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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IX. 1812-1819
William Godwin, Draft of a letter to a newspaper, 18 April 1815

Contents Vol. I
Ch. I. 1756-1785
Ch. II. 1785-1788
Ch. III. 1788-1792
Ch. IV. 1793
Ch. V. 1783-1794
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Ch. VII. 1759-1791
Ch. VII. 1791-1796
Ch. IX. 1797
Ch. X. 1797
Ch. XI. 1798
Ch. XII. 1799
Ch. XIII. 1800
Contents Vol. II
Ch. I. 1800
Ch. II. 1800
Ch. III. 1800
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Ch. V. 1802-1803
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
Ch. VIII. 1811-1814
Ch. IX. 1812-1819
Ch. X. 1819-1824
Ch. XI. 1824-1832
Ch. XII. 1832-1836
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Produced by CATH
April 18, 1815.

Sir,—I observe in your paper of yesterday a statement that the Allied Sovereigns are to issue from Frankfort a declaration ‘that the people of France are at perfect liberty to judge for themselves, that their territory shall be unviolated, and their public institutions held sacred, and hostilities only to ensue if they shall determine to submit to the authority of one individual.’ (Buonaparte, whom these sovereigns think proper to proscribe.) And this seems to be regarded as a safe and happy expedient, by
which the Allies are to get rid of the odium of interfering in the internal affairs of an independent nation.

“Now, sir, I beg to suggest, through the medium of your paper, that this is a refinement, rendering the interference of foreign powers in the internal affairs of a nation ten thousand times more intolerable and odious than if it were brought forward in any other form. They might issue a declaration in which they should state, beside the hereditary indefeasible right of the family of the Bourbons, that they are the choice of the whole French nation—that they have been expelled by an insignificant faction with arms in their hands, and that the Allies march accordingly to rescue thirty millions of men from an ignominious yoke, and to preserve them from being dragooned by a military despotism into subjection to a tyrant who is detestable in their eyes: and such a declaration, though containing many falsehoods, would be to a certain degree according to rule, and would undoubtedly be infinitely less insulting than the declaration your paragraph announces . . . .

“Why is this man selected as the individual they may not choose? The selection is not made at random: the name is not brought forward because the person is indifferent. He is named because the Allies find the greatest reason to fear that he will be the man of their choice, and that an infinite majority of the French people are eager to adhere to him. Never did a sovereign ascend the throne of any nation under such astonishing instances of general favour, as Buonaparte has just now ascended the throne of France. The Allies therefore say to the French people, Take any course you please, we promise not to interfere: only there is one course upon which your hearts appear to be set, and that we interdict you.

“Is it possible that such a declaration should not render Buonaparte infinitely more dear to the people of France than he ever could be before? Does it not show them their honour as bound up with him, and their independence and character as a nation, as invaded by a pretended attack upon him.

“How will the Allies say that the French shall rid themselves
Buonaparte? His return among them has re-animated them as a nation; they fear no longer those principles of counter-revolution and disturbance of the established system of property which they saw secretly at work among them; they have restored him to the throne on the most auspicious conditions for general benefit; they have obtained for themselves a sovereign whose energy of character is capable of rendering them suspected among foreign powers. But the Allies are regardless of all this. They say, We come to confer on you the blessings of a civil war; form yourselves into knots and cabals, try secretly to gather a strength that shall overcome the power that now reigns over you, and amidst plots and cabals, and conspiracies and treasons, every man arming himself against his neighbour, we will come with our Uhlans and Cossacks and freebooters, and bless you with our presence.”