ART. XVII. Proclamation of the Archduke Charles to his Army—Declaration of War by the Emperor of Austria—Address of the Archduke to the German nation. April, 1809.

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ART. XVII. Proclamation of the Archduke Charles to his Army—Declaration of War by the Emperor of Austria—Address of the Archduke to the German nation. April, 1809.

[pp. 437-455] [original article in PDF format]

  1. IT is natural to the human mind to look with anxiety on the future; and to endeavour, as far as possible, to calculate the course which events may take; especially in a crisis of extraordinary interest and importance. But it is in general so absurd to attempt prediction, that we should have carefully avoided the [437] dangerous office, if some of our contemporaries had not been more confident; and had not chosen to avow, that they could 'look into the seeds of time, and say which grain would grow and which would not.' Their example induces us to think that we may be pardoned if we also glance a little forward—not, indeed, to prophesy, for which we have received no commission—but to shew that the predictions of woe, which they seem so much delighted to utter, are not altogether certain; that we have at least as much reason to hope as to fear; and that, although the hemisphere of Europe is sufficiently covered with clouds, it is not without its streaks of light to cheer those who are not determined to despond, with the prospect of a brighter future.

  2. To confine ourselves to a partial and gloomy view can never be wise. A nation may be ruined by despair: it cannot be much injured by hope. Despair extinguishes the energies of the bravest; it unnerves the arm, and confuses the judgment: the animation of hope increases activity and strength; and gives an inspiration to genius, which often creates the means of realising its wishes.

  3. The present deplorable state of the Continent has not arisen solely from the pressure of the French arms. When the French revolution broke out, a general fever was pervading the minds of Europe. The philosophers of Paris and their imitators had created in every country a strong impression of the existence of superstitions in religion, and of evils in civil society: and carefully avoiding to discriminate how many of these evils were incident to the imperfections of human nature, and how much of these superstitions had been, by ignorance and art, improperly attached to religion, they affected to believe themselves, and produced a real persuasion in others, that all our social evils were the work of our governments, and all our religious follies the genuine offspring of Christianity. Hence they very wisely inferred, that to destroy all existing governments and to root out all Christianity was to terminate the miseries which mankind endured, and to place us in a paradise of earthly bliss.

  4. On this principle the leaders of the French revolution set out, and certainly performed their work of destruction with great ability and with great effect. They subverted all their own political and religious institutions, and excited a very great desire in almost every other country with whom they had intercourse, to do the same. In this state of mind were the greater part of the nations of Europe when the governments of the continent [438] united against France; some from a well-founded alarm, and from that just motive only; but others, unfortunately mixing with that motive a desire to take advantage of the alarm for purposes of ambition and aggrandizement. Against a combination so produced, and so held together, it is not wonderful that the immense population of France, driven to their armies by enthusiasm and the guillotine, should have prevailed; or that the mutual jealousy and diverging views of the different forces engaged in that combination, should have led to its dissolution immediately upon the first defeat.

  5. When the French armies once got beyond their own boundaries, they found every where secret friends and applauding enthusiasts. In Holland, Germany, and Italy, the believers in the political millennium eagerly received them. Many even in the highest ranks caught the contagion, which at length spread itself among the armies of the combined powers and made corruption easy. Their resistance became feebler in proportion as it was more necessary, and the assaults of the French consequently more active, more daring, and more successful.

  6. While the people were thus inviting or welcoming the French arms, the dissentions between the governments of Prussia and Austria removed all impediment to the the conquest of Germany. Prussia strove to convert the raging fanaticism to her own advantage by professing to become the instrument of political regeneration. Her king courted the illuminati; made peace with France; seduced the northern states of Germany into a neutral confederation; deprived Austria of the support of half the forces of the empire, and left her, thus enfeebled, to bear the shock of the undivided strength of France.

  7. It was the policy of Prussia to see the power of Austria beaten down, in the hope that the imperial crown might be transferred to the house of Brandenburg. France encouraged this hope till Austria was driven into an humiliating peace. Prussia, having at length established a preponderancy over her rival, assumed a degree of imperial spirit and independence in a moment of extraordinary rashness, which called down upon her the vindictive fury of Buonaparte. Austria beheld the thunderbolt of war striking her competitor to the ground without the least attempt to assist her; and even when Russia had stemmed the torrent of French conquest by the battles of Pultusk and Eylau, and was detaining Buonaparte in an unprofitable struggle amid the lakes and marshes of Poland, she did not embrace the golden opportunity: nor are there wanting those who think that she [439] abstained from embracing it chiefly because the immediate result of Austrian success would have been the restoration of Prussian power. Thus, by the unfortunate coincidence of great delusion among the people, and ambitious jealousies between their governments, the rapacious and disorganizing spirit of the French nation and its leaders has been enabled to overrun Germany and Italy, and nearly to reduce all Europe to the condition of an appendage to France.

  8. If Buonaparte had possessed as much political wisdom as military talent, the cause of Europe would have been hopeless. But happily for its ultimate safety, he is more fitted to destroy than to consolidate. Although distinguished as a soldier, he cannot be extolled as a legislator, statesman, or philosopher. Time, the great revealer of all mysteries, has discovered the most consolatory defects in the intellectual character of Buonaparte; and it is on the observation of these defects, and of the consequences which have resulted, and which are resulting from them, that we build a large part of our hopes that the cause of national independence and social security is not yet desperate; but that even this generation may live to see the downfall of that man, who is now the terror of Europe and the scourge of humanity.

  9. When Buonaparte first appeared on the military theatre, his successes were so rapid, and their secret causes were so little known, that he appeared for some time almost to work miracles. He re-kindled all the chimeras of the speculative, and became to many, in all countries, an object of adoration. We hope, however, that this Manichean dread is in some degree abated; that the world is now recovering its senses; and, like the foolish monster in the Tempest, growing ashamed of the object of its worship, and ready to exclaim, 'What a dull fool was I to take this fellow for a god!' Yet so it was, that at one period this extraordinary man was exalted in the estimation of his contemporaries so far beyond the bounds of reason, that the madness at last spread to himself, and he began to talk and act as if he really were not of the ordinary species of human beings. He suddenly taught his courtiers to keep at an awful distance from him. He had incense burnt in the apartments which he was expected to visit. He told the senate, on receiving their address on his assuming the consulship for life, that he was 'called by the Almighty to restore the reign of order, justice, and peace upon the earth.' In the beginning of the present war he allowed the clergy of France to intitle him the new [440] Cyrus; and the Christ of Providence. In a mandate to the Dutch, he denominated his government a 'military hierarchy.' With some vague views on this subject, which seem to have been since abandoned, he got the Jews together, and set them haranguing about him till they hailed him 'the chosen of the Lord; his cherished anointed; the minister of eternal justice; the living image of the Deity.' He permitted the hair-brained students of Leipsic to address him in the language almost of deification. On his return to Paris, after the peace of Tilsit, he disclosed the impious object that was lurking in his mind, by ordering a temple of victory to be built opposite the legislative mansion, and his palace to be placed between them. To humour the same feeling, on his return from Bayonne to Paris, last summer, the people of the south of France were ordered to strew branches of palm before him; and instead of his being received by the municipal bodies, the archbishop of Toulouse was directed, to issue his mandamus to the clergy, prescribing the peculiar ceremonies they were to use as he entered their parishes.

  10. So much for his philosophy.—Let us next consider him as a legislator.—It is almost ten years since he acquired the supreme power at Paris. It is nearly two years since, by the peace of Tilsit, he became the actual sovereign of Europe. During these periods, in which he had only to will and be obeyed—what has this new Cyrus done? this 'immortal sage!' as his senate called him while hovering about the Vistula. He has published a catechism, in which he tells his people, and orders them to believe, that 'he is the image of God upon earth;' and that 'to honor and serve him is to honor and serve God himself:'- thus reviving, to the great comfort of his admirers in this country, the obsolete doctrines of passive obedience, and 'the right divine of kings to govern wrong.' He has also completed his code of public instruction, which enacts that there shall be no schools throughout the empire but those which are ramifications from the university established by himself: that all the teachers and professors shall be nominated by the grand master, without whose permission they cannot leave their places of instruction, nor take any other beneficial employment; whom they are to obey implicitly in all things, and to whom they are to make a constant report of every thing that appears contrary to the imposed doctrine and principles. This grand master, this despotic lord of all French education, is named by the Emperor, and removable at his pleasure. In a word, the pervading principle of this code is, that there shall be no ideas disseminated, [441] and no books read in any place of education in France, but those which Buonaparte and his servile agents approve,—a degree of tyranny over the human mind never attempted before.

  11. If from his philanthropic and philosophical legislation we proceed to review his actions as a statesman, we see this Solomon as soon as he became possessed of undisputed power, seal up the ports of the continent, and destroy its trade, shipping, manufactures, capitals, and credit. His next step is to throw the Brazils into a confidential commercial intercourse with us by an unprovoked invasion of Portugal, his humblest slave before. We find him then incurring the hatred and inflaming the prejudices of all the Catholics of Europe, by robbing the enfeebled pope of his few remaining territories; and exciting afresh the fears of Austria and Russia, by uniting Tuscany, Parma, and Placentia to France, and the Papal dominions to the kingdom of Italy, because, as he told his senate,—'It must be so.' By way of augmenting his popularity in Europe, he shoots a foreign bookseller for selling pamphlets, and demands the capital punishment of some officers of another sovereign for a joke about his legion of honor. And, lastly, he insults the common sense as well as the moral feelings of all Europe by the unprincipled invasion of Spain; an outrage as little to be accounted for as to be justified; the military result of which has been to expose him to reverses and disappointments such as he never before experienced; and the political consequence, to convert a nation hitherto a faithful, humble, devoted, all-enduring, all-bestowing tributary, into an implacable foe; or at least, even if (which God forbid) his arms should be ultimately successful, an impatient, hating, ungovernable and unprofitable slave.—It seems to our imperfect judgment that, if he had sat down and contrived how he could the most speedily and the most effectually destroy that disgraceful enthusiasm for his name and character which had so long blinded and enslaved Europe, he could not have adopted more certain means. The bandage is now torn from the eyes of the most credulous. His simplest votary must by this time have renounced his idolatry.

  12. Believing, as we do, that either this supposition is just, or that all reasoning on human nature is as uncertain as on the motions of the clouds, we deduce from these observations a solid ground of hope. Young as Buonaparte yet is, he has already outlived the love and veneration of mankind. His military successes may yet be admired: he may yet be flattered by those who hope to profit from his power, and obeyed by those who [442] fear it. But his day of esteem (or of admiration which almost amounted to it) and personal attachment has departed never to return. He cannot hope to regain the confidence which he has lost. Nor will he attempt to do so. Despairing of any thing like the good opinion of mankind, he will become reckless of it. That which has hitherto been the passion of his mind will be now stimulated to madness. War, devastation, pestilence, and death, will henceforth mark every year of his life. Success will only encourage him to new projects – discomfiture, short of ruin, will only rouse and exasperate him. In his first career of glory, when his power was only budding, and his infant ambition a suitor to popularity, he caressed the astronomer Oriani at Milan, and comforted the defeated Wurmser at Mantua. Nature had perhaps given him the sympathies of other men, which virtue, which judgment might have cultivated. But they have been suppressed by the selfish pride and insatiable vanity which prosperity has cherished. He has accustomed himself to such strong stimuli of action, that the common sympathies and occurrences of life are like gentle breezes which cannot move his turbid soul. He has no children to attach him to domestic amusements. His wife is not his companion, but his sentinel. He is not fond of literary men, because he fears them. He recoils from familiarity and social intercourse. He likes to be the idol of a temple, sitting abstracted and exalted—seen and worshipped at an awful distance. He must make a chaos of human affairs to employ himself in settling them. He must have the storm and the thunder about him to interest himself and impress others with awe. Can a character like this, after it has so completely developed itself, be of long duration? Are not the maledictions of mankind every hour ascending, and can the sword of terror intimidate for ever? A morose, hard-hearted, melancholy tyrant, projecting hourly new insults and injuries to mankind; new sacrifices of the interests, the feelings, and the happiness of his fellow-creatures, to his own solitary and boundless despotism: a despotism that has nothing in it generous or social—a despotism barren and cruel, unblessing and unblessed; purposing only, as is emphatically stated in the Archduke Charles's proclamation, to 'carry on the endless wars of ambition under distant climes; making myriads shed their blood for foreign rapine; and incur the curse of annihilating innocent nations:'—he lives surrounded by the fears and the hatred of his species. This is not our speculation—it is his own. He feels it—and has avowed it. He told the Prince of Asturias that subjects were eager to take [443] their revenge for the homage they were forced to pay. His unprincipled aggression on Spain, and his merciless conscriptions, have taught mankind that they have no safety in peace, no security in their cottages. His conscriptions, certainly, for a time, create great apparent armies, but they extend the curses of mankind against him in perpetually increasing circles. They give him armies ripe for desertion and mutiny, and full of spirits desirous to avenge on him the sufferings which they endure. To be his ally is now as ruinous as to be his enemy: and the time is perhaps near at hand when it will be as much more safe, as it is surely more noble, to take up arms against the common enemy of civil society than to be the instrument of his destructive violence.

  13. While the anxious feelings of mankind are incessantly agitating questions like these, a new event of no common magnitude appears in Europe. In the midst of terror, despondence, and slavery, Austria has had the courage, unsupported, to draw the sword for her national independence, and to meet, singly, in arms, the oppressor of the world.

  14. That Buonaparte had determined on the destruction of Austria, was long foreseen. The peace at Tilsit had scarcely been signed, before this portentous paragraph appeared in one of the journals under his influence.—'Denmark, Austria, and Portugal, enjoy an uncertain repose. Each has its solicitudes. Denmark, on account of the repeated intimations to shut up her harbours: Portugal for her trade with England; and Austria for the unquiet language employed in Hungary; for the earnest invitations of Russia; the movements in Poland; the propinquity of the French armies, and the union of the Turks with the Emperor of the West. Her difficulties and dangers are many: her friendship has been profitable to neither party: her neutrality strict but offensive: her new arrangements do not intimate real activity, and power; and her embarrassments are still the most prominent features in her history.'

  15. This mysterious annunciation appeared in July, 1807. It completely satisfied us to what fate both Austria and the two other powers were doomed: nor was it long before the tyrant proceeded to execute his menaces. His troops were prepared to march into Denmark, for the purpose of possessing themselves of her fleet and territories; but before they arrived, our expedition to Copenhagen removed the Danish navy beyond his grasp. Disappointed of this great instrument of his malice and ambition, he strove to convert it to his advantage by the abusive declamations [444] against us, which some worthy men in this country have been weak enough to re-echo. He proceeded however to take possession of Denmark. As he chose to let the family continue, for the present, on the throne, the Danish king was permitted to keep a nominal and subordinate power, while Bernadotte was the real sovereign: but the French armies never left the Danish provinces.

  16. The sentence against Portugal was begun to be carried into execution immediately after his return to Paris. Some little management with the Spanish court was requisite for this purpose; but this was no sooner arranged by the assistance of the depraved Prince of the Peace, than his army marched to Lisbon. The royal family fled from the fury of the storm, and with our aid, escaped with their fleet to the Brazils.

  17. Thus two of the powers menaced by this portentous oracle were disposed of. Austria alone remained to be immolated to his revenge. She was not however so easy a prey as the petty kingdoms of Denmark and Portugal. A great accumulation of military force was necessary to overpower her, and this required time. The war with Russia had greatly thinned the armies of the tyrant, and his conscription, in 1807, had created sensations not a little alarming to his safety in France. It was too dangerous to call out another conscription immediately afterwards, and he was therefore obliged to suspend the gratification of his implacable spirit till he felt himself strong enough to make vengeance certain. He took, however, another path to it, which promised the double advantage of independence on the disposition of the French nation, and at the same time of supplying an instrument for chastising it, should it presume to question his measures. This was to replenish his armies by a vast incorporation of men, seduced or forcibly taken out of the countries he had overrun. He had conceived this new scheme while conflicting with Russia, and announced it in the following paragraph, written immediately after his armistice with Russia, in the same month of July, 1807.

    'Germans, Italians, Frenchmen, and Poles, are dealing around them the blows of death at the extremity of the Prussian monarchy. Even Spaniards are mounting the Pyrenees and the Alps, to press the afflicted soil of Germany, and all obey the same command. The car of triumph has rolled unimpeded, and even they who but just before bled beneath its wheels now follow their track and share the laurels with the victor, instead of partaking disgrace with the conquered. Nothing equals the [445] confidence with which the conqueror admitted those he had lately vanquished among his troops, but the admirable skill with which he at the same time provided for the security of his flanks and rear.'

  18. A more tremendous system certainly never appeared for the desolation and subjection of the world. Every country was to be compelled in succession to furnish men for the plunder and conquest of others. If any one nation presumed to be dissatisfied, the population of another was to be driven in arms to oppress it. The application of this dreadful organization was obvious. If any portion of this compulsory army exhibited signs of discontent, it was only necessary to march it to the most wasteful point of service, and it would be destroyed before it had become dangerous, and yet not till it had performed a certain quantity of needful work for its fell employer. His vast designs have been hitherto executed with the most lavish profusion of human blood. He cares neither for distance, seasons, country, famine, nor disease. To overpower a certain part of an enemy's army, it is necessary to surprize, out-number, and surround it. Frequently he can only do this by making his men perform marches that are beyond the ordinary powers of human nature, and through countries scarcely passable. It is indifferent to him how many thousands drop from mere fatigue and want.—It is sufficient that enough reach the point of action to accomplish his purposes. If he disperses the enemy, he gains a new extent of human population to drive into his ranks, and to make the instruments, however unwilling, of new depredations. Being consumed so fast, there is no time for mutiny, and little demand for pay. For a certain time, therefore, this terrible engine of war acts in his favour with dreadful energy; though it is one which may ultimately recoil upon himself.

  19. While his troops were taking possession of Portugal, in November, 1807, he left Paris for Italy, and proceeded to Venice. He seemed at this period to be undecided, whether he should make Austria or Turkey his first object of attack:- but the ease with which he had succeeded in Portugal tempted him to execute an intermediate plan that promised an agreeable gratification to his rapacity without much difficulty or danger.—This was his occupation of Spain.—His new idea of forming armies exterior to France incited him to seize a country, then unspoiled, which promised abundance of recruits, besides a fleet and foreign colonies. That his system of making armies was one great inducement, is clear from the fact, that an [446] early employment of his generals in Portugal was to discipline the Portuguese into military service. When the insurrection was beginning in Spain, he boasted that 14,000 Portuguese soldiers had been already formed for him. He ordered them to be sent to him at Bayonne, in divisions of a thousand every day; and, when he met the first, he publickly boasted—what a fine army they would make, and how well fitted they would be for employment elsewhere!

  20. The unprincipled seizure of the Spanish crown was an act of violence which precluded all explanation or comment, and avowed the most determined rapacity. It revealed to the whole world that his robberies would be only limited by his power. It proclaimed him unanswerably to be what he was called in His Majesty's speech from the throne, at the close of the last session of parliament—'the common enemy of every established government and independent nation in the world.' Its effect upon Austria was inevitable. No state endangered by this power could behold it without tenor. None, possessing any means of asserting its independence, could dread it without preparing for war. Austria, therefore, conscious that his eye had already marked her for a victim, went on steadily augmenting her armies, and organizing and disciplining her people, who felt the desperate necessity of the crisis, and appear to have zealously seconded the patriotic counsels and determination of the government. The wrath of Buonaparte was excited. He ventured to call out another conscription, and he prepared to subjugate Spain, and chastise the court of Vienna.

  21. He has obtained in Spain all the successes which every enlightened man expected from his immense superiority of disciplined force—but he has obtained no more. That disciplined armies would rout hasty, though enthusiastic levies, was reckoned upon: yet, to the honour of the Spaniards, let it be recollected, that he did not beat their raw troops without great difficulty and great superiority of numbers. Though Marshal Lefebvre was acting against General Blake, he did not destroy his division till Buonaparte had sent Victor, and afterwards Soult also against it. To defeat Castanos, he not only directed upon him Marshal Lannes and Moncey with their divisions, but also Ney with his; and, to make the success more certain, he even recalled Soult from the Asturias. We cannot contemplate these things without feeling that this gallant nation has done ample justice to its cause and to its character. Unfortunately they have been too eager, and too confident, as is natural to valour without discipline. [447] But every hour is improving their discipline; and we trust that experience has already convinced them of the necessity of a mode of warfare better suited to the respective nature of their own forces, and of those with which they have to contend; and this warfare will be prosecuted steadily and unintermittingly, without giving a moment's pause to the French armies dispersed and distracted as they are throughout the provinces, and at the same time without hazarding regular actions—until the time shall arrive when British co-operation can be effectually employed to give the finishing blow to the scheme of the subjurgation of the Peninsula.

  22. It may seem extraordinary that Buonaparte, while Spain was yet unsubdued, should embarrass himself with an Austrian war. It is possible that some irresolution in the councils of Russia occasioned his determination. He had declared in the summer that not a single village should be in insurrection in Spain by Christmas. Three months beyond that period passed away, and he found a part of the north, and all the south, still unsubdued: a few months more would be requisite to conquer these—and what a conquest would he then have effected! one so insecure, that as great an army would be wanted to keep, as to obtain it. The rest of the year must have been employed, at least, before he could completely break the spirits of the Spanish nation, and enure their necks to his yoke. But as Austria had been too much alarmed to abandon her defensive preparations, and had repeatedly made the most urgent solicitations to Russia for her alliance; as the kingdom of Westphalia perpetuated the hostile jealousy of Prussia against him, and his conscriptions and contingents were rapidly disquieting the other German powers, it was obvious that a storm was rising whose explosion would be more dangerous the longer it was delayed. He, therefore, chose to risk a war with Austria before the hesitating Alexander had decided against him, and hostility acquired a serious organization. At present Russia will either befriend him or not move against him, and he visibly hopes to crush Austria before her neighbours venture to assist her. If he succeeds, he will make his vengeful reckoning with them at his leisure.

  23. We never witnessed any event likely to produce more momentous consequences than this new warfare. The Elector of Bavaria, in his proclamation on quitting Munich, became the mouth-piece of Buonaparte, and pronounced the vindictive sentence against the Austrians—'Measures shall be taken to prevent [448] them from any longer disturbing the continent.' In this we see the doom of Austria, if she is finally unsuccessful. She cannot be forgiven; because, excepting the misguided empire of Russia, she is the only apparent obstacle to Buonaparte's becoming the tyrant of the world. While Austria exists, Russia is safe, and Europe unsubdued. Austria, therefore, wars not only for herself, but for Germany, Russia, and the world. The Archduke, in his address, has well expressed this momentous truth—'His Majesty the Emperor of Austria is forced to take up arms, because the French Emperor will not tolerate the existence of a state which will not acknowledge his supremacy of power, nor stoop to become subservient to his views of conquest; because he requires that Austria shall renounce her independence, unbend her energies, and surrender at the conqueror's discretion; because the armies of the Emperor of France, and of his dependent allies, advance against Austria with hostile views.—The forces of Austria have risen for self-defence and self-preservation at the nod of their Monarch; I am leading them on against the enemy to prevent the certain attack he prepared against us. We pass the frontiers, not as conquerors; not as enemies of Germany; not to destroy German institutions, law, customs, and manners, and impose foreign ones; not to appropriate to ourselves the property of Germany, or to sacrifice her children in distant wars, carried on to destroy and subjugate foreign nations.—No: we fight to assert the independence of the Austrian Monarchy, and to restore to Germany the independence and national honours which are due to her.—The same pretensions which now threaten us have already proved fatal to Germany. Our assistance is her last effort to be saved. Our cause is that of Germany. United with Austria, Germany was independent and happy; it is only through the assistance of Austria that Germany can receive happiness and independence.—Germans! consider your destruction. Accept the aid we offer, and co-operate with us for your salvation. We demand from you no exertions, but such as the war for our common cause requires. Your property and your domestic peace are secured by the discipline of our troops. The Austrian armies will not oppress, nor rob you; they respect you as brethren, chosen to fight jointly with us, for your cause and for ours. Be worthy of our respect: such Germans only as forget themselves are our enemies.—Depend on my word, which I have more than once pledged, and redeemed, to save you! Depend on the word of my Emperor and brother, which has never been violated!—Charles, Generalissimo.' [449]

  24. The present contest, therefore, has features unlike any former warfare. Austria is not only fighting for her existence, but her sovereign feels and avows it to be so. He has not entered into this war from ambitious motives: he has been driven to it by the violence of his oppressor, 'For these three years past,' says the Emperor, 'I have made the utmost exertions to procure you, my beloved subjects, the blessings of a permanent peace. No sacrifice, any ways consistent with your welfare and with the independence of the State, however painful, have I spared to secure your tranquillity and welfare, by a friendly understanding with the Emperor of the French.—But all my endeavours proved fruitless. The Austrian Monarchy was also to submit to the boundless ambition of the Emperor Napoleon; and in the same manner he strives to subdue Spain, insults the sacred Head of the Church, appropriates to himself the provinces of Italy, and parcels out the German dominions. Austria was to do homage to the great empire, the formation of which he has loudly announced.—I have adopted all necessary measures to assert the independence of the State. Not only have ye answered my call, but your love for your native country has prompted you to anticipate it. Accept my cordial thanks; they will be repeated by my posterity and yours. Self-defence, not invasion, was our aim. But the conqueror will not allow the Sovereign of his people, strong in their mutual confidence, to possess sufficient means to oppose his ambitious views. He declared himself hostile to Austria, unless she should relinquish her measures of defence, and prostrate herself disarmed at his feet. The disgraceful proposal was rejected, and now his hosts are advancing against us, arrayed for battle.—I confide in God, in the valour of my armies! in the heroic conduct of my brother, who leads them on to glory, in you, my beloved people: our exertions for this warfare are great, but such they must be in order to attain more securely the important end of self-preservation.'

  25. While the Emperor maintains these sentiments it is not one battle that will decide the fate of Austria, unless his people are dead to all the feelings which animate their Sovereign, and disregard alike all considerations of national independence as well us of individual security. The immense numbers which Buonaparte pours upon his opponents reduce every war to a struggle, of military population as well as tactics. While his conscriptions drive myriads to his standard from the countries which he has subdued, he must be met by a generous self-devotion in the mass of the nation whom he assails, or he will overwhelm them by mere numerical superiority. He would never have achieved [450] the conquests of which he boasts, if the people had not been traitors at once to their government and to themselves.

  26. This is therefore is the awful question to be now tried in Austria. Will the people identify themselves with their Sovereign, and pour out their blood in his defence and their own? The war-cry of France once was 'War to the palace, and peace to the cottage.' By this deceitful exclamation they separated the people from their prince; now, proud and insolent from success, their invariable maxim is, 'War to the palace, and conscription to the cottage.' They exhaust the rich of every country by requisitions, but they drag away the poor to perish in murdering unoffending nations. Will the people of Austria and Hungary agree to 'sacrifice their children in distant wars,' and to lose their hereditary independence; or will they prefer risking their lives and property on their own soils in noble efforts to repress their sanguinary invader?

  27. If we answered as reason would dictate, if the subjects of the Emperor of Austria feel as the citizens of Athens, Sparta, and Rome felt in similar exigencies, or act with the spirit of the barbarous nations who so perseveringly withstood the furious assaults of imperial Rome, we should boldly say that Austria will not be the spoil but the grave of her oppressors, and that the cause of Europe will yet be saved.

  28. The success of the contest hitherto, if not balanced, has been at least various, and the conflicts obstinate and bloody almost beyond example. We did not, and we do not look to see Buonaparte overthrown at a blow. It is from a protracted warfare with Buonaparte that we shall augur the happiest results. It is by a protracted contest only that Buonaparte is essentially to be injured. He has always troops sufficient for a first grand expedition. The great waste of war is disease, and the nature of his operations is peculiarly wasteful. He has always found it difficult to carry on a prolonged war, and hence his blows at Russia in the last contest were feeble compared with the violence with which he struck Prussia to the dust.

  29. The resolution so inflexibly adhered to by Rome, never to make peace with her victorious enemies, contributed more than any other cause to extend her power. Though Hannibal harrassed and distressed her for more than twenty years, yet she disdained submission, and triumphed by her perseverance. Austria, too, may triumph if her people be but faithful to themselves; and never could she have selected a better moment for a protracted war. [451]

  30. Buonaparte comes to this contest with a large part of his best troops already destroyed.—Eternal thanks to the brave Spaniards for this important service! On the 4th of September, he avowed that he intended to send 200,000 men into Spain to prosecute that war, which his adulating senate did not blush to denominate 'politic, just, and necessary,' and for which they called out the conscription for the year 1810. His best generals, Lefebvre, Victor, Moncey, Augereau, Soult, Mortier, Ney, Lannes, Junot, and Bessieres, marched with their divisions out of Germany into Spain. His imperial guard, accompanied by himself and Berthier, followed; and every one must have noticed, from the names perpetually mentioned in the various conflicts, that his best officers and best troops have been engaged. Of these there can be no question that a large proportion has fallen. We cannot forget that the army of Blake stood eleven battles before it was quite dispersed: add to these, the engagements at Burgos and Tudela while the spirits of the Spaniards were fresh. He has had two days furious conflict at Somo Sierra, at least as many at Madrid of a very destructive nature, and a most ruinous siege before Saragossa. He has had several actions of less extent in his numerous pursuits of the different divisions of the Spanish army, besides the battle of Corunna. In all these he must have sustained great losses. But if the quantity of soldiers destroyed by the rapidity of his marches and pursuits, and the sickness occasioned by incessant service, bad weather, and scanty provision, be also recollected, we cannot doubt that his warfare in Spain since last summer must have cost him upwards of 100,000 of his veteran troops.

  31. But he must either give up Spain, or still keep a large force employed there. To abandon his iniquitous aggression, to restore Ferdinand, and to negotiate a peace, would be his true policy: but his pride, his obstinacy, and his implacability forbid it.—Peace and safety are not his objects. Europe would eagerly accept the olive branch, if he sincerely proffered it; if he would renounce his ambition and really cultivate amity and quiet: but this is impracticable: the madman can now as easily lay aside his delirium as Buonaparte his restless schemes. He must therefore maintain an army in Spain: but this army, from want of reinforcements, is already in a perilous situation. Spain is now becoming like La Vendée:- beaten out of the field, she can attempt no more pitched battles; but she is using the more tardy, but destructive, course of attacking her enemies in [452] their smaller detachments, in their foraging excursions, at every moment when she can either surprise or overpower. The recapture of Vigo and Tuy, and Villa Franca, attest the commencement and the utility of this scheme. Should our troops under Sir Arthur Wellesley discomfit or break up any one of the remaining armies of the French, a new enthusiasm will burst out in the country; they will again despise their enemies and press forward to annihilate them, and Spain will be lost to France. A vigorous prosecution of the war on our part in Spain promises the happiest results; it is indeed indispensable.

  32. But if the present French force in Spain be destroyed, or considerably reduced, what a reduction must not Buonaparte make from his armies now arrayed against Austria to restore the fortune of war beyond the Pyrenees! and what must not be the feelings of Frenchmen on the re-commencement of the attack on Spain, after so profuse an expenditure of blood, which has flowed in vain; for no purpose either of security, of advantage, or of glory, to their country!

  33. While the French believed that confederacies were formed to divide or conquer France, they cheerfully shed their blood in its defence. But the war in Spain is not to preserve France: and in the present struggle no one can doubt that Austria is fighting only for existence and independence. Should he succeed against Austria, he has again to conquer Spain. If he accomplish that, he has Turkey in his contemplation: and when Austria is removed, and Spain over-run, what can prevent him from rushing into collision with the Russian empire? Could these objects be obtained, he has avowed his designs on Asia. He is preparing for irruptions there by his embassy to the court of Persia: so that no Frenchman, who looks beyond the present instant, can avoid perceiving that the life of Buonaparte must be a life of endless warfare; and that every year will be, like each of the last four, a year of anticipated and merciless conscription.

  34. But whatever be the ultimate issue of this momentous war, Austria has made a powerful appeal to the sympathy of mankind. Her reasons are simple, and the most popularly convincing that can be addressed to the human heart—She fights not only for the maintenance of national independence, not only to preserve her altars from profanation, her fields from desolation, her palaces from plunder, her cities, her towns, and peaceful hamlets from violence, rapine, lust, and murder: but to save her population itself from worse than military decimation; from a system which would tear her peasants from their hearths, drag them manacled into countries far removed, there to be made [453] the instruments of inflicting upon others the miseries of which they are themselves the victims. 'As long as it was possible' says the Archduke, 'to preserve peace by means of sacrifices, and as long as these sacrifices were consistent with the honor of the throne, with the security of the state, and with the welfare of the people, the heart of our bountiful sovereign suppressed every painful feeling in silence. But when all endeavours to preserve a happy independence from the insatiable ambition of a foreign conqueror prove fruitless; when nations are falling around us, and when lawful sovereigns are torn from the hearts of their subjects; when the danger of universal subjugation threatens even the happy states of Austria and their peaceable and fortunate inhabitants; then does our country demand its deliverance from us, and we stand forth in its defence.'

  35. The eloquence of facts is always more impressive than that of words. But, in the following paragraph of the proclamation, we have both; and if there be any spirit or moral principle in Austria, its effects must be universal and irresistable. 'On you, my dear brother soldiers, are fixed the eyes of the Universe, and of all those who still feel for national honor and national prosperity. You shall not share the disgrace of becoming the tools of oppression. You shall not carry on the endless wars of ambition under distant climes. Your blood shall not flow for foreign fleets and foreign covetousness; not on you shall the curse alight to annihilate innocent nations, and over the bodies of the slaughtered defenders of their country to pave the way for a foreigner to the usurped throne. A happier lot awaits you! the liberty of Europe has taken refuge under our banners. Your victories will loose its fetters, and your brothers in Germany, yet in the ranks of the enemy, long for their deliverance. You are engaged in a just cause, otherwise I should not appear at your head.'

  36. These sentiments are addressed not only to the Austrian nation but to all Europe: to every man who has a country and a heart. We know how they must operate in this happy nation, and we can hardly conceive that Austria can be so unlike us as to be insensible to their effect. We think they must awaken the deep though stifled murmur of execration over all the continent. The cause at issue is not between France and Austria; but between Buonaparte and all mankind. In such a cause surely we are warranted to hope. If Austria merely escape being overwhelmed by terror at his first success; if she has firmness and ability to maintain a protracted contest, we ought not to despond. Prussia, no longer her rival, must wish her well. Saxony [454] must pray for her success, and be ready to aid her the first moment that it is safe to do so. Germany, mourning for her children already torn from her to perish in Spain, and now bereaved of more to be slaughtered in Austria, must be imprecating the thunder of Heaven on the Tyrant of the whole Earth. The impression of his late victories will lessen as the contest is prolonged. Though invincible in his collected force, he may be beaten in his divisions. If he be checked in the mountains of Bohemia, or detained in unprofitable and indecisive skirmishes in the wilds of Hungary, the spirits of mankind will recover. To maintain one desultory warfare on the Danube, and another on the Ebro, will consume his victorious force, and by compelling him to resort to new conscriptions will heap new execrations on his head, and prepare new chances for his destruction.

  37. One day destroyed Prussia,—five continued days did the armies of the Emperor of Austria resist the onset, hitherto accustomed to be decisive, of the hordes of Buonaparte. Partially victorious, though defeated in the general result, they seem to have retreated with judgment, and in a manner which shews a determination to repair their errors, and avenge their losses. This spirit, if sustained, can not fail to save the Austrian monarchy; if encouraged, applauded, and imitated, it may yet rescue Europe and the world.

  38. In any case, let us hope, till events compel us to despair! It is not a blind, unreasoning confidence that we recommend: but a reflecting though courageous belief in the efficacy of those sentiments, qualities, and exertions by which in different ages of the world the career of successful villainy has been arrested, and the liberties of nations vindicated, preserved, or restored.—A sober, anxious, and apprehensive calculation of the chances and probabilities of war, a disposition to consider, and a desire to provide against the worst, we are not inclined either to blame or dissuade. Such is the temper of mind with which it befits us to look at events doubtful in their issue, and at the same time so formidable in their consequences.—But we do dissuade, and we should be inclined to blame, that species of panic, that fear in the nature of fascination, which anticipates the issue of the contest, not from a comparison of the two contending parties, but from the dread of one of them; which presuming failure, would refuse assistance; which not only cherishes its own errors, and spreads them with a spirit of proselytism, but repels and resents any attempt to dissipate them, and is almost prepared to feel any result which contradicts them as a disappointment. [455]

    [End of Issue Two of the Quarterly Review, 1809]

Published @ RC

September 2006

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