Marshal Beresford has transmitted the Copies of a Correspondence which he has had \with you relative to the Resignation of the Sargento Mor, Francisco de Mello, of the 13th Regiment; upon which 1 trouble you principally on account of the reasons given by the Government for a departure from the orders of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, and for a breach in this instance of the Laws, and of a positive engagement entered into with Marshal Beresford.
As far as Francisco de Mello is concerned, 1 consider it fortunate that the Service has got rid of a Man who could conduct himself as he has done, or who could wish to resign his Commission at the moment in which he was likely to be called into a situation of difficulty and danger in the Performance of his duties; and if I am consulted upon the subject, I will give my opinion that he should never again be admitted into the Service of His Royal Highness.
It appears that there is a Regulation of the Service and a Law of the Country, which prevents officers from resigning their Commissions when they think proper; and every Man in Portugal being liable to serve the Country in the Army, it is but reasonable that the Officers of the Army should not be allowed to refuse their services and to resign their Commissions when they think proper. The Prince Regent and the Governors of the Kingdom acting under his authority are empowered by law to refuse to accept the Resignation of an Officer; and the Governors of the Kingdom entered into a positive engagement with Marshal Beresford, when he entered the Portuguese Service, that they would exercise the prerogative of appointing Officers and accepting their resignations according to his advice and recommendation. .
It appears that the Sergento Mor Francisco de Mello, after a long absence from his Regiment, thought proper to send in his resignation to the government, without passing through the regular Channel of the Commander in Chief; and 1 will not trouble you or myself by a consideration of the cause of his doing so. Upon which the government, without referring the subject to the consideration of Marshal Beresford according to their engagement, without attending to the Law and constitution of the Country, to the orders of His Royal Highness, or to the circumstances of the Times, accept his resignation; because it is not the practice to refuse to accept the resignation of a Man of his Quality.
Upon this point I wish to draw the attention of the Governors of the Kingdom to the fact that persons of Quality are not exempted from the law of the Country, nor from the regulations of His Royal Highness; nor is there any exception in their favour in the engagement made by Government to Marshal Beresford; and I wish to know whether the Governors of the Kingdom propose to act upon the principle, that the Laws, the regulations and their own engagements are not to extend to persons of this description.
In a former letter I took occasion to point out to the Governors of the Kingdom the nature of the Contest in which the Portuguese Nation are engaged; and in which we shall all have to exert ourselves, probably in a few weeks; A contest not for independence only, not for the Honor and security of their Prince, or for the protection of their Holy Religion; but for all the blessings of civilized life, for their property, their families, their Houses, and every thing that can tend to their Happiness or Comfort. The Portuguese have no choice, they must exert themselves, or they must become the Slaves of the
.. Conqueror; and 1 now beg to know, whether it is understood to be a principle by the Governors of the Kingdom, that the Nobility or persons of quality, that is, those who have most to lose, are to be exempt from the operation of all the Laws and regulations which have for their object the creation and maintenance of a force, by which alone the Country can be saved.
It has fallen to my lot to be the Instrument used by His Majesty on two occasions to rescue the Portuguese Nation from the grasp of the Enemy; and I am at this moment engaged in making the arrangements preparatory to the great Contest which is impending over them. I am, however, perfectly convinced that the Portuguese Nation can be saved only by its own determined exertions. It is not by illuminations, it is not by demonstrations of Joy or Gratitude for former Services, it is not by professions that these exertions can be made. It is by obedience to order, by the strict and active performance of his duty by each Individual in the situation allotted to him, and by the general zeal and exertion of the whole Country. Now I request to know from the Governors of the Kingdom whether I am to understand that Persons of Quality, who have most to lose by failure, and will gain most by success, are to be exempted from the Performance of all the duties required from them either by the Law, by the regulation of His Royal Highness, or by the Circumstances in which this country is placed.
What I would recommend to the Government in these cases is to do their duty, and trust to the support of the Nation. I would by a proclamation disgrace Signor Francisco de Mello, and all who, like him, should fail or refuse their duty in these times; and they may depend upon it the people will support them, and they will have a few examples of this description to make.
While writing upon this subject, I cannot avoid to draw the attention of the Governors of the Kingdom to the enclosed letter from Marshal Beresford, regarding the conduct of the Militia of Lisbon in not assembling when ordered to perform certain works, which I have thought it necessary to construct. It is needless that I should point out for what purpose these works are constructed; and I rely upon the confidence reposed in me by the Government and the Nation, that it will not be believed that they are useless.
That to which I wish to draw the attention of the Government is the disobedience of the Magistrates of the districts, and of the Officers of the Militia in not assembling the soldiers belonging to the Militia.
These persons would also be proper objects of punishment and disgrace.
I have been obliged to write this letter in English, as my interpreter Mr. Sodray is sick at Elvas; but I beg that the Governors of the Kingdom will attribute what I have written to the confidence reposed in me by His Royal Highness the Prince Regent.
If I should be under the necessity of taking the subject into consideration as the Commanding Officer of the King's troops in Portugal, I must give my Government that advice upon it, which may be dictated to by me by the view which I shall take of His Majesty's interests.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient
Humble Servant Wellington
to: His Excellency Dom Miguel de Forjaz»