Page images

have adopted views, not merely tinged perhaps, were not to be expected unwith the ordinary weakness of human der the pressure of such formidable judgment, but degraded by utter igno- difficulties. Such a scene every man rance of the subject, by a weak preju- in the House, every man in the coundice against all that belonged to a try, must hail with the liveliest satismanly policy, by an absurd homage faction; and what every generous heart for the enemy, and by a miserable must wish should be done in support powerlessness of feeling with the feel- of so glorious a cause, his Majesty's ings of England. With Whiggism at Ministers would feel it their duty to do. the head of affairs, the great Spanish With regard to what information they Insurrection would have been extin- had received of the designs or the hopes guished in its own blood, the Conti- of those brave and resolute men, who, nent in chains to this hour, and France, in defence of their country's independunder the Napoleon dynasty, the terror ence, were exposing themselves to and the tyrant of Europe. If we had everything which a powerful and sanpeace, it would have been purchased guinary tyrant could devise or inflict, by some wretched humiliation, and it it could not be expected that he should would have been only a hollow truce now unfold it. His Majesty's Minipreparatory to a war of extermina- sters were fully sensible of the extion. If we had war, it would have treme importance of this event, and been a lingering and hopeless struggle he trusted they would be found to act against power accumulating day by accordingly."-Debate of January 30, day; war without energy and with- 1808. out end ; reluctant, fearful, success- I give this fragment as an evidence less, and desperate. Or, if we are to of the early decisiveness of Admini. believe that no man born on the soil stration. While those who had insoof England could thus abuse her lently and exclusively assumed the cause, what is the alternative? We name of friends of freedom, were feea must decide that the Whigs, in their bly retracting, or culpably resisting, bitter reprobation of our Peninsular the English Cabinet, with a boldness and policy, were totally insincere ; that sagacity that do them matchless honour, they inwardly honoured what they took up the cause of liberty, bound publicly abjured; and that their lan- themselves at once to the Spanish cause, guage was only one of the miser- and, on the strength of their fidelity able artifices of party, eager to attract to that cause, demanded to be tried partizans, and, for the sake of a few before the nation. The trials of this contemptible votes, to vilify the name, fidelity must not be forgotten. The and hazard the fates of their country. Spanish cause was, after the first burst

In memorable contrast to those dis- of triumph, uniformly disastrous. In astrous expositions, I shall give some two years from the French Invasion, extracts from the sentiments of the the whole military force of Spain was present head of the administration; a annihilated; her armies and generals man whose integrity, public spirit, had been trampled like dust under the and knowledge of government, are

heels of France, her civil government honoured beyond panegyric, in the re- was in the hands of Napoleon, her spect and confidence of the nation. revenue was gone, her colonies were In the year 1808, on the first break- in revolt ; a French army, greater than ing out of the Spanish Insurrection, the greatest that had broken down when the prospects and power of martial Germany, had flooded indoSpain were yet all uncertainty, and lent, unwarlike Spain. The roots of France was sitting on the height of a regular resistance had been burnt up. dominion which seemed to defy all re- The powers of popular resistance were sistance and all casualty, Lord Liver- unknown. But the honourable decipool thus threw down the pledge which sion of England had been taken ; and he and his fellow-ministers have since while Opposition hung their ominous so splendidly redeemed.

heads over the ruin, and almost tri“With respect to Spain, the people umphed in it as a proof of their proof that country had manifested a spirit phecy, Ministers renewed their pledge and determination to resist the at- to Spain, and manfully foresaw her tempts of their invaders, which would victory. have done honour to the most glorious In Lord Liverpool's speech, in the period of their history, and which, commencement of 1809, this sentiment is expressed with the feeling the value of which the Spanish hisand dignity of a leader of national tory ought to teach us duly to apprecouncil.

ciate. “ All that they were now called upon to do, was to record a public “ The cause, in itself, was most inavowal of their determination not to teresting to the best feelings of the hudesert that cause, which the govern- man mind; it offered the last chance ment and the country had espoused, of salvation to the continent of Euand that they would not be so far dis- rope; and, taken in a more contracted mayed by those reverses which had point of view, our own immediate sebeen experienced, and which were çurity was in some measure involved from the beginning to be expected, as in its fate. He asked, then, if nothing to renounce that system of support to was to be risked in support of a genewhich both his Majesty and the na- rous ally? if nothing was to be risked tion were most solemnly pledged, and for the re-establishment of the general in which it was, in consequence of these tranquillity? In fine, if nothing was reverses, even become a more sacred to be risked for our own safety and in, duty to persevere."

dependence ?”-Debate of June 19, His Lordship’s reasoning upon those 1809. disheartening results of the first Spa- On the moving of the address in the nish campaigns, is eminently British. chief debate that took place in 1809, Where Opposition found the ruin of Lord Grey had inveighed against adthe Peninsular cause, he finds its ministration, on the ground that they strength, and invigorates his principle had not sufficient reason, in the spirit by an appeal to the recollections of of Spain, for involving England in its alall those glorious struggles, in which liance. His Lordship went over the beatthe spirit of nations persevered and en track of“ husbanding and preserving triumphed against oppression. our resources," till some great unex

“ Those who inferred that the cause pected success should excite our libewas desperate, from those disasters rality. It was “no sudden ebullition," which had already happened, reasoned (such was this statesman's conception upon a most contracted and imperfect of the rising of Spain,)“ that should view of the relative situation of the have led us to depart from our econoparties engaged in the contest. He en- my." His Majesty's Ministers should treated those who were inclined to de, have waited to see a regular and vigorspond, to consult the records of histo- ous administration established in Spain, ry, and to review those instances of as well as a spirit of proper resistance nations, who had been compelled to in the people, before they assisted the struggle for their independence in cir- nation. Or, to give the simple interprecumstances similar to those in which tation of opposition wisdom, Ministers the Spaniards were now placed. There should have seen the Spaniards triumit would be found, that nations, often phant before they rendered them assistmaintaining the struggle for ten or ance ; France ought to have been retwenty years, in the course of which pelled before a British trigger was pullthey had been almost uniformly worst- ed; and the famous proclamation of ed in battle, had eventually succeeded, the 16th of December, 1807, by which in spite of the triumphs of their adver- the nations made common cause, should saries, in securing the object for which have been postponed till it could have they contended. It was difficult to con- been published upon the Pyrenees. ceive any situation which would war- Yet, to do justice to Opposition, it rant better hopes of ultimate success should be remembered, that they althan that of Spain at this day. The lowed, " if there was a proper spirit in people were unanimous in their resist the people, assistance should not be ance to the invader; and it was the wholly withheld.” I acknowledge the only instance since the French revolu- generosity of this allowance; but when tion, in which a whole people had ta- I come to ascertain its extent, and find ken up arms in their own defence. Lord Grey protesting against“ lavishThe territory of Spain was as large as ing the national resources,” or “sendthat of France within its ancient li- ing an army,” as the very “ acmé of mits, and the country possessed many madness," I delight myself in imagilocal advantages which were extremely ning the mighty co-operation which favourable to its defence-advantages, withholds both men and money, and

a man

do homage to the liberality of Whig, to expect that the first efforts of the gism. This speech worthily closed Spanish people, contending with such with a due bending of the knee before an enemy, would be crowned with Buonaparte. Commencing with con. unqualified success; that no discomtempt of our ally, it suitably closed fitures, no disasters, no reverses, would with panegyric of Napoleon. “He retard and embarrass the early and had all the opposite qualities of Fabius crude operations of undisciplined braand Marcellus ;" he rivalled “ Hanni- very, when brought down into the bal in the application of his means, open plain to contend with the supeand was exempt from his only fault, rior discipline, the superior strength, that of not improving by his past ex- and the superior generalship, of such a perience." To this fervour of praise power as France. No! Weak as the what could lend an additional glow ? noble Earl might suppose ministers, Lord Grey finds it in the contrast- they were not yet guilty of calculating ed rashness, levity, and hazard, of Mi- with certainty upon impossibilities. nisters. Napoleon" never enters into They did not expect that such a cause an enterprize without a calculation of as the cause of Spain, to be fought for consequences; he never exposes his for- with such an enemy as the Ruler of tune to risk, on the desperate chance of France, could be determined in one a distant possibility of success.” Such campaign.” is Lord Grey's penetration into cha- He then turns to the proof from racter ; so shallow, prejudiced, and history, that national resistance confeeble, was his estimate of that great tains the sure seeds of triumph. military gambler ; so little capable was “ I cannot feel lukewarm in my this Whig of seeing human fallibility hope, that the efforts of Spain will be in the bloodiest enemy of human free crowned with ultimate success. When dom. The Marquis Wellesley at once your lordships consider the great popronounced Napoleon to be “ pular revolutions that have occurred, prone to great hazards, and sure to be have they ultimately succeeded with ruined by his rashness in the end.” out great vicissitudes ? Switzerland

Lord Liverpool's answer to Lord and Holland are instances of this; Grey's singular speech was worthy of but, above all, America. In that fatal the man and of the cause.

contest with America, we had gained “ The noble Earl (Grey) had cen- every battle, we had taken every town sured his Majesty's government for which we had besieged, until the capprecipitation. He had declared it his ture of General Burgoyne, and yet the opinion, that they ought to have wait- Americans ultimately succeeded in the ed to ascertain the probability of the arduous contest. In the present imsuccess of patriotism in Spain, before portant struggle, do not the extent they offered the Spaniards assistance. and nature of

the country afford a hope This was a most extraordinary opi- of success? Does not its population nion. What! when the feeling of re- forbid despair ?" sistance and oppression was so strong He then turns, with brief but vigoand so general in Spain, would it have rous sarcasm, to the pluckless policy been honourable to the British chas of the Whig year. racter, had his Majesty's ministers “ The noble Earl (Grey) concluded told the gallant Spaniards, ' We will his speech with a censure on the connot give you aid, while you are most duct of his Majesty's ministers. The in want of it, while your efforts at noble Earl may not approve of our emancipation are in their infancy; measures ; so neither do I approve of but we will defer our assistance till his counsels. I do not approve of you are in full strength, and need it those sublime operations in Egypt, at not. Had such been the language of Buenos-Ayres, at Constantinople, and his Majesty's ministers, they would other places, that emanated from the have indeed deserved the reprobation wisdom of those with whom the noble of every man in the country:

Earl had been used to act." Having thus cleared up the princi, He then closes with a lofty and ple of the co-operation, he rapidly re- feeling peroration on the motives of futes the charge of rash expectation. British sympathy and Spanish resist

“ His Majesty's ministers, in embarking in that cause, were not so “ Upon the whole, I have the satisweak, so improvident, so foolish, as faction, in common with the rest of



his Majesty's government, to reflect, Because it was the very crisis of Euthat, whatever may be the consequences rope ; because it was more than of the struggle in which we are em- -it was a conflict of the principles of barked, we have not lost the confidence freedom with tyranny—a great trial of the Spanish people; we know that of the question of national independevery true Spanish heart beats high ence against universal domination ; for this country; we know that, what- because such was the palpable and inever may happen, they will not accuse trinsic interest of the contest to Euus. Submission may be the lot which rope, to England, and to freedom, that they are fated to endure in the end; those who could not honour the rebut they do not impute to us the cause sistance of Spain, or see its vital conof their misfortunes. They are sen- nexion with the hope of nations, must sible, that neither the thirst after com- be either fools or knaves. merce, nor territory, nor security, is to But if our contempt for Whiggism be imputed to us in the assistance we could be deepened, what could throw have afforded to them on this most it into more cureless ridicule than its important occasion. Whatever may present clamour for Spanish insurrecbe the result, we have done our duty; tion; a miserable, half-cast descendwe have not despaired; we have per- ant of French Jacobinism-repelled severed, and we will do so to the last, by the people, revolting to national while there is anything left to contend manners, uncalled-for by the necessi. for with a prospect of success.”—De- ties of the country, and, at the sight bate of April 21, 1809.

of punishment, flying in despair to the To this powerful and luminous remotest corner of Spain? What can speech—of which I have given but a be more ridiculous than that charlatan fragment, but of which the whole de Wilson, deported from village to vilserves to be studied, and is not less an lage of Portugal, in the midst of pohonour to its speaker, than an exposition pular disgust, and, like a beggar, lashed of the policy of the war—noreply could back to his parish? What more silly, be made; and Opposition, broken down than the attempt to bolster up the at once by defeats in the legislature, emaciated fraud of Whig boasting at and unpopularity with the nation, home, by fetes and fooleries in taverns abandoned its resistance for a time. and theatres ? The failure of the SpaNew casualties at length arrived to its nish ball was ludicrously complete succour, and it rose again, to impede the influence of quadrilles and syllathe interests, and degrade the honour, bubs, in sustaining a national war, has of the empire.

been found impotent—and the Whigs Why do I insist upon the conduct are without resource for revolutions to of the Whigs in the peninsular war?



No. VII.
To the Editor of Blackwood's Magazine.
Dear North,

ers of periodicals feel of continuing

their sets. Therefore, if a good article, Thank you for the Quarterly. I a rara avis, nay, a rarissima, appears have just glanced through it with ra- in the Edinburgh, it is open to you to ther a hasty eye, and send you, as you praise it, without any fear of hurting wish, my opinions concerning it. You your own side of the question. You rather astonish me when you tell me may say that Jeffrey's review of Sithat people are amazed at some of my mond, for example, was light, sketchy, former remarks. You are asked, you and pleasant, trifling agreeably, and say, what you mean by abusing the just fit for the calibre of the reQuarterly every now and then, and viewer. You may allow that Sydney every now and then puffing the Edin- Smith can still trim off an article, burgh. As to the latter, that is mere which, if you be in a great hurry, you matter of taste. The Edinburgh is de- might admit into your Magazine. You cidedly going down ; it is hardly seen may confess that Brougham is a good in decent company now-a-days, and I sort of scold, whose intemperance to imagine it owes whatever circulation his literary superiors amuses you, on it retains, to the desire which all buy- the same principle that you are amused by the slang of a blackguard going with them, as they do with other wriit against a gentleman. This, I repeat, ters, if I think them wrong. The great does no harm. The qualities of these ability of many, of most of its articles, gentlemen are admitted by all parties; I not only admit, but am proud of. Í and the smartness of Jeffrey, the buf- think it does honour to our party to have foonery of the parson, the Billingsgate such powerful writing engaged in its of Brougham, serve to float the lumber cause; but, at the same time, I cannot of the stottery of Macculloch, and shut my eyes to its occasional puffery filth of Hazlitt. We now look on it and humbug, by which it sometimes as a sort of fangless viper, which we betrays that cause. I cannot see why allow to crawl about, permitting our- the mere circumstance of its being selves to smile now and then, if any printed by Mr Murray, should render of its slimy contortions please the fan- it necessary that every one of Mr Mura cy of the moment, knowing that it can ray's books, no matter how infamous do no hurt. It is indeed quite helpless or indecent, should be puffed off, diat present. Look at the articles in the rectly or indirectly; and, above all, I last on Slates and Virginius, and other cannot see why we are to hold our crockery-ware. Why, sir, the work tongues, or wink at such conduct. Still which talks of such trash, except, by a farther, when I see a Review, professsentence or so, to dispose of them for ing to be the organ of Toryism, turnever, is destroyed.

ing round on the Lord Chancellor Therefore it is that you may praise who, if we view him in all his beara good article of the Edinburgh, as I ings, honour, integrity, knowledge of said before. When it went forth tri- law, impartiality, and talent, must be umphing and to triumph; when its considered to be the greatest man who slander and scurrility dealt death about ever sat in Chancery, the very nucleus it, it would have been treason to have of our principles-abusing him and repointed out anything good which it viling the law of the land, because the contained; it would have been a dere- judge and the law will not allow Mr liction of duty not to have taken the Murray to make money by the sale of monster by the horns, and shewn him foul works-works altogether opposed forth in full brutality, proving that, to the political and religious views strong as he was in vice, there were which the Review supports, I must still giants in the land who could over- speak out, if nobody else will, and master his evil power. But now, when protest that the Quarterly does not uthe has neither hoof nor horn, but only ter my sentiments, in this instance at a pair of great long ears to prick up in least. To Murray's using the engine defiance, it is surely an act of Chris- in his hands for puffing off the fair tian charity, which does not at all in- books which he publishes, I do not terfere with our allegiance to Tory- object. I think, indeed, that it is bad ism, to hold forth to admiration the taste to do it so much as he does ; but good points of the creature. Puff ac- I do most strenuously object to the cordingly, if it so pleases you, any Quarterly's giving up, in any case, its good article which you may see im- party for the sake of its publisher. mersed in the Serboni bog of Con Without further preface, then, I beg stable's Review, without fear. The leave to remark, that there is too much concern is about as low as their old al- France in this number. Of thirteen ly Dicky Phillips's affair, which I am articles, six areon French works, which told is still published somewhere about is more than needful in an English Fleet-ditch.

review, particularly as there have been Then, as to finding fault with the so many books worth reviewing, pubQuarterly, it strikes me to be pure im- lished since the last appearance of the pertinence in any of the Quarterly Quarterly. It strikes me that both people to endeavour to bind you up. Edinburgh and Quarterly pay too li. The principles of that journal I ad- mited attention to our own literature; mire, I love-I mean its political prin- that they are anything but a fair picciples. But am I bound to acknow- ture of the actual state of the writing ledge it paramount in literature ? world among us. They are just a Not I! Have not I as good a right to bundle of Essays on books apparently give an opinion on a book, as such peo- selected at random, or, at most, with a ple as Millman or Whittaker ?" In view to serve their booksellers. The truth I have, and shall as liberally ex- old Monthly Review is a much fairer ercise my privilege of finding fault record of our current literature in this

« PreviousContinue »