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character knew no medium, was that of being led, through an adıniration of successful fraud and violence, to imitate the excesses of an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing, confiscating, plundering, ferocious, bloody, and tyrannical democracy. The ardent sensibility of Burke's mind often transported him, as I have repeatedly remarked, into
ry violent expressions. Impartial investigators, however, of his conduct will attend less to incidental warmth of language than to the series of opinion, relatively to its grounds ; and of action, relatively to its causes and circumstances.
The more completely we exanzine Burke's intellectual operations and political exertions in detail, and the more full and accurate our induction of their principles is, the more clearly shall we see that his arguments and proceedings on the French revolution were on the same broad grounds as in the former parts of his life. I do not hesitate to say, that the very same process of understanding produced opposition to the ministerial plans respecting America and reprobation of the French principles of legislation ; and I refer to his chief writings and speeches on both for the proof of my assertion. His reasoning during the American contest was this :You have derived great benefit from the colonies under the constitution by which they have been hitherto managed : in attempting to establish a different constitution, you are neither sure of the practicability nor of the effect,
His reasoning on the principle of the French revolution was :-They have before them a balance of estates, a controul of powers, into which their own, after the Assembly of the States-General, might have been easily modelled, and from which a great share of actual liberty and happiness has been derived, BE GUIDED BY EXPERIENCE, AND NOT BY UNTRIED THEORIES.
He was apprehensive of the consequences of the French system to the constitution of England. As in his Vindication of Natural Sociely, he had shewn the probable effects of the
false philosophy of Bolingbroke; and on his return from France, of that of Helvetius, Voltaire, and Rousseau, to social order; he had, in his Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, animadverted on the political speculations then disseminated in this country, and had reprobated the reasoning of
pursued the same object with himself, because they argued from ideal notions of the Rights of Man.
He had perceived the notions spreading, not only among those who had talents and learning for such disquisitions, * ' but into clubs and societies, of which
many of the members could not be competent judges of metaphysics, and might be led by wild and misunderstood theories to the most speculatively erroneous and practically hurtful opinions and sentiments concerning the constitution of this country. He argued from the same principle respecting this country, that he had done in the case of America, and was doing in the case of France:TRUST NOT
. * Dr. Price and Dr. Priestley.
TIONS: ADHERE TO THE LESSONS OF EXPERIENCE.
This was the corner-stone of his political reasoning. HE, AT THAT VERY EARLY STAGE OF IT, WITH SAGACITY ALMOST PROPHETIC, DISCOVERED, in its operations, principles, and spirit, a tendency to THOSE VERY EFFECTS NOW KNOWN TO EUROPE BY DIREFUL EXPERIENCE. “They laid the axe to the root of property. They made and recorded a sort of institute and digest of anarchy, called the Rights of Man. Their conduct was marked by a savage and unfeeling barbarity. They had no other system than a determination to destroy all order, subvert all arrangement, and reduce every rank and description of men to one level. Their signal of attack was the warwhoop; their liberty was licentiousness, and their religion atheism. Burke concluded this first public discussion on the French revolution with a very high and just eulogium on the genius and dispositions of his friend Fox. It was in reply to this speech that Fox, after expressing his esteem and veneration for Burke, declared, that if he were to put all
the political information that he had gained from books, all that he had learned from science, or that the knowledge of the world and its affairs had taught him, into one scale; and the improvement he had derived from Mr. Burke's conversation and instruction into the other; the latter would preponderate'. Still, however, he could not agree with the opinion of his friend respecting the French revolution, at which he rejoiced, as an emancipation from despotism. He declared himself as much an enemy to democratical despotism, as to aristocratical or monarchical ; but he did not apprehend that the new constitution of France would degenerate into
of (he said) a friend only to a mixed government like our own, in which, if the aristocracy, or indeed any of the three branches, were destroyed, the good effects of the whole, and the happiness derived under it, would, in his mind, be at an end.'
• He was
Sheridan expressed his disapprobation of the remarks and reasonings of Burke on this