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that of the 21st ult. : a couple of hours more daylight, and we should have had nearly the whole of the army, but they dispersed, and saved themselves under protection of the night. The third division had more than its usual share, and swept every thing before it, though opposed to about four times its number, and nearly fifty pieces of
We had the satisfaction of exhibiting, from one o'clock until dark night, under the eyes of the whole army, and I think I may say, to its admiration. Our loss was of course great—more than one-third of that of the whole army-seventeen hundred and fifty men. The Portuguese brigade, if possible, surpassed the British in gallantry. The whole of the cannon, military chest, ammunition, baggage, and equipment of the army—the treasure of king Joseph, as well as that of all his generals, and an immense booty in plate and other valuable articles of plunder, fell into the hands of the soldiers. The whole of the loss sustained by the fugitive monarch and his followers, must amount to between three and four millions sterling. If ministers will send us ten or twelve thousand to fill up our ranks, which have been reduced by thirty-five days' forced marching, we shall carry every thing before us. Some of our advanced troops are now in France.
“ I hope Mrs. M. and all my young friends enjoy good health. Pray offer them all my respects and best wishes.
“My dear sir,
« T. Picton." The battle of the Pyrenees, that afterwards ensued, was fought almost wholly by General Picton. This battle, with the operations attendant upon it, obliged the French a second time to retreat. A period of comparative inactivity followed, which was diversified by the investment of Pamplona and Saint Sebastian, which still remained unsubdued in the rear of the British forces, and prevented a farther ingress into France.
Not being, at this period, called upon for any active services, Sir Thomas, in the month of October, left his division on leave of absence, and repaired to England to take his seat in the House of Com
We cannot omit what took place in that House. The Speaker addressed him as follows:
“ Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton,-In this House your name has been long since enrolled amongst those who have obtained the grati. tude of their country for distinguished military services; and we this day rejoice to see you amongst us, claiming again the tribute of our thanks for fresh exploits and achievements.
“ “Whenever the history of the Peninsular war shall be related, your name will be found amongst the foremost in that race of glory. By your sword the British troops were led on to the victorious assault of Ciudad Rodrigo; by your daring hand the British standard was planted upon the castle of Badajoz : when the usurper of the Spanish throne was driven to make his last stand at Vittoria, your battalions filled the centre of that formidable line before which the veteran troops of France fled in terror and dismay; and by your skill, prudence, and valour, eserted in a critical hour, the enemy was foiled in his desperate attempt to break through the barrier of the Pyrenees, and raise the blockade of Pamplona.
• For the deeds of Vittoria and the Pyrenees, this double harvest of glory in one year, the House of Commons has resolved again to give you the tribute of its thanks; and I do therefore now, in the name and by the command of the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, deliver to you their unanimous thanks for your great exertions upon the 21st of June last near Vittoria, when the French army was completely defeated by the allied forces under the Marquis of Wellington's command; and also for the valour, steadiness, and exertion so successfully displayed by you in repelling the repeated attacks made on the position of the allied army, by the whole French forces under the command of Marshal Soult, between the 25th of July and the 1st of August last."
He answered as follows :
“Sir,—Being entirely unaccustomed to speak in public, I have great difficulty in expressing the high sense of gratification which I feel at the very flattering sentiments which this Honourable House has been pleased to entertain of my services, and at the very handsome manner in which they have been communicated.
• • I have always, sir, regarded the thanks of this Honourable House as one of the highest honours which could be conferred upon any officer, —as the unquestionable evidence of past, and the greatest incitement to future, services. But I can apply individually to myself but a small part of the high commendations which have been so liberally and handsomely bestowed. A great proportion is unquestionably due to the generals and officers commanding brigades and corps in the division, for the judgment and gallantry with which the services alluded to were invariably executed ; and to the officers and troops in general for the spirit and intrepidity which bore down all resistance, and secured complete success in all the important enterprises in which the division had the good fortune to be employed during the whole course of the war in the Peninsula.
“It will ever be the height of my pride and ambition to share the fortunes of a corps eminently conspicuous for every high military qualification, and actuated by a spirit of heroism which renders it truly invincible. With such instruments, sir, you will easily conceive that it cannot be difficult to obtain success; and it would be unfortunate, indeed, if we failed entirely to reflect some of the rays of the great luminary that directed us.”
After reaping many more testimonials so honourable to himself from a grateful country, he again embarked for his command, in December of the same year.
At this time he was offered a separate and independent command in Catalonia, which he declined, rather choosing to fight as a subordinate with his old division, which he had trained under his eyes, than to exercise supreme command with troops that were strangers to him.
“St. Jean de Luz, 3rd July, 1814. “ MY DEAR SIR, “In consequence of an interview with Lord Wellington, when it clearly appeared that the army in Catalonia was in no situation to undertake offensive or active operations of any kind, I have determined, with his lordship's approbation, to remain with this army, and resume my old command. We are perfectly in France, extending from the Nevelle across the Neve to the Adour ; and if you will give us twenty thousand, we shall be able to make a most decisive, impor
tant, forward movement, which cannot fail to cause most serious apprehensions at Paris : but without. reinforcements to nearly that amount, we shall be able to perform no achievements worthy the Speaker's eloquence. The Spaniards, instead of being of any service to us in our operations, are a perfect dead weight, and do nothing but run away and plunder. We should do much better without these vapouring poltroon rascals, whose irregular conduct indisposes every one towards us. The inhabitants of the country appear remarkably well-disposed, and I believe, wish us success from their hearts, as the only probable means of bringing about what they all most ardently sigh for peace. As for Buonaparte, as far as I can observe, he is held in general detestation, and the better sort of people speak of their old master with affection and regret. If peace is not brought about during the winter, we ought to make a great dash from all points, and get rid of the rascal at once. This, I conceive, would be no difficult matter, and I have little doubt but we should meet with very considerable cooperation ; or at all events, a perfect sympathy from the inhabitants everywhere. In this country we all ride about as if we were in England, and go through all the towns and intricate bye-roads without even our swords, which is a strong evidence of the temper .of the inhabitants towards us.
“ My dear sir,
«T. Picton." The battle of Orthes was fought early in the spring of 1814, in which Sir Thomas made himself very conspicuous. After this battle the war was drawing rapidly to a conclusion, but this conclusion was marked by many bloody and desperate struggles on the part of the French, under Soult. Indeed, they sometimes seem to have fought with a purpose purely suicidal, as not wishing to survive the glory of their country. At this period the Duke D'Angoulême made his appearance at Bourdeaux, and all looked couleur de rose for the partisans of the Bourbons-blank despair for the Buonapartists.
The decisive, the bloody, and the totally unnecessary battle of Toulouse afterwards ensued, which ended the struggle in the south of France. As usual, Picton was foremost in the affray. The abdication of Buonaparte, now being made officially known to the belligerents of either party, the French army dispersed, and the English was broken up. Sir Thomas Picton, there being no longer a call for his services, embarked at Bourdeaux for England, and upon his arrival there, he had the mortification to find all his brothers in arms of equal rank elevated to peerages, whilst himself remained totally neglected. The secret of this injustice may be summed up in four words
he was no courtier.
After being again thanked in parliament, and then receiving the grand cross of the order of the Bath, Picton; for a short period, retired to the utility of a private life. But he was not long to remain a blessing to the poor around him, and the pride of his immediate neighbourhood. Napoleon once more arrayed France in arms, and the nations aroused to quell him. Of course, the country again called
upon Picton for his services, and he promptly obeyed the call, having first stipulated with the Duke of Wellington that he should be compelled to serve under no orders but those emanating directly from the commander-in-chief. He hardly had arrived at Brussels before he was sent forward, and found himself actively engaged in serious hostilities.
Who that has one particle of patriotic spirit does not know familiarly all the details of the battle of Waterloo ? We shall not repeat them. We shall merely quote from Mr. Robinson's work the part that involved the death of the hitherto unvanquished leader. His division, truly called “the superb,” was posted on an exposed situation, nearly in the centre of the field of battle. But let his biographer take up the sorrowful yet exciting narrative.
“ The French columns were marching close up to the hedge; the English advanced to meet them, and the muzzles of their muskets were almost touching. Picton ordered Sir James Kempt's brigade forward : they bounded over the hedge, and were received with a murderous volley. A frightful struggle then ensued : the English rushed with fury upon their opponents, not stopping to load, but trusting solely to the bayonet to do their deadly work. The French fire had, however, fearfully thinned this first line, and they were fighting at least six to one. Picton, therefore, ordered General Pack's brigade to advance. With the exhilarating cry of · Charge! Hurra! hurra! he placed himself at their head, and led them forward. They returned his cheer as they followed him with a cool determination, which, in the words of the Spanish chief Alava, • appalled the enemy.'
“ The general kept at the head of their line, stimulating them by his own example. According to the Duke of Wellington's dispatch, . This was one of the most serious attacks made by the enemy on our position.' To defeat it was therefore of vital importance to the success of the day, Picton knew this, and doubtless felt that his own presence would tend greatly to inspire his men with confidence. He was looking along his gallant line, waving them on with his sword, when a ball struck him on the temple, and he fell back upon his horse-dead. Captain Tyler, seeing him fall, immediately dismounted and ran to his assistance: with the aid of a soldier he lifted him off his horse; but all assistance was vain—the noble spirit was fled.
“ The rush of war had passed on, the contending hosts had met, and none could be idle at such a moment. Tyler, therefore, placed the body of his lamented friend and general beneath a tree, by which he could readily find it when the fight was done ; and he rode forward to report to Sir James Kempt the loss which the army had sustained. That general, as senior officer, immediately assumed the command of the division : but • Picton's intrepid example had done its work. Animated by their gallant chief, the men fought with a degree of fury which nothing could appal or resist: at one moment formed into squares, they received and repulsed the dreadful assaults of the lancers and cuirassiers; at another deploying into lines, their vigorous arm and undaunted courage drove back the enemy's masses at the point of the bayonet.' *
“ Upon looking at the dress of Sir Thomas Picton in the evening of the 18th, a few hours after his fall, it was observed that his coat was torn on one side. This led to a further examination, and then the truth became apparent:-on the 16th he had been wounded at Quatre Bras; a musket-ball had struck him and broken two of his ribs, besides producing some further bodily, and it was supposed internal, injuries: but, expecting that a severe battle would be fought within a short time, he kept this wound secret, lest he should be solicited to absent himself upon the occasion. Pegardless of every selfish consideration, he only divulged this secret to an old servant, with whose assistance he bound up the wound; and then, with a command over his feelings almost incredible, he continued to perform his duties. The night of the 16th and the whole of the following day he was in constant activity. By the morning of the 18th the wound had assumed a serious aspect; but the assurance that the French were about to attack the British position roused every energy of his almost exhausted frame; he subdued his bodily anguish ; and when the moment came which called for his great example, the hand of death, which it is supposed was even then upon him from the wound alluded to, could not, while sufficient life yet remained, check for a moment his zeal and courage.”
Why need we to record more? When he fell, England lost a soldier never surpassed in bravery, and seldom equalled in genius. He was a soldier every inch of him ; his character as such was never mistaken-as that of a man, greatly. His country appeared to know him only when it lost him, and the revulsion in his favour became as great as was formerly the prejudice against him. That he was a man of the kindliest disposition, the numerous instances narrated in these volumes, and the still more numerous ones with which we were ourselves acquainted, evidently prove. But early in his career, he had been misrepresented by many, and most foully slandered by a base few. The few obtained a temporary credence, and then Thomas Picton coated his heart with a mail, not impenetrable, as a thousand instances show, but which opposed harsh and hard exterior to most, whilst all was generous and soft within.
His galling early injuries had turned his manly firmness into sternness, and his features in some measure were a reflection of his character, at least to the stranger. What he was, even in his looks to his intimate friends, they alone know, and for them it would be bootless to tell. Many of the bosoms that he gladdened are now mouldering in their graves, and the few that remember him in the hours of domestic relaxation, are now content to view him only in the light of an unapproachable star of the first magnitude in the galaxy of British military glory.
Mr. Robinson, in his Memoirs, has occupied many pages in disproving invidious charges brought against him on many military subjects. We think that his elaborate justifications were needless, and we would have had them omitted, as they reflect so little honour upon the distinguished characters that have brought them forward. Not only was he not indifferent to the interests of those who, under him, distinguished themselves by their merits, but extremely though not importunately zealous. Picton become importunate !—there seems an absurdity in the very idea, a palpable catachresis. A man who commanded so much awe by the strength of his character, could not possibly win a favour by the smile of sycophancy. Yes, he was the steel upon which men rely in the hour of peril; not the jewelled bauble to be praised and fondled in the period of enervation and luxury. Unfortunately for the brave, appointments are no longer