Page images

Let them imagine an English emigrant peers try will probably hesitate before he prolanding, in 1822, at Calais or New-York. nounces upon the stability of the English He is eagerly pressed to describe the hor- mind under the influence of the prodigious rors he has witnessed-to communicate the excitement likely to have arisen from the names of the most illustrious victims-to promulgation of the political innovations give the particulars of the new British re- which Napoleon had prepared for her sepublic. What is his reply? •England is duction. If he is wise, he will rejoice that in an awful state. At Bristol, only two in the providence of God his country was hundred miles from my family seat, there saved the trial, and acknowledge with grahas been a dangerous riot and great destruc-titude the inestimable obligations which she tion of property. I have been abused in owes to the illustrious men whose valor the county newspapers. The Times has averted a danger under which her courage, threatened the aristocracy with brickbats indeed, would never have sunk, but to and bludgeons. The Duke of Wellington's which her wisdom might possibly have windows have been broken.' And all this proved unequal.'-(v. 379.) would have been addressed to men who We have frequently found occasion to dif. could remember the Reign of Terror, or fer from Mr. Alison, but this is one of the the forays of Brandt and Butler. The few passages of his work which we have French emigration is a subject for serious read with serious regret and deep displeablame; but that of the English aristocracy sure. Its meaning is simply this—that had would have defied the gravity of all Europe. Napoleon landed in England, those EnglishWe pity and despise the selfish cowardiceinen who approved of the reforms be intendof a man who flies from a dangerous con-ed to promise, would have deserted their flagration, instead of staying to rescue his countrymen and joined his army. The cafamily and protect his property. But our lumny is most disingenuously enveloped in pity and contempt give way to a sense of the language of pretended self-abasement; the ludicrous, when we hear of his jumping but this disguise is too slight to conceal its headlong from a garret window, because a real nature for a moment. The suspicion few idlers in the street have raised the cry expressed by Mr. Alison is obviously appliof fire.

cable only to his political opponents. It is Not only, it seems, are the liberal party therefore of their honor alone that he feels in England prepared to imitate the crimes all this timid distrust. The temptation of of the French Revolution, but they are, or which he expresses so much anxious dread, were, on the point of betraying their coun- is one which could not have attracted him ; try to the actual perpetrators of those the merit which he is so modestly reluctant enormities. After noticing that Napoleon to vaunt, is one in which he could have had had intended to follow his descent upon no share. This candid renunciation of Great Britain by a proclamation, promising other people's credit has a twofold advan

all the objects which the revolutionary tage ; for it combines the grace of humility, party in this country have ever had at heart,' with the pleasure of slander. Mr. Alison proceeds as follows:-'That the | We might easily show that the political French emperor would have been defeated opinions of what Mr. Alison is pleased to in his attempt, if England had remained call the revolutionary party, are perfectly true to herself, can be doubtful to no one. consistent with the national virtues, and ..... But would she have remained true to even with the wholesome prejudices, of true herself under the temptation to swerve pro- born Britons. We might plead, that an hon. duced by such means ? This is a point up- est Englishman may consider the British on which there is no Briton who would constitution as the best in the world, withhave entertained a doubt, till within these out thinking it absolutely perfect; that he few years; but the manner in which the may religiously believe himself able to beat public mind has reeled from the applica- three Frenchmen, without longing to be pertion of inferior stimulants since 1830, and petually employed in doing it. We might the strong partiality to French alliance plead, that it is one thing to desire the supwhich has grown up with the spread of de- port of France abroad, and another to inmocratic principles, has now suggested the voke her interference at home; one thing painful doubt, whether Napoleon did not to wish for reform by act of parliament, and know us better than we knew ourselves, another to attempt it by high treason. But and whether we could have resisted those we prefer giving Mr. Alison a practical methods of seduction which had proved fa- proof of the dangerous nature of such rash tal to the patriotism of so many other peo- and odious imputations. We gather two ple. ..... The warmest friend to his coun- maxims from the elaborate and insidious

[ocr errors]

passage we have just quoted. Every man, without warrant, for the attempt has been who wishes for any alterations in the British made. It was thought that a young and inconstitution, is willing to become a traitor experienced Princess might possibly be into obtain them. Every man who wishes for timidated by slander and invective. We the alliance of a foreign power, is willing to will not remind Mr. Alison with what party be its slave. Let us see whether these rules the design originated ; but we are sure that will not cut both ways. Mr. Alison is a he remembers, with as much pride and conscientious opponent of Parliamentary re- pleasure as ourselves, the signal defeat form, and a warm admirer of Russia. Sup- which it encountered from the generous inpose a Russian army to land at Leith, and to dignation of the British people. We might proclaim their intention of repealing the go much further than this. We might speak Act of 1832. Is Mr. Alison conscious of the of the general respect, we might almost- say slightest inward misgiving lest he should be the general affection, which is felt for the tempted to assist the invaders? Does he present occupant of the throne. We might not feel the same instinctive scorn of such refer to the kindly warmth with which the treachery, as of thest or forgery, or any name of that august lady is almost invariably other infamous crime? And what would be mentioned in society—to the universal grief his sensations if such a suspicion were pub- and alarm excited by the late supposed at. licly expressed, and if some Whig friend of tempts upon her life-to the personal unhis own were to answer it by moralizing up popularity which certain zealous Conservaon the frailty of human resolution, and ex- tives have incurred by a disrespectful menpressing thankfulness that the test is not tion of her name. Was the return of the likely to be applied? We know and feel fourth of June, we would ask, hailed with a that in such a case we could depend upon more exuberant loyalty than that the expres. the loyalty of every respectable Conservasion of which made the farthest hills and tive as upon our own; and we are heartily mountains of Scotland echo back its heartsorry, for Mr. Alison's own sake, that he stirring sounds, on the late royal visit to cannot bring himself to feel the same honest this quarter of the Island ? confidence in the opposite party.

We have now given a few sketches of British loyalty has not, in Mr. Alison's Mr. Alison's opinions respecting his liberal opinion, survived British honor and patriot-countrymen. The person holding these ism. The more advanced of the present sentiments is, we believe, a well-educated generation,' he says, 'still look back to the gentleman, of respectable talents, of extenmanly and disinterested loyalty with which, sive historical information, of a benevolent in their youth, the 4th of June was cele- temper, of strong religious feelings, and of brated by all classes, with a feeling of in a calm and contemplative turn of mind. terest increased by the mournful reflection, With all these means and capacities for that amidst the selfish ambition and demo-forming a candid judgment, he has, as we cratic infatuation of subsequent times, such have seen, made up his mind that in 1803 feelings, in this country at least, must be the reforming party in England were prenumbered among the things that have been.' pared to betray their country to Napoleon -(viii. 22.) We certainly shall not attempt that in 1831 they were bent upon imitat. to maintain that the same feverish and ing the worst excesses of the French Revo. thoughtless loyalty now prevails in England, lution-and that at the present moment they which was so common thirty or forty years would rather see the British empire perish ago. We acknowledge our belief that the than contribute to its aid at the risk of permen of the present generation would sonal inconvenience. And yet with what scarcely abandon an important political contempt and indignation would the author measure, because it was understood to be of these imputations listen to the ravings repugnant to the private opinion of a good of some poor, angry, ignorant, thick-headed old King,' or even of a good young Queen. Chartist, about the depraved morals and But we do sincerely believe that there never evil designs of the British aristocracy! was a period when Englishmen felt more Mr. Alison has shown much good sense solid, sober, trustworthy attachment to the and impartiality in his remarks upon the throne than at present. No man having the policy of the principal European powers sligbtest pretension to political importance, towards France. He speaks with just ad. has, of late years, expressed dislike of the miration of the persevering courage dismonarchical form of government. No man played by England and Austria ; but he baving the least regard for his character, has notices, with equally just severity, the prowith impunity offered any public insult to crastination, the timidity, the obstinate the reigning monarch. We do not say this prejudices, and the unreflecting ignorance

of military affairs, which deprived both na. the Duke of Brunswick completed in the tions of so many opportunities of victory, field what the King had begun in the cabi. and placed such fearful advantages in the net-and a campaign of six weeks left hands of their keen and wary antagonist. Prussia the powerless slave of France for The errors of Prussia were of a more se- as many years. Never, with one terrible rious nature ; and Mr. Alison has too much exception, did a civilized sovereign meet sense of moral rectitude not to visit them with a more deserved, a more signal, or a with deserved indignation. We need not more strictly personal chastisement, than retrace his account of the truly degrading Frederick William. The overthrow of his policy in which, for ten years, the rulers of brave army, the capture of his capital, the that state persisted. The guilty parties misery of his faithful subjects, the shameful have been punished by the scorn of every defection of his most trusted lieutenantsEuropean nation, and of none more signally all this was but the more ordinary part of than their own injured countrymen. We his punishment. He was compelled to atthink, however, that Mr. Alison shows fartend at Tilsit, humiliated by his political too much lenity in his remarks, upon the ruin, and embarrassed. by bis intellectual personal share of Frederick-Williams, in the lincapacity—the helpless suppliant of the disgrace of this period. It is clear, from triumphant Napoleon, and the acute and his own statements, that the treaty by accomplished Alexander. He was comwhich Prussia accepted Hanover from pelled to endure in person the insulting France, as the price of her treason to the neglect, or the supercilious condescension cause of Germany, originated in the un- of his ungenerous enemy, and his faithless principled cupidity of the King himself. ally. He saw his high-minded queen throw Such an instance of political depravity de- herself in tears at the feet of the French served far stronger censure than any which emperor, and receive an obdurate repulse. Mr. Alison has applied to its author. He returned home to witness her melan

The unhappy situation of Prussia from choly and lingering death-the result of 1795 to 1806 is, in our opinion, a most humbled pride and hopeless sorrow. He striking example of what Mr. Alison denies, survived these miserable events many years -the close connection between political -he lived to see his country free and vicimpotence and social insecurity. The Prus- torious, and he ended his life in peace and sians are generally considered admirable prosperity. lis early want of faith had specimens of the true German character; brought upon him such a prompt and over-- brave, generous, honest to a proverb, and whelming punishment as few princes have distinguished by a simplicity of manners undergone in this life; and the honorable and a kindness of heart, which has often consistency of his subsequent conduct may surprised and delighted the traveller, ac. induce us to hope that so dreadful a lesson customed to the levity of the French, or the was not inflicted in vain. reserve of the English. The ardor which! We are glad to find that Mr. Alison's they displayed in the struggles of 1806 and strong monarchical principles have not 1813, proves that they had felt their dis tempted him to imitate certain historians grace as became an honorable nation. But of that persuasion, in their perverted actheir rulers were irresponsible, and they counts of the Peninsular war. He relates were without a remedy. Had Frederick the many indelible disgraces incurred by William been a limited sovereign, Napoleon the Spanish nation in his usual tone of calm would have been crushed for ever in the forbearance; but he does not disguise his campaign of 1805. Even as it was, the opinion, that Spain owed to England alone grief and indignation of the people did, her escape-if escape it can be called, from too late, what their legitimate interference becoming a French province. We acknowwould have done speedily and effectually. ledge, however, that while we admire the Frederick-William, though not a man of steady equanimity of Mr. Alison's remarks, strong sense, was not destitute of all manly we have occasionally, in reading this part feeling. The united voice of his honest of his history, felt more inclination to symand loyal subjects, and the rash insults of pathize with the scornful indignation of the French emperor, at length roused him Colonel Napier. We cannot help thinking to a sense of his duty. An army of 120,000 that the resistance of the Spanish nation, men, who had lain idle in their barracks while fortunate as it was for Europe, was actually Napoleon was struggling for life and empire more discreditable to themselves than the in the valley of the Danube, marched to tamest submission. Submission would at encounter him returning in triumph from least have enabled us to suppose that the Austerlitz. A decisive battle was fought-people were not averse to the French yoke.

Thus the passive conduct of the Italian but a few, of the sieges sustained by their states in 1796, did not destroy the military towns, have done them more honor. The reputation of their citizens. It merely heroic defence of Gerona stands unrivalled, proved that their unhappy political condi- as an example of Spanish skill and valor. tion had, as might be expected, extinguished That of Zaragossa, considered merely as a public spirit among them; and, therefore, military exploit, was one of far inferior no one was surprised at the bravery after- brilliancy. The true glory of that cele. wards displayed by the Italian corps of brated city consists in the invincible pa. Napoleon's army. But the struggles of tience with which its defenders endured Spain were as furious as they were feeble; the ravages of pestilence and famine. That and their rancorous violence displayed is a species of courage in which the Spanthe resentment of the nation, without dis-iards have never been deficient. Like many guising its weakness. They made it clear, unwarlike nations, they are endued by their in short, that every Spaniard hated the moral or physical constitution with a pas. French, but that very few had the courage to sive courage, under suffering, which is meet them in the field. Many of our read- rarely displayed by the bold and hardy ers will remember the enthusiastic sympa- soldiers of northern Europe. But, putting thy which the Peninsular contest excited this out of the question, it was surely no in England. Orators declaimed upon the unparalleled achievement for 30,000 regular impotence of military discipline to with troops, aided by 15,000 well-armed peastand righteous enthusiasm ; as if military sants, to defend an imperfectly fortified discipline tended to extinguish enthusiasm, town for six weeks against 43,000 Frenchor as if enthusiasm were impossible except men. in a righteous cause. Poets wrote sonnets There are persons who think the desulabout the power of armies being a visible tory exploits of the Partidas sufficient to thing, while national spirit was invisible redeem the honor of Spain ; and who judge and invincible ;-as if the spirit which im- of Castilian skill and prowess, not from the pelled a brave German to march manfully disgraces of Blake and Cuesta, but from the to battle, bad been less formidable, or less adventurous feats of Mina and the Empecinoble, than that which prompted a Spanish nado. We own that we attach little impeasant to lurk in some remote sierra, portance to the isolated and imperfect sucshooting stragglers and robbing convoys. cesses of such leaders as these. We see But the unsparing exposures of Colonel little glory in firing from a thicket, or rollNapier at once and for ever fixed the opi- ing rocks down a ravine, especially at a nion of the English nation upon the events moment when a regular force was vainly of the Spanish war; the substance of his summoning recruits for the open defence parrative is confirmed, generally speaking, of Spanish independence. It was not so by the more lenient statements of Mr. Ali- that the gallant Tyrolese defended their son ; and their united testimony shows, country. They did not desert their Empethat the Spanish nation displayed in that ror to ensconce themselves in the fastnesses struggle a want of common sense, of com- of their mountains. While a hope remainmon honesty, of veracity, of humanity, and ed of resisting the enemy in the open field, of gratitude, scarcely to be paralleled in the they were constantly foremost in the ranks history of Bengal or of China.

of the Austrian army. The partisan warTo some of our readers—though to none, fare of the Spanish peasantry may captivate we think, who have given much attention romantic imaginations; but such are not the to the subject-these observations may ap- means by which a great nation should aspear unjust and illiberal. Their justice is sert its independence. The details of mosoon vindicated. Every British writer has dern warfare may wear an aspect of formal allowed that the history of the regular routine; but it is in the ranks of disciplined Spanish armies, during the Peninsular war, armies, with all their unpoetical accompais a mere tissue of folly, cowardice, and niments, that the true post of honor and disaster. The shameful names of Somo- danger is to be found. A regiment of gresierra, Rio Seco, Belchite, and Ocana, are nadiers trudging along the high-road, may sufficient to recall the long succession of be a less picturesque spectacle than a party their miserable overthrows. Their sole of brigands wandering among forests and achievement in the field-the surrender of precipices; but if they do their duty, they the French army at Baylen--has long been incur more risk, and perform more service, attributed to its true cause—the unaccount and therefore deserve more credit. Even able rashness, and more unaccountable des were it otherwise, it is not the bravery of pair, of the unhappy Dupont. A few, and a few straggling guerillas that can efsace the dishonor incurred by the regular Span- good and clever men sometimes feel for cerish armies. It would be a poor consolation tain worthless characters, so long as they to a Spaniard, that his country, with a pop-are not seriously called upon to form any ulation of twelve millions, and a military practical judgment respecting them. The force of 70,000 regular soldiers under arms, pleasure with which the characters alluded found her most effectual defenders in a few io are contemplated, proceeds entirely from thousand undisciplined sharpshooters. the taste and imagination; and rather re

The accusation of illiberality we are less sembles our admiration of a striking work careful to answer. We confess that we of art than our love or esteem for a human have no idea of complimenting away the being. If this is all that Mr. Alison feels tohardly-won glory of our gallant country- ward Russia, we have little more to say. men-of displaying modesty and generosity | The prepossession, however, is not such as at the expense of the heroic army which we should have expected to remark in a really delivered the Peninsula. Still less British historian of the nineteenth centuare we restrained by any scruple of delica- ry, nor is its display always regulated by cy from exposing the infamy of that unwor- the best taste. Still it may amount to no thy ally, whose jealousy constantly thwart. more than this--that while Mr. Alison ed our generals; whose cowardice repeat. acknowledges the numerous sanlts of the edly betrayed our soldiers ; whose imbe- Russian character, he is involuntarily daz. cility caused our dreadful loss at Albuera ; zled and attracted by some of its peculiariwho shamefully deserted our wounded at ties. We do not, by any means, sympaTalavera ; and who actually assasinated thize with this feeling ; but so long as it our stragglers during the retreat from Bur- does not betray its entertainer into any segos. The inflexible justice of Angelo is all rious defence of Russian policy, we are conthat we can grant the Spaniards :if in the tent to look upon it as a harmless though strict letter of history they can find credit somewhat unpleasing caprice. or excuse, it is well; if not, let them not The most interesting subject of Mr. Aliseek it from us.

son's history, next to the great Revolution We now come to what we certainly con- which forms the groundwork of the whole, sider the most incomprehensible peculiarity is undoubtedly the character of the extraorof Mr. Alison's work--the strong and appa dinary man who made that Revolution the rently causeless interest which he seems to instrument of his power. We scarcely feel in favor of the Russian nation. If this know any stronger illustration of the gepredilection had displayed itself by misrep- nius and influence of Napoleon Bonaparte, resentations of the real history of Russia— than the simple fact, that for twenty years by the suppression, or the sophistical pallia- his life and the history of Europe are contion, of her 'numerous political crimes-it vertible terms. During the whole of that would have called for a tone of remon- time, the annals of the smallest European strance very different from any which Mr. state would be absolutely unintelligible Alison's work has given us occasion to em- without a clear view of the policy and charploy. But we have been able to detect no acter of the French emperor; and, on the such attempt. Judging solely from the ac- other hand, every change of rulers in the count before us, we should unhesitatingly pettiest principality-every intrigue at Pe. conclude that the national character of the tersburg or Naples—every motion in the Russians is very unamiable ; that their do. British Parliament-was of immediate and mestic government is very corrupt; and vital concern to Napoleon. This is more that their foreign policy is very unprinci- than can be said of any other conqueror or pled. How far a hostile historian might statesman in modern times. The direct inhave aggravated the picture, we shall not fluence of Louis, Frederick, and Catharine, venture to pronounce; but certain we are was comparatively limited. A Russian or that the ordinary prejudices against Russia a Turk cared little for the invasion of Hol. require no stronger confirmation than the land or the Spanish succession; and an Italstatements of Mr. Alison. If, after fairly ian was comparatively indifferent to the laying the case before his readers, the his. conquest of Silesia or the division of Potorian chooses to retain his own prejudices land. But no such supineness prevailed dur. in defiance of his own facts and arguments, ing the wars of the French empire. Wherwe cannot see that we are called upon to in-ever the great conqueror was engaged, the terfere. The truth, we suppose, is, that the breathless attention of all Europe was fixed. formidable power and deep policy of Russia Every citizen of every state felt bis hopes have excited in Mr. Alison's mind that spe- or his fortunes raised or depressed by the cies of capricious quasi-admiration, which event. The death of an English minister

« PreviousContinue »