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FrRevol_251-300.indd 41 3/16/12 1:07 PM CHAPTER II Prediction ofM. Necker on the Fate ofthe Constitution ofZ:J9Z. During the last fourteen years ofhis life, M. Necker did not quit his estate of Coppet in Switzerland. He lived in the most complete retirement; but the repose arising from dignity does not exclude activity of mind, and he never ceased to attend, with the greatest solicitude, to every event which occurred in France. The works composed by him at different eras in the Revolution possess a prophetic character; because, in examining the defects of the different constitutions which prevailed for a time in France, he explained beforehand the consequences of these defects, and predictions of this kind could not fail to be realized. M. Necker joined to a surprising sagacity ofintellect a sensibility to the fate of mankind, and in particular of France, of which, I believe, there is no example in any writer on political topics. These topics are commonly treated in an abstract manner, and are almost always founded on calculation ; but M. Necker was intent above all on considering the relations which that science bore to individual morality, to the happiness and dignity of nations. He is the Fenelon of politics, if I may venture thus to express myself, in honoring these two great men by the analogy between their virtues. The first work published by him in 1791 is entitled On the Administration ofM. Necker, by Himself.1 At the close of a very profound political discussion on the various compensations that ought to have been granted to the privileged classes for the loss oftheir ancient rights, he says, addressing himself to the Assembly, 1. For a list of reviews of Necker's book, see Grange, Les idees de Necker, 629. 29! FrRevol_251-300.indd 42 3/16/12 1:07 PM PART III I know that I shall be blamed for my obstinate attachment to the principles of justice, and attempts will be made to debilitate it by giving it the name of aristocratic pity. I know better than you the nature of my pity. It was first for you that I felt that sentiment; but you were then without union and without strength; it was first for you that I sustained a conflict. And at the time when I complained so much ofthe indifference shown to you; when I spoke of the respect that was due to you; when I showed a perpetual disquietude for the fate of the people; it was then that by mere word games your enemies endeavored to ridicule my sentiments. I would willingly love others than you, now that you abandon me; I would it were in my power; but I possess not that consolation; your enemies and mine have placed between them and me a barrier which I shall never seek to burst; and they must necessarily hate me forever, since they have made me answerable for their own faults. Yet it was not I who prompted them to make an immoderate use of their former power; it was not I who rendered them inflexible when itbecame necessary to begin negotiating with fortune. Ah! ifthey were not under oppression, ifthey were not unhappy, how many reproaches could not I make to them! And when I defend them still in their rights and properties, they will not, I trust, believe that I think for a moment of regaining their favor. I now desire no connection with them, nor with anyone; it is with my recollections, with my thoughts, that I endeavor to live and die; when I fix my attention on the purity of the sentiments that have guided me, I find nowhere a suitable association; and when, in the want experienced by every feeling mind, I form that association , I do it in hope, with the upright men ofevery country, with those, so few in number, whose first passion is the love of doing good on earth. M. Necker felt bitter regret for the loss of that popularity which he had sacrificed without hesitation to his duty. Some persons have blamed him for the importance that he set upon it. Woe to the statesmen who do not need public opinion! These are either courtiers or usurpers; they flatter themselves with obtaining, by intrigue or by terror, what generous minds wish to owe only to the esteem of their fellows. When my father and I were walking together under those lofty trees at Coppet, which still...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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