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Parliament was opened by commission on the 29th of January, four days after the formation of the Wellington Ministry. The Royal Speech referred chiefly to the affairs of the East, to the rights of neutral nations violated by the revolting excesses of the Greeks and Turks, to the battle of Navarino with the fleet of an ancient ally, which was lamented as an "untoward event;" but hopes were expressed that it might not lead to further hostilities. The Speech alluded to the increase of exports and the more general employment of the people as indications of returning prosperity. The phrase "untoward" was objected to by Lords Lansdowne and Goderich. Lord Holland denied that our relations with Turkey were those of an alliance; but the Duke of Wellington contended that the Ottoman empire was an ancient ally of Great Britain, that it formed an essential part of the balance of power, and that the maintenance of its independent existence was more than ever necessary as an object of European policy.
The French army in Spain numbered more than two hundred thousand men, and of these more than one hundred and thirty thousand lay in the provinces bordering on Portugal, or between it and Madrid. Victor had thirty-five thousand in Estremadura; and close behind him, in La Mancha, Sebastiani had twenty thousand more. Northward, in Old Castile, Leon, and Asturias, Kellermann and Bonnet had ten thousand. Soult, in Galicia, was joined by Ney and Mortier, making his army again upwards of fifty thousand, with whom he contemplated returning into Portugal. General Dessolles had fifteen thousand men at Madrid to protect the intrusive King Joseph; and Suchet and Augereau, in Aragon and Catalonia, commanded fifty thousand. Almost all the strong fortresses in the country were in their hands. The only circumstances favourable to the Allies were that the French generals were at variance amongst themselves; that none of them paid any deference to the commands of King Joseph, who was nominally generalissimo; and that the Spaniards were, everywhere where woods and mountains favoured them, harassing the French in a manner that made them very sick of the country, and that often reduced them to a state of severe privation.