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many months elapsed before that Congress could be assembled which was to regulate the complicated concerns of the continent, and that the year closed without a declaration of its final award. Meantime various subordinate dispositions have been made under the influence of the ruling powers, which have afforded an insight into their principles and intentions; and changes have been effected in the condition of several countries, which will render the present year memorable in their annals, provided they provę as durable as they have been unresisted. The annexation of Norway to Sweden, of Belgium to Holland, and of Genoa to Sardinia, in all of these cases without any reference to the wishes of the inhabitants, may be regarded as exemplifications of the submission that will be required from the smaller powers to the determinations of the greater, in settling that balance which has for centuries been the unsolved problem of European politics. In the first of these instances, the spirit of an independent nation broke out in an appeal to arms, the hopelessness of which, however, caused it to be renounced with little bloodshed; and the patriotism of the defenders of their country has been rewarded by the grant of a free and equal constitution.
They who are led by their opinions and wishes to expect a regular progress towards melioration in governments, will probably be much perplexed in their feelings by the singular mixture of advance and re- . trogradation which the events of the year have exhibited. If, on one hand, they are gratified with the commencement made in some parts, of establishing representative constitutions on the basis of general rights; on the other, they must be severely mortified by the total failure of the great experiment of that kind conducted with apparent success by the Spanish Cortes, which has terminated in a cruel persecution of all the friends of light and
liberty in that country, and the restoration of the Court of Inquisition, and all the other supports of civil and ecclesiastical despotism. They will also derive no favourable augury from the zeal which the head of the Roman-catholic religion, on his resumption of the seat of authority, has displayed for the re-establishment of every institution tending to enslave the mind, and particularly from the revival of an order rendered odious to all the liberal of their own communion, by their servile devotion to the pontifical court, and their dark and subtle policy.
On the whole, however, the Philanthropist will gratefully record the year 1814, as the era of a respite from those evils, with which so large a portion of the civilized world has so long been afflicted ; and if the clouds are not yet dispersed, and a boding mind may alarm itself with presages of new tempests, something is gained to the cause of humanity by a quiet interval. This country has an additional cause of rejoicing, in the restoration of amity with a people destined, it may be hoped, to be durably connected with it by all the ties of origin, kindred, and mutual interest. The peace with the United States of America was peculiarly welcome, as it came, somewhat unexpectedly, at the conclusion of a year of more extended and destructive warfare than had hitherto been witnessed in this unhappy quarrel. It had, indeed, become evident that the continuance of hostilities could have no other con, sequence than the aggravation of reciprocal loss.
The return of peace has hitherto been more efficacious in reviving the spirits, than in alleviating the burdens, of the inhabitants of these islands. The latter effect was indeed scarcely to be expected whilst the accounts of a war expensive beyond all former precedent remained unliquidated, and the yet unsettled state of affairs rendered the maintenance of a large force on the continent a necessary measure
of of precaution. How soon any considerable reduction of the national taxation can be ventured upon by ministers is a doubtful point; but it seems generally agreed, that a continuance of expenditure on the scale of the latter years of the war, would prove à severer trial to public credit than it has ever undergone.
CHA P. III.