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HISTORY OF EUROPE,
Meeting of Parliament.—Prince Regent's Speech on opening the Session.
Debates on the Address.—Sir Francis Burdett's Motion concerning the Regency.
of the year.
The new parliament met on the 24th conducted by general the Marquis of of November, 1812. After the usual Wellington, had led to consequences formalities had been gone through, of the utmost importance to the comthe Prince Regent, on the 30th of mon cause. By transferring the war the same month, pronounced from the! into the interior of Spain, and by the throne a speech which embraced a glorious and ever-memorable victory comprehensive view of the great events obtained at Salamanca, he had com
pelled the enemy to raise the siege of His royal highness stated, that he Cadiz ; and the southern provinces of had been induced to take the earliest the kingdom had been thus delivered opportunity of meeting his parlia- from the armies of France. Although ment after the late elections; and he his royal highness could not bụt rewas persuaded they would cordially gret that the efforts of the French, participate in the satisfaction, which combined with a view to one great he derived from the improvement of operation, had rendered it necessary the state of public affairs during the to withdraw from the siege of Bur. course of the year. That the valour gos, and to evacuate Madrid, for the displayed by his majesty's forces, and purpose of concentrating the main those of his allies, in the peninsula, on body of the allied forces ; these efforts to many occasions during the last of the enemy had however been atcampaign, and the consummate skill tended with important sacrifices on with which the operations had been his part, which must materially con.
tribute to extend the resources and fa- support in the great contest in which cilitate the exertions of the Spanish he was engaged. nation. His royal highness expressed The conclusion of a supplementary his firm reliance on the determination treaty with the regency of Sicily, the of parliament to continue every aid in object of which was to provide for the support of a contest which had first
more extensive application of the miligiven to the continent of Europe, the tary force of the Sicilian government example of persevering and successful to offensive operations, was also anresistance to the power of France, and nounced; this measure, combined with on which not only the liberties of the the liberal principles now happily prenations of the peninsula, but the best vailing in the councils of his Sicilian interests of his majesty's dominions es majesty, was calculated to augment sentially depended.
his power and resources, and, at the The restoration of peace betwixt same time, to render them essentially his majesty and the courts of St Pe., serviceable to the common cause. tersburgh and Stockholm was The declaration of war by the gonounced, and copies of the treaties were vernment of the United States of Ame. laid before parliament. The exertions rica, was said, in the speech, to have of the Russian empire were highly ap- been made under circumstances which plauded. By the magnanimity of its might have afforded a reasonable ex. emperor, by the zeal and disinterest. pectation, that the amicable relations edness of all ranks of his subjects, by betwixt the two nations would not long the firmness and intrepidity of his be interrupted ; but the conduct and forces, the presumptuous expectations pretensions of the American governof the enemy had been signally disap. ment had hitherto prevented the conpointed. The enthusiasm of the Rus clusion of any pacific arrangement. The sian people had increased with the dif. sures of hostility, on the part of A. ficulties of the contest, and the dan- merica, had been principally directed gers with which they were surround. against the adjoining British proed. They had submitted to sacrifices vinces, and every effort had been made of which there are few examples in the to seduce the inhabitants of them history of the world -A confident from their allegiance to his majesty: hope was expressed by his royal high. The proofs, however, of loyalty and ness, that the determined perseverance attachment received from his majesty's of his imperial majesty would be subjects in North America, were highcrowned with ultimate success; and ly satisfactory. The attempts of the that this contest, in its result, would enemy to invade Upper Canada, had have the effect of establishing, upon a not only proved abortive, but, by the foundation never to be shaken, the se. judicious arrangements of the governcurity and independence of the Rus-or-general, and by the skill and deci. sian empire. The proof of confidence sion with which the military operations which his royal highness had received had been conducted, the forces of the from his imperial majesty, who had re- enemy assembled for that purpose in cently sent his fleets to the ports of one quarter, had been compelled to this country, was in the highest degree capitulate, and in another had been gratifying; and it was added, that his completely defeated. The best efforts imperial majesty might rely on the of his royal highuess should not be fixed determination of his royal high. wanting for restoring the relations of ness to afford him the most cordial peace and amity between the twe
countries; but until this object could verance, it would display the same be attained, without sacrificing the firmness, especially on the great quesmaritime rights of Great Britain, he tion of the war in the peninsula, as it relied upon the cordial support of had hitherto shewn. That country, parliament in a vigorous prosecution it was remarked, at this moment natuof the war.—The prince concluded rally excited the moso lively interest by stating, that the approaching ex. for great as the triumphs aehieved piration of the charter of the East !n- there had been, they were not unchedia company, rendered it necessary quered by misfortune. But, as it was that the early attention of parliament certainly the highest mark of wisdom should be called to the propriety of to persevere, with reasonable grounds providing for the future government of hope, in the face of danger and of the Indian provinces of the Bri. difficulty, so it was the highest chatish empire.
racter of firmness to meet the tide of A very wide field of discussion was success without intoxication, to anaentered into by the members of both lyze the grounds upon which it dehouses of parliament, when the ad. pended, and from that analysis, caredress was moved ; and a comprehen- fully and cautiously pursued, to de sive survey was taken of the state of duce one general and consistent ground public affairs. Athough men of all of public action. Even if our success parties approved of the general spirit had been general and unqualified, a which pervaded the address (which wise man would say to those who rewas of course an echo of the speech,) presented an enlightened nation, to the alleged practical errors of admi- those who were prepared and anxious nistration were the subject of severe to do their duty—be not led away by censure.--It was admitted, indeed, this success be not intoxicated with that the address would have been it-let not its lustre so dazzle your famost unsatisfactory, had it, with re- culties, that you perceive neither spect to the great contest in the pe. whence it originated, how it may be ninsula, or the cause in which the rendered permanent, nor to what ultiEmperor of Russia was engaged, as- mate objects it may be applied. We sumed in any degree a lower tone had, indeed, done much in Spain ; but, than that which pervaded it. “ No. what still remained to be done? And thing less, it was observed, was de- that question naturally led to a review manded by the interests of the coun. of the events which had taken place try, by a proper zeal for our own ho. there, since the time when Lord Wel. nour, or by a true regard to the wel. lington was before Badajoz. From fare of our allies, embarked in the the very commencement of the strugsame great cause with ourselves. The gle in the peninsula, the only solid speech from the throne anticipated ground of success, the only practical wisdom, firmness, and prudence, from system of resistance which could be parliament on the present trying oc- adopted, was to awaken in the people casion, when the eyes of Europe, nay, of Spain a spirit of hostility to France, of the world, were fixed upon us. and to succour and aid that hostility There was nothing novel in this lan- upon a broad and extensive scale of guage to be sure, but there was the operations. With our force and remost splendid novelty in the circum- sources properly directed in that way, stances to which it was applied. Par- great advantages might be expected, liament would exercise the same wis. and final triumph be ensured. It was, dom, it would evince the same perse. indeed, very clear, that the ruler of France never would desist from his ance. But was not all this foreseen, object, till some overwhelming force and was not this the very basis on should interrupt the career of his am which the system to be pursued in our bition. If the Spanish people could present situation should be founded ? once bring themselves to feel that there What then followed from this view of was no evil to be put in competition the subject? The moment it was for a moment with that of submission known that such efforts were making to the government of France ; that in Russia, the moment it was known loss of property, loss of relations, loss that resistance was commencing on of all that was dear to them, loss of the one side, ought we not to have life itself, was small and insignificant, made every effort on the other,— compared to that, tremendous and ought we not to have strained all the overwhelming calamity - submission resources of the country to their very to France ; if they could be brought utmost; and if we were honest in our to this pitch of patriotism and resist. professions respecting the common ance, every thing might then be hoped cause, ought we not to have seized from the contest. Our efforts co-ope. the momentous crisis which had ocrating with this general feeling, might curred, to strike one grand and deci. have been productive of the greatest sive blow? benefits. The person who now ruled “ It became a great question thereover the destinies of France would, fore, whether the system of policy were such a system pursued, either which had hitherto been pursued was find himself, by the success of our founded upon just and extended prinarms, reduced to the necessity of a ciples ; whether an able and efficient bandoning the cause ; or his ambic direction of our resources had been tion, leading him to exert all his means made; whether such means as the and energies in this one quarter, would country possessed had been fully emrouse bis secret enemies in other parts ployed; and whether upon the whole, of Europe, who would seize the op- the result had been such as the nation portunity of his reverses in Spain, to had a right to expect, from the posshake off his yoke. He would then session of those means, and the just be compelled to divide his forces; and application of them. The true and a prospect of more easy success to our legitimate object of the contest was, efforts in the peninsula would be open. the expulsion of the French armies ed.-Such it was said was the view from Spain : this was the plain and which ought to be taken of the con- practical view of the matter ; it was test in Spain, and with regard to the intelligible to all; and it became ne. spirit of universal hostility in the Spa- cessary to enquire what had been done nish people, which was so essential to in the course of the year towards success, that had been produced in its its accomplishment, compared with fullest force in the course of last year. what might have been done if our reThe success of the British arms in sources had been properly, wisely, and Spain had moreover been felt and con. efficiently employed. Now the war in sidered in Russia as the salvation of the peninsula had been carried on in a that country; had it not been for our way totally inadequate to the accomtriumphs in the peninsula, the leader plishment of the only practical object of France would have been able to di. of the contest. Let us look back to rect a military force against Russia, the period of the reduction of Bada80 vast and overwhelming as to pre. jozthe beginning of April last. At clude the hope of successful resist that time the great general who commanded our armies in Spain having re. It was certain, however, that he reduced that important fortress, his next mained a considerable time on the fron. step, it was natural to suppose, espe- tier, waiting for intelligence of the ar. cially at that season of the year, would rival of this co-operating forcé, but be to expel the French from the south waiting in vain ; he then advanced, of Spain But why did he not do so ? still confident in his hope that it would Because his means were deficient; be arrive in time to make a strong diver. cause he was under the necessity of sion in his favour. But he soon discoabandoning his object—that of march- vered ( as every one knew) the army of ing against Soult, and raising the siege Marmont to be much more numerous of Cadiz, his resources being inade. than he had expected. Nor was that all quate ; and he was under the necessity he found: he learned that Suchet had of marching porthward with his army, detached a corps to unite with Joseph's because in the north of Spain there army, which made his force efficient was no force which he could leave suf. to co-operate with the army under ficient to check the progress of Mar. Marmont. What was the consequence? mont. To the north he accordingly On the 17th of July, five days before did proceed, and there he was, from the battle of Salamanca, Lord Wel. the operation of the same causes, com- lington commanded, not a feigned, but pelled to remain on the frontiers of a real retreat ; and this retreat he conSpain till the 13th of June, and by tinued during the 18th, 19th, 20th, that time Marmont's army was in such 21st, and till late in the day of the a state, from the accession of reinforce. 22d. But why did he retreat ? Why ments, that it became doubtful whe. did this great general retreat ? Because ther the British commander could safe. his means were inadequate. He had ly advance. But why did he remain no money, he had not even 20,000 inactive so long? Because his means dollars in his military chest." The of advancing were insufficient; because richest brigade in the army did not he wanted money, and supplies of every possess more than 3000 dollars ; and sort; because he had not the common what were the means left to this demeans of transport to convey his artil- serted general to recruit his firiances ? lery. At last, however, Lord Wel. Forty thousand dollars had been sent lington advanced without a battering to Cadiz for the use of the Spaniards : train, not because he thought it unne- these he was forced to intercept, and cessary for the success of his military apply to the exigencies of the British operations, but because he literally bad army. Upon a fair comparison of his not the means of transporting it. Af- force with that of Marmont, and tater Lord Wellington did advance, what king into calculation the reinforcewas his real situation ? He had advan- ments so lately received by Joseph's ced because he expected powerful co- army from Marshal Suchet, which the operation on the other side of the pe. latter would have been unable to spare ninsula, agreeably to the plan concert. if the Sicilian expedition had arrived ed with him even when he was before in due time on the eastern coast of Badajoz. He must have expected the Spain, Lord Wellington deemed it assistance of this force, therefore, at most prudent to retreat. Here was a the time of his advance into Spain; proof that his means were inadequate ; for, had he not so expected it, his ad- and this deficiency of force arose chief. vance into that country would have ly, if not entirely, from the tardy and been unjustifiable, even though success ineffectual co-operation of the Sicilian had ultimately attended his progress. expedition.