Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

princes of the mildest and most pacific difpofitions have been ins duced to begin. or continue war where they entertained an opinion of the justice of their cause, and were excited to action by the counsels of those in whom they placed their confidence, There could not be a greater contrast, in point of natural difposition, than has been exhibited already in two sovereign princes of the Austrian race, Philip II. and Philip III. of Spain; the former ambitious, perfidious, and crųel ; the latter peaceable, just, and humane. Yet Philip III. continued the war that had so long been waged against the liberties of the Belgic people by Philip II. while it was in his power to continue it. Philip III. as well as Philip II. gloried in being the grand support of the Church of Rome, and gave their fanction to the cruelties of the inquisition.

The humbler the station in which a man is placed in life the more circumscribed naturally are his views; the loftier the eminence on which he stands, the more extensive naturally is the prospect around him. The beggar lives, as it were, from minute to minute, and from hour to hour; the daylabourer from week to week; the manufacturer and merchant look farther before them, but are still governed by the spirit and tone of the present month and year. The man of landed property, who is ambitious to establish or aggrandise his family, embraces a wider horizon, and, casting his eyes forward over a length of time, in which the estate he holds and improves is to pass through the hands of different heirs, endeavours to fix such maxinis in his family, and to eltablish such arrangements and measures, as shall secure the patrimony he leaves against the caprices and follies of individuals, and to transmit it with additions, at least unimpaired, from generation to generation.' But most of all do the heads and representatives of royal houses carry their views backward into past, and forward into future times. Surveying the expressive images of their ancestry, and anticipating in their imagination the fancied forms of progeny yet unborn, they consider themselves as accountable to those inviable judges of their conduct. Their own personal character is modified, in fome degree, by that of the race from whence they are sprung; the aggrandisement of which, in some shape or other, is gene rally one of their predominant passions.

Though Peter LEOPOLD, therefore, be as opposite to the character of Jofeph II. as Philip II. was to that of Philip III. of Austria, ftill it cannot be expected that he, any more than Philip the * PIOUS AND GOOD, ihould renounce at once the pride, and the ambition of his family. It is evident, indeed, notwithstanding his declaration to the contrary, that he still cherishes

* The epithets bestowed on Philip III, by the Spaniards.

[ocr errors]

Pithers

[ocr errors]

the

[ocr errors]

the maximŞif not already, yet foon to be antiquated that the

people are made for kings, not kings for the people.' For, at the same time that he reprobates the perfidious and tyrannical conduct of his deceased brother, he maintains that the right of lo. vereignty over the Netherlands is still hereditary in his family. He is therefore willing to grant all that the Flemings can defire for the security of their privileges, provided they will only acknowledge him, as he has never forfeited his title, to be their sovereign.

. There is a doctrine in the Calvinistical creed, as expressed in the catechism composed by the famous assembly of divines at : Westminster, in the reign, or nominal reign of Charles I. * That all mankind descending from Adam (their head and re

presentative) by ordinary generation, finned in him, and fell in with him in his first transgression. This is, by fome, con

fidered as very questionable theology; and in truth it is only very tender and susceptible minds that can feel any degree if compunction on account of fins committed many thousands of years before they were born. But if it be bad divinity, it is, in many cases, good policy. If the Belgic provinces formed, as under the dukes of Burgundy, a separate monarchy, actually governed by a prince of the Burgundian line residing amongst them, it would be political wisdom, in order to preserve the fuccession clear and undisputed, to accept, without hesitation, the terms offered by Leopold. A claimant with fo natural a title to the Burgundian throne, if possessed of any degree of ambition and intrigue, might be able, like the exiled princes of the Stuart ' race, though of very slender capacities, to excite or foster in- . ternal discord, and to disturb the tranquillity, and even endanger the existence, of the new government by a foreign invasion. The generality of the people will always entertain a strong predilection for the natual heir. The title of blood is, with the multitude, the strongest claim, and the most 'easily compre.. hended. Nor is this constitution of human nature to be con." sidered as unfortunate; it tends to give stability to monarchical, when duly modified the best species of government, and prevent those calamities which so often overtook the Roman empire, and which now so frequently desolate eastern nations, and the kingdom of Poland in Europe. If the States-General continue to hold the reins of government in the Catholic Netherlands, the Belgic nation groans under the pressure of a kind of double and monstrous aristocracy; if a republic is attempted, there is danger of anarchy; if a new chief shall be elected, in the room of the late Duke of Brabant, the natural pretensions of Leopold will still remain; and envy and jealousy will be excited at the new sovereign and his family. On his demise, or on some other occasion perhaps, various popular leaders might put in their

claims to the fucceffion. A few instances of this kind would effectually prevent the establishment of regal power in one family, and determine the nature of the new government to be elective.

In order to obviate all these evils, a plain path would lie before the Belgic nation, as has already been observed, if Peter Leopold were the natural heir of the Catholic Provinces only, and did concentrate in his hands the widely extended dominions of Austria, on both this and the other side of the mountains. As the Scottish lords, after they had dethroned Mary, prudently avoided the evils of a disputed succession by transferring their allegiance from the mother to her infant son, so the Belgic people, whose deposition of the quondam Duke of Brabant has been ratified, fealed, and guaranteed by the hand of that mighty emperor DEATH, might fafely, and with great advantage, transfer the fceptre that had fallen from the grasping hands of Joseph into those of his peaceful and unanibitious brother; safely, because, under the limitations to which he is willing to submit, he could never subdue the Belgic liberties with armies composed of Belgic patriots; with advantage, because the provinces, having taken a strong and bloody protest against all tyrannical encroachment, their new fovereign would not dare to repeat an experiment that had proved so disastrous, and which precipitated the fate of his predecessor. To the memorial, therefore, of the present King of Hungary, communicated to the States-General by the hands of the Archdukes Christina and Albert; the Belgic nation might briefly reply, 'There was a time when the people were thought • to be made for the grandeur of kings, and that kings, without ( consulting their subjects, might, by intermarriages and otherSwise, accumulate crowns ad infinitum. It was in such times • of darkness that the cultivated and refined provinces of the « Netherlands were transferred with the daughter of Charles (the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, to the House of Austria. But ( were fuch a measure in agitation, in the present enlightened « times, we should say to the heirs of the Duke of Burgundy, • You have a right, and you are welcome to hold the reigns of

our government while you disdain not to remain and to con«tinue one of us. But we will not confent that BeLGIUM

shall become a province, and swell the pride with the power c of the Counts of Hapsbourg. The language that should have • been held by our ancestors we hold at this day. If you are 6 willing to come'among us alone, and unarmed, we receive

you with gladness, and hail you as our sovereign. If you o come in the pomp and power of all the other dominions held • by your predecessor, make your option between the dignity of • the Duke of Burgundy and that of the Archduke of Austria.'

It

It is as reasonable that an opposition should be made to the accumulation of crowns on one hand, for the sake of civil as: for the sake of political independence. , In the debates in the Scottish parliament, on the subject of the Union, one of the members, after rehearsing the grievances that Scotland had suffered from the accession of James to the throne of England, boldly said, " The Scotch nation, at that crisis, when she was ( forsaken by her king, should have declared the throne vacant, What, we may also ask, on this general subject of the danger accruing to the liberties of men from the excessive aggrandise . ment of their sovereigns, what would have become of the libera ties of Englishmen if the King of Great-Britain had continued for a century, or half a century, longer to be King of America ?

These things should be ever present to the minds of the Bela gians at this most critical juncture. Leopold, alone and unei armed, might and ought to be received with open arms. But the Archduke of Austria, or rather the GENIUS of the House of Austria *, is ever to be suspected. If with this genius the Belgians begin to negociate, their cause is lost; He will begia with mildness, proceed with spirit, and end with cruelty.

'But, even with this prospect before their eyes, what shall the Belgian people, under which name we comprehend not those miserable fanatics who blindly devote themselves as instruments in the hands of a domineering and cruel priesthood, but the enlightened part of the nation, who think and feel like men? What shall the patriots do when a double aristocracy, combined with the scum of the people against the deliverers of the state, proscribe such men as Walckiers and Herries, the Count de la Marck, the Duke D'Aremberg, and the Duke D'Ursel? In such circumstances the blind fury of democracy appears in all the horror of the most sanguinary despotism; and monarchy, at least limited monarchy, appears the most desirable, and the only safe harbour from civil storms. · Leaving the Austrian Netherlands, in the most anxious sula pence, for a while, we pass on to

FRANCE, Where matters are indeed far from being fettled, and concerning the final issue of which it is scarcely possible to form any conjecture, but where priestcraft is overthrown, and just sentiments are entertained of the dignity and rights of human nature. Whatever be the result of the present commotions, a

Belgian peopleies who blindly cand cruel priesthood like men?

[ocr errors]

the h limited monarchy ftorms - ands, in the

* The mind of Leopold may be influenced by the counsels of those around him at Vienna; and, at any rate, the period of his life is precarious,

revolution

[ocr errors]

revolution has taken place favourable, to a certain extent, to the interests of humanity. No French minister will hereafter hope to fhade his conduct under a veil of mystery, or to impose taxes without the knowledge and general consent of the nation. Every great measure of ftate will be made a subject of investi. gation, and, by the general voice, adopted or rejected.

The situation of France secures the tranquillity of Europe against the usual intrigues of the House of Bourbon. And, according to the aspect of the present moment, it is to be expected that an accommodation will take place between the emperor and the revolted provinces, without an appeal to arms. Nevertheless

A WAR ON THE CONTINENT feems to be inevitable, as the King of Prussia, determined, according to the plan of Frederic the Great, to extend his frontier towards the sea.coast, and to humble the power of both Austria and Russia, has objects in view which nothing but war can accomplish. Though the elder branch of the House of Bourbon be crippled by civil distraction, and the want of money, Spain, it is probable, will not remain entirely pacific. The Sardinians as well as the Spaniards must appear in the Mediterranean and support the Russian fleet in the Archipelago.

THE DISSENTERS, Many of whom are great mathematicians, conceiving that it was their own bustling exertions that produced so great a number of votes in their * favour, on a former occasion, reasoned, as mathematicians sometimes do, justly on false principles. If, said they to themselves, a certain quantity of bustling has produced a certain number of votes, what will a greater produce? They little thought that the decrease of their political friends would be in the inverse ratio of their own activity.

[ocr errors]

* The question for the repeal moved in favour of the Dissenters je was, on that occasion, negatived only by twenty.

· ERRATA in laft Number of our POLITICAL APPENDIX

Page 160, 1. 15. for a similar, read the fame. · Ditto, for the two last lines, read • While every mouth is full

s of the resentments that urged, and the political views and

inconfiftencies of many who voted for an impeachment. . . against him...

[ocr errors]

::ite Communications for THE ENGLISH, Review are requested to

be sent to Mr. MURRAY, No: 32, Fleet-street, Londont where Sabo

fcribers for this Monthly Performance are respectfully desired to give in their Names, .

« AnteriorContinuar »