Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

take the interest of Portugal and all its dominions to heart, defending the same with his utmost power, by sea and land, even as England itself:'---and it then proceeds to specify the succours to be sent, and the manner of sending them.

"The treaty of 1703 was a tripartite engagement between the States-general of Holland, England, and Portugal. The second article of that treaty sets forth, that 'if ever it shall happen that the Kings of Spain and France, either the present or the future, that both of them together, or either of them separately, shall make war, or give occasion to suspect that they intend to make war, upon the kingdom of Portugal, either on the continent of Europe, or on its dominions beyond seas; her majesty the queen of Great Britain, and the lords the Statesgeneral, shall use their friendly offices with the said kings, or either of them, in order to persuade them to observe the terms of peace towards Portugal, and not to make war upon it.' The third article declares, that, in the event of these 'good offices not proving successful, but altogether ineffectual, so that war should be made by the aforesaid kings, or by either of them, upon Portugal, the above mentioned powers of Great Britain and Holland, shall make war with all their force, upon the foresaid kings or king who shall carry hostile arms into Portugal: and towards that war which shall be carried on in Europe, they shall supply 12,000 men, whom they shall arm and pay, as well when in quarters as in action; and the said High Allies shall be obliged to keep that number of men complete,

by recruiting it from time to time at their own expense.'

"It is not, however, on specific articles alone—it is not so much, perhaps, on cither of these ancient treaties taken separately—as it is on the spirit and understanding of the whole body of treaties, of which the essence is concentrated and preserved in the treaty of Vienna, that we acknowledge in Portugal a right to look to Great Britain as her ally and defender. This being the state, morally and politically, of our obligations towards Portugal, it is obvious that when Portugal, in apprehension of the coming storm, called on Great Britain for assistance, the only hesitation on our part could be-— not whether that assistance was due, supposing the occasion for demanding it to arise—but simply, whether that occasion—in other words, whether the casus foederis —had arisen.

"In our opinion it had. Bands of Portuguese rebels, armed, equipped, and trained, in Spain, had crossed the Spanish frontier, carrying terror and devastation into their own country, and proclaiming sometimes the brother of the reigning sovereign of Portugal, sometimes a Spanish princess, and sometimes even Ferdinandof Spain, as the rightful occupant of the Portuguese throne. These rebels crossed the frontier, not at one point only, but at several points: for it is remarkable, that the aggression, on which the original application to Great Britain for succour was founded, is not the aggression with reference to which that application has been complied with. The attack announced by the French newspapers was on the north of Portugal, in the province of Tras-os-Montes; an official iu> count of which has been received byhis majesty's government only this day. But on Friday an account was received of an invasion in the south of Portugal, and of the capture of Villa Viciosa, a town lying on the road from the southern frontier to Lisbon. This new fact established even more satisfactorily than a mere confirmation of the attack first complained of would have done, the systematic nature of the aggression from Spain against Portugal. One hostile irruption might have been made by some single corps escaping from their quarters,—by some body of stragglers, who might have evaded the vigilance of Spanish authorities; and one such accidental and unconnected act of violence might not have been conclusive evidence of cognizance and design on the part of those authorities. But when a series of attacks are made along the whole line of a frontier, it is difficult to deny that such multiplied instances of hostility arc evidence of concerted aggression.

"If a single company of Spanish soldiers had crossed the frontier in hostile array, there could not be a doubt as to the character of that invasion. Shall bodies of men, armed, clothed, and regimented by Spain, carry fire and sword into the bosom of her unoffending neighbour, and shall it be pretended that no attack, no invasion has taken place, because, forsooth, these outrages arc committed against Portugal by men to whom Portugal had given birth and nurture? What petty quibbling would it be, to say that an invasion of Portugal from Spain was not a Spanish invasion, because Spain did not employ her own troops, but hired mercenaries to effect her purpose? And what difference is it, except as aggrava-<

[ocr errors]

,r..l >tion, that the mercenaries in instance were natives of Portugal?"The vote for which I call, is a vote for the defence of Portugal, not a vote for war against Spain. Unjustifiable as I shall show the conduct of Spain to have been— contrary to the law of nations, and of good neighbourhood, of God and of man, still I do not mean to preclude a locus pcenitentice, a possibility of redress and reparation. It is our duty to fly to the defence of Portugal, be the assailant who he may. In thus fulfilling the stipulations of ancient treaties, of the existence and obligation of which all the world are aware, we, according to the universally admitted construction of the law of nations, neither make war upon that assailant, nor give to that assailant, much less to any other power, just cause of war against ourselves.

"In some quarters, it has been imputed to his majesty's ministers, that an extraordinary delay intervened between the taking of the determination to give assistance to Portugal, and the carrying of that determination into eflect. But how stands the fact? On Sunday, the 3rd of this month, we received from the Portuguese ambassador a direct and formal demand of assistance against a hostile aggression from Spain. Our answer was—that although rumours had reached us through France, his majesty's government had not that accurate information—that official and precise intelligence of facts— on which they could properly found an application to parliament. It was only on last Friday night that this precise information arrived. On Saturday his majesty's confidential servants came to a decision. On Sunday that de

CO 2]\ fairly carried into effect. Intel nally, let the Portuguese sett] their own aifairs; but with re spect to external force, whi] Great Britain has an arm to raisi it must be raised against the efforl of any power that should attemj forcibly to control the choice, an fetter the independence, of Pra tugal. ••!-,'.{ luzinvfl

[graphic]

"Has such been the intention c Spain? Whether the proceeding which have lately been practise or permitted in Spain, were acts c a government exercising the usus power of prudence and foresighl (without which a government i for the good of the people whic' live under it no government at all] or whether they were the acts c some secret illegitimate power— of some furious fanatical factioi over-riding the councils of th ostensible government, defying i in the capital, and disobeying it 01 the frontiers—I will not stop t inquire. It is indifferent to Portu gal, smarting under her wrongsit is indifferent to England, wh< is called upon to avenge them— whether the present state of thing be the result of the intrigues of i faction, over which, if the Spanisl government has no control,. i ought to assume one as soon a possible—or of local authorities over whom it has control, anc for whose acts it must, therefore be held responsible. It matters not, I say, from which of these sources the evil has arisen. Ir either case, Portugal must be protected; and from England thai protection is due.

"Great desertions took place from the Portuguese army intc Spain, and some desertions took place from the Spanish army into Portugal. In the first instance, the Portuguese authorities, were, taker

by surprise; but, in every subsequent instance, where they had an opportunity of exercising a discretion, it is but just to say, that they uniformly discouraged the desertions of the Spanish soldiery. There exist between Spain and Portugal specific treaties, stipulating the mutual surrender of deserters. Portugal had, therefore, a right to claim of Spain that every Portuguese deserter should be forthwith sent back. I hardly know whether from its own impulse, or in consequence of our advice, the Portuguese government waved its right under those treaties; very wisely reflecting, that it would be highly inconvenient to be placed by the return of their deserters, in the difficult alternative of either granting a dangerous amnesty, or ordering numerous executions. The Portuguese government, therefore, signified to Spain that it would be entirely satisfied if, instead of surrendering the deserters, Spain would restore their arms, horses, and equipments; and, separating the men from their officers, would remove both from the frontiers into the interior of Spain. Solemn engagements were entered into by the Spanish government to this effect—first with Portugal, next with France, and afterwards with England. Those engagements, concluded one day, were violated the next. The deserters, instead of being disarmed and dispersed, were allowed to remain congregated together near the frontiers of Portugal; where they were enrolled, trained, and disciplined, for the expedition which they have since undertaken. It is plain that in these proceedings, there was perfidy somewhere. It rests with the Spanish government to show, that it was not with them—it rests with the Spanish government to prove, that if its engagements have not been fulfilled—if its intentions have been eluded and unexecuted, the fault has not been with the government; and that it is ready to make every reparation in its power. '■• .'

"I have said that these promises were made to France and to Great Britain, as well as to Portugal. I should do a great injustice to France if I were not to add, that the representations of that government upon this point, with the cabinet of Madrid, have been as urgent, and, alas! as fruitless, as those of Great Britain. Upon the first irruption into the Portuguese territory, the French government testified its displeasure by instantly recalling its ambassador; and it further directed its charge d'affaires to signify to his Catholic majesty, that Spain was not to look for any support from France against the consequences of this aggression upon Portugal. I am bound, I repeat, in justice to the French government, to state, that it has exerted itself to the utmost, in urging Spain to retrace the steps which she has so unfortunately taken. It is not for me to say whether any more efficient course might have been adopted to give effect to their exhortations: but as to the sincerity and good faith of the exertions made by the government of France, to press Spain to the execution of her engagements, I have not the shadow of a doubt: —and I confidently reckon upon their continuance."There are reasons which entirely satisfy my judgment that nothing short of a point of national faith or national honour, would justify at the present moment, any voluntary approximation to the possi-.

bility of war. Let me be understood, however, distinctly, as not meaning to say that I dread war in a good cause (and in no other may it be the lot of this country ever to engage !), from a distrust of the strength of the country to commence it, or of her resources to maintain it. I dread it, indeed,— but upon far other grounds: I dread it from an apprehension of the tremendous consequences which might arise from any hostilities in which we might now be engaged. Some years ago, in the discussion of the negotiations respecting the French war against Spain, I stated that the position of this country in the present state of the world, was one of neutrality, not only between contending nations, but between conflicting principles; and that it was by neutrality alone that we could maintain that balance, the preservation of which, I believed to be essential to the welfare of mankind. I then said, that I feared that the next war which should be kindled in Europe, would be a war not so much of armies, as of opinions: Not four years have elapsed, and behold my apprehension realised! It is, to be sure, within narrow limits that this war of opinion is at present confined: but it is a war of opinion, that Spain (whether as government or as nation) is now waging against Portugal; it is a war which has commenced in hatred of the new institutions of Portugal. How long is it reasonable to expect that Portugal will abstain from retaliation? If into that war this country shall be compelled to enter, we shall enter into it, with a sincere and anxious desire to mitigate rather than exasperate, and to mingle only in the conflict of arms, not in the more fatal conflict of

opinions. But I much fear that this country (however earnestly she may endeavour to avoid it) could not, in such case, avoid seeing ranked under her banners all the restless and dissatisfied of any nation with which she might come in conflict. It is the contemplation of this new power, in any future war, which excites my most anxious apprehension. It is one thing to have a giant's strength, but it would be another to use it like a giant. The consciousness of such strength is, undoubtedly, a source of confidence and security; but in the situation in which this country stands, our business is, not to seek opportunities of displaying it, but to content ourselves with letting the professors of violent and exaggerated doctrines on both sides feel, that it is not their interest to convert an umpire into an adversary. The situation of England, amidst the struggle of political opinions which agitates more or less sensibly different countries of the world, may be compared to that of the ruler of the winds, as described by the poet:—

'Celsa scdet Jeoius arce,

Sceptra tenens; mollitque animos et

temperat iras; Ni faciat, maria ac terras cselumque

profundura Quippe ferant rapid! secum, verrantque

per auras.'

The consequence of letting loose the passions at present chained and confined, would be to produce a scene of desolation which no man can contemplate without horror; and I should not sleep easy on my couch, if I were conscious that I had contributed to precipitate it by a single moment. This is the reason—a reason very different from fear—the reverse of a consciousness of disability—why I dread the recurrence of hostilities in any

« ZurückWeiter »