Friday, June 30, 2006

Meeting Between the Duke and Blucher at Waterloo

I hear, that not long ago, one of the many officers who have written memoirs of his campaigns wrote to beg permission to dedicate his book to the Duke. He declined the dedication in a civil kind manner, alleging as his reason the extreme difficulty of ascertaining the real facts in the midst of scenes of such confusion as great battles, and his reluctance to giving the sanction of his name to any inaccurate statement. He gave as an instance of his assertion, the story so frequently told, so universally believed as to have acquired the character of indisputable fact, that he met and conferred with Blucher at La Belle Alliance; the fact being that they did not meet till some hours after, and at another place, the name of which I have forgotten, if I ever heard.

Editor's note
The question, which was the real place of meeting, is one of interest and importance, artistically and historically ; for on it depends, first, whether Mr. Maclise's celebrated fresco is a true record of a memorable event; and secondly, whether the English army had pushed on far enough to take that share in completing the victory which the Duke claimed for it. The seventh volume of Staatengeschichte by M. de Bernard! contains a chapter on the battles of the 16th, 17th, and 18th, composed with admirable skill from Prussian authorities and the Prussian point of view. The main object is to prove that the flank attack of the Prussians decided the day ; that the final advance of the English line was a superfluous movement dictated by political considerations; and that, unless the English had halted at La Belle Alliance, they would have got mixed up with the Prussians.

There, consequently, he fixes the place of meeting, and there (he insists) it was that the Duke gave up the pursuit to the Prussians, on the ground that the English were too exhausted to follow it up.

On the other hand, the Duke says, in his despatch of the 19th June, 'I continued the pursuit, till long after dark, and then discontinued it only on account of the fatigue of our troops, who had been engaged during twelve hours, and because I found myself on the same road with Marshal Blucher, who assured me of his intention to follow the enemy throughout the night.' In a subsequent letter, dated Paris, June 8th, 1816, to Mr. Mudford, he saya: ' It. happens that the meeting took place after ten at night in the village of Genappe, and anybody who attempts to describe with truth the operations of the two armies, will see that it could not be otherwise. The other part is not so material, but, in truth, I was not off my horse till I returned to Waterloo between eleven and twelve at night.'*

Major Percy's account of the ride back by moonlight after the meeting with Bliicher, proves that it could not have taken place at La Belle Alliance, and confirms, if it needs confirmation, the Duke's statement that he continued the pursuit till long after dark. But he clearly did not continue it so far as Bliicher, who did not get farther than Genappe, where he and his staff halted for the night, the French having held it till eleven. ' When Gneisenau,' says M. de Bernardi, ' arrived at daybreak at the Emperor public-house, some thousand paces the other side of Erasnes, two miles and a half (German) from the field of battle, he had only with him about fifty Uhlans of the Brandenburgh Regiment, who also could go no farther for weariness. There ended the immediate pursuit.'

In the 'People's Edition' of Gleig's Life of Wellington, it is stated that the Duke ' pushed on, and drew bridle only when he and Bliicher met at the Maison du Roi;' and that ' he reached his head-quarters at Waterloo about ten o'clock at night.' Both these statements are at variance with the Duke's letter to Mr. Mudford, written when his recollection was fresh, yet both are based on information supplied by the Duke himself to the best and most trusted of his biographers. He also stated in conversation to Earl Stanhope that he arrived at his quarters at ten o'clock. He passed through Genappe when falling back from Quatre Bras, and mentions it in his despatch. Genappe is eight or nine miles from the battle-field, and Maison du Koi (or Maison Rouge) between two and three.

Captain Gronow says in his Recollections, that he witnessed the meeting at La Belle Alliance. Lord Arthur Hill (afterwards Lord Sandys) told Mr. Maclise that the meeting took place farther on, but that the Duke and Bliicher rode back to La Belle Alliance, where he saw them together. The picture was commenced under the fall sanction of the Committee on the Fine Arts, including eminent historians and statesmen and presided over by the Prince Consort, who personally assured the artist that the popular belief in the locality was well-founded.

With regard to the national claims, M. de Bernard will surely admit that the Duke and the British army cannot be mistaken in believing that they continued the pursuit after passing La Belle Alliance; whilst the supposition that our great commander, in the crisis of a great battle, was thinking of anything but the best way of winning it, is one which in England will simply excite a smile. M. de Bernardi's own statement, that the English generals near the Duke objected to the advance as hazardous, is in itself a refutation of his theory.
* Supplementary Despatches, vol. x. p. 608.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Good Sleepers - Mr Pitt - The Duke of Wellington

At the same time I heard an interesting story upon the authority of Mr. Grenville. He told Lord Braybrooke that at the time, of the mutiny at the Nore, when, of course, the anxiety was intense upon the subject of the fidelity of the troops, a messenger arrived at a late hour of the night to Dundas with a letter from General ——, who had the command at Sheerness, containing the melancholy tidings of the apostacy of the marines. It was stated that, to a man, they had joined the mutineers, and that there was every reason to apprehend that the next day they would march upon London.

Dundas went immediately to Lord Grenville with the news, and together they went to Mr. Pitt. He was in bed and asleep. Of course they roused him, talked over this misfortune, consulted as to the precautionary measures to be taken, few and unavailing as they seemed. After a short time, Mr. Pitt said, 'I think we cannot do anything at this hour of night, and, as far as possible, we have arranged everything for the morning. I am anxious to get some sleep to recruit before the arduous day which awaits us, and shall wish you good night.'

The two others were far too anxious for sleep. I believe they remained together till, in the course of less than one hour, another messenger appeared bearing another letter from Sheerness. This was from the officer second in command, who, after many apologies for assuming an office that did not belong to him, said that, having heard that the commanding officer had just sent. off a messenger with despatches, he felt it his painful duty to inform the Government that the fatigue, the excitation of that eventful day had proved too much for the General, and had produced a sort of delirium; that probably, therefore, he might not have stated very accurately the state of affairs. He had the satisfaction of being able to say that they wore a much better aspect: that the marines were all staunch; so were the officers to a man; and the evil spirit which had existed seemed to be in a great measure quelled, &c. &c.

Lord Grenville and Dundas went once more to Pitt to communicate a change even more unexpected than it was favourable. He was, as they anticipated, in bed; but great was their surprise when they found that, during the short anxious hour that had elapsed since their last visit, he had been fast asleep.*

This is called a proof of greatness of mind. I am more inclined to believe that youth, health, and fatigue produce a sort of absolute necessity for sleep, which no mental excitation can remove; and I am confirmed in this opinion by hearing that, in his after days, and especially in his last illness, poor Pitt never could sleep. The Duke of Wellington is always brought forward as the most extraordinary instance of a person who, under the most violent excitations of his eventful career, could always, and at all hours of the day or night, get sleep during any repose, however short it might be, that circumstances allowed. Perhaps great bodily fatigue enabled him to find ' tired Nature's sweet restorer.' I wonder whether he is a good sleeper now.

Editor’s note
There is much good sense in the concluding observation that what enabled the Duke to sleep was his power of fixing on a course of conduct, doing or ordering to be done all that was necessary, and then dismissing the subject from his mind till the time for action came. It is impossible to he a great commander, or even a truly great man in any line, without this power; for ithout it both mind and body will prove unequal to a strain.

There are two instances of its display by the Duke not generally known, and resting on the best authority. On arriving personally before St. Sebastian, he was informed that the breaching batteries would not open for two hours. ' Then,' said he, turning to his aide-de-camp, ' the best thing we can do, Burghersh, is to go to sleep.' He got off his horse, slipped into a trench, sate down with his back against one side, and was fast asleep in a moment. Lord Burgherah. (the late Earl of Westmoreland) did the same,

The other occasion was, when having endured great fatigue, the Duke had gone to sleep in his tent, after giving strict orders not to be disturbed. An officer came in from the rear-guard —the army was in retreat—to say that the enemy were close at hand. The aide-de-camp on duty thought the contemplated emergency had arrived, and woke the Duke. ' Send the man in.' He entered. ' You have been hotly pursued the whole day.' ' Yes, my lord.' ' Are the troops much tired ?' ' Dead beat, my lord.' ' Then the French must be dead beat, too— they won't attack to-night. That will do.' Before the officer and aide-de-camp were well out of the tent, he was fast asleep again.

On the morning of one of his greatest battles, Napoleon had
to be awakened by his staff.

Lord Macaulay describes Frederick the Great as bearing up against a world in arms, with an ounce of poison in one pocket and a quire of bad verses in the other. Thus provided, he could sleep.

The superhuman energy and activity of Lord Brougham are only explicable on this principle. He can abstract his thoughts from an exciting topic, and he can sleep. During the Queen's trial, he had dined and slept at Holland House. The next morning before breakfast, his bust found him writing in the library. ' Are you polishing off your peroration ? ' ' No, I am drawing a clause of my Education Bill.' One day at Paris, he read a paper on Optics at the Institute, was busilv occupied the whole forenoon with his colleagues of that distinguished body, and at seven was the chief and best talker at a dinner-party, comprising D'Orsay and Alexander Dumas. He told the acquaintance who was with him most of the time, that he had slept soundly for an hour after leaving the Institute, and could do so at will during any interval of rest at any time.

* Earl Stanhope (Life of Pitt) tells the story thus : ' A strong instance of Pitt's calmness at a time when all around him shook was wont to be related by the First Lord of the Admiralty at that period. On a subsequent night, there had come from the fleet tidings of especial urgency. Lord Spencer thought it requisite to go at once to Downing Street and consult the Prime Minister. Pitt being roused, from his slumber, sat up in bed, heard the case, and gave instructions. Lord Spencer took leave arid withdrew. But no sooner had he reached the end of the street than he remembered one more point which he had omitted to state. Accordingly he returned to Pitt's house, and desired to he shown a second time to Pitt's chamber. There, after so brief an interval, he found Pitt, as before, buried in profound repose.' (Vol.
iii. p. 39.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Authorship of Junius

Jan. 1837.—I have had a great deal of conversation with Lord Braybrooke on the, old subject of Junius. I see he puts little faith in the promised revelation of the mystery by the Duke of Buckingham,* and I may as well, before I proceed, write all I remember of what the Duke told me some five or six years ago. He said that, examining some papers of our grandfather (George Grenviile), he found a letter which entirely cleared the matter; that he had immediately written this to Lord Grenville, and had offered to exchange his secret information for that which he had always understood was in my uncle's possession.

No answer was returned, and the Duke said that, as it was evident that Lord Grenville did not wish for any communication on the subject, he thought it more delicate towards him not to make it to anyone as long as he lived. Four years have now elapsed since the death of Lord Grenviile, and nothing is made known on the subject of Junius.

Whether the Duke is still restrained by delicacy towards my dear surviving uncle,** whether subsequent discoveries have cast a doubt upon that which he considered so positive, I of course know not. At the time when he told the above to Lady Delamere and me, he was in a very communicative humour, allowed us to question, and promised to refuse to answer unless he could reply truly. He said that Junius was not any one of the persons to whom the Letters have been ascribed ; that, from the situation in which he found the paper in question, he had every reason to believe that his father had never read it.

I know that very soon after my uncle's (Earl Temple's) death, he told Charles that he had found a private letter from Junius to my grandfather. Nugent, I understand, was with him when the paper was found; indeed, I believe was the first to open it,
and, of course, partakes in the secret.

The impression left upon the mind of my sister by this conversation was, that Lord Temple was the man. If so, he must have had an amanuensis in the secret, for the hand of a Secretary of State must have been too well known in all its manner not to have been discovered. The same objection has been made to the supposition of Lord Chatham, and has been removed by a conjecture that the letters were transcribed by Lady Chatham.

From all that I have been used to hear of little Lady Temple—thought so very little by all the younger members of his family—I am inclined to think that the same conjecture could not apply to her; that hers was not the pen of a ready writer, that in her orthography even she was (according to the fashion of that day) very deficient.***

Lord Braybrooke conceives the pretensions of Sir P. Francis as being better supported than those of any other of the candidates for the authorship. In support of this assertion, he told me a singular story. Giles, whom we all remember so well, told him that when his sister, Mrs. King, was a young Bath belle, she received anonymously a copy of love verses; that some years after Sir Philip Francis owned himself to be the author of these. It happened that the mystery long attached to these verses had induced her to preserve the original paper, and upon comparison with the autographs in "Woodfall's edition, it proves that the handwriting is the same as that which Junius feigned, and not his natural hand.

Mr. Giles, to establish this curious fact, had Sir Philip's verses exactly copied in lithograph, and gave one of the copies to Lord Braybrooke. He has inserted it in his 'Junius,' and promised, but afterwards forgot, to show it me.

Lord Braybrooke told me that there was a moment when he expected some very interesting information on this subject. The present king, William IV., gave him a message of apology to Lord Grenville for having driven, by a mistake of the coachman, close to the house at Dropmore, began talking about my uncle's supposed knowledge of the secret of Junius, and added, ' I will tell you what my father said one day to me upon this subject. He was, after every attempt to discover the secret, quite as much in the dark as any of his subjects; but he added: 'I will tell you, my son, now that you are grown up and can understand them, what are my conjectures upon the subject.'

One can imagine the anxious curiosity of Lord Braybrooke at this preface, and his extreme disappointment at the conclusion, 'I am convinced that it cannot be the work of any one person, and that several were concerned.' **** Now, setting aside the evidence of unity of style and purpose, which is strong against this supposition, it would make the mystery even more wonderful than it has appeared—indeed, one may say, impossible.

Lord Braybrooke told the King an anecdote connected with this, though perhaps not much to the purpose. Lady Holland, in one of her imperious moods, made.Rogers go to Sir P. Francis to pump him upon the question of authorship. Her unwilling angry ambassador returned, and was of course very closely questioned; he was sulky, and to the leading, ' Come, tell me what you have discovered ?' replied, ' I have found out that Francis is Junius—Brutus. Lord Braybrooke said it was quite evident to him that the merit (such as it was) of the reply was quite lost upon King
William, whose acquaintance with Junius Brutus, if it ever existed, was quite lost.*****

This forgetfulness, strange as it is, is perhaps less so than that of Lord Euston. A few days after the publication of Woodfall's ' Junius,' Nugent, seeing it on the table of the Duke of Grafton, turned to Lord Euston and said, ' It is an odd coincidence to see this book for the first time in this house.' Lord Euston stared and asked, ' Why should it not be here ?'

Editor's Notes
* The first Duke, who was made Duke in 1822, and died in 1839.

** The Right Honourable T. Grenviile. The Duke told Mrs. Rowley (his great-niece) that the authorship had become known to him through a paper or papers discovered some time after his father's death, and that he communicated the discovery to Mr. T. Grenville, who said it was no news to him, but that for private (or family) reasons the secret must be kept. He also repeated to Mrs. Rowley what he told Lady Delamere and Miss Wynn, that Juniua was not one of the persons to whom the Letters had been popularly ascribed. Mrs.Rowley was out of England when the first edition was in preparation.

*** The facsimiles given by Mr. W. J. Smith, in the third volume of his edition of The Grenville Papers, are in a good. clear hand, betokening a ready penwom an. In that volume he has printed three private letters from Mr. George Grenville, supposed to he from Junius, prior to his adoption of that signature. These three throw little or no light on the disputed question of the authorship. I have heard the late (the second) Duke of Buckingham make a statement similar to his father's, and leading to a conclusion that he, too, was in the secret. The strongest argument against Francis is, his obvious wish to enjoy at least the posthumous reputation of the authorship, and his inability to leave any proof better than the copy of 'Junius Identified,' bequeathed to his wife. When that work was published, he saw and had some conversation with the publisher, whom he impressed with the conviction that he was by no means offended at the imputed identity. Mere similarity of style in compositions subsequent to the publication of the Letters proves little or nothing.

**** This is hardly reconcilable with a statement attributed to George III., soon after the cessation of the letters, that 'Junius had. been provided for and would write no more.'

***** The evidence touching the Junius Brutus story is curiously
conflicting. Lady Francis, in her letter to Lord Campbell, says: 'He (Sir Philip) affronted poor Sam Rogers, whom he liked so much, to avoid an ensnaring: question.' Mr. Prescott writes from London: 'Perhaps you have heard of a good thing of Rogers, which Lord Lansdowne told me the other day lie heard him say. It was at Lord Holland's table, when Rogers asked Sir Philip Francis (the talkhad some allusion to Junius) if he, Sir Philip, would allow him to ask a certain question. 'Do so at your peril,' was the amiable reply. If he is Junius, said Rogers in an undertone to his neighbour, then he must be Junius Srvtus ' (Ticknor'-f Life of Prescott, p. 314). Moore relates the story with the addition that Lord Brougham was by (Memoirs, vol. vi. p. C6). But Rogers' own version (given in the Table Talk) is: 'I was conversing with Lady Holland in her dressing-room, when Sir Philip Francis was announced. "Now," she said, "I will ask him if he is Junius." I was about to withdraw, but she insisted on my staying. Sir Philip entered, and soon after he was seated, she put the question to him. His answer was “Madam, do you mean to insult me?” and he went on to say, that when he was a younger man people would not have centured to charge gim with being the author of these letters. Scrope Davies (Byron’s friend) who was intimate with Francis, once began: ‘Sir Philip, will you allow me to put a question to you?” “At your peril, sir.” I had this from Davies himself.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mexican Morals and Manners

Nov. 1836. — Read yesterday a very entertaining letter from Mrs. Ashburnham, the wife of the newly-appointed consul to Mexico.* Her account of the manners, of the ignorance, profligacy, and devotion of the natives, strongly reminded me of Majorca; the (so-called) ladies living in their bed-rooms, or in their kitchens — every wife with one lover at least, who passes the life-long evening puffing his cigar at her feet — a lady receiving company with six dragoons sitting on the bed in which she was talking of nothing but house-hold affairs—every woman, even those of seventy, coiffee en cheveux, with one flower stuck perhaps in the grey locks, which do not hide the redness of the head; children from their birth for some years with an edifice of satin, gold, &c. &c., erected on their wretched little heads.

She says that they have an opera, much better than could have been expected in such a society; that there the ladies are always dressed with a species of fire-fly in their hair: these fire-flies are certainly more brilliant than any diamonds, but they must be not only living, but lively and kept in a state of agitation to emit this light; then they protrude their six ugly legs. What a horrid tickling, crawling sensation they must give!

The houses are described as built round a court, like all Spanish houses. Cages filled with the beautiful birds of that climate are suspended as lamps are in our rooms; the court and galleries full of flowers, the galleries especially of one plant which the humming-birds particularly affect; but they are described as so shy that they do not perch even for a minute.

Mrs. Ashburnham speaks of her astonishment at receiving from a lady she hardly knew, a message to say, that ‘she kissed my hands and begged to inform me that she had another devoted servant at my disposal, whom I was in all things to command and on all occasions.' This simply meant that she was brought to bed, and was. as well as could be expected. These notices are sent every nine or ten months from every well-regulated family all over the town.
Editor's note
* Now Lady Webster, widow of the late Sir Godfrey V. Webster, Bart.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Baron Osten's Account of His Escape from the Jaws of the Lion in 1827

(Transcribed from his own MS. extract from his Journal)

May 20th, 1827.—We heard again of some bullocks having been killed in the same jungle where we had killed three lions on the 14th. On the strength of this information we set out immediately, and found a whole family of lions. We killed five, but I had a very narrow escape of being killed by one of them. After having killed four, I had wounded a fifth, and Grant, with five pad-elephants, was beating towards me, when he roused the wounded lion, who immediately attacked and wounded one of the elephants.

He then came straight at me. I bent a little forwards over the howdah to take a steady aim at him, when unfortunately the forepart of the howdah gave way, and I fell, with all my guns, right on the top of the lion, who immediately seized hold of me. I broke my left arm in the fall, and got a severe blow from the lion on the head, which considerably stunned me. I felt and recollect, however, that he was tearing at my right arm, and I never can forget the horrible gnarling noise he made.

Grant's and all the other elephants turned tail and ran away, so that I was left alone helpless in the jaws of the lion. How I got out of them alive is to me a miracle, and I cannot otherwise account for it than by giving credit to my mahout's statement. He says that his elephant backed about fifty yards, but that he succeeded after some time in driving her up close to the lion, when she took hold of a young tree and bent it with great force over the lion's back, when he relinquished his prey, and was soon after killed by one of the chikarees (chasseurs on foot).

When I came to my senses, I found my left arm broken, a severe contusion on my head, and eleven wounds from. teeth and claws in my right arm.

Another similar catastrophe occurred this day. A lioness was actually tearing one of the chikarees to pieces, when a fortunate shot of Grant's killed her, and saved the poor man's life; but he was desperately wounded, his blade quite laid bare, the blood streaming from his head and face.

I underwent three times the painful operation of having my broken arm set, twice by natives in the jungle and a third time at Kurnamaal, where I was removed in the evening, and laid up for three weeks, when I was well enough to be carried to Meerut. Poor Grant accompanied me to his house at Kurnamaal; but after ten days he sallied forth again, as he said, to revenge my fate. He left me in the greatest spirits, and in better health than he had enjoyed for years.

Four days after, he was brought back a corpse, having fallen a sacrifice to cholera- morbus. A more liberal, kind-hearted man, and a better or keener sportsman, I never met with.

* 'Within the memory of many of the existing generation, one of the best known figures in St. James's Street, and an assiduous frequenter of its clubs, was the Baron Oaten, formerly of the German Legion, a gallant officer and. estimable man, hut of a somewhat lean, dry, and bilious complexion. His notability consisted in his having had a miraculous escape from the jaws of a lion, who, after mumbling him for a few minutes, let him drop. The jokers maintained that he owed his life to his bitterness, and Sydney Smith, after expatiating in his peculiar vein on the topic, was wont to make it the basis of a theory for curing cannibals of their taste for human flesh. ' Send them Rogers,' he would say; 'and if that does not spoil their relish, try them with J. W. C.; for even if they manage to get him down, he is sure to disagree with them.'—Edin. Rev. No. 244, p. 335.