« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. Adair, any further than as his agency at St. Petersburgh was implicated; bur they were confined to the want of delicacy on the part of the employer. Of Mr. Adair's abilities, not one word was said ; Ot' his diplomatic dexterity, 110 one doubted who recollected his exploits in Russia. The exceptions taken, therefore, were not against the personal character, but the political,--the party character of that gentle
Divested of his former reputation, as a clandestine agent in an illicit and onpatriotic transaction, he might make a good foreign minister; but considered as á partizan, and the accredited agent of the state under the official patronage of his former employer, he certainly was a proper object of jealousy and animadversion. It does not, however, follow, because there was ground for this jealousy then, that it should continue to exist now. The connection that was dreaded between himself and his patron, has ceased with the life of the fatier ; and furtherniore, a new niinistry, actuated by national principles, less tinctured with the doctrines of modern universal philanthropy, and unquestionably hostile to the ambition and aggrandize. ment of France, are entrusted with the management of affairs, and will take care that no former bias of the mind shall induce any agent of our government abroad, to act otherwise than as may be consonant with the honour, the dignity, and the interests of the empire. "Time, which assuages the force of party attachments, and corrects the jaundiced intellectual vision of public characters, may also contribute to effect a great change in the mode of thinking of the person to whom we allude; and should he be retained, for any length of time, in the dignified situation which he now fills; it is extremely probable, that his thoughts will be inseparably bent upon his country's welfare, and that the Whig Club, the good old cause, the choice spirits, the Foxites, will be obliterated from his mind, and become as much the objects of his contempt, as they now are of every patriotic and ingenuous subject.
Of Mr. Erskine, the Morning Chronicle has not launched out in its usual tone of eulogy, but has contented itself with republishing; in its columns, the favourable character given of that minister in the American papers. It is true, that gentleman's appointment was objected to, 'because he had married an American, and he was supposed to be not at all conversant with the daties of an ambassador. With respect of his marriage, I do not think that an objection of this sort would he tenable of delicate, in any case, where a personal interest in the welfare of the wife's country cavnot be established. : For which reason, the objection to Mr. Adair, upon the same principle, would have been irrelevant and ugentlemanly, if his well-known connection with Mr. Fox, and that minister's steadfast predeliction for French politics, had not rendered almost every act of his public life an object of suspicion. Apart from this consideration, the objection would be unworthy of a liberal mind. It is not: French wives, but FRENCH MISTRESSÉS whose obtrusive influence England may justlý tremble at; and it matters not whether these infamous and abandoned prostitutes be screened beneath a princely, or any other, coat of arms; still we Britons must pay the wages of their prostitution, and hire them to'make us the victims of their treachery. If these be impeached as the dreams of a gloomy' imagination, let the sceptic read the memoirs of the house of Stuart, by Dalrymple and Macpherson; or go to the opera, or to -,'a
and -; and, &c. Upon these grounds, it does not appear that the mere circúmstance of Mr. Erskine having married an American lady, ought to be urged as a' reason for 'excluding him from the exercise of diplomatic functions in the United States. But if to this fact be superadded the circumstance, as reported, that his family have invested a large fortune in the land and funds of America, a sufficient cause arises out of it, to question the propriety and decency of his appointment, because he must have a personal interest in the prosperity of that country, which, from junumerable causes, and some of which have recently occurred, may run counter to the iinmediate interests of his country. A man cannot serve God and Mammon; neither are we to expect in our times, the display of that patriotisın, which now sounds romantic,' by which the national attachments of an individual preponderate over his regards to property. It is å trite adage, that personal feelings, duties, and patriotism, follow property; and therefore, some degree of caution onght to be observed in giving preferment to one, whose interests lay more, or as much, in a foreign as'in bis native country. These observations are here introduced merely in answer to the challenge contained in the
Chronicle, and by no means with any personal reference to Mr. Erskine, I do not, think that he ought to be excepted against, because he was the son of a lord chancellor of England; on the contrary, the circumstance is a recommendation; for the same reason that the appointment of Mr. Rose may be approved of, because he is the son of a gentleman of great political experience, of extensive commercial knowledge, and possessing a thorough insight into the best interests of his couptry. The proba, bility therefore is, that the son, from his opportunities, must be duly instructed in those principles which he is sent to establish.
These are the reflections which have suggested themselves to my mind, upon the perusal of the article upon which I have animadverted, and which, from its spirit and tendency, seems to have been written rather with a view to lampoon the party whose cause it professes to support, that to expose the errors of their adversaries. In the present age, the minister who should select for a foreign ambassador, a man endowed with no other qualification than the mere retentive memory of all the musty treaties which human ambition, working upon human imbecility, has rendered obsoJete, would deservedly merit the reproaches of his country. And the ambassador who should take upon himself to guide his conduct by the treaties of Westphalia, Ryswick, or Paris, would merit a dwelling in Bedlam. For the same reason, the appointment of any man to a diplomatic function, who should be more distinguished by his singularities than liis prudence, would draw down ridicule both upon the minister and his country. Common sense is the only basis of any negociation which
may now take place between this nation and other states; and that common sense points out, with intuitive demonstration, that no peace, no security, no independence, no respect, no power, can be maintained by this country, without reserving an absoJute maritime superiority in its own hands, to balance the inordinate growth of French power by land, and to hold a due equipoise of controul oyer neutral states, proportionate to the influence exerted by France." To these objects, the whole of our diplomacy should tend, and the men whose talents are best fitted to promote them, are the persons who ought to be preferred and employed.
GENERAL WHITELOCKE, This most unfortunate commander is in London; and, for several days after his ar, říval, it was stated, in most of the newspapers, that he had been put under an arrest, upon seventeen charges, which sir Samuel Achmuty had preferred against him. The intelligence excited universal satisfaction, as it was expected that ihe public would be made acquainted with the real causes of that disaster, which has reflected so much disgrace upon the British arms. At the same time that every one rejoiced in the measure upon this consideration, it was not forgotten that the general would thereby be afforded an opportunity of exonerating himself from the heavy reproaches cast upon his military character, in consequence of his defeat at Buenos Ayres. Many persons also were curious to ascertain the collateral circumstances which, no doubt, the general is prepared to adduce in his exculpation; and which he did not think it neces, sary to include in his official dispatch, that produced the calamity over which the genius of our country mourns. For it appears to be utterly impossible that so fine an army could have been beaten by such a description of force as that opposed to it, without the intervention of some accidents, against which human wisdom, and the most consummate generalship could not provide. The public were, however, disappointed in these expectations, for general Whitelocke has not been arrested, nor has sir Samuel Achmuty brought any charge against him.' It must not, nevertheless, be supposed that no investigation is intended to take place, or, to use a legal phrase, that the general himself will blink the question. His honour and reputation are so deeply implicated, that I am pursuaded he will voluntarily demand an inquiry into his conduct; for a man must have a heart as callous as a piece of adamant, if he can contentedly walk the streets while subjected to such contumelious and reproachful language, as that continually vented against general Whitelocke. :- Whether there be any defect in our articles of war; or whether such a case as that which befel our army at Buenos Ayres were never contemplated by our legislators, and, consequently, that no direct mode of proceeding can be instituted, I am not able to inform my readers. But of this I am certain, that as no difficulties stood in the way of the prosecution, and subsequent condemnation of a gallant admiral, for not baving given battle a second time to an enemy's squadron, one third superior in force to his own, and which he had beaten in the first engagement, with the capture of two of their ships, there can be no hesitation in averring, that ways and means may be devised to bring to the test of judicial examination, the whole of the proceedings which occasioned the surrender of our army at Buenos Ayres; more especially as the official dispatch of general Whitelocke contains not less than eight distinct charges of crimibation against himself.
But it may be said, that when there is no accuser, there can be no trial; that no one belonging to the army under the command of general Whitelocke has yet stood forward to arraign his conduct ; that a general ought not to be barassed with a vexatious prosecution for having been unforturiate, and that the government should not take cognizane of an event which was most probably the result of an error of judgment. These apologetic arguments, wretched and feeble as they are, might be advanced in a country where court influence is exerted to screen a favourite, but they are not calculated for the meridian of England, nor are they agreeable to the uniform practice of our government. If no inferiour officer can be found to instigate an inquiry, the undissenibled and unaninious opinion of the public is sufficient to ground an accusation. General Whitelocke may be innocent, perhaps he may make out a good case, «bat, for God's sake, if he can say any thing for himself, let it come fortli. For one, I feel no hesitation in accusing him, upon no other authority than his own details, of having committed blunders that would have disgraced a drill serjeant, and which, unless satisfactorily accounted for by circumstances at present unknown to the public, prove his utter ignorance of tactics, and his unfitness to be entrusted with the command of an army. In him, we have an instance of that want of culture of the military profession, as a science, which I have so often lamented in the course of this work. No man could better inspect a new-raised levy, or detect an irregularity in the inanual exercise of a regiment; no man is better versed in the “mechanical rules and regulations for the formations, tield-exercise, and movements, of his majesty's forces;" or in the science of adjusting a hat, a button, and such other important matters, wherein the merit of an officer entirely consists, according to the opinion of some persons concerning militarytalents. All these qualifications, however, are within the capacity of a tailor, or a dancing master; but they have no niore to do with the science of war, and the genius of a general, than the mechanical business of a printer has with the conceptions of the most luminous mind, whose ideas he arranges in types, rank and file, for the public. " In the military art," says that excellent tactician, general Lloyd, “as in poetry and eloquence, there are many who can trace the rules by which a poem, or an oration should be composed, and even compose, according to the exactest rules; but for want of that enthusiastic and divine fire, their productions are languid and insipid: so in our profession, many are to be found who know every precept of it by art; but, alas! when calle:ł upon to apply them, are immediately at a stand. They then recal their rules, and want to make every thing,--the rivers, woods, ravins, mountains, &c. &c. subservient to then ; whereas their precepts should, on the contrary, be subject to these, which are the only rules, the only guide they ought to follow; whatever manauvre į, not formed on theje, is absurd and ridiculous. These form the great book of war, and he who cannot read it, must ever be content with the title of a brave soldier, and Lever aspire to that of a great general.”
This title of a brave soldier, no one feels disposed to deny. to general Whitelocke, although, from extreme modesty, he has not favoured us, in his official dispatch, with any account where he was during the battle; and has left us to infer, that, like Caesar, at the battle of Alesia, idoneum locum nactus, quid quâque in parte geratur cognoscit, laborantibus submittit. It is observable, however, that the great Roman general is always very particular in mentioning not only where he stood, but where be moved. Thus, in this very action at Alesia, he tells us, that after having sent Labienus with sir cohorts to the assistance of the part of his army, which was en. gaged, he himself went in person to the rest of the troops, exhorting them to bear up courageously under their present fatigue, and representing that the fruit of all their former victories depended upon the issue of that critical day and hour,--Ipse adit reliquors: cohortatur, ne labori succumbant: omnium superiorum dimicationum fructum in eo die utque horđ docet consistere. Also we find, that when his troops were driven back, and fired at by a discharge of darts from the towers, he first sent young colonel Brutus, with sir coborts; and after hiin, lieutenant-general C. Fabius, with seven more; then, as the dispute grew warm, he marched himself in person at the head of the whole detachment; postremo ipse, quum vehementius pugnaretur, integros subsideo adducit. Having, by this means, restored the battle, and forced the enemy to retire, he hastened to the side where brigadier-general Labienus was engaged; for though this gallant officer was hard pressed, the rampart and ditch, behind which he had stationed himself, being insufficient to stop the enemy, and though he had no communication with any of the other columns, he did not judge, that those next him were unsuccessful, and therefore, he did not surrender precisely at four o'clock in the afternoon. Cæsar quickened his march, that he might be present at the action
Accelerat Cesar, ut proslio intersit. From this account, it appears that Cæsar, notwithstanding the simplicity and modesty of his details, never disdained to mention what share he had in his engagements ; on tl:a contrary, he was every where when danger menaced, and exposed his person at the head of the whole detachment,” ori forio n hope. The battle was a very severe one, as is evident, from the circumstance of Cæsar's having in person led on the whole of his force, without excepting the detachment of the honourable colonel Sempronius Rutilus, which, under a less skilful general, might have received directions to wait for further orders,* although he had with him the catapultæ, balistæ, and all the rest of the artillery.
But to return.--The public do not require that their general should be disgraced, much less punished, because he has been unfortunate, or because he has betrayed the grossest ignorance and incapacity. They only ask for a fair, impartial, and honest investigation of facts, no matter how or where it may be made, not for the sake of the brave army which has been sacrificed, or of the rest of their comrades in every part of the world, all of whom know how to do their duty; but for the sake of those who may feel desirous to embark hereafter in the military profession, and for the credit of the national arnis. It is of the first importance that the former should feel a confidence in their chiefs, and that they should be assured, their valour shall not be thrown away; and it is no less important, that the civilized world should be convinced, that if the head were weak or deranged, the other members of the body were hale, vigorous, and sound. If none of the military present upon the scene, will bring the subject forward, and it will really be very ungenteel in theni so to do, after almost every man has been handsomely complimented by the general in his dispatch*) or if no steps should be taken to sift the transaction to the bottom, the character of the British army must inevitably sink in the estimation of foreigners; and what affects me stronger, it will be the subject of mockery with our enemies. Indeed, they have already begun to ridicule us; for in the Moniteur of the 31st ult. it is stated, that “if the English should send their forces to Portugal, they would there find troops to contend with; they would there have to encounter the brave Castilians of Buenos Ayres." The only method to make our army formidable, is to make it respected; not only on account of its acknowledged prowess, but on account of the ability of its chiefs. The Austrian army is as brave as any upon the face of the earth ; but for many years, with the exception of the Archduke Charles, it had been commanded by dotards, who bad no other recommendation in their favour than court patronage, and through whose stupidity, the house of Austria lost its most valuable inheritances. It became, at length, necessary to discriminate between the generals of the court, and the generals of the army; and to make examples of patropized blockheads and favourites. The prince of Auersperg was degraded, other generals were dismissed the service, and Mack was consigned to a prison for life, but. not until after the public enemy had made himself master of the capital of Austria.
* In the action at Buenos Ayres, the waiting for further orders seems to have been the parole d'ordre.
* Upon the contemptible, novel, indiscriminate, and fulsome practice of returring thanks by wholesale, to subordinate officers, see an excellent article, signed “ A British Soldier,” in the last volu of this Review, page 524.
Lines, OCCASIONED BY BUONAPARTE'S REMARKING, THAT THE UNITED EFFORTS
01 ENGLAND AND FRANCE MIGHT CONQUER THE WHOLE WORLD.
Ye sons of Britain, fam'd in honour's cause,
FROM THE LONDON GAZETTE, SATURDAY, Nov.7.
the King's Most Exeellent Majesty in Council. Whereas the king of Denmark has issued a declaration of war against his majesty, his subjects, and people; and his majesty's anxious and repeated endeavours to obtain the revocation of such declaration, and to procure the restoration of peace, have proved ineffectual, his majesty, therefore, is pleased, by and with the advice of his privy council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, that general reprisals be granted against the ships, goods, and subjects of the king of Denmark, (save and except any vessels to which his majesty's licence has been granted, or which have been directed to be released from the embargo, and have not since arrived at any foreign port,), so that, as well his majesty's fleets and ships, as also all other ships and vessels that shall be commissioned by letters of marque, or general reprisals, or otherwise, by his majesty's commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral of Great Britain, shall, and may lawfully seize all ships, vessels, and goods, buonging to the king of Denmark, or his subjects, or others inhabiting within the territories of the king of Denmark, and bring the same to judgment in any of the courts of admiTalty within his majesty's dominions; and, to that end, his majesty's advocate-general, with the advocate of the admiralty: are forthwith to prepare the draft of a commission, and present the same to his majesty at this board, authorising the commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral, or any person or persons by thein empowered and appointed, to issue forth, and grant letters of marque and repris sals to any of his majesty's subjects, or others whom the said commissioners shall deem fitly qualified in that behalf, for the apprehending, seizing, and taking the ships, vessels, and goods belonging to Denmark, and the vassals and subjects of the king of Denmark, or any inhabiting within his countries, territories, or dominions, (except as aforesaid :) and that such powers and clauses be inserted in the said commission as have been usual, and are according to former precedents ; and his majesty's advocate-general, with the advocate of the admiralty, are also forthwith to prepare the draft of a commission, and present the same to his majesty at this board, autho. rising the said commissioners for executing the office of lord bigh admiral, to will and require the high court of admiralty of Great Britain, and the lieutenant and judge of the said court, his surrogate or surrogates, as also the several courts of admiralty within his majesty's dominions, to take cognizance of, and judicially proceed upon, all, and all manner of, captures, seizures, prizes, and reprisals of all ships and goods that are or shall be taken, and to hear and determine the same, and, according to the course of admiralty, and the laws of nations, to adjudge and condemn all such ships, vessels, and goods, as shall belong to Denmark, or the vassals and subjects of tlie king of Denmark, or to any others inhabiting within any of his couptries, territories, and dominions, (except as aforesaid :) and that such powers and clauses be inserted in the said commission Ås have been usual, and are according former