ing opinions, and an artful address to those opinions, partook of the quickness of thought from whence they sprung. Though many and various, and involving the most serious consequences, they were yet less remarkable for their number and magnitude, than for the extreme rapidity of their. fucceffion.

By means of the press, the grand forum on wlich all public affairs were agitated, a principle of restless discontent and endless commotion had been introduced into the most populous and centrical, the most refined, ardent, and inflammable nation in Europe-; and whose fashions, manners, and opinions most of the other nations were prone to follow. Metaphysicians, geometers, and astronoiners, applied the compasses of abstraction to human paflions, propensities, and habits: the minds of men were alienated from kings, and became enamoured of political philosophy. The old government of France was completely fubverted; religion and morality were equally despifed ; dominion was gradually transferred, from well meaning men, perhaps, to bad- from bad to worse; and the maxim of the noble phi. Josopher, statesman, and historian of Rome was inverted to

* Ita imperiun femper ad optumum quemque a minus bono tranf. fertur.

A bloody A bloody anarchy was erected on the ruins of social fubordination. The ruling party; armed at once with enthusiasm, and a command of the finance and whole property of the nation, trampled on the rights of their fellow.citizens, and held the law of nations and foreign treaties in derision. In the pretended pursuit of liberty; they violated all regard to humanity. The laws were without force; innocence without protection ; obscurity and indigence, or a participation in crimes, the only safety. The destructive infection of this attempt to reduce what is called the modern philosopliy into pra&ice, spread rapidly' abroad - before the effects of the fatal expérimerit were known at home: and it would be difficult to determine whether the progress of the evil was more forwarded by the ill-judged exertions of individuals, whether political writers, statesmen, or sovereign princés, to oppose it,—or, by the impunity with which it had been suffered, in its commencement, to prevail in France, and to extend to every country in Europe.

While the atrocities of democracy pled the cause of moDarchical and even absolute governments, the insatiate ambition, and unprincipled policy of monarchs, not more shamefully than foolishly displayed in the partition of Póland, apologized for the excelles" of democracy. On the *hole, it appeared that the European nations, however adA 3


vanced in speculative knowledge, had made but very little progress in practical and political wisdom.

Since the events of this period arc manifold and surprizing beyond all example, it may perhaps be expected by some of our readers, that we, like certain other journalists, should increase our volumes to a size, bearing a kind of proportion to the variety and extent of the busy scenes of the

years that form their respective subjects: but this would be absurd, unless it should be thought proper wholly to call off attention from former scenes ; or possible to enlarge che faculties of men, and extend the period of human life.

Science does not confist in the enumeration of facts, but in their classification. There are no facts of any kind, either instructive or interesting, otherwise than as they are connected with principles and views ; with theories, whether true or only hypothetica!. When events cease to surprize by novelty, they become instructive by their want of it. In proportion as transactions and operations of the same kind, springing from similar causes, and producing similar effe&ts, are so multiplied as to become common, it is not necessary to detail facts; but sufficient to mention general results and principles of action. It is thus that knowledge of every kind is advanced : the gradual and leisurely de


ductions of one age, or generation, being taken in the next, for things granted. If it were otherwise, the boundaries of science could never be enlarged; and the republic of letters, like that of Rome, would fink under its own magnitude. If in writing the History of Europe for 1791 and 1792, we should attempt to describe every thing that passed, we should, in fact, describe nothing :- the complicated scene would be too various and vast for human comprehension. Among innumerable interesting events, the annalist must make a selection of such as are most in eresting : and, in making this selection, he must of necessity be guided by his own genius and habitual way of thinking. Some things may appear most striking to one mind; and other things the most important to another : whence it is poffible, and sometimes happens, that of the same times we may have histories widely differing from each other, both ia matter and style, and yet both of them at once pleasing and instructive.

The general effect, or impression, that remains on the mind, after reviewing any series of events, which impels either the historian or epic poet to communicate his senti, ments and emotions to others, serves as a band of union among the transactions and occuriences which he involves in the stream of his compofition. On a review of the af.



fairs of Europe, from 1790 to 1793, we are chiefly impressed with the rapid progress of public opinion and public {pirit, on the one hand; and, on the other, with the efforts that were made by the old governments to resist them. Amidst the thick and entangled forest, this division opens lome prospects. The revolutionary fpirit may be traced from Paris to the provinces and foreign dependencies of lirance, to her armies, and to other nations; and the reaction marked of its various effects on the people, and public councils of France, and other countries. Guided by these viltas, we have easy opportunities of taking occasional views of whatever is most remarkable in the different quarters of Europe, without losing siglit of the main object.

In ordinary times, the great chain of events may often be traced to mean and pitiful intrigues : 'the investigation of which, however, cannot be very interesting to any others than such as have conceived a great attachment and curiosity of enquiring into every thing that relates to particular characters. The Revolution, which we contemplate with mingled astonishment and terror, originated not in any pritate intrigue, nor with any individual character; nor exclusively in Paris, nor France ; but in the wide circles of Europe, and of civilization* Its feeds, diffused over the

Many marked and vigorous characters arose out of the revolution, but eartnot be said to have created it.


« ElőzőTovább »