Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/442

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

after much waste of precious time, a peremptory order from Schomberg, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Ireland, caused a successful attempt to force the boom to be made. Before quitting London to join his army at Chester, Schomberg on 16 July paid a memorable visit to the House of Commons, to thank the nation for the munificent reward conferred upon him; and the formalities observed on that occasion formed a precedent for a similar function, in which the Duke of Wellington figured as the chief actor, on 1 July 1814. The entire burden of the preparations fell on his shoulders, and his difficulties were from the first largely increased by the culpable negligence of Commissary-general Shales. On 12 Aug. he sailed from Hoylake, Cheshire, with ten thousand men, and disembarking next day on the coast of co. Down, in the neighbourhood of Bangor, he sent a detachment to take possession of Belfast, while with the main body he attacked Carrickfergus, which capitulated on the 27th. From Carrickfergus he marched to Belfast, and thence, by way of Lisburn, Dromore, and Newry, to Dundalk, where he fixed his camp in what proved, owing to a rainy season, a very unhealthy place, but which was selected for purposes of defence, having the sea to the south, hills and bogs to the north, mountains to the west, and Dundalk and its river on the east. Apart from some good French and Dutch troops, his army consisted mainly of raw recruits, anxious indeed to fight, but unaccustomed to the hardships of a soldier's life, and totally ignorant of the art of war. Being thus compelled to rely on his foreign regiments, the discovery of treason in that of La Melonnière added to his other embarrassments. Disease and death thinned his ranks; but so long as he could maintain his position the situation was safe. In England, where the reasons for his inactivity were only imperfectly known, great discontent prevailed, and even William more than once urged him to risk something, if possible, in order to satisfy public opinion. But the enemy, contrary to the advice of Rosen, who would have forced a battle even at a disadvantage, did not venture to attack him; and at the beginning of November James withdrew into winter quarters. Schomberg, whose own health had suffered by constant anxiety, after dispersing his troops among the towns and villages of Ulster, applied for permission to visit England for medical advice and change of air; but it was deemed imprudent under the circumstances to grant his request. The opening of the next year's campaign was delayed owing to lack of money to pay the troops, and Schomberg, who felt William's difficulties acutely, placed at his disposal the grant recently made him by parliament. The offer was accepted, and the interest, not yet entirely extinguished, fixed at 4 per cent. On 22 April 1690 he sat down before Charlemont, which capitulated on 14 May. A month later William landed at Carrickfergus, and, being joined by Schomberg, the army at once marched southward. Political exigency, rather than military reasons, dictated giving battle to James II at the Boyne on 1 July, and Schomberg, who recommended delay, was somewhat nettled at the rejection of his advice. When the order of battle was brought him, he tartly remarked that he was in the habit of giving rather than receiving it. But the next morning he had recovered his usual serenity. Giving the order to attack, he watched the first onslaught narrowly and anxiously; and seeing that his French troops, dismayed by the death of their leader, La Caillemotte, were beginning to waver, he plunged recklessly across the river to their assistance. ‘Allons, messieurs,’ he shouted, ‘voilà vos persécuteurs.’ A moment later he was surrounded by a body of Tyrconnel's horse, and, with two sabre wounds on his head and a bullet from a carbine, he fell to earth.

Schomberg was certainly, says Story, ‘a man of the best education in the world, and knew men and things beyond most of his time, being courteous and civil to everybody, and yet had something always that looked so great in him that he commanded respect from men of all qualities and stations. As to his person, he was of a middle stature, well proportioned, fair complectioned, a very sound hardy man of his age, and sate an horse the best of any man; he loved constantly to be neat in his clothes, and in his conversation he was always pleasant.’ One of the first soldiers of his time, he was buried, amid the tumult of war, under the altar in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, only a pencil-mark, so indistinct as to be almost illegible, confirming the fact in the register. No memorial of him was erected till 1731, when Dean Swift and the chapter, disgusted at the apathy of his descendants, placed a large tablet in the wall above, near to Archbishop Jones's monument, with a suitable inscription dictated by Swift himself. The original, which Swift altered at the request of the chapter, may be read in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ April 1731, p. 169, from which it appears that what was suggested to the duke's heirs was ‘monumentum quantumvis exile;’ that the dean and chapter ‘hunc lapidem indignabundi