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THE

EDINBURGH REVIEW,

.

JULY, 1839.

N. CXL.

ART, I.-The Despatches of Field-Marshal the Duke of

Wellington, during his various Campaigns in India, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, the Low Countries, and France, from 1799 to 1818. Compiled from Official and Authentic Documents, By Lieut.-Colonel GURWOOD. 12 vols. 8vo. London : 1836-8.

UR former article upon this publication, was limited to the O Duke of Wellington during his campaigns in India. We are now to examine what forms in fact a distinct, and by far the most important and extensive, portion of the work; and our readers will probably allow that we stand in some need of indulgence, in undertaking to compress within a comparatively small compass an account of that long and extraordinary series of Despatches which arose out of his Grace's memorable services in Europe.

In the East, he had administered the civil affairs of an extensive territory, in such a manner as both to merit the approbation of his superiors and to give satisfaction to those who were placed under his government. He had brought difficult negotiations to a successful termination, and he had led numerous armies to brilliant and decisive victories. On his return to Europe, however, no higher military situation opened to him, owing to the junior rank he still held amongst General Officers,

VOL. LXIX. NO. CXL.

U

than the command of a single Brigade on home service. But he appears to have discharged the duties of that comparatively unimportant and uninteresting appointment with as much assiduity, and with not less satisfaction to himself, than when filling the much higher situations he had so recently quitted. Some prospect of employment more suitable to his active and enterprising spirit seemed to present itself, however, in the autumn of 1805. A body of troops being then sent to Germany, his brigade was included in it; but the overthrow of the Austrian and Russian armies at Austerlitz, rendered abortive this allempt of the British Government to take part in the military operations of the Continent. Another expedition was fitted out at the end of the summer of 1807, destined to act against Copenhagen ; and on that occasion, Sir Arthur Wellesley had the command of a division. His ability and activity were here attended with their customary success; and, after having defeated the force collected by the enemy to disturb the operations of the siege, he was employed by Lord Cathcart, in conjunction with the captain of the fleet and the quartermaster-general of the expedition, to settle the terms of capitulation with the Danish governor. From this military service he returned to discharge the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, to which he had been named in the spring of the same year; and he was fulfilling the duties of that situation, when he received a letter from the Duke of York, announcing his appointment to the chief command of a body of troops destined for foreign service. This appointment opened the way to that course of achievements, of which the work before us contains so faithful and so valuable a record.

The first of Sir Arthur Wellesley's letters in this situation, was addressed to Major-General now Lord Hill, the senior officer present with the troops assembling at Cork for the proposed expedition. We shall extract the opening and concluding sentences :

• I rejoice extremely at the prospect I have before me of serving again with you, and I hope that we shall have more to do than we had on the last occasion on which we were together.

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Pray let me hear from you, and acquaint me with all your wants, and whether I can do any thing for you here. You will readily believe that I have plenty to do, in closing a government in such a manner as I may give it up, and taking the command of a corps for service; but I shall not fail to attend to whatever you may write to me.'-Vol. iv. p. 13.

Such was the pleasing and auspicious beginning of a professional and personal connexion, which maintains throughout the work before us, the same character of cordiality and confidence with which it began. Sir Arthur Wellesley, deeming it expedient to precede the expedition in person, thus intimated his intention to the Secretary of State :

Upon a review of your instructions, and a consideration of the state of affairs in Spain according to the last accounts, I rather think that, as soon as I have got every thing away from Cork, I shall best serve the cause by going myself to Coruña, and joining the fleet off Cape Finisterre or the Tagus. I propose accordingly to go on board one of the craft, and I expect to be at the rendezvous before the troops.'-Vol. iv.

6

P. 24.

From Corunna he writes upon the 21st of July :

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The Junta' (of Galicia) 'express great anxiety respecting my operations in Portugal, and have strongly recommended me not to attempt to land at Lisbon, or in the neighbourhood of the French army.' "It is impossible for me to decide upon

other measure till I shall know more of the situation of affairs. I should have no doubt of success, even without General Spencer's assistance or that of the Allies, if I were once ashore; but to effect a landing in front of an enemy is always difficult, and I shall be inclined to land at a distance from Lisbon.

Sir Arthur Wellesley seems to have formed, from the outset, much more correct opinions with respect to the prospects afforded by the affairs of Spain, than almost any of those who either actually visited the Peninsula at that time, or who contemplated from a distance the scenes which it presented. He neither suffered his understanding to be dazzled by enthusiastic anticipations, nor to become clouded by gloomy forebodings. Popular excitement, he was aware, however general and however violent, is uncertain and irregular in its movements; and he anticipated, therefore, that the Spanish people would experience many severe trials, both of their courage and of their perseverance, in contending against a power possessed, in a very superior degree, of unity of purpose and systematic organization, joined to vast military establishments, and the advantage conquest already half achieved before resistance to it was attempted. But the arrogant and menacing tone of the French Government, and the boasted fame of its generals, made no such impressions upon him as they had upon many others; and he seems to have brought with him to Europe, in all its freshness, that confidence in the gallantry of British troops which bis Indian campaigns bad created, and which they so fully justified in every respect.

In a letter to Major-General Spencer, who was in command of a small corps destined to become part of the expedition

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