Page images
PDF
EPUB

EDMUND BURKE.

Part IX.

In our age of universal illumina- France. To all other aggressors she tion, darkness is a past idea. Poli- has opposed, and will oppose, an iron tics have lost their intricacy. Mo- ram part of confidence and valour. rals are as simple in theory as they The navy of Spain was dashed more are rigid in practice. Science sits in against that rampart, than against the the corners of the streets, lecturing natural barriers of her soil. The to naked philosophers; and Govern- pious gratitude of the country acment throws off her robe of cere- knowledged the high interposition mony, and walks as naked as the which sent the winds and billows to philosophers themselves. Yet, too fight for the land of Religion; but it much light may be as overwhelming was the heroism of heart, which as too little, and it is possible that thought it “ foul shame that Parma our sansculotte politicians may be or Spain should invade the borders as much bewildered in the excessive of her realms; and the heroism of sunshine of the nineteenth century, hand, which would have seconded as the most carefully costumed min that magnanimous feeling with the nister in the obscurity of the eight- last drop of the enemies' blood and eenth. However, “Di meliora." It its own, that awed the Spaniard for is not the part of wisdom to boast, or ever from the land.” To all the of reasoning to draw conclusions in other powers of Europe and the scorn of facts. We have discovered, earth she is inaccessible. But France that our forefathers were totally ig- can subdue with her principles, benorant of every sound principle of fore she strikes with her sword; her government at home, and policy tactic is not in the field, but in the abroad. Among our accessions of cottage, the manufactory, and the knowledge,we have ascertained, that streets; her campaign is in the conin distrusting France, and allying Spiracy; and the most fatal triumph themselves with Germany, they en- of her eternal rivalry, is in the closest tirely miscalculated the nature of alliance with the spirit of ber counthe national good and evil. And not cils. Let us not be misunderstood, to speak contemptuously of those as desiring war with any nation, or whose blood flows in our veins, and as even repelling the intercourses of who, by some means or other, cer- amity with France, while it is possi. tainly contrived to build up a very ble to be retained. Our alarm is considerable empire, we admit that generated only by the attempt at luck is an element of policy, that the identity of purpose, by the adoption bluuderer may be as well oil as the of her principles, by the separation sage, and that there is a pity, or a of our policy from that of our old protection, which, as the Turk's say, allies for the sake of combining especially saves the bones of children more exclusively with France; our and idiots from being broken. Yet thinking the world well lost, and History, old almanack as it is in the playing the part, to meet the fate of new vocabulary, will make its impres- Anthony, for our glittering, volupsion upon the more refractory minds. tuous, protesting, profligate CleoThose whose alertness is not suffi- patra France exhibits at this mocient for the rapid movement of a ment one feature which should warn moving time, the race of reason, must us against all promises of her fidebe content with such guides as they lity. She is without a religion. It can find; and while the bolder ener- is utterly impossible that without gies and brighter spirits of the age this great pledge of honour, justice, of light sail loose on the wings of and peace, she can be faithful to a speculation, we must try to make British alliance. The connexion may our way by clinging to the skirts of go on unbroken for a few years, but experience as we can.

it is illicit; it wants the only sanction History tells us that the oply ge, which can make it honest, prospernuine peril of England has been from ous, or firm. Even if no blight should

fall upon it from a higber source France, without the declaration of than the passions or principles of Atheism, will have the substance; man, it must break off by the nature and the popular novelty will be the of human things; what began in im- man who believes in the existence of prudence must end in caprice : for a hereafter, or binds his oath, and tunate if a community of error does keeps his conscience in awe, by the not end in a community of corrup. acknowledgment of a God. We say tion, and the ill-judged alliance of this in no angry recollection of old the vices and the follies surprise the rivalry, and in no modern fear. We world with the moral, how a great say it as little in offence to the pernation may be most speedily un- sonal honour of her people, or the done.

political integrity of her sovereign. It is not to be supposed that we The stipulations of public council can be panegyrists of the ancient may be formed in the purest spirit of church of France. Its prejudices, good faith; but the solidity of the and its unfitness for being the teacher connexion is forbidden by a law of a national mind, or the depository more powerful than human honour of those deathless truths, wbich were or national policy. With a people given for the instruction of that mind nationally divorced from religion, no in higher objects than the rights even other safe connexion can follow. of kings, churches, and prelates, Strength and weakness may combrought their own heavy penalties. bine. But Protestant England and But, we think, with Plutarch, that Infidel France must overpower a the darkest superstition is better than repulsion seated in nature, before infidelity; the most ignorant reve. they can combine. As well might rence of an Eternal Source of truth, both ends of the needle point to the purity, and justice, is a better ele- pole. ment of society than the most spark When Pitt, in 1793, was reproached ling contempt of them all ; and that by Opposition with refusing to make when the winds are abroad, and the peace with France, he turned on his commonwealth is on the surge, we reproachers, and boldly asked, With should confide more in the fidelity whom was he to make peace? where that piloted itself by the dimmest was the French Government ? Was gleam of the worlds above, than in England to send an ambassador to the most flourishing promises of treat with the Tribunal, or catch the reaching our anchorage, with repub faction as it passed through the lican honour at the prow, and repub. streets to the scaffold ? What, could lican Atheism at the helm. We there. the honourable gentleman tell him, fore pronounce that our alliance with was the Government of France at that the throne and people of Louis-Phin hour, or who; or how long they lippe must be insecure; if we extendit, might last, or whether another week must be dangerous to the full degree of change might not see the firmest of its extent; and in the first serious treaties worth no more than the pacollision with Europe, may be our per they were written on, and France, ruin. In France, at this moment, under the new sovereignty of a new there is no national religion. That mob, choosing new allies, acting on has been abolished by the legislature new priuciples, and finisbing a mock of the streets. The deliberations of negotiation by a furious plunge into the pike and the pistol, in the three hostilities? And what is the difference days of July, decided that question in the year 1834 ? A rabble quarrel, without the formality of debate. The a popular play, a trial for libel, a Parrabble of Paris spoke the word, and liamentary duel, a refugee princess, it was done. The legislature was a duellist's funeral, each and all shake worthy of the work, and the work the consumptive frame of the State inworthy of the legislature. Now every to convulsions. A hundred thousand man in France may choose his relic of the rabble following the hearse of gion for himself, or make his reli. an individual never heard of before, gion, or may neither choose nor and five-and-twenty thousand troops make. Thus, nine-tenths of France of the line paraded to keep them have no religion of any kind. The from sacking the Tuileries, are the rising generation will be the inherit- evidences of royal stability. If Louisors of their fathers' principles ; Philippe were to die tomorrow, who

W

would ensure royalty in France for to the whole oratorio family,-a spea week? The succession of his fa- cies of authorship, which, whether mily would be as fair a matter of the on or off the stage, or whether floudie, as any game at the tables of the rishing in stage frippery, or limited Maisons de jeu of the Palais Royal; to the orchestra, utterly lowers the the whole a matter of chance whe- solemn dignity of the subject, vulther the Duke of Orleans put the garizes language which ought never crown on his head, or M. Lafayette to be used but in scenes totally reascended the chair in the majesty of mote from the heated follies and the bonnet rouge; whether the Par- gross feelings of a theatrical audience, liament took the oath of allegiance, or and always bas offended, and althe bayonets of the National Guard, ways must offend, every sentiment crossing the bayonets of the line, set of every mind that can distinguish tle the succession in their own way, between ribaldry and reverence. In and establish a Grand National Re. these censures, we pass by managers, publique of ten-franc freeholders. publishers, and the whole crowd of These truths are as palpable as the mere agents; they follow but the day: and it is to this floating govern- change of the time-they are passive ment that we are to anchor the Bri- - they are the carriers, the conduits, tish Empire, and bravely resolve to the instruments—to them the results sink or swim with our companion. may be unconsidered, or unknown.

But the still more formidable The crime is in the public taste, and fruits of the alliance are already the perversion is the work of France. sprouting among ourselves. The li. If this channel be not cut off, the terature of France, the product of corruption of the land must follow. Republican principles on private li. And the chief calamity of this state centiousness, is coming over in every of things is, that it assumes someshape of temptation; profligate no. thing of the shape of an operation vels for the closet, profligate plays of nature. Whether the present Mifor the theatres, are the last impor. nisters have been the cause (we do tations from France. We have al- not believe them to have been the ready had an exhibition on the Me. cause), or whether they would detropolitan Stage, of the profanation sire to get rid of the result, it is beof the tomb, the dead actually walk- yond their power. A violent sepaing out of their coffins, to the tune of ration might be as ruinous, as idena quadrille, and a hundred and fifty tity. We are Siamesed to France; opera girls running about the stage, we cannot cut asunder the link in a condition, as to dress, startling without hazarding blood; and we even among opera girls. In this in- must await the work of time, and be stance, the public were taken by sur. vigilant to watch for those opportuprise. Disgust soon put down the nities which Providence gives to exhibition, and a fortnight in London nations, not wilfully undone. We finished the display which in Paris must try to recover our character enjoyed the full fame of popularity with the great German powers ; to for a year. But another exbibition cherish such amity as we can with followed, of a more mature order of Prussia, now only an outpost of the the profane. The history of that great northern Empire, to fix the magnificent and wonder-working pe most unbesitating faith with Aus. riod which brought Israel from the tria, now shrinking from our revoluEgyptian dungeons, was turned into tionary tactics, and in that terror, a stage show, and Moses sang, haran. siding with Russia; and with France gued, and even would have danced, neutral, neither provoked to injure, but for the intervention of an autho- nor enabled to betray, calmly and rity, which ought to have at once resolutely make our preparatiou for extinguished the whole offence. The the bloodiest contest that Europe has “ SacredBallet was prohibited, but ever seen, and in which the war will just in time, by the Bishop. Another be with England, against England, attempt of the same kind was hurried and for the last ship and shilling, the on, too injudiciously, before the pub last acre and the last privilege of lic had time to forget the disgust of England. A war with Russia, in the the former. It perished, and we course of a few years, is as inevitable shall hope it has given a deathblow as the spreading of the sea over an undefended shore. And that war must extend its influence. A predowill essentially be anti-English. minant inclination towards it appears But that all conjecture on things so in all who have no religion ; when little within the competence of man otherwise, their disposition leads must be vague, it might be pro. them to be advocates even for desnounced that the direction and potism. Hence Hume, though I canthe instruments of that war will not say that he does not throw out equally differ from all the past. The some expressions of disapprobation first struggle will be at sea, and the on the proceedings of the levellers, field of battle will be the Mediter in the reign of Richard II., yet affirms ranean. The means will be, not skill, that the doctrines of John Bull were but numbers ; science will have little conformable to the ideas of primitive operation; the true element of the equality, which are engraven in the war will be multitude. With the hearts of all men. Boldness formerly Euxine for her wet dock, Russia was not the character of Atheists, as may pour down a thousand ships, such. They were even of a characsome to be destroyed, some to be ter nearly the reverse. They were, captured, but the rest to sweep the like the old Epicureans, rather an seas. Europe will be no longer the unenterprising race. But they have grand tilting-place of armies. Asia grown active, designing, turbulent, Minor, Syria, the borders of the and seditious. They are sworn ene. Euphrates, and the Indus, will be the mies to king, nobility, and priestfield. The days so long expected, hood.” may be at hand, when those vastRepublicanism was checked in stagnant countries, to be roused Europe by the double cause of its from their stagnation only by war, excesses in France, and its ravages will feel the force of that thunder- beyond France. The nations hurstorm, and awake before the whirl. rying to prostrate themselves before wind. Egypt and the Saracen world a god, shrank from the worship of a will pour forth, to meet the North. maniac. Even the populace who The Tartar tribes which have now hailed the French armies as deliverfor two hundred years been swelling ers, were indignant when their detheir undisturbed population, and liverance was felt only in blows. sharpening their unused swords for But the salutary terror is gone with war, will be once more summoned to its cause. France is now no longer their old work of devastation, and the naked lunatic, rending its own fill the East with the terrors of bar- flesh, and pledging the nations round barian inroad, and perform their ter- it in cups of blood. She now wears rible share in shaking the system of the dignity of a settled government; the world. Whether this will be the she speaks the principles of rebellion last blow; or whether a still more from the majesty of a throne. She universal havoc sball complete the is not now the wild sibyl uttering catastrophe, is among those questions her frenzied inspirations from cawhich only presumption would at. verns and ruins, and sending her tempt to resolve. But, of one thing fragile decrees to be borne on the we are sure, that to prepare for strug- gusts of the storm. She is now the gle is the best security for turning it Pythoness, standing on the golden into success; and that to adhere to tripod, with the magnificence of nathe maxims by which England has tional wealth, and the solemnities of been made wise, happy, and free, is national worship round ber; and the best preparation, let the struggle summoning the grave procession of come when it will.

kings and kingdoms to listen to the What was the fine far-seeing lan- words of fate. A total and a most guage of Burke forty years ago ? “A formidable change has come over French conspiracy is gaining ground her whole instrumentality for affectin every country. This system, hap- ing the European future. Alliance, pening to be founded on principles not war; the appearance of the most the most delusive, indeed, but the generous candour, instead of the most flattering to the natural propen- most ostentatious perfidy; a fond, sities of the unthinking multitude, zealous, universal sympathy in the and to the speculations of all who wrongs of mankind, undistinguished think, without thinking profoundly, by clime or colour, instead of open contempt for each, and an open de- all the distinctions of Statesmanship. termination to wield the supremacy It has been too much the habit to of all, are the securer means by compare the son with the eminent which France now pursues her old father, and to depreciate him below object-the sceptre of the world, the level of ordinary talent, as much She no longer tears her way through as he fell below the level of extranations with the thunderbolt; her ordinary. By this unfair estimate more powerful destroyer is the si- Richard Burke has passed for one lent, creeping, wide-spreading mala of the customary examples of paria of republicanism.

rental blindness to filial mediocrity, Now, the fact being unquestion and has been reckoned altogether able that French principles are the beneath his value. But Burke was not principles of a large, powerful, and a man to be so simply hoodwinked by reckless party in England, who, alter- affection. If the son of Cicero was nately regarding Ministers as their a blunderer, we have to learn that tools and their antagonists, feel per. Cicero proposed him for public fectly satisfied as to their being able business. Burke certainly would to sweep all administrations into not have embarked his son in the their current; it must be of some most difficult career of talent and of import to know what those prin life, if he had not gravely satisfied ciples are. Forty years ago their himself that the bark was equal to creed as to Kings was laid down by the voyage. On retiring from Par. the celebrated Condorcet in his pa. liament in June, 1797, he bad obper on the education of the Dau- tained his son's return for Malton, phin, of whom he had been cbosen and had placed him on the first step by the National Assembly to be the of office, by Lord Fitzwilliam's aptutor, or rather the jailor. “The pointment of him as his secretary in Assembly willed that the uselessness the Irish Viceroyalty. But his caof a King, and the necessity of seek reer was to be untried by the temping means to establish something in tations of power, and unshaken by lieu of a power founded on illusion, the casualties of fortune. His disorshould be one of the first truths of. der soon gave evidence of consumpfered to the reason of the pupil; the tion. Burke's sensitiveness of heart obligation of conforming himself to was so well known to his friends, this, being the first of his moral duties. that Bracklesley, the family physiThe object is less to form a King, cian, decidedly suppressed all inti. than to teach him that he should mation of the nature of the disease know how to wish no longer to be from the unfortunate father, decla. such.This was the creed of the ring that it would sooner put an end man who had filled the chair of the to his life than his son's. The pa. National Assembly, was their per- tient was now removed to the subpetual secretary and their principal urbs for the benefit of the air, until guide. And this was in the period he should commence his journey to when a King was still acknowledged, Ireland. But that period was never and before the philosophers bad to arrive. At length, but a week given the practical illustration of before he breathed his last, it was their doctrines by cutting off the found necessary to give the intelli, King's head.

gence to his unhappy father, who, But while Burke was thus sup- from that moment until he closed porting, by his parliamentary la, the tomb upon him, scarcely slept, bours, and by his unrivalled pen, the tasted food, or was able to restrain cause of the Constitution and human himself from the most affecting ex. nature, he received a blow which pressions of sorrow. A longer notice almost totally unmanned him. would probably have woru him out Richard Burke, his only son, was of the world. Some letters from Dr seized with an illness which speedily Laurence, the well-known friend of made such progress, that to all eyes, Burke, and brother of the present but those of his fond and sanguine Archbishop of Cashell, present a defather, his fate was sealed. It had tail of the progress of the disorder, been Burke's ambition to educate and of what must interest us still his son for public life, and no pains more, its influence on the great had been spared to cultivate him for mind and feeling heart of Burke.

« PreviousContinue »