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1807. i KACE OF TILSIT. 215
flung himself into the arms of Russia: anon we shall find him recurring- to Austria again.
The terms now granted to the king of Prussia were stated publicly to be concessions made to Alexander, rather than to Frederic. They deprived him of all his territories westward of the Elbe, Magdeburgh included; whilst on the east, he was curtailed of his acquisitions from Poland, which were erected nto an independent state, to be called the duchy of Warsaw. Dantzic was also declared a free town; free, however, after Napoleon's fashion, with a garrison of French troops. The king of Prussia by this treaty lost upwards of four millions of subjects, preserving not more than five millions. Yet even what was preserved was not generously ceded. By an unworthy chicane, Bonaparte refused to evacuate the country till the arrear of contributions was paid; and this he estimated at an extravagant sum, triple of what his own intendants reckoned. Under color of this, French garrisons were kept in the towns of Custrin, Stettin, and Glogau. The duchy of Warsaw, with the shadow of a constitution, was given to the new king of Saxony, and Prussia was to allow their monarch communication between his two states by a military road across Silesia. Moreover, Prussia was bound to adopt the continental system, and shut her ports against the English. This, indeed, Bonaparte enforced, commanding the course of the Oder by Stettin, that of the Elbe by Hamburgh. The queen of Prussia begged in vain for Magdeburgh. Napoleon condescended once to present her with a rose; as she accepted it, she said, with a woman's smile, "At least with Magdeburgh." "Madame," said he, "it is for me to give, you have only the trouble of accepting." Even when all this sacrifice was consummated, the emperor did not relax in his sarcasms and severities against Frederic William; nor, whenever a deputation of Prussians presented themselves to him, did he fail to recur to the painful theme of their monarch's ingratitude and imbecility; so at least the French styled it.
Prussia, as well as Russia, acknowledged the right and titles of Joseph Bonaparte, king of Naples and Sicily,—Alexander thus abandoning the Italian Bourbons, whom he had so long protected. At the same time Louis Bonaparte was recognized king of Holland, and Jerome king of Westphalia. This last sovereign was to hold his court at Cassel, the old capital of Hesse, and was to include in his dominions the old territories of Brunswick, part of Prussia west of the Elbe, and part of Hanover.
The principal stipulations at Tilsit were between Napoleon and Alexander, lords of the old world, the one from the Atlantic to the Niemrn, the other from the Niemen to'the Pacific. They had enormous interests to discuss. Alexander had not hitherto raised himself above the moderate and traditional ideas of European courts; Coming in contact with Napoleon, whose mind embraced the globe, and teemed with gigantic projects, the Russian emperor was infected and caught with the high ambition which he found so eloquent, and saw so successful, in his great rival. Amidst his mani fold avocations of conquest, of legislation, of civil and mili tary affairs, Napoleon had found time, while in his winter quarters on the Passarge, to study the history of Alexande the Great. It had inspired him with many vast ideas. He had purposed sending an embassy, with several thousand men and fifty pieces of cannon, to the schah of Persia. This had dwindled down to a single envoy. But the alliance of the czar .now rendered the wildest plan feasible; and Bonaparte at once alluded to his favorite aim of driving the English from India. The necessity, however, of completing the conquest of Europe, ere they flung their forces into Asia, was wisely opposed to this by Alexander, and the cogency of the argu ment was allowed. The autocrats divided this preliminary task. Napoleon was to subdue the west of Europe, of which Spain alone remained to subdue, and Austria, perhaps, to humble somewhat more; whilst Alexander was to crush Sweden on one side of him, Turkey on the other.
Sweden deserved, indeed, the enmity of France; but to plot against Spain, which had sacrificed its navy to Napoleon, and whose army was at this very moment in his service in the north, was atrocious. We must defer notice of this perfidy. That towards Turkey was equally unjustifiable. That court had every cause of resentment against France. Nevertheless, on the instance of Sebastiani, she quarrelled with her allies, England and Russia, and exposed herself to the peril of their hostilities. It was at this moment, in this critical situation, that France abandoned her to Russia. The final scheme of dismemberment was, indeed, postponed. Sweden and Spain were to be the first objects. These accomplished, the Ottoman was to be driven from all, save the territory of Constantinople. Russia was to have the north; France, Greece; Austria, as a sop, was to have Servia. This scheme was never attempted, Napoleon having repented of his bargain; but it was no less agreed on at Tilsit. Russia, on the other hand, was, after having offered her mediation to effect a peace between France and England, a mere pretence at impartiality, to adopt the continental system, and, with Prussia, shut her ports against Great Britain, proclaiming the principles of the armed neutrality.
These stipulations, avowed or secret, cf the treaty of Til1807. IMPOSSIBILHY OF LASTING CONQUEST. 21/
sit, were nothing less than a league to enchain the world. They actually annihilated Prussia, Alexander's late ally; they menaced Spain and Sweden with tl o same imminent fate; Turkey and Austria prospectively. England was, of course, devoted to ruin. The wonder is, that Alexander could have consented to such a plan of violence, fraught too, eventually, with such peril to himself. His excuse was, that he wag under a spell, bewitched by the fascinations of a mind which had realized all that was splendid in ambition, and which had shown itself not unequal to realize the wildest dreams. He, indeed, soon awoke from this.
The treaty was, however, concluded; and history may add the striking moral, that it was here, in this very league of perfidy, that Bonaparte was led into errors, which proved so fatal to him,—here that he laid the trap into which he himself inextricably fell.
CHAP. IX. 1807—1810.
FROM THE PEACE OF TILSIT TO THE MARRIAGE OF THE EMPEROR WITH MARIA LOUISA.
From the events of Napoleon's reign one consolatory reflection, at least, can be drawn—the impossibility of lasting conquests and extended empire in the present stage of civilization. So strong has grown the force of public opinion, even in the most despotic states, that any great, inhuman, and effectual system of oppression, such as that which founded conquest in the middle ages, had become impracticable. Less than this is inefficient for conquest. Napoleon conquered Austria and Prussia. -Why did he not dethrone their monarchs, and place himself, or his vicegerent, in their stead 1 Because he durst not excite the whole population to arms against him. His talk, therefore, at St. Helena, of forbear ance is wild and unfounded. Had he dethroned the king of Prussia altogether, his armies could not have existed on the the Oder and the Niemen, except continually fighting, con tinually reinforced; and sources of recruiting were already beginning to fail. Napoleon did all that he durst in the way of usurpation. North Italy, indeed, weary of the Austrian yoke, underwent the French yoke readily, as did the south ern part of the peninsula when gratified with a local king, [n the smaller states on the other side of the Rhine, and within a march of the French frontier, he was able to adopt the same plan. Jerome reigned in Westphalia, Louis in Holland. With the old kingdoms of Germany he dared not attempt it. The feats of divers insurgent parties, such as that under the brave Schill, taught him what was to be expected from such an attempt. His own regrets, therefore, and those of his partisans, that he did not crush altogether the house of Brandenburgh, are idle. He acted unwisely, putting justice and generosity out of th3 question, in oppressing Frederic he would have acted madly in dethroning him. Spain wil soon come to offer itself a pregnant example.
But if the system of universal conquest and empire did not bid fair for duration, the attempts to establish it were fraught with dreadful evils; amongst which are to be counted not only the ravages, and violences, and forced contributions of war, but the abrogation and abandonment of all international law and justice in the deadly struggle. On which side the blame of this is to fall, offers a much-disputed question, which resolves itself into that of "which side originated war ]" For our part, we look.upon events, and not statesmen, as having produced a war, inevitable between hostile principles. The same view may be carried farther, in attributing to events also, in some measure, the barbarous and inveterate character assumed by the struggle. Posterity will divide its censures. It must allow, that Napoleon far overpassed the limits of vengeance and retaliation, which the independence, the honor, or security of France demanded; pursuing selfish schemes, unhailed as uncalled for by the nation, or even by its soldiers. In English policy, on the contrary, however the honest selfishness of patriotism may be apparent, that of the individual at least is never perceived; whilst France, also, set the example in that contempt for neutral rights in which we came to participate, the invasion of Switzerland at an early period, and for the sake principally of its treasure, has not a shadow of excuse.
But saying thus much against France, we cannot but allow our own nautical maxims to be violent and arbitrary. The custom of anticipating a declaration of war by the seizure of ships wnich had entered our ports in peace, is in itself barbarous and unjust. Bonaparte, who would not allow precedent to be pleaded in a bar of justice, had every cause for complaint. As the war advanced, our maxim of blockade became more strict Engaged in a deadly struggle with a power that knew no tie or restraint, the English ministry soon unfettered itself equally, and committed acts which naught but the imperious necessity of national defence, could excuse. That apparent machiavelism as to government, which at first pro«"pf»ded more frorr. he weakness of the rulers and negotiators, 807. ENGLISH EXPEDITION AGAINST DENMARK. 210
han from their astuteness, was, at last, real. An expediency oecame sufficient to cover, with the house of commons, some erf* the grossest acts of injustice. One step of the kind led to another. The attack of the Spanish galleons, ere peace was broken, was an egregious outrage. And now necessity came to prompt one still more flagrant. It is a melancholy truth, that in human affairs the energy requisite to insure success must often outstrip the limits of justice.
Denmark was one of those neutrals now menaced by the two parties in this all-absorbing quarrel. From intimation of what had passed secretly at Tilsit, the British had reason to suspect an attempt, on the part of the French, to crush that country, and its fleet. To prevent the latter acquisition by the enemy was an instant object, and an expedition fitted out for another purpose was forthwith dispatched to the Sound. Denmark was situated somewhat as Holland had been—unable to resist or withhold its resources from France. To seize the Danish fleet was the order of the British commander. It was demanded, indeed, as a deposit during the war, to be restored at the conclusion of peace. But an independent sovereign could not listen to such condition; and melancholy to relate, Copenhagen was laid in ashes by the British, in order to compel their acceptance.
This of course closed the ports of Denmark henceforth against England. It gave Russia also ample pretext to proclaim its adoption of the continental system, already acceded to in secret. And now it may be said that the whole civilized world were engaged in war with the solitary islands of Britain. America was hostile from north to south. Russia, Austria, Prussia, France, Italy, and Spain, were in arms against her. Even Turkey, the "ancient ally," was ingrate, and,— except Sweden, ruled by the feeble hand of a maniac, about to let go his sceptre, and Portugal,—all Europe was hostile ground. British commodities were still landed in the Tagus, from whence they were circulated through the Peninsula. In order to stop this last source of gain, as he imagined, to English merchants, Napoleon turned his forces to the Peninsula. Thus the conferences of Tilsit did not even interrupt the struggle between France and Britain, but merely changed its scene from north to south. In July was signed the treaty on the Niemen. In September, Copenhagen was bombarded. In October, Junot marched with an army from Bayonne against Portugal.
French historians agree in allowing that Bonaparte Whs now in the zenith of his glory. Victorious on every side, no power seemed capable of withstanding him for an instant Upon land. England, on the contrary, was low as misfortune