The Prose Works of William Wordsworth
by William Wordsworth
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 30     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

2. Was it lawful for the English army, in the case of its being reduced to the supposed dilemma of either re-embarking or making some convention, to make that specifical convention which it did make at Cintra?

This is of necessity and a fortiori denied; and it has been proved that neither to this, nor any other army, could it be lawful to make such a convention—not merely under the actual but under any conceivable circumstances; let however this too, on behalf of the parties accused, be granted; and then the third question will be

3. Was the English Army reduced to that dilemma?

4. Finally, this also being conceded (which not even the Generals have dared to say), it remains to ask by whose and by what misconduct did an army—confessedly the arbiter of its own movements and plans at the opening of the campaign—forfeit that free agency—either to the extent of the extremity supposed, or of any approximation to that extremity?

Now of these four possible questions in the minds of all those who condemn the convention of Cintra, it is obvious that the King's warrant supposes only the three latter to exist (since, though it allows inquiry to be made into the individual convention, it no where questions the tolerability of a convention in genere); and it is no less obvious that the Board, acting under that warrant, has noticed only the last—i.e. by what series of military movements the army was brought into a state of difficulty which justified a convention (the Board taking for granted throughout—1st, That such a state could exist; 2ndly, That it actually did exist; and 3rdly, That—if it existed, and accordingly justified some imaginable convention—it must therefore of necessity justify this convention).

Having thus shewn that it is on the last question only that the nation could, in deference to the Board of Inquiry, surrender or qualify any opinion which, it had previously given—let us ask what answer is gained, from the proceedings of that Board, to the charge involved even in this last question (premising however—first—that this charge was never explicitly made by the public, or at least was enunciated only in the form of a conjecture—and 2ndly that the answer to it is collected chiefly from the depositions of the parties accused)? Now the whole sum of their answer amounts to no more than this—that, in the opinion of some part of the English staff, an opportunity was lost on the 21st of exchanging the comparatively slow process of reducing the French army by siege for the brilliant and summary one of a coup-de-main.

This opportunity, be it observed, was offered only by Gen. Junot's presumption in quitting his defensive positions, and coming out to meet the English army in the field; so that it was an advantage so much over and above what might fairly have been calculated upon: at any rate, if this might have been looked for, still the accident of battle, by which a large part of the French army was left in a situation to be cut off, (to the loss of which advantage Sir A. Wellesley ascribes the necessity of a convention) could surely never have been anticipated; and therefore the British army was, even after that loss, in as prosperous a state as it had from the first any right to expect. Hence it is to be inferred, that Sir A.W. must have entered on this campaign with a predetermination to grant a convention in any case, excepting in one single case which he knew to be in the gift of only very extraordinary good fortune. With respect to him, therefore, the charges—pronounced by the national voice—are not only confirmed, but greatly aggravated. Further, with respect to the General who superseded him, all those—who think that such an opportunity of terminating the campaign was really offered, and, through his refusal to take advantage of it, lost—are compelled to suspect in him a want of military skill, or a wilful sacrifice of his duty to the influence of personal rivalry, accordingly as they shall interpret his motives.

The whole which we gain therefore from the Board of Inquiry is—that what we barely suspected is ripened into certainty—and that on all, which we assuredly knew and declared without needing that any tribunal should lend us its sanction, no effort has been made at denial, or disguise, or palliation.

Thus much for the proceedings of the Board of Inquiry, upon which their decision was to be grounded. As to the decision itself, it declares that no further military proceedings are necessary; 'because' (say the members of the Board). 'however some of us may differ in our sentiments respecting the fitness of the convention in the relative situation of the two armies, it is our unanimous declaration that unquestionable zeal and firmness appear throughout to have been exhibited by Generals Sir H. Dalrymple, Sir H. Burrard, and Sir A. Wellesley.' In consequence of this decision, the Commander-in-Chief addressed a letter to the Board—reminding them that, though the words of his Majesty's warrant expressly enjoin that the conditions of the Armistice and Convention should be strictly examined and reported upon, they have altogether neglected to give any opinion upon those conditions. They were therefore called upon then to declare their opinion, whether an armistice was adviseable; and (if so) whether the terms of that armistice were such as ought to be agreed upon;—and to declare, in like manner, whether a convention was adviseable; and (if so) whether the terms of that convention were such as ought to have been agreed upon.

To two of these questions—viz. those which relate to the particular armistice and convention made by the British Generals—the members of the Board (still persevering in their blindness to the other two which express doubt as to the lawfulness of any armistice or convention) severally return answers which convey an approbation of the armistice and convention by four members, a disapprobation of the convention by the remaining three, and further a disapprobation of the armistice by one of those three.

Now it may be observed—first—that, even if the investigation had not been a public one, it might have reasonably been concluded, from the circumstance of the Board having omitted to report any opinion concerning the terms of the armistice and the convention, that those terms had not occupied enough of its attention to justify the Board in giving any opinion upon them—whether of approbation or disapprobation; and, secondly,—this conclusion, which might have been made a priori, is confirmed by the actual fact that no examination or inquiry of this kind appears throughout the report of its proceedings: and therefore any opinion subsequently given, in consequence of the requisition of the Commander-in-Chief, can lay claim to no more authority upon these points—than the opinion of the same men, if they had never sat in a public Court upon this question. In this condition are all the members, whether they approve or disapprove of the convention. And with respect to the three who disapprove of the convention,—over and above the general impropriety of having, under these circumstances, pronounced a verdict at all in the character of members of that Board—they are subject to an especial charge of inconsistency in having given such an opinion, in their second report, as renders nugatory that which they first pronounced. For the reason—assigned, in their first report, for deeming no further military proceedings necessary—is because it appears that unquestionable zeal and firmness were exhibited throughout by the several General Officers; and the reason—assigned by those three who condemn the convention—is that the Generals did not insist upon the terms to which they were entitled; that is (in direct opposition to their former opinions), the Generals shewed a want of firmness and zeal. If then the Generals were acquitted, in the first case, solely upon the ground of having displayed firmness and zeal; a confessed want of firmness and zeal, in the second case, implies conversely a ground of censure—rendering (in the opinions of these three members) further military proceedings absolutely necessary. They,—who are most aware of the unconstitutional frame of this Court or Board, and of the perplexing situation in which its members must have found themselves placed,—will have the least difficulty in excusing this inconsistency: it is however to be regretted; particularly in the instance of the Earl of Moira;—who, disapproving both of the Convention and Armistice, has assigned for that disapprobation unanswerable reasons drawn—not from hidden sources, unapproachable except by judicial investigation—but from facts known to all the world.

—The reader will excuse this long note; to which however I must add one word:—Is it not strange that, in the general decision of the Board, zeal and firmness—nakedly considered, and without question of their union with judgment and such other qualities as can alone give them any value—should be assumed as sufficient grounds on which to rest the acquittal of men lying under a charge of military delinquency?

* * * * *

B (page 72).

It is not necessary to add, that one of these fears was removed by the actual landing of ten thousand men, under Sir J. Moore, pending the negotiation: and yet no change in the terms took place in consequence. This was an important circumstance; and, of itself, determined two of the members of the Board of Inquiry to disapprove of the convention: such an accession entitling Sir H. Dalrymple (and, of course, making it his duty) to insist on more favourable terms. But the argument is complete without it.

* * * * *

C (page 75).

I was unwilling to interrupt the reader upon a slight occasion; but I cannot refrain from adding here a word or two by way of comment.—I have said at page 71, speaking of Junot's army, that the British were to encounter the same men, &c. Sir Arthur Wellesley, before the Board of Inquiry, disallowed this supposition; affirming that Junot's army had not then reached Spain, nor could be there for some time. Grant this: was it not stipulated that a messenger should be sent off, immediately after the conclusion of the treaty, to Buonaparte—apprising him of its terms, and when he might expect his troops; and would not this enable him to hurry forward forces to the Spanish frontiers, and to bring them into action—knowing that these troops of Junot's would be ready to support him? What did it matter whether the British were again to measure swords with these identical men; whether these men were even to appear again upon Spanish ground? It was enough, that, if these did not, others would—who could not have been brought to that service, but that these had been released and were doing elsewhere some other service for their master; enough that every thing was provided by the British to land them as near the Spanish frontier (and as speedily) as they could desire.

* * * * *

D (page 108).

This attempt, the reader will recollect, is not new to our country;—it was accomplished, at one aera of our history, in that memorable act of an English Parliament, which made it unlawful for any man to ask his neighbour to join him in a petition for redress of grievances: and which thus denied the people 'the benefit of tears and prayers to their own infamous deputies!' For the deplorable state of England and Scotland at that time—see the annals of Charles the Second, and his successor.—We must not forget however that to this state of things, as the cause of those measures which the nation afterwards resorted to, we are originally indebted for the blessing of the Bill of Rights.

* * * * *

E (page 159).

I allude here more especially to an address presented to Buonaparte (October 27th, 1808) by the deputies of the new departments of the kingdom of Italy; from which address, as given in the English journals, the following passages are extracted:—

'In the necessity, in which you are to overthrow—to destroy—to disperse your enemies as the wind dissipates the dust, you are not an exterminating angel; but you are the being that extends his thoughts—that measures the face of the earth—to re-establish universal happiness upon better and surer bases.'

* * * * *

'We are the interpreters of a million of souls at the extremity of your kingdom of Italy.'—'Deign, Sovereign Master of all Things, to hear (as we doubt not you will)' &c.

The answer begins thus:—

'I applaud the sentiments you express in the name of my people of Musora, Metauro, and Tronto.'

* * * * *

F (page 163).

This principle, involved in so many of his actions, Buonaparte has of late explicitly avowed: the instances are numerous: it will be sufficient, in this place, to allege one—furnished by his answer to the address cited in the last note:—

'I am particularly attached to your Archbishop of Urbino: that prelate, animated with the true faith, repelled with indignation the advice—and braved the menaces—of those who wished to confound the affairs of Heaven, which never change, with the affairs of this world, which are modified according to circumstances of force and policy.'

* * * * *


Agreed upon between Lieutenant-General SIR ARTHUR WELLESLEY, K.B. on the one part, and the General-of-Division KELLERMANN on the other part; each having powers from the respective Generals of the French and English Armies.

Head-Quarters of the English Army, August 22, 1808.

ARTICLE I. There shall be, from this date, a Suspension of Arms between the armies of his Britannic Majesty, and his Imperial and Royal Majesty, Napoleon I. for the purpose of negociating a Convention for the evacuation of Portugal by the French army.

ART. II. The Generals-in-Chief of the two armies, and the Commander-in-Chief of the British fleet at the entrance of the Tagus, will appoint a day to assemble, on such part of the coast as shall be judged convenient, to negociate and conclude the said Convention.

ART. III. The river of Sirandre shall form the line of demarcation to be established between the two armies; Torres Vedras shall not be occupied by either.

ART. IV. The General-in-Chief of the English army undertakes to include the Portugueze armies in this suspension of arms; and for them the line of demarkation shall be established from Leyria to Thomar.

ART. V. It is agreed provisionally that the French army shall not, in any case, be considered as prisoners of war; that all the individuals who compose it shall be transported to France with their arms and baggage, and the whole of their private property, from which nothing shall be exempted.

ART. VI. No individual, whether Portugueze, or of a nation allied to France, or French, shall be called to account for his political conduct; their respective property shall be protected; and they shall be at liberty to withdraw from Portugal, within a limited time, with their property.

ART. VII. The neutrality of the port of Lisbon shall be recognised for the Russian fleet: that is to say, that, when the English army or fleet shall be in possession of the city and port, the said Russian fleet shall not be disturbed during its stay; nor stopped when it wishes to sail; nor pursued, when it shall sail, until after the time fixed by the maritime law.

ART. VIII. All the artillery of French calibre, and also the horses of the cavalry, shall be transported to France.

ART. IX. This suspension of arms shall not be broken without forty-eight hours' previous notice.

Done and agreed upon between the above-named Generals, the day and year above-mentioned.

(Signed) ARTHUR WELLESLEY. KELLERMANN, General-of-Division.

Additional Article.

The garrisons of the places occupied by the French army shall be included in the present Convention, if they have not capitulated before the 25th instant.

(Signed) ARTHUR WELLESLEY. KELLERMANN, General-of-Division.

(A true Copy.)

A.J. DALRYMPLE, Captain, Military Secretary.

* * * * *


The Generals commanding in chief the British and French armies in Portugal, having determined to negociate and conclude a treaty for the evacuation of Portugal by the French troops, on the basis of the agreement entered into on the 22d instant for a suspension of hostilities, have appointed the under-mentioned officers to negociate the same in their names; viz.—on the part of the General-in-Chief of the British army, Lieutenant-Colonel MURRAY, Quarter-Master-General; and, on the part of the General-in-Chief of the French army, Monsieur KELLERMANN, General-of-Division; to whom they have given authority to negociate and conclude a Convention to that effect, subject to their ratification respectively, and to that of the Admiral commanding the British fleet at the entrance of the Tagus.

Those two officers, after exchanging their full powers, have agreed upon the articles which follow:

ARTICLE I. All the places and forts in the kingdom of Portugal, occupied by the French troops, shall be delivered up to the British army in the state in which they are at the period of the signature of the present Convention.

ART. II. The French troops shall evacuate Portugal with their arms and baggage; they shall not be considered as prisoners of war; and, on their arrival in France, they shall be at liberty to serve.

ART. III. The English Government shall furnish the means of conveyance for the French army; which shall be disembarked in any of the ports of France between Rochefort and L'Orient, inclusively.

ART. IV. The French army shall carry with it all its artillery, of French calibre, with the horses belonging to it, and the tumbrils supplied with sixty rounds per gun. All other artillery, arms, and ammunition, as also the military and naval arsenals, shall be given up to the British army and navy in the state in which they may be at the period of the ratification of the Convention.

ART. V. The French army shall carry with it all its equipments, and all that is comprehended under the name of property of the army; that is to say, its military chest, and carriages attached to the Field Commissariat and Field Hospitals; or shall be allowed to dispose of such part of the same, on its account, as the Commander-in-Chief may judge it unnecessary to embark. In like manner, all individuals of the army shall be at liberty to dispose of their private property of every description; with full security hereafter for the purchasers.

ART. VI. The cavalry are to embark their horses; as also the Generals and other officers of all ranks. It is, however, fully understood, that the means of conveyance for horses, at the disposal of the British Commanders, are very limited; some additional conveyance may be procured in the port of Lisbon; the number of horses to be embarked by the troops shall not exceed six hundred; and the number embarked by the Staff shall not exceed two hundred. At all events every facility will be given to the French army to dispose of the horses, belonging to it, which cannot be embarked.

ART. VII. In order to facilitate the embarkation, it shall take place in three divisions; the last of which will be principally composed of the garrisons of the places, of the cavalry, the artillery, the sick, and the equipment of the army. The first division shall embark within seven days of the date of the ratification; or sooner, if possible.

ART. VIII. The garrison of Elvas and its forts, and of Peniche and Palmela, will be embarked at Lisbon; that of Almaida at Oporto, or the nearest harbour. They will be accompanied, on their march by British Commissaries, charged with providing for their subsistence and accommodation.

ART. IX. All the sick and wounded, who cannot be embarked with the troops, are entrusted to the British army. They are to be taken care of, whilst they remain in this country, at the expence of the British Government; under the condition of the same being reimbursed by France when the final evacuation is effected. The English government will provide for their return to France; which shall take place by detachments of about one hundred and fifty (or two hundred) men at a time. A sufficient number of French medical officers shall be left behind to attend them.

ART. X. As soon as the vessels employed to carry the army to France shall have disembarked it in the harbours specified, or in any other of the ports of France to which stress of weather may force them, every facility shall be given them to return to England without delay; and security against capture until their arrival in a friendly port.

ART. XI. The French army shall be concentrated in Lisbon, and within a distance of about two leagues from it. The English army will approach within three leagues of the capital; and will be so placed as to leave about one league between the two armies.

ART. XII. The forts of St. Julien, the Bugio, and Cascais, shall be occupied by the British troops on the ratification of the Convention. Lisbon and its citadel, together with the forts and batteries, as far as the Lazaretto or Tarfuria on one side, and fort St. Joseph on the other, inclusively, shall be given up on the embarkation of the second division; as shall also the harbour; and all armed vessels in it of every description, with their rigging, sails, stores, and ammunition. The fortresses of Elvas, Almaida, Peniche, and Palmela, shall be given up as soon as the British troops can arrive to occupy them. In the mean time, the General-in-Chief of the British army will give notice of the present Convention to the garrisons of those places, as also to the troops before them, in order to put a stop to all further hostilities.

ART. XIII. Commissioners shall be named, on both sides, to regulate and accelerate the execution of the arrangements agreed upon.

ART. XIV. Should there arise doubts as to the meaning of any article, it will be explained favourably to the French army.

ART. XV. From the date of the ratification of the present Convention, all arrears of contributions, requisitions, or claims whatever, of the French Government, against the subjects of Portugal, or any other individuals residing in this country, founded on the occupation of Portugal by the French troops in the mouth of December 1807, which may not have been paid up, are cancelled; and all sequestrations laid upon their property, moveable or immoveable, are removed; and the free disposal of the same is restored to the proper owners.

ART. XVI. All subjects of France, or of powers in friendship or alliance with France, domiciliated in Portugal, or accidentally in this country, shall be protected: their property of every kind, moveable and immoveable, shall be respected: and they shall be at liberty either to accompany the French army, or to remain in Portugal. In either case their property is guaranteed to them; with the liberty of retaining or of disposing of it, and passing the produce of the sale thereof into France, or any other country where they may fix their residence; the space of one year being allowed them for that purpose.

It is fully understood, that the shipping is excepted from this arrangement; only, however, in so far as regards leaving the Port; and that none of the stipulations above-mentioned can be made the pretext of any commercial speculation.

ART. XVII. No native of Portugal shall be rendered accountable for his political conduct during the period of the occupation of this country by the French army; and all those who have continued in the exercise of their employments, or who have accepted situations under the French Government, are placed under the protection of the British Commanders: they shall sustain no injury in their persons or property; it not having been at their option to be obedient, or not, to the French Government: they are also at liberty to avail themselves of the stipulations of the 16th Article.

ART. XVIII. The Spanish troops detained on board ship in the Port of Lisbon shall be given up to the Commander-in-Chief of the British army; who engages to obtain of the Spaniards to restore such French subjects, either military or civil, as may have been detained in Spain, without being taken in battle, or in consequence of military operations, but on occasion of the occurrences of the 29th of last May, and the days immediately following.

ART. XIX. There shall be an immediate exchange established for all ranks of prisoners made in Portugal since the commencement of the present hostilities.

ART. XX. Hostages of the rank of field-officers shall be mutually furnished on the part of the British army and navy, and on that of the French army, for the reciprocal guarantee of the present Convention. The officer of the British army shall be restored on the completion of the articles which concern the army; and the officer of the navy on the disembarkation of the French troops in their own country. The like is to take place on the part of the French army.

ART. XXI. It shall be allowed to the General-in-Chief of the French army to send an officer to France with intelligence of the present Convention. A vessel will be furnished by the British Admiral to convey him to Bourdeaux or Rochefort.

ART. XXII. The British Admiral will be invited to accommodate His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, and the other principal officers of the French army, on board of ships of war.

Done and concluded at Lisbon this 30th day of August, 1808.

(Signed) GEORGE MURRAY, Quarter-Master-General. KELLERMANN, Le General de Division.

We, the Duke of Abrantes, General-in-Chief of the French army, have ratified and do ratify the present Definitive Convention in all its articles, to be executed according to its form and tenor.

(Signed) The Duke of ABRANTES. Head-Quarters—Lisbon, 30 th August, 1808.

Additional Articles to the Convention of the 30th of August, 1808.

ART. I. The individuals in the civil employment of the army made prisoners, either by the British troops, or by the Portugueze, in any part of Portugal, will be restored, as is customary, without exchange.

ART. II. The French army shall be subsisted from its own magazines up to the day of embarkation; the garrisons up to the day of the evacuation of the fortresses.

The remainder of the magazines shall be delivered over, in the usual form, to the British Government; which charges itself with the subsistence of the men and horses of the army from the above-mentioned periods till they arrive in France; under the condition of their being reimbursed by the French Government for the excess of the expense beyond the estimates, to be made by both parties, of the value of the magazines delivered up to the British army.

The provisions on board the ships of war, in possession of the French army, will be taken in account by the British Government in like manner with the magazines in the fortresses.

ART. III. The General commanding the British troops will take the necessary measures for re-establishing the free circulation of the means of subsistence between the country and the capital.

Done and concluded at Lisbon this 30th day of August, 1808.

(Signed) GEORGE MURRAY, Quarter-Master-General. KELLERMANN, Le General de Division.

We, Duke of Abrantes, General-in-Chief of the French army, have ratified and do ratify the additional articles of the Convention, to be executed according to their form and tenor.

The Duke of ABRANTES. (A true Copy.) A.J. DALRYMPLE, Captain, Military Secretary.

Articles of a Convention entered into between Vice-Admiral SENIAVIN, Knight of the Order of St. Alexander and other Russian Orders, and Admiral Sir CHARLES COTTON, Bart. for the Surrender of the Russian Fleet, now anchored in the River Tagus.

ART. I. The ships of war of the Emperor of Russia, now in the Tagus (as specified in the annexed list), shall be delivered up to Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, immediately, with all their stores as they now are; to be sent to England, and there held as a deposit by his Britannic Majesty, to be restored to His Imperial Majesty within six months after the conclusion of a peace between His Britannic Majesty and His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias.

ART. II. Vice-Admiral Seniavin, with the officers, sailors, and marines, under his command, to return to Russia, without any condition or stipulation respecting their future services; to be conveyed thither in men of war, or proper vessels, at the expence of His Britannic Majesty.

Done and concluded on board the ship Twerday, in the Tagus, and on board His Britannic Majesty's ship Hibernia, off the mouth of that river, the 3d day of September 1808.

(Signed) DE SENIAVIN. (Signed) CHARLES COTTON. (Counter-signed) By command of the Admiral, L. SASS, Assesseur de College. (Counter-signed) By command of the Admiral, JAMES KENNEDY, Secretary.



Whilst the latter sheets of this work were passing through the press, there was laid before Parliament a series of correspondence between the English Government and its servants in Spain; amongst which were the letters of Sir John Moore. That these letters, even with minds the least vigilant to detect contradictions and to make a commentary from the past actions of the Spaniards, should have had power to alienate them from the Spanish cause—could never have been looked for; except indeed by those who saw, in the party spirit on this question, a promise that more than ordinary pains would be taken to misrepresent their contents and to abuse the public judgment. But however it was at any rate to have been expected—both from the place which Sir J. Moore held in the Nation's esteem previously to his Spanish campaign, and also especially from that which (by his death in battle) he had so lately taken in its affections—that they would weigh a good deal in depressing the general sympathy with Spain: and therefore the Author of this work was desirous that all which these letters themselves, or other sources of information, furnished to mitigate and contradict Sir J.M.'s opinions—should be laid before the public: but—being himself at a great distance from London, and not having within his reach all the documents necessary for this purpose—he has honoured the friend, who corrects the press errors, by making over that task to him; and the reader is therefore apprised, that the Author is not responsible for any thing which follows.

* * * * *

Those, who have not examined these letters for themselves, will have collected enough of their general import, from conversation and the public prints, to know that they pronounce an opinion unfavourable to the Spaniards. They will perhaps have yet to learn that this opinion is not supported by any body of facts (for of facts only three are given; and those, as we shall see, misrepresented); but solely by the weight of Sir John Moore's personal authority. This being the case, it becomes the more important to assign the value of that authority, by making such deductions from the present public estimate of it, as are either fairly to be presumed from his profession and office, or directly inferred from the letters under consideration.

As reasons for questioning a priori the impartiality of these letters,—it might be suggested (in reference to what they would be likely to omit)—first—that they are the letters of a soldier; that is, of a man trained (by the prejudices of his profession) to despise, or at least to rate as secondary, those resources which for Spain must be looked to as supreme;—and, secondly, that they are the letters of a general; that is, of a soldier removed by his rank from the possibility of any extensive intercourse with the lower classes; concerning whom the question chiefly was. But it is more important to remark (in reference to what they would be likely to mis-state)—thirdly—that they are the letters of a commander-in-chief; standing—from the very day when he took the field—in a dilemma which compelled him to risk the safety of his army by advancing, or its honour by retreating; and having to make out an apology, for either issue, to the very persons who had imposed this dilemma upon him.—The reader is requested to attend to this. Sir John Moore found himself in Leon with a force 'which, if united,' (to quote his own words) 'would not exceed 26,000 men.' Such a force, after the defeat of the advanced armies,—he was sure—could effect nothing; the best result he could anticipate was an inglorious retreat. That he should be in this situation at the very opening of the campaign, he saw, would declare to all Europe that somewhere there must be blame: but where? with himself he knew that there was none: the English Government (with whom he must have seen that at least a part of the blame lay—for sending him so late, and with a force so lamentably incommensurate to the demands of the service) it was not for him—holding the situation that he did—openly to accuse (though, by implication, he often does accuse them); and therefore it became his business to look to the Spaniards; and, in their conduct, to search for palliations of that inefficiency on his part—which else the persons, to whom he was writing, would understand as charged upon themselves. Writing with such a purpose—and under a double fettering of his faculties; first from anxious forebodings of calamity or dishonour; and secondly from the pain he must have felt at not being free to censure those with whom he could not but be aware that the embarrassments of his situation had, at least in part, originated—we might expect that it would not be difficult for him to find, in the early events of the campaign, all which he sought; and to deceive himself into a belief, that, in stating these events without any commentary or even hints as to the relative circumstances under which they took place (which only could give to the naked facts their value and due meaning), he was making no misrepresentations,—and doing the Spaniards no injustice.

These suggestions are made with the greater earnestness, as it is probable that the honourable death of Sir John Moore will have given so much more weight to his opinion on any subject—as, if these suggestions be warranted, it is entitled on this subject to less weight—than the opinion of any other individual equally intelligent, and not liable (from high office and perplexity of situation) to the same influences of disgust or prejudice.

That these letters were written under some such influences, is plain throughout: we find, in them, reports of the four first events in the campaign; and, in justice to the Spaniards, it must be said that all are virtually mis-statements. Take two instances:

1. The main strength and efforts of the French were, at the opening of the campaign, directed against the army of Gen. Blake. The issue is thus given by Sir J.M.:—'Gen. Blake's army in Biscay has been defeated—dispersed; and its officers and men are flying in every direction.' Could it be supposed that the army, whose matchless exertions and endurances are all merged in this over-charged (and almost insulting) statement of their result, was, 'mere peasantry' (Sir J.M.'s own words) and opposed to greatly superior numbers of veteran troops? Confront with this account the description given by an eye-witness (Major-Gen. Leith) of their constancy and the trials of their constancy; remembering that, for ten successive days, they were engaged (under the pressure of similar hardships, with the addition of one not mentioned here, viz.—a want of clothing) in continued actions with the French:—'Here I shall take occasion to state another instance of the patience (and, I will add, the chearfulness) of the Spanish soldiers under the greatest privations.—After the action of Soronosa on the 31st ult., it was deemed expedient by Gen. Blake, for the purpose of forming a junction with the second division and the army of Asturias, that the army should make long, rapid, and continued marches through a country at any time incapable of feeding so numerous an army, and at present almost totally drained of provisions. From the 30th of October to the present day (Nov. 6), with the exception of a small and partial issue of bread at Bilboa on the morning of the 1st of November, this army has been totally destitute of bread, wine, or spirits; and has literally lived on the scanty supply of beef and sheep which those mountains afford. Yet never was there a symptom of complaint or murmur; the soldiers' minds appearing to be entirely occupied with the idea of being led against the enemy at Bilboa.'—'It is impossible for me to do justice to the gallantry and energy of the divisions engaged this day. The army are loud in expressing their desires to be led against the enemy at Bilboa; the universal exclamation is—The bayonet! the bayonet! lead us back to Soronosa.'

2. On the 10th of November the Estramaduran advanced guard, of about 12,000 men, was defeated at Burgos by a division of the French army selected for the service—and having a vast superiority in cavalry and artillery. This event, with the same neglect of circumstances as in the former instance, Sir J.M. thus reports:—'The French, after beating the army of Estramadura, are advanced at Burgos.' Now surely to any unprejudiced mind the bare fact of 12,000 men (chiefly raw levies) having gone forward to meet and to find out the main French army—under all the oppression which, to the ignorant of the upper and lower classes throughout Europe, there is in the name of Bonaparte—must appear, under any issue, a title to the highest admiration, such as would have made this slight and incidental mention of it impossible.

The two next events—viz. the forcing of the pass at Somosierra by the Polish horse, and the partial defeat of Castanos—are, as might be shewn even from the French bulletins, no less misrepresented. With respect to the first,—Sir J. Moore, over-looking the whole drama of that noble defence, gives only the catastrophe; and his account of the second will appear, from any report, to be an exaggeration.

It may be objected that—since Sir J.M. no where alleges these events as proving any thing against the Spaniards, but simply as accounting for his own plans (in which view, howsoever effected, whether with or without due resistance, they were entitled to the same value)—it is unfair to say that, by giving them uncircumstantially, he has misrepresented them. But it must be answered, that, in letters containing elsewhere (though not immediately in connexion with these statements) opinions unfavourable to the Spaniards, to omit any thing making for them—is to misrepresent in effect. And, further, it shall now be shewn that even those three charges—which Sir J.M. does allege in proof of his opinions—are as glaringly mis-stated.

The first of these charges is the most important: I give it to the reader in the words of Sir John Moore:—'The French cavalry from Burgos, in small detachments, are over-running the province of Leon; raising contributions; to which the inhabitants submit without the least resistance.' Now here it cannot be meant that no efforts at resistance were made by individuals or small parties; because this would not only contradict the universal laws of human nature,—but would also be at utter variance with Sir J.M.'s repeated complaints that he could gain no information of what was passing in his neighbourhood. It is meant therefore that there was no regular organised resistance; no resistance such as might be made the subject of an official report. Now we all know that the Spaniards have every where suffered deplorably from a want of cavalry; and, in the absence of that, hear from a military man (Major-Gen. Brodrick) why there was no resistance: '—At that time I was not aware how remarkably the plains of Leon and Castille differ from any other I have seen; nor how strongly the circumstances, which constitute that difference, enforce the opinion I venture to express.' (He means the necessity of cavalry reinforcements from England.) 'My road from Astorga lay through a vast open space, extending from 5 to 20 or more miles on every side; without a single accident of ground which could enable a body of infantry to check a pursuing enemy, or to cover its own retreat. In such ground, any corps of infantry might be insulted, to the very gates of the town it occupied, by cavalry far inferior in numbers; contributions raised under their eyes, and the whole neighbourhood exhausted of its resources, without the possibility of their opposing any resistance to such incursions.'

The second charge is made on the retreat to Corunna: 'the Gallicians, though armed,' Sir J.M. says, 'made no attempt to stop the passage of the French through the mountains.' That they were armed—is a proof that they had an intention to do so (as one of our journals observed): but what encouragement had they in that intention from the sight of a regular force—more than 30,000 strong—abandoning, without a struggle, passes where (as an English general asserts) 'a body of a thousand men might stop an army of twenty times the number?'

The third charge relates to the same Province: it is a complaint that 'the people run away; the villages are deserted;' and again, in his last letter,—'They abandoned their dwellings at our approach; drove away their carts, oxen, and every thing which could be of the smallest aid to the army.' To this charge, in so far as it may be thought to criminate the Spaniards, a full answer is furnished by their accuser himself in the following memorable sentence in another part of the very same letter:—'I am sorry to say that the army, whose conduct I had such reason to extol in its march through Portugal and on its arrival in Spain, has totally changed its character since it began to retreat.' What do we collect from this passage? Assuredly that the army ill-treated the Gallicians; for there is no other way in which an army, as a body, can offend—excepting by an indisposition to fight; and that interpretation (besides that we are all sure that no English army could so offend) Sir J. Moore expressly guards against in the next sentence.

The English army then treated its Ally as an enemy: and,—though there are alleviations of its conduct in its great sufferings,—yet it must be remembered that these sufferings were due—not to the Gallicians—but to circumstances over which they had no controul—to the precipitancy of the retreat, the inclemency of the weather, and the poverty of the country; and that (knowing this) they must have had a double sense of injustice in any outrages of an English army, from, contrasting them with the professed objects of that army in entering Spain.—It is to be observed that the answer to the second charge would singly have been some answer to this; and, reciprocally, that the answer to this is a full answer to the second.

Having thus shewn that, in Sir J. Moore's very inaccurate statements of facts, we have some further reasons for a previous distrust of any opinion which is supported by those statements,—it is now time to make the reader acquainted with the real terms and extent of that opinion. For it is far less to be feared that, from his just respect for him who gave it, he should allow it an undue weight in his judgment—than that, reposing on the faithfulness of the abstracts and reports of these letters, he should really be still ignorant of its exact tenor.

The whole amount then of what Sir John Moore has alleged against the Spaniards, in any place but one, is comprised in this sentence:—'The enthusiasm, of which we have heard so much, no where appears; whatever good-will there is (and I believe amongst the lower orders there is a great deal) is taken no advantage of.' It is true that, in that one place (viz. in his last letter written at Corunna), he charges the Spaniards with 'apathy and indifference:' but, as this cannot be reconciled with his concession of a great deal of good-will, we are bound to take that as his real and deliberate opinion which he gave under circumstances that allowed him most coolness and freedom of judgment.—The Spaniards then were wanting in enthusiasm. Now what is meant by enthusiasm? Does it mean want of ardour and zeal in battle? This Sir J. Moore no where asserts; and, even without a direct acknowledgement of their good conduct in the field (of which he had indeed no better means of judging than we in England), there is involved in his statement of the relative numbers of the French and Spaniards—combined with our knowledge of the time during which they maintained their struggle—a sufficient testimony to that; even if the events of the first campaign had not made it superfluous. Does it mean then a want of good-will to the cause? So far from this, we have seen that Sir J.M. admits that there was, in that class where it was most wanted, 'a great deal' of good-will. And, in the present condition of Spain, let it be recollected what it is that this implies. We see, in the intercepted letter to Marshal Soult (transmitted by Sir J.M.), that the French keep accurate registers of the behaviour of the different towns; and this was, no doubt, well known throughout Spain. Therefore to shew any signs of good-will—much more to give a kind welcome to the English (as had been done at Badajoz and Salamanca)—was, they knew, a pledge of certain punishment on any visit from the French. So that good-will, manifested in these circumstances, was nothing less than a testimony of devotion to the cause.

Here then, the reader will say, I find granted—in the courage and the good-will of the Spaniards—all the elements of an enthusiastic resistance; and cannot therefore imagine what more could be sought for except the throwing out and making palpable of their enthusiasm to the careless eye in some signal outward manifestations. In this accordingly we learn what interpretation we are to give to Sir J.M.'s charge:—there were no tumults on his entrance into Spain; no insurrections; they did not, as he says, 'rally round' the English army. But, to determine how far this disappointment of his expectations tells against the Spaniards, we must first know how far those expectations were reasonable. Let the reader consider, then,

First; what army was this round which the Spaniards were to rally? If it was known by the victory of Vimiera, it was known also to many by the Convention of Cintra; for, though the government had never ventured to communicate that affair officially to the nation, dark and perplexing whispers were however circulated about it throughout Spain. Moreover, it must surely demand some superstition in behalf of regular troops—to see, in an army of 20,000 men, a dignity adequate to the office here claimed for it of awakening a new vigour and enthusiasm in such a nation as Spain; not to mention that an English army, however numerous, had no right to consider itself as other than a tributary force—as itself tending to a centre—and attracted rather than attracting.

Secondly; it appears that Sir J.M. has overlooked one most important circumstance;—viz. that the harvest, in these provinces, had been already reaped; the English army could be viewed only as gleaners. Thus, as we have already seen, Estramadura had furnished an army which had marched before his arrival; from Salamanca also—the very place in which he makes his complaint—there had gone out a battalion to Biscay which Gen. Blake had held up, for its romantic gallantly, to the admiration of his whole army.

Yet, thirdly, it is not meant by any means to assert that Spain has put forth an energy adequate to the service—or in any tolerable proportion to her own strength. Far from it! But upon whom does the blame rest? Not surely upon the people—who, as long as they continued to have confidence in their rulers, could not be expected (after the early fervours of their revolution had subsided) much to overstep the measure of exertion prescribed to them—but solely upon the government. Up to the time when Sir J.M. died, the Supreme Junta had adopted no one grand and comprehensive measure for calling out the strength of the nation;—scarcely any of such ordinary vigour as, in some countries, would have been adopted to meet local disturbances among the people. From their jealousy of popular feeling,—they had never taken any steps, by books or civic assemblies, to make the general enthusiasm in the cause available by bringing it within the general consciousness; and thus to create the nation into an organic whole. Sir J.M. was fully aware of this:—'The Spanish Government,' he says, 'do not seem ever to have contemplated the possibility of a second attack:' and accordingly, whenever he is at leisure to make distinctions, he does the people the justice to say—that the failure was with those who should have 'taken advantage' of their good will. With the people therefore will for ever remain the glory of having resisted heroically with means utterly inadequate; and with the government the whole burthen of the disgrace that the means were thus inadequate.

But, further,—even though it should still be thought that, in the three Provinces which Sir J. Moore saw, there may have been some failures with the people,—it is to be remembered that these were the very three which had never been the theatre of French outrages; which therefore had neither such a vivid sense of the evils which they had to fear, nor so strong an animation in the recollection of past triumphs: we might accordingly have predicted that, if any provinces should prove slack in their exertions, it would be these three. So that, after all, (a candid inquirer into this matter will say) admitting Sir J.M.'s description to be faithful with respect to what he saw, I can never allow that the conduct of these three provinces shall be held forth as an exponent of the general temper and condition of Spain. For that therefore I must look to other authorities.

Such an inquirer we might then refer to the testimonies of Gen. Leith and of Capt. Pasley for Biscay and Asturias; of Mr. Vaughan (as cited by Lord Castlereagh) for the whole East and South; of Lord Cochrane (himself a most gallant man, and giving his testimony under a trying comparison of the Spaniards with English Sailors) for Catalonia in particular; of Lord W. Bentinck for the central provinces; and, for all Spain, we might appeal even to the Spanish military reports—which, by the discrimination of their praises (sometimes giving severe rebukes to particular regiments, &c.), authenticate themselves.

But, finally, we are entitled—after the actions of the Spaniards—to dispense with such appeals. Spain might justly deem it a high injury and affront, to suppose that (after her deeds performed under the condition of her means) she could require any other testimony to justify her before nil posterity. What those deeds have been, it cannot surely now be necessary to inform the reader: and therefore the remainder of this note shall be employed in placing before him the present posture of Spain—under two aspects which may possibly have escaped his notice.

First, Let him look to that part of Spain which is now in the possession of the enemy;—let him bear in mind that the present campaign opened at the latter end of last October; that the French were then masters of the country up to the Ebro; that the contest has since lain between a veteran army (rated, on the lowest estimate, at 113,000 men—with a prodigious superiority in cavalry, artillery, &c.) opposed (as to all regular opposition) by unpractised Spaniards, split into three distinct armies, having no communication with each other, making a total of not more than 80,000 men;—and then let him inquire what progress, in this time and with these advantages, the French have been able to make (comparing it, at the same time, with that heretofore made in Prussia, and elsewhere): the answer shall be given from the Times newspaper of April 8th—'It appears that, at the date of our last accounts from France as well as Spain, about one half of the Peninsula was still unsubdued by the French arms. The Provinces, which retain their independence, form a sort of irregular or broken crescent; of which one horn consists in parts of Catalonia and Valencia, and the other horn includes Asturias (perhaps we may soon add Gallicia). The broader surface contains the four kingdoms of Andalusia (Seville, Grenada, Cordova, and Murcia), and considerable parts of Estramadura, and La Mancha; besides Portugal.'—The writer might have added that even the Provinces, occupied by the French, cannot yet be counted substantially as conquests: since they have a military representation in the south; large proportions of the defeated armies having retreated thither.

Secondly. Let him look to that part of Spain which yet remains unsubdued.—It was thought no slight proof of heroism in the people of Madrid, that they prepared for their defence—not as the foremost champions of Spain (in which character they might have gained an adventitious support from the splendour of their post; and, at any rate, would have been free from the depression of preceding disasters)—but under a full knowledge of recent and successive overthrows; their advanced armies had been defeated; and their last stay, at Somosierra, had been driven in upon them. But the Provinces in the South have many more causes for dejection: they have heard, since these disasters, that this heroic city of Madrid has fallen; that their forts in Catalonia have been wrested from them; that an English army just moved upon the horizon of Spain—to draw upon itself the gaze and expectations of the people, and then to vanish like an apparition; and, finally, they have heard of the desolation of Saragossa. Under all this accumulation of calamity, what has been their conduct? In Valencia redoubled preparations of defence; in Seville a decree for such energetic retaliation on the enemy,—as places its authors, in the event of his success, beyond the hopes of mercy; in Cadiz—on a suspicion that a compromise was concerted with their enemy—tumults and clamours of the people for instant vengeance; every where, in their uttermost distress, the same stern and unfaultering attitude of defiance as at the glorious birth of their resistance.

In this statement, then, of the past efforts of Spain—and of her present preparations for further efforts—will be found a full answer to all the charges alleged, by Sir John Moore in his letters, against the people of Spain, even if we did not find sufficient ground for rejecting them in an examination of these letters themselves.

* * * * *

The Author of the above note—having, in justice to the Spaniards, spoken with great plainness and freedom—feels it necessary to add a few words, that it may not thence be concluded that he is insensible to Sir J. Moore's claims upon his respect. Perhaps—if Sir J.M. could himself have given us his commentary upon these letters, and have restricted the extension of such passages as (from want of vigilance in making distinctions or laxity of language) are at variance with concessions made elsewhere—they would have been found not more to differ from the reports of other intelligent and less prejudiced observers, than we might have expected from the circumstances under which they were written. Sir J.M. has himself told us (in a letter published since the above note was written) that he thinks the Spaniards 'a fine people;' and that acknowledgement, from a soldier, cannot be supposed to exclude courage; nor, from a Briton, some zeal for national independence. We are therefore to conclude that, when Sir J.M. pronounces opinions on 'the Spaniards' not to be reconciled with this and other passages, he speaks—not of the Spanish people—but of the Spanish government. And, even for what may still remain charged uncandidly upon the people, the writer does not forget that there are infinite apologies to be found in Sir J. Moore's situation: the earliest of these letters were written under great anxiety and disturbance of mind from the anticipation of calamity;—and the latter (which are the most severe) under the actual pressure of calamity; and calamity of that sort which would be the most painful to the feelings of a gallant soldier, and most likely to vitiate his judgment with respect to those who had in part (however innocently) occasioned it. There may be pleaded also for him—that want of leisure which would make it difficult to compare the different accounts he received, and to draw the right inferences from them. But then these apologies for his want of fidelity—are also reasons before-hand for suspecting it: and there are now (May 18th) to be added to these reasons, and their confirmations in the letters themselves, fresh proofs in the present state of Gallicia, as manifested by the late re-capture of Vigo, and the movements of the Marquis de la Romana; all which, from Sir J. Moore's account of the temper in that province, we might have confidently pronounced impossible. We must therefore remember that what in him were simply mis-statements—are now, when repeated with our better information, calumnies; and calumnies so much the less to be excused in us, as we have already (in our conduct towards Spain) given her other and no light matter of complaint against ourselves.

* * * * *






* * * * *


These two Letters—the latter for the first time printed—form a fitting sequel to the 'Convention of Cintra.' See Preface in the present volume for more on them. G.

* * * * *


Grasmere, March 28, 1811.


I address this to the publishers of your 'Essay,' not knowing where to find you. Before I speak of the instruction and pleasure which I have derived from your work, let me say a word or two in apology for my own apparent neglect of the letter with which you honoured me some time ago. In fact, I was thoroughly sensible of the value of your correspondence, and of your kindness in writing to me, and took up the pen to tell you so. I wrote half of a pretty long letter to you, but I was so disgusted with the imperfect and feeble expression which I had given to some not uninteresting ideas, that I threw away the unfinished sheet, and could not find resolution to resume what had been so inauspiciously begun. I am ashamed to say, that I write so few letters, and employ my pen so little in any way, that I feel both a lack of words (such words I mean as I wish for) and of mechanical skill, extremely discouraging to me. I do not plead these disabilities on my part as an excuse, but I wish you to know that they have been the sole cause of my silence, and not a want of sense of the honour done me by your correspondence, or an ignorance of what good breeding required of me. But enough of my trespasses! Let me only add, that I addressed a letter of some length to you when you were lying ill at Middleburgh; this probably you never received. Now for your book. I had expected it with great impatience, and desired a friend to send it down to me immediately on its appearance, which he neglected to do. On this account, I did not see it till a few days ago. I have read it through twice, with great care, and many parts three or four times over. From this, you will conclude that I must have been much interested; and I assure you that I deem myself also in a high degree instructed. It would be a most pleasing employment to me to dwell, in this letter, upon those points in which I agree with you, and to acknowledge my obligations for the clearer views you have given of truths which I before perceived, though not with that distinctness in which they now stand before my eyes. But I could wish this letter to be of some use to you; and that end is more likely to be attained if I advert to those points in which I think you are mistaken. These are chiefly such as though very material in themselves, are not at all so to the main object you have in view, viz. that of proving that the military power of France may by us be successfully resisted, and even overthrown. In the first place, then, I think that there are great errors in the survey of the comparative strength of the two empires, with which you begin your book, and on which the first 160 pages are chiefly employed. You seem to wish to frighten the people into exertion; and in your ardour to attain your object, that of rousing our countrymen by any means, I think you have caught far too eagerly at every circumstance with respect to revenue, navy, &c. that appears to make for the French. This I think was unnecessary. The people are convinced that the power of France is dangerous, and that it is our duty to resist it to the utmost. I think you might have commenced from this acknowledged fact; and, at all events, I cannot help saying, that the first 100 pages or so of your book, contrasted with the brilliant prospects towards the conclusion, have impressed me with a notion that you have written too much under the influence of feelings similar to those of a poet or novelist, who deepens the distress in the earlier part of his work, in order that the happy catastrophe which he has prepared for his hero and heroine may be more keenly relished. Your object is to conduct us to Elysium, and, lest we should not be able to enjoy that pure air and purpurial sunshine, you have taken a peep at Tartarus on the road. Now I am of your mind, that we ought not to make peace with France, on any account, till she is humiliated, and her power brought within reasonable bounds. It is our duty and our interest to be at war with her; but I do not think with you, that a state of peace would give to France that superiority which you seem so clearly to foresee. In estimating the resources of the two empires, as to revenue, you appear to make little or no allowance for what I deem of prime and paramount importance, the characters of the two nations, and of the two governments. Was there ever an instance, since the world began, of the peaceful arts thriving under a despotism so oppressive as that of France is and must continue to be, and among a people so unsettled, so depraved, and so undisciplined in civil arts and habits as the French nation must now be? It is difficult to come at the real revenue of the French empire; but it appears to me certain, absolutely certain, that it must diminish rapidly every year. The armies have hitherto been maintained chiefly from the contributions raised upon the conquered countries, and from the plunder which the soldiers have been able to find. But that harvest is over. Austria, and particularly Hungary, may have yet something to supply; but the French Ruler will scarcely quarrel with them for a few years at least. But from Denmark, and Sweden, and Russia, there is not much to be gained. In the mean while, wherever his iron yoke is fixed, the spirits of the people are broken; and it is in vain to attempt to extort money which they do not possess, and cannot procure. Their bodies he may command, but their bodies he cannot move without the inspiration of wealth, somewhere or other; by wealth I mean superfluous produce, something arising from the labour of the inhabitants of countries beyond what is necessary to their support. What will avail him the command of the whole population of the Continent, unless there be a security for capital somewhere existing, so that the mechanic arts and inventions may thereby be applied in such a manner as that an overplus may arise from the labour of the country which shall find its way into the pocket of the State for the purpose of supporting its military and civil establishments? Now, when I look at the condition of our country, and compare it with that of France, and reflect upon the length of the time, and the infinite combination of favourable circumstances which have been necessary to produce the laws, the regulations, the customs, the moral character, and the physical enginery of all sorts, through means, and by aid of which, labour is carried on in this happy Land; and when I think of the wealth and population (concentrated too in so small a space) which we must have at command for military purposes, I confess I have not much dread, looking either at war or peace, of any power which France, with respect to us, is likely to attain for years, I may say for generations. Whatever may be the form of a government, its spirit, at least, must be mild and free before agriculture, trade, commerce, and manufactures can thrive under it; and if these do not prosper in a State, it may extend its empire to right and to left, and it will only carry poverty and desolation along with it, without being itself permanently enriched. You seem to take for granted, that because the French revenue amounts to so much at present it must continue to keep up to that height. This, I conceive impossible, unless the spirit of the government alters, which is not likely for many years. How comes it that we are enabled to keep, by sea and land, so many men in arms? Not by our foreign commerce, but by our domestic ingenuity, by our home labour, which, with the aid of capital and the mechanic arts and establishments, has enabled a few to produce so much as will maintain themselves, and the hundreds of thousands of their countrymen whom they support in arms. If our foreign trade were utterly destroyed, I am told, that not more than one-sixth of our trade would perish. The spirit of Buonaparte's government is, and must continue to be, like that of the first conquerors of the New World who went raving about for gold—gold! and for whose rapacious appetites the slow but mighty and sure returns of any other produce could have no charms. I cannot but think that generations must pass away before France, or any of the countries under its thraldom, can attain those habits, and that character, and those establishments which must be attained before it can wield its population in a manner that will ensure our overthrow. This (if we conduct the war upon principles of common sense) seems to me impossible, while we continue at war; and should a peace take place (which, however, I passionately deprecate), France will long be compelled to pay tribute to us, on account of our being so far before her in the race of genuine practical philosophy and true liberty. I mean that the mind of this country is so far before that of France, and that that mind has empowered the hands of the country to raise so much national wealth, that France must condescend to accept from us what she will be unable herself to produce. Is it likely that any of our manufacturing capitalists, in case of a peace, would trust themselves to an arbitrary government like that of France, which, without a moment's warning, might go to war with us and seize their persons and their property; nay, if they should be so foolish as to trust themselves to its discretion, would be base enough to pick a quarrel with us for the very purpose of a pretext to strip them of all they possessed? Or is it likely, if the native French manufacturers and traders were capable of rivalling us in point of skill, that any Frenchman would venture upon that ostentatious display of wealth which a large cotton-mill, for instance, requires, when he knows that by so doing he would only draw upon himself a glance of the greedy eye of government, soon to be followed by a squeeze from its rapacious hand? But I have dwelt too long upon this. The sum of what I think, by conversation, I could convince you of is, that your comparative estimate is erroneous, and materially so, inasmuch as it makes no allowance for the increasing superiority which a State, supposed to be independent and equitable in its dealings to its subjects, must have over an oppressive government; and none for the time which is necessary to give prosperity to peaceful arts, even if the government should improve. Our country has a mighty and daily growing forest of this sort of wealth; whereas, in France, the trees are not yet put into the ground. For my own part, I do not think it possible that France, with all her command of territory and coast, can outstrip us in naval power, unless she could previously, by her land power, cut us off from timber and naval stores, necessary for the building and equipment of our fleet. In that intellectual superiority which, as I have mentioned, we possess over her, we should find means to build as many ships as she could build, and also could procure sailors to man them. The same energy would furnish means for maintaining the men; and if they could be fed and maintained, they would surely be produced. Why then am I for war with France? 1st. Because I think our naval superiority may be more cheaply maintained, and more easily, by war than by peace; and because I think, that if the war were conducted upon those principles of martial policy which you so admirably and nobly enforce, united with (or rather bottomed upon) those notions of justice and right, and that knowledge of and reverence for the moral sentiments of mankind, which, in my Tract, I attempted to portray and illustrate, the tide of military success would immediately turn in our favour; and we should find no more difficulty in reducing the French power than Gustavus Adolphus did in reducing that of the German Empire in his day. And here let me express my zealous thanks for the spirit and beauty with which you have pursued, through all its details, the course of martial policy which you recommend. Too much praise cannot be given to this which is the great body of your work. I hope that it will not be lost upon your countrymen. But (as I said before) I rather wish to dwell upon those points in which I am dissatisfied with your 'Essay.' Let me then come at once to a fundamental principle. You maintain, that as the military power of France is in progress, ours must be so also, or we must perish. In this I agree with you. Yet you contend also, that this increase or progress can only be brought about by conquests permanently established upon the Continent; and, calling in the doctrines of the writers upon the Law of Nations to your aid, you are for beginning with the conquest of Sicily, and so on, through Italy, Switzerland, &c. &c. Now it does not appear to me, though I should rejoice heartily to see a British army march from Calabria, triumphantly, to the heart of the Alps, and from Holland to the centre of Germany,—yet it does not appear to me that the conquest and permanent possession of these countries is necessary either to produce those resources of men or money which the security and prosperity of our country requires. All that is absolutely needful, for either the one or the other, is a large, experienced, and seasoned army, which we cannot possess without a field to fight in, and that field must be somewhere upon the Continent. Therefore, as far as concerns ourselves and our security, I do not think that so wide a space of conquered country is desirable; and, as a patriot, I have no wish for it. If I desire it, it is not for our sakes directly, but for the benefit of those unhappy nations whom we should rescue, and whose prosperity would be reflected back upon ourselves. Holding these notions, it is natural, highly as I rate the importance of military power, and deeply as I feel its necessity for the protection of every excellence and virtue, that I should rest my hopes with respect to the emancipation of Europe more upon moral influence, and the wishes and opinions of the people of the respective nations, than you appear to do. As I have written in my pamphlet, 'on the moral qualities of a people must its salvation ultimately depend. Something higher than military excellence must be taught as higher; something more fundamental, as more fundamental.' Adopting the opinion of the writers upon the laws of Nations, you treat of conquest as if conquest could in itself, nakedly and abstractedly considered, confer rights. If we once admit this proposition, all morality is driven out of the world. We conquer Italy—that is, we raise the British standard in Italy,—and, by the aid of the inhabitants, we expel the French from the country, and have a right to keep it for ourselves. This, if I am not mistaken, is not only implied, but explicitly maintained in your book. Undoubtedly, if it be clear that the possession of Italy is necessary for our security, we have a right to keep possession of it, if we should ever be able to master it by the sword. But not because we have gained it by conquest, therefore may we keep it; no; the sword, as the sword, can give no rights; but because a great and noble Nation, like ours, cannot prosper or exist without such possession. If the fact were so, we should then have a right to keep possession of what by our valour we had acquired—not otherwise. If these things were matter of mere speculation, they would not be worth talking about; but they are not so. The spirit of conquest, and the ambition of the sword, never can confer true glory and happiness upon a nation that has attained power sufficient to protect itself. Your favourites, the Romans, though no doubt having the fear of the Carthaginians before their eyes, yet were impelled to carry their arms out of Italy by ambition far more than by a rational apprehension of the danger of their condition. And how did they enter upon their career? By an act of atrocious injustice. You are too well read in history for me to remind you what that act was. The same disregard of morality followed too closely their steps everywhere. Their ruling passion, and sole steady guide, was the glory of the Roman name, and the wish to spread the Roman power. No wonder, then, if their armies and military leaders, as soon as they had destroyed all foreign enemies from whom anything was to be dreaded, turned their swords upon each other. The ferocious cruelties of Sylla and Marius, of Catiline, and of Antony and Octavius, and the despotism of the empire, were the necessary consequences of a long course of action pursued upon such blind and selfish principles. Therefore, admiring as I do your scheme of martial policy, and agreeing with you that a British military power may, and that the present state of the world requires that it ought to be, predominant in Italy, and Germany, and Spain; yet still, I am afraid that you look with too much complacency upon conquest by British arms, and upon British military influence upon the Continent, for its own sake. Accordingly, you seem to regard Italy with more satisfaction than Spain. I mean you contemplate our possible exertions in Italy with more pleasure, merely because its dismembered state would probably keep it more under our sway—in other words, more at our mercy. Now, I think there is nothing more unfortunate for Europe than the condition of Germany and Italy in these respects. Could the barriers be dissolved which have divided the one nation into Neapolitans, Tuscans, Venetians, &c., and the other into Prussians, Hanoverians, &c., and could they once be taught to feel their strength, the French would be driven back into their own Land immediately. I wish to see Spain, Italy, France, Germany, formed into independent nations; nor have I any desire to reduce the power of France further than may be necessary for that end. Woe be to that country whose military power is irresistible! I deprecate such an event for Great Britain scarcely less than for any other Land. Scipio foresaw the evils with which Rome would be visited when no Carthage should be in existence for her to contend with. If a nation have nothing to oppose or to fear without, it cannot escape decay and concussion within. Universal triumph and absolute security soon betray a State into abandonment of that discipline, civil and military, by which its victories were secured. If the time should ever come when this island shall have no more formidable enemies by land than it has at this moment by sea, the extinction of all that it previously contained of good and great would soon follow. Indefinite progress, undoubtedly, there ought to be somewhere; but let that be in knowledge, in science, in civilization, in the increase of the numbers of the people, and in the augmentation of their virtue and happiness. But progress in conquest cannot be indefinite; and for that very reason, if for no other, it cannot be a fit object for the exertions of a people, I mean beyond certain limits, which, of course, will vary with circumstances. My prayer, as a patriot, is, that we may always have, somewhere or other, enemies capable of resisting us, and keeping us at arm's length. Do I, then, object that our arms shall be carried into every part of the Continent? No: such is the present condition of Europe, that I earnestly pray for what I deem would be a mighty blessing. France has already destroyed, in almost every part of the Continent, the detestable governments with which the nations have been afflicted; she has extinguished one sort of tyranny, but only to substitute another. Thus, then, have the countries of Europe been taught, that domestic oppression, if not manfully and zealously repelled, must sooner or later be succeeded by subjugation from without; they have tasted the bitterness of both cups, have drunk deeply of both. Their spirits are prepared for resistance to the foreign tyrant, and with our help I think they may shake him off, and, under our countenance, and following (as far as they are capable) our example, they may fashion to themselves, making use of what is best in their own ancient laws and institutions, new forms of government, which may secure posterity from a repetition of such calamities as the present age has brought forth. The materials of a new balance of power exist in the language, and name, and territory of Spain, in those of France, and those of Italy, Germany, Russia, and the British Isles. The smaller States must disappear, and merge in the large nations and wide-spread languages. The possibility of this remodelling of Europe I see clearly; earnestly do I pray for it; and I have in my mind a strong conviction that your invaluable work will be a powerful instrument in preparing the way for that happy issue. Yet, still, we must go deeper than the nature of your labour requires you to penetrate. Military policy merely will not perform all that is needful, nor mere military virtues. If the Roman State was saved from overthrow, by the attack of the slaves and of the gladiators, through the excellence of its armies, yet this was not without great difficulty;[22] and Rome would have been destroyed by Carthage, had she not been preserved by a civic fortitude in which she surpassed all the nations of the earth. The reception which the Senate gave to Terentius Varro, after the battle of Cannae, is the sublimest event in human history. What a contrast to the wretched conduct of the Austrian government after the battle at Wagram! England requires, as you have shown so eloquently and ably, a new system of martial policy; but England, as well as the rest of Europe, requires what is more difficult to give it,—a new course of education, a higher tone of moral feeling, more of the grandeur of the imaginative faculties, and less of the petty processes of the unfeeling and purblind understanding, that would manage the concerns of nations in the same calculating spirit with which it would set about building a house. Now a State ought to be governed (at least in these times), the labours of the statesman ought to advance, upon calculations and from impulses similar to those which give motion to the hand of a great artist when he is preparing a picture, or of a mighty poet when he is determining the proportions and march of a poem;—much is to be done by rule; the great outline is previously to be conceived in distinctness, but the consummation of the work must be trusted to resources that are not tangible, though known to exist. Much as I admire the political sagacity displayed in your work, I respect you still more for the lofty spirit that supports it; for the animation and courage with which it is replete; for the contempt, in a just cause, of death and danger by which it is ennobled; for its heroic confidence in the valour of your countrymen; and the absolute determination which it everywhere expresses to maintain in all points the honour of the soldier's profession, and that of the noble Nation of which you are a member—of the Land in which you were born. No insults, no indignities, no vile stooping, will your politics admit of; and therefore, more than for any other cause, do I congratulate my country on the appearance of a book which, resting in this point our national safety upon the purity of our national character, will, I trust, lead naturally to make us, at the same time, a more powerful and a high-minded nation.

Affectionately yours, W. WORDSWORTH.[23]

[22] 'Totis imperii viribus consurgitur,' says the historian, speaking of the war of the gladiators.

[23] Memoirs, vol. i. pp. 406-20.

* * * * *

Letter enclosing the Preceding to a Friend unnamed.


I have taken the Liberty of addressing the enclosed to you, with a wish that you would be so kind as to send it by the twopenny Post. The Letter, though to a personal Acquaintance and to some degree a friend, is upon a kind of Public occasion, and consists of Comments upon Captain Pasley's lately published Essay on the Military Policy of Great Britain; a work which if you have not seen I earnestly recommend to your careful Perusal. I have sent my Letter unsealed in order that if you think it worth while you may read it, which would oblige me. You may begin with those words in the 1st Page, 'Now for your Book:' which you will see are legible, being transcribed by a Friend. The rest, in my own hand, is only an Apology for not writing sooner; save that there are two Sonnets which if you like you may glance your eye over. Do not forget to put a wafer on the Letter after you have done with it.

Will you excuse me if I find myself unable to forbear saying, upon this occasion, a few words concerning the conduct pursued with respect to foreign affairs by the Party with whom you act? I learn from a private quarter of unquestionable Authority, that it was Lord Grenville's intention, had he come into power as he lately expected, to have recalled the army from Portugal. In the name of my Country, of our virtuous and suffering Allies, and of Human Nature itself, I give thanks to Providence who has restored the King's health so far as to prevent this intention being put into practice hitherto. The transgressions of the present ministry are grievous; but excepting only a deliberate and direct attack upon the civil liberty of our own Country, there cannot be any thing in a Minister worse than a desponding spirit and the lack of confidence in a good cause. If Lord G. and Mr. Ponsonby think that the privilege allowed to opposition-manoeuvering justifies them in speaking as they do, they are sadly mistaken and do not discern what is becoming the times; but if they sincerely believe in the omnipotence of Buonaparte upon the Continent, they are the dupes of their own fears and the slaves of their own ignorance. Do not deem me presumptuous when I say that it is pitiable to hear Lord Grenville talking as he did in the late debate of the inability of Great Britain to take a commanding station as a military Power, and maintaining that our efforts must be essentially, he means exclusively, naval. We have destroyed our enemies upon the Sea, and are equally capable of destroying him upon land. Rich in soldiers and revenues as we are, we are capable, availing ourselves of the present disposition of the Continent, to erect there under our countenance, and by a wise application of our resources, a military Power, which the tyrannical and immoral Government of Buonaparte could not prevail against, and if he could not overthrow it, he must himself perish. Lord G. grudges two millions in aid of Portugal, which has eighty thousand men in arms, and what they can perform has been proved. Yet Lord G. does not object to our granting aid to a great Military Power on the Continent if such could he found, nay he begs of us to wait till that fortunate period arrives. Whence does Lord G., from what quarter does he expect it? from Austria, from the Prussian monarchy, brought to life again, from Russia, or lastly from the Confederacy of the Rhine turning against their Creator and Fashioner? Is the expectation of the Jews for their Messiah or of the Portugueze for St. Sebastian more extravagant? But Lord G. ought to know that such a military POWER does already exist upon the Peninsula, formless indeed compared with what under our plastic hands it may become, yet which has proved itself capable of its giving employment during the course of three years to at least five hundred thousand of the enemy's best troops. An important fact has been proved, that the enemy cannot drive us from the Peninsula. We have the point to stand upon which Archimedes wished for, and we may move the Continent if we persevere. Let us prepare to exercise in Spain a military influence like that which we already possess in Portugal, and our affairs must improve daily and rapidly. Whatever money we advance for Portugal and Spain, we can direct the management of it, an inestimable advantage which, with relation to Prussia, Russia or Austria, we never possessed. Besides, how could we govern the purposes of those States, when that inherent imbecility and cowardice leave them no purpose or aim to which they can steadily adhere of themselves for six weeks together? Military Powers! So these States have been called. A strange Misnomer! they are Weaknesses—a true though ill-sounding Title!—and not Powers! Polybius tells us that Hannibal entered into Italy with twenty thousand men, and that the aggregate forces of Italy at that time amounted to seven hundred and sixty thousand foot and horse, with the Roman discipline and power to head that mighty force. Gustavus Adolphus invaded Germany with thirteen thousand men; the Emperor at that time having between two and three hundred thousand warlike and experienced Troops commanded by able Generals, to oppose to him. Let these facts and numerous others which history supplies of the same kind, be thought of; and let us hear no more of the impossibility of Great Britain girt round and defended by the Sea and an invincible Navy, becoming a military Power; Great Britain whose troops surpass in valour those of all the world, and who has an army and a militia of upwards of three hundred thousand men! Do reflect my dear Sir, upon the materials which are now in preparation upon the Continent. Hannibal expected to be joined by a parcel of the contented barbarian Gauls in the north of Italy. Gustavus stood forth as the Champion of the Protestant interest: how feeble and limited each of these auxiliary sentiments and powers, compared with what the state of knowledge, the oppressions of their domestic governments, and the insults and injuries and hostile cruelties inflicted by the French upon the continental nations, must have exerted to second our arms whenever we shall appear in that Force which we can assume, and with that boldness which would become us, and which justice and human nature and Patriotism call upon us to put forth. Farewell, most truly yours,


Shall we see you this Summer? I hope so.




On the occasion of these 'Two Addresses,' and other related matters, see Preface in the present volume. G.


* * * * * Kendal:



* * * * *

The Author thinks it proper to advise his Reader, that he alone is responsible for the sentiments and opinions expressed in these sheets. Gladly would he have availed himself of the judgment of others, if that benefit could have been had without subjecting the Persons consulted to the possibility of blame, for having sanctioned any view of the topics under consideration, which, either from its erroneousness might deserve, or from Party feelings or other causes might incur, censure.

The matter comprised in these pages was intended to compose a succession of Addresses to be printed in the Kendal Chronicle, and a part of the first was published through that channel. The intention was dropped for reasons well known. It is now mentioned in order to account for the disproportion in the length of the two Addresses, and an arrangement of matter, in some places, different from what would otherwise have been chosen. A portion also has appeared in the Carlisle Patriot.

It is of little importance to add, that this Publication has been delayed by unavoidable engagements of the Printer.

March 26, 1818.

* * * * *


The new Candidate has appeared amongst us, and concluded, for the present, his labours in the County. They require no further notice here than an expression of thanks for the success with which he has co-operated with the Author of these pages to demonstrate, by the whole of his itinerant proceedings, that the vital principle of the Opposition ostensibly headed by him, is at enmity with the bonds by which society is held together, and Government maintained.

April 4, 1818.


* * * * *


Two Months have elapsed since warning was given of an intention to oppose the present Representatives of the County of Westmoreland, at the ensuing Election; yet, till so late a period as the 26th of January, no avowal of such intention appeared from any quarter entitling it to consideration. For, as to the Body of Men, calling itself the London Committee, there is not, up to this hour I believe, any public evidence even of its existence, except certain notices signed by two obscure individuals. But, in the minds of those naturally interested in the welfare of the County, a ferment was excited by various devices; inflammatory addresses were busily circulated; men, laying claim to the flattering character of Reformers of abuses, became active; and, as this stir did not die away, they who foresaw its bearings and tendencies, were desirous that, if there were any just grounds for discontent, the same should be openly declared, by persons whose characters and situations in life would be a pledge for their having proceeded upon mature deliberation. At length, a set of resolutions have appeared, from a Meeting of dissatisfied Freeholders, holden in a Town, which, if not the principal in point of rank, is the most populous, opulent, and weighty, in the County. Among those who composed this Meeting, the first visible authentic Body which the Opposition has produced, are to be found persons answering to the description above given—men from whom might have been expected, in the exposition of their complaints, sound sense as to the nature of the grievances, and rational views as to the mode of removing them—Have such expectations, if entertained, been fulfilled?

The first Resolution unanimously agreed upon by this Meeting, is couched in these words: 'It is impossible for us, as Freeholders, to submit any longer to a single Family, however respectable, naming both Members for the County.' What if this leading article had been thus expressed? 'That it is injurious to the interests, and derogatory to the dignity, of the County of Westmoreland, that both its Representatives should be brought into Parliament, by the influence of one Family.' Words to this effect would surely have given the sense of the Resolution, as proceeding from men of cool reflection; and offered nakedly to the consideration of minds which, it was desired, should be kept in a similar state. But we cannot 'submit any longer'—if the intention was to mislead and irritate, such language was well adapted for the purpose; but it ill accords with the spirit of the next Resolution, which affirms, that the Meeting is wholly unconnected with any political Party; and, thus disclaiming indirectly those passions and prejudices that are apt to fasten upon political partisans, implicitly promises, that the opinions of the Meeting shall be conveyed in terms suitable to such disavowal. Did the persons in question imagine themselves in a state of degradation? On their own word we must believe they did; and no one could object to their employing, among each other, such language as gave vent to feelings proceeding from that impression, in a way that gratified themselves. But, by publishing their Resolutions, they shew that they are not communing for the sake of mutual sympathy, but to induce others to participate a sentiment which probably they are strangers to. We submit to the law, and to those who are placed in authority over us, while in the legitimate exercise of their functions—we submit to the decrees of Providence, because they are not to be resisted—a coward submits to be insulted—a pusillanimous wretch to be despised—and a knave, if detected, must submit to be scouted—a slave submits to his Taskmaster; but, the Freeholders of Westmoreland, cannot, in reason, be said to submit to the House of Lowther naming their Representatives, unless it can be proved that those Representatives have been thrust upon them by an unjustifiable agency; and that they owe their seats, not to the free suffrages and frank consent of their Constituents, but to unfair means, whether in the shape of seduction or threat. If there be an indignity on one side, there must have been a wrong done on the other; and, to make out this point, it ought to have been shewn, that some other Person, qualified by his property, his education, his rank, and character, had stood forth and offered himself to represent you, Freeholders of Westmoreland, in Parliament; and that, in this attempt, he had been crushed by the power of a single Family, careless of the mode in which that power was exercised. I appeal to those who have had an opportunity of being acquainted with the Noble Lord who is at the head of that Family, whether they are of opinion, that any consideration of his own interest or importance in the State, would have induced him to oppose such a Candidate, provided there was reason for believing that the unabused sense of the County was with him. If indeed a Candidate supposed to be so favoured by the County, had declared himself an enemy to the general measures of Administration for some years past, those measures have depended on principles of conduct of such vast importance, that the Noble Lord must needs have endeavoured, as far as prudence authorised, to frustrate an attempt, which, in conscience, he could not approve.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 30     Next Part
Home - Random Browse