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ALISON'S HISTORY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
We have at length come to the press of all her policy has been peace volume of Mr Alison's History which to nations the great principle peace ; belongs especially to the exploits of and the great duty which, with more England. India and the Peninsula or less strenuousness, she has conare noble themes, and we congratu. stantly fulfilled, has been that of setlate our country on its having found a ting the example of freedom without historian equal to so large, and so license, and subordination without spirit-stirring an achievement. The slavery, and showing the exhaustless previous volumes led the reader through benefits of a limited monarchy and a scenes of extraordinary boldness, and pure religion. catastrophes which have not yet ceased In the French Revolutionary war, to vibrate through the universal frame we find discomfiture falling heavier en of Europe. It is due to this writer to Europe, in exact proportion as Engacknowledge, that he has performed land is excluded from the contest; his strange and difficult task with re- light returns as her orb emerges from markable effect. The world has the horizon, and it is only in her full teemed with narratives of the French ascendant that the sickliness and the Revolution ; yet none have given so shadows vanish together, and Europe ample yet so clear, so impressive yet is once more awakened to a sense of so authentic, a memoir of that terrible activity and ardour, to a view of the period. And we honour the vigorous noble capabilities which lie before her, perseverance and the practised skill, and, perhaps, to the loftier contemwhich, gathering their facts from all plation of those supreme sources of available sources, have compacted national hope and power, which man them, like the fragments of the mam. can neither create nor control. moth, into a vast and consistent frame, It is scarcely less remarkable that, that will give our posterity a concep- while the Revolution ravaged Europe, tion of the time when the earth was the force of England was preparing overrun by a gigantic race of violence, at the extremities of the earth the and the thoughts of men's hearts strength that was to restore it; and were evil continually.
that, while almost every continental It is remarkable that, wherever in diadem was either stripped of its doEuropean annals, for the last three minions, or condemned to hold them hundred years, the influence of Eng- on conditions degrading to the name land has begun to be felt, a great of sovereignty, England was adding amelioration has uniformly followed. kingdom to kingdom; and that, while It is not less remarkable, that this the national spirit and the martial powerful and beneficent result bas name of the Continent were perpebeen restricted to the last three hun- tually trampled down, a succession of dred years, the period of British Pro- victories were throwing new lustre testantism. Before that age, the round the British standard, and more character of our European influence expressly preparing for triumph the was wholly cast in another mould. soldier who was to fight the conquerEngland was the great disturber of ing battle for England and mankind. Europe. Always either torturing her- Mr Alison's preliminary view of the self by civil wars, or the Continent by scene in which those exploits were fierce invasions, her gallantry, disci- performed, gives an elegant and most pline, and public spirit, resembled the overwhelming conception of what may qualities of a great school of gladia. be done at once by the force of ability tors, mutinous at home, and merciless and the fortune of circumstances. when let loose on society. But, from “ The British empire in India, exthe period of the Reformation, a new tending now with few interruptions, heart and a new office seem to have and those only of tributary or allied been committed to her. The great im- states, from Cape Comorin to the
The History of Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution in 1789, to the Restoration of the Bourbons in 1815. By Archibald Alison, F.R.S.E., Advocate. Vol. VII.
Himalaya mountains, comprehending thus adopts the pursuit with a knowby far the richest and most important ledge of the contingeney. In fact, part of Southern Asia, is nearly four this is equivalent to a voluntary sertimes the area of France, and six times vice; for he volunteers the profesthat of Great Britain and Ireland, con- sion, of which the liability to serve in tains above a hundred millions of inha- the fleet, whenever he shall be called bitants, and yields a revenue of nearly upon, is the declared consequence. twenty millions sterling.” If such are He is not, like the conscript, dragged the geographical and financial features, from pursuits of a totally different orthe other details are equally astonish- der-forced suddenly, and against all ing. The war of 1826, when the the habits of his life and mind, into a Burmese and the Bhurtpore Rajah career new and distasteful. He is not were fought at the same time, raised made liable to be sent to war and its the Indian force to two hundred and perils, by the mere fact of his being sixty thousand native troops, of which born, which nobody can help; he is thirty.five thousand were cavalry, with made liable by the selection of the 1000 guns, and thirty-five thousand sea for his livelihood-a matter which English: and the peculiar and most was fairly a question of his own choice, admirable characteristic of this force and which, like every other matter of is, that it is wholly raised by voluntary our own choosing, must be taken with enlistment. And we have a proud all its encumbrances. Still we wish right to insist on this as a national that impressment were abolished by a honour. To raise armies without vio system of judicious arrangements and lating personal liberty, is a discovery public liberality, not as an encroachwhich never was made by any nation ment on liberty, which in principle before ; it has never been adopted, it cannot be; but as a source of painnor even been possible in any modern ful feelings, which it would be hunation. Even the wildest enthusiasm mane, and of course wise, to dry up of liberty in France, was never able altogether. to accomplish it. The Republican The geographical features of this armies were at first recruited by terror, vast country, give room for striking under a Republican tyranny; they contemplations.
- From the snowy were next recruited by the conscrip- summits of the Himalaya to the tion, under a despotism; the guillo green slopes of Cape Comorin, from tine was the recruiting-officer in the the steep ghauts of Malabar to the first instance—the dungeon in the sandy shores of Coromandel, it exsecond. England alone has ever been hibits a succession of the most noble able to produce a wholly voluntary or beautiful features. Stupendous army, and this single fact would mountain ranges, their sides clothed amount to an evidence of her sustain. with lofty forests, their peaks reposing ing and understanding the love of in icy stillness ; vast plains rivalling liberty beyond all other nations that the Delta of Egypt in richness, and, ever existed. The only spot that like it, submerged yearly by the ferseems to rest upon this fairest of all tilizing waters of the Ganges; here fame is, the impressment of seamen; lofty ghauts running parallel at a short · and, unquestionably, it is the wish of distance from the shore of the ocean the nation that this forced service to the edge of its waters, and marking shall be obviated by voluntary en- the line of demarcation between the listment as soon as possible. To plains on the seaside and the elevated effect this will be costly, but it must table-land, several thousand feet in be wise ; for there can be no pur- height, in the interior—those rugged chase too costly for the services of hills or thick forests teeming with the brave fleets and armies; and there riches of a southern sun. can be no policy in suffering the most « The boundaries of this mighty land skilful, hardy, and daring sailors in are of corresponding magnitude. The the world, to be seduced hourly into Himalaya and the mountains of Can the service of our rivals and enemies. bul and Candahar on the north; the But impressment, in its worst shape, splendid and rapid stream of the Inis a wholly different evil from the dus, seventeen hundred miles in length, conscription. The sailor, when he of which seven hundred and sixty are adopts his profession, is fully aware navigable on the north-west ; the deep that he may be impressed ; and he and stagnant Tyrawuddy, fourteen
NO, CCLXXXVI. VOL. XLVI.
hundred miles in length, winding its court or a garrison, was prepared by way to the Bay of Bengal through the the concerns of kingdoms raised and rank luxuriance of tropical vegetation kingdoms overthrown-was refreshed on the north-east; and the ocean, on and invigorated for the restoration of the coasts of Malabar and Coroman- a continent, and the fall of the mighty del, on the south.
despotism which held it in chains. where appears, in this highly favoured And a most cheering and ennobling region, in her most magnificent array ;
national result is, that all those benethe Himalaya mountains surmount- fits to England have been achieved ing even Chimborazo in elevation with still higher benefits to India. the Indus rivalling the river of the « Of all the marvels attending the Amazons in magnitude—the plain of British sway in the East, the most Bengal outstripping even Mesopota- wonderful is the extraordinary bless. mia itself in fertility-form some of ings which it has conferred on the inthe features of a country which, from habitants. Statistics, more irresistible the earliest times, has been the seat than eloquence, place this beyond the of civilisation, and the abode of opus possibility of a doubt. While under lence and magnificence."
its native princes, the state of capital A striking characteristic of our In- in India was so insecure, that twelve dian dominion is its developement of per cent was the common, and thirtythe original powers of the British six per cent no unusual, rate of inmind. The condition of society in terest ; under the British rule the inEngland affords room for little more terest of the public debt has, for the than one talent, political ability, as first time in Asiatic history, been it has scarcely more than one field for lowered to five per cent; and at that eminent distinction, Parliament. The reduced rate the capitalists of Arabia faculties of the soldier, the philoso- and Armenia daily transmit their surpher, and even the scholar, if they are plus funds to be purchased into the not often completely hidden, are, with Company's stock, as the most secure a few exceptions, singularly restrict- investment in the East." Another ed. It is probable that the men who admirable evidence follows. So comhave left names in our Indian history, plete has been the security enjoyed by might have passed through life un. the inhabitants of the British proknown in England. In England vinces, compared with what obtains Clive might have died at a desk, under their native rajahs, that the instead of being the founder of an em- people, from every part of India, flock pire; Warren Hastings solicited an to the three presidencies; and the exOxford professorship of Persian, which tension of the Company's empire, in would have extinguished the noblest whatever direction, is immediately folproconsul that England ever pro- lowed by a vast concourse of populaduced. If both Wellesley and the tion and increase of industry, by set. Marquis of Hastings must have been tlers from the adjoining native domiremarkable in any land, it was in In- nions. Another highly gratifying cirdia alone that they could have found cumstance is the decrease of crime. the materials for the ample super
From the returns of many provinces, structure of their fame. What Wel- widely separate in India, during the lington might have been as colonel of last thirty years, it appears that crime the 33d, and advancing through the has generally diminished one-half, in slow gradations of our limited force, many sunk to a sixth, by the strong we fortunately have not now to en- and steady discipline, and the acquire and regret. But India gave knowledged justice of England. him the true expanse for a genius On this we have all kinds of testimade for vastness of operation—the mony. *« Nothing can be more true place of exercise for a great con- gratifying to an Englishman than to trolling mind—the unrivalled field for travel through the central and western administrative faculties which might provinces, so long the theatre of merhave been buried in the details of a ciless war, and to witness the wonder. regiment—and the lofty experience ful change which has every where which, famished in the routine of a been wrought. Every village in this
* Sinclair's India; Heber's India, &c.
part of the country was closely sur- the man of wealth, or almost between rounded by fortifications, and no man the beggar and the noble, is giving ventured to go to the labours of the way to a rank of society which, in plough without being armed with his Europe, constitutes the strength of sword and shield. Now the forts are states, and in fact, as it is weak or useless, and are crumbling into ruin; powerful, vicious or vigorous, constisubstantial houses begin for the first tutes the source and the measure of all time to be built in the open plain ; virtue to the community, teems with cultivation is extended over the dis- the promise of incalculable good to tant and undefended fields; the use. India, and perhaps to every portion of less encumbrance of defensive armour that mighty theatre of providence ciris laid aside, and the peasant may cumscribed by the boundaries of Asia. fearlessly enjoy the wealth and com- There is but one gift more to be given forts wbich his labour enables him to out of the great overflowing treasury acquire."
which the supreme Giver of Good has And this is, beyond all question, given into the hands of England. No due wholly to the protection given by morality can be pure without a pure the British arms to the provinces from religion, and no religion can be at invasion, which used to be almost as once pure and permanent without a regularly looked for as the monsoon; church. India, left to the horrid the suppression of the various tribes idolatries and desperate pollutions of and gangs of hereditary robbers by her native worship, must always be exthe British police; and, most of all, posed, not merely to individual vice the general increase of the knowledge but to national convulsion. The late of justice and the sense of right pro- efforts made to plant the Church of duced by the honest, regular, and England in the Indian peninsula, must faithful action of British justice and have the most important effect; and British character among the people. those efforts must be persevered in.
“ Englishmen, who have so long They have already done valuable serbeen blessed with internal tranquillity, vice, and the influx of learned, indeand to whom the idea of an invasion fatigable, and loyally-minded men, presents only an indistinct view of whom India will receive from the bloodshed and rapine, can hardly con- Church, will be the essential means of
ve the delight which animates the implanting English principles in those Indian peasant, who has had, from mighty territories. . It must not be time immemorial, a wretched experi presumed that we can have any desire ence of the frightful reality, or the of forcing religion upon the people, gratitude which he feels to those who or of doing violence even to their preenable him to reap his harvest in se- judices. Conversion by compulsion curity, defend his home from profana- is contrary to the whole spirit of tion, and protect his property from Christianity. But it is only our duty the never-ending extortion of the to give the Indian the choice between powerful
truth and falsehood-between the reliThe results of this most fortunate gion of civilisation and the reliprotection are now beginning to dis- gion of barbarism ; between even play themselves with great rapidity. the habits of that civilized religion as Within the last twenty years, the pe- they see them set forth, too often huriod when the cessation of wars al. miliated, by the conduct of Europeans lowed the true influence of England calling themselves Christians, and the fairly to be felt, roads, irrigation, habits of true teachers, expressly apand villages, to an extraordinary ex- pointed to exhibit the true conduct tent, are exhibiting the protecting ac- of which Christianity inculcates the tivity of Government; the jungles precept, and demands the example. are giving way before the axe and the We say farther, that this especial ex. plough, and men are taking the place tension of religious knowledge is ac. of the lion and tiger; population is tually necessary even to the peace of swelling ; and, what is the most unex- India within our own borders. The pected, novel, and important feature of closer connexion which every day prothe entire change, a middle class, a duces, between England and the East, thing wholly unheard of in the East, the extinction of all the obstacles to is forming; the old distinction which settling, and even the growth of a knew nothing between the peasant and public mind, will make India a most
It is per
precarious possession, unless we shall is to go on making war, while any ally her to England by principle. Re- other power exists which may become, ligion is the only source of principle; in the contingencies of time, a formid. and a community of faith is the safest able enemy, not kingdoms but constrength of an empire. For this work tinents must be subdued, and devas. the dominion has been given: and as tation must go round the globe. We we fulfil our duty in this work, we doubt whether it has been ever claim. shall prosper or we shall fall.
ed by either Roman or Frenchman as “ To complete the almost fabulous the pretext for their sweeping havoc. wonders of our Oriental dominion,” The conquests of Rome were in geadds Mr Alison with equal truth and neral founded on a plain and unhesitaeloquence, “ it is only to be remem- ting determination to be masters of the bered that it has been achieved by a world. The conquests of Napoleon, mercantile company in an island of palpably originating in his mad pas. the Atlantic, possessing no territorialsion to be the first man in history force at home, who merely took into and on earth, never adopted the maxim their temporary pay, while in India, in any other shape, than as a state nesuch portions of the English troops as cessity imposed on his government could be spared from the contests of of employing so restless à people as European ambition ; who never had, the French in war, to prevent sedi. at any period, 30,000 British soldiers tion. “ The democratic spirit must in their service, while their civil and be crushed by power, or dazzled by military servants did not amount to glory," was the nominal ground of a 6000; the number of persons who policy which Louis-Philippe, delicate annually proceed to India under their as his task has been, has proved by so auspices is never 600 ; and the total long a period of unbroken peace, to number of white inhabitants who re- be wholly unnecessary. side among the two hundred millions fectly true that the British conquests of the sable population, hardly 80,000. in India have been progressive, and So enormous, indeed, is the dispro-' that they have been inevitable. But portion between the British and their their principle was not precaution, nor native subjects, that it is literally true, ambition, but absolute self-defence. as the Hindoos say, that if every There is not a fragment of evidence one of the followers of Brahma were that they ever commenced an Indian to throw a handful of earth on the war ; that they ever made war against Europeans, they would be buried · a peaceful neighbour, with a view to alive in the midst of their conquests.”
the future curtailment of its power ; But, fully coinciding in the author's or that they ever retained even the general views on this subject, we must conquered dominion, when it was posadmit with rather more reserve the re- sible to restore it to some one of its mark which he adopts from the French old possessors, without direct and noannalist, and the higher authority of torious hazard to the conquerors. The Gibbon, that, “ in a light of precaution, maxim, in fact, would be but a more all conquest must be ineffectual unless specious form of “ doing evil that it could be universal, since the increas- good may come,”-of taking the direcing circle must be involved in a larger tion of this world out of the hands of sphere of hostility.” Mr Alison thinks Providence—and extinguishing the o that there can be no doubt that this clear and comprehensive rules of naremark is well founded, and that it tional justice, in the obscure, selfish, sufficiently explains the experienced and desperate covetousness of conimpossibility which the British, like querors. all other conquering nations, have However the charge may stain the felt, of stopping short in their ca- Roman mantle, the Republican cosreer when once commenced.” The tume of Napoleon, or the ermine of misfortune of this maxim is, that it Nicholas, we must exonerate England would sanction the principle of per- from the principle. We are the more petual war for perpetual aggrandize- strengthened in this conviction, from ment_would entitle the bloody ambi- the force with which the able author tion of a Timour or a Napoleon to himself sustains it :-" The slightest the name of a providential impulse- acquaintance,” says he,“ with the anand would convert a furious caprice nals of the Company, is sufficient to into a sacred necessity. If a nation show that they stood, in every in