« AnteriorContinuar »
seen like so many savages, struggling with each other who should soonest reach the officers' berths, in order to rifle whatever they contained, deciding, in some instances, the partition of what they had plundered, by seizing each other by the throat.
Complaint was made to the French officers, and to Le Joille himself, of the rapacity of the men; but our remonstrances were heard only with a contemptuous sneer, and an intimation that their men had hardly enough earned the recompense they were reaping. Instead of any regard to that sense of honour which is so sacredly preserved by every man on board a British man-of-war,where each considers himself charged with maintaining the character of his country for justice and humanity towards the vanquished, this Gallic rabble resembled the bloodhounds of some vile privateer, or Algerine corsair. One little circumstance, which redounds as much to the honour of an English boy, who attended upon Captain Thompson, as it reflects disgrace upon Le Joille and his crew, is not undeserving of mention. Aware of the plunder to which his master's property was to be subjected, as well as that of the other officers, this faithful lad espied the captain's quadrant, and endeavoured to conceal it; unable to effect his purpose, he snatched it up, and was shased round the deck by one of Le Joille's scoundrels, and when he found all his efforts vain to elude his pursuer, to the no small mortification of the Frenchman, he threw it overboard, through one of the ports. Whilst the officers were thus treated on board their own ship, our common men fared no better when they were taken on board the Généreux. Whatever little effects they had endeavoured to rescue on their persons, were wrested from them by the harpies of rapine, as soon as they reached her execrable decks, being stripped of every thing but the clothes which covered their nakedness.
Of eighteen officers of the Leander, who were allowed to remain on board our own ship, I was one. We were then taken in tow by the Généreux, and proceeded towards the island of Malta, when we were as near being recaptured by the British fleet as possible. Suspecting no
danger, since the capture of the island by Bonaparte, Le Joille was standing for the harbour, when, on the fourth morning after our capture, a sail, which afterwards proved to be a French merchant vessel, was seen in the offing, which, on a nearer approach, perceiving the Généreux to be a French ship, made all possible sail towards us, with the intelligence, opportune enough for our enemy, though unfortunate for us, that a British squadron was blockading the place. But for this information, we had run into the very bosom of our own fleet, and, being once descried by them, must have fallen into their hands; as the Généreux was in a state too crippled to have effected an escape.
Instantly altering our course, we made all possible speed for the island of Corfu, where after a few days we arrived. All the British prisoners on board the Généreux were detained in a castle on the island, till an exchange of prisoners, provided for by Admiral Nelson after the battle of the Nile, who stipulated as a condition of landing in Egypt the prisoners he had taken, that an equal number of British prisoners of war should be exchanged by cartel. We, on the contrary, from on board the Leander, were sent in a small vessel up to Ragusa, and put on board a lazaretto, where we performed a quarantine of twenty-one days. The time we spent here, however, was far from being tedious. The inhabitants of Ragusa having heard of the victory of the Nile, and that we were part of the officers who fought and conquered on that glorious occasion, vied with each other who should shew the greatest marks of kindness and liberality towards us. Comfortable beds were provided for each of us, and every day we were supplied with all kinds of the choicest provisions, wines, and fruit: nothing they could procure was thought too good, no honour they could confer upon us too great.
After ending our quarantine at Ragusa, we were taken across the Gulf to Barletta, where we again obliged to perform quarantine for fourteen days longer. Preparation was then made, by order of Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador at Naples, at the expense
of the British government, to have us conveyed across the country, in order to rejoin our fleet. Seven commodious carriages were got in readiness for our journey, with directions, that we were to put up at the very best hotels in the towns through which we had to pass, and that no cost was to be spared in our entertainment, as a testimony of the gratitude of our country to the heroes of the Nile.
It was perfectly amusing to witness the commotion created in the villages and towns through which we passed; all was hilarity and merriment; especially at the hotels where we spent the nights. Our journeys were so arranged, that we usually arrived where we were to sleep, about four o'clock in the afternoon. This afforded us the most favourable opportunity of pleasant intercourse with the inhabitants. More than once we were honoured with a ball, or public assembly, and greeted wherever we went as deliverers from the hated aggression and tyranny of France; accosted ever and anon by the familiar, and, as it would seem, favourite appellation, of "Mi Lor Jack."
Nothing can exceed the beauty of the scenery through which we passed; the effect was like enchantment. To those unaccustomed to the sight, the manner in which the vines are here trained, presents a most interesting and delightful object; extending their ample branches to adjacent trees, so arranged as to present their rich dependants most advantageously to the southern sun; whilst the clustering grapes are seen intermingling themselves, here with their own rich foliage, and there with the leaves and fruit of trees totally dissimilar. For fifteen or twenty miles together every variety of hill and dale, mantled over with foliage the most luxuriant and variegated, and with
fruit of the richest hues, attract and detain the gaze of the beholder; whilst the more elevated ground, clothed with flocks, and tended by their musical shepherds, cannot fail to associate in the mind of the admirer of classic lore, the strains of the Mantuan Bard, who erst, with his oaten-pipe, made the woodlands so sweetly to resound the beauteous Amarillis!
After a journey of four days, we once more got sight of the ocean, and at the same time of a part of Nelson's fleet, lying at anchor in the bay of Naples. For once, I acknowledge, the sight of British men-ofwar, did not, as formerly, fill me with enthusiasm. The recollection of the perils in which I had so long been placed, in contrast, perhaps, with the gleams of pleasure with which I had been solaced on shore; but chiefly the prospect of being again engaged in foreign service, and in new perils, without having once enjoyed the privilege of visiting my native shore, spread a temporary gloom over my mind. Leave, however, was given us, through the kind indulgence of Admiral Nelson, to spend a few days in the city of Naples, where hospitable entertainment, beautiful scenery, and intelligent company, combined to promote our happiness. We were then distributed among the ships, according to our respective ranks, merit, and time of service. I and two of my companions were appointed on board the Vanguard. Not long after this appointment, we fell in with and captured two polacres, on board one of which I was permitted to return to my native home, in beloved Albion. Thus were the cheerless forebodings, in which I had so lately indulged, like many others both before and since, dissipated by happier occurrences than would have been credited in the hour of despondency.
LORD CASTLEREAGH AND MR CANNING.
FROM THE RIGHT HON. THOMAS PEREGRINE COURTENAY.
SIR,-Two articles in the Foreign Quarterly Review,* treating of the Foreign Policy of England, under the administrations of Lord Castlereagh and of Mr Canning, have been the subject of criticism in the New Monthly Magazine. As the author of these Articles, I request permission to make your far-spread Miscellany the channel of a reply to this critique. Postponing the remarks, savouring of personality and bitterness, with which the "friend of Mr Canning" has seasoned his arguments, I proceed to notice, in their order, his criticisms upon those parts of my Reviews upon which he has found it convenient to observe.
I might perhaps make an objection to the description which is given of the purport of my argument. "The Reviewer argues that there was nearly an exact similarity between the principles of the two statesmen." My argument would have been more correctly, or at least more clearly, explained, by stating, as its objects, the establishment of these positions: That no material difference in the two systems had any practical effect upon the conduct of England; and particularly that Lord Castlereagh did not systematically repress, nor Mr Canning systematically support, liberal and popular institutions in other countries.
For the "fashionable" denial of merit to Mr Canning, which is said to have preceded the publication of Mr Stapleton's "Political Life of Mr Canning," I am not responsible; and was assuredly never guilty of imputing to any statesman as a fault, that his measures were referable to some
general principle. Yet I will confess, that I always regard with some distrust, an essay on whatever subject, which begins by asserting the superiority of an enlarged view," and speaks contemptuously of "little minds," and "a narrow grasp of intellect." Those only will differ
from me in this distrust, who have usually found such disclaimers of littleness, followed by a proportionate liberality and grandeur of sentiment.
I questioned the "taste" of Mr Stapleton, in interlarding his eulogy upon Mr Canning, with sarcasms and sneers at Lord Castlereagh.§ "What a notion," says the indignant critic, "does this convey of the principles of some statesmen! As if the truths of history were the proper concern of a master of the ceremonies!"
If I entertained for a moment the suspicion, that Mr Stapleton himself was the writer of the letter, this passage instantly dispelled it. A person who had peculiar opportunities of observing, for five years, the daily operations of an elegant mind, could not refer the niceties of judgment, feeling, and propriety, to a common standard with courtly etiquette; or wish to restore to political society and literature that barbarous roughness, which an imitation of Mr Canning would remove.
Surely, without "concealing hist sentiments with respect to Lord Castlereagh," Mr Stapleton might have becomingly avoided expressions of contempt. The relative situation of that minister with Mr Canning particularly called for this forbearance. Mr Canning felt this, and something more, when he expressed his hope that he felt as it deserved, the manliness and generosity with which his rival had voluntarily tendered to him in 1812 the seals of the Foreign Office. "What would be thought of me, what should I deserve to be thought of by every liberal mind—if
after such a transaction as I have described, I could even pause for a moment to consider in what order, with respect to each other, my noble friend and I should march towards one common object in the service of our country? In that transaction, any
No, xvi. art 5. + No. cxxxiii.
* No. xv. art. 2. terly Review, xv. 35. Quarterly Review, xvi. 401..
feelings which had previously separated my noble friend and myself were buried for ever. The very memory of them was effaced from our minds, nor can I compliment the good taste of those who would call them up from oblivion.”*
He was careful, in his after-life, to avoid all appearance of the bitterness which it was perhaps not in human nature perfectly to extinguish.
I will make no objection to the slight correction which the Letterwriter makes on what he conceives to be my description of Mr Stapleton's object, the more readily as, in the passage quoted for this description, I had not Mr Stapleton particularly in view. Let it be taken, then, as Mr Stapleton's object to prove, "that Mr Canning aided the cause of liberty in Europe, by withdrawing the powerful support of England from those who endeavoured to suppress all liberal opinions."+
My objects were to shew, that the support said to be withdrawn, had never been given; and that "the cause of liberty in Europe" had not been the object of the policy of Lord Castlereagh with one intention, or of Mr Canning with another.
But I am reproached with setting up my own opinion against those of more competent persons. Lady Canning, it is said, must have been acquainted with the sentiments of her husband; Lord Londonderry with those of his brother. It may be so; but each of these eminent persons is the very worst witness of the thoughts or actions of the other's Hero; and is not a good witness of the merits of his own. The allow ance which, with perfect sincerity, I have made for the partialities and amiable prejudices of the Secretary, are due, tenfold, to the widow and the brother.
So far, therefore, as the alleged misrepresentation of the policy of the one statesman depends upon a
misrepresentation of the policy of the other, those whose exclusive object it is to exalt either, ought surely to be heard with special caution.
But Lord Grey is also quoted. "He must," as is said, according to me, "have been ignorant of the policy of both !" Lord Grey was ignorant of the policy of both. He had a full share of that sort of ignorance which is produced by continued opposition, rivalry, and disappointment. And all that I have taken the liberty of observing upon Lord John Russell, is applicable to Lord Grey, who has applauded the views of the noble historian. But what has Lord Grey said, and how far has his treatment of Mr Canning's policy that character of consistency without which it is of no value? Observe: He had been the opponent of Mr Pitt, Lord Liverpool, Lord Castlereagh; against Mr Canning he directed, in 1827, the bitterest effusion of his own sarcastic eloquence, treating, as a ridiculous boast," his pretensions to merit in respect of South America, and exposing [very justly] the infatuation of those Whigs who pretended to consider him as the special friend of liberty. Recently, however, speaking from the government bench in the House of Lords, which the friends of Mr Canning had enabled him to fill,-sitting opposite to the more peculiar friends of Lord Castlereagh, and answering Lord Castlereagh's brother on a point of foreign policy-he utters a sentence of approbation of Mr Canning's system, so far as it differed from Lord Castlereagh's." He excepts from his commendation the transactions with Portugal and with Greece. He had formerly described Mr Canning's treatment of Spain in 1823, as traying the interests, tarnishing the honour, and endangering the prosperity of England;" and yet, if Hansard be correct, my antagonist has even underrated the approbation
Speech on the Lisbon affair, 6th May, 1817. Parl. Deb. xxxvi. 222. The article in No. XV. was intended for a correction of misrepresentations of England's policy, from the time of Mr Pitt.
It was in the first instance written
$ 10th May. Parl, Deb. vii. 720.
as a review of Lord John Russell's republished Letter.
VOL. XXXI. NO. CXCII.
which the same Lord Grey has re-
I rely not so much upon personal authority, as upon the public acts and speeches of the Ministers whose conduct I examine; yet it is scarcely reasonable, that when Lord Grey, the head of the Opposition, is to be quoted, Lord Liverpool, the head of the Government, is to be rejected! Although responsible for every measure of the Foreign Department, from 1812 to 1827, and the expounder of the Foreign Policy in the House of Lords, he is supposed to have not been free to interfere in foreign affairs, because he had been, as it is said, elected Premier by his colleagues. It is true that the late King gave to the members of the Cabinet which had been led by Mr Perceval, an unusual share in the nomination of his First Minister; but it would be
Parl. Deb. xvii. 726.
a libel upon the character of Lord Liverpool to say, that he so far neglected the duties of the office, to which he had thus succeeded, as to permit, unconcerned, a total change of policy in a most important branch of his administration. That he was, "for some years before Lord Castlereagh's death, uneasy at the state of foreign affairs" is probable enough; Lord Castlereagh himself, there is little doubt, was not very comfortable under all that was going on in Europe; nor is Lord Grey quite easy at the present moment; but to trace the uneasiness of the Premier to his disapprobation of the Foreign Secretary, is a gratuitous assumption.
I am far from denying that much is in the power of the Secretary of State who writes the dispatches, and talks to Foreign Ministers: he may give a different tone to the communications, and this change of tone may lead to more substantial alterations. I believe that Mr Canning did alter the tone; and I admit that it is "by an examination of facts alone" that we can ascertain whether there was a fundamental change of system. But surely the burthen of the proof lies upon him who would maintain that a Prime Minister of unimpeached integrity, and acknowledged talents, permitted, almost without knowing it, an entire change to be effected by his subordinates in the policy of his government.
Let us proceed then to the facts and deductions which are in dispute.
To shew not only that Mr Canning came into office without any avowed disapprobation of Lord Castlereagh's policy, and intention to change it, but
with the decided and unequivocal recognition of it as the principle of his own administration," I referred to his adoption of the Circular of 1821. The first half of this assertion is readily admitted,$ the second half is denied. The Letter-writer does not stoutly contend with Mr Stapleton, that it was a paper of 1820, not that of 1821, to which Mr Canning referred. Indeed the proofs which I adduced on
† New Monthly Magazine, p. 34. Foreign Quarterly Review, xvi. 401, and New Monthly Magazine, 43, $ New Monthly Magazine, p. 35.