By Charles J Esdaile
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Extra info for The Duke of Wellington and the Command of the Spanish Army 1812–14
And till the armies will be equipped as they ought for the service required of them, the history of every attempt on our part to alter the nature of the war on any general combined plan will be the same as the last. The enemy will collect ... 66 In searching for an answer to the Spanish conundrum, the British turned to the idea that they themselves could impose order upon the patriot cause. At the highest level these ideas found expression in the attempts to secure the command of the Spanish army whose results are examined in the next chapter, or the proposal that was put forward by Henry WeIlesley, who had been the British ambassador at Cidiz since February 1810, that Wellington should be given control of the Spanish provinces borde ring upon Portugal as weIl as of the troops contained therein.
107 On occasion, too, they were cheated or robbed by the inhabitants. IOB Yet other testimonies allege that the Spaniards were by nature affable and generous. 110 Meanwhile, the British sense of superiority was fuelled not only by the failings of the Spanish army, but also by the poverty and backwardness which they saw around them. 1ll As Grattan ruefully remarked, they therefore failed to moderate their behaviour, stillless to placate the feelings of the inhabitants. ll2 So insufferable was their arrogance, indeed, that they sometimes refused even to acknowledge that there was any reason for them to be unpopular.
In consequence, it would only agree to the proposed mediation if the British promised to assist in the suppression of the insurrections should the negotiations fai1. 86 Such obduracy was only to be expected in view of the Regency's situation at Cadiz, wh ich had depended on the colonial trade and contained a powerful mercantile interest, but it still aroused much anger among the British, and all the more so when the Spaniards announced the first of a series of punitive expeditions against the rebelsY The British concerns about Latin America were perfectly genuine, the government having always been afraid that the colonies might fall under French influence.