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Henry, to hold a conference with Christophe-a measure which, however fortunate for the blacks, proved in the sequel of but little advantage to the honourable ambassador. M. de Medina had spent only a very short time at Cape Henry before he was recognised as a native of St. Domingo, an ex-officer, and a deserter of his country's cause. On these accounts, and because he was without any credentials from the French government, he was forthwith arrested, and had his papers
seized; from which it plainly appeared, that the real object of his mission was to excite discord and insurrection. He was conducted, therefore, before a military commission, and tried as a spy. If any doubts could have been entertained at Cape Henry of the ulterior designs of the French government, the documents found upon De Medina, and the answers given by him to the interrogatories put by the president of the court, must have convinced the most partial man that the inhabitants of St. Domingo would in vain expect more favour or friendship from the cabinet of the sanctified Louis, than from the council of the ambitious Napoleon *. -Read this, ye legitimates, and, if ye can, blush !
* History of St. Domingo, p. 365, 366, 371,
“UNDER the glittering veil of glory there was a vast aggregate of misery in France. The conscription alone was a heart-rending evil, not merely in sweeping off annually vast hecatombs of French youth to be devoured by war, but in breaking the bonds of family affection, in hardening the heart, extinguishing the natural sentiments, and perverting the moral principles. It was impossible that the reflecting part of the French people should not perceive that of this national plague Buonaparte was the cause.”—New Times, 1822.
The principal European governments, being all participators in the egregious folly of maintain. ing larger armies than accord with the population of their respective states *, find themselves com
• A new distemper has spread itself over Europe; it has infected our princes, and induces them to keep up an exorbitant number of troops. It has its redoublings, and of necessity becomes contagious. For as soon as one prince augments what he calls his troops, the rest, of course, do the same; so that nothing is gained thereby but the public ruin. Each monarch keeps as many armies on foot as if his people were in danger of being exterminated, and they give the name of peace to this general effort of all against all.—MontesquieuSpirit of Laws, vol. 1, book 13, c. 17, p. 310.
pelled to adopt extraordinary means for the augmentation of their forces. In Russia and Pou land, men are levied in much the same way as horses are elsewhere. In Germany, every village has its lord, who names the recruits, without regard either to their rights or convenience. In Prussia, the regulations are so arbitrary and vex: atious, that the departments, which, in 1814, were torn from France, absolutely solicited and obtained, as a benefit, the continuance of those laws, respecting the army, under which, according to the Editor of the New Times, they had so long groaned. The mode practised in Austria of securing soldiers is neither less objectionable nor less disliked by the inhabitants than the methods pursued in other countries *. England empties her prisons into the army, and finds besides a never-failing resource in the starving population of that over-peopled portion of her empire, Ireland; but, without this resource, England, too, would have to adopt measures of rigour. In France, during the reigns of Louis XIV., XV., and XVI., the army was completed by lot, although the privileged classes were exempt; and, as mankind oftener attach importance to names than to things, whatever severity there might be in the arrangement, was softened down by denominating the proceeding “ drawing for the militia.”
* The Illyrian provinces begged as a favour that they might continue to enjoy the conscription law, according to the French practice.
During the first ten years of the French revolution, the armies were recruited by requisition, which comprehended all citizens from the age of eighteen to twenty-five; and in this there was neither selection nor serving by deputy.
Napoleon established the conscription—that is, the name; the reality existed under the old French monarchy: there were a few shades of difference between the two systems, but the substance of each of them was the same. It is an abuse of words, then, to assert that Napoleon was the founder of the conscription. He who revives does not create. The conscription was grievance ;--true: but the mischief lay more in the extended application of the law than in its principle. Every citizen is bound to protect that state by which he is in turn protected *. The conscription did no more than call for this service, and, in calling for it, dealt out an equal portion of justice to every member of the community : the rich, the poor, the active, the indolent, the learned, the illiterate, the high and the low-born,mall were equally required to stand forth in defence of their common inheritance t.
* Vattel, book iii. c. 2. p. 295. + There were some few exceptions: they chiefly related to persons already in the service of government, to married people, to the clergy, and to the sons of widows. During the first years of the conscription, substitutes were allowed, but latterly they were difficult to be obtained.
That there were times when the wealthy and the indolent found it extremely unpleasant to defend their own property, we readily conceive; that the possessors of the thousands and tens of thousands would have preferred any system which left them in the full enjoyment of their ease, to that of the conscription, we have not the least doubt; but in a state like France, would this have been politic? Would it have been fair? Nay, can it by any sophistry be tortured into a just principle applicable to any country? We are certain not.—The conscription law, in its practical operation, was assuredly overstrained ; and yet, if the proportion of numbers be regarded, even this assertion may by many persons be denied. The population of the French empire was about forty millions of souls ; its army amounted to eight hundred thousand men *; but France, under Louis the XIVth, had not a population of more than twenty millions, although
* Our assertions may, perhaps, not exactly correspond with the decrees of the senate which called forth the conseripts ; but it is a well-established fact, that the number of men embodied never equalled that which appeared on paper : the accounts were always swollen, to deceive foreign governments.