'Sir Harry, now is your time to advance.'
'I HAVE GOT PRETTY high upon the tree since I came home,' Sir Arthur Wellesley wrote contentedly from the Lodge in Phoenix Park soon after his return to Dublin. 'I don't think it probable that I shall be called upon [to return to India] . . . Men in power in England think very little of that country, and those who do think of it feel very little inclination that I should go there . . . They think I cannot well be spared from objects nearer home.'1
There was, indeed, much to concern them in Europe. Following the French victories over the Prussians at Jena and Auerstädt and over the Russians at Friedland, France and Russia had become allies by agreements reached at Tilsit and had resolved to divide Europe between them, reducing Austria and Prussia to impotence. Britain thus stood alone against Napoleon. Denmark joined France in October; and Spain undertook to assist in a French attack upon Portugal which had refused to join Napoleon's Continental System, a form of economic warfare designed to ruin British trade by excluding British ships from Continental ports.
French troops invaded Portugal on 19 November under General Andoche Junot, a wealthy farmer's truculent son who had become Governor of Paris; and ten days later the Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil. While Ministers anxiously discussed the measures that might be taken to break the Continental blockade, General Wellesley took every opportunity to remind them of his presence in Dublin and to offer his services in 'any part of the world at a moment's notice?'. 2
Meanwhile he had to turn his attention to the perennial and insoluble problems of Ireland, to Irish education, to the maintenance of civil order, to the creation of a Dublin police force, to a law requiring absentee clergymen to return to their parishes, to protests against excessive rents and tithes, to the dangers of a French invasion, sometimes voicing the views of a high and impatient Tory -- 'we want