Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

representation; what diftri&t from having no representation at all? Not only our monarchy and our peerage fecure the equality on which our unity depends, but it is the fpirit of the houfe of commons itfelf. The very inequality of representation, which is fo 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 bafes, out of fome giddy clubs. Most of thofe, who wish for any change, upon any plaufible grounds, defire it on different ideas.

Your new constitution is the very reverse of ours in its principle; and I am astonished how any perfons could 'dream of holding out any thing done in it as an example for Great-Britain. With you there is little, or rather no, connection between the last reprefentative and the first constituent. The member who goes to the national affembly is not chofen by the people, nor accountable to them. There are three elections before he is chosen : two fets of magiftracy intervene between him and the primary affembly, fo as to render him, as I have faid, an ambaffador of a state, and not the representative of a people within the state. By this the whole spirit of the election is changed; nor can any corrective your conftitution-mongers have devised render him any thing elfe than what he is. The very attempt to do it would inevitably introduce a confusion, if poffible, more horrid than the present. There is no way to make a connection between the original constituent and the reprefentative, but by the circuitous means which may lead the canditate to apply in the first instance to the primary electors, in order that by their authoritative inftructions (and fomething more perhaps) these primary electors may force the two fucceeding bodies of electors to make a choice agreeable to their wishes. But this would plainly fubvert the whole fcheme. It would be to plunge them back into that tumult and confufion of popular election, which, by their interpofed gradation elections, they mean to avoid, and at length to rifque the whole fortune of the state with those who have the least knowledge of

it, and the leaft intereft in it. This is a perpetual dilemma, into which they are thrown by the vicious, weak, and contradictory principles they have chofen. Unless the people break up and level this gradation, it is plain that they do not at all fubftantially elect to the affembly; indeed they elect as little in appearance as reality.

What is it we all feek for in an election? To answer its real purposes, you must first poffefs the means of knowing the fitnefs of your man; and then you must retain fome hold upon him by perfonal obligation or dependence. For what end are thefe primary electors complimented, or rather mocked, with a choice? They can never know any thing of the qualities of him that is to serve them, nor has he any obligation whatfoever 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 perfonal choice. In cafe of abuse, that body of primary electors never can call the reprefentative to an account for his conduct. He is too far removed from them in the chain of reprefentation. 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 wifest representatives go equally with the worft into this Limbus Patrum. Their bottoms are fuppofed foul, and they must go into dock to be refitted. Every man who has ferved in an affembly is ineligible for two years after. Juft as these magistrates begin to learn their trade, like chimney-fweepers, they are difqualified for exercifing it. Superficial, new, petulant acquifition, and interrupted, dronish, broken, ill recollection, is to be the destined character of all your future governors. Your conftitution has too much of jealousy to have much of fenfe in it.. You confider the breach of truft in the reprefentative fo principally, that you do not at all regard the question of his fitness to

execute it.

This purgatory interval is not unfavourable to a faithlefs representative, who may be as good a canvaffer as he was a bad governor. In this time he may cabal himself into a fuperiority over the wifest and most virtuous. As,


in the end, all the members of this elective conftitution are equally fugitive, and exift only for the election, they may be no longer the fame perfons who had chofen him, to whom he is to be responsible when he folicits for a renewal of his truft. To call all the fecondary electors of the Commune to account, is ridiculous, impracticable, and unjuft; they may themselves have been deceived in their choice, as the third fet of electors, thofe of the Department, may be in theirs. In your elections refponsibility cannot exist.

Finding no fort of principle of coherence with each other in the nature and constitution of the several new, republics of France, I confidered what cement the legi-, flators had provided for them from any extraneous materials. Their confederations, their spectacles, their civic feafts, 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 diftinguish the arrangements by which they propofe to hold these republics together. The firft, is the confifcation, with the compulsory paper currency annexed to it; the fecond, is the fupreme power of the city of Paris; the third, is the general army of the ftate. Of this last I fhall referve what I have to fay, until I come to confider 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 thefe, the one depending on the other, may for fome time compofe fome fort of cement, if their madness and folly in the management, and in the tempering of the parts together, does not produce a repulfion in the very outfet. But allowing to the fcheme fome coherence and fome duration, it appears to me, that if, after a while, the confifcation fhould not be found fufficient to support the paper coinage (as I am morally certain it will not) then, inftead of cementing, it will add infinitely to the diffociation, diftraction, and confufion of thefe confederate republics, both with relation to each other, and to the feveral parts within themselves. But if the confifcation fhould fo far fucceed as to fink the paper currency, cement is gone with the circulation. In the mean time


[ocr errors]


its binding force will be very uncertain, and it will ftraiten or relax with every variation in the credit of the paper.

One thing only is certain in this fcheme, which is an effect feemingly collateral, but direct, I have no doubt, in the minds of those who condu&t 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 depofited or engaged for, amounting already to four-and-forty millions of English money, and this currency by force fubstituted in the place of the coin of the kingdom, becoming thereby the fubftance 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 affume, 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 center of a voluntary dealing. He knows little indeed of the influence of money upon mankind, who does not fee the force of the management of a monied concern, which is fo much more extenfive, 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 fyftem infeparably con.. nected with this money management. It confifts in the means of drawing out at difcretion portions of the confifcated lands for fale; and carrying on a process of continual tranfmutation of paper into land, and land into paper. When we follow this procefs in its effects, we may conceive fomething of the intenfity of the force with which this fyftem muft operate. By this means the fpirit of money-jobbing and speculation goes into the mafs of land itself, and incorporates with it. By this kind of operation, that fpecies of property becomes (as it were) volatilized; it affumes an unnatural and monftrous activity, and thereby throws into the hands of the feveral managers, principal and fubordinate, Parifian and provincial, all the reprefentative 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 greateft poffible uncertainty in its value. They have reverfed 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, fhall present an advantage. though an holy bishop thinks that agriculture will derive great advantages from the enlightened" ufurers who are to purchase the church confifcations, I who am not a good, but an old farmer, with great humility beg leave to tell his late lordship, that ufury 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 fero," said an old Roman, when he held one handle of the plough, whilft Death held the other. Though you were to join in the commiffion all the directors of the two academies to the directors of the Caille d'Efcompte, one old experienced peasant is worth them all. I have got more information, upon a curious and interesting branch of hufbandry, in one fhort converfation with a Carthufian monk, than I have derived from all the Bank directors that I have ever converfed with. However, there is no caufe for apprehenfion from the meddling of money-dealers with rural economy. These gentlemen are too wife in their generation. At first, perhaps, their tender and fufceptible imaginations may be captivated with the innocent and unprofitable delights of a paftoral 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 precurfor and prototype.They may, like him, begin by finging "Beatus ille”. but what will be the end?

Hæc ubi fœnerator Alpbius,

Fam jam futurus rufticus
Omnem relegit idibus pecuniam,
Quarit calendis ponere.


« AnteriorContinuar »