Obrázky na stránke




SINCE the commencement of the French Revolution, the passing events, highly important as they have been in their immediate, and more so, as they probably will be, in their remote consequences, have defeated both the hopes and the expectations of the wisest statesmen and most experienced generals, and have, indeed, baffled all the efforts of human sagacity and foresight. Arguments from the past to the future, the surest guides to right and just conclusions in former times, have proved futile and deceptive; and even the most legitimate deductions of the most subtle and acute, as well as of the most sober, reasoners, have been nearly as fallacious as the dreams of a visionary! The task of the historian is thus reduced to the simple narration of political and military occurrences, and to the attempt to trace their causes. A melancholy task, alas! it is. For where is he to look for symptoms of that wisdom in council, or of that vigour in action, the union of which has raised kingdoms and states to the utmost pitch of prosperity, and grandeur, and renown? The only quarter in which either of these means of successful exertion is to be found, is that in which it is exclusively employed for the most wicked purposes of subversion, devastation, treachery, and destruction.

Scarcely four months have elapsed since a military nation appeared in arms against the ferocious Usurper, who, after having reduced twenty millions of Frenchmen to a state of the most abject slavery, has avowed his determination to place the rest of the Continent on the same footing. The King of Prussia had, ever since his accession to the throne, displayed the most pusillanimous spirit; and had pursued a course of policy the most tortuous, and the most selfish. With an imbecility that was proof against daily experience, and that shut its eyes against conviction which flashed upon them from every quarter, he vainly imagined that, by conniving at the constant encroachments of the French upon all the neighbouring States, he would not only ensure his own safety, but gain some territorial acquisitions, which would increase both his revenue and his power. Mistaken man! By what infatuation could he be led to expect that he alone would be secure from the rage of that revolutionary Mon. ster, whose pestiferous breath had poisoned and laid waste all the sur. rounding countries? But quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat. The his. tory of the last sixteen years must have convinced every other man in Europe, not only of the absolute inutility of concession to avert, but of its direct tendency to accelerate, the devastating vengeance of the san guinary Corsican. There have been other Princes, indeed, who have afted as if they had not been so convinced; but their conduct may reasonably be referred to a different cause: and the Prussian Monarch may be truly said to have exhibited a solitary instance of blindness, as wilful in itself, as fatal in its consequences. So long as the overwhelming torrent limited its destructive rage to the desolation of other States, he contemplated the spreading mischief without a sigh. It approached nearer and nearer ;-still did he make no effort to oppose it :-he was passive, nay, worse than passive; because his inactivity increased the devouring activity


a 2


[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »