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it for a private letter, be found it difficult to change the form of addrefs, when his fentiments had grown into a greater extent, and had received another direction. A different plan, he is fenfible, might be more favourable to a commodious divifion and diftribution of his matter,
OU are pleased to call again, and with
You fome earnestness, for my thoughts on the
late proceedings in France. I will not give you reafon to imagine, that I think my fentiments of fuch value as to wifh myself to be folicited about them. They are of too little confequence to be very anxioufly either communicated or withheld. It was from attention to you, and to you only, that I hefitated at the time, when you firft defired to receive them. In the first letter I had the honour to write to you, and which at length I fend, I wrote neither for nor from any defcription of men; nor fhall I in this. My errors, if any, are my own. My reputation alone is to answer for them.
You fee, Sir, by the long letter I have tranfmitted to you, that, though I do moft heartily wish that France may be animated by a spirit of
rational liberty, and that I think you bound, in all honeft policy, to provide a permanent body, in which that spirit may refide, and an effectual organ, by which it may act, it is my misfortune to entertain great doubts concerning feveral material points in your late transactions.
You imagined, when you wrote laft, that I might poffibly be reckoned among the approvers of certain proceedings in France, from the folemn public feal of fanction they have received from two clubs of gentlemen in London, called the Constitutional Society, and the Revolution Society.
I certainly have the honour to belong to more clubs than one, in which the conftitution of this kingdom and the principles of the glorious Revolution, are held in high reverence: and I reckon myself among the most forward in my zeal for maintaining that conftitution and those principles in their utmost purity and vigour. It is because I do fo, that I think it neceffary for me, that there fhould be no mistake. Those who cultivate the memory of our revolution, and those who are attached to the conftitution of this kingdom, will take good care how they are involved with perfons who, under the pretext of zeal towards the Revolution and Conftitution, too frequently wander from their true principles; and are ready on every occafion to depart from the firm but cautious and deliberate fpirit which produced the one, and which prefides in the other. Before I proceed to anfwer the more material
particulars in your letter, I fhall beg leave to give you fuch information as I have been able to obtain of the two clubs which have thought proper; as bodies, to interfere in the concerns of France; first affuring you, that I am not, and that I have never been, a member of either of thofe focieties.
The firft, calling itself the Constitutional Society, or Society for Conftitutional Information, or by fome fuch title, is, I believe, of feven or eight years ftanding. The inftitution of this fociety appears to be of a charitable; and fo far of a laudable, nature: it was intended for the circulation, at the expence of the members, of many books, which. few others would be at the expence of buying; and which might lie on the hands of the bookfellets, to the great lofs of an useful body of men. Whether the books fo charitably circulated, were ever as charitably read, is more than I know. Poffibly feveral of them have been exported to France; and, like goods not in requeft here, may with you have found a market. I have heard much talk of the lights to be drawn from books that are fent from hence. What improvements they have had in their paffage (as it is faid fome liquors are meHorated by croffing the fea) I cannot tell: But I never heard a man of common judgment, or the leaft degree of information, fpeak a word in praife of the greater part of the publications circulated by that fociety; nor have their proB 2
ceedings been accounted, except by fome of themselves, as of any ferious confequence.
Your National Affembly feems to entertain much the fame opinion that I do of this poor charitable club. As a nation, you reserved the whole stock of your eloquent acknowledgments for the Revolution Society; when their fellows in the Conftitutional were, in equity, entitled to fome fhare. Since you have felected the Revolution Society as the great object of your national thanks and praises, you will think me excufeable in making its late conduct the fubject of my obfervations. The National Affembly of France has given importance to these gentlemen by adopting them; and they return the favour, by acting as a fort of fub-committee in England for extending the principles of the National Affembly. Henceforward we must confider them as a kind of privileged perfons; as no inconfiderable members in the diplomatic body. This is one among the revolutions which have given fplendour to obfcurity, and diftinction to undifcerned merit. Until very lately I do not recollect to have heard of this club. I am quite fure that it never occupied a moment of my thoughts; nor, I believe, those of any perfon out of their own fet. I find, upon enquiry, that on the anniversary of the Revolution in 1688, a club of diffenters, but of what denomination I know not, have long had the custom of hearing a fermon in one of their