A Voice from 1791
Maoriland Worker, Volume 4, Issue 151, 24 December 1913, Page 6
A Voice from 1791
Considering these men atrontfvly 1 found that the great body was composed of farmers, artificers, merchants, all professions useful to society; and mat the little'group was made up oi priests of every order, of financiers, eft commanders of armies; in a word of the civil, military and religious agents of government. These two bodies being assembled face to face, and regArding each otlur with astonishment, 1 saw indignaVtoii and rage arising in one side, and a wrt of pajiio in tho other. And the large said to the little one: Why are you separated from us? Are you nit of our number? No, replied the group; you are the people; we are a privileged class, .who have our laws, our customs, and rights, peculiar to ourselves. People: And what labour do yon perform in our society? Privileged Class: None; we are Viot made to work. People: How then have you acquired these riches? Privileged Class: By taking pains to govern you. People: What! is this what you call governing? We toil and yon enjoy. We producei an d you dissipate 1 Wealth proceeds from us, and you absorb it. Privileged men!, class who are not the people; form a nation apart, and govern ymrrsolves. -~ . Then the little group, deliberating on this new state of thngs, some of the most honourable among them said: We must join the people and partake cf their labours and burdens, for tbey are men like us, and our riches come from them; but others arrogantly exclaimed: It vtfould be a shame, an infamy, for us to mingle with, the crowd; they are born to serve us. Are we not men of another race—the noble and pure descendants of the conquerors of this empire This multitude must be reminded of our rights and its own origin. The Nobles: People! know you not that our ancestors conquered this land, and that your race was spared only on condition of serving us? This Js our social compact! This the government constituted by custom and prescribed by time. People: 0 conquerors, pure of blood! show us your genealogies! we shall then see if what in an individual is robbery and plunder, can be virtuous in a nation, And forthwith voices were heard in every quarter calling out the nobles by their names; and relating their origin and parentage, they told hew the grandfather, greatgrandfather, cr even father, born traders and mechanics, after acquiring wealth in every way, had purchased their nobilifcy for money; so that but very few .families were really of the original stock. See, said these voices, see these purse-proud commoners who deny their parents I see these plebian recruits who look upon ibomselves as illustrious veterans! and peals of laughter were heard. And the civil governors said: Those people are mild, and naturally servile; speak to them of the king and of the law, and they will Teturn to their duty. People! the king wills, the sovereign ordains! People: The king can. will nothing but the good of the people; the sovereign can. only ordain according,to law. Civil Governors: The law commands you to be submissive. People: The law is the general will,; and we will a new order of things. Civil Governors: You are then a rebel people. People: A nation cannot revo't; tyrants only are rebels. Civil Governors: Tho king is on our side; he commands you to submit People: Kings aro inseparable from their nations. Our kinj; cannot be with you; you possess only his phanton . And the military governors came forward. The people are timorous, said they; we must threaten them ■; they will submit only to force. Soldiers, chastise this insolent multitude. People: Soldiers, you are of our blood! Will yon strike your brothers, Your relatives? If the people perish who will nourish the army? Arid the soldiers, grounding their arms, said to the chiefs: We,are likewise the people, show us the e.r.emy!. And the little group said*. We are lost! the multitude are «nlightned. And the people answered, You are safe; since wo are e.nlightened we will commit no violence; we only claim our .right*. We feel resentments, but we will forget them... We'were slaves, we might command; but, we only wish t. be free, and liberty is but justice.— Volney's "Ruins of Empire."