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of Finland, and thereby obtained a covering territory, of the last and most important consequence to his own capital.
The Porte was no less made a sacrifice to the inordinate anxiety, which at the Treaty of Tilsit, Bonaparte seems to have entertained, for acquiring at any price, the accession of Russia to his extravagant desire of destroying England. By the public treaty, indeed, some care seems to have been taken of the interests of Turkey, since it provides that Turkey was to have the benefit of peace under the mediation of France, and that Russia was to evacuate Moldavia and Wallachia, for the acquisition of which she was then waging an unprovoked war. But by the secret agreement of the two Emperors, it was unquestionably understood, that Turkey in Europe, was to be placed at the mercy of Alexander, as forming, naturally, a part of the Russian empire, as Spain, Portugal, and, perhaps, Great-Britain were, from local position, destined to become provinces of France. At the subsequent Congress betwixt the Emperors at Erf their measures against the Porte were more fully adjusted.
“ It may seem strange that the shrewd and jealous Napoleon should have suffered himself to be so much over-reached in his treaty with Alexander, since the benefits stipulated for France, in the Treaty of Tilsit, were in a great measure vague, and subjects of hope rather than certainty. The British naval force was not easily to be subdued-Gibraltar and Malta are as strong fortresses as the world can exhibit the .conquest of Spain was at least a doubtful undertaking, if the last war of the succession was carefully considered. But the Russian objects were nearer, and were within her grasp. Finland was seized on with little difficulty, nor did the conquest even of Constantinople possess any thing
difficult to a Russian army, if unopposed, save by the undisciplined forces of the Turkish empire. Thus, it is evident, that Napoleon exchanged for distant and contingent prospects, his acquiescence in the Russian objects, which were near, essential, and, in comparison, of easy attainment. The effect of this policy we shall afterwards advert to. Meanwhile, the two most ancient allies of France, and who were of the greatest political importance to her in case of a second war with Russia, were most unwisely abandoned to the
mercy of that power, who failed not to despoil Sweden of Finland, and but for intervening causes, would, probably, have seized upon Constantinople with the same ease.
“ If the reader should wonder how Bonaparte, able and astucious as he was, came to be over-reached in the Treaty of Tilsit, we believe the secret may be found in a piece of private history.” Vol. ii. pp. 145–146.
Now to us these appear to be the remarks of a sagacious, but somewhat prejudiced mind, examining events and principles after they are become matters of history, and have ceased to be matters of speculation. To one, who without bias, could place himself in imagination at the æra of the peace of Tilsit, it would, we think, appear that Napoleon had given inconsiderable boons, trifles of no comparative value, for some of the most important possessions in the universe, and, that the facility of securing their
mutual cessions, if bargaining away like two robbers their neighbour's property, can be called a cession, was, in all human probability, altogether in his favour. He permitted to Russia the occupation and possession of Finland. This grant, it is true, was easily secured. But this acquisition only removed from Russia a source of possible annoyance; it added little or nothing to her resources or actual strength. Finland is, in extent, a large province, but its soil is barren and its climate in hospitable. It might have offered to the enemies of Russia a landing place, near the capital of her empire, but it could afford to an army no support--neither men, nor horses, nor provisions. It furnished a barrier to Alexander, on a side on which his territory was somewhat exposed, and, in so far, was to him an acceptable possession.
The permission to occupy Turkey, was a privilege to engage in wars of an indefinite extent, (even if no European power should interfere in the contest) of prodigious expense, of a peculiar character, and eminently calculated to exhaust the resources of an empire. There was no doubt that the armies of Russia would be in the field superior to the Ottoman troops ; but the population of Turkey is warlike, brave, and inspired with a reckless fanaticism-hostile nationally, we might almost say personally, to the Russians, and unwilling to submit even when trampled to the earth. Napoleon knew that the very danger which no one anticipated in Spain, would certainly occur in Turkey; that the people would surely rise in insurrection in every part of that extensive empire, and, that war would be continued in one shape or other, until there should be many opportunities for the other powers of Europe, perhaps, even for himself, to interpose, if such a course should be deemed politic, or become necessary. He relinquished to Russia game of great value, but it was yet to be taken, and it was certain that the chace would be hazardous, desperate, and of long continuance-while he was to be permitted, in return, to occupy the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, countries separated by the ocean from all people but his own, and to which his immense, and hitherto invincible armies had free access. The governments of these countries had been hitherto perfectly submissive to him; his mandates were obeyed by the ministers of Spain as if they had been issued to his own prefects. No human power, apparently, could frustrate his designs, Austria might regret the acquisition, she could not resent it-She had been driven from the western parts of Europe-she could not communicate immediately with Spain-she would certainly not declare war, and, without an ally, bring the whole power of the
French empire on her own dominions, when she had found herself, even with the aid of Russia, unable to resist. Prussia was almost annihilated, and even if her monarch had been ordered to descend from his throne, he must, probably, have submitted without a struggle. Great Britain, it is true, was powerful at sea, more powerful than ever since the battle of Trafalgar, but since the campaign in Holland in 1794, she had discovered no disposition to engage as principal on land. She had lately made two unsuccessful, we might almost say, disgraceful expeditions to Egypt and Buenos Ayres, where her troops had been defeated, even by undisciplined forces, it was not probable that she would send them to contend against the armies of Napoleon. Even in the course of this very year, (1807) she permitted Lisbon, the capital of her most ancient ally, to be occupied by Junot without a struggle, and only sent a squadron to shelter the persons and property of her own subjects, on their flight from Portugal, and, as it happened, to assist in transporting to Brazil, the sovereign of that country, and his attendant courtiers. Opposition from any quarter appeared at that moment, improbable and vain, and Napoleon had reason to believe that, by securing the acquiescence of Russia, the only power who could move or cause others to rise against his usurpations, he had secured not only the peninsula of Spain and Portugal, but their immense ultra-marine possessions; had acquired almost beyond doubt or hazard, the finest, intrinsically the most wealthy, and the most extensive empire on the habitable globe.
It becomes our duty to point out some of those peculiarities which appeared to us as blemishes, on perusing this work.Some of those opinions which must circumscribe its circulation, and seem already to have diminished its reputation.
It must be acknowledged that from Sir Walter Scott we expected a finished and classical work. One not compiled from the current tales and compilations of the day; not written for his own times, or the circles that surround him; but designed and fitted to descend to posterity as a fair tablet on which should have been faithfully and beautifully engraved, the transactions of his own age; a monument which future races, and nations yet unknown might have continued to examine and to study, as presenting an anthentic record of a momentous period when it should have passed away. It is, perhaps, because we had measured his merits by too high a standard, that some imperfections in the work have pressed strongly on our notice.
The first that we shall mention, is the apparent deficiency of original information, the small amount of new materials, and the very little additional light which, in this history, has been
thrown over the events of the French Revolntion. We are not willing, from such a writer, to receive a mere compilationmany sources of knowledge might have been opened to him which are closed against others, unless from the state of parties, or from facts connected with many of the leading occurrences, it was considered unwise by the triumphant governments of Europe to disclose the secret history of such recent transactions. On many topics it may be better to indulge in vague declamation, than to unveil disguised or forgotten truths. The recent controversy between the writer of this history and General Gourgaud, certainly proves that the British cabinet, when it suited its purposes, was not unwilling to make known some of its private correspondences. The imperfection arising from deficient materials, may not entirely be imputable to our author; yet, with his advantages and reputation, more was certainly expected than has been performed. We strongly suspect that he was unwilling to give up the time which elaborate researches would have required, that he proposed to write a popular book, and was satisfied, in a great measure, to receive the statements which were current and sufficiently conformable to fashionable opinions. Some documents in the appendix, apparently from the present King of Sweden (Bernadotte) shed some little light on the Revolution of the eighteenth Brumaire (8th November) 1799, and manifest that Sir Walter was not unwilling to avail himself of such aid; but these notes are of little importance, and only prove that there were persons in Paris on that occasion and in authority, who were willing to have joined in any opposition to the measures of Bonaparte; but who, as we have already had occasion to remark, were all controlled by the energy of his ascendant spirit. Still, we wish many more such statements, and, if possible, from persons of different political sentiments, had been carefully collected.
One of the questions we should have rejoiced to have seen thoroughly examined, as the early stages of the Revolution are included in the range of this history, relates to the nature, extent and effects of foreign interference in the affairs of France, in the first agitations of this critical and convulsed period, in the progress of opinions and events, from ardour to enthusiasm, from energy to madness; from the confident assurance of an immediate and prosperous termination of their struggle; to the mortification of hope deferred, the anxiety and anguish of disappointed expectations; and, finally, to the despair and phrenzy of violent and conflicting passions. Even in that bright and smiling hour, when the Revolution was hailed by the gratulaVOL. II.-NO. 3.
tions of mankind as one of the greatest eras of human improvement, secret snares already encompassed it, and opposition, engendered by foreign influence, was sapping its foundations. Suspicion, jealousy and anger, soon intermingled in every transaction, and the worst ingredients were infused into that cup, which was already become so bitter. To the philosopher, the statesman, the friend of liberty, it would be important to ascertain how far the evils which arose out of the French Revolution were the natural and spontaneous production of the soil itself, or exotic poisons which had been, with a view of blasting its good fruit, scattered there profusely by its enemies.
Let us, however, not be misunderstood; we do not doubt that there were, in the French Revolution, subjects calculated to divide opinion, to generate parties, to awaken the passions of men, whose interests and whose objects were, on so many points opposed, and, that discord, and, finally, war, malignant, sanguinary and implacable, might have sprung from causes that were inherent in its very nature. But however this may be, such was not, in fact, the origin of those excesses and atrocities which, even at the present moment, freeze the blood, and perhaps make it impossible for the mind, steadily and impartially, to survey the causes and consequences of that memorable event. It was not until foreign influence was distinctly seen in the councils of the government, until foreign voices were lifted up in denunciation of every liberal principle and measure, until the unfortunate Louis himself, on his flight to Varennes, had protested against all the acts to which, as he said he had only given a compulsory assent, it was not until then that the bands of society were completely broken, that the passions of the populace became inflamed to madness, and that the men who were only distinguished by daring and inflexible firmness, by unfeeling and brutal violence, were enabled to acquire an ascendant in the public assemblies. The first members of the Fenillants of the Girondistes, even of the Jacobin club, were among the wisest, the purest, the most patriotic citizens of their country. It was not until such men were driven from their places, by these untoward circumstances, or became victims to their principles, that what has been termed the revolutionary fury, fully burst forth. The desolation and terror, which, for a short period, enveloped France, might never have been known, if so many of her own children had not fled away, and invoked the interposition of foreign nations in their domestic dissensions. It was only when the application of force was threatened from abroad that the reign of force became triumphant at home. Of the intrigues, conspiracies, the secret annals of this momentous period, few or