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The year had closed in Spain triumphantly for the French arms, as it had commenced. The Spanish armies had sustained a series of unparalleled defeats. The British had retired into Portugal; and the efforts of Lord Wellington were, for the present, limited to the defence of that kingdom. England had wasted her resources in a fruitless and ill-judged expedition to the Isle of Walcheren, where disease had done the work of the sword. A triumphant peace had been concluded with Austria; and the whole of the immense forces of the French empire were thus disposable for the reduction of Spain.

At Paris, Napoleon, in a speech to the senate,



recounted the triumphs of the year, and inti- CHAP. IX. mated his intention of returning to Spain, to

1810. complete the conquest already almost achieved. “ When I shall shew myself beyond the Pyrenees,” said he, in metaphor somewhat staled by frequent repetition, “the frightened Leopard will fly to the ocean to avoid shame, defeat, and death. The triumph of my arms will be the triumph of the genius of good over that of evil,-of moderation, order, and morality, over civil war, anarchy, and the evil passions !"

The war minister reported, that, of the conscriptions already decreed, there still remained eighty thousand men uncalled into service. Of these, thirty-six thousand were to be immediately embodied. Thirty thousand men, collected at Bayonne, were ready to repair the casualties which had diminished the French armies in Spain ; and an additional force of twenty-five thousand, raised from the conscription of the year following, would be at the disposal of the Emperor.

Such was the threatening aspect of affairs at the commencement of eighteen hundred and ten. Yet Lord Wellington did not despair of the cause in which he had embarked. When



CHAP.IX. he entered Spain, but a few months before,

he had done so in co-operation with an ar1810.

my of considerable strength, against a comparatively small and extended body of the enemy. Since that period, the Spanish armies had been routed and dispersed ; and, whatever ideas he might have previously formed, it was now evident, that neither the talents of their leaders, nor the character of the troops, gave any prospect of vigorous and effective resistance to the progress of the enemy. But Lord Wellington likewise knew, that the security of Spain did not depend on the conduct of her armies,--that an indomitable spirit of hostility was abroad among her people,—that a desultory but destructive war was carrying on in all her provinces, and that the expense of life, at which the French maintained their hold on the country, was one which could not fail gradually to enfeeble the invaders, and call for a succession of efforts, of such magnitude, as France, in the precarious state of Europe, might soon be unable to support.

In the meantime, it was obvious that defensive war was the only one which could be waged with any prospect of success.

It was



the policy of England to protract the contest ; to OHAP. IX. lead the enemy to divide his forces by distracting

1810. his attention, and thus to subject him to the full operation of that petty but pervading hostility which was ever wasting his numbers. For the present, therefore, Lord Wellington determined to confine his efforts to the defence of Portugal, yet to stand prepared on the occurrence of more favourable circumstances, again to widen the sphere of his operations, and advance into Spain.

On crossing the Tagus, he moved his headquarters to Vizeu ; and the army went into cantonments, extending from Coimbra to Pinhel, while the corps of General Hill remained at Abrantes and its neighbourhood. In this position, the troops remained for some time inactive, in order to recover the effects of the preceding campaign, and the sickness which had been engendered by the unhealthy station to which they had subsequently removed.

At this period, Marshal Soult, with an army

of about fifty thousand men, was preparing to advance into Andalusia.

The Junta, blind to the approaching danger, felt secure that the giant range of the Sierra Morena



Jan. 20.

CHAP. IX. would oppose an impenetrable barrier to the

progress of the enemy. The passes of these 1810. January

mountains had been fortified with care, and a force of about twenty thousand men, under Arisaigo, was posted for their defence. But on the twentieth of January, the pass of Despena Perros was forced, with but little resistance from the troops, whose spirit was depressed by the remembrance of Ocana. In order to distract the attention of Arisago, Soult divided his army into three columns, which advanced simultaneously on the three principal debouchés of the Sierra. The right, under Victor, by Almaden; the centre, under Mortier, by the road from Madrid ; the left, under Sebastiani, by Villa Nueva. Several mines had been placed by the Spaniards at the narrow parts of the defile, but the explosion of these produced little

effect. On the twenty-first, Soult's head-quar. Jan. 29. ters were at Baylen ; and, on the twenty-ninth,

the corps of Victor effected its junction with the army before Seville.

In Seville-where, till now, nothing had been heard but the sound of presumptuous boasting—all was confusion. The Junta fled to Cadiz; no measures had been taken to put the

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