Imatges de pàgina

land, their usurped acquisitions, and would go to the field with a suspicion that the very dangers they escaped from with respect to France, they would have to provide against from another quarter,

Of the character of Buonaparte, Lord Grey was disposed to take a mitigated view. "I detest," said his lordship," as cordially his ambitionand I would do as much as any man to fight against him and resist him when necessary; but who can say that all change in his character is impossible? Are there not in history examples of men polluted with as foul crimes as Buonaparte-who have waded through seas of blood-who have at last retired even to a private life? But I agree that it would be puerile to place any confidence in such a change of character. I agree that it would not be reasonable to place any reliance on his future moderation. But if there is no change in his disposition, may there not be a change in his policy? Has he not, during his year of exile, had ample opportunity of reflecting on his former errors? Has he not had the means of detecting the causes of his temporary ruin; and may he not have been impressed with the necessity of abandoning that system which had already cost him too dear?" But, upon the whole, his lordship's great hope was, that the frame of this remarkable man must have been shaken by the fatigue and perturbation which he had undergone in the exhausting occurrences of a life so extraordinary. He seemed to have hopes he could not last long, or at least be equal to his former energetic exploits in the field. But, especially, Lord Grey trusted to the new principles upon which Buonaparte might be expected to act, and the par ty with whom he had allied himself Carnot and others, who had given un

the minor states of Germany. If we obtain any such accession, it can only be on paying further subsidies. We know that the King of Wirtemberg and all the other minor powers are desirous of obtaining some of the golden eggs which the great goose of Europe has been laying for some time. With respect to Sweden, I apprehend that there may be some doubt of the willing disposition of that country. There may be also some doubt of its ability, from the accession which it of late so honourably obtained. (Hear, hear!) With respect to Spain, those who have seen what a Spanish army can do in defence of their own country, must laugh at any expectations of assistance from them. Portugal may give perhaps 20,000 men. But are these the only diminutions? Is the British army now what it then was? Is the Duke of Wellington now at the head of those brave companions in arms, who had such confidence in the man who had so often led them to victory? Is he any longer at the head of those invincible legions who have gained such immortal honour to their country? That army has been sent on most destructive and ill-conducted expeditions. The Duke of Wellington is not able at present to produce at most above 20,000 or 30,000 troops, and those of a very different description indeed, though animated with the same British spirit, from those he formerly commanded. We have not therefore the same British army. With respect to the minor powers of Germany, what is the case with Saxony, for instance? Can you again raise your standard at Leipsic, and call on those to join you who contributed so essentially to your former victories?" Prussia, Austria, and Russia, according to the orator, had enough to do to keep down Saxony, Italy, and Po

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

body would agree. The right was unquestionable, like the rights of men in a state of nature; and if any political state could be found in a state of nature, the rights of a state so separated from the other states would be absolute and undeniable; but it was with societies as with individuals, with governments as with men-when they stand in any relation to each other, they must be contented to see their rights regulated with a view to the mutual rights of all. The rights of others in relation to that state were as sacred as the rights of the state itself." This principle he applied to the case in point, by shewing that there was no country which had not tried the effect of a treaty with Buonaparte, and which had not experienced, that, in restraining his power, or diminishing his aggressions, treaties were of no avail whatever. "His government, therefore, which was originally a military usurpation,-had it been the most legitimate in the world, would, by the misconduct of the sovereign, have forfeited its title to its King, and have produced the extreme case of the necessity of driving from the throne the person who had so abused his authority. If France possessed the right of choosing her own government, and had, after so many years of war, by which she had been so great a sufferer, made some sacrifices for the advantages of the restoration of tranquillity, her own limitation of that right could not be doubted; and so the bargain was made at Paris. This would appear the true sense of the treaties, looking on the whole business as one great transaction. In civil transactions, some competent tribunal or jurisdiction was referred to, which prescribed certain forms as necessary to be attended to for the regulation of a contract, which he who did not act upon, neglected at his peril. But in affairs between

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

nations, there was no common authority or tribunal to refer to, or which had authority to prescribe: And all that could be required was, to impose on both parties the duty of performing what they undertook. The intention to perform the contract must be made known to all parties, and this was the case respecting the exclusion of Buo naparte and his family from the French throne. The question, therefore, was not on the abstract right of interfering in the choice of a government for France, but on the right of enforcing a solemn treaty. It mattered not what was the case of right, if it was allowed, as no man denied, that France had the right to conclude lawfully the treaty. That gave to the allies the right of enforcing it. The treaty was made, and it could not be lawful for France to break it. It was founded on certain stipulations; but France breaks it, and retracts from part of the bargain. Her obligation was the exclusion of Buonaparte's dynasty. The moment that violation was committed, a just cause of war ensued."

The expedience of the case was argued with the same acuteness. Few members in either House could be brought to express the least hope in the moral regeneration of Buonaparte, upon whose personal character so much rested in this argument. Mr Grattan (no friend to arbitrary interference with the independence of other nations,) thus weighed the chance of France acting with energy in his support. "Gentlemen presume that the French nation will rise in his favour as soon as we enter their country: We entered their country before, and they did not rise in his favour; on the contrary they deposed him, The article of deposition is given at length. It is said we endeavour to impose a government on France. The French armies elect a conqueror for Europe, and our resistance to this

conqueror is called imposing a go vernment on France. If we put down this chief, we relieve France as well as Europe from a foreign yoke; and this deliverance is called the imposi tion of a government on France: He,-He' imposed a government on France-he imposed a foreign yoke on France-he took from the French their property by contribution-he took their children by conscriptionhe lost her her empire-and (a thing almost unimaginable) he brought the enemy to the gates of Paris: We, on the contrary, formed a project, as appears from a paper of 1805, which preserved the integrity of the French empire. The allies in 1814 not only preserved the integrity of the empire as it stood in 92, but gave her her liberty, and they now afford her the only chance of redemption. Against these allies will France now combine, and having received from them her empire as it stood before the war, with additions in consequence of their deposition of Buonaparte, and having gotten back her capital, her colonies, and her prisoners, will she break the treaty to which she owes them, rise up against the allies who gave them, break her oath of allegiance, destroy the constitution she has formed, de pose the king she has chosen, rise up against her own deliverance, in sup port of contribution and conscription, to perpetuate her political damnation under the yoke of a stranger?" He ridiculed alike the idea of Buonaparte being the chosen governor of the peo ple, and that of his alleged purpose to give them a free constitution. His assumption of the throne was in all respects a military usurpation. “Nothing could equal the shouts of the army, except the silence of the peo ple: This was, in the strictest sense of the word, a military election. It was an act where the army deposed the civil government-it was the march

of a military chief over a conquered people. The nation did not rise to resist Buonaparte or defend Louis, because the nation could not rise upon the army. Her mind as well as her constitution was conquered; in fact there was no nation-every thing was army, and every thing was conquest. Buonaparte, it seems, is to reconcile every thing by the gift of a free constitution: He took possession of Holland, he did not give her a free constitution he took possession of Spain, he did not give her a free constitution he took possession of Switzerland, whose independence he had guaranteed, he did not give her a free constitution he took possession of Italy, he did not give her a free constitution-he took possession of France, he did not give her a free constitution. On the contrary, he destroyed the directorial constitution he destroyed the consular constitution-and he destroyed the late constitution, formed on the plan of England. But now he is, with the assistance of the jacobins, to give her liber ty; that is, the man who can bear no freedom, unites to form a constitution with a body who can bear no govern ment. In the mean time, while he professes liberty, he exercises despotic power-he annihilates the nobles-he banishes the deputies of the people and he sequesters the property of the emigrants;-now he is to give liberty! I have seen his constitution, as exhibited in the newspaper-there are faults innumerable in the frame of it, and more in the manner of accepting it: It is to be passed by subscription without discussion; the troops are to send deputies, and the army is to preside. There is some cunning, how ever, in making the subscribers to the constitution renounce the House of Bourbon. They are to give their word for the deposition of the king, and take Napoleon's word for their

own liberty. The offer imports nothing which can be relied on, except that he is afraid of the allies. Disperse the alliance, and farewell to the liberty of France, and safety of Europe."

The point of immediate war, rather than the dubious and uncertain state of armed peace, which seemed to be recommended by Lord Grey and the gentlemen of the opposition, was well argued by Mr Plunket, who showed that the chance of success by a present effort, when we could reckon on the co-operation of all Europe, and a considerable portion of France herself, was greater now than it could be at any subsequent period. "When we saw the situation in which Buonaparte now stood; when we saw him reduced to make professions contrary to his very nature; when we saw the vessel in which his fortunes were embarked labouring with the storm, and its mast bowed down to the water's edge, it would be the height of impolicy and absurdity to hesitate on the course that we had to pursue. We had now a most powerful combination of allies, not fomented by us, but acting from the moral feeling which pervaded all Europe. If we were foolish enough to throw away those means, we could never hope to recall them. Those of his friends who had talked the most about husbanding the resources of the country, had confessed, that when an occasion should arrive when some important blow could be struck against the enemy, that system should no longer be persevered in. That important crisis had now arrived. It was vain to expect that a more favourable opportunity would ever arrive. All the great powers of Europe were now with us, and a considerable portion of the population of France. It had been said, that invading France would be the way to unite the population of that country. The fact, however, was

the modesty of truth, and states nothing as it is, and every thing as it is not the attitude is affected, the taste is corrupted, and the intellect perverted. Do you wish to confirm this military tyranny in the heart of Europe? -a tyranny founded on the triumph of the army over the principles of civil government-an experiment to relax the moral and religious influences, and to set heaven and earth adrift from one another-an insurrectionary hope to every bad man in the community, and a frightful lesson of profit and power, vested in those who have pandered their allegiance from king to emperor, and now found their pretensions to domination on the merit of breaking their oaths, and deposing their sovereign. Should you do any thing so monstrous as to leave your allies, in order to confirm such a system,-should you forget your nameforget your ancestors, and the inheritance they have left you of morality and renown,-should you astonish Europe by quitting your allies, to render immortal such a composition, would not the nations exclaim, ' You have very providently watched over our interests, and very generously have you contributed to our service, and do you faulter now? In vain have you stopped, in your own person, the flying fortunes of Europe,-in vain have you taken the eagle of Napoleon, and snatched invincibility from his standard, if now, when confederated Europe is ready to march, you take the lead in the desertion, and preach the penitence of Buonaparte and the poverty of England.'

directly the reverse. The not invading France would be the sure means of reducing the whole population under the power of the present ruler. He considered, that we had, in fact, no option between peace and war. As for peace, we could have no more than a feverish, unrefreshing dream of peace, still haunted by the spectre of


In point of finances, we should find a peace, with a war establishment, an evil much greater than war itself. If we did not now go to war in conjunction with all the great powers of Europe, we would soon be reduced to a war single-handed against France. If we did not now invade France, and carry on the war upon her territories, the time might arrive when our country would become the seat of war, and we would fall unpitied and despised. If we were now to turn our back upon the great powers that were our allies, we should deserve that all nations should turn their backs upon us when we began to feel the consequences of our impolicy."

Similar conclusions were yet more forcibly deduced by Mr Grattan. Of the Bourbons he spoke as of a dynasty, "under whose sway all subjects, except the administration, had been open to free discussion; so that learning, arts, and sciences, had made rapid progress, and England had borrowed not a little from the temperate meridian of that government. Her court stood controlled by opinion, limited by principles of honour, and softened by the influence of manners; and, on the whole, there was an amenity in the condition of France which rendered the French an amiable, an enlightened, a gallant, and accomplished race over this gallant race you see imposed an oriental despotism; their present court has gotten the idiom of the east as well as her constitution; a fantastic and barbaric expression, an unreality, which leaves in the shade

"As to her poverty, you must not consider the money you spend in your defence, but the fortune you would lose if you were not defended; and, further, you must recollect you will pay less to an immediate war than to peace with a war establishment, and a war to follow it; recollect further, that

« AnteriorContinua »