« 上一頁繼續 »
WE E closed our labours for the last year, with the announcement of peace, having been once more established throughout those wide-spread regions, whose fields had been stained with twelve years desolating warfare; whose ancient limits had given way to the innovating spirit of revolution: and whose inhabitants had been, during that period, successively exposed, either to the insolent ravages of the invader, or the no less exhausting friendship of the protecting power. At that period, peace, in the abstract, seemed so great a blessing to the nations of the earth, that we were little disposed to damp the enthusiastic joy, with which it was received by all ranks of people in this country; by too curiously canvassing its terms, or by these
forebodings of evil, which our political experience might have entitled us with prophetic solemnity, under all the circumstances attending it, to sound in the ear of the British nation. Sharers in the general joy, we perhaps equally participated in the delusion; nor could we conceive, but that if tranquillity was so necessary to Great Britain, whose glorious career, had, during her late arduous struggle, becn marked with constant victory and conquest; that it was not infinitely more so to her opponent, who had not, at its termination, to boast of a single acquisition wrested from us during the whole period; and who had placed on the throne of her pristine monarchs, a nameless military adventurer, to the establishment of whose power and authority, it seemed absolutely essential,
Soon, however, was the veil removed from our eyes; hardly had the preliminaries become the object of public investigation, when the dangerous precipice on which we were placed, became but too apparent. We hastened to correct our own errors, and those into which we might have inadvertently led our readers; we devoted an early portion of the present volume to their consideration, and we endeavoured to point out their inadequacy, to render perma nent and secure, that peace, which derived its only value from the probability of both those qualities having been secured to it, by the immense and otherwise disproportionate sacrifices we had made,
As we advanced, however, in our progress, all further trouble was spared to us. The restless ambition of the consular sovereign of the French empire, became sufficiently obvious. Provinces and territories added to his already overgrown dominion; the assumption of the absolute sovereignty of a great portion of Europe; treaties obtained by force or fraud, injurious to the British interests, insolently promulgated, even before the definitive treaty of peace was signed; left no room in the mind even of the most sanguine supporters of the peace, to doubt as to its consequences.
The forcible imposition of forms of government, upon states whose independence was formally protected or acknowledged by every power of Europe. The arbitrary interference in regulating the internal concerns, of that venerable fabric, the Germanic empire; and the supercilious contempt with which Great Britain was, on every occasion, treated by the Corsican usurper; sufficiently evinced his hostile views, and left us an easy task to convince our readers of the small hope there remained, of our enjoying those blessings which we had fondly, but too precipitately, flattered them with in our preceding
Under very opposite impressions has the present been conducted. In our domestic history we have gone into length, on the great questions of the preliminary and definitive treaties; and endeavoured to point out their de
fects and palpable tendency to the renewal of war. We have given, in the Parliamentary Debates, the reasonings at considerable length, of our most enlightened statesmen on those momentous subjects. We have traced with an impartial, and, we hope, unerring hand, the shades of difference which have arisen, between those great leading characters who have, since the commencement of their public career, acted together; but who have, under those extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances which form the subject matter of the history of the present year, taken up widely differing lines of conduct; and who have given new appellations and energies to political combination. Above all, we have endeavoured to point out the danger which must arise to the interests, nay, the very existence of the British empire, from the unchecked and uncontrouled spirit of aggrandisement and ambition in the present ruler of France; and the utter impossibility there exists of our maintaining the usual relations of peace and amity, with his overweening and restless insolence. : * 1 bre
On the subject of the French expedition to St. Domingo; on the affairs of Switzerland; and on that of the complicated system of the German indemnities, we trust we shall have been found to have manifested no inconsiderable research and labour.
To Ireland our attention has been particularly directed. That country rising every day in political importance, the