Imágenes de página
PDF

ple saw nothing worth fighting for. At least, having had a trial of Buonaparté’s government, they were not, perhaps, so very tired of it as to determine, all at once, to sacrifice their lives for the new king, of whose government they had had no trial, and which had nothing more favourable in its aspect than the former to recommend it. This train of reasoning was naturally to be expected of a people so proverbially phlegrnatic as the Dutch. The page of history no doubt represents that nation, at one period, engaged in a gallant and successful opposition to foreign domination. But in that case the consequence of submission was the entire loss of independence, while the advantages of resistance were manifest and incalculably great. In the present instance, and supposing them to have been stript of their political rights by Buonaparté, it no where appears that the Prince of Orange intended to restore them. On the contrary, his Royal Highness took upon himself the title of a king, and, it is to be presumed, he has since exercised all the powers oi sovereignty. It is true, the noise and clantour which the first news of this counter—revolution occasioned, and the importance which government attached to it, operated, for a while, to make some believe

that the people of Holland had in truth ;

thrown off the French yoke. In the House of Commons it was said, by Lord Castlereaghythat this revolution was "‘ the result “ of the spontaneous and unanimous wish of the people of Holland of all parties"— and the event was every where hailed as a triumph of freedom over oppression. But the less credulous were not long in discovering thatthe people had nothing to say in the business; that they interested themselves as little, perhaps less, in the fate of William the first, the “Sovereign Prince of the “ Netherlands,” as what they did in the fate of the Emperor Napoleon. In no shape did they justify Lord Castlereagh’s statement; for if the impulse had been sponlaneous and unanimous in favour of William, this would have been seen in its corresponding effects. All Holland would have been in arms to make good the claims of the house of Orange. Like France, the voice of the sovereign would have aroused the people; like France they would have united their ‘fortunes to his; and, like France, they would have discomfited the armies, and baflled the projects of all the combined Powers of Europe. But no— the Dutch were actuated by no such feeling. Whether they were attached to Buonaparté, or had experienced the beneficial

[graphic]
[graphic]

effects'of the excellent code of laws which he has established; whatever were their motives for acting the part they did, it is certain they never gave that support to the new government which it was asserted they had given. On the contrary, though Napoleon was compelled, by reverse of fortune, almost to abandon Holland to its fate, “ the Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands" has not been able to clear his kingdom of French troops, even with the assistance of at least 10,000 of our best troops, an incalculable quantity of military stores. and a sum of money from this country fully ade~ quate to his views. But men and money can accomplish nothing in ‘the cause of a sovereign, when that cause, as is evidently the case here, is not also the cause of the people. This is a fact of which we ought to, (and I am certaintnight) have informed our»selves better than we did, when we espoused the interests of the house of Orange. Had we acted in this cautious and prudent manner, we might have avoided the disgrace which must attend the withdrawing our troops from Holland, without accom~ plishing the object for which they were sent thither; and we might have saved the Prince of Orange the mortification which he must feel if, as is likely to happen, he should be forced to relinquish a crown, which was assumed without any calculation of chances as to the probability of his being able to retain it. But instead of acting in this way, the proceedings were gone into with the greatest rashness by the managers in this political drama, and the lookers on, without any regard to the consequences, displayed the most consummate folly in the applause which they gave to the first act of a piece which so very soon disappointed their hopes, and which may now, in all probability, terminate fatally to the individuals who were urged on, by the most flattering promises, to become the chief actors. But this is not all. Our news-paper pfess, with its usual regard for truth andjustice, has commenced an indiscriminate and abusive attack upon the people of Holland and the house of Orange, because the result of the event which they were so active in promoting (and on the failure of which every judicious person might easily have calculated) has not been what they expected, and what they were so forward in tell. ing the public it would assuredly be. The Times paper, whic takes the lead when any dirty work is to be performed, has opened its budget of abuse with the following article: “ The Dutch proceed very leisurely in their efforts to distinguish themselves among the allied nations. Gorcum was taken possession of on the 20th instant; but Naarden, even yet, shows no indication of an intention to surrender. It is difficult to say whether this supincness reflects more discredit on the people or on the government,- but we cannot help thinking, that one or the other tnust be much to blame to suffer the existence of any foreign garrison in the heart of their country so long after all external danger has been removed from the frontiers. Do they still allow the traitor Verhuel to insult them with impunity? Do they not look on the fortresses meupied by a foreign force, as the very badges of their recent slavery, most intolerable to the eyes of freemen? The other allied powers have a right to expect that Holland shall not set an example of apathy in the sacred cause. Cnless they see in her a spirit to maintain her independence, they will hardly venture to guarantee, much less to secure it by strqnger barriers, or new accessions of terrttory; and if the House of Orange does not act up to its hereditary greatness, it will be ill suited to an union with that afBrunswich." So, if the Dutch people, according to this writer, do not make common cause with the Allies against France, they are to be punished with the loss of independence, and of new accessions of territory; and if the Prince of Orange does not do what his subjects will not let him do; if _he does not accomplish an impossibility, he is to be punished also, by denying to his son his affianced bride, the Princess Charlotte of Wales, who, we have long known, was

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

,destined to be the wife of the hereditary

Prince of Orange. [dare say the Dutch people feel themselves very little interested in the business. To them it must appear a matter of indifference whether the man who is to be their ruler marries a greasy Hottentot or a refined European. Their views chiefly centre in commerce, and from the experience which they have acquired during the last 20 years, I am inclined to think, if the question were askedthem, that they would prefer an alliance with Buonaparté’s family to that of every other, because they would find it tnore conducive to their interest. But to punish the house of Orange for the fault of another; for misplaced confidence in the patriotism of a nation, after being assured by Lord Castlereagh that that nation had spontaneously and unanimously declared in their. favour, would be a species of cruelty and injustice unexampled in history. The most absurd and curious part ,of the Times’ statement ts,

[graphic]

that which respects the Allies. It appears, that it was at one time in contemplation to

enlarge the ancient boundaries of Holland

by “ new accessions of territory," and this idea is fully warranted by the new title which William the First assumed when he landed in Holland. But it is not so clear that the allied powers were parties to this arrangement, or that it had even ‘been communicated to them prior to that Prince's declaration. It seems to have originated entirely with this country; and as a proof that neither the sovereigns of Russia, Austria, nor Prussia were consulted in the business, we find them, at the breaking out of the counter-revolution, offering to Napoleon to recognise the title of his bro’ ther Louis to the crown of Holland. It was our interest undoubtedly, in the event of a family compact, that that kingdom should be enlarged. Though this might not give us direct possession, it would extend our influence on the Continent; and, what is of far greater consequence, enable us to cripple the marititne power of Buo— naparté. Here is the true secret of our anxious wishes for the restoration of the Orange family. Not the emancipation of the Dutch people from the tyrant of France, but the establishment of an order of things in Holland, which would enlarge our political influence, and increase our means of annoying our greatest enemy. Hence our wish to get possession of Antwerp; hence our anxiety to burn or get into our power the Scheldt fleet, and hence the virulence of the Times, the Courier, and the whole tribe of hireling writers, against Admiral Verhuel, whom they impudently denominate a traitor, because he is acting in strict conformity to his oath of allegiance, and in a way which does credit to his valour and to his integrity. Instead of landing the army under General Graham at a point where, from the well-known skill and cottrage ofthat gallant officer, something might have been effected, in conjunction with the Allies, of importance to the common cause, these troops were ordered to take the near. est route to Antwerp, in the expectation, no doubt, that that place, amidst the consternation and confusion which prevailed, would be taken by surprise, or present a feeble resistance to a besieging army. Could the Allies be ignorant of all this? Are they so stupid as not to have discovered in this proceeding the particular object we had in view ? Is it to be supposed that they are not aware of the policy which influences Great Britain in her hostility against France? that it is the annihilation of herv maritime power which we aim at; and that, this once effected, they may perhaps find it necessary at no very distant period, to arm against us in defence of their own naval fights. In these circumstances, it is ridic‘ulous to talk of the Allies having a right to expect any thing from the people of Holland. It must, in the first instance, be shown that the Sovereigns of Europe are disposed to forward our views as to that country; that they are willing the succession to the crown should be fixed in the Orange family; that the proposed matrimonial alliance with this country should be carried into elfect; and that they are inclined to submit to the vast accession of maritime power which this would. eventually give us. It is proper, I say, to clear up these necessary points, before we presume to threaten the Dutch people or the house of Orange; because we might, perhaps, find, as we have ol'ten done, when it- was too late, that it is one thing-t0 manage a government and a people when they look upon us as friends’, and another when we have made them our enemies by our arrogant and unjust pretensions. Whatever the aggregate of the English nation may think, it is very clear to me, that the allied powers will not stand by and suffer Great Britain to maintain the sovereignty of the seas, while their own rights, as naval powers possessing a large extent of sea coast, are compromised; nor do i believe they will permit France, Holland, or the other maritime states, ,to become a prey to the inordinate ambition of any sovereign, be -his power and pretensions what they may.

[graphic][merged small]

' that the ltings he was lately so active in

making, have turned out rather scurvy fellows.-——-First, Bernadotte desertshis cause, leagues with the Allies, and then invades France, regardless of what fools may say about patriotism, and rebellion against one’s country. Then comes the all'eged defection ol' Murat,‘ a personage whom, we had every reason to believe, was the particular favourite of Buonaparté, and‘who always evinced a decided attachment to his cause. It was some time, I confess, before I could persuade myself that this last sovereign ol' Napoleon's creation had followed the example of the “ great “ Prince of Sweden,” and,lilte him, taken up arms against' his native country. But this reluctance on my part, I now find, was owing to idattention; for if I had considered aright the nature of those slimulants

[graphic]

which have been used to bring Murat round to the cause of the Allies, I could not for a moment have hesitated as to the fact. It ‘nowhere appears that Britain is to allow the King of Naplesta subsidy in money, as we do Bernadette for his mognanimous conduct. But Murat has received, and actually talten possession of territory, as a bonus’ for joining in the “ sacred cause,". equal in‘ point of real value to the whole kingdom of Naples. _ The Courier at first told us" that Murat was “ to have an accession of “ territory from the Papal States." It appears, however, he has not only got a part, but the whole of these States; he has taken “ possession of the south of Italy as far as “ the right bank of the Po." Why the Allies should have given up so much; why they should have sacrificed so large a portion of this fine country, for the mere cooperation ofa Power like Naples, has excited a good deal of surprise. Our newspapers, such as the ‘Times and the Courier, have attemptedv to create doubts as to the arrangement, on account of the very advantageous terms obtained by Murat-.—Others again, ,while they give implicit credit to thelact, have thought they discovered some symptoms in the transaction of a scheme, a stratagem, on they part of Napoleon, to save Naples'l'rom falling into the hands of. the Allies, at a moment when, from the dangers which threatened him on all sides, he could not afl'ord her any succours in case she should he attacked by a superior lorce.-——As to the apparent defection of Murat, I see no reason to doubt this because he has obtained better terms than the Times and Courier would have allowed him. But I have not discovered any thing which enables me to form a positive opinion as to, ,the other point—namely, that the whole is the result of a deep policy on the part oiNapoleon to preserve Naples. This may be the case; it‘is likely enough; but, as far as_is yetseen, nothing positive can be advanced on the subject. Still, suflicient hastranspiredto satisfy me, that Murat has. no! beena willing instrument in the busi

[graphic]
[graphic]

.ness,.b_ut has yielded only to circumstances,

which he could not control. In short, that it was necessity, as in the case of the Danes, whidt led him to join the Allies‘ In proof of this, we have his own procla. mation, published at Milan, on the 17th of January, which runs as follows :—“ Mi~ “ lan, Jan. 30th. The King of Naples, “ on the 17th inst. issued the following “ proclamation: Having, for sundry “ weighty causes, found ourselves on use», ‘i to adopt measures for being admitted inlo-_

I 3b,.‘

[graphic]

“ the Alliance of the Slate: united against “ France, we have in this instance been “ successful. We have given up the three “ islands situated opposite to Naples, and ‘5 our whole fleet: but for this we‘are to ‘‘ have a suflicienl compensation. We are “ going to take possession of the South of ‘5 Italy, as far as to the right bank of the “ Po. We shall always remember our “ duty; and those persons in office who “ have always performed their's, and who “ have made no opposition to our measures, “ may assuredly reckon on our protection, “ and on keeping their respective posts.” From this document it is sufficiently clear, that Murat was obliged, from “ sun“ dry weighty causes" not explained, to solicit an alliance with the powers “ united “against France." It requires very little penetration to discover what these causes were. He could not be ignorant of the recent disasters of France, on which alone Naples can depend for assistance in the hour of danger. Surrounded on all sides by the enemies of that sovereign to whom he owed every thing, it was, indeed, a wise and profound policy on the part of the Neapolitan king to avert the threatening storm by conciliation. Whether this was the result of Buonapart'e’s schemes or not, it seems to me that terms have been obtained by Naples, much more favourable than she had any reason to expect. These, indeed, have excited the indignation of the Courier, which exclaims, “A sufficient “- compensation with a vengeance! for as “ the Po, having its source in the Alps in “ Savoy, flows into the sea, north of Co“ machio, Murat would, besides Naples, “ have all the Papal States, Tuscany, “ Modena, Parma, Bologna, ice. I i"

It is no way surprising to find our hireling press venting its spleen in this way; but it is somewhat singular, if we can believe Buonaparté serious, to see him censoring the conduct of Murat, recalling, as he has done, all Frenchmen from Naples, and denouncing them defaulters, who would be “ pursued by the agents of the public go“ vernment," if they did not “ return into “ the territory of the empire within the “ space of three months." Napoleon is either acting a double part in the business, or he is become quite unreasonable if, as Murat says, he was actually obliged to adopt measures for being admitted into the alliance. By that step he has not only preserved Naples from being invaded by the Allies, but all Italy to the south of the Po; and young Beauharnois has shewn by his late successes, that the rest of Italy

[graphic]
[graphic]

may safely be left to his care. Should
Murat, however, have been influenced by
motives really hostile towards Buonaparte,
of which the latter, it must be acknow-
ledfged, is the best judge, he has only him-
sel to blame for confiding so much as he
has clone in his generals, and showing so
great a partiality for the craft of king-
making. He may, perhaps, at this moment,
he accusing himself, and repenting his ill-
placed confidence; but he should recollect,
that kings are but men, whose vices and
propensities do not always change with a
change of circumstances. He should also
remember, that he is not the first sovereign
who has had to struggle against the trea-
chery of friends. King Henry the Vth
had much to complain of in that way; and
although I never was a great admirer of
Shakespeare, I cannot resist the temptation,
for once, of giving an extract from the
above play, which, I think, contains a
pretty apt illustration of the point under
consideration :
. . . - . But oh!
Whatshall Isay to thee, LORDSCROOP, thoucruel,
Ungrateful, savage, and inhuman monster!
Thou that didst bear the key of‘ all my counsels,
That knew of the very bottom of my soul,
That almost might‘st have coin'd me into gold.
Would'st thou have practis'd on me for thy use?
May it be possible that foreign hire
Could out of thee extract one spark of evil
That might annoy my finger? ‘Tis so strange,
That though the truth of it stand off as gross
As black and white, mine eye will scarcely see it.
Treason and murder ever kept together
As two yoke-devils, sworn to either’s purpose,
Working so grossly in a natural cause,
That admiration did not whoop at them;
But thou 'gainst all proportion didst bring in
Wonder, to wait on treason and on murder ;
And whatsoever cunning fiend it was
That wrought upon thee so preposterously,
Hath got the voice in hell for excellence: 4
And other devils that suggest by treasons
Do botch and bungle up damnations
With patches, colours, and with forms, being
fetched

From glittering semblances of‘ piety;
But he that temper’d thee bade thee stand up,
Gave thee as instance why thou shouldst do treason
Unless to dub thee with the name of traitor.
If‘ that same demon that hath gull’d thee thus,
Should, with his lion-gait, walk the whole world,
He might return to vasty Tartar back,
And tell the legions, I can never win
A soul so easily as I won his.

King Henry the Vth, Act the 2nd.

Peace on WAR ?—If we are to judge from the altered tone of that vile press, which? has, for twenty years, sacrificed every principleof justice, of honour, and of humanity, to its interested clamour for interminable war, the great question is now about to he settled, and Europe once-more restored to a state of peace. Not many

days have elapsed since we were told in the Courier, that the Allies had determined not to make peace with the Emperor of France until lltey were in possession of his capilal. This insolent language was doubtless suited to the narrow views of those who had been all along endeavouring to persuade the country, that France was sunk in a state of apathy, and unwilling to continue the contest any longer in support of its present government. It was language quite consistent with the assurances they gave their readers, that the Allies were actually in possession of Paris, and were about to ‘f dethrone the tyrant,” and restore to France the “ mild and virtuous sway of the house of Bourbon." In line, it was language every way becoming men who talked and boasted thus in the absence of the intelligence of Napoleon's victories, which, like a powerful talisman, has in one instant overthrown their vain and towering hopes, and converted their imperious exultation into doleful lamentations. Those, in particular, who were the most active in sounding the everlasting war-whoop, and who piously told us that “ to make peace with Buonaparté would be to make war against virtue and against God,” are now the most forward in proclaiming their expectations of an immediate peace. It has been this expectation, they say, which has led to another prorogation of parliament to the 2lst instant, before which day, they confidently assure us, the preliminaries will‘ have been signed; not merely by the ministers of Russia, Prussia, and the other continental powers, but also by Lord Castlereagh in behalf of this country. This is what the newspapers, who pretend to be in the secret, and who, only the other day, told us a very different story, would now have us to believe is the state of the nego— ciation for peace. It is possible that what they say may at last be true; these lying oracles may for once have spoken the truth, and many of their former dupes, notwithstanding the repeated proofs they have had of their total disregard of all honest prin~ ciple, may credit every iota of it. For my part, however, I confess that peace, a general peace such as these newspapers have described, is an event which does not appear to me so very near. The recent disasters of the Allies, may havedisposed the minds of those who manage our affairs at home, to pursue more peaceable measures with the French Emperor than we were lately taught to expect ; and this may have superinduced a persuasion in some minds,

that nothing now stands in the way of an'

[graphic]
[blocks in formation]

‘of people, who are now in a condition to

dictate terms to their invaders, Russia, Austria, Prussia, and the whole of the confederates must, according to these sage politicians, submit to be controlled by the whim and caprice of this country; must prosecute the'war if England resolves on war; must make peaceif it suits her pleasure. Highly absurd and ridiculous as this must make us appear in the eyes of other nations, it ‘is a sort of language nor only to be found in the mouths ofthousands who can neither read nor write, but, 'to their eternal disgrace, of thousands more who have received a liberal education, and, of course, ought to know better. In fact, the same false ideas with‘ regard to national importance and national superiority, pars vades all ranks, and disgustingly obtrudes itself upon our notice in every news-paper and political pamphlet which issues from the press. The- period is fast approaching when the eyes of mankind will be open to this horrible delusion, and when they will be made sensible of the folly of treatin

every 'olher nation with contempt that does not bow to the mandates of an' unjust and imperious domination. But let peace Come when it may, it will be found, to our sad experience, that" it would have been more to the advantage of Great Britain if, instead of assuming a dictatorial tone, and being the prime mover in the greater part, if not in all the coalitions that have been formed against France, she had confined her views to the improvement of her llllillltfilClUl'CS, to her agricultural pursuits, and to the en; couragement of the other useful arts. Then,

indeed, she might have been great; then.

she might have had reason to be proud of her superiority. of ruinous warfare, which has had the effect of giving to the people against whom she fought, the pre-eminencev she‘ might have enjoyed ; and caused herself totremble at the prospect of peace, which she dreads

because it. must be fatal to millions,vand»

place the country in a situation in. which ,it will poignantly feel all the pernicious effects consequent on the destructive system which has so long desolated Europe. No one can suppose me an enemy to peace,

without supposing me destitute of the com

mon feelings of humanity. But I cannot

But she preferred a state .

« AnteriorContinuar »