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Since * I went into the field in December last I have commanded an army with a large staff attached to me, which has not been unattended by a very great expense, particularly latterly. About six weeks ago I was sent in here with a garrison, consisting of about half the army and a large staff, and I have not received one shilling more than I did in Fort St. George. The consequence is, that I am ruined. . . . . I should be ashamed of doing any of the dirty things that I am told are done in some of the commands in the Carnatic as I believe I proved sufficiently at Wallajah-Nuggur: but if Government do not consider my situation here, I must either give up the command or submit to be ruined for ever.'
But Mr. Gleig tells us that his emoluments as Commandant of Seringapatam, and afterwards on the removal of General Harris's army, as Civil Superintendent of the district, together with 70001., his share of prize-money, enabled him to repay to his brother the price of his promotion and made him independent. Mr. Gleig adds, “this was a great weight taken from his mind; but on referring to Colonel Wellesley's letter of the 14th June, 1799, to his brother, we find him saying, ' my share of the prizemoney, amounting in jewels to about 3000 pagodas, and in money to 7000, will enable me to pay the money which you advanced to purchase my Lieutenant-Colonelcy, and that which was borrowed from Captain Stapleton on our joint bond.' The prizemoney, therefore amounted, including jewels and money, to 10,000 pagodas, equal to about 40001. And Mr. Gleig omits to notice Lord Mornington's reply, dated 19th June, 1799, which the present Duke has properly added in a note at page 246 of the first volume of the Supplemental Despatches.
My dear Arthur, To your letter of the 14th I answer, that no consideration can induce me to accept payment of the sums which I have formerly advanced for you. I am in no want of money, and probably never shall be: when I am, it will be time enough to call upon you.'
The Duke's generosity was, as is well known, conspicuously displayed in his protection of the son of Dhoondiah Waugh, the King of the World.' He had with great skill and gallantry, and after a most exciting chase, overtaken and killed that robberchief, and dispersed his army. Afterwards, when leaving India, he left a sum of money to give the lad a start in life. He declined to interrupt his campaign against Dhoondiah for the sake of joining a force which Lord Mornington proposed to employ for the reduction of Batavia, but we think that Mr. Gleig has over-estimated the self-denial which he thus exercised. He
* June 14, 1799, “Supplementary Despatches,' vol. i. pp. 246, 247.
was engaged in an exciting campaign, and was in charge of an extensive district, in which, as his far-seeing sagacity could hardly fail to tell him, there was much work still to be done and much credit to be gained.
The Mahratta chiefs having become temporarily quiet, Colonel Wellesley declared himself ready for service elsewhere. He was thereupon appointed by his brother, in an official communication which Mr. Gleig states to have been somewhat ambiguous, to take part in the next expedition, and he was directed to proceed to the rendezvous at Trincomalee, in Ceylon. The force appears to have been intended for service-either in Egypt to take Buonaparte in reverse, or against the Isle of France, or against Batavia--and not in the first instance, as Mr. Gleig infers, against the Isle of France only, though the last was the Governor-General's pet scheme. Colonel Wellesley conceived that he was to have absolute command of this expedition, travelled rapidly to Trincomalee, and set to work with his accustomed activity to perfect the arrangements. Admiral Rainier (not Renier) refused, in the absence of orders from home, to operate with him against the Isle of France, but consented to join in an expedition against Batavia ; and Lord Wellesley's “anxious hope' as regards the Isle of France was thus frustrated. Mr. Gleig says, “His labours continued at Trincomalee till the resources of the country were exhausted, and then, on his own responsibility, he carried the armament to Bombay, as being better able to supply its wants and nearer to the scene of intended operations. But further than this he resolved not to go. But the truth is, that a despatch from the home Government to the Governor-General, directed in the mean time the immediate preparation and prompt execution of the scheme against the French in Egypt. Of this despatch Colonel Wellesley received a copy via Madras, before the GovernorGeneral had time to communicate with him. The despatch
* The Governor-General's despatch, Nov. 14, 1800, is given in vol. ii. p. 284 of the “Supplementary Despatches. It recites— The Governor-General in Council is pleased to appoint you to the chief command of the above-mentioned forces ; and Colonel J. Champagné, of his Majesty's 80th Regiment, to be second in command of the said forces. The forces, mentioned in the preceding paragraph, were the 80th, 19th, 10th Regiments, 1000 Sepoys, 38 European Artillery, 46 Golundanze, 100 Lascars, four 12-pounders, six 6-pounders, and 2 howitzer, guns.
† The despatch commences— Sir, The Governor-General in Council has judged it necessary, in consequence of the late successes of the French in Europe and in Egypt, to adopt certain measures of precaution . . . . and also with the further view of answering any demand which may be made by his Majesty's Ministers in England, for the co-operation of the British Government of India in the expulsion of the French from Egypt.'
He took upon
reached him without any specific instructions from the Governor of Madras, but Colonel Wellesley knew that his own troops. were the only force available for service in Egypt, and that that country had been looked upon as one of their possible destinations, and he determined not to lose valuable time. himself, therefore, to assume the command of the expedition to Egypt, and to issue the necessary orders. He at the same time communicated his intentions to his brother, and he called at Bombay en route, by the advice of Captain Malcolm, of H.M.S. • Suffolk,' to obtain supplies and receive his instructions overland from Calcutta. But Lord Mornington had selected General Baird for the command of the expedition when he resumed the scheme against Batavia,* and he proposed that an expedition under Colonel Wellesley should be dispatched from that place to the Isle of France. He naturally continued Baird in command when the destination of the force to Egypt was finally determined on, and he then offered Colonel Wellesley the alternative of resuming his duties at Mysore, or of going forward as second in command, though he pressed the latter much, for every reason, upon him. Mr. Gleig says:
Colonel Wellesley was not free from the weaknesses which appertain to men in general, however marvellous might be his power to overcome them. He felt keenly enough the slight that had been put upon himself, but he felt still more the injustice which others had suffered.' He quotes a letter from him :
I can easily get the better of my own disappointment, but how can I look in the face of the officers who, from a desire to share my fortunes, gave up lucrative appointments, and must go with one whom none of them admires? I declare that I can't think of the whole business with common patience.' And he says further,
Lord Mornington, conscious that he had acted somewhat unfairly, proposed to reinstate him in his command at Mysore.' But he neglects to look at this disagreeable business, which created ill-feeling between all the three parties directly concerned, from any point of view but that of his hero. We do not think that Lord Mornington can properly be accused at any time of unfairness as against his brother. He would, no doubt, in consulting his own inclinations, have acted differently. He may, incieed, be said to have devoted himself very much to his brother's advancement from the commencement to the termination of the
* Supplementary Despatches,' vol. ii. p. 333.
more active part of his wonderful career. We cannot be surprised at Colonel Wellesley's mortification. He had given up a lucrative and highly important office at Mysore, to take command, as he hoped, of this expedition, whatever its destination ; and then, scarcely appreciating the very delicate position of the GovernorGeneral, he considered himself very hardly used and in some measure disgraced in being superseded in that command at the last moment, after he had laboured so hard in the work of preparation. But it must be remembered, on the other hand, that he had not at that time acquired the high reputation which his subsequent services * in India earned for him. If Lord Mornington had sent him as a Colonel in command of so important an expedition, might he not have been accused of fraternal partiality by Generals in India as well as by the home Government? Previous heart-burnings on the same subject had not been wanting, and General Baird was certainly not the man to be passed over for a third time.
Having, however, spoken out his mind on the subject, Colonel Wellesley corresponded cordially with General Baird, and was preparing to precede him to the Red Sea when he was struck down by fever. We may add, that in writing at this time to his brother Henry, he said, “You will have seen how much this resolution will annoy me; but I have never had much value for the public spirit of any man who does not sacrifice his private views and convenience, when it is necessary.'
We would here observe that mental emotions of a particular class appear on several occasions to have had a striking effect on our hero's bodily health. The Iron Duke was more than once prostrated by sickness in the earlier part of his career, when subjected to annoyance and anxiety about his own success in life, though he bore public responsibilities and exertions, physical and mental, so lightly at other times.
In 1796, disheartened with his profession and his apparent prospects—dejected after the campaign in the Low Countries--unable to obtain an appointment sufficiently lucrative to admit of his quitting the army—and driven back by heavy gales and
* Supplementary Despatches,' vol. ii. p. 315. Lord Wellesley writes to Colonel Wellesley, Dec. 1, 1800:-Great jealousy will arise among the general officers in -consequence of my employing you; but I employ you because I rely on your good sense, discretion, activity, and spirit, and I cannot find all those qualities in any other officer in India who could take such a command.' And again (p. 324) on the 21st Dec.- If circumstances should ultimately determine me to attempt the expedition to Egypt, that attempt will require so large a force as to occasion the necessity of my employing some one or two of his Majesty's General Officers now in India.' † Who had now become Marquess Wellesley.
with some losses from the West Indian expedition—he was too ill to embark with his regiment for India. He suffered no bad effects from the heat and hardships of his Indian campaigns; but he now succumbed again, on losing the command of the Egyptian expedition, to a bad attack of fever.* And subsequently, as we shall see, he fretted so much to return to England and embark in a European in place of an Indian career, that his bodily health became seriously affected, though his vigour returned to him almost as soon as his mind was made up and his object attained.
But how little did he know with all his sagacity what was best for the furtherance of his own views and prospects in life! Baird's expedition came to nothing, in consequence of the delays which necessarily attended it, and the victories of Nelson and Abercrombie, He only reached Rosetta as the French were treating for the evacuation of Alexandria. Wellesley returned to Mysore to persuade his brother to remain at his post after the loss of his supporter, Mr. Dundas, from the Board of Control - to conduct a series of brilliant operations, and to establish British empire over a large part of the Indian Peninsula. After returning to Seringapatam, in May, 1801, he received his commission as major-general; and a vacancy occurring on the staff of the Madras Presidency, he was enabled to remain in charge of his province till his return to England in 1805.
Mr. Gleig says :
“To those who lived on terms of any intimacy with the Duke, there was nothing so agreeable as to get him, when in a communicative mood, on the subject of his campaigns. He expressed himself with such clearness and entire simplicity, that a child could understand, while a philosopher admired, and became instructed by him. It seemed, likewise, as if his Indian wars, perhaps because they were the first in which he had an opportunity to control and direct large operations, had made the strongest impression on his memory.' And he gives us a description, purporting to be in the Duke's own words, of the famous battle of Assaye :-
“Of the battle of Assaye, he used to say, that it was the hardest fought affair that ever took place in India. “If the enemy had not neglected to guard a good ford on the Kaitna, I don't know how we could have got at him; but, once aware of his neglect, I took care that he should not have time to remedy it. We passed the river in one column and then deployed. Unfortunately my first line, which had been directed to keep clear of Assaye, swayed to the right, and became
* On this occasion his brother Henry wrote to him, April 22, 1801—I am really very much distressed by your letter of the 21st, because you seem to feel your situation so sensibly that nothing I can say will afford you any consolation, and I fear that the present state of your mind may be of material injury to your health.'