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at once novel and important; but the honourable baronet instantly descended to his ordinary strain of reproach and accusation. He admitted, indeed, that the exertions of the Spaniards against the common enemy, had been distinguished by bravery and perseverance; and he confessed also, that the British army had sustained its ancient reputation. “But where is the freedom,” said he, “to which the superior prowess of Englishmen has been ascribed in the better days of our history ". He maintained, that for the last eighteen years, the distresses of the country had been .. that he might even go farther back, and declare, that, since the commencement of the present reign—since the beginning of the American war, every year had brought an increase of calamity; and he concluded of course, “ that there was something in our system radically wrong ;” that the effects of the American war were still felt in the war in which Great Britain was engaged; that the present contest was begun on the very principles of that unhappy war; that a detestation of French libertyfirst produced the rupture, and that, on the same principles, the war was still continued; that no one could' say what England was now contending for ; that liberty had no share in the contest; since whatever might be done by England for the rights of the sovereign of Spain (who had resigned his whole pretensions into the hands of Buonaparte) nothing had been done for the Spanish people; that even if the cause of Spain had been honourably undertaken by the British government, it had now become perfectly hopeless; that the victories won by our arms were altogether barren; that although there had been many brilliant achievements, such as that under General Hill, by which the French had suffered severely, still the invaders
were making regular and rapid strides towards the subjugation of the peninsula; that all these evils originated in the departure of this country from the wiser system of former days; that the policy of England had anciently been directed to the preservation of liberty throughout the world, but had of late been degraded by a feeble and base attempt to support the decrepid tyrannies of the continent; and that the progress of France was upon the whole more favourable to the liberty of nations, than the success of her rival. The honourable baronet proceeded to make an attack upon the House of Commons, which he described as consisting of “ the supposed representatives of the people of England;” but the admonition of the Speaker quickly brought him to a recollection of the decency which he had outraged. He complained of the restrictions which had been imposed upon the Prince Regent, by which dis. trust was indicated of his royal highness, and professed to look forward with triumph to the expiration of these restrictions, as the era when an enlarged and liberal system of policy would restore the ancient glory of the country. Various systems of government, he said, had been approved of at different periods of society; but an oligarchy, and, in particular, “an oligarchy of rotten burgh-mongers,” has found no advocates out of England. The consequences of this system, according to his view of matters, was, that abroad we had been uniformly unsuccessful; that the despotisms which we had endeavoured to support had fallen prostrate before our enemy, and that at home the country had been overwhelmed with the most signal calamities; that a system of taxation had been created which ruined many and op: pressed all; that the lower orders had been reduced to a state of pauperism : 2
that fiscal tyranny had now been carried to its height, and that an Empsom and Dudley were to be found in every shire of the kingdom; that the desperate resistance which such tyranny was calculated to create, had been kept down by the terrors of a military force; depots, and barracks, and fortifications, had been established in all quarters; and mercenaries and foreigners, who had been unable to defend their own countries, had been brought over to protect the native land of courage and patriotism.—All these things were uttered with becoming solemnity; but before concluding, the honourable baronet did not scruple to descend to a vein of humour. He became very facetious about the appearance and dress of British soldiers, and followed up such jokes by the usualtirade, about “a flogged nation,” as he is pleased to call England. He concluded, by descanting at some length upon the tyranny of the Attorney General, the abuse of ex officio informations, the scandalous invasions of the liberty of the press, and the severe punishments with which some libellers had been visited by the courts of justice. He then moved an address, in which the above topics were recapitulated.—This address was seconded by Lord Cochrane, who made some general reflections on the impolicy .# the war, the impossibility Pdefending Portugal so soon as the French should make themselves masters of Spain, the tyranny of the Portuguese and Sicilian governments which the English were abetting with so much zeal, and the improper direction of the naval means of Great Britain, by which, if employed, according to Lord Cochrane's views, in enterprises against the coast of France, the military force of the enemy, stupendous as it had become, might have been wholly occupied in his own defence.
When these gentlemen had finished, Lord Jocelyn rose to move the usual address to the throne, in the shape of an amendment to that which had been proposed by Sir F. Burdett. There was no disposition in the house to support Sir Francis ; no member, with the exception of Lord Cochrane, had thought fit to countenance him in his proceedings ; and even Messrs Ponsonby and Whitbread, the champions of the opposition, expressed their disapprobation of his conduct. Yet did Sir Francis divide the house upon the question, when there appeared one solitary member to vote for the address proposed by him. The amendment of Lord Jocelyn was then put, and carried without a division.
Although the regular opponents of ministers did not press an amendment in either house of parliament, they spoke in terms which sufficiently proved that their opinions on public affairs had undergone no change in consequence of the events which had lately occurred. They still protested against the whole system of policy, by which the affairs of the country had been conducted; they repeated their declarations about the necessity of husbanding the national resources; and although Portugal had been saved, and Spain supported, they still persevered in their former opinions as to continental affairs. Scarcely one tribute of applause for the exploits which had already so much signalized the British arms, and not one word of hope as to the future, was allowed to escape their lips. They rose at the opening of the session merely to intimate their entire disapprobation of the measures of government, and their firm conviction, that by perseverance in the same system, the ruin of the country would be speedily accomplished. Such were the sentiments which they avowed at a time when England stood in a com
manding attitude ; when, with one
of the ruler was advanced as a reason
cellor of the Exchequer) would wish to follow the honourable gentleman’s
speech through the series of topics
which it contained with as much rearity as possible, he should leave the conclusion for the present, and begin by noticing the notions of the honourable gentleman with regard to the affairs .# Spain and Portugal, and the characters of hopelessness and desperation in which he had described the war. And here he would wish to bring back to the recollection of the house, the state in which the war stood at the beginning of the last session: he would wish to bring back to their recollection the opinions and fears and prophecies of the honourable gentleman, and to entreat them to contrast the prospect he then drew with the reality of the present scene ; they would find, on such a comparison, that his fears were unfounded, that his expectations were falsified, that his Prophecies were erroneous; and yet the honourable gentleman was prepared, upon the same grounds of appreension, namely, the boasts of BuonaParte, to repeat his prophecies—
* Destroy the web of prophecy in vain The creature's at his dirty work again.”
After such failures, one would have thought the honourable gentleman would have hesitated in his course, and not have continued to hold, that every, thing the enemy vaunted he would do, must be accomplished, or that it was impracticable to put any *top to the career of “ this spoilt child of fortune.” At the period alluded to, as at the present, the honourable gentleman had only re-echoed the language held by the enemy; but there was no saying that he might not again be disappointed. At the commencement of last session, we Were to be driven into the sea, and were not to have a foot of ground in
Portugal; but, instead cof these boasts being accomplished, or the joy apprehensions of the honourable gentleman realized, we had not only rescued Portugal from the enemy, but maintained her in security against his utmost efforts. Since this had been achieved, indeed, a new light had been discovered, and it was found that it would not have been the right course for the French to drive us into the sea, but that they should first conquer Spain, and leave us to be swallowed up at the last after we had been permitted to waste our strength 1 Would any man believe this Would any man believe, that if it had been in the power of the enemy, he would not have driven us from Portugal 2 Those who held the opinion, that Buonaparte was irresistible, and that it was in vain to oppose his designs, wondered that he did not at once crush this army, which not only act: ed in every point to the frustration of his designs, but remained in opposition to him on the peninsula, to his disappointment, to his vexation, and to his confusion. Would he, if he could have prevented it, even by directing against it solely and entirely the whole of his force, have suffered this 2 No man could think so. He would have left every thing else to accomplish our expulsion ; but his power was not equal to his desire : and the country he ruled could not furnish him with the means necessary to effect his most anxious purpose. But though this was his opinion, he would not, therefore, with that presumption with which he charged the enemy, say, that though heretofore baffled and defeated, he might not at some future period accomplish that object, in attempting which he had been so severely foiled; but he thought it might fairly be argued from a retrospective view, that we might con
tinue to maintain ourselves in the peninsula, not only to defeat his plans of ambition, but as a standing contrast to the basest villainy ever exhibited in the world. Yes, he maintained, that on all of these points there never was a more striking contrast than that which appeared in the conduct of the French and British governments upon the peninsula; and if the man who caused it had any view to character or ambition, it must be his most earnest care and business, by every method and invention, to keep it not only from the eye of the peninsula, but of the world.” In alluding to the affairs of this country with America, the sentiments expressed by Mr Perceval were at once dignified and forbearing. He declared, that as discussions were depending with the American government, he would not make disclosures which might have a tendency to irritate, but would rather allow his enemies to triumph for a season in their misconceptions. That a war with America would be a source of great evil to England, he readily admitted; but if it should prove hurtful to England, it would prove ruinous to America. He had no wish to see America impoverished, reduced, or subdued; “but sure he was, that no one could construe those conciliatory dispositions of England into fear; conscious of her own dignity, she could bear more from America, for peace’s sake, than from any other power on earth.”—After some military criticisms from General Tarleton on the conduct of Lord Wellington, the report was brought up and agreed to. . . The state of the king’s health was the first object which engaged the attention of parliament. Two declarations, by i. queen’s council, on this melancholy subject, the first dated 5th October, 1811, and the second 5th Ja
nuary, 1812, were laid before parliament ; and both houses appointed committees to examine his majesty’s physicians, and to report. The result of these enquiries established the improbability of the king’s complete and final restoration to health, although the physicians, with one exception, concurred in declaring that they did not entirely despair. Some slight improvement had taken place since the second week in the preceding December; but it was not of such a kind or degree as to encourage any strong hope of his majesty’s ultimate recovery.— The history of this most afflicting case was altogether very singular. During the earlier stages of his majesty’s illness, the most sanguine hopes were cherished; the king was visited by his family; he took exercise out of doors; the bulletins were discontinued, and his subjects, with that feeling of loyalty which his numerous virtues inspired, rejoiced in the prospect which these favourable circumstances appeared to present. A marked change, however, took place about the beginning of July 1811, and although, even from that period downwards, his majesty had been able at intervals to converse with his medical attendants, yet the symptoms of his illness gradually became more discouraging, until, in the beginning of the present year, they had assumed such an aspect as to induce his physicians to give the report, of which the substance has already been stated. One of the physicians, however, declared, that he had known instances in which patients of the same age, and similarly afflicted with his majesty, had been restored to health ; so that the legislature, although called upon, when the restrictions on the Prince Regent should expire, to make a more permanent provision for the exercise of the royal functions than had been thought expedient last year, when