CONTINUE TO PLAY THE GAOLER

The troops now entered the town of Arroyo Molinos, and I proceeded
directly to the Prince D’Arenberg’s quarters, to which I was called
by General Hill, who requested that I would accompany the prince to
Lisbon, and this too at the prince’s request. Upon my expressing an
unwillingness thus to go to the rear, the general paid me a very
flattering compliment, saying that had he not deemed it necessary to
retire in a day or two at the farthest, he would not request, nor even
consent to my leaving the army even for a day; but that Soult’s corps
were advancing, which rendered it necessary for him to retire. Colonel
Rook, the adjutant-general, being present, asked me with what escort I
would undertake the charge, and if I thought twenty men sufficient. I
offered to be responsible for the prince’s safe conveyance with four
men and two dragoons. Rook replied that he would double the number of
infantry which he proposed, but could not grant a single dragoon. I
then consented to go with a corporal and six men of my own regiment. He
agreed to the number but not to the regiment; the bulk of the prisoners
were to be escorted by a suitable detachment of the 34th, and he could
not break up a second regiment. And so with Corporal Hughes and six men
of the 34th I commenced my march for Lisbon.

I very soon repented of having taken so small an escort, not on account
of the prince, but of the French commissary, whom, at the particular
request of the prince, I allowed, though unwillingly, to accompany
him; had I foreseen the annoyance and danger which his presence caused
I certainly should have refused the request. In proceeding through
the Spanish frontier we passed through the same towns which Gerard
occupied during his foraging, or rather marauding excursion immediately
before; and it required all my exertions to protect the commissary
from being torn to pieces. The peasantry collected round the houses
where we halted for the night, loudly demanding the commissary; and
although I harangued them and pointed out the national disgrace that
would attend any outrage committed on the prisoners, and the insult it
would be to England whose prisoners they were and consequently under
her protection, still I felt it always prudent to make the guard load
in their presence, and to place double sentries over the house, with
orders, loudly delivered, to shoot any who should attempt a forcible
entrance.

[Sidenote: ESCORTING PRINCE D’ARENBERG.]

Although the escort consisted but of ten persons, the corporal and his
party of six, my servant, batman, and self, and the prisoners amounted
to the same number–viz., the prince, a captain of his regiment, his
secretary, two cooks, his Swiss coachman, three other servants and the
commissary–still I allowed them all to carry arms. I felt no dread of
their escaping, being fully convinced that they were much more inclined
to remain my prisoners than think of escape, for they were fully aware
that they would be torn to atoms by the enraged peasantry; moreover
the prince, in whose honour I confided, held himself responsible for
all. I remarked to the prince with a smile in the presence of the whole
party, that I felt certain his pledge was not endangered, stating the
reasons above mentioned; yet I told him plainly that if his authority
were not sufficient to oblige the commissary (who was present) to keep
more retired, and not with imprudent gasconade to present himself
at the doors and windows and thus irritate an enraged population, I
should reluctantly be compelled to make him a close prisoner and place
a sentry over him, not so much for his safety as for that of others,
whom I held in higher consideration. But although I gained my point,
yet until I got across the Spanish frontier I was in continual alarm,
all owing to our graminivorous companion. Albeit though this commissary
certainly was as impertinent and forward a fellow as I ever met with,
still he could not in justice be held personally responsible for the
outrages which drew upon him this general odium; for when he robbed
the peasantry of all their grain, cattle and provisions of every kind,
and as much specie as he could grasp, he acted under superior command;
he was therefore but a simple machine. But the lower orders, solely
interested in present good or evil, rarely investigate the remote cause
which produces the present effect.

The last Spanish town through which we passed was Valencia de
Alcantara; and here I had the honour of reporting our arrival to
the captain-general of the province, General Castanos, a fine fat
jolly-looking fellow. Being about to quit the Spanish territory next
day, the prince and I entered into a conversation about the general
character of the inhabitants.

In allusion to the late action and the movements which led to that
event, I warmly expatiated on the praiseworthy fidelity of the
Spaniards, particularly those of Arroyo Molinos and Alcuescar, in
never having communicated our near approach to the French army. The
prince replied that they did not use such fidelity as I imagined, for
the night previous to the action two Spaniards came to his quarters
in Arroyo Molinos and informed him that we were much nearer than the
French general seemed to be aware of; that upon this he immediately
imparted the information to Gerard, who replied: “Prince, you are a
good and active soldier, but you always see the English in your front,
rear and flank. I tell you they are eight leagues distant, for I know
to a certainty that they were seen in the morning marching hastily
towards Caceres, thinking to find us there; and so confident do I feel
as to the certainty of what I tell you that I shall delay the march
to-morrow an hour later to give the men more time for repose.” Much
hurt at the general’s remark, which had the appearance of insinuating
that he entertained a dread of encountering the English, the prince
returned to his quarters. About an hour before dawn next morning the
general sent for him, according to custom, to take a glass of old rum;
this he declined, the conversation of the previous evening being still
painfully in his recollection. In less than an hour afterwards he heard
a loud and confused cry in the streets, when instantly his adjutant
darted breathless into the room holloaing out, “Mon prince! mon prince!
nous sommes attrapés!” The English were driving through the town. At
the heels of the adjutant in rushed Gerard, aghast and foaming at the
mouth, and exhorted the prince to use every exertion to get the cavalry
out of the town. “Ha!” said the prince, “do I always see the English
where they are not?” “For the love of God,” replied Gerard, “do not add
to my distraction. This is not a time for badinage or reproof; exert
yourself to the utmost or we are undone. The English are forcing their
way through the town. Get the cavalry out and form on the plain as
quickly as possible.” The rest I knew.

[Sidenote: FROM SPAIN TO PORTUGAL.]

Next morning we left Valencia before dawn and were soon in the
Portuguese territory. The prisoners now breathed freely, not having
felt very secure during our route through Spain. The mountains
we had now to cross were very steep and excessively difficult of
ascent, especially with a wheeled vehicle. The prince travelled very
comfortably in a handsome carriage taken at Arroyo Molinos, in which
fortunately he was always accompanied by his graminivorous friend,
whom the prince and I used facetiously to call Bucephalus. Four large
Spanish mules which drew the carriage being insufficient to haul it up
those hills, I directed that a couple of bullocks which were ploughing
alongside the road should be added to the team. The harnessing was
attempted in a violent manner by the Swiss coachman, an immensely
stout and large person; but one of the animals becoming very restive,
severely wounded him with one of his horns. The wound was excessively
severe and dangerous, but being ignorant of technical terms I must
decline attempting a description. The coachman, becoming furious from
pain, drew his sabre, and cutting and slashing right and left so
wounded the bullock that I ordered the guard to disarm him, and never
after allowed him to carry any other weapon than his whip, although
he frequently entreated the prince to intercede for the recovery of
his sabre. The owners having interposed, the animals were quietly
harnessed, and after a long pull we at last reached the summit. Owing
to its great height and the season being rather advanced (the middle
of November), the atmosphere was excessively cold. We halted on this
our first Portuguese mountain for some hours, and I cannot forget our
delicious repast upon roasted chestnuts and goats’ milk, plentifully
supplied by the Portuguese shepherds. Thunderstruck on hearing that one
of their guests was no less a personage than a prince, they crowded
round the blazing fire before which we were feasting to have the
illustrious stranger pointed out, no doubt expecting to see in a person
of such exalted rank something superhuman.

Continuing our route tranquilly and without any adventure, we arrived
at Portalegre, which again became General Hill’s headquarters. Here we
halted for a few days, during which we were visited by Prince Pierre
d’Arenberg, who had procured General Hill’s permission to come and see
his brother, in whose regiment he was a cornet. Prince Prosper felt
some delicacy in conversing with him except in my presence; but as I
received no decisive instructions on the subject, I declined intruding
on their conversation; and feeling in no way anxious to pry into their
family concerns, I remarked to Prince Prosper that he had nothing of
military consequence to communicate, and as to the treatment which
he met with from the British it was but just that he should have an
opportunity of declaring it to his brother, free of all restraint which
my presence might impose. The princes expressed their thanks in the
warmest manner; and Prince Prosper remarked that it was well that he
should have a private opportunity of telling his brother of the kind
and generous manner in which he had been treated, which was of such a
nature that, recounted in the presence of an Englishman, it must have
the appearance of exaggeration and flattery, and more particularly if
told in my presence, who stood first in courtesy and generous conduct.
I imbibed the potion and retired to the next room.

Before we continued our route towards Lisbon, Colonel Abercrombie sent
me a message from Albuquerque to say that, not being present at what
took place with the light company in the late action, it being detached
from the battalion, he could not _directly_ recommend me for my conduct
on the occasion; but he requested me to forward a memorial of my
general services through him, thus giving him an opportunity of giving
his testimony to my services throughout. This generous communication I
of course acted upon immediately; and I wrote to Lord Lynedoch on the
subject, from whom I shortly after received the following letter:–

[Sidenote: A LETTER OF GENERAL GRAHAM.]

“LEGIORA, _November 19th, 1811_.

“MY DEAR BLAKENEY,–I did you all justice, I assure you, before
at the Horse Guards, and have just written again to Colonel
Torrens to remind him of all I said after Barossa, and to
request that he will state my testimony to the Duke of York in
aid of your memorial. Excuse this hasty scrawl, And believe me
truly yours

“THOMAS GRAHAM.

“LIEUTENANT BLAKENEY, _28th Foot_.”

However flattering such a letter was to me, or must be to any officer
however high his rank, when coming from such a person as Lord Lynedoch,
yet it is not from motives of vanity that I give it publicity, but
rather to reflect its true merit back to the pure fount whence it
sprung. Any attempt at eulogy from so humble an individual as myself
could add but little to the brilliancy which his splendid achievements
throw around Lord Lynedoch. I shall therefore confine myself to saying,
in the unsophisticated phrase of an old campaigner, that the zealous
officer who willingly and conscientiously discharges his duty, though
naked of other patronage or support, will always find in his lordship
his most willing supporter and unswerving friend. Here will be seen
an officer, high in rank and still higher in reputation, commanding
a corps of the most uniformly victorious army which ever graced the
military annals of any nation whatever, writing in familiar language to
a subaltern officer, showing anxiety for his interests and using every
exertion to forward his promotion from no other motive than the belief
that he had fully discharged his duties to his king and country to the
utmost of his abilities. I had no introduction from influential friends
to his lordship, nor had I the honour of his acquaintance previous to
the expedition from Tarifa and the occurrences which took place in the
battle of Barossa. No doubt generals in high or chief command willingly
forward the claims of officers whom they consider deserving while they
continue to serve under them; but I am ignorant of any other instance
where claims on patronage have been invited and called for, such as
in the letter written by Lord Lynedoch to Colonel Browne at Tarifa,
requesting the name of any officer of the flank battalion under his
command who had distinguished himself at the battle of Barossa. How
much more in unison with the genius of Britain and with the spirit
of her free and liberal institutions, and how much more nobly is the
general employed who, like Lord Lynedoch, diligently and openly seeks
through his ranks for objects worthy his protection, than he who
indefatigably searches for pretexts for a clandestine representation,
generally a misrepresentation! And it is not a little to be wondered
at that England, which ever was and ever will be inimical to the
introduction of the inquisition in any country, should harbour that
wicked and degrading institution throughout every branch of her Service
which is smoothly termed “_confidential_ reports,” thus turning the
Army in particular, whose constitution is based on the most scrupulous
adherence to the highest and nicest principles of honour, into a
graduated corps of spies from the ensign up to the general. Great
Britain does not reflect that by encouraging these confidential or
clandestine reports she is inflicting an insulting and severe censure
on the laws and morals of the nation, as not being sufficient to govern
by open and legitimate means.

[Sidenote: AGAINST CONFIDENTIAL REPORTS.]

To remove an officer from the Service upon a confidential report is
both unjust and impolitic, and answers no good end. It is but natural
to suppose that when a senior officer accuses a junior by means of
clandestine reports, with the hope of having him removed from the
Service without trial, that this dark mode of procedure arises from
inadequacy of matter to bear him out, or for reasons still darker than
the foul means adopted. But supposing even that it should be made
evident to His Majesty that the officer so reported is unworthy of
continuing in the Service, is it politic to remove him from it without
assigning a cause or making his delinquency public? When a robber or
even murderer is executed, it is not from a vindictive motive, it takes
place as a dreadful warning to deter others from committing a similar
crime; therefore due punishment cannot be made too public, or its
imperative necessity too strongly impressed on the minds of the people.
The injustice of these secret proceedings was clearly shown at Malta in
1821, at which time I was quartered there. A commanding officer in the
garrison so blackened the characters of a large portion of his officers
through confidential reports that it was determined to have the greater
number of them removed from the Service. This was discovered by means
of a lady of the regiment, who carelessly said to another that she
would soon see the junior captain become the senior; this being
repeated soon became known throughout the corps, when the officers
fortunately arrived at the true cause of the threatened removal.
Consequently, and very naturally, they spoke openly. To avert the evil
they asserted that tyranny, oppression and falsehood had been used
towards them. This coming to the knowledge of the commanding general,
Sir Thomas Maitland, he ordered a court of inquiry. He clearly stated
that from the reports which he had received from the commanding officer
he had intended to recommend that many officers of the regiment should
be removed from the Service; but in consequence of its coming to his
knowledge that the commanding officer was far from immaculate, and that
oppression or unfounded reports might have been resorted to, he thus
gave the officers an opportunity not only to exonerate themselves from
the charges alleged against them, but also to declare their grievances.
What was the consequence? One subaltern was brought to court-martial
by the commanding officer and was acquitted; but the commanding
officer was brought to trial upon two-and-twenty grave charges, on
one-and-twenty of which he was found guilty, and as a matter of course
publicly dismissed the Service.

So much for _confidential_ reports. Who can count the number of
high-spirited noble and gallant youths who have fallen victims, or
whose prospects have been blasted through this dastardly mode of
proceeding? It is the noble-minded and high-spirited alone who call for
protection against such an iniquitous system; the fawning and servile
are sure to escape, and not unfrequently with rewards. The duties of a
commanding officer are manifold; and he who does not execute them with
temperance, justice and impartiality is not for that responsible post.

I had the good fortune of being intimately acquainted with that
gallant and sterling soldier, General Ross, who should be held up as a
model for commanding officers of regiments. He at once was the father
and brother of every officer in his corps, and was on the most familiar
and intimate terms with every officer down to the junior ensign; yet
none ever dared or attempted to take the slightest liberty which
could be considered, even by the severest martinet, as derogatory in
the slightest degree to the respect due to the commanding officer or
injurious to the maintenance of the strictest discipline. The respect
entertained by all for Colonel Ross was entirely matter of sentiment
and good feeling. The lively, though sometimes imprudent sallies of
a glowing mind were by him rather laughed away than harshly or even
seriously chided; the feelings of a gentleman were never wounded in
cooling the fervid ebullitions of youth. He felt fully sensible that
the military laws, as sanctioned by his country, were sufficient
for the ends desired, and therefore never resorted to the cowardly
subterfuge of stabbing in the dark by means of clandestine reports,
which are never resorted to except by those who from meanness of
capacity or want of resolution shudder at a fearless and open discharge
of their duty, or whose vicious and vindictive natures induce them
to strike the deadly blow unseen. Such a liberal and just commanding
officer did exist, I know, in the person of the late General Ross when
commanding the 20th Regiment; and such a commanding officer does exist,
I have been told, in the person of Sir Edward Blakeney, commanding the
Royal Fusiliers.

After a short halt at Portalegre Prince Pierre returned to his
regiment, and we continued our route to Lisbon. On arriving at Abrantes
Prince Prosper was splendidly entertained by Colonel Buchan, who
commanded there. The roads being here impassable for a carriage, that
in which the prince travelled was left behind; and we proceeded in a
comfortable boat down the Tagus to Lisbon, where we safely arrived.

The orders which I received immediately on my arrival were that the
prince should never leave the Duke de Cadoval’s palace, in which we
were lodged, except in my company; and I was never to go out with
him in other than my scarlet uniform. These orders came direct from
the Duke of Wellington. The strictness with which I was directed to
attend so particularly upon the prince did not arise from any want of
confidence in his parole; it was the better to protect him, for such
was the state of public ferment at the time in Lisbon that nothing
but British protection could save him from public and most probably
serious insult and outrage. This state of general excitement was caused
by reports in the Spanish papers, as also by the assertions of many
Spaniards then in Lisbon, that when Ballesteros was defeated by the
French at Ayamonte, the prince, who served there with his regiment
of cavalry, cut many hundred Spaniards to pieces who were unarmed and
who never carried arms in their lives. At his own particular request I
showed him the Spanish gazettes in which his alleged cruelty was most
severely reprobated. On perusing the papers he remarked with a laugh,
“How stupid these Spaniards in thinking that by thus abusing me they
do me injury! The fools are not aware that the more they accuse me
of cruelty the stronger will be the conviction in the breast of the
emperor that I did my duty zealously.” I merely asked if the emperor
_required_ such mode of performing duty. A momentary reserve ensued;
it was but of short duration. In truth, from the commencement of our
acquaintance to our parting we lived on the most friendly and intimate
terms, and seemed more like two intimate young gentlemen of equal rank
than simple Mr. and a Serene Highness.

[Sidenote: ON NAPOLEON’S IDEA OF ZEAL.]

The prince was entertained by all the British authorities in Lisbon.
On one occasion he was invited to dine with Major-General Sir James
Leith, but I was not included in the invitation. The prince would
rather have declined, but I persuaded him to go, and accompanied him
to Sir James’s house. Asking for an aide-de-camp, I gave the prince to
his care, telling him that I expected that he would not return except
accompanied by an officer; I then immediately retired. I was very happy
at having this opportunity of going out to see some old friends; I
had many, having been twice previously in Lisbon. On my return, which
was rather late, I found the aide-de-camp asleep on the sofa, and the
prince sitting by his side laughing. On awakening he told me that he
received Sir James Leith’s positive injunctions not to quit the prince
until my return home; and he gave me a very polite message from the
general, stating his regret that he was unacquainted with the mutual
obligation that existed between the prince and me or he would certainly
have invited me to dine. Sir James called next day, and repeated what
the aide-de-camp had previously said. A nearly similar occurrence took
place the second time we dined with Marshal Beresford.

[Sidenote: SAD END OF A MOUSTACHE.]

These invitations were highly honourable to me; but it was complete
servitude, and made me as much a prisoner as the prince, with the
additional weight of responsibility. The strict obligation of always
accompanying the prince in my uniform interfered with many amusements.
In going to the theatres he was instantly recognised and rudely
stared at; and even had we risked going in plain clothes, contrary to
our instructions, there still remained an obstacle. The prince wore
mustachios, by which he would be immediately known, and with these he
was very unwilling to part. I told him that if he shaved them off,
I should run all hazard and accompany him in plain clothes in some
of our nocturnal rambles. After urgent expostulations on my part and
profound sighs on his, he consented to have them removed. He sat down
before a mirror, determined, despite of cavalry pride, to cut down
the long, long cherished bristly curls of war. His hand trembled. He
shrank from the first touch of the razor, yet he bore the amputation
of the right wing with tolerable fortitude; then, turning to me with a
deep sigh, he held up the amputated member clotted with lethal soap.
He looked mournful and pale; but however I may have commiserated his
grief, for the life of me I could not refrain from laughing aloud at
the appearance of his face with one mustachio only, which, deprived
of its old companion, appeared double its former length. I requested
him to give the hanger-on no quarter, but instantly to cut him down;
the operation soon followed. The mustachios were washed, cleaned and
dried, then carefully wrapped up in silver paper and forwarded with a
pathetic letter to the duchess, his wife. The prince declared that he
never again would act the soldier either for Napoleon or any other.
This determination arose entirely from his being tired of the army, not
from cutting off the mustachios, which act bore no analogy to the story
of Delilah; and although I was instrumental in cutting off the hairs of
war if not of strength, he never found in me a Philistine. A tailor was
now sent for to make him a brown-coated gentleman.

We now felt no obstacle to our enjoyment of many amusements from which
we previously were debarred. For such was the metamorphosis from the
splendid cavalry uniform, highly decorated breast, blackened and curled
whiskers and mustachios and the fierce _tout-ensemble_ to the simple
brown coat and the plain civic face, that had I not been present at
the barbarous deed, I scarcely could have believed him to be the same
person; and such was my reliance on his word that I felt no hesitation
about his going out, even alone.

The prince entertained very liberally whilst in Lisbon; when he was not
dining out, there were twelve covers at his table for the officers,
his fellow prisoners, who were invited in rotation. One officer alone,
a lieutenant of artillery, was never invited. It was alleged that
when we attacked on the morning of the action, this unfortunate young
man, who commanded the artillery, had no matches lit, and that had he
been prepared we must have lost more men in killed and wounded while
filing through the town; in consequence, he was cut by every French
officer in Lisbon. I felt much for him, and mentioned to the prince
that where they were all alike unfortunate, it appeared invidious to
single out one for neglect; for whatever his fault might have been, it
could not have had the slightest effect in changing the result of the
action. The prince, although a stern soldier, somewhat relented; but
there was such a person as Napoleon to be taken into consideration.
However, he mentioned the circumstance to General Le Brun, expressing
an inclination to become reconciled to the artillery officer. Le Brun
would not listen to it, alleging that it would be setting a dangerous
example to look over or in any way countenance gross neglect of duty,
at the same time casting a scowling look at me, knowing that it was I
who spoke to the prince on the subject. Annoyed at his obduracy and a
little nettled by his indignant look, I asked him if he did not think
that, had there been mounted patrols on the look-out to give alarm in
proper time, the artillery officer, thus warned, would have had his
guns in battle array; instead of which, we came absolutely into the
town without encountering a single French dragoon. The general treated
my observation with haughty silence; but the French adjutant-general,
also a prisoner, being present, darted a fiery glance at Le Brun,
and would no doubt have applied his censure of the artillery officer
to himself, had he not been restrained out of consideration for the
prince, who was second in command of the cavalry. Le Brun was disliked
by all from his haughty and overbearing manner. When after the action
the officers made prisoners were required to sign their parole, Le
Brun refused, saying that the word of a general of the French was
sufficient. Our quartermaster-general, Colonel Offley, a gallant and
determined soldier, a German by birth, soon settled the affair in a
summary way by giving orders that if the general refused to sign his
parole, he was to be marched with the bulk of the prisoners. This
order cooled the general’s hauteur: he subscribed.

[Sidenote: FROM LISBON TO ENGLAND IN TWO HOURS.]

On one occasion, when a large party of French officers dined with us,
the prince asked me to what town in England I thought it likely he
would be sent as prisoner of war. This I could not possibly answer.
He then asked which I considered the second town in England. I said
that from a commercial point of view we generally ranked Liverpool
next to London; but as places of fashionable resort Brighton, Bath
and Cheltenham ranked much alike. I inadvertently asked him which he
considered the second town in France. “Rome,” said he, “ranks the
second and Amsterdam the third.” I remarked that then we had no longer
an Italy or a Holland. “Yes,” replied the prince, “we have both; but by
a late edict of the Emperor those two towns are annexed to France, but
it is not the policy of England to recognise it.” I made a low bow. In
compliment to me, I suppose, the prince changed the topic immediately,
saying that he dreaded a ship so much that he would sooner fight the
battles of Talavera and Albuera over again than undertake so long a
voyage as that to England. I told him to quiet himself on that head,
for he might get to England in two hours. The whole company stared, but
particularly Le Brun, who was always a standing dish at the prince’s
table. Speculation ran high. A balloon was generally suggested, but the
velocity even of this was doubted. I denied the agency of a balloon,
and maintained that it was to be accomplished by wind and water solely.
As I still withheld an explanation, the prince got off his chair, and
flinging away his little foraging cap said, “If you do not tell us I
shall give you a kiss, and I know that you would sooner get a slap on
the face than be kissed by a man.” On his advancing towards me, I
requested that he would sit down and I would give him an explanation
which I felt persuaded would convince all present that my assertion
was perfectly correct. At this a general laugh followed. The prince
being re-seated, I addressed him thus: “In less than two hours after
you leave the quay, you will have got rid of all the boats which impede
your passage down the Tagus, and immediately after you will steer clear
of Fort St. Julian at the influx of the river. You are then at sea
and arrived; for by an _old_ edict, recognised by every sovereign in
Europe, ‘All the seas are England.’” The whole company endeavoured,
although awkwardly, to force a laugh, except Le Brun, whose scowling
frown indicated his chagrin, and I fancied that I distinguished the
word _bêtise_ muttered between his teeth. I longed for an opportunity
of paying him off; it soon occurred.

[Sidenote: UN GROS CANARD.]

Le Brun called next morning, as usual big with nothing. Perceiving
that he wished to be alone with the prince, I retired to the next
room. Soon after the prince requested me to come back. He was much
excited, and flinging his cap on the floor, “Only think,” said he,
“what the general has been telling me as an undoubted fact. Some
rascally Portuguese has persuaded him to believe that above a hundred
sail of French line of battleships have appeared before Cadiz; that
the British squadron, stationed there, were compelled to fly; that
the fortress must immediately surrender, and consequently all Spain
must soon be in our possession. In the first place,” added the prince,
“all the navy of France do not amount to the number which the general
says are before Cadiz, without taking into consideration the utter
impossibility of their being enabled to form such a junction unmolested
in the face of the British navy. If a corporal of my regiment told me
such a story, believing it, I should turn him into the ranks.” At this
remark the general became highly indignant, and the prince’s excitement
much increased. To restore tranquillity I asked the general about the
appearance of the person who gave him the important information; and
nodding assent to his description, I exclaimed, “The very man who
spoke to me this morning.” “There,” said the general, happy to have
anything like corroboration; “and what did he tell you?” I looked
round with much apparent precaution, and after anxious pressing on his
part and affected hesitation on mine, I got quite close to the prince
and the general, who took a chair. I then in a low tone of voice, our
three heads nearly touching, said: “When I came to Lisbon this same
Portuguese was pointed out to me as a person who always possessed much
information, but sold it dearly.” All this time the prince was staring
at me, knowing that I bore no great affection for the general. “But,”
said the general, “what information did he give you?” “He told me that
he knew to a certainty, from a source which could not be doubted–I
think you said one hundred?” “Yes,” replied Le Brun, “one hundred sail
of the line.” “He told me,” I resumed, “that there were two hundred
thousand British troops absolutely on the boulevards of Paris, but not
a single soul could tell whence they came. I gave my informant six
gros sous: how much did you give, mon général?” At this the prince
absolutely became convulsed with laughter. The general darted from his
chair, snatched up his hat, and turning his head half round gave us
the most ungracious _bonjour_ that I ever heard escape the lips of a
Frenchman, and then strode out of the room. Scarcely had he left when
the prince ran forward and absolutely embraced me, saying that I had
done him the greatest favour which I could possibly confer, as he felt
sure the general would torment him no more. He was right; Le Brun never
again called.

[Sidenote: _CANARD AUX BOTTES._]

About this time a very laughable scene took place in Lisbon. An
announcement was published in the papers that an English officer
would walk across the Tagus with cork boots. At the hour specified
the concourse was immense; twenty thousand persons at least were
collected at Belem, the place indicated. Every boat on the Tagus and
every vehicle in the town, of whatever description, was hired for
several days previously. A Portuguese guard were posted to keep the
cork-boot platform clear, and a military band attended; it was in fact
a magnificent pageant. At length the hour of execution arrived, but no
cork boots; hour after hour passed, but still the principal actor was
wanting. The spectators, wearied by fruitless expectation, began to
retire; and here the ingenuity of the hoax was displayed–for when some
thousands had moved off, a sudden rush was made towards the platform.
Those who retired instantly returned, but only to be disappointed. This
ruse, strange to be said, repeatedly succeeded; back came the crowd,
but the great Earl of Cork never came forth. At length and after dark
all retired in the worst possible temper; many did not reach their
homes until after midnight, although Belem was not more than five
miles from Lisbon, such was the throng both on the Tagus and along
the roads. Next day all Lisbon was in uproar at being thus insulted
by the English, who denied all knowledge of the affair; and in reply
to a remonstrance made by the Portuguese Government on the subject to
the English authorities, it was asked rather acrimoniously how such an
absurd article had been permitted to appear in the public prints when
the censorship of the press was entirely in the hands of the Portuguese
Government. This was rather a poser, and the affair died away in
languid laughter.

The time having arrived for the prince’s departure for England, Captain
Percy, in whose ship he was to proceed, mentioned to me that he had
some hope of procuring an exchange between the prince and his father,
Lord Beverley, who was detained in France; requesting also that I
would ascertain from the prince what he wished put on board for his
little comforts. The prince in reply commissioned me to tell Captain
Percy that as to the exchange he felt fully persuaded that Napoleon,
although the uncle of his wife the duchess, would never consent to the
exchange; that as to his comforts on board he felt extremely obliged to
Captain Percy for his polite and kind attention, and the only thing he
requested was a little old rum. I delivered his message, but told him
that it was scarcely necessary, for there was always sufficient rum on
board a man-of-war. On parting, he told me that whenever I should come
to Brussels I should have no formal invitation to his father’s palace;
I should live there and invite whom I pleased, for I must consider
myself as a master in the house. How I treated him while we lived
together as prisoner and guard may be seen in a letter which I had the
honour of receiving some years afterwards from his late Royal Highness
the Duke of Kent.

It was at my option to accompany the prince to England; I was strongly
recommended to do so, and the prince warmly urged me to the same
effect. The bait was tempting; but although better success would
undoubtedly have attended a campaign in the luxurious Green Park,
surrounded by magnificent mansions, traversed by splendid equipages,
studded with groups of noble courtiers and glittering flatterers,
yet I preferred the uncompromising discharge of my duty and the wild
scenery and extensive plains of Spain, in company with my gallant
companions of the war, whose hearts were open as the boundless tracts
they traversed, their friendship fervid as the genial sun which glowed
over their heads, and their sincerity pure and unsullied as the
mountain breezes they inhaled. All this was good enough for me.

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