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French revolution originated in the narratives of Thomas Paine.

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But in considering the French revolution, Burke's expansive mind did not view parts only, but the WHOLE. Had his consideration of it been partial, his sensibility might have been gratified by the emancipation of millions but a sagacity, as penetrating as his views were comprehensive, had discovered to him the nature of those principles which guided the revolutionists, as well as the characters on which they were operating. The notions of liberty that were cherished by the French philosophy he knew to be speculative and visionary, and in no country to be reducible to salutary practice: that they proposed much less restraint than was necessary to govern any community of men, however small, such as men are known from experience to be: he knew also that the volatile, impetuous, and violent character of the French required, in so great a nation, much closer restraints than that of many other states. Infused into their liberty was another

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ingredient, which tended to make it much worse than it would have been in itself. From the same philosophy from which they had derived their extravagant notions of freedom, they also received infidelity. Burke had, many years before, predicted that their joint operation, unless steadily guarded against, would overturn civil and religious establishments, and destroy all social order. This was the opinion which he had maintained of infidelity and speculative politics in general, in his Vindication of Natural Society, and in his Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol; and of French infidelity and speculative politics in particular, in his speech after returning from France in 1773, and in all his speeches and writings, whenever the occasion required his admonition. With religion he foresaw that morals would fall; and that instead of the old arbitrary government, which he thought might have been IMPROVED into a limited monarchy, at once combining religion, liberty, order, and virtue, a compound of impiety, anarchy, and wickedness would

VOL. II.

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be substituted. The composition of the National Assembly, the degradation of the nobility, the abolition of the orders, the confiscation of the property of the church, and many other acts, tended to confirm the opinion which he had formed. Much as he detested the outrages, he execrated the principles more; foreseeing, that in their unavoidable operation they would lead to much greater enormities. In the principles and details of the new constitution he did not expect either happiness, or even permanent existence. Uniformly inimical to metaphysics, as the instrument of intellect in planning conduct, he, CONSISTENTLY WITH HIMSELF, reprobated the speculative doctrine of the Rights of Man. Conceiving that the end of government, the good of the community, was, as appeared from experience, best attained when power was entrusted to talents,

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See his Speeches on American Taxation, on Conciliation with America, on allowing the Colonies to tax themselves by Representatives; Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, and in his works, passim.

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