« PreviousContinue »
consummate captain; and if she is baulked with such impertinent matter as we have hinted at above, the conclusion that nothing better could be given will naturally suggest itself; and Sir John Moore's talents will be supposed to have existed only in the imagination of his friends, because his brother, the keeper of his papers, the natural defender of his fame, has sacrificed his real character for the support of his own headstrong absurdity.
We protest against this monstrous injustice. We protest against it as Englishmen, and as friends of Sir John Moore. We protest against it, because we know the whole extent of the injustice,because we know that his Journal alone would make more than two thick volumes; and that in simplicity of style, and in gravity of matter, that Journal may almost vie with Cæsar's Commentaries; that it treats of nothing mean or irrelevant to great affairs; that it embraces the transactions of many years, ending only within a few days of his death, and yet seems, from the unity of moral feelings, to have been written in one day; that it exhibits, and in the most natural manner, the thoughts, the feelings, the views, the intentions, and the opinions, of a good and great man; and that, from the first word to the last, nothing unworthy of his high spirit is there to be found. Why, then, is this Journal suppressed or garbled? We will inform our readers :- The hatred of oppression, the contempt for folly and weakness in power, the frank and bold opinions, the noble sentiments, therein contained, would have rendered his biographer's political prejudices and petty sentiments so ridiculous by the contrast, that he could not, for very shame, have permitted them to stand.
Strong, too strong of proof we are in support of this assertion; and surely we may be believed when we say, that it is with deep sorrow, as well as indignation, that we offer evidence of the fact: but what security shall the world have for the truth of history; what security shall men engaged in public transactions have for their reputation, if their own writings, their own statements, left in the hands of their nearest kindred, shall be so used as to give them the appearance of holding opinions the very reverse of those really entertained by them; and if those sentiments and feelings shall be, after death, so used as to support systems which they spurned at and disdained during life? This is the case here. We charge this author with suppressing, and we will, ere we have done, prove, that he has suppressed, the finest sentiments, the most generous, just, and noble feelings of Sir John Moore, to the great detriment of his character, in order to give more force to his own rabid effusions of hatred against republicans and opponents of governing powers; and that although this is the worst blot upon his work, it is not the only one.
We shall pass over slightly, the tame and crestless manner in which he treats all the early parts of Sir John Moore's military and political adventures, especially his disputes with Lord Hood and Sir Gilbert Elliot in Corsica; because his sins on these heads are only the sins of poverty of feeling and of mind;—the sin of vanity in an author, who judges that his spiritless narrative can be beneficially substituted for the animated, graphic, and curious details of Sir John Moore's Journal. He imagines that he is a good writer because he is grammatical and brief; but he is mistaken; he wants nerve, he wants feeling. His sentences are. short indeed, but not thick with sense ;' his brevity is dwarfish, and his paragraphs, curled and tied up like cabbages, are but poor substitutes for the graceful discursive manner of his brother. We have neither the words nor the meaning of the General given to us, and we want both. Where are Sir John Moore's opinions of Paoli's character of Pozzo de Borgo's? Where is his description of the political proceedings of Sir Gilbert Elliot? Where the accounts of the treatment of Paoli's bust, and the riot at the feast, which led to the loss of Corsica? Where are his views upon the defence of the island, upon the unguarded situation of the Mediterranean, upon Lord Hood's management of the navy, and upon the many other interesting points relating to the history of that period, which he treats of in his Journal ?
Sir John Moore's opinions upon these heads, we presume to think, would have been more agreeable to the world than his judgment of the state of the green peas at Gibraltar, or even. that early letter beginning Mon cher Jamie.' We are informed how the child Moore quarrelled with French boys; but we look in vain for the details of the vehement quarrels between the naval and military leaders in Corsica, which, at one period, induced the man Moore to advise even recourse to force, to check the degrading insults and violence of Lord Hood. We are told that General d'Aubant resigned the command of the army to Sir C. Stuart, and that the arrival of Sir C. Stuart was a most agreeable event to Lieutenant-Colonel Moore,' and are then left to suppose that this had merely a reference to the agreeable qualities of that officer. Not a hint is given of the real fact. Who from this would suppose, that, previous to Stuart's arrival, General d'Aubant had resigned the command to Lieutenant-Colonel Moore under the most critical circumstances; and that the arrival of the new General was agreeable, because it relieved Moore from one of the most dangerous situations, for his own interest, that a young officer, without Parliamentary friends, could be placed in; namely, to fight the battles of the army against a headstrong domineering old Admiral, who had great
influence at home, and who had shown himself capable of the most outrageous violence, not unaccompanied with subtlety?
Lord Hood, after accumulating gross insults upon the two Generals who successively commanded the army, had at last gone so far as to insist upon having a strong detachment, placed under his own orders, to besiege Calvi. D'Aubant had weakly consented to it at first, and then repented; and it was to resist this most improper demand that Colonel Moore received the temporary command of the troops. He, a young man and a young officer, was suddenly called to stem a torrent which had overborne the two Generals, his predecessors,-he, whose prospects in life were at stake, was, without any support or weight of interest, called upon suddenly to meet and control a nobleman of high reputation, a naval commander-in-chief, of a powerful family, and himself a daring, obstinate, clever, and violent man. To show how nobly Moore undertook this formidable task, it would be requisite to give his own account of it at length. It was an intricate and dangerous matter; his mode of proceeding was one of the clearest and finest indications of his disinterested character; and it is inconceivable that his biographer should have neglected it. How fearlessly he resolved to execute the duty he had undertaken is also simply and beautifully told by himself. Was it not worth Mr Moore's while to extract that fine record of his brother's moral intrepidity ?— Was it not worth the labour to show how he decided to face Lord Hood upon his own quarterdeck, and, first by mild and gentle reasoning upon the disgrace which would attach to the military. commander who should permit his troops to go to battle without going with them, to persuade him from his headstrong humours; but, that failing, how he resolved,-we well remember the manly sentence, to tell him roundly, he should neither have the troops nor a single thing from the army.' And this decision was accompanied by a reflection which proves that he knew all his danger, and acted from no youthful arrogance. We do not pretend to give the exact words, but we pledge ourselves for the substance of the following extract from Sir John Moore's Journal:-'My having the command now is unfortunate for me; I can only retain it for a 'few days, and Lord Hood's ill-will is all I shall gain by it. 'There are, however, certain moments decisive of a man's charac'ter; this is one of those moments; and nothing shall induce me to submit to what is disgraceful! And it is a brother writing his life that consigns this anecdote to oblivion!
When the author before us does condescend to relate facts of importance to Sir John Moore's reputation, he cannot do it without suppressing an essential part. One example will suffice. It is well known, that in Corsica, Lord Hood treated the army
with insult and scorn for not besieging Bastia ; and, as Sir John Moore, although then in a subordinate situation, had been called upon for his opinion, and had given it against the siege, although he allowed the place might be taken by blockade, it would have been but reasonable to show, not only upon what grounds he founded that opinion, but how it was proved to be just by the result. This was due to him as an officer; but the first part Mr Moore has altogether omitted, and has only given half of the second. We will take the liberty of supplying what is wanting to the last, and then proceed to graver matter.
A few days after this, Moore was introduced to General Gentili, whom he asked why, with his numerous garrison, he ❝ had never made one sally? He replied, " Because no sally could 'bring us bread."
Such is Mr Moore's account, but General Gentili added, and› 'because he wished to do his duty and no more, his property 'was in England!' and in proof of his sincerity, he told Moore what, indeed, he well knew, that the village of Villa upon
right flank being intrusted to Corsicans, it could have been easily 'carried, in which case the British must have retreated to their 'ships with the loss of their guns.' Here we have the real secret of the very feeble defence of Bastia, and the proof that Moore's military opinion was sound and just. But thus it is in every part of the book before us: everywhere we find an imperfect and ill-shaped skeleton, instead of a body glowing with life and strength.
Slight and trifling, however, are the deficiencies of the work in this part, compared with what follows. When we come to the West Indies, the author's inveterate politics overbear all consideration for his brother's character, and they are thrust forward: with ostentation, while only so much of Sir John Moore's sentiments are made known, as will seem to give weight to opinions, which he was far from entertaining. Let any person read the following passages, together with what we will add to them, and then decide whether they contain a faithful record of Moore's feelings and opinions :
Vol. I., p. 131.- The French agents who had been sent forth to the West Indies during the frenzy of the Revolution, were sanguinary men from Paris, a city then resembling Rome in "the reign of Nero.' Quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque.-P. 132. The negroes and mulattoes, * who acquired the name of brigands, were armed and declared free by those political fanatics whose frantic decrees and atrocious exhortations kindled their fury to the height. Indeed, the ferocity of these emancipated slaves became direful; they
'threw off all compunctions of humanity, to put on the savage 'nature of the wildest animals. A resolution to defend their ' liberties would neither have been unnatural nor reprehensible, 'but this was sullied by deeds too horrible to be related.'
P. 133. With brutal fury they had murdered many of the 'white inhabitants, sparing neither women nor children; and 'those who remained alive had fled for safety into the towns.
But none of the survivors, nor of the slaves who remained 'faithful to their masters, durst give any intelligence to, or have 6 any communication with, the British.'
P. 134. The negroes in St Lucia had not only been active ' in deeds of cruelty, but in every species of villany. The conflagration of houses had been so extensive that there were not 'sufficient buildings remaining to shelter the troops, or even for 'an hospital; and the rainy season having set in, great sickness already prevailed. Altogether the condition of the island was lamentable; but Moore struggled against the difficulties with 'all his faculties. One of his first measures was to publish a 'proclamation to the inhabitants, granting pardon to all who 'would come within the British lines and deliver up their arms. 'Passes were also given to whoever wished to return to their 'habitations, and all were promised protection if they remained 'quietly attending to their private affairs. Royalists and republicans were exhorted to refrain from mutual recrimination, as both should be treated with indulgence, and have equal jus'tice.'
P. 135. The brigands were not, however, to be quelled by pacific measures; intelligence was brought daily to the 'Government House that they were laying waste the country, ' and solicitations were made for soldiers to protect the plantations; but as the detaching troops in separate bodies was a ⚫ hazardous measure, the governor judged it expedient, before he came to a decision, to make an excursion, and visit the four 'largest towns, Souffrieré, Choiseul, Laborie, and Vieux Fort. 'In these places he had an opportunity of conversing with the 'principal people of the country whom fear had driven thither. 'He addressed them at public meetings, encouraged them to ' return to their estates, and gave assurances that troops should 'be posted to protect their plantations. He recommended them strongly to treat their slaves, not only with lenity, but with 'kindness; as men who had borne arms, and had been told they 'were free, would not, without reluctance, return to slavery and labour; but that, if those in the woods saw the others on 'the plantations well fed, comfortable, and happy, they might be induced to join them. That no harshness ought to be