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the executive of a republic; and if he could overcome the turbulence of electors, to whom freedom was new, he could appease the jealousy that his generals would entertain of the returning nobles. Indeed, without such powerful intervention, this latter objection does not appear to us to be by any means insuperable. If the history of our own restoration were to be acted over again in France, and royalty and aristocracy brought back by the military successor of Bonaparte, it certainly could not be done without a very liberal distribution of favours among the great leaders of the army. Jealousy of the executive is one feature of a republic; in consequence, that government is clogged with a multiplicity of safeguards and restrictions, which render it unfit for investigating complicated details, and managing extensive relations with vigour, consistency, and despatch. A republic, therefore, is better fitted for a little stage than a large one. A love of equality is another very strong principle in a republic; therefore it does not tolerate hereditary honour or wealth; and all the effect produced upon the minds of the people by this factitious power is lost, and the government weakened : but, in proportion as the government is less able to command, the people should be more willing to obey; therefore a republic is better suited to a moral than an immoral people. A people who have recently experienced great evils from the privileged orders and from monarchs, love republican forms so much, that the warmth of their inclination supplies, in some degree, the defect of their institutions. Immediately, therefore, upon the destruction of despotism, a republic may be preferable to a limited monarchy. And yet, though narrowness of territory, purity of morals, and recent escape from despotism, appear to be the circumstances which most strongly recommend a republic, M. Neckar proposes it to the most numerous and the most profligate people in Europe, who are disgusted with the very name of liberty, from the incredible evils they have suffered in pursuit of it.
Whatever be the species of free government adopted by France, she can adopt none without the greatest peril. The miserable dilemma in which men living under bad governments are placed, is, that, without a radical revolution, they may never be able to gain liberty at all; and, with it, the attainment of liberty appears to be attended with almost insuperable difficulties. To call upon a nation, on a sudden, totally destitute of such knowledge and experience, to perform all the manifold functions of a free constitution, is to entrust valuable, delicate, and abstruse mechanism, to the rudest skill and the grossest ignorance. Public acts may confer liberty; but experience only can teach a people to use it; and, till they have gained that experience, they are liable to tumult, to jealousy, to collision of powers, and to every evil to which men are exposed, who are desirous of preserving a great good, without knowing how to set about it. In an old-established system of liberty, like our own, the encroachments which one department of the State makes on any other are slow, and hardly intentional; the political feelings, and the constitutional knowledge, which every Englishman possesses, creates a public voice, which tends to secure the tranquillity of the whole. Amid the crude sentiments and new-born precedents of sudden liberty, the Crown might destroy the Commons, or the Commons the Crown, almost before the people had formed any opinion of the nature of their contention. A nation grown free in a single day is a child born with the limbs and the vigour of a man, who would take a drawn sword for his rattle, and set the house in a blaze, that he might chuckle over the splendour.
Why can factious eloquence produce such limited effects in this country 2 Partly because we are accustomed to it, and know how to appreciate it. We are acquainted with popular assemblies; and the language of our Parliament produces the effect it ought upon public opinion, because long experience enables us to conjecture the real motives by which men are actuated; to separate the vehemence of party spirit from the language of principle and truth; and to discover whom we can trust, and whom we cannot. The want of all this, and of much more than this, must retard, for a very long period, the practical enjoyment of liberty in France, and present very serious obstacles to her prosperity; obstacles little dreamed of by men who seem to measure the happiness and future grandeur of France by degrees of longitude and latitude, and who believe she might acquire liberty with as much facility as she could acquire Switzerland or Naples. M. Neckar's observations on the finances of France, and on finance in general, are useful, entertaining, and not above the capacity of every reader. France, he says, at the beginning of 1781, had 438 millions of revenue; and, at present, 540 millions. The State paid, in 1781, about 215 millions in pensions, the interest of perpetual debts, and debts for life. It pays, at present, 80 millions in interests and pensions, and owes about 12 millions for anticipations on the public revenue. A considerable share of the increase of the revenue is raised upon the conquered countries; and the people are liberated from tithes, corvées, and the tax on salt. This, certainly, is a magnificent picture of finance. The bestinformed people at Paris, who would be very glad to consider it as a copy from life, dare not contend that it is so. At least, we sincerely ask pardon of M. Neckar, if our information as to this point be not correct: but we believe he is generally considered to have been misled by the public financial reports. In addition to the obvious causes which keep the interest of money so high in France, M. Neckar states one which we shall present to our readers: —
“There is one means for the establishment of credit,” he says, ‘equally important with the others which I have stated—a sentiment of respect for morals, sufficiently diffused to overawe the government, and intimidate it from treating with bad faith any solemn engagements contracted in the name of the state. It is this respect for morals which seems at present to have disappeared; a respect which the Revolution has destroyed, and which is unquestionably one of the firmest supports of national faith.”
The terrorists of this country are so extremely alarmed at the power of Bonaparte, that they ascribe to him resources, which M. Neckar very justly observes to be incompatible — despotism and credit. Now, clearly, if he be so omnipotent in France as he is represented to be, there is an end of all credit; for nobody will trust him whom nobody can compel to pay; and if he establishes a credit, he loses all that temporary vigour which is derived from a revolutionary government. Either the despotism or the credit of France directed against this country would be highly formidable; but, both together, can never be directed at the same time.
In this part of his work, M. Neckar very justly points out one of the most capital defects of Mr. Pitt's administration; who always supposed that the power of France was to cease with her credit, and measured the period of her existence by the depreciation of her assignats. Whereas, France was never more powerful than when she was totally unable to borrow a single shilling in the whole circumference of Europe, and when her assignats were not worth the paper on which they were stamped.
Such are the principal contents of M. Neckar's very respectable work. Whether, in the course of that work, his political notions appear to be derived from a successful study of the passions of mankind, and whether his plan for the establishment of a republican government in France, for the ninth or tenth time, evinces a more sanguine, or a more sagacious mind, than the rest of the world, we would rather our readers should decide for themselves, than expose ourselves to any imputation of arrogance by deciding for them. But when we consider the pacific and impartial disposition which characterises the Last Views on Politics and Finance, the serene benevolence which it always displays, and the pure morals which it always inculcates, we cannot help entertaining a high respect for its venerable author, and feeling a fervent wish that the last views of every public man may proceed from a heart as upright, and be directed to objects as good.
AUSTRALIA. (E. Review, 1803.)
Account of the English Colony of New South Wales. By Lieutenant-Colonel Collins, of the Royal Marines. Vol. II. 4to. Cadell and Davies, London.
To introduce an European population, and, consequently, the arts and civilisation of Europe into such an untrodden country as New Holland, is to confer a lasting and important benefit upon the world. If man be destined for perpetual activity, and if the proper objects of that activity be the subjugation of physical difficulties, and of his own dangerous passions, how absurd are those systems which proscribe the acquisitions of science and the restraints of law, and would arrest the progress of man in the rudest and earliest stages of his existence Indeed, opinions so very extravagant in their nature must be attributed rather to the wantonness of paradox, than to sober reflection, and extended inquiry. To suppose the savage state permanent, we must suppose the numbers of those who compose it to be stationary, and the various passions by which men have actually emerged from it to be extinct; and this is to suppose man a very different being from what he really is. To prove such a permanence beneficial (if it were possible), we must have recourse to matter of fact, and judge of the rude state of society, not from the praises of tranquil literati, but from the narratives of those who have seen it through a nearer and better medium than that of imagination. There is an argument, however, for the continuation of evil, drawn from the ignorance of good; by which it is contended, that to teach men their situation can be better, is to teach them that it is bad, and to destroy that happiness which always results from an ignorance that any greater happiness is within our reach. All pains and pleasures are clearly by comparison; but the most deplorable savage enjoys a susli