Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/577

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WEL
WEL
 

how upon one occasion, when sitting with Arthur Wellesley on a committee of the Irish House of Commons, he never for a moment ceased playing the then fashionable game with a "quiz." FitzPatrick, in his Sham Squire, says: "The early life of the 'Iron Duke,' if honestly told, would exhibit him deficient in ballast. Having had some warm words with a Frenchman in Dublin, he wrested from his hand a cane, which was not returned. The Frenchman brought an action for the robbery of the cane, and Wellesley was absolutely tried in the Sessions House, Dublin, for the offence. He was acquitted of the robbery, but found guilty of the assault." In June 1794, Arthur Wellesley embarked at Cork with some Irish regiments on an expedition to Flanders, where he distinguished himself upon several occasions. The British troops were obliged to return home ignominiously next spring, having been unable to effect anything against the French, and Wellesley appears to have been disgusted with the war, with the incapacity of the generals, and the blunders and mismanagement of the home authorities. On 25th June 1795, he wrote from Trim to Lord Camden, asking for some civil employment in Ireland.—"It certainly is a departure from the line I prefer; but I see the manner in which the military offices are filled." After embarking in an expedition destined for the West Indies, that had to put back from stress of weather, he was ordered on service in India, and landed at Calcutta in February 1797. During his eight years' residence in Hindostan (until March 1805) he earned a high military reputation. His elder brother. Lord Wellesley, was Governor-General, and Arthur carried out in the field plans of which he was the part adviser in the cabinet. A striking monument of his ability, industry, and statesmanship remains in the four volumes of supplementary Despatches written in India between 1797 and 1805. It is said that the first occasion upon which he adopted his brother's change of name from Wesley to Wellesley was in one of those despatches, dated 19th May 1798. As Colonel Wellesley, he carried Seringapatam by assault on 2nd May 1 799. As Major-General, he reduced Ahmednuggar on 9th August 1803, and defeated Scindia, at Assaye on 23rd September, and again at Argaum on 29th November. In 1804 General Wellesley was gazetted a K.C.B. Dr. W. H. Russell has said of his Indian services: "With more than Clive's success, although the results were not so great when judged by the comparative status of the British power at the two epochs, Wellesley had acquired a reputation to which no stain of duplicity or foul play could be attached." Soon after his return home in September 1805, Sir Arthur Wellesley went abroad again as Brigadier-General in Lord Cathcart's unsuccessful expedition to Holland. On the 12th April 1806 he was elected to Parliament for Rye, and for the borough of Mitchell on 20th January 1807. He was re-elected for Mitchell on his appointment as Secretary for Ireland in the following April; and at the general election in June, was elected both for Newport, Isle of Wight, and Tralee—accepting the seat for Newport. His Civil Correspondence and Memoranda during his Irish administration, from 30th March 1807 to 12th April 1809, were published by his son, the present Duke, in 1860. They contain his opinions upon the most minute points of Irish administration during those years— delivered in his usual terse and vigorous style. The following remarkable passage occurs in a letter on the "Defences of Ireland," written to Lord Hawkesbury, from Dublin Castle, 7th May 1807. "I am positively convinced that no political measure which you could adopt would alter the temper of the people of this country. They are disaffected to the British Government; they don't feel the benefits of their situation; attempts to render it better either do not reach their minds, or they are represented to them as additional injuries; and in fact we have no strength here but our army. Surely it is incumbent upon us to adopt every means which can secure the position and add to the strength of our army." In a letter of advice to General Lee, in command at Limerick, dated from Cork, 7th July 1808 (published in Lenehan's History of Limerick), Sir Arthur makes the following remarks on the condition of the public peace in Ireland: "The situation of a general officer commanding in a district in Ireland is very much of the nature of a deputy-governor of a county or a province. … It frequently happens that disturbances exist only in a very small degree, or probably only partially, and that the civil power is fully adequate to get the better of them. At the same time, the desire to let a building to the Government for a barrack— the desire to have troops in the county, either on account of the increased consumption of the necessaries of life, or because of the increased security which they would give to that particular part of the country—would occasion a general rise in the value or rent of land, which proba-

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