had a doubt with the Captain, but that the bulk of the jacobins in France
meant well; even Marat and Robespierre considered themselves as denouncing,
and trucidating only the enemies of the republic. what a delightful trait
of virtue discovers itself in the behaviour of Peregrine, the brother
of Robespierre, and proves that he thought his brother innocent. "I
am innocent; and my brother is as innocent as I am." Doubtless they
were both innocent. Innocent of what? Why; of meaning ill. "The time
shall come, when they that kill you, shall think they are doing God service."
Peregrine, led the column with his drawn sword in his hand, that entered
and re-took Toulon. He threw himself into the denounciation. This ought
to be a lesson to all republicans to have charity, for those that differ
in opinion. Tiberius, and Caius Gracchus at Rome meant well; Agis, and
Cleomines at Sparta the same; but they attempted a reform, well, in vision,
and imagination; but beyond what was practicable or expedient. They fell
victims to the not distinguishing the times; the advanced state of society,
which did not comport with the original simplicity of institutions.
Marat the journalist and Robespierre were pushed gradually to blood; by
the principle, which governed them, of taking it for granted that all
who thought differently upon a subject were traitors; and that a majority
of vote was the criterion of being right. The mountain, the bulk of the
national assembly, could not but be in their opinion, infallible. The
eternal mountain at whose foot every one was disposed to place himself;
the mountain on whose top were "thunders and lightnings, and a thick
cloud;" but not a natural mountain of the earth, collecting refreshing
showers, and from which descended streams. It was a mountain pregnant
with subterranean fire. It burst, and exists a volcano to this day. So
much for a journalist meaning well, and yet destroying the republic. It
is a truth in nature, and a maxim in philosophy "that from whence
our greatest good springs, our greatest evils arise." A journalist
of spirit is a desideratum in a revolution. but when the new island, or
continent is thrown up from the bottom of the ocean; and the subterranean
gass dissipated, why seek for a convulsion? But rather leave nature to
renew herself with forests, and rivers, and perennial springs. But that
activity which was useful in the first effort, is unwilling to be checked
in the further employment; and under the idea of a progressing reform,
turns upon the establishment which it has produced, and intending good,
does harm. The men are denounced that mean as well as the journalist,
and perhaps understand the game better than himself though they differ
in judgment on the move. In a revolution every man thinks he has done
all. He knows only, or chiefly, what he has done himself. Hence he is
intolerant of the opinions of others, because he is ignorant of the services
which are a proof of patriotism; and of the interest which is a pledge
of fidelity. Fresh hands especially, are apt to over-do the matter, as
I have seen at the building of a cabbin in the western country. A strong
man takes hold of the end of a log, and he lifts faster than the other.
From the unskilfulness, and inequality of his exertions, accidents happen.
Prudent people do not like rash hands. States have been best built up,
by the wise as well as the honest.
There are men that we dislike in office. All men approved Marius, says
the historian Salust, when he began to proscribe, now and then, a bad
man; but they did not foresee what soon happened, that he did not stop
short, but went on to proscribe the good. It is better to bear an individual
mischief, than a public inconvenience. This is a maxim of the common law.
That is, it is better to endure an evil in a particular case, than to
violate a general principle. There ought to be constitutional ground,
and a just cause, to remove the obnoxious. It will not do even in Ireland,
to hang a man for stealing cloth, because he is a bad weaver.
Where parties exist in a republic, that party will predominate, eventually
which pursues justice. A democratic party, will find its only security
in this. "If these things are done in the green tree, shall we expect
from aristocracy, where the pride of purse, and pride of family, raises
the head; swells the port; produces the strut, and all the undervaluing
which the few have for the many? Aristocracy, which claims by hereditary
right, the honours and emoluments of the commonwealth. Who does not dislike
the presumption of the purse proud, and the pride of connections? And
it is for that reason that I wish my fellow democrats, "my brethren
according to the flesh," to do right; to shew their majesty, the
nobility of their nature, by their discrimination, and their sense of
justice. For I am a democrat, if having no cousin, and no funds; and only
to rely on my personal services, can make me one. And I believe this is
a pretty good pledge for democracy in any man. Unless indeed, he should
become a tool to those that have cousins and funds; and this he will not
do it he has pride. He might be make a despot, but this can only be by
the peoples destroying the essence of liberty, by pushing it to licentiousness.
a despot is a spectre which rises chiefly from the marsh of licentiousness.
It was the jacobins made Bonaparte what he now is.