« ZurückWeiter »
armies of Napoleon had no resource but the talent for plunder; they seized every thing, but without payment. The allied armies in France, cost immense sums to their soveréigns, who are far from being reimbursed by the contributions of the country. Not a solitary example can be adduced, either of generals or officers, to whom any profit accrues from plunder. The expenditure of our officers is reckoned at more than 24 millions of francs monthly. We do not pretend, on this account, that the stay of our armies ought to be acceptable to the French; neither is such the design of the sovereigns. They mean not to remunerate crime; they are contented, not to visit it with severity. But we assert, that never have such numerous armies occu pied a country, with so little inconvenience. We have very sufficient reasons for thinking, that France, in the end, will find that the residence of the allied armies has by no means injured her to the extent that she would have us be lieve.
All that we have said is not meant as an apology for the allies; they need none; we have merely laid forth some arguments, whence it is plainly inferrible, that the French have no right to complain.
The extreme facility with which past events are slurred over in France, is obvious to all the world; and the cool levity that attends the mention of the most aggravated crimes, excites horror in evrey ingenuous mind. Each
'A document has just appeared, remarkable of its kind, and which would be astonishing, if we could be astonished at any thing that is done in France. I allude to the exculpatory memorial of Marshal Ney, written by his advocate. These gentry inform Europe, that the expressions of fidelity and devotedness, used by a French gentica an and a subject, who solemnly vows them to his king, are but the vergy of language, which binds to nothing; that high treason is only a fatal error, or an unfortunate weakness. If any fresh proof were wanting
person has his excuse. One was very young, another was deluded by evil counsel, or by example: a third was absent; another, though obliged to take part in crime, secretly abjured it. Nevertheless, almost the whole nation were guilty; there are some noble exceptions; but it is pity that they are so few. All these vile and criminal men now talk of developing the national character; a very favorite phrase in France. Suffer but this character to develope itself, composed as it is of such discordant elements, and social order will quickly be scattered to ruin. These great thoughts, whose development is fondly looked for, would find their first exercise in the plunder of neighbouring countries. In whatever light the present or the past is contemplated, we must harbour the same fears for the future; we have all to apprehend, when we leave the means of mischief at the disposal of those, who have been involved in the odious cabals and the intrigues that have ended in the present misfortune of France. All these men are yet on the alert. We have only to read the daily prints, adapted to irritate and deceive the people. What will not so fallible a nation believe? Among other absurdities, were they not persuaded, that the allies forwarded the return of Buonaparte? This ridiculous forgery was circulated with eminent success, and for some time, it aided the plans of the agitators, who busily disseminate division. It is their aim and object to do mischief, while they are able, no matter by what means, if they can but succeed to organize faction. They must have some disorder; unanimity, and the co-operation of the prudent
of the abandonment of the general manners, and the total disregard of all honorable feeling, this memorial would furnish it. How could a censorship, which seizes so many pamphlets, either insignificant or sophistical, pass without notice a writing in which all decent restraints. are overborne, and the most sacred principles of civilised society trampled under foot?
majority, would be a death-warrant to these seditious cha
While they acknowledge the malignant and dangerous tendencies of great part of the population, some Frenchmen yet observe, that the war being only declared against Buonaparte, whose sceptre is now broken, and not against France, the allies should consign to France herself the care of her future safety. This argument is specious, but inconclusive. We reply: "you are not to be depended upon, inasmuch as you share the principles and the views of that ambitious chief: we are daily more convinced, that we were mistaken in supposing that the responsibility of his plans did not attach to you. Since the king's return, your detestable proceedings have outgone all expectation. You are continually proving to us, that if we leave you to yourselves, we shall witness the revival of the most appalling scenes of the revolution. Under this point of view, you must only attribute your present condition to yourselves. France has instructed us, that the banishment of her despicable chief is inadequate to secure the world's repose, which the allies mainly contemplate. They are constrained then, without any option, to take some security. It is a duty that honor claims of them: it is the prayer of every people, and we hope that it will be fulfilled.
In expressing these sentiments with regard to the French nation at large, it is plain that we admit honorable exceptions: we have already said as much. But we cannot be unconscious, that we have great reason to complain of the apathy of these few honorable characters, since the truly desirable return of their king. Why did they not withstand the progress of so many treacherous and malignant rumors, such as the pretended project of annulling the disposal of the national property; inasmuch as the charter, and the king's
wishes on this subject, were equally notorious? Why did they not demonstrate, that this stratagem only aimed at uniting the ill-disposed against the happy restoration of affairs? And do they not think that they facilitated the mischief that has occurred, by such unmeasured pretensions, and by the reckless importunity with which they solicited grants in every department? But this madness is general in France. There can be no repose until that fatal and injurious habit shall be eradicated by the government; and until offices shall not be bestowed on urgent intriguers, who engross every advantage, but solely on worthy men, whom their province knows to be such. This is an object that should be specially included in ministerial responsibility.
We are told, that many persons are unemployed, for whom government should provide. We do not comprehend, how this can be the case in France, after the murderous wars into which Buonaparte has plunged her: how vast must be the chasm in a population sacrificed with such persevering fury! However this be, the remainder are so habituated to a vagrant life and to military disorders, that mild and quiet occupations can hardly suit them. We do not concern ourselves with their fate, provided that they be hindered from disturbing the peace that we all want. France is not the only country, whose population has been extravagantly devoted to war. Thanks to her bad example, we have all experienced this disaster. When she equipped her whole people for destruction, we were compelled to arm for preservation. When we disembody our troops, we shall be careful to put them into occupations that cannot hurt our neighbours: we shall not be remiss in our public duties towards those who have deserved rewards; but we do not permit them to prescribe to us. Do you the same, and the work is half ended.
I shall conclude with no unwelcome remark: if the French nation is indeed unhappy, from the issue of her past conduct, this violent shock was necessáry, and will perhaps conduce to her future welfare. From what happened after the first return of Louis XVIII, and what we know of the sentiments of a certain class, it is too clear that the nation was not qualified to appreciate and properly to enjoy the goodness of her king. A resolute and mild government, better suited to her internal connexions, when it is more established, will render her institutions more beneficial. Experience has shown, that we were wrong in awaiting considerable results from the government restored after the first entrance of the allies; the revolution that has burst forth, commands different measures. There will be less of perjury and hypocrisy. The specific is employed with more confidence, when we know the root of the disease.
The king is better enabled than ever to discriminate his real friends, among a people to which he has been an alien for 25 years, and which, during that period, has been bewildered with visionary theories. There is no evil, which a wise government cannot obviate; deep are the wounds that France has inflicted on herself; but with time and considerate firmness they may be cured. Above all, let her renounce those vague ideas, those abstract speculations, those beguiling studies, which are so attractive to the national mind, and which have long been allowed too great an influence in the education of her youth. However important the subject, I shall not dwell upon it.
Neither do I profess to mark out the path best calculated for France, her constitution, and her laws. Let the king know his real friends; he has adherents enough to fill every office with men of tried talents, probity, and honor; let him remove the rest. His council may be formed entirely of virtuous, able, and respected characters. France NO. XII. Pam. VOL. VI.