In the course of the last thirty years we have seen two wars waged against Liberty—the American war, and the war against the French People in the early stages of their Revolution. In the latter instance the Emigrants and the Continental Powers and the British did, in all their expectations and in every movement of their efforts, manifest a common ignorance—originating in the same source. And, for what more especially belongs to ourselves at this time, we may affirm—that the same presumptuous irreverence of the principles of justice, and blank insensibility to the affections of human nature, which determined the conduct of our government in those two wars against liberty, have continued to accompany its exertions in the present struggle for liberty,—and have rendered them fruitless. The British government deems (no doubt), on its own part, that its intentions are good. It must not deceive itself: nor must we deceive ourselves. Intentions—thoroughly good—could not mingle with the unblessed actions which we have witnessed. A disinterested and pure intention is a light that guides as well as cheers, and renders desperate lapses impossible.
Our duty is—our aim ought to be—to employ the true means of liberty and virtue for the ends of liberty and virtue. In such policy, thoroughly understood, there is fitness and concord and rational subordination; it deserves a higher name—organization, health, and grandeur. Contrast, in a single instance, the two processes; and the qualifications which they require. The ministers of that period found it an easy task to hire a band of Hessians, and to send it across the Atlantic, that they might assist in bringing the Americans (according to the phrase then prevalent) to reason. The force, with which these troops would attack, was gross,—tangible,—and might be calculated; but the spirit of resistance, which their presence would create, was subtle—ethereal—mighty—and incalculable. Accordingly, from the moment when these foreigners landed—men who had no interest, no business, in the quarrel, but what the wages of their master bound him to, and he imposed upon his miserable slaves;—nay, from the first rumour of their destination, the success of the British was (as hath since been affirmed by judicious Americans) impossible.
The British government of the present day have been seduced, as we have seen, by the same commonplace facilities on the one side; and have been equally blind on the other. A physical auxiliar force of thirty-five thousand men is to be added to the army of Spain: but the moral energy, which thereby might be taken away from the principal, is overlooked or slighted; the material being too fine for their calculation. What does it avail to graft a bough upon a tree; if this be done so ignorantly and rashly that the trunk, which can alone supply the sap by which the whole must flourish, receives a deadly wound? Palpable effects of the Convention of Cintra, and self-contradicting consequences even in the matter especially aimed at, may be seen in the necessity which it entailed of leaving 8,000 British troops to protect Portugueze traitors from punishment by the laws of their country. A still more serious and fatal contradiction lies in this—that the English army was made an instrument of injustice, and was dishonoured, in order that it might be hurried forward to uphold a cause which could have no life but by justice and honour. The Nation knows how that army languished in the heart of Spain: that it accomplished nothing except its retreat, is sure: what great service it might have performed, if it had moved from a different impulse, we have shewn.
It surely then behoves those who are in authority—to look to the state of their own minds. There is indeed an inherent impossibility that they should be equal to the arduous duties which have devolved upon them: but it is not unreasonable to hope that something higher might be aimed at; and that the People might see, upon great occasions,—in the practice of its Rulers—a more adequate reflection of its own wisdom and virtue. Our Rulers, I repeat, must begin with their own minds. This is a precept of immediate urgency; and, if attended to, might be productive of immediate good. I will follow it with further conclusions directly referring to future conduct.
I will not suppose that any ministry of this country can be so abject, so insensible, and unwise, as to abandon the Spaniards and Portugueze while there is a Patriot in arms; or, if the people should for a time be subjugated, to deny them assistance the moment they rise to require it again. I cannot think so unfavourably of my country as to suppose this possible. Let men in power, however, take care (and let the nation be equally careful) not to receive any reports from our army—of the disposition of the Spanish people—without mistrust. The British generals, who were in Portugal (the whole body of them, according to the statement of Sir Hew Dalrymple), approved of the Convention of Cintra; and have thereby shewn that their communications are not to be relied upon in this case. And indeed there is not any information, which we can receive upon this subject, that is so little trustworthy as that which comes from our army—or from any part of it. The opportunities of notice, afforded to soldiers in actual service, must necessarily be very limited; and a thousand things stand in the way of their power to make a right use of these. But a retreating army, in the country of an Ally;—harrassed and dissatisfied; willing to find a reason for its failures in any thing but itself, and actually not without much solid ground for complaint; retreating; sometimes, perhaps, fugitive; and, in its disorder, tempted (and even forced) to commit offences upon the people of the district through which it passes; while they, in their turn, are filled with fear and inconsiderate anger;—an army, in such a condition, must needs be incapable of seeing objects as they really are; and, at the same time, all things must change in its presence, and put on their most unfavourable appearances.
 From this number, however, must be excepted the gallant and patriotic General Ferguson. For that officer has had the virtue publicly and in the most emphatic manner, upon two occasions, to reprobate the whole transaction.
Deeming it then not to be doubted that the British government will continue its endeavours to support its Allies; one or other of two maxims of policy follows obviously from the painful truths which we have been considering:—Either, first, that we should put forth to the utmost our strength as a military power—strain it to the very last point, and prepare (no erect mind will start at the proposition) to pour into the Peninsula a force of two hundred thousand men or more,—and make ourselves for a time, upon Spanish ground, principals in the contest; or, secondly, that we should direct our attention to giving support rather in Things than in Men.
The former plan, though requiring a great effort and many sacrifices, is (I have no doubt) practicable: its difficulties would yield to a bold and energetic Ministry, in despite of the present constitution of Parliament. The Militia, if they had been called upon at the beginning of the rising in the Peninsula, would (I believe)—almost to a man—have offered their services: so would many of the Volunteers in their individual capacity. They would do so still. The advantages of this plan would be—that the power, which would attend it, must (if judiciously directed) insure unity of effort; taming down, by its dignity, the discords which usually prevail among allied armies; and subordinating to itself the affections of the Spanish and Portugueze by the palpable service which it was rendering to their Country. A further encouragement for adopting this plan he will find, who perceives that the military power of our Enemy is not in substance so formidable, by many—many degrees of terror, as outwardly it appears to be. The last campaign has not been wholly without advantage: since it has proved that the French troops are indebted, for their victories, to the imbecility of their opponents far more than to their own discipline or courage—or even to the skill and talents of their Generals. There is a superstition hanging over us which the efforts of our army (not to speak of the Spaniards) have, I hope, removed.—But their mighty numbers!—In that is a delusion of another kind. In the former instance, year after year we imagined things to be what they were not: and in this, by a more fatal and more common delusion, the thought of what things really are—precludes the thought of what in a moment they may become: the mind, overlaid by the present, cannot lift itself to attain a glimpse of the future.
All—which is comparatively inherent, or can lay claim to any degree of permanence, in the tyranny which the French Nation maintains over Europe—rests upon two foundations:—First; Upon the despotic rule which has been established in France over a powerful People who have lately passed from a state of revolution, in which they supported a struggle begun for domestic liberty, and long continued for liberty and national independence:—and, secondly, upon the personal character of the Man by whom that rule is exercised.
As to the former; every one knows that Despotism, in a general sense, is but another word for weakness. Let one generation disappear; and a people over whom such rule has been extended, if it have not virtue to free itself, is condemned to embarrassment in the operations of its government, and to perpetual languor; with no better hope than that which may spring from the diseased activity of some particular Prince on whom the authority may happen to devolve. This, if it takes a regular hereditary course: but,—if the succession be interrupted, and the supreme power frequently usurped or given by election,—worse evils follow. Science and Art must dwindle, whether the power be hereditary or not: and the virtues of a Trajan or an Antonine are a hollow support for the feeling of contentment and happiness in the hearts of their subjects: such virtues are even a painful mockery;—something that is, and may vanish in a moment, and leave the monstrous crimes of a Caracalla or a Domitian in its place,—men, who are probably leaders of a long procession of their kind. The feebleness of despotic power we have had before our eyes in the late condition of Spain and Prussia; and in that of France before the Revolution; and in the present condition of Austria and Russia. But, in a new-born arbitrary and military Government (especially if, like that of France, it have been immediately preceded by a popular Constitution), not only this weakness is not found; but it possesses, for the purposes of external annoyance, a preternatural vigour. Many causes contribute to this: we need only mention that, fitness—real or supposed—being necessarily the chief (and almost sole) recommendation to offices of trust, it is clear that such offices will in general be ably filled; and their duties, comparatively, well executed: and that, from the conjunction of absolute civil and military authority in a single Person, there naturally follows promptness of decision; concentration of effort; rapidity of motion; and confidence that the movements made will be regularly supported. This is all which need now be said upon the subject of this first basis of French Tyranny.
For the second—namely, the personal character of the Chief; I shall at present content myself with noting (to prevent misconception) that this basis is not laid in any superiority of talents in him, but in his utter rejection of the restraints of morality—in wickedness which acknowledges no limit but the extent of its own power. Let any one reflect a moment; and he will feel that a new world of forces is opened to a Being who has made this desperate leap. It is a tremendous principle to be adopted, and steadily adhered to, by a man in the station which Buonaparte occupies; and he has taken the full benefit of it. What there is in this principle of weak, perilous, and self-destructive—I may find a grateful employment in endeavouring to shew upon some future occasion. But it is a duty which we owe to the present moment to proclaim—in vindication of the dignity of human nature, and for an admonition to men of prostrate spirit—that the dominion, which this Enemy of mankind holds, has neither been acquired nor is sustained by endowments of intellect which are rarely bestowed, or by uncommon accumulations of knowledge; but that it has risen from circumstances over which he had no influence; circumstances which, with the power they conferred, have stimulated passions whose natural food hath been and is ignorance; from the barbarian impotence and insolence of a mind—originally of ordinary constitution—lagging, in moral sentiment and knowledge, three hundred years behind the age in which it acts. In such manner did the power originate; and, by the forces which I have described, is it maintained. This should be declared: and it should be added—that the crimes of Buonaparte are more to be abhorred than those of other denaturalized creatures whose actions are painted in History; because the Author of those crimes is guilty with less temptation, and sins in the presence of a clearer light.
No doubt in the command of almost the whole military force of Europe (the subject which called upon me to make these distinctions) he has, at this moment, a third source of power which may be added to these two. He himself rates this last so high—either is, or affects to be, so persuaded of its pre-eminence—that he boldly announces to the world that it is madness, and even impiety, to resist him. And sorry may we be to remember that there are British Senators, who (if a judgement may be formed from the language which they speak) are inclined to accompany him far in this opinion. But the enormity of this power has in it nothing inherent or permanent. Two signal overthrows in pitched battles would, I believe, go far to destroy it. Germans, Dutch, Italians, Swiss, Poles, would desert the army of Buonaparte, and flock to the standard of his Adversaries, from the moment they could look towards it with that confidence which one or two conspicuous victories would inspire. A regiment of 900 Swiss joined the British army in Portugal; and, if the French had been compelled to surrender as Prisoners of War, we should have seen that all those troops, who were not native Frenchmen, would (if encouragement had been given) have joined the British: and the opportunity that was lost of demonstrating this fact—was not among the least of the mischiefs which attended the termination of the campaign.—In a word; the vastness of Buonaparte's military power is formidable—not because it is impossible to break it; but because it has not yet been penetrated. In this respect it may not inaptly be compared to a huge pine-forest (such as are found in the Northern parts of this Island), whose ability to resist the storms is in its skirts: let but the blast once make an inroad; and it levels the forest, and sweeps it away at pleasure. A hundred thousand men, such as fought at Vimiera and Corunna, would accomplish three such victories as I have been anticipating. This Nation might command a military force which would drive the French out of the Peninsula: I do not say that we could sustain there a military force which would prevent their re-entering; but that we could transplant thither, by a great effort, one which would expel them:—This I maintain: and it is matter of thought in which infirm minds may find both reproach and instruction. The Spaniards could then take possession of their own fortresses; and have leisure to give themselves a blended civil and military organization, complete and animated by liberty; which, if once accomplished, they would be able to protect themselves. The oppressed Continental Powers also, seeing such unquestionable proof that Great Britain was sincere and earnest, would lift their heads again; and, by so doing, would lighten the burthen of war which might remain for the Spaniards.
In treating of this plan—I have presumed that a General might be placed at the head of this great military power who would not sign a Treaty like that of the Convention of Cintra, and say (look at the proceedings of the Board of Inquiry) that he was determined to this by 'British interests;' or frame any Treaty in the country of an Ally (save one purely military for the honourable preservation, if necessary, of his own army or part of it) to which the sole, or even the main, inducement was—our interests contra-distinguished from those of that Ally;—a General and a Ministry whose policy would be comprehensive enough to perceive that the true welfare of Britain is best promoted by the independence, freedom, and honour of other Nations; and that it is only by the diffusion and prevalence of these virtues that French Tyranny can be ultimately reduced; or the influence of France over the rest of Europe brought within its natural and reasonable limits.
If this attempt be 'above the strain and temper' of the country, there remains only a plan laid down upon the other principles; namely, service (as far as is required) in things rather than in men; that is, men being secondary to things. It is not, I fear, possible that the moral sentiments of the British Army or Government should accord with those of Spain in her present condition. Commanding power indeed (as hath been said), put forth in the repulse of the common enemy, would tend, more effectually than any thing save the prevalence of true wisdom, to prevent disagreement, and to obviate any temporary injury which the moral spirit of the Spaniards might receive from us: at all events—such power, should there ensue any injury, would bring a solid compensation. But from a middle course—an association sufficiently intimate and wide to scatter every where unkindly passions, and yet unable to attain the salutary point of decisive power—no good is to be expected. Great would be the evil, at this momentous period, if the hatred of the Spaniards should look two ways. Let it be as steadily fixed upon the French, as the Pilot's eye upon his mark. Military stores and arms should be furnished with unfailing liberality: let Troops also be supplied; but let these act separately,—taking strong positions upon the coast, if such can be found, to employ twice their numbers of the Enemy; and, above all, let there be floating Armies—keeping the Enemy in constant uncertainty where he is to be attacked. The peninsula frame of Spain and Portugal lays that region open to the full shock of British warfare. Our Fleet and Army should act, wherever it is possible, as parts of one body—a right hand and a left; and the Enemy ought to be made to feel the force of both.
But—whatever plans be adopted—there can be no success, unless the execution be entrusted to Generals of competent judgement. That the British Army swarms with those who are incompetent—is too plain from successive proofs in the transactions at Buenos Ayres, at Cintra, and in the result of the Board of Inquiry.—Nor must we see a General appointed to command—and required, at the same time, to frame his operations according to the opinion of an inferior Officer: an injunction (for a recommendation, from such a quarter, amounts to an injunction) implying that a man had been appointed to a high station—of which the very persons, who had appointed him, deemed him unworthy; else they must have known that he would endeavour to profit by the experience of any of his inferior officers, from the suggestions of his own understanding: at the same time—by denying to the General-in-Chief the free use of his own judgement, and by the act of announcing this presumption of his incompetence to the man himself—such an indignity is put upon him, that his passions must of necessity be rouzed; so as to leave it scarcely possible that he could draw any benefit, which he might otherwise have drawn, from the local knowledge or talents of the individual to whom he was referred: and, lastly, this injunction virtually involves a subversion of all military subordination. In the better times of the House of Commons—a minister, who had presumed to write such a letter as that to which I allude, would have been impeached.
The Debates in Parliament, and measures of Government, every day furnish new Proofs of the truths which I have been attempting to establish—of the utter want of general principles;—new and lamentable proofs! This moment (while I am drawing towards a conclusion) I learn, from the newspaper reports, that the House of Commons has refused to declare that the Convention of Centra disappointed the hopes and expectations of the Nation.
The motion, according to the letter of it, was ill-framed; for the Convention might have been a very good one, and still have disappointed the hopes and expectations of the Nation—as those might have been unwise: at all events, the words ought to have stood—the just and reasonable hopes of the Nation. But the hacknied phrase of 'disappointed hopes and expectations'—should not have been used at all: it is a centre round which much delusion has gathered. The Convention not only did not satisfy the Nation's hopes of good; but sunk it into a pitfall of unimagined and unimaginable evil. The hearts and understandings of the People tell them that the language of a proposed parliamentary resolution, upon this occasion, ought—not only to have been different in the letter—but also widely different in the spirit: and the reader of these pages will have deduced, that no terms of reprobation could in severity exceed the offences involved in—and connected with—that instrument. But, while the grand keep of the castle of iniquity was to be stormed, we have seen nothing but a puny assault upon heaps of the scattered rubbish of the fortress; nay, for the most part, on some accidental mole-hills at its base. I do not speak thus in disrespect to the Right Hon. Gentleman who headed this attack. His mind, left to itself, would (I doubt not) have prompted something worthier and higher: but he moves in the phalanx of Party;—a spiritual Body; in which (by strange inconsistency) the hampering, weakening, and destroying, of every individual mind of which it is composed—is the law which must constitute the strength of the whole. The question was—whether principles, affecting the very existence of Society, had not been violated; and an arm lifted, and let fall, which struck at the root of Honour; with the aggravation of the crime having been committed at this momentous period. But what relation is there between these principles and actions, and being in Place or out of it? If the People would constitutionally and resolutely assert their rights, their Representatives would be taught another lesson; and for their own profit. Their understandings would be enriched accordingly: for it is there—there where least suspected—that the want, from which this country suffers, chiefly lies. They err, who suppose that venality and corruption (though now spreading more and more) are the master-evils of this day: neither these nor immoderate craving for power are so much to be deprecated, as the non-existence of a widely-ranging intellect; of an intellect which, if not efficacious to infuse truth as a vital fluid into the heart, might at least make it a powerful tool in the hand. Outward profession,—which, for practical purposes, is an act of most desirable subservience,—would then wait upon those objects to which inward reverence, though not felt, was known to be due. Schemes of ample reach and true benefit would also promise best to insure the rewards coveted by personal ambition: and men of baser passions, finding it their interest, would naturally combine to perform useful service under the direction of strong minds: while men of good intentions would have their own pure satisfaction; and would exert themselves with more upright—I mean, more hopeful—cheerfulness, and more successfully. It is not therefore inordinate desire of wealth or power which is so injurious—as the means which are and must be employed, in the present intellectual condition of the Legislature, to sustain and secure that power: these are at once an effect of barrenness, and a cause; acting, and mutually re-acting, incessantly. An enlightened Friend has, in conversation, observed to the Author of these pages—that formerly the principles of men wore better than they who held them; but that now (a far worse evil!) men are better than their principles. I believe it:—of the deplorable quality and state of principles, the public proceedings in our Country furnish daily new proof. It is however some consolation, at this present crisis, to find—that, of the thoughts and feelings uttered during the two debates which led me to these painful declarations, such—as approach towards truth which has any dignity in it—come from the side of his Majesty's Ministers.—But note again those contradictions to which I have so often been obliged to advert. The Ministers advise his Majesty publicly to express sentiments of disapprobation upon the Convention of Cintra; and, when the question of the merits or demerits of this instrument comes before them in Parliament, the same persons—who, as advisers of the crown, lately condemned the treaty—now, in their character of representatives of the people, by the manner in which they received this motion, have pronounced an encomium upon it. For, though (as I have said) the motion was inaccurately and inadequately worded, it was not set aside upon this ground. And the Parliament has therefore persisted in withholding, from the insulted and injured People and from their Allies, the only reparation which perhaps it may be in its power to grant; has refused to signify its repentance and sorrow for what hath been done; without which, as a previous step, there can be no proof—no gratifying intimation, even to this Country or to its Allies, that the future efforts of the British Parliament are in a sincere spirit. The guilt of the transaction therefore being neither repented of, nor atoned for; the course of evil is, by necessity, persevered in.—But let us turn to a brighter region.
The events of the last year, gloriously destroying many frail fears, have placed—in the rank of serene and immortal truths—a proposition which, as an object of belief, hath in all ages been fondly cherished; namely—That a numerous Nation, determined to be free, may effect its purpose in despite of the mightiest power which a foreign Invader can bring against it. These events also have pointed out how, in the ways of Nature and under the guidance of Society, this happy end is to be attained: in other words, they have shewn that the cause of the People, in dangers and difficulties issuing from this quarter of oppression, is safe while it remains not only in the bosom but in the hands of the People; or (what amounts to the same thing) in those of a government which, being truly from the People, is faithfully for them. While the power remained with the provincial Juntas, that is, with the body natural of the community (for those authorities, newly generated in such adversity, were truly living members of that body); every thing prospered in Spain. Hopes of the best kind were opened out and encouraged; liberal opinions countenanced; and wise measures arranged: and last, and (except as proceeding from these) least of all,—victories in the field, in the streets of the city, and upon the walls of the fortress.
I have heretofore styled it a blessing that the Spanish People became their own masters at once. It was a blessing; but not without much alloy: as the same disinterested generous passions, which preserved (and would for a season still have preserved) them from a bad exercise of their power, impelled them to part with it too soon; before labours, hitherto neither tried nor thought of, had created throughout the country the minor excellences indispensible for the performance of those labours; before powerful minds, not hitherto of general note, had found time to shew themselves; and before men, who were previously known, had undergone the proof of new situations. Much therefore was wanting to direct the general judgement in the choice of persons, when the second delegation took place; which was a removal (the first, we have seen, had not been so) of the power from the People. But, when a common centre became absolutely necessary, the power ought to have passed from the provincial Assemblies into the hands of the Cortes; and into none else. A pernicious Oligarchy crept into the place of this comprehensive—this constitutional—this saving and majestic Assembly. Far be it from me to speak of the Supreme Junta with ill-advised condemnation: every man must feel for the distressful trials to which that Body has been exposed. But eighty men or a hundred, with a king at their head veiled under a cloud of fiction (we might say, with reference to the difficulties of this moment, begotten upon a cloud of fiction), could not be an image of a Nation like that of Spain, or an adequate instrument of their power for their ends. The Assembly, from the smallness of its numbers, must have wanted breadth of wing to extend itself and brood over Spain with a quickening touch of warmth every where. If also, as hath been mentioned, there was a want of experience to determine the judgment in choice of persons; this same smallness of numbers must have unnecessarily increased the evil—by excluding many men of worth and talents which were so far known and allowed as that they would surely have been deputed to an Assembly upon a larger scale. Gratitude, habit, and numerous other causes must have given an undue preponderance to birth, station, rank, and fortune; and have fixed the election, more than was reasonable, upon those who were most conspicuous for these distinctions;—men whose very virtue would incline them superstitiously to respect established things, and to mistrust the People—towards whom not only a frank confidence but a forward generosity was the first of duties. I speak not of the vices to which such men would be liable, brought up under the discipline of a government administered like the old Monarchy of Spain: the matter is both ungracious and too obvious.
But I began with hope; and hope has inwardly accompanied me to the end. The whole course of the campaign, rightly interpreted, has justified my hope. In Madrid, in Ferrol, in Corunna, in every considerable place, and in every part of the country over which the French have re-extended their dominion,—we learn, from their own reports, that the body of the People have shewed against them, to the last, the most determined hostility. Hence it is clear that the lure, which the invading Usurper found himself constrained lately to hold out to the inferior orders of society in the shape of various immunities, has totally failed: and therefore he turns for support to another quarter, and now attempts to cajole the wealthy and the privileged. But this class has been taught, by late Decrees, what it has to expect from him; and how far he is to be confided-in for its especial interests. Many individuals, no doubt, he will seduce; but the bulk of the class, even if they could be insensible to more liberal feelings, cannot but be his enemies. This change, therefore, is not merely shifting ground; but retiring to a position which he himself has previously undermined. Here is confusion; and a power warring against itself.
So will it ever fare with foreign Tyrants when (in spite of domestic abuses) a People, which has lived long, feels that it has a Country to love; and where the heart of that People is sound. Between the native inhabitants of France and Spain there has existed from the earliest period, and still does exist, an universal and utter dissimilitude in laws, actions, deportment, gait, manners, customs: join with this the difference in the language, and the barrier of the Pyrenees; a separation and an opposition in great things, and an antipathy in small. Ignorant then must he be of history and of the reports of travellers and residents in the two countries, or strangely inattentive to the constitution of human nature, who (this being true) can admit the belief that the Spaniards, numerous and powerful as they are, will live under Frenchmen as their lords and masters. Let there be added to this inherent mutual repulsiveness—those recent indignities and horrible outrages; and we need not fear to say that such reconcilement is impossible; even without that further insuperable obstacle which we hope will exist, an establishment of a free Constitution in Spain.—The intoxicated setter-up of Kings may fill his diary with pompous stories of the acclamations with which his solemn puppets are received; he may stuff their mouths with impious asseverations; and hire knees to bend before them, and lips to answer with honied greetings of gratitude and love: these cannot remove the old heart, and put a new one into the bosom of the spectators. The whole is a pageant seen for a day among men in its passage to that 'Limbo large and broad' whither, as to their proper home, fleet
All the unaccomplish'd works of Nature's hand, Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix'd, Dissolv'd on earth.
Talk not of the perishable nature of enthusiasm; and rise above a craving for perpetual manifestations of things. He is to be pitied whose eye can only be pierced by the light of a meridian sun, whose frame can only be warmed by the heat of midsummer. Let us hear no more of the little dependence to be had in war upon voluntary service. The things, with which we are primarily and mainly concerned, are inward passions; and not outward arrangements. These latter may be given at any time; when the parts, to be put together, are in readiness. Hatred and love, and each in its intensity, and pride (passions which, existing in the heart of a Nation, are inseparable from hope)—these elements being in constant preparation—enthusiasm will break out from them, or coalesce with them, upon the summons of a moment. And these passions are scarcely less than inextinguishable. The truth of this is recorded in the manners and hearts of North and South Britons, of Englishmen and Welshmen, on either border of the Tweed and of the Esk, on both sides of the Severn and the Dee; an inscription legible, and in strong characters, which the tread of many and great blessings, continued through hundreds of years, has been unable to efface. The Sicilian Vespers are to this day a familiar game among the boys of the villages on the sides of Mount Etna, and through every corner of the Island; and 'Exterminate the French!' is the action in their arms, and the word of triumph upon their tongues. He then is a sorry Statist, who desponds or despairs (nor is he less so who is too much elevated) from any considerations connected with the quality of enthusiasm. Nothing is so easy as to sustain it by partial and gradual changes of its object; and by placing it in the way of receiving new interpositions according to the need. The difficulty lies—not in kindling, feeding, or fanning the flame; but in continuing so to regulate the relations of things—that the fanning breeze and the feeding fuel shall come from no unworthy quarter, and shall neither of them be wanting in appropriate consecration. The Spaniards have as great helps towards ensuring this, as ever were vouchsafed to a People.
What then is to be desired? Nothing but that the Government and the higher orders of society should deal sincerely towards the middle class and the lower: I mean, that the general temper should be sincere.—It is not required that every one should be disinterested, or zealous, or of one mind with his fellows. Selfishness or slackness in individuals, and in certain bodies of men also (and at time's perhaps in all), have their use: else why should they exist? Due circumspection and necessary activity, in those who are sound, could not otherwise maintain themselves. The deficiencies in one quarter are more than made up by consequent overflowings in another. 'If my Neighbour fails,' says the true Patriot, 'more devolves upon me.' Discord and even treason are not, in a country situated as Spain is, the pure evils which, upon a superficial view, they appear to be. Never are a people so livelily admonished of the love they bear their country, and of the pride which they have in their common parent, as when they hear of some parricidal attempt of a false brother. For this cause chiefly, in times of national danger, are their fancies so busy in suspicion; which under such shape, though oftentimes producing dire and pitiable effects, is notwithstanding in its general character no other than that habit which has grown out of the instinct of self-preservation—elevated into a wakeful and affectionate apprehension for the whole, and ennobling its private and baser ways by the generous use to which they are converted. Nor ever has a good and loyal man such a swell of mind, such a clear insight into the constitution of virtue, and such a sublime sense of its power, as at the first tidings of some atrocious act of perfidy; when, having taken the alarm for human nature, a second thought recovers him; and his faith returns—gladsome from what has been revealed within himself, and awful from participation of the secrets in the profaner grove of humanity which that momentary blast laid open to his view.
Of the ultimate independence of the Spanish Nation there is no reason to doubt: and for the immediate furtherance of the good cause, and a throwing-off of the yoke upon the first favourable opportunity by the different tracts of the country upon which it has been re-imposed, nothing is wanting but sincerity on the part of the government towards the provinces which are yet free. The first end to be secured by Spain is riddance of the enemy: the second, permanent independence: and the third, a free constitution of government; which will give their main (though far from sole) value to the other two; and without which little more than a formal independence, and perhaps scarcely that, can be secured. Humanity and honour, and justice, and all the sacred feelings connected with atonement, retribution, and satisfaction; shame that will not sleep, and the sting of unperformed duty; and all the powers of the mind, the memory that broods over the dead and turns to the living, the understanding, the imagination, and the reason;—demand and enjoin that the wanton oppressor should be driven, with confusion and dismay, from the country which he has so heinously abused.
This cannot be accomplished (scarcely can it be aimed at) without an accompanying and an inseparable resolution, in the souls of the Spaniards, to be and remain their own masters; that is, to preserve themselves in the rank of Men; and not become as the Brute that is driven to the pasture, and cares not who owns him. It is a common saying among those who profess to be lovers of civil liberty, and give themselves some credit for understanding it,—that, if a Nation be not free, it is mere dust in the balance whether the slavery be bred at home, or comes from abroad; be of their own suffering, or of a stranger's imposing. They see little of the under-ground part of the tree of liberty, and know less of the nature of man, who can think thus. Where indeed there is an indisputable and immeasurable superiority in one nation over another; to be conquered may, in course of time, be a benefit to the inferior nation: and, upon this principle, some of the conquests of the Greeks and Romans may be justified. But in what of really useful or honourable are the French superior to their Neighbours? Never far advanced, and, now barbarizing apace, they may carry—amongst the sober and dignified Nations which surround them—much to be avoided, but little to be imitated.
There is yet another case in which a People may be benefited by resignation or forfeiture of their rights as a separate independent State; I mean, where—of two contiguous or neighbouring countries, both included by nature under one conspicuously defined limit—the weaker is united with, or absorbed into, the more powerful; and one and the same Government is extended over both. This, with clue patience and foresight, may (for the most part) be amicably effected, without the intervention of conquest; but—even should a violent course have been resorted to, and have proved successful—the result will be matter of congratulation rather than of regret, if the countries have been incorporated with an equitable participation of natural advantages and civil privileges. Who does not rejoice that former partitions have disappeared,—and that England, Scotland, and Wales, are under one legislative and executive authority; and that Ireland (would that she had been more justly dealt with!) follows the same destiny? The large and numerous Fiefs, which interfered injuriously with the grand demarcation assigned by nature to France, have long since been united and consolidated. The several independent Sovereignties of Italy (a country, the boundary of which is still more expressly traced out by nature; and which has no less the further definition and cement of country which Language prepares) have yet this good to aim at: and it will be a happy day for Europe, when the natives of Italy and the natives of Germany (whose duty is, in like manner, indicated to them) shall each dissolve the pernicious barriers which divide them, and form themselves into a mighty People. But Spain, excepting a free union with Portugal, has no benefit of this kind to look for: she has long since attained it. The Pyrenees on the one side, and the Sea on every other; the vast extent and great resources of the territory; a population numerous enough to defend itself against the whole world, and capable of great increase; language; and long duration of independence;—point out and command that the two nations of the Peninsula should be united in friendship and strict alliance; and, as soon as it may be effected without injustice, form one independent and indissoluble sovereignty. The Peninsula cannot be protected but by itself: it is too large a tree to be framed by nature for a station among underwoods; it must have power to toss its branches in the wind, and lift a bold forehead to the sun.
Allowing that the 'regni novitas' should either compel or tempt the Usurper to do away some ancient abuses, and to accord certain insignificant privileges to the People upon the purlieus of the forest of Freedom (for assuredly he will never suffer them to enter the body of it); allowing this, and much more; that the mass of the Population would be placed in a condition outwardly more thriving—would be better off (as the phrase in conversation is); it is still true that—in the act and consciousness of submission to an imposed lord and master, to a will not growing out of themselves, to the edicts of another People their triumphant enemy—there would be the loss of a sensation within for which nothing external, even though it should come close to the garden and the field—to the door and the fire-side, can make amends. The Artisan and the Merchant (men of classes perhaps least attached to their native soil) would not be insensible to this loss; and the Mariner, in his thoughtful mood, would sadden under it upon the wide ocean. The central or cardinal feeling of these thoughts may, at a future time, furnish fit matter for the genius of some patriotic Spaniard to express in his own noble language—as an inscription for the Sword of Francis the First; if that Sword, which was so ingloriously and perfidiously surrendered, should ever, by the energies of Liberty, be recovered, and deposited in its ancient habitation in the Escurial. The Patriot will recollect that,—if the memorial, then given up by the hand of the Government, had also been abandoned by the heart of the People, and that indignity patiently subscribed to,—his country would have been lost for ever.
There are multitudes by whom, I know, these sentiments will not be languidly received at this day; and sure I am—that, a hundred and fifty years ago, they would have been ardently welcomed by all. But, in many parts of Europe (and especially in our own country), men have been pressing forward, for some time, in a path which has betrayed by its fruitfulness; furnishing them constant employment for picking up things about their feet, when thoughts were perishing in their minds. While Mechanic Arts, Manufactures, Agriculture, Commerce, and all those products of knowledge which are confined to gross—definite—and tangible objects, have, with the aid of Experimental Philosophy, been every day putting on more brilliant colours; the splendour of the Imagination has been fading: Sensibility, which was formerly a generous nursling of rude Nature, has been chased from its ancient range in the wide domain of patriotism and religion with the weapons of derision by a shadow calling itself Good Sense: calculations of presumptuous Expediency—groping its way among partial and temporary consequences—have been substituted for the dictates of paramount and infallible Conscience, the supreme embracer of consequences: lifeless and circumspect Decencies have banished the graceful negligence and unsuspicious dignity of Virtue.
The progress of these arts also, by furnishing such attractive stores of outward accommodation, has misled the higher orders of society in their more disinterested exertions for the service of the lower. Animal comforts have been rejoiced over, as if they were the end of being. A neater and more fertile garden; a greener field; implements and utensils more apt; a dwelling more commodious and better furnished;—let these be attained, say the actively benevolent, and we are sure not only of being in the right road, but of having successfully terminated our journey. Now a country may advance, for some time, in this course with apparent profit: these accommodations, by zealous encouragement, may be attained: and still the Peasant or Artisan, their master, be a slave in mind; a slave rendered even more abject by the very tenure under which these possessions are held: and—if they veil from us this fact, or reconcile us to it—they are worse than worthless. The springs of emotion may be relaxed or destroyed within him; he may have little thought of the past, and less interest in the future.—The great end and difficulty of life for men of all classes, and especially difficult for those who live by manual labour, is a union of peace with innocent and laudable animation. Not by bread alone is the life of Man sustained; not by raiment alone is he warmed;—but by the genial and vernal inmate of the breast, which at once pushes forth and cherishes; by self-support and self-sufficing endeavours; by anticipations, apprehensions, and active remembrances; by elasticity under insult, and firm resistance to injury; by joy, and by love; by pride which his imagination gathers in from afar; by patience, because life wants not promises; by admiration; by gratitude which—debasing him not when his fellow-being is its object—habitually expands itself, for his elevation, in complacency towards his Creator.
Now, to the existence of these blessings, national independence is indispensible; and many of them it will itself produce and maintain. For it is some consolation to those who look back upon the history of the world to know—that, even without civil liberty, society may possess—diffused through its inner recesses in the minds even of its humblest members—something of dignified enjoyment. But, without national independence, this is impossible. The difference, between inbred oppression and that which is from without, is essential; inasmuch as the former does not exclude, from the minds of a people, the feeling of being self-governed; does not imply (as the latter does, when patiently submitted to) an abandonment of the first duty imposed by the faculty of reason. In reality: where this feeling has no place, a people are not a society, but a herd; man being indeed distinguished among them from the brute; but only to his disgrace. I am aware that there are too many who think that, to the bulk of the community, this independence is of no value; that it is a refinement with which they feel they have no concern; inasmuch as, under the best frame of Government, there is an inevitable dependence of the pool upon the rich—of the many upon the few—so unrelenting and imperious as to reduce this other, by comparison, into a force which has small influence, and is entitled to no regard. Superadd civil liberty to national independence; and this position is overthrown at once: for there is no more certain mark of a sound frame of polity than this; that, in all individual instances (and it is upon these generalized that this position is laid down), the dependence is in reality far more strict on the side of the wealthy; and the labouring man leans less upon others than any man in the community.—But the case before us is of a country not internally free, yet supposed capable of repelling an external enemy who attempts its subjugation. If a country have put on chains of its own forging; in the name of virtue, let it be conscious that to itself it is accountable: let it not have cause to look beyond its own limits for reproof: and,—in the name of humanity,—if it be self-depressed, let it have its pride and some hope within itself. The poorest Peasant, in an unsubdued land, feels this pride. I do not appeal to the example of Britain or of Switzerland, for the one is free, and the other lately was free (and, I trust, will ere long be so again): but talk with the Swede; and you will see the joy he finds in these sensations. With him animal courage (the substitute for many and the friend of all the manly virtues) has space to move in; and is at once elevated by his imagination, and softened by his affections: it is invigorated also; for the whole courage of his Country is in his breast.
In fact: the Peasant, and he who lives by the fair reward of his manual labour, has ordinarily a larger proportion of his gratifications dependent upon these thoughts—than, for the most part, men in other classes have. For he is in his person attached, by stronger roots, to the soil of which he is the growth: his intellectual notices are generally confined within narrower bounds: in him no partial or antipatriotic interests counteract the force of those nobler sympathies and antipathies which he has in right of his Country; and lastly the belt or girdle of his mind has never been stretched to utter relaxation by false philosophy, under a conceit of making it sit more easily and gracefully. These sensations are a social inheritance to him: more important, as he is precluded from luxurious—and those which are usually called refined—enjoyments.
Love and admiration must push themselves out towards some quarter: otherwise the moral man is killed. Collaterally they advance with great vigour to a certain extent—and they are checked: in that direction, limits hard to pass are perpetually encountered: but upwards and downwards, to ancestry and to posterity, they meet with gladsome help and no obstacles; the tract is interminable.—Perdition to the Tyrant who would wantonly cut off an independent Nation from its inheritance in past ages; turning the tombs and burial-places of the Forefathers into dreaded objects of sorrow, or of shame and reproach, for the Children! Look upon Scotland and Wales: though, by the union of these with England under the same Government (which was effected without conquest in one instance), ferocious and desolating wars, and more injurious intrigues, and sapping and disgraceful corruptions, have been prevented; and tranquillity, security, and prosperity, and a thousand interchanges of amity, not otherwise attainable, have followed;—yet the flashing eye, and the agitated voice, and all the tender recollections, with which the names of Prince Llewellin and William Wallace are to this day pronounced by the fire-side and on the public road, attest that these substantial blessings have not been purchased without the relinquishment of something most salutary to the moral nature of Man: else the remembrances would not cleave so faithfully to their abiding-place in the human heart. But, if these affections be of general interest, they are of especial interest to Spain; whose history, written and traditional, is pre-eminently stored with the sustaining food of such affections: and in no country are they more justly and generally prized, or more feelingly cherished.
In the conduct of this argument I am not speaking to the humbler ranks of society: it is unnecessary: they trust in nature, and are safe. The People of Madrid, and Corunna, and Ferrol, resisted to the last; from an impulse which, in their hearts, was its own justification. The failure was with those who stood higher in the scale. In fact; the universal rising of the Peninsula, under the pressure and in the face of the most tremendous military power which ever existed, is evidence which cannot be too much insisted upon; and is decisive upon this subject, as involving a question of virtue and moral sentiment. All ranks were penetrated with one feeling: instantaneous and universal was the acknowledgement. If there have been since individual fallings-off; those have been caused by that kind of after-thoughts which are the bastard offspring of selfishness. The matter was brought home to Spain; and no Spaniard has offended herein with a still conscience.—It is to the worldlings of our own country, and to those who think without carrying their thoughts far enough, that I address myself. Let them know, there is no true wisdom without imagination; no genuine sense;—that the man, who in this age feels no regret for the ruined honour of other Nations, must be poor in sympathy for the honour of his own Country; and that, if he be wanting here towards that which circumscribes the whole, he neither has—nor can have—social regard for the lesser communities which Country includes. Contract the circle, and bring him to his family; such a man cannot protect that with dignified loves. Reduce his thoughts to his own person; he may defend himself,—what he deems his honour; but it is the action of a brave man from the impulse of the brute, or the motive of a coward.
But it is time to recollect that this vindication of human feeling began from an hypothesis,—that the outward state of the mass of the Spanish people would be improved by the French usurpation. To this I now give an unqualified denial. Let me also observe to those men, for whose infirmity this hypothesis was tolerated,—that the true point of comparison does not lie between what the Spaniards have been under a government of their own, and what they may become under French domination; but between what the Spaniards may do (and, in all likelihood, will do) for themselves, and what Frenchmen would do for them. But,—waiving this,—the sweeping away of the most splendid monuments of art, and rifling of the public treasuries in the conquered countries, are an apt prologue to the tragedy which is to ensue. Strange that there are men who can be so besotted as to see, in the decrees of the Usurper concerning feudal tenures and a worn-out Inquisition, any other evidence than that of insidiousness and of a constrained acknowledgement of the strength which he felt he had to overcome. What avail the lessons of history, if men can be duped thus? Boons and promises of this kind rank, in trustworthiness, many degrees lower than amnesties after expelled kings have recovered their thrones. The fate of subjugated Spain may be expressed in these words,—pillage—depression—and helotism—for the supposed aggrandizement of the imaginary freeman its master. There would indeed be attempts at encouragement, that there might be a supply of something to pillage: studied depression there would be, that there might arise no power of resistance: and lastly helotism;—but of what kind? that a vain and impious Nation might have slaves, worthier than itself, for work which its own hands would reject with scorn.
What good can the present arbitrary power confer upon France itself? Let that point be first settled by those who are inclined to look farther. The earlier proceedings of the French Revolution no doubt infused health into the country; something of which survives to this day: but let not the now-existing Tyranny have the credit of it. France neither owes, nor can owe, to this any rational obligation. She has seen decrees without end for the increase of commerce and manufactures; pompous stories without number of harbours, canals, warehouses, and bridges: but there is no worse sign in the management of affairs than when that, which ought to follow as an effect, goes before under a vain notion that it will be a cause.—Let us attend to the springs of action, and we shall not be deceived. The works of peace cannot flourish in a country governed by an intoxicated Despot; the motions of whose distorted benevolence must be still more pernicious than those of his cruelty. 'I have bestowed; I have created; I have regenerated; I have been pleased to organize;'—this is the language perpetually upon his lips, when his ill-fated activities turn that way. Now commerce, manufactures, agriculture, and all the peaceful arts, are of the nature of virtues or intellectual powers: they cannot be given; they cannot be stuck in here and there; they must spring up; they must grow of themselves: they may be encouraged; they thrive better with encouragement, and delight in it; but the obligation must have bounds nicely defined; for they are delicate, proud, and independent. But a Tyrant has no joy in any thing which is endued with such excellence: he sickens at the sight of it: he turns away from it, as an insult to his own attributes. We have seen the present ruler of France publicly addressed as a Providence upon earth; styled, among innumerable other blasphemies, the supreme Ruler of things; and heard him say, in his answers, that he approved of the language of those who thus saluted him. (See Appendix E.)—Oh folly to think that plans of reason can prosper under such countenance! If this be the doom of France, what a monster would be the double-headed tyranny of Spain!
It is immutably ordained that power, taken and exercised in contempt of right, never can bring forth good. Wicked actions indeed have oftentimes happy issues: the benevolent economy of nature counter-working and diverting evil; and educing finally benefits from injuries, and turning curses to blessings. But I am speaking of good in a direct course. All good in this order—all moral good—begins and ends in reverence of right. The whole Spanish People are to be treated not as a mighty multitude with feeling, will, and judgment; not as rational creatures;—but as objects without reason; in the language of human law, insuperably laid down not as Persons but as Things. Can good come from this beginning; which, in matter of civil government, is the fountain-head and the main feeder of all the pure evil upon earth? Look at the past history of our sister Island for the quality of foreign oppression: turn where you will, it is miserable at best; but, in the case of Spain!—it might be said, engraven upon the rocks of her own Pyrenees,
Per me si va nella citta dolente; Per me si va nell' eterno dolore; Per me si va tra la perduta gente.
So much I have thought it necessary to speak upon this subject; with a desire to enlarge the views of the short-sighted, to cheer the desponding, and stimulate the remiss. I have been treating of duties which the People of Spain feel to be solemn and imperious; and have referred to springs of action (in the sensations of love and hatred, of hope and fear),—for promoting the fulfilment of these duties,—which cannot fail. The People of Spain, thus animated, will move now; and will be prepared to move, upon a favourable summons, for ages. And it is consolatory to think that,—even if many of the leading persons of that country, in their resistance to France, should not look beyond the two first objects (viz. riddance of the enemy, and security of national independence);—it is, I say, consolatory to think that the conduct, which can alone secure either of these ends, leads directly to a free internal Government. We have therefore both the passions and the reason of these men on our side in two stages of the common journey: and, when this is the case, surely we are justified in expecting some further companionship and support from their reason—acting independent of their partial interests, or in opposition to them. It is obvious that, to the narrow policy of this class (men loyal to the Nation and to the King, yet jealous of the People), the most dangerous failures, which have hitherto taken place, are to be attributed: for, though from acts of open treason Spain may suffer and has suffered much, these (as I have proved) can never affect the vitals of the cause. But the march of Liberty has begun; and they, who will not lead, may be borne along.—At all events, the road is plain. Let members for the Cortes be assembled from those Provinces which are not in the possession of the Invader: or at least (if circumstances render this impossible at present) let it be announced that such is the intention, to be realized the first moment when it shall become possible. In the mean while speak boldly to the People: and let the People write and speak boldly. Let the expectation be familiar to them of open and manly institutions of law and liberty according to knowledge. Let them be universally trained to military exercises, and accustomed to military discipline: let them be drawn together in civic and religious assemblies; and a general communication of those assemblies with each other be established through the country: so that there may be one zeal and one life in every part of it.
With great profit might the Chiefs of the Spanish Nation look back upon the earlier part of the French Revolution. Much, in the outward manner, might there be found worthy of qualified imitation: and, where there is a difference in the inner spirit (and there is a mighty difference!), the advantage is wholly on the side of the Spaniards.—Why should the People of Spain be dreaded by their leaders? I do not mean the profligate and flagitious leaders; but those who are well-intentioned, yet timid. That there are numbers of this class who have excellent intentions, and are willing to make large personal sacrifices, is clear; for they have put every thing to risk—all their privileges, their honours, and possessions—by their resistance to the Invader. Why then should they have fears from a quarter—whence their safety must come, if it come at all?—Spain has nothing to dread from Jacobinism. Manufactures and Commerce have there in far less degree than elsewhere—by unnaturally clustering the people together—enfeebled their bodies, inflamed their passions by intemperance, vitiated from childhood their moral affections, and destroyed their imaginations. Madrid is no enormous city, like Paris; over-grown, and disproportionate; sickening and bowing down, by its corrupt humours, the frame of the body politic. Nor has the pestilential philosophism of France made any progress in Spain. No flight of infidel harpies has alighted upon their ground. A Spanish understanding is a hold too strong to give way to the meagre tactics of the 'Systeme de la Nature;' or to the pellets of logic which Condillac has cast in the foundry of national vanity, and tosses about at hap-hazard—self-persuaded that he is proceeding according to art. The Spaniards are a people with imagination: and the paradoxical reveries of Rousseau, and the flippancies of Voltaire, are plants which will not naturalise in the country of Calderon and Cervantes. Though bigotry among the Spaniards leaves much to be lamented; I have proved that the religious habits of the nation must, in a contest of this kind, be of inestimable service.
Yet further: contrasting the present condition of Spain with that of France at the commencement of her revolution, we must not overlook one characteristic; the Spaniards have no division among themselves by and through themselves; no numerous Priesthood—no Nobility—no large body of powerful Burghers—from passion, interest, and conscience—opposing the end which is known and felt to be the duty and only honest and true interest of all. Hostility, wherever it is found, must proceed from the seductions of the Invader: and these depend solely upon his power: let that be shattered; and they vanish.
And this once again leads us directly to that immense military force which the Spaniards have to combat; and which, many think, more than counterbalances every internal advantage. It is indeed formidable: as revolutionary appetites and energies must needs be; when, among a people numerous as the people of France, they have ceased to spend themselves in conflicting factions within the country for objects perpetually changing shape; and are carried out of it under the strong controul of an absolute despotism, as opportunity invites, for a definite object—plunder and conquest. It is, I allow, a frightful spectacle—to see the prime of a vast nation propelled out of their territory with the rapid sweep of a horde of Tartars; moving from the impulse of like savage instincts; and furnished, at the same time, with those implements of physical destruction which have been produced by science and civilization. Such are the motions of the French armies; unchecked by any thought which philosophy and the spirit of society, progressively humanizing, have called forth—to determine or regulate the application of the murderous and desolating apparatus with which by philosophy and science they have been provided. With a like perversion of things, and the same mischievous reconcilement of forces in their nature adverse, these revolutionary impulses and these appetites of barbarous (nay, what is far worse, of barbarized) men are embodied in a new frame of polity; which possesses the consistency of an ancient Government, without its embarrassments and weaknesses. And at the head of all is the mind of one man who acts avowedly upon the principle that everything, which can be done safely by the supreme power of a State, may be done (See Appendix F.); and who has, at his command, the greatest part of the continent of Europe—to fulfil what yet remains unaccomplished of his nefarious purposes.
Now it must be obvious to a reflecting mind that every thing which is desperately immoral, being in its constitution monstrous, is of itself perishable: decay it cannot escape; and, further, it is liable to sudden dissolution: time would evince this in the instance before us; though not, perhaps, until infinite and irreparable harm had been done. But, even at present, each of the sources of this preternatural strength (as far as it is formidable to Europe) has its corresponding seat of weakness; which, were it fairly touched, would manifest itself immediately.—The power is indeed a Colossus: but, if the trunk be of molten-brass, the members are of clay; and would fall to pieces upon a shock which need not be violent. Great Britain, if her energies were properly called forth and directed, might (as we have already maintained) give this shock. 'Magna parvis obscurantur' was the appropriate motto (the device a Sun Eclipsed) when Lord Peterborough, with a handful of men opposed to fortified cities and large armies, brought a great part of Spain to acknowledge a sovereign of the House of Austria. We have now a vast military force; and,—even without a Peterborough or a Marlborough,—at this precious opportunity (when, as is daily more probable, a large portion of the French force must march northwards to combat Austria) we might easily, by expelling the French from the Peninsula, secure an immediate footing there for liberty; and the Pyrenees would then be shut against them for ever. The disciplined troops of Great Britain might overthrow the enemy in the field; while the Patriots of Spain, under wise management, would be able to consume him slowly but surely.
For present annoyance his power is, no doubt, mighty: but liberty—in which it originated, and of which it is a depravation—is far mightier; and the good in human nature is stronger than the evil. The events of our age indeed have brought this truth into doubt with some persons: and scrupulous observers have been astonished and have repined at the sight of enthusiasm, courage, perseverance, and fidelity, put forth seemingly to their height,—and all engaged in the furtherance of wrong. But the minds of men are not always devoted to this bad service as strenuously as they appear to be. I have personal knowledge that, when the attack was made which ended in the subjugation of Switzerland, the injustice of the undertaking was grievously oppressive to many officers of the French army; and damped their exertions. Besides, were it otherwise, there is no just cause for despondency in the perverted alliance of these qualities with oppression. The intrinsic superiority of virtue and liberty, even for politic ends, is not affected by it. If the tide of success were, by any effort, fairly turned;—not only a general desertion, as we have the best reason to believe, would follow among the troops of the enslaved nations; but a moral change would also take place in the minds of the native French soldiery. Occasion would be given for the discontented to break out; and, above all, for the triumph of human nature. It would then be seen whether men fighting in a bad cause,—men without magnanimity, honour, or justice,—could recover; and stand up against champions who by these virtues were carried forward in good fortune, as by these virtues in adversity they had been sustained. As long as guilty actions thrive, guilt is strong: it has a giddiness and transport of its own; a hardihood not without superstition, as if Providence were a party to its success. But there is no independent spring at the heart of the machine which can be relied upon for a support of these motions in a change of circumstances. Disaster opens the eyes of conscience; and, in the minds of men who have been employed in bad actions, defeat and a feeling of punishment are inseparable.
On the other hand; the power of an unblemished heart and a brave spirit is shewn, in the events of war, not only among unpractised citizens and peasants; but among troops in the most perfect discipline. Large bodies of the British army have been several times broken—that is, technically vanquished—in Egypt, and elsewhere. Yet they, who were conquered as formal soldiers, stood their ground and became conquerors as men. This paramount efficacy of moral causes is not willingly admitted by persons high in the profession of arms; because it seems to diminish their value in society—by taking from the importance of their art: but the truth is indisputable: and those Generals are as blind to their own interests as to the interests of their country, who, by submitting to inglorious treaties or by other misconduct, hazard the breaking down of those personal virtues in the men under their command—to which they themselves, as leaders, are mainly indebted for the fame which they acquire.
Combine, with this moral superiority inherent in the cause of Freedom, the endless resources open to a nation which shews constancy in defensive war; resources which, after a lapse of time, leave the strongest invading army comparatively helpless. Before six cities, resisting as Saragossa hath resisted during her two sieges, the whole of the military power of the adversary would melt away. Without any advantages of natural situation; without fortifications; without even a ditch to protect them; with nothing better than a mud wall; with not more than two hundred regular troops; with a slender stock of arms and ammunition; with a leader inexperienced in war;—the Citizens of Saragossa began the contest. Enough of what was needful—was produced and created; and—by courage, fortitude, and skill rapidly matured—they baffled for sixty days, and finally repulsed, a large French army with all its equipments. In the first siege the natural and moral victory were both on their side; nor less so virtually (though the termination was different) in the second. For, after another resistance of nearly three months, they have given the enemy cause feelingly to say, with Pyrrhus of old,—'A little more of such conquest, and I am destroyed.'
If evidence were wanting of the efficacy of the principles which throughout this Treatise have been maintained,—it has been furnished in overflowing measure. A private individual, I had written; and knew not in what manner tens of thousands were enacting, day after day, the truths which, in the solitude of a peaceful vale, I was meditating. Most gloriously have the Citizens of Saragossa proved that the true army of Spain, in a contest of this nature, is the whole people. The same city has also exemplified a melancholy—yea a dismal truth; yet consolatory, and full of joy; that,—when a people are called suddenly to fight for their liberty, and are sorely pressed upon,—their best field of battle is the floors upon which their children have played; the chambers where the family of each man has slept (his own or his neighbours'); upon or under the roofs by which they have been sheltered; in the gardens of their recreation; in the street, or in the market-place; before the Altars of their Temples; and among their congregated dwellings—blazing, or up-rooted.
The Government of Spain must never forget Saragossa for a moment. Nothing is wanting, to produce the same effects every where, but a leading mind such as that city was blessed with. In the latter contest this has been proved; for Saragossa contained, at that time, bodies of men from almost all parts of Spain. The narrative of those two sieges should be the manual of every Spaniard: he may add to it the ancient stories of Numantia and Saguntum: let him sleep upon the book as a pillow; and, if he be a devout adherent to the religion of his country, let him wear it in his bosom for his crucifix to rest upon.
Beginning from these invincible feelings, and the principles of justice which are involved in them; let nothing be neglected, which policy and prudence dictate, for rendering subservient to the same end those qualities in human nature which are indifferent or even morally bad; and for making the selfish propensities contribute to the support of wise arrangements, civil and military.—Perhaps there never appeared in the field more steady soldiers—troops which it would have been more difficult to conquer with such knowledge of the art of war as then existed—than those commanded by Fairfax and Cromwell: let us see from what root these armies grew. 'Cromwell,' says Sir Philip Warwick, 'made use of the zeal and credulity of these persons' (that is—such of the people as had, in the author's language, the fanatic humour); 'teaching them (as they too readily taught themselves) that they engaged for God, when he led them against his vicegerent the King. And, where this opinion met with a natural courage, it made them bolder—and too often crueller; and, where natural courage wanted, zeal supplied its place. And at first they chose rather to die than flee; and custom removed fear of danger: and afterwards—finding the sweet of good pay, and of opulent plunder, and of preferment suitable to activity and merit—the lucrative part made gain seem to them a natural member of godliness. And I cannot here omit' (continues the author) 'a character of this army which General Fairfax gave unto myself; when, complimenting him with the regularity and temperance of his army, he told me, The best common soldiers he had—came out of our army and from the garrisons he had taken in. So (says he) I found you had made them good soldiers; and I have made them good men. But, upon this whole matter, it may appear' (concludes the author) 'that the spirit of discipline of war may beget that spirit of discipline which even Solomon describes as the spirit of wisdom and obedience.' Apply this process to the growth and maturity of an armed force in Spain. In making a comparison of the two cases; to the sense of the insults and injuries which, as Spaniards and as human Beings, they have received and have to dread,—and to the sanctity which an honourable resistance has already conferred upon their misfortunes,—add the devotion of that people to their religion as Catholics;—and it will not be doubted that the superiority of the radical feeling is, on their side, immeasurable. There is (I cannot refrain from observing) in the Catholic religion, and in the character of its Priesthood especially, a source of animation and fortitude in desperate struggles—which may be relied upon as one of the best hopes of the cause. The narrative of the first siege of Zaragoza, lately published in this country, and which I earnestly recommend to the reader's perusal, informs us that,—'In every part of the town where the danger was most imminent, and the French the most numerous,—was Padre St. Iago Sass, curate of a parish in Zaragoza. As General Palafox made his rounds through the city, he often beheld Sass alternately playing the part of a Priest and a Soldier; sometimes administering the sacrament to the dying; and, at others, fighting in the most determined manner against the enemies of his country.—He was found so serviceable in inspiring the people with religious sentiments, and in leading them on to danger, that the General has placed him in a situation where both his piety and courage may continue to be as useful as before; and he is now both Captain in the army, and Chaplain to the commander-in-chief.'
The reader will have been reminded, by the passage above cited from Sir Philip Warwick's memoirs, of the details given, in the earlier part of this tract, concerning the course which (as it appeared to me) might with advantage be pursued in Spain: I must request him to combine those details with such others as have since been given: the whole would have been further illustrated, if I could sooner have returned to the subject; but it was first necessary to examine the grounds of hope in the grand and disinterested passions, and in the laws of universal morality. My attention has therefore been chiefly directed to these laws and passions; in order to elevate, in some degree, the conceptions of my readers; and with a wish to rectify and fix, in this fundamental point, their judgements. The truth of the general reasoning will, I have no doubt, be acknowledged by men of uncorrupted natures and practised understandings; and the conclusion, which I have repeatedly drawn, will be acceded to; namely, that no resistance can be prosperous which does not look, for its chief support, to these principles and feelings. If, however, there should be men who still fear (as I have been speaking of things under combinations which are transitory) that the action of these powers cannot be sustained; to such I answer that,—if there be a necessity that it should be sustained at the point to which it first ascended, or should recover that height if there have been a fall,—Nature will provide for that necessity. The cause is in Tyranny: and that will again call forth the effect out of its holy retirements. Oppression, its own blind and predestined enemy, has poured this of blessedness upon Spain,—that the enormity of the outrages, of which she has been the victim, has created an object of love and of hatred—of apprehensions and of wishes—adequate (if that be possible) to the utmost demands of the human spirit. The heart that serves in this cause, if it languish, must languish from its own constitutional weakness; and not through want of nourishment from without. But it is a belief propagated in books, and which passes currently among talking men as part of their familiar wisdom, that the hearts of the many are constitutionally weak; that they do languish; and are slow to answer to the requisitions of things. I entreat those, who are in this delusion, to look behind them and about them for the evidence of experience. Now this, rightly understood, not only gives no support to any such belief; but proves that the truth is in direct opposition to it. The history of all ages; tumults after tumults; wars, foreign or civil, with short or with no breathing-spaces, from generation to generation; wars—why and wherefore? yet with courage, with perseverance, with self-sacrifice, with enthusiasm—with cruelty driving forward the cruel man from its own terrible nakedness, and attracting the more benign by the accompaniment of some shadow which seems to sanctify it; the senseless weaving and interweaving of factions—vanishing and reviving and piercing each other like the Northern Lights; public commotions, and those in the bosom of the individual; the long calenture to which the Lover is subject; the blast, like the blast of the desart, which sweeps perennially through a frightful solitude of its own making in the mind of the Gamester; the slowly quickening but ever quickening descent of appetite down which the Miser is propelled; the agony and cleaving oppression of grief; the ghost-like hauntings of shame; the incubus of revenge; the life-distemper of ambition;—these inward existences, and the visible and familiar occurrences of daily life in every town and village; the patient curiosity and contagious acclamations of the multitude in the streets of the city and within the walls of the theatre; a procession, or a rural dance; a hunting, or a horse-race; a flood, or a fire; rejoicing and ringing of bells for an unexpected gift of good fortune, or the coming of a foolish heir to his estate;—these demonstrate incontestibly that the passions of men (I mean, the soul of sensibility in the heart of man)—in all quarrels, in all contests, in all quests, in all delights, in all employments which are either sought by men or thrust upon them—do immeasurably transcend their objects. The true sorrow of humanity consists in this;—not that the mind of man fails; but that the course and demands of action and of life so rarely correspond with the dignity and intensity of human desires: and hence that, which is slow to languish, is too easily turned aside and abused. But—with the remembrance of what has been done, and in the face of the interminable evils which are threatened—a Spaniard can never have cause to complain of this, while a follower of the tyrant remains in arms upon the Peninsula.
Here then they, with whom I hope, take their stand. There is a spiritual community binding together the living and the dead; the good, the brave, and the wise, of all ages. We would not be rejected from this community: and therefore do we hope. We look forward with erect mind, thinking and feeling: it is an obligation of duty: take away the sense of it, and the moral being would die within us.—Among the most illustrious of that fraternity, whose encouragement we participate, is an Englishman who sacrificed his life in devotion to a cause bearing a stronger likeness to this than any recorded in history. It is the elder Sidney—a deliverer and defender, whose name I have before uttered with reverence; who, treating of the war in the Netherlands against Philip the Second, thus writes: 'If her Majesty,' says he, 'were the fountain; I wold fear, considering what I daily find, that we shold wax dry. But she is but a means whom God useth. And I know not whether I am deceaved; but I am fully persuaded, that, if she shold withdraw herself, other springs wold rise to help this action. For, methinks, I see the great work indeed in hand against the abuses of the world; wherein it is no greater fault to have confidence in man's power, than it is too hastily to despair of God's work.'
The pen, which I am guiding, has stopped in my hand; and I have scarcely power to proceed.—I will lay down one principle; and then shall contentedly withdraw from the sanctuary.
When wickedness acknowledges no limit but the extent of her power, and advances with aggravated impatience like a devouring fire; the only worthy or adequate opposition is—that of virtue submitting to no circumscription of her endeavours save that of her rights, and aspiring from the impulse of her own ethereal zeal. The Christian exhortation for the individual is here the precept for nations—'Be ye therefore perfect; even as your Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect.'
Upon a future occasion (if what has been now said meets with attention) I shall point out the steps by which the practice of life may be lifted up towards these high precepts. I shall have to speak of the child as well as the man; for with the child, or the youth, may we begin with more hope: but I am not in despair even for the man; and chiefly from the inordinate evils of our time. There are (as I shall attempt to shew) tender and subtile ties by which these principles, that love to soar in the pure region, are connected with the ground-nest in which they were fostered and from which they take their flight.
The outermost and all-embracing circle of benevolence has inward concentric circles which, like those of the spider's web, are bound together by links, and rest upon each other; making one frame, and capable of one tremor; circles narrower and narrower, closer and closer, as they lie more near to the centre of self from which they proceeded, and which sustains the whole. The order of life does not require that the sublime and disinterested feelings should have to trust long to their own unassisted power. Nor would the attempt consist either with their dignity or their humility. They condescend, and they adopt: they know the time of their repose; and the qualities which are worthy of being admitted into their service—of being their inmates, their companions, or their substitutes. I shall strive to shew that these principles and movements of wisdom—so far from towering above the support of prudence, or rejecting the rules of experience, for the better conduct of those multifarious actions which are alike necessary to the attainment of ends good or bad—do instinctively prompt the sole prudence which cannot fail. The higher mode of being does not exclude, but necessarily includes, the lower; the intellectual does not exclude, but necessarily includes, the sentient; the sentient, the animal; and the animal, the vital—to its lowest degrees. Wisdom is the hidden root which thrusts forth the stalk of prudence; and these uniting feed and uphold 'the bright consummate flower'—National Happiness—the end, the conspicuous crown, and ornament of the whole.
I have announced the feelings of those who hope: yet one word more to those who despond. And first; he stands upon a hideous precipice (and it will be the same with all who may succeed to him and his iron sceptre)—he who has outlawed himself from society by proclaiming, with act and deed, that he acknowledges no mastery but power. This truth must be evident to all who breathe—from the dawn of childhood, till the last gleam of twilight is lost in the darkness of dotage. But take the tyrant as he is, in the plenitude of his supposed strength. The vast country of Germany, in spite of the rusty but too strong fetters of corrupt princedoms and degenerate nobility,—Germany—with its citizens, its peasants, and its philosophers—will not lie quiet under the weight of injuries which has been heaped upon it. There is a sleep, but no death, among the mountains of Switzerland. Florence, and Venice, and Genoa, and Rome,—have their own poignant recollections, and a majestic train of glory in past ages. The stir of emancipation may again be felt at the mouths as well as at the sources of the Rhine. Poland perhaps will not be insensible; Kosciusko and his compeers may not have bled in vain. Nor is Hungarian loyalty to be overlooked. And, for Spain itself, the territory is wide: let it be overrun: the torrent will weaken as the water spreads. And, should all resistance disappear, be not daunted: extremes meet: and how often do hope and despair almost touch each other—though unconscious of their neighbourhood, because their faces are turned different ways! yet, in a moment, the one shall vanish; and the other begin a career in the fulness of her joy.
But we may turn from these thoughts: for the present juncture is most auspicious. Upon liberty, and upon liberty alone, can there be permanent dependence; but a temporary relief will be given by the share which Austria is about to take in the war. Now is the time for a great and decisive effort; and, if Britain does not avail herself of it, her disgrace will be indelible, and the loss infinite. If there be ground of hope in the crimes and errors of the enemy, he has furnished enough of both: but imbecility in his opponents (above all, the imbecility of the British) has hitherto preserved him from the natural consequences of his ignorance, his meanness of mind, his transports of infirm fancy, and his guilt. Let us hasten to redeem ourselves. The field is open for a commanding British military force to clear the Peninsula of the enemy, while the better half of his power is occupied with Austria. For the South of Spain, where the first effort of regeneration was made, is yet free. Saragossa (which, by a truly efficient British army, might have been relieved) has indeed fallen; but leaves little to regret; for consummate have been her fortitude and valour. The citizens and soldiers of Saragossa are to be envied: for they have completed the circle of their duty; they have done all that could be wished—all that could be prayed for. And, though the cowardly malice of the enemy gives too much reason to fear that their leader Palafox (with the fate of Toussaint) will soon be among the dead, it is the high privilege of men who have performed what he has performed—that they cannot be missed; and, in moments of weakness only, can they be lamented: their actions represent them every where and for ever. Palafox has taken his place as parent and ancestor of innumerable heroes.
Oh! that the surviving chiefs of the Spanish people may prove worthy of their situation! With such materials,—their labour would be pleasant, and their success certain. But—though heads of a nation venerable for antiquity, and having good cause to preserve with reverence the institutions of their elder forefathers—they must not be indiscriminately afraid of new things. It is their duty to restore the good which has fallen into disuse; and also to create, and to adopt. Young scions of polity must be engrafted on the time-worn trunk: a new fortress must be reared upon the ancient and living rock of justice. Then would it be seen, while the superstructure stands inwardly immoveable, in how short a space of time the ivy and wild plant would climb up from the base, and clasp the naked walls; the storms, which could not shake, would weather-stain; and the edifice, in the day of its youth, would appear to be one with the rock upon which it was planted, and to grow out of it.
But let us look to ourselves. Our offences are unexpiated: and, wanting light, we want strength. With reference to this guilt and to this deficiency, and to my own humble efforts towards removing both, I shall conclude with the words of a man of disciplined spirit, who withdrew from the too busy world—not out of indifference to its welfare, or to forget its concerns—- but retired for wider compass of eye-sight, that he might comprehend and see in just proportions and relations; knowing above all that he, who hath not first made himself master of the horizon of his own mind, must look beyond it only to be deceived. It is Petrarch who thus writes: 'Haec dicerem, et quicquid in rem praesentem et indignatio dolorque dictarent; nisi obtorpuisse animos, actumque de rebus nostris, crederem. Nempe, qui aliis iter rectum ostendere solebamus, nunc (quod exitio proximum est) coeci coecis ducibus per abrupta rapimur; alienoque circumvolvimur exemplo; quid velimus, nescii. Nam (ut coeptum exequar) totum hoc malum, seu nostrum proprium seu potius omnium gentium commune, IGNORATIO FINIS facit. Nesciunt inconsulti homines quid agant: ideo quicquid agunt, mox ut coeperint, vergit in nauseam. Hinc ille discursus sine termino; hinc, medio calle, discordiae; et, ante exitum, DAMNATA PRINCIPIA; et explete nihil.'
As an act of respect to the English reader—I shall add, to the same purpose, the words of our own Milton; who, contemplating our ancestors in his day, thus speaks of them and their errors:—'Valiant, indeed, and prosperous to win a field; but, to know the end and reason of winning, injudicious and unwise. Hence did their victories prove as fruitless, as their losses dangerous; and left them still languishing under the same grievances that men suffer conquered. Which was indeed unlikely to go otherwise; unless men more than vulgar bred up in the knowledge of ancient and illustrious deeds, invincible against many and vain titles, impartial to friendships and relations, had conducted their affairs.'
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A (page 67).
When this passage was written, there had appeared only unauthorized accounts of the Board of Inquiry's proceedings. Neither from these however, nor from the official report of the Board (which has been since published), is any satisfactory explanation to be gained on this question—or indeed on any other question of importance. All, which is to be collected from them, is this: the Portugueze General, it appears, offered to unite his whole force with the British on the single condition that they should be provisioned from the British stores; and, accordingly, rests his excuse for not co-operating on the refusal of Sir Arthur Wellesley to comply with this condition. Sir A.W. denies the validity of his excuse; and, more than once, calls it a pretence; declaring that, in his belief, Gen. Freire's real motive for not joining was—a mistrust in the competence of the British to appear in the field against the French. This however is mere surmise; and therefore cannot have much weight with those who sincerely sought for satisfaction on this point: moreover, it is a surmise of the individual whose justification rests on making it appear that the difficulty did not arise with himself; and it is right to add, that the only fact produced goes to discredit this surmise; viz. that Gen. Friere did, without any delay, furnish the whole number of troops which Sir Arthur engaged to feed. However the Board exhibited so little anxiety to be satisfied on this point, that no positive information was gained.
A reference being here first made to the official report of the Board of Inquiry; I shall make use of the opportunity which it offers to lay before the reader an outline of that Board's proceedings; from which it will appear how far the opinion—pronounced, by the national voice, upon the transactions in Portugal—ought, in sound logic, to be modified by any part of those proceedings.
We find in the warrant under which the Board of Inquiry was to act, and which defined its powers, that an inquiry was to be made into the conditions of the 'armistice and convention; and into all the causes and circumstances, whether arising from the operations of the British army, or otherwise, which led to them.'
Whether answers to the charges of the people of England were made possible by the provisions of this warrant—and, secondly, whether even these provisions have been satisfied by the Board of Inquiry—will best appear by involving those charges in four questions, according to the following scale, which supposes a series of concessions impossible to those who think the nation justified in the language held on the transactions in Portugal.
1. Considering the perfidy with which the French army had entered Portugal; the enormities committed by it during its occupation of that country; the vast military power of which that army was a part, and the use made of that power by its master; the then existing spirit of the Spanish, Portugueze, and British nations; in a word, considering the especial nature of the service, and the individual character of this war;—was it lawful for the British army, under any conceivable circumstances, so long as it had the liberty of re-embarking, to make any conceivable convention? i.e. Was the negative evil of a total failure in every object for which it had been sent to Portugal of worse tendency than the positive evil of acknowledging in the French army a fair title to the privileges of an honourable enemy by consenting to a mode of treaty which (in its very name, implying a reciprocation of concession and respect) must be under any limitations as much more indulgent than an ordinary capitulation, as that again must (in its severest form) be more indulgent than the only favour which the French marauders could presume upon obtaining—viz. permission to surrender at discretion?
To this question the reader need not be told that these pages give a naked unqualified denial; and that to establish the reasonableness of that denial is one of their main purposes: but, for the benefit of the men accused, let it be supposed granted; and then the second question will be