"2. PRELIMINARIES TO CARTHAGENA (MARCH-NOVEMBER, 1740).--Monday, 14th March, 1740, Vernon did, accordingly, look in on Carthagena; [
"Sunday, 3d April, 1740, 'about 10 at night' opens cannonade on Chagres (place often enough taken, by cutlass and pistol, in the Bucanier times); and, on Tuesday, 5th, gets surrender of Chagres: 'Custom-house crammed with goods, which we set fire to.' On news of which, there is again, in England, joy over the day of small things. The poor English People are set on this business of avenging Jenkins's Ear, and of having the Ocean Highway unbarred; and hope always it can be done by the Walpole Apparatuses, which ought to be in working order, and are not. 'Support this hero, you Walpole and Company, in his Carthagena views: it will be better for you!"
"Walpole and Company, aware of that fact, do take some trouble about it; and now, may not we say, PAULLO MAJORA CANAMUS? All through that Summer, 1740,"--while King Friedrich went rushing about, to Strasburg, to Wesel; doing his Herstals and Practicalities, with a light high hand, in almost an entertaining manner; and intent, still more, on his Voltaires and a Life to the Muses,--"there was, in England, serious heavy tumult of activity, secret and public. In the Dockyards, on the Drill-grounds, what a stir: Camp in the Isle of Wight, not to mention Portsmouth and the Sea-Industries; 6,000 Marines are to be embarked, as well as Land Regiments,--can anybody guess whither? America itself is to furnish 'one Regiment, with Scotch Officers to discipline it,' if they can.
"Here is real haste and effort; but by no means such speed as could be wished; multiplex confusions and contradictions occurring, as is usual, when your machinery runs foul. Nor are the Gazetteers without their guesses, though they study to be discreet. 'Here is something considerable in the wind; a grand idea, for certain;'-- and to men of discernment it points surely towards Carthagena and heroic Vernon out yonder? Government is dumb altogether; and lays occasional embargo; trying hard (without success), in the delays that occurred, to keep it secret from Don Blas and others. The outcome of all which was,
"3. CARTHAGENA ITSELF (NOVEMBER, 1740--APRIL, 1741).--On November 6th,--by no means 'July 3d,' as your first fond program bore; which delay was itself likely to be fatal, unless the Almanac, and course of the Tropical Seasons would delay along with you!--we say, On Sunday, 6th November, 1740 [Kaiser Karl's Funeral just over, and great thoughts going on at Reinsberg], Rear-Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle,--so many weeks and months after the set time,--does sail from St. Helen's (guessed, for Carthagena); all people sending blessings with him. Twenty-five big Ships of the Line, with three Half- Regiments on board; fireships, bomb-ketches, in abundance; and eighty Transports, with 6,000 drilled Marines: a Sea-and-Land Force fit to strengthen Hero Vernon with a witness, and realize his Carthagena views. A very great day at Portsmouth and St. Helen's for these Sunday folk. [Tindal, xx. 463 (LISTS, &c. there; date wrong, "31st October," instead of 26th (o.s.),--many things wrong, and all things left loose and flabby, and not right! As is poor Tindal's way).]
"Most obscure among the other items in that Armada of Sir Chaloner's, just taking leave of England; most obscure of the items then, but now most noticeable, or almost alone noticeable, is a young Surgeon's-Mate,--one Tobias Smollett; looking over the waters there and the fading coasts, not without thoughts. A proud, soft- hearted, though somewhat stern-visaged, caustic and indignant young gentleman. Apt to be caustic in speech, having sorrows of his own under lock and key, on this and subsequent occasions. Excellent Tobias; he has, little as he hopes it, something considerable by way of mission in this Expedition, and in this Universe generally. Mission to take Portraiture of English Seamanhood, with the due grimness, due fidelity; and convey the same to remote generations, before it vanish. Courage, my brave young Tobias; through endless sorrows, contradictions, toils and confusions, you will do your errand in some measure; and that will be something!--
"Five weeks before (29th September, 1740, which was also several months beyond time set), there had sailed, strictly hidden by embargoes which were little effectual, another Expedition, all Naval; intended to be subsidiary to this one: Commodore Anson's, of three inconsiderable Ships; who is to go round Cape Horn, if he can; to bombard Spanish America from the other side; and stretch out a hand to Vernon in his grand Carthagena or ulterior views. Together they may do some execution, if we judge by the old Bucanier and Queen-Elizabeth experiences? Anson's Expedition has become famous in the world, though Vernon got no good of it."
Well! Here truly was a business; not so ill-contrived. Somebody of head must have been at the centre of this: and it might, in result, have astonished the Spaniard, and tumbled him much topsy-turvy in those latitudes,--had the machinery for executing it been well in gear. Under Friedrich Wilhelm's captaincy and management, every person, every item, correct to its time, to its place, to its function, what a thing! But with mere Walpole Machinery: alas, it was far too wide a Plan for Machinery of that kind, habitually out of order, and only used to be as correct as--as it could. Those DELAYS themselves, first to Anson, then to Ogle, since the Tropical Almanac would not delay along with them, had thrown both Enterprises into weather such as all but meant impossibility in those latitudes! This was irremediable;--had not been remediable, by efforts and pushings here and there. The best of management, as under Anson, could not get the better of this; worst of management, as in the other case, was likely to make a fine thing of it! Let us hasten on:--