Imágenes de página

times in which the world had been destroyed, because a destruction of the world had taken place on that sign; and since they likewise expected that the world was again to be destroyed, they fasted during these thirteen days, to escape from death. And when the year commenced with the sign of the Rabbit, they fasted the eight preceding days, in memory of the ruin of the first man, as the Devil had given them knowledge of him, although obscured with the same errors in this instance as in others, till in time they arrived at the knowledge of our Catholic truth, which he had before revealed to them, mixing it up with lies. It must also be observed, that their intercalary year was always in the four letters or signs which follow, viz. the Cane, the Flint, the House, and the Rabbit; because in like manner as they had an intercalation every four years of the month composed of the five dead days, which were superfluous in the reckoning of each year, so also they had an intercalation of years; for at the expiration of every period of fifty-two years, which they reckon an Age, they added a year, which always fell in one of these letters or signs; because as each of the twenty signs had thirteen similar signs which obeyed it;-for example, one Rabbit, two, three, four, reckoning to thirteen; and one Cane, two, three, four, to thirteen, and the quadruple of thirteen is fifty-two,there remains the exact sum of fifty-two constituting an Age; and accordingly the intercalary year always fell in one of these four letters; becanse since by their account the world began in the sign of One Cane, for this reason the intercalary year could not fall but in these four letters.'-pp. 196-198.

The above extracts will furnish to the public a far better idea, than we can by any description convey, of the importance and interest of this extraordinary work. We, however, beg to remind the reader, that it is only of the letter-press portion of the vast performance that we have been able to tranfer any specimen from the original. We cannot, unfortunately, copy into our pages a single trait of that graphic power-that bold yet graceful pencil, whose achievements alone constitute all that this work must be admitted to possess of value and importance in the eyes of the present or future generations. The volumes must, indeed, be seen, in order to be duly appreciated; and it is only justice to Mr. Aglio to say, that his liberality and courtesy render such a gratification practicable upon very easy terms.

ART. IX.-The Life and Correspondence of the late Admiral Lord Rodney. By Major-General Mundy. In two volumes, 8vo. London: Murray. 1830.

It is the sacred duty of posterity to pay every mark of honour to the memory of those worthy men, who, in times of great danger, have signalised themselves as the defenders of their country, and descended to their tombs in its service. Were we not animated by this feeling, we should have allowed these two volumes to enjoy undisturbed repose, since, in a literary point of view, they have not

succeeded by any means in engaging much of our attention. The notices of Lord Rodney's life, given by Major-General Mundy, are exceedingly scanty and uninteresting; he leaves the venerable Admiral to tell his own story for the most part, not in private letters, which, being familiar and unreserved, might have been attractive, but in public dispatches, and other official papers, which being always formal, and covered with as smooth a gloss as possible, never afford entertainment to the mind, and very seldom instruction. The letters, which the collection presents, from the Admiral to his lady, and from the latter to the former, are few, compared with the number of the public documents; and even these few are rarely tinged with those colours of domestic life, and of home interests and affections, which lend so many charms to the correspondence of Lord Collingwood.

The controversy which has been carried on for some time, in professional circles and publications, concerning the right of original property, in what has been called the invention of breaking the enemy's line, as well as the justly celebrated character of the hero himself, the predecessor in glory of Nelson, who, alone, perhaps, outshines Rodney in naval fame,—will render this work acceptable to a numerous class of readers connected with the service. Into that controversy it is not our intention to enter, further than by observing, that no great merit appears, in our humble opinion, to be due to any man for the mere invention of a manœuvre so simple in itself, and so easily suggested to the mind of a lionhearted commander. It is to him who dares to undertake it, and who, like Rodney, has the firmness and good fortune to carry it into execution, that the glory of the achievement must ever belong. We may add, by the way, that there is good evidence to shew, that the invention of breaking the enemy's line, if there be in it any thing worth owning, belongs really to a jesuit named Paul Hoste, who was employed in the service of Louis XIV. This appears so clearly from the father's description of the manoeuvre, that we are astonished to find the claim set up on behalf of Sir Charles Douglas, so long persevered in.

We shall condense, into a narrow compass, such of the particulars of Lord Rodney's life, as may be likely to prove interesting to general readers. Descending from an ancient and respectable English family, he was born on the 19th of February, 1718, and after receiving a brief education at Harrow, he obtained from the king a letter of service, the last, it is said, that ever was granted; he went to sea in the twelfth year of his age; in his eighteenth year became a lieutenant, and in his twenty-first, a captain. Such was the expedition of promotion, in those days, at least in the case of young men specially patronised by the king, who was Rodney's god-father. After having been employed during several years, in various parts of the world, he was appointed rear-admiral in 1759, when he may be said to have commenced the more important part

of his career, with the bombardment of Havre de Grace, which he completely destroyed as a naval arsenal. He succeeded also in rendering useless a number of flat-bottomed boats, a species of machine upon which the French, at that period, as well as in the time of Napoleon, placed much reliance. The admiral was next appointed (1761) to superintend the naval operations of the grand armament, destined for the attack of Martinique, then the most populous and flourishing of all the French settlements, beyond the Atlantic. This service he performed in the most gallant manner, and soon added to Martinique most of the other islands, colonised by the French, in the West Indies. These were, with some exceptions, afterwards exchanged by the treaty of peace (1763) for Canada, and other French possessions in the north, arrangements which were much disapproved of at the time, by the nation at large. No part of the blame, justly attached to the treaty, fell, however, upon admiral Rodney, who, upon his return home, was raised to the rank of a baronet, having been already made vice admiral of the blue; was married to an amiable woman, by whom he had several children (four of whom are still living); and was appointed governor of the royal hospital at Greenwich, where he is still remembered, as one of the best friends the pensioners of that noble establishment ever had.

Having gone through the various shades of rank, from blue, to white and red, Sir George Rodney was again sent (1771) to the West Indies, where he was appointed commander-in-chief at Jamaica, with a considerable squadron under his orders, as it was apprehended that Spain wanted only a decent pretext to come to an open rupture with England. To this disposition, it was said at the time, that admiral Rodney gave as much provocation as he could, by his demeanour towards the Spanish authorities, with whom he, or his officers, happened to come in contact. It is not improbable that this conduct, added to some complaints connected with the details of the service which were made against him at home, caused him, not only to be recalled, in 1774, but to be consigned, during the ensuing four years, to the most disheartening neglect. This was the period of what astronomers would call, the obscuration of the star of his destiny. His rank and fame had already introduced him into fashionable society, for which he had every necessary requisite, being of a handsome exterior, and courteous manners. Unfortunately he had not the courage to resist one of the greatest vices of those days, as it is of these-that of gambling. He was a frequent guest at the duchess of Bedford's assemblies, where many a fortune was won and lost. He had, moreover, been involved in more than one election contest; and such was the embarrassed state of his finances, that he was obliged to take refuge from his creditors, in France.

'He here lived,' says the editor, in very straitened circumstances, until better days came; and to the credit of that gallant nation it must be mentioned, that they treated the English Beli

sarius with the respect due to his fame and misfortunes.' the breaking out of the American war, he wrote to the admiralty, at the head of which was then Lord Sandwich, his great friend and patron, to make an offer of his services; but to his infinite mortification, the only acknowledgment which his letter received, was the mere usual dry official one, that his communication was laid before their lordships!-while promotions were prodigally lavished upon officers, not only his juniors in the service, but confessedly inferior to him in every respect. This treatment wounded him so deeply, that he was determined to present himself to the king to protest against it; but he was without pecuniary means sufficient to enable him to leave Paris, where he had contracted debts for his ordinary expences. It would appear, that at this time the admiral, and his family, had been subjected to severe privations. He applied for assistance to his friends in England, but without effect. In the midst of his disappointments, the thought of his country was, however, always uppermost in his mind. One or two extracts from his letters to lady Rodney, at this period, will be read with a melancholy interest, when it is recollected, that they were written by the man who, not long afterwards, inflicted a blow, then unparalleled in history, upon the fleet of the very nation, in which he found--what he failed to find at home-a generous and sincere friend in the hour of his adversity.

Paris-(no date.)

Not hearing either from yourself or my son, by the last messengers, gives me uneasiness inexpressible, as the delay of completing what has been promised, obliges me to remain in the hotel where I am, at an expense I could wish to avoid, and daily adds to my embarrassments. What to do I really don't know. To speak to Lord Stormont I am unwilling, but I will talk to Mr. James upon the subject, as he is a good man, and feels the distresses I am driven to.

'I beg you will desire my son to see Lord North again, either at his house or his Levee. Delays are worse than death, especially at this critical time, when every hour teems with momentary expectation of war.'—vol. i. pp. 172, 173.






Paris, March 20, 1778.

Since writing to you on Lord Stormont's recall, inclosing you a letter I sent him on my unhappy condition, in being obliged to remain in an enemy's country till such time as I should have a remittance sent me to pay my debts, which prevented my personally offering my services at this critical time, I have reason to believe that I shall be able to procure the sum necessary to enable me to leave this city. Should this desirable event take place in a day or two, you may expect me in London very shortly.

I have again written a strong letter to Lord Sandwich, offering my services, and pressing him to employ me at this important juncture, as it will be the means of my serving my country, and at the same time the only method by which I can have an opportunity of honourably settling with my creditors.'-vol. i. p. 175.

The hope of assistance, to which the above letter alludes, was fully realised. It came, we are almost ashamed for our country to say, from a foreigner, a Frenchman, the celebrated Marechal Biron, who, in the most delicate manner, tendered to him whatever sum he might want; adding that "all France was sensible of the services which the admiral had rendered to his country, and that the treatment they all knew he had received, was a disgrace to the nation and its ministers." Undoubtedly it was so. It would be vain now to speculate upon what the consequences might have been, if the admiral had been detained by his necessities in France during the war, or if, stung by the neglect of which he was the victim, he had attached himself to the service of the nation which had produced so great an ornament to human nature as Marechal Biron. It will be sufficient to add, that Sir George Rodney, with the greatest reluctance, and not until all other resources had failed him, accepted from the Marechal one thousand Louis.



Nothing,' he writes in May, 1778, with a spirit poignantly wounded, ⚫ but a total inattention to the distressed state I was in, could have prevailed upon me to have availed myself of his voluntary proposal; but not having had, for more than a month past, a letter from any person but Mr. Hotham, and yourself, and my passport being expired, it was impossible for me to remain in this city at the risk of being sued by my creditors, who grew so clamorous, it was impossible for me to bear it; and had they not been over-awed by the lieutenant of the police, would have carried their prosecutions to the greatest length. Their demands were all satisfied this day; and the few days I remain in this city will be occupied in visiting all those great families from whom I have received so many civilities, and whose attention in paying me daily and constant visits, in a great measure kept my creditors from being so troublesome as they otherwise would have been.' -vol. i., pp. 180, 181.

It is stated, though not upon very satisfactory authority, that the marechal had waited upon Sir George with an offer from the king of France of a high command in his fleet, which he instantly and indignantly refused. It is due to the character of the house of Drummond's to observe, that as soon as the admiral arrived in London, and mentioned to whom he was indebted for the assistance which he had received, they enabled him forthwith to repay the loan.

It was not, however, until the autumn of 1779, that, chiefly through the influence of the king, Sir George Rodney was again employed as commander in chief of the Leeward Islands and Barbadoes. On his way thither, he encountered a Spanish squadron, and after a smart battle obtained a complete victory, thus securing the freedom of the Straits of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, which had been, for some time, shut up from our commerce. The merit of his victory was the greater, as, at the time when it was fought, the British navy had almost lost all discipline, in consequence of the party spirit which had been excited in it, as well as

« AnteriorContinuar »