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FrRevol_201-250.indd 20 3/16/12 1:05 PM CHAPTER X Did the English Government Give Money to Foment Trouhles in France? As the prevailing opinion of French aristocrats has always been that the greatest changes in social order are to be traced to individual circumstances , they were long converts to the notion which had absurdly gained ground, that the English ministry had excited, by means of money, the troubles ofthe Revolution. The Jacobins, the natural enemies ofEngland, took a lot ofdelight in pleasing the people by affirming that allthe mischief arose from English gold distributed in France. But whoever is capable of a little reflection will not believe, for a moment, the absurdity thus circulated . Could a ministry, subject, like the English, to the scrutinizing eye of the representatives of the people, dispose of a considerable sum of money without venturing to acknowledge its use to Parliament? All the provinces ofFrance, rising at the same time, were without leaders, while the proceedings at Paris had been long before prepared by the course of events. Besides, would not any government, and particularly the most enlightened one ofEurope, have felt the danger ofestablishing such contagious anarchy in its own neighborhood? Had not England, and Mr. Pitt in particular, to dread that the revolutionary spark would light on the navy, and among the inferior ranks of society?1 The English ministry have often given assistance to the emigrantparty; but it was on a plan wholly contrary to that which would have been neer . Fear that the Revolution might spread to England was, in fact, what motivated Burke to write Reflections ofthe Revolution in France. In the first part of the book, he vigorously attacked the revolutionary theories propagated by R. Price and his followers in the Revolutionary Society of London. For more on the impact of the French Revolution in England, see Hampsher-Monk, ed., The Impact ofthe French Revolution. 220 FrRevol_201-250.indd 21 3/16/12 1:06 PM cHAPTER x. Did English Government Give Money? essary to excite a spirit of jacobinism. How can we suppose that individuals , extremely respectable in their private character, would have taken into pay, from among the lowest class, men who could not at that time interfere with public affairs otherwise than by committing theft or murder ? Whatever opinion we may have of the diplomacy of the English government, can we imagine that the heads of a state who, during fifteen years, made no attempt on the life of a man (Bonaparte) whose existence threatened that of their country, should have stooped to a much greater crime by purchasing assassinations at random? Public opinion in England may be altogether misled in regard to foreign politics; but never, ifI may so express myself, in regard to Christian morality, that is, in respect to actions which are not subjected to the control or excuse ofcircumstances. Louis XV generously rejected the Greek fire,2 the fatal secret of which was offered to him; the English, in like manner, would never have kindled the desolating flames of jacobinism, had it even been in their power to create that new monster who rose up with devouring fury against social order. To these arguments, which seem to me clearer than even facts themselves , I will add what my father has often declared to me-that, hearing an incessant rumor about pretended secret agents of England, he made every exertion to find them out; and that all the inquiries of the police, ordered and followed up during his ministry, served to prove that the gold ofEngland had nothing to do with the civil troubles ofFrance. Never has it been practicable to discover the slightest trace of connection between the popular party and the English government: in general, the most violent persons in that party have had no connection with foreigners; and, on the other hand, the English government, far from encouraging democracy in France, has made every effort to repress it. 2 . A mixture of carbon, sulfur, and petrol that could burn even on water and was used to set fire to ships during the Middle Ages. 22l ...


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