1810 3

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The Disastrous Administration
The Morning Chronicle (February 19, 1810)

Oh! for disasters, JOHN BULL loves disasters,
    Without them he'd never be mellow,
Then grant us disasters, and very bad masters,
    To make him a fine happy fellow.

When Cintra Convention[1] was made, it was thought
    By some grave thinking codgers of State,
That JOHN would feel sore, and turn Ministers out—
    But he loved them the better for that.
        Oh! for disasters, &c. &c.

An Inquiry was made, our honour to save,
    But it proved, that things went as they should do,
That Sir ARTHUR was bold, and Sir HARRY was brave,
    And DALRYMPLE did all that he could do.[2]
        Oh! for disasters, &c. &c.

Next they sent gallant MOORE[3] with an army so good,
    To beat BONAPARTE in Spain,
But as they forget to supply it with food,
   The army was marched back again.
        Oh! for disasters, &c. &c.

But 'twas thought that Sir ARTHUR was abler than MOORE,
    And to fight had a far better mind;
So he fought and he conquer'd—and fled as before,
    And left half his army behind.[4]
        Oh! for disasters, &c. &c.

Thus PERCEVAL finding, the worse he succeeded
    The more he was praised by JOHN BULL,
Determined to please us as much as we needed,
    And at Walcheren gave us our full,
        Oh! for disasters, &c. &c.

Again we inquire, and again we shall see,
    That all things went just as they ought,
That the Minister's plan was as wise as could be,
    And that CHATHAM most gallantly fought.[5]
       Oh! for disasters, &c. &c.

Since then we're more pleased, the more we're annoyed,
    God send, that we all may be undone,
That our navy be sunk, and our army destroyed,
    And BONY be master of London,
Oh! for disasters! JOHN BULL loves disasters,
    Without them he'd never be mellow,
Then grant us disasters, and very bad masters,
    And make him a fine merry fellow.


1. The Convention of Cintra (August 30, 1808) enabled the defeated French armies to leave Spain and Portugal unmolested and to carry booty with them.

2. Sir Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington, Sir Harry Burrard, and Sir Hew Dalrymple were all involved in the campaign in Spain and Portugal which resulted in the Convention of Cintra. An Inquiry was held but no one was blamed for the situation.

3. Sir John Moore was in charge of the Spanish Campaign in 1808-09. After fighting gallantly, Moore retreated only to find his transport had been delayed. On January 16, 1809, the French Armies attacked the remains of Moore's forces on the beach at Corunna and Moore was killed.

4. Sir Arthur Wellesley succeeded Moore as Commander in Spain. He joined forces with the Spanish General Cuesta and on July 17, 1809, the two armies marched on Madrid. The reinforced French army met them, and they retreated hastily. The retreat turned into an undisciplined flight, Wellesley losing 5,000 men. Despite this, Wellesley waited to advance, but Cuesta refused and the French army advanced further. Wellesley, when he became aware of the danger, abandoned his wounded and led the remains of his army back to Portugal in August, 1809.

5. On July 28, 1809, 39,000 British fighting men were sent to the Low Countries under the Command of John Pitt, 2nd earl of Chatham. Instead of marching on Antwerp, Chatham ordered his men to take Walcheren Island off Flushing. By September when half his troops were recalled, 11,000 of Chatham's men had contracted fever, unused as they were to the swampy region. By December when the remaining troops were called back, the casualties numbered 4,044, only 106 of whom had been killed in battle.

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