Page images

guns—of which one hundred (seventy of brass) were taken on the beld of battle,-evidences of the extent both of the enemy's means of resistance and of their defeat.-A curious incident occurred towards the close of the battle. This immense artillery was, under the direction of French officers, most admirably served, and when our army advanced and took the guns, the cannoniers pretended to be dead, but when the line had passed, they jumped up and worked the guns upon the backs of the British.

The enemy fled that night (the battle lasted till dark) twelve, miles, and General Wellesley having, before the action, calculated the result, and ordered Colonel Stevenson's corps to advance towards the enemy's rear, this movement completed the rout, and the next morning the whole remains of their forces went off with the utmost precipitation across the ghauts. We have heard from

officer who accompanied General Wellesley in this and in all his other battles, that in none did he ever see a more determined resistance, or a more tremendous cannonade ; and here we may mention an anecdote relative to this very officer, which cannot fail to interest our readers.

About six weeks before the battle of Assye, General Wellesley thought it necessary to obtain possession of an important fort, named Ahmednugger. It was taken by a most gallant escalade: in the thick of the assault, General Wellesley saw a young officer, who had reached the top of the very lofty wall,' thrust off by the enemy, and falling through the air from a great height. General Wellesley had little doubt that he must have been severely wounded, if not killed, by the fall; but hastened to inquire the name and fate of the gallant young fellow, and had the satisfaction of seeing him in a moment after, comparatively little injured, again mount ing to the assault. Next morning the General sent for him offered to attach him to his staff as brigade-major-and from that hour, through all his fields and fortunes, even down to the conquest of Paris—continued him in his personal family and friendship, and used sometimes to observe that the first time he had ever seen him was in the air: that young officer is now Sir Colin Campbell-knight commander of the Bath, a major-general in the army, and governor of Nova Scotia ! We record with pleasure this act of justice to a brave and distinguished officer, whose subsequent services have fully justified his own early promise, and the generous patronage of bis illustrious commander. But the dispatches afford us many proofs that the Duke of Wellington could be as kind as he was just.

We see a few days after the battle of Assye, and while he was organizing the results of that victory, that he could find time to exert his good nature in humbler matters. In a letter from the


[ocr errors]

camp at Assye to Major Shawe (the governor-general's private secretary), amidst the military details of the action, we find a passage recommending to Major Shawe's care a young gentleman who had lately arrived at Calcutta as a writer:

I have received a letter from Mr. Thomas Pakenham, a writer on the Bengal establishment, respecting whom I am particularly interested. He is the son of Admiral Pakenham, a very old friend of Lord Wellesley and of me. I believe him to be very young and in-' experienced; I therefore most anxiously recommend him to your care and attention. I have also given him a letter of recommendation to my friend Mrs. Ross, whom I have requested to have an eye upon his conduct, and, abore all things, to prevent him from keeping bad company.

• Should the college last, of course he will attend that institution; if not, I have desired him to acquire a knowledge of the country languages. I request you to urge him particularly upon this point, and do not allow him to be idle. Desire him to show you the letter which I have written to him. Do not allow him to run in debt; if he should want money, I have desired him to apply to David Ross or you. Pray supply his wants, if he should require it, and apply to David Ross for any sums you may give him.'—pp. 407, 408.

: Such attention, at such a moment, from such a man, to the son of an old friend, is a very amiable trait; and will, we think, in every reader's estimation, exalt still higher the character of the hero of Assye.

This victory did not disturb the principles of moderation with which General Wellesley had always been disposed to treat the native princes. He listened readily to the propositions which were made to hin for a treaty of peace, and negotiations were commenced accordingly. These negotiations, studiously delayed by the Rajahs, lasted a couple of months, and at last a suspension of arms was granted to Scindiah alone, on certain conditions. This was, however, on Scindiah's part, but another subterfuge ;-he not only failed to execute the prescribed conditions, but when the Rajah of Berar had made all his arrangements for the resumption of hostilities, and organized a new and not inconsiderable army, Scindiah suddenly joined his forces to those which the Rajah had levied ; - and their combined armies appeared before General Wellesley, on the 29th of November, on the plains of Argaum. He immediately attacked and entirely defeated and dispersed them, with little loss on his side; and advancing after the battle, he took the fortress of Gawilghur by storm, and extinguished the last hope of the copsederated Mahrattas. A treaty of peace was now negotiated with celerity, and signed on the soth of December, 1803, with both Scindiah and the Berar Rajah; and with this



terminate General Wellesley's military operations in India, and Colonel Gurwood's first.volume.

We are well aware that we have given a very superficial and inadequate account of this work; but we have at least said enough to indicate its merits and importance as materials for the biography of the Duke of Wellington, and for general history. To those who are familiar with the Indian vocabulary, and interested in Indian scenes and events, it contains a fund of amusement as well as of instruction ; and, on the whole, we do not hesitate to pronounce it one of the most curious and satisfactory additions that have been made in our days to bistorical literature.*

Colonel Gurwood has performed his office of compiler and editor with considerable ability and laudable diligence; but his greatest merit is that of having conceived the plan of the work, and we cannot but offer him our best thanks for what he has done, and our anxious wishes for its continuation and completion. Two or three suggestions we will venture to make ou some points, in which we think it might be improved. We doubt whether several of the minutes of the Governor-General in council-which only recapitulate the original dispatches, and exo press the approbation of the superior authorities-might not have been omitted; they, in general, add nothing to the facts, while they swell unnecessarily a volume already sufficiently copious. We think, also—though here we speak more dubiously—that several reports and communications to General Wellesley might have been omitted or curtailed. We have been much pleased with some explanatory extracts, subjoined as notes, from the MS. Journals of Lord Harris' and of Major-General Sir J. Nicholls; ami me think the work will be greatly improved, as regards the genera reuder,' by a more frequent use of similar explanations, if Colonel Gurwood should be able to obtain them. In some cases, the want of explanatory notes is very striking : for instance, we read in different dispatches of the Rajah of Berarof Senah Sahib Soubah Behauder, and of Rajah Ragojee Bhoonslah, without any intimation that these three denominations apply to one and the same person. We renture also to suggest, that the address of the letters should be more fully given; it is not enough to say, To Colonel Close,' or “To Major Munro'—the places where those officers were at the moment should also be specitied. In many cases, the local position of the person addressed is of great importance. It may, it is true, be generally picked out from the context, but it would be more convenient to have it stated at the head of the dispatch.

We cannot here refrain from noticing the general accuracy, as far as these original documents enable us to judge, of the · Military Memoirs of the Duke of Wellington,' by Captain Moyle Sherer.—(Longman and Co., 1832.) The author has made a careful and judicious use of the admirable letters of Sir Thomas Munro; but in many points to which that authority does not reach, the present publication corroborates Captain Sherer's well-written and interesting narrative.


On the whole, we rise from the perusal of these volumes with a much higher idea--(difficult as it was to raise our admiration)-of the Duke of Wellington's personal character; the patience of his inquiries—the capacity of his mind for all sorts of knowledge—the invariable good temper—the wonderful sagacity—the consummate prudence by which he was enabled to exercise-perhaps we should say indulge--his more splendid qualities of promptitude, decision, and valour. And when we see this illustrious public life accompanied and adorned with so much simplicity and generosity—so much moderation, justice, and good nature - the easy gaiety of a clear conscience, and the amiable impulses of a good heart,we feel (in contradiction to the common observation, that heroes do not improve on a close acquaintance) that there is at least one heroic reputation

quæ si propius stes

Te capiet magis'and that the Duke of Wellington, the better he is known, will be the more honoured and beloved.

Art. VII.-Italy; with Sketches of Spain and Portugal. In a

Series of Letters written during a Residence in those Countries. By William Beckford, Esq., Author of · Vathek.' London,

2 vols. Svo. 1834. MR. R. BECKFORD, it is said, appeared as an author at the

early age of eighteen ; but the · Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters' would have excited considerable attention, under whatever circumstances they might have been given to the world. They are a series of sharp and brilliant satires on the Dutch and Flemish schools—the language polished and pointedthe sarcasm at once deep and delicate—a performance in which the buoyancy of juvenile spirits sets off the results of already extensive observation, and the judgments of a refined (though far too fastidious and exclusive) taste. These • Memoirs' were reprinted about ten years ago, but are now, we believe, very little known. The tale of Caliph Vathek, however, which was originally written in French, and published before the author bad closed his twentieth year, has, for more than half a century, continued in possession of all the celebrity which it at once commanded.

“For correctness of costume,' says Lord Byron, beauty of description, and power of imagination, it far surpasses all European imitations; and bears such marks of originality, that those who have visited the East will find some difficulty in believing it to be a translation. As an Eastern tale, even “ Rasselas” must bow before it: his " Happy Valley” will not bear a comparison with the “ Hall of Eblis.”Life and Works, vol. viii. p. 25.

Vathek is, indeed, without reference to the time of life when the author penned it, a very remarkable performance; but, like most of the works of the great poet who has thus eloquently praised it, it is stained with some poison-spots-ite inspiration is too often such as might have been inhaled in the Hall of Eblis.' We do not allude so much to its audacious licentiousness, as to the diabolical levity of its contempt for mankind. The boy-author appears already to have rubbed all the bloom off his heart; and, in the midst of his dazzling genius, one trembles to think that a stripling of years so tender should have attained the cool cynicism of a Candide. How different is the effect of that Eastern tale of our own days, which Lord Byron ought not to have forgotten when he was criticising his favourite romance. How perfectly does Thalaba realize the ideal demanded in the Welsh Triad, of "fulness of erudition, simplicity of language, and purity of man: ners.' But the critic was repelled by the purity of that delicious creation, more than attracted by the erudition which he must have respected, and the diction which he could not but admire :

The low sweet voice so musical,
That with such deep and undefined delight

Fills the surrender'd soul.' It has long been known that Mr. Beckford prepared, shortly after the publication of his . Vathek,' some other tales in the same vein-the histories, it is supposed, of the princes in his · Hall of Eblis.' A rumour had also prevailed, that the author drew up early in life some account of his travels in various parts of the world; nay, that he had printed a few copies of this account, and that its private perusal had been eminently serviceable to more than one of the most popular poets of the present age. But these were only vague reports; and Mr. Beckford, after achieving, on the verge of manhood, a literary reputation, which, however brilliant, could not satisfy the natural ambition of such an intellectseemed, for more than fifty years, to have wholly withdrawn himself from the only field of his permanent distinction. The world heard enough of his gorgeous palace at Cintra (described in . Childe Harold'), afterwards of the unsubstantial pageant of bis splendour at Fonthill, and latterly of his architectural caprices at Bath. But his literary name seemed to have belonged to another age; and perhaps, in this point of view, it may not have been un


« PreviousContinue »