After a contest of twenty years’ duration, Britain, thanks to her insular position, her native energies, and the wisdom of her counsels, knows scarcely any thing of the calamities of war but from report, and from the comparatively easy pecuniary sacrifices required for its prosecution. No invader’s foot has polluted her shores, no hostile hand has desolated her towns and villages, neither have fire and sword transformed her smiling plains into dreary deserts. Enjoying a happy exemption from these misfortunes, she hears the storm, which is destined to fall with destructive violence upon others, pass harmlessly over her head. Meanwhile the progress of her commerce and manufactures, and her improvement in the arts, sciences, and letters, though liable, from extraordinary circumstances, to temporary obstructions, are sure and steady; the channels of her wealth are beyond the reach of foreign malignity; and, after an unparalleled struggle, her vigour and her resources seem but to increase with the urgency of the occasions that call them forth.
Far different is the lot of other nations and of other countries. There is scarcely a region of Continental Europe but has in its turn drunk deep within these few years of the cup of horrors. Germany, the theatre of unnumbered contests—the mountains of Switzerland, which for ages had reverberated only the notes of rustic harmony—the fertile vales of the Peninsula—the fields of Austria—the sands of Prussia—the vast forests of Poland, and the boundless plains of the Russian empire—have successively rung with the din of battle, and been drenched with native blood. To the inhabitants of several of these countries, impoverished by the events of war, the boon of British benevolence has been nobly extended; but the facts related in the following sheets will bear me out in the assertion, that none of these cases appealed so forcibly to the attention of the humane as that of Leipzig, and its immediate vicinity. Their innocent inhabitants have in one short year been reduced, by the infatuation of their sovereign, and by that greatest of all curses, the friendship of France, from a state of comfort to absolute beggary; and thousands of them, stripped of their all, are at this moment houseless and unprotected wanderers, exposed to the horrors of famine, cold, and disease.
That Leipzig, undoubtedly the first commercial city of Germany, and the great Exchange of the Continent, must, in common with every other town which derives its support from trade and commerce, have severely felt the effects of what Napoleon chose to nickname the Continental System, is too evident to need demonstration. The sentiments of its inhabitants towards the author of that system could not of course be very favourable; neither were they backward in shewing the spirit by which they were animated, as the following facts will serve to evince:—When