Page images
[ocr errors]

The time, perhaps, is fast approaching, when these new pacificators will embrace the whole Continent in what they term their system of federation and alliance.' The powers already comprehended in it will, like the allies of Rome, soon seek, in avowed subordination, an alleviation of the miseries studiously attached to their nominal independence. Their incorporation will, however, have another character, and other effects; -not of a submission, assuaged by the hope of repose and of protection, but of a real deditio, an unconditional surrender of all that ennobles and sweetens existence-to a power, with all the rapacity which stimulated, without the moderation that tempered, the conquests of Rome,-with the vices of her decline and the fierceness of her infancy,with her insolent carriage without her healing arts. The genius of this dominion will be as different from that of the Antonines, as the character of the new Emperor is opposite to that of Trajan, to whom, it is now, among his subjects, the fashion to compare him.* In this individual, although we may admire the qualities of a consummate general and of a profound politician, we can never discover the majestic form of a mighty monarch,' but rather trace the mixed image of a Tiberius and an Attila ;-the gloomy, suspicious temper,the impetuous rage, the jealous alarms of the domestic tyrant,and the immeasurable ambition, the savage manners, the stern cruelty of the barbarian, who ostentatiously proclaimed himself the Scourge of God.'+ Secure of impunity and careless of censure, he has at last discarded the common prevarications of tyranny, and now rests his pretensions on the avowed power of the sword. He has already burst asunder the ties that bound Europe up in one social commonwealth, and stifled even the last sighs of freedom wherever his influence has been extended. There is not, at this moment, throughout the whole Continent, a press exempt from the supervision of his police, nor an asylum in which an obnoxious individual could find safety. When Cicero complains to Marcellus of the unbounded sway of Cæsar, he consoles himself that there is still security in silence, although the privilege of complaint may be denied. Those who are immediately sub

[ocr errors]


* The most splendid of the exhibitions of the grand opera, is entitled The Triumphs of Trajan;' in allusion to the late victories. Arnault, one of the oldest, and formerly one of the most respectable members of the Institute, has recently produced a comedy, entitled The Return of Trajan,' in compliment to the Emperor.

+ Compare one of the last proclamations in Spain issued by the invader, with the list of titles claimed by Attila, and the bulletins of the Gothic conqueror to the Roman Senate, as recorded by Gibbon.

ject to the French power, have not even this consolation, and are marked out for vengeance, unless they find, matter for applause in every deed of their rulers. In the French capital, even literary criticism is under political controul, and either frowned into silence or forced to commend, when its objects proceed from the favourites, or minister to the views of the government. fects which this species of violence, and the ascendancy of the military spirit, have uniformly exerted on the productions of the mind, are now strikingly visible in the rapid decline of general literature; in the meetings and exhibitions of the second and third classes of the Institute, which are to the last degree contemptible; and in the degeneracy of the Bar and the Pulpit, of which the dignity and the eloquence have wholly disappeared. The manifest tendency of these restraints on the press, is not simply to enervate the vigour and debase the faculties of the mind, but to stifle the censure, and pervert the evidence of history, no longer the light of truth, and the witness of ages.

[ocr errors]

Compared to this state of things, the former condition of Europe, with all its lumber and frippery, and its manifold and fatal abuses, appears not only tolerable, but happy. We would rather see the balance of Europe, that nucleus of fraud and intrigue, bandied through the hands of the plenipotentiaries of the Hague or of Ratisbon, than in the custody of the Protector of the Rhenish Confederation. From the scene before us, we turn, with an eye of regret, to the progressive though imperfect arrangements of the last century, when the two extremes of Europe were connected by ties, not merely of general humanity, but of domestic feeling, when the improvements, the lights and the pleasures of、 each member of this great family were common and accessible to all,-when the excesses of political tyranny were restrained by the dread of reproach, and the weaker states protected from the strong by mutual vigilance, or rather by imaginary fears. It is not, however, and this should be remembered,-it is not primarily to France, that we owe the dissolution of a charm so salutary to all the parties. The dismemberment of Poland first broke the spell of VOL. XIII. NO. 26. G g mutual

* We have in our hands a History of the Roman Republic, written the last year, at the command of the French government, by L'Evesque, a member of the Institute, and professor of history in the College of France. Its purpose is to decry the republican virtue of Rome; and it is announced, in the title-page, as a work destined to root out the inveterate prejudices which the world has entertained on that subject.' The preface concludes with the following phrase. Est-ce donc à des Français de flechir le genou devant la grandeur Romaine? Toute grandeur s'affaise devant celle de notre nation,-devant celle de notre Héros ! '



mutual trust and apprehension, and roused the slumbering genius of conquest, by showing to every ambitious state, that there was no insuperable impediment in the jealousy or justice of their potent rivals. After this, there remained but one serious obstacle to the subjugation of the Continent. We allude to the Germanic constitution-that huge body without strength or gracewhich possessed neither ability nor inclination for conquest; and stood in the centre of Europe, maintaining an uneasy, fluctuating equilibrium, counteracting the intrigues, and repressing the prurient ambition of the South. As long as this power, with all its weaknesses and vices of construction, stood erect, the equipoise could not have been entirely lost, nor the Continent cantonized into dependent principalities. It was therefore assailed with something of an indiscreet precipitation, which but too clearly indicated the object for which it was sacrificed. A finishing stroke was put to the liberties of the North by the system introduced in its stead; and the languid indifference with which this substitution was viewed or resisted, afforded a melancholy presage of the universal wreck that was to ensue.

It is not to mere ignorance of their danger that we ascribe the supineness of the Northern powers. They are not only bewildered in the stupor of fear, but overwhelmed by a sense of weakness. The corruptions and abuses of their internal government have shaken all trust in the allegiance of the subjects; and the experience of mutual treachery has extinguished all confidence in their external relations. Having wrestled with their enemy, they know their unfitness for another rencounter; and, seeing no hope but in his forbearance, suffer themselves to be lulled into inaction, by professions and promises which can deceive those only who have no resource if they are violated. In the mean time, well assured of the adequacy of his means, both of fraud and force, he makes war at the time and in the manner most suitable to their development. He grants a truce to Austria; and, when the work of destruction is accomplished in another quarter, will return to satisfy, at one blow, all the old animosities and new antipathies of France against her hereditary rival. Russia, without resources or courage to face this athletic antagonist,disheartened and broken by her late heavy fall,—and debauched by the profligate expectation of sharing the spoil,-will probably exult over the disasters of her neighbour, and, if we may so express ourselves, obstetricate at the birth of those affiliated kingdoms that are to be extracted from the bowels of the Austrian monarchy. Her turn will inevitably come, when the intermediate powers are rent into fragments, or, as the French term it, unravelled (effilés)-a circumstance which lays her completely open, and renders

-renders the great pillar of her security, her distance, of little or no avail. The progress of the French, during the last contests in the North, in the accomplishment of this object, has done more to facilitate her subjugation than could have been effectuated by ten times her loss of blood and treasure. Austria, if ́it had pleased the conqueror, might have been annihilated at Austerlitz; and Russia soon after the battle of Friedland: but the surer policy was that which was more patient and cautious. To break down all their outworks, however, Prussia was to be immediately sacrificed; whose exemplary fate might inspire terror, but could not excite odium, and whose troops were in fact the best constituted and most formidable of Europe. * Whoever follows in thought the extension of the Roman arms over the states of Italy, and the distant countries brought under their yoke, may here trace a curious similarity, both of cause and effect; and, upon a general survey of the history of mankind, will not accuse us of indulging in gloomy visions or fanciful speculations, if we venture to anticipate, for Joseph and Alexander, the fate of Antiochus and Mithridates.

The im

Of Spain we have spoken largely in a preceding Number; and see no cause to retract any of our opinions. Keeping in view the character and the means of the usurper, as we have now endeavoured to depict them, we saw, from the first, but little to justify any expectation of a successful issue to the contest. becility of the government,-the corruption of the nobles,--and the long habits of slavery and superstition among the lower orders, held out but a feeble hope for a nation which had to contend against such fearful odds in numbers, discipline, and preparation. We augured ill of a cause, which could only be saved by heroic steadiness and enlightened cooperation, when we saw Gg 2

[ocr errors]



*Guibert has a curious prediction on this subject. Speaking of the great Frederick- Si apres la mort de ce prince dont le genie seul soutient l'edifice imparfait de sa constitution, il survienne un roi foible on verra cette puissance éphémere rentrer dans la spere que ses moyens réels lui assignent, et peût-être payer cher quelques années de gloire.' There is another anticipation in this author, connected with our general subject, no less striking. Supposons qu'il s'élévât en Europe un peuple vigoureux, de genie, de moyens, de gouvernement ;—un peuple qui joignit à une milice nationale, un plan fixe d'aggrandissement, qui ne perdit pas de vue ce systeme; qui, sachant faire la guerre peu de frais, et subsister par ses victoires, ne fût pas réduit à poser les armes par des calculs de finance. On verroit ce peuple subjuguer ses voisins, et renverser nos foibles constitutions comme l'a quilon plie de fréles roseaux. (Essai de Tactique, disc. preliminaire.) Written in 1767.


[ocr errors]

it supported by appeals to relics and images,-by long proclamations, scanty levies, and tardy councils; and could scarcely stop short of absolute despair, when it appeared that its only auxiliaries had resolved to leave the invader to beat up the game at his leisure, and chosen for themselves a theatre of action entirely separated from that of his great operations. It is now obvious, we think, to every man of common understanding, that events have more than justified our worst forebodings; and that the curtain is about to drop upon the long and disastrous tragedy of continental subjugation.

England, however, remains-the last obstacle to the establishment of universal dominion, and the richest prize for the avidity of rapine. To us, therefore, from appetite and principle, the eye of this hydra-headed monster is steadily directed, and the whole energy of his increasing means must be ultimately applied. What might perhaps be safely inferred a priori, is confirmed, not only by open threats and declarations, but, as we are assured, by every domestic expression of feeling indulged in the French metropolis. In all the diplomatic audiences, and in the private associations of the leading members of the government, the sentiment towards this country betrays itself in every word and gesture, and exerts an influence more like that of passion than of the ordinary calculations of interest or national antipathy. The public functionaries universally, and the speculative politicians of every class, either from the force of imitation, the compliance of servility, or the instinct of plunder, manifest the same spirit in all their reasonings and discourses, through which it filtrates in invective and menace, or more frequently bursts forth in overflowings of exultation, as they measure their approaches to the goal. The liberty of the seas, and commercial peace, are held out to delude the famished multitude both at home and abroad; but the military, and the description of persons we have just mentioned, are taught to despise these objects, and to look to more congenial and substantial rewards. Power and booty are the excitements employed to quicken their zeal in fostering and disseminating those rancorous antipathies and jealousies which are to reconcile all parties to the indefatigable prosecution of a warto terminate only with the ruin of England. They employ the parallel of Rome and Carthage, not as a rhetorical comparison, but as an encouraging and certain analogy. They recollect the state of Spain under the oppressive and arrogant sway of the Punic republic,-compare it with that of Ireland under our dominion, and anticipate, for their troops, the same reception that was given to Scipio, when he carried the Roman arms into Spain,


« PreviousContinue »