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the humanity with which he strove to relieve the distress of the other. It was now the depth of winter; and as the weather was marked by unusual inclemency, and the roads were almost impassable, the fatigue of the troops was excessive; yet the march was conducted with a fortune and a rapidity which baffled the slaughter of pursuit, and saved the flower of the British forces from unaFailing destruction. Abercrombie reached the point of his destimation in January 1793, and was immediately elevated to the Knighthood of the Bath, as a well merited token of the signal beDefit he had rendered to the army and his country.
Fresh efforts immediately became necessary to counteract the consequences of this disaster, and check the tide of other conquests. Already it was known that the French meditated a descent upon the West Indies, and an expedition in that quarter was resolved upon, as well for the purposes of defence as of reprisal. The military command upon this occasion was conferred upon Abercrombie, who took shipping at Southampton, in the month of August, in the same year. Some unaccountable delay took place before the squadron sailed, and the result was, that before the fleet could reach the latitude of action, (a measure which was at last faithfully accomplished with the loss of only a few transports) the French had already commenced operations. This partial advantage, however, was soon counteracted, and in succession the Islands of Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad, with the settlements of Demerara and Essequibo, were reduced and possessed by our troops. One attack only was repulsed, and that was upon Porto Rico; so that Abercrombie returned to England with the satisfaction of having eminently deserved the popular acclamation with which he was received.
Domestic appointments of trust and honour, as they were brightly earned, so were they promptly conferred upon the victorious general; and the most active scene of command was confided to his talents. This was the military command of Ireland, which was then distracted with more than usual feuds between the long contending interests of Catholic equality and Protestant ascendancy; and moreover troubled by the excitements of French emissaries to constitute a third party at the head of an open rebellion. That Sir Ralph Abercrombie did not retain his command in Ireland long, is one of those passages of his life, in which
the integrity of his principles runs parallel in its claim for our applause with the intrepidity of his military actions. Upon reaching the seat of command, he found one party of the people, and that the least numerous by far, exclusively possessed of every title of honour, occupation of reward, and post of merit; while the majority struggled under the most degrading servitude, and were further galled with the grossest tyranny of injustice and exaction. The cure of these evils was plain and rational enough : it was only necessary to put all the inhabitants of one country, who must ever have a common interest in every good, and suffer alike from every calamity, upon an equal footing. The power to complete this great blessing lay in other hands than Abercrombie's, but what remedy he had the authority to administer, that he promptly applied. He had witnessed the outrages of the military and government retainers, and he unequivocally addressed himself to repress them. In an open proclamation he lamented the excesses that had occurred, and not only strongly forbad any repetition of them, but directed their legal punishment in a manner which proved the earnestness of his resolution to do justice to all parties. The straight path, however, was not the one which the political administration of that period thought it prudent to follow in Ireland; and, as Abercrombie was neither versatile nor subservient enough to walk in any other, he was allowed to change the rank of Commander-in-chief in Ireland, for that of Commanderin-chief in his native country, Scotland.
Of the second expedition which was undertaken for the relief of Holland in 1799, it is only necessary to speak, in order to record the appointment of Abercrombie to the sole command upon the first landing of the troops; when both he and they distinguished themselves with steady success. The arrival of the Duke of York, however, to supersede him, led to reverses as unpromising in their nature as those already described, and they were mainly saved from a more violent termination, by a similar display of ability upon the part of the general, second in command, to that exerted by him, and in the same country, in 1795. Upon this latter occasion, he was saved from the shame of a precipitate retreat by the form of a convention, in which the Dutch declined our assistance, and the troops were in consequence guaranteed an unmolested embarkation.
The spirit of ambitious enterprize which characterized the rise
of the French republic had now become essential to its continuance, and fresh measures of violence were forced upon its chiefs, as well to divert the minds of the people from a contemplation of the national ruin which threatened them, as to prevent the military men, whose genius the late campaigns had fostered into mellow confidence, from working changes in the administration at hoxne, in order to advance the measures of their personal fortabes. In this state of affairs an expedition was planned, which prospectively combined every advantage desirable either for the governors or the governed, and that was no less memorable an undertaking, than the descent upon Egypt. The first promise held forth by it was the dazzling result of brilliant conquest, and extended dominions. The next benefit, namely, the employment of Napoleon, was better assured ; for, absent from the centre of politics, he must necessarily be, as long as the invasion lasted; and his presence at home, popular as he certainly was, and aspiring as he was reasonably thought to be, must be pregnant with danger to the stability of any ministry at the head of which he did not rank. As for the third object, it was flattering in presumption, and important in effect, as either of the others; for, after the possession of Egypt, it was proposed to invade Asia, and oppose the trade, if not subdue the allies of Great Britain, in that quarter of the globe. The enthusiasm for which the French are proverbial, easily supplied them with a becoming share of applause for these specious designs of victory, and wealth, and fame ; while of the more reflecting men among them, the generality were far from dissatisfied to see the exuberant spirit of the day directed to scenes, where, successful or disastrous, it might work its way, and in either case remove the tumults inseparable from it at a distance, and thus, to them at least, keep them directly uninjurious.
The preparations on the part of France for this undertaking, were commensurately vigorous and effective with the resources of so great a power; and her troops landed in safety upon the shores of Africa, for a labour of conquest which astonished the world. As the ultimate aim and end of this descent, so perilous of present evils, and fruitful of continuous dangers, was the destruction of English commerce, the efforts made by Great Britain to counteract its success, were, in a corresponding degree, equal to the strength and spirit of so old and formidable a rival. A naval and military force, of unusual strength, was ordered to assemble at Malta, in December, 1800, under the command, the former of Admiral Keith, and the latter of Sir Ralph Abercrombie; whence, after reducing Malta, they proceeded direct to Marmora Bay. Here they delayed for some time in hopes of forming a promised junction with the Turks, while the troops were daily exercised in such movements as must facilitate the attack of an hostile shore, and the sick and infirm were gently recruited in strength. The reinforcements, however, were slow in arriving, and scanty in the extreme, so that the means of expelling the invaders were left to the arms of England alone. Again, therefore, the fleet, consisting of 175 sail of the line, set sail, and on the first of March, 1801, cast anchor in the bay of Aboukir.
For some days after, the wind blew with a violence from the shore, which rendered all attempts at landing desperate, and the French availed themselves of the accident
to render the difficulty still more formidable, by throwing up intrenchments along the range of sand-hills, which gave the beach a sort of natural fortification. On the eighth morning, however, the adversity of the wind subsided, and our boats assembled to land the troops. At nine every preparation was complete, and the signal was given to make for shore. The first ripple of advance was scarcely made upon the waves, when a tremendous fire was opened from the cannon placed on the heights directly in front, and all the artillery of the castle of Aboukir. As they drew nearer, they found the ground lined with infantry, and were assailed by a most powerful discharge of musquetry; but, undismayed by the havoc thus created, they rushed on the beach, gallantly headed by Sir John Moore; formed their lines with unbroken resolution, and without firing a single shot, charged bayonet up the hills, and repulsed the French. The skill and intrepidity of that attack had been enough to immortalize a name which was afterwards snatched from life in a somewhat similar scene, and under equal circumstances of renown. The remaining troops were rowed in with rapidity in consequence of this success; new efforts were made to defeat the enterprise, and as fast as the infantry landed, fresh troops of French cavalry dashed in upon them but in vain ; no force could overpower the
compact valour of that day: the whole army landed in quick succession, and the enemy retreated, after an obstinate conflict, leaving three pieces of cannon in our possession.
The movements undertaken in consequence of this decided superiority were equally vigorous and triumphant. On the same evening, Abercrombie encamped without opposition, with his right wing flanked by the sea, and his left protected by lake Muadin ; and on the following morning, one detachment was sent forward to obtain a supply of water, and another marched to blockade Aboukir. On the 13th, he advanced at the head of 6000 men to seize on the heights of Alexandria, which were held by a strong body of French ; and a conflict ensued, unsurpassed in the bravery of the assault, and the desperation of the resistance. Sailors and soldiers, officers and men, mingled together indiscriminately in battle, and more combatants fought with the sword than the musquet. Many were the names commemorated for the valorous feats of that day, but the general was still the most conspicuous for heroism; though, upon this occasion, he found a generous rival in the person of Sir Sidney Smith. The result may be presumed before it is announced; the French were utterly beaten from their station, and a glorious effort was made to pursue the victory, and break their lines. Nature and art, however, united too strongly in the protection of their position ; and one thousand men fell in the brief manæuvre which was vainly made to force their strength.
But the advantage so difficult, when thus sought for, was soon put into the hands of the British by the impatience of the enemy. On the 20th, the French were perceived to be in motion in considerable bodies, and almost immediately afterwards information was received of their intention to surprise the British camp on the following morning. This advice was received with Sore incredulity when the peculiar strength of their situation was remembered; but every precaution which knowledge and vigilance could resort to, were nevertheless adopted, and by three o'clock our troops stood marshalled in battle array. The gloominess of the hour was additionally deepened by the dark and stormy character of the weather; and after some time spent in awful expectation, the troops were about to be marched back to their tents, when the discharge of a solitary musquet in the distance