페이지 이미지

the Peninsula, have not stimulated the latter to one movement of exalted or generous despair, it is not given to us to conceive the kind of example, or of moral influence, which will be effec- . tual to force into action their inexplicable and sluggish energy. —The fancy of our author, fired by the present delusive struggle in Spain, presents to his enraptured view, the whole continent of Europe bursting its fetters by one universal and simultaneous effort, spurning away the considerations of selfishness and fear, buoyed up to the highest point of desperate energy, and bearing down the legions of its oppressor, by an overwhelming superiority of numbers, and an irresistible impetuosity of attack. We are loath to disturb him in the enjoyment of this splendid vision, but we must confess that we cannot discern at this moment, in the sphere of sad reality, a single symptom of so miraculous a change.

From what quarter is the impulse now to come, since the example of Spain has been fruitless.? If Russia and Austria were not completely subdued in spirit, and helplessly conscious of their weakness, would they quietly look on while their enemy hunts his victims in the Peninsula, fully alive as these powers undoubtedly are, to his intentions and dispositions in their own regard?* If they saw the possibility of safety

* The following passages from the official speech of Count Semonville to the French senate, concerning the annexation of Holland to France, are of a nature not to be easily misunderstood:

"The empire of habit and of self-love, is as powerful over nations as over individuals.—In vain do the changes which occur about them, advertise them of their own decline. A blind self-attachment renders them insensible to the lessons of experience, and they render their end more disastrous, by the efforts which they make to avoid it."

*' The limes have gone by, in which the conceptions of some statesmen had given credit, and importance, in the eyes of mankind, to the system of balances, of guarantees, of counterpoises, and of political equilibrium.— Pompous illusions, these of cabinets of the second order! Vain hopes of weakness which vanish before domineering necessity!"

"Holland, as well as the Hanseatic towns, would remain exposed to incertitudes, dangers, and revolutions of every kind, if the genius vhich ymayt the destinies of the continent, did not cover her with his invincible jcgisj the Emperor has resolved in his wisdom, to incorporate them with the immense family of which he is the head."

"In adopting this high determination perhaps he yields himself, more than might be imagined, to the law of necessity—If he commands the glory of the present times, the events which preceded his coming, determine those of his reign;—an uninterrupted succession of causes and effects which compose the history of nations, and the destiny of their chiefs.—That of Napolean it to reign and to conquer/ victory it his/ war is thefate of his age."

"The whole of Europe was summoned, to co-operate m the work of destruction planned against France by England.—On all sides repulsed, on all sides threatened, and trembling for herself, she stops short at the sight of the conflagration kindled by the brands of England.—In fine, after ten yean in any other resource than temporizing meanness, or the chapter of accidents, would they not, now, in common prudence, strike the blow, rather than await the issue of the contest in Spain? Their former victor is too watchful and determined, to allow them to recruit or organize their means, in the interval. He would deal with Russia now, as he did with Austria at the commencement of the Spanish war;—a moment when the South and North were more formidable than they are at present, and when, probably, he was less prepared and less able under all points of view, to encounter the hostilities of both at the same time.

We have ourselves, we must confess, but little confidence in Spanish or Portuguese heroism, and are daily, from the information we collect, connrmed in our apprehensions, for the fate of the Peninsula.—Should the present desultory war in that quarter be even protracted for some years more, France will find resources to maintain the contest there; to beat down the crest of rebellion in any of the tributary provinces, and to cripple for ever the Austrian and Russian monarchies, should it accord with her plans to goad them on to a lay effort of despair. That they will continue to "faint, and creep and prostrate themselves at the footstool of ambition and crime," unless they are driven by the scowls and buffetings of their relentless Belial, to acknowledge the utter futility of every expedient for the prolongation, even of their nominal sovereignty, but a recourse to arms, we have little or no doubt, judging from what We now see, and from their recognition of Joseph as king of Spain. This act is in itself sufficient to show, that they have reached the lowest depths of humiliation;—that they are utter

of conflict glorious for France, the most extraordinary genius, whom nature in her magnificence ever formed, collect! and unites in hit cmn triumphant hands, the scatteredfragments of the sceptre of Charlemagne."

"In such a struggle, of winch human prudence cannot moderate the effects, the empires of ihe first order are shaken to their foundation, and small states disappear. Wc have seen the Gothic props of the European edifice fall by themselves."

"If England had not rejected the counsels of moderation, what disastrous consequences might she not have averted! and to confine ourselves to the sphere of present deliberation, (pour nous renftimer dans le cvrcle de la deliberation pi esette) she would not have forced France to enrich herself with the ports and arsenals of Holland; the Ems, the Weser, and the Elbe would not now flow under our dominion."

"Where are the boundaries of what is still possible! (Ou sont encore let borne i Ju possible!) It is for England to answer. Let her meditate upon the past, and she may learn what is to come.—France and Napoleon will not Change."

Vol. III. U

ly destitute of the elevation of spirit and strength of resolution without which, whatever might be the number of their troops, or the abundance of their treasure, they never could sustain the perils and chances of a long struggle with an enemy, who may well be styled, by an appropriate figure, the Briareus* of nations.

We may say now of France what was said of it in 1796, by Mr. Burke; that, " were it but half what it is in population, in compactness, in applicability of its force, situated as it is and being what it is, it would be too strong for the states oi the continent, constituted as they are, and proceeding as thev proceed." We may add with the same writer, that this new system of robbery and conquest cannot be rendered safe by any art;—that it must be destroyed, or that it will destroy the continent of Europe,—that to destroy such an enemy, the force opposed to it should be made to bear some analogy and resemblance to the force and spirit which that system exerts. In this view of things we see not how the fortunes of the continent are to be retrieved. If at all, it must be either by one of those unforeseen dispensations, which " the merciful but mysterious governor of the world, sometimes interposes to snatch nations from ruin;" or by the adoption there universally of the same military system as that of France, and the entire conversion both of governments and individuals, from a state of abject selfishness and despondency, to a condition of mind characterized by the same qualities of judgment, and by passions co-ordinate in vehemence and steadiness, although opposite in their nature, to those of their terrible enemy.—But in reasoning with respect to the march of human affairs, we are not intitled to calculate on "an unknown order of dispensations,'' or to trust to the hope of an anomaly in the usual providence of the Divinity—And again, should the revolution to which we have alluded, in the military organization of the northern

• A monstrous giant, who is said by the poets to have waged war against Heaven.—We allude in this instance,"to the picture drawn of him by Virgil in tin. tenth book of the Aneid, and which would form no bad personification of Uie despotism of France.

Centum cui bracchia dicunt
Centenasque manus, quinquaginta oribus ignem,
Pectoribusque arsisse.—
Or, in the loose translation of the Abbe' Delille,

Tel courroit Egeon, aux cent mains, aux cent bras,

Partout le suit la gloire et partout le trepas,

Tel se multipliant sous mille aspects farouches

II vomissoit des feux de scs cinquante bouches,

Et sous ses pieds tonnants faieatit trembler laterre, &c

powers take place, it opens a prospect full of horrors for humanity, and of danger for the cause of civilization.

The continent of Europe will then, at length, have become a camp; a catastrophe which, is in itself of a nature to be fervently deprecated.—The destructive energies of France would we think, be found, in the contention for existence, and the shock of mutual despair,—to be more potent and elastic, than is now imagined, even by those who estimate them as we do; for it is certain that since the erection of the imperial throne, they never have been tried as at the commencement of her revolution. They would, although finally subdued, spread desolation and ruin on every side.—It is not in one or in ten campaigns that they could be exhausted, and much time would finally be required, before the wounds both moral and physical of the continent could be healed;—before the arts of civil life would flourish again, if indeed they could at all survive the universal diffusion and the protracted action of the military

spirit It is possible, as has been contended, that, out of the

chaos which would ensue, on the demolition in this way, of the French power, there might arise an order of things, more beautiful and durable, than any which has as yet prevailed in the world; that out of the total wreck of the present structure of civil society in that vast region, there might be formed another and much more perfect edifice, retaining whatever was excellent of the original Gothic, and combining at the same time, the proportions and embellishments of the Grecian and Roman models. Such is the vision which plays before the fancy of our author.

E'en now, before his favourM eyes,
In gothic pride it seems to rise;
Yet Grecia's graceful orders join
Majestic, through the mixed design.*

For us, futurity has nothing, on the side of the Continent of Europe, we can contemplate with satisfaction.—There is however in that quarter, still enough to console and to animate, the friends of freedom and civilization.—England, although her

• Collins' Ode to Liberty.—Looking to the efforts which the British are now making for the preservation of the continent, we might add, if we permitted our imagination to dwell on this delightful phantasm, the concluding verses of the poet,

There on the walls the patriot's sight.
May ever hang with fresh delight,
And, 'grav'd with some prophetic rage,
Read Albion's fame through every age.

subsidies and her expeditions may be unavailing to rescue her neighbours from the fangs of the destroyer, is herself invulnerable to his attacks—By maintaining the empire of the seas, which he can never wrest from her, she must always balance, and will outlive the French power, whatever maybe its extent, or comparative duration on the Continent.—It is not the loss of a few thousand men, or the failure of her efforts in the Peninsula, or the privation of the commerce of the continent, that can shake the foundations of her greatness.—A wide and richer field is open to her trade in the markets of the rest of the globe;—her population is exuberant;—the patriotism of her inhabitants is enthusiastic;—her national character is capable of the sublimest efforts of steady fortitude, and masculine courage;—her domestic wealth is immense;—her naval strength such as it would take her enemy an age to equal, even were he suffered to labour unmolested for this purpose.*

While her fleets cover the channel, invasion in a formidable shape, is utterly impracticable: else it would long since have been attempted.—Should an hundred thousand men be landed

• Montesquieu in speaking of the naval rivalry of the Romans and Carthaginians makes the following remarks.—" The Carthaginians had more experience at sea, and understood manocuvering better than the Romans — But it appears to me that this advantage was not as great then, as it would be in the present day—The soldiers who fought on hoard of the fleets were then the great reliance of the belligerents, and sailors of but little importance.—The reverse is now the case.—In three months the Romans were able to build a fleet, and with it to beat their enemies in the first engagement" ,

"At present a prince is scarcely able to form in the course of a whole life, a fleet fit to appear before a power that has already the empire of the seas. This is perhaps the only thing which money alone cannot effect."—(Grandeur et Decadence.)

Naval strength, even of the inferior kind, which existed in antiquity, was highly prized. The estimation in which it was held, may be seen by the following extract from a speech of Pericles to the Athenians, recorded by Thucidvdes, and which applies still more forcibly to the English at this time.

"Of vast consequence, indeed, is the dominion of the sea, for, we are better

aualined for land-service by the experience we have gained in that of the sea, lan our enemies for service at sea, by their experience at land. To learn the naval skill they will find to be by no means an easy task For even you, who have been in constant exercise ever since the Persian invasion, have not yet attained to a mastery in the science. How then shall men, brought up to pillage and strangers to the sea, whose practice further will be ever interrupted by us, through the continual annoyance which our larger number of shipping will give them, effect any point of eclat! Against small squadrons they might indeed be sometimes adventurous, emboldening their want of skill by multiplying their numbers But when awed by superior force, they will of necessity desist; and so, by constant interruption, the growth of their skill will be checked. The naval, lite other science*, is the effect of art. It cannot be learned by accident, nor usefully rxirciied at starts; or rather, there is nothing which so much rtquireth an uninterrupted application."

« 이전계속 »