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The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 16


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The convention, though signed at Torres Vedras, acquired the name of the convention of Cintra, from the dispatch of Sir Hew Dalrymple, inclosing a copy of the treaty, being dated from Cintra, which is thirteen miles from Torres Vedras. The very name of the convention of Cintra has become an opprobrium, from the universal indignation at the terms granted to Junot there. General Friere, who took care to do nothing towards the defeat of Junot, no sooner saw that he had capitulated than lie appeared on the scene, and complained grievously that he had not been consulted, as it was an affair of Portugal though the battle had been won by England. Both he and the bishop of Oporto made a great clamour against it through the press, both in Portugal and in England. The indignation of all parties in England was unbounded. They were persuaded that Junot might have been compelled to surrender with all his army as prisoners of war; that his arms and booty ought to have been given up entirely, as well as the Russian fleet, as prize; and the army prevented taking any part in the after war, except upon a proper exchange. And no doubt this might have been the case had Wellesley been permitted to follow his own judgment. A court of inquiry was appointed to sit in the great hall of Chelsea College, which opened on the 14th of November and closed on the 27tli of December. Yet matters were so managed that scarcely any blame was cast on Sir Harry Burrard, and all the generals were declared free from blame. Sir Harry was, indeed, included in the praise bestowed by the committee - viz., that Sir Hew Dalrymple, Sir Harry himself, and Sir Arthur Wellesley, as well as the rest of the officers and men, had displayed an ardour and gallantry on every occasion during the expedition that reflected the highest lustre on his majesty's troops.

But the public was not at all mystified by this strange sentence. It continued to think and feel that Sir Harry Burrard had done the real mischief on the occasion by his excess of caution; that Wellesley had done the real service, and would have done far more but for him,, yet was not distinguished and thanked as he ought to have been; and that Sir Hew Dalrymple, who was a brave officer, was in a great degree excusable because he was fresh on the scene, and had entreated Friere and the bishop of Oporto to State their opinions clearly and in writing before the conclusion of the Convention, and they would not. Yet Sir Harry Burrard was permitted to resume his command of the London district, which he held before he went to Portugal; but Sir Hew Dalrymple was not permitted to return to his command at Gibraltar, and for many years was frowned on at court.

The convention being ratified, the British took possession. of all the forts on the Tagus on the 2nd of September, and' the port of Lisbon was opened to our shipping. On the 8th^ and 9th the British army entered Lisbon in triumph, amid the acclamations of the people. Transports were collected and the embarkation of the French army commenced, and before the end of the month they were all shipped off, except the last division, which was detained by an order from England. The colours of the house of Braganza were hoisted on all the forts which Ave had taken possession of, and a council of government was established, which ruled in the name of the prince regent of Portugal.

The system of Buonaparte, by which he endeavoured to prevent the knowledge of these adverse events in Spain and Portugal spreading through France, was one of unscrupulous lying. He took all sorts of false means to depress the spirits of the insurgents by mere inventions, which he had inserted in the Spanish and Portuguese gazettes under his influence. At one time it was that George III. was dead, and that George IV. was intending to make peace with Napoleon. But whatever effect he might produce by such stories for a time in the peninsula, the truth continued to grow and spread over France. It became known that Junot and his army were driven from Lisbon; that Dupont was defeated and had surrendered in the south of Spain; then that king Joseph had fled from Madrid; and that all the coasts of the peninsula were in possession of the British, who were received by the Spaniards and Portuguese as friends and allies. Compelled to speak out at length, on the 4th of September a Statement appeared in the Moniteur mentioning some of these events, but mentioning only to distort them. It could not be concealed that England was active in these countries, but it was declared that the emperor would take ample vengeance on them. In order to silence the murmurs at the folly as well as the injustice of seizing on Spain, which was already producing ifs retributive fruits, he procured from his automaton Senate a declaration that the war with Spain was politic, just, and necessary. Buonaparte then determined to put forth all his strength and drive the English from the peninsula; but there were causes of anxiety pressing on him in the north. Austria and Russia wore an ominous aspect, and a spirit of resistance showed itself more and more in the press of Germany, and these things painfully divided his attention. After noticing this circumstance, we pursue the narrative of the peninsular campaign.

Ministers had not yet perceived the supreme military ability of Sir Arthur Wellesley, notwithstanding his services in India, at Copenhagen, and his brilliant victories of Roliša and Vimeira. Instead of making him at once commander-in-chief of the forces destined to co-operate in Spain - for they now resolved to make a decided movement in favour of the Spanish patriots - they gave that post to Sir John Moore. Sir Arthur had assured ministers that he was far better qualified for the chief command than any of the superior officers then in the peninsula. And, as we have often had to observe, a Chatham would, without a moment's hesitation, have given that command to Sir Arthur himself. He had now displayed the qualifies necessary for a great general: prudence as well as daring, and the sagacious vision which foresees not only difficulties, but the means of surmounting them. Sir Arthur had carried victory with him everywhere, a circumstance one would have thought sufficient to satisfy the dullest diplomatist that he was the man for the occasion. But there was one thing which demanded attention, without which the successful operation of our armies was impossible - the thorough reform of the commissariat department. That department was at this time in a condition of the most deplorable inefficiency. The commissariat officers had no experience; there was no system to guide and stimulate them. Sir Arthur had learned the necessity, in India, of the most complete machinery of supply; that it was of no use attempting to advance into a hostile country without knowing how and whence your troops were to be provisioned, and to have always ammunition in plenty, and tents for shelter. This machinery all wanted organising - the absolute necessity of its perfect action impressing itself on every individual concerned in it. Until this was done, Sir Arthur would never have advanced into the heart of Spain as Sir John Moore did. Considering the state of the roads, and the want of mules, horses, and wagons to convey the baggage, he would not have proceeded till he had first brought these into existence. Still more, Sir Arthur would not have marched far without securing, by one means or other, correct information of the real state and localities of the Spanish armies. On ail these things depended success, and no man was more alive to the knowledge of this than Sir Arthur Wellesley. He had already pressed these matters earnestly on the attention of government, and had they had the penetration to have at once selected him to the command, they would have spared the country the disasters which followed.

On the 6th of October Sir John Moore received instructions, from lord Castlereagh, that his army was to advance into Spain, and co-operate with the Spanish armies for the expulsion of the French. He was informed that his twenty thousand men would receive a reinforcement of ten thousand under Sir David Baird, who was on his voyage to Corunna. When Sir John prepared to march, the most serious difficulties presented themselves. Even at Lisbon it was found impossible to procure conveyance for the necessary baggage, and therefore the supplies of provisions and stores were cut down extremely - a grand mistake. There was one species of baggage - women and children - who, according to the wretched practice of the time, were allowed to accompany the troops, and would not be left behind, though the army was going into immediate active service against the enemy. Sir John directed the commanding officers to order that as many as possible of these should stay behind, especially such women as had very young children, or infants at the breast, as there would not be found carts sufficient for them; and in the mountainous tracks, at that season, and the horrible roads, they must suffer the most exhausting fatigues and hardships. But Sir John had not the commanding firmness of Wellesley, and his orders in this respect were, for the most part, neglected. Very proper orders were also issued by Sir John regarding the behaviour of the soldiers towards the natives. They were informed that the Spaniards were a grave and very proud people, very readily offended by any disrespect towards their religion or customs; and the soldiers were desired to behave courteously, and to wear the cockade of Ferdinand VII. as well as their own.

The army set out in successive divisions, and by different routes, in consequence of the exhausted state of the country, which had been stripped by the French, as by an army of locusts. They found the roads intolerable, if they could be called roads at all; and the weather was excessively rainy. Wading through mud, and dragging their artillery through bogs and deep sloughs, they struggled on to Castello Branco, which the first division reached on the 4th of November. By the 11th Sir John had crossed the Portuguese frontier, and entered Ciudad Rodrigo. There lie was received with great demonstrations of joy; and on the 13th of November he arrived at Salamanca. Here he had to remain for the coming-up of his artillery, which, under a guard of three thousand foot and one thousand horse, had been conducted, by Sir John Hope, round by Elvas, as the only road, according to the Portuguese, by which heavy cannon could be conveyed. This was a proof of the great need of those arrangements so strongly urged by Sir Arthur Wellesley. Proper inquiries, through proper officers, would have ascertained beforehand the actual state of the roads and passes. Here Sir John, too, had to wait for the juncture of Sir David Baird's detachment, which had arrived at Corunna on the 13th of October, but had found the greatest difficulty in being allowed to land and proceed. This was refused by the junta of Gallicia, out of that ignorant and inflated pride of the Spaniards, which persuaded them that, because they had compelled Dupont to surrender, they could drive the French out of their country without any assistance of the English, whom they regarded not as saviours, but as intruders. Whilst application was made to the central junta, at Madrid, for the troops to land, they had to remain for a fortnight cooped up in the transports. There was still another hindrance, which the sound sense and foresight of Wellesley would not have permitted. Though the English government had forwarded to Spain two hundred thousand muskets, with ail requisite ammunition, and sixteen millions of hard dollars, Sir John Moore was intrusted with only twenty-five thousand pounds of it, and Sir David Baird with none at all. When, therefore, permission was obtained, from Madrid, for the allies, who were bringing them ail the arms and all the material of war, to land, Baird had no money to pay his way on the march with ten thousand men, and Sir John Moore had to remit him eight thousand pounds. This was sufficiently bad management, but this was far from the worst. Sir John Moore, under the most critical circumstances, was left without the necessary information regarding the real strength of the enemy, and without the influence which a British ambassador should have exerted to have the army supplied with the necessary means of conveyance for its baggage, ammunition, and artillery. The Spaniards, puffed up with a notion that they could drive out the French themselves, gave obstruction rather than furtherance to the British army. They did not know themselves that the French were pouring reinforcements through the Pyrenees to the amount of seventy thousand men, soon to be followed by Buonaparte himself. The British ambassador, at such a time, ought to have taken measures for knowing the truth; but this ambassador was, just at this moment, the most unfit person that could possibly have been pitched upon. Sir Charles Stewart, who v had been for some time ambassador at Madrid, was well acquainted with the Spaniards, and had energy and intelligence enough to have operated upon them. But as, with new changes of ministry, everything must be changed by the English government. even if it be for the worse. so here, not only had the generals been changed three times in four - and - twenty hours, but the active and well - informed minister was withdrawn, and a most indolent and useless man sent in his place. This was Mr. John Hookham Frere, great in the " Quarterly Review," and connected with Canning and his party. He was the author of a burlesque poem, under the assumed disguise of W. and R. Whistlecraft; and he might have cut a very respectable figure in the tory literary coteries in London, but at Madrid he was worse than useless - he was a very serious evil. He either sent Sir John no information as to the state and position of the Spanish armies, or of the advance and numbers of the French, or he sent him erroneous intelligence. Lord William Bentinck, who was in Spain, exerted himself to rouse the Spanish junta to a proper sense of their real position, and of the necessity for affording the British army, which had come to assist them, all the information and support that they could; and lie himself sent him word that the French were crossing not merely the Pyrenees, but the Ebro. At length, a dispatch to marshal Jourdan, being accidentally intercepted by a guerilla party on the frontiers, startled the junta with the news that immense bodies of French were advancing into Spain; and they began to appreciate the value of their British allies, but would do nothing to facilitate their march, or to direct them to the quarter where they would be most useful; and Frere, who should have stimulated them to a sense of their duty, sate down doing just nothing at all.

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