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be substituted. The composition of the National Assembly, the degradation of the nobility, the abolition of the orders, the confiscation of the property of the church, and many other acts, tended to confirm the opinion which he had formed. Much as he detested the outrages, he execrated the principles more; foreseeing, that in their unavoidable operation they would lead to much greater enormities. In the principles and details of the new constitution he did not expect either happiness, or even permanent existence. Uniformly inimical to metaphysics, as the instrument of intellect in planning conduct, he, CONSISTENTLY WITH HIMSELF, reprobated the speculative doctrine of the Rights of Man. Conceiving that the end of government, the good of the community, was, as appeared from experience, best attained when power was entrusted to talents,
See his Speeches on American Taxation, on Conciliation with America, on allowing the Colonies to tax themselves by Representatives; Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, and in his works, passim.
virtue, and property, * he disapproved of a system which permitted its exercise TO ALL MEN EQUALLY, without any consideration of their fitness. CONSISTENTLY WITH HIMSELF, he reprobated such a disposal of power.
The vicinity of France to England made him apprehensive lest the speculations of that country should make their way into this, and produce attempts against a constitution founded observation and experience, not upon visionary theories. The approbation manifested by many in this country, both of the principles and proceedings of the French revolutionists, increased his apprehension, and he took the first proper opportunity of endeavouring to point out the danger of encouraging the Gallic notions. An occasion offered itself, at the discusion of the Army Estimates for the year
Thoughts on the Discontents; in his speeches and writings, passim.
Adverting to the revolution in France, Fox considered that event as a reason for rendering a smaller military establishment The new form,' necessary on our part. he said, 'that the government of France was likely to assume would, he was persuaded, make her a better neighbour, and less propense to hostility, than when she was subject to the cabal and intrigues of ambitious and interested statesmen.' The opinion, that the new order in France was likely to produce more happiness to the inhabitants and more tranquillity to adjoining states, especially to this country, seems to have been one of the principal causes that rendered this philanthropic and patriotic personage favourable to the French revolution. The anticipation of happiness to the French themselves seems to have arisen from the attention of his great mind being turned more to the general effects of liberty than to the contemplation of the particular characters of its new votaries; and to the principles and views of its most active supporters, as manifested in their declarations and conduct. The anticipation of
tranquillity to other states, from the prevalence of freedom in France, even had there been nothing peculiar in the nature of that freedom and the habits and dispositions of its votaries, seems to have arisen more from theory than from the actual review of the history of free countries. Had the comprehensive and full mind of Fox called before him his own extensive knowledge of the actions of mankind, he would have immediately perceived that free nations have been as propense to hostility as the subjects of an arbitrary Prince; and, as he himself will readily admit, to much inore effect, because with much more energy. The reasonings of the great orator seem to be, on this subject, derived from abstract principles much more than experience. This was, indeed, the case with Mr. Sheridan and other eminent men friendly to the French revolution.
Burke soon after delivered his sentiments on the subject: entertaining the very highest opinion of the genius and wisdom of his
friend, he expressed his anxiety lest the approbation of the French by a man to whose authority so much weight was due, should be misunderstood to hold up the transactions in that country as a fit object of our imitation. After expressnig his thorough conviction that nothing could be farther from the intentions of so able and uniformly patriotic a champion of the British constitution, he entered upon the merits of his arguments, and of the question from which they had arisen. Fully coinciding with Fox respecting the evils of the old despotism, and the dangers that accrued from it to this country, and concerning the wisdom of our ancestors in preventing its contagion, as well as their vigour in resisting its ambitious projects, he thought very differently of the tranquillity to neighbours and happiness to themselves, likely to ensue from the late proceedings of France. In the last age (he said) we had been in danger of being entangled, by the example of France, in the net of relentless despotism. Our present danger, from the model of a people whose