority has been acquired, it
must appear that the same things could not have been accomplished
without producing such a revolution. Most assuredly they might; because
almost every one of the regulations made by them, which is not very
equivocal, was either in the cession of the king, voluntarily made at
the meeting of the States, or in the concurrent instructions to the
orders. Some usages have been abolished on just grounds; but they were
such, that, if they had stood as they were to all eternity, they would
little detract from the happiness and prosperity of any state. The
improvements of the National Assembly are superficial, their errors

Whatever they are, I wish my countrymen rather to recommend to our
neighbors the example of the British Constitution than to take models
from them for the improvement of our own. In the former they have got an
invaluable treasure. They are not, I think, without some causes of
apprehension and complaint; but these they do not owe to their
Constitution, but to their own conduct. I think our happy situation
owing to our Constitution,--but owing to the whole of it, and not to any
part singly,--owing in a great measure to what we have left standing in
our several reviews and reformations, as well as to what we have altered
or superadded. Our people will find employment enough for a truly
patriotic, free, and independent spirit, in guarding what they possess
from violation. I would not exclude alteration neither; but even when I
changed, it should be to preserve. I should be led to my remedy by a
great grievance. In what I did, I should follow the example of our
ancestors. I would make the reparation as nearly as possible in the
style of the building. A politic caution, a guarded circumspection, a
moral rather than a complexional timidity, were among the ruling
principles of our forefathers in their most decided conduct. Not being
illuminated with the light of which the gentlemen of France tell us they
have got so abundant a share, they acted under a strong impression of
the ignorance and fallibility of mankind. He that had made them thus
fallible rewarded them for having in their conduct attended to their
nature. Let us imitate their caution, if we wish to deserve their
fortune or to retain their bequests. Let us add, if we please, but let
us preserve what they have left; and standing on the firm ground of the
British Constitution, let us be satisfied to admire, rather than attempt
to follow in their desperate flights, the aeronauts of France.

I have told you candidly my sentiments. I think they are not likely to
alter yours. I do not know that they ought. You are young; you cannot
guide, but must follow, the fortune of your country. But hereafter they
may be of some use to you, in some future form which your commonwealth
may take. In the present it can hardly remain; but before its final
settlement, it may be obliged to pass, as one of our poets says,
"through great varieties of untried being," and in all its
transmigrations to be purified by fire and blood.

I have little to recommend my opinions but long observation and much
impartiality. They come from one who has been no tool of power, no
flatterer of greatness, and who in his last acts does not wish to belie
the tenor of his life. They come from one almost the whole of whose
public exertion has been a struggle for the liberty of others,--from one
in whose breast no anger durable or vehement has ever been kindled but
by what he considered as tyranny, and who snatches from his share in the
endeavors which are used by good men to discredit opulent oppression the
hours he has employed on your affairs, and who in so doing persuades
himself he has not departed from his usual office. They come from one
who desires honors, distinctions, and emoluments but little, and who
expects them not at all,--who has no contempt for fame, and no fear of
obloquy,--who shuns contention, though he will hazard an opinion; from
one who wishes to preserve consistency, but who would preserve
consistency by varying his means to secure the unity of his end,--and,
when the equipoise of the vessel in which he sails may be endangered by
overloading it upon one side, is desirous of carrying the small weight
of his reasons to that which may preserve its equipoise.


[77] Ps. cxlix.

[78] Discourse on the Love of our Country, Nov. 4, 1789, by Dr. Richard
Price, 3d edition, p. 17 and 18.

[79] "Those who dislike that mode of worship which is prescribed by
public authority ought, if they can find _no_ worship _out_ of the
Church which they approve, _to set up a separate worship for
themselves_; and by doing this, and giving an example of a rational and
manly worship, men of _weight_ from their _rank_ and literature may do
the greatest service to society and the world."--P. 18, Dr. Price's

[80] P. 34, Discourse on the Love of our Country, by Dr. Price.

[81] 1st Mary, sess. 3, ch. 1.

[82] "That King James the Second, having endeavored _to subvert the
Constitution_ of the kingdom, by breaking the _original contract_
between king and people, and, by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked
persons, having violated the _fundamental_ laws, and _having withdrawn
himself out of the kingdom_, hath _abdicated_ the government, and the
throne is thereby _vacant_."

[83] P. 23, 23, 24.

[84] See Blackstone's Magna Charta, printed at Oxford, 1759.

[85] 1 W. and M.

[86] Ecclesiasticus, chap, xxxviii. ver. 24, 25. "The wisdom of a
learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little
business shall become wise. How can he get wisdom that holdeth the
plough, and that glorieth in the goad; that driveth oxen, and is
occupied in their labors, and whose talk is of bullocks?"

Ver. 27. "So every carpenter and workmaster, that laboreth night and
day," &c.

Ver. 33. "They shall not be sought for in public counsel, nor sit high
in the congregation: they shall not sit on the judge's seat, nor
understand the sentence of judgment: they cannot declare justice and
judgment, and they shall not be found where parables are spoken."

Ver. 34. "But they will maintain the state of the world."

I do not determine whether this book be canonical, as the Gallican
Church (till lately) has considered it, or apocryphal, as here it is
taken. I am sure it contains a great deal of sense and truth.

[87] Discourse on the Love of our Country, 3rd edit p. 39.

[88] Another of these reverend gentlemen, who was witness to some of the
spectacles which Paris has lately exhibited, expresses himself
thus:--"_A king dragged in submissive triumph by his conquering
subjects_ is one of those appearances of grandeur which seldom rise in
the prospect of human affairs, and which, during the remainder of my
life, I shall think of with wonder and gratification." These gentlemen
agree marvellously in their feelings.

[89] State Trials, Vol. II. p. 360, 363.

[90] 6th of October, 1789.

[91] "Tous les Eveques a la lanterne!"

[92] It is proper here to refer to a letter written upon this subject by
an eyewitness. That eyewitness was one of the most honest, intelligent,
and eloquent members of the National Assembly, one of the most active
and zealous reformers of the state. He was obliged to secede from the
Assembly; and he afterwards became a voluntary exile, on account of the
horrors of this pious triumph, and the dispositions of men, who,
profiting of crimes, if not causing them, have taken the lead in public

_Extract of M. de Lally Tollendal's Second Letter to a Friend_.

"Parlons du parti que j'ai pris; il est bien justife dans ma
conscience.--Ni cette ville coupable, ni cette assemblee plus coupable
encore, ne meritoient que je me justifie; mais j'ai a coeur que vous, et
les personnes qui pensent comme vous, ne me condamnent pas.--Ma sante,
je vous jure, me rendoit mes fonctions impossibles; mais meme en les
mettant de cote il a ete au-dessus de mes forces de supporter plus
longtems l'horreur que me causoit ce sang,--ces tetes,--cette reine
_presque egorgee_,--ce roi, amene _esclave_, entrant a Paris au milieu
de ses assassins, et precede des tetes de ses malheureux gardes,--ces
perfides janissaires, ces assassins, ces femmes cannibales,--ce cri de
TOUS LES EVEQUES A LA LANTERNE, dans le moment ou le roi entre sa
capitale avec deux eveques de son conseil dans sa voiture,--un _coup de
fusil_, que j'ai vu tirer dans un _des carrosses de la reine_,--M.
Bailly appellant cela _un beau jour_,--l'assemblee ayant declare
froidement le matin, qu'il n'etoit pas de sa dignite d'aller toute
entiere environner le roi,--M. Mirabeau disant impunement dans cette
assemblee, que le vaisseau de l'etat, loin d'etre arrete dans sa course,
s'elanceroit avec plus de rapidite que jamais vers sa regeneration,--M.
Barnave, riant avec lui, quand des flots de sang couloient autour de
nous,--le vertueux Mounier[A] echappant par miracle a vingt assassins,
qui avoient voulu faire de sa tete un trophee de plus: Voila ce qui me
fit jurer de ne plus mettre le pied _dans cette caverne d'Antropophages_
[The National Assembly], ou je n'avois plus de force d'elever la voix,
ou depuis six semaines je l'avois elevee en vain.

"Moi, Mounier, et tous les honnetes gens, ont pense que le dernier
effort a faire pour le bien etoit d'en sortir. Aucune idee de crainte ne
s'est approchee de moi. Je rougirois de m'en defendre. J'avois encore
recu sur la route de la part de ce peuple, moins coupable que ceux qui
l'ont enivre de fureur, des acclamations, et des applaudissements, dont
d'autres auroient ete flattes, et qui m'ont fait fremir. C'est a
l'indignation, c'est a l'horreur, c'est aux convulsions physiques, que
le seul aspect du sang me fait eprouver que j'ai cede. On brave une
seule mort; on la brave plusieurs fois, quand elle peut etre utile. Mais
aucune puissance sous le ciel, mais aucune opinion publique ou privee
n'ont le droit de me condamner a souffrir inutilement mille supplices
par minute, et a perir de desespoir, de rage, au milieu des _triomphes_,
du crime que je n'ai pu arreter. Ils me proscriront, ils confisqueront
mes biens. Je labourerai la terre, et je ne les verrai plus. Voila ma
justification. Vous pourrez la lire, la montrer, la laisser copier; tant
pis pour ceux qui ne la comprendront pas; ce ne sera alors moi qui
auroit eu tort de la leur donner."

This military man had not so good nerves as the peaceable gentlemen of
the Old Jewry.--See Mons. Mounier's narrative of these transactions: a
man also of honor and virtue and talents, and therefore a fugitive.

[A] N.B.M. Mounier was then speaker of the National Assembly. He has
since been obliged to live in exile, though one of the firmest assertors
of liberty.

[93] See the fate of Bailly and Condorcet, supposed to be here
particularly alluded to. Compare the circumstances of the trial and
execution of the former with this prediction.

[94] The English are, I conceive, misrepresented in a letter published
in one of the papers, by a gentleman thought to be a Dissenting
minister. When writing to Dr. Price of the spirit which prevails at
Paris, he says,--"The spirit of the people in this place has abolished
all the proud _distinctions_ which the _king_ and _nobles_ had usurped
in their minds: whether they talk of _the king, the noble, or the
priest_, their whole language is that of the most _enlightened and
liberal amongst the English_." If this gentleman means to confine the
terms _enlightened and liberal_ to one set of men in England, it may be
true. It is not generally so.

[95] Sit igitur hoc ab initio persuasum civibus, dominos esse omnium
rerum ac moderatores deos; eaque, quae gerantur, eorum geri vi, ditione,
ac numine; eosdemque optime de genere hominum mereri; et qualis quisque
sit, quid agat, quid in se admittat, qua mente, qua pietate colat
religiones intueri: piorum et impiorum habere rationem. His enim rebus
imbutae mentes haud sane abhorrebunt ab utili et a vera sententia.--Cic.
de Legibus, l. 2.

[96] Quicquid multis peccatur inultum.

[97] This (down to the end of the first sentence in the next paragraph)
and some other parts, here and there, were inserted, on his reading the
manuscript, by my lost son.

[98] I do not choose to shock the feeling of the moral reader with any
quotation of their vulgar, base, and profane language.

[99] Their connection with Turgot and almost all the people of the

[100] All have been confiscated in their turn.

[101] Not his brother, nor any near relation; but this mistake does not
affect the argument.

[102] The rest of the passage is this:--

    "Who, having spent the treasures of his crown,
    Condemns their luxury to feed his own.
    And yet this act, to varnish o'er the shame
    Of sacrilege, must bear Devotion's name.
    No crime so bold, but would be understood
    A Real, or at least a seeming good.
    Who fears not to do ill, yet fears the name,
    And free from conscience, is a slave to fame.
    Thus he the Church at once protects and spoils:
    But princes' swords are sharper than their styles.
    And thus to th' ages past he makes amends,
    Their charity destroys, their faith defends.
    Then did Religion in a lazy cell,
    In empty, airy contemplations, dwell;
    And like the block, unmoved lay: but ours,
    As much too active, like the stork devours.
    Is there no temperate region can be known
    Betwixt their frigid and our torrid zone?
    Could we not wake from that lethargic dream,
    But to be restless in a worse extreme?
    And for that lethargy was there no care,
    But to be cast into a calenture?
    Can knowledge have no bound, but must advance
    So far, to make us wish for ignorance,
    And rather in the dark to grope our way,
    Than, led by a false guide, to err by day?
    Who sees these dismal heaps, but would demand
    What barbarous invader sack'd the land?
    But when he hears no Goth, no Turk did bring
    This desolation, but a Christian king,
    When nothing but the name of zeal appears
    'Twixt our best actions and the worst of theirs,
    What does he think our sacrilege would spare,
    When such th' effects of our devotions are?"

                          _Cooper's Hill_, by Sir JOHN DENHAM.

[103] Rapport de Mons. le Directeur-General des Finances, fait par Ordre
du Roi a Versailles. Mai 5, 1789.

[104] In the Constitution of Scotland, during the Stuart reigns, a
committee sat for preparing bills; and none could pass, but those
previously approved by them. This committee was called Lords of

[105] When I wrote this I quoted from memory, after many years had
elapsed from my reading the passage. A learned friend has found it and
it is as follows:--

[Greek: To ethos to auto, kai ampho despotika ton beltionon, kai ta psephismata
hosper ekei ta epitagmata, kai ho demagogos kai ho kolax hoi autoi
kai analogon. kai malista d' hekateroi par' hekaterois ischuousin, hoi
men kolakes para tois turannois, hoi de demagogoi para tois demois tois

"The ethical character is the same: both exercise despotism over the
better class of citizens; and decrees are in the one what ordinances and
arrets are in the other: the demagogue, too, and the court favorite, are
not unfrequently the same identical men, and always bear a close
analogy; and these have the principal power, each in their respective
forms of government, favorites with the absolute monarch, and demagogues
with a people such as I have described."--Arist. Politic. lib. iv. cap.

[106] De l'Administration des Finances de la France, par Mons. Necker,
Vol. I. p. 288.

[107] De l'Administration des Finances de la France, par M. Necker.

[108] Vol. III. chap. 8 and chap. 9.

[109] The world is obliged to M. de Calonne for the pains he has taken
to refute the scandalous exaggerations relative to some of the royal
expenses, and to detect the fallacious account given of pensions, for
the wicked purpose of provoking the populace to all sorts of crimes.

[110] See Gulliver's Travels for the idea of countries governed by

[111] M. de Calonne states the falling off of the population of Paris as
far more considerable; and it may be so, since the period of M. Necker's


Travaux de charite pour subvenir
  au manque de travail a              Livres.         L    s. d.
  Paris et dans les provinces        3,866,920     161,121 13 4
Destruction de vagabondage et de la
  mendicite                          1,671,417      69,642  7 6
Primes pour l'importation de grains  5,671,907     235,329  9 2
Depenses relatives aux subsistances,
  deduction fait des reconvrements
  qui out en lieu                   39,871,790   1,661,324 11 8
          Total                     51,082,034   2,128,418  1 8

When I sent this book to the press, I entertained some doubt concerning
the nature and extent of the last article in the above accounts, which
is only under a general head, without any detail. Since then I have seen
M. de Calonne's work. I must think it a great loss to me that I had not
that advantage earlier. M. de Calonne thinks this article to be on
account of general subsistence; but as he is not able to comprehend how
so great a loss as upwards of 1,661,000_l._ sterling could be sustained
on the difference between the price and the sale of grain, he seems to
attribute this enormous head of charge to secret expenses of the
Revolution. I cannot say anything positively on that subject. The reader
is capable of judging, by the aggregate of these immense charges, on the
state and condition of France, and the system of public economy adopted
in that nation. These articles of account produced no inquiry or
discussion in the National Assembly.

[113] This is on a supposition of the truth of this story; but he was
not in France at the time. One name serves as well as another.

[114] Domat.

[115] Speech of M. Camus, published by order of the National Assembly.

[116] Whether the following description is strictly true I know not; but
it is what the publishers would have pass for true, in order to animate
others. In a letter from Toul, given in one of their papers, is the
following passage concerning the people of that district:--"Dans la
Revolution actuelle, ils ont resiste a toutes les _seductions du
bigotisme, aux persecutions et aux tracasseries_ des ennemis de la
Revolution. _Oubliant leurs plus grands interets_ pour rendre hommage
aux vues d'ordre general qui out determine l'Assemblee Nationale, ils
voient, _sans se plaindre_, supprimer cette foule d'etablissemens
ecclesiastiques par lesquels _ils subsistoient_; et meme, en perdant
leur siege episcopal, la seule de toutes ces ressources qui pouvoit, on
plutot _qui devoit, en toute equite_, leur etre conservee, condamnes _a
la plus effrayante misere_ sans avoir _ete ni pu etre entendus, ils ne
murmurent point_, ils restent fideles aux principes du plus pur
patriotisme; ils sont encore prets a _verser leur sang_ pour le maintien
de la constitution, qui va reduire leur ville _a la plus deplorable
nullite_."--These people are not supposed to have endured those
sufferings and injustices in a struggle for liberty, for the same
account states truly that they have been always free; their patience in
beggary and ruin, and their suffering, without remonstrance, the most
flagrant and confessed injustice, if strictly true, can be nothing but
the effect of this dire fanaticism. A great multitude all over France is
in the same condition and the same temper.

[117] See the proceedings of the confederation at Nantes.

[118] "Si plures sunt ii quibus improbe datum est, quam illi quibus
injuste ademptum est, idcirco plus etiam valent? Non enim numero haec
judicantur, sed pondere. Quam autem habet aequitatem, ut agrum multis
annis, aut etiam saeculis ante possessum, qui nullum habuit habeat, qui
autem habuit amittat? Ac, propter hoc injuriae genus, Lacedaemonii
Lysandrum Ephorum expulerunt; Agin regem (quod nunquam antea apud eos
acciderat) necaverunt; exque eo tempore tantae discordiae secutae sunt, ut
et tyranni exsisterent, et optimates exterminarentur, et preclarissime
constituta respublica dilaberetur. Nec vero solum ipsa cecidit, sed
etiam reliquam Graeciam evertit contagionibus malorum, quae a Lacedaemoniis
profectae manarunt latius."--After speaking of the conduct of the model
of true patriots, Aratus of Sicyon, which was in a very different
spirit, he says,--"Sic par est agere cum civibus; non (ut bis jam
vidimus) hastam in foro ponere et bona civium voci subjicere praeconis.
At ille Graecus (id quod fuit sapientis et praestantis viri) omnibus
consulendum esse putavit: eaque est summa ratio et sapientia boni civis,
commoda civium non divellere, sed omnes eadem aequitate continere."--Cic.
Off. 1. 2.

[119] See two books entitled, "Einige Originalschriften des
Illuminatenordens,"--"System und Folgen des Illuminatenordens." Muenchen,

[120] A leading member of the Assembly, M. Rabaut de St. Etienne, has
expressed the principle of all their proceedings as clearly as possible;
nothing can be more simple:--"_Tous les etablissemens en France
couronnent le malheur du peuple: pour le rendre heureux, il faut le
renouveler, changer ses idees, changer ses loix, changer ses moeurs, ...
changer les hommes, changer les choses, changer ses mots, ... tout
detruire; oui, tout detruire; puisque tout est a recreer_."--This
gentleman was chosen president in an assembly not sitting at
_Quinze-Vingt_ or the _Petites Maisons_, and composed of persons giving
themselves out to be rational beings; but neither his ideas, language,
or conduct differ in the smallest degree from the discourses, opinions,
and actions of those, within and without the Assembly, who direct the
operations of the machine now at work in France.

[121] The Assembly, in executing the plan of their committee, made some
alterations. They have struck out one stage in these gradations; this
removes a part of the objection; but the main objection, namely, that in
their scheme the first constituent voter has no connection with the
representative legislator, remains in all its force. There are other
alterations, some possibly for the better, some certainly for the worse:
but to the author the merit or demerit of these smaller alterations
appears to be of no moment, where the scheme itself is fundamentally
vicious and absurd.

[122] "Non, ut olim, universae legiones deducebantur, cum tribunis, et
centurionibus, et sui cujusque ordinis militibus, ut consensu et
caritate rempublicam efficerent; sed ignoti inter se, diversis
manipulis, sine rectore, sine affectibus mutuis, quasi ex alio genere
mortalium repente in unum collecti, numerus magis quam colonia."--Tac.
Annal. lib. 14, sect. 27.--All this will be still more applicable to the
unconnected, rotatory, biennial national assemblies, in this absurd and
senseless constitution.

[123] Qualitas, Relatio, Actio, Passio, Ubi, Quando, Situs, Habitus.

[124] See l'Etat de la France, p. 363.

[125] In reality three, to reckon the provincial republican

[126] For further elucidations upon the subject of all these judicatures
and of the Committee of Research, see M. de Calonne's work.

[127] "Comme sa Majeste a reconnu, non un systeme d'associations
particulieres, mais une reunion de volontes de tous les Francois pour la
liberte et la prosperite communes, ainsi pour le maintien de l'ordre
publique, il a pense qu'il convenoit que chaque regiment prit part a ces
fetes civiques pour multiplier les rapports, et resserrer les liens
d'union entre les citoyens et les troupes."--Lest I should not be
credited, I insert the words authorizing the troops to feast with the
popular confederacies.

[128] This war minister has since quitted the school and resigned his

[129] Courrier Francois, 30 July, 1790. Assemblee Nationale, Numero 210.

[130] I see by M. Necker's account, that the national guards of Paris
have received, over and above the money levied within their own city,
about 145,000_l._ sterling out of the public treasure. Whether this be
an actual payment for the nine months of their existence, or an estimate
of their yearly charge, I do not clearly perceive. It is of no great
importance, as certainly they may take whatever they please.

[131] The reader will observe that I have but lightly touched (my plan
demanded nothing more) on the condition of the French finances as
connected with the demands upon them. If I had intended to do otherwise,
the materials in my hands for such a task are not altogether perfect. On
this subject I refer the reader to M. de Calonne's work, and the
tremendous display that he has made of the havoc and devastation in the
public estate, and in all the affairs of France, caused by the
presumptuous good intentions of ignorance and incapacity. Such effects
those causes will always produce. Looking over that account with a
pretty strict eye, and, with perhaps too much rigor, deducting
everything which may be placed to the account of a financier out of
place, who might be supposed by his enemies desirous of making the most
of his cause, I believe it will be found that a more salutary lesson of
caution against the daring spirit of innovators than what has been
supplied at the expense of France never was at any time furnished to

[132] La Bruyere of Bossuet.

[133] "Ce n'est point a l'assemblee entiere que je m'adresse ici; je ne
parle qu'a ceux qui l'egarent, en lui cachant sous des gazes seduisantes
le but ou ils l'entrainent. C'est a eux que je dis: Votre objet, vous
n'en disconviendrez pas, c'est d'oter tout espoir au clerge, et de
consommer sa ruine; c'est-la, en ne vous soupconnant d'aucune
combinaison de cupidite, d'aucun regard sur le jeu des effets publics,
c'est-la ce qu'on doit croire que vous avez en vue dans la terrible
operation que vous proposez; c'est ce qui doit en etre le fruit. Mais le
peuple qui vous y interessez, quel avantage peut-il y trouver? En vous
servant sans cesse de lui, que faites-vous pour lui? Rien, absolument
rien; et, au contraire, vous faites ce qui ne conduit qu'a l'accabler de
nouvelles charges. Vous avez rejete, a son prejudice, une offre de 400
millions, dont l'acceptation pouvoit devenir un moyen de soulagement en
sa faveur; et a cette ressource, aussi profitable que legitime, vous
avez substitue une injustice ruineuse, qui, de votre propre aveu, charge
le tresor public, et par consequent le peuple, d'un surcroit de depense
annuelle de 50 millions an moins, et d'un remboursement de 150 millions.

"Malheureux peuple! voila ce que vous vaut en dernier resultat
l'expropriation de l'Eglise, et la durete des decrets taxateurs du
traitement des ministres d'une religion bienfaisante; et desormais ils
scront a votre charge: leurs charites soulageoient les pauvres; et vous
allez etre imposes pour subvenir a leur entretien!"--_De l'Etat de la
France,_ p. 81. See also p. 92, and the following pages.


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