Page images
PDF
EPUB

REMARKS ON THE POLICY OF THE ALLIES

WITH RESPECT TO FRANCE.

BEGUN IN OCTOBER, 1798.

As the proposed manifesto is, I understand, to promul. gate to the world the general idea of a plan for the regulation of a great kingdom, and through the regulation of that kingdom probably to decide the fate of Europe for ever, nothing requires a more serious deliberation with regard to the time of making it, the circumstances of those to whom it is addressed, and the matter it is to contain.

As to the time, (with the due diffidence in my own opinion,) I have some doubts whether it is not rather unfavourable to the issuing any manifesto, with regard to the intended government of France : and for this reason, that it is (upon the principal point of our attack) a time of calamity and defeat. Manifestoes of this nature are commonly made when the

army of some sovereign enters into the enemy's country in great force, and under the imposing authority of that force employs menaces towards those whom he desires to awe, and makes promises to those whom he wishes to engage in his favour.

As to a party, what has been done at Toulon leaves no doubt, that the party for which we declare must be that which substantially declares for royalty as the basis of the government.

As to menaces-Nothing, in my opinion, can contribute more effectually to lower any sovereign in the public estimation, and to turn his defeats into disgraces, than to

threaten in a moment of impotence. The second manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick appeared, therefore, to the world to be extremely ill-timed. However, if his menaces in that manifesto had been seasonable, they were not without an object. Great crimes then apprehended, and great evils then impending, were to be prevented. At this time, every act, which early menaces might possibly have prevented, is done. Punishment and vengeance alone remain, and God forbid that they should ever be forgotten. But the punishment of enormous offenders will not be the less severe, or the less exemplary, when it is not threatened at a moment when we have it not in our power to execute our threats. On the other side, to pass by proceedings of such a nefarious nature, in all kinds, as have been carried on in France, without any signification of resentment, would be in effect to ratify them; and thus to become accessaries after the fact, in all those enormities which it is impossible to repeat, or think of without horror. An absolute silence appears to me to be at this time the only safe course.

The second usual matter of manifestoes is composed of promises to those who co-operate with our designs. These promises depend in a great measure, if not wholly, on the apparent power of the person who makes them to fulfil his engagements. A time of disaster on the part of the pro. miser, seems not to add much to the dignity of his person, or to the effect of his offers. One would hardly wish to seduce any unhappy persons to give the last provocation to a merciless tyranny, without very effectual means of protecting them.

The time, therefore, seems (as I said) not favourable to a general manifesto, on account of the unpleasant situation of our affairs. However, I write in a changing scene, when a measure, very imprudent to-day, may be very proper to

Some great victory may alter the whole state of the question, so far as it regards our power of fulfilling any engagement we may think fit to make.

But there is another consideration of far greater importance for all the purposes of this manifesto. The public, and the parties concerned, will look somewhat to the disposition of the promiser indicated by his conduct, as well as to his power of fulfilling his engagements.

morrow.

Speaking of this nation as part of a general combination of powers, are we quite sure, that others can believe us to be sincere, or that we can be even fully assured of our own sincerity, in the protection of those who shall risk their lives for the restoration of monarchy in France, when the world sees, that those who are the natural, legal, constitutional re. presentatives of that monarchy, if it has any, have not had their names so much as mentioned in any one public act; that in no way whatever are their persons brought forward; that their rights have not been expressly or implicitly allowed, and that they have not been in the least consulted on the important interests they have at stake. On the contrary, they are kept in a state of obscurity and contempt, and in a degree of indigence at times bordering on beggary. They are, in fact, little less prisoners in the village of Hanau, than the royal captives who are locked up in the tower of the Temple. What is this, according to the common indications which guide the judgment of mankind, but, under the pretext of protecting the crown of France, in reality to usurp it !

I am also very apprehensive, that there are other circumstances which must tend to weaken the force of our declarations. No partiality to the allied powers can prevent great doubts on the fairness of our intentions as supporters of the crown of France, or of the true principles of legitimate government in opposition to Jacobinism, when it is visible that the two leading orders of the state of France, who are now the victims, and who must always be the true and sole supporters of monarchy in that country, are, at best, in some of their descriptions, considered only as objects of charity, and others are, when employed, employed only as mercenary soldiers ; that they are thrown back out of all reputable service, are in a manner disowned, considered as nothing in their own cause, and never once consulted in the concerns of their king, their country, their laws, their religion, and their property ? We even affect to be ashamed of them. In all our proceedings we carefully avoid the appearance of being of a party with them. In all our ideas of treaty we do not regard them as what they are, the two leading orders of the kingdom. If we do not consider them in that light, we must recognise the savages by whom they have been ruined, and who have declared war upon

Europe, whilst they disgrace and persecute human nature, and openly defy the God that made them, as real proprietors of France.

I am much afraid, too, that we shall scarcely be believed fair supporters of lawful monarchy against Jacobinism, so long as we continue to make and to observe cartels with the Jacobins, and on fair terms exchange prisoners with them, whilst the royalists, invited to our standard and employed under our public faith, against the Jacobins, if taken by that savage faction, are given up to the executioner without the least attempt whatsoever at reprisal. For this, we are to look at the king of Prussia's conduct, compared with his manifestoes about a twelvemonth ago. For this, we are to look at the capitulations of Mentz and Valenciennes, made in the course of the present campaign. By these two capitulations, the Christian royalists were excluded from any participation in the cause of the combined powers. They were considered as the outlaws of Europe. Two armies were in effect sent against them. One of those armies (that which surrendered Mentz) was very near overpowering the Christians of Poitou, and the other (that which surrendered at Valenciennes) has actually crushed the people whom oppression and despair had driven to resistance at Lyons, has massacred several thousands of them in cold blood, pillaged the whole substance of the place, and pursued their rage to the very houses, condemning that noble city to desolation, in the unheard-of manner we have seen it devoted.

It is then plain by a conduct which overturns a thousand declarations, that we take the royalists of France only as an instrument of some convenience in a temporary hostility with the Jacobins, but that we regard those atheistic and murderous barbarians as the bonâ fide possessors of the soil of France. It appears at least, that we consider them as a fair government de facto, if not de jure; a resistance to which in favour of the king of France, by any man who happened to be born within that country, might equitably be considered, by other nations, as the crime of treason.

For my part, I would sooner put my hand into the fire than sigri an invitation to oppressed men to fight under my standard, and then, on every sinister event of war, cruelly give them up to be punished as the basest of traitors, as long

as I had one of the common enemy in my hands to be put to death in order to secure those under my protection, and to vindicate the common honour of sovereigns. We hear nothing of this kind of security in favour of those whom we invite to the support of our cause.

Without it, I am not a little apprehensive that the proclamations of the combined powers might contrary to their intention no doubt) be Looked upou as frauds, and cruel traps laid for their lives.

So far as to the correspondence between our declarations and our conduct: let the declaration be worded as it will, the conduct is the practical comment by which, and by which alone, it can be understood. This conduct, acting on the declaration, leaves a monarchy without a monarch; and without any representative or trustee for the monarch and the monarchy. It supposes a kingdom without states and orders; a territory without proprietors; and faithful subjects, who are to be left to the fate of rebels and traitors.

The affair of the establishment of a government is a very difficult undertaking for foreign powers to act in as principals; though as auxiliaries and mediators, it has been not at all unusual, and may be a measure full of policy and humanity, and true dignity.

The first thing we ought to do, supposing us not giving the law as conquerors, but acting as friendly powers applied to for counsel and assistance in the settlement of a distracted country, is well to consider the composition, nature, and temper of its objects, and particularly of those who actually do, or who ought to exercise power in that state. It is material to know who they are, and how constituted, whom we consider as the people of France ?

The next consideration is, through whom our arrangements are to be made, and on what principles the government we propose is to be established.

The first question on the people is this, Whether we are to consider the individuals now actually in France, numeri cally taken and arranged into Jacobin clubs, as the body politic, constituting the nation of France ? or, Whether we are to consider the original individual proprietors of lands, expelled since the Revolution, and the states and the bodies politic, such as the colleges of justice called parliaments, the corporations noble and not noble of bailliages, and towns,

« PreviousContinue »