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FrRevol_601-650.indd 49 3/16/12 1:15 PM CHAPTER III Ofthe Prospen"ty ofEngland, and the Causes hy Which It Has Been Hitherto Promoted. In the year 1813, the English had been twenty-one years at war with France, and for some time the whole Continent had been in arms against them. Even America, from political circumstances foreign to the interests of Europe, made a part of this universal coalition.1 During several years the respectable monarch of Great Britain was no longer in possession of his intellectual faculties.2 The great men in the civil career, Pitt and Fox, were now no more, and no one had yet succeeded to their reputation. No historical name could be cited at the head ofaffairs, and Wellington alone attracted the attention ofEurope. Some ministers, several members ofthe opposition, lawyers, men of science and literature enjoyed a great share of the public esteem; and if on the one hand, France, in bending beneath the yoke ofone man, had seen the reputation ofindividuals disappear; on the other, there was so much ability, information, and merit among the English that it had become very difficult to take the first rank amidst this illustrious crowd. On my arrival in England, no particular person was present to my thoughts: I knew scarcely anyone in that country; but I went there with confidence.3 I was persecuted by an enemy of liberty, and therefore be1 . The war between the United States and England lasted from June 1812 to December 1814. The Americans were never allied with Napoleon against the English. 2. See note 2, p. 539· 3· Madame de Stael arrived in London on June 17, 1813. A few days later, she was presented to the Queen and the Prince Regent. For more information, see Fairweather, Madame de Stael, 417-46. FrRevol_601-650.indd 50 3/16/12 1:16 PM PART VI lieved myself sure of an honorable sympathy in a country where every institution was in harmony with my political sentiments. I counted also greatly on my father's memory as a protection, and I was not deceived. The waves ofthe North Sea, which I crossed in going from Sweden, still filled me with dread when I perceived at a distance the verdant isle that had alone resisted the subjugation ofEurope. Yetit contained only a population of twelve million; for the five or six additional million which compose the population oflreland had often, during the course ofthe last war, been a prey to intestine divisions.4 Those who will not acknowledge the ascendency of liberty in the power of England are perpetually repeating that the English would have been vanquished by Bonaparte, like every Continental nation, ifthey had not been protected by the sea. This opinion cannot be refuted by experience; but I have no doubt that if, by a stroke ofthe Leviathan, Great Britain had been joined to the Europeancontinent, she would indeed have suffered more; her wealth would, no doubt, have been diminished; but the public spirit ofa free nation is such that it would never have submitted to the yoke of foreigners. When I landed in England, in the month ofJune r8r3, intelligence had just arrived of the armistice concluded between the Allied Powers and Napoleon. He was at Dresden, and it was still in his power to reduce himselfto the miserable lot ofbeing Emperor ofFrance as far as the Rhine, and King of Italy. It was probable that England would not subscribe to this treaty;5 her position was therefore far from being favorable. A long war menaced her anew; her finances appeared exhausted; at least if we were to judge of her resources according to those ofevery other country ofthe world. The bank note, serving instead ofcoin, had fallen one-fourth on the Continent; and ifthis paper had not been supported by the patriotic spirit of the nation, it would have involved the ruin ofpublic and private affairs. The French newspapers, comparing the state ofthe finances ofthe two countries, always represented England as overwhelmed with debt, and France as mistress ofconsiderable treasure. The comparison wastrue; 4· Allusion to Irish opposition to England. In 1798, two years before the Union Act, which linked the two countries, the English defeated a revolt in Ireland. 5· The Treaty of Pleiswitz (May 29, r813). 65o FrRevol_651-700.indd 1 3/16/12 1:16 PM CHAPTER III. ProsperityofEngland but it was necessary to add that England had the disposal of unbounded resources by...


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