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affairs of France. What support, or what limitations, the restored monarchy must have, may be a doubt, or how it will pitch and settle at last. But one thing I conceive to be far beyond a doubt: that the settlement cannot be immediate; but that it must be preceded by some sort of power, equal at least in vigour, vigilance, promptitude, and decision, to a military government. For such a preparatory government, no slow-paced, methodical, formal, lawyer-like system, still less that of a showy, superficial, trifling, intriguing court, guided by cabals of ladies, or of men like ladies ; least of all
, a philosophic, theoretic, disputatious school of sophistry, None of these ever will, or ever can, lay the foundations of an order that can last. Whoever claims a right by birth to govern there, must find in his breast, or must conjure up in it, an energy not to be expected, perhaps not always to be wished for, in well-ordered states. The lawful prince must have, in everything but crime, the character of an usurper. He is gone, if he imagines himself the quiet possessor of a throne. He is to contend for it as much after an apparent conquest as before. His task is to win it; he must leave posterity to enjoy and to adorn it. No velvet cushions for him. He is to be always (I speak nearly to the letter) on horseback. This opinion is the result of much patient think. ing on the subject, which I conceive no event is likely to alter.
A valuable friend of mine, who I hope will conduct these affairs, so far as they fall to his share, with great ability, asked me what I thought of acts of general indemnity and oblivion, as a means of settling France, and reconciling it to monarchy. Before I venture upon any opinion of my own in this matter, I totally disclaim the interference of foreign powers in a business that properly belongs to the government which we have declared legal. That government is likely to be the best judge of what is to be done towards the security of that kingdom, which it is their duty and their in. terest to provide for by such measures of justice or of lenity, as at the time they should find best. But if we weaken it, not only by arbitrary limitations of our own, but preserve such persons in it as are disposed to disturb its future peace, as they ve past, I do not know how a more direct declaration can be made of a disposition to perpetual hostility against a government. The persons saved from the justice
of the native magistrate by foreign authority will owe nothing to his clemency. He will, and must, look to those to whom he is indebted for the power he has of dispensing it. A Jacobin faction, constantly fostered with the nourishment of foreign protection, will be kept alive.
The desire of securing the safety of the actors in the present scene is owing to more laudable motives. Ministers have been made to consider the brothers of the late merciful king, and the nobility of France, who have been faithful to their honour and duty, as a set of inexorable and remorseless tyrants.
How this notion has been infused into them I cannot be quite certain. I am sure it is not justified by anything they have done. Never were the two princes guilty, in the day of their power, of a single hard or ill-natured act. No one instance of cruelty on the part of the gentlemen ever came to my ears. It is true that the English Jacobins, (the natives have not thought of it,) as an excuse for their infernal system of murder, have so represented them. It is on this principle, that the massacres in the month of September, 1792, were justified by a writer in the Morning Chronicle
says, indeed, that “the whole French nation is to be given up to the hands of an irritated and revengeful noblesse :'—and, judging of others by himself and his brethren,
“ Whoever succeeds in a civil war will be cruel. But here the emigrants, flying to revenge in the cars of military victory, will almost insatiably call for their victims and their booty; and a body of emigrant traitors were attending the king of Prussia and the duke of Brunswick, to suggest the most sanguinary counsels.” So says this wicked Jacobin; but so cannot say the king of Prussia nor the duke of Brunswick, who never did receive any sanguinary counsel ; nor did the king's brothers, or that great body of gentlemen who attended those princes, commit one single cruel action, or hurt the person or property of one individual. It would be right to quote the instance. It is like the military luxury attributed to those unfortunate sufferers in our common cause.
If these princes had shown a tyrannical disposition, it would be much to be lamented. We have no others to govern France. If we screened the body of murderers from their justice, we should only leave the innocent in future to
the mercy of men of fierce and sanguinary dispositions, of which, in spite of all our intermeddling in their constitution, we could not prevent the effects. But as we have much more reason to fear their feeble lenity than any blamable rigour, we ought, in my opinion, to leave the matter to themselves.
If, however, I were asked to give an advice merely as such -here are my ideas. I am not for a total indemnity, nor a general punishment. And first, the body and mass of the people never ought to be treated as criminal. They may become an object of more or less constant watchfulness and suspicion, as their preservation may best require, but they can never become an object of punishment. This is one of the few fundamental and unalterable principles of politics.
To punish them capitally would be to make massacres. Massacres only increase the ferocity of men, and teach them to regard their own lives and those of others as of little value; whereas the great policy of government is to teach the people to think both of great importance in the eyes of God and the state, and never to be sacrificed or even hazarded to gratify their passions, or for anything but the duties prescribed by the rules of morality, and under the direction of public law and public authority. To punish them with lesser penalties would be to debilitate the commonwealth, and make the nation miserable, which it is the business of government to render happy and flourishing.
As to crimes too, I would draw a strong line of limitation. For no one offence, politically an offence of rebellion, by counsel, contrivance, persuasion, or compulsion, for none properly a military offence of rebellion, or anything done by open hostility in the field, should any man at all be called in question ; because such seems to be the proper and natural death of civil dissensions. The offences of war are obliterated by peace.
Another class will of course be included in the indemnity, namely, all those who by their activity in restoring lawful government shall obliterate their offences. The offence previously known, the acceptance of service is a pardon for crimes. I fear that this class of men will not be very
So far as to indemnity. But where are the objects of justice, and of example, and of future security to the public
peace ? They are naturally pointed out, not by their having Outraged political and civil laws, nor their having rebelled against the state, as a state, but by their having rebelled against the law of nature, and outraged man as man. this list, all the regicides in general, all those who laid sacrilegious hands on the king, who without anything in their own rebellious mission to the convention to justify them, brought him to his trial and unanimously voted him guilty ; all those who had a share in the cruel murder of the
queen, and the detestable proceedings with regard to the young king and the unhappy princesses; all those who committed coldblooded murder anywhere, and particularly in their revolutionary tribunals, where every idea of natural justice and of their own declared rights of man have been trodden under foot with the most insolent mockery; all men concerned in the burning and demolition of houses or churches, with audacious and marked acts of sacrilege and scorn offered to religion; in general, all the leaders of Jacobin clubs ;-not one of these should escape a punishment suitable to the nature, quality, and degree of their offence, by a steady but å measured justice.
In the first place, no man ought to be subject to any penalty, from the highest to the lowest, but by a trial according to the course of law, carried on with all that caution and deliberation which has been used in the best times and precedents of the French jurisprudence, the criminal law of which country, faulty to be sure in some particulars, was highly laudable and tender of the lives of men. In restoring order and justice, everything like retaliation ought to be religiously avoided; and an example ought to be set of a total alienation from the Jacobin proceedings in their accursed revolutionary tribunals. Everything like lumping men in masses, and of forming tables of proscription, ought to be avoided.
In all these punishments, anything which can be alleged in mitigation of the offence should be fully considered. Mercy is not a thing opposed to justice. It is an essential part of it; as necessary in criminal cases, as in civil affairs equity is to law. It is only for the Jacobins never to pardon. They have not done it in a single instance.
A council of mercy ought therefore to be appointed, with powers to report on each case, to soften the penalty, or entirely to remit it, according to circumstances.
With these precautions, the very first foundation of settlement must be to call to a strict account those bloody and merciless offenders. Without it, government cannot stand a year. People little consider the utter impossibility of getting those, who, having emerged from very low, som? from the lowest, classes of society, have exercised a power so high, and with such unrelenting and bloody a rage, quietly to fall back into their old ranks, and become humble, peaceable, laborious, and useful members of society. It never care be. On the other hand, is it to be believed, that any worthy and virtuous subject, restored to the ruins of his house, will with patience see the cold-blooded murderer of his father, mother, wife, or children, or perhaps all of these relations, (such things have been,) nose him in his own village, and insult him with the riches acquired from the plunder of his goods, ready again to head a Jacobin faction to attack his life? He is unworthy of the name of man who would suffer it. It is unworthy of the name of a government, which, taking justice out of the private hand, will not exercise it for the injured by the public arm.
I know it sounds plausibly, and is readily adopted by those who have little sympathy with the sufferings of others, to wish to jumble the innocent and guilty into one mass, by a general indemnity. This cruel indifference dignifies itselt with the name of humanity.
It is extraordinary, that as the wicked arts of this regicide and tyrannous faction increase in number, variety, and atrocity, the desire of punishing them becomes more and more faint, and the talk of an indemnity towards them every day stronger and stronger. Our ideas of justice appear to be fairly conquered and overpowered by guilt
, when it is grown gigantic. It is not the point of view in which we are in the habit of viewing guilt. The crimes we every day punish are really below the penalties we inflict. The criminals are obscure and feeble. This is the view in which we see ordinary crimes and criminals. But when guilt is seen, though but for a time, to be furnished with the arms and to be invested with the robes of power, seems to assume another nature, and to get, as it were, out