Imágenes de página
PDF

to make themselves sure, as to the character and abilities of those whom they invest with high anthority, and on whom they bestow large emoluments. When we complain of the weight of taxes, and of the great sums which public men receive out of the fruit of our labour, we are always reminded of the arduous duties they have to perform and of the weight of responsibility that rests upon their shoulders; and, we are asked, whether any man, possessing great talents and high rank, can be expected to exert those talents for the public and to incur such heavy responsibility, without the security of a suitable compensation. I appeal to the reader, whether this be not, upon such occasions, the argument constantly used. Well, then, if the men, whom we pay at such an enormous rate, and who, if they serve us but for a few years, are saddled upon our devoted ass-like backs for life, accompanied, perhaps, with paniers containing their wives and children; if these men be so wonderfully gifted as to merit all this, have we not a right to expect, and even to demand, at their hands, the selection of proper commanders ? Have we not a right to demand proofs of their discriminating powers, of their judgment, and of their firmness in resisting applications, which, if yielded to, would be injurious to us? And, when is it that we are to call upon them for their far-famed “ responsibility," if not when we have suffered an injury from the conduct of persons appointed by them 2 meaning of ministerial responsibility, what is its meaning 2 If they are to appoint whom they please to command our troops ; if they are to commit our honour and our safety to the hands of their own relations, or to those of others who will vote for them in the parliament house, and if, when that honour and that so fety have been sacrificed, we are to be told that the ministers are not responsible, I beg leave to be informed of the cases, wherein they acknowledge responsibility.—Wellesley was well-known to them. It is notorious, that he was an inmate with them. I believe he is, even mow, one of the principal officers of the government of Ireland. They must have known him well; and, as to their saying, “who would have thought" him capable of taking the lead in such a deed as that committed in Portugal, we are not so to be answered: “I “ should have thought ; many others would “ have thought it; and, at any rate, it was “ so. That is enough for us.” Wellesley was one of themselves; chosen from their own boly : they had previously committed the gov Inment (tor his was the really offi

Spanish cause began 2 If this be not the true.

cient office) of a third part of the kingdom

to his hands; they must know his character

and every part of his character well, or they were too stupid to be entrusted with the management of the affairs of a parish. And, shall they not now be responsible for his conduct? He was, I repeat it, one of themselves He went out as their immediate representative. Shall they not, then, be answerable for what he has done? The ultimate consequences of the Convention cannot yet be known ; but, we know, that it has filled our allies in Portugal with disgust and indignation, and that these must operate to the injury of both nations is certain ...We know also, that the sending home of five or ; six thousand Russian officers and seamer must be injurious to Sweden as well as to ourselves. And, as to Spain, we have the strongest reason to bekeve, that our conduct: in Portugal, must excite suspicion and distrust amongst all our allies, more especially amongst those in Spain. There, if our troops are now sent, our commanders will, in all; human probability, have little or nothing confided to them. Spain, who looks up § us for assistance of every sort, is just in that state, in which distrust is most likely to be fatal. Can any man reasonably hope, that we have not excited distrust of us, by our conduct in Portugal And, if, we have who will take upon him to say, that, fr the date of the Convention, the ruin of We see, that Buous, parlé is making great exertions for the reduction of Spain. The people of that country' cannot be unaware of the danger. If they i distrust us, they will cool in spite of all the toasts at the London Tavern and all the odes; of poet Fitzgerald. How different would the feelings of Spain as well as of England have been, at this moment, had we captured Junot and his army? In short, if the Spanish patriots should be subdued; if their cause should now begin to be deserted, it may, in great part, be fairly attributed to this Convention. And, shall the people of England call upon no one for responsibility? Shall those, who appointed the commanders, and who had so many persons amongst whom to choose, plead not guilty to th; heavy charge If Spain fail, let England take care, “Cokonies ' ' Napoleon Joseph is not fool, is not ass, is not stupid best enough to set any value upon them. Give hiun Spain, and he will very willingly leave in our hands the mines that have hitlerto proved a cuise to Spain; and will leave us, as a make weight in the bargain, all the feuds, the con motions, the ex}ensive and bloody wars, which would inevitably arise cut

: of our possession of those colonies. . Should Spain fall, is there any man who will say, that that fatal event has not been accelerated by the Convention in Portugal? And shall not the ministers be responsible for the conduct of those who made that convention ? “Why whom were they “ to choose 2 " Oh, insulted nation . It is not for them to ask thee whom they were to choose; but for thee to ask them, whether they could not have made a better choice out of a Staff establishment that costs thee nearly a million sterling a year. It was for thee to ask them, whether that Staff, which exceeds in number the whole of the standing army of England in the reign of Charles II, would not afford generals enough for the command of thirty thousand men, without taking one of the ministry of Ireland for the purpose. This is by no meaus the least mortifying part of the story. We are a nation be-generalled from head to foot. There is scarcely a parish wherein ome general does not reside. “The geneal and his aide-de-camps" make the dust ly from one end of the country to the ther; and yet, when we find fault of an ppointment of generals, we are asked, ' why, whom were the ministerstochoose?" We have sent only about a tenth part of our orce to Portugal, and if we could not find jood commanders for them, what is to be*me of the rest? “A military nation,” bleed! We are a pretty military nation, f, when only a tenth part of our force be lent out, and that, too, upon a service the most important, we are unable to select geherals better than those, who made the Sonvention in Portugal, and when one plea n favour of the ministers, is, that they had lot the means of making a better selection. -There has been, as far as the public an perceive, nothing done yet in the way of recalling. Nothing has been done; not wen the previous steps, have been taken, of the purpose of doing the nation justice. There has dropped from the ministers not he word, tending to shew, that they have * design to do us justice. Their intention Appears to be, to let the thing remain quiet; " is nothing and do nothing; to let the Public rage exhaust itself, and when it has fled away, to smuggle in the commanders, wing given them and their friends an abunonce of time for the contriving of excuses of all sorts and sizes. This may, very pro*ly, succeed; but, if it should, it will bring with it one source of consolation, at * Tate, that, in future, the success of NaPoleon will become a matter of indifference. ~Remember, reader; always remember,

that, in the Official Gazette, which con. tained the documents relative to the Convention, the armistice, which was the most important of the documents, because it was the basis of all the rest, was inserted in the French language only, while all the others were inserted in the English language only. It was Sir Arthur Wellesley who negociated and signed the armistice; and, the ministers at home, his colleagues in office, publish that document to the people of England in the French language only. One other fact, pray note down and remember; that we pay a man, called “ the GAzETTE “WRiter,” three hundred pounds a year out of the taxes; though, as you must perceive, he has nothing to do but merely to see that publications of this sort are correct. Neither the ministers, nor any of their writers, have attempted to say, that this partial insertion was owing to mistake, or to the misconduct of their underlings; we have, therefore, a right to conclude, that it was wilful, and to draw, from that fact, the natural inference, which is, that they mean to shelter Wellesley. This, however, they cannot do, unless they shelter Sir Hew. Sir Hew will speak in his own defence, I warranthim; and, he Will find, at his back, the same interest that' procured him the command. Come, come, then, Sir Hewy, and let us hear you. “Had I three ears I’d “hear thee; " but the ministers will, I dare say, take care, that none of us shall hear you for some time yet to come. They will let us cool first. Their study, at present, seems to be, not so much to overcome Buonaparté as to overcome us. Instead of the defence of the country, they seem to be thinking of the defence of its generals. Poor Whitelocke, had you no friends at home ! What! could you not muster up a single half dozen of hags to rattle over the pavement and intrigue for you? Unfortunate and careless man, not to provide for a safe retreat, in case of disaster . Another time (for there can be now no earthly objection

to your being sent cut the chief in command)

you will, I dare say, profit from the experience now before you, and will, above all things, take care, that you negociate in French. —Below will be found two letters upon this subject, which I beg leave to point out to the attention of my readers. The first touches upon some points that had escaped me, and puts several questions, to which I should like to hear an answer given. His praise of my endeavours might have been spared; and, upon a future occasion, if he should think proper to address the public through me, I shall be obliged to

him to refrain from the like, because a plain unvarnished declaration of acquiescence in opinion, and of approbation of my conduct, is better calculated to answer the purpose in view, and is much more gratifying to toyself.-The second letter is the vehicle of sentimelits precisely the opposite of those contained in the one just mentioned. It evidently comes from a friend, if not relation of Wellesley; and, though, for the greater part, it consists of a repetition of the statements and reasoning, which I have already quoted from the Nabobs' Gazette (commonly called the Morning Post), and which I have, I trust, pretty completely refute 1, there is a point or two, upon which it touches, that I cannot let pass unnoticed. she writer appears to be of opinion, that what I have written is likely to produce an effect hostile to his friend, therefore he endeavours to find out for me a motive for noisrepresenting his conduct. He says, that my hatred of the Wellesleys for having been the firm friends of the late Mr. Pitt has induced me to disagure facts in order to injure Sir A. W. Hesley in the public opinion. Now, in the first place, I never knew the Wellesleys as adherents of Pitt, that famous talker being, fortunately for the nation, dead before they came flocking hone from India, where they had been so long engaged in glorious wars against the native Viziers and Aumils. tally with the notorious fact

Did I, when

the news of the victory, in Portugal, came,

seem grudging of my praises of the commander's conduct 2 Did I not attribute the victory to him alone; and did I not put the victory upon a level, as to its probable consequences, with that of Trafalgar Should I have done this, if my hatred against the Wellesleys, on account of their attachment to Pitt (or rather to their own selfish views through Pitt) had so completely subdued in my mind all sense of impartiality and of justice. There were two lights, in which the Portuguese victories might have been spoken of ; there were two lights, in which Wellesley's dispatches might have been exhibited to the public ; and, if I chose that which was, in both cases, most favourable to Wellesley, will the public believe, that I have since been actuated by motives of personal or party hatred? When am I to hear the last of this hatred of mine against the friends of “the late Mr. Pitt 2" I can problish no account of pecodation, of folly, or of cowardice; I can detect or expose no rascal whatever, but I aim instantly accused of being actuated by motives of hatred on account of the party's friendship

[ocr errors]

But, how does this impotation

for “ the late Mr. Pitt.” No matter that | publish well-known facts; that I extract from official reports or accounts; that I quote their own speeches or pamphlets; that I prove by the fairest and clearest of arguments: still the answer to me is, not that I have stated falset odds, not that my reasoning is unsound; but, that I harbour a rancour against the party on account of his attachment to “the late Mr. Pitt.” I be. lieve from my soul, that, if, being driven from higher gaine, one of the peculating gang were to be taken in the act of robbio; a hen-roost, or picking a pocket, he would plead in his defence, that his prosecutor was actuated, not by his hove of jostice, but by his hatred of the offender, on account of that offender's attachment to “ the late “Mr. Pitt.” This is coming to a fine pass, indeed. Why, we shall be told, anon, that the cuckoldom, which has, of late, been, unhappily, so rife annongst the sect, is to be ascribed to the same maficious mo. tive. It is base and silly to talk of party motives in such a case ; and, it is always 1 proof of a bad cause, when the defendant answers the proofs or arguments of the accuser by a nuere inputation of malicious motives. I may be a very malicious and implacable man, and I may hate the Wel. lesleys; but, the question now is, whether, with respect to Portuguese Wellesley's conduct I have reasoned fairly upon acknowledged truths, or not 2 If the latter, let it be shown ; if the former, this writer may be assured, that his client will derive but little advantage from any imputation of motives that his imagination is able to invent. This writer says, that Wellesley did protest privately against the Convention, and, for proof of his assertion, he appeal: to the many “ private letters that have been “ received from the army,” which private letters I had, as the reader will bear in mind, represented as base fabrications. Now, says this acute gentleman, “ you have called “ them lies, but you will find it difficult to “ make the public believe that so many persons of high honour would have cen. curred in the statement of what was totally “false.” So I should; but he forgets, that it has not yet been proved, that any letter from a person of high honour, or that any le:ter at all, has been received from the army, containing such a statement. Extract upon extract from such described letter: have, indeed, been published in many of the news-papers, and particularly in the Nabob's Gazette; but, where have we seen any voucher for their authenticity Ha! thsre appeared one with any name to it?

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

|

[graphic]

Has there appeared one with the name of either the writer or the receiver ? No : and the man, who, in the letter before me, takes upon him to argoe upon the pretended facts contained in those letters; takes upon him to assert that their authors are all persons of high honour; even this man has the prudence not to favour either me or the public with his name. Is it after this fashion that I proceed Have I dealt in such nameless, unowned, bastard-like documents No : I have taken the oxicial papers, have reasoned from their contents, and have, as premises, resorted to no facts, which are not universally admitted to be true. ----. By way of conclusion, I will point out a light, in which this pretended protest did not before strike me, and in which it does not appear to have stricken even the editor of the Times news-paper, who has displayed so much acuteness and literary powers of every kind, in the course of this interesting discussion. The statement of the friends of Wellesley, which statement is, in substance, repeated by my correspondent, is this : — Obedience is the soul of an army; a commander of an army must be as absolute as the Grand Turk; Sir Arthur Wellesley has been brought up in the school of obedience; he knew how great an injury it must be to the service, if he publickly protested against the convention ; and, therefore, he confined his opposition to a protest privately made to the commander in chief. This is what they have said in his defence, over and over again, in various forms of words. Now, then, without asking whether the Wellesleys were remarkable for their obedience to the East India Directors, let us put the sincerity of this defence to the test. He protested privately, lest, by a public protest, he should create a division in the army, and thereby do great injury to the service. Now, ye canting hypocrites, if such were the fact and such the motive, how came you in possession of the knowledge of this protest You are his close friends, perchance, and so he wrote home, unlocking his bosom to you, easing his agonized heart by communicatio.; to you the proof of his innocence 2 No. This will not do ; this will not serve your turn ; for, you have told us before, that the facts relating to this Protest have been communicated by the of ficers of the army. So that, taking the whole of your own statement as true ; admitting all that you assert, Wellesley, who was convinced that the making of a public protest would be greatly injurious to the service, made a private protest to the commander-in-chief, and then, made an underhaud

communication of that protest to the officers of the army. Attempt no shuffle, I be’eech yon. Let vour frond be where he is. You have already bestineared him from head to foot; and, if your efforts at whitewashing are continued much longer, he will come out of your hands as black as a crow. SPA IN. Upon the affairs of this now most interesting part of the world there is a letter, written by Major Cartwight, and published in the last number of the Register, to which I beg leave to refer the reader. He will there see how the people of Spain formerly thought and with what spirit they acted, in matters relating to domestic freedom. It is surprizing how strong a resemblance there is between what they sought to establish, in the reign of Charles V, and what was established in England a century later. I sincerely wish, that Major Cartwright, who with the experience of threescore, writes with the clearness and the vigour of the prime of life, and whose reasoning and eloquience come recommended by unquestionable disinterestedness and integrity, may succeed in his zealous and unwearied endeavours to rouse the feelings and direct the judgment of the present patriots of Spain. I am not, nor can any rational man be, without sonje very serious apprehensions as to the result of the contest that is now about to begin ; but, if a provisional government, capable of calling out and directing the force of the country, be speedily organized, I shall have great hopes of final success, notwithstanding any reverses that may, at the out-set, be experienced by the Spaniards. For, we seldom have heard of a whole people being stypolued, if they were animated with one soul, and if that soul was bent upon obtaining freedom The thing to be most feared is, that this all-powerful motive may not universally prevail; that the nobles, or the priests, or both, may look beyond the immediate object of the struggle, and may be grudging in their offers to the people, and also in point of confidence in their intercourse with them. If this should unhappily be the case; if the people should be treated with coolness, disgust will speedily succeed, the cause will soon fall to ruin, and those attacks, which in the other case, would have called forth the iatent fire of patriotism, talent, and valour, will at once, extinguish every motive of resistance. It is quite shocking to think of an ancient nation consisting of so many ruillions of people being mad a over to, and taken possession of by, a man who was, but yesterday, a person unknown in the world; but, he comes backed with

must be a motive, and an adequate motive too. In speaking of the operations of the war, the Fabian example of the Americans has been cited. But, we should bear in mind the vast difference in the circumstances. The nature of the two countries is, in the first place, very different. America was assailed by an enemy, who had all his troops, his horses, and his artillery, to send across the sea, a distance of, at least, a thousand leagues, and, it sometimes happened, that five or six months elapsed between the embarkation and the landing. Besides, the enemy whom America had to resist was of a very different character. We used no fire; we sacked no towns; we did not carry the torch in one hand and the sword in the other. Our generals were not Massenas and Junots. A standing toast at our head-quarters used to be, “a long war and a merciful one." The Launeses do not give such toasts ... No : the Spaniards will want men very different from the Washingtons and the Lees. They will have to fight day after day and every day, and to withstand that terror, which the destructive progress of an army, accustomed to pillage and to all sorts of cruelty, cannot fail to inspire in the minds of the weaker part of the nation. — We must not, therefore, conclude, that the Spaniards will succeed, because the Americans did. If, indeed, we could prevail upon Buonaparte to send against them such generals as we sent to America (and we might be able, perhaps, to point out some such for the service), the Spanish cause would be sase ; but, as things are, it must be confessed, that the struggle is an object of the utmost anxiety; and, it behoves us to think betimes of what our measures ought to be, if the result should seat a Buonaparte upon the throne. — I like not, I must confess, the seeming hankering after FERDINAND VII. The Spaniards *avo declared the late government to have been an infamous one. What sense is there, illen, in their talk about a man, in whose person they must intend (if they intend to do any thing with him) to restore that government I do not understand this. He has abdicated the throne; he has given up his claims to the sovereignty of Spain, i.) terms as explicit as a man can possibly use. There appears to be something like infatuation in carrying on a bloody war for him, or in making his restoration any part of the objects of such a war. This is, with me, a chilling circumstance. It takes jargely from the ardour I should feel in the Spinish cause ; for, after all, it is the good o, the world in general and of Spain and of

terrible power, and to resist that power there.

England in particular that one ought to have at heart. I observe, that, in several of our writers, a hatred of Napoleon is the predominant feeling; and, what is the worst of it, the far greater part of them do not discover hatred of him in his character ef derpot, but in his character of conqueror. Now, it is, I presume, in the former character, that he is the most decidedly entitled to our hatred; but, then, the difficulty is, that there are other despots, whom we profess not to hate at all. We ourselves have been great conquerors in our day. There are the Nabob Viziers, the Nizams, the Sultauns, and a long list of sovereigns of one sort and another, whom we have conquered, whose territories we have invaded, and whose subjects we have taken to ourselves, not forgetting some small portion of their property; and we have seen, that, instead of curses upon the head of the divers conquerors, we have heaped thanks, praises unbounded, and pensions and titles not a few. Come, come, then ; let us not be so unjust as to hate and execrate this man in his character of cenqueror. In his cha. racter of despot, with all my soul ; in his character of despot-maker; in his character of ally of Russia of the rabble of rascals upon the Rhine; in this character I agree to him as much as any man living.—If we hate him as a despot, we cannot wish to see a despotism, of any sort re-established in Spain. The name of the man who is to be at the head of the despotism, if a des. potism it is to be, is of no consequence to the Spaniards, nor is of but very little conse. quence to us. People have often carried on bloody wars for a choice of despots; but, then, each despot was present and active himself. In short, it is absurd to suppose, that, at this day, any nation will undergo fire and sword for the sake of on absent person, whose former government they have called infamous; and, if this absurdity should be attempted to be persevered in, I think, it is very clear, that the Spaniards will be subdued.—This, it seems to me, is the point, upon which the fate of Spain will turn. Uncommon, unheard-of, exer. tions are required; new courage, new to lents, new genius, are demanded. To call these forth powerful motives must exist, and these motives must make their way, at once, to the hearts of even the lowest or ders of the people. A choice of despots; a mere choice of persons to whom the peo: ple are to be slaves, appears to me to be no motive at all; and hence I conclude, that,

the leaders in Spain persevere in professing to make war for the restoration of their former

« AnteriorContinuar »