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of universal dominion? Republican Rome. Who conquered modern Europe, and all but realized that debasing chimera? Republican France. Have our rulers, in their fond anticipation of the future and indissoluble union of free governments, forgot the thirty years' struggle and inextinguishable hatred of the republics of Athens and Sparta,-have they forgot the three long and bloody Punic wars between Republican Rome and Republican Carthage, have they forgot the desperate animosity of Florence and Pisa, of Genoa and Venice, of Holland and Cromwell, have they lived through the last age, and not witnessed the ill extinguished hatred of America and Great Britain, or the fury of Republican France against the Mountaineers of Switzerland, the Merchants of Holland and the Senators of Venice? Is the universal animosity of popular states at each other likely to be now diminished, because commercial and manufacturing jealousy has been superadded to the other and long established sources of popular hostility? Before this chimera, of the future amity of men's minds in free states, is realized, the future Revolutionists of this country, in addition to a bill for repealing so much of the Constitution as fixes the crown on the head of the sovereign, must bring in another to repeal so much of the human mind as makes merchants jealous of competition, soldiers ambitious of glory, and nations desirous of warlike excitation.
In truth, the treaty for the demolition of the barrier, which England has now signed, is utterly inexplicable on any principle of reason, and of which no account can be given but from the blindness of the innovating passion. One of the ablest of the Whigs has said that the peace of Utrecht was a treaty "which the execrations of ages had left inadequately censured. Why was it thus stigmatized by the impartial voice of history an hundred years after its formation? Because, though it provided for the construction of the barrier, it did not sufficiently coerce the power of France. But what would Mr Fox have said of a treaty which, after the barrier had been won, provided for its demolition?
What would future ages have said of such a treaty, if the triumphs of Marlborough had been closed with a victory which prostrated France at a single blow; if Paris had been captured by the British arms, its sovereign surrendered to British generosity, and the bones of the Grand Monarque held as a melancholy trophy in a seagirt isle by the Queen of the Ocean? Yet this is what has now been done: this weakness has now been felt-this disgrace has now been incurred! If the execrations of ages have inadequately censured the treaty of Utrecht, what measure of public indignation will be large enough for that of London ?
Louis XIV. considered it as the last and deepest humiliation of his public existence, that he was obliged by the treaty of Utrecht to demolish the fortifications, and fill up the harbour of Dunkirk. To undo at the bidding of a foreign power what you have done in self-defence,-to level the buttresses you have raised against foreign aggression, is the last act of humiliation for those who have passed through the Caudine forks. The French monarch would not submit to this disgrace till Landrecy was taken, the last of the barrier towns captured, and nothing remained between the enemy and Paris. But our innovating rulers have felt no such compunction; with one stroke of the pen they have abandoned the trophies of two centuries of glory: without feeling shame, or being sensible to remorse, they have surrendered the fortresses which Wellington and Marlborough won in a hundred fights. Victorious England compelled vanquished France, as the last act of national humiliation, in 1714, to destroy one of her frontier fortresses: conquered France in 1832, persuades victorious England to demolish five, as the price of the friendship of the throne of the barricades. This is to be done at the expense of the conquering power; after having expended five millions on the construction of the barrier, we are to undertake the burden of destroying it! What more disgraceful, galling, or perilous terms could have been imposed, if the British fleet had been swept from the sea, Portsmouth and Plymouth in ashes, and Marshal Soult, with 100,000 men, in possession of the
Tower of London? And they have been agreed to while the flag of Trafalgar still floated in the winds, and the children of France yet started at the name of Waterloo!
When Mary, Queen of England, was on her death-bed, she declared that if her body were opened, the word" Calais" would be found engraven on her heart. Such was the feeling of a Tudor princess, celebrated only for her coldness of disposition and hardness of heart, at the loss of one fortress held by England as a bridle on France. How marvellously have we changed in so short a time! what a stupendous alteration does the fever for innovation produce on the human mind! While the loss of one fortress brought a queen with a British heart to her grave, the surrender of five by the conqueror in the strife is now looked upon as a matter of no importance. Truly may we now see the infatuation which the frenzy for innovation has brought on the country. This treaty for the demolition of the barrier fortresses will be looked upon by after ages as the most inexplicable and destructive in the British annals; and the mere announcement of an intention to carry it into effect, would have hurled from the helm the most popular administration since the days of Alfred.
It is said, as an excuse for this inexplicable piece of diplomacy, that the fortresses were too numerous for Belgium after its separation from Holland: that enough still remains to check the incursions of France, and that the erection of the kingdom of the Netherlands was an absurd and impracticable change on the Constitution of Europe.
All this is nothing at all to the purpose. The frontier towns of Flanders were never intended to be a covering for Belgium merely; they were the barrier of Europe, -the bridle on that fatal ambition, which nothing but the catastrophe of Mos.cow and the crusade of Paris were able, without it, to coerce. If the maintenance of that barrier was too expensive for Belgium in its divided state, let those answer for that who promoted the separation, who debarred the King of Holland from attempting even to regain his own, and forced Belgium to become a se
parate power, when a reaction was preparing, and it was perfectly willing to have awakened from its infatuation, and reassembled under the House of Orange? Or if this could not be accomplished, the support of these towns should have been laid as a burden on the Germanic confederation; Russia and Great Britain should have been called on to contribute for the support of the bulwark of European freedom; the ashes of Moscow, and the battle of Jena, appealed to as the consequence of permitting their demolition. When we gave a revolutionary Monarch to Belgium, surely we were entitled and able to exact such terms as the liberties of Europe required, and the necessity of averting another twenty years' war prescribed. Before Leopold left London, it should have been made a sine qua non, that the barrier of Europe in his new dominions was to be upheld.
The idea that enough of fortresses still remain to coerce France, is too absurd to bear a moment's argument. After the plough has passed over the ramparts of Mons, Marienberg, Philipville, Ath, and Menin, we should be glad to see the fortresses which are to be a bridle on its ambition. The thing is altogether ridiculous; the French journals all agree that it lays Flanders open to their grasp. reply to this objection, we deem it sufficient to say, that the Duke of Wellington, no lavish dispenser of public money, and no mean authority in the means of arresting an invading army, deemed it absolutely necessary to fortify all these towns; and that, when they were not fortified, Dumourier and Pichegru overrun the Netherlands in two successive campaigns; while, when they were, Marlborough and Eugene were arrested in them for ten years. There are, indeed, fortresses, and many fortresses, still existing in Belgium; but they are on the Dutch and German, not the French frontier; and will be as ineffectual in preventing the conquest of the Low Countries by France, as the fortifications of Cadiz or Gibraltar would be in preventing an invasion of Spain through the Pyrennees.
Farther, if the inability of Flanders to support five fortresses was the real reason for the demolition of those which are consigned to destruction,
where was the necessity of demolishing those only which are on the frontiers of France? That is the important point to which we earnestly request the attention of our readers. Why, if five required to be destroyed, were they all chosen on the frontiers of that ambitious power, and none on the frontiers of Holland, or Prussia? If the object was merely to save expense to Belgium, could their finances not be spared as well by demolishing five fortresses on the northern, or eastern, as the southwestern frontier? Is it that a barrier required to be kept up on the sides of Holland, or Prussia, while it could be safely abandoned on that of France? Is it from the burgomasters of Amsterdam, and not the schools of Paris, that the danger of European freedom is to be apprehended? Is Holland, with its 2,500,000 souls, or Prussia, with its 12,000,000, more formidable to the independence of other states, than France, with its 32,000,000? The thing will not bear an argument. The peril all lies on the other side; and yet it is there that all the work of demolition is to take place.
England is now to pay for the demolition of the fortresses which she erected fifteen years ago. Would not the money required for this work of destruction have been fully as well spent in upholding the barrier for a few years? What remains of the sixty millions of francs provided by England for their construction, is, according to the French papers, to be expended in this demolition. Why, that sum would have maintained the barrier for twenty years! Could not our rulers have waited a little before the gates of Europe were thrown open to French ambition? Was it absolutely necessary to commence the work of demolition while the revolutionary passions in France were still boiling over, when its territory was bristling with bayonets, and its turbulent millions were clamouring for war? Can fortresses, which Wellington deemed necessary for the safety of Europe, immediately after its ambition was tamed by the rout of Waterloo, be now safely abandoned, because anew generation has succeeded in France, upon whom, as usual, all former experience is lost, because a new revolution has called its tur
bulent millions into activity, and the misery consequent on suspended industry is again, as in 1794, urging its government to ravage foreign states, and renew the march of Pichegru and Dumourier to Brussels and Amsterdam?
The conduct of our rulers on the Belgian question is inexplicable on all the ordinary principles of human nature. But one word solves it: France and Belgium are revolutionary powers; Mr Pitt did his utmost
coerce the democratic spirit ; therefore, our present rulers have done every thing they could to encourage it.
In making this charge, we by no meansmean to assert that Ministers are traitors to their country, or intend in what they do to degrade or injure Great Britain. We know perfectly they have no such intention; we believe they think they are promoting its real interests, and advancing the period of general happiness, by breaking down all the barriers of Europe against revolutionary France. What we say is, that the long habit of opposition has utterly perverted their judgment, and the passion for innovation swept away their reason. We put in for them-what Time will shew, History will be fain to adoptthe plea of complete political insanity.
In tracing the causes of their otherwise incomprehensible policy, we shall shew, beyond all question, from what it has arisen: we shall not immerse our readers in a sea of protocols; but, turning these copious rivers of error by their source, demonstrate in terms luce meridiana clariores, the false principles from which they have flowed, and the ruinous consequences to which they have led.
Earl Grey said, and said justly, in the House of Peers, that the present government were not answerable for the Belgian revolution; that they found it in activity when they came into office, and cannot be alone saddled with the dangers which it threatens to Europe. That is perfectly true; but it is not from that revolution, or the measures of the Duke of Wellington following on it, that any evils have arisen. It is from the forcible interference of the Allied Powers between Holland and Belgium, and the violent establishment
of a revolutionary kingdom in the latter country, and the elevation of a stranger to its throne, that the whole mischievous consequences have flowed. And these acts are chargeable on Ministers, and Ministers alone. It is there that the injustice began; it is thence that the peril has arisen.
I. When the Belgians, following the example of their brethren at Paris, deemed it necessary to have a revolution of their own, to keep pace with the march of events in the French capital, they succeeded, as all the world knows, in driving the troops of the King of the Netherlands out of Brussels; and Prince Frederick of Orange failed in an attempt to regain possession of that capital; and subsequently all Flanders, with the exception of Antwerp, shared in the flame of revolt.
Upon this disaster, the King of the Netherlands applied to England for assistance to stifle the insurrection, and regain the dominions which were guaranteed to him by the Congress of Vienna. Nothing can be clearer than that this was not an occasion on which Great Britain was either called upon, or justified in interfering. When the Allies guaranteed to the new sovereign his dominions, they guaranteed them only against exterňal violence. They neither had, nor ought to have, any thing to do with its internal dissensions.
The obvious course for the Allies to have pursued on this occasion was, to have allowed the Belgians and the Dutch to fight it out between themselves, and taken care only that their hostilities did not involve other countries in warfare. This is the true principle of non-intervention principle which, as the Duke of Wellington truly said, is the rule, while interference is the exception. It is the principle which the Allies pursued with regard to Russia in its late contest with Poland-a contest which has a great similarity, in some respects, to the Belgian revolt, with this great difference, that the grievous and ill-forgotten wrongs of that unhappy country gave its gallant defenders an incomparably larger title to public sympathy than the Belgian revolutionists, who broke out into insurrection, not from reason or grievance, but contagion and example.
But there was an obvious danger
in the continuance of hostilities in Belgium from the inflammable state of the public mind in France, the jealousy of the other Powers, and the hazard that the war there, if long protracted, might involve all Europe in conflagration. in conflagration. To guard against these dangers, the Duke of Wellington, at the earnest intercession of the King of Holland, agreed to use the influence of Great Britain to procure a cessation of arms, with a view to the future and amicable adjustment of the differences of the two parts of the King of the Netherlands' dominions.
This was the whole which the Duke had done before he retired from office. There was nothing as yet had taken place to prevent the crowns both of Belgium and Holland from being united on one head: nay, there was nothing done to preclude the return of the whole Netherlands to their original allegiance. An armistice and line of demarcation had merely been established; and the Allied Powers had partly taken upon themselves, partly accepted at the request of the Belligerents, the office of mediators, or arbiters, in the affairs of that distracted but beautiful part of Europe.
II. The first error from which all our other blunders and injustice on this subject have flowed, took place after the accession of the Whigs to office, in the imposition of iniquitous terms on the King of Holland, the recognition of a revolutionary monarch in Belgium, and the fatal guarantee of his whole dominions and part of the Dutch cities to Prince Leopold. This took place in July, 1831, eight months after Lord Grey's accession to office, and amidst the fumes of Reform in this country.
This palpable interference in favour of the Belgian insurgents, was accompanied with a declaration, debarring the King of the Netherlands from making war on his former subjects, either to bring them back to their allegiance, or obtain better terms of separation for himself. The Allies prescribed certain terms with which both parties were dissatisfied, and at which the Dutch in particular were so indignant, that they declared they would rather perish than agree to them. It is not surprising they were so for not content with compelling the King of Holland to
relinquish all title to the throne of Belgium, we required of him to surrender to his revolted subjects Luxemberg and Limberg, embracing the fortress of Luxemberg, one of the noblest fortified towns in Europe, and Maestricht, the old frontier town of the Seven United Provinces. To neither of these fortresses had the Belgians the shadow of a title; for Luxemberg was no part of Flanders at all, but part of the private patrimony of the House of Nassau, and Maestricht had been, since the rise of Dutch independence, one of its principal hereditary bulwarks. With truth did the King of Holland declare, that Dutch independence could not exist if such terms were exacted from him. You might as well have required from England the surrender of Portsmouth and Plymouth. Such is the importance of Maestricht in a military point of view, that in the course of one of his campaigns, Marshal Saxe declared, " that the peace lay in Maestricht;" being well aware that if once that great frontier town were taken from Holland, all the efforts of the Dutch and English to protract the war would prove unavailing.
Now what did Ministers do? They declared in common with the other Allies, that the first shot fired by the Dutch at the Belgians would be considered as equivalent to a declaration of war against all the Allied Powers!-This was a piece of the grossest injustice. What right had we to debar the King of the Netherlands from striving to regain his footing in the dominions given him by the Congress of Vienna? What right had we to compel him to surrender his old frontier fortress of Holland to his revolted subjects, and abandon his ancient patrimony, with its splendid and impregnable fortress, to their revolutionary grasp? Evidently none: the act was a piece of downright op pression, worthy to be ranked with the partition of Poland. Ireland revolts against Great Britain, and succeeds, in the first fury of the insurrection, in driving her forces out of all but a few fortified posts in that island. A mediation of the other powers in Europe takes place, and in the course of it they declare, that, besides abandoning all claims to the sovereignty of that country, England
VOL. XXXI. NO. CXCII.
must surrender to its rebellious population Chatham and Portsmouth; and that the first shot fired at the Irish by the English, to avoid these galling terms, will be considered as a declaration of war against the whole of Europe. What would every man, having a spark of British valour, or a drop of British blood in his veins, say to such conditions? Yet this is what we deliberately exacted of the Dutch, the ancient allies and faithful friends of Great Britain!
The King of Holland refused to surrender his frontier towns: he pre ferred the chances of war to the cer tainty of humiliation, and with the spirit of the illustrious house from which he sprung, declared he would die in the last ditch rather than abandon them. His armies took the field -the revolutionary rabble of Brussels, brought out from the shelter of houses, fled at the first onset: two defeats, unprecedented for their disgraceful circumstances, dissipated the fumes of the Belgian insurrection. A counter-revolt was just breaking out at Ghent. Brussels was within an hour of falling into the hands of the Dutch forces: the Belgian question was about to be
solved," by the restoration of the King of the Netherlands to his just rights, amidst the universal acclamations of all but the Jacobin rabble, when the armies of France and the fleets of England advanced together to support the forces of the insurrection, and prevent the all but completed triumph of justice, fidelity, and valour.
That was the fatal step which has engendered all the subsequent difficulties, and involved our rulers in such a maze of folly. Was there any thing ever like guaranteeing to a revolutionary monarch his dominions, when yet smoking out of the furnace of insurrection?-What business, what right, had we to guarantee the throne of Belgium to Leopold? Is this the system of non-intervention which formed one of the pledges of Ministers when they came into power? It is evident that what they call non-intervention is all on one side; it means never interfering in favour of a sovereign against his subjects, but always with the subjects against a sovereign.
The enormous folly of guarantee