Page images
PDF
EPUB

" benefit, resolved every one to live like a gentle

man, that is in idleness, pleading the example of Gaster himself. But for us, said they, he must “ live on air: we sweat, we toil like beasts of bure "den; and for whom? for him only, without any

profit to ourselves. The end of all our exertions “ is forsooth to find him a dinner. Let us make

holiday, it is a lesson which he himself has taught "! us. No sooner said than done: the hands and “arms cease from their functions; the legs and feet “ refuse to stir; with one voice they told Mr. Gaster "he miglıtlook out for himself. Of this error however

they had speedily cause to repent; the poor crea"tures fell into a state of languor: no new blood

now circulated round the heart; every member

suffered, and lost all strength. The mutineers "" þecame sensible that he whom they had accused " of idleness, contributed more to the general wel. “fare than any one of them. This fiction is appli* cable to the Royal dignity. It receives and gives, " and the benefit is mutual. For it every one la* bours, and every one in return derives aliment it from it. The artisan by it draws subsistence from ** the sweat of his brow; it enriches the merchant,

supports the magistrate, maintains the husband, inan, pays the soldier, diffuses it's sovereign bene“ ficence in a thousand different channels, and alone

preserves the whole State in health and vigour, * It was a happy invention of Menenius. The Com

monalty was on the point of coming to a rupture “ with the Senate; the malcontents alleged that " the Patricians had engrossed the whole power of " the empire, it's treasures, honours, dignities, while

T3

" the

" the whole burden lay on their shoulders, tributes,

taxes, the fatigues and dangers of war. The peo

ple had already deserted the city, disposed to go “ in quest of another country, when Menenius un“ folded to them their mistake by the fable of the “ Belly and Members, and thereby brought them « back to their duty.”

I who possess not La Fontaine's talent of putting into simple and charming verses the profound lessons of politics, shall content myself in presenting in plain prose an Indian fable, better adapted still than the Roman Apologue to exhibit the relations which our Nobility and even our Clergy have with the People.

THE BRANCHES AND TRUNK OF THE PALM-TREE.

The palm, loftiestoffruit trees, formerly bare, like other trees, it's fruit on it's boughs. One day the branches, proud of their elevation and of their riches, said to their trunk: “Our fruits are the delight of " the desert, and our ever verdant foliage the glory is of it. It is by us that caravans in the plains, and

ships along the shores regulate their courses. We “rise to such a height that the Sun illuminates us. “ before the dawning of Aurora, and after he is sunk "in the ocean. We are the daughters of Heaven ;

by day we are fed with it's light, and by night, " with it's refreshing dews. As for you, dark child “ of earth, you drink of waters under the earth, " and breathe under the shade which we supply; your

foot is for ever concealed in the sand; your “stem is clothed with a coarse bark only, and if your head can pretend to any honour it is that of

bearing

[ocr errors]

bearing us aloft.” The trunk replied: "Ungrate“sful daughters, it is I who gave you birth, and it is « from the bosom of the sands that my sap nou" rishes you, generates your fruits to re-produce “ them, and exalt you to the Heavens to preserve “ them; it is my strength which supports at that

height your weakness against the fury of the * winds.” Scarcely had he spoken, when a hurricane issuing from the Indian Ocean spread devastation over the Country. The palm-branches are tossed down to the ground, are tossed upward again, are dashed against each other, and stripped, by the noisy tempest, of their fruits. The trunk meanwhile maintains it's ground; pot one of it's roots but what attracts and sustains from the bo, som of the earth, the branches agitated in the higher region of the air. Tranquillity being - re. restored, the branches reduced to a fruitless foliage, offered to their trunk to place their fruits henceforth as a common deposit on his head, and to preserve them to their utmost by covering them with their leaves. To this the palm-tree consented, and ever since this agreement, the stately plant bears aloft on it's stem it's long rows of fruit up to the regions of the winds, without fearing the violence of the storm: it's trunk is become the symbol of strength, and it's branches that of glory and virtue..

The palm-tree is the State; it's trunk and fruits are the People and their productive labours; the hurricanes are it's enemies; the palm-branches of the State are the Naïrs and the Bramins, when transformed into the friends of the People.

T 4

WISHES

WISHES FOR THE PEOPLE. THE term Tiers-Etat (Third Estate) is a very strange one, the appellation given in France to the People, that is to more than twenty millions of men, by the Clergy and Nobility, who taken together do not constitute at most the fortieth part of the Nation. I do not believe that such a denomination exists in any other country of the World. What would the Roman People have said, a Na, tion divided like ours into three orders under the Emperors, had their Senators and Knights presumed to give them the name of Tiers-Etat? What would the People of England say if such a definition were given of them by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the Upper House of Parliament? Is the French People less respectable in the eyes of the orders which they support as the means of promoting national prosperity and glory?

In every country the People is all in all: but if it is considered as an isolated body, relatively to the other bodies which in conjunction with it constitute the State, it is, as has been demonstrated, the first in point of antiquity, of utility, in number - and power, as the power of the other bodies emanates from them, and exists only for them.

It seems to me reasonable therefore that the body of the People should preserve it's proper name, as the bodies of the Clergy and Nobility have done, and that it should be denominated the order of the People. In place of the name of Ti. ers-Etat might be substituted if you will that of Commons, as is the case in England, and which

has

has frequently been adopted among ourselves. This term commons characterizes in particular the people of every Province of the Kingdom, in all ages denominated by the appellation of the communes of Dauphiné, of Brittany, of Normandy, &c. who united from the communes of the Kingdom. This name of Commons has never been given to any but the People, as might be proved by the authority of Writers who best understood the meaning of expresssions, especially that of La Fontaine. In truth, the interests of the People are common not only to each Province, but to the other orders of the Nation, because their felicity constitutes the general félicity. This does not hold good as to the interests of the other orders, which are peculiar to themselves. On the other hand, the name of Tiers-Etat given to the People, supposes, as J. J. Rousseau has very well remarked, that it's interest is only the third, though it be in it's own nature the first. Now as men form at the long-run their ideas, not on things, but on words, justice demands that the surname of TiersEtat, imposed on the people for some ages past by the privileged bodies, because it reminded them of their privileges, should be replaced by that of commons, which it has at all times enjoyed, that it may remind all of the common interest. Salus populi suprema lex esto: Let the safety of the People be the Supreme Law.

Well-meaning patriots, commiserating the wretched condition of the country people, have proposed to form them into a body different from those of the cities; but this must be guarded

against

« PreviousContinue »