Imágenes de páginas

column had not, as far as we are aware, been mooted; and the Duke would naturally have mentioned the steadiness of the British infantry to stand to their bayonets, as his reason for believing that he could beat the terrible French columns (whose charges no other armies had been able to resist), rather than any expectation of receiving them in line, as he found by subsequent experience in the Peninsula that he was able to do.

We confess to at least an average belief in the fallibility of human nature, and mistrust of the accuracy of recorded conversations, but we are certainly inclined in this instance to pin our faith on Mr. Croker.

When Sir Arthur sailed from England in the 'Crocodile' for the Peninsula he commanded a force of about 10,000 men, with liberty of action; but, as the ideas of the Government expanded, he became chief of the advanced guard only of an army of 30,000 men, comprising six General officers who were his seniors. He wrote accordingly to Lord Castlereagh to say

'Whether I am to command the army or not, or even to quit it, I shall do my best to insure success, and you may depend upon it that I shall not hurry the operations, or commence them one moment sooner than they ought to be commenced, in order that I may acquire the credit of success.'

And he at once showed by his first operations that his confidence in himself was thoroughly warranted. At Roliça his demeanour and his dispositions commanded confidence and ensured success. Prevented by others' who had not come to run risks'-from following up his victory as he wished to do, he led his corps to the position of Vimiero. Again victorious, and prevented from pursuing his enemy, he signed, under the directions of Sir Hew Dalrymple, the preliminary agreement which led to the celebrated convention of Cintra. On this subject he wrote to Lord Castlereagh, under date wrongly given by Mr. Gleig as the 23rd April, instead of August, 1808:

[ocr errors]

Although my name is affixed to this instrument, I beg that you will not believe that I negociated it, that I approved of it, or that I had any hand in wording it. It was negociated by the General himself in my presence and that of Sir Harry Burrard; and after it had been drawn out by Kellerman himself, Sir Hew Dalrymple desired me to sign it.' 'I approve of allowing the French to evacuate

[ocr errors]

Portugal.'.." 'It is more for the advantage of the General to have 30,000 Englishmen in Spain, and 10,000 or 12,000 additional Frenchmen on the northern frontier of Spain, than to have the Frenchmen in Portugal, and the Englishmen employed in the blockade or siege of strong places.'

His manner became thenceforth distant to Sir Hew Dalrymple,


and Sir John Moore, who had himself been disappointed in not receiving the chief command, shared in his dissatisfaction.

The disappointment which prevailed in England on the subject of this convention determined Sir Arthur to bring the whole matter to a public inquiry, and he set to work with his usual energy and sagacity to represent his own views. But he began later to despair of setting himself right, and in writing to Lord Castlereagh again, on the 14th October, he expressed himself somewhat differently:

'I have always been of opinion that I should not be able to convince the public of the goodness of my motives for signing the armistice; and the late discussions in Middlesex and elsewhere, and the paragraphs in the newspapers, which after all rule everything in this country, tend to convince me that it is determined that I shall not have the benefit of an acquittal, and that the news-writers and the orators of the day are determined to listen to nothing in my justification.

It is singular that Sir Arthur should have consented to sign the armistice, in place of Sir Hew Dalrymple or Sir Harry Burrard, when he objected, as he mentioned to Lord Castlereagh in the first letter, to its 'verbiage' and to the indefinite suspension of hostilities. It was natural enough in the public to look to his signature as a token of his approval, and he was hardly the man to have been coerced into signing anything that he strongly disapproved. But the arrangement was by no means a bad one. The kingdom of Portugal had been cleared of its invaders, after two successful battles, within a month. Sir Arthur would not have allowed the French to escape so easily if he had been left to himself; but it is evident from the volume (xvii.) of the Napoleon Correspondence published last year that Napoleon (who by no means foresaw the importance of the little cloud that was rising in Portugal) considered the convention to be advantageous to the English. He says:

"I wish to know why, six weeks ago, he (the Duke of Abrantes) did not intrench himself in a camp at the mouth of the Tagus, or in some other suitable position, and await assistance, having supplied his army? This is what he should have done by the rules of warfare in such a situation.'

After his return to London Sir Arthur wrote (on the 7th of October, 1808) to Sir John Moore:

'I find that by the distribution I am placed under your command, than which nothing can be more satisfactory to me. I will go to Coruña immediately, where I hope to find you.'

But he was prevented, while waiting in London for the in



quiry, from taking part in the operations under that General. Mr. Gleig complains much of the result of the inquiry:—

[ocr errors]

Sir Arthur, still treating with the utmost possible delicacy officers who were by no means so delicate towards him, proved his own case. The Court listened with partial ears to the statements of Sir Hugh and Sir Harry; and the final issue was a declaration that nobody was to blame; that all which could have been reasonably expected under the circumstances had been done, so that further proceedings in the case were not necessary.'

But, at all events, 'one of the first acts of both Houses, when Parliament met in January, 1809, was to pass a vote of thanks to Sir Arthur Wellesley and the army which had served under him.'

After the battle of Corunna Lord Castlereagh proposed to the Junta of Seville to make Cadiz the base of British operations; but he afterwards consulted Sir Arthur, and obtained from him the able and comprehensive minute, which, recommending that Portugal should be defended partly by British troops and partly, after the Indian method, by native troops under British officers, laid the foundation of the system on which the Peninsular war was afterwards conducted. This minute also, as is well known, prophetically described Napoleon's political system as one of terror, which must crumble to pieces if once effectually checked,' and suggested that the first decided check might be given to it in Portugal at the same time that the operations in Portugal would be highly favourable to the Spaniards. It produced a great effect, and Sir Arthur's views were unanimously adopted by the Cabinet on the refusal of the Spaniards to receive a British garrison at Cadiz.

The grand opportunity for which our great soldier had been yearning and labouring at length presented itself. He resigned his seat in Parliament and his office in Ireland, and proceeded to Portugal, at the head of the army, to carry out his own views, with the approval of the nation as well as of the Government. General Beresford was appointed, on his recommendation, to command the Portuguese contingent under his orders, and he started, with about 20,000 British, to make head against more than ten times that number of French troops.

But we must reserve the glorious achievements of the Peninsula for another article.


ART. II.-1. Les Forçats pour la Foi.

Etude Historique,

1684-1755. Par Athanase Coquerel, Fils. Paris, 1866. 2. Mémoires d'un Protestant condamné aux Galères de France pour cause de Religion. Paris, 1864.

3. Arnold Delahaize; or the Huguenot Pastor. London, 1863. 4. Henri de Rohan; or the Huguenot Refugee. By Francisca Ingram Ouvry, author of Arnold Delahaize.' London, 1865.


HE mournful yet glorious annals of religious persecution mournful

form a chapter of undying interest in human history. The names of persecutors and of martyrs stand out on its pages in conspicuous and unfading colours. Imagination invests both alike with something of the super-human. In the former a perfection of malignity, an induration of the heart and conscience, naturally suggest the idea of fiendish inspiration; in the latter a sublime combination of fortitude and meekness seems to exalt our poor human nature to the confines of the divine. In all that band of heroes, who, in various countries and periods, have given their lives for their religion, we find a common type. Minor differences of race and character are merged in the assimilating element of a victorious faith. Englishman and Frenchman, Hollander and Italian, Asiatic and African, have in their turn undergone the fiery trial; yet it would be difficult to discriminate the special features which have distinguished each, or to award the palm of fortitude among the rival martyrs. All of them, in truth, were fellow-soldiers in that 'noble army,' and the banner under which they fought was the common standard of Christendom.

[ocr errors]

The sufferings of the Protestants of France in the reign of Louis XIV., subsequent to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, are in their general features familiar to most readers of history. The Dragonnades,' which, under the influence of his Minister Louvois and of his Jesuitical and priestly counsellors, the King inflicted upon his unoffending Hugonot subjects, will affix an everlasting stigma on the reign of the Grand Monarque.' A brutal soldiery, subject to no check or restraint, were quartered in the homes of the families who adhered to the Reformed faith, and they exercised the utmost rigour of pillage, torture, and outrage, without distinction of sex or age, upon the helpless recusants. Neither was escape permitted to those who found the persecution in their homes intolerable. The strictest precautions were adopted to deprive the victims of tyranny of that alternative. The guards were doubled at the frontiers; the peasants were enjoined to aid in arresting fugitives; soldiers were dispersed


over every part of the country, and rigorous orders were given to stop any person passing the frontiers without a passport. In spite of all these precautions, it is true, great numbers of the persecuted did find means to escape, and settled themselves in foreign countries, of which they and their descendants became some of the most valued citizens. But the escape of these fortunate persons was not effected without fearful risk: confinement to the galleys for life was the penalty of the arrested fugitive. The condition of those upon whom this sentence was carried out may be described without any exaggeration as 'worse than death.' It was death in a multitude of cases without the elevating consciousness of martyrdom, or the mercy of a speedy release from suffering. It was a gradual death from excessive labour and ill-usage, terminating a servitude in which the wretched victim underwent almost every form of misery most terrible to human nature-cold, hunger, chains, scourging, sickness-superadded to the occasional horrors of naval warfare and the perils of shipwreck. Descriptions of other forms of persecution have often moved our sympathies. We have shuddered at the martyrdoms of the stake, the pincers, or the rack—

'the agonising wheel,

Luke's iron crown and Damien's bed of steel,'

but the condition of the galley-slave, the details of whose sufferings were out of sight and little known, excite in our minds a much less keen emotion. It conveys, indeed, a vague notion of severe and unremitting labour; but we do not recognise in it what it really was-a form of martyrdom more calculated, perhaps, than any other to test to the uttermost the capacity of endurance in human beings.

Of the sufferings of these unhappy 'Forçats pour la Foi,' as they were popularly called by their contemporaries, some interesting records have been preserved in such of the memoirs and narratives, drawn up by the sufferers themselves, as have come down to us. The compilation of M. Athanase Coquerel, under the above title, furnishes a good, though brief, account derived from such sources, of the nature and extent of the persecution of which the galleys were the scene. Among the documents comprised in this volume is a catalogue, formed from a collection of various extant lists, of the Protestants under sentence at the galleys from 1684 to 1762, specifying their names, and, in the majority of cases, their places of birth, age, sentence, period of suffering, and the date of its termination, whether by release or death. One of the most complete of these lists, that of M. M. Haag, gives a total-probably below the truth-of no


« AnteriorContinuar »