Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

like worn-out instruments, when the struggles of fair enterprise and rising hard and painful work for which they talent. The_so doing was one main were commissioned had been performed. cause of the French Revolution. And there will always be dead sufficient Under these confused views, the Brito bury their dead.

tish government came to the conclusion It was however evident, that the old that war was inevitable, and began preruling powers of France, with those that parations, after the imperfect manner succeeded, had been utterly destroyed, then customary. The militia had been and that confusion increasingly prevailed called out, on December 1st, 1792; and there. It was apparent, that a similar on the same day, the principal merchants desire for destruction actuated many in and bankers of the metropolis assembled the British islands, who sought not to at Merchant Taylors' Hall, when a loyal correct manifest evils, but to overturn declaration, setting forth their attachthe whole framework of society; while, ment to the constitution, as settled by on the other hand, those in power, fear the revolution in 1688, was adopted : it ful of this overturn, clung the more was signed by several thousands of the closely to existing evils, though feeling most influential of the commercial world. that they were wrong. They feared lest Parliament assembled on the 13th, when by consenting to the removal even of the king's speech strongly adverted to what was mischievous, they should let go the danger resulting from French printhe many advantages and benefits pos- ciples, and the manifest indications of the sessed by the great mass of the nation, neighbouring nations being affected by and which marked the wide difference the schemes evidently entertained by between England and France. Thus the leading party in France. The existeach party became more injuriously te ence of political societies in England, nacious of its own peculiar views; the more or less influenced by similar prinleading statesmen were not able to see, ciples, and seeking a thorough change in that, by steady and timely removal of ac the constitution, was notorious. This knowledged abuses, they would really was adverted to in the House of Comstrengthen social order; while those, who mons; but Fox derided all that had been desired that such evils should be removed, done, with all that was apprehended by were angered, by the refusal of all altera- the government, and rejoiced in the tion, and induced to contemplate stronger triumphs of France. The division that measures than could safely be resorted had taken place among the Whigs was to. The old parties of Whig and Tory manifest from his being answered by had now lost their distinctive principles; Windham, once, like Burke, in the oppomany of the former decidedly opposed sition, but now, with Burke, a firm supthe French Revolution, and all innova- porter of Pitt, and of the policy adopted tions or changes. The principles avowed by the British rulers. by the leaders of that revolution placed The general feeling of the leading men the upper and lower classes of society, of the nation was shown by the numbers throughout Europe, in opposition to each that voted on the address; two hundred other. In England, the influential body and ninety voting for it, and only fortyof the people, the middle rank, was four with Fox, who still, however, stood divided. At first, the greater portion firm to the views he had declared. Burke took the popular view; but, as atrocities rightly denounced the system of repubprevailed in France, a contrary feeling lican France as akin to that of Mohambecame predominant in England. It has med going forth with strange doctrines, been well observed, that the political and seeking to proselyte thereto by the divisions of 1793 never were forgotten sword. The debates in parliament at this by those who were of an age to feel their period well deserve attentive considerainfluence, or, it may be added, by those tion, but they cannot be recapitulated in who shortly after became so. Burke this brief sketch. They mainly turned early characterized the principles of Ja- upon the question of peace or war. It cobinism as “the revolt of the enterpris- may be well to state, as the result of ing talent of a country against its pro- documents now accessible, that while it perty.” Well is it for a nation, when must be admitted that the British minister the possessors of property do not take did not seek to maintain peace at that the mistaken view of endeavouring. to period, as he might have done, yet it is retain that property in vicious and in- equally evident, that the French were capable hands, against the legitimate determined to have war; and that no

concessions would have prevented them | French rulers on the previous day; and from entering upon a career of reckless the certainty of war was rejoiced in by aggression.

the convention, while it also pleased the As early as 1791, a French naval com upper classes in this country. Fox had mander in the East Indies had resisted a declared that France sought not to exBritish officer, in his desire to inspect tend its dominion; but, on January 31st, some merchantmen, apparently convey- measures were taken for declaring Beling stores to Tippoo Sultaun, although gium to be a part of the French republic; that search was according to treaty. He and, on February 1st, war was declared fired upon the British frigate, an action against England, by the unanimous vote followed, the Frenchman surrendered, of the convention. and was released. The British ambas It is thus evident that the French were sador at Paris was repeatedly insulted; determined on war; but many have and while the English government at thought it would have been desirable for that time reduced its forces, the French the British government to have delayed republic increased their naval armament, hostilities, though at the price of abstainwhich could only be designed against ing from interference in behalf of the Britain. The French leaders avowed allied powers of the continent. At that that peace was out of the question; they time there appeared strong reasons for also declared, that their anticipated ca- aiding their confederacy; but now it is seen reer of conquest was to extend over the that all those efforts were likely to be world. In November, their convention ineffectual: that each of those powers had issued a decree, declaring that the was selfishly bent upon its own partiFrench were ready to assist the people of cular interests ; so that the strength of any nation who would rebel against their England was of no avail, when exerted own government, and refused to restrict to support a system without coherence, this to the nations with whom they were which was sure to be overturned. This, actually at war; while some of the English, however, was not discerned at the time : who maintained republican principles, the great body of the English nation was openly fraternized with the most violent bent on war, from the opinion that noof the French democrats. The destruc-thing but war could save Britain from tion of royalty throughout Europe was republican principles; and, as the French openly avowed, while it was determined arms prevailed, Pitt considered that, unto seize the Scheldt, as a naval station der the existing circumstances, no other for France, in defiance of treaties to the course was to be pursued. There can be contrary.

no doubt, but that even if he had sought Talleyrand had been sent to England peace, the French, in their infuriate with a French deputation, instructed to state, would have forced him to war; foment discontent between the people this feeling, having been increased, if not and the government. This mission pro- originally brought on, by the unjust atbably saved Talleyrand during the agi- tempt of the allies to compel the French tations that preceded the death of Louis. nation to restore the full despotic royalty He was denounced, and was for some just shaken off. The allied powers had also time an exile in England—one of the resolved, not only to compel France to submany serpents at that time fostered and mit to that government, and to compensate protected by her—while full proof was for the expenses incurred, but to retain given to Pitt, that the French rulers such portions of France as might weaken would not promote any pacific measures, it from future attempts upon the neighalthough their representative still de- bouring powers. This ill-judged and inclared that they were anxious to main- jurious proceeding was resolved upon, at tain peace with England ! This declara- a great council of the allied leaders, held tion the English ministers treated as of at Antwerp, in July, 1793, which obliged no value, and declined to acknowledge the prince Coburg, the allied commander, to French republic. The negotiations were recall a manifesto, issued by him a few conducted by lord Grenville, afterwards days before, renouncing all views of conby lord Auckland, at Paris. The result quest, and more than re-establishing the was unsatisfactory. On January 24th, constitution of 1791. 1793, the death of Louis xvr. being then It is indeed but too evident, that alknown, Chauvelin, the French plenipo- though more comprehensive views are tentiary, was directed to leave England. now entertained, and wiser policies have He had been actually recalled by the been pursued than prevailed at that po

riod, still the time is not yet arrived, the French time to adopt energetic meawhen statesmen will learn to act upon sures proposed by Carnot, who directed scriptural principles, leaving events with the war department. The French sucHim who ruleth all things in heaven and ceeded in relieving Dunkirk; the siege earth. The nations were to undergo a was raised. That failure, with the time sifting, yet ultimately the destroyer was lost before Valenciennes, enabled the to be stayed in his course. Britain was republican government to collect and to take a prominent part in these pro- move forward an overwhelming force. ceedings, and therefore was permitted This, although undisciplined and continuto interfere.

ally defeated, constantly presented new Preparations for war were made, but masses for resistance, which were beaten, on a very inadequate scale of expendi- till they became at last efficient soldiers. ture. Enough was done to commence a It was with difficulty the allies could series of national embarrassments, but retain Belgium. A conscription of twelve not enough to create a force adequate to hundred thousand men had been enstay the destroyer now let loose. Eight forced in France; all the old rules of millions of pounds were borrowed, for warfare were set at nought, and failed the extra expenses of the year, the inter- before the republican energies. ruption of trade caused serious commer The efforts of the coalition had also been cial embarrassments, though some few weakened, by the attention of Austria, were already beginning to profit by war- Prussia, and Russia having been directed like speculations; and the national hopes to the further partition of Poland. They were excited, by the temporary failure of were more eager to secure this acquisithe French attempt upon Holland. tion than to press upon France; while

Pitt considered that the revolutionary the people of Europe, in general, were proceedings going forward in France disgusted and alarmed at the rapacity of must speedily exhaust that nation, so these monarchs. Not only was the atthat the old order of things might ere tention of the king of Prussia thus dislong be re-established. He had no idea tracted, but the national dislike between of the terrible energies that would be the Austrians and Prussians appeared ; called forth. The campaign on the con time and strength were wasted on the tinent cannot here be noticed in detail. siege of Mayence; the French armies It opened by simultaneous attacks upon were disciplined into activity by terror; France on all sides, by armies amounting and, before winter, the French had again to 350,000 men. As to Flanders, after passed beyond their frontiers towards some fighting and negotiations, Dumou- Germany. rier, the French general, saved himselffrom On the Spanish frontier little was the guillotine, by going over to the Aus- done; but the English and Spanish fleets trians, having in vain endeavoured to occupied Toulon. A counter-revolution promote a return to the constitution of in the south, early in the summer, ex1791. Ostend was taken possession of tended to Lyons; it was supported from by the English; the allied army was Piedmont, but Lyons was re-occupied joined by the duke of York, with a small before the winter, when the moderate number of British troopsma mistaken republicans, as well as the royalists, were appointment while the soldiers, and massacred by thousands in cold blood. especially the officers, however brave, At one time it was resolved gradually to were not yet trained for actual warfare. destroy that city, and to exterminate the Valenciennes was besieged and taken, inhabitants. Hundreds of the best houses after a regular siege, but there the suc were actually pulled down. The most cess of the allies ended.

determined effort against the republicans An attack on Dunkirk was resolved on was in La Vendée, the north-west disby the English government, to promote trict of France. That province was parits own interests, but this failed. The ticularly fitted for resistance, by the whole of the allied force should have been number of its resident gentry, the influconcentrated, and pushed on towards ence of its priests, its local peculiarities, Paris, while the French armies were dis- inclosures, bad roads-rendering commuorganized, and not adequately recruited. nication difficult, and by the habits of the But a selfish feeling induced the English people—also from being open for sucgovernment to insist upon a large force cours by sea. The narrative of the Venbeing turned aside for the siege of Dun- déen war, by La Rochejaquelin, is deeply kirk. This was a fatal error; it gave interesting. At last the forces of the

to

No. I.

republic prevailed, when all the suspected are pointed out, they regard them with who did not escape were murdered and ignorant astonishment. To them the massacred. Thousands were thus de- evening sky is nothing but a scene of gay stroyed; but at Nantes they were shot confusion, in which they can discover no and drowned in masses. The common law beyond that of a periodical appearmodes of execution were not sufficiently ance above the horizon, nor do they conrapid to satisfy the human tigers engaged ceive any end suitable to the variety and therein. Of course, there was no attempt magnitude of the means which seem to at trials or convictions; to be denounced be employed. But the man of science or suspected was enough. The broad sees with other eyes, he surveys that waters of the Loire became unfit for use, glorious theatre of wonders which has from the thousands of murdered corpses been spread above and around him with sunk beneath its waves, with circum an indescribable interest, where the ignostances of fiendish atrocity. The country rant behold nothing but a promiscuous of La Vendée was desolated, the dele assemblage of twinkling stars, he disgates with the army reported to the con cerns the most perfect regularity and harvention—“We have left nothing behind mony, and, unless his mind be blinded us but ashes, and piles of the dead!” by depravity, he cannot fail to be led to

devout and improving reflections. The

Chaldean shepherds and the Egyptian DISCOVERIES IN ASTRONOMY. priests were among the first who paid

particular attention the heavenly

bodies, and they found an approximation There is no part of the vast and diver to the length of the solar year. This sified scenery of nature more calculated they effected by a long series of tradito impress man with a conception of his tional or recorded facts, periods of time own dependence and God's infinite conde- after which the eclipses of the sun and scension, than the revelation of the truths the moon return in nearly the same order, of astronomy. The boundless power of and were consequently enabled to prethe Creator is displayed in his capacity dict the recurrence of these phenomena. to create worlds, and direct them by his Pythagoras was one of the first who apwill; and, at the same time, his willing-peared in support of the theory of the ness to regard men, are facts which must earth revolving round the sun, and the fill every thoughtful mind with serious stationary position of that orb. Aristillus reflections. " When," says the psalmist, and Timocharis possessed the earliest de"I consider thy heavens, the work of thy finite notions of the principal zodiacal fingers; the moon and the stars, which stars, and assisted Hipparchus, the thou hast ordained; what is man, that founder of Grecian astronomy, in the thou art mindful of him ? and the son of discoveries he effected.

The idle speman, that thou visitest him?" and with culations of the contemporaries of this these sentiments, every pious observer of extraordinary man appear to have been the power and goodness of God must disregarded by him, and his assiduous sympathize.

and accurate observations raised the Still much ignorance prevails in refe- science to a higher elevation than it rence to the objects that astronomy un had before attained. He invented the veils. How few are there who realize planisphere, and determined the places of the fact, that the earth on which they are nearly eleven hundred stars. The name pilgrims is a whirling globe, which, while of Ptolemy is well known, though he was the velocity of its ceaseless movement is in- not particularly distinguished by astrodeed prodigious, regulates alike the labour nomical discovery. He first proved the and repose of the whole animate creation. fact of the inequality of the moon's moHow few understand that the great lumi- tion, but his celebrity rests chiefly on his nary of the firmament, whose activity great work called “Syntax, or Composidaily influences their every movement, is tion,” in which he explains the apparent an immovable orb, actuating the planet-motions of the sun, moon, and planets. ary systems, and forming the shadow of This was done in accordance with an the great dial which measures the thread hypothesis suggested some centuries beof life, the existence of nations, and the fore, and which consists in supposing each great cycles of the world's change. Men of these bodies to be borne by a uniform in general look at the heavens with an motion round the circumference of a empty gaze, and if some of their glories circle called the epicycle, the centre of

which is carried uniformly forward to the or 1111 times the diameter of our globe, circumference of a circle called the de and 500 times larger than all the planets ferent.

together. It is considered to consist of In the fourteen centuries which elapsed a dark nucleus, which is seen through between the appearance of Ptolemy and openings in the luminous crust, called Copernicus astronomy remained theoreti the spots in the sun. It is not, therecally in about the same condition, though fore, an incandescent globe; and many practically some improvements took place. agree with M. Arago, that its light is Copernicus, however, possessed a master that of burning, gas. Considering the mind, and in his great work, “ De Revo enormous and incessant einanation of lutionibus Orbium Cælestium,” published light and heat from the sun, the question in 1543, he showed that all the apparent has often arisen, whether the volume of motions are easily explained, by simply the orb undergoes any diminution. If attributing a double movement to the the high temperature is maintained either earth : a diurnal motion, about its own by electric currents, or by friction, as has axis, and an annual motion about the sun. been suggested, no loss of volume would Kepler and Napier followed, and ren be sustained; but if, according to the dered essential service to the cause of hypothesis of Newton, light is produced astronomical examination and discovery, by the actual emission of luminous parwhile the expansive mind of Newton ma ticles, a diminution in size would appear tured ideas which had been but partially indispensable. Observation, however, can formed, and brought to light unknown afford us no information on this question ; truths. Since that period, academies, for, supposing an actual decrease to be societies, voyages, and expeditions have proceeding at such a rate as to lessen the combined to render most important aid, diameter by two feet in twenty-four while the powers of the telescope, in as hours—which, having regard to the sun's sisting the human organs, continually magnitude may be considered as enorpresent new discoveries to encourage the mous—3,000 years would elapse before mind of the lover of astrononny.

the decrease of the apparent diameter That what has recently been effected would amount to a single second. may be made clear, it will be necessary The light of the sun moves with the to glance at our solar system. Its centre velocity of 192,000 miles per minute, is the sun, the lamp that lights it, the and its distance from the earth, in round fire that heats it, the sceptre that guides numbers, is about 96,000,000 of miles; and controls it. Well may it be said an extent so prodigious, that a cannon

ball would be more than twenty-two Great source of day! best image here below Of thy Creator! ever pouring wide,

years in proceeding from the earth to the From world to world, the vital ocean round, sun.

The orb revolves round its own On Nature write with every beam his praise."

axis in twenty-five siderial days. Its Or, in the words of Milman :

magnitude and distance from the earth

is ascertained by direct observation. Thou mightiest work of Him That launch'd thee forth, a gold-crowned bride

Astronomers have divided the planets

into two classes: the primary and seTo hang thy universal nuptial lamp

condary planets. The primary ones inIn the exulting heavens. In thee the light, Creation's eldest born, was tabernacled.

clude Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, To thee was given to quicken slumbering nature, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta, Jupiter, Sa

turn, and the Georgium Sidus. The Over the fertile breast of mother earth; Till men began to stoop their grovelling prayers secondary ones are the satellites, which From the Almighty Sire of all to thee.

belong to some of the primary planets, Hung in the forehead of the all seen heavens,

such as the Moon, attendant upon the of Him, that with the light of righteousness Earth, the four Moons or satellites reDawned on our better days; the visitant Day volving about Jupiter; the seven belong

spring Of The benighted world. Enduring splendour!

ing to Saturn; and the six of the Giant refreshed! that ever more renewest Georgium Sidus. Thy flaming strength; nor ever shalt thou cease, With time coeval, even till time itself

The planets, like the earth, are nearly Hath perished in eternity. Then thou

spherical bodies, and being opaque, beShalt own, from thy apparent deity

come visible only by reflecting the light Debased, thy mortal nature from the sky, Withering before the all-enlightened Lamb,

which they receive from the sun. The Whose radiant throne shall quench all other laws by which they are governed were fires."

discovered by Kepler, who demonThe sun is 883,000 miles in diameter, strated that they must necessarily re

groom,

And lead the season's slow vicissitude

And I will add-Thou universal emblem

« AnteriorContinuar »