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P R E F A C E.
human affairs presented by history, it would be difficult to produce any one more extraordinary in its circumstances and important in its effects than that which the present year has exhibited. The preceding year, indeed, which witnessed the discomfiture of a mighty attempt to ruin one empire by the accumulated force of another, followed by prodigious loss to the assailing power, closed with a prospect of great changes in the relative state of Europe ; but the extent to which these changes have actually proceeded could scarcely have been contemplated by the most sagacious or sanguine political speculators. That the wild and unlimited schemes of ambition which had urged the French Ruler to annex remote provinces to his overgrown dominion, and trample upon all the rights of independent states, must sooner or later be crushed by their own vastness, and the universal alarm and odium they were calculated to create, might almost with certainty have been predicted from the undeviating course of events in the records of mankind; but that the wheel of fortune should revolve with so much rapidity, who could hope or foresee? In 1812 France led against Russia, along with her native and associated troops, the contingents of her allies, Prussia, Saxony, Austria, Bavaria, and the Rhenish confederates. In 1813 all these were leagued against her, and in conjunction with Russia, displayed hostile banners upon French ground on one frontier, whilst another, with its strong barrier of the Pyrenees, was forced by a combined army of English,
Spaniards, and Portuguese. Well might the astonished author of these reverses exclaim, in the frankness of emotion—"All Europe was with us a year ago; all Europe is now against us!” He did not however, yield to the rising storm, without some exertions worthy of his former fame.' The annihilation of one mighty host was speedily followed by the creation of another almost equal in strength and appointment; and the tide of war had its flux and reflux subordinate to the grand movement, which at length carried every thing before it. The military occurrences of the year have been not less varied and remarkable than those in any of the preceding campaigns of this protracted and sanguinary war ; whilst the personal exertions of kings and emperors in the field, and the concert and determination with which they have conducted their plans, have greatly surpassed all former experience.
It was naturally to be expected that the decline of French power would be followed by a rejection of the dominion of France by some of those states which were held under the yoke only through a dread of that power; but that Holland should set the example of such an emancipation appears to have been an event wholly unforeseen. The restoration of that country to the list of independent states, and the recal of the House of Orange to occupy the first place in its government with augmented prerogatives, will render the present year a distinguished epoch in its annals, as well as a memorable period to Great Britain, whose maritime and commercial interests are so vitally connected with the separation of the United Provinces from the French monarchy. The recovery of the electorate of Hanover by the royal house under the beneficent rule of which it so long enjoyed prosperity, is another event of the year that will entitle it to grateful remembrance in the minds of many. Other important consequences of this great mutation in the general state of things are at present only in their course of operation, and a considerable time must probably elapse before that final settlement shall take place, which will be the commencement of a new era in the political system of Europe. In the mean time it is consolatory to observe, that the declarations of the allied powers, in this their torrent of success, breathe a spirit of justice and moderation, and present an equitable and durable peace as the sole object of their concurrent efforts."
We have not the satisfaction of finding in the events of the year any approach to an amicable termination of the hostilities between this country and the United States of America. On the contrary, the minds of both parties seem to be more exasperated, and the principles advanced on each side more irreconcileable. Yet war in that quarter can scarcely long survive a general peace in Europe, since the original causes of it will be at an end, and the match will become too unequal in point of
power to be continued.
The domestic history of the year exhibits a remarkable state of tranquillity, partly the result of the spirited measures taken for suppressing the disturbances prevalent in the preceding year, partly that of improved prospects with respect to trade and manufactures, and the cheering effects of a bountiful harvest. The agitation of men's minds on the questions of the new charter of the East India com. pany, and the Catholic claims, displayed itself in nothing beyond numerous petitions, and argumentative and oratorical discussions. In parliament, the great events on the continent holding every one in a state of expectation, and inducing almost an uniformity of opinion relative to the expediency of a vigorous prosecution of the war, opposition was
nearly annihilated, and unprecedented sums were voted for subsidies and other military purposes with scarcely a dissentient voice. The ministry, without any important addition to their external strength, remained firm on their seats. The public credit of the nation stood high, and heavy loans were negociated without difficulty. Peace, how desirable so ever, for alleviating the public burthens, was scarcely mentioned, it being the general impression, that it must be conquered, to be enjoyed with security.