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we are neither unconcerned, nor unalarmed, at whatever seems to impose restraint on civil or political freedom.
on a due balance between prerogative and liberty has the British constitution been supported. When either of these has prepondex rated, meny evils have been suffered. But there is something in the genius, ranners, habits, and character of the English nation, different from, and paramount to, laws and, forms, that, amidst all the deviations of the constitution, has constantly brought it back to its true spirit. The same principles which have enabled England, by the immensity of its resources, to stand unshaken in the midst of the disasters that befel the coalition, and to display greater and greater energy, in proportion to increasing difficulties, will, we doubt not, save the state from the disastrous consequences which too often fow even from precedents founded in temporary expediency.
In tacing the movements of armies, the revolutions of states, the political intrigues, dissentions, and contests, which mark the year 1796, we have exerted our usual industry, not only in delineating objects, according to their respective magnitude and importance, but in reducing them within the wonted limits of our Annual History of Europe.
To the various hints of so many of our readers on this head, they will perceive we have not been inattentive. It is not a minute and circumstantial detail of transactions and events that we understand to be wished for and expected in our historical sketches; but a narrative brief and rapid, yet clear and comprehensive: one that may give a just view of what is passing in the world, without too much time or trouble of reading. The curiosity of such of our readers as may have a taste and turn for more particular information, respecting various occurrences, will be gratified in the second part of the volume.
Situation of the French Nation and Government, and Views of the Directory.
- Difficulties to be encountered by France at the Close of 1795.-State of Parties in England.— Temper of the British Nation. Assemblies for the Purpose of a Parliamentary Reform, and Peace with France.- A great and dangerous Scarcity of Provisions.-Meeting of Parliament.--Insults and Outrages of an immense Mob ugainst the King, on his Way to the House of Lords. The regret of all People of Sense at this Treatment of the King-Speech from the Throne.--Debates thereon.-- In the House of Commons. ---And in that of the Lords.
AFTER the death of Robese to the views of personal aggrandize
, more at liberty than they had been Uniformity and steadiness of goto declare the voice of the people; vernment may proceed from differand the sentiments of nature, with ent and even opposite causes; the an inclination to peace, began to predominant habits and passions of appear in the public councils, as absoluie monarchs on the one hand; well as among the generality of the and the virtues of nascent and juveFrench nation : but it too often, nile republics on the other: when nay, most commonly happens, in all the external relations of the state governments, that the real interests are neither many nor complicated; of the many are sacrificed to those when iis interests are easily disa of the few: the dictates of humanity cerned and constantly pursued, the POL. XXXVIII.
integrity and upright intentions of The jacobinical party, that had sa the representatives and rulers being long domineered in the public counconstantly supported by a general cils, confident, as above related, from simplicity of manners, and a sacred victory over the sections of Paris, and regard to the principles of morality treading in the very footsteps of and religion. In the newly consti- Robespierre, had appointed a comtuted government of France both mission of five, for the safety of the these kinds of steadiness were want- country; and but for the bold and ing. It was less democratical indeed animated efforts of a few men would than that of 1793 ; but still the exe- certainly have effected the slavery cutive power was consigned into of France in the premanency of the five bands instead of one only. It convention.
The directors, con. was not stayed, as all other republics scious of the general odium they, in of any extent and durability have common with the other leaders of hitherto been, by some individual the convention, had incurred on power, whether under the name of this attempt, and also of their mal. archon, duke, doge, king, stadtbol- versation in precipitating the con. der, or the president of a congress. sideration of the new constitution, It was impossible that five directors, and garbling the reports that had and these Frenchmen too, should, been made concerning its acceptfor any length of time, act with bar- ance, determined to divert ihe mony. They split into parties hos- minds of the nation from their own tile and violent, in proportion to the conduct, and to exhaust the public power with which they were invest- discontents by a prosecution of the ed: in order to retain which the war. Iî this should prove successful, preponderating party treated their of which they entertained not any rivals in the directory, and their doubly the merit would, in a very opponents in the councils, with the great degree, be reflected on them. most merciless severity, and repeat- selves, and the enemies of the diedly violated the constitution, un- rectory would be regarded, by the der the pretence of preserving it. nation at large, as enemies to the Like their predecessors in the revo- victories and glory of France. They lution, in default of simplicity of were undoubtedly fortunate in the manners, and the other requisites to choice of their commanders. The a genuine republic, they had re- successes of their generals occupied course to intrigue and violence. Had and dazzled the public mind for a their own manners been more pure time; but wisdom, constancy, and than they were, without those ad- purity of design, without which no ventitious supports in so great and prosperity can belasting, were corrupt a commonwealth, and where wanting in the supreme councils. all are so prone to direct, but none The armies were neglected ; the to be directed, they could not, for tide of success was turned; and even a short time, bave held toge- finally, to shew how little that tem. ther any semblance of a regular fa- porary success was owing to any bric of government.
principles inherent in the constituThere was one point however, in tion, the vast and stupendous gewhich the directory on their eleva. nius of one man, to which chiefly tion to power unanimously agreed. the directory were indebted for a
temporary splendour, ultimately side of the Rhine, into which they wrought their ruin, and introduced had, with much difficulty, found a new order of affairs into the dis- means to penetrate, and from which tracted and fluctuating common- they had been, after much fruitless wealth.
toil and unsuccessful efforts, comThe close of the year 1795 was pelled to retire with very considere not so favourable to the French as able losses. tbat of the preceding ; they had The failure of the French in their projected at its commencement to expedition into Germany; their exfollow up their successes in Holland, pulsion from every post they had ocby carrying their victorious arms in- cupied on the eastern banks of the to the heart of Germany ; but a va. Rhine; their retreat across that riety of obstructions bad either pre- river; the pursuit of their discomfit. vented or frustrated their designs. ed army into the borders of France; At home the violence of the many and the several defeats they expefactions, open or concealed, stood rienced, were circumstances so little perpetually in the way of govern. hoped for at the commencement of ment, and impaired its proposed this year's military operations in energies. Abroad the remaining those parts, that they proportionably parts of the coalivon against France, revived the spirit of their enemies, tough foiled in their repeated at- and infused a degree of confidence temps, still preserved their spirit, into them, to which they had been and determination to persist ai all strangers, since the disasters of the bazards in carrying on the war. preceding campaign.
The principal scene of action had But, nutwithstanding their ill been on the banks of the Rhine. success on the Rhine, the French Here it had been generally ex- maintained a decided superiority in pected, that, after the subjugation of every other quarter. Europe seemed the seven United Provinces, the to stand at bay, and to wait with French would have met with no con- anxiety the termination of a quarrel siderable opposition; but though that had produced so many stupen“ dispirited, as well as weakened, by dous events. The dissolution of ihre the severing of so material a limb confederacy, by the secession of from the great body of the confe. Prussia and Spain, was far from being deracy, it still found sufficient re- considered as complete: the princisources to make head against the pal members, Great Britain and French, in a country where the ge. Austria, were held fully competent, nerality of the inhabitants, though though not to the purpose of subdissatisfied at their rulers, were not duing, yet still to that of repressing so imprudent as to prefer a foreign the French ; and this was now to a domestic yoke, and would not viewed as the only object, at fail to co-operate in opposing a which they ought, in prudence, in French invasion. To this disposition the present situation of their affairs, of an incomparable majority of the to aim. inhabitants of Germany. was, in a During the course of the camgreat measure, due the little pro- paign, the government in France gress of the French in those pro had entertained some ideas tending vinces of the empire on the right to a general pacification; but the
loftiness of their pretensions, dic- to further their designs, and boldly tated by the pride of their nation, was encountered every risk of being deso apparent, that Europe was not tected in their prosecution. surprised that they were only men- Enraged at these domestic enetioned transiently in their occasional mies, the predominant party was discourses on that subject. The in- perpetually occupied in holding out veteracy of the ruling party of Eng- every species of menace and terror land subsisted almost as violently to repress and discourage them ;
The French beheld, with but neither threats nor invitations that rancour which attends an un- availed. Actuated by hatred and successful rivalship, the improba- resentment the royalists considered bility of their ever attaining to an themselves as equally justified, by equality with the English at sea. conscience and interest, in their deIt greatly mortified their pride, that termination to seize every occasion all the European nations should una- of resisting the established powers, nimously ascribe a decided supe- holding them as usurpers, with whom riority in naval tactics to the Eng- no measures ought to be kept, and Tisb, and represent those as no less whom they were bound to oppose, invincible on the ocean, than the whenever there appeared the least French bad hitherto been at land; likelihood of doing it to any effect. with this difference, however, to the Such was the situation of France disadvantage of the latter, that it at this period, deeply couvulsed at would prove a much easier task to home, and though in possession of overcome them at land than the many extensive countries, yet, fearothers at sea.
ful that having acquired, and retainOther causes of dissatisfaction mi- ing them only by the right of the litated against the ruling party in sword, they might lose them through France, The royalists, however the same means: an event, which, depressed, were not dispirited ; their considering the vicissitudes of war, numbers, though inferior to those was not more improbable than the of the republicans, were immense ; astonishing successes that had at. they maintained a close correspon- tended their arms against all likelidence with each other, and cemente hood and expectation. ed their reciprocal connections with While the people in France were all those acts of friendship, and distracted with these internal divi. kindness that bind men so strongly sions, those of England were agitated together, when suffering from the little less with incessant differences same causes, and acting from the and disputes on the propriety of consame motives.
tinuing a war, which had occasioned The vigilance of the republican such losses of men and expence of government found constant employ- treasure, without producing those meyt in obviating the dangers that effects which had so repeatedly been threatened it from the indefatigable represented as infallible. Nothing activity of those irreconcilable an. had been omitted to procure suctagonists, who, though surrounded cess : every ministerial demand had with continual observers of all their been granted, every measure acmotions, neglected no opportunity ceded to; but the object proposed