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and purblind understanding, that would manage the concerns of nations in the same calculating spirit with which it would set about building a house. Now a State ought to be governed (at least in these times), the labours of the statesman ought to advance, upon calculations and from impulses similar to those which give motion to the hand of a great artist when he is preparing a picture, or of a mighty poet when he is determining the proportions and march of a poem ;—much is to be done by rule; the great outline is previously to be conceived in distinctness, but the consummation of the work must be trusted to resources that are not tangible, though known to exist. Much as I admire the political sagacity displayed in your work, I respect you still more for the lofty spirit that supports it; for the animation and courage with which it is replete ; for the contempt, in a just cause, of death and danger by which it is ennobled; for its heroic confidence in the valour of your countrymen ; and the absolute determination which it everywhere expresses to maintain in all points the honour of the soldier's profession, and that of the noble Nation of which you are a member of the land in which you were born. No insults, no indignities, no vile stooping, will your politics admit of; and therefore, more than for any other cause, do I congratulate my country on the appearance of a book which, resting in this point our national safety upon the purity of our national character, will, I trust, lead naturally to make us, at the same time, a more powerful and a high-minded nation.
In Dr. Grosart's edition of The Prose Works of Wordsworth, he appends to the foregoing letter to Captain Pasley what he designates a "Letter enclosing the Preceeding to a Friend un-named." It is impossible to find out to whom this letter was addressed, and the
original seems to have disappeared. It is reprinted here from Dr. Grosart's version of it.
MY DEAR SIR,
I have taken the Liberty of addressing the enclosed to you, with a wish that you would be so kind as to send it by the twopenny Post. The Letter, though to a personal Acquaintance and to some degree a friend, is upon a kind of Public occasion, and consists of Comments upon Captain Pasley's lately published Essay on the Military Policy of Great Britain; a work which if you have not seen I earnestly recommend to your careful Perusal. I have sent my Letter unsealed in
order that if you think it worth while you may read it, which would oblige me. You may begin with those words in the 1st Page, “Now for your Book”: which you will see are legible, being transcribed by a Friend. The rest, in my own hand, is only an Apology for not writing sooner; save that there are two Sonnets which if you like you may glance your eye over. Do not forget to put a wafer on the Letter after you have done with it.
Will you excuse me if I find myself unable to forbear saying, upon this occasion, a few words concerning the conduct pursued with respect to foreign affairs by the Party with whom you act? I learn from a private quarter of unquestionable Authority, that it was Lord Grenville's intention, had he come into power as he lately expected, to have recalled the army from Portugal. In the name of my Country, of our virtuous and suffering Allies, and of Human Nature itself, I give thanks to Providence who has restored the King's health so far as to prevent this intention being put into practice hitherto. The transgressions of the present ministry are grievous; but excepting only a deliberate and direct attack upon the civil liberty of our own Country, there cannot be any thing in a Minister worse than a desponding spirit and the lack of confidence in a good cause. If Lord G. and
Mr. Ponsonby think that the privilege allowed to opposition-manoeuvring justifies them in speaking as they do, they are sadly mistaken and do not discern what is becoming the times; but if they sincerely believe in the omnipotence of Buonaparte upon the Continent, they are the dupes of their own fears and the slaves of their own ignorance. Do not deem me presumptuous when I say that it is pitiable to hear Lord Grenville talking as he did in the late debate of the inability of Great Britain to take a commanding station as a military Power, and maintaining that our efforts must be essentially, he means exclusively, naval. We have destroyed our enemies upon the Sea, and are equally capable of destroying them upon land. Rich in soldiers and revenues as we are, we are capable, availing ourselves of the present disposition of the Continent, to erect there under our countenance, and by a wise application of our resources, a military Power, which the tyrannical and immoral Government of Buonaparte could not prevail against, and if he could not overthrow it, he must himself perish. Lord G. grudges two millions in aid of Portugal, which has eighty thousand men in arms, and what they can perform has been proved. Yet Lord G. does not object to our granting aid to a great Military Power on the Continent if such could be found, nay he begs of us to wait till that fortunate period arrives. Whence does Lord G., from what quarter does he expect it? from Austria, from the Prussian monarchy, brought to life again, from Russia, or lastly from the Confederacy of the Rhine turning against their Creator and Fashioner? Is the expectation of the Jews for their Messiah or of the Portuguese for St. Sebastian more extravagant? But Lord G. ought to know that such a military POWER does already exist upon the Peninsula, formless indeed compared with what under our plastic hands it may become, yet which has proved itself capable of its giving employment during the course of three years to at least five hundred thousand of the
enemy's best troops. An important fact has been proved, that the enemy cannot drive us from the Peninsula. We have the point to stand upon which Archimedes wished for, and we may move the Continent if we persevere. Let us prepare to exercise in Spain a military influence like that which we already possess in Portugal, and our affairs must improve daily and rapidly. Whatever money we advance for Portugal and Spain, we can direct the management of it, an inestimable advantage which, with relation to Prussia, Russia or Austria, we never possessed. Besides, how could we govern the purposes of those States, when that inherent imbecility and cowardice leave them no purpose or aim to which they can steadily adhere of themselves for six weeks together? Military Powers! So these States have been called. A strange Misnomer! they are Weaknesses—a true though ill-sounding Title !—and not Powers! Polybius tells us that Hannibal entered into Italy with twenty thousand men, and that the aggregate forces of Italy at that time amounted to seven hundred and sixty thousand foot and horse, with the Roman discipline and power to head that mighty force. Gustavus Adolphus invaded Germany with thirteen thousand men; the Emperor at that time having between two and three hundred thousand warlike and experienced Troops commanded by able Generals, to oppose to him. Let these facts and numerous others which history supplies of the same kind, be thought of; and let us hear no more of the impossibility of Great Britain girt round and defended by the Sea and an invincible Navy, becoming a military Power; Great Britain whose troops surpass in valour those of all the world, and who has an army and a militia of upwards of three hundred thousand men ! Do reflect, my dear Sir, upon the materials which are now in preparation upon the Continent. Hannibal expected to be joined by a parcel of the contented barbarian Gauls in the north of Italy. Gustavus stood forth as the Champion of the
Protestant interest: how feeble and limited each of these auxiliary sentiments and powers, compared with what the state of knowledge, the oppressions of their domestic governments, and the insults and injuries and hostile cruelties inflicted by the French upon the continental nations, must have exerted to second our arms whenever we shall appear in that Force which we can assume, and with that boldness which would become us, and which justice and human nature and Patriotism call upon us to put forth. Farewell, most truly yours,
Shall we see you this Summer? I hope so.
END OF VOL. I
Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh.