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first to serious responsibility, he possessed that singleness CHAP. of heart and integrity of purpose which, even more than XLIX.
1798. talent or audacity, are the foundation of true moral courage, and can alone conduct to public greatness. A sense of duty, a feeling of honour, a generous patriotism, a forgetfulness of self, constituted the spring of all his actions. He was ambitious, but it was to serve his king and country only ; fearless, because his whole heart was bound up in these noble objects ; disinterested, because the enriching of himself or his family never for a moment crossed his mind ; insensible to private fame when it interfered with public duty; indifferent to popular obloquy when it arose from rectitude of conduct. Like the Roman patriot, he wished rather to be than to appear deserving : “ Esse quam videri bonus malebat, ita quo minus gloriam
1 Sallust, petebat eo magis adsequebatur.” l* Greatness was forced Bell. Cal. upon him, both in military and political life, rather because he was felt to be the worthiest, than because he desired to be the first : he was the architect of his own fortune, but he became so almost unconsciously, while solely engrossed in constructing that of his country. He has left undone many things, as a soldier, which might have added to his fame, and done many things, as a statesman, which were fatal to his power ; but he omitted the first because they would have endangered his country, and committed the second because he felt them to be essential to its salvation. It is to the honour of England, and of human nature, that such a man should have risen at such a time to the rule of her armies and her councils ; but he experienced, with Themistocles and Scipio Africanus, the mutable tenure of popular applause, and the base ingratitude of those whom he had saved. Having triumphed over the arms of the threatening tyrant, he was equally immovable in the presence of the
* “He strove rather to be than to appear deserving; thus, the less he sought after glory, the more he attained it."
CHAP. insane citizens ; * and it is hard to say whether his
greatness appeared most when he struck down the con1798.
queror of Europe on the field of Waterloo, or when he was himself with difficulty rescued from death on its anniversary, eighteen years afterwards, on the streets of London.
A constant recollection of these circumstances, and of His military the peculiar and very difficult task which was committed
to his charge, is necessary to the forming a correct estimate of the Duke of Wellington's military achievements. The brilliancy of his course is well known. An unbroken series of triumphs from Vimeira to Toulouse ; the entire expulsion of the French from the Peninsula ; the planting of the British standard in the heart of France ; the successive defeat of those veteran marshals who had so long conquered in every country in Europe ; the overthrow of Waterloo ; the hurling of Napoleon from his throne; and the termination, in one day, of the military empire founded on twenty years of conquest. But these results, great and imperishable as they are, convey no adequate idea, either of the difficulties with which Wellington had to contend, or of the merit due to his transcendent exertions. With an army seldom superior in number to a single corps of the French marshals ; with troops dispirited by recent disaster, and wholly unaided by practical experience ; without any compulsory law to recruit his ranks, or any strong national passion for war to supply its want—he was called on to combat successively vast armies, composed in great part of veteran soldiers, perpetually filled by the terrible powers of the conscription, headed by chiefs who, risen from the ranks, and practically acquainted with the duties of war in all its grades, had fought their way from the grenadier's musket to the marshal's baton, and were followed by men who,
*“Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
Non vultus instantis tyranni,
HORACE, Odes, iii. 3.
trained in the same school, were animated by the same CHAP. ambition.
Still more, he was the general of a nation in which the chivalrous and mercantile qualities are strangely blended Great diftitogether ; which, justly proud of its historic glory, is which he unreasonably jealous of its present expenditure ; which, tend in that covetous in war of military renown, is impatient in peace
capacity. of previous preparation ; which starves its establishments when danger is over, and yet frets at defeat when its terrors are instant; which fires in strife on Cressy and Azincour, and ruminates, at rest, on economic reduction. He combated at the head of an alliance formed of heterogeneous states, composed of discordant materials, in which ancient animosities were hardly forgotten in present danger, or religious divisions in national fervour ; in which corruption often paralysed the arm of patriotism, and jealousy withheld the resources of power. He acted under the direction of a ministry which, albeit zealous and active, was alike inexperienced in hostility and unskilled in combination ; in presence of an Opposition, which, , powerful in eloquence, supported by faction, was prejudiced against the war, and indefatigable in endeavouring to arrest it ; for the interests of a people who, although ardent in the cause and enthusiastic in its support, were impatient of disaster and prone to depression, and whose military resources, how great soever, were dissipated in the protection of a colonial empire which encircled the earth.
Nothing but the most consummate prudence, as well as ability in conduct, could, with such means, have achieved Admirable victory over such an enemy; but the character of Well- skill with ington was singularly fitted for the task. Capable, when overcamo the occasion required, or opportunity was afforded, of the most daring enterprises, he was yet cautious and wary in his general conduct; prodigal of his own labour, regardless of his own person, he was avaricious only of the blood of his soldiers. Endowed by nature with an indomitable
CHAP. soul and a constitution of iron, he possessed that tenacity
of purpose and indefatigable activity, which is ever necessary to great achievements; prudent in council, sagacious in design, he was yet prompt and decided in action. His activity in war was unwearied ; his frame capable of enduring unbounded fatigue. At any hour of the day he could lie down, wrapped in his military cloak, among the troops, and snatch an hour's sleep ; at any hour of the night he was ready to receive despatches, and coolly gave orders for any emergency. * No general ever revolved the probable dangers of an enterprise more anxiously before undertaking it; none possessed in a higher degree the eagle eye, the arm of steel, necessary to carry it into execution. None more completely answered the description which ancient genius has left of the greatest general of antiquity.t By the steady application of this rare combination of qualities, he was enabled to raise the British military force from an unworthy state of depression to an unparalleled pitch of glory; to educate, in presence of the enemy, not only his soldiers in the field, but his rulers in the cabinet ; to silence, by avoiding disaster, the clamour of his enemies ; to strengthen, by progressive success, the ascendancy of his friends ; to augment, by the exhibition of its results, the energy of the government; to rouse, by deeds of glory, the enthusiasm of the people. Skilfully seizing the opportunity of victory, he studiously avoided the chances of defeat : aware that a single disaster would at once endanger his prospects, discourage his countrymen, and strengthen his opponents, he was content to
On one occasion, during a retreat in the Peninsula, an officer arrived in haste at headquarters during the night, when the Duke, then Earl of Wellington, was asleep. Being brought in, the Duke said, “Well, sir, what news do you bring?"
“ We have been much distressed, my Lord,” replied he; the enemy were very strong, and pressed us very hard.” “Your men, I am afraid, must be very much fatigued ?” “ Dead beat, my Lord.” “ Then the French must be dead beat also: there will be no attack to-night. Good-night, sir.” And in five minutes he was sound asleep.
+ “Plurimum audaciæ ad pericula capessenda, plurimum consilii inter ipsa pericula erat: nullo labore aut corpus fatigari, aut animus vinci poterat.
forego many opportunities of earning fame, and stifle CHAP. many desires to grasp at glory ; magnanimously checking the aspirations of genius, he trusted for ultimate success
1798. rather to perseverance in a wise, than audacity in a daring course. He thus succeeded, during six successive campaigns, with a comparatively inconsiderable army, in maintaining his ground against the vast and veteran forces of Napoleon, in defeating nearly all his marshals, and baffling successively all his enterprises, and finally in rousing such an enthusiastic spirit in the British empire, as enabled its government to put forth its immense resources on a scale worthy of its present greatness and ancient renown, and terminate a contest of twenty years by planting the British standard on the walls of Paris.
To have given birth to such a man is a sufficient distinction for one family ; but Wellington is not the only Character of illustrious character which England owes to the house Wellesley. of Mornington. It is hard to say whether, in a different line, in the management of the cabinet, the civil government of men, and the far-seeing sagacity of a consummate statesman, MARQUESS WELLESLEY is not equally remarkable. He was born in the year 1760, the eldest son of the family, and gave early promise, both at school and college, of those brilliant qualities which afterwards shone forth with such lustre in the administration of India. Educated like his brother Arthur at Eton, he inhaled amidst its classic shades that delicacy of taste, and proficiency in the composition of the ancient languages, for which that seminary has long been celebrated.* He
Caloris ac frigoris patientia par: cibi potionisque desiderio naturali, non voluptate, modus finitus : vigiliarum somnique nec die nec nocte discriminata tempora. Id, quod gerendis rebus superesset, quieti datum : ea neque molli strato neque silentio arcessita. Multi sæpe militari sagulo opertum, humi jacentem inter custodias stationesque militum, conspexerunt.”—LIVY, xxi. c. 4.
* Lord Wellesley's first contribution to the Musa Etonensis is dated 1778, and bears the motto, Auvvedal TEPL tatpns-80 early is the character developed in life. The concluding lines are prophetic of the destiny of his family :
“Quid memorem, qualem sub libertate Brittanna
Terra tulit prolem? Satis æquora subdita ponti,