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ART. XIII. State of the French Republic at the End of the Year VIII.
Translated from the French of M. Hauterive, chef de relations exe terieurs. By Lewis Goldsmith, Author of "The Crimes of Cabinets.'' * 8vo. Pp. 312. 98. Buards. Jordan. 1801 The maxim in philosophy, that no effect can be produced
without an adequate cause, clearly applies to events in the intellectual and political, as well as in the material world. In discussing the French Revolution, however, most writers seem to have forgotten this indisputable principle. They have seen a numerous people, though powerfully opposed, proceeding with a vast momentum in one uniform direction; they have seen this people, even when convulsed by a series of political changes and tumults, steadily asserting certain fundamental doctrines; and they have seen this people, in the maintenance of their system, persevering year after year in a course of the most stupendous exertions: yet, while all this bas been surveyed with astonishment, they have satisfied themselves with attributing it to a trifling impulse given at first, and to the subsequent operation of a number of comparatively trifling incidents. Embarrassment in the finances, deficits, secret conspiracies, the influence of a club or a faction, and the circulation of a few books, have been mentioned as causes sufficient to account for the subversion of a long established and powerful government, and for the total change of the civil constitution and manners of a great country. Credulity has been too long amused with such delusions; and our dearest interest is concerned in appreciating the real circumstances of the French people. In order to accomplish this important object, we must take into cousideration their own statements and reasonings, viewing them with aş much suspicion and distrust as we please ; and in such a sarvey, we ought not to overlook the work now before us: which, discarding every little and narrow view of the subject, endea. vours to trace the Revolution, and the great changes which have taken place in France, to their true and genuine sources.
M. Hauterive, we are informed by the translator, belongs to the department of Foreign Affairs, and is next in office to the Minister Talleyrand : this treatise, therefore, says Mr. Gold. smith, may be regarded as an official publication.'-Aware that the character and institutions of Nations do not suddenly change, the author is prompted to advert to the circumstances which have contributed to alter the sentiments of Europe in general, and those of the French people in particular. He attributes this change to the introduction of the commercial system; which, for the last two centuries, has caused a progressive march of * See the Catalogue part of our last Number.
general civilization, incompatible with the regime of the Old French Government, the principles of which were completely undermined, and which fell to pieces on the least shock. He observes that .. Frenchmen will regard their revolution with more comprehensive views; and foreigners, with views, at once more extensive and just, than they have hitherto done. Both one and the other will perceive, that this terrible and memorable event, considered distinct from its domestic and social effects, was the first consequence of a powerful political action, which, during a long period, had directed its force against the general organisation of Europe ; that this first impulse, communicating itself with all the violence proper to its nature, to the springs of that organisation, called into action the remnant of power that belonged to them ; that from this extreme and inevitable commotion resulted the entire dissolution of a system, not only ill. combined and incoherent, but deranged by time; that the French revolution has, therefore, rendered to every government the signal service of teaching thern that the seeds of political anarchy were generally disseminated in Europe, by the same causes which in France had sown the seeds of social anarchy; that, at the time immediately preceding the revolution, a public system of general safety in Europe no longer existed but in appearance; that the revolution did no more than loudly proclaim its extinction; and that the most important of their duties, and the most pressing of their interests, are, without delay and with perfect concert, to dedicate themselves to the care of its re-establishment.'
Towards the close of his book, (p. 261, &c.) in considering the manners of the French Republic, the author thus farther explains his hypothesis of the true origin of the Revolution:
· When the man of letters writes that philosophy has brought about the revolution by the propagation of knowledge, and when the financier asserts that it was produced by the disorder of the na. tional revenues, and the ever-growing deficit in the balance of the re. ceipts and expenditure, they imagine that they have explained every thing. Philosophers and financiers are, or pretend to be, ignorant that to view in that light an object of such magnitude and of very great intricacy, is to view it in a light extremely circumscribedom-that they are mistaking accidents for principles, and concomitant circum. stances for causes.
« The first, the most ancient, and most essential cause of the revolution, has arisen from the action of the commercial system and the spirit of industry on the social system of all the nations in Europe. This cause, by acting strongly, unceasingly, and with uniformity, on all the classes of society, altered its manners siowly but progressively; it gave a general impulse to the desire of possessing and enjoying wealth; it opened a wide and easy path in every fic!d of emu. lation and of industry; it every-where exalted the importance of fiches; it lowered the pretensions of a pride which arose merely from titles; it introduced among classes that before were unequal a manner
entirely similar of thinking, of feeling, and of living ; it washed away those gradual tinges of education, of ability, of merit, and of talents, which originated in the disparity of birth; in short, it melted into one general standard, the spirit, the uses, and the character of the classes; and individuals were no longer remarkable on account of the particular cast to which they belonged, but according to the style in which they lived, and the extent of their fortune.
This cause has acted more potently and more effectually in France than in any other country in Europe ; because, in the first place, although the commercial spirit did not bring forward treasures equal to those in England and in Holland, it nevertheless gave in the former country a more general impulse, and occasioned a much more active inland correspondence amongst the different classes of society: and moreover, because the sensibility of the nation being far more active and more susceptible of emotion, the art of procuring enjoyment is that in which it prompted her to make the greatest progress; and because, from the natural bias of her propensities, her industry turned itself in preference towards whatever is instrumental to her enjoy. ments ;--to such in particular as are of short duration, and are both the least expensive and most general. Hence a new tendency given to all minds of an anibitious-turn; hence the great estimation attached to a state of case and competency; hence, also, a sense of self pride and of independence in all the situations where individuals could afford to live to their own mind : hence an universal disposition on the part of individuals who were born in such classes as were by law inferior to return equal indifference and contempt for those of the privileged classes, when superiority of fortune compensated for the inferiority of birth and even of rank.'.• Berween those two classes, the class of the men of the world, and the class of the men of the people, in vain did the laws strive to establish a fence of right : the men of the people when becoming rich would pass from the secondary class into the first, where every thing was in a confusion in the bosom of the first class. The laws indeed succeeded in maintaining by artificial means a distinction of privilege ; the places, the grants, the favours, the honours, were the birth-right of the noblesse, and were entirely denied to the lower classes ; but this was precisely the point at which things from this state of contradiction ever brought on an opposition between the pri. vileged men and those who were without privilege ;-to this point has for ages been directed the action of that disorganising cause which I have before alluded to, and which at last overcame all obstacles, swept off the casts, abolished the privileges, and overturved the monarchy:
M. Hauterive's ist chapter describes the political situation of Europe previously to the present war. Here he discusses the effects of the formation of a new empire (Russia) in the North of Europe, of the elevation of Prussia, and principally of the prodigious extension of the colonial and maritime system in the four quarters of the globe. Then follow observations on the situation of France in general, and with respect to its al15 si
lies, its enemies, and the neutral powers. A very particular attention is paid to the state of Great Britain ; and it is curious and important to consider the reflections and opinions of a French writer, made during the war, relative to our situation and future destiny:
• It remains for me to speak of England, and the motives that have induced her to enter into the political system of the war with France.
I think I have sufficiently demonstrated that France was actuated by no hostile motive, by no sentiment of jealousy, in her views of continental pacification ; and that the plan of public right she had in, contemplation (the establishment of which she proposed to her enemies) brought with it no degradation to their prosperity, to their principles, or the springs of their power; in concluding this detail by developing her relations towards England, and the means of im. proving that system, I take upon me a task which to some may perhaps seem rash, but which I think easy to perform ;-that of proving that France may exhibit towards England the same aspect of impartiality, good neighbourhood, and justice, she does towards her other enemies ; that she may reconcile the interests of her allies and herself with those of England, and on her part at once assume an atti. tude of protection and of condescension, of safety and of concord. Policy can achieve nothing real, unless these different conclusions are made to agree; and Europe is condemned to eternal agitations, unless the problem of reconciling the power of England with the firm safeguards of the preponderance of France can be solved.
• I shall not here discuss what has been the wish of England, and what it still is. Of these two propositions, the one is unnecessary; the other cannot well be known, till England shall think proper to explain herself without reserve ; but the discussion may be founded on what England is justly and generally supposed to wish, and on the exact limits which the common interest of the maritime conti. nental powers seems to demand should be imposed on the boundless extent of her designs,
- The ships of England cover every sea ; she sends soldiers, arms, gold, and emissaries, over the four quarters of the world; there exists not a colony so remote as not to be threatened by her distant expeditions ; there is no empire, however estranged to European connections, to which she does not labour to procure access, and secure to herself exclusive establishments. Countries hardly known to Europe have received names from England, which she considers as marks of possession; those yet unknown wait for English appellations; and while they extend the domains of nautical geography, they aggrandise the maritime empire of England.'
Jealous of our maritime greatness, and persuaded that we aim at the universal empire of commerce, M. Hauterive en.' deavours to excite the attention of the maritime powers to this circumstance, and states the policy which he thinks they ought to pursue ;
• If (says he) the policy and laws of every state were calculated for the purpose of securing to itself a constant right, and one proportioned to its powers in the legitimate division of cominercial benefits, there would no means remain for one to dowpipeer over the rest ; all would be powerful in proportion to their population and territory, rich in preportion to the extent of their means and their active industry ; finally, iley would be independent, and this consequence would content 118, who have no intention of oppressing any country, and wish that no country may be oppressed.
This ardent wish cannot, however, be entirely gratified, until the errors I have pointed out are totally removed ; and to point out the means of dissipating them in the order that arises from their action, and the degrees of their efficacy, I will affirm that it is necessary, Ist. That the war be terniated; 20. That better connections should direct the commercial relations which may then unite the nations of Europe ; 3d. That the most prudent intercourse result from such treaties as may determine tlieir rights and political duties; 4th. That the interior administration of every state should be ruled by more firm and better ordered systems; 5th. Lastly, that governments, ever attentive to the great movements of gencral commerce, should seek in its combinations, and the changes they undergo, rules for ame. liorating their political relations.'
The chapter on the interior Situation of France includes two distinct considerations; 1. of the Population and Industry of France; and, 2. of its Manners and Law's. Here we meet with some profound reflections, which are not confined entirely to France, but embrace our own coupiry, and are not unworthy of its attention. It is impossible for us, however, to regularly attend the author through the wide field in which he has chosen to range, and in which he discovers the habits of an investigating mind. He does not undertake, with the political arithmetician, to calculate the exact number of the inhabitants of France : but, supposing it to be thirty millions, he considers the effect of that population, the proportion which it bears to the Freuch national debt, (the interest of which is three millions sterling annually) and the value of its industry'.
Among the causes of the success of the French arms, he particularly states the following positions : --The French have of late years brought the art of war to perfection :--The French have always established the theatre of war among the neighbouring nations. Whatever may be thought of the first assertion, there cannot be two opinions on the policy of the measure Jast mentioned : but, lest it should be called in question, M. Hauterive cells us that, in the first campaign in Italy, little more than one year's residence of the French army beyond the Alps saved to France an expenditure of more than one hundred and sixty millions of livres.