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It was failure, flat failure. The officers knew it, and the general knew it. It was the indefinite prolongation of the troubles. It was the ignominious refutation of all his boastsboasts based not so much upon trust in himself, as on belief in the nature of the Apache, whose stanch champion he had always been.
Meanwhile by the advice of Bute the king sent for Pitt. On the 27th of August he had an audience of the king at Buckingham House. Pitt, however, insisted on having in with him all, or nearly all, his old colleagues, and this was too much for the king; whilst not to have had them would have been too little for Pitt, who was too wise to take office without efficient and congenial colleagues. The king, nevertheless, did not openly object, but allowed Pitt to go away with the impression that he would assent to his demands. This was Saturday, and Pitt announced this belief to the Dukes of Devonshire and Newcastle, and the Marquis of Rockingham. But on Sunday Grenville had had an interview with the king, and finding that he considered Pitt's terms too hard, had laboured successfully to confirm him in that opinion. Accordingly, on Monday, at a second meeting, the king named the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Halifax, and George Grenville, for leading posts in the Cabinet, saying, "Poor George Grenville, he is your near relation, and you once loved him." Pitt said that it would not do, bowed and retired; the king saying, "My honour is concerned, and I must support it."
CHAPTER VII. THE REIGN OF GEORGE IV. (concluded).The prince found in the Opposition in England the most unfortunate fosterers of his unfilial temper. Pulteney, Wyndham, Chesterfield, Carteret, Cobham, and, worst of all, Bolingbroke, became his associates, and the frequenters of his house. Fast ripening into a pattern of unfilial popularity under such influences, possessing some accomplishments, and a desire to stand well with the people, he married in April, 1736, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, a princess of so much beauty and good sense, as might have reclaimed many a nature; who seems to have at least won the heart of her husband from his former romantic passion. It was an ominous circumstance, however, that the address of congratulation on this occasion was moved, not by the king's own Ministers, but by the king's own Opposition. Pulteney was the mover, and it was supported by two young men who that evening made their first speeches, and in them burst suddenly forth with that splendour which was destined to grow transcendent through many years. They were Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham, and Lord Lyttelton.
The army set out in successive divisions, and by different routes, in consequence of the exhausted state of the country, which had been stripped by the French as by an army of locusts. The roads were intolerable, and the weather was vile. Wading through mud, and dragging their artillery through bogs and sloughs, they struggled on to Castello Branco, which the first division reached on the 4th of December. By the 11th Sir John had crossed the Portuguese frontier, and entered Ciudad Rodrigo. There he was received with great demonstrations of joy; and on the 13th he arrived at Salamanca. Here he had to remain for the coming up of his artillery, which, under a guard of three thousand foot and one thousand horse, had been conducted, by Sir John Hope, round by Elvas, as the only road, according to the Portuguese, by which heavy cannon could be conveyed. This was a proof of the great need of those arrangements so strongly urged by Sir Arthur Wellesley. Proper inquiries, through proper officers, would have ascertained beforehand the actual state of the roads and passes. Here Sir John, too, had to wait for Sir David Baird's detachment, which had arrived at Corunna on the 13th of October, but had found the greatest difficulty in being allowed to land and proceed. This was refused by the junta of Galicia, out of that ignorant and inflated pride of the Spaniards, which persuaded them that, because they had compelled Dupont to surrender, they could drive the French out of their country without any assistance of the British, whom they regarded not as saviours, but as intruders. Whilst application was made to the Central Junta, at Madrid, for the troops to land, they had to remain for a fortnight cooped up in the transports. There was still another hindrance, which the sound sense and foresight of Wellesley would not have permitted. Though the British Government had forwarded to Spain two hundred thousand muskets, with all requisite ammunition, and sixteen millions of hard dollars, Sir John Moore was entrusted with only twenty-five thousand pounds of it, and Sir David Baird with none at all. When, therefore, permission was obtained, from Madrid, for the Allies, who were bringing them all the arms and all the material of war, to land, Baird had no money to pay his way on the march with ten thousand men, and Sir John Moore had to remit him eight thousand pounds. This was sufficiently bad management, but this was far from the worst. Sir John Moore, in the most critical circumstances, was left without the necessary information regarding the real strength of the enemy, and without the influence which the British Ambassador should have exerted to have the army supplied with the necessary means of conveyance for its baggage, ammunition, and artillery. The Spaniards obstructed rather than helped the British army. They did not know themselves that the French were pouring reinforcements through the Pyrenees to the amount of seventy thousand men, soon to be followed by Buonaparte himself. The British Ambassador, at such a time, ought to have taken measures for knowing the truth; but the Ambassador was, just at this moment, the most unfit person that could possibly have been pitched upon. Sir Charles Stewart, who had been for some time Ambassador at Madrid, was well acquainted with the Spaniards, and had energy and intelligence enough to have operated upon them. But as, with new changes of Ministry, everything must be changed by the British Government, even if it be for the worse, so here, not only had the generals been changed three times in four-and-twenty hours, but the active and well-informed Minister was withdrawn, and a most indolent and useless man sent in his place. This was Mr. John Hookham Frere, great in the Quarterly Review, and connected with Canning and his party. He either sent Sir John no information as to the state and position of the Spanish armies or of the advance and numbers of the French, or he sent him erroneous intelligence. Lord William Bentinck, who was in Spain, exerted himself to rouse the Spanish Junta to a proper sense of their real position, and of the necessity for affording the British army, which had come to assist them, all the information and support that they could; and he himself sent word that the French were crossing not merely the Pyrenees, but the Ebro. At length, a dispatch to Marshal Jourdain, being accidentally intercepted by a guerilla party on the frontiers, startled the Junta with the news that immense bodies of French were advancing into Spain; and they began to appreciate the value of their British allies, but would do nothing to facilitate their march, or to direct them to the quarter where they would be most useful; and Frere, who should have stimulated them to a sense of their duty, did just nothing at all.