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PRINTED FOR W. OTRIDGE AND SON; LONGMAN, HURST, REBS,
THE History of Europe for 1809 illustrates the supe
riority of dexterous design, and military skill over physical force, in the hands of mere empiricism, seconded by courage and valour. The maxim that understanding is better than gold was never perhaps before placed in so strong a light by the history of one year. We sicken at the recollection of great ends pursued in vain with small means, and the attainment of only little ends by means of iinmense magnitude. On the Tagus we see the victors fleeing before the vanquished, after a bloody battle, in which success was fruitless but of which the loss would have been total destruction : on the Danube the glorious victory at Aspern and Essling, followed quickly by the ruin of the conquerors : on the Scheldt victory and even conquest producing only calamity and disgrace : and in the north of Spain, all the resources of military courage, fórtitude, and skill exhausted to secure, though with great sacrifices, the escape of an army from a situation of imminent peril, in which the ignorance and improvidence of government had involved it.
Yet a British subject would fain hope, that the high reputation for intrepidity and gallantry acquired by the
British officers and soldiers in Egypt, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and wherever they were not overpowered by superiority of numbers, will not be lost to his country. , It excites confidence as well as admiration in our allies, and those who may be disposed to become our allies, and in the same proportion tends to check and awe the conquering boldness of the enemy. Nor will even our discomfitures and sufferings be wholly lost, if the experience of what is past inspire greater wisdom into our future councils. Our losses, great as they are in blood and treasure, may be in some degree compensated by an augmentation of moral power, greater political prudence and sagacity, and a thorough conviction on the part of botli ministers and generals, that nothing succeeds in war without a plan, a plan profoundly combined, and well digested.
The event most auspicious to the British empire, in 1809, is one of an incidental nature, and which it does not appear that government had at all in contemplation. We allude to the liberation of some islands on the west of Greece, from the oppression of France, and the restoration of the Government of the Septinsular Republic* This achieve ment followed up by such measures as may Britannize, as it were, all the other Grecian islands, may prevent the French interest from ever becoming paramount in that quarter. By pursuing a system of maritime and insular policy, a system not of conquest, but of friendship and alliance with the vast continent of America, and the
* Vide Hist. of Europe, p. 228.
islsnds in the seas washing the coasts of Europe, it may be possible to obtain equivalents for all the usurpations of Buonaparte ;--and, as far as Great Britain is concerned, to Tender his power, immense as it is, completely harmless.*
Thus the year 1809, is principally characterized, by a Briton, on a consideration of present interests and views.
But on casting our eyes back over long intervals of time, and taking in the whole horizon of history, we contemplate the year 1809, chiefly as it is marked by the total downfall of Imperial Rome, both political and ecclesiastical. The venerable trunk which had hitherto continued to send out some small shoots, was finally pulled up by the long-lingering roots. So long as the power
of France was in some measure balanced by that of Austria, there were still some hopes that the German, that is, what yet semained, or the shadow of the Roman Empire, might be restored. While the temporal power, dignity and splendour of the Roman pontiff remained, nay even while he was suffered to remain at Rome, he might still convoke councils, issue decrees, and appear in all respects as the head of the Roman Catholic church. Austria was humbled by the battle of Wagram, beyond all hope of her ever rising again to the rank she had held among nations. The Pope was led captive into France.
The remains of Romans arts, survive those of Roman institutions. And when the most magnificent edifices and
* We consider it as a duty to the public, to recommend attention to the admirable Tracts of Mr. Leckie on this subject. For an account of his Foreign Affairs, &c. for 1809, see page 936 of this volume.