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THE QUEEN OF FRANCE. It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles ; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in, glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendor, and joy! Oh! what a revolution ! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom ; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.—But the age of chivalry is gone.
RIGHTS OF MAN.
If civil society be made for the advantage of man, all the advantages for which it is made become his right. It is an institution of beneficence; and law itself is only beneficence acting by a rule. Men have a right to live by that rule; they have a right to justice. They have a right to the fruits of their industry; and to the means of making their industry fruitful. They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents; to the nourishment and improvement of their offspring; to instruction in life, and to consolation in death. Whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself; and he has a right to a fair portion of all which society, with all its combinations of skill and force, can do in his favor.
NOISY POLITICIANS. I have often been astonished, considering that we are divided from you (the French) but by a slender dyke of about twenty-four miles, and that the mutual intercourse between the two countries has lately been very great, to find how little you seem to know
I suspect that this is owing to your forining a judgment of this nation from certain publications, which do, very erroneously, if they do at all, represent the opinions and dispositions generally prevalent in England. The vanity, restlessness, petulance, and spirit of intrigue of several petty cabals, who attempt to hide their total want of consequences in bustle and noise, and puffing, and mutual quotation of each other, make you imagine that our contemptuous neglect of their abilities is a general mark of acquiescence in their opinions. No such thing, I assure you. Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field ; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour.
1 And well is it that “the age of chivalry is gone," for it was an age of brute force, sanctioned by an institution as silly as it was revengeful, bloody, and barbarous. How justly the late accomplished Christian scholar, Dr. Arnold, speaks of it: "I confess that if I were called upon to name what spirit of evil predominantly deserved the name of Antichrist, I should name the spirit of chivalrythe more detestable for the very guise of .archangel ruined,' which has made it 80 seductive to the most generous spirits, but to me so hateful, because it is in direct opposition to the impartial justice of the gospel and its comprehensive feeling of equal brotherhood, and because it so fostered a sense of honor rather than a sense of DUTY."
BURKE's LAMENTATION OVER HIS SON. Had it pleased God to continue to me the hopes of succession, I should have been, according to my mediocrity, and the mediocrity of the age I live in, a sort of founder of a family ; I should have left a son, who, in all the points in which personal merit can be viewed, in science, in erudition, in genius, in taste, in honor, in generosity, in humanity, in every liberal sentiment, and every liberal accomplishment, would not have shown himself inferior to the Duke of Bedford, or to any of those to whom he traces in his line. His grace very soon would have wanted all plausibility in his attack upon that provision which belonged more to mine than to me. He would soon have supplied every deficiency, and symmetrized every disproportion. It would not have been for that successor to resort to any stagnant wasting reservoir of merit in me, or in any ancestry. He had in himself a salient, living spring, of generous and manly action. Every day he lived he would have repurchased the bounty of the crown, and ten times more, if ten times more he had received. He was made a public creature; and had no enjoyment whatever, but in the performance of some duty. At this exigent moment, the loss of a finished man is not easily supplied.
But a Disposer whose power we are little able to resist, and whose wisdom it behooves us not at all to dispute, has ordained it in another manner, and (whatever my querulous weakness inight suggest) a far better. The storm has gone over me; and I lie like one of those old oaks which the late hurricane hath scattered about me.
I am stripped of all my honors : I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth! There, and prostrate there, I most unfeignedly recognise the divine justice, and in some degree submit to it. But whilst I humble myself before God, I do not know that it is forbidden to repel the attacks of unjust and inconsiderate men. The patience of Job is proverbial. After some of the convulsive struggles of our irritable nature, he submitted himself, and repented in dust and ashes. But even so, I do not find him blamed for reprehending, and with a considerable degree of verbal asperity, those ill-natured neighbors of his, who visited his dunghill to read moral, political, and economical lectures on his misery. I am alone. I have none to meet my enemies in the gate. Indeed, my lord, I greatly deceive myself, if, in this hard season, I would give a peck of refuse wheat for all that is called fame and honor in the world. This is the appetite but of a few. It is a luxury; it is a privilege ; it is an indulgence for those who are at their ease. But we are all of us made to shun disgrace, as we are made to shrink from pain, and poverty, and disease. It is an instinct; and, under the direction of reason, instinct is always in the right. I live in an inverted order. They who ought to have succeeded me are gone before me. They who should have been to me as posterity, are in the place of ancestors. I owe to the dearest relation (which ever must subsist in memory) that act of piety, which he would have performed to me; I owe it to him to show that he was not descended, as the Duke of Bedford would have it, from an unworthy parent.
Letter to a Noble Lord.
THE LETTERS OF JUNIUS. Is presenting a series of choice extracts from the whole range of English prose literature, it would be almost unpardonable to pass over in silence the celebrated “ Letters of Junius," That they may be the better understood and more keenly relished, especially by the younger portion of our readers, a few words upon the state of the times in which they appeared, as explanatory of their object, may, if not absolutely necessary, at least be somewhat interesting.
George the Third ascended the throne of Great Britain at a very eventsul period of its history. A war of unexampled extent, and embracing a vast variety of interests, was then raging—the "Seven Years' War," (1756—13.) between Prussia and Austria, in wbich Great Britain, as well as inany of the other European powers, unhappily became entangled. Fortunately for Euga land, a ministry of great talents and energy directed the atfairs of the nation, of which the elder Pitt was the most conspicuous member and the main support. But soon after the king's accession it seemed to many that his principles were far more despotic—more inclined to extend the rights of the crown, and to abridge the rights of the people, than those which had actuated any of his predecessors of the same family. The great Whig families of the kingdom, by the aid of whose ancestors the Revolution had chiefly been brought about, thought that their services were slighted and set at naught by a prince who was but a little way removed from that very sovereign whom their fathers had placed upon the throne, to the exclusion of a family of arbi: trary principles.
These feelings and fears were increased by the resignation of William Pitt, in 1761, and by the formation of a new ministry under the Earl of Bute, the king's especial favorite. He had the honor, however, of bringing to a close that terrible war which brought so much of “glory to Mr. Pitt and the nation, along with an overwhelming national debt. To meet the great ex. penses of the nation, additional taxes were proposed, both upon the people at home, and upon the then American colonies. This produced great discontent on both sides of the Atlantic. The Earl of Bute resigned in 1763, and a new ministry was appointed, at the head of which was Lord Grenville, 1763–65. At this time very free, and in many cases viruleni discussions were carried on in the newspapers of the day, relative to the course of public events. Or these, a paper called the “ North Briton" was the most violent. It was edited by John Wilkes, a member of parliament, who, in consequence of some very severe remarks in his paper upon the speech of the king to the parliament, was expelled that body. At once he became the idol of the people-offered himself as a candidate to the electors of Westminster—and was returned to parliament by a large majority. Parliament, however, declared him incapable of resuming his seat; and hence arose throughout the kingdom that remarkable discussion which shook the pillars of the state.
While the cause of Wilkes was agitating the nation, the question of taxing America, and the consequences that might result therefrom, were becoming every day more alarming. To add to the general discontent, there was a constant change in the administration. Lord Bute was succeeded by the Grenville ministry in 1763; Lord Rockingham was appointed prime minister in 1765; Lord Chatham formed a new arrangement in 1766; the Duke of Grafton another in 1767; and Lord North completed the series in 1770. Thus the people saw that there was little harmony of views in those wbo were at the helm of state, and who should, in their counsels, especially at such a time, be united.
On the 22d of February, 1770, the Marquis of Rockingham, in his place in the House of Lords, moved that a day be appointed to take into consideration the staTE OF THE NATION. In supporting this motion, he urged, that the present unhappy condition of affairs, and the universal discontent of the peo ple, arose from no temporary cause, but had grown by degrees from the first moment of his majesty's accession to the throne; that the persons in whom his majesty then confided had introduced a system subversive of the old principles of English government; their maxim being, that the royal prerogative alone was sufficient to support government, to whatever hand the administra. tion might be committed. The operation of this principle was observable in every act over which the influence of these persons had been exerted; and by a tyrannical exercise of power, they had removed from their places, not the great and dignified only, but numberless innocent families, who had sub sisted on small salaries, and were now turned out to misery and ruin. By this injustice-by the taxes which had heen imposed at home by the indecent management of the civil list-by the mode of taxing and treating America—by the recent invasion of the freedom of election—in short, by every procedure at home and abroad, the constitution had been wounded, and the worst etlects had resulted to the nation. He therefore recommended it strongly to their lordships, to fix an early day for taking into consideration the state of the country, in all its relations, foreign, provincial, and domestic ; for it had been injured in them all. That consideration, he hoped, would lead them to advise the crown to correct past errors, and to establish a system of government more suited to the people, and more consistent with the constitution.”
It was at this period, when the public mind was thus intensely agitated, that the celebrated “ Letters of Junius“ appeared. They were published in the ** Public Advertiser" of London, a paper printed by Mr. Woodfall;d one of the highest respectability, and which had the most extensive circulation in the kingdom. The first of these letters was dated January 21, 1769, and the last, January 21, 1772. No sooner did they appear, than they attracted universal attention. The author, whoever he was, was evidently no common man. To a minute, exact, as well as comprehensive knowledge of public atlairs, he added a moral courage and dignity, a fearlessness in exposing the corruptions and the blunders of the government, a just and manly sense of the rights and interests of the people, and a scholarship that showed itself in a style of such unrivalled clearness, grace, and elegance, united to a condensation, energy, precision, and strength, that at once commanded the attention and admiration of the nation. Even his adversaries, at the very moment when his satire and invective were producing their most powerful effeci, never failed to compliment him on the classical correctness, the attic wit, the figurative beauty, and the manly power of his language.
The first quality of style that will strike the reader of Junius, is the studied energy and great compression of his language. There is not only no super. fluous sentence, but there is no superfluous word in any of his sentences. He seems to have aimed at this quality with the greatest care, as best suited to the style and character of his mode of thinking, and best accommodated to the high attitude which he assumed, as the satirist and judge, not of ordinary men or common authors, but of the most elevated and distinguished person. ages and institutions of his country; of a person who seemed to feel himself called on to treat majesty itself with perfect freedom; and before whom the supreme 'wisdom and might of the great councils of the state stood rebuked and in fear.
But of all the varied powers that Junius has displayed, none is so peculiarly and entirely his own, as his power of sarcasm. Other authors deal occasionally in it, but with Junius it is more general; and whenever he rises to his highest sphere, he assumes the air of a being who delights to taunt and to mock his adversary. He refuses to treat him as a person who should be seriously dealt with, and pours out his contempt or indignation under an imposing affectation of deference and respect. His talent for sarcasm, too, is of the finest kind: it is so carefully but so poignantly exerted, that it is necessary to watch his words to perceive all the satire which they contain. Thus we may have an impression that the author is only speaking in his natural style, when he is employing a mode of annoyance which it requires the utmost address and skill to manage. But when his irony is perceived, it strikes like a poniard, and the wound which it makes is such as cannot be closed. Indeed, there is, perhaps, no author who possesses this quality in the same perfection, or who has exerted it with the same effect.
But the style of Junius, admirable as it is, cannot be proposed as a model for general imitation. It is too epigrammatic-100 much characterized by the tone of invective-and too strongly compressed, to be used by any mind
1 Woodfall was afterwards tried for these alleged "libellous publications," before Lord Mansfield and though his lordship did all he could that he might be convicted, the jury acquitted him, and thus established, on an immovable foundation, THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.
See Burke's admirable description of him, on p. 718.