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THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
, of the Earl and Countess of Mornington, was born at Dangan Castle, county of Meath, Ireland, on the 1st of May 1769, a few weeks only before the birth of Napole Bonaparte, in Corsica. The Wellesley family descend from the Colleys or Cowleys of Rutlandshire, of whom two brothers, Robert and Walter, crafty, prudent men, and astute lawyers, emigrated to the county Kilkenny in the reign of Henry VIII. So well do they appear to have served the capricious will of that unscrupulous monarch, that they early obtained the clerkship of the crown in the Irish Court of Chancery, held for their joint lives, and not long afterwards Robert became Master of the Rolls, and Walter Solicitor-General. One of the Westleys, or Wellesleys, an old Saxon family from the county of Sussex, and then of Dangan Castle, county of Meath, married Elizabeth Colley or Cowley, and in 1747 Richard Colley Wellesley was raised to the Irish peerage by George II., with the title of Earl of Mornington. The father of Arthur Wellesley was the second earl, and in his day was reputed to be a musician and musical composer of considerable ability. Some of his compositions, we believe, still survive. The wife of this earl was Anne, the eldest daughter of the Right Honourable Arthur Hill, Viscount Dungannon, and is said to have been a woman of strong sense and high principle. At her husband's death the family property was found to be frightfully encumbered, and ultimately the estate was alienated, passing into the possession of Roger O'Connor. The castle had been previously destroyed by fire.
A startling and significant page in the world's history was opened, and its giant characters were partly traced, during the youth of the future field - marshal. The military power of Great Britain had been successfully withstood by the infant States of America; and the soldiers of despotic France, who had assisted in the vindication of the liberties of the British colonists, returned to their homes, were repeating to eagerly-attentive audiences the strange and thrilling words they had become familiar with in the far-off western world. Daily the fierce and angry murmur grew. and strengthened, and it required little sagacity to foresee that men of the sword must reap abundant harvests ere the new principles inaugurated by the rifle-volleys of Bunker's Hill, and so ominously echoed in the most powerful of the continental states of old Europe, should either become No. 96.
permanently triumphant, or be trampled out beneath the heels of the still vigorous though decaying feudalism against which they were so audaciously arrayed. Arthur Wellesley, with the full consent of his relatives, chose the army for a profession; Richard, his eldest brother, by his father's death Lord Mornington, and afterwards Marquis of Wellesley, decided for the civil service of the state; and both were at an early age removed from EtonRichard to the university of Oxford, and Arthur to the military school of Angiers in France, then under the direction of the celebrated Engineer Pignerol. Napoleon Bonaparte was at the same time receiving instruction at the sister-school of Brienne.
Arthur Wellesley returned to England soon after completing his seventeenth year, and on the 7th of March 1787 was gazetted ensign in the 73d Regiment. His elder brother, Richard, on attaining his majority was returned to parliament for the borough of Beer-Alston, a seat which he subsequently exchanged for that of the royal borough of Windsor. He early succeeded in obtaining place under Mr Pitt, and was appointed one of the commissioners for the affairs of India. Family influence and connection told rapidly also upon the advancement of the young soldier, who, gazetted ensign on the 7th of March 1787, was on the 25th of December in the same year a lieutenant in the 76th. The following month he exchanged into the 41st. In 1790, he was returned to parliament for the borough of Trim, a portion of the Mornington estate. On the 30th of June 1791 he was promoted to a company in the 58th Foot, which, in the following year, he exchanged for a troop in the 12th Dragoons. On the 30th of April 1793 he was gazetted major of the 33d, and on the 30th of September following he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the same regiment; having in little more than five years passed through the various grades from that of an ensign to a lieutenant-colonelcy, and the actual command of a veteran regiment.
The young lieutenant-colonel had not greatly distinguished himself in the House of Commons. He spoke seldom, and then merely to give confused and ineffective utterance to the family-borough politics, the main points of which, like others originating in the same sources, appeared to be the continued, peremptory exclusion of Catholics from the privileges of citizens, and the advancement of the personal interests of the Trim proprietary. But the curtain was about to rise on a fitter theatre for the development of Lieutenant-Colonel Wellesley's genius than the House of Commons. The sullen murmurs of which we spoke just now had by this time broken into a tumultuous roar of hate and indignation. The king and queen of France, and those of the nobility and clergy who were bold enough to confront the hurricane of rage that had burst forth, all perished miserably. Public feeling in England, artfully and eloquently stimulated, rose quickly to fever-heat, and amidst the frantic applause of almost the entire nation Mr Pitt declared war to the death against the French Republic. A British army was not long afterwards despatched to Flanders under the command of His Royal Highness the Duke of York—a general and bishop by virtue of his royal birth alone, and about as well-fitted to direct the operations of an army as to fill the episcopal chair of Osnaburg. In 1794 reinforcements were despatched, rather with a view to enable the princegeneral to retreat in tolerable order and safety, than with any reasonable
hope of arresting the triumphant progress of the French armies. Amongst others the 33d Regiment was ordered to embark, and marched to Cork for
The troops arrived at their destination in time to learn that the Duke of York had been already driven into Holland, and that an immediate reembarkation was necessary in order to reach Antwerp by the Scheldt. This was effected; and in the following January (1795), Lieutenant - Colonel Wellesley, as senior officer, commanded three battalions in the retreat through Holland, and early in the spring embarked with the troops at Bremen for England.
The superiority of Lieutenant-Colonel Wellesley as a regimental officer was clearly manifested by the celerity with which the 33d, which had greatly suffered, was reorganised and reported fit for service. It joined the camp near Southampton, and in October 1795 was embarked in the fleet destined for the West Indies, under the command of Admiral Christian. Baffling storm and tempest, against which they vainly struggled for six weeks, drove them back, and the destination of the 33d was afterwards changed to India, for which country the regiment sailed in April 1796, arriving at Bengal in September, accompanied by Colonel Wellesley, who had joined it at the Cape of Good Hope in June, illness having prevented him from taking his departure with it from England.
Nothing requiring remark occurred till 1798, when Lieutenant-Colonel Wellesley's regiment was attached to the Madras establishment, where preparations for a manifestly inevitable conflict with Tippoo Sultan, the ruler of the Mysore territory, were, under the direction of the new governorgeneral, in course of rapid progress. The new governor - general was Colonel Wellesley's elder brother, Lord Mornington, who had succeeded Sir John Shore in that high and responsible office. Never perhaps had the government of British India been assumed under graver circumstances. The storm raging in Europe had given life and energy to the temporarily - subdued or overawed native princes and potentates, to whom the increasing power of the English was obnoxious, either from the memory of past defeats, or apprehension that the signal chastisement already inflicted upon some of their number might ultimately reach all. French officers abounded in the armies of the native princes, especially in those of the Mahratta chiefs Dowlut, Rao Scindiah, and Holkar, of the Nizam, and of Tippoo Sultan. Those officers naturally availed themselves of their position to excite the princes of India against the nation that had driven the French out of the country, and which was now at war with the French Republic; and there was unfortunately no lack of inflammable materials for the fire which they nothing doubted of being able to kindle into a tempest of flame that would wither up and consume every vestige of British rule in the Indian Peninsula. Above all, Tippoo Sultan, the son of Hyder Ali, and a fanatic Mussulman, nourished the fiercest hatred of the power that, by the treaty dictated by Cornwallis in 1792, had stripped him of half his territories, treasure to an immense amount, 800 pieces of cannon, and carried off two of his sons as hostages for the due fulfilment of his engagements. The agents of the French republic fed his hopes of vengeance by the most lavish promises of support, and Tippoo listened, fatally for himself, to assurances of aid which Nelson's victory of the
Nile, and the prompt, decisive measures of the governor-general, prevented the French, however sincere may have been their intentions, from redeeming. Tippoo not only greatly caressed the officers of that nation, whom he permitted to form a Jacobin club at Seringapatam, in which war was proclaimed against all kings, except of course Tippoo himself, but made earnest overtures to the great Mahratta chiefs, to induce them to join in his purposed invasion of the Carnatic. His proposals were favourably received, but the indolent, procrastinating habits of Asiatic rulers were no match for the virile energy of the new governor-general, and long before any effectual combination could be realised, the capital of Tippoo was in the hands of the English, and himself deprived of life as well as empire. In order that our readers should thoroughly comprehend the full extent of the peril from which the Marquis of Wellesley, one of the ablest proconsuls this country ever sent forth, saved the mighty interests confided to him, it is necessary to direct their attention for a brief space to the map of the Indian Peninsula. The three presidential cities, they will perceive, of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, are so situated that lines drawn from one to the other would intersect the large portion of territory south of the Nerbudda River, forming the centre of the peninsula ; but these presidencies, admirably situated as strategic points, were but as dots and fringes along the eastern and western coasts compared with the extent of the vast country, which from north to south, from Delhi to the Toombuddra River, measures 1000 miles, and in width from the Bay of Bengal to the Gulf of Candy, 900 miles, gradually diminishing to its southern extremity. The country north of the Nerbudda is Hindostan proper; between the Nerbudda and the Kistnah are Poonah, the dominions of the Nizam, and Berar; and south of the Kistnah, the Deccan, Mysore, and the Carnatic--Madras and the Carnatic lying to the east of Seringapatam and the Mysore country. All that immense territory, with the exception of the Mysore and the Nizam’s dominions, and of course the British provinces, were nominally under the government of the Rajah of Sattarah, but really, so far as any actual power existed, under that of the Peshwah--a hereditary minister, who ruled in the rajah's name at Poonah, a city not far distant from Bombay. The aggregate army of this power amounted to 300,000 men, and if directed by one single will in fact, as it was in theory, would have been extremely formidable. This, however, was far from being the case, the Mahratta territories nominally under the Peshwah's rule being divided into five military jurisdictions, each governed by a rajah. Of these chieftains, Scindiah and Holkar, whose territories were in the Malwah country, north of the Nerbudda, were the most powerful, and, as well as the less potent Rajah of Berar, determined, though not as yet open enemies of the intrusive English. Scindiah had greatly strengthened himself by his conquests in the north as far as Delhi, and by his influence at Poonah, where he in effect held the Peshwah in subjection. Of Scindiah's army, 40,000 infantry, 9000 cavalry, and 150 pieces of artillery, had been organised and disciplined by M. De Boigne, a native of Savoy in France, who entered Scindiah's service in 1784. He was succeeded by M. Perron, who at this time commanded at Delhi and the northern provinces. Two-thirds of the officers of the army thus disciplined were Frenchmen or other Europeans. Holkar, a rival Mahratta chief, in order to strengthen himself against the
growing power of Scindiah, had also engaged great numbers of French officers, and his numerous army was also in a high state of efficiency. Menaced by such formidable neighbours, who, although jealous of each other, were well disposed to combine against their common enemy the English, it behoved the governor-general to be prompt and decided if he would avert or dissipate the tempest rapidly gathering around him. He was swift and deadly. War was declared against Tippoo Sultan, and an admirably - appointed army of 80,000 men, previously assembled at Bellore, marched on the 10th March 1799 under General Harris upon Seringapatam. With the army of the Carnatic moved the Nizam's contingent, to which the 33d European Regiment had been attached under the command of Colonel Wellesley. This force operated on the right, and were somewhat harassed during the march by the sultan's troops. At Mallavilly Tippoo drew up in position, and offered hesitating battle to Wellesley's force, which, reinforced by some squadrons of horse under Sir John Floyd, the father-inlaw of the late Sir Robert Peel, overthrew him with slight loss to themselves; and the troops continuing their rapid march, arrived with the bulk of the army on the 3d of April before Seringapatam--an irregularly but strongly fortified city, situated on an island formed by the confluence of the Cauvery and Coleroon. The Cauvery was passed, active operations against the sultan's capital commenced at once, and were urged forward with untiring energy and zeal. On the night of the 5th of April Colonel Wellesley was directed to attack the Sultaun-pettah Tope, a kind of copse or grove intersected with water-courses and ruined habitations, from which the troops were frequently assailed by rockets. The 33d and two native Bengal regiments were ordered on this service. The night was extremely dark; Colonel Wellesley and his troops lost their way, and after many vain efforts to remedy the mischance, it was found necessary to withdraw the men; but this was not done, unfortunately, till after twelve grenadiers of the 33d had been cut off and carried intó Seringapatam, where they were savagely murdered by Tippoo's order. Colonel Wellesley, separated from his soldiers, wandered blindly about in the thick darkness till nearly twelve o'clock, when he recovered the track, and as soon as possible presented himself before General Harris in a state of great agitation, to announce that the attack had failed. This is the plain, unvarnished history of an affair which the decriers of the Duke's military reputation have magnified into a disgraceful defeat; attended with we know not what inglorious circumstance, involving want of discretion, presence of mind, and even personal bravery. Such imputations are simply ridiculous, and but for the Duke's subsequent dazzling career, in which an action less brilliant than the rest shews like a shadow or a stain, would, we may be sure, never have been heard of. Sir David Baird, who scoured another Tope with cavalry on the same night, also lost his way on returning. It was, in fact, one of those misfortunes which neither prudence nor skill nor daring can at times prevent, and is only one amongst scores of instances of the risks that must ever attend night-attacks, especially in tangled and broken localities, with which neither officers nor soldiers are acquainted. The next day the attempt was renewed by Colonel Wellesley, the attacking force being increased by the 94th Scotch Regiment. It was completely successful, and Tippoo Sultan began to feel some misgivings that his frequently-repeated