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CIVIL WAR IN SPAIN.
SPEECH IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, APRIL 18, 1837.
If the learned member (Mr. Grove Price) had been born in Spain, he ought to have been returned to the Cortes, as representative of La Mancha! What a strange anomaly will enthusiasm produce in even an accomplished mind! Despite his habitual horror for Popery, I question whether he does not regard the Inquisition as a venerable Conservative institution; and whether, in the event of the triumph of Don Carlos, he would not gladly journeg across the Pyrenees, in order to witness the burning of the Quadruple Treaty at an auto-da-fe.
The military and political character of the gallant member by whom this motion was brought forward gives it a peculiar interest. As a soldier, his opinions, when unbiassed, are of the highest value. And the part he plays as a politician is so conspicuous, that it is not unrea sonable to conjecture that this motion is part of a combined plan of open rations, by which a very important position is to be carried by the gallant officer. But an additional interest is given to this question by the admixture of military with civil accomplishments. The motion was seconded by a profound, but unemployed diplomast, Sir T. Canning ; an eminent negoriator, once in the confidence of the Whigs, and now not undeserving Tory trust. There is a practical antithesis in the right honourable gentleman ; for while for the Emperor Nicholas he has no strong personal relish, he is not without some propensity to the adoption of a Sclavonic policy at Madrid. I like to do justice ; and I trust the right honourable gentleman will forgive me if I say, having heard him designate the noble lord (Lord Palmerston) as his “noble friend,” I should think that the right honourable gentleman must have laboured under a very strong and painful sense of public duty, when he took a part so prominent in assailing the measures of his noble—and I believe he has foura him his faithful-friend. If that speech had been made under ordinary circumstances, perhaps no great consequence might have attached to it. But there is yet another view in which this motion is most important; it is an announcement of the policy intended to be pursued by the Tories upon their anticipated advent to power. The right honourable member for Tamworth has recently intimated that he will, although with great reluctance, submit to the infliction of power; and he has also intimated that he would endeavour to manage á House of Commons better than Lord Melbourne (he says) can manage the House o Peers—and'give this house an opportunity of atoning for that parricidal blow by which his official existence was suddenly abridged. It is as well that we should be apprised that the victory of Conservatism in St. James's will be followed by the triumph of Carlism at Madrid.
I pass to the Quadruple Treaty. The decision of the house, upon this subject, must turn upon the general construction of the treaty, and be course pursued by the government. Let me examine both. What
standard shall we adopt in interpreting the treaty? Not a mere literal one - we are to consider the circumstances under which the treaty was entered into, its objects, and the means by which they are to be accomplished. What was the object of that Quadruple Alliance? The pacification of the Peninsula ; the expulsion of Carlos from Spain, and of Miguel from Portugal; the securing free institutions to the one, and the permanent ejection of Carlos from the throne of the other. Any cuir man, who looks at the events which took place at that period, must ome to this conclusion. It may be asked, what concern have we with Spain? I answer by asking, what concern has Russia with Spain ? What have Austria and Prussia to do with Spain: And if despots feel their interests so deeply involved in the form of government which she assumes, shall it be said that the people of this country ought to be indifferent to the extension of the principles from which England derives her power and her virtue ? But, putting considerations aside which may be regarded as vague and indefinite, look back a little at events which have happened within a few years, and we shall see how material it is to sustain British interests in the Peninsula, in order to countervail the great northern confederacy which is leagued against us. We shall see the consequences of neglecting liberty in Spain. In 1820 the constitution was proclaimed-at the council of the Congress at Verona, it was determined by Russia that it should be crushed. In 1823; under the influence, and swayed by the councils, of the autocrat, the Duke d'Angouleme marched into Spain. It is notorious that he obtained possession of Spain as the trustee for Alexander, and was a mere instrument in the hands of the Czar. The ascendancy of Russia was established, and she took advantage of her predominance over France : being sure that her dependant, bribed by the gift of Spain into acquiescence, would not join us, she fell on Turkey, crossed the Balkan, in 1829, extorted the Treaty of Adrianople, and laid the Sultan so utterly prostrate, that England, in 1830, could not lift him into independence and dignity again. This is the simple narrative of incidents of which we yet feel the results: the transactions in the East were, beyond doubt, influenced by our original supineness; and it is the duty of British ministers to endeavour to repair these errors, and to regain an influence through liberal institutions in the Peninsula.
Thus I account for the policy by which the Quadruple Treaty was dictated, aná with a view to which it ought to be interpreted and enforced. Look now at the more immediate circumstances under which it was framed. Don Carlos and Don Miguel were both in Portugal ir April, 1834. If Don Carlos should recover the throne of Spain, it was obvious that Don Miguel would recover that of Portugal. We were bound, under treaties, to protect Portugal, and thus the entire Peninsula was embraced in the treaty. Instead, then, of wasting time in cavils about particular passages in the treaty, let us see what was doing and what ought to have been done under the treaty: The Duke of Wellington gave it a complete ratification. He ordered 50,000 muskets to be sent to the Basque provinces. For what purpose? I call on the gentlemen opposite, who cry out so vehemently for justice to Navarre -I call on those who tell us that the Basques are fighting for thef. immemorial. rights, and who protest that we ought not to interfere in the struggle, to tell me for what purpose the Duke of Wellington sent 50,000 bayonets to Spain ? And if it was no violation of the treaty, nor inconsistent with our political obligations, to employ bayonets against the Basques, how have the government offended against the principles by which British statesmen ought to be swayed, in allowing British subjects to use the weapons which it is admitted the Duke of Wellingte ransmitted to the Peninsula ? There is no distincticn between the transmission of arms and the authorization of British subjects to enter the service of Spain ; and they indulge in mere factitious sensibility who contend that the Basques, after having associated their ca ise with an avowed despot, are engaged in a struggle which entitles them to the sympathies of Great Britain. The constitution gives the Basques the same privileges as are awarded to other Spaniards : it places all Spaniards upon a level; and the Basques are not contending for a participar tion in the rights of citizens, but for an exemption from their liabilities.
I come to the order in council. Let it not be supposed that our government volunteered in granting permission to British subjects to enter into the Spanish service. On the 7th of May, the Spanish minstry applied to us for co-operation. It was feared that direct intervention would alarm the sensitiveness of Castilian pride. In 1819, the the Foreign Enlistment Act was passed ; but a power was reserved to the crown to suspend its operation. It was clear that circumstances were anticipated under which it might be deemed judicious that foreign enlistment should be allowed. It was thought, in 1823, by the Whigs, that though circumstances had arisen at that juncture, and that a good moral effect would be produced by repealing the act, and thus signifying the interest we took in the liberties of Spain—(I may incidentally observe that the noble lord the member for Lancashire voted for the repeal of the act; how he will vote to-night it is not for me to anticipate)—the application to which I have referred having been made to the Whig government for assistance, it was thought that the wisest course would be to issue the order in council
. Let us see how far that proceeding, which was, beyond all doubt, in conformity with the spirit of the treaty, has been justified, in point of policy, by events. Three charges have been brought against the Legion ; and insubordination, inhumanity, and want of disciplined intrepidity in action, have been attributed to them. With respect to disorganization, it existed to a considerable extent; but it ought to be recollected that, even in the best armies, it will, under peculiar circumstances, unfortunately arise. Was not the retreat of the Duke of Wellington, after his defeat at Burgos, attended with a lamentable loss of discipline, for which the Duke of Wellington is not in the slightest degree responsible ? And how can it be wondered at, that such levies as composed the Auxiliary Legion should in the midst of hardships, certainly not occasioned by themselves, have been deficient in subordination ?
With respect to the excesses into which the Legion had been be. trayedlet it be remembered that, although they were not justitiablo
they were not unprovoked. They gave no quarter, and they received none; to the merciless they showed no mercy; and I question whether the gallant officer opposite, at the head of the best troops in the service, could, notwithstanding all his habits of control, restrain his men from yengeance, if they saw their fellow-soldiers lying butchered and mutilated with every incident of the most degrading ignominy before them. But from every participation in these offences against humanity, General Evans is entirely free. No order of a vindictive character was ever issued by him. And if a single officer, under the influence of excited passion, let his feelings burst forth in an ebullition of reprehensible resentment, and that fact is stated in an anonymous publication, how unjust it is to charge the entire British Legion with that want 0. humanity which has been imputed to them. But while the gallant offic cer is thus at once vehement and pathetic in reprobating the excesses of retaliation, what will he say of the atrocious Durango decree, by which murder in cold blood was enjoined by Don Carlos ? The Tories will of course condemn him ; but, while they condemn him, they recommend measures of which the effect will be to plant the crown of Spain upon his head. With respect to the last charge—the want of valour-it cannot be denied that a portion of our troops gave way. But I believe that most troops, excepting those which have acquired a veteran stability we occasionally subject, in a moment of surprise, to such moral disasters as, in the instance referred to, befel the Auxiliary Legion. Having admitted the occurrence of this deplorable incident, give me leave to ask whether it is not, in some degree, countervailed by those examples of high courage which, in many other instances, the Legion have furnished ? Was it quite legitimate to expatiate with so much force upon a single calamity, and to omit the mention of those achievements for which the Legion deserve no ordinary praise ? The Spanish Cortes and Government thanked General Evans after the battle of St. Sebastian ; the French general expressed his warmest commendations; and I shall, I hope, be pardoned for suggesting that an incident which, to a French soldier, afforded matter for congratulation, ought, in the mind of the gallant officer opposite, to bave, in some sort, counterbalanced the unfortunate transaction upon which che gallant officer bus so strongly dilated.
I pass to the second branch of the motion of the gallant officer. Nothing can be worse, it seems, than the failure of the Legion, excepting the success of the marines. The gallant officer would withdraw the Legion because, as he erroneously conceives, they have failed ; and would withhold the assistance of the marines because they have succeeded! This is exceedingly anomalous. Let it be observed that i is not upon any large ground of public policy that he recommends that the marines should be removed from the field in which they have won laurels that have borne precious fruit. He dwells entirely upon the nature of the service to which he conceives that these fine troops ought to be confined, and insists that it is only upon the ocean they should be permitted to serve their country. I answer the gallant officer by a. reference to their motto. Per mare, per terram” sets asid discussion
upon this part of the question at rest. Read the treaty with a view to · the interests of your country, and not to the speculations of your party. and you will rid yourselves of miserable dissertations on mere words and phrases, and arrive at the just and lofty sense of this great quad ruple compact.
It is alleged that the measures of the government have not produced any good results. Try that allegation by this test. If those measures had not been adopted—if the Auxiliary Legion and the marines had not given their co-operation, what would have befallen the Spanish people? Do you not know, on Major Richardson's authority, that Bilboa would have been taken by assault ? and would not the British seamen have seen from afar upon the main the Durango standard of Don Carlos floating from the castle of St. Sebastian? Take another test, if you please it. Let me suppose this motion carried. If you carry the present motion-if you prevent any acknowledgment of the Legion-if you break the character of this force-if you withdraw the Inarines from the north coast of Spain (the importance and efficiency of whose services you cannot deny)—what will be the result? The courier who will convey the intelligence will convey tidings of great joy to St. Petersburg, to Vienna, and to Berlin ; and he will convey tidings of great dismay whererer men value the possession of freedom or pant for its enjoyment. It will palsy the arm of liberty in Spain. It will fill her heart with despair. A terrible revulsion will be produced ; from Calpe to the Pyrenees the cry, “We are betrayed by England!” will be heard, and over that nation which you will indeed have betrayed, Don Carlos will march, without an obstacle, to Madrid.
You cheer me in mockery—do you? Who are you that cheer me? Not your leaders—not the men who are placed conspicuously before die. They know, they feel, the impolicy of these rash manifestations. They profess horror at the atrocities of Don Carlos, and deprecate his triumph; but you that cheer me, disclose your hearts, and exhibit the wishes by which your political conduct is determined. Cheer on-exult in the anticipated victories of despotism in Spain, and with your purpose let the people of England be made well acquainted. But, turning from you, I call upon the rest of the house, and to the British people beyond the house, to reflect upon the events which must follow the triumph of Don Carlos. Do you not know. him: Do you stand in need of any illustrations of his character? What was it that befel Spain when the constitution was suppressed in 1823 ?. Do you not think that Don Carlos will improve upon Ferdinand's example, and recollect what .model was held out to him? Have we forgotten the massacre at Cadiz ? Is Riego's blood effaced from our memories? Do you doubt that the same terrible career of remorseless, relentless vengeance will be pursued by the marble-hearted despot by whom such horrors have been already perpetrated ? With whom, attended with what companionship, encompassed by what councillors, did Don Carlos land in England ? Did he hot dare to set his foot upon our shores with Moreno, the murderer of Boyd and Torrijos beside him? But what further evidence of his char wter and his propensities do we want, than his terrible. Durango ordi