Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

unexampled, have hidden from the French, that which was obvious to all the world. Did any one of those kings of France, whom history has reprobated, ever dare to shed the blood of his subjects in such profusion, and with such contemptuous impudence? to criminate his country with all the world, and to defend his native soil so weakly? No; they were Frenchmen: Buonaparte was a foreigner. He had no sympathy with your national character. He employed you as the instruments of his ambition and cupidity; you were sacrificed as the toys of his caprice and cruelty. But, the moment that the danger became pressing and personal, that your native land was at stake, he abandoned his agents, his victims, and their country, he gave up France, and, if honor can belong to one like him, his honor too he lost. Thus has he discredited the armies of France, and the nation must be accountable for its own misfortune.

And when, after so many blunders, and after the return of the defeated army from Moscow, France was occupied by the allies; what use did they make of their first conquest? They retired, leaving the king at full liberty to establish his government: they relinquished the public funds to the new sovereign, and carried off neither private nor public property.

On the other hand, what was the conduct of the French people, who are continually dilating on their honor, their loyalty, and their glory? We are entering on this inquiry.

The king was stedfastly engaged for the welfare of his subjects. He permitted them to speak and write with freedom: and he saw them abuse that liberty, to which they are not competent. His noble and undaunted confidence had suggested the employment of those men, who were uniformly recognised as the enemies of his dynasty. The government was beset with all the difficulties that arose from the necessity of affairs, and it had to combat the still

greater obstacles that were daily raised by the disaffected, and by confirmed traitors. A legitimate and just king, in his mild and paternal course, was influencing the French towards prosperity, even without their co-operation. His spirit was toiling for the public happiness; he had even won the love of his enemies. What is his reward? He is so trifled with, deceived, and betrayed, that Buonaparte, by the mediation of these wretches, finds every road open, every impediment removed, and re-appears on the political stage, without being stopped by a single Frenchman.

This, then, is the conduct of that nation, which, ten months before, had sworn fidelity to its king, and had been the constant objects of his goodness and affection! The Corsican returns, with falsehood and imposture in his train ; and France believes that he comes to deliver her, to restore her to happiness and glory, to remedy every evil, to redeem the honor of the French armies, eclipsed after twenty years of victory. All is believed without hesitation. Every duty is forgotten, and all Europe is again menaced with fire and sword. I might enlarge on this atrocious and repulsive history; but the events are so recent, and the world can decide on them so easily, that I willingly turn from a subject, of which all the ignominious details are not necessary to be stated. But one fact it is difficult to refrain from noticing: I mean the hardihood and the impudence of the French journalists, and of the French public, who accuse the allies of all the evils that her own pusillanimous and criminal conduct has brought upon her. This language argues the most perfect indifference for the past and the present, and offers a criterion for the prospects that other nations may entertain, if this one is left at her own discretion.

Let us hope that the allies will not commit this mistake, and that their policy will be consonant with the rational

interests of all nations! Their armies are at Paris, for the second time in less than 18 months. The absurd stories devised at the time of the first invasion, are no longer in fashion: no fictitious treason is held forth: France has been really conquered, in a single battle, where the day was disputed with animosity. The French armies are most openly and incontrovertibly beaten. Their wretched leader has branded them with a disgrace, that France never knew under her legitimate kings. And this people, who lay such anxious claim to military glory, and prize it so highly, can yet hear without horror, the name of that monster, who has again concluded his career, by a shameful and precipitate flight, after ruining the honor of the French arms, and giving up vast provinces to the victorious nations, when he had shown himself but once in battle. And this miscreant has yet his partisans among his former subjects! How shall we explain this strange delusion? When we contemplate what occurs in France, we can only ascribe it to that embruted nature which has grown over them, from their submission to reprobates, whose fraud and intrigue have sunk them to this opprobrious abyss.

say

The present generation are strangers to the Bourbons, the apostles of Jacobinism, who have outlived the revolutionary horrors they caused. They employ this pitiful argument with those young people, whom they wish to seduce to Buonaparte. These might answer; "We knew them not, indeed; but we are guiltless in their sight; they cannot reproach us with a single crime of that hideous period you call the revolution; we assassinated no one, but you reigned by the charter of terror, while you raised your throne on the blood-weltering remains of the princes of that house, who were the objects of our forefathers' veneration. It behoves us not to combine with you, to shelter enormities that are irremissible; we have nothing in

[ocr errors]

common with you; secure your own impunity as you may. The Corsican, whom Heaven, in its wrath, had granted us for a king, is politically no more; behold the approach of that family, which governed us during eight centuries; we have sworn fealty to it, and we will maintain it." Ah! how different had the situation of France been now, if the bulk of the population had spoken thus, in the language, which alone is consistent with reason and justice! France would then, in truth, have manifested an impressive demeanour (attitude imposante), with the allies and all the world to witness. We should have known how to found our trust; we should have seen a truly loyal character, and sentiments that might forebode the period of those calamities which threaten the world. Unhappily, it is not thus the French harden themselves in the revolutionary principles; they exult in perjury, and prolong rebellion, under the most trifling pretexts. Do they imagine that Europe can see this state of things with indifference, or that she will tolerate principles so dangerous, both to those who profess them, and to adjoining countries? If such principles are sanctioned, there can be no safety for any people. If this turbulent and leprous nation will not understand their own good, it is indispensable, henceforth, to restrain them, as far as possible, from mischief towards their neighbours.

To accomplish this end, the allies remain in France. It is thought proper to complain of their conduct, during their necessitated residence: Let us weigh the justice of these complaints.

We have seen how they bore their faculties at the first invasion; and the character of French gratitude. According to the French, the presence of foreign armies wounded their self-respect and delicacy. These two words are much in vogue; but their real meaning has been lost in modern

France. At the intercession of the king, venerable by his virtues and his trust-worthy character (loyal), the allies consented to withdraw from the territory of France. They retired, in reliance on the good faith and the oaths of this people, who are perpetually referring to their honor. This retreat was the signal for conspiracy, and a new war is quickly superinduced. Behold what the allies have gained by their confidence in the present honor of the French. Ought they to incur the same risk again?

But, say the French, we are treated like a conquered nation, requisitions are levied, we are oppressed. We shall not institute a comparison between the conduct of the French army in foreign countries, and that of the resident allies; we should blush to be levelled with this people. Neither will we renew our remarks on the exactions of every kind, on the ravage and the havoc, to which they subjected their neighbours: we shall content ourselves with observing, that the French have universally assumed the right of prescribing laws, both for exterior and domestic relations, and for the municipality; they ordered peace to be concluded, and in most instances, they compelled the vanquished to declare war with friendly powers, against whom those nations had no grievance to allege. They fettered commerce by every expedient, they ruined it by the most oppressive prohibitions; their horrible legislation completed the disasters that their arms had begun, with promptitude and cruelty unexampled.

The allies, on the contrary, observe the utmost regularity, in all the operations required for the maintenance of the troops; their supplies are administered with the greatest lenity and simplicity. The expenditure of the officers is in ready money; it amounts daily to larger sums than might be imagined, and the inhabitants are thus accommodated in a manner unknown to the people overcome by France. The

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »