Obrázky na stránke

But his game is not the less sure for being more contracted in its sphere. He singles out the vital part of his whole adversary, and the point of it which is most exposed. In that vulnerable heart he plants his dagger; and he knows full well, that the remotest limb will quiver with the shock. He sends forth his host, in the plenitude of its array, to sweep over the interjacent regions, and to pour itself in one grand, deep, but contracted, and therefore irresistible torrent, into the centre of the strength of Europe. Here, -as near Berlin and Vienna as he can, he fights his battle; and, while you are menacing the western departments or landing and reembarking in Italy-or capi tulating in Holland-or idling in Portugal and Egypt-or butchering your friends in the north-or burying your own men, and planting the slave trade in the West Indies-he is playing that great game which must place in his hands the sweep of all those small stakes for which you are pretending to throw. Do you doubt whether he shall win the game he plays for? If you do, why then don't you send your men there to meet him? Think you that he ever doubts of his success? It may be that he does ;-but he knows that the only way to gain it is to think of nothing else than victory, and, at any rate, to think of no other contest than this;-above all, he feels the folly of being either victorious or vanquished in a little way. He knows, that if he conquers the Imperial or the Prussian arms in the centre of the empire, he shall find no difficulty in carrying all the other points -no trouble but in preventing the escape of your forces from the little posts which they have been senselessly occupying; and, if he should be overcome in Germany, he must make up his mind, not merely to the loss of those petty objects, but to being overcome in Germany-to the utter ruin of his foreign power. Plain and simple as this consideration is, and constantly as we have seen him act upon it, we have never yet been able to profit by his example, and by the sight of those victories which he has achieved, so as to alter, in the very least degree, our own fatal policy towards all our allies.

After so much experience of the errors of our way, and the uniform proofs of the enemy beating us by an opposite line of conduct, is it not lamentable to see the very same blunders committed, and, within the past three months, the very last chance of saving Europe from the grasp of France, in all human probability, squandered away? The Spaniards were struggling against the French armies; and, from the latter being obviously unprepared to meet their resistance, great hopes of success might have been entertained, provided some important assistance could suddenly have been given to the common cause. Seeing the unprepared state of the French forces, and their inadequacy to the crisis, and


aware that so unusual a state of things could only last for a moment, our business was, to have strained every nerve to pour a large force into Spain, as near as possible to the seat of the war. Had such a force as England could raise,-had an army of 60 or 70,000 men, the best equipped and best hearted in the world, been ready to land in Spain at the moment when Dupont surrendered, and Joseph fled in confusion from Madrid,-who shall say that the whole remains of the French army in Spain would not most probably have been overpowered, and the peninsula swept clean of its invaders? But no such thing. The truly British policy was steadily persevered in. A fine army of 35,000 men was sent to Portugal,- -as far as possible from the scene of real action. It happens, unfortunately, that this army has been brought to shame by the conduct, say the friends of government, of its commanders;-by the unskilful arrangement of the expedition, and choice of those commanders, say their enemies. But it signifies little, what has become of the enterprize, or to what its fate is owing, in our view of the subject. The dishonour of the British arms, and the conveyance of a large army to fight against our allies, are no doubt most dreadful aggravations of our loss; but we object to the expedition from the beginning. We demand the reason of locking up our army in the south-west corner of Portugal, when the great battle was fighting in the north-east extremity of Spain? We ask, why so silly a measure was thought of, as turning away our force to conquer an army necessarily in our power, should our allies be successful, and the conquest of which was worth nothing, should our allies be beaten? We ask, what justification can be offered of so dastardly a conduct, as avoiding the hazardous part of the contest-the struggle with the enemy's main body-for the poor temptation of attacking an inferior and insulated body of his men, and making sure of beating them, as a miserable kind of hedge, in case our real and only game, the game of our allies, should be lost? The Spaniards are fighting the battle of Spain and of Portugal, as well as of all Europe, in the north: they are almost overwhelmed by their enemies: a reinforcement of their strength may decide the day for them.-But, unfortunately, there happens to be a detachment of the French cooped up in Portugal; cut off from all supplies; hemmed in on every side; and utterly unable to escape. If the Spaniards are successful, this little force must fall;-if they are beaten, it weighs not as one grain of dust in the swiftly mounting balance of their fate, what happens to the French in Portugal. Nevertheless, it is to this wretched outpost of the French power that all the efforts of England are pointed; and, instead of succouring our allies, or, as we term it, before proceeding to succour them,' we must be running

[blocks in formation]

away to seize hold of a few thousand soldiers-harmless pri soners in a hostile country! Suppose the utmost success had attended our folly, we should have taken those troops, delayed our march for three critical months of the Spanish campaign, and left a large part of the army in Portugal, which was so much wanted in Spain. If we had wholly failed, we sacrificed the power of helping our allies, for the chance of doing ourselves. some little good, gaining a little paltry eclat, without the remotest possibility of assisting the common cause by the attempt.

This folly is nothing new, to be sure, in our foreign policy; but it is now applied to a case infinitely more important than any that. it ever before ruined. It is the very same blunder, or rather the same narrow, interested method of starving the common cause, for fear of being greatly defeated, and for the lucre of gaining a few. British objects,-which, since the year 1793, has excluded England from all real share in the management of continental affairs, and left Europe a prey to the enemy,-which sent thousands of our finest forces after sugar islands and spice islands, and to hunt down nabobs, and find out and repair worn-out Moguls, while France was raging beyond the Alps and the Rhine,-which detached, to the most distant corners of Europe, to garrison old palaces, or make a show of defending allies never attacked, and, if attacked, utterly indefensible, those troops that might have saved Austria and Italy, -which paraded an army in the north of Holland, to make head against the myriads pouring along the Danube,-which filled Naples with British soldiers, while the Archduke Charles was struggling for Vienna on the Gulf of Trieste,-which amused the people of London with a senseless skirmish in Calabria, and a procession of stolen silver, on the eve of the annihilation of the Prussian monarchy,and, leaguing at last its selfish folly with open, unprincipled vioJence, raised up the clamours of the whole world against the English name, by the massacre and pillage of a defenceless friend, while the air of Europe yet rung with the crash of all its most antient and illustrious thrones. Let us not deceive ourselves; we have done all that lies in our power for the ruin of our allies. With the phrases of justice and generosity on our lips, our hearts have been filled with coldness and selfishness. With the cry of helping to put out the fire on the Continent, we have been caught in the act of pilfering for ourselves; and the consolation which we now have, is to reflect, that, besides our detection, we have been stopped in our petty thefts, and are now, perhaps, about to be


*To say that the affair of Maida did infinite honour to the English army, is only to record that English troops fought there. It is the unprofitable lavishment of such valour that excites our indignation.

soundly beaten for them. It is lamentable to think, that this last opportunity of saving Europe, which, if improved, would have even covered all our past misdeeds, has been thrown away like all the rest; and that our policy has proved consistent to the latter end.

We are now, it is said, about to assist the Spaniards in good earnest; that is to say, by sending a great force into Spain. Something, we would fain hope, may be done, even yet, to protract the defeat of that great and good cause, and to obtain better terms for the patriots, if they ultimately fail. Upon a cordial and disinterested union of councils between the two governments, and of operations between the commanders of the two armies, every thing will depend in the prosecution of this attempt. Never were rulers or generals placed in so arduous a predicament; and never did more weighty interests depend on their right conduct. But is there no possibility of gaining even more than the utmost probable success can secure, by availing ourselves of the offer lately made to open a negotiation? Would it be impossible to offer Spain, as we formerly suggested, a dereliction of every one British object, an oblivion of all our separate causes of quarrel with France, on condition that good terms should be granted to the patriots? Would not such an offer, if successful, be the salvation of Europe, and, though it failed, strengthen our union with Spain? The late communication from France affords an opening to such views; and we devoutly pray that it may not be presented to us in vain.

Before concluding these hasty and imperfect observations, we must once more repel the insinuations which have reached us, and which we anticipated in our last Number,--of coldness and unwillingness towards the cause of the patriots. Let one word suffice. We sincerely believe, that the success of that cause would not only save the rest of the Continent from France,-from the enemy of both national independence and civil liberty, but would infallibly purify the internal constitution both of this and the other countries of Europe. Now, if any man thinks, that we should not extravagantly rejoice in any conceivable event which must reform the constitution of England,--by reducing the overgrown influence of the Crown,-by curbing the pretensions of the privileged orders, in so far as this can be effected without strength. ening the Royal influence,- by raising up the power of real talents and worth, the true nobility of a country,-by exalting the mass of the community, and giving them, under the guidance of that virtual aristocracy, to direct the councils of England, accord-ing to the spirit, as well as the form of our invaluable constitution;-whoever believes, that an event, leading to such glorious consequences as these would not give us the most heartfelt joy,


must have read but few of the pages of this Journal, or profited but little by what he has read.

* As we are here correcting a misrepresentation, it may be as well to guard against a mifconftruction, to which, we apprehend, some of our remarks in laft Number (Review of Mr Whitbread's Letter to Lord Holland) have been expofed. When we ftated it as a poffible case, that the late minifters had become lefs pacific, in confequence of the enjoyment of power, we never could mean to accuse them of facrificing former principles for the paltry objects of place, or perfonal ambition. Our words obviously meant, that one reason for what we deemed an unfortunate variation of opinion upon this most important of all queftions might be, their growing more fanguine in the hopes of faving Europe by a warlike policy, fince they had acquired the management of the refources of this great empire. Our remark applied to the whole of that party, and included, moft unquestionably, Mr Fox, as well as his furviving colleagues; for the whole of the miniftry stood in the very fame predicament refpecting the great question of peace. To name the names of Mr Fox and Lord Grey (would that the management of the Spanish business were now in fuch hands!) is a fufficient refutation of any charge pointing towards little, felfish, and ordinary errors. These things are by no means unimportant, or merely perfonal to one set of men. If Europe can yet be faved, it muft look for its fafety to the only class of ftatesmen who have ever showed that great talents and acquirements are not incompatible with pure and virtuous principles; and having uniformly attacked what we conceived to be their errors while in power, we may bear this testimony to their high merits while in retirement, without the poffibility of our motives being misreprefented.

From July to October 1808.


Communications to the Board of Agriculture, on Subjects relative to the Husbandry and Internal Improvement of the Country. Vol. VI. Part IV. 4to. 15s.

A Review of the Reports of the Board of Agriculture from the Northern Department of England. By Mr Marshall. 8vo. 12s.

The Experimental Farmer; being Strictures on various Branches of Husbandry and Agriculture, drawn from a long Series of Practice in various parts of Great Britain. By Thomas Tibbs. 8vo. 6s.

Good Advice for the Husbandman in Harvest, and for all others who labour hard in warm Weather. By T. Beddoes, M. D. 7s.

The Gentleman Farmer and Husbandman's most useful Assistant in measuring and expeditiously computing the Value of any Quantity of Land at various given Prices per Acre, from 1s. to 10. By W. Francis. 2s. 6d.

« PredošláPokračovať »