« ForrigeFortsett »
even a strategist and tactician of the very highest rank; though this is the point from which he is generally viewed; and the blaze of military glory which encircles his name, has tended to obscure some more solid, but not less striking features which are apparent upon thoughtful contemplation. In truth, no mere general would have achieved what Wellington has done; for the man who can dauntlessly win battles, and expose his person like a common combatant, is often the very last man fit for managing extensive and complicated traius of business, for conducting the affairs of conquered provinces, for summoning up the energies of a supine and lukewarm civil government, conducted by men of weak heads and shallow understandings; distracted by mutual jealousies, and alive chiefly to petty interests-as Wellington did in India and Spain; in the latter country and in Portugal, single-handed, and yet dealing successfully with both the political and military relations maintained by England with those governments, and with the distant administration of the Brazils. In France, also, after concluding the war, as generalissimo of the confederated army, acting as the main-spring of all the political arrangements connected with the occupation of that country; and lastly, as ambassador at the Congress of Vienna and Paris, successfully coping with the greatest and most accomplished European diplomatists ;-all this too, it ought to be remembered, without previous training, but from the ready and intuitive insight of a great and comprehensive mind, and by the experimental study of men and nations. Such has been Wellington's career aloft, as if stationed upon a high pinnacle, ever a mark upon which men's eyes have been turned in fear or in hope. In him, as an able wri
ter has well remarked, we see "vigour of body and mind; extraordinary quickness of perception, unwearied application, dispassionate investigation, coolness of temper, undaunted courage, physical and moral, and the habit of conducting great affairs; aye! so successfully conducting them, that envious men turned in bitterness to demand of fortune, why she cherished such a favourite?" Taking all these things together, is it not allowable to say, that his character displays in a very high degree indeed, the majesty of mind?
All, and much more that we might have said respecting his genius and his commanding powers of intellect, are more than borne out by the perusal of his lately published Despatches, which, constituting a valuable repository for the historian, display to the reader more fully than any other means, the harmonious greatness of his character. From these we see that he calculated every step, and attended to the most minute equally with the most important details; seizing with the grasp of a vigorous mind the chief points of every subject which came under his notice-neglecting nothing, and providing for everything. Nothing is more conspicuous than his immediate ascendancy over the minds of those with whom he came in contact ; and that moderation and soundness of judgment, which, though in most cases the fruit of disappointment, or at least of experience, would almost seem to have been indigenous in his mind, and were most conspicuously manifested in the very height of sucThe personal qualities developed are not less valuable: the patience of his inquiries, the capacity of his mind for all, even the most opposite kinds of knowledge, and the good-temper, sagacity, and consummate prudence which enabled him to
exercise or rather indulge his more splendid qualities of promptitude, decision, and valour; the whole so adorned by simplicity, generosity, justice, and good-nature, that we feel disposed to say of his character,
quae si propuis stes, Te capiet magis."*
To say that his honour has been ever clear and untarnished, is to say nothing, were it not that the character of many other heroes of ancient and modern times, has been debased and sullied by follies and vices; and that in pursuing greatness they have neglected to have respect also to goodness. And his achievements strike us as still more remarkable, when contrasted with the many most serious difficulties which he had to meet, and the unexampled disadvantages to which he rose superior: he described this when he said in 1812, "Serving three of the weakest Cabinets in Europe, I have to contend with the most powerful Government in the world." And besides conducting his armies from victory to victory, what other mighty interests had he to decide! Let one who is no flatterer of great men tell. "The succession to thrones, the rights, or supposed rights, of monarchs; the construction of treaties; the composition of constitutions, when
*If you only read one portion of these letters, you might fancy the writer to have been bred in a merchants' counting-house; if another, you would say he was a commissaire de guerre, or a professed diplomatist, a financier or a jurist, or that he had travelled all the world over to collect historical and geographical knowledge; he is the able counsellor of his equals; the honest adviser of his superiors; the merciful chastiser of the erring, the warm friend of the brave, and the best practical politician and moralist of his time; he is throughout the true lover of his country, and if there is one quality more prominent than the rest, it is his inimitable singleness of heart and soul."
theory was at variance with practice, when liberty was invoked by men who knew nothing of it but the name, and whose actions, guided entirely by their passions, were equally violent, arbitrary, and unjust. The rights and powers of colonies, the principles of colonial policy, the principles of commerce, the principles of banking, the collection of revenue, the abuses of office, the powers and duties of magistrates, the distribution of charity, the reviving of agriculture, military, maritime, and international law, and even civil and criminal law!! Upon all these points important questions were continually pressed upon his attention, and with what a perspicacity and strength of reason he treated them; with what an earnest honesty of purpose and principle, he decided them, his Despatches tell."*
Such are our impressions on contemplating the career of the Duke of Wellington. He is throughout great and consistent, while leading others on to success, never (which is a hard task as the annals of history tell) losing command of himself. He is altogether complete: no chink appears in the panoply of the mailed warrior. His has been a sustained career of success, the product of the weighed and measured exercise of all his great powers: combining what in Napoleon's view, was enough to form a great general, even when the individual qualities were not, as here, of the highest standard-daring never too much-restrained by prudence, caution never unduly damping his ardour. His course does not resemble the blazing track of a meteor, so much as the regularity, and steady growing brilliancy of a planetary movement, at length, in brightness and in majesty, flaming on the forehead of the sky."
* Major Napier.-London and Westminster Review, Vol. VI
Alike proof against the evils of success and defeat, he has gone on in triumph
Qualis ab incepto pro cesserit, et sibi constat."
The following is a report of Lord Brougham's speech on the occasion to which we have alluded. "I rise to perform the duty which has been cast upon me, and to enjoy the honour I feel my fellowcitizens have bestowed upon me; and, although I am aware that on such an occasion as that of this day's solemnity, no man has a right to retain any personal feelings on his own behalf, but that all private and selfish and individual considerations are necessarily involved in the celebration of this great day, and in honour of this great man-yet, I feel, that, called upon as I have been, and standing to perform this grateful and honourable duty, it would be affectation-it would be ingratitude-it would be insolent ingratitude-if I were not to express the feelings which glow within my bosom, at being made the humble instrument of expressing those feelings which reign predominant in yours. It is these feelings that bear me up against all the difficulties of the position in which your choice has placed me. Enough for my own feelings ;-now for my mighty subject. Yet the choice you have made of your instrument and organ as it were on this occasion, is not unconnected with that subject; for it shows that, on this day, all personal, all political feelings are quelled; all strife of party is hushed, and that we are incapable, whatever our opinions may be, of refusing to acknowledge transcendant merits, and denying that we feel the irresistible influence of unbounded gratitude. And I therefore have been asked to do this service, as if to shew that no difference on subjects, however important—no long