Imágenes de páginas

signified; and having consulted upon and studied their meaning, they declared that the statue of bronze, with the motion which it made with its battle-axe, signified Time; and that its office, alluded to in the inscription on its breast, was, that he never rests a single moment. The words on the shoulders, I call upon the Arabs,' they expounded, that, in time, Spain would be conquered by the Arabs. The words upon the left wall signified the destruction of King Rodrigo; those on the right, the dreadful calamities which were to fall upon the Spaniards and Goths, and that the unfortunate King would be dispossessed of all his states. Finally, the letters on the portal indicated, that good would betide to the conquerors, and evil to the conquered, of which experience proved the truth."-Historia Verdadeyra del Rey Don Rodrigo. Quinta impression. Madrid, 1654, iv. p. 23.


High blazed the war, and long, and far, and wide.-P. 379.

Those who were disposed to believe that mere virtue and energy are able of themselves to work forth the salvation of an oppressed people, surprised in a moment of confidence, deprived of their officers, armies, and fortresses, who had every means of resistance to seek in the very moment when they were to be made use of, and whom the numerous treasons among the higher orders deprived of confidence in their natural leaders,-those who entertained this enthusiastic but delusive opinion may be pardoned for expressing their disappointment at the protracted warfare in the Peninsula. There are, however, another class of persons, who, having themselves the highest dread or veneration, or something allied to both, for the power of the modern Attila, will nevertheless give the heroical Spaniards little or no credit for the long, stubborn, and unsubdued resistance of three years to a power before whom their former well-prepared, well-armed, and numerous adversaries fell in the course of as many months. While these gentlemen plead for deference to Bonaparte, and crave

"Respect for his great place—and bid the devil

Be duly honoured for his burning throne,"

it may not be altogether unreasonable to claim some modification of censure upon those who have been long and to a great extent successfully resisting this great enemy of mankind. That the energy of Spain has not uniformly been directed by conduct equal to its vigour, has been too obvious; that her armies, under their complicated disadvantages, have shared the fate of such as were defeated after taking the field with every possible advantage of arms and discipline, is surely not to be wondered at. But that a nation, under the circumstances of repeated discomfiture, internal treason, and the mismanagement incident to a temporary and hastily adopted government, should have wasted, by its stubborn, uniform, and prolonged resistance, myriads after myriads of those soldiers who had overrun the world-that some of its provinces should, like Galicia, after being abandoned by their allies, and overrun by their enemies, have recovered their freedom by their own unassisted exertions; that others, like Catalonia, undismayed by the treason which betrayed some fortresses, and the force which subdued others, should not only have continued their resistance, but have attained over their victorious enemy a superiority, which is even now enabling them to besiege and retake the places of strength which had been wrested from them, is a tale hitherto untold in the revolutionary war. To say that such a people cannot be subdued, would be presumption similar to that of those who protested that Spain could not defend herself for a year, or Portugal for a month; but that a resistance which has been continued for so long a space, when the usurper, except during the short-lived Austrian campaign, had no other enemies on the continent, should be now less successful, when repeated defeats have broken the reputation of the French armies, and when they are likely (it would seem almost in desperation) to seek occupation elsewhere, is a prophecy as improbable as ungracious. And while we are in the humour of severely censuring our allies, gallant and devoted as they have shown themselves in the cause of national liberty, because they may not instantly adopt those measures which we in our wisdom may deem essential to success, it might be well if we endeavoured first to resolve the previous questions,-1st, Whether we do not at this moment know much less of the Spanish armies than those of Portugal, which were so promptly condemned as totally inadequate to assist in the preservation of their country? 2d, whether, independently of any right we have to offer more than advice and assistance to our independent allies, we can expect that they should renounce entirely the national pride, which is inseparable from patriotism, and at once condescend not only to be saved by our assistance, but to be saved in our own way?

3d, Whether, if it be an object, (as undoubtedly it is a main one,) that the Spanish troops should be trained under British discipline, to the flexibility of movement, and power of rapid concert and combination, which is essential to modern war; such a consummation is likely to be produced by abusing them in newspapers and periodical publications? Lastly, Since the undoubted authority of British officers makes us now acquainted with part of the horrors that attend invasion, and which the providence of God, the valour of our navy, and perhaps the very efforts of these Spaniards, have hitherto diverted from us, it may be modestly questioned whether we ought to be too forward to estimate and condemn the feeling of temporary stupefaction which they create; lest, in so doing, we should resemble the worthy clergyman, who, while he had himself never snuffed a candle with his fingers, was disposed severely to criticise the conduct of a martyr, who winced a little among his flames.


They won not Zaragoza, but her children's bloody tomb.-P. 380.

The interesting account of Mr. Vaughan has made most readers acquainted with the first siege of Zaragoza. The last and fatal siege of that gallant and devoted city is detailed with great eloquence and precision in the "Edinburgh Annual Register" for 1809,-a work in which the affairs of Spain have been treated of with attention corresponding to their deep interest, and to the peculiar sources of information open to the historian. The following are a few brief extracts from this splendid historical narrative :

"A breach was soon made in the mud walls, and then, as in the former siege, the war was carried on in the streets and houses; but the French had been taught by experience, that in this species of warfare the Zaragozans derived a superiority from the feeling and principle which inspired them, and the cause for which they fought. The only means of conquering Zaragoza was to destroy it house by house, and street by street; and upon this system of destruction they proceeded. Three companies of miners, and eight companies of sappers, carried on this subterraneous war; the Spaniards, it is said, attempted to oppose them by countermines; these were operations to which they were wholly unused, and, according to the French statement, their miners were every day discovered and suffocated. Meantime, the bombardment was incessantly kept up. Within the last 48 hours,' said Palafox, in a letter to his friend General Doyle, 6000 shells have been thrown in. Two thirds of the town are in ruins, but we shall perish under the ruins of the remaining third, rather than surrender.' In the course of the siege, above 17,000 bombs were thrown at the town; the stock of powder with which Zaragoza had been stored was exhausted; they had none at last but what they manufactured day by day; and no other cannon-balls than those which were shot into the town, and which they collected and fired back upon the enemy."

In the midst of these horrors and privations, the pestilence broke out in Zaragoza. To various causes, enumerated by the annalist, he adds, "scantiness of food, crowded quarters, unusual exertion of body, anxiety of mind, and the impossibility of recruiting their exhausted strength by needful rest, in a city which was almost incessantly bombarded, and where every hour their sleep was broken by the tremendous explosion of mines. There was now no respite, either by day or night, for this devoted city; even the natural order of light and darkness was destroyed in Zaragoza; by day it was involved in a red sulphureous atmo. sphere of smoke, which hid the face of heaven; by night, the fire of cannons and mortars, and the flames of burning houses, kept it in a state of terrific illumination.

"When once the pestilence had begun, it was impossible to check its progress, or confine it to one quarter of the city. Hospitals were immediately established, there were above thirty of them; as soon as one was destroyed by the bombardment, the patients were removed to another, and thus the infection was carried to every part of Zaragoza. Famine aggravated the evil; the city had probably not been sufficiently provided at the commencement of the siege, and of the provisions which it contained, much was destroyed in the daily ruin which the mines and bombs effected. Had the Zaragozans and their garrison proceeded according to military rules, they would have surrendered before the end of January; their batteries had then been demolished, there were open breaches in many parts of their weak walls, and the enemy were already within the city. On the 30th, above sixty houses were blown up, and the French obtained possession of the monasteries of the Augustines and Las Monicas, which adjoined each other, two of the last defensible places left. The enemy forced their way into the church; every column, every chapel, every altar, became a point of defence, which was repeatedly attacked, taken, and retaken; the

[See Narrative of the Siege of Zaragoza, by Richard Charles Vaughan, Esq., 4809. The Right Honourable R. C. Vaughan is now British Minister at Washington. 1833.]

pavement was covered with blood, the aisles and body of the church strewed with the dead, who were trampled under foot by the combatants. In the midst of this conflict, the roof, shattered by repeated bombs, fell in; the few who were not crushed, after a short pause, which this tremendous shock, and their own unexpected escape, occasioned, renewed the fight with rekindling fury: fresh parties of the enemy poured in; monks, and citizens, and soldiers came to the defence, and the contest was continued upon the ruins, and the bodies of the dead and the dying."

Yet, seventeen days after sustaining these extremities, did the heroic inhabitants of Zaragoza continue their defence; nor did they then surrender until their despair had extracted from the French generals a capitulation, more honourable than has been granted to fortresses of the first order.

Who shall venture to refuse the Zaragozans the eulogium conferred upon them by the eloquence of Wordsworth!" Most gloriously have the citizens of Zaragoza proved that the true army of Spain, in a contest of this nature, is the whole people. The same city has also exemplified a melancholy, yea, a dismal truth, yet consolatory and full of joy,-that when a people are called suddenly to fight for their liberty, and are sorely pressed upon, their best field of battle is the floors upon which their children have played; the chambers where the family of each man has slept, (his own or his neighbours' ;), upon or under the roofs by which they have been sheltered; in the gardens of their recreation; in the street, or in the market-place; before the altars of their temples, and among their congregated dwellings, blazing or uprooted.

"The government of Spain must never forget Zaragoza for a moment. Nothing is wanting to produce the same effects everywhere, but a leading mind, such as that city was blessed with. In the latter contest this has been proved; for Zaragoza contained, at that time, bodies of men from almost all parts of Spain. The narrative of those two sieges should be the manual of every Spaniard. He may add to it the ancient stories of Numantia and Saguntum; let him sleep upon the book as a pillow, and, if he be a devout adherent to the religion of his country, let him wear it in his bosom for his crucifix to rest upon."WORDSWORTH on the Convention of Cintra.


But you, ye heroes of that well-fought day, etc.-P. 389.

[The Edinburgh Reviewer offered the following remarks on what he considered as an unjust omission in this part of the poem :


"We are not very apt," he says, "to quarrel with a poet for his politics; and really supposed it next to impossible that Mr. Scott should have given us any ground of dissatisfaction on this score, in the management of his present theme. Lord Wellington and his fellowsoldiers well deserved the laurels they have won ;-nor is there one British heart, we believe, that will not feel proud and grateful for all the honours with which British genius can invest their names. In the praises which Mr. Scott has bestowed, therefore, all his readers will sympathize; but for those which he has withheld, there are some that will not so readily forgive him and in our eyes, we will confess, it is a sin not easily to be expiated, that in a poem written substantially for the purpose of commemorating the brave who have fought or fallen in Spain or Portugal-and written by a Scotchman-there should be no mention of the name of MOORE!-of the only commander-in-chief who has fallen in this memorable contest;-of a commander who was acknowledged as the model and pattern of a British soldier, when British soldiers stood most in need of such an example;-and was, at the same time, distinguished not less for every manly virtue and generous affection, than for skill and gallantry in his profession. A more pure, or a more exalted character, certainly has not appeared upon that scene which Mr. Scott has sought to illustrate with the splendour of his genius; and it is with a mixture of shame and indignation, that we find him grudging a single ray of that profuse and readily yielded glory to gild the grave of his lamented countryman. To offer a lavish tribute of praise to the living, whose task is still incomplete, may be generous and munificent;-but to departed merit, it is due in strictness of justice. Who will deny that Sir John Moore was all that we have now said of him? or who will doubt that his untimely death in the hour of victory, would have been eagerly seized upon by an impartial poet, as a noble theme for generous lamentation and eloquent praise? But Mr. Scott's political friends have fancied it for their interest to calumniate the memory of this illustrious and accomplished person,-and Mr. Scott has permitted the spirit of party to stand in the way, not only of poetical justice, but of patriotic and generous feeling.

"It is this for which we grieve, and feel ashamed;-this hardening and deadening effect of political animosities, in cases where politics should have nothing to do;-this apparent perversion, not merely of the judgment but of the heart;-this implacable resentment,

whose account these

which wars not only with the living but with the dead;-and thinks it a reason for defrauding a departed warrior of his glory, that a political antagonist has been zealous in his praise. These things are lamentable, and they cannot be alluded to without some emotions of sorrow and resentment. But they affect not the fame of him emotions are suggested. The wars of Spain, and the merits of Sir. a Moore, will be commemorated in a more impartial and a more imperishable record, han the Vision of Don Roderick; and his humble monument in the Citadel of Corunna, will draw the tears and the admiration of thousands, who concern not themselves about the exploits of his more fortunate associates."-Edinburgh Review, vol. xviii. 1811.

The reader who desires to understand Sir Walter Scott's deliberate opinion on the subject of Sir John Moore's military character and conduct, is referred to the Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, (first edit.) vol. vi. chap. ix. p. 280-1. But perhaps it may be neither unamusing nor uninstructive to consider, along with the diatribe just quoted from the Edinburgh Review, some reflections from the pen of Sir Walter Scott himself on the injustice done to a name greater than Moore's in the noble stanzas on the Battle of Waterloo, in the third canto of Childe Harold-an injustice which did not call forth any rebuke from the Edinburgh critics. Sir Walter in reviewing this canto said,

"Childe Harold arrives on Waterloo--a scene where all men, where a poet especially, and a poet such as Lord Byron, must needs pause, and amid the quiet simplicity of whose scenery is excited a moral interest, deeper and more potent even than that which is produced by gazing upon the sublimest efforts of Nature in her most romantic recesses.

"That Lord Byron's sentiments do not correspond with ours, is obvious, and we are sorry for both our sakes. For our own,-because we have lost that note of triumph with which his harp would otherwise have rung over a field of glory such as Britain never reaped before; and on Lord Byron's account,-because it is melancholy to see a man of genius duped by the mere cant of words and phrases, even when facts are most broadly confronted with them. If the poet has mixed with the original, wild, and magnificent creations of his imagination, prejudices which he could only have caught by the contagion which he most professes to despise, it is he himself that must be the loser. If his lofty muse has soared in all her brilliancy over the field of Waterloo without dropping even one leaf of laurel on the head of Wellington, his merit can dispense even with the praise of Lord Byron. And as when the images of Brutus were excluded from the triumphal procession, his memory became only the more powerfully imprinted on the souls of the Romans-the name of the British hero will be but more eagerly recalled to remembrance by the very lines in which his praise is forgotten."-Quarterly Review, vol. xvi. 4816.]



s sh

Tury fer

« AnteriorContinuar »