ページの画像
PDF
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Lettre au Comte Moira, Général de sa Majesté Britannique, Colonel du 27eme Régiment, Conseiller Intimet desa Majesté, Gouverneur de la Tour de Londres, &c. &c. sur les Espagnols, et sur Cadiz, par le Baron de Geramb, Major Général au Service de sa Majesté Catholique Ferdinand VII. Magnat de Hongrie, Chambellan

actuel de sa Majesté l'Empreur d’Autryche, &c. &c. Londres. 4to. pp. 72.

THIS animated address to the earl of Moira, the patron and friend of the meritorious or distressed of every nation, consitutes a continued

1810.

panegyrick on the people of Spain, couched in language abounding with that imagery and metaphor, which seems requisite to sustain elegant

* Pose, or hoard of money, a purseful of coin. “He has a guid pose,” is an old expression for riches. “A pose o' gowd,' occurs in an old song, which I do not at present

recollect. † Conseiller Intime—Privy Counsellor. VoI. Y. 3 E

French; but which, if equally applied to an English prosaick composition, would diminish its interest, and give it a character of bombast and affectation, not meant however in reference to the work before us. The baron, in his usual vivid and flowing style, feelingly laments the fall of the House of Hapsburgh, broadly hinting at causes which are now but too apparent. He might have mentioned the reason of the loss of the battle of Wagram. Austria was completely victorious up to that fatal period of the war. Buonaparte’s situation, though in possession of Vienna, was extremely perilous; and procrastination in the then state of Europe was the essential object in view. The preventing of the passage of the Danube would completely have effected this. Instead of that, the French army was quietly allowed to pass over, and to appear the following morning drawn up in battle array, at right angles to the left flank of the Austrian army, which was thus forced to change front, under every circumstance of disadvantage. It was attacked during a difficult and complicated movement, and necessarily defeated. The honour of characters, deemed previously great in the cabinet and field, is deeply implicated in the event of that mysterious passage of the Danube. The Austrians are still, in heart, attached to Britain; and therefore we earnestly wish to have the loss of the battle of Wagram accounted for, on grounds that will bear tactical investigation. The author, when he arrives at Cadiz, does ample justice to the enthusiastick patriotism pervading the people of Spain, whose exalted character and ardent spirit, struggling against the severest privations, myriads of disciplined enemies, and cruelty, misery, and oppression in every shape, will stand high in future annals. In every work on Spanish affairs, which we have

occasion to notice, the misconduct of the various juntas of Spain, seem to form a prominent feature. A want of union, a false confidence, a lamentable imbecility, jealousy, and not unfrequently falfable treason, are, one or all of them, established as incontrovertible facts. The author before us not only ascribes to them several of these qualities, but calls on them to account for treasures that ought to have been applicable to the support of their armies, instead of being absorbed by the prodigality and avarice of these inefficient juntas. These considerations naturally lead us to glance at the conduct of even the cortes, and to ask how far they have fulfilled the publick expectation, since the period of their assembling? Has any measure of energy or vigour emanated from their deliberations 2 Have they organized a steady and powerful system of defence, adequate to the exigencies of the country? If we deduct the British and Portuguese forces, where are we to look for such armies as may be calculated to repel the powerful oppressor of Spain : It will probably be answered, give them time, and all this, and more, will be effected; they have nearly established the liberty of the press; they will abolish the Inquisition. They cannot do less, as the decree against it is the only laudable act of their most bitter enemy. Measures of military vigour and decision are what are immediately wanted, and not empty declamation and idle disputations about forms and ceremonies. The masterly generalship of lord Wellington has saved Portugal, and diverted the first army of France from the conquest of Spain. This army has been forced to retreat without accomplishing the avowed object of its advance. No artful fabrications in the Moniteur, no control of the continental press, can hide from Europe the disgrace reflected on

the arms of the tyrant by the retreat of his armies. He is deeply sensible of the errour he has fallen into, by invading a country without forming magazines, and without duly appreciating the strength, power, and resources of his enemy. He feels his throne tottering under him by this grand failure of what he deemed a decisive plan of campaign. His efforts next spring will be commensurate with his danger. He is sensible that his armies, reduced by uncommon hardships and privations, must rest on their arms till they are refitted and reenforced. He will studiously avoid all the rash errours of the campaign, which has covered him with confusion; and will appear, early in Shring, at the head of at least 200,000 men, and deem every other object minor to that of expelling the English from the Peninsula. His first attempt will be to occupy the south of Portugal. That secure, he will advance towards Lisbon. The state of his affairs will impel him to make a daring and desperate attack on the allied lines. We have no fear as to the result, after a prodigious loss on the part of the enemy. It may be readily seen, that the preservation of Europe, if not of the world, depends on the result of the greatest, most important, and most decisive campaign, which will appear on the records of history. Few will feel disposed to combat so evident a probability, or rather so apparent an event. Those who can, under such circumstances, oppose the reenforcing of our armies almost to any extent, must be able at least to prove, that what is suggested, is equally unfounded and improbable. Let them, however, recollect, that facts before us in a thousand instances, and the character of the enemy we have to deal with, warrant all that is advanced. The Cortes, it is hoped, will feel a lively impression of the magnitude, dangers, and vast importance of the ensuing campaign, and be impelled to make

adequate efforts. Their first care must be to provide for the safety of the south of Portugal, by strengthening the garrisons and strong holds of the southern provinces; and by provisioning them, and principally Lisbon. As for Cadiz, it is in little danger while Lisbon remains safe. The Cortes would find it conducive to a happy result of the tremendous campaign before us, to establish light armies in the northwest and northeast of Spain, to threaten the rear of the French, to hang on their flanks, and to cut off supplies. To effect these purposes it will be necessary, without delay, to call out the population, between 16 and 50; but above all to conciliate America, which is to furnish the sinews of war; for though that country must in time become independent, its pecuniary aid at present is a primary object of consideration. We deem it a duty to our country to throw out these hints; leaving it to those who may be more able, and better informed, duly to appreciate their value or utility. The baron de Geramb, with a view of exemplifying the generous, virtuous, and exalted character of the Spanish nation, gives an account of an apparition, which those who have faith in ghosts, will perhaps credit; while others, with us, will ascribe the whole to the lively imagination of the author, impressed with the scenes of combined patriotism and warfare in which he participated. It is, however, a curious tale ! The baron, accompanied by a party of Spanish ladies, went on board a ship of war in the harbour. Returning in the dusk of the evening, the singing of the ladies was suddenly interrupted by a voice exclaiming in French—Save me ! help ! help ! in the name of God save me ! These cries became fainter and fainter, till they entirely died away. In vain did they steer their course in the direction of the voice; all their hopes of saving some unfortunate being, who must have fallen from one of the prison ships, proved ineffectual. We shall now give the baron's narration of the Spanish apparition, necessarily condensing the translation as much as possible.

“Walking the following day on the strand, I observed a naked, dead body placed on a black board, having a lighted flamoeau on each side. Supposing this to be the body of the unfortunate person, whose distressing cries I had heard the preceding day, 1 directed the livid corpse to be covered, and gave those who were collecting money, a sum sufficient for defraying the expenses of interment. In the evening, a secret inquietude, an irresistible instinct, attracted me again to the place, where in the morning I witnessed so shocking a spectacle. The beach was deserted, the wind blew tempestuously, and the roaring of the waves was alone heard. Suddenly, there arose from the spot where the dead body had been placed, an airy phantom, devoid of any distinct form, and wrapped up in the winding sheet of dark cloth which l had purchased in the murning. This spectre moved, it advanced, stalking sometimes with huge strides, and resembling a giant. It then assumed a round form, rising in a spiral direction, and describing circles diminishing in size, till it arrived at their common cenue, when

it again bounded off with velocity to re-,

sume a gigantick size at some distance. I at first supposed this appearance to be a mere vapour springing from the earth, or a cloud of dust to which the irregular action of the wind had given a fantastick form. But, arriving in the streets of Cadiz, I still perceived this extraordinary apparition, accompanied with a rustling noise, like that of autumnal leaves rolling along the ground. The door of a house laving been suddenly thrown open with violence, the phantom, which I followed, rushed forward with the velocity of lightning; and sinking, plunged into one of the underground apartments so common at Cadiz. Hollow groans issued from this species of cavern. I discovered the entrance that led into it; and what must have been my astonishment on perceiving there the dead body, which I had seen in the morning on the strand, and which I supposed interred Stretched on the livid corpse lay an aged person, whom I must have deemed lifeless, if the deep sighs that escaped from his heavy heart did not indicate the contrary. A lamp, fixed to the wall, faintly

illumined this abode of grief and of death, which, besides the dead body exposed to view, seemed to conceal others; as the earth in several places appeared to have been recently opened. I cannot find words to express the impression made on my mind by this sorrowful picture. The deathlike silence; the accents of deep despair; the old man kneeling, with his head inclined over the body, firmly grasped in his arms, while his hoary locks blended their colour with that of the corpse; and in a dark corner, the very spectre originally seen, and still continuing to exhibit the same singularity of appearance, seeming sometimes to rise to the arch of the cavern, and then to whirl spirally in the air; these united objects excited in my mind a sensation, not distinctly of horrour, or of terrour, but which participated of both, and kept me in a distressing state of mind, and in painful suspense. At length, this apparition appeared to float in a luminous vapour, and I thought I distinguished the pale, but interesting features of a young man, who undulated as if he had been rocked by the waves, the gentle murmuring of which I imagined myself hearing at the moment. This part of the scene had in it nothing of a shocking description; on the contrary, i felt as it were refreshed by a cooling breeze; and experienced a pleasing emotion in beholding this shade, which seemed to balance itself in a silvery fluid, resembling the reflected rays of moon-light. At that moment, a soft and melodious voice was heard, chanting the psalms and prayers for the dead, and a young woman, clothed in shining, white garments, entered the apartment. She knelt, and without seeming to observé me, she continued her melancholy strains, which had the effect of gradually rouzing from his lethargy the old man, stretched over , the dead body. “Carlos Carlos' exclaimed he in a mournful tone, his hollow eyes becoming at the same instant rivetted on the vision I have been describing, and which he surveyed without any mark of surprise or emotion. On attentively examining the appearance of the body he had held in his arms, his features assumed an expression of contempt, and he bitterly gave vent to his feelings. “Thou art not Carlos' this body which I snatched with difficulty from the waves is not, it seems, thine. Listen to me, Camilla' continued he, taking hold of the hand of the young woman, ‘ I sallied out, calling on the name of Carlos, in the dead of night. My voice mingled with the howling of the tempest. I imagined that, loud as it raged, my cries Were heard far and wide on the main, and

that the guardian angel of my Carlos had triumphed over the fury of the ocean; and also that, by his powerful aid, the remains of my son would be deposited on the beach, to enable me to commit them to the tomb; but, alas ! they are still the sport of the waves, and observe—observe how they torment him.....” “The apparition, on this, became quiescent, and the old man, turning towards

me, on seeing that I sympathized in his

sorrow, said: “I am satisfied that it is the good angel of Carlos that has directed your steps hither, to allay the sufferings of his aged father. Alas! the French have assassinated my son; for, after taking him prisoner, they put him to death in cold blood, without once asking him if he had a father. They then stripped the body, and threw it into the sea. Ever since, his lamentable wailings awake me in the middle of the night, calling on me to obtain the rights of burial for my son. I then fly to the shore, in expectation of finding the body cast up by the waves. I embrace, I carry off a dead body. Alas! alas ! it is not his Thrice have I been cruelly deceived, and how often may I not again be deluded by despair How often, after pressing the remains of a stranger to my bosom, am I doomed to be undeceived by the bloody shade of Carlos, who has just appeared to me tossed about by the waves o' On observing Camilla weeping, as she listened to him, he directed his discourse to her. “My poor child, you weep because I weep, you groan because I groan. You participate in my sufferings; you respect my grief, you do not speak to me of your own sorrow; you do not tell me how bitterly you lament the death of Carlos, thy destined husband; you hide from me the agonies of your broken heart, and even force a smile when the hand of death is on you, to sooth the dreadful transports of the grief which possesses me. Poor, unfortunate girl' your decay is as rapid as mine; your youth declines with my advanced age, and, leaning on each other, we are both sinking into the silent tomb. Thy voice calls me back to life; its devotional accents renovate my exhausted strength; it dispels the delusion which surrounds me; it banishes the phantoms which beset me; and when I listen to it, I seem to be blessed with heavenly visions. O' my child beings pure as thou art, administer unspeakable consolation; and their minds are made by divine Providence the depositories of an emanation of celestial goodness, intended to assuage excessive grief, under which the human frame would otherwise sink.” The

old man then made me a sign to follow him, and we quitted this dismal place, conducted by Camilla, who gently led him away. We then entered an apartment hung round with white, and which had no other ornament than a portrait surrounded with white roses, and representing a handsome young man, habited in the uniform of a captain of the Spanish army. The looks of the old man, wildly directed towards the picture, convinced me that it was the portrait of Carlos. Camilla threw down her eyes, being either unable to bear the sight of these adored features, or being restrained by bashful timidity from contemplating the image of an intended husband.

“A venerable priest, who was praying fervently on our entrance, rose up hastily to salute the old man by the appellation of brother “Well, brother has it pleased the Almighty to hear our prayers o' The old man sat down, remained immovable, and his vacant and fixed looks indicated the dark despair which had full possession of his heart. Camilla signified by a silent motion of her head, that the unfortunate object of their cares still remained without consolation. His features soon assumed the appearance of tranquillity, or rather of that stupor which succeeds to violent fits of frantick grief, and to the wanderings of lost reason. He raised himself like an infant, who is attempting to walk, Camilla sprung forward to support him, and these two wretched beings, who by turns soothed each other's sorrows, quitted us with that inattention, which marks a mind oppressed by severity of sufferings.”

As our limits will not admit us to give a translation of the explanatory conversation which passed between the baron and the priest, an abstract of it may prove sufficient. The holy father, on being informed of the appearance of the spectre, enters into a religious dissertation on the subject, and is of opinion, that traditions, and some respectable authorities, seem to favour the supposition of their occasional appearance. He, however, leaves the subject exactly where he found it, involved in mystery and uncertainty. IIe informs the baron, that Don Carlos, a youth of promise and accomplishments, became a captain in the armies of Spain; that he was

« 前へ次へ »