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SOLD ALSO BY AMYOT, RUE DE LA PAIX; TRUCHY, BOULEVARD DES ITALIENS;
ON THE UTILITY OF THE BALANCE OF POWER."
The balance of power, and the general system of international relations which has grown up in modern Europe, have alsorded to one class of politicians perpetual subject of ridicule and invective, and to another class the constant opportunity of defending or attacking every measure, of discussing or affecting to discuss, every political subject, by a reference to certain terms of art and abstract ideas, of which it is fair lo suspect that they little understood the meaning and the force.
Of these reasoners or declaimers, the former sect are undoubtedly the most dangerous. The refinements of modern policy which have sprung from the progressive improvement of the human species, and have, in their turn, secured that progress, and accelerated its pace, are in no danger of being either corrupted, or brought into disrepute, by the petulance of pretended statesmen. But the sophistries and cavils which political sceptics and innovators have founded, partly on a misconception of the theory, and partly on a mis-statement of the facts, tend directly to a degradation of the system in the eyes of superficial reasoners, and may ultimately renew a state of things, from which the unassisted efforts of national heroism would be altogether unable to redeem any one community.
The attacks of those men have, moreover, been extremely inconsistent and contradictory. While, at one time, they maintain, that the idea of a political equilibrium is pregnant with every species of absurdity, and would produce, if carried into the actual affairs of nations, those very evils which the system is extolled for preventing: at another time we are told that the notion is simple and obvious; that it arises naturally out of the passions of men; that it is no refinement of modern statesmen, but has influenced the councils of princes and commonwealths in all ages of the world. Now—the balance of power is an unintelligible jargon, invented to cover every scheme; to furnish pretexts for every act of national injustice; to lull the jealousy of the people in any emergency; or to excite their alarms upon any occasion. Now—it is useless and superfluous ; an interference with the natural order of things ; or an attempt to effect that which would happen at any rate. Now-it is pernicious in the extreme; the parent of wars and offensive alliances; the exciting cause of national violence; the watchword of ambitious princes and destroying commonwealths; a refinement only of injustice ; and
Politique de tous les Cabinets de l'Europe, pendant les Ré znes de Louis XV et de Louis XVI., &c. MSS. Trouvés dans le Cabinet de Louis XVI. Seconde Edition. Considérablement adzmen:ée, par L. P. Ségur l'Ainé, Ex-Ambassadeur. 3 tom. 8vo.-Vol. i. page 345. January, INI3
a system of nothing but treachery or caprice. It is very manifest, without any argument, that the system of modern policy cannot be liable to all those accusations at once, and that the declaimers, who have used such language with respect to it, must have been talking of very different things at different times. But as the foreign policy of nations was dever, at any period of modern story, so interesting as at present, we shall proceed to offer a few observations upon that system which has been so little understood, and which is the foundation of the important work now under review.
The national jealousy, by which at all times the European states are animated, and which ranges them on different sides in each public crisis, has been denominated, not a principle of policy, but a national emotion. Nations, it is said, like the individuals which compose them, are moved by caprice, and actuated by passions; excited to contention by envy and hatred; soothed to reconciliation when exhausted by the efforts of their enmily; leagued in friendship by the dictates of an interested prudence ; united together by the thirst of plunder, or combined for the gratification of some common revenge. The principle (we are told) which has been pompously called the great spring of civilised policy, is perhaps nothing more than a systematic indulgence of those natural feelings that impel the savage to altack his more wealthy neighbour, or unite rival hordes in a lemporary friendship, when invaded by a powerful and common enemy. The policy (it is added) which we have heard extolled as the grand arcanum of moder! stalesmen, and dignified with the title of a system, is nothing more than the natural result of a conflict between desire of conquest and of security, refined on by ingenious men, and spun into a regular theory.
These remarks are partly true, and partly unfounded. It is true, that nations are guided by human councils, and subject, of course, to the
passions and caprices of men; but it is no less certain, that the more regularly any system of government is established, the more will men of sober minds acquire weight in the management of affairs; and that the longer the art of administering the concerns of empires is practised, prudence will gain the greater ascendency over passion. It is true, that the dictates of feelings not always amiable, and often outrageous, are frequently, more than any impulse of reason, the springs which actuate the operations of states; but it is equally true, that in all animals the passions themselves are implanted for the wisest of purposes; that instinct is the principle to which, more than reason, the preservation of life, and the maintenance of order in the universe, must be ascribed; and thal national councils may be operating what no foresight could combine, while they appear to be swayed only by prejudice and passion. The existence of rude states is indeed frequently preserved, and their civilisation insured, by the operation of principles, to assist the development of which is the great pride of the most learned and skilful stalesmen; yet, the want of this assistance in those rude times, and the want of a constant superintendence and control, which renders the popular feelings useful in one case, and harmless in another, is certainly the cause of that instability of national power, and those perpetual changes in dominion—those constant broils, and that state of unceasing insecurity, to wbich we may allribute the many revolutions in the situation of savage communities, and the long continuance of their barbarism.
That the system which we are now considering has oftentimes been abused, no one can deny. What human institution can defend itself from this charge? But many of the evils which are ascribed to the principle in