Sidor som bilder

attack upon any one of the Christian virtues : that he is disposed, however he may sometimes have erred in judgment, to upholá and honour public and private morality; and that, notwithstanding what we have said of the Hebrew Melodies, and other of his writings, he possesses a manly genius, a brilliant imagination, and sterling solidity of thought, the true value of which will one day be felt by his country on the side of her dearest interests, her characteristic devotedness to the religion of her forefathers, and that sound system of morality, of which the thrice blessed Author of that religion has given us the lesson and the pattern. i


1. Report of the State of France, made to Louis XVIII. in

Council, by the Viscount Chateaubriand, Minister Plenipotentiary of His Most Christian Majesty to the Court of Sweden. To which is added, The Manifesto of the King, addressed to the French Nation, as drawn up by Count Lally Tollendal. 8vo.

pp. 72. Colburn. London. 1815. 2. Exposé Comparatif de l'Etat Financier, Militaire, Politique,

et Moral, de la France, et des Principales Puissances de l'Europe. Par M. Le Baron de Bignon, ci-devant Envoyé Extraordinaire et Ministre Plénipotentiaire de France à Cassel,

à Carsruhe, et à Varsovie. 8vo. pp. 504. Paris, 1814. 3. Official Communication made to the Russian Ambassador at

London on the 19th of January, 1815, explanatory of the Views which his Majesty and the Emperor of Russia formed for the Deliverance and Security of Europe : presented to Parliament by

Command of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent. 4. Address to the Sovereigns of Europe, as to the Manner of treata

ing Napoleon Bonaparte. By Lewis Goldsmith. 8vo. pp. 24.

Hookhams. London. 1815.
Louis STANISLAUS is again upon the throne of France.

Such a rapid series of unimagined events, such an explosion of mischievous power, such a scene of oppressed majesty and triumphant crime; and again, so sudden a restoration of a righteous cause, such a burst of light upon humanity, sinking a second time under the gloom of degradation and despair, as the versatile condition of wretched France has, within a short compass, displayed, never before astonished or instructed the world. Never before has history read so awful a lesson on the instability of all greatness which is of mere human origin, or taught men to know, with such tremendous certainty, that “power belongeth unto God."

The usurpation of Buonaparte was, indeed, brought about by such a strange, supernatural, and eccentric course of events, and has developed such a miraculous versatility, or deep hypocrisy of public sentiment; such a pusillanimous vacillation, or suppression of popular favour; such a profligate contempt of all principle; and such a servile adulation of unrighteous power, as make it a new and solitary case in the history of national degradation. That the man who was dismissed from France without one feeling, or, at the least, one expression of feeling; who was driven to appeal to foreign protection from the fickle insolence of his own vassals, should again be received with open arms, and, after the lapse of a few months, be again hailed as emperor by a large part of the same people, after time and opportunity had been afforded them to compare his comfortless rule with the tranquil and happy course of a legitimate monarchy, is a jumble of incidents too rare to afford even an useful precedent, or to come within the analogies of history.

The whole transaction has unfolded such a scene of complicated treachery on the one hand, and of desperate enterprise on the other: it was in itself a conspiracy so widely, and at the same time so secretly diffused; such an universal, premeditated, and pains-taking preference of evil, that we confess we were not wise or suspicious enough to consider it as possible even in France.

Many reasons have been found out for the omission of the due precautions against the return of Buonaparte to power. Some wild and preposterous enough, and the wilder they have been, the wiser they have been considered; but until these mysteries are explained, we shall be satisfied with thinking that the reason why less vigilance than events have since shown to have been necessary was exercised over Buonaparte in his retreat was this, that the wide disproportion between his apparent means and his probable ends, so long as the armies of Europe were on foot, had induced a confidence in the continuance of things till some better security against the usurper could be determined upon by the competent authority.

Few can lay claim to the foresight of the Noble Marquis, who, soon after the irruption of Buonaparte, observed in debate, that while he had long considered Buonaparte as a man, who would be easily oppressed by reverses, he had also perceived in him, long ago, a peculiar faculty suited to the restoration of his lost fortunes, and to the regeneration and resurrection of any grand

[blocks in formation]


scheme. Such a theory has an aspect of more than mortal wisdom; but let it be considered how much it imports. It imports, that even in the full meridian of the tyrant's power there was discovered in him a peculiar faculty adapted to a peculiar crisis ; a crisis then not likely to arise, but nevertheless, present to the sage contemplation of him, who discovered the faculty so measured to the exigence. It imports a double gift of intuition reaching beyond first improbabilities to ulterior events still more improbable, and discerning the future developement of the faculties thus ascertained to exist under every change of circumstances. And all this without any assistance from the art of the German craniologist. It may deserve observation, however, as some slight deduction from the merit of this discovery, that the prediction was wholly retrospective.

But, however the Noble Marquis came by his knowledge, whether by introspection or retrospection, to which latter mode of soothsaying we incline to refer it, still we are afraid that his apology for not disclosing it before, namely, because circumstances had never called upon him for such a disclosure, will hardly avail. For was he not imperiously called upon for such a disclosure some twelve months before, when the discovery might have saved Europe the reproduction of all that mischief which this faculty, it seems, has occasioned?

But the question itself was no longer in what way, or by whose fault, whether by unexampled treachery on the one hand, or, as has been contended, by unexampled negligence on the other, things came into that state in which they then were; but being in that state, the question was how they were to be retrieved, and what'steps were to be taken thenceforward. Crimination is something worse than useless, where correction is out of view. There are cases, no doubt, in which manifest neglect requires to be openly reprobated; but in all doubtful cases, on all problematical questions of delinquency, it is but an idle waste of time to be accusing while we ought to be deliberating, and of time and thought both to spend them in investigating the causes of a confirmed disease, unless the research will assist us in discovering the

Upon the question of retrieval, then, we confess that we have been all along among the vulgar advocates of war, of war as just in principle, as it was expedient in policy at the time. The grounds of this our persuasion we shall take upon us now to explain.

And first, as to the justice of the war: We presume, that there is a community of nations as well as of individuals (a principle, indeed, on which the whole law. of nations proceeds); and further, that laws relating to individuals in polític society, may,

[ocr errors]


so far as they are founded in moral reason, and are capable of the extension, be applied to states. This is, in truth, a maxim of the greatest civilians. They have been fond of argu. ing from personal privileges and obligations to the reciprocal rights and duties of independent nations. If this be allowed, we will concede in return, that every nation, as well as every individual, has an abstracted antecedent right of ownership to act as it may please with its own. But, conceding this, we contend, that there is a law of neighbourhood also which so far restrains this right of absolute ownership, as to forbid the doing of any thing, even within our own boundaries, which may operate as an injury to those that border upon our territory. It is the first condition of neighbourhood, indeed a fundamental law of society, so to use our own, that we do not prejudice another's.

Upon this law of vicinage follows, as a corollary, the right of interference to protect it. Otherwise, however salutary in its provisions, it would be nugatory in effect. But it ought to be carefully observed, that this right of interference abridges only for the most part the right of ownership in the abuse of our own; nor always even in that, for it confers no right to disturb an inveterate abuse on the plea of vicinity, however inconvenient or mischievous, since it is presumed that we took our situation originally with a full information of its subsisting objections. On the other hand it is to be noted, that the act which confers a right of interference need not be an act of positive aggression. For there are numberless acts which are strictly and properly internal in their organization, and perhaps too in their first movements, and yet are not the less decidedly external in their consequential operation and effects. That property or dominion which we abuse to the injury of neighbouring states is erected into a nuisance, and generates the right of interference; for states hold the right to the means of living quietly and enjoying the blessings of social order by a title paramount to all others. It is the primary acquisition which lays the foundation of every other, and without which the liberties and laws of internal regulation have no pledge of permanence. It is the palpable neces. sity of this reciprocal forbearance and respect that has forced dations into fraternity, and silently moulded a system of public law and commutative obligation, which convenience and experience have established and consecrated; and when this general law of good neighbourhood is broken or plainly threatened, and only then, the exercise of a preventive interference is a right of necessity. This liberty of interference, indeed, by the Roman law of innovations and the English law of nuisances, extends to individuals, in cases in which our comfort or convenience only is threatened ; but what is convenience to individuals is security to states.

In order therefore to constitute a just ground of remedial war, there must in the first place be clear indications of mischief. It must neither be imaginary, remote, nor undefined. Secondly, the mischief must be in the nature of an innovation. It should be such as challenges no prescription or length of acquiescence. And, thirdly, the danger must be a proximate danger, it must be brought home to ourselves, it must have a reference to us, and positive bearing upon us, to bring it under the operation and within the provisions of this law. The bare circumstance of contiguity, indeed, is sufficient, as producing an unavoidable collision of interests, out of which arises the principle of dijudication between the rights of ownership and the right of interference. · As it would not be competent in us residing in London to indict a nuisance in Cornwall, so neither would it be just in us as a nation to commence a war on account of a revolution in Otaheite. We must show either damage or danger. Where there is no possibility of injury, there can be no claim of redress.

In establishing this rule of a just interference, we have purposely waved the plea of a naked necessity, because we know it is an obnoxious plea, and have endeavoured to build that right on the mixed considerations of innovation, proximity, and danger. Innovation indeed, not less than proximity, might be considered as an aggravation only of the danger, and both might be considered as enhancing only the value of the original plea, and making out a clearer case of necessity, a more indisputable right of interference, on the ground of self-preservation from imminent hazard. But we choose rather to appeal to the law itself, which is a recognised law, than to the principle on which it is founded, as that principle is of much wider, and consequently more dangerous application than the law which it supports.

It can scarcely be a question, how far these conditions of a legitimate interference were to be found in the recent situation of France, local and moral. Vicinity is a permanent circumstance, and it is also a palpable one, a circumstance, on the existence of which no question whatever can arise. But in the vicinity of France there is still something peculiar. First of all, it is a central vicinity, in physical or political contact with alí Europe. It is, moreover, a very moral and influencing vicinity : it has been the great forge and manufactory of European politics for these twenty years past. By their unwarranted interferences, their schemes of universal domination, the French have made themselves virtual neighbours to those from whom they are

« FöregåendeFortsätt »