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Chapter VIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 7 page 3

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So prejudiced were the allied sovereigns against England, that they were ready to believe any tale to her disadvantage. One story which was circulated amongst them at the time was that England had bound herself to support Spain against France, in return for certain stipulated commercial advantages. Another was that she had entered into a secret treaty to defend Portugal against France, even though Portugal should join Spain in the war. After all the duke's arguments, explanations, and remonstrances, the French plenipotentiary was about to set off for Paris, representing all the powers as being perfectly unanimous on the policy adopted towards Spain, and the duke was obliged to threaten him with a public contradiction if he did not alter that statement and except England. The allies declined even to consider his paper on the revolted South American provinces, venting their ill-feeling in the following remark: - "That it was a subject of deep regret to them that England should stand forth as the protector of jacobins in all parts of the world, and that they (the allies) had neither the power nor the inclination to prevent it."

We are not surprised to learn that the duke withdrew from them greatly dissatisfied with the turn affairs had taken, and distrustful of the issue. In a parting interview with the emperor of Russia, the latter spoke at length in strong disapprobation of the refusal of England to co-operate in putting down revolution, and said, in conclusion, that Russia was prepared for every eventuality. "She was able, with the support of Austria and Prussia, to crush revolution both in France and Spain; and, if the necessity should arise, she was determined to do so." The duke heard his imperial majesty to an end, and then ventured to assure him that there was no sympathy, and could be none^ between England and revolutionists and jacobins anywhere. The system of English government was founded on respect for property; jacobinism, or revolution - in the sense which his imperial majesty applied to the term - on the confiscation of property. All for which England pleaded was the right of nations to set up whatever form of government they thought best, and to manage their own affairs, so long as they allowed other nations to manage theirs. Neither he nor the government which he represented were blind to the many defects which disfigured the Spanish constitution; but they were satisfied that the best remedy for these would be provided by time, and to that greatest of all practical reformers he advised that Spain and her constitution should be left. The emperor could not gainsay the justice of these remarks, neither was he willing to be persuaded by them; so, after expressing himself well pleased with the settlement which had been effected of the Turkish question, he embraced the duke, and they parted.

The duke arrived at Paris on the 9th of December, having spent more than two months at diplomacy with very unsatisfactory results. He found the king and his minister, de Villele, much cooled in their feelings towards the Spanish government, in consequence of the tone of moderation it had assumed after its defeat of the royalist insurgents. The king was now disposed to recall his army of observation, if he could do so with honour, and all he pressed for now was that Spain should so modify her system as to make the constitution emanate from the king, by resting it upon a royal charter, and not upon the will of the people. If this were done, and done in time for him to explain the case to the parliament, when they met on the 28th of January, everything else, every matter of arrangement and detail, would be left to the undisturbed management of the Spanish cabinet and cortes. This was truly very accommodating. If Spain would only recant her constitutionalism, and adopt the absolutist creed of divine right, the allies would not send their armies into the country for the protection of the king against his people. The duke having reported the altered state of feeling in the French government, and all that had passed, to Mr. Canning, the foreign secretary instructed him to deliver an official note to M. de Villele, containing a direct offer from England to mediate. This offer was declined. On the 20th of December the duke quitted Paris, and arrived in London early in January. Subsequently the diplomatic war was carried on between M. Chateaubriand and Mr. Canning, both men of genius, and masters of a brilliant style of rhetoric, to which the duke of Wellington had no pretensions. Mr. Canning, alluding to the proposed armed intervention in Spain, with a view to stamp out the revolution, said, " The spirit of revolution - which, shut up within the Pyrenees, might exhaust itself with struggles, trying indeed to Spain, but harmless to her neighbours, when restricted - if called forth from within these precincts by the provocation of foreign attack, might find, perhaps, in other countries fresh aliment for its fury, and might renew throughout Europe the misery of the five-and-twenty years which preceded the peace of 1815."

On the 29th of January the king of France opened the chambers with a warlike speech. It spoke of 100,000 French soldiers prepared to march under a prince of the blood for the deliverance of Ferdinand VII. and his loyal people from the tyranny of a portion. A few weeks after the march commenced, and from the Bidassoa to Madrid it was a continued triumph. The king was set at liberty, and the gates of Cadiz were opened. The Spaniards were not true to themselves, the mass of the people being unable to appreciate liberal institutions. There was also a counter-revolution in Portugal, aided by foreign bayonets, restoring the despotic system. These events produced great dissatisfaction in England, and the duke was strongly censured for the timidity of his tone in the congress. Replying to attacks made in the upper house by lords Ellenborough, Holland, and Grey, he asked whether it would be becoming in one who appeared in the character of a mediator to employ threats, especially if he had no power to carry them into effect: - " Were they for a policy of peace or a policy-of war? If for the former, could he go further than to declare that to any violent attack on the independence of Spain the king his master would be no party? If for the latter, all he had to say was that he entirely differed from them, and he believed that his views would be supported by all the intelligent portion of the community."

The conduct of the government in reference to the congress was the subject of an animated debate in the house of commons, which began on April 28th, and lasted three days. It was on a motion for a vote of censure for the feebleness of tone assumed by the government in the negotiations with the allies, an amendment having been proposed expressive of gratitude and approbation. In Mr. Canning's speech on the third day there was one remarkable passage, which clearly defined his foreign policy, and showed that it had a distinct purpose, and aimed at an object of the highest importance. He said: - "I contend, sir, that whatever might grow out of a separate conflict between Spain and France (though matter for grave consideration), was less to be dreaded than that all the great powers of the Continent should have been arrayed together against Spain; and that although the first object, in point of importance, indeed, was to keep the peace altogether, to prevent any war against Spain, the first in point of time was to prevent a general war; to change the question from one affecting the allies on the one side and Spain on the other, to a question between nation and nation. This, whatever the result might be, would reduce the quarrel to the size of ordinary events, and bring it within the scope of ordinary diplomacy. The immediate object of England, therefore, was to hinder the impress of a joint character from being affixed to the war, if war there must be, with Spain; to take care that the war should not grow out of an assumed jurisdiction of the congress; to keep within reasonable bounds that predominating areopagitical spirit which the memorandum of the British cabinet of May, 1820, describes as beyond the sphere of the original conception and understood principles of the alliance - an alliance never intended as a union for the government of the world, or for the superintendence of the internal affairs of other states; and this, I say, was accomplished."

The sense of the house was so completely with the government, that Mr. Brougham, who led the opposition, declined to go to a division. A division having been called for, however, on the part of ministers, the whole assembly poured into the lobby, till it could hold no more; and then the remaining members who were shut in were compelled to pass for an opposition, though there were ministerialists among them. They amounted to twenty, in a house of 372.

The aggressive policy of the Holy Alliance, and the French invasion of Spain, despite England's remonstrances, provoked Mr. Canning to hasten the recognition of the revolted colonies in South America. It was in defending this policy that he uttered the memorable sentence so often quoted as a specimen of the sublime: - " Contemplating Spain such as our ancestors had known her, I resolved that if France had Spain, it should not be Spain with the Indies. I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the old."

In a speech which he delivered at Plymouth occurs the famous passage in which he speaks of the pacific attitude of England: - " Our ultimate object was," he said, "the peace of the world; but let it not be said that we cultivate peace either because we fear, or because we are unprepared for war; on the contrary, if eight months ago the government did not hesitate to proclaim that the country was prepared for war, if war should unfortunately be necessary, every month that has since passed has but made us so much the more capable of exertion. The resources created by peace are means of war: in cherishing those resources, we but accumulate those means. Our present repose is no more a proof of inability to act than a state of inertness and inactivity in which I have seen those mighty masses that float in the waters above your town, is a proof that they are devoid of strength, and incapable of being fitted for action. You well know, gentlemen, how soon one of those stupendous masses now reposing on their shadows in perfect stillness - how soon, upon any call of patriotism or of necessity, it would assume the likeness of an animated thing instinct with life and motion; how soon it would ruffle, as it were, its swelling plumage; how quickly it would put forth all its beauty and its bravery, collect its scattered elements of strength, and awaken its dormant thunder. Such as is one of these magnificent machines when springing from inaction into a display of its might, such is England herself, while, apparently passive and motionless, she silently concentrates the power to be put forth on an adequate occasion."

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Pictures for Chapter VIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 7 page 3

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