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FrRevol_701-750.indd 2 3/16/12 1:17 PM CHAPTER VII Ofthe Conduct ofthe English Government Outside ofEngland. In expressing, as much as I could, my admiration for the English nation, I have never ceased to attribute its superiority over the rest of Europe to its political institutions. It remains for us to offer a sad proof of this assertion : it is that, in things where the constitution does not command, the English government justly incurs the same reproaches which absolute power has ever deserved on earth. If, by some circumstances which are not met with in history, a nation had possessed, a hundred years before the rest of Europe, the art of printing, the compass, and, what is more valuable, a religion which is only a sanction of the purest morality, that nation would certainly be far superior to those who had not obtained similar advantages. The same may be said ofthe benefits ofa free constitution; but these benefits are necessarily limited to the country which that constitution governs. When Englishmen exercise military or diplomatic employments on the Continent, it is still probable that men brought up in the atmosphere ofall the virtues participate in them individually. But it is possible that power, which corrupts almost all men when they go beyond the circle ofthe dominion oflaw, may have misled many Englishmen when they had to render an account of their conduct abroad to ministers only, and not to the nation. In truth, that nation, so enlightened in other things, is ill-informed of what passes on the Continent: it lives in the interior of its own country, if we may use the expression, like every man in his own house; and it is only after a length of time that it learns the history of Europe, in which her ministers often act too great a part, by means ofits blood and treasures. The conclusion is that every country, at every time, should defend itself from the influence of foreigners, be they who they J02 FrRevol_701-750.indd 3 3/16/12 1:17 PM cHAPTER vI I . Conduct ofEnglish GoYemment may; for the nations who are the most free at home may have rulers very jealous of the prosperity of other states, and may become the oppressors of their neighbors if they find a favorable opportunity. Let us, however, examine how far there is truth in what is alleged of the conduct of the English out of their country. When, unfortunately for themselves, they were obliged to send troops to the Continent, those troops observed the most perfect discipline. The disinterestedness ofthe English army and of its commanders cannot be disputed; we have seen them paying in an enemy's country more regularly than the enemy paid their own countrymen, and never do they neglect to blend the cares of humanity with the calamities of war. Sir Sidney Smith,1 in Egypt, protected the envoys of the French army in his own tent; and often declared to his allies, the Turks, that he would perish sooner than suffer the rights ofnations to be violated toward his enemies. During the retreat ofGeneral Moore2 in Spain, English officers threw themselves into a riverwhere some Frenchmen were on the point of drowning in order to save them from a danger to which they were exposed by accident, and not by arms. Finally, there is no occasion in which the army ofthe Duke ofWellington, directed by the magnanimity and the conscientious severity ofits illustrious chief, has not sought to relieve the inhabitants of the countries through which it passed. The splendor of English bravery, we must acknowledge, has never been sullied by cruelty or by pillage. The military force transported to the colonies, and particularly to India, ought not to be made responsible for the acts ofauthority ofwhich there may be reason to complain. The regular troops obey passively incountries considered as subjected, and which are not protected at all by the constitution . But in the colonies, as elsewhere, the English officers cannot be accused of depredation; it is the persons holding civil employments who are reproached with enriching themselves by unlawful means. In fact, the conduct of these persons during the first years of the conquest of India deserves the highest blame and furnishes another proofofwhat we cannot too often repeat, that every man charged with the command ofothers, if 1. Sidney Smith (1764-1840) was an admiral in the English navy. 2 . Sir john Moore (r76r- 18o9) was a...


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