Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Theodore Hook

The author of Sayings and Doings, Theodore Hook, was born on September 22, 1788.  Hook also authored a life of Sir David Baird, titled "The Life of General, the Right Honorable Sir David Baird, Bart.".  Hook references Sir Walter Scott several times in this work, including to Scott "Life of Napoleon", often in a corrective mode. 

'We must here beg to call the reader's attention, not only to the last paragraph of the quotation from Lord Londonderry's work; but, as it appears a fitting opportunity for doing so, to an observation contained in the Life of Napoleon, by Sir Walter Scott.

Lord Londonderry speaks of " Baird's retrogression," as if the retreat, or the intention of retreating, had originated with him. The letter of General Moore, already given, dated December the 2nd, will sufficiently prove that Sir David Baird merely acted under the orders which thnt letter contains. So far as we are concerned, we think it our duty to refer to his lordship's narrative, in order to clear up a passage, which certainly admits of misconstruction.

With respect to the passage in Sir Walter's Scott's Life of Napoleon, we have only to call the attention of the reader to an extract from a letter written to Sir Walter by Colonel Sorell, and who subsequently published, with the same laudable view of correcting a mistake injurious to the fame and reputation of Sir David Baird, " Notes on the Campaign of 1808-9," from which we have already made several extracts.

At page 286 of the Life of Napoleon, this passage occurs.

" Yet he (Sir John Moore) finally ordered Sir David Baird, whose retreat upon Corufia was already commenced, again to occupy Astorga. It might," says Colonel Sorell, " naturally be inferred from this passage, that Sir David Baird had commenced his retreat on his own authority, and without instructions from his superior in command. This was not the case. Sir John Moore, immediately after the dispersion of the Spanish armies, ordered Sir David Baird to retire forthwith to Corufia: to send back all the stores which had been brought forward for the use of the army when united, and to embark and proceed by sea to join him at Lisbon: himself at the same time intending to retire on Portugal.

" The retreat was commenced accordingly, and to reconcile the minds of the population to this retrograde movement, an address to the Spanish people was published, containing assurances, that it was in no way connected with an intention of abandoning the cause, but solely for the purpose of concentrating the British forces on a point where their services might be more generally useful. Sir David Baird's head quarters had reached Villa Franca on the road to Corufia, when he received orders first to suspend his march, and afterwards to retrace his steps to Astorga, preparatory to a junction of the two divisions, with a view to the movement in advance, which afterwards took place."...'

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