Arthur Wellesley was now within a few days of completing his fortieth year. He was a slight but wiry man of middle stature, with a long face, an aquiline nose, and a keen but cold grey eye. Owning an iron constitution on which no climate or season seemed to make the least impression, he was physically fit for all the work that lay before him—work more fatiguing[p. 295] than that which falls to most generals. For in the Peninsula he was required, as it soon appeared, to be almost as much of a statesman as of a general; while at the same time, owing to the inexperience of the British officers of that day in warfare on a large scale, he was obliged for some time to discharge for himself many of the duties which properly fall to the lot of the chief of the staff, the commissary-general, the paymaster-general, and the quartermaster-general in a well organized army. No amount of toil, bodily or mental, appeared too much for that active and alert mind, or for the body which seven years of service in India seemed to have tanned and hardened rather than to have relaxed. During the whole of his Peninsular campaigns, from 1808 to 1814, he was never prostrated by any serious ailment. Autumn rains, summer heat, the cold of winter, had no power over him. He could put up with a very small allowance of sleep, and when necessary could snatch useful moments of repose, at any moment of the twenty-four hours when no pressing duty chanced to be on hand. His manner of life was simple and austere in the extreme; no commander-in-chief ever travelled with less baggage, or could be content with more Spartan fare. Long after his wars were over the habit of bleak frugality clung to him, and in his old age men wondered at the bare and comfortless surroundings that he chose for himself, and at the scanty meals that sustained his spare but active frame. Officers who had long served in India were generally supposed to contract habits of luxury and display, but Wellesley 杭州家庭式会所 was the exception that proved the rule. He hated show of any kind; after the first few days of the campaign of 1809 he discarded the escort which was wont to accompany the commander-in-chief. It was on very rare occasions that he was seen in his full uniform: the army knew him best in the plain blue frock coat, the small featherless cocked hat, and the short cape, which have been handed down to us in a hundred drawings. Not unfrequently he would ride about among his cantonments dressed like a civilian in a round hat and grey trousers. He was as careless about the dress of his subordinates as about his[p. 296] own, and there probably never existed an army in which so little fuss was made about unessential trappings as that which served in the Peninsula from 1809 to 1814. Nothing could be less showy than its 杭州按摩快餐多少钱 head-quarters’ staff—a small group of blue-coated officers, with an orderly dragoon or two, riding in the wake of the dark cape and low glazed cocked hat of the most unpretentious of chiefs. It contrasted in the strangest way with the plumes and gold lace of the French marshals and their elaborately ornate staffs.
Considered as a man Wellesley had his defects and his limitations; we shall have ere long to draw attention to some of them. But from the intellectual point of view he commands our undivided admiration as a practical soldier. A careful study of his dispatches leaves us in a state of wonder at the imbecility of the school of writers—mostly continental—who have continued to assert for the last eighty years that he was no more than a man of ordinary abilities, who had an unfair share of good luck, and was presented 杭州男士高端私人 with a series of victories by the mistakes and jealousies of the generals opposed to him. Such assertions are the results of blind ignorance and prejudice. When found in English writers they merely reflect the bitter hatred that was felt toward Wellesley by his political opponents during the second and third decades of the nineteenth century. In French military authors they only represent the resentful[p. 297] carpings of the vanquished army, which preferred to think that it was beaten by anything rather than by the ability of the conqueror. In 1820 every retired colonel across the Channel was ready to demonstrate that Toulouse was an English defeat, that Talavera was a drawn battle, and that Wellesley was over-rash or over-cautious, a fool or a coward, according as their thesis of the moment might demand. They were but 杭州丝袜很多 echoing their Emperor’s rancorous remark to Soult, on the hillside of La Belle Alliance, when after telling the Marshal that he only thought his old adversary a good general because he had been beaten by him, he added, ‘Et moi, je vous dis que Wellington est un mauvais général, et que les Anglais sont de mauvaises troupes.’
Bonaparte consistently refused to do justice to the abilities of the Duke. He regarded him as a bitter personal enemy, and his whole attitude towards Wellesley was expressed in the scandalous legacy to Cantillon which disgraces his last will and testament. In strict conformity with their master’s pose, his followers, literary and military, have refused to see anything great in the victor of June 18, 1815. Even to the present day too many historians from the other side of the straits continue to 杭州桑拿地图 follow in the steps of Thiers, and to express wonder at the inexplicable triumphs of the mediocre general who routed in succession all the best marshals of France.
To clear away any lingering doubts as to Wellesley’s extraordinary ability, the student of history has only to read a few of his more notable dispatches. The man who could write the two Memoranda to Castlereagh dated September 5, 1808, and March 7, 1809, foresaw the whole future of the
Peninsular War. To know, at that early stage of the struggle, that the Spaniards would be beaten when—and wherever they offered battle, that the French, in spite of their victories, would never[p. 298] be able to conquer and hold down the entire country, that 30,000 British troops would be able to defend Portugal against any force that could be collected against them, required 杭州桑拿中心特服 the mind of a soldier of the first class. When the earliest of those memoranda was written, most Englishmen believed that the Spaniards were about to deliver their country by their own arms: Wellesley saw that the notion was vain and absurd. When, on the other hand, he wrote the second, the idea was abroad that all was lost, that after Corunna no second British army would be sent to the Peninsula, and that Portugal was indefensible. Far from sharing these gloomy views he asks for 30,000 men, and
states that though Spain may be overrun, though the Portuguese army may be in a state of hopeless disarray, he yet hopes with this handful of men to maintain the struggle, and eventually to decide the contest. How many generals has the world seen who could have framed such a prophecy, and have verified it?
To talk of the good fortune 杭州丝袜论坛 of Wellesley, of his ‘lucky star,’ is absurd. He had, like other generals, his occasional uncovenanted mercies and happy chances: but few commanders had more strokes of undeserved disappointment, or saw more of their plans frustrated by a stupid subordinate, an unexpected turn of the weather, an incalculable accident, or a piece of false news. He had his fair proportion of the chances of war, good and bad, and no more. If fortune was with him at Oporto in 1809, or at El Bodon in 1811, how many were the occasions on which she played him scurvy tricks? A few examples may suffice. In May 1809 he might have captured the whole of Soult’s army, if Silveira had but obeyed orders and occupied the impregnable defile of Salamonde. On the night of Salamanca he might have dealt in a similar fashion with Marmont’s routed host, if Carlos d’Espa?a had not withdrawn the garrison of Alba de 杭州洗浴一条龙 Tormes, in flat disobedience to his instructions, and so left the fords open to the flying French. It is needless to multiply instances of such incalculable misfortune; any serious student of the Peninsular War can cite them by the dozen. Masséna’s invasion of Portugal in 1810 would have been checked by the autumn rains, and never have penetrated far within the frontier, but for the unlucky bomb which blew up the grand magazine at[p. 299] Almeida, and reduced in a day a fortress which ought to have held out for a month. In the autumn of 1812 the retreat beyond the Douro need never have been made, if Ballasteros had obeyed orders, and moved up from Granada to threaten Soult’s flank, instead of remaining torpid in his cantonments 200 miles from the theatre of war.
Wellington was not the child of fortune; he was a great strategist and tactician, placed in a situation in which the 杭州洗浴桑拿小姐服务 military dangers furnished but half his difficulties. He had to cherish his single precious British army corps, and to keep it from any unnecessary loss, because if destroyed it could not be replaced. With those 30,000 men he had promised to keep up the war; the home government was reluctant to risk the whole of its available field army in one quarter, and for years refused to raise his numbers far above that total. It was not till the middle of 1810 that his original five divisions of infantry were increased to six, nor till 1811 that his seventh and eighth divisions were completed. Right down to 1812 it was certain that if he had lost any considerable fraction of his modest army, the ministry might have recalled him and abandoned Portugal. He had to fight with a full consciousness that a single disaster would have been irreparable, because it would have been followed not by the sending off of reinforcements to replace 杭州足浴店比较好的品牌 the divisions that might be lost, but by an order to evacuate the Peninsula. His French opponents fought under no such disabilities; when beaten they had other armies at hand on which to fall back, and behind all the inexhaustible reserve of Napoleon’s conscription. Considering the campaigns of 1809-10-11 it is not Wellington’s oft-censured prudence that we find astonishing, but his boldness. Instead of wondering that he did not attempt to relieve Rodrigo or Almeida in July-August 1810, or to fall upon Masséna at Santarem in January 1811, we are filled with surprise at the daring which inspired the storming of Oporto, and the offering of battle at Busaco and Fuentes d’O?oro. When a defeat spelt ruin and recall, it required no small courage to take any risks: but Wellesley had the sanest of minds; he could draw the line with absolute accuracy between enterprise and rashness, between[p. 300] the possible and the impossible. He had learned to gauge with wonderful insight the difficulties and disabilities of his enemies, and to see exactly how far they might be reckoned upon in discounting the military situation. After some time he arrived at an accurate estimate of the individual marshals opposed to him, and was ready to take the personal equation into consideration, according as he had to deal with Soult or Masséna, Marmont or Jourdan. In short, he was a safe general, not a cautious one. When once the hopeless disparity between his own resources and those of the enemy had ceased to exist, in the year 1812, he soon showed the worth of the silly taunts which imputed timidity to him, by the smashing blows which reduced Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, and the lightning-stroke which dashed to pieces Marmont’s army at Salamanca. In the next year, when for the first time he could count on an actual superiority of force, his irresistible march to Vittoria displayed his mastery of the art of using an advantage to the uttermost. Napoleon himself never punished a strategic fault on the part of the enemy with such majestic ease and confidence.
Of Wellington as a tactician we have already had occasion to speak in the first volume of this work. It is only necessary to repeat here that the groundwork of his tactics was his knowledge of the fact that the line could beat the column, whether on the offensive or the defensive. The data for forming the conclusions had been in possession of any one who chose to utilize them, but it was Wellesley who put his knowledge to full account. Even before he left India, it is said, he had grasped the great secret, and had remarked to his confidants that ‘the French were sweeping everything before them in Europe by the use of the formation in column, but that he was fully convinced that the column could and would be beaten by the line.’ Yet even[p. 301] though the epoch-making, yet half-forgotten, fight of Maida had occurred since then, the first Peninsular battles came as a revelation to the world. After Vimiero and Talavera it became known that the line was certainly superior for the defensive, but it was only the triumphant line-advance of Salamanca that finally divulged the fact that the British method was equally sure and certain for the attack. If Wellesley’s reputation rested on the single fact that he had made this discovery known to the world, he would have won by this alone a grand place in military history. But his reputation depends even more on his strategical than on his tactical triumphs. He was a battle-general of the first rank, but his talents on the day of decisive action would not have sufficed to clear the French out of Spain. His true greatness is best shown by his all-embracing grasp of the political, geographical, and moral factors of the situation in the Peninsula, and by the way in which he utilized them all when drawing up the plans for his triumphant campaigns.
As to tactics indeed, there are points on which it would be easy to point out defects in Wellesley’s method—in especial it would be possible to develop the two old, but none the less true, criticisms that he was ‘pre-eminently an infantry general,’ and that ‘when he had won a battle he did not always utilize his success to the full legitimate end.’ The two charges hang closely together, for the one defect was but the consequence of the other; a tendency to refrain from making the greatest possible use of his cavalry for breaking up an enemy who had already begun to give ground, and for pursuing him à outrance when he was well on the run, was the natural concomitant of a predilection for the use of infantry in the winning of battles. If Napoleon[p. 302] had commanded the British army at Salamanca, Marmont’s troops would have been annihilated by a rapid cavalry pursuit, instead of merely scattered. If Wellington had commanded the French army in the Jena-Auerstadt campaign, it is reasonably certain that Hohenl?he’s broken divisions would have escaped into the interior, instead of being garnered in piecemeal by the inexorable and untiring chase kept up by the French horse. The very distrust which Wellington expressed for the capacities of the British cavalry, who after all were admirable troops when well handled, is but an illustration of the fact that he was no true lover of the mounted arm. But of this we have already spoken, and it is unnecessary to dwell at greater length on his minor deficiencies than on his numerous excellencies on the day of battle.
A far more serious charge against Wellesley than any which can be grounded on his tactical faults, is that, though he won the confidence of his army, he could never win their affection. ‘The sight of his long nose among us on a battle morning,’ wrote one of his veterans, ‘was worth ten thousand men, any day of the week.’ But it was not personal attachment to him which nerved his soldiers to make their best effort: he was feared, respected, and followed, but never loved. He was obeyed with alacrity, but not with enthusiasm. His officers and his men believed, and believed rightly, that he looked upon them as admirable tools for the task that had been set him, and did his best to keep those tools unbroken and in good repair, but that he felt no deep personal interest in their welfare. It is seldom that the veterans who have served under a great commander have failed to idolize as well as to respect him. But Wellesley’s men, while acknowledging all his greatness, complained that he systematically neglected both their feelings and their interests.[p. 303] It was but too true: he showed for his army, the officers no less than the rank and file, a certain coldness that was partly bred of intellectual contempt, partly of aristocratic hauteur. There are words of his on record concerning his men which can never be forgiven, and words, too, not spoken in the heat of action or the moment of disappointment, but in the leisure of his later years. Take, for example, the passage in Lord Stanhope’s Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, where he is speaking of the rank and file: ‘they are the scum of the earth; English soldiers are fellows who have enlisted for drink. That is the plain fact—they have all enlisted for drink.’ He described the men who won Talavera as ‘a rabble who could not bear success,’ and the Waterloo troops as ‘an infamous army’—the terms are unpardonable. His notions of discipline were worthy of one of the drill sergeants of Frederic the Great. ‘I have no idea of any great effect being produced on British soldiers,’ he once said before a Royal Commission, ‘by anything but the fear of immediate corporal punishment.’ Flogging was the one remedy for all evils, and he declared that it was absolutely impossible to manage the army without it. For any idea of appealing to the men’s better feeling, or moving them by sentiment, he had the greatest contempt.
The most distressing feature in Wellington’s condemnation of the character of his soldiery is that he was sinning against the light: officers, of less note but of greater heart, were appealing to the self-respect, patriotism, and good feeling of their men, with the best results, at the very moment that Wellesley was denouncing them as soulless clods and irreclaimable drunkards. It was not by the lash that regiments like Donnellan’s 48th or Colborne’s 52nd, or many other corps of the Peninsular army were kept together. The reminiscences of the Napiers, and many other regimental officers of the better class, are full of anecdotes illustrating the virtues of the rank and file. There are dozens of diaries and autobiographies of sergeants and privates of Wellesley’s old divisions, which prove that there were plenty of[p. 304] well-conditioned, intelligent, sober and religious men in the ranks—it is only necessary to cite as examples the books of Surtees, Anton, Morris, and Donaldson. If there were also thousands of drunkards and reckless brutes in the service, the blame for their misdoings must fall to a great extent on the system under which they were trained. The ruthless mediaeval cruelty of the code of punishment alone will account for half the ruffianism of the army.
The same indiscriminate censure which Wellesley poured on his men he often vented on his officers, denouncing them en masse in the most reckless fashion. There were careless colonels and stupid subalterns enough under him, but what can excuse such sweeping statements as that ‘When I give an order to an officer of the line it is, I venture to say, a hundred to one against its being done at all,’ or for his Circular of November, 1812, declaring that all the evils of the Burgos retreat were due ‘to the habitual inattention of the officers of regiments to their duty.’ It was a bitter blow to the officers of the many battalions which had kept their order and discipline, to find themselves confused with the offending corps in the same general blast of censure. But by 1812 they were well accustomed to such slashing criticism on the part of their commander.
Such a chief could not win the sympathy of his army, though he might command their intellectual respect. Equally unfortunate were his autocratic temper and his unwillingness to concede any latitude of instructions to his subordinates, features in his character which effectually prevented him from forming a school of good officers capable of carrying out large independent operations. He trained admirable generals of division, but not commanders of armies, for he always insisted on keeping the details of operations, even in distant parts of the theatre of war, entirely under his own hand. His preference for Hill as a com[p. 305]mander of detached corps came entirely from the fact that he could trust that worthy and gallant officer to make no movements on his own initiative, and to play a safe waiting game which gave his chief no anxiety. In his younger days, while serving under other generals, Wellesley had been by no means an exponent of blind obedience or unquestioning deference to the orders of his superiors. But when placed in command himself he was autocratic to a fault. He was prone to regard any criticism of his directions as insubordination. He preferred a lieutenant on whom he could rely for a literal obedience to orders, to another of more active brain who possessed initiative and would ‘think for himself.’ There was hardly an officer in the Peninsular army to whom he would grant a free hand even in the carrying out of comparatively small tasks. His most trusted subordinates were liable to find themselves overwhelmed with rebukes delivered in the most tempestuous fashion if they took upon themselves to issue a command on their own responsibility, even when the great chief was many leagues away. Sometimes when their inspirations had been obviously useful and successful, he would wind up his harangue, not with an expression of approval, but with a recommendation to the effect that ‘matters had turned out all right, but they must never again act without orders.’ This was not[p. 306] the way to develop their strategical abilities, or to secure that intelligent co-operation which is more valuable than blind obedience. It may be pleaded in Wellesley’s defence that at the commencement of the war he had many stupid and discontented officers under him, and that their carpings at his orders were often as absurd as they were malevolent. But it was not only for them that he reserved his thunders. They fell not unfrequently on able and willing men, who had done no more than think for themselves, when an urgent problem had been presented to them. He was, it must be confessed, a thankless master to serve: he was almost as pitiless as Frederic the Great in resenting a mistake or an apparent disobedience to orders. The case of Norman Ramsay may serve as an example. Ramsay was perhaps the most brilliant artillery officer in the Peninsular army: the famous charge of his guns through a French cavalry regiment at Fuentes d’O?oro is one of the best-known exploits of the whole war. But at Vittoria he made an error in comprehending orders, and moved forward from a village where the commander-in-chief had intended to keep him stationed. He was placed under arrest for three weeks, cut out of his mention in dispatches, and deprived of the brevet-majority which had been promised him. His career was broken, and two years later he fell, still a captain, at Waterloo.
It would almost seem that Wellesley had worked out for himself some sort of general rule, to the effect that incompetent being more common than competent subordinates, it would be safer in the long run to prohibit all use of personal initiative, as the occasions on which it would be wisely and usefully employed would be less numerous than those on which it would result in blunders and perils. He had a fine intellectual contempt for many of the officers whom he had to employ, and never shrank from showing it. When once he had made up his mind, he could not listen with patience to advice or criticism. It was[p. 307] this that made him such a political failure in his latter days: he carried into the cabinet the methods of the camp, and could not understand why they were resented. His colleagues ‘started up with crotchets,’ he complained: ‘I have not been used to that in the early part of my life. I was accustomed to carry on things in quite a different manner. I assembled my officers and laid down my plan, and it was carried into effect without any more words.’ For councils of war, or other devices by which a weak commander-in-chief endeavours to discharge some of the burden of responsibility upon the shoulders of his lieutenants, Wellesley had the greatest dislike. He never allowed discussion as long as he held supreme authority in the field: he would have liked to enforce the same rule in the cabinet when he became prime minister of England. Sometimes he had glimpses of the fact that it is unwise to show open scorn for the opinion of others, especially when they are men of influence or capacity. But it was not often that the idea occurred to him. His reception of an officer who came with a petition or a piece of advice was often such that the visitor went away boiling with rage, or prostrated with nervous exhaustion. Charles Stewart is said to have wept after one stormy interview with his chief, and Picton, whose attempts at familiarity were particularly offensive to the Duke, would go away muttering words that could not be consigned to print. A passage from the memoir of the chief of one of his departments may suffice to paint the sort of scene which used to occur:—
‘One morning I was in his Lordship’s small apartment, when two officers were there, to request leave to go to England. A general officer, of a noble family, commanding a brigade, advanced, saying, “My Lord, I have of late been suffering much from rheumatism—.” Without allowing him time to proceed further, Lord Wellington rapidly said—“and you must go to[p. 308] England to get cured of it. By all means. Go there immediately.” The general, surprised at his Lordship’s tone and manner, looked abashed, while he made a profound bow. To prevent his saying anything more, his Lordship turned to address me, inquiring about the casualties of the preceding night,’ &c.
Hardly less humiliating to many of Wellesley’s subordinates than personal interviews of this kind, were the letters which they received from him, when he chanced to be at a distance. He had not the art, probably he had not the wish, to conceal the fact that he despised as well as disliked many of those whom the fortune of war, or the exigencies of home patronage, placed under his command. The same icy intellectual contempt which he showed for the needy peers, the grovelling place-hunters, and the hungry lawyers of Dublin, when he was under-secretary for Ireland, pierces through many of his letters to the officers of the army of Portugal. Very frequently his mean opinion of their abilities was justifiable—but there was no need to let it appear. In this part of the management of men Wellesley was deficient: he failed to see that it is better in the end to rule subordinates by appealing to their zeal and loyalty than to their fears, and that a little commendation for work well performed goes further in its effect on an army than much censure for what has been done amiss. When he has to praise his officers in a dispatch, the terms used are always formal and official in the extreme—it is the rarest thing to find a phrase which seems to come from the heart. The careful reader will know what importance to attach to these expressions of approval, when he notes that the names of subordinates whom Wellesley despised and distrusted are inserted, all in due order of seniority, between those of the men who had really done the work. All commanders-in-chief have to give vent to a certain amount of these empty and meaningless commendations, but few have shown more neglect in discriminating between the really deserving men and the rest than did the victor of Salamanca and Waterloo. Occasionally this carelessness as to the merits and the feelings of others took the form of gross injustice, more frequently it led to nothing worse[p. 309] than a complete mystification of the readers of the dispatch as to the relative merits of the persons mentioned therein.