Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia.

of the community ; whereas 28 millions would not be 15 per cent, of the income of France *.

II. The Military Organization of France. By the conscription-laws, every male is liable to serve in the lowest military capacity; there is neither legal exemption, nor privileged preferment; and consequently there is no subject for jealousy in the army, nor for discontent in the cominunity. Iu France upwards of six millions of men are able to carry arms; of these, two millions and à half are between 18 and 23. Any number of these young men may he arıned and put in motion by a parole d'ordre; for both the legislation and sovereignty of France are in the staff of the army: the ịnilitary is the only road to consideration and power; and such is now the reputation of that profession, that, to avoid the contempt of the public, it is necessary either to serve or have served. These are advantages which no other government possesses t.

III. The Frontiers and Avant-posts of France.

In a defensive point of view, since the meridian of the Roman power to the present time, no state had ever its frontiers so judiciously covered

Although we have said that 15 per cent. upon the national income of France might priduce thirty millions, we would oot, therfore, be understood to infer, that 10 impose 38 per cent. would give sixty millions ; on the contrary, there is a point to whicla taxation, well admioistered, operates as a stimulation to industry and nationa! improvement. But over that standard, every shilling, exacted from the public, causes a dimonition of 13, 15, and 18 pence, tu 3 shillings, on the general produce of the nation.

In most of the continental states of Europe, the public imposts bear beavy on industry; and in sonie countries the produce of property is over-taxed. In the Austrian dominions, the several derpmmations of land-1ax amount, at this time, to upwards of 33 per cent. on the rental, or income of the proprietors ; and the contributions on the peasantry, or cultivators, exceed 50 per cent of the produce of their possessions ; mechanics, manufacturers, and merchants, or burghers of all descriptions, pay by law 16 per cent. of their income, but, in fact, they pay 20 per cent. besides excise, barrier and fi utier-tolls, assessed-taxes, &c. lu Prossia, the prilvis leged pobility only being eligible to possess landed property, the soil is not so hea. vily taxed as in Austria; but the Prussian cultivators, peasantry, and bourgeois, can be considered as nothing more than menial servants to the government aud the army; the produce of their industry is entirely absorbed by taxes and military contributions. In the inferior principalities of Germany, the public may be said to be pearly in the same state as in Prussia. Denmerk is the state in Europe where the public imposts are the least exatious and least detrimental to industry.

+ The absurd declamations and fallacious reports which we daily see in the LORdon uews papers, respecting the tyranny of the conscription, and the desertion of the young men in France, deserve no attention; they only shew that these writers are as little acquainted with the military institutions of other countries as they are with the present state of France. In every part of continental Europe, the Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia.

as those of the French nation now are. The strength of the frontier lines of monarchical France has often been proved; the subjugation of Holland, Switzerland, and Italy, render those lines now, we may say, inaccessible. Those vassal auxiliaries, being acknowledged by the rest of Europe as independent states, may either serve as neutral ontworks, or will bave to maintain French armies sufficient to oppose any force that can be brought against them. Considered as offensive, the strength of her frontiers, and the localities of lier several dependants, must necessarily give to the armies of France a decided preponderance in Europe. From the Eins, up the Rhine to Basil and Feldkirk; from thence, by Verona and the Adriatic, Sea, to Calabria, France is covered with a chain of double and triple lines of natural barriers and military posts. Secure at home, her avant departinents open to her armies every part of the Continent from the Morea to Pomerania ; Buonaparte's legions may be at the gates of Vienna and Berlin before the Austrian and Prussian cabinets have any suspirion of his hostile intention. Lord paramount of Naples, and of other military and naval stations in the Mediterranean, the Turkish government is under the immediate direction of the French cabinet. With the command of Constantinople, or only enjoying the freedom of navigating the Dardauelles and Bosphorus of Thrace, France can check the operations even of Russia itself, and may make that mighty empire subservient to her future projects*.

IV. Her Colonies and Settlements Abroad.

Colonies are generally over-rated, and have long engrossed two muc of the attention of all the maritime powers of Europe. To France

lower orders of the community are as inmediately subject to military service as they are in France ; and with that aggravatiog difference, that the baptism of every male is the act of bis enrolment ; infirmity or death is the only term to which he can look forward for release; neither talents, bravery, vor other merit, can advance the rank, or better the condition of an European bond-man. It should likewise be con. sidered, that it is not the low situation in which the great majority of mankind is placed, that induces them to complain of their lot; it is the difference they see between tbemselves and others that makes them dissatisfied and oppose their superiors. In as far as relates to the couscription system in France, this difference is professed to be done away; and the mass of the nation rejoice at it. Besides, we know for a certainty, that it is only the rich and easy who compinin of military fyranny; and their desertion will rather facilitate than impcde the operations of government.

The ascendency of the French at Constantinople, and the free navigation of the Black Sea, now allowed to France, cannot fail to produce effects of great im, portance : these two circumstances must either cement and strengthen the politia cal ties that are already existing between France and the Emperor of Russia, or they must break off the conuection. Should Russia and Frauce continue friends, they will co-operate and subdue Asia, as they have done Europe. They cannot now separate without quarrelling, and in that case they will crush the world between their mighty armiet.

Estimates of the Sirength of France and Russia.

such possessions are, in reality, concerns of a very suhordinate nature : she neither depends upon their produce for a revenue, nor upon their trade to train up sailors for her defence.

For these hundred years past, the leading principle in the politics of France has been, the reduction of the power and political influence of Great Britain. We have already observed that, for ninety years of that period, the french government was so relaxed, that the British empire might have acquire l and consolidated a decided superiority ; but, fortugately for her enemies, the foresight of our statesinen kept steadily in the rear of their indifference and imbecility; The present goverument .commands means far superior to those possessed by any of their predecessors, and Buonaparte has personal, as well as public motives, for acting upou them.

On the Politics of France. The politics of every state is to secure its independence, augment its power, and elevate its rank. These objects cannot be pursued singly; they are interwoven with one another. The independence of a state can only he secured by an unremitted progression in power, of which rank is a consequence. Almost all states have begun to decline as soon as they ceased to rise. The ambition), avarice, and ignorance of individuals, allow nations no interval of stationary quiet and security.

In modern times, the only governments that seem to have acted upon any digested system, are the French since the commencement of the reign of Louis XIV. and the Russian since that of Peter I. These two monarchs felt the internal strength of their respective empires, and measured the powers of their neighbours.

When Louis assiuned the direction of affairs, he found himself hemmed in, on the side of Germany, Italy, and Spain, by Austria; and on all other sides by Great Britain and Holland. To break through that circumvallation was an enterprise worthy of a young aspiring monarch; and, as enterprising princes generally do, he succeeded. By the valour of his arms, seconded by the infatuation and treachery of his neighbours, he levelled down all the bulwarks of his opponents, and laid Europe open to the inroads of France. He broke the power of Austria, and thereby destroyed the union and force of the German empire : he made Spain a province of bis dominions; annibilated the arrogant and independent spirit of the Dutch*; and deprived Great Bri

The Dutch struggled long and bruvely to consulidate the independence and political rank of their country; from 1709 to 1712 they believed they had succeeded; but one of those unforeseen fatalities, which in a moment destroys the work of ages, blasted all their bopes. The change of system in the British cabinet, or rather the change of men (for it is not kuown to us that ever a system was adopted there), produced the infamous treaty of Utrecht. The Dutch have spent immense trea-' sures during the war, and, obliged to abaudon all the advantages they had acquired by it, their proud spirit of independence, and ambition for military and naval glory,

Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia.

tain of all her useful connections on the Continent of Europe *. His successors made but a poor use of the means he left at their disposal, it is true, but they adhered to the leading principles of the system; they kept fast hold of Spain; took all the measures which a court like that of Versailles could be expected to devise, to weaken the House of Austria; to attach Holland to France, and undermine and divide the British empire t.

The revolution has in no wise altered the politics of France; it has changed the actors, and they have adopted new measures. But they are measures much more dangerous to the peace of the civilized world than those of their predecessors. Instead of grovelling in obscure intrigue, deceit and circumvention, the champions of France have substituted a bold system of treachery, violence, and military despotism. During the few years that they have exercised the supreme authority, France has atchieved all that Louis XIV. perhaps ever intended. It is raised to an eminence, of power, which, in that prince's time, would have made him as completely master of Europe as he was of Alsace and Navarre. The treaties of Luneville and Amiens have made Buonaparte a more formidable potentate than those of Utrecht and Rastadt made the chief of the House of Bourbon.

However, although France may certainly be considered as completely mistress of the south-west half of coutinental Europe, there is another power, of equal force, that clains a similar dominion over the north and eastern parts. The political powers and military force of continental Europe are divided between the governments of France and Russia. These two mighty empires are come in contact: Berlin, Vienna, and Constantinople, can only be considered as three neutral posts, situate in their line of demarcation. By the reduction of other states, the politics of Europe are much simplified, but that very cir

[ocr errors]

sunk into a sullen hatred towards Great Britain. That hatred never diminished; on the contrary, the connexions between the Houses of Brunswick and Nassau Orange, and our interference, sometimes by intrigue and sometimes by force, in favour of the Stadtholderate, made every Dutchman our inveterate enemy, and has, in the end, made Holland a department of France.

* Since the peace of Utrecht, Great Britain has had for allies Portugal, the Stadtholder, Hanover, and the Langrave of Hesse Cassel. In every continental war, these powers have been conquered by the arms of France, and have been rausomed either by British money, or by British conquests, or retaken by other powers subsidized for that purpose. Witness the surrender of our colonies at every peace, and our subsidies to Prussia, &c.

+ To direct the government of Spain, to subdue the Low Countries, and to at. tach and secure Holland in the interests of France, were considered as the most cf. fectual means to ruin the inaritime trade, and destroy the power of Great Britain. These three objects were the principal articles in the political creed of the French monarchy. They are now accomplished! How far their effects may ultimately justify the calculations that bave been made upon them, will depend upon the Britisb cabinet. The result will, in all likelihood, be shortly seen.

Estimates of the Strength of France and Rassia. cumstance renders the respective positions of the two dictatorial powers more critical. The intermediate field of their usual machinations is cleared; the slightest inotion of the one must now directly affect the other.

A free, independent, and secure communication between the southern provinces of Russia and the Mediterranean, was an essential article in the fundainenial systein of Czar Peter : it has been pursued, with more or less energy, by all his successors ; and it is of such importance to the Russian empire, that it can never be abandoned.

In the present state of things, can Russia and France go mutual sharers in the trade and government of the Turkish empire: This is by no means likely; nay, we may venture to say, it is impossible. Which of the parties then is to give up its pretensions. The cabinet of Petersburgh must certainly know, that should France be allowed to assume an ascendency at Constantinople, or to interineddle in the attaire of Turkey, the fate of Moscow may again be disputed at Pultara! Will the present goverument of France retract, and leave the Seraglio and St. Sophia to the desecration of the Russians ? Or, can the ambition of Russia, and the avarice of France, be satisfied with a partial partition of Turkey? It is a known fact that Buonaparte did propose to the court of Petersburgh to leave Moldavia, Walachia, Bessarabia, Bosnja, and Servia, to the disposal of Russia and Austria, on condition that France might possess Candia, Negropont, and other Greek islands in the Archipelago. But Pussia would as soon see Frauce in possession of the canal of Constantinople and the Crimea, as sutier her to fix her feet on posts that might soon command the communication between the Black and Mediterranean Seas*. To propose an entire partition of the European dominions of the Turks, to whom gire Tkrace and Constantinople ? Besides, Russia will never agree to a divison that shall leave the Grecian islands to France; nor can it be expected France will leave the Bosphorus to Russia.

Thus, between these two governments, matters seem to be coming nearly to a crisis. Considering the characters of each respectively, and the powers and attitude of the two empires, if Puonaparte possess only the half of those transcendent talents which his panegyrists are willing

• Oczakow was not only the key to the northern provinces of Turkey; it was le Constantinople wbat Bergen-op-Zorm and vaestricht formerly were to Amster. dam; and what the Pyrenees mig!'t yet be to Madrid. That post in the hands of Russia, to offer her the sovereiguty of Moldavia, Walacsia, and Bessarabia, was ridiculous enough.

The Russians at Akkirmann and Soroko, and tire French, or their auxiliaries is Naples, the Sultan with lis scraglio tave the comfortable prospect of very sona passing, either au fil de l'épee, ou sous le knudt, into the kingdom of Maliomet. It is remarkable, that when the L:n peror of Terkey was obliged to surrender Oczakow, the King of England was mediator with tbirry six line-of-battle ships armed, in his favour.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »