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FrRevol_451-500.indd 45 3/16/12 1:12 PM CHAPTER XIII Ofthe Means Employed by Bonaparte to Attack England. If there is any glimpse of a plan in the truly incoherent proceedings of Bonaparte toward foreign nations, it was that of establishing a universal monarchy, ofwhich he was to be declared the head, giving kingdoms and duchies as fiefs, and re-instituting the feudal system as it was formerly established by conquest. It does not even appear that he meant to limit himself to the boundaries of Europe, and his views certainly reached as far as Asia. In short, his inclination was to march constantly forward, as long as he met with no obstacles; but he had not calculated that, in so vast an enterprise, an obstacle might not only arrest his progress but entirely destroy the edifice ofan unnatural prosperity, which would be annihilated the moment that it ceased to ascend. To make the French nation support war, which, like all nations, desired peace-to oblige foreign troops to follow the banners ofFrance, a motive was necessary which might in appearance, at least, connect itselfwith the public good. We have endeavored to show in the preceding chapter that, if Napoleon had taken the liberty of nations for his standard, he would have aroused Europe without employing the means ofterror; but his imperial power would have gained nothing, and he certainly was not a man to conduct himselfby disinterested sentiments. He wanted a rallyingword which might make people believe that he had the advantage and independence of Europe in view, and he chose the freedom of the seas. The perseverance and financial resources of the English were without doubt obstacles to his projects, and he had besides a natural aversion to their free institutions and the haughtiness oftheir character. But what was particularly convenient for him was to replace the doctrine ofrepresentative FrRevol_451-500.indd 46 3/16/12 1:12 PM PART IV government, founded on the respect due to nations, with mercantile and commercial interests, on which men may speak without end, reason without limits, and never attain the object. The motto of the unfortunate periods of the French revolution, Liberty and Equality, gave the people an impulse which could not be agreeable to Bonaparte; but the motto ofhis banner-The Liberty ofthe Seas-conducted him wherever he wished, and made the voyage to the Indies as necessary as the most reasonable peace, ifsuch a peace should be suddenly for his advantage. Lastly, he had in these rallying words the singular advantage ofanimating the mindwithout directing it against power. M. de Gentz1 and M. A. W. de Schlegel/ in their writings upon the Continental system, have treated completely of the advantages and disadvantages ofthe maritime ascendancy ofEngland when Europe is in its ordinary situation. But it is at least certain that this ascendancy, a few years ago, was the only balance to the dominion of Bonaparte, and that there would not have remained perhaps a single corner of the earth in which a sufferer could have escaped from his tyranny if the English ocean had not encircled the Continent with its protecting arms. But, it will be said, though we admire the English, yet France must always be the rival of their power; and at all times her leaders have endeavored to combat them. There is only one way of being the equal of England, and that is by imitating her. If Bonaparte, instead of planning that ridiculous farce ofan invasion, which has only served as a subject for English caricatures, and that Continental blockade, a measure more serious , but likewise more fatal; if Bonaparte had wished only to become superior to England in her constitution and her industry, France would now be in possession of a commerce founded upon credit, and ofa credit founded upon a national representation and upon the stability which such a representation gives. But the English ministry is unfortunately too well aware that a constitutional monarchy is the sole means ofsecuringdurable prosperity to France. When Louis XIV struggled successfully at sea I. Friedrich von Gentz (1764~t832), prominent conservative German political thinker, translator of Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, and adviser to Metternich. 2. August Wilhelm von Schlegel (1767-1845) was a prominent German Romantic writer and friend of Madame de Stael. FrRevol_451-500.indd 47 3/16/12 1:12 PM cHAPTER X I I I. Means Employed to Attack England against the English fleets, the financial riches...

Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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