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PRINTED FOR W. OTRIDGE AND SON; LONGMAN, ITURST, REES, AND
ORDE; B. CROSBY ; J. BELL; J. CUTHELL; LACKINGTON, ALLEN, AND
1\ the history of 1808, the great object of attention is Spain. Spain is the centre around which we arrange all other countries in Europe; and we take more or less interest in them, according .to the relation in which they stand to the theatre, .0n„ which the vepptesfhet ween liberty and tyranny is to be determined. This exhibits to our view ja. striking mixture df patriotism .and" corruption, exertion and remissness, precaution and improvidence, heroism and cowardice. Patriotic ardour, however, prevailed, on the whole, over corruption; and though new levies of peasants were apt, on most occasions, to consult, as was to be expected, their safety by flight, the amor patriot, and the bravery of many thousands of Spaniards were carried to the highest pitch of glory; and formed an early and fond hope, that if some character pre-eminently energetic and great should he produced by the present contest, and the patriots place him at their head, and trust themselves entirely to his direction, the Great Peninsula might be saved, and the tide of fortune turned against the tyrant. Such were the expectations of humanity after the first efforts of the direction of provincial juntas. At the present moment, the minds of men, accustomed to anticipate future by a retrospection of past events, are agitated between hope and fear, according as they turn their views to the progress of conquerors, or the prosperous success of those who, contending for liberty, have made head against them.
"W hen a great and populous nation, possessing extensive jet compacted dominions, is roused to arms, and breathes a spirit of ambition and conquest, it has generally been found for a time irresistible. Multitudes are united under one standard; experience produces able commanders; they possess all the advantages of stratagem and attack over mere defence: resistance only renovates their spirits, in* . flames ii PREFACE.
flames their passions, and with their strength increases' their pretensions. They go on, conquering and to conquer. The Persians under Cyrus were irresistible: the Macedonians under Alexander were irresistible; so were the Romans; the Saracens who invaded Europe from the south; and the hordes of Tartars that have poured at different periods into the north of Europe and of Asia. To come nearer to our own times, and a case the most similar in history to what is now alluded to, Charlemagne, triumphing over all confederation and resistance, carried his conquests over Europe to the banks of the Vistula— precisely to the territory that witnessed the peace of Tilsit in 1807. Scarcely had that great and enterprising prince remitted his exertions for the farther extension of his empire, or ceased from aggression, when the Norwegians and Danes appeared, and made predatory descents on the coast of Aquitaine. In the reign of his successors, they effected settlements in Sicily, Naples, France, and (xreat Britain: thus proving still the truth of the maxim, that enthusiasm and aggression usually^prevailover the power attacked, or combinations among different powers for common safety.
On the other hand, the spirit of liberty, in as many or more instances, and some of them against the most fearful odds, has proved invincible. Not to multiply examples which will readily occur to readers of history, the Dutch maintained or regained their liberty, after a struggle with both the branches of the House of Austria, then in the zenith of its power, continued for half a century. The mountaineers of Chili were not to be subdued by the arms of (Charles V., nor those of his successors, to this day. Whatever be the issue of the present contest in the Peninsula, it is proper to record the efforts of patriotism and courage, and the resources of necessity—we had almost said, of despair.
AVhile doubts and fears.were entertained that the political independence of Old Spain was hastening to a period, a gleam of hope arose, that, in all events, the Spanish name and nation would still be preserved in both Asia and America—plus ultra. ■