« PreviousContinue »
reign drawing towards a close ; and yet they had no means of protracting its period, until the excesses of the French themselves furnished the materials of that alarm, which had well nigh extinguished for ever the liberties and prosperity of all Europe. This alarm, then, having spent itself, the Spanish revolution places the cause of freedom and reform on a much better footing than it had even at the beginning of the French revolution ;-because the country, government and people, are committed with the Spanish patriots, which they never were with those of France; because The example of the one revolution, will prevent a repetition of its : enormities in the further progress of the other; because, happen what will, the trick of alarm can never succeed again to any thing like the same extent in this country; and because the good will of this nation towards the cause of Spain will not be crossed by any of those feelings of national rivalry which unavoidably operated against the popularity of the French revolution; while the very existence of France, in its present state of despotism and power, offers additional inducements to keep alive our enthusiasm for the new order of things in Spain. Therefore, we musz admit that there is now a much better prospect of reform in England, than that which the French revolution for a moment held out to us, and then seemed to hide for ever.
If these happy effects may be thus confidently anticipated from the final success of the Spaniards, it gives us no small degree of consolation to reflect, that much good has been secured to the cause of liberal principles, and sound constitutional feeling, by the important events which have already taken place; and that, however the prospect may be darkened over,-however fatally the gloomy view which we are forced to entertain may be realized, still enough has been performed by the Spanish people to raise the spirit of the middle and lower classes, both in this country and the rest of Europe.
The cause of the Spaniards is so obviously that of the people ; the desertion of the court and nobles is so manifest; the connexion between the success of the patriots, and a radical change of the government, is so plainly necessary—that whoever has wished well to them, feels intimately persuaded, that he has been espousing the popular side of the greatest question of the present day; that he has been praying most fervently for the success of the people against their rulers; that he has, in plain terms, been, as far as in him lay, a party to revolutionary measures. We do not deny, that the just dread of France, and the very natural antipathy to her present government, have had a large share in stirring up the spirit of the British nation in favour of the Spanish revolution. The cause of the universally prevailing feeling is
immaterial. Every one must allow, that, the fear of French in. vasion, and the hatred of the Jacobin tyrants, put down for a while the spirit of liberty, which is, we trust, natural to this country;-and why should that spirit be the less powerful, though it has been raised up again by similar feelings? The plain and broad fact is this—that every Englishman who has, for the last six months, heartily wished that the Spaniards should succeed, has knowingly and wilfully wished for a radical reform of abuses in the regular monarchy of Spain, and for such a change of the government, as might permanently secure a better administration of its affairs. He has, moreover, wished to see that change adopted by the Spanish people themselves, and has admitted, most amply, the right of the people to call their rulers to account, and choose their own constitution.'
Now, who are the persons thus committed to these most wholesome and truly English principles of civil government ? Are they a few speculative men-a few seditious writers or demagoguesor a popular meeting here and there or are they even a political party in the state ? No such thing. Men of all descriptions of all ranks in society--of every party—have joined, almost unanimously, in the same generous and patriotic sentiments, and have expressed them loudly and manfully. There may have existed a few wretched intriguers in our government-one or two feeble courtiers, or clerks in office, who brooded, in the corners of drawing rooms and public boards, over gloomy anticipations of their comforts being disturbed by the progress of the Spanish principles. But if those persons, from such forebodings, were averse to the cause of the patriots, they never dared raise their voice against it to the country. They shuddered in secret at the overthrow of the worst government in christendom ; in secret they offered up their prayers that the reform of abuses might be nipt in the bud by the success of the French arms; and, if that were impossible, that at least some excesses on the part of the people might render the Spanish revolution odious in the eyes of this country; and save our state from those horrible reforms which had well nigh purified and overwhelmed us eighteen years ago. A better proof of the universal prevalence of right feelings upon the subject of Spain cannot be fancied, than the profound silence in which all those generous wishes have been breathed not one sigh, heaved about court, baving ever mixed itself with the general exultation which has burst from the whole people at the progress of the revolution.
The result of these widely-diffused principles, has been highly honourable to the country, and reflected some credit also upon the leading men in the government. The nation has formally taken part in the cause of Spain, by various overt acts, which happily cannot be retracted. After recognizing, in the most solemn manner, the revolutionary government, by concluding a treaty of peace with the Juntas, to terminate a war waged against the Catholic King, and cheerfully assisting the Spaniards in their military operations against the common enemy, although that enemy was seconded by the hereditary monarch of Spain ; our most gracious Sovereign has been recently advised to send a minister, with full power3, as the representative of his august person, to his brother. Ferdinand VII., the heir-apparent of the crown, who owes his title solely to the misgovernment of his father, and the choice of his people. This is indeed a proof of the force of those sound constitutional principles, which we glory in thinking are once more prevalent amongst us. It is a signal triumph for those doctrines which are truly, and, till lately, have been exclusively English. Nor do those members of our own cabinet deserve little praise, who have made their courtly colleagues yield to the general impulse, and counselled their Sovereign once more to proclaim the principles which alone placed his Illustrious House upon the throne.
If these happy effects have already flowed from the Spanish res volution, and are sure to spread far and wide over this great country the blessings of free discussion, watchful jealousy of the government, and unsparing reform of existing abuses; it is equally manifest, that the force of the example of Spain will not be spent here, but must reach over the other states of the Continent. Admitting that no further successes should crown the Spanish arms, and that Bonaparte should, by overwhelming armies, beat down all opposition to his detestable projects,-he has lost much, and must lose more, before the struggle is at an end. He has learned, and France has been made to recollect, à lesson which she had of late years lost sight of,--the powers of popular enthusiasm, when roused by injustice and oppression. It is now to be apprehended, that similar acts of usurpation will be met by somewhat of the same resistance wherever they are attempted. There may now be other enemies to beat besides drill sergeants and imperial guards, before armies can march over the countries of unoffending allies. The feeling of power has been communicated to the people in every part of Europe ; and any such shameless aggressions as those which first roused up this feeling in Spain, will in all likelihood give rise to revolutionary movements elsewhere. It can scarcely be expected, that, while things remain quiet, the Germans will change their government; but it is 110 small improvement of their condition, that the enemy should have reason to dread an intestine revolution (the only sormidable antagonist he has ever met with), as often as he attempts to shake, by any extraordinary efforts of usurpation, the existing order of things. VOL. XIII. NO. 25, ...