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the other two orders must throw the power of both into the hands of the third. In fact, the whole power of the state was foon refolved into that body. Its due compofition became therefore of infinitely the greater importance.

Judge, Sir, of my furprize, when I found that a very great proportion of the Affembly (a majority, I believe, of the members who attended) was compofed of practitioners in the law. It was compofed not of diftinguished magiftrates, who had given pledges to their country of their science, prudence, and integrity; not of leading advocates, the glory of the bar; not of renowned profeffors in univerfities;-but for the far greater part, as it muft in fuch a number, of the inferior, unlearned, mechanical, merely inftrumental members of the profeffion. There were diftinguished exceptions; but the general compofition was of obfcure provincial advocates, of fewards of petty local jurifdictions, country attornies, notaries, and the whole train of the minifters of municipal litigation, the fomenters and conductors of the petty war of village vexation. From the moment I read the lift, I faw diftinctly, and very nearly as it has happened, all that was to follow.

The degree of estimation in which any profeffion is held becomes the standard of the eftimation in which the profeffors hold themfelves. Whatever the perfonal merits of many individual lawyers might have been, and in many it was undoubtedly very confiderable, in that military kingdom, no part of the profeffion had been much regarded, except the highest of all, who often united to their profeffional offices great family fplendour, and were invested with great power and authority. Thefe certainly were highly refpected, and even with no fmall degree of awe. The next rank was not much esteemed; the mechanical part was in a very low degree of repute.

Whenever the fupreme authority is invested in a body fo compofed, it must evidently produce the confequences of fupreme authority placed in the hands of men not taught habitually to refpect themselves; who had no previous fortune in character at ftake; who could not be expected to bear with moderation, or to conduct with discretion, a power which they themselves, more than any others,


must be furprized to find in their hands. Who could flatter himself that these men, fuddenly, and, as it were, by enchantment, fnatched from the humbleft rank of fubordination, would not be intoxicated with their unprepared greatness? Who could conceive, that men who are habitually meddling, daring, fubtle, active, of litigious difpofitions and unquiet minds, would cafily fall back into their old condition of obfcure contention, and laborious, low, unprofitable chicane? Who could doubt. but that, at any expence to the ftate, of which they understood nothing, they must pursue their private interests, which they understood but too well? It was not an event depending on chance or contingency. It was inevitable; it was neceffary; it was planted in the nature of things. They muft join (if their capacity did not permit them to lead) in any project which could procure to them a litigious conftitution; which could lay open to them those innumerable lucrative jobs which follow in the train of all great convulfions and revolutions in the ftate, and particularly in all great and violent permutations of property. Was it to be expected that they would attend to the ftability of property, whofe exiftence had always depended upon whatever rendered property questionable, ambiguous, and infecure? Their objects would be enlarged with their elevation, but their difpofition and habits, and mode of accomplishing their defigns, muft remain the fame.

Well! but these men were to be tempered and reftrained by other defcriptions, of more fober minds, and more enlarged understandings. Were they then to be awed by the fuper-eminent authority and awful dignity of an handful of country clowns who have feats in that Affembly, fome of whom are faid not to be able to read and write? and by not a greater number of traders, who, though fomewhat more inftructed, and more confpicuous in the order of fociety, had never known any thing beyond their counting houfe? No! both these defcriptions were more formed to be overborne and fwayed by the intrigues and artifices of lawyers, than to become their counterpoife. With fuch a dangerous difproportion, the whole muft needs be governed by them. To the faculty of law was joined

joined a pretty confiderable proportion of the faculty of medicine. This faculty had not, any more than that of the law, poffeffed in France its juft eftimation. Its profeffors therefore must have the qualities of men not habituated to fentiments of dignity. But fuppofing they had ranked as they ought to do, and as with us they do actually, the fides of fick beds are not the academies for forming statesmen and legiflators. Then came the dealers in ftocks and funds, who must be eager, at any expence, to change their ideal paper wealth for the more folid fubftance of land. To thefe were joined men of other defcriptions, from whom as little knowledge of or attention to the interests of a great state was to be expected, and as little regard to the stability of any inftitution; men formed to be instruments, not controls. Such in general was the compofition of the Tiers Etat in the National Affembly; in which was fcarcely to be perceived the flightest traces of what we call the natural landed intereft of the country.

We know that the British house of commons, without fhutting its doors to any merit in any clafs, is, by the fure operation of adequate caufes, filled with every thing illuftrious in rank, in descent, in hereditary and in acquired opulence, in cultivated talents, in military, civil, naval, and politic diftinction, that the country can afford. But fuppofing, what hardly can be fuppofed as a cafe, that the houfe of commons fhould be compofed in the fame manner with the Tiers Etat in France, would this dominion of chicane be borne with patience, or even conceived without horror? God forbid I should infinuate any thing derogatory to that profeffion, which is another priesthood, adminiftering the rites of facred juftice. But whilft I revere men in the functions which belong to them, and would do, as much as one man can do, to prevent their exclufion from any, I cannot, to flatter them, give the lye to nature. They are good and useful in the compofition; they must be mischievous if they preponderate fo as virtually to become the whole. Their very excellence in their peculiar functions may be far from a qualification for others. It cannot escape observation, that when men are too much confined to profeffional and faculty habits, and, as it were, inveterate in the recurrent employment


of that narrow circle, they are rather disabled than qua lified for whatever depends on the knowledge of mankind, on experience in mixed affairs, on a comprehensive connected view of the various complicated external and internal interests which go to the formation of that multifarious thing called a state.

After all, if the house of commons were to have an wholly profeffional and faculty compofition, what is the power of the houfe of commons, circumfcribed and fhut in by the immoveable barriers of laws, ufages, pofitive rules of doctrine and practice, counterpoized by the house of lords, and every moment of its existence at the difcretion of the crown to continue, prorogue, or diffolve us? The power of the house of commons, direct or indirect, is indeed great; and long may it be able to preserve its greatnefs, and the fpirit belonging to true greatness, at the full; and it will do fo, as long as it can keep the breakers of law in India from becoming the makers of law for England. The power, however, of the house of commons, when leaft diminished, is as a drop of water in the ocean, compared to that refiding in a settled majority of your National Affembly. That Affembly, fince the deftruction of the orders, has no fundamental law, no ftrict convention, no respected usage to restrain it. Inftead of finding themfelves obliged to conform to a fixed conftitution, they have a power to make a constitution which fhall conform to their defigns. Nothing in heaven or upon earth can ferve as a control on them. What ought to be the heads, the hearts, the difpofitions, that are qualified, or that dare, not only to make laws under a fixed conftitution, but at one heat to ftrike out a totally new conftitution for a great kingdom, and in every part of it, from the monarch on the throne to the vestry of a parish? But fools rub in where angels fear to tread." In fuch a state of unbounded power, for undefined and undefinable purposes, the evil of a moral and almost phyfical inaptitude of the man to the function must be the greatest we can conceive to happen in the management of human affairs.

Having confidered the compofition of the third eftate as it ftood in its original frame, I took a view of the reprefentatives

fentatives of the clergy. There too it appeared, that full as little regard was had to the general fecurity of property, or to the aptitude of the deputies for their publick purposes, in the principles of their election. That election was fo contrived as to fend a very large proportion of mere country curates to the great and arduous work of new-modelling a ftate; men who never had seen the state so much as in a picture; men who knew nothing of the world beyond the bounds of an obfcure village; who, immerfed in hopeless poverty, could regard all property, whether fecular or ecclefiaftical, with no other eye than that of envy; among whom must be many, who for the smallest hope of the meanest dividend in plunder, would readily join in any attempts upon a body of wealth, in which they could hardly look to have any fhare, except in a general fcramble. Instead of balancing the power of the active chicaners in the other affembly, thefe curates must neceffarily become the active coadjutors, or at best the paffive inftruments of those with whom they had been habitually guided in their petty village concerns. They too could hardly be the most confcientious of their kind, who, prefuming upon their incompetent understanding, could intrigue for a truft which led them from their natural relation to their flocks, and their natural spheres of action, to undertake the regeneration of kingdoms. This preponderating weight being added to the force of the body chicane in the Tiers Etat, compleated that momentum of ignorance, rafhnefs, prefumption, and luft of plunder, which nothing has been able to refift.

To obferving men it must have appeared from the beginning, that the majority of the Third Eftate, in conjunction with fuch a deputation from the clergy as I have defcribed, whilft it pursued the deftruction of the nobility, would inevitably become fubfervient to the worst defigns of individuals in that clafs. In the fpoil and humiliation of their own order thefe individuals would poffefs a fure fund for the pay of their new followers. To fquander away the objects which made the happiness of their fellows, would be to them no facrifice at all. Turbulent, discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with perfonal pride and arrogance, generally defpife

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