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THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
CHAPTER I. Birth and Parentage-Education Enters the Army-Cam.
paign in Holland-Projected Expedition to the West Indies—Sails for India-State of Company's PossessionsWar with Tippoo--Military Movements-Siege of Seringapatam-Death of Tippoo-Colonel Wellesley Commander
of Seringapatam. The Hon. ARTHUR WELLESLEY, third son of the Earl of Mornington, was born at the family seat, on the first of May, 1769. The loss occasioned by the early death of their father, was supplied to the family by the prudence and attention of their mother. Of the childhood and youth of the distinguished subject of the following biography, no incidents worth recording have been preserved. After having studied at Eton, having made choice of the profession of arms, he was removed to the military school of Angers, which at that time enjoyed great celebrity, and was a diligent student of those various branches of theoretical and practical science which are necessary to the formation of the accomplished soldier. He received his first commission as ensign in the 73rd foot, in 1787, when in his eighteenth year. As subaltern and captain he served both in the cavalry and infantry ; in 1793, he was appointed to a majority in the 33rd foot ; and in the spring of that year, he became Lieutenant Colonel of the same corps, by purchase. All this time he was busily engaged with professional studies ; but being now in command of a regiment, he was naturally anxious for active service. An opportunity was soon afforded, and his regiment landed at Ostend, in June 1794, having been sent to join the forces commanded by the Duke of York. The state of affairs upon the Continent was then critical ; the allied forces were placed in a disadvantageous position, and had already sustained several reverses of fortune. The Austrians had been thrice defeated; the Hanoverians had been compelled to evacuate Bruges ; the Duke of York had been driven from his position at Ghent, and Lord Moira, with a force of 8,000 men, originally intended to make a descent on Brittany, was compelled to hasten to his assist
Colonel Wellesley's regiment, with two other battalions, was directed to proceed by sea to Antwerp ; and here the future conqueror first beheld an army in the field. Yet, to an ardent mind, the movements of the British in this campaign, which were wholly defensive, must have been somewhat disheartening Few opportunities of distinction presented themselves, but these few were improved. The 33rd regiment were engaged in several sharp skirmishes ; and so well did
its young commander acquit himself, that, towards the close of the campaign he was selected by General Dundas to cover, with the brigade to which he was attached, the difficult and trying retreat from Holland; the manner
in which Colonel Wellesley discharged this trust, rendered him a marked man, and was an earnest of his future fame. The army had formidable obstacles to struggle with. Their route lay through a deserted and flat heathy country; the villages, or rather hamlets, were small and at distant intervals ; the ground was covered with snow, and the wind and sleet beat directly against their faces. Many perished from cold and fatigue. The army, however, returned to England with untarnished honour, if with doubtful success; they had failed because of divided councils, deficiency of supplies, and scanty numbers. Yet though his first campaign was far from brilliant, the active observation and energetic mind of Colonel Wellesley must have derived many advantages from it. He had seen something of war upon an extended scale ; had felt the need of forethought and energy ; had become aware of the defects of the regimental economy at that time ; (defects afterwards amply remedied by the diligence and wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief) his position had fostered that coolness and caution so visible in his after career. He had become familiar with the sound of war, amid which so much of his subsequent life was to be spent; he had heard the inspiring cheer of the British soldier, and felt that confidence in his nerve and vigour, which in his future fields, taught him to rely on their powers, in those great and daring actions, which his skilful combinations crowned with success.
The 33rd regiment was soon after ordered to accompany the fleet of Admiral Christian, destined for the West Indies ; but the protracted and furious gales caused the expedition to be abandoned, after six weeks of most tempestuous weather at sea. In the spring, however, of 1796, Colonel Wellesley's