« PreviousContinue »
appeal which the public writers of Prussia have made to the good sense and moderation of the civilized world.
The claims of Prussia upon Saxony are, therefore, now presented in an English dress, before a tribunal confessedly the most enlightened in the world, and to which an appeal in favor of truth and justice was never made in vain!
The translator has endeavoured to execute his task with fidelity; to transfuse the peculiar elegance of diction which distinguishes the original, was perhaps more than he could pretend to accomplish; he has, however, studied to attain that precision of language which he considered indispensable to convey to an English reader the arguments of his author. If he has not always succeeded, he cannot impute his failure to any lukewarmness in the cause: in this respect, he can exclain,
“ Ed io anché son Pittore !"
Few readers, it is presumed, will rise from the perusal of this masterly production, without imbibing a rooted conviction that the King of Saxony, by his long and steady attachment to the desolating system of Bonaparte, has, so far as the law of nature and nations is concerned, placed himself hors de la loi. -Respect for his high birth and his conduct in early life, perhaps demand that he should be enabled to pass his few declining years with something like the splendor of rank around him. It is a false humanity, which would give him more: let it be held in remembrance, that he was one of those “ who drew the sword and bent the bow to cast down the poor and needy !" Let not posterity then, for whom the Congress of Vienna is now legislating, lose the benefit of the salutary example which the case of the King of Saxony will give to future sovereigns. Let the judgment of Heaven, as conveyed by its oracle, the Psalmist, be fulfilled ; let not the present generation pass away, until they are enabled to say of this miserable representative of royalty,“ I have seen the ungodly in great power, and florishing like a green bay-tree; I went by, and lo! he was gone : I sought him, but his place was no where to be found.”
London, January 1815.
PRUSSIA AND SAXONY, &c.
A PAMPHLET has appeared, within these few months, on the Continent, without any printer's name prefixed to it, intitled “SAXONY and PRUSSIA :” it has been also published successively in the Allgemeine,* and the Bareuth Zeitungs, journals which are neither printed in the Prussian States, nor under Prussian influence. An opportunity has thus been taken to libel and defame Prussia with a bitterness equal to that of any manifesto which Napoleon ever issued against her; and this appears the more unaccountable in a Gerinan production, coming from a German press, when we recollect that Prussia contributed so largely to the glorious achievements which delivered the Governnients of Germany, from the degradation of submitting to an insolent foreign yoke and rescued her authors from the humiliation of being amenable to the censorship of foreigners! .
That Prussia, in virtue of the national spirit which her local situation and government have created, should have been able to display energies for the last fifty years far exceeding every thing which could have been expected from such a population and such physical resources as she possesses; that in the last awful but glorious struggle, out of a population of barely four millions and a half, she should have been able to send into the field 250,000 warriors --such are the prodigies which will inform the present as well as future generations of what materials the Prussian people and Prussian government are composed, while they ought to remind the author of a certain publication of the frog in the fable. To dispute with him upon such topics, or to refute any insinuations on these heads, would be a waste of time and argument. But the political principles and views of Prussia require no
Published at Leipsic.
other vindication than the recollection of the spirit with which the inhabitants of her ancient States, for upwards of half a century, have expended their blood and treasure, for the maintenance of the independence, the power and the glory of their government, the stedfast attachment which all the German provinces, wrested from Prussia by the treaty of Tilsit, uniformly displayed towards her, and above all, the respect in which Prussia is held by the enlightened of all nations.
The Prussian Government itself has not denied that there may have existed errors in the principles, the arrangement, or the execution of their plans, and they have, on that account, with a candor which was never surpassed in Germany, boldly protected the freedom of public opinion, and warded off, partly by procrastination and partly by fair argument, the severities which were proposed to restrain it. No government ever was or will be faultless : the best are merely those in which good principles have the ascendancy. If then, immediately after the peace of Tilsit, when the most unwarrantable abuse was lavished upon Prussia from all quarters; when not only coarse arguments, without ornament, but intemperate declamation, without shame, unveiled the most secret infirmities of the fallen state ; when “ Authentic Letters," and a hundred similar libels, filled every hand, and were current in every mouth; if, we say, at that moment hundreds of thousands, with an almost ungovernable anxiety, waited only for the signal by which their monarch should give them permission to risk their lives and fortunes for the restoration of the independence and liberty of their calumniated and despised constitution : then must the Prussian Government believe with implicit confidence that the good principles far exceed the bad in their constitution. And whoever supposes that on this occasion the great mass of the people were inspired not with an anxious desire to restore the old, but to erect a new constitution after the expulsion of their foreign oppressors, must have totally mistaken a people, who are too enlightened, not duly to appreciate the salutary energy and almost invincible durability of many old laws and customs--a people also too grateful and too candid to forget for an instant, that their old constitution supplied all their wants and those of the state, while it made the land florish, and increase in prosperity; and finally, a people, who are with justice accustomed to expect no change for the better in a constitution which has given birth to such noble displays of patriotism. With respect to what may be reckoned as the advantages and disar vantages of the population of the old provinces of the Prussian states, there are two remarkable traits in their character which deserve to be mentioned ; they expect nothing from rank or high birth, but every thing from merit and integrity; and they remaiu fixed in the belief that justice ought to be done upon the guilty
without respect of persons. A constitution which admits of such manly and virtuous characteristics, being deeply rooted in the breast of the subject, is certainly not one of the worst.
The situation of Saxony is too painful, and too much to be pitied by every liberal mind, to entitle us to bring her affairs to the recollection of the public; but the occasion imperiously demands that her conduct should be briefly noticed. It is impossible, we say, to avoid the recollection, when deeds which were achieved within these few months, before the eyes of all Europe, are now called up in order to render the conduct of Prussia towards Saxony and Austria suspected at the very moment, when the administration of Saxony is in question, when Germany in all probability expects, from the continuance of the alliance between Austria and Prussia, security to her frontiers, and internal tranquillity; and finally, when her inhabitants look up to that alliance for their future prosperity: on such an occasion, the intrepidity with which truth should be investigated, forcibly commands us to speak freely.
In the first three months of 1813, the Court of Saxony was much more at liberty to form her resolutions than that of Prussia; she was mistress of the fortresses of Konigstein and Torgau, and she had from ten to twelve thousand troops in the vicinity of Dresden, where no French force was then stationed; at this moment Berlin and its environs were occupied by the division of General Grenier, which had not been engaged in the Russian campaign, and by the elite of the troops which had escaped from Russia, while all the fortresses around Berlin, Spandau, Kustin, Wirteinburg, and Magdeburg, were in the power of France.
Towards the end of March, Blucher marched out of Silesia, and Witgenstein out of the Marche of Brandenburg, into Saxony; they cominanded seventy thousand most excellent troops. Of Napoleon it was then known that he could not be upon the Saale before the beginning of May, and could station no army there for which the allies were not absolutely an overmatch. The king of Saxony still belonged to the Confederations of the Rhine; he had not only not declared openly that he had renounced it, but on the contrary he removed farther towards Ratisbon.
Under these circumstances Saxony ought to have been treated, in every respect, as an enemy's country; the Allies had thre power, and they had a whole month, in which to possess themselves of all the resources for carrying on the war which Saxony possessed, to empty the custom-houses and the public treasury, to levy contributions, to disarm all the population not shut up in the fortresses, and finally to destroy all the manufactories of arms and military stores.- Nothing of all this was done. The advanced guards of the Prussian and Russian armies made known to the Saxon people on the 23d of March, that they did not come as en
mies or conquerors ; this was communicated to the king of Saxony at Ratisbon, and Prussia in particular invited and beseeched him, by a special messenger, to return to his states, and to take a part in the league against Napoleon. ' The majority of the Saxon population and armies waited only for the return and declarations of their king, to unite themselves joyfully and cordially with the Allies : His Majesty, however, kept at a distance and hesitated.
Napoleon at length appeared on the Saale, and on the 2d of May the battle of Gross-Görschen was fought. Although but a trifling force was engaged on this occasion, yet the result showed the possibility of gaining a decisive victory over Napoleon, and in this respect it was the forerunner of the battle of Leipzig.
" The confidence of the world in the military skill and good fortune of Napoleon was completely shaken after his disasters in Russia : but it was not yet annihilated. The scene of his overthrow was too far removed to enable the bulk of mankind to estimate what share superiority in tactics and bravery had therein, or the destructive energies of nature, frost, hunger, and fatigue. A victory gained in Germany, with nearly equal numbers, and wrested from him by undaunted bravery and patriotism, had established the conviction that Napoleon was terrible in the eyes of cowards only. · All Germany rose in arms--the confidence of her awakened population put an end to the doubts and delusions of their hesitating cabinets. Napoleon could not maintain himself, with a beaten army, behind the Saale ;—the strong places in his rear must have been wrested from him in succession. Nothing had occurred to restore him to the confidence of the people of France; and the ca
tastrophe which terminated the war in April 1814, had become * more than problematical in June 1813.
It is well known that the battle of Gross-Görschen, in which no more than forty-five thousand of the allied troops were engaged, would have been gained decisively, if it had been possible, towards the end of the day, to have brought up ten thousand fresh infantry into line. The vigilance and caution with which Napoleon followed the allied arnies, who did not lose a single gun on their retreat to the. Elbe, strengthens the accuracy of this opinion. But during the battle twelve thousand excellent Saxon troops stood idle in Torgau and the neighbourhood ; and it was necessary that nearly as many of the allies should remain behind to watch them, and to cover Dresden at all events. It is therefore beyond a doubt, that the unaccountable conduct of the Saxon court prevented the Allies from accomplishing that at Gross-Görschen, which afterwards cost so much blood, and occasioned so many tears, in August, September, and October. • The Allies did not revenge themselves on their retreat ; they even did not revenge themselves when, by the command of the king