« PreviousContinue »
.. .. And catch, by fits, the distant moans
Of Kingsgarn's little rill. .
By some chance zephyr swept;
The silvery moon-shine slept.'. Among the notes on the Red King, is one in proof of the famous depopulation of the New Forest by William the Conqueror; which Voltaire,' in his random scepticism, has pretended to ridicule. Two successive surveys, however, of the lands in question, before and after this afforestation, corroborate the testimony of historians by the diminished value they record. These are preserved in Doomsday Book.
"Before the survey of the Conqueror, these manors, &c. were • estimated at 1984 hides, 56 yard lands, 8 acres, 271 pounds,
• 2218 shillings. In the second census, they are represented as : . consisting of 59 hides, 537 yard lands, 64 acres. The value is
! rated at 85 pounds, 964 shillings. The amount of the loss occa• sioned by the afforestation, therefore, will be 139] hides, 21 yard • lands, 14 acres, 186 pounds, 1 254 shillings.' p. 202. . It is not meant to assert, as Voltaire imagines, that an actual forest was created by William ; but that a large tract of woedy country was converted by him into a royal chase, and consequently depopulated, either by the oppressiveness of the forest laws, or by some direct act of violence. The latter opinion is espoused by Mr Rose, and seems most consonant to the voice of history, and the character of William. He endeavours to corroborate these proofs by local evidence; but, except in the name of castle, which some uninhabited spots retain, we think he has made but little of these researches. Indeed, he mentions himself a fact, though slightly, that the Anglo-Saxon buildings were ale most entircly of wood, which, while it fully accounts for the non-appearance of ruins, seems to have rendered unnecessary all attempts to discover them.
We may take this opportunity to lay before the public a cu. rious passage, which renders it probable, that, in spite of all our histories, Sir Walter Tyrrel was not the unfortunate slayer of William Rufus. It is found in the life of Louis le Gros, by his ininister, the famous Abbot Suger.
• Imponebatur a quibusdam cuidam nobilissimo viro Galterio Tirello, o quand eam sagittá perfoderet. Quem cum nec timeret, nec speraret, • jurejurando sæpius audivimus, et quasi sacrosanctum asserere quod ea • die nec in eam partem. silre, in quâ Rex venebatur, venerit, nec eum * in silvá omnino viderit.'
ART. IX. Code de la Conscription, ou Recueil Chronologique
des Lois et des Arrêtes du Gouvernement, des Décrets Imperiaux : relatives à la Levée des Conscrits, à leur remplacement, aux dispenses de service, &c. depuis l'an VI jusques et compris l'an XIV. Avec Tables, fc. Svo. pp. 270. Paris, 1806.
W e hate war, and we detest despotism; and wish earnestly.
W that there were no occasion to study the organization of the one, or the resources of the other. But when war is inevit. 'able, and despotism overbearing,—and when both together are darkening the whole horizon of the civilized world, it becomes, of all things, the most necessary to inquire, how they have been 'united, and in what manner their combination has contributed to their success. It is now our indispensable duty, we think, to make ourselves acquainted with the structure of thât military establishment which has triumphed so fatally over every other to which it has yet been opposed, to ascertain how far its excellences may be copied among a free people, and to determine to what extent its efficacy or permanence may be rendered precari. ous by the oppressions which it entails on those who are subject to it.
The perusal of the work before us, which has been recently transmitted froin France, with a full commentary of facts by a diligent and judicious observer, has enabled us to lay before our readers some materials for such an inquiry; and to direct the attention of our countrymen to the internal organization of a -power, which must be understood before it can be resisted ; and
with which we can neither be at peace nor at war in safety, till - we comprehend, in some measure, the nature of the foundations on which it rests. The book is entitled " Code de la Conscrip: tion,' and contains a chronological series of laws enacted since - the year 1798, on the subject of the Military Conscription of
France. It should bë remarked, that the new French jurisprua dence has been promulgated under the various titles of the Civil, Rural, Commercial, and Criminal Codès—and this, the "Code de la Conscription ;' which, no doubt, is, of the whole Napoleon Corpus Juris, most dear to the modern Justinian, and most odi. ous to his great and good subjects.' * · Ee 2
* This new jurisprudence, in the highest degree defective in the ory, and vexatious in practice, is created upon a principle which will be found to actuate most of their internal regulations,—that in a new government every thing should be new. Whoever,' says
Tacitus somewhere observes of Tiberius, that his speeches to the senate, by the involutions' of the style, at once betrayed the character of their author ; and seemed to shadow out the picture of his cautious, dark, and crooked policy. This volume, consisting of two hundred and seventy close printed pages, obscure and even unintelligible in all its clauses of lenity, and clear only in its provisions of rigour, might suggest a similar observation, and be traced to the ruminations of an ambitious and sanguinary despotism. In fact, the extreme difficulty which we (with no vulgar helps) have experienced in collecting the scope and import of this extraordinary volume, convinces us that, to the great majority of Frenehmen, the whole must be as incomprehensible as the mysteries of Eleusis, or the traditions of the Cabala. There is an oracle at hand, indeed, which will readily expound one half of the mystery. The Military Tribunals will soon make them understand the penalties annexed to disobedie ence; but they have, and can have no instruction as to their immunities. For it is a remarkable and most instructive fact, that notwithstanding the voluminous annotations daily issumg from the French press on every other branch of the Imperial jurisprudence, no one has yet been bold enough to publish a single word to elucidate the text, or blazon the moderation of the Code de la Conscription.
It is impossible even to glance at this volume, without being struck with the extreme anxiety which these statutes betray, to enforce conformity, both in the executioner and the victim. "The enumeration of cases is so complete as to preclude the possibili. ty of evasion. The public functionaries have their respective provinces most accurately marked out; and are furnished with disa tinct formulæ for every act of office. The severest and most unrelenting punishment is inflicted upon all who, from negligence, or corruption, or pity, give countenance to the slightest relaxa- ' tion. The diseases which give right to exemption are detailed with a jealous and disgusting minuteness. Precautions are multiplied without number to secure the persons of the conscripts ; and, while they are decorated with the title of Defenseurs de Ea Patrie,' the uniform tenor' of these laws, and the tone of
Machiavel, “ makes himself Lord of a state, (especially if he sus. pect his ability to keep it), must, as the best course, make every thing as nerv as himself ;-alter the magistracy, create new titles, confer new authorities, uncharter old corporations, advance the poor, impoverish the rich ;-that what is said of David may be said of him, “ He filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he sent empty Go way." Discorsi, lib. 1. c. 26.
bitter reproof which pervades them, afford conclusive evidence of a general aversion for the trade of war; and serve to convince us, that these Achilleses are not easily roused to arms, whatever enthusiasm they may afterwards display in the field. * Some few provisions are introduced on the subject of voluntary en.' Jistments; but, as -no bounty is allowed, it is, evident that they do not enter into the serious consideration of the government. The old compromise between the military exigencies and civil constitution of the state,-between the effeminacy of the rich and the wants of the poor,-between the ambition of the sovereign and the rights of the subject, is rejected with disdain by the Imperial republic; and the student is dragged relentlessly from his closet, and the peasant from his hiding-place, by an indiscrimi-, nating and unqualified coercion. But habit soon renders submission, if not cheerful, at least easy ; rapine furnishes sources of munificence and conciliation ; courage becomes a virtue of necessity; strength is acquired by discipline; military ardour kindles with competition ; and experience too fatally proves,
E e 3
- * Page 81 contains a proclamation, dated in the year 1800, of General Le Fobre, commander of the 15th and 17th military divi. sions. It commences in this way.
• Aux CONSCRITS. S. Les proclamations, les invitations qui vous ont été faites pour 6 vous, faire rentrer dans le chemin de l'honneur, n'ont pas produit « l'effet qu’on devoit en attendre.
• Vous avez été sourds et insensibles aux mesures paternelles du « gouvernement à votre égard. Je vous préviens de sa part, que ' celles qu'il prendra a l'avenir seront terribles. Les conscrits qui + ne seront pas rentré dans leur poste, à l'epoque qui va être pre"scrite, seront punis comme de laches deserteurs, des voleurs des ef6 fats militaires, des ennemis de la patrie. La force publique les at. 6 teindra dans les lieux les plus cachés. Elle se fera un devoir d'er. pulser de la societé des hommes vils qui la deshonorent,' &c.
Le Febre is now Duke, of Dantzig, and employed in the work cf blood in Spain. The style of his proclamation reminds us of a le'. ter addressed to the Commune of Paris in 1794, by one of his coadjutors, General Laval, who then commanded a body of French troops at Manheim, and is now at the head of the troops of the Cone federation of the Rhine. "Je commande devant Manheim. Nous ? continuons à ravager le rich pays de nos ennemis. Nous ne laissons
que les yeux pour pleurer. Vive la republique ! Nous sommes tous generaux sans-culottes de nom et d'effet. Nous t'adorons,
Ô Sainte Guillotine! que tu as fait de miracles; tu vaux mieux ' que cent mille hommes: ça va, ça ira! Vive la Montagne !! &c.
that, from such elements, armies may be compounded, alike formidable for discipline and valour.
We shall now proceed to lay before our readers a connected view of the law of the Conscription as it is now enforced, and to interweave with those statements such illustrations of the present state of the French empire, as may be necessary to develop the whole organization of conquest. No subject, at the present moment, can claim so terrible an importance. The levies of those Continental nations, which still preserve the forms of independence, are, it is said, to be moulded upon the same model; and the conscription is, undoubtedly, the vis motrix of that great en. gine to which France owes her aggrandizement, and on which she relies, for the future increase of her dominion. Her politi. cians exultingly apply to it the language of Vegetius concerning the Legion, that it seems rather an inspiration of divine wisdom, than the offspring of human invention. The plan of universal conquest, imputed originally to Louvois, and with more truth, perhaps, ascribed by Mr Burke to the Directory, is now, not merely digested into a regular system, but may actually be said to be in a course of execution; and to be proceeding with a steadiness and success, which must strike alarm into the most confident and unthinking. * The world, in the opinion of all Frenchmen, is to be again subdued by the discipline and the arts of Rome. Folard's Polybius, Machiavel on Livy, and Montesquieu on the Grandeur et Declination, are more than ever the manuals' from which they draw their lessons of perseverance and cunning. The reading classes of France have always been fond of historical research. Their republic made them passionate admirers, and enlightened imitators of antiquity; and their government, availing itself of this predilection for the victorious commonwealths of Greece and Rome, † soon taught them to overlook altogether individual interests, and tastes, and enjoyments, both in their foreign politics, and in the details of their internal economy. They
admit * Aare nowy mense wapece dooiesoss wrogowiles και Δειδιμον ενδοιη δε σαώσεμεν ή απολέσθαι.
of Considering what is good,' says Machiavel, “ I am of opinion, that the same fortune and prosperity may be expected by any prince or state which exercises the same arts and industry as the Romans liave done before them. '--" The way of enlarging their empire was peculiar to the Romans; and certainly no better is to be found. Nobody thinks of restoring the gold discipline of the Romans. None of our people will believe that it is possible to do now what was anciently done. They deceive themselves; and commonwealths, which Piave an'ambition of extending their empire, must do it by the ways of the Romans. '. We have their example before our eyes, and may follow it, if we please,” &c. (Discorsi, Lib. 2. c. 1, 4, &c.)