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ament took off the head of Charles. The King of France has already rendered himself contemptible to the powerful party by his concessions; but this last act of fight, will cause his sincerity to be suspected by the whole nation ; so that, all future compliances will be considered as mere subterfuge until he can again escape and return with a powerful army to reduce them to obedience. He is now without even the shadow of power--a prisoner in his own kingdom ; and his enemies only wait a fit opportunity for bringing him to trial and execution."
“But if they even put him to death," observed a royal Duke, “the Dauphin must succeed to the throne ?"
“By no means a necessary consequence under the new system,” replied Mr. Fox; “for, however the succession may be secured by law, as it stands at present, the National Assembly have it in their power to alter or abrogate that law, as they may think fit, for what they will term the common weal. I think it not at all unlikely, from the sentiments so frequently uttered in the Assembly, and from the wide dissemination of the Declaration of Rights and other democratie writings throughout the kingdom, that France will soon be voted a Republic; and some bold fellow, or rather some intriguer, like Orleans, will become Dictator. This state of things, however, cannot last long, for the French are not republicans ;--they are too numerous, too volatile. They possess neither the gravity and calculating spirit of the Dutch, nor the patience and industry of the Americans."
“But, what accusation,” said the Prince, “can they bring forward so formidable as to warrant them in put
ting him to death ;-or even in bringing him to trial at all?"
“Louis,” replied Mr. Fox, “will no doubt be accused of treasonable correspondence with the emigrant Princes; and, if this be supported by proof, nothing can save him. But, even if it should not, his enemies will not hesitate to get rid of him and the whole of his family, by poison or by the dagger.”
“But why, Sir," continued the Prince, “do you apprehend his death to be inevitable, seeing that he has only done what many others would have done in his situation?"
“ It is not the mere act of running away,” replied Mr. Fox; “ but that, now, all confidence between him and the rest of the government and nation is destroyed. Having it in his power now to give no pledge that will secure pardon for the insults and violence that have been offered to him, the democratic faction will see that there is no safety for them but in the extinction of his whole family.”
“ But, may not imprisonment-?”
“No! an imprisoned king is at all times an object of anxiety and dread, even to the most powerful rival ; how much more so then must he be to these usurpers, each of whom already feels the halter round his neck, or, like Damocles, sees the sword suspended over his head by a single hair?-Besides, the encampment of an invading army on their frontiers will only serve to seal, and perhaps hasten, the doom of the unfortunate monarch: for the whole nation is in a state of frenzy; and, being threatened with punishment, they will do that in a fit of daring and desperation, at which, if left to themselves, they would perhaps hesitate."
"Would not interference on the part of my father-?"
“ These democrats,” returned. Fox, shaking his head, " are too proud to be advised by Kings; besides, Louis, by having sworn to the New Constitution, gave them a power over him ; for he is thereby responsible to the nation for all his acts.”
“ But supposing a remonstrance were made, and a sufficient guarantee offered ?"
“I fear, Sir, it is too late," replied Mr. Fox : “had the King of France conducted himself at the outset with the wisdom and firmness due to his elevated station-had he gone, heart and hand, in the Revolution, as far as the reformation of abuses and the cutling up of the feudal, or rather seignorial, privileges; and there taken his stand, saying,—I am your constitutional King ! thus far have I come, but I will advance no farther, nor 'bate one atom of my royal prerogative;'-had he said this, the French would have applauded their grande monarque to the skies, and he would have been the most powerful sovereign in Europe -whereas, by yielding every thing, he is now the weakest.”
“But you must allow, Sir," observed His Royal Highness, “ that events were against him.”
“ They certainly were," returned Mr. Fox, “and neither he nor his ministers had sufficient ability or strength to stem the torrent of revolutionary lava that flowed so suddenly upon them from all quarters. The volcano has been labouring ever since the expensive wars of Louis XIV., and its throes are not yet over, Eruption after eruption will take place, until the mounfain is exhausted, or nearly levelled with the surround
ing plain. France was divided between misery and splendour: the mass of the people toiled without remuneration ; and the aristocracy and clergy became rich, powerful, and insolent, by extortion, by pillage, and by exemption from those taxes which pressed so heavily on the people. This exclusive system was unnatural, and the re-action must consequently be violent,- until the energies of the nation are exhausted, or until the people shall begin to feel the benefit of the restoration of their rights. The time is gone by when a bone would have quieted the dog : he will now fight for the whole carcase.
“But, Sir, as it was impossible to foresee these events, how could the King or his counsellors have prevented them ?”
“ It was very easy to see,” continued the statesman, “ that the unnatural state of things under the ancien regime could not last. It might easily have been foreseen that the increasing misery of the people must, in the course of time, have had an end, either by general revolt or by general starvation : many of the people themselves foresaw it: the eyes of the nation were gradually opening by the writings of the philosophers of late years, but particularly by the American war; and they were prepared to assert their rights on the first opportunity that offered. But the Government put off the evil day as long as they could ; for they had no desire to clip the wings of the aristocracy, so long as the taxes were collected and the treasury well supplied.
“ Not, however, that they were not well apprized that some great change must occur at some period not far distant. Even Louis XV. foresaw it, and his ob
servation was, I am afraid, but too prophetic of present events. During the contests between the clergy and the Parliament, he came in one day to the Marchioness de Pompadour, in great irritation, saying, • These fellows drive me mad with their disputes ; and because I cannot please both parties, they would vent their
rage upon me, if they dared : unless some mea. sures are projected and acted on, to curb their insolence, they will cut off the head of my successor.' A PrinCess, too, of the same family, had forebodings of some such catastrophe. When this modern Cassandra heard some officers who returned from America speak of a disorder, termed Influenza, which had raged throughout the French army,—which many of the soldiers had brought home with them,-and which, it was feared, would prove contagious throughout the kingdom ; she said to one of them, 'I fear, General, that you and your troops have imported a disease of a still more contagious and terrific character, Independenza!
“But even our own poet, Goldsmith, so far back as 1760, in his Chinese Letters, foretold the present Revolution in France. He says somewhere, that as the Swedes were making concealed approaches to despotism, so the French on the other hand were daily and imperceptibly vindicating themselves into freedom. • When we consider,' says he, that their Parliaments, the members of which are created by the court, and the presidents acting by immediate direction of the sovereign or minister;—when we consider that they presume even to MENTION privileges and freedom, and that till lately they received directions from the throne with implicit humility ;-we cannot help fancying that the Genius of Freedom has entered