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the preservation of their own immunities, would unite in over-ruling the popular voice. They therefore insisted that the States-General should consist of one body only, and regulations be established according to the majority of votes. The Court refused—the Third Estate persisted, and met as a National Assembly, inviting the nobles and clergy to join them as individual members. The King ordered them to separate : it was replied, The Nation assembled has no ORDERS to receive. Troops were summoned by the Court to Paris, and surrounded the capital. The people of Paris took the side of the national
representatives; the army caught the prevailing feelings, the Bastile was destroyed, and the old government fell.
The notion, that a change from an oppressive and corrupt system must be good, was a natural, but not necessarily a wise conclusion. The alteration was or was not a proper subject of rejoicing to the lovers of mankind, according to the probability that the effect would be well regulated liberty,
order, and happiness. Britons in general were delighted * with the overthrow of a fabric so contrary to that liberty which they themselves, enjoyed. This was a natural and a benevolent pleasure ; but as it is profoundly remarked in the masterly investigation of Burke's RegicidE PEACE' in the Monthly Review of November 1796, · The great danger to a virtuous man arises from the excess of his virtuous propensities themselves. It is his duty to preserve, with the most religious care, a just balance among all the natural sentiments and moral principles of his character; and to watch with the utmost vigilance the first symptom of any tendency to excess, in any single principle or pas
* Every reader must remember the joy that pervaded all ranks in this country on hearing that the Third Estate had carried its point, and even that the Bastile was destroyed, I remember, some weeks before that period, I happened to be at the Little Theatre, when an actor, making some com. mon place observation, from the Trip to Margate, on the frivolity of the French, made the following addition, yet I do admire them for their present efforts in fuvour of liberty.' There was a loud clapping, and even huzzaing, from every corner of the house, for near half an hour,
sion. He must never forget the maxim of ancient wisdom, omnes virtutes mediocritate quadam esse moderatas. If he abandon himself to the guidance of any single principle, it matters not whether it be a zeal for the glory of God, or for the salvation of men; for the quiet of society, or for the establishment of liberty; for Popery or Calvinism; for Monarchy or for Democracy; it is sure equally to drown the voice of reason, to silence the feelings of nature, to dishonour his own character, and (if he bearmed with power) to vex and scourge the human race. The love of liberty, a sentiment in itself so noble, and so congenial to the feelings of an Englishman, was so powerful as to conquer other sentiments: admiration of the exertions which overthrew the despotism, absorbed horror for the outrages, and detestation for the violence and injustice which soon marked the proceedings of its subverters, and impeded the consideration of the tendency of the new order of things.
While many approved of the French revolution as a triumph of liberty, without at
tending closely to any of ITS DISTINGUISHING FEATURES, some, from considering certain peculiar characteristics of it, which coincided with their own notions, prized it the more. Many, admiring the constitution of England, conceived that the French revolution would generate a government similar to that which the English had acquired. Some, whose ideas of political establishments were formed from their own abstractions, much more than from experience, admired the French doctrines of the Rights of Man, which fell in with their own ideas on the principles and origin of civil and POLITICAL LIBERTY. They admired the French for declaring the equality of mankind, and making that principle the basis of government, instead of modifying it according to circumstances and expediency. Others, considering less the sources of political right than the MODES of intelle&tual process, commended the legislators of France, for taking, as they said, reason, instead of authority and example, for their guide. It was time (one very able writer remarked, and another repeated) that legislators, instead of
that narrow and dastardly coasting wnich never ventures to lose sight of usage and precedent, should, guided by the polarity of reason, hazard a bolder navigation, and discover, in unexplored regions, the treasure of public felicity. These were the views of men of much more genius, speculative philosophy, and general learning, than conversancy with practical affairs. While men of systematic understandings, habituated to speculations, ápproved of processes of mind conformable to their own, men, whose classical erudition had a greater influence in forming their opinions than experience and reason, and who judged of political equity and wisdom more from the practice of the ancient republics than from general history and investigation of mind, compared with the circumstances of the case, admired what they conceived to be approaches to the democratic spirit which they found arrayed in so beautiful colours by their favourite orators and poets. Statesmen of high rank, and of the highest talents, venerating liberty in general ; presuming French liberty would render its votaries happy; imputing