Page images
PDF
EPUB

and have counteracted and defeated all its in.. trigues.

229. By the Treaty of GHENT, before-mentioned, this danger was avoided; and the stage was cleared, as it were, for a battle of all Europe against NAPOLEON. The parliament met on the 8th of November, 1814, and continued to sit, with occasional adjournments, until the 22nd of August, 1815. It was occupied, until the landing of NAPOLEON, with voting immense sums of money into the hands of the Prince Regent and his ministers, and with everlasting speeches on the necessity of watching the French narrowly; thundering invectives against NAPOLEON, though he was put down; and on the necessity of being prepared for war. These were bad signs; but still nobody dreamed that there would arise any occasion for any of these preparations. But, on the 6th of April, after most terrible fulminations in the two houses against NAPOLEON; after three months of speeches of abuse on him and on the French people, came a message to the parliament from the Prince Regent, in the following words :

George P.R. The “Prince Regent, acting in the name " and on the behalf of his Majesty, thinks it right to in. “ form the House of Commons, that the events which " bave recently occurred in France, in direct contravention of the engagements concluded with the Allied “ Powers, at Paris, in the month of April last, and which “ threaten consequences bigbly dangerous to the tranquillity

“ and independence of Europe, have induced his Royal

Highness to give directions for the augmentation of his

Majesty's land and sea forces. The Prince Regent has “ likewise deemed it incumbent upon him, to lose no time in

entering into communications with bis Majesty's Allies “ for the purpose of forming such a concert as may most ef“ fectually provide for THE GENERAL AND PERMANENT SE“ CURITY OF EUROPE. And bis Royal Highness confidently, “ relies on the support of the House of Commons, in all meu“ sures which may be necessary for the accomplishment of “ this important object.”

230. This language was artfully moderate; but it proposed an augmentation of the land and sca forces. It did not, indeed, talk decidedly of war against NAPOLEON; but, what there was deficient in it, in this respect, was amply made up for by the speeches of the ministers, and, indeed, of the members on both sides of the House, which breathed against NAPOLEON a war of alsolute extermination. Upon this occasion the vocabulary of our language seems to have been ransacked, in order to make NAPOLEON and the French people objects of abhorrence and detestation in England. The people were told, that. they never could be relieved from their burdens until NAPOLEON should be again put down. The people, in several instances, answered by petitions, praying that peace might be preserved with France; but, everything was prepared ; and the government and parliament, for the reasons before-mentioned, were resolved upon war. The language of the government press was, in sub

stance, this : that it was not BUON APARTE, but the French people who were to be subdued ; that it was the sort of government, and state of things, in France; that the Bourbons were to be. disregarded, and were either to be set aside altogether, or were to be compelled to have a national debt ; and to cause such laws to 'be made, and executed, as should keep the people in a state of complete subjection; that morality was the cause of God; that the French system, and the minds of the French people, were essentially immoral; and that England, as a moral and christian country, was called upon by God to put down the French people, and to destroy their system.

231. Very much in the same strain was the language in both Houses of parliament. But, it is here necessary to be particular, because we have to show here the grounds upon which this ney and most expensive war was undertaken. We must have, in order to have a clear idea of the causes which produced this war, the very words made use of by the parties, because it is impossible to give in any statement, narrative, analysis, or abstract, an adequate idea of the feelings that were at work in the producing of this sanguinary and most expensive war. We must have the actors, or rather the speakers, before us; hear their words, and almost behold their agitated action. It is not enough, that we

know that the government went to war to put down NAPOLEON the second time; it is not enough, that we see good reason to believe that they wished his return, in order to have this war; we must have their very words; we must know who it was that had the chief hand in producing this event, which added not less than fifty millions to the debt, and a million a-year to the half-pay people, and other idlers, created by this war.

To say that such and such things were said in parliament, is by no means sufficient; we must, upon an occasion like this, have the names and very words of the parties. The Prince Regent's message was in moderate terms; but the members of the two Houses of parliament, and of both factions, took care to supply in bitterness of expression that which it was thought prudent to leave out in the message. I shall here take the expressions made use of, not precisely in the order in which they were delivered, but as applicable to the several topics to which they related. The public having been duly prepared by the hired press, which was the vilest instrument of delusion and of tyranny that ever existed in the world, the members of the two Houses of parliament came forth in their speeches, sent about by the press, with their invectives against NAPOLEON and the French, and with everything that they could rake up to make the people believe that it was just and necessary again to plunge this kingdom into war, never even glancing at the real motives for such war. Of all the acts of this government this was, perhaps, the act which proceeded from the worst motive. All the professed motives were false ; all the claims, all the feigned dangers, all the hypocritical charges against the French of being immoral and impious, all was false. The real motive was to degrade the French nation; to load it with debt; to make it miserable ; and thereby to take from before the eyes of the people of England an example of prosperity in the absence of a domineering aristocracy, and of tithes, and in the absence of swarms of devouring fundholders. It had been seen that France would exhibit this example in a light too strong for the people of England not to desire to. imitate it, and therefore it was determined to destroy that example.

232. NAPOLEON, upon his first landing, had issued a declaration of his pacific intentions ; intentions which were unquestionably sincere, because he knew well that the people of France wished for peace. But the government of England did not wish for peace.

It was his interest to have peace; he offered to abide by all the terins of the Treaty of Paris; he offered to confirm every agreement made with the Allies by the Bourbons. He particularly addressed himself to the government of England; the go

« PreviousContinue »