NAPIER'S ACCOUNT OE Till's WAR IN PORTUGAL.
So far as information is concerned, the chief value of these volumes consists in their bringing to a focus the facts which have
hitherto been scattered in various publications, and in the new light which the criticism of the author throws upon the conduct of the rival belligerents in mismanaging the war. Their histori-
cal value in these points is not, however, absolute, but relative.
The gallant Admiral is altogether better at sea than ashore. Ilis narrative of land exploits—always excepting his own—is fre- quently dry and skeleton-like. His criticism on military matters
seems judicious; it is always clear, and, per se, convincing . but we think the historian who consults the work should not follow it
implicitly,—for various reasons. The author is so addicted to "dashing measures," that he dashes at a syllogism as he would at a fleet, and conceives that it may be as easily despatched. Ile evi- dently looks at a case us he would reconnoitre an enemy ; collects the reasons that strike him on the nonce; jots down his judg- ment as lie would order an attack ; and henceforth the conclusion is as settled a thing as a captive squadron. We also learn front his own mouth, that he has not the first essential to judgment— thorough knowledge of the subject to be judged. " I don't un- derstand," quoth the gallant otlicer, after one of the many drawn land-battles, " I don't understand these shore-fights: they last a long while—a great deal of noise on both sides—and when both parties are tired, they finish without any results."
The subject of these volumes embraces the whole war. The author confluences with a rapid but comprehensive sketch of the events preceding Miflum.'s usurpation ; describes the successive capture of each of the Western Isles by the Pedroites, the plans and errors of the Ministry there, and the final embarkation of the expedition for Portugal. NAPIER, from the commencement, always had his• eye upon the adventure which he subsequently achieved. " Dash for the Tagus," was his plan: if you meet the fleet, beat it: if it show the white feather, sail up the river; land in Black Horse Square ; and if the people of the capital, who you say are so favour- able, do not rise en masse, your game is up : but, most assuredly, to go to Oporto is not the way to bring about an insurrection in Lisbon. Don PEDRO and his advisers, however, thought otherwise ; so to Oporto they went. The far superior forces of MIGUEL were so terrified by the boldness of the attempt, that they fled; when, instead of pursuing them at once, the invading army sat quietly down in Oporto ; till their enemies rallied, received rein- forcements, and besieged the Queen's party in the city : a supine- ness that subjected it to a long and most disastrous siege, cost the lives of 16,000 defenders, and imposed upon our author the neces- sity of compiling an account of it; which he does at length, until his own arrival. At that period, affairs were so critical that PEDRO wrote to the Queen, " Nothing but a miracle can save us." NAPIER, (after resigning his command, within a few hours of its assumption, in consequence of some court intrigue, whose success would have battled his plans,) shortly enabled the Regent to write, " The miracle has been wrought, and we are saved :" and the narrative of this miracle forms an in- teresting part of the volume. The next event is the Duke of TEacsitta's march upon Lisbon ; which NAPIER considers equally conducive with his own victory to the success of the Queen, and which he thinks Don PEDRO did not properly appreciate.. Then come the rejoicings and jollifications of the capital on the over- throw of the Usurper and the arrival of PEDRO; the difficulties our author found, and the enemies he raised up, in his new post of Major-General of the Naval Arsenal, which he vainly tried to reform ; the negligence of the Pedroites; the head again made by the Miguelites; the follies of British diplomacy ; and the various battles and sieges that were fought until MIGUEL was finally dead beaten, and resigned. The death of PEDRO, and the joyfully-received resignation of our hero himself, close the history : sic transit gloria mundi—the three great persons of the political drama so quickly removed from the scene! Looking on the book as a piece of historical composition, our au- thor's manner cannot be very highly praised : he is too curt, abrupt, and familiar. In a readable point of view—which after all is of most importance—these peculiarities give novelty and piquancy to the work ; which, with a few exceptions, is very amusing. "Touch and go" is a common mode enough: NAPIER has introduced another—characterize and go on. See in how short a space he doubles up a Ministry, and the confidential courtiers ! Don Pedro now formed his Administration,—which consisted of Pahnellafor Foreign Affairs and Interior ; Freire, War and Marine ; Mouzinho de Silveira, Finance and Justice. The former, well known in Europe as a statesman, had been the rallying-point of the Constitutionalists, and head of the Regency; the second had been President of the Cortes, an Ultra-Liberal, was a man of neither military genius or talent, had every thing to gain and nothing to lose: he had lived quietly at Paris, free from danger and responsibility. The latter had been confined in St. Julian s, and was a man highly respected in his native country. Besides the Ministers, there were several influential men around the Emperor,— Candid() Xavier, his firs aide-de-rseep and private seers tary, a cunning old fox. who preened that place to a portfolio : he had served in the French army against his country in the Peninsular war, and had been Minister of War before the return of Miguel. Ile had bad health, had manners, and was altogether a bad-looking man ; but, with all these imperfections, he was a first-rate favourite of the Emperor. Silva Carvallo had been Minister of Justice ; was apparently frank, fancied lie knew a great deal of the feeling of his countrymen, and was of opinion that not a hostile shot would be fired on Portuguese ground.
Ho gets on as quickly in war. The following is an account of taking a garrisoned towns—or rather, a town garrisoned by
About a mile in advance of the town, their piquets were surprised asleep; the gates were shut. No sentries were on the ramparts, but they were too high to get over. The guide, no way disconcerted, led them clown a lane to the water-side, keeping close to the walls ; and thus they marched the whole length of the town in perfect silence, and gained the quay. A sally-port was open, through which they passed ; one party seized the guard, another the barracks, and a third made for the Governor's house, who had just time to polce • his head out of a window, and cry out " To arms !" when lie was shot by one of the Marines. A priest, at another window, shared the same fate. The soldiers in the barracks made no resistance ; • and in a few minutes the town was secured, and all was quiet. An officer anti a small party had liven detached on board the Scorpion cutter, under the commandof Lieutenant Whitaker, of the Navy, who had broke the blockade, and very politely requested hint to come on deck. As he awoke out of his sleep, lie exclaimed, " Good God ! is it possible? If I bad had sufficient warning, you should not have kid the Scorpion ; I should
have set fire to her." •
During this time, I was under great anxiety fur the success of the enterprise, and had almost repented of having undertaken it ; but my fears were soon relieved by seeing a movement amongst the fishing-boats, which were sent over for the rest of the division. Caminito is a strong walled town, but had been much neglected: the garrison consisted of seventy men, who might have defended it for some time had they kept their eyes open. The people were almost all Constitutionalists, but afraid of declaring themselves, on account of the smallness of our numbers. A summons was sent to the fort in the middle of the river ; which was immediately given up and garrisoned, and the Minho, in consequence, shut against any supplies from without.
But it is not, after all, as a history, or an " Account," that this work possesses importance—it derives its value and charm from its autobiographical nature. The personal character of the author is not only impressed upon almost every page, but the book contains a narrative of one, and to all appearances the most important, of the leaves out of a hero's life, written by himself. It is CESAR'S Commentaries in the first person,—wanting the philo- sophy and classical eloquence of the Roman, but equally devoid of his concealed vanity and his suspected partiality, especially in narrating checks. Moreover, it lets us into the private feelings
of a hero in action. Grander battles than that of Cape St. Vincent's have been fought ; more gallant never. Greater kingdoms have depended upon the fortune of a single day ; but the fate of few have been more completely decided by the event. It is rare to have a description of such a fight from its hero, even in a gazette; but it is still rarer to have an account of his feelings. The ex- tracts must be long, but the occasion is rare. Here is the first sight of the enemy— At eight o'clock on the morning of the 3d of July, the officers of the watch reported two sail, then three, then four, and so on till they counted nine. I was surprised, and, as Sir Richard Strachan said, delighted ; but the delight was accompanied with a disagreeable sort of feeling, just resembling the sensa- tion of your heart coming up into your mouth, and requiring a tolerable gulp to keep it down. We were standing on the starboard-tack under courses and top-gallant sails; the enemy were on the larboard, broad on the lee-bow under their top-sails: one alone, which we took for the fifty-gun ship, had her courses and top-gallant sails set, and sailed bad. The Villa Flor was immediately despatched to Lagos for the steamers ; and after nearing the enemy to three or four miles, we tacked. They were formed in two lines, having the Don John, bearing a commodore's pendant, to windward, supported by the Rainha of the line, the Martin Freitas, and Princess Real. The three corvettes and two brigs formed the lee division opposite the open spaces,—all well painted, sails well set, and lines compact. It was a majestic eight ; and I turned the hands up, to show the crews bow well they looked, and to exhort them to pay attention to the management of their guns, as the surest means of success. I had never been in a general action; and although delighted at the prospect before me, I could not but feel appalled at their great superiority, and the magnitude of the enterprise I was about to undertake.
Both squadrons stood in for the land ; and I was apprehensive they meant to prevent the junction of the steamers, which were iu Lagos Bay, and considerably to leeward. At two I tacked, and stood towards the enemy. This manoeuvre bad the desired effect ; they tacked also, and left the bay open. At five the Villa Flor and steamers joined, and we took our station about a mile and a half on their weather-beam. The breeze was strong, and the sea too rough to at- tempt to board with success—the plan of attack I had decided upon. Here the enemy committed a great error : they ought to have stood boldly on, and either forced me into Lagos Bay to protect the town and steamers, and risk an action at anchor, or oblige me to fight under the disadvantages of wind and weather ; one of which I must have done, or abandoned the town and steam- boats, which was impossible.
Night closed, and passed ; and noon of the next day came, with the fleets close to each other, but without an action ; NAPIER waiting for a favourable opportunity; the Miguelites, it would seem, waiting to be taken. In the mean time,—a proof of raw- ness and want of discipline,—
There was a good deal of impatience manifested by the crews to come to blows; and they expressed their concern that this might be delayed some time longer, or entirely given up. I instructed the different captains to assure them, that the moment a favourable opportunity offered, they should have their fight- ing propensities indulged to the fullest extent ; and recommended them to profit by the delay, in improving the men in the gun exercise, particularly fighting both sides, and working the alternate guns. Both squadrons wanted practice; and although we necessarily improved, it was natural to expect the enemy would improve also. They showed no disposition to bring us to action : we dared risk nothing till the weather became sufficiently fine to make one desperate effort to save Portugal or lose the cause. There was no medium : all must be gained, or all lost. A partial action could only prolong for a few weeks the fate of Oporto and the division in the Algarves. A victory might save both; a defeat would end the civil war at once. I was very anxious to draw the enemy under the land, but this they avoided ; and I became apprehensive that a convoy might have sailed from Lisbon with troops to take the Duke of Terceira in the rear :
at the same time the enemy wished to draw me to sea, and thus leave the coast open. This is what ought to have been done, and for that very reason it was not; and more experience showed me that the War Ministers of both parties were only gifted with the talent of acting wrong, and in this the Miguelites had the advantage.
We kept our station close to the enemy during the afternoon and the follow- ing night ; and towards morning there was every appearance of a calm, which eventually took place about nine o'clock. The steamers were now ordered to close ; and, to our astonishment and disappointment, the captains, engineers, and crews to a man, refused to take us in tow, with the exception of Captain Wilson, of the William the Fourth, who with great difficulty persuaded his men to act. The Pembroke had parted the night before, under pretence of her engines being nut of order. Officers and seamen came forward with all the money they possessed to bribe the cowards to act ; which they refused to do,unlese two thousand pounds were laid down on the capstan-head for each engineer. This being impossible, they were dismissed the ship with the hearty curses of officers and men.
It had now been cabin two hours : had the steam-boats taken the frigates in tow, we should have chosen our position, and in all probability have gained a bloodless victory ; or had the ships been fitted with paddles similar to those in the Galatea, the effect would have been the same. Never did I before see an occasion where they could have been so triumphantly employed.
Towards noon, cat s-pawN hero and there indicated an approach- ing breeze, and the swell had completely subsided. About one, the breeze became steady : the men were at quarters ; the Ad- miral and his Captains sat down to "a hasty dinner ; " and the steam-boats had taken their station to windward, " ready for a bolt. should the day be lost."
At two, the Captains returned to their ships : the signal was made for battle and close order ; the boats were lowered down ; and the squadron, led by the Rabaul, displaying the Constitutional flag at each mast-head, gradually edged away under their courses and top-gallant sails. The enemy (with the exception of the Martin Freitas, who hail her courses and top-gallant sails Pet) were under their top-sails ; and as we approached, the lee-line closed up in the in- termediate spaces, but a little to leeward ; thus forming a sort of double column of two line-of-battle ships, a fifty-gun ship, a fifty-gun frigate, three heavy corvettes, two brigs, and a zebeque. Previous to this, the frigate being to lee- ward, tacked, and had all the appearance of coming over ; but, after fetching in the wake of the fifty-gun ship, she again tacked and took her station. The breeze was good, the water smooth, not a cloud in the heavens; the enemy looked well and firm, and they were plainly seen training their guns as we ap- proached. It was a trying alla awful sight, and accompanied with a consider- able degree of dread--at least I can answer for myself. Officers and men were calm and determined, though aware of the clanger of the enterprise, the success of which mainly depended on the state we should he in after the filet broadside.
The enemy kept their line close, and reserved their fire till well within mus- ket-shot; the frigate then threw out a signal, which we concluded was fur per- mission to fire : the moment was critical, and we all felt it. The Commodore's answer was hardly at the mast-head ere the frigate opened her broadside ; which was instantaneously followed by the whole squadron, with the exception of the Don John, whose stern and quarter guns could only bear. Poor Itainha! I looked up, and expected to see every mast tottering : but the cherub was sitting aloft ; and, notwithstanding the most tremendous, fire I ever witnessed, which made the sea bubble like a boiling cauldron round her, the smoke clearing away discovered to the astonished Miguelites the Rainha proudly floating on the waters of Nelson and St. Vincent, with her masts erect, her rigging and sails only showing the fiery ordeal she had gone through.
The men were lying down at their quartets ; few were struck down on the main-deck, but the three foremost guns on the quarter-deck were nearly cleared, and Lieutenant Nivett, of the Marines, received a inor tal wound. At this time we had not fired a shot ; and I ordered a few to be thrown on board, to check as much as possible their taking a deliberate aim. Our example was followed by the Don Pedro ; and we soon passed the frigate and Martin Freitag, the latter losing her fore-top mast. At this time the sternmost line-of-battle ship huffed to; our helm was put up to avoid her broadside ; nod the Don John bore up across her bows, intending to place us between the two line-of-battle ships. This was just what I desired ; and when she had passed too far to leeward to recover a weather position, our helm wasput suddenly down. The frigate flew to, grazing the Rainha's stern with the frying jib-boom ; the foremost guns were poured into her, crammed to the muzzle with round and grape ; the helm was then shifted, and we ran alongside under a very heavy fire, which struck down my secretary, master, and many men. The ships were lashed with the main.sheet, and Commodore Wilkinson and Captain Charles Napier, heading the boarders, passed from the bower-anchor to her bulwarks, driving the men across the forecastle along the larboard gangway. I had not intended to board, having enough to do to look after the squadron; but the excitement was too great, and I found myself, without hardly knowing it, on the enemy's forecastle, supported by one or two officers. There I paused, till several men jumping on board, we rushed aft with a loud cheer, and either passed through or drove is party drawn up on the break of the quarter-deck. At this moment I received a severe blow from a crowbar, the owner of which did not escape unscathed, andpoor Macdonough fell at my side by a musket- ball ; Ballades, the Captain of the ship, came across me, wounded in the fase and fighting like a tiger. He was a brave man : I saved his life. The second Captain came next, and made so good-natured a cut at me that I had not heart to hurt Lim : he also was spared. Berrettas took up arms again, and was finally killed in the cabin. The Commodore and Captain Charles Napier, after driving a whole host before them, fell severely wounded on the larboard side of the quarter-deck: the former with difficulty regained his ship ; the latter, being stunned, lay some time, till the noise of friends coming to his assistance, roused him from his stupor. The quarter-deck was now gained, but the slaughter still continued, notwith- standing the endeavours of the officers to stay it. The main and lower deck were yet unsubdued ; and as the Don Pedro ranged up on the opposite aide to board, both ships fired. I hailed Captain Goble to desist, as we had carried the upper deck, and desired him to follow the Don John, who had made off; at the same moment a ball from the lower-deck struck him, and in a few mi- nutes he was no more. Lieutenant Edmunds and Wooldridgejumped down with a party on the main-deck, which they carried, but both fell under mortal wounds. In a few minutes all was quiet ; the lower-deck gave in, and many of the Portuguese seamen rushed on the quarter-deck for safety, with white canvas on their left arms, having discovered that was the badge worn by our men in boarding. Others got on board my ship, amongst whom several little boys found their way into the gun-room, and employed themselves wiping glasses. We need not tell how the battle ended,—scarcely, perhaps, that NAPIERS six vessels were opposed to ten ; and that his fleet mounteti only 176 guns, that of the enemy 372. Nor shall we enter into many other autobiographical traits,—the coolness of his first reception by PEDRO; his description of the first Cabinet.
Council he attended, with his head wrapped up in flannel ; his being ennobled " by the title of Viscount Capo St. Vicenti, which be should have preferred to have been left alone ;" the triumphal entry into Lisbon ; the attentions he received in various places ; his second reception by PE DRO, so different from the first ; his presentation to the Empress and Queen ; his reforming struggles with the vested interests of the Naval Arsenal ; and his adven- tures during his expedition to the North of Portugal. The volumes must be sought by those who wish for this, and some inklings of the kind of characters who embark in adventurous war, and of the means adopted to raise and control them.