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Affairs of Holland. Causes and Progress of the Revolution. Restoration of
. the Prince of Orange.
Tre rapid advance of the allied armies Buonaparte abdicated his throne, he in the autumn of the year 1813, and left a regular army and a navy, comthe panic which seized the French au- posed of 18,000 men, who were immethorities in Holland, must undoubt- diately taken into the service of France; edly be considered as the immediate and, in the course of three years and causes of the late revolution. But the a half, their numbers were increased eagerness with which the Dutch peo- to 49,920, by the operation of the ple seized the opportunity thus afford- French naval and military code. Thus ed them of restoring the Prince of about a thirty-sixth part of the whole Orange, and the union of formerly population was employed in arms. discordant parties in his favour, must The persons included in the maritime be traced to more distant sources, and conscription were entirely employed will be found chiefly in the evils which in the navy; the “ national guards," Holland had endured in the course of a branch of the military force, were the preceding nineteen years, and always on service, and were generally which united all parties in opposition employed to guard the naval establish- . to the influence of France.
ments, and to perform garrison duty, The misfortunes to which the Dutch - they were composed of those persons had been exposed by their connection who were exempted from the conscripwith France were severe almost be- tion. The “ cohorts," as they were yond example, Before the union of called, were, by law, liable to serve Holland with the French empire, all only in the interior of the French emthat part of the territory of the Uni- pire, which extended from Hamburgh ted Provinces, which is situated beyond to Rome ; but, after the Russian camthe Waal, had been ceded to France. paigo, even this limitation was disreThe kingdom of Holland consisted of garded, and the French and Dutch the departments of the Zuyder Zee, cohorts formed a principal part of Nathe mouths of the Maese, the Upper poleon's army at the battle of Bautzen. Yssel, the mouths of the Yssel, Frize. The law 'respecting the ordinary land, and the western and eastern Ems; couscription proceeded upon this prinand the population of the whole did not ciple--that every male of a certain
, exceed 1,800,000 souls. When Louis age was absolutely at the disposal of
the state. The age fixed upon was a obtained substitutes still belonged to little under or above twenty years, re- the reserve ; and if a deputy deser ted gulated in such a manner, that every within two years after his arrival at the youth, who had entered his twentieth depot, bis principal was obliged to reyear at any time in the calendar year place him, either by serving in person, preceding that of the conscription, was or by procuring another deputy, whom liable to be drawn. On an appointed he was bound to convey and guard, at day in the spring of every year, all his own expense, to the depot to which those who were liable to that year's the deserter belonged; but the prigconscription were required to appear cipal was still liable to be called upon before the proper officers in their re. to serve in the burgher guard, and spective parishes. Those who were by might be chosen a member of the emlaw exempted from military service, peror's guard of honour, which the were placed at the depot, and consi- French government avowedly compo. dered as at the disposal of government sed as much as possible of those who in cases of emergency. The remainder had provided deputies for service unproceeded to ballot, and the contingent der the conscription. The most fortuwas taken from those who drew the nate event which could occur for the lowest numbers. The surplus was call. principal was, that his deputy should ed the “ reserve ;" and the individuals be killed, or taken prisoner, since he composing it escaped for the present, thus escaped all military service, exbut were still liable to be called upon. cept as a member of the guard of ho. They were not permitted to go out of nour. the department without an express per- The price of a deputy was subject mission from the government. It has to variations, arising partly from the been calculated, that, on an average, difference of the services to which the nearly one-half of the male population, French troops were exposed, and part. of the age of twenty years, was annu- ly from the number of conscripts really claimed by the conscription. Es- quired for the year. Sometimes it cape by flight was hardly ever attempt. amounted to so much as 8001. sterling i ed; for if a young man quitted his but the ordinary price in Holland may country, to avoid the conscription, his be taken at 3000 forins, or about 300l. nearest relation or guardian was con- sterling. The expense, however, did demned to heavy fines, and sometimes not occasion the only difficulty in preto imprisoument. Very few exemp. viding deputies. It was required that tions were allowed under this rigorous each deputy should belong to the de. system, except to those who procured partment of his principal;
and he was substitutes or deputies (remplacants
. ) not accepted if his age exceeded thirty. A substitute was one who, having two years, or if the slightest personal drawn a high number in the ballot, on defect could be discovered by an ex. that account belonged to the reserve, act and minute examination, which was but by taking the place of one who instituted for that purpose. had drawn a low number, was called The conscripts were told that their into immediate service. A “ rempla. service should not extend beyond the cânt,” or deputy, was one who, being term of five years : but as in France entirely exempted from the conscrip: no on ever knew an instance of a sol. tion, agreed, nevertheless, to serve in dier's being discharged, without ha. the place of a conscript. The exemp- ving been declared unfit for service, it tions thus procured, however, were not might reasonably be expected in Hol. secure or complete. Those who had land, that the service of a conscript
would terminate only with his life. lowed the long list of stamps, and all The regulations also respecting the the various impositions on bridges, pasconscription were annually changed; sage-boats, and carriages ; on spirits, and thus the code became intricate wine, beer, tobacco, and salt ; on leand confused. The explanation of any gacies, and all sales of property, either doubt rested with the persons intrust- real or personal, &c. There was much ed with the execution of the law, the inequality in the operation of the taxes rigour of which was not mitigated by on land and houses, as the amount was the construction they adopted. fixed for each department, and then
But the conscription, how oppres- divided among the circles and parishes sive soever, was general in its opera- of which it was composed ; for if the tion.-Buonaparte's guard of honour original rate of taxation, which was 20 was formed in a manner entirely differ- per cent. of the rent, did not produce ent, and, in many respects, more op- the contingent of each parish, the depressive. The members were arbitra- ficiency was supplied by increasing the rily taken from among the most noble proportion to be paid by each indiviand opulent families, and especially dual. Thus the rate of the land-tak from among those who were deemed increased in proportion as the rents inimical to the French government ;- fell; and as many persons destroyed the individuals who had already pro. their houses to avoid paying the taxes vided deputies for the ordinary con- levied on them, the weight was thrown scription were generally chosen. But with additional severity upon the the selection depended altogether on others. The personal tax was at first the prefect, who might name the per- levied equally upon every individual sons most obnoxious to him, without inhabiting the same parish, and conregard to their rank or occupation, or sisted of the price of three days labour, even to their health. No exemption which was fixed by the prefect at a or excuse was allowed to any one, not rate varying in the different parishes, even to those who, on account of from half a franc to a frane and a half mental or bodily infirmity, had been for each day. If this assessment did declared unfit for military duty. The not produce the contingent of the pavictims, by a refinement of mockery, rish, the residue was levied on the per were considered as volunteers in their sonal property of those who had been services ; they were bound to provide assessed in proportion to the value. themselves with horses, arms, and ac. The taxes on doors and windows, on coutrements, and to march to the place the patents on trades and professions, appointed for their reception, where on the manufacture of tobacco, and they were probably considered as host. some other duties, were regulated by ages for the fidelity of their relations. tariffs, increasing the amount to be
Such were the conscription laws. paid in proportion to the population The taxes imposed were extremely see of the parishes in which the taxes were vere. The most oppressive were those raised.' The whole sums annually oblevied on land and houses ; of which tained from Holland, by these means, the former usually amounted to 25, amounted to about 30,000,000 of Aloand the latter to 30 per cent of the rins, being at the rate of about 12. 138. clear annual rent. Other direct taxes 4d. sterling from every individual inwere levied on persons and moveable habiting the country. property, on doors and windows, and But the greatest of the misfortunes on patents granted for the exercise of to which the Dutch were exposed, ap. trades and professions ; and then fol. peared in the shape of the continental
system ; the chief object of which was no object of ambition to which a to destroy the resources, and ruin the Dutchman could aspire. Commerce prosperity, of Great Britain, by ex- was extinguished ; and no one would cluding her from all commercial inter- voluntarily enter the army or navy, as course with the continent. But Eng. he would thus be compelled to fight land was mistress of the seas, and could for the worst enemy of his country. not be placed in a state of political ex. The calamities of the Dutch were agcommunication, without compelling gravated to the highest degree ; they the nations of the continent to relin. were compelled to sacrifice themselves quish their foreign trade. The great- in a cause which they abhorred, and in est military force that has ever appear- the service of a power which had robed in modern Europe under one chief, bed them of their independence, and has been annihilated in this strange reduced them from freedom to slavery, attempt, which is not likely to be re- from prosperity to misery, and from
a newed ; but the misery which the ex. high pitch of national glory to the periment inflicted upon Holland can- lowest state of national degradation. not be described, and can be fully un- It is the happy impulse of tyranny, derstood by those only who have wit- inevitably to pursue the road to its own nessed its lamentable results.
destruction ; and, in Holland, the grie. The population of Amsterdam was, vous oppressions of France inspired by this system, reduced from 220,000 every heart with an earnest desire to to 190,000, of whom a fourth part throw off the yoke. In the continuderived their whole subsistence from ance of severe suffering, all the parties charitable institutions, while another which agitated and ruined this unhapfourth part received partial succour Py country had undergone a salutary from the same sources. At Haerlem, change. The remembrance of former where the population had been chiefly evils and discontents had faded away, employed in bleaching linen, made in while the blessings which had once Brabant, and in preparing it for sale, been enjoyed under the mild governwhole streets were levelled with the ment of the house of Orange were ground, and more than 500 houses de. borne in mind, with regret for the past, stroyed. At the Hague, at Delft, and and hope for the future. A great porin other towns, many inhabitants had tion of the people, including all the been induced to pull down their houses lower classes, had retained ap undimifrom inability to pay the taxes, or keep nished and faithful attachment to this their habitations in repair. Ruin was illustrious family, whose ancestors had every where imminent. The preserva. fought so nobly for their independence, tion of the dikes, requiring annually an and whose name is inseparably united expense estimated at 600,000l. ster with almost every memorial of the ling, was greatly neglected. The sea prosperity and glory of the Dutch. inundated the Polders, and threatened The patriots, by whose factious spirit to resume its ancient dominion over a the country had been first betrayed to great part of the country. Meanwhile, the common enemy, had long since all classes of the people were crushed been taught, that no hope of freedom under a load of suffering. Even the or prosperity could be reposed in
. most opulent families escaped abject France ; they were now united in depoverty only by diminishing their es. siring an opportunity of resistance ; tablishments, and adopting the most and, as they were convinced that the rigid economy; and there remained no restoration of the Prince of Orange source of wealth or distinction, and could alone afford relief to their ha
rassed country, they held themselves party alone ; but much assistance was ready to give their sincere and active willingly afforded, not only by the assistance in promoting his return.- members of the old patriot party, but The Orangemen, in general, had not also by many persons who had volunonly maintained their fidelity, but some tarily entered into the service of of the principal persons had contrived Buonaparte, and obtained the confito keep up a clandestine correspond. dence of the French government. The ence with his most serene highness. French authorities very soon discoverUnder these circumstances the leaders ed that they were betrayed on every of the different parties were closely side, and that most of the natives of united. The people, however, bestow. Holland, in the service of Buonaparte, ed their confidence upon the old and how contrary soever it might seem to tried friends of the House of Orange their interest, were his secret or avowalone. Some of the Orange leaders ed enemies. All confidence was thus had, at the express desire of the prince, destroyed, and, after the first explosion communicated to them at the peace of of popular feeling, terror and vacillaAmiene, accepted a share in the go- tion marked the conduct of the pervernment of the Batavian republic, sons against whom it was directed. with the view of alleviating the cala- Such were the causes which
prepamities of their country, and preparing red the Dutch people for the happy the way for the return of the exiled change accomplished in their governfamily. Others had been compelled ment towards the close of the present to continue in office by Buonaparte, year. Even before this period, howwho, perhaps, hoped to derive some ever, some important proceedings had advantage from the employment and taken place, of which it may be proper co-operation of those who exclusively to give a short account. possessed the confidence of the Dutch The disasters experienced by the nation. It was on these persons, who French army in the Russian campaign were well known, and still more on having inspired hopes that the deliverothers of the same party, who had ance of Holland might, at some future steadily refused to accept any share period, be effected, the chiefs of the in the government, after Holland was Orange party at the Hague met freunited to France, that the people pla- quently, in secret, towards the end of ced their reliance. The patriots, though the year 1812, to consult respecting converted from their former opinions, the measures which might enable them were treated with suspicion by those to seize the first favourable opportunity who had no means of being acquaint- of shaking off the yoke of France, and ed with their sincerity. But, in fact, restoring the Prince of Orange. They all important differences of opinion found means of communicating with had been obliterated; the wishes of several respectable persons in different the patriots corresponded with those towns of Holland, whom they knew of the people ; and, at the end of to be well disposed to their cause, and the year 1813, it may safely be affirm. who promised their assistance so soon ed, that the Dutch nation was unani. as they were informed of the object mous in the desire of expelling their which the confederates had in view. oppressors, and recalling the Prince The confederates were well aware that, of Orange. When the crisis arrived, while the power of France continued, the prejudices of the people made any attempt at insurrection, on the it necessary to intrust the manage. part of the Dutch nation, would be ment of the revolution to the Orange hopeless ; but, as there seemed to be a