« PreviousContinue »
AN ENGLISHMAN RESIDENT AT PARIS
THE LAST REIGN
“ How nations sink, by darling schemes oppress'd,
Vanity of Human Wishes.
PUBLISHED BY M. THOMAS, 52 CHESNUT STREET.
W. Brown, Printer, Church Alley.
THE following letters are composed from the same journal, which furnished the writer with the materials of a very active and detailed correspondence with several of his intimate acquaintance, some of whom, being members of the legislature, were interested in receiving intelligence more correct than could be obtained through the usual channels, at a time when the total perversion of some facts, the partial selection of others, and the unfair construction put upon such as found their way to the public press, aided a delusion, to which, in a greater degree, perhaps, than to the exertions of ministerial influence, must be attributed the parliamentary majorities, that enabled the government to undertake the late war against France.
The writer, during his residence at Paris in the months of April, May, June and July, of the last year, was a spectator of those events and appearances in France, which the journals and orators of his own country pretended to pourtray, but which formed a complete contrast with every thing said or written by the agents or supporters of the Bourbon cause, both in England and on the continent. Feeling persuaded that from a minute description of that which was passing before his eyes, the conclusion to be drawn could not fail to be favourable to the principles which he had been taught to consider the only safe and honourable guides of an English poli. tician, and being shocked at the misrepresentations upon which the policy of the British cabinet appeared to him to be entirely founded, he thought it his duty, as it must be that of every individual, however insignificant, to lose no opportunity of transmitting to his friends a detailed
account of passing transactions, accompanied with comments, which he conceived must be allowed naturally to arise from an unprejudiced view of those transactions, and which he therefore supposed he might take the liberty of intruding upon his correspondents.
In treating the subject of the foreign policy of the Britrish government, the writer could not but frequently touch upon the public character and conduct of those of his fellow-countrymen with whom that policy is immediately connected, and particularly of the minister on whom it may be supposed more especially to depend.
Having, in the course of several visits to the continent, been forced into the conviction, that our relations with the European cabinets are carried on by such agents as must insure the commission of many errors, and that the real character of our principal representative, during the late momentous events, is very different from that which the pretensions of himself and his partisans, together with the fortuitous concurrence of some unforeseen successes, would induce us to believe, he has judged it necessary not to confine himself to the vague censure of measures, without any notice of individual conduct or opinion, but has ventured to characterise certain men, in such terms as he thought suitable to their public career, and not exceeding the freedom with which, in his country, it has always been judged allowable to speak of dangerous or mistaken politicians.
It would have been easy for him to have erased from his publication the personal animadversions of his private correspondence; and, by so doing, he would have exempted it from the obloquy and retaliation of a very powerful and prevalent portion of those, who are the most likely to become his readers. He has no resentments to gratify, and not having to complain of ingratitude for services which he never performed, nor of the refusal of favours for which he never applied, he is actuated by none of the animosities arising from disappointment or neglect. He has been placed in none of the circumstances, which, in party writers, not unfrequently give rise to the malignity, which Tacitus himself allows is the more pernicious, as it is sometimes
mistaken for a bold impartiality, and an honest liberty of speech. He has spoken of men in their public capacity, merely because he is persuaded that the line of po. licy, which his government has thought fit to pursue, has depended on the positions and propensities of two or three statesmen-nay, even of one preponderating politician, to a degree so unusual, that the adoption of the “ shadow fighting,” declared by a great moral poet to be no less inefficacious than safe, would have been a base compromise of the interests of the cause, to which all his endeavours, such as they are, are now devoted, and will be for ever applied.
Could the writer of these letters suppose that they would receive any weight from the subscription of his name, he would not hesitate to designate his person as distinctly as his opinions; but, not presuming to indulge any such persuasion, he trusts entirely to the truth of his statements for that credibility, which an author of more importance might obtain partly from his personal testimony.
He must also advertise the reader, that he has been exceedingly cautious in inserting the names of any of those individuals, who, when they condescended to communicate with him, had probably no wish, nor expectation of appearing before the public in the character of his informants. He should think it too ill a compliment to them, if he did not owe it to himself, to say, that, as he never admitted any of their anecdotes to a place in these letters, without a conviction of their authenticity, either from the character of the narrator, or from circumstances corroborative of their probability, he is afraid of no investigation to which they may give rise.
Having premised thus much, the writer finds it necessary to subjoin, that bis purpose in publishing tliese letters is similar to that which guided his pen in their ori. ginal composition, and that, if he succeeds in winning over even one honourable man from the ranks of those who still approve, as they once supported, the late war against national independence, he shall think himself amply repaid for any exposure of personal or literary reputation. Declarations of patriotism he leaves to those,