« AnteriorContinuar »
classes of the various professions, the disbanded officers, and a few nobles speculating on the prizes of revolution. Both parties were powerful; but the party of the ancient institutions was distinguished chiefly for its passive strength. The party of change rested its hope of success on its restless appeal to popular passion, its activity in taking advantage of public reverses, and, above all, in the living and inexhaustible Jacobinism of France. But, for the purpose of accuracy, we must go a little higher.
In 1807, the King and royal family of Portugal sailed for the Brazils. Portugal had been for the last half century an object of French and Spanish intrigue, and the project of abandoning the uneasy sceptre of the House of Braganza in Europe, for the noble, secure, and flourishing empire of Portuguese America, was more than once conceived. There was a strong temptation in thus reestablishing the Portuguese name in one of the most extensive dominions in the world, a territory equal to the entire of Europe, and still more powerful by its extraordinary capabilities, its forests of rich woods, its inexhaustible fertility, its singular salubrity, its fortunate position for commerce in the centre of the New World with the Trade Winds blow
THE state of our relations with Portugal has become so anxious, so much perplexed by contending factions, and likely to involve this nation in such embarrassing consequences, that we believe we shall gratify our readers by a general and fair outline of the question. In this matter we take no side. The competitors for the Portuguese throne are equally indifferent to us, the errors or crimes of the parties are not within our estimate. We have no intention of involving our readers in the mazes of Portuguese law; and as little of entangling ourselves in the web of Portuguese partisanship. Dom Miguel and Dom Pedro are to us the same. Yet we may deeply regret the circumstances, whether arising from chance, caprice, or necessity, which have placed England in all but a direct position of war with so old, so faithful, and so important an ally as Portugal.
The state of the Peninsula, since the close of the French war, has been marked by perpetual disturbance. Hating the French as masters, a large portion of the Spanish and Portuguese population eagerly adopted them as teachers. The strength of public loyalty was in the proprietors of land, the nobles, gentry, and peasantry. The strength of disaffection was in the petty traders of the towns, the minor and unemployed
VOL. XXXIII. NO. CCIII.
ing the commerce of the Old into its harbour mouths; and its peculiar possession of the largest gold and diamond mines in the globe.
In the Spanish invasion of 1761, the emigration was strongly proposed, and under the advice of Pambel, the ablest minister that Portugal ever possessed, and one of the most intelligent public men of Europe, it was on the point of being carried into effect. But the invasion passed away. The natural indolence of the Portuguese, the reluctance of the nation to see their government transferred to the mountains and forests three thousand miles off, and the equally strong reluctance of the Allied Powers to see Portugal left open to seizure by Spain, broke up the project, and abandoned the Brazils to their original solitude. In the commencement of Napoleon's power, Portugal became again the object of a French and Spanish intrigue of the most extraordinary kind. About the period of the Egyptian expedition, when French affairs were declining every where, and Suwarrow threatened a march to Paris, there appears to have been some intention on the part of the Spanish government, centred in the person of Godoy, to make common cause with the victorious allies. The old monarchy hated the young Republic; the Spanish Bourbons equally hated the French Jacobins; and there was a lure for the nation's vanity, in the recovery of the national honours, which had been a little tarnished by the French victories among the Pyrenees in the commencement of the war.
treated her as she has always treated the submissive. But deep as the veil of Napoleon's hypocrisy was, it was not deep enough to conceal his perfect knowledge and perfect memory of the projected alliance. Godoy, conscious that when the visitation came, it must chiefly fall upon his own head, now endeavoured personally to conciliate Napoleon, by a project of seizing on Portugal, always obnoxious as this little country was to France, from its close connexion with England. Napoleon had already conceived bolder views; but, for the purpose of blinding the Spanish minister to the ruin that he was hourly gathering round Spain, he adopted his profligate and treache rous design in its full extent, and ordered an army to march for the seizure of Portugal. In the partition of the conquest, Godoy was to be put in possession of the Alentejo, one of the most valuable of the Portuguese provinces, with the title of Sovereign Prince; and he was thus to be secured from the possible results of his growing unpopularity in Spain.
It was now that Napoleon began to make himself felt. His army for the Portuguese invasion was stipulated at 20,000 men; it amounted to 40,000. Its line of march through the Spanish territory was marked out by the secret treaty. It moved where it pleased, in scorn of the Spanish remonstrances; and when at length the Spanish cabinet began to tremble for the consequences of its own folly, Napoleon suddenly involved it in the disputes of the royal family, plunged it into such an abyss of perplexity, fear, treachery, and folly, that it instantly abandoned the government, and surrendered Spain entire into his unhallowed hands.
The history of that most memorable of modern wars, has been already written in the brightest page of our national glory. Napoleon there received the retribution of his long career of treachery and blood. The invasion of the Peninsula is the true date of his downfall. But while his main battle was turned on Spain, Portugal was not forgotten. Its seizure had now become only a part of his grand scheme of ambition, but it was instantly and indefatigably pursued. The troops which had ori
But Bonaparte came back from Egypt, the tide turned, the triumph was all on the side of the obnoxious Republic; and the Spanish cabinet, rejoicing that it had not yet plunged into open hostility with its formidable and vindictive neighbour, instantly laid aside all its preparations for war, and laboured, by the most humiliating subserviency, to win the favouritism of France. This was suffered for a while. Napoleon, now First Consul, was satisfied to appear a dupe, and Spain paid the price of this fancied triumph of subtlety, by being robbed, beaten, and degraded in every quarter of the globe. She had given herself, hand and foot, into the grasp of France, and France
ginally been directed towards that quarter, but called off for the moment by the pressing necessity of overwhelming Spain at once, were now poured back upon its frontier, and put under the command of Soult, the most sagacious and successful officer of the army.
The Envoy had, from ill health, or some other reason, returned to England, leaving Lord Strangford, the Secretary of the Embassy, to transact affairs in his absence. No crisis could have been more disastrous for the one, or more lucky for the other. In mentioning Lord Strangford, it is but just to the honour of literature, and the memory of a good King, to say, that to his literary efforts he was indebted for the commencement of a career, which he has since followed with distinction. At an early age he had written poetry, and among the rest, some sonnets purporting to be translations of Camoens, but which were in fact but pretty paraphrases of the Portuguese poet. But they were poetry,-were on graceful subjects, gracefully expressed-were pleasing and popular, and in the course of their popularity they reached Windsor Castle. Diplomacy, or the army, are the usual roads of the nobility who pursue public employment, and the coincidence of those Portuguese poems with a vacancy for a Secretary of Legation at Lisbon, induced the good-natured King, George the Third, to fix upon the young poet for the appointment. Such at least was the story of the day.
But tyranny has its fears like meaner guilt, and some expressions of Soult awoke the jealousy of Napoleon, now Emperor. It was rumoured in Paris, that Soult might avail himself of his power, to resist the Imperial plans of subjugation, or even make himself independent. The rumour was probably untrue, and only one of the thousand instances of that perpetual suspicion which haunts the usurper. But the command of the force destined to seize Lisbon was suddenly assigned to Junot, a bold soldier, but too indolent for suspicion, and too amply satisfied with dependence on his master, to think of crowns and sceptres five hundred miles from the Parisian theatres. Junot now marched direct on the capital. This movement had been long foreseen by the British cabinet, and the Portuguese monarch had been sedulously supplied with proofs of the determination of Napoleon to seize and subvert his dynasty. But nothing could overcome the habitual apathy of the Portuguese court; the King was not to be persuaded by any thing short of the sight of the French army, that a hostile force would ever have the audacity to march in at the undefended avenues of his city, or seize his ungarrisoned castles. Lord Robert Fitzgerald was the British envoy at Lisbon at the time. This minister has derived an unfortunate celebrity from his being the brother of the late Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the miserable rebel, who, in violation of his duty as a subject, and of his oath as a soldier, attempted to revolutionize Ireland à la Française -the most impotent attempt of the most impotent mind; a Jacobin bagatelle, which even its chance of massacre could not render an object of consideration in the eyes of any man of common thought; but which brought to a speedy and disgraceful fate, this contemptible compound of fashionable absurdity and giddy
The absence of the envoy naturally made his secretary the instrument of all the communications between the British government, now anxiously labouring to awake the Portuguese to its danger; and the Portuguese, alternately frightened and rash, doubting every thing, and daring every thing. The impossibility of defending the country by its native force was strongly urged by the British agent, and the project of carrying off the whole government to America was proposed again, as the only hope of preserving the King from a French prison, and the country from remediless slavery. The tardiness of the Portuguese government, on this occasion, was one of the most extraordinary instances of the inaptitude of understanding that results from long neglect of its exercise. At length Napoleon, in a burst of that arrogance which so often overthrows the subtlest contrivances of the proud, proclaimed that "The dynasty of the house of Braganza had ceased to reign." The secretary, armed with