« PreviousContinue »
For a very simple reason ; virtue is spirit, and requires its material organ.
This organ, or instrument by which it becomes subservient to practical purposes, consists (in reference to the present subject,) in a great mass and variety of acquired talents, of which military skill is one of the most momentous. Now the Spanish people, being abandoned by their government, and destitute of education, are far behind other nations in the mechanic arts, in acquired dexterity, and the ceconomical arrangements of business. Besides the shiftlessness and inertness consequent on this situation, there are traits of national character which have accidentally had a fatal influence in the war. Thus the riddle is resolved: whatever pure and unorganized courage and virtue could effect, that the Spaniards have done ; but where, in addition to the noble and heroic sentiment, an accession of talent and skill was requisite; there they have been lamentably deficient. While we deplore the effect, let us not misrepresent the cause. The defence of a city is the easiest of all operations, to a people who have little military skill, but strong patriotism; who can heroically see their houses undermined one by one, and with inflexible fortitude resolve to perish in their ruins, rather than yield: but the same thing would be utterly impossible to the cultivated, polite, luxurious inhabitants of a city, the seat of all the arts. The heroes of Saragossa would not perhaps have been able to form the line in the ranks of an army, and might have been among the first to flee from Rio-Seco, Medellin, or Bel. chite. What then ? Shall we raise the vile mercenary, or sayag Cossack or Tartar above the citizens of Gerona? The disasters therefore which have occurred to the Spanish armies; the panic which, in repeated instances, appears to have diffused itself over the Spaniards when arrayed in the field, do not in the least arraign the correctness of those statements, which have represented the whole Spanish people as animated by one spirit of resistance against the enemy. There is a passive, as well as an active courage and heroism: and a nation which is
overwhelmed by an irresistible force, which deprives it of all powers of met odized resistance, may still display an unsubdued and invincible mind: and this has been exhibited in every part of Spain. Connected with this observation, there is ove interesting and undoubted fact; That in all the districts in wbich the French have actually been present, and displayed the terrors of their power, and from which they have been subsequently driven; thore the people have evinced a more fixed and zealous determination to withstand their reassuming their authority among them, than they manifested in order to oppose their first entrance. The terror and dread of an unkrown enemy has sometimes driven the affrighted people to a pusillanimous flight; but when they had seen and felt him, the misery he had already spread, and the influence of his threats, have not been found so powerful as the contempt and abhorrence which his presence had inspired. Possibly with the detestation and horror which all Spaniards felt towards their merciless invaders, was mixed a certain obscure respect or reverence, which great power inspires, even when malignant. All this however was lost when the enemy was known and appreciated. A sufficient instance of this is to be found in the unresisted subjugation of all Galicia by the enemy, even while occupied by the British army, and the subsequent heroic re-conquest of that province, by a tumultuous rabble of halfarmed peasants. The strength of moral sentiment on the part of the Spanish people is to be judged by the pertinacity with which they have resisted the attempts of the enemy to allure them into his service. There is one fact which is sufficient to outweigh all the cases of indifference, or pusillanimity, which it is now so common to hear ciled against a brave people, with very littk or 10 authority. It is this, that Buonaparte has not once dared to form a Spanish legion, pr even a Spanish company, to be incorporated with his other slaves. It has been his uniform pride to see himself surrounded by the select troops of every nation, which he ranks among his vassals. He has an Italian and a Polish guard, to honour him on occasions of state and ceremony; and throughout all Germany, as well as Holland, the troops of the subject princes have always shewn him reverence as the suzeraine. fter the Marquis Romana had by an act of splendid enierprise, worthy the ancient days of Spanish glory, emancipated nearly 10,000 men in Denmark, there still remained above 14,000 men, whose position in the interior did not allow them to join in the same glorious act of heroic devotion to their country. But they have still borne a silent and unmarked, testimony of loyalty and patriotism, no less intelligible and decisive than that of their brethren at home. Of these men not a whisper has been heard during the last twelvemonth ; not a regiment or corpany has been persuaded to declare in favour of the usurper: they have therefore been renoved to solitude and imprisonment. Had they been forced into the ranks during the Austrian campaign, we should have heard either through the enemy, of the services they had re dered him; or they would have announced their presence by some act of glorious revenge.
Buonaparte has recently collected the Polish prisoners which belonged to Austria, and formed an army of them, though their late sovereign is still at war with him; but Joseph Buonaparte at Madrid dares not put a musquet into the hands of the meanest of the rabble. While Germans are now arrayed against Germans, and Italians against Italians, not a Spaniard is in arms against Spaniards. His mind must surely be impenetrable, who can resist the impression of such
On a reference to the publications which originated in the late campaign, there will be found nothing to justify the clamour which is beginning to be raised against the Spaniards. The amiable and lamented commander-in-chief never fails to do justice to the people; though it is to be regretted that even he should not have been fully sensible of the peculiar character of the war. Of this we have a striking instance, in the displeasure he expressed at the acceptance of Spanish rank by British officers. He considers this as dangerous “ to the “ interest of the service;" and contemplates the possibility of an opposition of interest, which might well exist in the ordinary wars, but could not occur in the present. The appointment of British officers in the Spanish army was a circumstance which should have been encouraged; corrupt influence was not to be feared, and to hesitate at compliance would have evinced an hard-heartedness and want of feeling, certainly not in the character of Sir John. There is, besides, an error into which he falls, in common with others; he speaks of the “ apathy of the Spanish people.” Now here the General has evidently confounded two opposite sentiments; he may be said to have apathy, who knows the evil and does not feel it : very different is the case with him who cannot conceive that there is any danger. This may proceed from overweening conceit or wrongheadedness ; but it is not apathy. Lord Williain Bentinck observed justly, " A blind confidence in their own strength, and natural slowness, are the rocks on which this good ship runs the risk of being wrecked.” Only one observation more, in reference to Sir John: he is in danger of suffering unjustly, from the unwarrantable publicity given to his letters. It was indiscreet in him to repeat on paper a hasty word which dropped from the Marquis Romana; but it has been an act of treachery to print it, even while that General is still in the field. Certainly, Sir John would rather have cut off his hand than pen it, could he have foreseen the use which was to be made of his writings.
Of the several gentlemen, an officer, a military chaplain, and a staff-physician, who have written on the campaign, the REVIEWER has now no room to speak at length ; nor is there much occasion for discrimination. They have all written books which will be amusing to the class of persons
for whom they were intended, viz. those who will be pleased in tracing on the map with a pin the routes taken by their friends, the captain and the lieutenant; who will eagerly run over anecdotes of selfish popish priests who refuse houseroom, and of more kind hostesses who are charmed with a red coat; who will sympathise with the sufferings, really se. vere, which the British soldier endured, and of which it must be very gratifying to read a minute and heart-rending description; and who will be absolutely delighted to see in a picture, the very houses, bridges, mountains, and dirty roads, which were the actual scenes of this “ travel's history.” Beyond this, the Reviewer would not willingly trust his judgement to the guidance of either gentleman: viz.
Dr. Neale having witnessed what, beyond a doubt, was an afflicting sight, the death of a trooper who perished on the road in a country, by the bye, from which the wretched inhabitants had fled, because they had heard of the excesses committed by the English), is filled with anger, and supposing what the poor man might think, puts into his mouth the following, among other similar lines
666 Now harsh be your lot, ye false patriots of Spain !
to misfortunes a prey ;
66 And the tears of remorse be your portion by night." To heighten the effect of the descriptions, we have a doleful picture of the march of the English along dirty roads, men, women, and children, up to the knees in snow, (one little boy is up to his waistband,) exhibiting them like so many Witheringtons of ballad celebrity,
“ Who, when his legs were both cut off,
Did fight upon his stumps." The officer” cannot do better than tell his readers the tales which he had probably found amusing at the mess, over