« AnteriorContinuar »
state should be permanent, certain that the great body of the people must desire rest and security above all other things, more than probable that when they were wearied with sufferings and with changes they would look to a restoration of the exiled family as the easiest and surest means of putting an end to them. Many occasions offered in which this object might have been effected had there been less treachery and less imbecility in the councils of the emi grant princes, and more wisdom and more decision in the allied cabinets. These opportunities were lost; and when in the tenth year of the war, the spirit of jacobinism was burnt out in France, , and in the regular progress of revolutions a military government had been established upon the wreck of principles and institutions, the peace
of Amiens was made. As the war had been eminently popular at its commencement, so was the peace of Amiens made in ntire concurrence with the general wishes of the people. Not that the great majority believed it would be permanent, but because they thought it on every account proper that the experiment should be made. The minority which followed Lord Grenville and Mr. Windham in condemning it, was even smaller than that which had sided with Mr. Fox in reprobating the war: but the weight of their arguments was felt, and they manifested a sensibility for the honour of the country, and a warmth for its interests which sunk deep in the public mind. The danger from jacobinism seemed to be gone by; there remained no other vestige of it in France than the wreck which it had brought about: the French nation was returning to its old fondness for tinsel and gold chains; the Eternal Republic had already past from the despotism of many to the despotism of one; it was evident that the First Consul might exchange his mongrel title whenever he thought fit for that of Grand Monarque, Emperor, or Arch-emperor, if it liked him better; and there was good reason for supposing, or rather no reason to doubt, that his inclinations were taking that course. There was therefore nothing to apprehend from France on the score of political contagion; the practical lectures which had been read upon jacobinism in that country might have been thought sufficient to undeceive mankind till the very e
end of time. But a new danger had grown out of the war to which that principle had given rise. What was the position in which France was left at its termination? What were the views of the French government, and what was the personal character of the individual by whose sole will it was directed The political system of Europe had been fearfully dislocated by
France had accomplished that which for a century and a half it had been the great object of English policy to prevent. She had obtained possession of the Netherlands, extended her fron
tier to the Rbine, and held Holland on one side and Italy on the other, in actual dependance. Switzerland also—unoffending and happy Switzerland, the asylum of literature, liberty and peace, which during three centuries of contention had been respected as the sacred territory of Christendom-Switzerland also had been added, by an act of atrocious aggression, to the dependencies of France. All or more than all that Louis XIV. attempted had been effected. Was it likely, was it in the nature of things that France should stop here? Ambition is one of those passions which are stimulated, not satiated by indulgence. And this nation was habitually ambitious, habitually fond of war, politic in council, acting fervently and perseveringly amid all internal changes upon system of aggraudizement, and pursuing its purposes, even in the best ages of its history, equally without faith and without remorse. The French were now surrounded with their trophies, and intoxicated with their triumphs; had there been no other cause, their national character and the known policy which had so long actuated all their governments, must have made reflecting persons doubt the continuance of a peace concluded under such circumstances with such a people. But to increase these apprehensions France possessed a portentous military force, the greatest which had ever been seen in the civilized world, perfectly organized, in the bighest state of discipline, and under generals whose talents were believed to be incomparable, and who were at the very height of military renown. • If the clouds be full of rain,' says Solomon, they empty themselves upon the earth. War, to which the French, more than any other people, had always been inclined, had become the national passion, the preferable—or rather the only road to wealth, honour and distinction: and there no longer existed upon the continent any counterpoise to the power of this restless, politic and elated people. Austria had come out of the struggle with loss of territory, diminished reputation, and exhausted resources.
But the contest which had impoverished Austria and loaded England with an enormous debt, had been to France a source of revenue as well as power; for the French, beginning with bankruptcy at home, had proceeded abroad
upon the maxim of Machiavelli, that men and arms will find money and provide for themselves. And as the officers and soldiers had been trained in the revolution, the principles which they had learnt in that ferocious school might render them as dangerous at home to the adventurer for monarchy as they would be powerful instruments for carrying into effect his wider plans of foreign usurpation. It was to be apprehended then, that both from motives of political and personal prudence the First Consul would employ these turbulent spirits in their vocation. Louis XVI. the inost benevolent, the most truly religious, the most
conscientious of the Bourbon kings, engaged in hostilities against this country for no other reason than that the contest in America offered an opportunity for aggrandizing France by weakening England. Could we suppose that the First Consul would be more scrupulous, and let pass any occasion of gratifying the old enmity of France, and avenging himself upon the only people by whom he had ever been baffled in his career ? Was he so just, so pious, so humane, that we might rely upon his faithful observance of treaties, and his love of peace ?
Sir William Temple, a man of great sagacity and much political experience, observes that he never could find a better way of judging the resolutions of a state, than by the personal temper and understanding, or passions and humours of the princes or chief ministers that were for the time at the head of affairs.' This observation holds good even in free governments : with how much greater force must it apply to a country where every thing is decided by the will and pleasure of an individual! In such a country the course of its politics can be inferred solely from the character of that individual. How far tlen had the character of Buonaparte been developed at this time?
The English are a generous people. However much they might regret the course of adverse fortune in which they had been engaged, they did not regard the First Consul with any invidious feeling
because he had been their successful enemy. They had rendered full justice to Washington under more humiliating circumstances: even those persons who disapproved in principle the cause in which he triumphed, regarded this excellent man with admiration and re
There were causes also which might make men of opposite parties agree in the wish that Buonaparte should not be found wanting in the scale; so that when they weighed him in their own judgment, there was a bias given, perhaps unconsciously, to the balance in his favour. The disciples of the revolution reconciled themselves to the disappointment of their republican hopes, by considering that the First Consul was a child of the revolution(the Jupiter of that Saturn which had devoured its elder children)that he prevented the restoration of the Bourbons, governed in the name, at least, of the people, and still talked of liberty and philosophy. The enemies of the Revolution saw more accurately that Buonaparte had destroyed republicanism in France, and as they had now given up the Bourbons, whose cause indeed they had never supported either wisely or consistently, it would be some consolation for the failure of their plans, if the man with whom they had treated should prove worthy of the rank in which they had recognized him as legitimately established. But with what aspects had this Lucifer of the age risen above the horizon? His career
had been not more remarkable for boldness in enterprize than for audacity in crinies. His conduct in Italy had been alike distinguished by perfidy, rapacity, insolent usurpation, and cold calculating systematic inhumanity. Here he began that system of military murder which before his time was unknown in civilized Europe. Three * of the most honourable inhabitants of Verona were condemned by one of his military tribunals, and executed in sight of the whole city, because their countrymen had been provoked to resist the intolerable exactions and outrages of the French. One of these victims was in his hands upon the faith of a treaty, another as an ambassador, and the third had received a solemn assurance of security. So far from having acted as enemies towards the French, one of them had saved Frenchmen during the insurrection, and another had many times removed their wounded soldiers from the field, when their brutal comrades, and more brutal generals, had left them there to perish. With the same contempt of the law of nations, the usages of war, and the common feelings of humanity, Buonaparte put the municipal officers of Pavia to death. Military executions were inflicted without remorse upon the slightest pretext; and giving full scope to the brutal passions and corrupted principles of his soldiers, he suffered them to perpetrate every kind of havoc, cruelty, and abomination.
Such had been Buonaparte's conduct in Italy. His Egyptian expedition was characterized by deeper horrors. The massacre at Jaffa, and the poisoning of his own wounded men have frequently been denied, and there have been authors who with felicitous ingenuity have attempted upon these charges to prove a negative in his behalf. Both charges are now established beyond all possibility of further denial, by the avowal of the criminal himself, and by the full testimony of eye-witnesses to the massacres, and of men who were in the
These had been his actions before the peace of Amiens; they proved him to be alike destitute of truth, honour, religion, and humanity. That which is crooked cannot be made straight-Was peace likely to be durable when it depended upon this man's faith? Was it reasonable to suppose that we should gather olives from this upas tree?
During the shiort continuance of peace, Buonaparte annexed Piedmont to France; he made himself president of the Italian republic; he formed a new constitution for Switzerland, and marched an overpowering force into the country to establish it. The nominal independence of Holland was as little respected; troops were kept there to hold it in subjection, and exact such loans as he thought proper to demand. When England remonstrated against these acts of aggrandizement, and declared her intention of retaining Malta as some counterpoise, inadequate as it was, he replied that England had nothing to do with any arrangements of France; she was hors du continent, excluded from continental affairs; and so she must remain--for this was now to be the first principle of European policy. The relations between France and England were the Treaty of Amiens, the whole Treaty of Amiens, and nothing but the Treaty of Amiens: and as for her retaining Malta, he said, he would rather see her in possession of the Fauxbourg St. Antoine.
The names of these victims were Emili, Verità, and Malenza.-A monument should be erected to them on the spot where they suffered. For the history of these transactions, and a view of Buonaparte's character as it was developed during his first Italian war, the reader is referred to an Account of the Fall of Venice, translated from the Italian by Mr. Hinckley. It is to be regretted that so interesting a story should be so ill told.
marched Among the improvements which the French government at tbat time was obliging enough to suggest in our constitution, one was, that all ministers, upon going out of office, should be disqualified for sitting in parliament during the next seven years : another proposed that any member of parliament who should insult an allied power (or, in other words, who should express an unfavourable opinion of the designs of the First Cousul) should be debarred from speaking for two years.
Nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futurce he has lived to see her in possession of both. Little dreaming of such an issue, he threatened us with immediate invasion, and the vengeance which five hundred thousand men were ready to intříct. As a mercantile power, supposing, he said, that those words (puissance marchande) were ever again to be allied, England was pros. perous, but those Englishmer who knew that a nation never can lose its glory with impunity, had good reason to perceive nothing but disasters before them. He required the British government to send the members of the Bourbon family, and all such emigrants as wore their orders, out of the country, and to put a stop to the unbecoming and seditious publications with which the newspapers and other works printed in * England were filled. The answer of the British government to this latter demand is well worthy of being held in remembrance,--for the honour of those ministers by whom it was dictated, and the instruction of those simple men who are taught to believe that the war against Buonaparte was a war against liberty. "His Majesty cannot and never will, in consequence of any representation, or any menace from a foreign power, make any concession wbich can be in the smallest degree dangerous to the liberty of the press, as secured by the constitution of this country. The laws, they stated, were as open to the French government as to themselves. They neither bad, nor wanted, any other protection than what those laws afforded; and never would they