« PreviousContinue »
country is invaded by a force which, whether Portuguese or not, was armed, provisioned, and sanctioned in Spain, and that fact is of itself enough to bring that clause of the treaty into operation, which binds us to defend the territory of Portugal now, as we did against Buonaparte.
And are the resources of England, indeed, unequal to the strife? It is a question that never was even thought of, except by a few puny, narrow-minded calculators. The pride of the country was touched; and we unaffectedly believe, that if means were wanted to fit out the armament, there is not a man of property in the three kingdoms, who would not have come forward with his contribution to assist the Government. Such was the feeling excited; such the unanimity on this subject, that if the Government had ever any doubt of their strength, that doubt must have been turned into admiration of this noble people whom they have the glory to serve; and who are ready, at an hour's notice, to make every sacrifice that is necessary, for the support of their national honour.
The reader can hardly have forgotten that fine prophetic image which escaped from the lips of Mr. Canning, three years ago, at a dinner given to him by the Corporation of Plymouth. "Our present repose is no more a proof of inability to act, than the state of inertness and inactivity, in which I have seen those mighty masses (the ships in ordinary) that float in the waters above your town, is a proof that they are devoid of strength, and incapable of being fitted for action. You well know, gentlemen, how soon one of those stupendous masses, now reposing on their shadows in perfect stillness; how soon, upon any call of patriotism, or of necessity, it would assume the likeness of an animated thing, instinct with life and motion; how soon it would ruffle, as it were, its swelling plumage;-how quickly it would put forth all its beauty and its bravery, collect its scattered elements of strength, and awaken its dormant thunder." To this passage let the reader add the following as a commentary. It may, perhaps, be cited as the finest climax that exists in any language. "On Friday night, precise information arrived: on Saturday, the decision of his Majesty's government was sought and taken: on Sunday that decision was sanctioned by his Majesty: on Monday it was communicated to parliament and at the hour in which I have the honour of addressing the House, the troops are on their march!"-(Mr. Canning's Speech, Tuesday 12th December).
We have said, that the object of our Government, in dispatching an armament to Portugal, is to defend the territory of our ally from invasion, and not to support the Constitution. It is right that we should keep this principle steadily in view; for if, hereafter, it should be found that the constitution does not work well; if Don Miguel, upon coming to the throne, should modify and altogether abolish it: however we might feel upon the subject; however indifferent we might be in disavowing his conduct, still
we must remember, that it is an affair between himself and his subjects. If they should not be willing or able to defend their rights; or if in contending for them, they should be defeated, the honour of England will still remain uncompromised, so long as we adhere to the faith of treaties, and the principles which we have hitherto pursued, of not meddling with the internal concerns of independent states.
At the same time it is obvious, that as between England and the other powers of the Continent, our defence of Portugal looks extremely like a defence of her new constitution, and carries with it all the real consequences of such a measure. It is well understood, that all the sympathies of Englishmen are in favour of liberty, and that there is not one amongst us, who does not rejoice in the hope, that the preservation of that constitution is likely to be the result of the presence of British bayonets at Lisbon and Oporto. Let us see then how we stand with the holy alliance. We began by telling them that we approved of the principle of the confederacy, but that for constitutional reasons we could be no party to it. When one member of that alliance marched against the constitution of Naples, we told him that his proceedings were impolitic, and as a friend we advised him to desist. He marched on, and paid no attention to our advice. When a second member of the alliance threatened to march against the constitution of Spain, we began to be alarmed for our own liberties; we offered our mediation to the Cortes, and to France; both rejected it. We then exerted all our diplomacy to avert the impending blow; but in vain-the Spanish constitution was assailed by the French bayonets, and overthrown. The aggression wounded our feelings pretty deeply; we would however have risked the peace of Europe by interfering, and we remained at home. But Mr. Canning nobly compensated this injury to our pride, by "summoning the new world to repair the errors of the old," and the states of Spanish America rose at his call. The alliance trembled to its centre, and England went on firmly in her own course. Last came the homiunculus of the alliance, the contemptible Ferdinand, who, following the rule laid down, thought himself competent to superintend the affairs of the state contiguous to his own, and to subvert its constitution. But this was too much for us to bear, and we have decided on crushing his wretched instruments to atoms. Thus, then, having first refused to be a party to the holy alliance, we next advised against its operations, we next protested against them, and now we stand in arms to resist them. To borrow a phrase from the vocabulary of Napoleon, we may therefore say, that" the holy alliance have ceased to reign." Their sun is set-their influence is melted into the air. We rejoice in this victory of liberty over that crowned alliance of tyranny, not only for the sake of Portugal, but also for that of Spain, and of all Europe. Freedom, which had been put to flight for a while from the Continent, has at length found we trust, a firm footing in
one part of it, and will gradually make her way through the whole of its extent, as surely as the dawn brightens into perfect day. We rejoice particularly for the sake of our own country, as without reproach we may, in the prompt and decisive measures of our government; as we feel that it must exonerate our foreign diplomacy from a world of embarrassments and precautions, of measured phrases, and feeble remonstrances, in short, from a vacillating, compromising tone. We can now speak openly to the continental powers, and tell them that if they wish to preserve the peace of the world, not we, but they, are its only disturbers. They, with their secret tribunals, their hostility to the press, their horror of liberty, their dread of the progress of education and intelligence-they are the true peace-breakers, who set themselves up against the amelioration of mankind—against an instinct which nature has planted in the human breast. If they be wise, they will yield in time, and interweave the links of their governments with the interests and affections of their people. But if they still adhere to their blind career, they will infallibly find that the "popular principle," after the reinforcement which it has lately received, and will continue to receive in augmented strength, from the men of the seas, must of necessity come into direct collision with the monarchical principle," and remain committed with it, until either shall be destroyed. Then will come the "war of opinion," in which the old Continent will have to combat against the new Continent-the two Americas, with England in their front. The elements of this tremendous contest are already flying towards each other, like the vapours that hasten from all parts of the sky, to form the thunder cloud; they are taking their station, in obedience to an irresistible attraction, and as soon as the whole horizon is over-cast, we may expect a tempest, such as never before visited our sphere.
ART. IX. Friendship's Offering; a Literary Album. Edited by Thomas K. Hervey. 12mo. pp. 348. 12s. London. Relfe. For 1827.
MANY of our readers, no doubt, are already acquainted with the merits of this little volume. We regret that it reached our hands too late, to enable us to give it a place amongst its rivals; but as we have so fully noticed these, we should be guilty of an act of injustice, were we to omit all mention of Friendship's Offering.' Circumstances, arising, we understand, from the indisposition of its former editor, Mr. Hervey, delayed its publication; and it is candidly stated, in the preface, that to the same cause we are to attribute a certain air of negligence which pervades the greater portion of the work. Notwithstanding this inauspicious plea for indulgence, we must admit that the volume is an exceedingly interesting one, and contains, perhaps, a larger proportion of well written matter, than any other recent publication of the kind. We
ought, perhaps, to make an exception as to the poetry; for after three or four pieces from the pens of Miss Landon, Mrs. Hemans, the Rev. Mr. Dale, and Mr. Hervey, we find nothing in the shape of verse, that rises above mediocrity. But the prose matter is, upon the whole, the best that we have seen in any of these annual volumes. It is animated, striking, and replete with ability. Among the contributions to this department, two or three are by the author of "The Subaltern," one by Miss Mitford, one by Miss E. Roberts, two, we think, by the author of "Gilbert Earle," one by Mr. W. H. Harrison, and one by the author of "The Chronicles of London Bridge.' If we leave out the tale of 'The Precipice,' by the author of "Gilbert Earle," we should say that there is not one of the papers here alluded to, which may not be read with pleasure. In style, they are unexceptionable; each produces an effect upon the mind, and there is a degree of boldness in their outlines, which adds not a little to their combined, as well as their respective charms.
With respect to the plates, we must observe, that though the subjects are well chosen, and appropriate to such a work, they admit of no comparison with those in The Literary Souvenir. Comparisons may be disagreeable, but they are after all the readiest test, by which the value of similar productions may be ascertained. For instance, we have only to look at the engravings of Alexander and Diogenes in both these volumes, the editors of both having fixed by chance on the same painting, and we shall see in a moment the inferiority of the one to the other. Strange to say, the name of the same engraver, Mr. E. Finden, is subscribed to both plates; but it is evident that one is the work of the master--the other of some of his pupils. The Bower scene,' and 'The Coquette,' by C. Heath; The Brigand Chief and his Wife,' and 'The Contadina,' by W. Humphreys; and 'The View of the Castle of Monaco,' by E. Finden, are merely respectable as works of art. The real charms of the volume are to be found in its literature; and that, as we have already said, is, at least in its prose department, without a rival. There is a great deal of beauty and imagination in Miss Landon's verses, entitled The Spirit and the Angel of Death.' But as we have already in the present number given the reader several specimens of her poetry, we shall pass to Mr. Hervey's Address to Floranthe. It is impassioned, and fraught with melancholy associations, that seem to spring from the heart. There is also a classic colouring spread over this composition, which raises it much in our esteem; but at the same time it does not appear to us to be very original.
'Dost thou recal it?-'twas a glorious eve!
The air was precious with the breath of flowers,
The night she sought her shepherd, on the hill,
To look for him who comes not,—unlike thee,
'And thou, bright dreamer! thou to whom the stars
(But weep not!)-thou dost know how many years,
-We will not speak of that: but oh ! that eve,
I deemed thy love was boundless:-oh! the