« AnteriorContinuar »
Art. XI. Modern Geography. A Defcription of the Empires,
Art. I. The Dangers of the Country. By the Author of War in Disguise, &c. 8vo. pp.227. Hatchard, London, 1807.
Tx7"e agree with the greater part of this boding volume; and * TM we think the author has discharged a great public duty, in endeavouring to impress the country with a sense of its dangers, and to train us to that sort of fortitude which consists, not in shutting our eyes to the hazard, but in providing steadily against it.
After passing rather too slightly over the extent of our danger from the military power of France, and the risk of an actual subjugation, he proceeds to detail, under ten several heads, the consequences which would follow from such a calamitous occurrence. To the few who have allowed themselves to reflect on the subject, such an enumeration must be useless; but it may startle the thoughtless, and rouse the multitude from their dream of apathy, thus to see these menaced evils embodied and spread out before them, which they have hitherto apprehended only as a remote and indistinct possibility. If great sacrifices, too, and great exertion should become necessary, as we greatly fear they may, in the prosecution of the contest, it is of use to keep before us the amount of the miseries from which we are purchasing redemption.
The author does not dwell at all upon the horrors of the conquest itself, nor on the proscriptions and confiscations with which it would infallibly be attended. He supposes this great work to be finally consummated; and merely sets himself to estimate the changes which would be produced in the condition of the surviving population*
The first would be, the transference of our sceptre to the" hands of some creature of the conqueror, or the total suppress
Vol. x. No. 19. . A sion Sion of oi>r independence, by our conversion into a province or department of his empire. The author thinks the last most probable; as our insular situation, maritime habits and untractable character, might otherwise give us a chance for recovering our. freedom, and converting a nominal into a real independence. In either event, he rightly concludes, that our free constitution would be annihilated. It is this freedom, • more than our commercial: prosperity or our national influence, which excites the alarm and jealousy of our enemy: it exhales a vapour unhealthful to, the constitution of despotism; and while England is free, the master of France must be uneasy. We might still have Parliaments, however, and mock elections; but we may guess at the measure of power which would be left to those assemblies, from that which. we have seen entrusted to the senates of France or of Holland.
The consequences of conquest, however, would first come home to individuals, in the destruction of our laws and personal privileges. No one can be extravagant enough to imagine that a French government would allow a habeas corpus, a jury, or a gaol-delivery to its English subjects. We cannot hope for more than it indulges to it.s own people.. The liberty of the press in France, too, may safely be taken as the measure of what it would be in England; and in comparison with the tyranny now exercised there, in this respect, the policy of the Inquisition, the Sorbonne, and the Bourbons, was perfect freedom. Their interference was restrictive or prohibitory merely; but the present governor of France compels its journalists to publish, as well as to suppress, whatever he pleases. He has personal quarrels, too, with the English press; which we are afraid could not be settled by mere prospective regulations. There are more than Peltier who might meet with the fate of Palm.
The next thing we should lose, would be the security of personal liberty. This consequence of conquest we shall give in the words of our author. It is a favourable specimen of his most popular manner.
'We mnft lay afide alfo that proud fenfe of perfonal inviolability, which we now cherifh fo fondly; and, what is juftly prized ftill more, the,civil fanftity of our homes. The Englishman's houfe muft be his saftle no rhore.
'Inftead of our humble watchmen to wilh us refpeftfully good night, when returning to- our abodes in the evening, we lhall be challenged at every turning by military patroles, and lhall be fortunate, if we meet no pert boy in commiffion, or ill-natured trooper, to rebuke us with the back of his fword, or with a lodging in the guard-houfe, for a heedlefs or tardy reply. Perhaps, after all, when we arrive at our kernes, istftead «f that quiet fire-fide at which we expected to fit in