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body, and the stake many of them had in the country, precluded every idea that their object was any thing more than a moderate reform, yet they afforded a colourable pretext to the formation of societies of a very different description and of very different views. Under pretence of seeking reform, many individuals, in every quarter of the country, established Corresponding Societies, of which it has by no means appeared, that all the members -sought a moderate reform, or by peaceable means. The discussion of the proclamation brought forward the sentiments of many of the members on reform in Parliament. Burke, as he had always done, declared his disapprobation of it as unnecessary, and reprobated its agitation at that time as dangerous. Other members, who had formerly been 'favourable to reform in Parliament, opposed it then. Mr. Pitt conceiving that every political measure was to be estimated not merely on abstract principles, but on these, combined with the circumstances of the case, argued, that although a reform might have been expedient before the minds of many individuals were
unhinged by Paine' and his co-operators, any change would then be improper, when ideas of subversion were entertained.
During the recess of 1792 the public ferment increased.
The French having dethroned their King, and massacred their opponents, deputations were sent from the societies in England to congratulate them on the progress of light. The retreat of the Duke of Brunswick, a retreat not displeasing to some even of the moderate friends of liberty, to those, at least, who considered the good of real liberty in the abstract more than of the phantom that had assumed its name in France, greatly emboldened the democratical republicans of England, who admired that phantom. The French, elated with success, published their proffer of support to all people who should be desirous of what they (the French) termed liberty. About the capital the approaching downfall of the British constitution began to be a subject of common talk. King, Lords, and Commons, church and state, were described
as on the eve of dissolution. The garrulous vanity of some of the weak and ignorant members of the democratical societies boasted of the situations they were to attain under the new order to be speedily established. There was evidently (as far as people can judge from circumstances) a design formed to overthrow the constitution ; and confidence of its success, Wisdom, indeed common prudence dictated to Government to take effectual measures for crushing pernicious designs. It may be said that there was no proof of the existence of a plot sufficient to bring the supposed conspirators to trial. That was, doubtless, very true at that time; but certainly, numberless cases may call for the vigilance of deliberative assemblies, which could not be evinced on a judicial trial,
Burke, on the commencement of the war between the German potentates and the
* To accurate and impartial observers of the sentiments and opinions prevalent among many in 1792, especially in November of that year, I appeal whether this account is exaggerated.
French republic, had sent his son to Coblentz, with the knowledge and approbation of Government, in order to know the dispositions of the allied Powers. From the apparent want of concert between these
potentates, he did not augur highly of the success of their efforts. It was early his opinion that nothing short of a general combination of established governments, co-operating with the royalists of France, could subdue a system, which, if not crushed, he conceived, would be destructive to all existing society. Soon after the retreat of the King of Prussia, and the subsequent successes of the republicans, he wrote the second memorial contained in his posthumous works. He exhorted this country to take the lead in forming a general combination for the repression of French power and of French principles. Before this was published the opening of the Scheldt, and the acts of France to promote her own ag., grandisement, and also measures and decrees tending to interfere with the internal government of this country, had produced hostilities,
The internal dangers of the nation had excited a general association in defence of liberty and property against republicans and levellers. The inilitia was embodied, other precautions were taken by the executive government, and Parliament was assembled. Burke coincided with Ministry in contending that
great danger existed to this constitution and country from Jacobinical principles, and designs abroad and at home. The Duke of Portland, Lord Fitzwilliam, Lord Spencer, and other leading men of the old - Whig interest; Lord Stormont, Lord Carlisle, Lord Loughborough, and, except Messrs. Adam, Courtenay, and Lord Guildford, the principal men of the North part of the coalition, were impressed with the same.larm ; and also the learned, ingenious, and able friend of Burke, Mr. Windham. Mr. Fox and his party ridiculed the idea of iņternal danger, considered the invasion of France as a combination of despots against freedom, and declared their joy at the compelled retreat of the Prussians and Austrians. Fox censured Ministry for removing from