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of things, ancient prejudices, wisely managed by their rulers, will check the encroachments or correct the excesses of errors which have not yet taken root, and that partial, but voluntary, and therefore gracious concessions, may be employed as preservatives against the total surrender of authority, to be extorted by undistinguishing and unrelenting violence—that if from indolence or obstinacy, popular discontents are suffered to reach their full height, claims are piled upon claims, reasonable compliances serve only to facilitate such as are unreasonable, respect is not recovered by submission, gratitude is not excited by consent, anger is wrought up to fury by refusal, and the oppressed feeling their strength, cast away all regard to the original merits of their cause, and pant for victory, not safety, for vengeance, not justice, in a successful struggle with their oppressors—that in the agitation of those discordant elements which more or less pervade every society, the usual operations of their attractive and repulsive forces may be so disordered as ultimately to defeat all endeavours to regulate, and even to calculate them, and that rushing together in direct contact, they lay waste all the surrounding scenes with horrible explosion—that without the existence of actual, and at last intolerable grievances, no important revolution was ever yet accomplished by a people among themselves—that the deliberate and long continued neglect of applying proper remedies to those grievances, creates occasions of which bad men most eagerly avail themselves, to disseminate very bad principles
that theories which thwart the more obvious and uncorrupted conceptions of mankind in politics, morality, and religion, meet with less resistance in consequence of the indignities previously offered to their common sense in common life, under ill-constituted, or ill-administered systems of power—that, in addition to the impatience arising from evils experienced, investigated, complained of, and unredressed, there is sometimes a feverish affection of the mind, when novelty acts with redoubled vigour, and imparts credibility and agreeableness to those representations which in seasons of calmer and sounder thinking, we should reject as improbable and fallacious—that restraints, whether religious or civil, real or imaginary, then crowd upon the memory, and supply fuel to that flame of the passions, which, having been long smothered, is beginning to kindle—that the justifications which formerly soothed or awed the injured party into acquiescence, are sifted rigorously, and unless approved, are sure to be followed by a train of numberless and shapeless spectres, ever ready to start up at the beck of suspicion--that rank and property rarely cease to be safe till their possessors have ceased to be respectable—that the envy of the lower classes is kept in check by an habitual sense of dependence, and by a sullen and dastardly consciousness of imbecility, from which they are roused only by the goads of multiplied injury—that the unbending stiffness, and undissembled haughtiness of the higher ranks, engender resentments which, aided by unexpected circumstances, overcome the fears and the supineness of their inferiors—that pride, repeatedly wounded by insult, precipitates civilized man into all the enormities which the uncivilized commit from the impulses of blind and sudden rage—that grosser acts of oppression, for which their authors often disdain to apologize, and which in times of barbarous ignorance terrified the helpless into abject submission, are in other junctures of public affairs only the proximate and ostensible pretexts for open and extensive revolt-that the more powerful causes lie in more remote quarters, where honest and enlightened statesmen will ever be upon the watch to discover and to counteract them—that they are to be found in those evils which can be mitigated today or increased to-morrow by the arbitrary will of rulers ; which, if they are disguised or explained away by one set of men, can be brought into view and exaggerated by another; which annoy by their frequency and by their inveteracy rather than by the immediate pressure of detached instances ; which at once alarm and inflame, whether the imagination gathers them into heaps, or parcels them out into particulars ; which assume every possible appearance of bulk and number, that the afflicted, or terrified, or exasperated mind of men can conceive; which, being at variance with the recent but confident judgments they have formed upon their own interests, become more and more offensive from angry remembrance of the past, and gloomy anticipations of the future ; which, scarcely admitting any specific description, and mingling with the general mass of hopes and fears, of new
prepossessions daily thriving, and old ones decaying hourly, cannot be done away by mere palliatives, but which at first, almost imperceptibly, alienate the sentiments of men from their wonted allegiance, and gradually prepare them, while they are unconscious of their perilous situation, for becoming the instruments of hasty, tumultuous, and destructive changes.
Such I conceive to be the point of view in which Mr. Fox contemplated the late disastrous occurrences in France, as fresh events supplied him with fresh materials for knowledge; and in this manner did he account for many of those mischiefs which the authors and propagators of paradoxes hardly believed even by themselves, had secretly planned, and which, emboldened by opportunity, they perpetrated with final and fatal success.
But, whatsoever might be the doom of France, he always bore in mind, that in England there long has existed, and now does exist, a constitution, which if it were not so often assumed as a topic of boasting, 38 but contemplated much oftener as a rule of conduct by statesmen, would leave us every thing to hope from the best feelings of mankind, and very
little to dread from the worst. They who disagree upon the probable merit of measures that were not tried, may find some common test for deciding upon the import of words which were uttered publicly and frequently. I hold, then, that on reading the speeches of Mr. Fox, no judicious and dispassionate man will now profess to find in them the smallest vestige of that tricking
and braggart philosophy which set at nought the authority of all laws and all customs, impudently gave the lie to history and experience, and polluted the sacred names of reason and liberty by affixing them to the most frantic extravagancies and the most atrocious crimes.
Those speeches, if we had been inclined to distinguish between the flashes of eloquence and the light of reasoning, might have guided our feet in the paths of safety. But that philosophy, as I just now observed to you, put out every luminary which had been wont to cheer and direct the eye of the undistempered mind. It glared for a season like a portentous meteor, and then vanished from our view, sinking into a deep and huge abyss, from which it can emerge no more.
The intestine war of those elements, which in the usual and regular course of moral causes give health and life to society, is not yet composed. At this moment coruscations of strange and dire aspect are shooting athwart the vast void, and perhaps will be succeeded by a “ darkness that may be felt.” Yet," as the violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province is regarded by him that is higher than the highest, I marvel not 39 at the matter," and resist the gloomy suggestions of despondency. Long and unquiet may be the night of sorrow, and over every nation intoxicated by prosperity, enervated by corruption, or hoodwinked in voluntary thraldom, it may be very long, and very unquiet. But “joy cometh in the morning,” and my prayer is, that you may live to hail the returning dawn, when the