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that has been said of the importance of the kingdom in maintaining the balance of power on its new footing, it is not improbable that the establishment of it was a mere mercantile speculation on the part of the British ministry, who took much more effectual care of the commerce and industry of their country at the congress of Vienna, than the oppo
, sition in parliament appear to suppose.
The creation of this kingdom has been considered by some politicians, especially Mr de Pradt, as one of the wisest measures adopted at the congress. The investigation of this point belongs to another part of this essay; but I may observe here, that as far as the measure produced any effect upon the balance of power, it tended to disturb and not to maintain it; that it proceeded either upon a misconception or a voluntary sacrifice of the true principles of this balance; and that the interest of Europe required, on the contrary, that Belgium should have continued to form a part of France.
The constitution of the Netherlands is liberal and popular, the habits of the people are industrious and moral, and their character singularly amiable and upright, especially in the northern provinces where the race is preserved in greater purity. But the country exhibits throughout the melancholy aspect of a decayed and decaying nation. The cities have
generally sunk to a third or a fourth of their ancient population, and have lost, in still greater proportions, their ancient preeminence in commerce and industry. The looms of Belgium no longer supply the rich and great of every country in Europe and Asia with their finest and most elegant garments. Her industry, after planting colonies in Italy and England, has gone to ruin at home; and the fabric of lace and cambric, the last relic of ancient excellence, is sinking very fast. The flag of Holland no longer floats triumphantly in both hemispheres ; and the time will never come again, when a Dutch admiral will burn the British fleet at Chatham. Leyden is no longer the western Athens; and the universities, whose fame at one time attracted students and professors from all foreign parts, are now not always resorted to by the youth of their own country. The last of the lights of classical learning has just been extinguished, by the death of the venerable Wyttenbach ; and he seems to have left no successor. Even the glory of those that went before has been struck with premature decay, by the disuse of the Latin language, to which they had entrusted it; and they have left but obscure traces in literary history. Such is the present state of Holland; and there is much reason to fear that this gradual decline will con
tinue, until the population shall be too scanty to maintain that perpetual contest with the surrounding elements, upon which the existence of the territory depends, and the soil itself shall return to the ocean. But whatever may be its present or its future fate, it will always be interesting to elevated and generous minds, as a spot which was once the favourite abode of freedom, industry, learning, and the arts. The seats of liberty and civilization, like the fine monuments of Grecian architecture, are graceful and attractive even in their ruins.
The country which first gave the example of a free and well regulated government is naturally an object of curiosity and interest to the friends of liberty; and to this distinction Great Britain seems to be fairly entitled. We find in the fierce democracies of Greece and Rome, and in the modern Italian republics, many traces of high spirit and independent feeling, many exhibitions of the loftiest qualities that belong to our nature; characters, perhaps, that have never been excelled or equalled in England; but the political institutions of these states were all irregular and inconsistent, and some of the most celebrated of them, as Athens, were deficient in the necessary resources for embodying the principle of liberty in a powerful and imposing form. The illustrious characters that adorned all these republics, and the charm of poetry and eloquence, that has been thrown about them in description, have given a sort of conventional celebrity to their political institutions, which vanishes at the slightest touch of critical examination. Holland is perhaps the country which has the best claim to contest the right of England to the glory of giving the world the first example of a liberal and well regulated constitution ; but although the
; republic of the Seven United Provinces made a nearer approach to the attainment of this object than its predecessors, it was far from reaching it. It was reserved, therefore, for Great Britain to solve this great problem ; and to exhibit, for the first time, the phenomenon of a vigorous and permanent political system, founded on the basis of liberty and equality. All the new representative governments on the continent of Europe are avowedly imitations of this; although they have not copied the British constitution in every part, and where they intended to copy, have often failed to do it, from not understanding the model. In the United States, we have brought the forms of government to still greater perfection, have cleared away many abuses, avoided many errors, and introduced great improvements in the details of administration ; but we are still proud and happy to look to Great Britain as the source from which we derive the spirit and the love of liberty, and from which we have drawn all our political institutions with the alterations necessary to accommodate them to our situation and habits, and some of the most valuable, as the habeas corpus act and the trial by jury, without any alteration at all. The American constitution, as was justly remarked by the illustrious Fox, is that of England improved by the results of the experience of a thousand years. The British islands, therefore, whatever may be the future fate of their inhabitants, will always be reckoned as classical and sacred ground by the friends of liberty; and their history and constitution will be studied with singular attention, by all who wish to obtain correct notions of political science.