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great numbers to their homes, and seldom failed to call at our mansion once or twice a-week, with wine, fresh bread, cyder, and bottled beer; by the help of which, we continued to fare well as long as our fast-diminishing stock of money lasted. I say fast-diminishing stock of money, for as yet no addition had been made to that which each of us brought with him from England; and though the pay of the army was now six months in arrear, but faint hopes were entertained of any immediate donative.
It was not, however, among regimental and other inferior officers alone, that this period of military inaction was esteemed and acted upon as one of enjoyment. Lord Wellington's foxhounds were unkennelled; and he himself took the field regularly twice a-week, as if he had been a denizen of Leicestershire, or any other sporting county in England. I need not add, that few packs, in any county, could be better attended. Not that the horses of all the huntsmen were of the best breed, or of the gayest appearance; but what was wanting in individual splendour, was made up by the number of Nimrods; nor would it be easy to discover a field more fruitful in laughable occurrences, which no man more heartily enjoyed than the gallant Marquis himself. When the hounds were out, he was no longer the commander of the forces; the Generalin-Chief of three nations, and the representative of three sovereigns; but the gay, merry, country gentleman, who rode at everything, and laughed as loud when he fell himself, as when he witnessed the fall of a brothersportsman.
Thus passed about twenty days, during the greater number of which the sky was clear, and the air cold and bracing. Occasionally, indeed, we varied our sporting life by visits to St Jean de Luz, and other towns in the rear; and by seeking out old friends in other divisions of the army. Nor were we altogether without military occupation. Here and there a redoubt was thrown up, for the purpose of rendering our position doubly secure; whilst the various brigades of each division relieved one another in taking the outpost duty. A trifling skirmish or two, tended likewise to keep us alive; but these were followed by no movement of im
portance, nor were they very fatal either to the enemy or ourselves.
The position which Lord Wellington had taken up, extended from the village of Bedart on the left to a place called Garret's House on the right. It embraced various other villages, such as that of Arcanques, Gauthong, &c. &c., between these points, and kept the extremities of the line at a distance of perhaps six or seven miles from each other. To a common observer it certainly had in it nothing imposing, or calculated to give the idea of great natural strength. On the left, in particular, our troops, when called into the field, occupied a level plain; wooded indeed, but very little broken; whilst at different points in the centre there were passes, easy of approach, not defensible in any extraordinary degree. But its strength was well tried, as I shall take occasion shortly to relate, and the issue of the trial proved that no error had been committed in its selection.
Of the manner in which the right and centre columns were disposed, I knew but little. The left column consisting of the first and fifth divisions; of two or three brigades of Portuguese infantry, one brigade of light and one of heavy cavalry was thus posted: The town of St Jean de Luz, in which Lord Wellington had fixed his quarters, was occupied by three or four battalions of guards; its suburbs were given up to such corps of the German legion as were attached to the first division. In and about the town, the light cavalry was likewise quartered; whilst the heavy was sent back to Andage and the villages near it, on account of the facility of procuring forage, which there existed. The Spaniards again had fallen back as far as Irun, and were not brought up during the remainder of the winter; but the Portuguese regiments were scattered, as we were scattered, among a number of detached cottages near the road. In the village of Bedart was posted the fifth division, with three or four pieces of field artillery, and the men and horses attached to them; and to it, the duty of watching the enemy, and keeping possession of the ground on which the picquets stood, was committed. aus along the line of the highroad was housed a corps of about fifteen thousand infantry, twelve hun
dred cavalry, and a due proportion of artillery; all under the immediate command of Sir John Hope.
In direct communication with the head of this column, was the light division, under the command of MajorGeneral Brown Allen. It consisted of the 52d, 43d, and 95th regiments, of a brigade or two of caçadores, and mustered in all about four or five thousand bayonets. These occupied the church and village of Arcanques, situated up on a rising ground, and of considerable natural strength. Beyond this division again, lay the 4th; in connexion with which were the 3d, the 7th, and the 2d divisions, whilst the 6th took post a little in the rear, and acted as a reserve, in case a reserve should be wanting.
I have said that Lord Wellington's head-quarters were in the town of St Jean de Luz. Here also Sir John Hope, and several generals of division and of brigade, established themselves; and here all the general staff of the army was posted. Of course the place was kept in a state of warlike gaiety, such as it had not probably witnessed before, at least in modern times; but everything was done which could be done to conciliate the affections of the inhabitants; nor was the slightest outrage or riot permitted. Such is the manner in which the British army was disposed of, from the 18th of November, when it first went into cantonments, till the 9th of December, when it was found necessary once more to take the field.
I HAD been out with my gun during the whole of the 8th of December, and returned at a late hour in the evening, not a little weary with wandering, when the first intelligence communicated to me was, that the corps had received orders to be under arms at an early hour next morning, when the whole of the army should advance. In a former chapter, I have hinted, that a continued tract of rainy weather drove Lord Wellington earlier than he had designed, and against his inclination, into winter-quarters. The consequence was, that the position of the army was not in every respect to his mind. The right, in particular, was too far thrown back; and the course of the Nivelle interfered in a very inconvenient degree with the communication between it and the left. We were accordingly given to understand, that the object of our present movement was merely to facilitate the crossing of that river by Sir Rowland Hill's corps, and that as soon as this object was attained, we should be permitted to return in peace to our comfortable quar
In consequence of this information, Graham and myself made fewer preparations than we had been in the habit of making on other and similar occasions. Instead of packing up our baggage, and ordering out our sumpter-pony and faithful Portuguese, as we had hitherto done, we left everything in our apartment, in its ordinary
condition. Strict charges were indeed given to the servants, that a cheerful fire and a substantial meal should be prepared against our return in the evening; but we put up neither food nor clothes for immediate use, in full expectation that such things would not be required.
The night of the 8th passed quietly over, and I arose about two hours before dawn on the 9th, perfectly fresh, and, like those around me, in high spirits. We had been so long idle, that the near prospect of a little fighting, instead of creating gloomy sensations, was viewed with sincere delight; and we took our places, and began our march towards the high-road, in silence, it is true, but with extreme good will. There we remained stationary till the day broke; when the word being given to advance, we pointed forward in the direction of Bayonne.
The brigade to which I belonged took post at the head of the 1st division, and immediately in the rear of the 5th. This situation afforded to me, on several occasions, as the inequalities of the road placed me, from time to time, on the summit of an eminence, very favourable opportunities of beholding the whole of the warlike mass, which was moving; nor is it easy to imagine a more imposing or more elevating spectacle. The entire left wing of the army advanced, in a single continuous column, by the main road, and covered, at the most moderate computation, a
space of four miles. As far, indeed, as the eye could reach, nothing was to be seen except swarms of infantry, clothed not only in scarlet, but in green, blue, and brown uniforms; whilst here and there a brigade of four or six guns occupied a vacant space between the last files of one division and the first of another. The rear of all came to the cavalry; but of their appearance I was unable accurately to judge, they were so distant.
We had proceeded about five miles, and it was now seven o'clock, when, our advanced guard falling in with the French picquets, a smart skirmish began. It was really a beautiful sight. The enemy made, it is true, no very determined stand, but they gave not up a rood of ground, without exchanging a few shots with their assailants; who pressed forward, vigorously indeed, but with all the caution and circumspection which mark the advance of a skilful skirmisher. The column, in the meanwhile, moved slowly but steadily on; nor was it once called upon, during the whole of the day, to deploy into line.
When the light troops of an army are engaged, as ours were this morning, the heavy infantry is necessitated to march at a slow rate; whilst, ever and anon, a short halt or check takes place. These halts occurred to-day with unusual frequency. The fact, I believe, was, that Lord Wellington had no desire to bring his left into determined action at all. This object was fully attained as long as he kept the right of the enemy in a state of anxiety and irresolution, but the ground which we gained was in no degree important to the furtherance of the sole design which he had in view. Of course, the tardiness of our motions gave a better opportunity of watching the progress of those connected with us; nor have I ever beheld a fieldday at home, more regularly and more elegantly gone through, than this trifling affair of the ninth of December. It was getting somewhat late, perhaps it might be three or four o'clock in the afternoon, when our column, having overcome all opposition, halted on some rising ground, about three miles from the walls of Bayonne. From this point we obtained a perfect view of the out-works of that town, as well as of the formidable line of fortifications which Soult had thrown up,
along the course of the Adour; but of the city itself, we saw but little, on account of several groves of lofty elm and other trees, which intervened. It will readily be imagined that we turned our glasses towards the entrenched camp, with feelings very different from those which actuate an ordinary observer of the face of a strange country. That the French marshal had been at work upon these lines, not only from the moment of his last defeat, but from the very first day of his assuming the command of the army of Spain, we were quite aware; and hence we were by no means surprised at beholding such an obstacle presented to our farther progress in France. But I cannot say that the sight cast even a damp upon our usual confidence. We knew that whatever could be done to render these mighty preparations useless, our gallant general would effect; and perhaps we were each of us vain enough to believe, that nothing could resist our own individual valour. Be that as it may, though we freely acknowledged that many a brave fellow must find a grave ere these works could come into our possession, we would have advanced to the attack at the instant, not only without reluctance, but with the most perfect assurance of success.
The sound of firing had now gradually subsided; the enemy having withdrawn within their entrenchments, and our skirmishers being called in to join their respective corps. The left column, dividing itself according to its brigades, had taken post along a ridge of high ground; and our men, piling their arms, set about lighting fires in all directions; when I wandered from the corps, as my invariable custom was, in search of adventures. I had strolled forward for the purpose of obtaining, if possible, a more perfect view of the enemy's lines; and was stepping across a ditch on my return, when a low groan, as if from some person in acute pain, attracted my notice. I looked down into the ditch, which was, perhaps, four feet deep, and beheld three human beings lying at the bottom of it. They were all perfectly naked, and two of them were motionless. On farther examination, I found that they were three French soldiers, of whom one only was alive; and he lay bleeding from a severe wound in the face, a mus
ket-ball having broken both cheek bones. He was, however, sensible; so I ran for help, and he was carried by some of our people to a neighbouring house. Here the poor fellow, whom his own countrymen had stripped and deserted, was well taken care of by his enemies; but he had suffered so much from exposure to cold, that all attempts to preserve his life, were vain, and he died in about a quarter of an hour after his wound was dressed.
In the meanwhile, Lord Wellington putting himself at the head of a small corps of cavalry, and, attended by a few companies of light infantry, proceeded to the front, in order to reconnoitre the enemy's works. This he was permitted to do without any farther molestation than arose from the occasional discharge of a field gun as he and his party presented a favourable mark to the gunners. But neither he nor his followers received the slightest injury from these discharges, and by six in the evening he had effected every object which he desired to effect. Orders were accordingly is sued for the troops to fall back to their former quarters, and the main road was again crowded with armed men, marching to the rear, in a fashion not perhaps quite so orderly as that which distinguished their advance.
A heavy rain had begun about an hour previous to this movement, accompanied by a cold wind, which blew directly in our faces. Darkness, too, set rapidly in; the road soon became deep and muddy from the trampling of the multitude of men and horses which covered it; and something like an inclination to grumble, began to arise in our bosoms. Perhaps I need not tell the reader, that between the infantry and cavalry in the British army, a sort of natural antipathy exists; the former description of force regarding the latter as little better than useless, the latter regarding the former as extremely vulgar and ungenteel. I was myself an officer of infantry; and I perfectly recollect the angry feelings which were excited at a particular period of the march, when the corps, weary, wet, and hungry, was rudely ordered, by a squadron or two of light troopers, to
get out of the way, and allow them to pass." Recollect, good reader, that the rain was falling as if it had come from buckets; that each infantry sol
dier carries a load of perhaps fifty pounds weight about his person; that our brave fellows had walked under this load, upwards of fourteen miles, and were still six long miles from a place of rest; and you will not wonder that these troopers were saluted with " curses not loud but deep," as they somewhat wantonly jostled their less fortunate comrades into the deepest and dirtiest sides of the way. I must confess that I shared in the indignation of my men; though, of course, I exerted myself as much as possible to prevent its being more openly displayed.
Never has any saloon, when brilliantly lighted up, and filled with all the splendour and elegance of a fashionable assembly, appeared half so attractive to my eyes, as did our own humble apartment this evening, with its carpetless floor, its logs of wood arranged instead of chairs, and a few deals, or rather a piece of scaffolding, placed in the centre, as a substitute for a table. A large fire was blazing on the rudely-constructed hearth, which shed a bright glare over the white walls; and our unpolished table being covered with a clean cloth, over which were arranged plates, knives, forks, and drinking-cups, gave promise of a substantial meal, and of an evening of real enjoyment. Nor were our hopes blighted. We had just time to strip off our wet and muddy garments, and to substitute others in their room, when a huge piece of roast-beef smoked upon the board, and summoned us to an occupation more agreeable than any which could have been at that moment proposed to us. Then our faithful valets had taken care to provide an ample supply of wine; a bottle or two of champaigne, with claret of no mean quality, which, with a little French beer, brisk, and weak, and well flavoured, served exceedingly well to wash down the more solid portions of our repast. To complete the thing, a few of our most intimate companions dropping in, soon after the fragments had been cleared away, our cigars were lighted, and the atmosphere of the apartment became speedily impregnated with the delicious fumes of tobacco; in sending forth the clouds of which, no other interruption took place, than was produced by an occasional uplifting of the wine-cup to the
lips, and an expression or short ejaculation, indicative of the perfect satisfaction of him who uttered it. I have seen many merry and many happy days and nights both before and since, but an evening of more quiet luxury than this, I certainly do not recollect at any period to have spent.
At length the fatigues of the day began to tell upon us in a degree somewhat too powerful for enjoyment. We had been under arms from four in the morning till nine at night, during the whole of which time, no opportunity of eating had been supplied to us; nor had we been permitted to unbend either our minds or bodies, in any ef
LETTERS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF INDIA.
MANY thanks, my dear North, for your kind inquiries. So much time has elapsed since any correspondence passed between us, that I am not surprised at the anxiety which you express touching my health. Thank God, I am not amiss, considering that, like yourself, I am not a boy; and have spent forty good years in a warm climate. But enough of personalities Let me to business.
[May, fectual degree. Like other animals who have fasted long, we had all gorso doing were furnished; and hence, ged ourselves as soon as the means of rated gradually into languor, and sleep the sensation of absolute rest, degenelaid his leaden fingers on our eyelids. I do not believe that half a dozen sentences of ordinary length had been uto'clock, our last cup of wine was draintered amongst us, when, about eleven ed off; and from our guests departing each to his own billet, we betook ourselves to our pallets. I need not unbroken. add that our slumber was thoroughly
You ask me what I think of the state of affairs in India? whether the the results of the Burmese war, the mutiny of the troops at Barrackpore, and the recent attempt to assassinate two British functionaries in open court, alarm me? You ask me whether or not I believe, that the natives of India are really attached to their European rulers? whether our system of government is, and always has been, such as to entitle us to such attachment? and hence, whether a permanent continuance of our authority in Hindoostan may be calculated upon? -These are grave and important questions, which involve far too many considerations to be rashly entered into. But I will endeavour to reply to them one by one; and if my view of things shall chance to differ from the view which you have hitherto entertained, all that I can expect is, that you will give to my reasonings an impartial consideration, and then treat them as they shall appear to merit.
I have no hesitation to say, that I con
sider the aspect of things in British India, at this present moment, as exceedingly alarming. Never, perhaps, was any war more needlessly, or more rashly entered into, than that in which the India Company are involved with the Burmese. The Burmese, according to every account, had offered no such insult to the local authorities as that an immediate appeal to arms was necesrations for the prosecution of a war had sary, at a time when no adequate prepabeen made. Exercising, as they were surely entitled to exercise, the common privileges of an independent state, they had indeed brought under subjection to themselves, sundry principalities, totally unconnected by any tie of allegiance or confederacy with us; and they had farther taken possession of a barren island, to the sovereignty of which, we, it appears, lay claim. But they had made no inroads upon our territory, nor committed any ravages in our fields; and if they conceived that, to the island in question, their title was equally valid murring to comply with our very pewith ours, can we wonder at their deremptory command that it should be evacuated? Yet because they hesitated in meeting our wishes, expressed, the mildest of all terms, we declared as such wishes generally are, not in war upon them-and what has been the consequence? Whilst a handful just competent to carry the stockades of soldiers were sent against them,