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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 4


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But this was not all. By this proceeding and alliance we brought upon us Austria, Russia, Spain, and France; and, by taking the French colony of Canada, so exasperated the latter power, that it seized the first opportunity of retribution, and succeeded in enabling the Americans, backed by Spain and Holland, to wrest our great North American states from us, at a direct cost of one hundred and thirty- six millions sterling! Such were the astounding and disastrous consequences of our intermeddling with continental politics and warfare - a proceeding in direct violation of the compact by which the house of Hanover was admitted to the British throne, which declared that England should not be drawn into any wars on account of the king's foreign possessions. Well might Sir Philip Francis declare in parliament, in 1792, that "all German alliances were to be particularly dreaded, as being always attended with endless and impossible expense." Well might he protest - and which, indeed, every sensible man might from the first have done - that "the balance of power in Europe was not so much our affair as it was that of the continental powers." Well might Fox, in the same debate, indignantly exclaim, that " we stand forward the principal in every quarrel, the Quixotes of every enterprise, the agitators in all the plots, intrigues, and disturbances throughout Europe."

The consequences of this meddling, of this quixotism, went still further. So far, we had begun with defending Hanover, and ended by losing America. Well would it have been had we thus ended; but our bitterness over the interference of France, and the consequent loss of the United States, made us eager to leap in, and to take up arms against France on the first occasion of internal discord, She had freed America from our despotism; we would not suffer her to be freed from her own. When the oppressed people arose, and put down the monarchy and aristocracy which had ruined and demoralised the nation, we banded with the despots of the continent, not merely to defend themselves, but to force back upon the French the same besotted and imbecile dynasty. It was a most unjustifiable interference with the internal affairs of an independent people, and we paid for it in the most dreadful struggle that the world has yet seen - a twenty-one years of inconceivable deluges of blood, and of the expenditure of the incredible sum of three thousand three hundred and eighty-three millions of money!

Many and splendid have been the pens which have been zealously employed on behalf of toryism to defend this monstrous war - this banding of a free nation with a host of despots to quell the efforts of an oppressed people for its emancipation - and to represent this horrible blood-bath, into which all Europe was plunged, not only as just, but as glorious. It has been represented as the cause of religion - but certainly not the religion of Christ, the Prince of Peace - of morals and sound government, of humanity, and even of freedom. There is no limit to what will be said by paid advocates in the very worst of causes; but, spite of the multitude of eloquent articles which have issued forth in this cause, in books and reviews, in journals and newspapers, the international maxim, that no nation has a right to interfere with the internal proceedings of another, has only grown, and become more and more widely established. Now, bloody, cruel, atheistical, and insolent as the French revolutionists were, so long as they only wreaked their fury on their oppressive government, and even on themselves, neither we nor any other people had a right to interfere. But it is unquestionable that the Austrians and Prussians, with the Prussian king, William Frederick, and the duke of Brunswick, did first proclaim war on France, and threatened " to lay her as flat as a field." They received their overthrow at Jemappe. After this, there is nothing to be said in defence of this war on our part. We banded with these aggressors to force back on the people of France a government, which, in characters of blood, they had denounced on the walls of Paris as odious to them.

Then, however, comes the second argument in favour of our coalition. Napoleon, as we are just going to relate, began a career of conquest which threatened to lay all Europe at his feet. He was lawless, faithless, and incapable of being treated with, for he could not be bound by any treaty. There was nothing for it but force, and combined force, to put him down. True, in our attempt on the liberties of a great though impious nation, we had raised a power - a spirit, and, out of the midst of this spirit, an atmosphere of enthusiastic and patriotic defence, an apparition that rose towering above our heads, and threatened to destroy all that resisted. He broke down all obstacles to his ascension to supreme power, and trod scornfully under his feet all the nations of the continent and their despots. Napoleon was. indeed, possessed of a spirit of insatiable conquest, and of haughty, insolent domination, which justly demanded re pulse and humiliation. But here comes the all-important question - a question most commonly lost sight of - whose business was it to do this? Was it for England, quixotically, to take upon herself almost the whole giant contest? Was she to stand in all parts and places, with money-bags, with men, with arms, with ships, to defend, not merely herself, but the whole world? Was it proper, or demanded by sound reason, by common sense - nay, even by interest, by sympathy, or humanity, the most urgent and god-like reason of all - that England should waste her energies, impoverish her people, and mortgage her property for countless generations to come, to rescue all other people? If we would understand the full answer, let us ask those people to pay their fair share of the consequent burden left upon us; let us ask the unborn generations, what business Lad Pitt and his borough-monger majority with them? Why should they pay the onerous penalty of his reckless and rabid quixotism?

But first we must inquire whether these people were rescuable by any such means, and by such stupendous sacrifices, on our part; whether they were, at the time, and for a long time afterwards, rescuable by any means? We admit that England acted a great and generous part, when those nations were, in their turn, assailed; that, in the terrible contest, her strength, her resources, her bravery and indomitable spirit, developed themselves in a magnificent degree; but, still comes the question, was our conduct as wise and business-like as it was generous? Was our unbounded aid actually necessary, and prudently applied? We answer, that our conduct, taken in the best light, was that of a generous madman. As well might a man, to liberate a friend, have attempted, with his bare hand, to beat down the walls of Newgate.

It is a great truth - one which should be written large on the walls of the council Chambers and parliaments of every people - that a nation which cannot defend its own institutions is not worthy of them, far less worthy of being defended by others. It is another truth, equally sure, that no nation can maintain the liberties of another, which is not capable of defending its own. But here was not a single nation, but a whole continent, impotent against a single nation. Here was a mighty constellation of nations - Germany, Prussia, Austria, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Italy - nations of home hundred millions of inhabitants - all, unitedly, incapable of defending themselves against France - a nation of some forty millions of people.

There must have been a cause for all this, far deeper than the genius of the French Commanders or the rapid master- ships of French military tactics could fathom. There was! It was the effeminacy and degradation of those nations, the consequence of despotic government and aristocratic disintegration. At the precise moment at which we are now arrived - the autumn of 1794 - the German diet, acting on the appeal made by the duke of Coburg, agreed to a conclusion for the arming of the whole mass of the people of the empire, burghers and peasantry; but what did the king of Prussia, whom we had subsidised, for the very support of this cause? He declared that, unless the conclusum was withdrawn, he would at once secede from the Bund. He knew too well that his own enslaved people, and the provinces which he and his father had so violently seized upon, would no sooner have arms in their hands, than they would demand their national rights - their constitutional freedom. Had this conclusum been carried out, Germany would have been spared twenty years' humiliation, ravage, and oppression; for the Germans had a deep hatred of the French, and would, inspired by liberty, have done what they did at last - join the march of peoples into France, and put down the Gallic invaders.

A writer, who has, perhaps, more than any other, con- tended for the justice and necessity of this war - the writer of " Knight's History " - yet says, " In reflecting on the power, the decision, and undoubted military genius of Buonaparte, people have left too much out of consideration the miserable folly and wickedness of the continental governments, who made up his game for him, and played into his hands; who put the knife into his grasp, nor complained, nor attempted to wrest it from him, till they found it at their own throats. Russia was a great horde of barbarous serfs; Poland had been first unnationed by its aristocrats, and then dismembered by its vulture neighbours; Germany was carved by the usurpations of the aristocracy into two thousand small states. The rest of the nations were equally enslaved and emasculated, and they fell an easy prey."

Now, under such circumstances, the English government should have asked, and might soon have learned, from actual observation, was it possible to help such people? The rapid ascendancy of France was a lesson from Heaven on the necessity of keeping alive in a nation the popular spirit, and a manly spirit of active union. " God," says the adage, " helps those who help themselves." It is a sublime truism, and no mortal, or immortal, power can help them who cannot help themselves. The nation that cannot maintain its freedom against its own government, cannot maintain it against its external foes.

Before those nations could be rescued, and the career of Napoleon be stopped, it was absolutely necessary that they should pass through the baptism of bloody and cruel regeneration. They must be beaten, trodden on, insulted, robbed, and tortured in body, mind, honour, and estate - in every feeling of manly pride and spirit, till they rose in the rekindled wrath of actual men; and then, and not till then, would the foe retreat before them. " You may depend upon it," said the gallant Blucher, in 1806, to Bourrienne, the French minister at Hamburg, " that when once a whole nation is determined to shake off a humiliating yoke, it will succeed. I rely on the future. It is impossible but that the time will come when all Europe, humbled by your emperor's exactions, and impatient of his depredations, will rise up against him. The more he enslaves nations, the more terrible will be the reaction when they break their chains." If our insane ministered had but had the knowledge which this wise and brave man possessed, and if they had relied on the future; had they waited till the nations were scourged by Gallic insolence into the true chain-breaking temper, instead of throwing our money by handfuls amongst effeminate slaves and selfish despots; had they waited for the moment of the rising of the real spirit of independence, they might have spared us our national debt, and yet have come in at the rescue of Europe. For Blücher's words were a prophecy; and in vain did Buonaparte, for nearly twenty years, goad, tread upon, and insult the spiritless dreamers of Germany; they awoke not to a sense of their national degradation, and all our wealth and arms were thrown away upon them.

Regardless or ignorant of this great truth, our ministers went on, from year to year, putting arms into hands that, at the first sight of an enemy, ran away and left them. Wesubsidised monarchs with our annual millions, to raise troops and fight for their own hearths and homes, and the French came and levied this very money in contribution. We actually maintained the war for the French, and furnished them with arms and money to fight against our soulless allies and ourselves!

If the history of our continental subsidies and their application could be written in its naked reality, and as it is ridiculed on the continent, it would present a revolting and humiliating scene. The hard-earned money, wrung from our brave and industrious people, till they rose in their misery, and even threatened king and government with destruction, went to be divided amongst a host of despots and harem slaves. It went to pamper the lust and s10th of some of the most infamous princes of Germany. It went to pay the debts and mistresses of men who were loathed by their own people, as monsters of sensual filth; and grovelling petty princes, who had not a soldier to bring into the field - such was the ignorance or the criminal carelessness of our government - received large sums, with which they satisfied greedy concubines and long-waiting creditors, and then plunged into still deeper sensual mire, in reiiance on the lavish, unser utinising, and exhaustless subsidies of England. The stories of such facts which are circulated in Germany, and which, during the years that I resided there, I was frequently hearing, are painful to English minds.

Those princes that did bring men into the field, such as the Hessians, Brunswickers, &c., the Menschen-Verkäufer, or man-sellers, as they are styled by their own people, were rapacious beyond example. During the American war we had employed these Hessians, Brunswickers, and the like, at a cost that excited general indignation. Besides paying seven pounds ten shillings and a penny for every man, the duke of Brunswick, who furnished only four thousand and eighty- four men, had had an annual subsidy of fifteen thousand five hundred and nineteen pounds. The landgrave of Hesse-Cassel who furnished twelve thousand men, had ten thousand two hundred and eighty-one pounds a year. The hereditary prince of Hesse, for his miserable quota of six hundred and eighty-eight men, had his six thousand pounds a year! And besides this, we were bound to defend their territories from all attack! Nay, besides their annual subsidies, Brunswick was to receive double subsidies for two years after his troops were dismissed; and the others, like advantages. In short, these man-sellers had sold their slaves, the offscouring of their population, not raised, as now, by conscription, but raked together by any means - something dear - about seventeen thousand mercenaries costing us a million-and-a-half yearly! In the French war, our bargains with these people were equally absurd. The Hessians had the like proportion of pay and subsidy; the duke of Brunswick, for his wretched knot of two thousand two hundred and eighty-nine men, his sixteen thousand a year subsidy! But, as we have said, this was not all. We paid the great powers, so called, but more properly the great weaknesses, to our own actual mischief. The Austrians were, perhaps, the most honest in the cause of the Germans, and fought very doggedly, but with little judgment and less success. We find it recorded by Buonaparte himself, in the transactions of his wars, published by the present emperor of the French, that when he first came across the Austrians, they had flung themselves in so absurd a way before him, that he thought they had some stratagem in it, and, for a while, he was cautious in attacking them; but he became aware that it was sheer stupidity, and then he fell on them, and put them to flight; but that through all their campaigns they learned nothing by experience. They were so slow, that they were actually useless in any attempts to co-operate with them. We have seen the duke of York complaining of them; and a far greater man, Nelson, who was sent to assist the south of Italy in conjunction with them, in the present year, 1794, was driven almost frantic by them. " This army," he wrote, " is slow beyond all conception; and I begin to think that the emperor is anxious to touch another five millions of English money. As for these German generals, war is their trade, and peace is ruin to them: therefore, we cannot expect that they shall have any wish to finish the war." – Southey’s Life of Nelson.

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