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OF THE YEAR
1 8 2 3.
J. CUTHELL; LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME,
P R E F A C E.
IN this, as in the preceding year, the subjects, which most forcibly attract attention, are the affairs of the Spanish peninsula, and of those regions of South America formerly connected with that part of Europe by the ties of colonial dependency. In Spain every hope has been crushed; and the worst anticipations, which the events of 1822 inspired, have been more than realized. If any thing were necessary to shew beyond the possibility of doubt the wretchedness of the system by which, and the want of principle and capacity in the men by whom, the Spanish revolution was conducted, surely this lamentable catastrophe would furnish the proof. To view the measures of the Constitutionalists with contempt and dislike, is not to be lukewarm in the cause of liberty; unless, forsooth, the love of liberty is admiration of ignorance, rashness, and cowardice. Deeming, as we did, the destruction of Ferdinand's tyranny a blessing to the world, and anxious that a great people, occupying a most important place in the political scale of Europe, should enjoy such a form of government as might give them both tranquillity and strength—it was for these very reasons, that, in our former volumes, we marked with reprobation the proceedings of the Revolutionists, because, during the period of their reign, their conduct was the reverse of that which it ought to have been, in order to build up a system of stable and tranquil government. The fruits of the tree have now been tasted ; and bitter they surely are. Well may unbounded opprobrium be thrown on France for
the treacherous and unprincipled part which she has acted: and well may the Spanish people blush at the meanness with which they have tarnished their character by crouching under the invasion of a foreign enemy, and, at his bidding, putting their neck into a yoke which they had once thrown off; but at the same time let it not be forgotten, that the treachery of France would have been unavailing, if the party, which, for three years, had the reins of government in their hands, had acted either with common honesty or with common sense. The inglorious triumph of the French beyond the Pyrenees, though productive of present mischief and pregnant with the seeds of much future disorder, has not, however, been entirely without its benefits to the world. It has made the separation between Spain and her late colonies still more complete; and the fears of European aggression, with which it has inspired them, have checked a spirit of disunion which might have weakened the infant states of South America. A still more important consequence of the French success is, that England has been compelled to avow explicitly the course of policy which she means to pursue towards the Transatlantic powers; and that policy is one which is little palatable to the Holy Alliance. From the principles of that alliance, indeed, England has now, openly and in the eyes of the whole world, seceded. The monarchs of the continent may continue to announce, in their circulars their mystical axioms of oppression; but the nations are now aware, that England will neither co-operate in the plans of those sovereigns, nor sanction their doctrines. This is a great gain to the cause of good government, both in respect of direct political strength, and still more in respect of influence over the public opinion of Europe. The situation of England, in the late intricate state of Spanish affairs, was one of no ordinary delicacy; and in it our ministers have acted with a prudence and foresight which have met with universal applause at home, except from that small party of generous
enthusiasts or dreaming theorists, who imagine that we are bound to plunge, at any time, into war, in order to destroy monarchical oppression. To the prudence of our ministers in their foreign policy, must be added the adoption of a liberal system of internal legislation, such as never marked any former period of our history. A government can do little or nothing directly to multiply the materials of happiness among a people: its business is, to secure to every man, with as few restraints as the situation of human affairs may permit, quiet, tranquillity, and protection, while he finds the means of comfort and enjoyment for himself and his family, in the free prosecution of every path of active exertion or industry which i circumstances may recommend to him. This our present administration have shown themselves most anxious to do; and they are receiving the reward of their faithful discharge of the high duties of rulers, by a degree of public approbation and confidence, which has seldom been accorded to any former government.
July 13, 1823.