No. CCCLXVI. APRIL, 1846. VOL. LIX.
THE MARQUESS WELLESLEY, 385
LETTER TO EUSEBIUS, 408
THE STUDENT OF SALAMANCA. PART VI., 419
HOW THEY MANAGE MATTERS IN "THE MODEL REPUBLIC," 439
ANTONIO PEREZ, 450
RECOLLECTIONS OF A LOVER OF SOCIETY, 463
THE "OLD PLAYER," 473
THE CRUSADES, 475
THE BURDEN OF SION. BY DELTA, 493
RHYMED HEXAMETERS AND PENTAMETERS, 496
THE SURVEYOR'S TALE, 497
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No. CCCLXVI APRIL, 1846. VOL. LIX
THE MARQUESS WELLESLEY.
The revival of noble recollections, the record of great actions, and the history of memorable times, form one of the highest services which a writer can offer to his country. They mould the national Character, and upon the character depends the greatness of every nation. Why have the mighty kingdoms of the East perished without either general reverence or personal value, but from the absence of Character in their people; while Greece in all its ancient periods, and Rome throughout the days of its republic, are still the objects of classic interest, of general homage, and of generous emulation, among all the nobler spirits of the world? We pass over the records of Oriental empire as we pass over the ruins of their capitals; we find nothing but masses of wreck, unwieldy heaps of what once, perhaps, was symmetry and beauty; fragments of vast piles, which once exhibited the lavish grandeur of the monarch, or the colossal labour of the people; but all now mouldered and melted down. The mass essentially wants the interest of individuality. A nation sleeps below, and the last memorial of its being is a vast but shapeless mound of clay.
Greece, Rome, and England give us that individuality in its full interest. In their annals, we walk through a gallery of portraits; the forms "as they lived," every feature distinct, every attitude preserved, even the slight accidents of costume and circumstance placed before the eye with almost living accuracy. Plutarch's Lives is by far the most important work of ancient literature; from this exhibition of the force, dignity, and energy attainable by human character. No man of intelligence can read its pages without forming a higher conception of the capabilities of human nature; and thus, to a certain extent, kindling in himself a spirit of enterprise.
It is in this sense that we attach a value to every work which gives us the biography of a distinguished public character. Its most imperfect performance at least shows us what is to be done by the vigorous resolution of a vigorous mind; it marks the path by which that mind rose to eminence; and by showing us the difficulties through which its subject was compelled to struggle, and the success by which its gallant perseverance was crowned, at once teaches the young aspirant to struggle with the difficulties of his own career, and cheers him with the prospect of ultimate triumph.
Of the general execution of these volumes, we do not desire to speak. They have been professedly undertaken as a matter of authorship. We cannot discover that the author has had any suggestion on the subject from the family of the late Marquess, nor that he has had access to any documents hitherto reserved from the public. He fairly enough states, that he derived his materials largely from the British Museum, and from other sources common to the reader. His politics, too, will not stand the test of grave enquiry. He adopts popular opinions without consideration, and often panegyrizes where censure would be more justly bestowed than praise. But we have no idea of disregarding the labour which such a work must have demanded; or of regretting that the author has given to the country the most exact and intelligent biography which he had the means of giving.
The Wellesley family, rendered so illustrious in our time, is of remote origin, deriving its name from the manor of Welles-leigh, in the county of Somerset, where the family had removed shortly after the Norman invasion. A record in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, traces the line up to A.D. 1239, to Michael de Wellesleigh. The family seem to have held high rank or court-favour in the reign of Henry I., for they obtained the "grand serjeanty" of all the country east of the river Perrot, as far as Bristol Bridge; and there is a tradition, that one of the family was standard-bearer to Henry I. in the Irish invasion. In England, the family subsequently perished; the estates passing, by a daughter, into other families.
The Irish branch survived in Sir William de Wellesley, who was summoned to Parliament as a baron, and had a grant by patent, from Edward III., of the castle of Kildare. In the fifteenth century, the family obtained the Castle of Dangan by an heiress. The de was subsequently dropped from the family name, and the name itself abridged into Wesley—an abbreviation which subsisted down to the immediate predecessor of the subject of this memoir; or, if we are to rely on the journals of the Irish Parliament, it remained later still. For in 1790 we find the late Lord Maryborough there registered as Wesley (Pole,) and even the Duke is registered, as member for the borough of Trim, as the Honourable Arthur Wesley.
Richard Colley Wesley, the grandfather of the Marquess, having succeeded to the family estate by the death of his cousin, was in 1746 created a peer. He was succeeded by his son Garret, who was advanced to the dignities of Viscount Wellesley of Dangan Castle, county Meath, and Earl of Mornington. He was a privy councillor in Ireland, and custos rotulorum of the county of Meath. He married Anne, eldest daughter of Arthur Hill Trevor, first Viscount Duncannon, by whom he had six sons and two daughters.
The Earl was a man of accomplished tastes; he had travelled, adopted dilettante habits, and expended more money in the decoration of his mansion and demesne than his fortune could well bear. But he would have been eminent if he had been compelled to make music his profession; his glee of "Here, in cool grot and mossy cell," has no rival in English composition for the exquisite feeling of the music, the fine adaptation of its harmony to the language, and the general beauty, elegance, and power of expression. He died on the 22d of May 1781.
Richard Colley Wellesley, afterwards the Marquess Wellesley, was born on the 20th of June 1760, in Ireland. At the age of eleven he was sent to Eton, under the care of the Rev. Jonathan Davis, afterwards head-master and provost of Eton. He soon distinguished himself by the facility and elegance of his Latin versification. He was sent to Oxford, and matriculated as a nobleman at Christ Church, in December 1778. In his second year at the college, he gained the Latin verse prize on the death of Captain Cook. His tutor was Dr William Jackson, afterwards Bishop of Oxford. In 1781, on the death of his father the Earl of Mornington, the young lord was called away to superintend the family affairs in Ireland, without taking his degree. On his coming of age, which was in the ensuing year, his first act was to take upon himself the debts of his father, who had left the family estates much embarrassed. His mother, Lady Mornington, survived, and was a woman of remarkable intelligence and force of understanding. To her care chiefly was entrusted the education of her children; and from the ability of the mother, as has been often remarked in the instance of eminent men, was probably derived the talent which has distinguished her memorable family. At the period of their father's death, the brothers and sisters of the young Earl were, William Wellesley Pole, (afterwards Lord Maryborough,) aged eighteen; Anne, (afterwards married to Henry, son of Lord Southampton,) aged thirteen; Arthur, (the Duke of Wellington,) aged twelve; Gerald Valerian, (prebendary of Durham,) aged ten; Mary Elizabeth, (Lady Culling Smith,) aged nine; and Henry, (Lord Cowley,) eight years old.
The period at which the young Earl took his seat in the Irish House of Lords was one of remarkable anxiety. The success of the American revolt had filled the popular mind with dreams of revolution. The success of opposition in the Irish Parliament had fixed the national eyes upon the legislature; and the power actually on foot in the volunteer force of Ireland, tempted the populace to extravagant hopes of national independence and a separation from England, equally forbidden by sound policy and by the nature of things. Ireland, one thousand miles removed into the Atlantic, might sustain a separate existence; but Ireland, lying actually within sight of England, and almost touching her coasts, was evidently designed by nature for that connexion, which is as evidently essential to her prosperity. It is utterly impossible that a small country, lying so close to a great one, could have a separate government without a perpetual war; and, disturbed as Ireland has been by the contest of two antagonist religions, that evil would be as nothing compared with the tremendous calamity of English invasion. Fortunately, the peaceful contest with the English minister in the year 1780, had concluded by recognizing the resolution, "that the King's most excellent Majesty, and the Lords and Commons of Ireland, are the only power competent to make laws to bind Ireland." It is unnecessary now to go further into this topic than to say, that this was a mere triumph of words so far as substantial advantages were regarded, while it was a triumph of evil so far as the existence of a national Parliament was a benefit. It gained no actual advantage whatever for Ireland; for all that Ireland wanted for progressive prosperity was internal quiet. On the other hand, it inflamed faction, even by its nominal success; it told the multitude that every thing might be gained by clamour, and in consequence clamour soon attempted every thing.
The orators of Opposition will never be without a topic. Public disturbance is the element in which they live. They must assault the government, or perish of inanition; and they must stimulate the mob by the novelty of their demands, and the violence of their declamation, or they must sink into oblivion. The Irish opposition now turned to another topic, and brought forward the Roman Catholics for the candidateship of the legislature.
It is not our purpose to go into the detail of a decision of which England now sees all the evil. But there can be no question whatever, that to bring into the legislature a man all whose sentiments are distinctly opposed to the Church and the State—who in the instance of the one acknowledges a foreign supremacy, and in the instance of the other anathematizes the religion—is one of the grossest acts that faction ever committed, or that feebleness in government ever complied with. Self-defence is the first instinct of nature; the defence of the constitution is the first duty of society; the defence of our religion is an essential act of obedience to Heaven. Yet the permission given to individuals, hostile to both, to make laws for either, was the second triumph at which Irish action aimed, and which English impolicy finally conceded.
As an evidence of the royal satisfaction at the arrangements adopted by the lords and commons of Ireland, the king founded an order of knighthood, by the title of the Knights of the Illustrious Order of St Patrick, of which the king and his heirs were to be sovereigns in perpetuity, and the viceroys grand masters. The patent stated as the general ground of this institution, "that it had been the custom of wise and beneficent princes of all ages to distinguish the virtue and loyalty of their subjects by marks of honour, as a testimony to their dignity, and excellency in all qualifications which render them worthy of the favour of their sovereign, and the respect of their fellow-subjects; that so their eminent merits may stand acknowledged to the world, and create a virtuous emulation in others to deserve such honourable distinctions." All this may be true, and marks of honour are undoubtedly valuable; but they can be only so in instances where distinguished services have been rendered, and where the public opinion amply acknowledges such services. Yet, in the fifteen knights of this order appointed in the first instance, there was not the name of any one man known by public services except that of the Earl of Charlemont, an amiable but a feeble personage, who had commanded the volunteers of Ireland. The Earl of Mornington was one of those, and he had but just come into public life, at the age of three-and-twenty; before he had done any one public act which entitled him to distinction, and when all his political merits were limited to having taken his seat in the House of Lords.
In the course of the year we find the young lord occupying something of a neutral ground in the House, and objecting to the profusion of the Irish government in grants of money for public improvements; those grants which we see still about to be given, which are always clamoured for by the Irish, for which they never are grateful, of which nobody ever sees the result, and for which nobody ever seems to be the better. It is curious enough to see, that one of the topics of his speech was his disapproval of "great sums given for the ease and indolence of great cotton manufacturers, rather than the encouragement of manufacture." Such has been always the state of things in Ireland, concession without use, conciliation without gratitude, money thrown away, and nothing but clamour successful. But while he exhibited his eloquence in this skirmishing, it was evident that he by no means desired to shut himself out from the benefits of ministerial friendship. The question had come to a point between the government and the volunteers. The military use of the volunteers had obviously expired with the war. But they were too powerful an instrument to escape the eye of faction.
Ireland abounded with busy barristers without briefs, bustling men of other professions without any thing to do, and angry haranguers, down to the lowest conditions of life, eager for public overthrow. The volunteers were told by those men, that they ought not to lay aside their arms until they had secured the independence of their country. With the northern portion of Ireland, this independence meant Republicanism, with the southern, Popery. The heads of the faction then proceeded to hold an assembly in the metropolis, as a rival and counterpoise to the parliament. This was then regarded as a most insolent act; but the world grows accustomed to every thing; and we have seen the transactions of the League in London, and of Conciliation Hall in the Irish capital, regarded as matters of perfect impunity.
But more vigorous counsels then prevailed in Ireland. The volunteers were put down by the determination of government to check their factions and foolish assumption of power. They were thanked for their offer of services during the war; but were told that they must not be made instruments of disturbing the country. This manliness on the part of government was successful, as it has always been. If, on the other hand, government had shown any timidity, had for a moment attempted to coax them into compliance, or had the meanness to compromise between their sense of duty and the loss of popularity; they would have soon found the punishment of their folly, in the increased demands of faction, and seen the intrigues of partisanship inflamed into the violence of insurrection. The volunteers were speedily abandoned by every friend to public order, and their ranks were so formidably reduced by the abandonment, that the whole institution quietly dissolved away, and was heard of no more.
In 1784, the young nobleman became a member of the English Parliament, as the representative of Beeralston, in Devonshire, a borough in the patronage of the Earl of Beverley—thus entering Parliament, as every man of eminence had commenced his career for the last hundred years; all being returned for boroughs under noble patronage. In 1786, he was appointed one of the Lords of the Treasury.
The period of his introduction into the English Parliament was a fortunate one for a man of ability and ambition. The House never exhibited a more remarkable collection of public names. He nightly had the opportunity of hearing Pitt, Fox, Burke, Sheridan, Grey; and others, who, if not equal, followed with vigorous emulation. He took an occasional part in the debates, and showed at least that he benefited by example. In 1788, he was elected for the royal borough of Windsor. The great question of the regency suddenly occurred. The royal malady rendered a Parliamentary declaration necessary for carrying on the government. The question was difficult. To place the royal power in any other hands than the King's, even for a temporary purpose, required an Act of Parliament. But the King formed an essential portion of the legislature. He, however, now being disabled by mental incapacity from performing his royal functions, where was the substitute to be found? Fox, always reckless, and transported with eagerness to be in possession of the power which would be conferred on him by the regency of the Prince of Wales, was infatuated enough to declare, that the Prince had as express a right to assume the reins of government, and exercise the powers of sovereignty, during the royal incapacity, as if the King had actually died. This doctrine, so contrary to common sense, and even to Whig principles, astonished the House, and still more astonished the country. Pitt fell upon him immediately, with his usual vigour. The leader of Opposition had thrown himself open to attack, and his assailant was irresistible. Pitt dared him to give a reason for his doctrine; he pronounced it hostile to the law of the land, contradictory to the national rights, and, in fact, scarcely less than treason to the constitution.
On the other hand, he laid down with equal perspicuity and force the legal remedy, and pronounced, that where an unprovided difficulty of this order arose, the right of meeting it reverted to the nation, acting by its representatives the two Houses of Parliament, and that, so far as personal right was in question, the Prince had no more right to assume the throne than any other individual in the country.
Such is the blindness of party, and passion for power, that Fox, the great advocate of popular supremacy, was found sustaining, all but in words, that theory of divine right which had cost James II. his throne, whose denial formed the keystone of Whig principles, and whose confirmation would have authorized a despotism.
The decision was finally come to, that the political capacity of the monarch was constitutionally distinguished from his personal; and that, as in the case of an infant king, it had been taken for granted that the royal will had been expressed by the Privy Council, under the Great Seal; so, in the present instance of royal incapacity, it should also be expressed by the Privy Council, under the Great Seal. The question of right now being determined, the Chancellor was directed to affix the Great Seal to a bill creating the Prince of Wales Regent, with limited powers.
Those limitations were certainly formidable; and the chief matter of surprise now is, that the Whigs should have suffered the Regent to accept the office under such conditions. They prevented him from creating any peerage, or granting any office in reversion, or giving any office, pension, or salary, except during the royal pleasure, or disposing of any part of the royal estate. They took from him also the whole household, and the care of the King's person, his majesty being put in charge of the Queen, with power to remove any of the household. But the whole question has now passed away, and would be unimportant except for its bearing on the position of Ireland.
In 1789, the zeal of the Irish opposition, and the flexibility of some members of the Government combining, the Irish Parliament voted the regency to the Prince without any limitation whatever. This naturally directed the attention of ministers to the hazard of a collision between the two Parliaments. The King's fortunate recovery prevented all collision; but the danger was so apparent if the royal incapacity had continued, and opinion became so strongly inflamed in Ireland, that from this period must be dated the determination to unite both Parliaments in one legislature. For it was justly argued, that if the Irish Parliament might invest one individual with powers different from those intrusted to him by the English Parliament, it might in the same manner invest a different individual, the result of which might be a civil war, or a separation.
This rash resolution was, however, strongly opposed. Twenty-three of the peers, among whom was Lord Mornington, signed a protest against it, and the viceroy, the Marquess of Buckingham, refused to transmit the address to England. This increased the confusion: not only were the two legislatures at variance, but the Irish legislature passed a vote of censure on the viceroy.
The King's recovery extinguished the dissension at once, and the hand of government fell with severe but well-deserved penalty on its deserters in the season of difficulty. The rewards of the faithful were distributed with equal justice. Lord Mornington's active support of the viceroy was made known to the monarch, and he was evidently marked for royal favour. From this period he took a share in all the leading questions of the time. He supported Mr Wilberforce's motions for the abolition of the slave-trade.
The bold and sagacious conduct of Pitt, in protecting the royal rights in the Regency, had established his power on the King's recovery. The Whigs had lost all hope of possession, and they turned in their despair to the work of faction. Their cry was now Parliamentary Reform. No cry was ever more insincere, more idly raised, carried on in a more utter defiance of principle, or consummated more in the spirit of a juggler, who, while he is bewildering the vulgar eye with his tricks, is only thinking of the pocket. The Reform Bill has since passed, but the moral of the event is still well worth our recollection. The Whigs themselves had been the great boroughmongers; but boroughmongering had at length failed to bring them into power, and they had recourse to clamour and confederacy with the rabble. Still, in every instance when they came in sight of power, the cry was silenced, and they discovered that it was "not the proper time." At length, in 1830, they raised the clamour once more; the ministry, (rendered unpopular by the Popish question,) were thrown out; the Whigs were, for the first time, compelled to keep their promise, and the whole system of representation was changed. But the change was suicidal: the old champion of Reform, Lord Grey himself, was the first to suffer. The Reform ministry was crushed by a new power, and Lord Grey was crushed along with it. Whiggism was extinguished; the Whig of the present day has no more resemblance to the Whig of Fox's day, than the squatter has to the planter. The rudeness and rashness of Radicalism supplies its place, and the stately and steady march of the landed interest exists no more.
Lord Mornington's speech, in 1793, placed the question in its true point of view. He declared that the consequence of the proposed measure of Reform must be, to change the very genius and spirit of the British government; to break up the combination of those elementary principles of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, which, judiciously associated, formed the constitution. He then referred, with great force, to the practical working of that constitution which this measure was intended to overthrow. "Never," said he, and his language was at once eloquent and true, "have the natural ends of society been so effectually accomplished, as under the government which is thus to be subverted. Under the existing constitution, the life of every individual is sacred, by the equal spirit of the law; by the pure administration of justice; by the institution of juries; and by the equitable exercise of that prerogative which is the brightest ornament of the crown—the power of mitigating the rigour of criminal judgments, and of causing justice to be executed in mercy."
He forcibly pronounced the constitution to contain all "the principles of stability; for it could neither be abused by the subject, nor invaded by the crown." It provided, in an unexampled degree, for the protection of life, liberty, and property. In its legislative action it impartially allowed every public interest to have its representative in Parliament; in its national action it insured the prosperity of the empire; for that prosperity had never been so distinguished as since the constitution had assumed full power; and, by protecting every man in the exercise of his industry, it had given a spur to national and intellectual enterprise and activity, of which the world had never before seen an example. And was this all to be hazarded for the sake of gratifying a party, who always shrank from the measure when in power, and who always renewed it only as a means of recall from their political exile?
His biographer rashly denies the reality of those dangers, and says, that the Reform Act has not produced any of the calamities which his lordship then saw in such ominous prospect. But to this the natural answer is, that the Reform Bill is little more than a dozen years old; that though the power of property in so great a country as England, and the voice of common sense in a country of such general and solid knowledge, could not be extinguished at once; and though the national character forbade our following the example and the rapidity of a French revolution; still, that great evil has been done—that a democratic tendency has been introduced into the constitution—that Radicalism has assumed a place and a shape in public deliberations—that faction beards and browbeats the legitimate authorities of public counsel—that low agitators are suffered to carry on the full insolence of intrigue with a dangerous impunity—and that the pressure from without too often becomes paramount to the wisdom from within.
At the same time, we fully admit that there were abuses in the ancient system, offensive to the natural sense of justice; that the sale of seats was contrary to principle; and that the dependence of members on individual patrons was a violation of legislative liberty. But whose was the criminality? not that of the constitution, but of the faction; not that of the enfeebled law, but of the local supremacy of Whig influence. Property is the true, and in fact the only safe pledge of legislative power; and if Manchester and the other great manufacturing towns had possessed, five hundred years ago, the property which they have acquired within the last fifty there can be no doubt that representatives would have been allotted to them. There can be as little doubt, that in 1830, or in a quarter of a century before, they ought to have had representatives; but the true evil has been in the sweeping nature of the change. Still, we will hope the best; we have strong faith in the fortunes of England, and shall rejoice to see that our fears have been vain.
The young senator's exertions, on this occasion, confirmed the opinion already entertained of him in high quarters. He was shortly after sworn in as a member of the Privy Council in England, and was made one of the commissioners for the affairs of India. Pitt's memorable India Bill, in 1784, had appointed a board of six commissioners for Indian affairs, who were to be privy councillors, with one of the secretaries of state at their head. The board were to be appointed by the King, and removable at his pleasure. They were invested with the control of all the revenue, and civil and military officers of the Company. The directors were obliged to lay before them all papers relative to the management of their affairs. The commissioners were to return the papers of the directors within fourteen days, if approved of, or if not, to assign their reasons. The despatches so agreed on, were then to be sent to India.
It seems not improbable that this appointment was intended as the preparative of the Earl for higher objects in the same department. At all events, it directed his attention to Indian topics, and gave him the due portion of that practical knowledge, without which genius only bewilders, and enterprise is thrown away.
We have to fight our way against this biographer, who takes a rambling and revolutionary view of all the chief transactions of the time. In this spirit, he denies or doubts the necessity of the French war. We deny that it was possible to avert it. It may be true, that if England had been faithless to her compacts, and had suffered her allies to be trampled on, she might, for awhile, have avoided actual collision. But, could this have been done with honour; and what is national honour but a national necessity? Holland, the old ally of England, was actually invaded; and the first English troops that set foot upon the Continent, were sent in compliance with our treaty, and for the simple protection of our ally. No one will contend, and no one has ever contended, that England had a right to make a government for France; or that the fury of her factions, however they might startle and disgust mankind, was a ground for teaching morality at the point of the sword. But there can be no more legitimate cause of war than the obligations of treaties, the protection of the weak against the powerful, and the preservation of the general balance of European power.
In the instance of Holland, too, there was the additional and most efficient reason, viz. that the possession of her ports and arsenals by France must largely increase the danger of England. But when it is further remembered, that France declared the determination to make war upon all monarchies, that she aimed at establishing an universal republic, that she pronounced all kings tyrants and all subjects slaves; and that, offering her assistance to every insurrectionary people, she ostentatiously proclaimed her plan of revolutionizing the world—who can doubt that national safety consisted in resisting the doctrines, in repelling the arms, and in crushing the conspiracies which would have made England a field of civil slaughter, and left of her glory and her power nothing but a name?
It is, however, a curious instance of personal zeal, to find the biographer applauding as the sentiments of his hero, the opinions which he deprecates as the policy of England; and admitting that the war was wise, righteous, and inevitable; that it raised the name of England to the highest rank: and that it preserved us from "the pest of a godless, levelling democracy."
It has been the habit of writers like the present, to conceive that the French Revolution was hailed with general joy by England. Even before the death of the king, the contrary is the fact: the rabble, the factions, and the more bustling and bitter portion of the sectaries, unquestionably exulted in the popular insurrection, and the general weakening of the monarchy. But all the genuinely religious portion of the people, all the honest and high-minded, all the travelled and well-informed, adopted a just conception of the whole event from the beginning. The religious pronounced it atheistic, the honest illegal, and the travelled as the mere furious outburst of a populace mad for plunder and incapable of freedom. But the death of the king excited a unanimous burst of horror; and there never was a public act received with more universal approbation than the dismissal of the French ambassador, M. Chauvelin, by a royal order to quit the country within eight days. The note was officially sent by Lord Grenville, but was stamped with the energy of Pitt. It was as follows:—
"I am charged to notify to you, sir, that the character with which you have been vested at this court, and the functions of which have been so long suspended, being now utterly terminated by the fatal death of his most Christian Majesty, you have no more any public character here, the King can no longer, after such an event, permit your residence here; his Majesty has thought fit to order that you should retire from this kingdom within the term of eight days. And I herewith transmit to you a copy of the order, which his Majesty, in his Privy Council, has given to this effect. I send you a passport for yourself and your suite, and I shall not fail to take all the necessary steps, in order that you may return to France with all the attentions which are due to the character of minister-plenipotentiary, which you have exercised at this court. I have the honour to be, &c.
"GRENVILLE. "Dated Whitehall, Jan. 4, 1793."
On the opening of Parliament, in January 1794, a debate of great importance commenced on the policy of the war. On this occasion, Lord Mornington and Sheridan took the lead in the debate, and both made speeches of great effect. Lord Mornington's speech was published under his own inspection immediately after, and it still remains among the most striking records of the republican opinions, and the mingled follies and blasphemies of a populace suddenly affecting the powers of a legislature. Every thing in France, at this period, was robbery; but even the robbery exhibited the national taste for "sentiment." Their confiscation of property was pronounced to be, "not for the sake of its possession," but for their abhorrence of the precious metals. Lord Mornington, in the course of his speech, read extracts of a letter from Fouche, afterwards so well known as the minister of imperial police, but then commissioner in the central and western departments. In this sublime display of hypocrisy, Fouche pronounces gold and silver to have been the causes of all the calamities of the republic. "I know not," says he, "by what weak compliance those metals are suffered to remain in the hands of suspected persons. Let us degrade and vilify gold and silver, let us fling those deities of monarchy in the dirt, and establish the worship of the austere virtues of the republic," adding, by way of exemplification of his virtuous abhorrence, "I send you seventeen chests filled with gold, silver, and plate of all sorts, the spoil of churches and castles. You will see with peculiar pleasure, two beautiful crosiers and a ducal coronet of silver, gilt." But the portion of his speech which attracted, and justly, the deepest attention, was that in which he gave the proofs of the dreadful spirit of infidelity, so long fostered in the bosom of the Gallican church. An address, dated 30th of October, from the Rector of Villos de Luchon, thus expatiates in blasphemy:—"For my part, I believe that no religion in any country in the world is founded on truth. I believe that all the various religions in the world are descended from the same parents, and are the daughters of pride and ignorance." This worthy ecclesiastic finished by declaring, that thenceforth "he would preach in no other cause than that of liberty and his country." The Convention decreed, that this and all similar addresses of renunciation should be lodged with the Committee of Public instruction, evidently as materials for training the rising generation. A motion then followed, that all those renunciations of religion should be "translated into the languages of all foreign countries."
Then followed a scene, which gave reality to all those hideous declarations. The Archbishop of Paris entered the hall of the Convention, accompanied by a formal procession of his vicars, and several of the rectors of the city parishes. He there addressed the Assembly in a speech, in which he renounced the priesthood in his own name, and that of all who accompanied him, declaring that he acted thus in consequence of his conviction, that no national worship should be tolerated except the worship of Liberty and Equality! The records of the Convention state, that the archbishop and his rectors were received with universal transport, and that the archbishop was solemnly presented with a red cap, the day concluding with the worthy sequel, the declaration of one Julien, who told the Assembly that he had been a Protestant minister of Toulouse for twenty years, and that he then renounced his functions for ever. "It is glorious," said this apostate, "to make this declaration, under the auspices of reason, philosophy, and that sublime constitution which has already overturned the errors of superstition and monarchy in France, and which now prepares a similar fate for all foreign tyrannies. I declare that I will no longer enter into any other temple than the sanctuary of the laws. Thus I will acknowledge no other God than liberty, no other worship than that of my country, no other gospel than the republican constitution."
Then followed a succession of addresses and letters from the various commissioners in the departments, blaspheming in the same atrocious strain. The municipality of Paris, which was one of the chief governing powers, if not the actual ruler of France, followed this declamation by an order, that all the churches should be shut, let their denomination of worship be what it might, and that any attempt to reopen one should be punished by arrest. The decree was put into immediate effect. The church of Notre Dame and all the other churches of the capital were closed. The popular measures were now carried on in a kind of rivalry of destruction. The "Section of the Museum," a portion of the populace, announced that they had done execution on all Prayer-books, and burnt the Old and New Testaments. The Council-General of Paris decreed that a civic feast should be held in the cathedral of Notre Dame, and that a patriotic hymn should be chanted before the statue of liberty. The Goddess of Reason was personated by a Madame Momarro, a handsome woman of profligate character, who was introduced into the hall of the Convention, received with "the fraternal embrace" by the president and secretaries, and was then installed by the whole legislature in the cathedral, which was called the "Regenerated Temple of Reason." In this monstrous profanation, the apostate archbishop officiated as the high priest of Reason, with a red cap on his head, and a pike in his hand; with this weapon he struck down some of the old religious emblems of the church, and finished his performance by placing a bust of Marat on the altar. A colossal statue was then ordered to be placed "on the ruins of monarchy and religion."
This desperate profanation was emulated in the provinces. Fouche, in Lyons, ordered a civic festival in honour of one Chalier. An ass, with a mitre on its head, and dragging a Bible at its tail, formed a characteristic portion of the ceremony; the Bible was finally burnt, and its ashes scattered to the winds.
"Thus Christianity," said the noble speaker, "was stigmatized, through the president of the Convention, amid the applauses of the whole audience, as a system of murder and massacre, incapable of being tolerated by the humanity of a republican government. The Old and New Testaments were publicly burnt, as prohibited books. Nor was it to Christianity that their hatred was confined; the Jews were involved in this comprehensive plan. Their ornaments of public worship were plundered, and their vows of irreligion were recorded with enthusiasm. The existence of a future state was openly denied, and modes of burial were devised, for the express purpose of representing to the popular mind, that death was nothing more than an everlasting sleep; and, to complete the whole project, doctrines were circulated under the eye of the government, declaring that 'the existence of a Supreme God was an idea inconsistent with the liberty of man.'"
In England, we are verging on democracy from year to year. We have begun by unhinging the national respect for the religion of the Scriptures, in our zeal to introduce the religion of the Council of Trent into the constitution. The malecontents in the Established Church are contributing their efforts to bring Protestantism into contempt, by their adoption of every error and every absurdity of the Papist. The bolder portion of these malecontents have already apostatized. The Church once shaken, every great and salutary support of the constitution will follow, and we shall have a government impelled solely by faction. When that time arrives, the minister will be the mere tool of the multitude; the faction in the streets will have its mouthpiece in the faction of the legislature. Property will be at the mercy of the idle, the desperate, and the rapacious—Law will be a dead letter—Religion a mockery—Right superseded by violence—and the only title to possession will be the ruffian heart and the sanguinary hand.
We are perfectly aware, that a large portion of the country cannot be persuaded that it is necessary for them to disturb their own comfort, quiet, and apathy, for any possible reason—that they believe all change to be of too little moment to demand any resistance on their part; and that, at all events, they trust that the world will go on smoothly for their time, whatever may be the consequence of their scandalous and contemptible apathy hereafter. But, such thinkers do not deserve to have a country, nor to be protected, nor to be regarded as any thing but as the cumberers of the earth. On such men no power of persuasion can act; for no argument would convince. They wrap themselves up in their snug incredulity, leave it to others to fight for them, and will not hazard a shilling, nor give a thought, for the salvation of their country! Yet even they are no more secure than the rest. The noble, the priest, and the man of landed wealth, are not those alone on whom the heavy hand of rabble robbery will fall. We give them, on this head, a fragment from the report of the well-known Barrere, from the "Committee of Public Welfare," constituting, in fact, the rule of conduct to the Republic. It begins by declaring the "necessity of abandoning the idea of mercy in republican government." It pronounces the necessity of the law to act, for the "arrest of suspected persons." It declares every "remnant of the gentry of France to be an object of suspicion." It declares the "business of bankers to render them objects of suspicion." It declares "their reluctance to receive assignats, and their sordid attachment to their own interests," to make all merchants objects of suspicion. It declares "all the relatives of emigrants" to be objects of suspicion. It declares "all the clergy who have refused the constitutional oath, and all the former magistracy," to be objects of suspicion. All those classes of society are to be sentenced at once, "without being heard." Let us strike at once, says this desperate document, "without trial and without mercy. Let us banish all compassion from our bosoms. Oh! what innumerable mischiefs may be produced by a false sentiment of pity?"
This decree, which made every man a victim who had any thing to lose, instantly crowded the French prisons with the merchants, the bankers, and the whole monied class in France. Those who could be plundered no longer, were sent to execution. In Paris alone, within six months, a thousand persons of the various professions had been murdered by the guillotine. During the three years of the democracy, no less than eighteen thousand individuals, chiefly of the middle order, perished by the guillotine.
This frightful catalogue closed with a remark on the belligerent propensities which such a state of society must produce. "It must be the immediate interest of a government, founded on principles wholly contradictory to the received maxims of all surrounding nations, to propagate the doctrines abroad by which it subsists at home; to assimilate every neighbouring state to its own system; and to subvert every constitution which even forms an advantageous contrast to its own absurdities. Such a government must, from its nature, be hostile to all governments of whatever form; but, above all, to those which are most strongly contrasted with its own vicious structure, and which afford to their subjects the best security for the maintenance of order, liberty, justice, and religion."
Sheridan made a speech, of great beauty and animation, in reply. But his whole argument consisted in the sophism, that the French had been rendered savage by the long sense of oppression, and that the blame of their atrocities, (which he fully admitted,) should be visited on the monarchy, not on the people.
Lord Mornington's was acknowledged to be the ablest speech on the ministerial side; and though eclipsed by the richness and power of Sheridan—and what speaker in the records of English eloquence ever excelled him in either?—it yet maintained a distinguished superiority in the force of its reasoning, and the fulness of its statements. Sheridan, in his peroration, had thrown out some bitter pleasantries on the ministerial favours, whose prospect he regarded as the only motive of those abandonments which had left the Whig party suddenly so feeble. "Is this a time," exclaimed the orator, "for selfish intrigues and the little traffic of lucre? Is it intended to confirm the pernicious doctrine, that all public men are impostors, and that every politician has his price? Nay, even for those who have no direct object, what is the language which their actions speak? 'The throne is in danger'—'we will support the throne; but let us share the smiles of royalty.' 'The order of nobility is in danger'—'I will fight for nobility,' says the viscount. 'But my zeal would be much greater, if I were made an earl.' 'Rouse all the marquess within me!' exclaims the earl, 'and the peerage never turned out a more undaunted champion in the cause.' 'Stain my green riband blue,' cries out the gallant knight, 'and the fountain of honour will have a fast and faithful servant.' But, what are the people to think of our sincerity? What credit are they to give to our professions? It there nothing which whispers to that right honourable gentleman, that the crisis is too big, that the times are too gigantic, to be ruled by the hackneyed means of ordinary corruption?"
Wyndham pronounced, that the speech of the noble lord had recapitulated the conduct of France in a manner so true, so masterly, and so alarming, "as to fix the attention of the House and the nation." Pitt spoke in terms still more expressive. "The speech of my noble friend," said he, "has been styled declamatory; on what principle I know not, unless that every effort of eloquence, in which the most forcible reasoning was adorned and supported by all the powers of language, was to be branded with the epithet declamatory." This debate was decisive; two hundred and seventy-seven voted for the vigorous prosecution of the war: for Fox's amendment, only fifty-seven. We have now to follow the career of the noble lord to another quarter of the globe, where his presence was more essential, and where his capabilities had a still wider field.
The resignation of Sir John Shore had left the government of India vacant; and the conspicuous exertions of Lord Mornington in the late debates had placed him in a high position before the ministerial eye. He was now fixed on for the Governor-generalship. His connexion with Indian affairs as a member of the Board of Control, had given him official knowledge; his education had given him the accomplishment suited to diplomatic distinction; and his abilities, his ardour, and his time of life, rendered him the fittest man for the arduous government of India. The period demanded all the qualities of government. France was notoriously intriguing to enlist the native princes in a general attack on the British power; a large French force was already organized in the territories of the Nizam, and Tippoo Saib had drawn together an army with seventy guns in the Mysore. The Indian princes, always jealous of the British authority, which had checked their old savage depredations on each other, and had presented in its own dominions a noble contrast to the ravaged and wretched condition of their kingdoms were all preparing to join the alliance of the French; and the first shock of a war, now almost inevitable, would probably involve all India. At this period Lord Mornington, who had been raised to an English barony, was appointed governor-general in October 1797; and such was his promptitude that he sailed on the 7th of the month following. In the April of 1798, he arrived on the coast of Coromandel, and landed at Madras, accompanied by his brother, the Hon. Henry Wellesley, as private secretary, (now Lord Cowley.) On the 17th of May he arrived at Calcutta, where he found his brother, since so memorable, Colonel Arthur Wellesley, and Sir Alured Clarke, the commander-in-chief.
Lord Mornington had been sent to India in anticipation of French attempts on the British dominions, and there could be no doubt of the intentions of the French Directory. But the blow came sooner, and was more openly struck than an European public man could have surmised. It exhibited all that arrogant contempt of an enemy which once characterised Eastern supremacy; and would have been worthy of Gengis, proclaiming his sovereign will. It was a proclamation from the French governor of the Mauritius, on the 30th of June; announcing, without any attempt at disguise, that two ambassadors from Tippoo Sultaun had arrived there with letters for the governor, and despatches for the government of France; and that the object of the embassy was, to form an alliance, offensive and defensive, with France, and to demand a subsidiary force, for the purpose of expelling the English from India. The proclamation further invited all Frenchmen, in the isles of France and Bourbon, to volunteer for the sultaun's service, and promised to secure them pay under the protection of the Republic.
The daring insolence of this proclamation, and the palpable rashness of making the designs of Tippoo public, before any direct preparation for attack, were so unlike the usual forms of diplomacy, that the governor-general, in the first instance, was inclined to doubt its authenticity. But it awoke his vigilance, and he wrote without delay to General Harris, then commanding at Madras, and governor for the time, to be on his guard. "If Tippoo," said his letter, "should choose to avow the objects of his embassy to be such as are described in this proclamation, the consequences may be very serious, and may ultimately involve us in the calamity of war. I wish you to be apprised of my apprehensions on the subject, and to prepare your mind for the possible event. You will, therefore, turn your attention to the means of collecting a force, if necessity should unfortunately require it. But it is not my desire that you should proceed to take any public steps towards the assembling of the army, before you receive some further information from me."
The governor-general has been charged with precipitancy in making war on Tippoo. But the charge is refuted by dates. The French proclamation was dated 10th Pluviose, sixth year of the Republic, (30th January 1798.) Its truth or falsehood was carefully enquired into, until the evidence was completed by despatches from the British governors of the Cape and Bombay, the admiral at the Cape, the testimony of prisoners, and finally by the actual landing of a corps of French volunteers from the Mauritius. It was not till six months after the date of the proclamation, that the governor-general wrote thus (20th of June) to General Harris:—"I now take the earliest opportunity of acquainting you with my final determination. I mean to call upon the allies without delay, and to assemble the army upon the coast with all possible expedition. You will receive my public instructions in the course of a few days. Until you have received them, it will not be proper to take any public steps for the assembling of the army. But whatever can be done without a disclosure of the ultimate object, I authorize you to do immediately; intending to apprise you, by this letter, that it is my positive resolution to assemble the army upon the coast."
The Mysore dynasty was one of the natural productions of Indian sovereignty. They had each been founded by a successful soldier, had made conquests of prodigious extent, had devastated the land with frightful rapidity; and then, after a generation or two of opulent possession, had seen their provinces divided by rebellious viceroys; until some slave, bolder than the rest, sprang up, broke down the tottering viceroyalties, and seized the supreme throne. Hyder Ali, the father of Tippoo, had been a common trooper in the service of the Rajah of Mysore—by his intrepidity he became the captain of one of those bands, half soldier and half robber, which form the irregulars of an Asiatic army. By his address as a courtier, he rose into favour with the rajah, who gave him the command of his army. By the treachery which always surrounds and subverts an Asiatic throne, he finally took the sovereign power to himself. Disputes of the new rajah with the Company's agents produced a war, and the cavalry of this daring adventurer rode up to the gates of Madras. Peace was at length proclaimed, and Hyder acquired a vast reputation among the natives as the champion of India. In 1770, an invasion of the Mahrattas, a robber nation, but the most renowned of Indian plunderers, determined to crush the new power, and poured down upon Mysore. Hyder now applied for assistance to Madras; but the settlement had no assistance to give, and Hyder was forced to make a disadvantageous treaty. He now loudly protested against the failure of the English contingent, which he declared to have been the subject of a treaty, and resolved on revenge. The plunder of the merchants' stores at Madras was the more probable motive to his next desperate attack. The half military, half commercial government of the Company, at that period, paralyzed all measures of effective resistance; and while the garrison urged vigorous proceedings, and the inhabitants dreaded mercantile loss, the plains surrounding Madras were deluged by an invasion from the Mysore. Hyder ranged in line seventy thousand horse and twenty thousand regular infantry! with all the marauders of India in his train, and all the Indian sovereigns ready to rise. At Madras all was confusion. Some detachments of Europeans and Sepoys, scattered through the country, were surrounded, fought gallantly, and were cut to pieces. Warren Hastings, the most indefatigable of Indian governors, now came in person to the seat of war; but such was the feebleness of the British means, that he could bring with him but five hundred Europeans and five hundred Sepoys. But he brought the more effectual aid of an officer of decision and sagacity, the celebrated Sir Eyre Coote. This brave man, struggling with difficulties of every kind, was, in almost all instances, victorious, and the last hours of Hyder's daring career were embittered by defeat at Arriee. In a few months after, at the age of eighty-two, this great chieftain, but barbarous and bloody warrior, died; leaving his son Tippoo, who had commenced his warfare at eighteen, and had followed him in all his battles, the possessor of his throne.
Tippoo was the heir of his father's bravery, but not of his intelligence. Hyder had a mean opinion of his understanding, and evidently regarded him as little better than a royal tiger. "That boy," said he, "will overthrow all that it has cost me a life to raise, and will ruin himself."
The war continued, carried on by detachments on the part of the English, and by marauding expeditions on the part of Tippoo; time, life, and treasure were thus thrown away on both sides. But at length the news of peace between England and France reached India, and peace was concluded between the Company and the Mysore on the 11th of March 1784.
Some conception of the resources of India may be formed from the military means which the single state of Mysore was able to accumulate, under all the pressure of a long war. At the peace, the treasure of Tippoo was calculated at eighty millions sterling; he had six hundred thousand stand of arms, two thousand cannons, with a regular force of artillery, cavalry, and infantry, of little less than one hundred thousand men!
The history of the Mysore dynasty would form a brilliant poem; and, if India shall ever have a poet again, he could not choose a more varied, animating, and splendid theme. Tippoo, in peace, turned saint, and, following the example of his prophet, forced one hundred thousand Hindoos, at the sword's point, to swear by the Koran. We pass over the remaining features of his fierce history. Restless with ambition, and plethoric with power, in 1790 he invaded Travancore. The rajah called upon his English allies for protection. The war began by the appearance of Tippoo in the field at the head of another deluge of cavalry. But the genius of Hyder was in the tomb; and the English army, under Cornwallis, forced its way to the ramparts of Seringapatam. A peace stripped the Mysore of half its territory, of three millions and a half for the expenses of the war, and of the two sons of Tippoo as hostages. But the rajah constantly looked for revenge; and the successes of the French Republic urged him to a contest, in which every thing was to be lost to him but his daring name.
The first step of the governor-general exhibited singular decision, and was attended with singular success. The Nizam had raised a regular corps of eleven thousand men, disciplined by French officers. It was ascertained that those officers held a correspondence with Tippoo, and there was every probability of their either forcing the Nizam into his alliance, or of their marching to join him. A British force was now ordered to move towards the capital of the Nizam, without any intimation of its object or its approach. On its arrival, a distinct demand was made for the dismissal of the French. The Nizam hesitated; but the officer commanding the British declared, that if there was any further delay, he would attack the battalions in their camp. The Nizam then gave his consent, and the battalions were informed that hesitation would expose them to the penalties of treason. A negotiation then began, in the presence of the British troops and the Nizam's horse. The French officers were promised protection, the possession of their personal property, their arrears, and a passage to France; the battalions were promised pay and future employment. The terms were accepted, and the British officer had the satisfaction to see the eleven thousand lay down their arms! This event struck all India with surprise. The measure had been conducted so noiselessly, that the result was wholly unexpected. It gave a prodigious prestige to the character of the governor-general throughout the "golden peninsula."
The war began. The seizure of Egypt by Bonaparte had inflamed Tippoo with the hope of conquest; and, on the 13th of February 1799, he crossed his own frontier at the head of 12,000 horse, and attacked the Bombay force, of six thousand men, under General Stuart. He was repulsed after some charges, and recrossed his frontier. This battle occurred five days before General Harris's invasion of Mysore. But another eminent soldier was here to acquire his first distinction. Tippoo, manoeuvring to prevent the junction of Generals Harris and Stuart, fell upon the British at the lines of Malavelly. "Colonel Arthur Wellesley" there commanded the 33d regiment, and the Nizam's force. A strong body of horse charged the 33d. The soldiers were ordered to reserve their fire till within pistol-shot; they then fired, and charged with the bayonet. A general charge of the British dragoons took place, and the Mysore troops were routed, with the loss of two thousand men.
On the 30th of April the breaching battery opened against Seringapatam. Terms had been offered to Tippoo, by which he was to cede half his territories, to pay two millions sterling, to renounce the French alliance, and to give up four of his sons, and four of his generals, as hostages. Those terms were merciful, for he was now reduced to his last extremity, and it was palpable that there could be no hope of peace while he retained the power of making war. His conduct, at this period, seems to have been the work of infatuation. It was said that he had some superstitious belief, that as the English had before retired from the walls, the city was destined never to be taken. It had provisions for a long defence, and a garrison of twenty-two thousand regular troops. But, by shutting himself up in the fortress, he transgressed one of the first rules of national war—that the monarch should never be compelled to stand a siege. Tippoo, in the field, might have escaped, to wait a change of fortune; but within walls he must conquer, or be undone.
On the 4th of May, at one in the afternoon, the stormers, commanded by Baird, advanced. He, with some other officers of the 71st, had once been a prisoner, and been cruelly treated in the fortress. The column consisted of two thousand five hundred English, and one thousand eight hundred Sepoys. They crossed the Cavery, the river of Seringapatam; and in ten minutes the British flag was on the top of the rampart! The column now cleared the ramparts to the right and left, and after a gallant but confused resistance by the garrison, this famous fortress was taken. Tippoo, after having his horse killed under him, and receiving two wounds, attempted to make his escape on foot. A soldier, attracted by his jewels, rushed to seize him; Tippoo gave him a cimeter wound in the knee, the soldier then fired, and Tippoo fell dead. The fortress was strongly provided. Its works mounted two hundred and eighty guns. In its arsenal were found four hundred and fifty-one brass guns, and four hundred and seventy-eight iron guns. Stores of every kind were found in abundance. The storm scarcely exceeded an hour. Thus fell the dynasty of the great Hyder Ali; and thus was extinguished a dream of conquest, which once embraced the Empire of Hindostan.
Thus, by promptitude of action and sagacity of council, this formidable war was extinguished in little more than eight weeks; a territory producing a million sterling a-year was added to the Company's dominions; and the whole fabric of a power which it had cost the genius of Hyder a life to raise, and which once threatened to overthrow the empire of the English in India, was broken down and dismantled for ever. But Mysore was given to the family of its former Hindoo Rajah, and simply reduced to the limits of its original territory; the conquests of Hyder having been alone lopped away.
In England, the thanks of Parliament were given to the governor-general and the army, and the former was made a marquess. The treasure taken in Seringapatam, with the various arms and stores, was subsequently valued at forty-five millions of star pagodas, (the pagoda being about eight shillings sterling;) General Harris, as commander-in-chief, receiving an eighth of the whole, or three hundred and twenty-four thousand nine hundred and seven pagodas. His right to this sum was afterwards disputed at law, but the claim was ultimately allowed. One hundred thousand pounds was offered by the army to the Marquess, but honourably declined by him as encroaching on the general prize-money. But the Court of Directors, in recompense, voted him five thousand pounds a-year for twenty years.
We now come to another important period in the career of this distinguished servant of the crown. The French expedition to Egypt had been expressly aimed at the British power in India. The Marquess Wellesley instantly conceived the bold project of attacking the French in the rear, by the march of an Indian army to Egypt, to co-operate with an army from home.
The question of occupying Aden, at the mouth of the Red Sea, was then discussed; and objected to by the marquess, on the several grounds of its unfitness for a naval station, for a commercial station, and for maintaining an influence on the coast. The admiral's opinion was strongly against it, and the design was abandoned. It has been since adopted; but the difference of circumstances must be remembered. We had then no regular overland communication, no steamers on the Red Sea, and thus no necessity for either a harbour or a depot of coals. Aden as a garrison may be of little comparative value, but as a rendezvous for the steam navy, it is of obvious importance, and not less as a means of guarding the overland communication for the general benefit of Europe. The advantages of this station may be the more appreciated, from the following letter of the governor-general to the chairman of the Court of Directors, (October 6, 1800,)—"In the present year I was nearly seven months without receiving one line of authentic intelligence from England. My distress and anxiety of mind were scarcely supportable. Speedy, authentic, and regular intelligence from Europe, is essential to the trade and government of this empire. If the sources of information be obstructed, no conscientious man can undertake this weighty charge."
In 1800, the army under Abercromby landed in Egypt, and defeated the French under Menou. General Baird, at the head of six thousand of the Indian army, reached Egypt. General Belliard surrendered in Cairo with thirteen thousand men. The Indian army then joined the British, and the siege of Alexandria was begun. Menou immediately capitulated, and thus the whole French expedition was undone—the fleet having been destroyed by Nelson, and the army having been captured by Hutchinson—the French army, amounting in the whole to twenty-four thousand men, and their captors only to nineteen thousand British; the Indian army making up the general number to twenty-five thousand six hundred and eighteen.
In July 1801, the Addington cabinet was formed. Peace with France was signed at Amiens, March 27, 1802. Orders were now sent out to India to restore the French possessions. But the Marquess, by his personal sagacity, anticipated another war; and delayed the measure until he should receive further intelligence. The result was, that when Linois arrived with a French squadron to take possession of Pondicherry, Lord Clive answered, "that he had not received any orders from the governor-general." A despatch from Downing Street, of the 18th of March 1803, communicated to him the King's message to parliament declaring war!
It is beyond our limits to enter into the disputes with the directors, which preceded the return of the governor-general to Europe. He was charged with lavishness of living, with the affectation of being the director of the directors, with extravagance in the erection of the palace at Calcutta, and with equal extravagance in the establishment of the Indian college. But these charges have long since been forgotten; they speedily vanished; investigation did justice to the character of the Marquess; and the only foundation for those vague and wandering charges actually was, that he was a man of high conceptions, fond of the sumptuousness belonging to his rank, adopting a large expenditure for its effect on the native mind, and justly thinking that the noblest ornament of an empire is accomplished by literature.
He returned to England in January 1806, and found the great minister dying. On his arrival he wrote to Pitt, who replied by the following letter, dated from Putney:—
"MY DEAR WELLESLEY,
"On my arrival here last night I received, with inexpressible pleasure your most friendly and affectionate letter. If I was not strongly advised to keep out of London till I have acquired a little further strength, I would have come up immediately, for the purpose of seeing you at the first possible moment. As it is, I am afraid I must trust to your goodness to give me the satisfaction of seeing you here, the first hour you can spare for the purpose. If you can, without inconvenience, make it about the middle of the day, (in English style between two and four,) it would suit me rather better than any other time, but none can be inconvenient.
"I am recovering rather slowly from a series of stomach complaints, followed by severe attacks of gout; but I believe I am in the way of real amendment. Ever most truly and affectionately yours,
The great minister was unfortunately lost to his country and mankind within a week!
Lord Brougham, in his Memoirs of British Statesmen, records the testimony of the Marquess against the common report, that Pitt died of a broken heart in consequence of the calamities of Austria and the breaking up of the continental coalition. The Marquess declares, that Pitt, though emaciated, retained his "gaiety and constitutionally sanguine disposition" to the last, expressing also "confident hopes of recovery."
The biographer gives a passing touch of disapproval to Pitt's administration, though he imputes all his ministerial delinquencies "to sordid and second-rate men round him." But this is wholly contrary to the character of the man—never individual less acted on the suggestions of others than Pitt. The simple fact is, the biographer knows nothing on the subject, and would have much more wisely avoided giving us his opinions altogether.
We shall notice but one charge more against the Marquess on his return. It was made by a low fellow of the name of Paul, who had been a tailor, but had by some means or other obtained an office in India. No man could have held the highest power in India so long without making enemies among the contemptible; and this Paul, determined to figure as a public accuser, attacked the character of the Marquess with respect to his compelling the Nabob of Oude to pay his debts to the Company. Every one knows the degraded state of Indian morality, especially in pecuniary transactions; and the measures necessary in this instance were charged as the extreme of tyranny. But those charges were never substantiated; they came before the House of Commons in the shape of resolutions, and were negatived by a large majority, 182 to 31. Paul, in a struggle to become a popular character, and as a candidate for Westminster, involved himself in an unfortunate duel with Sir Francis Burdett, in which both were wounded; but Paul's wound, suddenly turning to mortification, he died.
After the vote on the resolutions, Sir John Anstruther, who had been chief-justice in Bengal, moved "that the Marquess's conduct in Oude was highly meritorious." The resolution was triumphantly carried.
We are now to regard the Marquess in the character of a British statesman. In 1808, Napoleon invaded Spain. His purpose was, to make Spain the basis of an invasion of England. No act of the French Emperor exhibited more of the mingled subtlety and ferocity of his nature; and yet it should be remembered, for the benefit of mankind, that no act more distinctly exhibited the rashness with which avarice or power overlooks obstacles, and the folly with which the desire of entrapping others frequently outwits itself. Napoleon already, through the weakness of the king and the treachery of his minister, had all the resources of Spain at his disposal. But, not content with the reality, he resolved to arrogate the title; and he thus eventually lost the Peninsula. Under the pretext of settling the disputes of the royal family, the Emperor, in 1808, marched ninety thousand men into Spain, obtained possession of its principal fortresses, and established a garrison in the capital. The Spanish nation, always disdaining a foreign master, and yet accustomed to foreign influence, was roused by the massacre of Madrid on the 2d of May. Every province rose in arms, elected a governing body, and attacked the French. On the 6th of June 1808, Joseph Bonaparte was appointed King of Spain and the Indies.—On the same day, the Supreme Junta at Seville proclaimed war against France! Deputations from the provinces were sent to England, and they were answered by the dispatch of an army, under Sir Arthur Wellesley, to the coast of Portugal. The British general then commenced that series of victories which finished only in the capitulation of Paris, and the downfall of Napoleon.
On the 21st of August Sir Arthur Wellesley beat the French army of Portugal at Vimeira, and would have inevitably forced the French marshal to capitulate on the field, but for the singular and unfortunate blunder by which two officers, superior in rank, had been inadvertently sent to join the expedition, by whom he was of course superseded; General Burrard arriving during the action, though he did not take the command until the day was over; and General Dalrymple arriving within a few days, to supersede General Burrard. The consequence was, that the whole operation was paralysed, and the French army, instead of being extinguished on the field, was allowed by a convention to retire from the country. Sir John Moore then, superseding them all, took the command. In the mean time, Austria had renewed the war, and been defeated in the decisive battle of Wagram. Napoleon now threw the whole force of France upon the Peninsula.
It was obvious that Spain was the field in which the great battle of Europe was now to be fought; but the inefficiency of public men in Spain, and the divisions of the provincial governments, rendered it necessary that some superintending mind should be sent to conduct the national affairs. Early in 1809, Mr Canning, then secretary for foreign affairs, received the royal commands to propose the appointment of ambassador-extraordinary to the Marquess Wellesley. On the 1st of April, Sir Arthur Wellesley was appointed commander of the British forces in the Peninsula. The Marquess arrived in Cadiz on the 4th of July, four days after the battle of Talavera.
The first year of the Spanish campaign was, in one sense of the word, disastrous. Sir Arthur Wellesley, after fighting the desperate battle of Talavera, was forced to retire into Portugal, through the neglect of the Spanish government to supply his troops with the means of subsistence. They were actually starved out of the field. The Spanish armies had now been utterly broken; the great expedition of Walcheren had terminated in the capture of a fishing town, and the loss of some thousand men by the marsh fever. At this period, Spain seemed utterly helpless; Austria had been forced into peace; Russia was on the closest terms of alliance with France; and in England the two cabinet ministers, Lord Castlereagh and Mr Canning, had fought a duel with each other. The cabinet was now broken up, and reconstructed, the three secretaries of state being, the Marquess of Wellesley for foreign affairs, Lord Liverpool for the colonies, and the Hon. R. Ryder for the home department; Mr Perceval, first lord of the treasury and prime minister.
In the year 1810, on the invasion of Portugal by Marshal Massena at the head of eighty thousand men, while Wellington had but thirty thousand, the declaimers of Opposition had produced so depressing an effect on public opinion, that a cabinet despatch actually left it to the decision of the British general, then Lord Wellington, whether the army should remain or return to England! On that occasion, the British general returned the following gallant and decisive answer:—"From what I have seen of the objects of the French government, and the sacrifices they make to accomplish them, I have no doubt, that if the British army were for any reason withdrawn from the Peninsula, and the French government were relieved from the pressure of military operations on the Continent, they would incur all risks to land an army in his Majesty's dominions. Then, indeed, would commence an expensive contest, then would his Majesty's subjects discover what are the miseries of war, of which, by the blessing of God, they have hitherto had no knowledge; and the cultivation, the beauty, and the prosperity of the country, and the virtue and happiness of its inhabitants, would be destroyed, whatever might be the results of military operations. God forbid that I should be a witness, much less an actor, in the scene! And I only hope that the King's government will consider well what I have stated to your lordship; will ascertain, as it is in their power, the actual expenses of employing a certain number of men in this country, beyond that of employing them at home or elsewhere; and will keep up their force here on such a footing, as will, at all events, ensure their possession, without keeping the transports; if it does not enable their commander to take advantage of events, and assume the offensive." This letter decided the fate of the Peninsula. Massena was driven out of Portugal before the close of the year, and the question of French conquest was at an end!
In 1811, the Marquess Wellesley retired from the cabinet. He had expressed opinions on the abilities of Mr Perceval, which rendered it necessary that either one or other should resign. The nominal cause of difference was the Roman Catholic question; on which Perceval was as well-informed and principled, as the Marquess was ignorant and fanciful; his chief argument being, that the Protestant Church in Ireland was feeble—an argument which should have led him to look for the remedy in giving it additional strength. But the only view which reasoners like the Marquess have ever taken on the subject is, the force of numbers—"The Roman Catholics are three times as numerous as the Protestants." An argument which would have been equally valid against the original attempt to spread Christianity among the heathen nations, and would be equally valid still, for Paganism is still more populous than Christendom. In fact, the argument would be equally valid against any attempt whatever to enlighten mankind; for the ignorant are always the overwhelming majority. The true enquiry would have been, are the opinions of the Roman Catholics consistent with a Protestant throne? is their divided allegiance perilous or not to a Protestant government? are their religious prejudices consistent with the rights of the national religion? We have now the melancholy proof of the shallowness of all the declamation on the subject. We see that power has been used only for public disturbance; that pledges are scoffed at; and that, in the fifteenth year of this boasted conciliation, Ireland is more turbulent, faction more violent, prejudice more envenomed, and life more in hazard than ever.
The unfortunate death of Mr Perceval by the hand of a half-frantic ruffian, who was resolved to shoot one of the ministry, and in whose way the prime minister unhappily came, threw open the cabinet once more. A long negotiation followed, in which Lords Wellesley and Moira having failed to form an administration, Lord Liverpool was finally appointed premier, and retained power until 1827; a period of fifteen years, when he was struck by apoplexy, and died in December of the following year.
The policy towards Ireland was now sinking into that feeble and flexible shape, which has always characterised the predominance of Whig councils. The Marquess Wellesley had made some showy speeches on emancipation; and in 1822, and as if with the object of showing him the utter vanity of attempting to reform the bitterness of Popish faction by any measures of concession, the Popish advocate was sent to govern Ireland. He found the country in a state of the most frightful disturbance; half a century of weak and unstatesmanlike compliances had produced their natural effect, in party arrogance; and demands and conspiracy at once threw the ministry into confusion, and set the law at defiance. But the Marquess was received with national cordiality by the people. The city was illuminated on his arrival; the different public bodies gave him banquets; and, known as his opinions were on the Popish question, the Protestants forgot his prejudices in the recollection that he was an Irishman. But there was a faction still to be dealt with, which, having no real connexion with the substantial interests of the country, and living wholly on public credulity, uttered its ominous voice in the midst of all those acclamations. A paper from that faction lost no time in "reminding the Irish Catholics of the tantalizing and bitter repetition of expectations raised only to be blasted, and prospects of success opened to close on them in utter darkness;" finishing by a significant warning, "not to rely too much on the liberal intentions of the Marquess Wellesley."
The result of his lordship's government may be easily told. His personal favours to the Papists were received in the usual style of instalments; while the Protestant corporation stood aloof, and drank with renewed potations "the glorious and immortal memory of William III." Such is the dignity of politics in Irish deliberations. At length the unlucky conciliator had his eyes opened by the nature of things, and was compelled to apply to parliament for the insurrection act. The Attorney-general Plunket, the ablest advocate of the Papists, was compelled, by a similar necessity, to write a long official letter, in which he stated—"That he feared in five or six counties, great numbers indeed of the lower classes had been involved in the conspiracy; some of them from a love of enterprise and ready disposition for mischief; some of them on a principle of counteraction to associations of an opposite description; but most of them, he should hope, from terror on the one hand, and the expectation of impunity on the other." There was the point, which no man comprehended better in theory than this clever law-officer, and none better in practice than the Popish peasant. "This expectation, however," he observes, "must now be effectually removed, and the terror of the law, I trust, be substituted in place of the terror of the conspirators." Adding, "your Excellency will observe with regret, that the association has been founded on a principle of religious exclusion!"
Such had been the fruit of concession. The opposite plan, so often suggested, and so essentially necessary, was then tried; and its fruits too followed. Almost the whole of Ireland became instantly tranquillized; men were no longer murdered in open day; cattle no longer maimed; houses no longer burned. The Marquess thus writes the English government:—"During the summer and autumn of 1822, the measures sanctioned by Parliament for the restoration of tranquillity, combined with other causes, have produced such a degree of quiet, that no necessity existed for my usual communications."
We pass rapidly over the contemptible squabbles of the party mobs which fill up the modern history of Irish politics, and which must have deeply disgusted a statesman who had seen public life on the stately scale of Indian government and English administration. But he was now far advanced in years, and he was betrayed into the absurdity of suffering these squabbles to reach to himself. The decoration of the statue of William the Third, in one of the principal streets of the city, on his birthday, the 4th of November, had been an annual custom for upwards of a hundred years. But now the Papists resolved to regard the placing of a few knots of orange riband on this equestrian figure as a matter of personal offence, and prohibited the decoration. A patrol of horse surrounded the statue, and the decoration could not be accomplished. A letter from the secretary approved of the conduct of the civic authorities. Unluckily, within a few days after, the Marquess went in state to the theatre. The public disapprobation now vented itself in unmeasured terms. The uproar was incessant, and, in the height of the disturbance, a bottle was thrown by some drunken ruffian from the gallery into the viceregal box, but with so direct an aim, that it glanced close to the Marquess's head. A watchman's rattle, and several other missiles, were said to have followed the bottle. The unlucky result was, an indictment against several individuals for conspiracy by the Attorney-general; but the grand jury having ignored the bills, the case fell to the ground.
At this period, the Marquess, who had in early life married a Frenchwoman, fixed his regards on an American, the widow of Mr Patterson of America. In matters of this order public opinion can have no direct right to interfere. But the bride was a Roman Catholic. The marriage was solemnized by a Romish bishop, as well as by the Irish primate. The royal equipages were seen in regular attendance, subsequently, at her ladyship's place of worship; and, when the critical balance of public opinion at that period is considered, there was evidently more of the ardour of the lover than the wisdom of the statesman, in suffering that marriage to take place, at least before his retirement from the viceroyalty of Ireland.
On the formation of the Wellington cabinet, the illustrious brothers differing on the Romish question, the Marquess retired. In the debate on that occasion, the Duke of Wellington made one of those strong, declaratory speeches and renewed those pledges to the Protestant constitution in Church and State, which he made so solemnly before. The duke, after gracefully expressing his regret at being compelled to differ on the sentiments of his distinguished relative, said, "I wish, as much as my noble relation can do, to see this question brought to an amicable conclusion, although I do not see the means of bringing it to that conclusion by this resolution, (Lord Lansdowne's motion on the Catholic claims.) I agree with the noble and learned Earl (Eldon) who has recently addressed your lordships, that we ought to see clear and distinct securities given to the state, before we can give our vote in the affirmative of the question. My noble relative says, that our security will be found in the removal of the securities which now exist. I say, that the securities which we now enjoy, and which for a length of time we have enjoyed, are indispensable to the safety of Church and State! I should be glad to see the disabilities of the Roman Catholics removed; but before I can consent to their removal, I must see something in their stead which will effectually protect our institutions."