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succeed, as the suppression of eleven insurrections in the Spanish peninsula only made the triumph of the twelfth more perfect and brilliant:
Of the different European governments, Germany, the only powerful nation, which is organized in the form of a confederacy, most naturally offers itself as an object of comparison with the United States; and the contrast between the situation of the two countries illustrates very strongly the excellence of our institutions, and the advantages of our position. The blessings we enjoy, and which we never prize sufficiently till we have had the opportunity of ascertaining their value by contrast; these blessings are secured to us by two principal causes, one geographical and the other political. The first is our distance from other nations of superior power, and the second our internal union. Of these propitious circumstances, which may well be regarded as the peculiar favours of Providence bestowed upon our country, the one gives us complete security from foreign violence, without the ruinous resource of standing armies, hardly less dangerous, when necessary, than the evil they are intended to remedy; and the other establishes our domestic politics upon the basis of perpetual peace. We may see in Germany, as in a mirror, what would have been our situation, if we had not possessed the first of these
securities; and what it would be, if we should ever deprive ourselves of the other. Of the bounty of nature, thank God, no human efforts can bereave us ; and we may hope, that the sacred tie of our union will hold us together, as long as the vast Atlantic shall sever us from Europe. If, in an hour of madness, we ever dissolve it, we should then see, as in Germany, our states arrayed against each other in a perpetual succession of internal wars, our militia converted into standing armies, our presidents and governors into hereditary despots, our learned and upright magistrates into an insulting and oppressive aristocracy, and our free and happy population into wretched peasants and personal slaves. We should even lose the security we now derive from our remote position in regard to Europe. Foreign powers would obtain a footing among us, by flattering our sectional passions and interests, and would play us off against each other. Our welfare, like that of Germany, would be sacrificed to their cupidity and ambition; and we should find ourselves entangled in a web of various oppression, which it would be at once impossible to shake off, and torment and death to wear.
Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
In purely despotic or autocratic governments, the body politic is the sovereign. L'état c'est moi—I am the state'-was an observation of Louis XIV; and de facto the remark was just. In such countries the only political changes are those, which occur in the
person of the ruler, either by the succession of a new incumbent to the throne, or by an alteration in the character and habits of the existing one. For a length of time to come no other changes can occur in Russia, where the mass of the nation is in too uncivilized a state to aspire after better institutions, or to admit their introduction by rulers, who know their value. Violent alterations in the line of succession have been frequent; and within a few
years there has been a considerable apparent change in the policy and dispositions of the reigning emperor, which has had, and will continue to have, a very important influence in the general politics of Europe.
The emperor Alexander has been pronounced, till lately, by general acknowledgment, a sincere friend of liberal political principles. They were transmitted to him by hereditary descent from his illustrious grandmother, the great Catherine; and
by her direction he was placed in his youth under the care of a tutor, who was likely to strengthen these impressions. And a review of the emperor's administration, and of his personal language and conduct, will perhaps lead to the conclusion, that he really entertains in theory a partiality for liberal ideas; and that this partiality is sufficiently strong to induce him to put them in practice, when it is not overpowered by other motives of superior weight. The misfortune is, that where the adoption of public measures depends wholly upon the decision of a single person, there is no security that a correct judgment will be formed of existing circumstances. No honest man would be hardy enough to trust himself with determining a private affair, in which his own interest was concerned ; and the case of a despotic sovereign is infinitely more difficult, as he has not the opportunity of enlightening his mind by attending to the conflict of opinion, which is going on abroad, but of which only a suppressed and modified echo arrives at his ears. His political or personal interest warps his reason; and with honest intentions and liberal ideas he rushes headlong into measures of the grossest and most violent oppression. And the pitiful sophistry, which he employs in defending them before the public, proves that if it is sometimes not difficult for a man to impose upon
other people, it is beyond comparison an easier task to impose upon himself.
The late change in the policy of the emperor Alexander in favour of illiberal notions of government is perhaps only apparent; and there are strong indications in every part of his reign, that his liberality and magnanimity, however real, were never deeply seated enough to resist the force of immediate personal or political interest acting in an opposite direction. If, as is generally supposed, he was privy to the act, which preceded his accession to the throne, his liberal and magnanimous feelings did not prevent him from taking part in the most atrocious crime, that a mortal can commit; pardonable,
a I grant, if it were possible to pardon such an act from consideration of political necessity, but wholly and essentially inconsistent with a thoroughly upright character. Without dwelling upon this circumstance, in which his participation will always remain uncertain, the conquest of Finland was, under
, the circumstances, a measure of precisely the same character with the partition of Poland. The sort of enthusiasm, with which he attached himself for a time to the person and politics of Bonaparte, even to the extent of approving and co-operating in the attack on Spain, surpassed the measure of excusable compliance with existing circumstances. This