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visited. There is no fault to be found with this method; on the contrary, it is perhaps, the most correct, provided the writer asserts merely what he had previously ascertained, and noted for future use. When the manners of a people, and the character of a government are about to be described, the most retentive memory ought not to be exclusively trusted. But, in either case, the easy familiarity of the epistolary style is the best which can be employed. This style I have adopted in these volumes, from necessity; the greater part of them having been written in Paris, for the information of a respected and learned friend, whose enfeebled state of health, inclined him to resort to the milder climate of France, in case my representations of its political condition were such, as to exhibit a reasonable expectation, that security of property, and tranquillity of mind, might be enjoyed in that country. But, I would not be understood, that all the Letters written with this view, reached the person for whom they were intended; nor are they, even now, inserted in the body of this work, without selection.
Much has been withheld, for the present, from the eye of the public, and that which appears, my personal safety compelled me to suppress while in France.
A short time after the correspondence commenced, I learnt that my Letters had been inspected before they left Paris. A distinguished member of the French Government gave me early information of the fact, and about the same time I received intelligence from England, that they had been opened before they reached the General Post-Office in London. With my experience of the genius of the Government, under whose protective power I then lived, these hints sufficed to inspire prudence. Hence, several of my Letters were written in France, but not sent to England; and the remainder have been since compiled from the notes, which I invariably wrote down every night before I retired to rest. This circumstance will therefore account for the freedom which is apparent throughout these volumes; the impression of the facts recorded, being to this hour strong in my mind.
But here are details foreign from the objects which my friend required me to explore, and which demand explanation. My principal motive in going to France was, to collect the ashes of a beloved and lost relative; the secondary one was, to investigate, as far as the opportunity would permit, the state of a people, whose cause, it had been my fate to espouse in the morning of my days, and for which act of youthful ignorance and infatuation, the unforgiving hand of proscription still weighs heavily upon me, in despight of every gratuitous concession, of recantation, public, solemn, and uninvited, of seven years of disinterested and ardent zeal in the cause of my King and Country, accompanied by the greatest voluntary personal sacrifices, without descending to cringing baseness and servility. Such a change in the habit of thinking is not common, and the avowal of it much less so *. It requires some courage
The public have already acknowledged this fact, by the favourable reception my political writings have experienced from their candour,
to brave the frowns of those from whom we separate ourselves, and I feel by experience, that it requires also the most inflexible fortitude, to persevere. I have succeeded in both; but the struggle has not been very great, because I acted from the dictates of conscience awakened by experience. Hence, although as an individual, I think I have not met with JusTICE, and cannot reconcile to any rules of morality, public or private, the conduct which I have experienced from those who have debarred me from the exercise of an honourable profession, to which I am entitled by education, character and study; yet, few men can be more happy than I am, and none triumph more than I do, in the welfare, power, and prosperity of this country. Observe now, the amazing difference which accident occasions in the minds of men. There are virgin cha
racters who have never trodden out of the beaten track of their forefathers, and who believe themselves chaste, because they have never been tempted, These, never pardon a faux-pas; and I am sure, I will not quarrel with them on that ac
But, ask any of these constitutional virgins, in what chastity consists? by the power of common sense, they will be ready to tear your eyes out. I am not querulous upon this head. Suppose then, without metaphor, you ask of a man who believes as his father believed before him, and who never committed political
in his life, to define the nature and effects of the English constitution; I will venture to stake my head (to which, by the bye, I am a little more attached than I was twelve years ago) that in ninety-nine out of a hundred, the only answer you will extort from them will be, that their fathers were happy under it, and so are they. Even with this answer, I am satisfied-it is to be expected from the mass of mankind; and it is amongst the mercies of Providence, (remember, I always speak under the impression of experience, that useful monitor) that the spirit of con tentment should, in a greater or lesser degree, pervade the minds of the millions governed, for the sake of their own happiness. But, conceive the marvellous possibility of a repentant sinner, who once