Page images

north of the island, made frequent inroads into the southern districts; and Vortigern applied for assistance to the Saxons-a branch of the great Teutonic family, then paramount in the wide tract now known as Friesland, Holland, Zealand, Westphalia, and Saxony. Two chiefs (brothers), Hengist and Horsa, came over with their followers; and as a reward for repulsing the Picts and Scots, received a portion of Kent as an inheritance. Quarrels and wars ensued between them and the Britons; more Saxons came to their aid; and, in time, the southern part of the island, modern England, was overran by the stranger, with the exception of those portions now called Cornwall and Wales. This is the Saxon tale. The Britons, on the contrary, affirm, that Hengist and Horsa came to Britain in their necessity, where they received shelter and protection, and obtained their territory by treachery. However this may be, the Saxons established themselves, and, in time, formed the Heptarchy, composed of the kingdoms of Kent, the South Saxons, the West Saxons, the East Saxons, Northumbria, the East Angles, and Mercia. These sovereignties were all united under Egbert; and the following is a list of the

[blocks in formation]

The first hostile appearance of the Danes on the English coast was in the year 783; and from that time, till they were bribed to leave the country by William I., A.D. 1074, their descents were continually made; and they became the dread of the peaceable inhabitants. At one time, it appeared not unlikely that they would establish their sovereignty over the island. One of their monarchs, Sweyne, declared himself king, and exercised the regal power; but his triumph was of short duration. His son Canute succeeded him; who was strongly opposed by Edmund, surnamed the Ironsides, son of Ethelred II. That monarch was restored for a few months; and, at his death, Canute divided the kingdom with Edmund, who was murdered on the 30th of November, 1016, and the Dane reigned alone. The following were the Danish sovereigns:

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]




THE wars that sprang out of the French | entered into a coalition to resist the reRevolution, and which desolated Europe for publican tendency, and aid the King of a quarter of a century, were occasioned by France in the defence of his throne. the decree of the National Convention, passed November 19th, 1792, declaring, that "the French nation would grant fraternity and assistance to all people who wished to recover their liberty;" and this violation of the laws of international justice was further aggravated by the endeavours of the French affiliated societies to spread, by means of their emissaries, sedition among the conterminous states.

The causes, proximate and remote, which co-operated to the progress and formation of that revolution, have been so repeatedly recapitulated and presented to the knowledge of mankind, in so infinite a variety of forms, that their enumeration in this work would be an unprofitable waste of the reader's time, and a disingenuous, as also a dishonourable encroachment on his purse, to repeat them. Suffice it to say, that event, more momentous in its results, and more important in its interests, than any period in the history of the world, was occasioned by the degeneracy of national morality, the profligacy of the court and noblesse, the corruptions and evils of the church, and the increased intelligence of French society in political knowledge.

To resist this threatened interference of foreign princes, the French convention determined to declare war for the protection of civil liberty and national independence. In this determination, the king was compelled to join, as also to publish a proclamation against the French princes and noblesse who had emigrated, and were assuming a threatening attitude on the frontiers. It was in the debates on these questions, that Isnard, the deputy of Provence, fulminated that eloquent oration that soon resounded through all the courts of Europe. "Let us raise ourselves on this occasion," said the Girondist orator, "to the real dignity of our situation; let us speak to the ministers-to the king-to Europe in arms, with the firmness which becomes us: let us tell the former, that we are not satisfied with their conduct-that they must make their election between public gratitude and the vengeance of the laws, and that by vengeance we mean death. Let us tell the king, that his interest is to defend the constitution; that he reigns by the people, and for the people; that the nation is his sovereign, and that he is the subject of the law. Let us tell Europe, that if the These causes conduced to those contests French nation draws the sword, it will and disputes between the crown and the throw away the scabbard; that it will not states-general, or tiers état, which inclined again seek it till crowned with the laurels of some of the crowned heads of Europe to victory; that if cabinets engage kings in a dread the spread of revolutionary principles. war against the people, we will rouse the Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, was people to mortal strife with sovereigns. the first who gave the alarm. On his death, Let us tell them, that the combats in which William Frederick II., King of Prussia, the people engage by order of despots, resemand Joseph II., Emperor of Austria, in ble the strife of two friends under the cloud consequence of conferences held in May of night, at the instigation of a perfidious and August, 1791, at Mantua and Pilnitz, emissary: when the dawn appears, and

they recognise each other, they throw away their arms, embrace with transport, and turn their vengeance against the author of their discord. Such will be the fate of our enemies, if, at the moment when their armies engage with ours, the light of philosophy strikes their eyes." Alluding to the encouragement given to the emigrant nobility by the courts of Europe, the same eloquent orator exclaimed :-"They would bring back our noblesse! If all the nobles of the earth assail us, with their gold in one hand and their swords in the other, the French people will combat that imperious race, and force it to endure the penalty of equality."

by the National Assembly, and 20,000,000 francs voted for carrying on the war.


To resist these designs, the Emperor of Germany, Francis II., who had now ascended the imperial throne, and the King of Prussia, agreed to furnish three armies. Sixty thousand Prussians, under the Duke of Brunswick, marched by Luxenbourgh upon Longwy. Twenty thousand Austrians, commanded by General Clairfait, supported them on the right, by occupying Stenay. Sixteen thousand Austrians, commanded by the Prince Hohenlohe-Kirchberg, and 10,000 Hessians flanked the left of the Prussians. The Duke Saxe-Teschen For the purpose of resisting the league cupied the Netherlands, and threatened the which had been formed by the coalition barrier fortresses. The Prince de Condé against the independence and security of and 12,000 French emigrant princes, noFrance for such was their ostensible blesse, and military officers, assembled at profession, though their real motive was aggression and conquest the National Assembly ordered the formation of four armies. On the northern confines of France, 40,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry were cantoned, under Marshal Rochambeau, from Dunkirk to Philippeville. In the centre, 45,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry were stationed, under the Marquis Lafayette, from Philippeville to Lautre. Thirty-five thousand infantry and 8,000 cavalry, under Marshal Lückner, observed the course of the Rhine, from Bale to Lauterberg. A fourth army, consisting of 50,000 men, under General Montesquieu, was assembled on the side of Savoy, charged with the defence of the line of the Pyrenees and the course of the Rhone. One hundred and fifty thousand men were put into requisition

Coblentz, Treves, Ettenheim, and Baden, where they were organized and supplied with horses and arms by the Empress Catherine.

The dethronement and execution of the French king having now taken place, and the National Assembly having, by its decrees of October 27th, November 19th, and December 18th,* declared all governments their enemies, and proclaimed the doctrine of fraternisation with all those disposed to revolutionary principles in foreign states, the Emperor of Austria, Francis, issued a circular letter from Padua, inviting all the princes of Europe to concert measures for "avenging the diadem." The Russian empress, Catherine, announced her resolution of not permitting any change in the form of government in any European state. On its behalf, the British government professed its desire to preserve a strict neuet nous vous garantirons de leur vengeance, de leurs projets, et de leur rétour.

• Those decrees offered "fraternity and assistance to all people desirous of throwing off their allegiance; proclaimed the suppression of all existing autho- "Dès ce moment la République Française proclame rities; and declared, that the French nation would la suppression de tous vos magistrats civils et militreat as enemies the people, who, refusing or re- taires, de toutes les autorités qui vous ont gouver nouncing liberty and equality, are desirous of pre-nés; elle proclame en ce pays l'abolition de tous les serving their former and privileged castes, or of entering into an accommodation with them."

The decrees were transmitted to all the generals on the frontier; and they were furnished with the following blank formula of a letter of invitation to all nations of the world, beginning thus :-"The people of France to the people of greeting. We now come to expel your tyrants." Commissioners were also appointed to all the armies, whose business it was to superintend the revolutionising of foreign states. "Le Peuple Français au Peuple"Frères et amis. Nous avons conquis la liberté, et nous la maintiendrons; notre union et votre force en sont les garans. Nous vous offrons de vous faire jouir de ce bien inestimable qui vous a toujours appartenu, et que vos oppresseurs n'ont pu vous ravir sans crime. Nous sommes venus pour chasser vos tyrans; ils ont fui: montrez vous hommes libres,

impots que vous supportez sous quelque forme qu'ils existent des droits féodaux, de la gabelle, des péages, des octrois, des droits d'entrée et de sortie, de la dime, des droits de chasse et de pèche exclusifs; des corvées de la noblesse, et généralement de toute espèce de contributions et de servitude dont vous avez été chargès par vos oppresseurs. Elle abolit aussi parmi vous toute corporation nobilaire, sacerdotale et autres, toutes prérogatives, tous privileges contraires à l'egalité: vous êtes dès ce moment frères et amis, tous citoyens, tous égaux en droits, et tous appelés également à défendre, à gouverner, et à servir votre patrie.

"Formez vous sur-le-champ en assemblées de communes; hâtez vous d'établir vos administrations provisoires: les agens de la République Française se concerteront avec elles, pour assurer votre bonheur et la fraternité qui doit exister désormais entre nous."

trality; and, to the truth of this assertion, | limited to the prevention of their interference the French themselves bear witness. "There with other states, or extending their conis but one nation," said M. Kersaint, in the National Assembly, September 18th, 1792, "whose neutrality in the affairs of France is decidedly announced, and that is England." With the intention of persevering in that neutrality, and its confidence of the continuation of peace, the British government had reduced the number of sailors and marines to 16,000 men; had made a reduction in its very inconsiderable army; and had abolished taxes to the annual amount of £200,000. But the government of France was otherwise disposed. Among numerous hostile provocations and insults that the French had offered to Great Britain, was the violation of the treaty of commerce, of 1786, by a French frigate on the coast of Malabar. The circumstances of that case were:- Sir Richard Strachan, in the Phoenix, meeting on the Indian coast several French merchantmen, under convoy of a French frigate, and suspecting them to be carrying ammunition and warlike stores to Tippoo Sultan -then in a state of hostility against England-sent an officer in a boat to the captain of the French frigate, to request him to make a signal to the merchantmen to lay to, in order that their certificates might be inspected Instead of complying with this request, the French captain made a signal to the merchantmen to crowd all sail and escape, and, at the same moment, he fired on the Phoenix. After a brief contest, the frigate struck her flag. When complaint was made of this breach of the treaty and act of open hostility, the National Convention, instead of apologising, or issuing any order to prevent similar aggression, insolently attempted to justify the conduct of their countryman. In the case of other similar aggressions, neither the executive council nor the convention condescended any excuse or explanation.

quests or propagandism beyond their own frontier; and to this effect, in the declaration issued 29th October, 1793, to the commanders of the British forces by sea and land, a declaration of the readiness of the government for the suspension of hostilities, and the renewal of friendship between the nations was repeated. A spirit of aggression and conquest had been displayed by the revolutionary government in a very early stage of their proceedings. In the commencement of 1791, Avignon and the Venaissin, the fiefs and seignoral rights of the German princes, and the dominions of the Bishop of Bâle, in Alsace and Lorraine, had been taken possession of, and annexed to France, though the rights of the German vassals of the French crown, in those provinces, had been guaranteed by the treaty of Westphalia. On the 20th of April, war was declared against the King of Bohemia and Hungary, and its intelligence diffused universal joy throughout France. In September, 1792, a like declaration was made against Sardinia; and, in the ensuing October, that province was united with the French republic, under the name of the Department of Mont Blanc. The seizure of Nice, with its territory, and Monaco, were shortly after formed into the department of the Maritime Alps. In December, the French troops took possession of Geneva; and, in the course of the same month, considerable portions of the territories of the small German princes were annexed to the neighbouring departments of France. The opening of the Scheldt, in violation of the treaty of Munster, was a preparatory measure to the invasion of Holland by the republican troops.

Still the British government preserved a peaceful attitude. In the official despatch addressed (29th December, 1792) to the British ambassador at St. Petersburg, on the subject of the proposed confederation against the French revolutionists, it was stated that the basis of the alliance should be, that foreigners should have no interference in the national affairs of France, but that the French people should be left entirely to themselves, in the arrangement of their government and internal affairs; and that the efforts of the allies should be

The endeavours of the revolutionary agents of France to propagate their principles and doctrines through the medium of the London corresponding and other societies of the like description, created much apprehension and alarm on the part of the British government. In a correspondence which ensued between the British cabinet and the French ambassador-" England," said Lord Granville, in a note to M. Chauvelin, the French envoy, "never will consent that France shall arrogate to herself the power of annulling at pleasure, and under cover of a pretended national right, of which she makes herself the sole judge, the political system of Enrope, established by solemn treaties, and guaranteed by the consent of all the powers

« PreviousContinue »