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which the English general led in pursuit; the last time Chap. the English flag had waved in Roncesvalles was when they were preparing to carry a war of retaliation into the heart of France. To think of all this being reversed; of a hundred thousand French retracing their steps as conquerors through those defiles where they had so lately fled before a hundred thousand English, Spaniards, and Portuguese, was insupportable. Most of all did it appear so, when the invading host was now thought to be arrayed in the cause of despots against the liberties of mankind, and the defensive bands of the Spanish were united in the great cause of civil freedom and national independence.
Add to this another consideration, not so obvious to the
general feelings of the multitude, influenced by present Danger of impressions, but perhaps still more cogent with the far- ofttwbmiiy seeing statesman, guided by ultimate results. England had repeatedly, during the course of the eighteenth century, and been brought to the brink of ruin by the superiority of the French and Spanish fleets, taken together, to her own: the admirable skill of her admirals, the heroic resolution of her seamen, had alone enabled her to make head against the odds. The fatal error committed by the Tories, in the days of Marlborough, in allowing the Spanish crown to remain on the head of a Bourbon prince, had become apparent to all reflecting men: it was equalled only by the error of the Whigs, in the days of Wellington, in doing their utmost to allow it to remain on the head of a brother of Napoleon. The "family compact" in either case might prove fatal to the independence of Great Britain. Such a compact was in an especial manner to be dreaded, if it became an alliance of feeling and interest, not less than blood and cabinets; and a Bourbon king, restored to his throne by the arms of a Bourbon prince, was thrown into a close alliance with our hereditary enemies by identity of cause and necessity of situation,
Chap. not less than family connection and the danger of common XI1' enemies.
1822. These considerations must ever be entitled to respect, influence of for they were founded on the generous feelings, a sincere, AmeriLi though perhaps mistaken zeal for the happiness of manuh bomu kind, and a just appreciation of our political situation, and hoideTM. the dangers which might ultimately come to threaten our independence. But in addition to this there were others less entitled to respect, because based entirely on selfish desires, but not on that account the less likely to guide the opinions and form the wishes of a powerful portion of society. Influenced partly by their constant sympathy with revolutionary efforts, and partly by the thirst for the extravagant gains offered for loans by the rulers of revolutionary states, the capitalists of England had largely embarked in adventures connected with the independence of South America. The idea of " healthy young republic" arising in those immense regions, and equalling those of North America in rapidity of growth and extent of consumption of our manufactures, influenced some; the prospect of seven, eight, and nine per cent, offered for loans, and for a few years regularly paid, attracted others; the idea of the cause of liberty and independence spreading over the whole of the New World carried away a still greater multitude. No one doubted that these young republies, which had been mainly rescued from the colonial oppression of Spain by the sympathising arms of England, and the valour of Wellington's disbanded veterans, would speedily become powerful states, in close alliance, political and commercial, with Great Britain, paying with regularity and thankfulness the ample interest due upon their debts, consuming an immense and daily increasing amount of our manufactures, and enriching iu return the fortunate shareholders of the mining companies that were daily springing up, with a large share of the riches of Mexico and Peru.
The sums expended by the capitalists of Great Britain in advances to the revolutionary governments of the Chap. Peninsula and their revolted colonies were so great as x"'
almost to exceed belief. They were stated by Lord 1^22Palmerston, in his place in Parliament, at £150,000,000 Immense between 1820 and 1850; and a considerable part of this "heSpMuh immense sum had been advanced before the end of 1822. AmJricw Payment of the interest even of those vast loans wasloMU" thought, and not without reason, to be entirely dependent on support being given the revolutionary governments in the Peninsula and South America. It was well known that the independence of the revolted colonies had been mainly secured by the insurrection of the army assembled in the island of Leon, which had also overturned the monarchy of Spain; and it was expected, with reason, that the utmost exertions would be made by the royal government, if once restored, to regain their sway over regions with which so lucrative a commerce was wound up, and from which so large a part of the royal revenues was derived. Great fears were entertained, which were afterwards amply justified by the event, that the king, if restored to unrestricted authority, would not recognise the loans contracted by the Cortes, nearly the whole of which had been supplied from London. Influenced by these considerations, the large and powerful body of English capitalists implicated in these advances, made the greatest efforts, by means of the press, public meetings, and detached publications, to keep alive the enthusiasm in regard to Spanish freedom and South American independence; and with such success were their efforts attended, that the people of England were kept almost entirely in the dark as to the real nature and ultimate results of the contest in both hemispheres, and the enthusiasm in their favour was all but universal.
A feeling so general, and supported by so many heartstirring recollections and warm anticipations, could not fail, in a country enjoying the popular form of government which England did, to communicate itself to the Chap. House of Commons; and so powerful was the current, XI1' that it is probable no ministry could have been strong 1*22- enough to withstand it. But, in addition to this, there vicwVof were many circumstances at that period which rendered andMrCan- any resistance to the popular wishes in this respect mbfect"1* impossible. The Ministry, which had narrowly escaped shipwreck on the question of the queen's trial, was only beginning to recover its popularity, and the king, who had so long laboured under the load of unpopularity, had for the first time recently experienced, in Dublin and Edinburgh, the intoxication of popular applause. It was not the time to check these favourable dispositions, by running counter to the national wishes on a great question of foreign policy. Add to this, that the Cabinet itself was divided on the subject, and a considerable portion, probably a majority, were inclined to go along with the popular views regarding it. Mr Canning, in particular, who, on Lord Londonderry's death, had exchanged the office of Governor-general of India, to which he had been appointed, for the still more important one of Foreign Secretary, was an ardent supporter of these views. He was actuated in this alike by sentiment, ambition, and necessity. His feelings had originally led him to take part with the Whigs; and although on his entrance into public life he, by the advice of their leaders, joined Mr Pitt, and became one of the most ardent opponents of the French Revolution, yet it was its excesses, not its original principles, which he condemned. His first inclinations never deserted him through life. The steady supporter of Catholic emancipation, he had also warmly embraced the new views in regard to freedom of trado which were then beginning, not only to prevail in Parliament, but to influence Government. During his keen contest for Liverpool, he had been thrown much among, and been on the most intimate terms with, the leading merchants of that city, and become acquainted with all their sanguine expectations as to the immense benefits which would accrue to this country from the establishment Chap.
of South American independence. A steady supporter of
Wellington during the war, the idea of the work he had 1822 achieved being undone, and French influence re-established in the Peninsula, was utterly abhorrent to his mind: a politician influenced rather by feeling and impulse than reasoning and reflection, he did not see that the cause he was now so anxious to support in Spain was precisely the same as that which he had formerly so energetically combated in France. Finally, he was ambitious, and a great career lay open before him; he was the man of the people, and they had placed him in power; he was the champion of England, and his present greatness, as well as future renown, was wound up with the maintenance of its interests and the furtherance of its desires.
When views so utterly opposite were entertaiued on a great question of European politics, upon which it was con^, indispensable that a decision should be immediately ^£5° adopted by the powers most immediately interested, and JjJ,^" by whose amity the peace of the world had hitherto been preserved, it was not surprising that the other* powers should have become anxious for the result, and eagerly sought after every means of avoiding the dreaded rupture. If England and France came to blows on the Spanish question, it was obvious to all that a desperate European strife, possibly equalling the last in duration and blood, would be the result. For although the military strength of Fraucc, backed by that of the Northern powers, was obviously far greater than that of Spain supported by Great Britain and Portugal, yet who could say how long this would last, and how soon an outbreak at Paris might overturn the Government there, and array the strength of France on the side of revolution? The throne of Louis XVIII. rested on a volcano; any day an eruption of the fires smouldering beneath the surface might blow it into the air; and if such a catastrophe should occur, what security was there either for the independence of other