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Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
vince, under the controul of the Supreme Junta at Madrid. It was therefore necessary, before any steps could be taken, to wait the arrival of the courier from Madrid. The General Officers were now all on shore, and permission was given for a certain proportion of officers from cach regiment to land during the day, and to return to their ships at night. But previously general orders were issued, representing the propriety of friendly conduct towards the Spaniards, and enforcing the most respectful attention to their religion and customs. This necessary caution was productive of the happiest effects. Much pleasant and agreeable intercourse took place between the officers and the families of the town. And as the opera was open every night, it was crowded with officers as well as ladies, who not only invited the English to take seats in their private boxes, but also to supper, &c. &c.
The enthusiasm displayed by the people at Corunna was at first
In coming into the bay from the north, the harbour of Ferrol and the arsenal are plainly to be observed.
It is curious to remark, but it has so appeared, that most of our unsuccessful attacks have been made against the Spaniards, Santa Cruz, Ferrol, and Buenos Ayres. That of Santa Cruz was unfortunate, not from want of ardour or heroism, for our ever to be lamented hero commanded. The account given by the Spaniards respecting the ill-fated attack upon Ferrol confirm tbe idea formed of it in England : they state, that when our troops landed, they the Spaniards were panic struck, the garrison was weak, and not prepared for an attack; and although there were numerous bodies of troops within two days march, yet so torpid were the motions of the Spaniards, that we might have taken the place, destroyed the arsenal, effected every necessary purpose, and re-einbarked before the Spaniards could have collected their furce to have attacked us. The more recent catastrophe of Buenos Ayres closes the military exploits of Great Britain against the Spaniards. As things have turned out, perhaps it is for the best.
Corunna is strengthened by batteries and guns mounted at all points; the citadel is strongly fortified, as is the town, but both are commanded by a hill within a short distance. The citadel forms a small town, and contains the houses of the people of distinction, and one or two convents. It is composed of very narrow streets, paved with rough flag stones : the houses are very large; the ground floors are used entirely for offices; the first floors are the roonis chiefly inhabited, with bal. conies and windows, which open like folding doors ; the furniture is gaudy, but not elegant. There is little appearance of comfort within their houses, not even the sociable sight of a blazing fire; and although the weather, whilst the British troops were in Spain, would admit of some artificial heat, there was no such thing as a beartb in any of tue rooms.
The Opera-house is tolerably good. The sides are occupied by private boxes; the pit is made very commodious, with rows of seats formed as chairs, with backs and arms; the gallery is specially set apart for females, no male being admitted. Considering that the actors repeat verbally what the prompter reads, and that so loud, that it offends an English taste, being often louder than the actor, they get through their parts with much spirit. The music is pleasing, and they dance a sort of pas de deux, with castanets, called a bolera, and a fandango, with much exertion, but with very little grace. The women are pot active; they make more Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
astonishing, all ranks and descriptions presented themselves for service in the field to oppose the French, whom they universally appeared to hold in abhorrence and detestation. There were 'also at Corunna two regiments of patriots, who seemed particularly anxious in their desire to learn the military art.
At length, the Semiramis frigate arrived with Mr. Frere, the British Envoy to Madrid, and also the Marquis de la Romana, who was received by the Spaniards with firing of cannon, illuminations, feasts, and processions. Mr. Frere was equally welcome to his own countrymen. One cause of delay in disembarking Sir David Baird's army was the total want of money, now having been sent with the force, and the Junta of Corunna refusing to lend it. Tlie arrival of Mr. Frere with 100,000l, which he was to take to Madrid, relieved this difficulty, as he advanced 20,0001. of it to Sir David Baird. That an army con
pleasing actions with their arms and legs, occasioned by the castanets. The bolera music is simple and pretty.
The churches are good buildings, but the altar-pieces gaudy. The Virgin Mary and Infant are in most churcies, represented by figures three feet high, dressed with much heavy ornament and rich lace, and are preserved in glass cases; the saints also are figures about four feet bigb, and fixeri iu niches. An officer, when at Corunna, stated, that he had det observed much external religious ceremony, not even the usual observation of carrying the stool to the sick.
Noblemen and gentlemen dress much similar to the mode in England; only in the street yon seldoin perceive a man comme il faut, without his cloak, which in all seasons forms a material part of the dress. The ladies, when walking, wear over their gowns a black silk or stu, petticoat, and the greater part of them a mantua like the oblong shawl worn by English: ladies; and as they have no ornaments on their heads, it is brought close over tkeir foreheads, and either inade to hang loose in the front, or crossed once or twice, and the ends to hang behind. Some of the ladies wear this sort of cloak, made of crape and of Gine lace, black or white. In their houses they are more frequently in black, though in the mornings they wear gowns of English manufacture. Their clothing is remarkably neat about the feet and ancle, but the symmetry of their legs and feet is not beautiful. Their persons being in general short, it fullows that their legs and feet are tick, yet many walk very elegantly. In manners the ladies are remarkably affable and attractive. The hair, which is allowed to grow very long, is twisted and tied up tight at the back of the head. During war, it is a custom with the nobility not to dress gaily, but to appear poor. The lower orders are similar to the lower orders in this country, and equally as noisy, quarrelsome, and violent. There is evidently an indolence of disposition prevalent amongst them, which amounts to a disgrace. Meu and you men sit in the sun for hours during the day, amusing themselves with their thoughts, or else occupied with their fingers in the 'lerds of their neighboura, reclined either on their lap or a stone for convenience. They certainly are not very cleanly either in their external or internal clothing, and generally are bare-footed as well as bare-hcaded. The meu are stout and well-proportioned, and accustom themselves to a prodigious extent of whiskcrs. The prevalence of their religious enthusiasm and observances are great obstructions to industry. There are so many saint-days and bolidays, so many priests and churcbmen, that little room is left Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
sisting of nearly 13,000 men should be sent on an expedition without money to pay them, would seemn irreconcilable with common sense : such, however, is the fact. The cause I shall not endeavour to explain.
The allowance of båt and forage, which was the first money the Staff Officers received since their appointments, although they had to purchase horses and other things for to complete their equipment, was subjected to a deduction of 10 per cent. income tax. The unjustice of deducting a: income tax from an allowance which is uncertain, and cannot be considered as income, has been since seen in its proper light, and the money
which thien deducted from the officers can be now recovered. This information may be useful to many who are ignorant thereof.
Arrangements were now made for the disembarkation of the brigades. Cantonments were allotted for the regiments. The Commissariat
for exertion. The bolidays are observed with more external devotion than the Sundays. On the latter days dealiog is continued, and except certain house-trades, has no interraption. On a holy or a saint-day it is quite the contrary; the shops are all shut up, and all appearance of trade removed. The mornings are devoted to prayers, and even the evenings are spent in a kind of religious pastiine, for the higher orders of ladies, who dress themselves more than commonly elegant, wearing white or coloured sattin shoes and silk stockings; resort to every church in the whole town or citadel, beginning at the most distant, and visit each, repeating certain prayers with much sceming devotion in all of them, and in this manner keep praying their way bome, or take a walk on the road to St. Lucia, a small towu immediately out of the gatee of Corunna.
Smoking is a farourite amusement amongst all orders of men iu Galicia. Exclusive of the luxury it affords, they esteem it a preventative from diseases arising out of colds and damps, from the quantity of rain which falls in that prosince.
On all occasions of public rejoicing, the Spaniards express their joy by firing cannon, rockets, illuminations, processions, and feasts.
Provisions at Corunna are a little cbeaper than the gencral prices in England. There was some little trade during the time the Britisha were there, in consequeuce of the port being open, but very tritling. Every article of Spanish manufactory is certaiuly two centuries behind ours, and not so low priced as in England. The shops are small, and ill provided. The' mules are good, and the horses small; Indian cora, barley, straw, and grass, are the chief provender. The Spaniaruls have little idea of the utility of horses, except for parading; they accustom them to a heavy, clumsy court bridle, which throw's the horse on his haunchies, at the risk of a broken jaw and a broken neck. la Galicia they are very small and clieal, but at the time the Britis! troops were there they were otherwise, as the possessors were glad to take every advantage they could, and our necessities obliged us to purchase them at almost any price which should be required.
Tbe soil around Corunna is thin, light, and of very little depth, there being a species of granite stone under; the roads are excellent; but such streets as are not great thoroughfares are russed, and frequently not pared. They are swept by felons chained together.
The few trees seen about Coruna are apple, pear, chesout, date, and plumb. There is plenty of game around, partridges, hares, snipes, woodcocks, and a few Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
Department was landed and set to work, stables were provided for the horses of the army, and as the horse transports were wanted in England, the horses were landed.
Sume confusiou arose respecting the issue of provisions and forage; the orders from the Supreme Junta directing the nation to provide the British tronps with whatever they might need, and the Junta at Corunna gave every demonstration of readiness to meet the wishes of their superiors; notwithstanding which, the issue of provisions and forage was tedious and inconvenient.
A change now took place in the cantonments, and the army were directed to commence disembarkation. The light brigade was lauded and commenced their march the next day for Batanzos on their way to Astorga, winch place was destined for their cantonments. During the time delayed for certain arrangements, orders were issued for the officers
pigeons. The partridge is larger and more beautiful than the English partridge, but the hares are very similar to ours.
The generality of the roads in Galicia are remarkably good, which may be owing in some measure to the mode of transplanting heavy goods, being chiefly on inules, A few ill-constructed carts are employed, drawn by two small bullocks, driven, or rather led, by a stout man, who, walking in front of the animals, leads them with a balter from the head of each ; be has a stick with a small spike at the extremity to goad them occasionally. This vehicle being extremely low, narrow, and elumsy, will carry but from six to eight hundred weight; aud as the Spaniards have no idea of greasing the axletree, wben loaded they send fortl: a horrible noise. The cart requires five hours to travel tbree leagues, or something more than two miles. The mode of conveyance for travellers is by post, in exactly the same kind of vehicle as represented in Gil Blas, viz. a carriage siinilar to a one-horse chaise covered in, with a platform behind for trunks. li is drawn by one mule in thic sbatts, avd another on the leader, on which a man rides. The trappings and harness are chiefly made of cords, with leather ordaments and belis. This machine proceeds about four miles in an hour. A single traveller may hire a mule for himself, which will carry him and his portmantean. The man to whom the mule belongs will run before, at the same rate of four miles an hour, but all is tedious and inconvenient. The Spanish stable is a room in the house, with a sort of manger, badly constructed. The cavalry barracks at Corunna are large rooms, forming two sides of a parallelogram, very inconvenient, and excepting a few for officers horses, have no rack or manger, In general, these stables bare three or four stone steps to ascend to them.
Corunna is proverbially called the fountain of Galicia; St. Jago the fountain of Spain.
The road from Corunna to Carrul exhibits a bere country, few trees, but here and there a chesout orchard, and one or two stunted oaks. The little land that bears any appearance of cultivation is a wretched proof ui' the state of agriculture in Galicia. On quitting Carpul the road is a gentle asceņt for some miles, on the right of which is a valley somewhat superiorly cultivated, with a river running through the centre, and one or two better bouses, with rather more woud around, The Lombarily poplars and ash are here and there observed, amongst a few oaks and chesegts. The best dwelling house appeared to consist of a farm-louse and Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
to purchase mules for the conveyance of baggage, which, by His Majesty's orders, was directed to weigh according to rank, and consea quently that there was a general liue and cry for mules. The Spaniards soon understood this, and the price of those animals trebled. For a remedy, the Commander-in-Chief directed the Deputy Commissary, General to send out people to purchase mules; but these gentlemen failed; and after the officers had received a further order not to purchase, they were again ordered to obtain them immediately, and one hundred dollars was the extent of the price fixed upon. The subaltern officers received three pounda tisteen shillings, or something less, as båt and forage money, which was to enable them to purchase mules, consequently they could not pay the price required for even the worst kind, and much distress was the result. The contracts made for forage opened a door for roguery; the rye of the country is infinitely cheaper than
mill, with a tolerable garden and orchard. The cottages are very indisferent, having no chimney; the smoke, when they do lighta fre, penetrates through all parts of the roof. They have little or no furniture, and pigs, which are certainly of the largest and best proportioned kind, with the mules, &c., are inmatcs of the coitage. Every thing but the Lugo bear strong marks of extreme poverty, filth, and dingust.
On leaving the vale, the country loses at once all appearance of cultivation, and exhibits barren heath, interspersed with broom and furze. The road is a continuation of bills till you reach Ordenes. The troops which rested there, ou their march, found no one thing to refresh thein asier their fatigue.
The roads from St. Jago to Lugo are certainly extremely bad, narrow, and rocky; frequently so deep and billy, that a horse car with difficulty keep his fouting; and even the little heavy clumsy cart can get along but a mile in an liour.
The country from St. Jago to Sobrado is a continuance of hill and dale; very litile fertilization, and scarcely an appearance of a live animal. Ileath and furze are the only coverings in this bleak part of the country. Houses, or rather huts, thinly. scattered, and the people who indiabit thein a set of miserable clothed moun. taineers, though both men and women are stronly limbcd. Half way between St. Jago and Lugo is an astonishing large convent of friars, which was liberally tbrowa open for the reception of the British column. At this place the officers and men were accommodated with coinfortable lodgings, and a table was prepared for the former, consisting of savory Spanish dishes, and tolerable wine.
This religious house consists of three very large quadrangles of two stories, with double rows of piazzas. There are commodious lodging rooms in part of tliis immense pile, of stone buildings. It bas been building eight years, and is poll.t present half finished. The original edifice, with a most costly aed wonderfully well finished chapel, the Jonks describe to have been built one thousand years. The chapel is, in the interior, infinitely superior to any building in that part of Spain; the most striking effect to a stranger on enteriug it is the altar piece. The altar is advanced from the window, and through the arch openings is seen the sun in full spiendour, painted on the glass. There are two large rooms, the roofs of which are dooms of stone, but of very light and beautiful architecture, and at least a dozen altar pieces, that are highly gilded and painted, particularly the Passion of our Saviour in basso relievo. All the figures are naked, excepting the Holy Virgin and her sister, who are dressed in brocade gowns, and have gold ear-rings. The couvent has gardens about it, and a paddock of 60 acres, surrounded by a very higla wall. The garden