John Sinclair.

The correspondence of the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair, with reminiscences of the most distinguished characters who have appeared in Great Britain, and in foreign countries, during the last fifty years. Illustrated by facsimiles of two hundred autographs (Volume 1) online

. (page 17 of 42)
Online LibraryJohn SinclairThe correspondence of the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair, with reminiscences of the most distinguished characters who have appeared in Great Britain, and in foreign countries, during the last fifty years. Illustrated by facsimiles of two hundred autographs (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


de Coblence, a eu votre approbation. Je vous prie, en tout
cas, de me donner de vos nouvelles, avant mon depart de Paris,
qui aura lieu en 20 jours, pour passer l'ete a Coblence. Si
l'Histoire de la Campagne 1815 a paru, M r . Egerton aura
bien la complaisance de m'envoyer deux exemplaires ici, ou,
si ce seroit trop tard, a Coblence par Bruxelles. L'ouvrage
n'a pas encore paru en Allemagne ; mais c'est d'ici a un mois
qu'il sera publie en Francois et en Allemand.

Agreez l'assurance de Pamitie et de l'estime avec lesquelles
je ne cesserai d'etre, Monsieur le Chevalier, votre tres
humble et tres ob*. serviteur,

Charles Baron de Muffling f .

* It is to be had at Egerton's, Charing- Cross, London.

j- Translation.

Paris, 3d March 1817.
My Dear Sir,
Having returned three months ago to Paris, I wished to write and inform you
of the circumstance, and also to ascertain whether the plan which I had formed,
and which I communicated to you by a letter from Coblentz, has met with your
approbation. At all events, I beg that you will let me hear from you before I
leave Paris, which I shall do in about three weeks, to pass the summer at
Coblentz. If the History of the Campaign 1815 has appeared, Mr Egerton
will have the goodness to send two copies here ; or, if they could not arrive in
time, to Coblentz by Brussels. The work has not yet appeared in Germany
but it will be published about a month hence in French and German.

Accept the assurance of the friendship and esteem with which I shall ever re-
main, 4c. &c.



V. MILITARY CORRESPONDENCE. 215

IV.
MARSHAL MACDONALD.

Among the celebrated generals who contributed to the
success of the Republican Government of France, at the com-
mencement of the Revolutionary war, there is none whose
services were of a higher description than those of Marshal
Macdonald. I was not, however, aware of their superior
importance, until I had lately the opportunity of examining a
work entitled, " Campagnes de General Pichegru aux Armees
du Nord, &c. &c. Par le Citoyen David, temoin de la plupart
de leurs exploits," A Paris, 1796. This author's authority
may be the more confidently relied on, as he was an eye-wit-
ness of the scenes he describes. The following is the account
he gives of Marshal Macdonald's important services in the
course of that campaign :

" Clairfait s'etant considerablement renforce par les troupes
que Cobourg lui avcit envoyees de Tournai, nous attaqua le
25 (13 Juin, v. st.) sur tous les points, depuis Rousselaer jus-
qu'a Hooglede. Avec des forces superieures et l'initiative de
l'attaque, il devoit se promettre les plus grands succes ; il en-
trevit meme un instant la victoire ; car son premier choc cul-
buta et mit en deroute notre aile droite, qui lui abandonna
Rousselaer. Mais la division du General Souham, et sur-tout
la brigade de Macdonald, qui occupoit la plaine d'Hooglede,
lui fit bientot perdre ce premier avantage. Cette brigade,
n'etant plus appuyee sur la droite, fut attaquee de front et de
fianc, et elle etoit dans une si mauvaise position, que tout
autre que Macdonald auroit fait battre la retraite; mais ce
brave Ecossais soutint le premier choc avec une opiniatrete
extraordinaire ; il fut bientot renforce par la brigade de De-
vinther, et ces deux colonnes se battirent avec tant d'acharne-
ment, que l'ennemi fut oblige de plier. On ne fit pas ce jour-



216 V. MILITARY CORRESPONDENCE.

la. de prisonniers ; mais on tua une tres-grande quantite d'enne-
mis, et on forca Clairfait a abandonner Rousselaer, et a se re-
tirer dans ses positions ordinaires de Thielt."

" Cette bataille a ete une des plus sanglantes de la com-
pagne ; mais aussi elle a ete la plus decisive, puisqu'elle nous
a rendus maitres d'Ypres, de toute la West- Flan dre, et que
depuis ce moment l'ennemi n'a pu nous resister, ni au centre,
ni a droite, ni a gauche."

" Macdonald avoit ete destitue par Saint Just, sous pretexte,
que n'etant pas vociferateur, il ne pouvait pas etre patriote.
Les generaux avoient eu beau affirmer que ce general etoit un
excellent officier, un bon republicain, et qu'ils repondoient,
qu'au lieu de trahir la Republique, il la serviroit en brave et
bon militaire : N'importe, Saint Just voulait desorganiser l'ar-
mee ; il le destitua. On pretend que Richard eut le courage
de faire bruler l'arrete de Saint-Just, et de laisser continuer le
service a ce brave militaire. Si cela est vrai, graces soient
rendus a ce bon representant. Macdonald a parfaitement
bien servi dans toutes les occasions ; mais a Hooglede il nous
a sauves. S'il ne s'y fut pas trouve, nous aurions ete peut-
etre obliges de lever le siege d'Ypres. Que les militaires
mesurent l'etendue des maux qui en auroient resulte."

" La garnison d'Ypres ay ant appris la defaite de Clairfait,
capitula le 29 (17 Juin, v. St.). Quoique forte de 6 a 7 mille
homines, elle ne pouvoit plus nous resister ; elle accepta done
toutes les conditions qu'on lui proposa. Elle laissa tout ce
qui etoit dans la place, deposa les armes sur les glacis, et fut
faite prisonniere de guerre *."

* Translation.
Clairfait being considerably reinforced by the troops that Coburg bad sent to
him from Tournay, attacked us on the 25th, (13th June O. S.) upon all points,
from Rousselaer to Hooglede. With superior forces, and the advantage of be-
ginning the attack, he was justified in promising himself the greatest success;
he had even a momentary prospect of victory, for his first onset overthrew and
put to the rout our right wing, which left him in possession of Rousselaer. But the
division of General Souham, and especially the brigade of Macdonald, which
occupied the plain of Hooglede, soon made him lose this first advantage. This
brigade, being no longer supported on the right,' was attacked front and rear,



V. MILITARY CORRESPONDENCE. '2\1

Greater compliments could not have been paid to any ge-
neral. It is stated, that in the unfortunate position in which
his brigade was placed, any other general but. Macdmudd would
have sounded a retreat ; and though he had behaved well on
many other occasions, yet that at Hooglede he had saved the
army.

Marshal Macdonald is of Scotch extraction, and the French
Republicans were extremely jealous of his aristocratic name,
and the attachment of his family to the Royal House of Stu-
art. His father took an active part in the unsuccessful at-
tempt made by the Pretender in 1745, to recover the throne
he claimed ; and, in the course of a tour which the Marshal
made in Scotland, though very short, he went to the island of

and it was in such a bad position, that any other than Macdonald would have
sounded a retreat; but this brave Scotsman supported the first shock with ex-
traordinary obstinacy ; he was soon reinforced by the brigade of Devinther, and
these two columns fought with so much fury, that the enemy was obliged to
yield. They made no prisoners that day, but they killed a great number of the
enemy, and they forced Clairfait to abandon Rousselaer, and to retire to his
ordinary position at Thielt.

This battle was one of the most bloody of the campaign, but it was also the
most decisive, since it rendered us masters of Ypres, of all West Flanders, and
as from that moment the enemy was not able to resist us, either in the centre,
or to the right or left.

Macdonald had been deprived of the command by St Just, under the pretext,
that, as he was not a declaimer, he could not be a patriot. In vain did the
generals affirm, that he was an excellent officer, a good republican, and that, in-
stead of betraying the republic, they would be responsible for his serving it like
a brave and good soldier. This was of no consequence. St Just wanted to dis-
organise the army, and deprived him of the command. It is said that Richard
had the courage to burn the decree of St Just, and to permit this brave soldier
to continue in the service. If so, gratitude is due to this excellent representa-
tive. Macdonald has served perfectly well on all occasions ; but at Wooglede
he saved us. Had he not been there, we might have been forced to raise the
siege of Ypres. Let military men judge of the extent of the misfortunes which
would have resulted.

The garrison of Ypres having heard of the defeat of Clairfait, capitulated on
the 29th, (17th June O. S.). Although they amounted to 6 or 7000 men, they
could no longer resist us, and therefore agreed to all the conditions proposed by
us. They left behind every thing that was in the place, laid down their arms on
the glacis, and became prisoners of war.



"218 V. MILITARY CORRESPONDENCE.

South Uist, chiefly to see the cave in which Prince Charles
and his father had sheltered themselves from the pursuit of
their enemies *.

Marshal Macdonald entertains the highest idea of the Scotch
Highlanders, for their fidelity, courage, and loyalty. He ac-
counted it an honour to be considered their countryman, and
he resolved to imitate them in the career which he followed.
He was proud also, to bear the name, and to belong to the
family of Macdonald, which, for ages, has been so justly cele-
brated for their courage, and the elevation and purity of their
sentiments.

When he visited Scotland, he received the most flattering
reception ; and, in a recent letter I received from him, dated
Paris, 25th March 1830, he expresses his hopes and wishes,
that the period will yet arrive, when he will be able to revisit
a country, for which both he and his son (who is to accom-
pany him), feel so strong an attachment.



V.
BATTLE OF WATERLOO.

Having acquired some knowledge of military matters, I
felt a great desire to obtain the most authentic information
that could be procured, regarding the greatest military event
of modern times, " The Battle of Waterloo," and took
an excursion to the Continent for that purpose.

Upon applying to the Duke of Wellington, for his aid to
complete the account I proposed to draw up of that celebra-

• The Marshal is distinguished by a most accurate memory, which he proved
by giving his route from the day he left Paris till his arrival at Edinburgh, na-
ming every stage where he stopt, the day of the month, &c. He said that mili-
tary men must accustom themselves to be very exact in those matters. At Paris
he usually rises every morning at five. He says, there is so much gossiping
and visiting in France, that the morning is the only time for doing business.



V. MILITARY CORIIESI'ONDKNCE. '2\V

ted engagement, lie said, " I can give you no information
that would be of any use to you. My mind was so completely
occupied with the great events of the battle, that I could not
pay any attention to its minor details. All that I can tell you
is, that we met the enemy ; that we fought a battle ; and that
we gained a victory."

The information, however, which I obtained from others,
was very satisfactory. I traced in the field itself, and its
neighbourhood, the whole progress of the engagement; and
by means of a correspondence with the officers who had com-
manded at Hougomont and La Haye Sainte, I obtained the
most interesting particidars regarding the attacks on those two
most important places *. In regard to the account I had
drawn up of the attack on Hougomont, in particular, I had
the pleasure of receiving the following letter from Colonel
Woodford, who, for some time, had the command at that post.

Cambray, June 24. 1816.

Colonel Woodford presents his compliments to Sir John
Sinclair, and begs to return his thanks for the honour he has
done him, in sending him the printed account of the defence
of Hougomont, which Colonel Woodford would have acknow-
ledged sooner, had he not been absent from Cambray when
that paper was received.

Colonel Woodford is persuaded, that the officers and men
of the 1st Coldstream, and 3d Regiments of Guards, who had
the honour of defending different points of that post, will feel
particularly indebted to Sir John Sinclair, for the manner in
which he has collected and published these details.

The work of General Muffling, already mentioned, (a trans-
lation of which into English I was the means of procuring,)
is by far the best military description of Napoleon's last cam-

* La Haye Sainte was taken by the French, because there was no access by
which ammunition could be introduced into it, but by an entrance which was
commanded by the cannon of the enemy.



•220 V. MILITARY CORRESPONDENCE.

paign, and the great events therewith connected, that has evei
yet been published.

General Foy, who was employed in the attack on Hou-
gomont, made an excellent remark on the battle of Waterloo.
" H n'etoit pas une bataille, mais un duelle." It was not a
battle, but a duel, between the two armies ; for there was no
manoeuvring, and nothing but sheer fighting. The duration
of the combat gave the English army a great advantage ; for
though the French are equally brave, they have not the same
bottom, or physical strength, as the English : and if a battle
is protracted for many hours, the former have not the same
chance of success.

It is said that Grouchy was prevailed upon by Vandamme
not to think of joining Napoleon, (who, he said, would defeat
the English without his aid), but to march to Brussels, for the
purpose of plundering that city. If so, the ruin of Napoleon
was partly owing to his having retained an officer in his ser-
vice, whom he ought to have discarded, as among the most
unprincipled in his conduct, of any that the French Revolu-
tion had produced.



VI.

HINTS REGARDING THE PROPOSED REDUCTIONS IN OUR
PEACE ESTABLISHMENTS.

There is no circumstance that seems to me more dangerous
to the prosperity, and indeed the safety, and independent ex-
istence of the nation, than those plans for reducing our naval
and military establishments, which it is now so common to
recommend.

Without the prospect of an adequate subsistence, and per-
manent employment, there is no inducement to a sufficient
number of persons, more especially of those spirited and ele-
vated characters who are alone capable of adding to the fame



V. MILITARY CORRESPONDENCE. 2'21

of their country, and insuring its safety, to engage in the
naval and military professions ; and when it is complained
that we are at a great expense in keeping up those establish-
ments, it ought to be considered, that it is only a provision
for some of our countrymen, who are thus retained, in a per-
petual state of preparation, to defend their fellow-subjects.

Indeed, the lowness of our peace establishments has always
been of great disadvantage to this country, at the commence-
ment of a war. In general we have had but few men with
much practice in the naval or military departments, or capa-
ble of teaching those whom we were under the necessity of
raising. The consequence has been, that wars were ineffi-
ciently commenced, were unnecessarily prolonged, and were
ultimately rendered much more expensive, than if use had begun
with a greater force at our command.

It is said, that we must husband our resources, in order to
enable us to carry on a new war, should it break out. Such
a doctrine seems to me extremely exceptionable. It goes up-
on the idea, that the national resources are stationary. On
the contrary, I maintain that they are progressive, and that il
a government would wisely promote, in time of peace, its
agricultural, commercial, and other means of acquiring wealth,
no apprehension need to be entertained of any deficiency of
resources, should a war unavoidably break out.

But we are told, that such and such reduced establishments
were sanctioned by former Parliaments. To that my answer
is, " It might as well be contended, that the clothes of a
school-boy should be worn by a fall-grown man, as that the
establishments of a moderate-sized kingdom are calculated for
the preservation and safety of an extensive empire."

The great object of a nation ought to be " security,' 1 ''
which never can exist without ample establishments, more espe-
cially with an empire so extensive as Great Britain is at pre-
sent. Can any thing; be more alarming to a right-minded
and well informed patriot, than the information we have just
received, that France is sending a formidable fleet, and an



222 V. MILITARY CORRESPONDENCE.

army of fifty thousand men, to attack Algiers ? I should be
glad to know, if our establishments were reduced so low as
has recently been contended for, what would become of this
country, if such an army were to land in England, to which
the invention of steam navigation gives so much facility ? How
could we, without volunteers, — without yeomanry, — without
a trained militia, — and with contracted naval and military
establishments, resist such an invasion ?

I cannot conclude these cursory observations, without sta-
ting it as an opinion, with the justness of which I am deeply
impressed, that a thorough knowledge of the art of war, is far
from being so easily acquired as is commonly imagined. Ac-
customed to business, and to spare no pains in acquiring in-
formation respecting any subject to which I might be led to
direct my,attention, I expected that a very short period would
be sufficient to teach me all that it was necessary for an offi-
cer to know. I found, however, such an idea was extreme-
ly ill founded ; — that a man can no more become a real soldier
in a few weeks or months, than become thoroughly master, in
so short a space, of any other trade. Young men, therefore,
ought to be regularly trained to war, as to any other art, from
an early period of their life. Hence naval and military aca-
demies seem to me as necessary, as universities for law, or
medicine, or divinity ; and we shall never be able to have a
sufficient number of skilful officers, or at least, in that respect,
to stand in competition with the warlike nations on the Con-
tinent, or even with the new empire of America, unless such
seminaries as that of Woolwich and Sandhurst, are establish-
ed in different parts of the kingdom, where all the young
men, destined for the public defence, may have a foundation
laid, of knowledge in the art of war, previous to their enter-
ing into the service.



PART VI.



CLERICAL CORRESPONDENCE.



CLERICAL CORRESPONDENCE.



I propose dividing my Clerical Correspondence into four
branches; 1. England; 2. Scotland; 3. America; and, 4.
France.



1.— ENGLAND.

I.

DR MOORE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.

One of the great objects I had in view, by the establishment
of a Board of Agriculture, was to procure a Statistical Account
of England, similar to that which I had completed in Scot-
land, by means of the clergy of that country. For that pur-
pose, in forming the plan of the Board, I proposed, that the
Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishops of Lon-
don and Durham, should be officially members; and when it was
intended to appoint two secretaries, that one of them should
be a respectable literary character, belonging to the Church of
England, for carrying on the statistical correspondence witli
its clergy. Several respectable characters were mentioned ;
but the nomination being left to the Archbishop of Canter-
bury, he recommended the Rev. Dr Shepherd, who, I be-
lieve, was one of his chaplains. Unfortunately, however,
the Archbishop was informed, that, in the course of the statis-
tical researches, the subject of tithes would be included. He

VOL. i. p



'2-26 VI. CLERICAL CORRESPONDENCE.

immediately informed Mr Pitt, (who was favourable to my
plans, but did not wish to enforce them if not approved of by
the church), that neither he, nor, he believed, any of the
Bishops, would promote an inquiry in which the subject of
tithes would be discussed ; and he likewise sent me the follow-
ing note, withdrawing his recommendation of Dr Shepherd :

Lambeth House, July 26. 1793.
The Archbishop of Canterbury presents his compliments
to Sir John Sinclair, with many thanks for the papers he has
done him the honour to send him. He has not troubled him
with Dr Shepherd's address ; because he is of opinion, on ma-
ture consideration, that the appointment of a clergyman, espe-
cially a clergyman who has a living with cure of souls, to be
an official secretary to any Board that will take up so much
of his time, and is not entirely, or at least chiefly, employed
in matters relative to religion, is liable to much objection.
He has therefore withdrawn his recommendation.

The opposition of the Archbishop, by influencing Mr Pitt,
was fatal to the statistical account of England. No circum-
stance could have been more provoking, nor in a public point
of view more unfortunate. There was not the least idea of
interfering with the property of the church, either in regard
to tithes, or in any other respect ; and it was with the view of
preventing any jealousy of the sort, that the leading members
of the church, were officially nominated members of the Board.
Every thing was prepared for carrying on a parochial inquiry
on a great scale ; but owing to the circumstance above men-
tioned, England was deprived of that minute, or " anatomical
species of political survey" which would have fully explained,
both its existing state, and the means of its future improve-
ment. Had that been accomplished, many of those calamities,
so often since experienced, would most probably have been
averted.

Had the plan of parochial inquiries been adopted, it would
have been carried on at a moderate expense ; but when that



VI. CLERICAL CORRESPONDENCE. 'I'll

system was abandoned, I was obliged to adopt the plan of
county, instead of parochial reports. This occasioned greater
expense, (for it was necessary to pay those who executed
county reports,) and required a longer period for its execu-
tion.

In a private affair in which I happened to be much in-
terested, the Archbishop shewed a very flattering mark of his
attention. Having heard much of a school at Sunbury in
Middlesex, kept by the Rev. Dr Moore, to which I proposed
sending my eldest son, I took the liberty of applying to his
Grace for information respecting it. The Archbishop not
having any personal knowledge of that academy, took the
trouble of applying for information to the Bishop of London,
and of sending me the following letter :

Sih,

I have to acknowledge the honour of your note respecting
Dr Moore of Sunbury in Middlesex : but not having any ac-
quaintance, nor indeed any knowledge whatever of him, it oc-
curred to me to write to the Bishop of London, who, as his
Diocesan, might probably be able to give a sufficient answer
to your inquiry concerning him.

I now inclose to you the Bishop's letter, and have the ho-
nour to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

J. Cantuak.

Lambeth House, January 2. 1802.



II.
DR RICHARD WATSON, BISHOP OF LLANDAFF.

This celebrated divine * was by far the greatest character,
for strength of intellect, that had appeared in the Church of



* The tradition was, that the family originally came from Scotland ; but they
had been long settled at Shap, in Westmoreland. Life, p. 3.

p2



228 VI. CLERICAL CORRESPONDENCE.

England since the days of Warburton. Such was his dignity
of manner, and readiness in conversation, that I often intro-
duced to him a self-sufficient foreigner, whom I wished to see
humbled, knowing that there was not an individual better able
to administer the wholesome discipline. I took care to have
the Bishop nominated one of the original members of the
Board of Agriculture, and he did ample justice to that ap-
pointment. During his residence in London, he regularly
attended the meetings of the Board ; and not only took an
active part in all its proceedings, but drew up some useful
papers for it, — in particular, an excellent introduction to the
Agricultural Report of his native county of Westmoreland.

The Bishop left behind him a History of his Life, from
which a number of aphorisms have been drawn up, which
seem to me so extremely valuable, that out of respect to the
memory of so excellent an author, I have inserted them in the
Appendix.

In his published life, he has inserted two letters written to
me on agricultural topics, which it is unnecessary here to re-
print *. But I have much pleasure in laying before my read-
ers, extracts from some of the other communications I had the
pleasure of receiving from that great character, whose friend-
ship I so highly valued, and whose encouragement was so
strong an inducement, to prosecute the multiplied and labo-
rious investigations, to which my attention, from time to time,
was directed.

Extracts from various Letters from the Bishop of Llandaff to Sir



Online LibraryJohn SinclairThe correspondence of the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair, with reminiscences of the most distinguished characters who have appeared in Great Britain, and in foreign countries, during the last fifty years. Illustrated by facsimiles of two hundred autographs (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 42)