Imágenes de página
PDF

despot, they will be defeated, and that Joseph Napoleon, though the son of a green-grocer, will staird at the head of their new family sovereigns. God forbid that this should be the case; but, if the struggle be made for no better purpose, the failure of the Spaniards will be a subject of regret with those only, whose fears of the conqueror have deprived them of the power of reflection. Botley, 6th October, 1808.

CoNvestions in Portugal.

Sir ; –Ought the firing of the Park and Tower guns to be considered as a signal ot joy or of grief, Mr. Cobbett 2-—Ought they ever to be fired, or can they be so, without an express order from the ministers? And when the public do hear these guns, are they bound to conclude that ministers see cause for rejoicing; that they are thus informed of the arrival of some glorious news; and that the firing of the guns is the means by which the ministers intend to convey to the people their own joy and exultation at the happy tidings they have received 2 Is nine o'clock at night an unusual hour for these guns to be fired — And if unusual, people to expect news unusually good and glorious? In such a case is it natural to be unusually anxious, and impatient for the Gazette 2 –The next question I would beg leave to ask you, Mr. Cobbett, is this— Who is Sir Hew Dalrymple 2. This is a question I have in vain asked of all I am acquainted with, and I fear it is a question which will puzzle all the big wigs in this kingdom. There is no doubt, however, but that Junot and Kellermann could answer it. Sir Hew's name became immortal (to mention no one else at present) on the memorable 30th of Aug. last ; a day which never can be forgotten. Who can wish to know more of Sir Hew Read his Convention. Is that not enough 2—Is it the Commander-inChief, or the ministers who appoint, or o: to appoint the general, who is to act in the important situation of commander of 30,000 men; and to have the sole and entire disposal of so large and fine an army as the British forces in Portugal —Are those who do appoint in such a case responsible, entirely, or in any degree, for the conduct of him whom they have appointed If they are not responsible for his acts, who is and to whom are the people to look for redress 2–In selecting a general fit for a duty of so high, so important, and so honourable a nature, in the execution of which, the interests of the country at large, and the

is it reasonable for the

connected, should very great circumspection, much consideration, and infinite care and auxiety be shewn 2–lf that be so, and when a commander-in-chief of such an army is appointed, ought not his character to be perfectly well known, and his name quite familiar to the public 2 Should they not also be familiar with his former glory and exploits, with his talents, his vigour, his enterprise, and his prudence Above all, ought not the army to be, (that is the soldiers) very well acquainted with him * Ocght they not to have a confidence in him 2 Ought they not to feel that he is able to command them * Was there ever an occasion, when all these things should have been more particularly attended to than in selecting a general to command our brave troops in Portugal Was it not upon the success of the first blow we were to strike in this glorious contest, that almost every thing depended ? If it failed, and failed through dishonour and baseness, what could we expect 2 Had we a right any longer to look for trust or confidence on the Continent 2 Could the brave people in whose cause we were fighting look upon our military assistance, but with mistrust and apprehension ? In effect, they might say “ Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.”—s now come, Mr Cobbett, to a very important part of the subject, and one which, at

the present moment, occupies no small share of public attention ; I mean the question with respect to Sir Hew and Sir

Arthur, which I think will resolve itself into this: either that Sir Arthur is coms pletely innocent, or infinitely more guilty than Sir Hew Dalrymple. Let us inquire the truth. –Was the actual command taken from Sir Arthur the inst ant that the battle of Vimeira had terminated 2 And if so, by whom was it taken Certainly Not by Sir Hew, for his own dispatch declares the contrary, and begins thus: “I “ have the honour to inform your lordship, “ that I landed in Portugal, and took the “ command of the army, on Monday the 22d of Aug. the next day after the battle of Vimeira." Now, then, we have the fact that Sir Hew only landed on the 22d. Who therefore had the command of our army, our victorious army, from the actual termination of hostilities on the 21st till the arrival at Cintra of Sir Hew on the 22d 2 And what was done during that period? Upon the answer to these questions the whole will turn, Till we hear the contrary, we are bound to believe that Sir Arthur retained the command, I will, therefore ask,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

bouqur of Great Britain, are so intimately what was Sir Arthur doing? How was his

army employed, during that most important interval His friends say, that he was burning to push on. Was he so That pre: cious interval then, was so employed 2 Did he, then, after his splendid victory, and without losing an instant, give orders for the troops following up their well carried success, by immediate pursuit 2 Did he rove that he was “burning to push on 2'' #. he instantly march towards Lisbon in order to cut off the retreat of the vanquished Junot (I beg his grace's pardon, I mean le Duc D'Abrantes) and in order to prevent the possibility of his concentrating his force in strong positions Was, or was not, all or any of these things doue 2 Was that very precious interval in any was made use of 2 I have not asserted that Sir Althur did have the command during this period, but as we know that Sir Hew had not, it remains to be shewn whether upon this occasion the cuiprit was Sir Arthur, or Sir Harry. On the head of one or the other of these two, will fall the whole consequences resulting from the inactivity, or want of decision and promptness which then took place, which must have prevented our gallant army from intercepting the French from Lisbon, and from following up the decisive blow which had been struck. The not having done which, and the not having intercepted the French from Lisbon, are allowed to be the only reasons why any Convention became necessary, (or rather was thought necessary). he therefore, (be he who he may) the man who produced this state of things, whose scandalous conduct residered such a humiliating alternative necessary, is lar more guilty than the man who merely ratified the damned agreement. Whilst I am always for permitting fully “ Palmain qui me, uit ferat," at the same time I am equally desirous that Culham qui meruit ferat. And grieved as I should be to blast the fresh laurels on the victorious brow of Sir Arthur, still, justice, and the injured honour of this country, require, that the culprit, be he who he may, should be openly dragged fortlı to public view and to public investigation. We have already seen that there most have been most criminal conduct somewhere between the 21st and the 22d, that Sir Hew is completely out of that scrape, and that it is entirely between Sir Harry and Sir Arthur. Now

-- - let us sup: se that Sir Harry, notwithstand

ing his generosity on the field of battle, did however supersede Sir Arthur the monient that the French began to retreat ; and let us suppose that Sir Arthur's advice was rejected — bru, on the following day, the 22d, Sir Hew arrives, and takes the com

mand from Sir Harry, and then, as his dispatch says, “a few hours after my arrival, General Kellermann came in with a “flag of truce," &c. and immediately after -“ The inclosed contains the severalatticles “ at first agreed upon and signed by Sir Arthur IPolesley and General Keller. “mann.”-Prayilow were these articles agreed upon and signed by Sir Arthur, whom we have supposed to have had no command since the termination of the battle of Vimeira” Are we to suppose, that Sir Hew requested Sir Arthur, as being conversant with the then state of affairs, to enter into soule terms of agreement; and are we to suppose

that he was left entirely to his own judgment

and discretion ? Or, are we to suppose that on being so requested, he strongly urged to Sir Hew, the fatal consequences to be dreaded from any suspension of hostilities, . that he implored him to listen to nothing short of unconditional surrender, and that

be did every thing in his power to prevent o

any Convention from being acceded to 2–

That Sir Hew then commanded him to sign.H.

that wirich his heart revolted at 2 Are we to, suppose this?—And are we then to suppose that tamely and tacitly, with much gentle resignation, the gallant Sir Arthur obeyed the detested order : Now which of these two, is the most probable case ? The former which supposes him to be only requested, and left to act according to his own judgement ; or the latter in which he is harshly commanded and left without a particle of disc etionary power is it not on this, that the woole merit or demeric of his conduct as to the signature rests? — But I will now ask you, Mr. Cobbott, whether you would consider the request of a commander-inchief as tantamount to a command 2 Next,

whether a command even, should always, a and without exception, be implicity and 4.

tacitly obeyed 2 Show.ld the coinnland ot a superior in no instance be departed from? Is there no latitude in any case allowed And supposing all these to be answered by decla. ring that nothing bot passive and implicit obedience, can be tolerated by the military law, I would ask you, are there no situations in which it would be both honourable and even noble to disobey an express command? And if it might be honourable and even noble in some situations to disoney a com: mood, might there not also be circumstance under which it would be both criminal and base to obey at express command Indeed, your last Register has already deciared your opinion on this subject. If any one insisted on this meek, humble, non-resisting obedieuce, as being indispensatle according *•.

|

[ocr errors]

the military law, I would beg to know where such womanish obedience could strn. For instance: when Kellermaun was fairly about it, stipulating on the one hand, and getting every stipulation as quickly agreed to on the other—no matter how framed or

how worded—why did it not occur to him, .

to stipulate that the duke his master, with the whole of the French army, artillery, &c. should be immediately conveyed in English transports to the coast of Ireland, (a frigate or 74 being provided for his g ace) and there be disemb rRed with all their baggage, plunder, &c. &c and be supplied with suty rounds per man and gun ? Why did this not occur to him? Of course it would have been agreed to, and by the convenient non-resisting rule of obedience, the victorious Sir Arthur would, good pliant soul, have put his hand, when so required, to such a stipulation!!! Having so done, he might then have resumed his situation as commanderin-chief in Ireland with great éclat—and with “No Popery” as his watch-word, have had the infinite satisfaction of again encountering his Portuguese antagonists on British ground. Indeed he might, in that case, Possibly, have beheld, the imperial flag, of “his imperial and royal majesty Napoleon I.

waving over the turrets of Dublin castle

And his grace of Abrantes might have then himself become an emperor, a catholic em!etor. Strange that all this did not occur to Kellermann; whose fertile and comprehen5ive mind seems to have been always “ in " utrumque paratus.” Since writing the bove, a most unfortunate letter of Sir Arthur's has made its appearance before the bublic, in which (miralile dictu () he even ongratulates the Portugaese on the Convenion, in which he sees “ Noth ING REMARKABLE"" !! Gracious God l Can the conQueror of Vimeira think so — As to the tonduct of ministers on this occasion, I think we have yet no reason to doubt, that they will act with the same vigour and Promptitude, which, happily for this country, has already marked their career. It is bu doing them justice to say, that as a whole (however much I may object to certain toponent parts) they have done more, and With more spirit, in their short reign, than ony administration, which I can recollect, to ove done in the same period. The firing o' the guns ought to be accounted for '-onnot entirely dismiss this subject without *ing notice of what you have written, Mr. **, respecting it. And although that domined Convention in Portugal, which can *ver cease to be inought of with curses and

*iations by every Englishman, ald all - I

that is any way connected with it, fires me with indignation, and chills me with horror at the bare recollection, still, notwithstanding this, I have been able to read your excellent account of the ignominous transactions in that quarter with some degree of pleasure and satisfaction ; a melancholy pleasure indeed and a mournful satisfaction' Your plain, but nervous language; your unbiassed, but manly conclusions; your

just, but ardent colouring, give to the whole .

of your statement a tone and character, which cannot fail, even to the remotest times, to make every true Briton's heart bleed within him when he peruses it—whilst at those honest bursts of indignation which it here and there exhibits, he will be roused to madness, will feel his whole soul on fire, and will call down curses and vengeance on those who were the authors of his poor. country's disgrace and ignominy. To have all the circumstances which preceded this fatal Convention (at which name “ horresco referrens”) fairly detailed, and recorded in clear and unambiguous language, was fit, was necessary. Every one who has read your last week's Register, will, if they do you justice, readily admit, that few could have executed this so well, and none, I am sure, better. — I am always, Sir, P. C.

CoN v ENTions IN Portugal.

SIR, - Amidst the burst of general and violent indignation, which is so universally felt by the whole nation, at the termination of the campaign in Portugal, and in which you so largely participate ; permit me to point out some circumstances, which have been either designedly or inadvertently overlooked. All the public writers have poured out the most virulent invectives against every part of the Conventions, without once adverting to the very important advantages which have been gained. This is not just. I am not, Mr. Cobbett, about to defend the conventions ; I think with you that they are highly disgraceful, to those in particular who concluded them, and, also, to the nation at large, as far as it can be considered as a party to them. But, let us not shut our eyes to the services which have been performed ; let not a blind and inconsiderate passion, hurry us on to deprive ourselves. of the consolation of thinking, at least, that: something weavy essential has been effected. We certainly had a just right to expect the absolute surrender of the French army. The general atrocity which has marked the conduct of the French in every part of Europe, and in Portugal in particular, together with the victories of Sir Arthur Wellesley, demanded a different result. But after all, will you say that nothing has been gained 2 Is getting the French army out of Portugal, even at any rate, nothing? Is neutralizing the Russian fleet nothing P Is enabling our army to act in Spain, without an enemy in its rear, nothing 2 Is not the Corsican usurper, preparing an immense force, with which he hopes to overwhelm the Spaniards? And, was it not of the utmost consequence, that our army should be free of the enemy in Portugal as soon as possible, that it might be enabled to give effectual and timely assistance to Spain These appear to me to be great and important advantages; and, notwithstanding they cannot be put in competition with those which we have lost, yet, they are not to be overlooked and considered as nothing. A most objectionable part of the convention seems to be, suffering the

rench army to carry off its ill gotten plunder; this is unpardonable, and demands the severest reprehension; for, independent of the sanction which is thereby given to robberies the most atrocious, it must have an effect on the Portuguese highly inimical to this nation. They will consider themselves as sacrificed by us, and, we shall also, I fear, be identified with robbers and thieves. Surely a severe and rigid scrutiny will be made into this matter; the honour and character of the army, as well as the wounded feelings of the people require it. You have treated this subject, Mr. Cobbett, with your usual ingenuity; yet I cannot but think, that you have suffered your zeal to outrun your discretion. feel highly indignant on this occasion, as every true Englishman must, who feels for the honour of his country; but yet, let justice be done. In order to render, the transaction as odious as possible, you decry Lisbon, as a place of strength, and, think, that if Junot had chosen to defend himself in that place, it would not have been any material obstruction to the march of the army to assist the Spaniards. You, Mr. Cobbett, ought to understand these matters better than I do, having, to your praise be it spoken, had military experience; but, have you ever seen Lisbon 2 have you examined its forts its fortifications and means of defence and, if you have not, how can you speak so positively of its weakness? of the facility with which it might have been taken and assert that there are “no grounds for “ believing, that the siege could have lasted for a week?" If our general had been of the same opinion, it cannot be believed that he would have signed such a convention. You say, that you never heard of any strong

You undoubtedly,

places in Portugal. Will it be denied that Lisbon possesses some strong places? Are there not forts, which have effectually prevented our fleet from entering the Tagus And, ean it be possible, that a place of such vast importance as Lisbon should be without the means of resisting an enemy for a considerable time? Your position that Junot entered the place without any trouble will avail you nothing, for the Portuguese never even attempted to defend it, and it fell an unresisting prey to the lawless invader. Very different, I apprehend, would have been the case, if the French had determined on defending it, and the utmost efforts and skill of our brave army would probably have been baffled for some weeks; and, what at the present moment is of the utmost consequence, been also prevented from giving: that prompt and timely assistance to thes Spaniards, which the noble cause they are: embarked in so imperiously demands. This circumstance carries conviction to my mind, that the measure of obliging the French to evacuate Portugal speedily, even at any rate, was a measure of the most urgent necessity, and may ultimately be of the utmost importance to the general cause. I therefore am convinced, that three objects of the greatest consequence have been obtained; viz. clearing Portugal of the French ; neutralizing the Russian fleet; and enabling our army to march into Spain, without an enemy in its rear. These are facts and cannot be controverted; and,” although I am o anxious to impress you with an idea of their importance; yet, I do not bring them for." ward, as any defence of the conventions; but, merely, as some alleviation of the great disappointment which the public has experienced, and to prove that amidst much evil, some good has been obtained.—I am very sorry to see that your hatred to the Wellesleys, as having been the firm friends of the late Mr. Pitt, has carried you the length of stigmatizing Sir Arthur Wellesley, as the author of the conventions, and of giving a false colouring to the transaction. You have employed many words and much sophistry to accomplish this. But let us, Sir, clear away the rubbish and attend only to facts. I apprehend, the grand main spring, which regulates and directs the operations of an army, to be obedience. Every thing re. solves itself into this. Every officer is bound strictly to obey the commands of his superior in every thing connected with the army. Obedience is the very life and soul of an army, and without which it would be a mere shadow, a thing of no value. We have only to look at the armies of the Grand Turk,

to be convinced of the truth of this position. This, Sir, is so positive a truth, that you cannot deny it; you must allow it me; and on that ground I mean to shew the futility of your arguments. Sir Arthur Wellesley, on the 21st of August, gains a victory over the French army, in which even you have not attempted to deprive him of the merit of having, with a part of his force, defeated double the numbers. During the engagement, Sir Harry Burrard (his superior officer, observe) arrives; the instant he joined the army, Sir Arthur's command was virtually at an end. Now, mark ; Sir Harry Burrard says, that he found Sir Arthur's supositions so excellent, that he had no oc, asion to alter them, (or words to that effect) which is explicitly declaring, that he did owsess the power, if he had had the incli- asion, thereby declaring himself, what he Hually was, the superior officer; nay, even # dispatches were written to lord Castleagh by Sir Harry Burrard in that capacity. ; therefore, my position of obedience is rrect, Sir Arthur's responsibility was acally at an end, on the 21st; he had no *ger the command of the forces; he had longer a will of his own ; but was posi#ly bound to obey the orders of Sir Harry orrard. We are also informed that numeus letters from some of the most Cistinfished officers in the British army, agree islating, that “ Sir Arthur Wellesley most distinctly declared his opinion, that, the expediency of permitting the French to capitulate at all, was occasioned solely by the dilemma into which the army had been brought by its being prevented contrary to his plans and wishes repeatedly urged, from following up the victory of the 21st, in which case the whole of the French army must inevitally have been

destroyed, instead of being enabled by.

that fatal delay to retreat to the passes, and to concentrate themselves in forts in their rear, which it might consume the ... whole of the winter months to beat them out of.” You then triumphantly ask, who stopped Wellesley?" I answer, Sir, arry Burrard. The moment the battle is over, Sir Arthur could not possibly act rhimself; he had nothing to do, but to #y Sir Harry Burrard, his snperior officer; ld, on him, in my opinion, the whole sponsibility rests. It must be he who preinted Sir Arthur from pursuing the enemy. Who else had the power let me ask. I posively say, no one. Sir Hew Dalrymple id nothing to do with it. He did not land il the 24th, and the armistice was signed

authority, that the ministers are satisfied with Sir Hew Dalrymple's conduct; and, say that he could not have acted otherwisc than he did. What they say, and think of Sir Harry Burrard, is another matter. In order to complete your plan, of throwing all the edium on Sir Arthur Wellesley, you affect to discredit the numerous letters which are said to have been received from some of the most distinguished officers in the British army, and assert them to be lies. You must produce very strong and sufficient evidence of this assertion, before you can expect

it to be given credit to. I cannot think, Mr.

Cobbett, that you think so yourself; for you must know, that, when numerous letters from men of character and high honour, all agree on the same subject, that it must be a fact ; and these letters will and ought to obtain credit, amongst that part of mankind, who will not suffer their understanding to be overpowered by any sophistry however ingenious, or with a cloud of words. The very circumstances of the case furnish strong presumptive evidence of their truth. It must occur to every one, that the defeat of the French should have been instantly followed up, by detaching that part of the army which had suffered least, in order to cut off the retreat of the flying enemy; and I firmly believe, from the knowledge we have of the vigour and capacity of Sir Arthur Wellesley, that had he not been prevented by a superior power, it would have been done, and the disgraceful conventions prvented.—I am always concerned Mr. Cobbett, to have occasion to differ in opinion with you, for I greatly admire your talents; but even Homer sometimes nods: and if I ever take the liberty of stating my sentiments in opposition to yours, I trust that you will receive thern with kindness.Observe R.—Sept. 27th, 1808.

OFFICIAL PAPERS. CoNve Ntions IN Portug Al-From the London Gazette Extraordinary, continued from page 544. VIII. The garrison of Elvas,and its forts,and of Peniche and Palmela, will be embarked at Lisbon: that of Almaida at Oporto, or the nearest harbour. They will be accompanied on their march by British commissaries charged with providing for their subsistence and accommodation.—IX. All the sick and wounded who cannot be embarked with the troops are entrusted to the British army. They are to be taken care of whilst they remain in this country, at the expense of the British government under the condition of

a the 22d. I have heard from very good | the same being reimbursed by France when

« AnteriorContinuar »