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‘not much less than the Haymarket,’ and with ‘tolerable actors,’ introduced Lord John night after night to the Spanish drama and Spanish dancing.
A fortnight was thus spent at Corufia, and in a short ex pedition to Santiago and its monastery; at its conclusion, Lord Holland and his party set out on their projected journey to Madrid. They slept the first night at Betanzos ,- but, in the course of the next day, they received the unpleasant news that the French were again advancing. General Blake had given way before them in Biscay ; a Spanish army had been driven out of Burgos; and Sir John Moore himself was retreating to the coast. The projected journey had, of course, to be abandoned. Lord Holland’s party returned to Corur'ia, where all was alarm and confusion. Instead of participating in a great national triumph, the party was suddenly confronted with the first symptoms of disaster.1
Corufia was evidently no place for non-combatants to remain in. The only question was whither to go. Lord Holland seems to have seriously considered the alternative of going by sea to Cadiz or by land to Lisbon ,- and, to the alarm of his friends in England, he adopted the latter course. Leaving Corur'ia on December 4, the party reached Vigo on the 9th, Coimbra on the 27th, Pombal on the 29th, and Lisbon in the beginning of 1809. The cavalcade must have been picturesque :—
Our whole regiment consists of the following animals: Lord Holland and Anne on horses; Lady Holland and nine men on mules; Mrs. Brown in a litter; thirteen mnleteers and soldiers; ten mules carrying people; two in the litter; four mules with cargo; three without any load.
Nor was the march without excitement. Lord John wrote to his father from Coimbra :—
If Sir J. Moore retreats we shall soon be in England; if not, I hope we shall get to Seville.
1 Lord John said in his diary. ‘We received such bad news on the 18th that I had not courage to continue this journal, which remained untouched for six days.‘
And on January 7, 1809, from Lisbon 2——
We have been here four days. I think it is the most disagreeable town I ever saw, and now agree with you that our journey to Portugal was a wild scheme, But at the time of its being proposed 1 preferred it to going by sea to Cadiz, as I thought we should see so much more. But it is now doubtful whether we or the French shall be at Seville first.
Lady Holland, who was in delicate health, naturally hesitated to plunge into the interior of the country ,' and it was not till January 2 I that she was encouraged, by the escort of an English regiment for a portion of the route, to make the attempt.
Perhaps if they had not set out then they would have abandoned the journey altogether, for in January Sir John Moore, who had retreated to the coast, was slain at Corufia,. and in the middle of the following month the north of Portugal was again in the occupation of the French. The enemy, however, did not penetrate in the spring of 1809 to the south of Madrid, and Lord Holland and his friends remained in security. In March, indeed, the constant successes of the enemy induced them temporarily to retire to Cadiz, where the sea afi'orded easier means of escape. But, after a few days, they regained their confidence and returned to Seville. Reaching it originally on January 30, they made it their headquarters till the 11th of the following May, enjoying, as Lord Russell said in his old age—
the society of some old acquaintances of Lord Holland, and of the charming women who made up by their beauty and their mother-wit for a total want of knowledge and accomplishments.
He wrote to his father on March 2 3 :—
I am quite satisfied with my stay at Seville. I have seen many of the most remarkable Spaniards, heard a great many anecdotes relating to the Revolution, and learnt to talk a little Spanish. I have besides enjoyed the climate, and seen many things worth seeing. I could stay here another month with great pleasure.
On May I! the party finally left Seville, hoping to procure a passage in the Ocean for England. But on arriving at Cadiz they found that the Ocean was in charge of a convoy of fifty vessels, that the incumbrance of their company was likely to detain her for some weeks on her voyage, that moreover she wanted repair, and was therefore uncomfortable.
' Lord Holland and his party consequently decided on remaining at Cadiz and awaiting some other opportunity. Comfortable means of transport for delicate ladies were, however, in those days rare; and ultimately the party was forced to retrace its steps and wend its way through Badajoz and the unhealthy plains of Estremadura to Lisbon, where they embarked for England. Lord John caught a fever in the journey, which detained both him and his friends a few days at Badajoz, and perhaps accounted for the imperfect conclusion of his first Spanish journal. But in the middle of July the‘party reentered Lisbon, whence, after a nine months’ absence, they returned to England.
Such is a short outline of Lord John’s first visit to Spain. Arriving with an enthusiastic faith in the Spanish cause, he had been bitterly disappointed at the events which had deranged his plans and smothered his hopes. He wrote to his father in April :—
Having seen the cause of a people who rose in the most glorious manner mismanaged by high and respectable generals and statesmen . . . . and the enthusiasm and resources of a nation so ill employed in their aid, I shall go home not a little inclined to be democratical.
But, though the failure of the cause was filling him with distrust of the Ministry, he was annoyed at finding from his English newspapers that the Whigs, instead of suggesting increased efforts, were denouncing the war.
I take the liberty of informing you and your Opposition friends that the French have not conquered the whole of Spain.
So he wrote to his father on April 24, I809; and he added on May 7 =—-.
I do not admire the line Opposition has taken on the subject of Spain. . . . Lord Grey’s speech appears to me either a mere attempt to plague Ministers for a few hours or a declaration against the principle of the people’s right to depose an infamous despot. . . . It seems to be the object of Opposition to prove that Spain is conquered, and that the Spaniards like being robbed and murdered. .
The young Whig of sixteen summers was taking a much truer view of the situation and expressing much sounder opinions than his older friends at home.
Speaking of this tour in his old age, Lord John said :—
I acquired thereby a very competent knowledge of the Spanish character, manners, and language, and lost the opportunity of being thoroughly grounded in the Greek language—an Opportunity which, as I never went to an English university, I never completely recovered.’
But this paragraph gives a very imperfectaidea of the manner in which he spent his time. Here is the account which he gave of himself in a letter to his father on the 27th of April :—
The chief object of my letter is to tell you how I have employed my time in Spain and Portugal. Much, of course, has been employed in seeing things worth seeing and hearing people worth hearing. I have often travelled eight or nine or twelve hours a day without looking into a book. I will not say that l have not lost much time. In Latin I have finished Tacitus, ‘De Moribus Germanorum,’ and read his ‘Life of Agricola;’ four books of Virgil, that is the ‘fEneid,’ for I think I finished the Eclogues at Falmouth; two books of the Odes of Horace; Sallust’s ‘ Conspiracy of Catiline;’ Cicero, ‘De Amicitia’—-of which I had read a few pages before—also ‘ De Senectute ;’ four books of Livy from the beginning of the second Punic War. I began the other day the first book of all, which I have nearly finished. I now know enough of Latin to be very much amused by a book that is not very difficult.
I began the third book of Euclid at Corufia with Mr. Allen ;1 the day after to-morrowI shall do the last proposition of the sixth. For the two months I was here before, I had a Spanish master who talked with all the Castilian purity. I can talk and read a little Spanish, and have attempted to write it, which, I think, would not be a very difficult thing to attain. At present I have got a French master, and am endeavouring to understand and write that language, which, I believe, is much more necessary.
But for my Greek I can say nothing. I learnt it in so imperfect a way (owing to my own idleness) that I more than once told Lord Clare that I had determined to give it up. Reading Greek was to me the most unpleasant thing possible. But, seeing those who understand the language take so much pleasure in it, and believing that any person, who is not quite a duncc, may learn a language with a little trouble, I have determined to work at it seriously as soon as I get home; and I think that I should stay at Mr. Smith’s three or four months for that purpose. I do not know what you will think best for me afterwards; but the thing I should most dislike, and, I think, least profit by, would be an endeavour to acquire Scotch knowledge in a Scotch town. Political economy may surely be studied in England. As for metaphysics, I cannot even understand the word.
Before, however, reaching England he had changed his opinion. SPITHEAD, Augurl 10, 1809.
MY DEAR FATHER,—We are at present anchored here in the Lively, after a voyage of three weeks. We had foul winds at the beginning of our voyage, but since that we have been very lucky. . . . Lord Holland and Mr. Allen have been talking to me of the advantages of going to Edinburgh for the next winter. They say that I am as yet too young to go to an English university; that I should learn more there in the meantime than I should anywhere else; that Professor Playfair, besides being a learned, is a very pleasant man, and that I should pass my time very agreeably with him. I own I am convinced by their arguments, though I said before that I should so much dislike it. Mr. Allen says that, in case I should go there, it would be best to consult Lord Lauderdale, who knows everything about it; that it would be very foolish to take any tutor there from England, and that it would be necessary beforehand to learn the elements of algebra, trigonometry, and conic sections. Idare say I should like it very much for one winter; but I hope you will do what you think best for me without consulting my inclinations.