網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

would doubtless have evinced greatness of mind. But their subjects also had been injured and offended; and we know not what to think of that exercise of prerogative which atones for mortal injuries done to whole nations, by suffering the main cause of them to escape unpunished. They have, it is true, banished the culprit to an island in the African seas. But that is only what, in a short time, the safety of Europe would have obliged them to do, had he not abandoned Elba. By bis abandonment of that petty Sovereignty, he has placed himself and the arbiters of his fate in a new predicament. From being an independent power living inoffensively in his owu dominions, lie is become a violator of solemn treatiey-an invader, a usurper. His rights of sovereignty are therefore foi feited; and a right has i crued to the Allies, not inerely of providing by new means for their viva safety, but of visiting the offender with punishment. Twelve months ago, his removal fron Elba, and banishment to any other place, would have been an injury for which no excuse but that of necessity could be pleaded. One month ago, he had become an outlaw, so that driving him into esile was no longer an injury but a just punishment--if any punishment can be called just, which falls short of what justice warrants. The allied sovereigns are the most merciful of human beings. Strict justice seems out of the question in their dealings even with those who have shaken their thrones, and taken away the lives of thousands of their subjects. Be it SO. Of all men they are the most deeply interested in the arrangements now in progress : and as no description of persous can possibly judge so correctly of the high interests of nations as the counsellors whom they have around them, we are willing to hope that in spite of present appearances, their decisions at Paris will be found to be on the whole, as wise as they are momentous.

The public certainly wished Bonaparte to have been shipped off sans ceremonie for Cayenne, or Siberia, or New South Wales. But government has preferred St. Helena ; and being an island of difficult access in the midst of an ocean, it certainly is a better jail than any of those penitentiary regions would have been, at the same time that many people will regret seeing that

spot, which used to be the resort of honest men, made a receptacle for traitors, murderers and thieves—the Virginia or the Botany Bay of the day. Napoleon's British abettors will, however, be glad to learn that he will there live in a salubrious air, and enjoy the rauk and consideration of a general officer. What more would they have had ? Would it have gratified them to have seen him received with royal distinction at Plymouth, and appointed, forsooth, governor of that place, or of Portsmouth. As the leader of a hostile foreign army, he could neither meditate nor perpetrate anything which we could fairly construe into treason : when therefore he fell into our hands, we had no right to proceed criminally against him and take away his life. He was merely a prisoner of war; and the doom of such a prisoner is, of course, imprisonment. We might indeed hate remanded him to France : but it was not incumbent on us to do so; and it is pretty plain that had we done so, the good folks there would not have thanked us for our courtesy. We have with the utmost propriety, sent him across the seas: for it lies with the victors to determine where they shall detain their prisoners. There he is--and in conformity to the established law of nations, there he will continue, either till death, who owes him more than he ever can repay, shall lay his hand on him; or till he be claimed, like any other prisoner, by his rightful sovereign, and exchanged with an officer of equal rank. But who is bis sovereign-of what world, visible or invisible? Until Napoleon be so claimed, Sir George Cockburne will no doubt continue to have him in his good keeping-just as the Holy Father used sometimes to do, when bis Imperial Majesty had grace enough given him to consider godliness as great gain.

Various reasons have been assigned for the moderation of the allies towards the degraded tyrant. The Emperor of Austria, though not unmiudful either of the injuries done to his States, or of the insults offered to himself, has' uniformly expressed a strong desire that his life should be spared ; his motives are obvious. The king of France, whom the laws of every civilized country would have justified in urging matters to the last extremity, yet, wished to see forbearance practised-partly from the assurances he had of the greatness of the number of

those who still thought well of the usurper; partly because he wished to see the insensibility of some of his subjects to his goodness worn away by time; but chiefly because the exercise of strict justice towards them was abhorrent to his gentle nature. And all the powers who had co-operated, in this second conquest of France-a conquest achieved by less than one-third of the force directed against it-were unwilling to exhibit another spectacle of one who had been accounted royal, suffering, like a vulgar offender, on the scaffold. Francis's motives were natural. Those of the combined sovereigns were prudent this much being obvious, that if Napoleon has done nothing worthy of bonds or of death, no crowned head can hereafter be guilty of any crime whatever sufficient to warrant capital pubishment. It is demonstrable, however, that Louis would have proved his devotion to the interests of France more effectually by insisting upon its criminal laws taking their course, than by authorising measures beneficial only to the enemies of his country and of his throne. Was he afraid to intrust the course of public justice to the new tribunals? He and his Ministers dreaded, perhaps, the fermentation that might have been proJuced, by the capital conviction of Napoleon in any department of France. Still they ought to have recollected that an exemplary expiation was due to mankind; and they might have consoled themselves with the idea of the perfect safety which the presence of the allied forces yielded to every lawful and necessary proceeding. Should the Jacobin hydra raise his head twelve months hence, Hercules will not be there-Louis, left to himself, is not a Hercules.

Have effectual steps been taken to prevent the serpent from slipping through the fingers of his keepers ? Prometheus's offence of once ingeniously taking from an inexhaustible source, that which was to illuminate, warm, and cheer the world, was nothing, in point of enormity, to that of systematically and malignantly robbing the human race of happiness, every where said to exist in too scanty a degree. Yet, that his punishment might be uninterrupted, he was chained down to his rock. Napoleon's restraint is to be less rigorous, because the kings of the moderns are far more humane than were the gods of the NO. V.

VOL. I.

EN

Aug. Rer.

ancients. He is only to be tantalized. On the oblate sumınit of the rock which constitutes St. Helena--perhaps only on Diana's peak—there is to be an enclosure ; and anned men are to be placed about him, so as not merely to “ render his opprobrious den of shame," a place of tolerably certain detention, but to keep the remembrance of bis abused power fresh in his mind. Imagination will complete his punishment. It will be groat; and so also, we have no doubt, will security against escape, provided that all foreign vessels be not allowed to touch at St. Helena. No Frenchman is likely to attempt the tyrant's rescue. Denuded, indeed, of that glory which has cost the world so dear, he may not wish to appear again in France, where the senseless admiration of his fortune will, it is hoped, soon be mingled with much just hatred. But in India, there will always be found spirits fired, like his own, with inveterate hostility towards this country. America, south or north, wall be an inviting field; and to either he would be cordially wel. comed. In the former they want a leader. In the other that also is a sort of desideratum ; but the United States would grasp eagerly at any thing that could annoy England. Hence the necessity of unusual circumspection on the part of both the king's government and the India company's. Were none but British ships allowed to water at St. Helena, the man never could escape, through any species of Gallic art, or any degree of American avarice. Ministers know best whether they can readily interdict the appearance and continuance there of strange vessels : without having recourse to soinething in the nature of treaty, they obviously cannot. But all the goveruments of Europe are on their side, so that adequate measures may seasonably be adopted; and, if not adopted, it will follow, that experience may cost a great deal, and yet be good for nothing

So much for the provision made for the first captain in Europe, Napoleon the Great. What is the fate which now awaits his accomplices ! Fouehe has covered, with admirable address, the exile's retreat to Rochefort, just as Ney bad done his entrée into France; and Fouche, if the information we have from Paris can be relied on, will be justified by all the allies.

But is he resolved that the vile instruments used in the late usurpation, and in the bloody conflicts it has occasioned, shall in general be spared ? A few of the second rate agents the French government seems determined to bring to trial. Why not those who, placed in the most conspicuous stations, and wielding the greatest power, have done the most mischief to mankind The Corsican princes, for instance, the ministers, the marshals, the constituted authorities in some of the great towns, and the financial oppressors of neighbouring states, they are the persons on whom the heavy hand of Justice ought promptly to be let fail. They have committed monstrous crimes for which they should be made to atone; but a sufficient atonement would amount to the forfeiture of their lives, for which their government has not spirit to call. They have, by acts the most atrocious, amassed enormous wealth, of which they ought to make immediate and full restitution; but such restitution would reduce them to a state of beggary and insignificance state to which they will not descend voluntarily, while their government wants energy to use compulsory means. The result of the series of feeble measures adopted at Paris will, probably, be this: All the culprits of the first order, and most of those of the second and of the inferior orders, will escape capital punishment, and even imprisonment; while their property will be preserved to them, or to their families. Some will presently be seen in exile, others on their estates, the rest at large throughout France; but all will be assiduously employed in preparing to put an end to any thing like national repose. A moderate proportion of their wealth skilfully distributed wherever they reside, and a treasonable correspondence artfully carried on, will speedily lay the foundation of another frightful revolution, and, in the course of a few years, rear it up to maturity. Judicial proceedings, through which neither life nor property is seriously affected, must needs be fatal to France, and highly pernicious to adjoining countries. No precautions which the · allies can take, short of the actual dismemberment of France, can prevent their being so. The occupation by foreign troops, of the French froutier towns, will do little good; the dismantling of them nane at all. A striking, an ever memorable

« 上一頁繼續 »