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THE LIFE OF LORD WELLINGTON. IT has been stated in the Prospectus by which this work has been introduced to the public, that the British army, in ancient glory and present reputation, is inferior to vo army in the world; and that in the present day it contains a great proportion of illustrious individuals who have supported and augmented our national estimation, Amongst these individuals, no name will descend to posterity with greater and more merited splendor 'than that of Lord Wellington. There are not wanting persons, perhaps, in the present day, who from certain narrow motives, or from mistaken conceptions, withhold from him the praise which justly belongs to bimn. The due seitlement of the account of merit always belongs to posterity. When the passions and prejudices of the day have passed over, when Aattery is without a temptation, and envy without an object; it is then, and then only, that reason ca: bold her scales with a steady hand, and make her assay both of weight and purity without any thing to confound or prevent her.
Perhaps few families exist in the present time who owe more to the happy concurrence of great talents and good fortune, than the Wellesleys. The late King of Prussia, who aniongst his otber eninent gifts, had an extraordinary faculty of observation, used to say, " that he knew no instance of any great man, except where fortune and merit bad concurred to make him 50; that fortune must raise him
VOL. I. No. 1.
. Life of Lord Wellington. from the ground, and that his own vigour of wing must then maintain him in his elevation. The Wellesleys have had this concurrence. A happy course of events has produced them on the public stage, and given them opportunities of distinction: and it must be acknowledged, that they have not in any degree exhibited themselves inferior to their gond fortune. However eininent the stations which they occupy, they have proved themselves not unequal to them. The one is beyond all doubt the ablest General in Europe, and the vigour of the other, at home, does not fall short of the ability of his brother abroad.
There is yet another singular circumstance common to the early fortune of Lord Wellington and his brother the Marquis: like the late Sir Jobn Moore, whom he resembles in his allentive discipline, and in putting, as it were, his whole mind and affections on the army, he owes bis education to his mother; a woman who would have dig. nified the proudest age of Rome or Sparta. With a masculine courage and understanding, without at the same time wanting any thing of the softness of manners and feelings suited to her sex, the incomparable mother of the Wellesleys rose above all the difficulties of nar. row circumstances and early widowhood. Having lost her husband, and most fondiy cberishing his memory, she considered that the most acceptable tribute of her affection would be to give herself up to the education of her children. Accordingly, overcoming the natural inertness of grief, she applied herself to this meritorious employ, and divided her time between the management of a narrow fortune and of a suitable household, and the personal instruction of her boys. Industry like this, accompanied by knowledge and talents, was sure of attaining its object; and accordingly, buth her children and her fortune reaped the natural fruits of her care. In very narrow circumstances she contrived to support an establishment not inelegant, and thereby to command respect even from those who look not beyond externals. To a mind of any generosity of feeling, no spectacle is more grating than that of the contest of rank and birth with poverty, and against that scorn and ridicule which amongst the unfeeling herd of mankind accompany poor nobility. By her admirable management of very narrow means, the mother of the Wellesleys contrived to elude such mortifications: the world believed her in much better
GLife of Lord Wellington. circumstances than she actually was, and those who knew her worth, and daily saw her virtues, required no other recommendations to their esteem. Perhaps, amongst those who immediately kuew her, Po one was at once more esteemed and beloved.
Lord Wellington is the third son of the late Earl of Mornington. Like many other celebrated men of the present day, he received part of his education at Eton school; but what very commonly, indeed much too frequently happens in a military life, he was removed from school to enter the arıny before his education was well commenced. His astonishing activity, however, .his industrious application, bave repaired this early defect in a very extraordinary degree. In this respeet, as in every other of his military character, he presents an admirable example to the gentlemen of the army; an example that, by the due employment of that portion of leisure which the military profession so peculiarly affords, no one need despair, however neglected his previous education, of making every necessary and valuable attainment. There are many young men, and even more of riper age, at present in the army, who were removed equally prematurely from school. Let these gentlemen impress it on their minds; let them never forget, that industry, even at a mature age, will supply the deficiencies of youth; that there is scarcely any thing but what an assiduous application will overcome; and that more particularly, with respect to their own profession, there is nothing which a soldier needs to know, but what a resolute determination to acquire it will enable hiñi to ublain,
From Eton, Arthur Wellesley was removed to the military academy of Angers, in France; a school in which the science of war was taught, as far as connected with field-fortification and the mathematics. At that period, England alone, of all the European nations, whether that we considered ourselves as weaned froin all continental military intercourse, or that in a long period we had experienced no want of military knowledge, had no school or institution, in which tactics were regularly taught. The young men intended for the army entered it without any preparatory course whatever; and if they afterwards became skilful officers, they owed it to their extraordinary industry, whicli repaired and supplied all defects. In France, the science of war, and particularly field-furtification, were branches of the
Life of Lord Wellington.
general education of every gentleman. Innumerable examples may be found in the history of France of the efficacy of this usage. It has very often happened, that the most arduous and noble services, both the defence of towns and in the campaign, have been acheived by soine of these gallant volunteers, whose martial spirit has been seconded by the military knowledge thus acquired in their miscellaneous educapi tion. By the laudable efforts of the Duke of York, and the present venerable Commander in Chief, Sir David Dundas, a commencement has been made in England of similar, institutions... Nothing more, perhaps, is now required, but that these institutions should be open to the general reception of all who chuse to seek admittance, and who pay the cost of instruction. This was the case in the French açades mies; and the military schools of England will never produce their full fruit, that is to say, will never augment the general stock of military knowledge throughout the whole army, till such regulations are made. In France it was always so. Is it not, indeed, a reflection upon England, that our best General, Sir Arthur Wellesley, owes his military education to France. But as it is far, very far from our purpose to give offence, though it is our duty to throw out what we deem a salutary bint, we shall not at present press, this subject farther,
Mr. Wellesley was appointed Ensign very early in the American war. · The army was not at that time, with respect either to the appointment and promotion of subalterns, under the same wise regulations as at present; and the writer of this believes, though as to this fact he is not certain, that Mr. Wellesley was actually an Ensign in the army, whilst he was pursuing his studies in France; that is, at about twelve or fourteen years of age. Things of this kind were very com. non before his Royal Highness the Duke of York became Coinmander in Chief. Not only privates, but officers, were on the army list, whoin their own Colonels knew only lo exist because their nanies were on the roll; and instances are said to have been known, in which one third of the subalterns of a regiment have been in the nursery. Flappily, these gross improprieries have now so long and so en.. tirely passed away, that the relation of their former frequency car. , ries an air of ridiculous exaggeration,
Mr. Wellesley had no opportunity of distinguishing himself, and of exiribiting lis military knowledge, till the expedition to Holland,
Life of Lord Wellington.
immediately after the commencement of the French war. In this unlucky affair, he obtained his share of that portion of military reputation which belongs to a well conducted retreat. He led off a brigade in a style which has obtained him much praise from military men. The difficulty, and therefore the merit of this service, can only be duly estimated by those who have experienced the character of the English soldier in retreat. Accustomed to victory, habitually contemning their enemies, and invariably imputing any disadvantageous circumstances to the conduct of their officers, it is almost impossible to preserve any discipline, any close order, any military confidence and submission to their officer's judgment, in an English army retreating. Sir John Moore, the great master of English discipline, and who was never excelled in the management of a regiment, never appeared in such doubtful colours, and to so little advantage, as in his memorable retreat. He indeed most admirably brought his army off, but his army left their discipline behind them.
Shortly after this, the services of Lord Mornington procured him the appointment of Governor-general of Bengal. Mr. Pitt being secretly desirous of effecting some important changes in the Indian administration of the East India Company, and at the same tine wishing to obtain a previous preparatory and thorough knowledge of their affairs, Lord Mornington was found peculiarly adapted for this service. To a very extensive knowledge, and the most sulid and enlarged principles, formed by reading and meditation, Lord Mornington, like his brother the General, added an extraordinary vigour and activity, and what with such talents becomes inestimable, order, dispatch, and facility in business. There is scarcely a better writer in England than Marquis Wellesley; in this respect he does not fall short either of the knowledge or compressed expression of Lord Miuto. Lord Mornington, therefore, was exactly suited to the purposes of Mr. Pitt; almost as much so, indeed, as the pecuniary circumstances of his Lordship at that period were suited to the appointment wbieh Mr. Pit selected for hiin.
Mr. Wellesley now purchased the Lieutenant-colonelcy of the thirtythird, in order that he might accompany his brother to India. He had scarcely set his foot in India before he was appointed to active