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war, and by thus wasting the remainder of their resources, accelerate the ruin now staring them in the face.
Horrible are the details of the ravages of the French army, and although we both hope and believe, that much exaggeration has been used in order to excite the greater odium against the enemy;* "yet such is the wickedness of war in itself, abstractedly considered, so much does it naturally tend to blunt the feelings and to steel the liearts of those habitually engaged in it, that few instances can be brought in which a retreating army followed by an enemy, but what was guilty of horrible excesses, and the curse of the country' it passed through: these excesses it appears have not, during the retreat of the French, been confined to one party; for we are informed that “ the Portuguese troops have 'bad opportunities of “ making the most severe retaliation. By the premature destruc« tion of a bridge over which the enemy were to pass in their retreat, us about 800 of their troops were cut off, nearly the whole of which “ were killed, the advance of the allies refusing to give any quarter;" that is eight hundred Frenchmen were massacred! But it is only French 'enormities which are the objects of reprobation, and the Portuguese who are to be the peculiar objects of commiseration. Their calamities are such as to “ draw down iron tears even from Pluto's « cheeks." The authors of the system of torture pursoed in Ireland; the apologists and approvers of the murderers of Indian princes, and the devastators of Indian provinces; the contrivers of the scenes of robbery, inassacre, and conflagration at Copenhagen ; 'of the burning of Flushing, and the destruction of the liouses and in. habitants by Congreve rockets; (we suppose we shall shortly hear from some “gentleman” of the Morning Post, of the insurrection of the inhabitants at these places, and their invitation to the English to deliver them :) the uniform advocates of the infernal but, happily, abolished slave trade; the war shouters at Lloyds ;-all--all unite in exclaiming, “ that the ravages of the enemy present a spectacle “ unknown to the civilised world since the Huns desolated Europe:"+
and that their “ conduct rendered them a disgrace to the cause of liu. '"manity, and to tlie character of christianity, which in an enlightened ::
Some of these stories, such as the ravishing of old women 70 or 80 years of age, who were “ afterwards confined until disease made them loath« some to the hell-hounds themselves; and infant children surviving the “scene of horror, and-likely to live, though with worms of three or four “ inches in length crawling in their flesh,"-savour too much of the ridiculous to be true: but lying appears to be a necessary ingredient in the art of war; the lists of killed, wounded, and missing, as given on both sides, afford ample evidence what little dependance is to be placed in the accounts of either of the hostile parties.
+ See Lord. Harrow by's speech, in the Lords. Morn. Chron. April 10.
. age like the present should have taught them better." Let us
then briefly examine the nature of these professions, of “ humanity “ and christianity," and bring them to the true touchstone, the conduct of the professors.
We shall not even glance at the enormities committed in Ire. Jand, and which drew forth that severe sarcasm from that brave and humane commander, the late Sir Ralph Abercrombie, who on bis succeeding to the chief command in Ireland, declared in a proa clamation, that the insubordination, and the ravages committed by the army were such as to render it “ formidable only to its friends; but we shall refer to two or three instances during the present war, which may serve to shew the peculiar right of the British nation to complain of the “ unparalleled excesses of the French !"-At the taking of Maldonado, a Spanish settlement, in Nov. 1806, a vayal officer on board his Majesty's ship Leda, writes as follows :--"A
“ council of war was assembled, the result of which was, to pro* “ ceed and attack another settlement about 90 miles below Monte
« Video, called Maldonado. The next day, the 29th, we arrived “ there, and it being a weak town, disembarked our troops, a“ mounting to near a thousand. In the evening they stormed and “ put to the rout, with inuch slaughter, a considerable army of the “ Spaniards. There was an island about two miles from the main, “ which was well fortified; but the garrison capitulated, and thus “ saved their lives.--- Yesterday I went on shore to view the town, «. when it presented a scene of desolution that I wish never to wit“ ness again. On our soldiers entering the town, the cry through. “out the army was-Remember General Beresford !* AND NO « QUARTER WAS SHEWN; in one house alone there' were twenty “ Spaniards bajonetted: plunder ensued, and furniture of all de * scriptions was lying about, quite destroyed !" . This expedition was undertaken, and, let it be recollected, was undertaken for the express purpose of extending our TRADE.
But it is somewhat remarkable that the enormities with which the French are too justly charged on the present occasion, have been charged against the British armies in their former retreats
in Spain and Portugal; so that if the writers on both sides are to be · credited, the one have done little more than follow the example of
the other. Indeed, some of the charges against the British army have been brought by their own officers. The following are a few of the particulars detailed by an officer in Sir John Moore's army, in a letter dated from Villa Franca, Jan. 1809.1.
* Account of the meeting for the relief of the Portuguese Morning Pust, April 25.
+ General Beresford had been taken prisoner at Buenos Ayres, but it does not appear that he had met with any particular ill treatment.
See Pol. Rev. Vol. VI. p. 418.
The produce of the country had already been almost wholly devoured * by the French: judge then how difficult it would be to provide, even in * the barest manner, provisions sufficient to subsist šo large a body. And
when we add to this failure at the very source, the waste which is occa«. ssioned by the turbulent conduct of the soldiers themselves, you will not * be surprized that one half of the army should be entirely without food.
“ It is to be lamented that the officer's have not applied themselves to “ remedy this evil by seeing that the men receive their rations in an orderly " manner. The non-commissioned officers are at these times of no avail ; " no respect is paid either to their remonstrances or commands; and the« men crowd to the doors of the different houses, where wines &c. are to so be given out; apd with the most impatient and tumultuous vehemence « demand their supply, Not waiting to be served in proper rotation, they " force their way into the place, helping themselves, and destroying in their " haste half what was prepared for those who were to follow ; oversetting “the wine, trampling on every thing, and terrifying the affrighted native " whose charge it was to dispense the provisions, until for his own safety's "sake, he makes the best of his way from amongst such a herd of unrestrain" able and violent men.
“ This, with many other instances of the like nature, mark the wide "difference between a retreating and an advancing army. In the one case, i * all is hope, spirit, and honour. In the other, disappointment, dejec" tion, and anticipated contempt, entirely change the man, and make hiin " incur the obloquy he fears. Retreat is never an agreeable moveinent at “ the best ; and when at the worst, as it is with us, no fancy can imagine its. « misery, no pen describe its horrors !
“ Every object which presented itself on the roads and in the villages * were so many proofs of the terrors of war, and of the devastation that « surrounded us. Famishing peasantry fled by us with gaunt and horrid " looks ; while, as we marched along we passed their kindred of all ages "dying and dead, without power to relieve them, or to rescue our own “ followers from a similar fate..
“ The army in no respect seemed the remains of the same we had brought " from Portugal. Its appearance, its discipline, were gone. You could * not suppose that the officers it was before so ready to obey, commanded * it now; all deference to their orders was lost; and it was with the “greatest difficulty that we could deter the men from not only pillaging, « but committing every excess which is hardly excuseable in an enemy. Even " with all our exertions, we saw villages and houses burning in all directions ; " some put in that condition by negligence, but many, I must say, by the “ wantonness of our refractory men. The poor cottagers were plundered ; " and multitudes of homeless, destitute people were continually hastening « to the officers as they came up, imploring them for a redress which was out « of their power to bestow. Alas! our pity and regret were all we had to * Offer : and they retired in an anguish, 'the recollection of which even now “ wrings my soul. But it is not compassion alone which excites what is * now passing in my breast; it is shame for dishonoured England dis" honoured by the indignant despair of our troops, even while her own “ faithful hand was opened to abundantly succour the nation in which we “ suffered. It is true, we have been deceived, abandoned in Spain ; boven
" the treachery or weakness of others should be no lesson to teach as base “ retaliation. Every officer with the army feels in this respect as I do;
and are more grieved at such misconduct in our troops than by all their “ other misfortunes."
What deserves to be noticed more particularly on this subject is, that the French General during the last campaign brought forward charges against the retreating army of Lord Wellington, similar to those his lordship has recently brought against the retreating army of the French general. Massena in one of his dispatches states as follows :-“ The enemy burns and destroys every thing as he eve“ cuates the country: he compels the inhabitants to abandon their “ houses. Coimbra a town of 20,000 inhabitants is deserted. We “ find no provision ; the army is subsisting on Indian corn, and the “ vegetables which we find remaining in the ground. Lord Wel“ lington, not daring to wait for us in the open country, endeavours i to destroy every thing which might subsist an army: the people “ of the towns are very miserable; they are compelled to serve on “ pain of death. In short no period of history furnishes an ex“ ample of such barbarity !”—That these complaints of the French general were not without foundation may be inferred from the very apology of Lord Wellington's panegyrists. The Courier on this subject remarked as follows.-" Massena affects to be horror is struck at the ravages we have committed in Portugal, in cutting “ down the corn, destoying the mills, and making a desert of « the country. He knows that the English have not done this “ without the consent of the Portuguese: this part of his letter 4 pleases us, because it shews the disposition of the Portuguese. • Blighted be the corn exclaims this gallant loyal people, and blasted “ be the grass, wherever the hoof of Frenchman treads. May the
earth yield him neither food nor water; may his unburied bones « bleach the ground he would have reduced beneath his yoke."* Whether there are any people in this country who are such perfect idiots as to believe that the iBhabitants of Portugal should request the British troops (as they were not sufficiently able themselves) to “ practise every species of plunder and outrage, to cut down the -66 corn, destroy the mills, and make a desart of the country," for fear least the French should afterwards do it for them, whether there are such perfect idiots as to credit such unsufferable nonsense, we have our doubts.-Our readers will judge if we are not correct in the opinion already expressed, that retreating armies are in alniost every instance a curse to the country they pass through. Leaving the balance of guilt to be settled by the hostile parties, and their respective admirers, we beg leave to repeat the remark made at the time, on the apology for British enormities :-" The people of
* Portugal severely suffering from the ravages of their deliverers, “ as well as their invaders, may naturally wish that the unburied " bones of both armies might bleach the country they had in their « different turns, rendered the melancholy theatre of plunder, con“ flagration, blood, and devastation."
The details of the retreat of the French army which have been published at great length, both officially and from private letters, and foreign prints, have served somewhat to divert the public attention from our own situation, and the difficulties which surround us, and which are fast accumulating in consequence of our increased and increasing paper circulation, and our decreased and decreasing specie, both gold and silver. Numberless pamphlets have been published on the subject, and the report of the bullion committee, with the resolutions of the chairman founded on that report are to be taken into consideration on the 30th instant. From the opinions which Mr. Perceval and his friends have already divulged on the subject, it requires no great sagacity to fortel, that all Mr. Horner's resolutions will be negatived, and that another set of resolutions to be brought forward by the minister, will be carried by a considerable majority. It will not, however, in our opinion materially signify what resolutions may be negatived or adopted, whilst the majority of both parties agree to carry on the war. Peace and peace only, can restore our commerce, and credit, diminish our paper circulation, and call back our specie. We are on the eve of a loan of about twenty millions. The amount of exchequer bills, including those voted for the relief of the commercial world, will, probably by the close of the session, be from fifteen to twenty millions more! Twelve millions of exchequer bills issued previous to the present year, are to be funded, that is added to our national debt. Distinguish these various modes of borrowing by what name you please, the plain truth is--All these millions are so much paper, and only paper. We say nothing now of the frightful budget of fresh taxes, or of additions to our former taxes; but we demand - What object can we rationally hope to obtain by continuing the war, that can possibly afford us a recompence for the cost of such an enormous addition to our debts, taxes, and paper circulation which it must necessarily occasion, and at a period when the nation is at its wits end, for the means of procuring specie, not for the supply of large sums, (for we have long been content to part with our guineas,) to enable us to carry on the war, but for silver to answer the purposes of change, and the numberless daily wants of common life.-We therefore repeat to our countrymen the important truth, that peace, speedy peace, followed by a radical reforın in our representation, as the prelude to a radical reforin in the different departments of government, are the only