ment took their station so as to command the arsenal. The slaughter was not put a stop to, till the French Generals, with the municipal authorities, traversed the streets with white flags and implored the populace to retire. The fruit of this tranquillity was the establishment of a military tribunal, invested with the most absolute power. Next came an order of the day, “ directing that all groups of Spaniards seen in the streets, exceeding eight in number, should be fired upon ; that every village in which a French soldier was slain, should be burned ; and that all authors, publishers, and distributors of papers, or proclamations inciting to revolt, should be led out and instantly shot.”

The same scenes which had taken place at Madrid, occurred at Cadiz, Seville, Carthagena, and other places. The populace wreaked their vengeance upon all whom they supposed to be treacherous, or even indifferent towards the safety of their country. Their old prejudices against the French were maddened into fury. The sight of the advantages their enemies' perfidy had gained, only added depth to their resolutions, and increased bitterness to their revenge. The rising was simultaneous, as if the people had been aroused by beacons blazing from hill to hill. “ The

movement,” says Alison“ not that of faction or party, it animated alike men of all ranks, classes, and professions. The flame spread equally in the lonely mountains as in the crowded cities ; among the hardy labourers of the Basque provinces, as the light-hearted peasantry of the Andalusian slopes ; amidst the pastoral valleys of Asturias, or the rich fields of Valencia, as in the crowded emporiums of Barcelona and Cadiz. Within a week after the untoward tidings reached Bayonne, Napoleon was already engaged in a strug


gle which promised to be of the most sanguinary character, with the Spanish people."*

Napoleon was alarmed and vexed on hearing of the riots at Madrid, and is said to have exclaimed that “Murat was going on wrong and too fast.” Provincial and local juntas were formed, with power to levy money and raise troops. Communications were opened with the English feet on the coast ; deputies were sent to England to solicit the aid of go

The land resounded with the cries, Viva Fernando Septimo! Guerra con la Francia! Paz con Ingleterra ! Guerra con el mondo ! Meanwhile, Joseph Bonaparte, late King of Naples, reached Bayonne on the 7th June. Thither an assembly of notables, amounting to one hundred, had been convened, who, as a matter of course, went through the form of electing him to the vacant throne ; and at the same time, approved and accepted the 'new constitution laid before them. Escorted by his troops, King Joseph entered Madrid, and was proclaimed according to the usual formalities King of Spain and the Indies, amid a silent and enraged population, surrounded by French bayonets, and saluted by French cannon.


* Alison's History of Europe, Vol. VI.


Remarks on the Spanish Peninsula-Desire of British aid

First Military efforts of the Spaniards--First Siege of Saragossa-Defeats sustained by the French-Capitulation of Baylen--Events in Portugal.

The Spanish Peninsula has been the theatre of splendid military achievements, both in ancient and in modern times. Of old it has been distinguished by the exploits of Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, and Pompey; among its mountains a desperate conflict raged for centuries, between Christianity and Mahomedanism, and the advancing tide of Mussulman conquests was there first driven back. In more modern times, as memorable deeds have been done on the Spanish soil : “ the standards of Charlemagne have waved in its passes ; the bugles of Roncevalles have resounded through the world ; the chivalry of the Black Prince, the skill of Gonzalvo of Cordova, have been displayed in its defence ; the genius of Napoleon, and the firmness of Wellington, have been exerted on its plains.”

Its inhabitants have always been distinguished by a peculiar mode of warfare. Seldom successful, or placing their main dependence on the shock of battle, defeat seems to lose its power over them, and they tenaciously maintain the contest after having suffered reverses which would have totally broken the spirit of almost any other nation. Hardly is the combat over, when they again unite in hostile bodies, which, sheltered among the mountain chains that intersect the country, hover upon the track of the assailants, and attack them on weak and defenceless points. No people maintain the conflict more desperately behind the walls of a fortress ; the greater the extremity, the more vigorous becomes their defence, as Saragossa and Girona have lately proved. After the invader conceives that he has put down completely the opposition of a district, there springs up again in every quarter armed resistance, and formidable guerilla bands hover over the country.

In every corner the insurrection against the invaders broke out. The massacre at Madrid aroused the people,

a convulsive thrill ran through every fibre of Spain; indignation against wrongs, the sense of national humiliation, the deep thirst for vengeance, caused one universal cry, 'To arms !' to ring over hill and dale. The news spread with the utmost rapidity : and as the French troops were chiefly drawn towards one point, the aroused exertions of the Spaniards met at first with little opposition. This was no transient ebullition, but as the French soon found to their cost was to be maintained during an almost unparalleled contest. The energies of the different provinces, under the guidance of separate and independent governing junta gave system and regularity to their efforts; though afterwards the inconvenience of so many centres of authority was severely felt, in divided councils and contradictory plans, All classes zealously forwarded contributions to the cause of their country.

At Cadiz the first important blow was struck against the French. Their fleet, consisting of five ships of the line and a frigate, could not put out to sea because Lord Collingwood with a British squadron guarded the entrance of the bay. The Spaniards constructed batteries which commanded the French ships, and a sufficient number of guns being mounted, opened a heavy fire upon them. A negociation terminated in the unconditional surrender of the vessels five days afterwards.

Peace was immediately concluded between England and Spain, and preparations made for sending aid to the Spaniards. Meanwhile, Napoleon, who saw the importance of the struggle, was not idle. Reinforcements were despatched into the Peninsula with all possible speed ; General Dupont's force was moved towards the Sierra Morena and Andalusia, and was to overrun Seville and Cordova ; and Marshal Moncey was detached into Valencia, with orders to put down the violent insurrections which had arisen in that province,

The news of the revolt in Spain was received with the utmost joy in Britain. The hearts of the British beat in unison with those of the Spanish, as they heard of province after province rising against the invaders, and boldly hoisting the flag of freedom. “Never,” says Southey, “ since the glorious morning of the French Revolution, before one bloody cloud had risen to overcast the deceitful promise of its beauty, had the heart of England been affected by so generous and universal a joy.” The hands of the aristocratic party, who in their resistance to France had long been formidably opposed, were now strengthened by the adherence of great masses of the British people, and of the genuine lovers of freedom, who saw a great nation endeavouring to throw off the chains of slavery. A national resistance had sprung up against the iron bondage of Napoleon ; and England, ever ready to aid a just cause, resolved to cast in her lot with the Spanish patriots. “Never was the fellowship of our sentient nature more intimately felt, never was the irresistible power of justice more gloriously displayed, than when the British and Spanish nations,

« ForrigeFortsett »