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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

Leurs bras agissent aussi vigoureusement que l'on veut

I am far from intending to detract from the national bravery--the annals of the French Monarchy abound with the most splendid instances of it--I only wish you to understand, what I am fully convinced of myself, that liberty and republicanism have no share in the present successes. The battle of Gemappe was gained when the Brissotin faction had enthroned itself on the ruins of a constitution, which the armies were said to adore with enthusiasm: by what sudden inspiration were their affections transferred to another form of government? or will any one pretend that they really understood the democratic Machiavelism which they were to propagate in Brabant? At the battle of Maubeuge, France was in the first paroxysm of revolutionary terror--at that of Fleurus, she had become a scene of carnage and proscription, at once the most wretched and the most detestable of nations, the sport and the prey of despots so contemptible, that neither the excess of their crimes, nor the sufferings they inflicted, could efface the ridicule which was incurred by a submission to them. Were the French then fighting for liberty, or did they only move on professionally, with the enemy in front, the Guillotine in the rear, and the intermediate space filled up with the licentiousness of a camp?--If the name alone of liberty suffices to animate the French troops to conquest, and they could imagine it was enjoyed under Brissot or Robespierre, this is at least a proof that they are rather amateurs than connoisseurs; and I see no reason why the same impulse might not be given to an army of Janizaries, or the the legions of Tippoo Saib.

After all, it may be permitted to doubt, whether the sort of enthusiasm so liberally ascribed to the French, would really contribute more to their successes, than the thoughtless courage I am willing to allow them.--It is, I believe, the opinion of military men, that the best soldiers are those who are most disposed to act mechanically; and we are certain that the most brilliant victories have been obtained where this ardour, said to be produced by the new doctrines, could have had no influence.--The heroes of Pavia, of Narva, or those who administered to the vain-glory of Louis the Fourteenth, by ravaging the Palatinate, we may suppose little acquainted with it. The fate of battles frequently depends on causes which the General, the Statesman, or the Philosopher, are equally unable to decide upon; and the laurel, "meed of mighty conquerors," seems oftener to fall at the caprice of the wind, than to be gathered. It is sometimes the lot of the ablest tactician, at others of the most voluminous muster-roll; but, I believe, there are few examples where these political elevations have had an effect, when unaccompanied by advantages of situation, superior skill, or superior numbers.--_"La plupart des gens de guerre_ (says Fontenelle) _sont leur metier avec beaucoup de courage. Il en est peu qui y pensent; leurs bras agissent aussi vigoureusement que l'on veut, leurs tetes se reposent, et ne prennent presque part a rieu"_*--

* "Military men in general do their duty with much courage, but few make it a subject of reflection. With all the bodily activity that can be expected of them, their minds remain at rest, and partake but little of the business they are engaged in."

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