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Affairs of Russia. Causes which led to the Rupture betwist Russia and France.
Preparations of the Parties. The French 'invade Russia. Progress of the Campaign till the Advance of the Invader upon Smolensko.
He campaign of the French in Rus. No person who knew any thing of sia will form one of the most interest. the character of Buonaparte, or the ing and extraordinary passages in his policy of the French government, tory, whether we consider the mighty could doubt for a moment as to the interests which depended on its issue, real nature of the treaty of Tilsit. the greatness of the means employed It was but a hollow truce, consented on both sides, the singular and striking to by the French ruler till he should events which marked its progress, or
be able to accomplish other more the momentous consequences with pressing objects of his ambition. That which it was followed. The greatest a lasting and friendly intercourse military power which modern Europe should have subsisted betwixt the ever saw had been concentrated for French government, in the plenitude the
purpose of achieving a conquest, of its power, and any state of Europe, which was expected to lay the whole not yet reduced to abject dependence, civilized world at the feet of the con was beyond all sober calculation; the queror. But all the efforts of genius, whole course of French policy, all the discipline, and numbers were rendered acts of the new government, whether abortive by the heroic courage and in peace or war, indicated a fixed depatriotism of the Russian people ; and sign of attaining universal empire. the vast preparations of the invader, Whether it was at any time very
wise, by which he had arrogantly calculated even upon the exclusive views of amon obtaining universal dominion, avail. bition, to cherish so hazardous a pro. ed him not in this season of unwonted ject, is of no importance; but that it trial. Defeated and disgraced, his was really entertained, acted upon, and armies annihilated, and himself a fugi- even avowed, is beyond all dispute. tive, he was compelled not only to The Emperor Alexander must have abandon his unlucky enterprise, but been aware of this; he could not be to leave his former conquests to the blind to what the humblest politicians unsparing vengeance of his enemies, in other parts of Europe had perwho, gathering strength as they ad-ceived ; and how much soever he might vanced, and animated by a succession have been misled by the artifices of of triumphs, were at last enabled to the enemy, and a momentary feeling execute an awful retribution for all of dislike towards England, he could the wrongs which they had endured. not long remain in error as to the
course of policy which he was called indignation or despair. The strength upon to pursue towards France. Nor of Russia could seldom indeed be rencould he be ignorant that his power dered efficient at any distance from the gave him a fair chance, on the first confines of the empire; but it might favourable opportunity, of performing prove not the less formidable when what his duty urged him to attempt these confines should be passed, and -the reduction of the influence of her enemies should be reduced to comFrance, which had spread so much bat on her own soil, and under all the misery over the continent. Russia. disadvantages which the extent of the had not indeed made a very conspicu- country and the severity of the clious figure in European wars, waged mate presented to an invader. at a distance from her own frontiers; The military talent of the Russian and many persons rashly concluded, commanders had not, generally speakthat she was therefore impotent as to ing, appeared of the first order in the resources, and wholly insignificant in great battles to which they had lent the arrangements of European policy. their aid since the French revolution;
No intelligent Russian, however, could but it was to be expected that the o commit so gross an error; while the leading men of such a country would,
Russian government must have been in extremities, display that sort of miI aware of the ample resources of the litary genius which, in the operations
empire when the hour of trial should of a protracted, defensive warfare, arrive, and ought never to have sunk, might overpower the first tacticians like the rulers of feebler states, into of the age. Such a country'as Rusdespondency. It is true, indeed, that sia, with a population brave, hardy, Russia, removed at so great a distance and persevering, could not be sudden' from the ordinary theatre of European ly conquered ; it must, any
circumwar, had exercised but little controul stances, have made a long and despeover its results; that she had been rate resistance; and its permanent subfound tardy and impotent in the de.jugation appeared utterly impossible to fence of Germany, and had of late all reasonable men. Such, however,
sacrificed her political character by a was the melancholy extravagance of monstrous union with the common many persons, that they considered the
enemy. Her alliance had often been conquest of Russia as certain, when #unavailing to the continental nations Buonaparte left Paris with the avowed
struggling against France, because her purpose of undertaking this hazardous troops could seldom be brought into enterprise; and if he condescended, in
the field till the contest had been de- this instance, to listen for a moment i cided; because, when they did reach to the advice of his servile admirers, the scene of action, their bravery was they may justly be charged with ha
rendered unavailing by defective ar-ving contributed to precipitate his #rangements; and because the poverty downfal.
of the Russian treasury constantly The Russian government was senprevented the military energies of the 'sible of its real condition of the nacountry from developing themselves. tural resources of the country-the This casual weakness arose out of devoted patriotism of the people--the the general condition of Russia ; but means of defence which they possess it
was not of such a nature as to create ed—the rashness of the assailants, and, a suspicion of her real strength, when above all, of the impossibility of long E it should be drawn out under a better averting the struggle into which the system, or roused into full vigour by circumstances of Europe must one
day hurry Russia with France. They throughout the continent; to seduce knew that neither the treaty of Tilsit, or compel all nations to give them el
other obligation, how solemn fect, and in this manner to dissolve for soever, could avert for a moment the ever the commercial relations of Great vengeance of Buonaparte against Rus. Britain with continental Europe. To sia, whenever circumstances might fa- induce the nations over whom he dared vour its execution. They felt that the not yet avow a direct influence, to actreaty, whatever nominal advantages cede to this monstrous system, he init might have conferred on Russia, had vented many absurd fictions ;
he in reality sealed her degradation ; and presented England as the eternal enethey detested the odious restraints my of the continent, the tyrant of the which threatened their country with seas, the disturber of the peace
of ruin.-When Buonaparte entered into Europe, and the foe of the civilized the treaty of Tilsit, his mind was fill. world. He strenuously insisted on the ed with the arrogant notion that he principle said to have been recognized was destined to effect the downfal of by the treaty of Utrecht, that free England, which he hated, as the asy- ships should make free goods, and lum of liberty, the successful enemy vainly supposed that in time of 'war he of France, and the great barrier to his might thus neutralise the force of the projects of ambition. He knew that British navy by providing for the pera direct attack on England was alto. manence of the commercial relations gether hopeless while her navy trium- of France. He called his system phed on the ocean ; while her armies “ The Continental System," as if he maintained a pre-eminence . not less himself had already been absolute conspicuous, and the stability of the master of the European continent ; government was fixed in the affections thus betraying his conviction, that noof the people. He had threatened an thing short of an entire combination invasion, which he soon perceived that of the continental powers, under one he could never accomplish ; for he was undivided scheme of despotism, could instantly confined to his own ports by ever affect the prosperity and grandeur feets which he did not venture to of England. He had introduced many meet; his gasconades were in a few singular conditions into the treaty of weeks answered by the appearance of Tilsit ; but that by which Russia more than half a million of men in bound herself to accede to the conti. arms ; and England thus exhibited to nental system, and to exclude British him the exasperating spectacle of a produce and manufactures from her mighty and generous nation, defying all ports, he was chiefly anxious to enhis menaces. Finding all direct efforts force. The Emperor of Russia soon to subjugate her impracticable, he re found that he had been deceived when solved on measures for gradually ex. he agreed to this article, and that he hausting her resources. Such was the would be compelled to violate the origin of the Berlin and Milan decrees, treaty, even should the French ruler by which the commerce of England hesitate to set him the example. was excluded from the continent. But But Buonaparte did not thus hesi. while the edicts of Buonaparte were.
tate. Long before the commercial imited in their operation to the states relations betwixt England and Russia over which he exercised a direct-con- underwent any modification, or at least troul, they were found to be in a great before such modification was made the measure ineffectual. His plan, there subject of remonstrance and complaint
, fore was to render them general he seized the duchy
and thus insulted the Russian emperor, der his own immediate care as protect both as the ally and the near relative or of the confederation of the Rhine ; of the family which was dispossessed. and, above all, he maintained, that this The treaty of Tilsit could not, indeed, act of oppression, although it might have lasted much longer, because it seem a violation of the terms, was yet was unjust and absurd in its provisions, agreeable to the spirit of the treaty of and must have proved fatal to Russia Tilsit. Even had his cause been good, and to Europe ; yet the impatience his arguments were too refined to make and rapacity of the aggressor deserve a strong impression in his favour; the to he recorded. It has been often re terms of a treaty form a much safer marked, that engagements extorted and more palpable basis of interpretaby violence seldom survive the unhappy tion than its alleged spirit ; and the combination of circumstances in which majority of mankind are happily more they have been created; but the im- accessible to plain arguments than to politic haste with which the French logical subtleties. Every one could ruler in this instance proceeded to ma read and comprehend the terms of the nifest his contempt forallengagements, treaty of Tilsit, while few could judge even those which he had so great an of its spirit ; because few persons could interest in maintaining, was truly cha- pretend to understand the whole scope racteristic of his nature. The Russian ofthese momentous negociations.--The government protested against this act rashness of Buonaparte in the seizure of faithless violence; and the unsatis- of the duchy of Oldenburgh operated factory answer of the French minister just as the vices and follies of conqueamounted to this,—that a remonstrance rors have often done before, by assist. by any power against its ally had no ing to rescue the world from their typrecedent in the history of nations ! ranny, and to open the
of mankind It was strange policy in Buonaparte, to the real character of their ambition. if he expected the aid of Russia, and Is has been usual with the revolufelt reluctant, as he well might, to tionary governments of France to afhazard every thing in an attempt to fect moderation after their greatest sucsubdue her, thus to authorise, by his cesses, and to enter into treaties which own example, a breach of the treaty were calculated to impose on surroundon her part. Yet such was his arro- ing nations a belief of their sinceri. gance or infatuation, that he furnished ty. They have often agreed to evaRussia not only with plausible pre cuate countries of which, at the date texts, but with sound reasons for vio. of the treaty, they had military poslating a treaty which she must at all session ; but they have taken care at events have speedily determined not to all times either indirectly to secure the observe. He pretended that the posses. subserviency of such countries, or sion of the duchy of Oldenburgh was have most shamefully violated their necessary to enable him to execute his engagements, and resorted to a thoucontinental system ; and, after his own sand pretexts for retaining possession manner, he proposed that the family, by violence, long after other nations whom he had thus driven out, should had sunk into security and repose. receive a compensation for their losses In this point Buonaparte has been by the robbery of their neighbours. their constant and successful imitator; He affected great surprise and indig- and although he stipulated by the nation that the emperor of Russia treaty of Tilsit, that his troops should should presume to interfere with the evacuate Prussia, it is probable that no affairs of this duchy, which was un. one but the Emperor Alexander him.
self was surprised at the treacherous a deep interest in commercial affairs, refusal to fulfil this condition. Prus- and naturally love to cultivate a friend. sia, long after the peace of Tilsit, re. ly intercourse with England, which, of mained in the military occupation of all other countries, is best calculated the French ; and this flagrant breach to supply their wants, and relieve them of treaty formed another ground of of their surplus produce. The cessacomplaint on the part of Russia. The tion of intercourse with Great Bri. sophistry to which Buonaparte resort- tain threatened ruin to the nobility ed in defence of his conduct will be and landholders of Russia ; and they afterwards noticed; but in this sum are supposed to have resisted the conmary of the circumstances which pre. tinental system with firmness' and vicipitated hostilities betwixt these great gour. The emperor could not have empires, it is important to remark, disregarded their remonstrances, even that the French ruler had been guilty if he had been insensible to the degra. at all events of two very palpable vio- dation of his country; and he could lations of the treaty of Tilsit, which not, therefore, have continued the sus. were of themselves quite sufficient to pension of commercial intercourse with have justified the war for which Russia England, even although the renewal had been making silent preparation. of it threatened him with the whole
The chief ground of quarrel assign- vengeance of his new ally. ed by the French, was the infidelity It was a singular feature in the poof Russia to her engagements respect. licy of Buonaparte, that, although he ing the continental system. The Em. insisted on the most rigorous execution peror Alexander could not be long by his allies of the Berlin and Milan deceived on this subject; and even if decrees, he presumed himself to set he had been rash enough to attempt en
them at defiance. The pressure of forcing that absurd system through the continental system on France was out his dominions, he would have been intolerable ; the sufferings of the peosoon awakened from his delusion by ple surpassed all endurance ; and, what the discontent and resistance of his was more likely to influence a despotic people. He who should attempt in government, the revenue sustained the the present state of society to destroy most serious defalcation. Still affecting trade, would undertake to oppose all an adherence to the principle of his the propensities and habits of man- decrees, Buonaparte in the meantime kind; and to sink them once more in ventured on very frequent relaxations barbarism and misery. There are in of them in practice; he granted licences all countries many degenerate persons under which considerable importations who care but little as to the nature from England took place, and he thus of the goverriment under which they relieved the growing embarrassments live, but all can feel and will avenge of his treasury. Surely the Emperor any attempt to deprive them of their of Russia was entitled to follow his comforts and luxuries. The most example, and to abate in some measure barbarous nations cannot, in the pre- the sufferings of his people ; nor could sent state of the world, be indifferent Buonaparte with any semblance of justo regulations of trade ; for there is tice have objected to this course, even: none so rude and barbarous, as not to if the treaty of Tilsit had bound the have some share in the benefits which Russian emperor to go hand in hand it bestows. The Russians, altho with him to accomplish the humilianot perhaps a very refined people, have tion of England. His wants were