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they are instantly subdued. They dare not so much as look their antagonist in the face. They are made to be their subjects, not to be their arbiters or controllers.
These men to be sure can look at atrocious acts without indignation, and can behold suffering virtue without sympathy. Therefore they are considered as sober dispassionate men. But they have their passions, though of another kind, and which are infinitely more likely to carry them out of the path of their duty. They are of a tame, timid, languid, inert temper wherever the welfare of others is concerned. In such causes, as they have no motives to action, they never possess any real ability, and are totally destitute of all resource.
Believe a man who has seen much, and observed something. I have seen in the course of my life a great many of that family of men. They are generally chosen, because they have no opinion of their own ; and as far as they can be got in good earnest to embrace any opinion, it is that of whoever happens to employ them (neither longer or shorter, narrower or broader) with whom they have no discussion or consultation. The only thing which occurs to such a man when he has got a business for others into his hands, is how to make his own fortune out of it. The person he is to treat with, is not, with him, an adversary over whom he is to prevail, but a new friend he is to gain : therefore he always systematically betrays some part of his trust. Instead of thinking how he shall defend his ground to the last, and if forced to retreat, how little he shall give up, this kind of man considers how much of the interest of his employer he is to sacrifice to his adversary. Having nothing but himself in view, he knows, that in serving his principal with zeal, he must probably incur some resentment from the opposite party. His object is to obtain the good will of the person with whom he contends, that when an agreement is made, he may join in rewarding him. I would not take one of these as my arbitrator in a dispute for so inuch as a fish-pond for if he reserved the mud to me, he would be sure to give the water that fed the pool, to my adversary. In a great cause I should certainly wish, that my agent should possess conciliating qualities; that he should be of a frank, open, and candid disposition, soft in his nature, and of a temper to soften animosities and to win confidence. He ought not to be a man odious to the person he treats with, by personal injury, by violence, or by deceit, or, above all, by the dereliction of his cause in any former transactions. But I would be sure that my negotiator should be mine, that he should be as earnest in the cause as myself, and known to be so; that he should not be looked upon as a stipendiary advocate, but as a principled partizan. In all treaty it is a great point that all idea of gaining your agent is hopeless. I would not trust the cause of royalty with a man, who professing neutrality is half a republican. The enemy has already a great part of his suit without a strugglemand he contends with advantage for all the rest.
The common principle allowed between your adversary and your agent, gives your adversary the advantage in every discussion.
NEWSPAPER circulations are infinitely more efficacious and extensive than ever they were. And they are a more important instrument than generally is imagin
ed. They are a part of the reading of all, they are the whole of the reading of the far greater number. There are thirty of them in Paris alone. The language diffuses them more widely than the English, though the English too are much read. The writers of these papers indeed, for the greater part, are either unknown or in contempt, but they are like a battery in which the stroke of any one ball produces no great effect, but the amount of continual repetition is decisive. Let us only suffer any person to tell us his story, morning and evening, but for one twelve month, and he will become our master.
All this violent cry against the nobility I take to be a mere work of art. To be honoured and even privileged by the laws, opinions, and inveterate usages of our country, growing out of the prejudices of ages, has nothing to provoke horror and indignation in any man. Even to be too tenacious of those privileges is not absolutely a crime. The strong struggle in every individual to preserve possession of what he has found to belong to him and distinguish him, is one of the securities against injustice and despotism implanted in our nature. It operates as an instinct to secure property, and to preserve communities in a settled -state. What is there to shock in this ? Nobility is a graceful ornament to the civil order. It is the Corinthian capital of polished society. Omnes boni nobilitati semper favemus, was the saying of a wise and good man. It is indeed one sign of a liberal and benevolent mind to incline to it with some sort of partial propensity. He feels no ennobling principle in his own heart, who wishes to level all the artificial institutions
which have been adopted for giving a body toopinion, and permanence to fugitive esteem. It is a sour, malignant, envious disposition, without taste for the reality, or for any image or representation of virtue, that sees with joy the unmerited fall of what had long flourished in splendour and in honour. I do not like to see any thing destroyed; any void produced in society; any ruin on the face of the land.
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Though hereditary wealth, and the rank which goes with it, are too much idolized by creeping sycophants, and the blind abject admirers of power, they are too rashly slighted in shallow speculations of the petulant, assuming, short-sighted coxcombs of philosophy. Some decent regulated pre-eminence, some preference (not exclusive appropriation) given to birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor impolitic.
TURBULENT, discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their own order. One of the first symptoms they discover of a selfish and mischievous ambition, is a profligate disregard of a dignity which they partake with others. To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country and to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of those who compose it, and as none but bad men would
justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it ‘away for their own personal advantage.
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There were, in the time of our civil troubles in England (I do not know whether
you have any such in your assembly in France) several persons, like the then earl of Holland, who by themselves or their families had brought an odium on the throne, by the prodigal dispensation of its bounties towards them, who afterwards joined in the rebellions arising from the discontents of which they were themselves the cause ; men who helped to subvert that throne to which they owed, some of then, their existence, others all that power which they employed to ruin their benefactor. If
bounds are set to the rapacious demands of that sort of people, or that others are permitted to partake in the objects they would engrošs, revenge and envy soon fill up the craving void that is left in their avarice. Confounded by the complication of distempered passions, their reason is dis. turbed ; their views become vast and perplexed; to others inexplicable; to themselves uncertain. They find, on all sides, bounds to their unprincipled ambition in any fixed order of things. But in the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged, and appears without any limit.
When men of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an ambition without a distinct object, and work with low instruments and for low ends, the whole compos sition becomes low and base.
NOBILITY OF FRANCE.
I do not pretend to know France as correctly as some others, but I have endeavoured through my