Page images
PDF

against their consent. Thus the natter is made to depend, not upon tbo more or less friendly dis. (wsition of Denmark, but upon the Jrsree of strength or weakness by which she would, or would not haie been able to defend her hule;*ndence. Now, under this head, «v consider it as most essential to a ::k and practical understanding of the .subject, to make a distinction Vtween the physical and the mo. ral weakness that was likely to ac. uste the prince royal. As to the u-t, we may adduce, if our information be not rcry incorrect, the admission of his royal highness him. vlf, and of his minister count ikrustorff, that they were altoge. tier unable to prevent the French froa gaining immediate possession of Holstein, Sleswig, and Jutland. Whether this would have led, as sn immediate consequence, to the njuaily certain occupation by the t-iemr of Fnnen and Zealand, may furnish matter of speculation to ai'iUry men. From an inspection of the map of the peninsula, and frtfm a consideration of the stations of the respective armies, and their distance from the chief points of embarkation, we are led to believe ti*t the principal, if not the only obstacle which the French would tare met with in such an attempt, would be the presence of the English" squadrons in the Belt. They could (irtainly have m reached, from tie line which they occupied be:,f*n Hamburg and I.ubeck, the forts of Xewstadt, Kiel, FlensIwg, and Apenrade, before the Danes; and as there was no military 'orce whatever stationed in Funen, ttot even a garrison in the small fortress of Nyeborg, and very few, if any troops in Zealand, except the

garrisons of Copenhagen, and Cron. burg, they would have had possession of all the craft for their conveyance along tha eastern coast of the peninsula, and could have met with no resistance when they reached the opposito shores of Funen and Zealand. But. we are inclined not to rely altogether upon this topic, because we consider the other included in the distinction aiioveraeniioned, as quite conclusive. Whotver is in the least acquainted with the politics of the Danish court, must know the importance attached by the present government of that country, to its German provinces, and must also know how great an influence over its whole proceedings would accrue to any foreign power that had oh. tained possession of them. lie must know how very little chance there would be, when the Freuch were masters of those provinces, that the prince royal would hesitate to accede, for the sake of recover, ing them, to whatever measures of hostility against Great Britain might be required of him. We have a ready and a very striking elucida. tion of this point, in the fact that when he was himself stationed in those provinces, at the head of the flower of his army, he, in the vain hope of securing them from foreign occupation, gave up to certain conquest every other part of his dominions, the commerce and the navigation of his subjects, in short, all the known sources of their pro. sperity, and of the subsistence of a large portion of them This in fact was the consequence that forth, with ensued; and it cannot be doubted that if the policy which suggested the enterprise against Copenhagen had been continued ai • firmly firmly and as extensively as the authors of it gave reason to expect, Zealand would not be at this mo. mint under the government of the Danish crown, and Norway would be indebted still more than she is at present, to the moderation and forbearance of Great Britain for any share of heranticnt prosperity which •he misrht be able to enjoy.

But it lvs been said by those who perhaps attribute more firmness of character to the councils of Denmark, that she might have resisted the French, even after they were in possession of the duchies, and that she would have resided them, had not England, by seizing her navy, deprived liet of her principal means of defence. We attach little value to the argument, and for this reason: the Danes who well knew their weakness, and admitted that they had no means of resistance against the French, nevertheless denied the danger with which they were threatened, and which was obvious to the rest of the world; they refused to take any measures of precaution by which their defences might be strengthened, so -that the French would not have had a naval force to contend with, but need only have taken possession of Copenhagen, and its dependencies, to have obtained their object of uniting all the maritime force of the Baltic against us. We see here a remarkable instance of the difficulties and the inconsistencies attending a predetermined resolution to impugn any particular measure upon mere party principles, without a reference to its real merits. The Danes say to the world, "we deny the notoriety of the enemy's intention which you all admit and recognize, but we acknowledge our in

ability to withstand those'intentions, should they in fact exist." Their advocates in England have said, "this notoriety is evident to the most simple and unenlightened observer, but we maintain that they had noton'y the intention of resist, ing, but the means also of so doing, until you deprived them of their fleet. There cannot surely bemuch doubt as to the degree of credit to be given to each of these parties: the .Danes we should imagine must know, better even than those who espouse their cause the njost warmly, their own intentions, and their means of executing them. Still however it is argued, there could never exist a plea of necessity on the score of danger for Great Rritain acting as she has done: for what material difference could be produced against her, by the addition to the enemy's navy of sixteen sail of the line, and as many frigates and smaller vessels? Have we net on former occasions shewn, that this very Danish navy, which is now so much an object af dread, could not oiler the smallest impediment to the victorious career of the British flag?—Could we indeed admit that this numerical increase of the enemy's forces were, abstractedly taken, to have been the only incon. venience or danger resulting from the possession of Copenhagen by the French, so strong do we feel in the supremacy of our navy, that we might not perhaps have thought necessary a measure of such great and extensiveconsequence, as that which we are discussing. But, believing as we do, that the sixteen sail of the line formed only a part of the danger against which it was incumbent upon ministers to provide, and considering the circumstances o( the

political political state of Europe, to which vhare more than once made allu. i ■•:, in this chapter, it appears to o- that they would have incurred a mostfrarfiil responsibility, if know. in* what they knew, and apprehending what they had so much reason to apprehend, they had nejWted to avert the storm that was jittering round them, and we know of no better method by which they mold hare done so than that which they employed. If there should •till bo those who are prepared to sent from these opinions, we would ask only the following ques. tioas, upon the issue of which, the ETta or demerits of our government most altogether rest. Can it really be supposed that Russia, but for the expedition against Copenra»«i. would have remained in a state of neutrality to this country, ind hare withstood that fatal infatuation by which her sovereign has been prompted to aid and abet Buonaparte in his most atrocious Kts of tyranny and usurpation? Would not the hostility and influence of Russia, in conjunction with those of France, have ensured the combination of the three Baltic naws against us? What would have teen the feelings of this country, if. at some after-period, when enraged in other interesting pursuits, the campaign in Portugal, or in vain, or possibly some indispensable measures of defence on our "trtern coast, or in Ireland, we shook! have had farther to provide ■gainst the hostilities of forty or Sfty sail of the line, accompanied by a powerful land-force in the North $«? Would, under such circum. stances, ministers have been jusri. ted against the reproaches of the pontic, and of their own conscien.

ces, by the plea now urged against them, that they had thought of no other danger than the sixteen sail of the line?

It has been said again, that the conduct of the Danish court, at this period, ought not to be judged of with a reference to any former event, or portion of its genera! policy; that its having joined in a hostile confederacy against Great Britain in 1801, ought not to be taken as presumptive evidence of' its intention to do the same thing six years afterwards. If we could so far shut our eyes to the history of our own times, as to abstract this ona transaction, both in its origin, its progress, and its consequences, from every other that had comu to our knowledge, we might perhaps assent to this proposition. But as a country, like an individual, naturally claims the benefit of any favourable interpretation to which its general policy may give rise, so, we apprehend, must she submit to any imputation which can be fairly deducible from the same source; and we must strongly maintain, in favour of the unblemished fame of our public morals, which has been, on this occasion, so violently, and, as we think, unjustly traduced, that, the circumstance of Denmark's having, in 1801, so far yielded to the influence of a third power, as to join in hostilities against us, avow, edly at the suggestion of that power, and in contradiction to its own pro. fessed wishes and. interests, does afford most substantial ground for concluding that she would again do so, when urged to it by a power of greater and more impending magnitude. W« do not see indeed how it is possible, in arguing the question, to lose sight of this probability; bability; and we are informed, that the prince royal was so well aware of the influence which if must have against him, that he excused his conduct on the former occasion, on the score of its not having been voluntary, but forced upon him by the emperor Paul; and vindicated his present intentions, on the ground of no such exterior influence upon them being to be apprehended. Now to us it appears, on consider, ing the circumstances of the two periods, that the influence of Buonaparte was likely to be still more conclusive than that of the emperor Paul was admitted to have been (taking their intentions and indifference about their menaces to be the same), because Denmark might, at that tinye, have resisted, with the assistance of a llritish squadron, any attack On her capital, and there was no Russian army at hand to threaten her continental provinces; whereas, in 1807, nothing could prevent the French from overrunning those provinces, as soon as they, from whatever motive, determined so to do,

Iu.the same spirit of impartiality which dictated the foregoing observations, we must in justice say, that the system according to which ifo think the Danish war not only justifiable but highly commendable, was not improved to the extent of which it was capable. We consider as highly impolitic, the terms of the capitulation of Copenhagen; the attempt to negotiate with Denmark, after she had unequivocally expressed her determination to rejeet all terms of reconciliation, ns undignified; and the abandonment of the island of Zealand, from the

re-occupation of which the terms of the capitulation did not preclude us, as having been productive of nrarly as much evil ;is we derived benefit from the original under, taking.

If as historians, not of the British empire only, but of the passing events in the political world, Me should be called upon to say, whether, placing ourselves in the predicament of the Danish government, we should have recommended th«m to make the sacrifice that was demanded, our answer must depend upon a view of the terms on which the demand was made. If it had been made abruptly, and unaccompanied by any other proposals which might render it at once conformable to the interests and inoffensive to the feelings of the Danish nation, we should say No. But as we are told, from unquestionable authority, that, with reference to the point of feeling, it was left to the Danish government to prescribe the manner of the transaction, we conceive that the Interests of that nation would have been better consulted by adhering to a policy, by which their principal dominions, their colonies, their commerce, and their navigation, would have been pre. served entire, and independent of the yoke of France, than by forming that connection by which all these objects have been sacrificed, great and most oppressive burdens incurred, and by which the pro. sperity of Denmark, even of those very provinces, in the vain hope of preserving which, the remaind r were sacrificed, has been injured beyond the power of reparation.

CHAP. U I'M AN nature being at all "times, and hi all places, the «jb*, the conduct of men is often found to bo similar, in similar cir. Constances. Partitions of power lad territory have been made on nndry occasions, as we learn from fi'tory in antient times, among so. vtrcipi princes and other chiefs, at the had of immense armies; who aforwirds, on the very first faiMrablt opportunity, quarrelled, stacked, and destroyed one ano. th* r. Thus Julius Caesar became f-rpotnal dictator, and Octavius, «nj*ror of Rome. It was thu«, tilt in the decline of the Roman 'sipire, the most powerful governors of proTinces first made a par. wioa of the imperial dominions ifflong themselves, and afterwards c'-ftrmined by the sword, which ■Maid wear the purple. It was on the same principle of mutual aggran. fceaif nt, that peace was concluded between Buonaparte and the R us. «»o emperor, Alexander, who, uot recollecting the danger of destroy. "Hf,fwy barrier between himself, and Mich a man as the ruler of France, so powerful, so unprin.

[ocr errors]

Vtrtitions of porter among conquering princes or military chiefs, not a novelty.Projected partition of Europe at the conferences at Tilsit, bettteen Buonaparte, and the Emperor Alexander.Measures taken by Buonaparte for carrying his design into ex. fution.Consolidation of his porter at home and abroad.Flatters, cajoles, and at the same time, bridles more and more the French nation.Continental blockade. This a pretext for extending his conquests.His intrigues in Spain.Journey Italy—And Invasion of Portugal.

cipled, and of such insatiable ambition, fell into the snares of the Italian, with an imbecility bordering on insanity. The truth is, the youthful mind and conduct of Alex, ander, naturally weak, and prone withal to seusual gratification, was moulded at will by favourites who stamped it alternately with the im. pression of their own opposite cha. racters and interests. Ever since the conclusion of tbe reign of Ca. therine the Great, there had been at St. Petersbnrgh, what was called an anti.commerrial party, in other words, a faction inimical to England: this party was composed chiefly of French emigrants, and Frenchmen become subjects of Russia by long residence. These men insinuated themselves into many situations that gave them opportunities of exercising their talents, and indulging their natural inclination to intrigue; particularly those of tutors or preceptors in noble families. They breathed all the national enmity of France" towards England; though sometimes foiled, they constantly renewed their attacks; and after the peace of Til.

sit.

« PreviousContinue »