« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
delivered over to the gallows. It was not necessary that the emigrant nobility and gentry who served with the king of Prussia's army, under his immediate command, should be excluded from the cartel, and given up to be hanged as rebels. Never was so gross and so cruel a breach of the public faith, not with an enemy, but with a friend. Dumouricz has dropped very singular hints. Custine has spoken out more broadly. These accounts have never been contradicted. They tend to make an eternal rupture between the powers. The French have given out, that the Duke of Brunswick endeavored to negotiate some name and place for the captive king, amongst the murderers and proscribers of those who have lost their all for his cause. Even this has not been denied.
It is singular, and, indeed, a thing, under all its circumstances, inconceivable, that everything should by the Emperor be abandoned to the king of Prussia. That monarch was considered as principal. In the nature of things, as well as in his position with regard to the war, he was only an ally, and a new ally, with crossing interests in many particulars, and of a policy rather uncertain. At best, and supposing him to act with the greatest fidelity, the Emperor and the Empire to him must be but secondary objects. Countries out of Germany must affect him in a still more remote manner. France, other than from the fear of its doctrinal principles, can to him be no object at all. Accordingly, the Rhine, Sardinia, and the Swiss are left to their fate. The king of Prussia has no direct and immediate concern with France; consequentially, to be sure, a great deal: but the Emperor touches France directly in many parts; he is a near neighbor to Sardinia, by his Milanese territories; he borders on Switzerland ; Cologne, possessed by his uncle, is between Mentz, Treves, and the king of Prussia's territories on the Lower Rhine. The Emperor is the natural guardian of Italy and Germany, - the natural balance against the ambition of France, whether republican or monarchical. His ministers and his generals, therefore, ought to have had their full share in every material consultation,which I suspect they had not. If he has no minister capable of plans of policy which comprehend the superintendency of a war, or no general with the least of a political head, things have been as they must be. However, in all the parts of this strange proceeding there must be a secret.
It is probably known to ministers. I do not mean to penetrate into it. My speculations on this head must be only conjectural. If the king of Prussia, under the pretext or on the reality of some information relative to ill practice on the part of the court of Vienna, takes advantage of his being admitted into the heart of the Emperor's dominions in the character of an ally, afterwards to join the common enemy, and to enable France to seize the Netherlands, and to reduce and humble the Empire, I cannot conceive, upon every principle, anything more alarming for this country, separately, and as a part of the general system. After all, we may be looking in vain in the regions of politics for what is only the operation of temper and character upon accidental circumstances. But I never knew accidents to decide the whole of any great business; and I never knew temper to act, but that some system. of politics agreeable to its peculiar spirit was blended with it, strengthened it, and got strength from it. Therefore the politics can hardly be put out of the question.
Great mistakes have been committed : at least I hope so. If there have been none, the case in future is desperate. I have endeavored to point out some of those which have occurred to me, and most of them very early.
Whatever may be the cause of the present state of things, on a full and mature view and comparison of the historical matter, of the transactions that have passed before our eyes, and of the future prospect, I think I am authorized to form an opinion without the least hesitation.
That there never was, nor is, nor ever will be, nor ever can be, the least rational hope of making an impression on France by any Continental powers, if England is not a part, is not the directing part, is not the soul, of the whole confederacy against it.
This, so far as it is an anticipation of future, is grounded on the whole tenor of former history. In speculation it is to be accounted for on two plain principles.
First, That Great Britain is likely to take a more fair and equal part in the alliance than the other powers, as having less of crossing interest or perplexed discussion with any of them.
Secondly, Because France cannot have to deal with any of these Continental sovereigns, without their feeling that nation, as a maritime power, greatly superior to them all put together, - a force which is only to be kept in check by England.
England, except during the eccentric aberration of Charles the Second, has always considered it as
her duty and interest to take her place in such a confederacy. Her chief disputes must ever be with France; and if England shows herself indifferent and unconcerned, when these powers are combined against the enterprises of France, she is to look with certainty for the same indifference on the part of these powers, when she may be at war with that nation. This will tend totally to disconnect this kingdom from the system of Europe, in which if she ought not rashly to meddle, she ought never wholly to withdraw herself from it.
If, then, England is put in motion, whether by a consideration of the general safety, or of the influence of France upon Spain, or by the probable operations of this new system on the Netherlands, it must embrace in its project the whole as much as possible, and the part it takes ought to be as much as possible a leading and presiding part.
I therefore beg leave to suggest, —
First, That a minister should forthwith be sent to Spain, to encourage that court to persevere in the measures they have adopted against France, - to make a close alliance and guaranty of possessions, as against France, with that power,--and, whilst the formality of the treaty is pending, to assure them of our protection, postponing any lesser disputes to another occasion.
Secondly, To assure the court of Vienna of our desire to enter into our ancient connections with her, and to support her effectually in the war which France has declared against her.
Thirdly, To animate the Swiss and the king of Sardinia to take a part, as the latter once did on the principles of the Grand Alliance.
Fourthly, To put an end to our disputes with Russia, and mutually to forget the past. I believe, if she is satisfied of this oblivion, she will return to her old sentiments with regard to this court, and will take a more forward part in this business than any other power.
Fifthly, If what has happened to the king of Prussia is only in consequence of a sort of panic or of levity, and an indisposition to persevere long in one design, the support and concurrence of Russia will tend to steady him, and to give him resolution. If he be ill-disposed, with that power on his back, and without one ally in Europe, I conceive he will not be easily led to derange the plan.
Sixthly, To use the joint influence of our court, and of our then allied powers, with Holland, to arm as fully as she can by sea, and to make some addition by land.
Seventhly, To acknowledge the king of France's next brother (assisted by such a council and such representatives of the kingdom of France as shall be thought proper) regent of France, and to send that prince a small supply of money, arms, clothing, and artillery.
Eighthily, To give force to these negotiations, an instant naval armament ought to be adopted, - one squadron for the Mediterranean, another for the Channel. The season is convenient, most of our trade being, as I take it, at home.
After speaking of a plan formed upon the ancient policy and practice of Great Britain and of Europe, to which this is exactly conformable in every respect, with no deviation whatsoever, and which is, I conceive, much more strongly called for by the