Зображення сторінки

every feeling of interest. When the Authoress attempts to be profound, she is only obscure ; and when she would be simple, she degenerates into puerility. The subject, however, is well-chosen, and in skilful hands would have formed a work of more than common interest: it embraces a long and busy period of English history, from the attempts of Northumberland to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, to the middle of the reign of Elizabeth. The ground-work of the Tale seems to have been borrowed from an old English ballad, detailing the adventures of Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby, or from some old pamphlet on the same subject; for the life of Peregrine had sufficient romance in it to make him a favourite with the poetic and prosaic scribblers, his cotemporaries.

Memoirs of Ferdinand VII. King of the Spains. By Don *****,

Advocate of the Spanish Tribunals. Translated from the original
Spanish Manuscript by Michael J. Quin, Author of " A Visit to
Spain in 1822 and 1823.” 8vo. pp. 308. 10s. 6d. Hurst
and Co. London. 1824.

It is impossible for any one, who has watched the vicissitudes of Spanish affairs during the last sixteen years, to believe for an instant that the late restoration of Ferdinand VII. to arbitrary power, has terminated the long agony of his unhappy kingdom. But so extraordinary are all the circumstances of the military and political struggle which has incessantly agitated the Peninsula, so original the character of its natives, and so peculiar and unexampled their present condition, that to indulge in speculation on their future conduct and fortunes would be to wander, without the light of historical experience, in vain and perplexing conjecture. By what data should we argue on the spirit and feelings of a people, who fearlessly rose, in simultaneous and unpremeditated resistance, against the mightiest power that ever alarmed the civilized world; and who yet, within ten years after they had triumphed in a warfare of romantic heroism, tamely witnessed the occupation of their country, by the same foreigners who had scathed it with flames, and deluged it with blood ? By what rule should we judge of the disposition of a nation whose energies two centuries of despotism could not extinguish, and whose zeal for free institutions, two years of error were sufficient to destroy; who returned from an impracticable constitution to an exploded and contemptible tyranny; who overturned that tyranny again, but to make a new trial of the same unamended visionary system which had been once abandoned ; and who, alternately a prey to the blind zealots of despotism and the wild enthusiasts of liberty, and torn by the most opposite factions that ever divided the political world, submitted in exhaustion or indifference, if not even in gratitude and contentment, to accept the latest work of revolution from the sword of the stranger !

But if the future prospects of this singular people may thus baffle enquiry, the situation into which they are thrown, is not the less an object of anxious and painful attention. Every association, whether of early history, or of the great political drama of our times, has rendered Spain one of the most interesting countries in the universe. As the battle field of the

a the Christian, the chivalry, the dearest haunt the

Moslem and the Christian, the splendid seat of Arabian magnificence, the birth-place of chivalry, the land of warlike achievement and civil freedom, she is the dearest haunt of imagination in the long romance of the middle ages. As the gigantic power which grasped the new world in one hand, and shook her thunders over Europe with the other, she is the prominent object of history in the sixteenth century; and when, after ages of degradation and oblivion, she rose under our eyes to brave the arch-tyrant of France, the trophies of the war of her independence mingled, in unfading renown, with the most honourable and brilliant period in our annals. However deep, then, her momentary disgrace, however fallen for a time from the high promise of rational freedom and political grandeur; whether the victim of jacobinical frenzy, domestic tyranny, or foreign aggression, Spain cannot cease to attract the regard and sympathy of the people of England.

The generous and high-minded qualities unquestionably displayed by the mass of the Spanish nation in the war against Buonaparte, render them worthy of a better fate than subjection to all the inveterate abuses of the old despotism which Ferdinand, or rather the ignorant and bigoted men, by whom he is surrounded and guided, have already evinced the determination to perpetuate. No temperate reasoner can doubt the sound justice and policy which dictated the strict neutrality of this country in the late civil war, or approve the rash innovations and vicious absurdities of the Spanish constitution. But there assuredly never was an occasion, in which public opinion among us, was more unanimous than in reprobating the principle and the act of French interference, and in lamenting the unmitigated restoration of one of the most unenlightened and intolerant governments that ever rejected the warnings of experience and reason. Whatever may be the course of suffering, and a course of suffering we fear it must prove, through which . the people of Spain must pass before they can hope for amelioration and repose, we cannot regard the present occupation of the Peninsula by a French army otherwise than, to use, the celebrated phrase of Talleyrand, as le commencement du fin. Whether the continued presence of foreigners may goad the proud and jealous peasantry, who confessedly form the noblest part of that nation, to insurrectionary movement; or whether a moderation, very unusual in a French soldiery, may preserve Ferdinand on his throne until their evacuation of the country; we cannot believe that the progress of knowledge, the feverish spirit of numerous malcontents, the endless disorders of the kingdom, the ruin of its finances, and the extinction of its VOL. I, NO. I.


prosperity can be repressed and averted by the incapacity and blindness of its present rulers.

There are so many salutary and obvious reflections to be deduced from the calm and philosophic study of the public transactions which have plunged Spain deeply in misfortune and error, that, notwithstanding all that has been already said and written upon the subject, we have turned to several of the latest works on Spanish politics, which are lying before us, with undiminished curiosity; and we have really found much in the most important of the number, with which we have interspersed the present article, to recommend to the perusal of our readers. Within the limits to which our plan must restrict us, it is of course, except in cases where the range of enquiry can effectually be embraced in a few pages, less our object to expand our notices into essays on their text, than to exhibit a faithful estimate of the character and merits of each work; to save the general reader the unprofitable labour of wading through the least valuable and interesting part of our prolific literature, and to direct his reference to productions of real worth and utility. Upon this principle, we shall be satisfied with declaring the impression which the volume before us has left upon our minds. Mr. Quin, the translator or editor, for we really scarcely know which to believe him, is already advantageously known to the world, as the author of a volume of evident impartiality and keen observation, on the same subject of Spanish politics. His “ Visit to Spain" threw more light, we think, upon the real character of events, and the state of public opinion in that country, just at the moment when the French were entering it, than any similar publication which has fallen under our notice; and his remarks altogether breathed such a spirit of manly and temperate impartiality, that it was impossible to resist his testimony. How far the tone of the present volume is attributable to his good sense, we are unable to judge, but certainly the same moderation pervades it; and if we are to consider it simply as the work of a Spaniard of the liberal party, the author may claim the praise of a singular exemption from that bitterness of hate which usually fills the bosom of the exile that venom which rankles in his wounded soul from

- quello strale

Che l'arco dell' esilio pria saetta. · The objects of the publication before us are told in as few words, in the preface, as we can hope to relate them in.

" Motives of prudence which, considering the present state of Spain, may be easily divined, have prevented the author from prefix

ing his name to this work. Exiled with many of his countrymen, by the late events which have taken place in the Peninsula, he has left be hind him dear connexions and friends, whom he would not willingly expose to the vengeance of the new government.

, “ The object of these Memoirs is to give a faithful picture of the character of Ferdinand VII. From the period of his manhood to the present hour, not only the incidents of his life, but the dispositions of his heart, and the qualities of his mind, have had an inevitable influence on the destinies of his dominions. In a country such as England, where the sovereign is under the controul of law, his personal character is seldom productive of material political consequences. Not so where the monarchy is absolute, as in Spain. There the vices, or the virtues, of the monarch are felt through all the departments of the state. Every thing emanates from his single will ; and those circumstances, whether of temper or of accident, by which that will is affected, demand a leading place in the political history of the nation."

And this life of Ferdinand VII. is therefore, in effect, not so much a piece of royal biography as of national history. After a few remarks upon the early years and education of that prince, the author proceeds at once to a closely woven, and highly interesting narrative of the court intrigues and political occurrences which ushered in the memorable revolution of 1808. Most of this part of the volume may be tried by the standard of public documents and letters, several of which are given in an appendix, and „y comparison with other historical versions of the same transactions. From the result of such an examination, we are disposed to build a strong argument in favour of the general authenticity of the work. The author's sketch of this period will be found as full as, and less diffuse than, Mr. Southey's introductory chapters to his history of the Peninsular war, with which, too, it generally agrees in substance. It developes the enormous iniquity of Buonaparte's conduct with more simplicity and less studied vituperation than Mr. Southey has thrown into his account; and forms a deplorable picture of the imbecility and infatuation of the royal family of Spain.

The conduct of Ferdinand during his residence in France, from this epoch until his restoration to the Spanish throne, is $0 curious an exhibition of character, that we are tempted to extract a few passages from this portion of the work.

" Ferdinand, and his brother Don Carlos, who did not separate from him since they had met in Bayonne, together with his uncle Don Antonio, who had just arrived from Madrid, kept closely united, and obtained a promise from Napoleon that they should never be divided, These personages were so firmly convinced of the impossibility of returning to Spain, and of the want of a vigorous and an enlightened

« НазадПродовжити »