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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

Was now the unhonored captive of ungenerous opponents


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was in India that the young soldier was to learn those lessons in the art of war which were afterwards to prove so priceless to England, and to gain a fame which might well have seemed great enough to satisfy any ambition less exacting than his. But he had the generous greed of the great soldier, the restless, high-reaching spirit, to which {344} the success of yesterday is as nothing save as an experience that may serve for the success of to-morrow. No better field than India could have been found for a young and ambitious soldier who had devoted himself to his career almost by chance, but who was resolved to approve his choice by giving to the career of arms a zeal, a stubborn pertinacity, a very passion of patience, rare, indeed, at the time, and who was resolved to regard nothing as too great to attempt, or too trivial to notice, in the execution of his duty.

After a career of military honor and experience in India, Arthur Wellesley began his struggle with Napoleon on the battle-fields of the Spanish Peninsula, and ended it upon the battle-field of Waterloo. His was the hand that gave the final blow to the falling, failing Emperor. The career of so much glory and of so much gloom, of Corsican lieutenantship and Empire, of Brumaire and Bourbon Restoration, of Egyptian pyramids and Russian snows, of Tilsit and of Elba, and of the Hundred Days, ended in the Island of St. Helena. There exists among the documents that are preserved from Napoleon's

youth a geographical list made out in his own boyish hand of names and places, with explanatory comments. The name of St. Helena is on the list, and the only words written opposite to it are "Little Island." The Preacher on Vanities never had a better text for a sermon. The "little island" that had then seemed so unimportant became in the end more momentous than the Eastern Empire of his dreams. The man who had made and unmade kingdoms, who had flung down the crowns of Europe for soldiers of fortune to scramble for as boys unto a muss, was now the unhonored captive of ungenerous opponents, the unhonored victim of the petty tyrannies of Sir Hudson Lowe.

[Sidenote: 1812-15--The War of 1812]

As the most disastrous event of the reign of George the Third prior to the Regency was a war with America, so the most disastrous event of the Regency was a war with America. Napoleon's fantastic decrees of commercial blockade levelled against England, and known as the Continental system, had embroiled the young republic and England, and differences inflamed by the unwisdom of {345} Perceval were not to be healed by the belated wisdom of Castlereagh. Two keen causes of quarrel were afforded by England's persistent assertion of the right to stop and search American vessels on the high seas for British subjects and England's no less persistent refusal to recognize that naturalization as an American citizen in any way affected the allegiance of a British subject to the British crown. Wise statesmanship might have averted war, but wise statesmanship was wanting. The death of Spencer Perceval caused the elevation to the premiership of a man as incapable as his predecessor of dealing skilfully with the American difficulty. Robert Banks Jenkinson, who had been Lord Hawkesbury and who was now Lord Liverpool, was


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