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FROM THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
Memoirs of Captain George Carleton, an English Officer, including Anecdotes of the
War in Spain, under the Earl of Peterborough, and many interesting Particulars relating to the Manners of the Spaniards, in the beginning of the last Century: Written by himself. Octavo, pp. 463. 12s. in boards. London, 1808.
FEW memoirs more interest- fairly taken into consideration, aping or more instructive to military pear not only wonderful, but such as men have appeared in this or any even exceed belief; and they must other country, than these details with justice make him be regarded
, of the respectable captain Carleton. as one of those rare and extraordinaThey refer principally to transac- ry characters, which very seldom aptions in which the author, who was pear in the world, and are scarcely unquestionably a person of accurate to be found even among the heroes observation and sound reflection, of Plutarch. Though the service had participated, and of which he on which he was employed, namely, was an eye-witness, a circumstance that of placing Charles of Austria on that greatly enhances their value. the throne of Spain, was even more And they particularly relate to the romantick than it was splendid, he exploits of the celebrated earl of would have infallibly succeeded in Peterborough in Spain, during the the attempt, had he not been arrestwar for the Spanish succession, a ed in the career of his achievments correct and simple narrative of which by the influence of envy, false and is sufficient to inspire young minds malevolent insinuations, and detestawith the most heroick sentiments. ble court intrigue, which caused him To those who have made choice of to be superseded in his command by the profession of arms, this narra- a general, who, like some of those tive points out the true road to mar- with whom we have lately been blesstial fame ; and it furnishes the most ed, was a steady thoroughbred paprofitable and instructive lessons, by rade officer; who paid a decorous means both of similitude and con- and formal attention to the customtrast, to such of them as may be dis- ary rules of discipline, but who unposed to study the sublimer parts of derstood his profession merely as a military science, instead of wasting trade, not as a science. Such a man their time on an unprofitable appli- was peculiarly improper to be emcation to those trifling minutiæ, ployed in the field against the duke which cannot be practised in the field of Berwick; who was distinguished by or in the face of an enemy, but to humanity, contrivance, magnanimiwhich the attention of officers of the ty and genius; and who was above present day is so much directed.
being a slave to the common-place It must be allowed, that seldom maxims of warfare. Of this truth, has any man ever surpassed the no- the battle of Almanza in 1707 was a ble and generous lord Peterborough melancholy proof. in variety of contrivance and strata- The feats of Charles earl of Petergem, in fertility of resources both borough, the principal character in military and political, in celerity of these memoirs, were, indeed, of a movement, in presence of mind, in nature nearly unaccountable, and boldness of enterprise, in prompti- might have been regarded by people tude and correctness of decision, in even less superstitious than the Spaprudence of arrangement, and in niards as almost miraculous. With judgment in executing measures a handful of men, he not only took when once they had been adopted. the fort of Monjouick, which had Ilis successes in Spain, when the cir- uniformly been regarded by the nacumstances in which he acted are tives as impregnable, but also the
strong and extensive city of Barce- and fortune almost miraculous, had lona, which, in the ordinary course nearly putus into possession of of warfare, could not have been effec- Spain, was left wholly unsupported, tually invested by fewer than thirty exposed to the envy of his rivals ; thousand men. He afterwards relie- disappointed by the caprices of a ved this very city with a small force, young, unexperienced prince, under in the face of a powerful and nume- the guidance of a rapacious German rous army, whom he obliged to de- ministry ; and at last called home in camp precipitately, leaving their bat- discontent.” tering train of artillery, and their When the thanks of the house of ammunition, stores, and provisions, peers were returned to him in June as well as their sick and wounded. 1710ml, for his services in Spain, With less than half the number of the lord chancellor addressed him in troops, he compelled the duke of the following words : “ Had your Anjou to retire before him, and final- lordship's wise counsels, particularly ly drove him out of Spain, at the your advice at the council of war in head of a French army twenty-five Valencia, been pursued in the folthousand strong. He distinguished lowing campaign, the fatal battle of himself both as an admiral and as a Almanza and our great misfortunes, general. He took walled towns with which have since happened in Spain, dragoons; and he procured money had been prevented, and the design for the commander of the Portu- upon Toulon might have happily guese troops from the bankers of succeeded.” Besides his transcendent Genoa, without having it in his pow- talents as a warriour and negotiator, er to offer them security. He suc- this truly extraordinary man, to ceeded, by his wonderful dexterity whom nature had been prodigal, posand skill, in gaining possession of sessed literary acquirements greatly Catalonia, and of the kingdoms of surpassing those that could reasonaValencia, Aragon, and Majorca, to- bly have been expected in a person gether with part of Murcia and Cas- of so much activity of life. His chatile ; and he thus opened the way racteristick celerity in travelling is for the march of the earl of Galway, finely and emphatically described by a blundering French refugee, who Swift, in his Journal to Stella, 24th
, supplanted him in the command, June, 1711. from Portugal to Madrid, without As to captain Carleton himself, he the least resistance or molestation. observes in his dedication, that it was Such, indeed, was the universality of his fortune in his juvenile years his genius, that he was not less suc- Alusas cum Marte commutare; and cessful in conciliating the natives, that to prevent the small advantage than in carrying his daring and ad. which he had reaped from the change venturous enterprises into execution, after a series of long, severe, and Like a truly wise and virtuous man, dangerous services, from being imhe on every occasion restrained the puted to a want of merit on his part, excess of his troops; respected the he had written these memoirs, and religion, the laws, and even the pre- lest the world to judge of his deserts. judices of the Spaniards; and thus, He very truly affirms, that they are though in their eyes he was a here- neither set forth by any fictitious stotick, he became much more popular ries, nor embellished with rhetorical among them, than even the catho- flourishes ; since plain truth is most lick prince whom he was endeavour- becoming the character of an old solo ing to place on their throne. Swift, dier. The simplicity and modesty, in his Conduct of the Allies, speaks indeed, which reign throughout them, of him in these words : “ The only sufficiently evince the truth of this general, who, by a series of conduct declaration, and even give occasional
dignity to his narratives of important an opportunity of observing accurateevents. He saw a variety of actions ly and minutely his royal highness's both by sea and land. After the conduct. And he makes the most un. Dutch war, which was proclaimed in equivocal and honourable mention of 1672, he not only served under the his courage and intrepidity. He states command of the prince of Orange also two circumstances which are dewhile he was generalissimo of the serving of notice. He says that our Dutch forces, but also during the fleet, in sailing from the Nore to join whole of his reign as king of Great that of the French, who were anBritain. He was born at Ewelme, in chored at St. Helens, under the comOxfordshire, and descended from an mand of count d’Estreé, had nearly ancient and honourable family; lord been intercepted at the mouth of the Dudley Carleton, who died secretary river by De Ruyter, who had notice of state to Charles I. being his great of our intentions; and that they had uncle; and in the same reign his fa- a narrow escape by means of a thick ther being employed as envoy at the fog, which enabled them to pass Docourt of Madrid, while his uncle, sir ver before he was aware of it. He Dudley Carleton, was ambassadour likewise observes, that the duke of to the states of Holland.
York was in some measure, and England was by treaty obliged to would have been completely surpri. assist France against the Dutch, with sed by the Dutch admiral, had there 6,000 troops; and as soon as the Duke been only a moderate breeze; adding, of York (afterwards James II.) was
that although there was so little air declared admiral of the English fleet, stirring that our admirals could see it was reckoned a mark of spirit in the enemy's fleet making towards the young nobility and gentry to at
them long before it got near to them, tend him. The author of these me
they found great difficulty in forming moirs, therefore, then about twenty.
their ships into a line of battle, so as years age, in imitation of others,
to be in readiness to receive it. entered himself as a volunteer on
The few observations which the board the London, commanded by sir author makes respecting the battle Edward Spragge, vice admiral of the of Seneff, between the confederate red. He was soon afterwards present army under the prince of Orange, at the naval engagement between and that of the French commanded the combined fleets of England and by the prince of Condé, are not only France and the Dutch in Solebay,
sensible and instructive, but show which took place on the 28th of May, that a general, after having obtained and was obstinately contested from
an important advantage, may suffer nine in the morning till ten at night. it to be snatched out of his hands by Of the combat he gives a very clear too much eagerness and heat of temand
distinct account; observing, per. Mr. Carleton was in the rear however, “ that the French acted guard, which had been cut off by the more as spectators than as parties, French, who fell to plundering the and seemed unwilling to be too much baggage; and having made his escape upon the offensive for fear of offend- to an eminence, ing themselves.” The duke, having
“ It was," he says, “ from that advantahad two ships disabled under him, ed that the imperialists, who led the van,
geous situation, that I presently discoverwent on board the London, about four had now joined the main body. And, I in the afternoon; remaining in her confess, it was with an almost inexpres. during the rest of the action, and till sible pleasure that I beheld, about three next morning, though De Ruyter o'clock, with what intrepid fury they fell directed his fire particularly at her, upon the enemy. In short, both armies as if determined to blow her out of obstinacy disputed the victory till eleven
were universally engaged, and with great the water. Here Mr. Carleton had
at night. At which time the French,
being pretty well surfeited, made their tack; at the same time, that it gave him retreat. Nevertheless, to secure it by a a lesson of caution, to withdraw himself stratagem, they left their lighted matches as soon as he could to his own troops.” hanging in the hedges, and waving with After the peace of Nimeguen, the air, to conceal it from the confederate which was concluded in 1678, the army:
“ About two hours after, the confede- regiment in which the author served rate forces followed the example of their
was stationed on garrison duty at the enemies, and drew off. And though nei. Grave for nearly four years, the sol. ther army had much reason to boast, yet, diers being mostly employed in work. as the prince of Orange remained last in ing on the fortifications. It was there, the field, and the French had lost what he informs us, and on that occasion, they before had gained, the glory of the day fell to the prince of Orange; who,
that he imbibed the first rudiments although but twenty-four years of age,
of fortification, and the practical part had the suffrage of friend and foe; of of the engineer profession, which in having played the part of an old and ex- his more advanced years were of great perienced officer.
service to him. “ There were left that day on the field
On the breaking out of Monof battle, by a general computation, not less than eighteen thousand men on both
mouth's rebellion after the death of sides, over and above those who died of Charles II. the English and Scotch their wounds: the loss being pretty equal, regiments in the Dutch service were only the French carried off most prison- ordered over to England, and encamp
Prince Waldeck was shot through ed on Hounslow Heath. Mr. Carle. the arm, which I was near enough to be
ton had not thus been long returned an eye witness of. And my much lamented friend, sir Walter Vane, was carried
to his native land, when he received off dead. A wound in the arm was all
a commission from king James as a the mark of honour that I, as yet, could lieutenant in a newly raised regiment, boast of, though our cannon in the de. under the command of colonel Tuffiles had slain many near me.
ton, brother to the earl of Thanet. “ The prince of Condé, as we were
After James had abdicated the throne, next day informed, lay all that night under a hedge, wrapped in his cloak; and, and the prince of Orange had accepteither from the mortification of being dis- ed the administration of affairs in appointed in his hopes of victory, or from this country, the author was employ. a reflection of the disservice, which his ed with his regiment in Scotland, own natural overheat of temper had drawn chiefly in the Highlands; during upon him, was almost inconsolable many which service, having distinguished days after. And thus ended the famous battle of Seneff.
himself, he was, in consequence of “ But though common vogue has given
recommendation mentioning some it the name of a battle, in my weak opi- particulars of his conduct from sir nion, it might rather deserve that of a Thomas Levingston (afterwards earl confused skirmish ; all things having been of Tiviot) promoted to a company in forcibly carried on without regularity, or even design enough to allow it any higher brigadier Tiffin's regiment, lying in denomination. For, as I have said before, garrison at Portsmouth, to which notwithstanding I was advantageously sta- place he immediately repaired. About tioned for observation, I found it very of two months afterwards, this regiment, ten impossible to distinguish one party among many others, was shipped off from another. And this was more remarkably evident on the part of the princecret
expedition; the object of which,
under the duke of Leinster, on a seof Orange, whose valour and vigour ha
, ving led him into the middle of the ene
though unknown to the general himmy, and being then sensible of his errour, self, till he opened his commission by a peculiar presence of mind, gave the at sea, having been intrusted to a word of command in French, which he female politician on land, was soon spoke perfectly well. But the French
made known to the enemy; a cir. soldiers, who took him for one of their own generals, making answer that their
cumstance which rendered it necespowder was all spent, it afforded matter sary to countermand their orders, of instruction to him to persist in his at- before they reached the place of
their destination. They were accord- cannon we had taken was forcibly left ingly directed to land at Ostend ; and behind, in order to make a good retreat. not long after their landing, the fa- The French had lost all their courage in
the onset. For though they had too fair mous battle of Steenkirk was fought:
an opportunity, they did not think fit to of which, and of some remarkable pursue it; or, at least, did it very languidcircumstances attending it, captain ly. However, the malcontents at home, Carleton gives the following short I remember, grew very well pleased after and interesting account:
this; for, so long as they had but a bat“ Soon after this, happened that me.
tle for their money, like true Englishmorable battle at Steenkirk, which, as
men, lost or won, they were contented. very few at that time could dive into the
“ Several causes, I remember, were reason of, and mistaken accounts of it assigned for this miscarriage, as they
call it. Some there were who were wil. have passed for authentick, I will menbion somewhat more particularly. The ling to lay it upon the Dutch ; and allege undertaking was bold, and, as many
a saying of one of their generals, who, thought, bolder than was consistent with receiving orders to relieve some English the character of the wise undertaker.
and Scotch that were overpowered, was Nevertheless, the French having taken
heard to say: ' Damn them, since they Namur, and, as the malcontents ‘alleged, love fighting, let them have their bellies in the very sight of a superiour army,
full.' But I should rather impute the and nothing having been done by land of disappointment to the great loss of so
many of our bravest officers at the very any moment, things were blown into such a dangerous fermentation, by a malicious
first onset. General Mackay, colonel Laand lying spirit, that king William found nier, the earl of Angus, with both his himself under a necessity of attempting field officers, sir
Robert Douglas, colonel something that might appease the mur
Hodges, and many others, falling, it was murs of the people. He knew very well, enough to put a very considerable army though spoke in the senate, that it was
into confusion. I remember one particunot true, that his forces at the siege of lar action of sir Robert Douglas, that I Namur exceeded those of the enemy. No
should think myself to blame should I man could be more afflicted than he at
omit. Seeing his colours on the other the overflowing of the Mehaigne, from
side the hedge, in the hands of the enethe continual rains, which obstructed the my, he leaped over, slew the officer that relief he had designed for that important had them, and then threw them over the place ; yet, since his maligners made an
hedge to his company; redeeming his coill use of these false topicks, to insinuate
lours at the expense of his life. Thus, the that he had no mind to put an end to the
Scotch commander improved upon the war, he was resolved to evince the con
Roman general: for the brave Posthumius
cast his standard in the middle of the enetrary, by showing them that he was not afraid to venture his life for the better
my, for his soldiers to retrieve; but Dou. obtaining what was so much desired.
glas retrieved his from the middle of the “ To that purpose, receiving intelli
enemy, without any assistance, and cast gence that the duke of Luxemburg lay had so bravely rescued it out of the hands
it back to his soldiers to retain, after he strongly encompassed at Steenkirk, near
of the enemy Enghien (though he was sensible he must pass through many defiles to engage him,
Captain Carleton next went with and that the many thickets between the his corps to Dixmuyd, where he was two armies would frequently afford him for some time employed in fortifying new difficulties) he resolved there to at. that place; and after he had brought tack him. Our troops at first were forced the intended works into a tolerably to hew out their passage for the horse. And there was no one difficulty that his respectable state, the troops were imagination had drawn, that was lessened ordered to reembark for England. by experience; and yet so prosperous
On landing they marched to Ipswich, were his arms at the beginning, that our had their winter quarters in that troops had made themselves masters of town, and in the spring went to several pieces of the enemy's cannon. But the farther he advanced, the ground Hence the regiment was removed
London to do duty in the Tower. growing straiter, so strait as not to admit his armies being drawn up in batta
to Flanders. And captain Carleton's lia, the troops behind could not give description of and remarks on the tinrely succour to those engaged, and the prince of Vaudemont's retreat from