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course of public affairs on the Continent. The power and destinies of England, as a European state, were confided wholly to the duke of Wellington and lord Castlereagh. Both were sent abroad on important missions soon after the prorogation of parliament in July ; – the duke of Wellington as ambassador extraordinary to the French court, whence he was to observe, as from a centre, the internal movements of France and other countries around him; and lord Castlereagh to assist, as the representative of England, at the general congress to be held at Vienna, for the final settlement of Europe.
The congress of Vienna was opened with inaugural solemnities, spiritual and temporal, on the 2d of October. Its proceedings were profoundly secret, but the new system of Europe, so called, had already begun to develope itself. The French people exercised, under the restored Bourbons, a certain indescribable sort of political liberty, which they owed, not so much to the constitutional charter of Louis XVIII., as to the temporising weakness of his party and government. The measures of the restored king, sanctioned as a matter of course by the majority of a chamber of deputies, which was a mere mockery of national representation, were dexterously calculated to neutralise, by specious limitations and other disingenuous arts, the abstract propositions of the charter, and revive, first the habits and manners, then the political system which preceded the revolution. Even this precarious and imperfect freedom of person, speech, and the press, was scarcely known
Ferdinand VII., on his release by Napoleon, appeared by no means impatient to return to Spain. He waited the restoration of the Bourbons before he left France, and after crossing the Pyrenees, halted for a considerable time at Valencia. This ominous delay excited in the Cortes a vague feeling of alarm and surprise. They, however, could not lightly suspect one whose name was associated with independence and liberty, and for whom so much had been achieved and suffered. He
the first distant glimpse of his designs by speaking of the Spanish people as his “ faithful vassals,” in a letter to the regency announcing his release. The regency repudiated this designation, as the state of vassalage no longer existed in constitutional Spain. A deputy, named Reyna, launched, in the Cortes, the opinion that Ferdinand VII. must be received of right as absolute king. The proposition was scouted with indignation by the Cortes, and the utterer ordered to leave the hall and answer for his conduct. Ferdinand still lingered at Valencia. The Cortes addressed to him two letters, earnestly soliciting his acceptance of the constitution, and of the reins of government. His only answer was a proclamation, abolishing the constitution, annulling both the acts and existence of the Cortes, and restoring the ancient despotism, temporal and spiritual, in its integrity and purity. This proclamation was very consistently followed up by a royal warrant for the arrest and imprisonment, as traitors, of the men whose courage and patriotism had the greatest share in his return.
The Cortes and constitution fell without a struggle.
They were taken by surprise. Civil war would have been at the moment a horrible, and perhaps hopeless resource. Spain was sick of strife, and divided by factions. This was not all. Ferdinand had concerted his plan of counter-revolution with Louis XVIII., the most perfidious and prudent of the Bourbons, and his secret cabal; and the Spaniards charge upon the “unwept, unhonoured"
unwept, unhonoured” memory of the British minister of that day, the crime of having made his country an accessary by treacherous connivance. But there was a radical vice in the Spanish
The Spaniards, by a common error, chose for their rallying point a king, and not a principle. Men are perfidious, dastardly, and ungrateful; principles alone are permanently true.
Of the revolutionary growth of princes,—those natural children of royalty,—two survived the fall of Napoleon :- Murat, whose services to the allies were ambiguous, and whose faith was uncertain, retained the throne of Naples by a precarious tenure. The more efficient co-operation of Bernadotte, king elect of Sweden, was purchased and paid by a transaction more odious than any which its authors had ever charged upon Napoleon. The people of Norway were violently wrested from the sovereignty of Denmark, and transferred to that of Sweden, by a despotic foreign will, which could pretend to no right over them whatever. This complicated outrage upon their affections, their aversions, and their rights, drove the Norwegians to desperation and revolt. The crown prince, Christian of Denmark, placed himself at their head. But no reasonable hope remained for a brave and virtuous, but rude
and poor community, disowned by the king of Denmark, denounced by the great confederacy of Europe, and attacked by Bernadotte with the organised and overwhelming military force of Sweden. After a deplorable interlude, under the name of war, prince Christian proved himself unequal to the post of difficulty and danger which he had assumed, and the forced union of Norway with Sweden was consummated.
Lord William Bentinck and his subaltern agents had called upon the Italians, in the name of their country and of independence, to expel the French. National independence has ever been the first wish of the patriots of Italy. Cacciare i Barbari dall Italia, has been their motto from the age of Petrarch and Machiavel. The Italians now hoped that the soil of their country would be guaranteed by British faith and power from being trodden by foreign tyranny. They were soon and grievously undeceived. The arbitrary but enlightened administration of the French was almost immediately succeeded by the barbarian despotism of Austria. The whole of Lombardy, and the states of Venice, were forced under the Austrian yoke. Lord William Bentinck, upon occupying Genoa with British troops, in April, had declared, in the name of England, “ the Genoese nation restored to that ancient government under which it enjoyed liberty, prosperity, and independence ;” and the old constitution was re-established. In the month of December a protocol from the congress of Vienna announced to “ the same Genoese nation” the astounding news that it was incorporated with the con
tinental territories of the king of Sardinia. An ancient and illustrious state was thus despoiled of its laws, its liberties, its very existence; the public faith of England was violated, and this chiefly through the British minister at the congress. Lord Castlereagh's despatch on the occasion to the commander of the British garrison of Genoa is a characteristic specimen of the shallow cant and sinuous imbecility of style which that flimsy politician passed upon the world for diplomacy.
“ I exceedingly regret, as well as do all the ministers, the not being able to preserve to Genoa a separate existence without the risk of weakening the system adopted for Italy, and consequently exposing its safety; but we are persuaded that, by the mode adopted, we have provided much more strongly for the future tranquillity of Genoa, and the prosperity of her commerce. The generous dispositions of the king of Sardinia, whose ardent desire it is to fulfil as much as possible the wishes of the Genoese, will be to them the most certain pledge of their being placed under the protection of a paternal and liberal government. I have no doubt that, under these circumstances, the Genoese of every class will receive this decision as a benefit, and will conform, with pleasure, to arrangements which conciliate their own interests with those of the rest of Europe.”
The personal virtues of the king of Saxony had inspired Napoleon with respect and confidence. The French emperor made the aggrandisement of the kingdom of Saxony part of his European system, not so much from any extrinsic relations