[Christmas, 1795. First printed by Bishop King, from Burke’s Manuscript, in vol. v. of the 4to ed. of Burke’s Works, 1812.]
To the Earl Fitzwilliam
PART I, pp. 308-76
Lord Auckland’s Pamphlet criticised
General purpose of the pamphlet, p. 308. Particular positions controverted. 1. That the Jacobin Faction is France, p. 314. Contrast of this with the Whitehall Declaration of 1793, p. 318. 2. That France will fall by the weight of her own conquests, and crumble into separate republics, p. 321. Contrast of this with the reality—the indivisible republic growing daily in force and dimensions, p. 326. 3. That the reaction in England against French ideas may encourage despotic policy, p. 328. This illustrated by the large seditious meetings advocating his views, held while Lord Auckland’s pamphlet was in the press, ibid. 4. That the Revolution has been a wholesome lesson to sovereigns, p. 330, and to the higher classes generally, p. 333. 5. That the Jacobins are mending their ways, p. 337. This answered by the proceedings at the inauguration of the last Constitution, p. 341, including their insults to England p. 345. That this new Constitution is a good one—not unlike that of England, p. 350, that Robespierre, the incarnation of the old vices of the Revolution has perished, p. 353, that the constitution will be stable, and that its stability will extend to the peace to be made with it, p. 355. But England cannot possibly suffer, even for an “adequate compensation,” what Lord Auckland himself describes as “The abandonment of the Independence of Europe,” p. 363. This illustrated by the certain ruin to Britain in the West Indies which must result from the relations at present subsisting between France and Spain, p. 368. After this digression, Burke returns to the allegation that the Jacobins are mending their ways, p. 373, which he denies, and
 alleges that this is only said with the purpose of deluding England into amity with them. The fatal consequences of such amity are demonstrated in the next Part.
PART II, pp. 376-94
Consequences in England itself of a Regicide Peace
The Jacobin Faction will become dominant, p. 375. Comparison of the British Parliament and the Greek Divines, p. 381. Invasion of foreign Jacobinism, p. 382. Ancient character and decayed condition of the British Constitution, p. 384. Picture of the French Jacobins teaching the lessons of their experience in England, p. 385. Its effect on education, p. 389, on legislature and judicature, p. 390. The end of all will be the destruction of monarchy and religion. All this may actually come about, and at short notice, p. 393.]
My dear Lord,I am not sure, that the best way of discussing any subject, except those that concern the abstracted sciences, is not somewhat in the way of dialogue. To this mode, however, there are two objections. The first, that it happens, as in the puppet-show, one man speaks for all the personages. An unnatural uniformity of tone is in a manner unavoidable. The other, and more serious objection is, that as the author (if not an absolute sceptick) must have some opinion of his own to enforce, he will be continually tempted to enervate the arguments he puts into the mouth of his adversary, or to place them in a point of view most commodious for their refutation. There is, however, a sort of dialogue not quite so liable to these objections, because it approaches more nearly to truth and nature: it is called
CONTROVERSY. Here the parties speak for themselves. If the writer, who attacks another’s notions, does not deal fairly with his adversary, the diligent reader has it always in his power, by resorting to the work examined, to do justice to the original author and to himself. For this reason you will not blame me, if, in my discussion of the merits of a Regicide Peace, I do
 not choose to trust to my own statements, but to bring forward along with them the arguments of the advocates for that measure. If I choose puny adversaries, writers of no estimation or authority, then you will justly blame me. I might as well bring in at once a fictitious speaker, and thus fall into all the inconveniences of an imaginary dialogue. This I shall avoid; and I shall take no notice of any author, who, my friends in town do not tell me, is in estimation with those whose opinions he supports.A piece has been sent to me, called “Remarks on the apparent Circumstances of the War in the fourth week of October, 1795,” with a French motto,
Que faire encore une fois dans une telle nuit?—
Attendre le jour. The very title seemed to me striking and peculiar, and to announce something uncommon. In the time I have lived to, I always seem to walk on enchanted ground. Every thing is new, and according to the fashionable phrase, revolutionary. In former days, authors valued themselves upon the maturity and fulness of their deliberations. Accordingly they predicted (perhaps with more arrogance than reason) an
eternal duration to their works. Quite the contrary is our present fashion. Writers value themselves now on the instability of their opinions, and the transitory life of their productions. On this kind of credit the modern institutors open their schools. They write for youth; and it is sufficient if the instruction lasts as long as a present love, or as the painted silks and cottons of the season.The doctrines in this work are applied, for their standard, with great exactness, to the shortest possible periods both of conception and duration. The title is “Some Remarks on the
Apparent circumstances of the War
in the fourth week of October, 1795.” The time is critically chosen. A month or so earlier would have made it the anniversary of a bloody
Parisian September, when the French massacre one another.
 A day or two later would have carried it into a London November, the gloomy month in which it is said by a
pleasant author that Englishmen hang and drown themselves. In truth, this work has a tendency to alarm us with symptoms of publick suicide. However, there is one comfort to be taken even from the gloomy time of year. It is a rotting season. If what is brought to market is not good, it is not likely to keep long. Even buildings run up in haste with untempered mortar in that humid weather, if they are ill-contrived tenements, do not threaten long to encumber the earth. The Author tells us (and I believe he is the very first Author that ever told such a thing to his readers) “that the
entire fabrick of his speculations might be overset by unforeseen vicissitudes”; and what is far more extraordinary, “that even the
whole consideration might be
varied whilst he was writing those pages.” Truly, in my poor judgement, this circumstance formed a very substantial motive for his not publishing those ill-considered considerations at all. He ought to have followed the good advice of his motto; Que faire encore dans une telle nuit? Attendre le jour. He ought to have waited till he had got a little more day-light on this subject. Night itself is hardly darker than the fogs of that time.Finding the
last week in October so particularly referred to, and not perceiving any particular event relative to the War, which happened on any of the days in that week, I thought it possible that they were marked by some astrological superstition, to which the greatest politicians have been subject. I therefore had recourse to my
Rider’s Almanack. There I found indeed something that characterized the work, and that gave directions concerning the sudden political and natural variations, and for eschewing the maladies that are most prevalent in that aguish intermittent season, “the last week of October.” On that week the sagacious astrologer,
 Rider, in his note on the third column of the calendar side, teaches us to expect ”
variable and cold weather“; but instead of encouraging us to trust ourselves to the haze and mist and doubtful lights of that changeable week, on the answerable part of the opposite page, he gives us a salutary caution, (indeed it is very nearly in the words of the author’s motto): ”
Avoid (says he)
being out late at night, and in foggy weather, for a cold now caught may last the whole winter.”
This ingenious author, who disdained the prudence of the almanack, walked out in the very fog he complains of, and has led us to a very unseasonable airing at that time. Whilst this noble writer, by the vigour of an excellent constitution, formed for the violent changes he prognosticates, may shake off the importunate rheum and malignant influenza of this disagreeable week, a whole Parliament may go on spitting and snivelling, and wheezing and coughing, during a whole session. All this from listening to variable, hebdomadal politicians, who run away from their opinions without giving us a month’s warning; and for not listening to the wise and friendly admonitions of Dr. Cardanus Rider, who never apprehends he may change his opinions before his pen is out of his hand, but always enables us to lay in, at least, a year’s stock of useful information.At first I took comfort. I said to myself, that if I should, as I fear I must, oppose the doctrines of the last week of October, it is probable that, by this time, they are no longer those of the eminent writer, to whom they are attributed. He gives us hopes that long before this he may have embraced the direct contrary sentiments. If I am found
 in a conflict with those of the last week of October, I may be in full agreement with those of the last week in December, or the first week in January 1796. But a
second edition, and a French translation (for the benefit, I must suppose, of the new Regicide Directory) have let down a little of these flattering hopes. We and the Directory know, that the author, whatever changes his works seemed made to indicate, like a weather-cock grown rusty, remains just where he was in the last week of last October. It is true, that his protest against binding him to his opinions, and his reservation of a right to whatever opinions he pleases, remain in their full force. This variability is pleasant, and shews a fertility of fancy;
Qualis in aethereo felix Vertumnus Olympo
Mille habet ornatus, mille decenter habet.
Yet, doing all justice to the sportive variability of these weekly, daily, or hourly speculators, shall I be pardoned, if I attempt a word on the part of us
simple country folk? It is not good for
us, however it may be so for great statesmen, that we should be treated with variable politicks. I consider different relations as prescribing a different conduct. I allow, that in transactions with an enemy, a Minister may, and often must, vary his demands with the day, possibly with the hour. With an enemy, a fixed plan, variable arrangements. This is the rule the nature of the transaction prescribes. But all this belongs to treaty. All these shiftings and changes are a sort of secret amongst the parties, till a definite settlement is brought about. Such is the spirit of the proceedings in the doubtful and transitory state of things between enmity and friendship. In this change the subjects of the transformation are by nature carefully wrapt up in their cocoons. The gay ornament of summer is not seemly in his aurelia state. This mutability is allowed to
 a foreign negociator. But when a great politician condescends publickly to instruct his own countrymen on a matter, which may fix their fate for ever, his opinions ought not to be diurnal, or even weekly. These ephemerides of politicks are not made for our slow and coarse understandings. Our appetite demands a
piece of resistance. We require some food that will stick to the ribs. We call for sentiments, to which we can attach ourselves; sentiments, in which we can take an interest; sentiments, on which we can warm, on which we can ground some confidence in ourselves or in others. We do not want a largess of inconstancy. Poor souls, we have enough of that sort of poverty at home. There is a difference too between deliberation and doctrine: a man ought to be decided in his opinions before he attempts to teach. His fugitive lights may serve himself in some unknown region, but they can not free us from the effects of the error, into which we have been betrayed. His active Will-o’-the-Whisp may be gone nobody can guess where, whilst he leaves us bemired and benighted in the bog.Having premised these few reflections upon this new mode of teaching a lesson, which whilst the scholar is getting by heart the master forgets, I come to the lesson itself. On the fullest consideration of it, I am utterly incapable of saying with any great certainty what it is, in the detail, that the author means to affirm or deny, to dissuade or recommend. His march is mostly oblique, and his doctrine rather in the way of insinuation than a dogmatick assertion. It is not only fugitive in its duration, but is slippery, in the extreme, whilst it lasts. Examining it part by part, it seems almost every where to contradict itself; and the author, who claims the privilege of varying his opinions, has exercised this privilege in every section of his remarks. For this reason, amongst others, I follow the advice which the able
 writer gives in his last page, which is “to consider the
impression of what he has urged, taken from the
whole, and not from detached paragraphs.” That caution was not absolutely necessary. I should think it unfair to the author and to myself, to have proceeded otherwise. The author’s
whole, however, like every other whole, can not be so well comprehended without some reference to the parts; but they shall be again referred to the whole. Without this latter attention, several of the passages would certainly remain covered with an impenetrable and truly oracular obscurity.The great general pervading purpose of the whole pamphlet is to reconcile us to peace with the present usurpation in France. In this general drift of the author I can hardly be mistaken. The other purposes, less general, and subservient to the preceding scheme, are to show, first, that the time of the remarks was the favourable time for making that peace upon our side; secondly, that on the enemy’s side their disposition towards the acceptance of such terms as he is pleased to offer, was rationally to be expected; the third purpose was to make some sort of disclosure of the terms, which, if the Regicides are pleased to grant them, this nation ought to be contented to accept: these form the basis of the negociation, which the author, whoever he is, proposes to open.Before I consider these Remarks along with the other reasonings which I hear on the same subject, I beg leave to recal to your mind the observation I made early in our correspondence, and which ought to attend us quite through the discussion of this proposed peace, amity, or fraternity, or whatever you may call it; that is, the real quality and character of the party you have to deal with. This, I find, as a thing of no importance, has every where escaped the author of the October Remarks. That hostile power to the
 period of the fourth week in that month has been ever called and considered as an usurpation. In that week, for the first time, it changed its name of an usurped power, and took the simple name of
France. The word France is slipped in just as if the government stood exactly as before that revolution which has astonished, terrified, and almost overpowered Europe. “France,” says the author, “will do this”; “it is the interest of France”; “the returning honour and generosity of France,” &c. &c. Always merely France; just as if we were in a common political war with an old recognized member of the commonwealth of Christian Europe; and as if our dispute had turned upon a mere matter of territorial or commercial controversy, which a peace might settle by the imposition or the taking off a duty, with the gain or the loss of a remote island or a frontier town or two, on the one side or the other. This shifting of persons could not be done without the hocus-pocus of
abstraction. We have been in a grievous error. We thought that we had been at war with
rebels against the lawful government, but that we were friends and allies of what is properly France; friends and allies to the legal body politick of France. But by sleight of hand the Jacobins are clean vanished, and it is France we have got under our cup. Blessings on his soul that first invented sleep, said Don Sancho Panza the wise! All those blessings, and ten thousand times more, on him who found out abstraction, personification, and impersonals! In certain cases they are the first of all soporificks. Terribly alarmed we should be if things were proposed to us in the
concrete; and if fraternity was held out to us with the individuals, who compose this France, by their proper names and descriptions: if we were told that it was very proper to enter into the closest bonds of amity and good correspondence with the devout, pacifick, and tender-hearted Syeyes, with the all-accomplished Rewbel, with the humane
 guillotinists of Bourdeaux, Tallien and Isabeau; with the meek butcher Legendre, and with “the returned humanity and generosity” (that had been only on a visit abroad) of the virtuous regicide brewer Santerre. This would seem at the outset a very strange scheme of amity and concord; nay, though we had held out to us, as an additional douceur, an assurance of the cordial fraternal embrace of our pious and patriotic countryman Thomas Paine. But plain truth would here be shocking and absurd; therefore comes in
abstraction and personification. “Make your Peace with France.” That word
France sounds quite as well as any other, and it conveys no idea but that of a very pleasant country and very hospitable inhabitants. Nothing absurd and shocking in amity and good correspondence with
France. Permit me to say, that I am not yet well acquainted with this new-coined France, and, without a careful assay, I am not willing to receive it in currency in place of the old Louis d’or.Having therefore slipped the persons, with whom we are to treat, out of view, we are next to be satisfied, that the French Revolution, which this peace is to fix and consolidate, ought to give us no just cause of apprehension. Though the Author labours this point, yet he confesses a fact, (indeed he could not conceal it) which renders all his labours utterly fruitless. He confesses, that the Regicide means to
dictate a pacification, and that this pacification, according to their decree passed but a very few days before his publication appeared, is to “unite to their Empire, either in possession or dependence, new barriers, many frontier places of strength, a large sea-coast, and many sea-ports.” He ought to have stated it, that they would annex to their territory a country about a third as large as France, and much more than half as rich; and in a situation the most important, for command, that it would be possible for her any where to possess. To remove this terror, (if the Regicides should carry their point) and to give us perfect repose with regard to their Empire, whatever they may acquire, or whomsoever they might destroy, he raises a doubt “whether France will not be ruined by
retaining these conquests, and whether she will not wholly lose that preponderance, which she has held in the scale of European powers, and will not eventually be destroyed by the effect of her present successes; or, at least, whether, so far as the
political interests of England are concerned, she [France] will remain an object of
as much jealousy and alarm, as she was under the reign of a Monarch.” Here, indeed, is a paragraph full of meaning! It gives matter for meditation almost in every word of it. The secret of the pacifick politicians is out. This Republick, at all hazards, is to be maintained. It is to be confined within some bounds, if we can; if not, with every possible acquisition of power, it is still to be cherished and supported. It is the return of the Monarchy we are to dread, and therefore we ought to pray for the permanence of the Regicide authority.
Esto perpetua is the devout ejaculation of our Fra Paolo for the Republick one and indivisible! It was the Monarchy that rendered France dangerous; Regicide neutralizes all the acrimony of that power and renders it safe and social. The October speculator is of opinion, that Monarchy is of so poisonous a quality, that a moderate territorial power is far more dangerous to its neighbours under that abominable regimen, than the greatest Empire in the hands of a Republick. This is Jacobinism sublimed and exalted into most pure and perfect essence. It is a doctrine, I admit, made to allure and captivate, if any thing in the world can, the Jacobin directory, to mollify the ferocity of Regicide, and to persuade those patriotick Hangmen, after their reiterated oaths for our extirpation, to admit this well humbled nation to the fraternal embrace. I do not wonder that this tub of
 October has been racked off into a French cask. It must make its fortune at Paris. That translation seems the language the most suited to these sentiments. Our author tells the French Jacobins that the political interests of Great Britain are in perfect unison with the principles of their government; that they may take and keep the keys of the civilized world, for they are safe in their unambitious and faithful custody. We say to them, “We may, indeed, wish you to be a little less murderous, wicked and atheistical, for the sake of morals: we may think it were better you were less new-fangled in your speech, for the sake of grammar: but, as
politicians, provided you keep clear of Monarchy, all our fears, alarms and jealousies are at an end: at least they sink into nothing in comparison with our dread of your detestable Royalty.” A flatterer of Cardinal Mazarin said, when that Minister had just settled the match between the young Louis the 14th and a daughter of Spain, that this alliance had the effect of Faith, and removed Mountains—that the Pyrenees were levelled by that marriage. You may now compliment Rewbel in the same spirit on the miracles of Regicide, and tell him, that the guillotine of Louis the 16th had consummated a marriage between Great Britain and France, which dried up the Channel, and
restored the two countries to the unity, which, it is said, they had before the unnatural rage of seas and earthquakes had broke off their happy junction. It will be a fine subject for the Poets, who are to prophecy the blessings of this peace.I am now convinced, that the Remarks of the last week of October cannot come from the author, to whom they are given; they are such a direct contradiction to the style of manly indignation, with which he spoke of those miscreants and murderers in his excellent Memorial to the States of Holland—to that very State, which the Author, who presumes to personate him, does not find it contrary to the
 political interests of England to leave in the hands of these very miscreants, against whom on the part of England he took so much pains to animate their Republick. This cannot be; and, if this argument wanted any thing to give it new force, it is strengthened by an additional reason that is irresistible. Knowing that Noble person, as well as myself, to be under very great obligations to the Crown, I am confident he would not so very directly contradict, even in the paroxysm of zeal against monarchy, the declarations made in the name and with the fullest approbation of our Sovereign, his Master, and our common benefactor. In those declarations you will see, that the King, instead of being sensible of greater alarm and jealousy from a neighbouring crowned head, than from these Regicides, attributes all the dangers of Europe to the latter. Let this writer hear the description given in the Royal Declaration of the scheme of power of these Miscreants, as ”
a system destructive of all publick order; maintained by proscriptions, exiles, and confiscations without number; by arbitrary imprisonments; by massacres which cannot be remembered without horrour; and at length by the execrable murder of a just and beneficent Sovereign, and of the illustrious princess, who with an unshaken firmness has shared all the misfortunes of her Royal consort, his protracted sufferings, his cruel captivity, and his ignominious death.” After thus describing, with an eloquence and energy equalled only by its truth, the means, by which this usurped power had been acquired and maintained, that government is characterized with equal force. His Majesty, far from thinking Monarchy in France to be a greater object of jealousy, than the Regicide usurpation, calls upon the French to re-establish ”
a monarchical government” for the purpose of shaking off ”
the yoke of a sanguinary anarchy; of that anarchy, which has broken the most sacred bonds of Society, dissolved all the relations of civil life, violated every right, confoundedevery duty; which uses the name of liberty to exercise the most cruel tyranny, to annihilate all property, to seize on all possessions; which founds its power on the pretended consent of the people, and itself carries fire and sword through extensive provinces for having demanded their laws, their religion and their rightful Sovereign.““That strain I heard was of an higher mood.” That declaration of our Sovereign was worthy of his throne. It is in
a style, which neither the pen of the writer of October, nor such a poor crow-quill as mine can ever hope to equal. I am happy to enrich my letter with this fragment of nervous and manly eloquence, which if it had not emanated from the awful authority of a throne, if it were not recorded amongst the most valuable monuments of history, and consecrated in the archives of States, would be worthy as a private composition to live for ever in the memory of men.In those admirable pieces, does his Majesty discover this new opinion of his political security in having the chair of the Scorner, that is, the discipline of Atheism and the block of Regicide, set up by his side, elevated on the same platform, and shouldering, with the vile image of their grim and bloody idol, the inviolable majesty of his throne? The sentiments of these declarations are the very reverse: they could not be other. Speaking of the spirit of that usurpation the Royal manifesto describes with perfect truth its internal tyranny to have been established as the very means of shaking the security of all other States; as ”
disposing arbitrarily of the property and blood of the inhabitants of France, in order to disturb the tranquillity of other nations, and to render all Europe the theatre of the same crimes and the same misfortunes.” It was but a natural inference from this fact, that the Royal manifesto does not at all rest the justification of this war on common principles: ”
that it was not only to defend his own rights, and those of his Allies,” but ”
thatall the dearest interests of his people imposed upon him a Duty still more important—that of exerting his efforts for the preservation of civil society itself, as happily established among the nations of Europe.” On that ground the protection offered is to those, who by “declaring for a
Monarchical government shall shake off the yoke of a sanguinary Anarchy.” It is for that purpose the Declaration calls on them to join the standard of an ”
hereditary Monarchy“; and declaring, that the
safety and peace of this Kingdom and the powers of Europe ”
materially depend upon the re-establishment of order in France,” his Majesty does not hesitate to declare, that ”
the re-establishment of Monarchy in the person of Louis the 17th and the lawful heirs of his crown appears to him [his Majesty]
the best mode of accomplishing these just and salutary views.“This is what his Majesty does not hesitate to declare relative to the political safety and peace of his Kingdom and of Europe, and with regard to France under her ancient hereditary Monarchy in the course and order of legal succession. But in comes a gentleman in the fag end of October, dripping with the fogs of that humid and uncertain season, and does not hesitate in Diameter to contradict this wise and just Royal declaration; and stoutly, on his part, to make a counter-declaration, that France, so far as the political interests of England are concerned, will not remain, under the despotism of Regicide and with the better part of Europe in her hands, so much an object of jealousy and alarm, as she was under the reign of a Monarch. When I hear the Master and reason on one side, and the Servant and his single and unsupported assertion on the other, my part is taken.This is what the Octobrist says of the political interests of England, which it looks as if he completely disconnected with those of all other nations. But not quite so; he just allows it possible (with an “at least”) that the other powers
 may not find it quite their interest, that their Territories should be conquered and their Subjects tyrannized over by the Regicides. No fewer than ten Sovereign Princes had, some the whole, all a very considerable part, of their Dominions, under the yoke of that dreadful faction. Amongst these was to be reckoned the
first Republick in the World, and the closest Ally of this Kingdom, which, under the insulting name of an independency, is under her iron yoke; and, as long as a faction averse to the old government is suffered there to domineer, cannot be otherwise. I say nothing of the Austrian Netherlands, countries of a vast extent, and amongst the most fertile and populous of Europe; and with regard to us most critically situated. The rest will readily occur to you.But if there are yet existing any people, like me, old fashioned enough to consider, that we have an important part of our very existence beyond our limits, and who therefore stretch their thoughts beyond the
Pomoerium of England, for them too he has a comfort, which will remove all their jealousies and alarms about the extent of the Empire of Regicide. ”
These conquests eventually will be the cause of her destruction.” So that they, who hate the cause of usurpation and dread the power of France under any form, are to wish her to be a conqueror, in order to accelerate her ruin. A little more conquest would be still better. Will he tell us what dose of Dominion is to be the
quantum sufficit for her destruction, for she seems very voracious of the food of her distemper? To be sure she is ready to perish with repletion; she has a
Boulimia, and hardly has bolted down one State, than she calls for two or three more. There is a good deal of wit in all this; but it seems to me (with all respect to the Author) to be carrying the joke a great deal too far. I cannot yet think, that the Armies of the Allies were of this way of thinking; and that, when they evacuated
 all these countries, it was a stratagem of war to decoy France into ruin; or that, if in a Treaty we should surrender them for ever into the hands of the usurpation (the lease, the author supposes) it is a master-stroke of policy to effect the destruction of a formidable rival, and to render her no longer an object of jealousy and alarm. This, I assure the Author, will infinitely facilitate the Treaty. The usurpers will catch at this bait, without minding the hook, which this crafty angler for the Jacobin gudgeons of the New Directory has so dexterously placed under it.Every symptom of the exacerbation of the publick malady is with him (as with the
Doctor in Molière) a happy prognostick of recovery. Flanders gone!—
tant mieux. Holland subdued!—charming! Spain beaten, and all the hither Germany conquered!—Bravo! Better and better still! But they will retain all their conquests on a Treaty! Best of all! What a delightful thing it is to have a gay physician who sees all things, as the French express it,
couleur de rose! What an escape we have had, that we and our Allies were not the Conquerors! By these conquests, previous to her utter destruction, she is “wholly to lose that preponderance, which she held in the scale of the European Powers.” Bless me! This new system of France, after changing all other laws, reverses the law of gravitation. By throwing in weight after weight her scale rises, and will by and by kick the beam! Certainly there is one sense in which she loses her preponderance: that is she is no longer preponderant against the Countries she has conquered. They are part of herself. But I beg the Author to keep his eyes fixed on the scales for a moment longer, and then to tell me in downright earnest, whether he sees hitherto any signs of her losing preponderance by an augmentation of weight and power. Has she lost her preponderance over Spain, by her influence in Spain? Are there any signs, that the conquest
 of Savoy and Nice begins to lessen her preponderance over Switzerland and the Italian States—or that the Canton of Berne, Genoa and Tuscany, for example, have taken arms against her, or, that Sardinia is more adverse than ever to a treacherous pacification? Was it in the last week of October, that the German States shewed that Jacobin France was losing her preponderance? Did the King of Prussia, when he delivered into her safe custody his territories on this side of the Rhine, manifest any tokens of his opinion of her loss of preponderance? Look on Sweden and on Denmark: is her preponderance less visible there?It is true, that in a course of ages Empires have fallen, and, in the
opinion of some, not in mine, by their own weight. Sometimes they have been unquestionably embarrassed in their movements by the dissociated situation of their Dominions. Such was the case of the empire of Charles the Fifth and of his successor. It might be so of others. But so compact a body of empire; so fitted in all the parts for mutual support; with a Frontier by nature and art so impenetrable; with such facility of breaking out with irresistible force, from every quarter, was never seen in such an extent of territory from the beginning of time, as in that empire, which the Jacobins possessed in October 1795, and which Boissy d’Anglas, in his Report, settled as the Law for Europe, and the Dominion assigned by Nature for the Republick of Regicide. But this Empire is to be her ruin, and to take away all alarm and jealousy on the part of England, and to destroy her preponderance over the miserable remains of Europe!These are choice speculations, with which the Author amuses himself, and tries to divert us, in the blackest hours of the dismay, defeat and calamity of all civilized nations. They have but one fault, that they are directly contrary to the common sense and common feeling of mankind. If I
 had but one hour to live, I would employ it in decrying this wretched system, and die with my pen in my hand to mark out the dreadful consequences of receiving an arrangement of Empire dictated by the despotism of Regicide to my own Country, and to the lawful Sovereigns of the Christian World.I trust I shall hardly be told, in palliation of this shameful system of politicks, that the Author expresses his sentiments only as doubts. In such things it may be truly said that
“once to doubt is once to be resolved.” It would be a strange reason for wasting the treasures and shedding the blood of our country to prevent arrangements on the part of another power, of which we were doubtful, whether they might not be even to our advantage and render our neighbour less than before the object of our jealousy and alarm. In this doubt there is much decision. No nation would consent to carry on a war of scepticism. But the fact is, this expression of doubt is only a mode of putting an opinion when it is not the drift of the Author to overturn the doubt. Otherwise, the doubt is never stated as the Author’s own, nor left, as here it is, unanswered. Indeed, the mode of stating the most decided opinions in the form of questions is so little uncommon, particularly since the excellent queries of the
excellent Berkeley, that it became for a good while a fashionable mode of composition.Here then the Author of the fourth week of October is ready for the worst, and would strike the bargain of peace on these conditions. I must leave it to you and to every considerate man to reflect upon the effect of this on any Continental alliances present or future, and whether it would be possible (if this book was thought of the least authority) that its maxims with regard to our political interest must not naturally push them to be beforehand with us in the fraternity with Regicide, and thus not only strip us of any
 steady alliance at present, but leave us without any of that communion of interest which could produce alliances in future. Indeed, with these maxims, we should be well divided from the World.Notwithstanding this new kind of barrier and security that is found against her ambition in her conquests, yet in the very same paragraph he admits that “for the
present at least it is subversive of the balance of power.” This, I confess, is not a direct contradiction, because the benefits which he promises himself from it, according to his hypothesis are future and more remote.So disposed is this Author to peace, that, having laid a comfortable foundation of
our security in the greatness of
her Empire, he has another in reserve if that should fail, upon quite a contrary ground; that is, a speculation of her crumbling to pieces and being thrown into a number of little separate Republicks. After paying the tribute of humanity to those who will be ruined by all these changes, on the whole he is of opinion that “the change might be compatible with general tranquillity, and with the establishment of a peaceful and prosperous commerce among nations.” Whether France be great or small, firm and entire, or dissipated and divided, all is well; provided we can have peace with her.But, without entering into speculations about her dismemberment whilst she is adding great nations to her empire, is it then quite so certain, that the dissipation of France into such a cluster of petty Republicks would be so very favourable to the true balance of power in Europe, as this Author imagines it would be, and to the commerce of Nations? I greatly differ from him. I perhaps shall prove in a future letter, with the political map of Europe before my eye, that the general liberty and independence of the great Christian commonwealth could not exist with such a dismemberment;
 unless it were followed (as probably enough it would) by the dismemberment of every other considerable country in Europe: and what convulsions would arise in the constitution of every state in Europe, it is not easy to conjecture in the mode, impossible not to foresee in the mass. Speculate on, good my Lord! provided you ground no part of your politicks on such unsteady speculations. But, as to any practice to ensue, are we not yet cured of the malady of speculating on the circumstances of things totally different from those in which we live and move? Five years has this Monster continued whole and entire in all its members. Far from falling into a division within itself, it is augmented by tremendous additions. We cannot bear to look that frightful form in the face as it is and in its own actual shape. We
dare not be wise. We have not the fortitude of rational fear. We will not provide for our future safety; but we endeavour to hush the cries of present timidity by guesses at what may be hereafter.
“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow”—is this our style of talk, when “all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death?” Talk not to me of what swarms of Republicks may come from this carcass! It is no carcass. Now, now, whilst we are talking, it is full of life and action. What say you to the Regicide Empire of to-day? Tell me, my friend, do its terrors appal you into an abject submission, or rouse you to a vigorous defence? But do—I no longer prevent it—do go on—look into futurity. Has this Empire nothing to alarm you when all struggle against it is over, when Mankind shall be silent before it, when all nations shall be disarmed, disheartened and
truly divided by a treacherous peace? Its malignity towards humankind will subsist with undiminished heat, whilst the means of giving it effect must proceed, and every means of resisting it must inevitably and rapidly decline.Against alarm on their politick and military empire these
 are the writer’s sedative remedies. But he leaves us sadly in the dark with regard to the moral consequences which he states have threatened to demolish a system of civilization under which his Country enjoys a prosperity unparalleled in the history of Man. We had emerged from our first terrors. But here we sink into them again; however, only to shake them off upon the credit of his being a Man of very sanguine hopes.
P. 309, l. 27.eternal duration.
See for examples the conclusion of Horace’s Odes and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
P. 310, l. 4.Parisian September.
The allusion is to the memorable September of 1792.
l. 7.pleasant author.
l. 32.Rider’s Almanack.
Then and long afterwards the best popular almanack.
Here I have fallen into an unintentional mistake. Rider’s Almanack for 1794 lay before me; and, in truth, I then had no other. For variety that sage astrologer has made some small changes on the weather side of 1795; but the caution is the same on the opposite page of instruction.
P. 312, l. 2.Second edition.
Burke waited to watch the effect of Lord
Auckland’s work on the public. It had been out about two months when the criticism was begun.
l. 12.Qualis in aethereo.
Tibullus, Lib. iv. Carm. 2.
l. 16.simple country folk.
Burke was no longer in Parliament: he lived in retirement at Beaconsfield.
The style here, as in many other parts, is that of a speech in debate.
P. 317, l. 5.Esto perpetua.
Father Paul Sarpi’s dying prayer for his country (Venice). See Dr. Johnson’s Life of him.
P. 318, l. 7.restored the two countries,
&c. Thomson alludes to the idea, “Liberty,” Part iv.:
Since first the rushing flood
Urged by almighty power, this favoured isle
Turned flashing from the Continent aside,
Indented shore to shore responsive still.
l. 23.a style which,
&c. Burke somewhat unfairly contrasts the flimsy style of Auckland’s pamphlet with that of Grenville’s Declaration. The compositions were in different kinds.
The limit of the precincts of ancient Rome.
l. 19.Doctor in Molière.
See “Le Malade Imaginaire.”
P. 323, l. 18.opinion of some.
See the opening of the first chapter. That empires fall by their own weight is not only an ill-formed analogy, but formed on false premises. A tree, or a building, never falls by its own weight until some other cause has done its work.
l. 25.excellent Berkeley.
Bishop Berkeley’s Queries, mainly directed to the condition of Ireland, make an important epoch in the history of Political Economy.
P. 326, l. 12.dare not be wise.
“Sapere aude.” Horace, Epistles, i. 2. 40.
l. 15.“To-morrow and to-morrow,”
&c. See Macbeth, Act v. sc. 5.
P. 327, l. 27.the famous Jurieu.
Pierre Jurieu (1637-1713) a Protestant theologian of some eminence, had satisfied himself by study of the Prophets and Apocalypse that the year 1689 would witness the final triumph of Protestantism over Rome. As the time approached, so jubilant were the partisans of his views that a medal was struck in his honour with the legend “Jurius Propheta.” The year 1689 however, passed without seeing his predictions fulfilled. Jurieu reapplied himself to his studies, and discovered that he had made an error of twenty-six years, and that 1715 was the real date of the second advent of the Messiah and the fall of Antichrist. Before this date the prophet died. Among his numerous writings is a curious one
entitled “Les Soupirs de la France esclave qui respire après la liberté.” It denounced the tyranny of Louis XIV, and asserted the sovereignty of the people.
l. 29.Mr. Brothers.
Richard Brothers was a harmless fanatic who prophesied and published various pamphlets containing his prophecies. In 1792 “he was commanded by the Lord God to go down to the House of Parliament and acquaint the members for their own personal safety and the general benefit of the country that the time of the world was come to fulfil the 7th chapter of Daniel.” But on his publishing his prophetic mission to George III to “deliver up his crown, that all his power and authority might cease,” he was taken up on a warrant, on suspicion of treasonable practices. One member of Parliament, a Mr. Halhed, believed in him, and repeatedly strove to bring his wrongs before the house.
P. 330, l. 3.untimely wisdom,
&c. “Eventus ille stultorum magister,” Livy.
P. 332, l. 17.Jourdan Coupe-tête.
Matthew Jourdan, the illiterate ruffian who devastated the Comtat Venaissin, and executed the horrible “Massacre de la Glacière” at Avignon. The Revolutionary Tribunal rid the world of him in 1794.
l. 18.whose Predecessor,
&c. Joseph the Second.
P. 333, l. 14.Juignie—Cardinal de Rochefoucault.
Juigné, Bishop of Chalons, had taken part in the famous sitting of the 4th of August, 1789, and proposed a
in celebration of it. He was now in exile at Constance. As to the Cardinal de Rochefoucault, see note to vol. ii. p. 213, l. 31.
l. 16.their very beings.
Perhaps borrowed from what Grattan had said of the famous preacher Dr. Kirwan: “In feeding the lamp of charity he had almost exhausted the lamp of life.” Speech on the Address, Jan. 19, 1792.
P. 334, l. 15.D’Espremenil.
D’Espremenil had been a minister before the Revolution. On the establishment of the Convention he had retired to the country, and ceased to take any part in politics. From his country seat he was suddenly called before the Revolutionary tribunal, condemned, and executed, in 1794.
The famous ally of Turgot, in his plans for saving France by timely fiscal and constitutional reforms. He had been the king’s advocate at his trial. After the king’s execution, he also retired to the country: whence he was brought before the Revolutionary tribunal, condemned, and executed with D’Espremenil. Sainte-Beuve calls him “ce Franklin de vieille race.”
P. 335, l. 13.“last that wore the imperial purple.”
The prophecy was to meet with a striking fulfilment.
P. 336, l. 13.humility and submission—silent adoration—trembling wings.
As in the fine passage page 163, Burke is using classical materials. Pope, Essay on Man, i. 91:
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar:
Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore.
P. 337, l. 4.old Trivulzio.
The famous old general was then (1515) in his seventy-fourth year. The battle of Marignano was fought by him at the head of a French army. It gained Francis I, for a short time, possession of the whole Duchy of Milan.
Ibid.battle of Marignan.
Burke quotes from memory the famous description of this battle in Mezeray, Book iii: “Il se trouva sur le champ quatorze mille Suisses morts et pres de quatre mille François: ceux-là pour la plus grande part brisez de coups de canons ou percez de traits d’arbaleste, et ceux-cy fendus et hachez par d’horribles et larges playes. Aussi Trivulce, qui s’estoit trouvé à dix-huit batailles, disoit que celle-cy estoit une bataille de géants, et que toutes les autres n’estoient en comparison que des jeux d’enfans.”
&c. So Young, Satire vi:
Dear Tillotson! be sure, the best of men!
Nor thought be more than thought great Origen—
“Though once upon a time he misbehav’d,
Poor Satan! doubtless he’ll at length be saved.”
P. 338, l. 13.usurper, murderer, regicide.
Claudius. See Hamlet, Act iii. sc. 3.
l. 33.massacre at Quiberon.
The captured French emigrants, not being recognised as belligerents, were all shot. Burke alludes to this in the Third Letter, p. 170, where he speaks of the “practised assassin Hoche.”
Perfumed with musk.
Cp. p. 226, l. 3.
P. 340, l. 31.“pride, pomp, and circumstance.”
Othello, Act iii. sc. 3.
P. 342, l. 2.Anacharsis Cloots.
Jean Baptiste Clootz, or, properly, Klotz, a wealthy German settled in Paris, and greatly inflamed with revolutionary ideas. He assumed the name Anacharsis in honour of the philosophic Scythian, when travelling in Europe before the Revolution. His early exploit is abundantly described by Burke. He afterwards added to his assumed title of “Ambassador of the Human Race” that of “Personal Enemy of God.” By a decree of the 26th of August, 1792, the title of citizen was conferred upon him: on which occasion he thanked the French people at the bar of the Convention, and pronounced a panegyric on the regicide Ankarström. Cp. note to p. 230, l. 9, ante. He perished a victim to the Terror, March 23, 1794.
Souverains Opprimés—See the whole proceeding in the Process Verbal of the National Assembly.
P. 343, l. 1.their Cotterel.
Sir Clement Cotterell was a high official of the Court of George III.
l. 5.gaudy day.
An annual festival.
P. 344, l. 3.grown philosophick.
This keen sarcasm refers not only to the late Emperor, Joseph the Second, and to Louis XVI, but to such living sovereigns as the Grand Duke of Tuscany. See p. 226, where he is spoken of as a “pacific Solomon.”
Burke of course means that Prussia had become to France what Cappadocia was to Rome; a humble province of the regicide empire.
l. 8.Judean representation.
Burke likens Austria to Judea, as he has just likened Prussia to Cappadocia.
&c. The story of the unanimous enthusiasm of the Hungarian Diet is apocryphal. The words were used by Charles, Maria Theresa’s husband, and a certain number of the nobles repeated it after him: but the majority murmured, and demanded a readjustment of taxation.
P. 346, l. 15.Lord Auckland—Duke of Bedford.
The latter was one of the leaders of the opposition in the Lords.
P. 347, l. 23.I do not believe,
&c. Burke is right. Washington bore no hatred to Great Britain.
P. 348, l. 15.infernal altar.
The allusion is to the story of Hannibal, as stated by Livy. Cp. note to p. 64, l. 18.
l. 28.an Author who points,
P. 350, l. 10.Marquis de Montalembert.
This veteran soldier was still living, and actively employed in the service of the Republic. He wrote more than one “Military Treatise.”
l. 26.Mire sagaces,
&c. Horace, Odes, Lib. ii. 5. 22.
l. 32.old coarse bye-word.
“God sends meat, and the devil sends cooks.”
l. 35.Thomas Paine.
The author of the Rights of Man had been installed as a member of the Convention.
P. 351, l. 10.house that he has opened.
Burke goes on in his happiest vein of humour, to apply to Paine the amusing lines of Swift on the old and the new Angel Inns.
l. 32.light lie the earth,
&c. Cp. ante, p. 96, l. 4.
P. 352, l. 7.Republic of Europe.
The argument is amplified in the First Letter.
l. 24.I have reason to be persuaded,
&c. Cp. the earlier pages of the Reflections (Select Works, vol. ii.). Thiers, in his History, says that the French political clubs were modelled on those of England.
l. 29.formal distributions—moral basis.
See the arguments in vol. ii. p. 278, and following.
P. 353, l. 15.Astraea.
The goddess of Justice, said to have quitted the earth when the Golden Age ceased.
P. 354, l. 6.I have heard that a Tartar believes,
&c. Butler, Hudibras (Part i. c. 2):
So a wild Tartar, when he spies
A man that’s handsome, valiant, wise,
If he can kill him thinks t’ inherit
His wit, his beauty, and his spirit.
So Shaftesbury, Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour: “For, in good earnest, to destroy a philosophy in hatred to a man implies as errant a Tartar-notion as to destroy or murder a man, in order to plunder him of his wit, and get the inheritance of his understanding.”
l. 14.tontine of Infamy.
A happy stroke. A Tontine (so named from its inventor) is a lottery in which the longest livers divide the produce of the stock, with its accumulations. Cp. vol. ii. p. 361, l. 7.
l. 26.Murderers and hogs,
&c. This grim humour is borrowed from Bacon’s “Spurious” Apophthegms, No. 16.
Cp. ante, note to p. 126, l. 2.
P. 357, l. 10.regardants.
A “villain regardant” is the old legal term for an ordinary serf.
l. 11.even the Negroes,
&c. Burke goes too far. At this time the condition of the negroes in the British West Indies, which Burke had been the first to characterise adequately, in a juvenile production forty years before, was being widely discussed.
l. 26.more at large hereafter.
See the Second Letter.
P. 358, l. 34.genethliacon.
A birth-song. Burke’s observation is correct. It was the strength of the opposition in the Assembly, and the goodness of their cause, that led to the Revolution of Fructidor, and the triumph of the war-party, in 1797.
P. 361, l. 35.“splitting this brilliant orb,”
Give me my Romeo, and when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he shall make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world shall fall in love with night.
—Romeo and Juliet, Act iii. sc. 2.
P. 365, l. 8.eundem Negotiatorem,
&c. The Roman
or factor was usually a slave.
l. 14.master Republick cultivates the arts,
&c. The allusion is to Virgil’s well-known lines:
Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento;
Hae tibi erunt artes.
l. 33.by inch of candle.
By auction; the time for bidding limited by an inch of candle.
&c. Horace, Odes, Lib. iii. 6. 32.
l. 35.Prince of Peace.
See ante, p. 225, and the note.
l. 24.death of Philip the Fourth.
Burke works out this hint in the First Letter, p. 111.
P. 369, l. 6.this holy season.
Cp. p. 312. From the two passages it may be concluded that the work was begun late in December 1795.
P. 370, l. 19.transatlantic Morocco.
Burke alludes to the political rights which according to French principles were granted to the free blacks and men of colour in the French West Indies, and to the stimulus which this would give to communities originally founded on piracy, and always addicted to it.
P. 372, l. 28.
Here ends that part of the critique upon Auckland’s Letter which Burke corrected for the press. The following pages, down to p. 376, l. 28, were made up by Bishop King from loose uncorrected papers.
P. 373, l. 7.bought by so much blood.
Burke has in mind his favourite lines from Addison’s Cato:
Remember, O my friends, the laws, the rights,
The generous plan of power deliver’d down
From age to age, by your renown’d forefathers—
So dearly bought, the price of so much blood—
O let it never perish in your hands,
But piously transmit it to your children.
P. 376, l. 1.They never will love,
&c. Dr. Johnson “loved a good hater.”
For in base mind nor friendship dwells, nor enmity.
—Spenser, Faery Queen, Book iv, canto iv, st. 11.
l. 16.best accounts I have,
&c. Burke alludes to the strict retirement in which he was living, since the death of his son.
l. 18.“some to undo,”
&c. The line is from Denham’s “Cooper’s Hill.”
Here the original terminates. The remaining portion of this letter does not belong to Burke’s confutation of Lord Auckland. It was added by Bishop King from a separate copy, already put into type, but never finished or published. The Bishop says that it formed part of the Third Letter of Burke’s original scheme (see p. 148), and was laid aside in consequence of the rupture of the negotiations.
P. 377, l. 17.tremblingly alive.
The expression is Pope’s. Essay on Man, i. 197.
l. 24.“vanished at the crowing,”
&c. Shakespeare, Hamlet.
l. 26.us poor Tory geese.
The allusion is to the story of the Capitol of Rome saved from the Gauls by the cackling of geese, Livy, Lib. v. c. 47.
Hic auratis volitans argenteus anser
Porticibus, GALLOS in limine adesse canebat.
This bitter tirade, which applies to most of Burke’s former political associates, cannot be read without pain. It must be remembered that he did not publish it.
See Debates in Parliament upon Motions, made in both Houses, for prosecuting Mr. Reeves for a Libel upon the Constitution, Dec. 1795.
P. 384, l. 31.awful and imposing.
The allusion is clearly to Windsor Castle, as seen on the approach from the uplands of Buckinghamshire, where Burke was living in retirement.
P. 385, l. 30.for a few days,
&c. This indicates that the fragment was
written while Malmesbury’s negotiations were yet going on, and a favourable conclusion was anticipated.
In the Costume assumed by the members of the legislative body, we almost behold the revival of the extinguished insignia of Knighthood,”
&c. &c. See A View of the relative State of Great-Britain and France at the commencement of the year 1796.
P. 387, l. 17.coaches of Duchesses, Countesses, and Lady Marys:
Monsieur much complains at Paris
Of wrongs from Dutchesses, and Lady Marys.
—Pope, Dunciad, Book ii.
P. 389, l. 2.Is it for this that our youth of both sexes are to form themselves by travel?
Wordsworth illustrates the warning:
Not in my single self alone I found,
But in the minds of all ingenuous youth,
Change and subversion from that hour. No shock
Given to my moral nature had I known
Down to that very moment.
—The Prelude, Book x.
Much of this book may be read to show the working of the French Revolution on the minds of many of the young men of England.
P. 392, l. 32.Tenth wave.
Silius Italicus, xiv. 121.
Non aliter Boreas Rhodopes a vertice praeceps
Cum sese immisit
decimoque volumine pontum
Expulit in terras.
So Taylor, “Mercy of the Divine Judgments”: “If Pharaoh will not be cured by one plague he shall have ten, and if ten will not do it, the great and tenth wave which is far bigger than all the rest.” Young, The Brothers, Act iv.:
This, Fate, is thy tenth wave, and quite o’erwhelms me.
P. 394, l. 26.Mr. Hume’s Euthanasia,
&c. In his early Essay “On the British Government,” Hume argues from a fallacy already confuted by Burke (see p. 62) that the “English constitution” must end either in a republic or an absolute monarchy. The latter he thought the easiest and most natural.