ePub 版

Aleet nor army; but he, of course, followed to Bombay the force which the foresight of Colonel Wellesley had carried forward to its object. When Baird arrived at Bonibay, he had the gratification of finding that Wellesley had (under the sanction of the government, obtained over-land) still farther advanced part of the expedition to Mocha, on the Red Sea; but he also found that, unfortunately, or, perhaps, fortunately, Colonel Wellesley was now so ill of a kind of jungle fever, contracted at Trincomalee, but exasperated by a cutaneous disorder which had supervened at Bombay, that he was unable to accompany him.

Colonel Wellesley had every reason to expect that he would. have commanded this expedition, if employed on its original destination; and he could not but hope that the important step he had thus, on his own responsibility, taken would not have forfeited his claim to that distinction; but his expectations were frustrated, and. he seems to have felt, that, in being superseded, he was treated as no one, in such circumstances, but the Governor-General's brother could have been. We appreciate and admire Lord Wellesley's delicacy in this decision; but we must repeat, that it proves, at, least, that Colonel Wellesley's rapid distinction in life was not owing to undue partiality on the part of the Marquis : indeed, it is evident from the correspondence, that if the question had' rested. with Lord Clive or any of the other Indian authorities, Colonel Wellesley would not have been superseded.

The following extracts from letters to two confidential friends, never intended to meet any eyes but their own, while they express some not unnatural regrets, give evidence of the higher sentiments of private generosity and public duty, which reconciled him to his personal disappointment: Colonel the Hon. A. Wellesley to Lieut.-Colonel Close,

Resident at Mysore.

• Bombay, 11th April, 1801. My dear Colonel,—You will be glad to hear that I propose to leave this place for Malabar in a day or two. The Governor-general consented to my return to Mysore if I wished it; at the same time that he said he should regret my quitting the army employed on the expedition. Upon the whole, therefore, I determined to go on, not withstanding that I was superseded in the command. • • When upon the point of carrying into execution this laudable but highly disagreeable intention, I was seized by a fever, which kept me in bed for some days; and although I have now recovered, I am still weak, and am taking a remedy which prevents me from going to sea. It has, therefore, been impossible for me to go on the expedition, and I return to my old situation with a pleasure more than equal to the regret which I had on quitting it. "Believe me, &c. .... .



. Colonel the Hon. A. Wellesley to Colonel Champagné. . .,

Bombay, 11th April, 1801. in * My dear Champagne - I take the opportunity of the departure of Colonel Ramsay to write you a few lines.

“I am entirely ignorant of the circumstances which have caused my removal from the command of the troops; but I conclude that the Governor-general found that he could not resist the claims that General. Baird had to be employed. I believe you know that I always thought that General Baird had not been well used, when I was called to the command. But I do not think it was proper that I should be disappointed more than he was, in order that he might have no reason to complain. However, this is a matter of little consequence to any body but myself, therefore I say no more on the subject.

• Lord Wellesley allowed me to return to my old situation, but said that he should regret my doing so; and for this reason, and because I saw in the General the most laudable intention to allow me to render him the services I could, I determined to proceed upon the expedition. I was, however, seized with a fever, and a breaking out all over my body; and here I am under a course of nitrous baths for a cure. When I shall be well, God knows! but, in the mean time, I cannot join the armament.

"I see clearly the evil consequences of all this to my reputation and future views; but it cannot be helped, and to things of that nature I generally make up my mind.

Believe me, &c.

ARTHUR WELLESLEY!! Even the wisest may be deceived, and the most clear-sighted cannot penetrate futurity. It is possible, nay probable, that if Colonel Wellesley had accompanied the Egyptian expedition, he would have still distinguished himself, and he might, perhaps, have appeared at an earlier period on the great European stage; but, on the other hand, he could not have accumulated the experience and achieved the reputation, which he was destined to obtain in the administration of Mysore and in the campaigns against Scindiah and the Rajah of Berar-campaigns in themselves most important and instructive, and crowned by the victories of Assye and Argaum.

He expressed to General Baird, in the frankest and most cordiał terms, his sense of the liberality and kindness with which Baird had treated him while under his orders, and his regret at not being able to accompany him to the end; he also furnished him with a very able memorandum, which he had prepared for his own guidance, when he expected to have the command of the expedition. This was the last time these two distinguished officers met on Indian service, and it is satisfactory to find that they parted with perfect cordiality, and ever after maintained a mutual esteem and

* friendly

friendly intercourse, which ended only with the life of Sir David Baird.*

When the expedition sailed, Colonel Wellesley remained for a short time at Bombay, under medical treatment; but he was still anxious to promote the expedition, and we find bim sending after General Baird some supplies, which had not been ready when the general sailed.

As soon as his health permitted, Colonel Wellesley, to the great satisfaction of the Madras government, returned to the command, or we should rather say, the civil as well as military government of Mysore, which he conducted for about eighteen months with his usual skill, moderation, and justice, especially towards the natives, whose interests, and even whose prejudices he invariably studied, and, whenever it was possible, conciliated and gratified. Towards the latter end of 1802, the advance of Holkar upon Poonah—his capture of that capital—and the consequent flight of the Peshwah, the federal chief of the Mahratta states-obliged the supreme government to take a part, both for the security of its own frontier, and for the protection of its ally, the Peshwah; and in the negotiations and in the hostilities which eventually ensued, Colonelnow become, by the promotion of 29th April, 1902—MajorGeneral Wellesley was called upon to take a conspicuous partnot only by his position in Mysore and by his military rank, but by the confidence with which his personal character and talents had inspired both natives and Europeans in all the presidencies, but particularly in that where he was most known—the presidency of Madras. Indeed, it is observable, that highly as no doubt Lord Wellesley appreciated his services, he had won—in at least as great a degree—the confidence, favour, and friendship of Lord Clive, the governor of Madras, with whom he had no family connexion, and whom, it appears, he had never so much as seen, till he happened, by the location of the 33d regiment in that presidency, to be placed under his lordship's orders.

It is impossible to make any extracts, or to compile any sum

We extract what follows from a letter with which we were favoured (21st Nov., 1832) shortly after Mr. Hook's · Life of Sir David Baird' was published, by a late lamented friend-Sir John Malcolm:

I never saw Baird from 1803, when he spoke thus sorely about Wellesley being so often, as he called it, “put over his head,” until ten years afterwards, when I met him in Hyde-park. He then came up with open hand and heart, saying—“Times are changed: no one knows so well as you how severely I felt the preference given, on several occasions, to your friend Wellesley; but now see all these things in a far Jifferent point of view. It is the highest pride of my life, that any body should ever nave dreamed of my being put into the balance with him. His fame is now to me joy, and, I may almost say, glory; and his kindness to me and mine” (he alluded, I' believe, particularly to the Duke's friendly attentions to his nephew, Sir Alex. Gordon, afterwards killed at Waterloo)" bas all along been most distinguished. I know both him and myself now."'.'


mary, that would give our readers an adequate idea of the judgment and zeal with which General Wellesley conducted these difficult affairs—the wisdom of his designs—and the activity of his movements. We can select but two or three instances.

When Holkar found that the British army was collecting to support the Peshwah against his rebellious aggression, he thought proper to retire with the greater part of his force, leaving, at Poonah, a kind of rear-guard under a powerful chief, Amrut Rao. About the middle of April, Colonel Close, the resident at the Peshwah's court, informed General Wellesley that Amrut Rao intended, on the advance of the British, to burn the city of Poonah; and the Peshwah made an urgent request that some steps should be taken for the safety of that capital and part of his Highness's family, which, on his hasty flight, had been left there. General Wellesley did not hesitate to make an effort to avert so great a calamity, and putting himself at the head of his cavalry, leaving the ifantry to follow, he performed with only one halt

, sixty miles in a single march—and by this unexampled rapidity arrived at Poonah before Amrut was aware that he was even approaching, and saved the city from total destruction—the inhabitants," (writes Sir John Malcolm to Lord Clive,) testifying by the most lively gratitude their sense of the exertion by which they were saved from entire ruin.'

Holkar being thus repelled into his own country, the Peshwah was restored to his capital, but, as soon appeared, not to his power. Fresh dissensions arose between this prince and two of his own most powerful chiefs and late allies—Scindiah and the Rajah of Berar. These led to long and tedious negotiations, and at last to open hostilities on the part of the combined rajahs against the Peshwah and the British. A campaign ensued, desultory and complicated, in which General Wellesley's first object was to protect our provinces and those of the Peshwah from the sudden and devasting incursions which the immense cavalry of the allied rajahs enabled them to make with a rapidity and effect which, with so small a force as General Wellesley commanded and on so extensive a line of open frontier, it seemed impossible to meet. General Wellesley, however, succeeded in doing so by a series of the most skilful and rapid movements; and at last, on the 23d of September, he came up, near the village of Assye, with the combined force of the army, consisting, as is computed, of a body of near 50,000 cavalry, and the best-disciplined infantry ever seen in India, amounting alone to three or four times the number of the whole British army.

General Wellesley was marching in two divisions (the second under Colonel Stevenson) on roads distant eight or ten miles from each other, and converging on a point on which he had

[ocr errors]

been informed by his native scouts the enemy was posted. It turned out, however, that this information was incorrect, and that they were much nearer than was expected, and he suddenly found his own column in presence of the whole Mahratta force — the swarms of cavalry covering the plain to his left, and the infantry posted to his right, behind the rapid and, (as it was stated) unfordable river Kaitna, a little above the point where it received the Juah, a tributary stream. The position was formidable, and the situation of the British critical. There seemed no means of attacking the infantry, which was (as we have said) highly disciplined, abundantly provided with artillery, and directed by a great number of French officers—while the myriads of cavalry left General Wellesley little more ground than he occupied. It was impossible to form a junction with Colonel Stevenson, and if it had been possible, the delay might have counterbalanced the accession of force. To retreat would have been perhaps practicable; but the moral, and indeed the military, effect of a retrograde movement would have been very bad. And here it was that General Wellesley exhibited one of those traits of military genius-founded on the less brilliant but more useful quality usually called common sense—which are the essential characteristics of a great captain. In reconnoitring the enemy's position along the farther bank of the impassable Kaitna, he observed that there were on the left of the enemy, and of course nearer to him, two considerable villages, one on each bank. He immediately concluded that two towns could not have grown up in such a site, unless there had been a communication between them across the river-he determined to act on that supposition-he moved rapidly to the nearer village, and, as he expected, found a ford, narrow indeed, but practicable, over which he immediately marched, and thus placed his small force in the fork made by the confluence of the two streams. The effect of this movement is obvious. It threw at once the whole of the enemy's cavalry out of play, and by placing one of the streams on each flank of his little army, it prevented the enemy's employing their numerical superiority in qut-flanking and surrounding him. It narrowed the field of battle, to what his forces could occupy; and it obliged the enemy to abandon his original position, which was thus turned, and to change his front by throwing back his left to the Juah, so that the two armies were now parallel to each other.

The battle immediately began, and was, in proportion to the numbers engaged, one of the severest ever fought-certainly the most severe ever fought in India. The victory was complete,

The enemy left 1200 men killed on the field of battle—their dying and wounded were scattered in all directions through the neigh, bouring country-and they lost one hundred and twenty-eight


« 上一頁繼續 »