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State of the
take of their honour and interest, have permitted, even with. out a remonstrance, to be carried to the desired point, on the principles on which they are now themselves threatened in their own states; and this, because according to the poor and narrow spirit now in fashion, their brother sovereign, whose subjects have been thus traitorously and inhumanly treated in violation of the law of nature and of nations, has a name somewhat different from theirs, and instead of being styled king, or duke, or landgrave, is usually called pope.
The electors of Treves and Mentz were frightempire.
ened with the menace of a similar mode of war.
The Assembly, however, not thinking that the electors of Treves and Mentz had done enough under their first terror, have again brought forward Condorcet, preceded by Brissot, as I have just stated. The declaration, which they have ordered now to be circulated in all countries, is in substance the same as the first, but still more insolent, because more full of detail. There they have the impudence to state that they aim at no conquest; insinuating that all the old, lawful powers of the world had each made a constant, open profession of a design of subduing his neighbours. They add, that if they are provoked, their war will be directed only against those who assume to be masters. But to the people they will bring peace, law, liberty, &c. &c. There is not the least hint that they consider those whom they call persons “ assuming to be masters," to be the lawful government of their country, or persons to be treated with the least management or respect. They regard them as usurpers and enslavers of the people. If I do not mistake, they are described by the name of tyrants in Condorcet's first draft. I am sure they are so in Brissot's speech, ordered by the Assembly to be printed at the same time and for the same purposes. The whole is in the same strain, full of false philosophy and false rhetoric, both however calculated to captivate and influence the vulgar mind, and to excite sedition in the countries in which it is ordered to be circulated. Indeed it is such, that if any of the lawful, acknowledged sovereigns of Europe had publicly ordered such a manifesto to be circulated in the dominions of another, the ambassador of that power would instantly be ordered to quit every court without an audience.
on the sove
The powers of Europe have a pretext for con- Effect of fear cealing their fears, by saying that this language is not used by the king; though they well know reign powers. that there is in effect no such person, that the Assembly is in reality, and by that king is acknowledged to be, the master; that what he does is but matter of formality, and that he can neither cause nor hinder, accelerate nor retard, any measure whatsoever, nor add to nor soften the manifesto which the Assembly has directed to be published, with the declared purpose of exciting mutiny and rebellion in the several countries governed by these powers. By the generality also of the menaces contained in this paper (though infinitely aggravating the outrage) they hope to remove from each power separately the idea of a distinct affront. The persons first pointed at by the menace are certainly the princes of Germany, who harbour the persecuted house of Bourbon and the nobility of France; the declaration, however, is general, and goes to every state with which they may have a cause of quarrel. But the terror of France has fallen upon all nations. A few months since all sovereigns seemed disposed to unite against her; at present they all seem to combine in her favour. At no period has the power of France ever appeared with so formidable an aspect. In particular the liberties of the empire can have nothing more than an existence the most tottering and precarious, whilst France exists with a great power of fomenting
rebellion, and the greatest in the weakest; but with neither power nor disposition to support the smaller states in their independ. ence against the attempts of the more powerful.
I wind up all in a full conviction within my own breast, and the substance of which I must repeat over and over again, that the state of France is the first consideration in the politics of Europe, and of each state, externally as well as internally considered.
Most of the topics I have used are drawn from fear and apprehension. Topics derived from fear or addressed to it are, I well know, of doubtful appearance. To be sure, hope is in general the incitement to action. Alarm some menyou do not drive them to provide for their security; you put them to a stand ; you induce them, not to take measures
to prevent the approach of danger, but to remove so unpleasant an idea from their minds; you persuade them to remain as they are, from a new fear that their activity may bring on the apprehended mischief before its time. I confess freely that this evil sometimes happens from an overdone precaution ; but it is when the measures are rash, ill chosen, or ill combined, and the effects rather of blind terror than of enlightened foresight. But the few to whom I wish to submit my thoughts are of a character which will enable them to see danger without astonishment, and to provide against it without perplexity:
To what lengths this method of circulating mutinous manifestoes, and of keeping emissaries of sedition in every court under the name of ambassadors, to propagate the same principles and to follow the practices, will go, and how soon they will operate, it is hard to say ; but go on it willmore or less rapidly, according to events, and to the humour of the time. The princes menaced with the revolt of their subjects, at the same time that they have obsequiously obeyed the sovereign mandate of the new Roman senate, have received with distinction, in a public character, ambassadors from those who in the same act had circulated the manifesto of sedition in their dominions. This was the only thing wanting to the degradation and disgrace of the Germanic body.
The ambassadors from the rights of man, and their admission into the diplomatic system, I hold to be a new æra in this business. It will be the most important step yet taken to affect the existence of sovereigns, and the higher classes of life—I do not mean to exclude its effects upon all classes—but the first blow is aimed at the more prominent parts in the ancient order of things.
What is to be done ?
It would be presumption in me to do more than to make a case. Many things occur. But as they, like all political measures, depend on dispositions, tempers, means, and ex. ternal circumstances, for all their effect, not being well assured of these, I do not know how to let loose any speculations of mine on the subject. The evil is stated, in my opinion, as it exists. The remedy must be where power,
wisdom, and information, I hope, are more united with good intentions than they can be with me. I have done with this subject, I believe, for ever. It has given me many anxious moments for the two last years. If a great change is to be made in human affairs, the minds of men will be fitted to it, the general opinions and feelings will draw that way. Every fear, every hope, will forward it; and then they, who persist in opposing this mighty current in human affairs, will appear rather to resist the decrees of Providence itseli, than the mere designs of men. They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse
HEADS FOR CONSIDERATION
PRESENT STATE OF AFFAIRS.
WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER, 1792.
That France by its mere geographical position, independently of every other circumstance, must affect every state of Europe; some of them immediately, all of them through mediums not
remote. That the standing policy of this kingdom ever has been to watch over the external proceedings of France, (whatever form the interior government of that kingdom might take,) and to prevent the extension of its dominion, or its ruling influence, over other states.
That there is nothing in the present internal state of things in France, which alters the national policy with regard to the exterior relations of that country.
That there are, on the contrary, many things in the internal circumstances of France, (and perhaps of this country too,) which tend to fortify the principles of that fundamental policy; and which render the active assertion of those principles more pressing at this than at any former time.
That, by a change effected in about three weeks, France has been able to penetrate into the heart of Germany; to make an absolute conquest of Savoy; to menace an immediate invasion of the Netherlands; and to awe and overbear the whole Helvetic body, which is in a most perilous situation. The great aristocratic cantons having, perhaps, as much or more to dread from their own people whom they arm, but do not choose or dare to employ, as from the foreign