Abbildungen der Seite

Still a hereditary crown, surrounded and limited by the people from whom it emanates and to whom it is responsible, may comport with freedom of no mean grade: and they who unite in that great cause must tolerate the prejudices, the weaknesses, the necessities, the waywardness and perversity of each.

The existing repose of Europe is transitory. What shall be the next scene of that drama there is no prophet to tell; but whatever be the shape events may take, we know the chief actors and the parts they will play. We know that the Czar will lead the crusade of despotism: and that he will be opposed by the hosts of freedom-but who shall be their leader, or who their allies, or when that day shall come, it is not given us to know. It may be at the threshhold—or half a generation off. It may be that France will shake off the domination of Louis Napoleon and Russia may march in the cause of kings under the name of the Bourbons. It may be that Louis Napoleon may acquiesce in her dictation, consent to rule on her terms and by her aid, and postpone till his death the decisive conflict. It may be that he will appeal to the pride of France, and array her against the northern league in the name of national sovereignty, for the benefit of his personal ambition: or that allied with his masters he may purchase his peace by services against freedom. Germany may once again draw the sword and clutch it with a firmer and more resolute grasp. Some unknown and unanticipated event may open the floodgates of revolutionary war. But however and when

[ocr errors]

ever the general peace is disturbed the parties to the contest will be the servants of light and of darknessand the latter will be led by the Czar of Russia. The problem we have to solve is-by what arms he may best be met and overthrown.

Europe is quiet on the surface-but boiling beneath. It is a crust covering molten lava-which any day may stir into the resistless fury of the earthquake, engulfing every throne in its fiery chasms. Russia is the only power of Europe seated on ground not undermined by the volcanic fires of revolution-the sole and the last refuge of despotism. She is powerful to protect; but she is not invulnerable. In wars of ordinary ambition she can be assailed in no vital part. She can repel invasion and retaliate it with impunity. Experience has shewn that with her on their side the monarchs of Europe are too strong for their subjects. But to the fires of revolution she is obnoxious. Her Polish provinces are exposed so that she cannot protect them. Their indomitable spirit supported from abroad will roll back the tide of Russian invasion, dam up the resources of the princes of western Europe, and deliver them naked and defenceless to the fiery indignation of their outraged people. Thus only can Russia be assailed. Thus only can the cause of freedom be emancipated from her deadly power.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This is the only possible mode-but it is sure and effectual. Every foot of territory gained by freedom is the frontier of a new campaign of advance. Its light now shines over all Poland-where the whole people worship its beams. Its grey dawn spreads

even beyond the limits of her provinces, foretelling the approach of the light still below the horizon. If Germany be free, and the Polish provinces of Prussia and Austria, speaking the same language and having the same national traditions with those of Russia, once obtain national institutions, the whole power of Russia cannot keep their brethren in darkness or in sleep. An imaginary line of posts and sentinels alone marks the division. The frontier seems movable and unsettled. Russia has hopes of a westward march. It seems as if Providence prepared the eastward spread of liberty and light. With Prussian and Austrian Poland free, it would be a war of extermination alone which could suppress the Poles whom Russia holds enslaved. It is the certainty of this consequence which causes Russia so anxiously to watch and to ward off a danger she sees to be fatal if once fastened on her. The problem of the age is to establish a free government on the Russian frontier and maintain it there. To prevent it Russia has hitherto lavished her blood and treasure-and she is ready to lavish more. The evil would not be so deadly if it could be stayed at the inner boundary of the Polish provinces. But once securely seated in Poland, even though she continued faithful to the Russian crown, its despotic power must fade away before it. Its example would gradually wake the idea, the desire, the resolution of obtaining free institutions. The progress of cultivation, the habits of forethought, the examples of Polish debates, the impossibility of excluding Polish newspapers, would force the imperial government to a change of policy

under penalty of being swept away in case of obstinate refusal. The idea of equality, the central idea of justice and the very foundation of the democratic theory, would render it impossible for Russia long to continue the mild, legal, public, and constitutional rule of a popular government in Poland-side by side with the iron despotism however paternal which now reigns in Russia. The people of the central provinces now are quiet, devoted, and loyal subjects: but they are so because they do not desire political privileges. If that desire be at all diffused it breeds opposition to the despotic power of the Emperor, discontent, murmurs, conspiracies, and rebellions; and these necessarily engender military law, bloody executions, jealous inquisitions, and judicial murders. The despotic power is at once converted into a tyranny, and civil discord consumes the resources of the land till despotism or liberty sit on an unquestioned throne. It was to prevent this evil that Russia abrogated the Polish constitution after the rebellion of 1831, and invaded Hungary in 1849.

But failure in either of those struggles would have permanently settled the triumph of free principles.

The same danger revives at every resurrection of the revolutionary spirit—and it must always be met by Russia in the same manner, promptly, energetically, and successfully. The despotic power of her Autocrats is at issue in every revolutionary struggle in any part of Germany.

If therefore Russia can be made to abstain from interference—or if her power can be balanced by the

counteracting influence of free governments-the success of the liberal cause seems certain.

We know the utmost power we have to meet— even in the absence of a Polish propaganda and a Polish revolt. Russia with all her vast military resources for defence against military aggression is by no means more powerful in foreign war than several other governments of Europe. Her military power is not greater for foreign invasion than that of France. All Germany united under a federal constitution such as ours would have nothing to fear from her utmost might. Her population of sixty millions is sparsely scattered over an immense territory, in a low state of civilization, and of little intelligence; her pecuniary resources are limited like those of all merely agricultural and pastoral states; and the single campaign of Hungary drove her to solicit loans in the English market. The compact territory, the intelligence, the military aptitudes, the central position of Germany, if united under one government, fully compensate for the excess of the heterogeneous population of Russia in a direct contest of military power. Russia has never been able to send half of her nominal army of European operation across her frontiers. She could contribute only one hundred and twenty thousand men in 1814 to march beyond her limits; and the hundred and eighty thousand who entered Hungary were not only much the largest force ever sent beyond her frontier, but that body taxed to the utmost her military resources and was all she could spare for foreign aggression. Her power lies not in its preponderance, but in its unity, its promptness,

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »