Imágenes de página

The day happened to be remarkably half-a-dozen other specimens of grimfine; bright, without the intolerable ness from the line to the pole,-and, heat with which the English summer finally, a vast concourse of spectagenerally qualifies its fine days, and tors on foot,-were admitted within which makes it a matter of prudence the singularly narrow gate of the innot to be too eager in wishing to get closure. Apropos, if I shall, in the rid of its native fog and rain. This course of the next war, be appointed fog and rain, too, have the effect of giv- to take the command of the invasion ing the soil that proverbial verdure, of England, I shall wait for some which I am beginning to think the field-day of the British artillery on most delicious feature of any landscape this very spot.

I should infallibly whatever. My eyes have been so capture every man and gun of them ; burned out with the hard, dry, turme- for it would be utterly impossible for ric-coloured fields of the Continent, them to get out of this gate, in case from the first day when the primrose there was to be the slightest necessity peeps from its leaf, to the day when for getting out, inore than one at a the trees of the forest, like our belles time. I myself was in the greatest of Paris, dress for winter, by undress. possible hazard of being jammed in ing themselves of all their vegetable the defile to this hour, from accident. draperies, that the sight of grass ex- ally coming in contact with a citizen isting beyond the first week of sun- only a little above the ordinary dishine is an absolute relief to my angry mensions. There we stood back to imagination. I, who have seen the back : it required the aid of a dragoon far-famed Slopes of Lausanne, re- to extract me. sembling nothing but a colossal brown All the mounted party then adloaf, the Pyrenees, as if they had been vanced in a thick group, led by Sir covered with a tanned bull's hide, and Hussey Vivian, the present Masterlooked from the Rhigi itself on a circle General of the Ordnance, to the spot of hills and valleys that might have where the performances were to berivalled the ash-hole of a furnace a gin. The practising-ground forms a hundred and fifty miles round, see the parallelogram about three-quarters of English landscape with a delight a mile long, with the Thames at its which I shall not pique your nationa- extremity ; a mound about 1200 lity by attempting to describe. Now, yards off

' to receive the shot which as far as the eye could stretch, the fell round the target, and the ships earth was covered with a carpet green- and steamers on the river to receive er than ever was wrought in the looms any which disdain the ground. This of D'Aubuisson, and nearly as soft; must so often occur, and the passing light and elastic to the tread; breath- vessels are so happily placed to be ing the very air of health, and second- struck, that nothing seemed more woning with infinite effect the surrounding derful, in this day of wonders, than that picturesque residences of the richer the batteries had not the honour of sinkEnglish, who certainly, in those mat- ing every thing that steered in sight. ters, have the luckiest taste of any At length the rocket-practice bepeople alive.

gan. The target was instantly The display began :- we, that is knocked down; and the discharges all who, like myself, were on horse- followed each other so fast, that, as back and wore uniforms, and, to the whoever attempted to plant it again credit of the national politeness, first would have been inevitably pierced of the first, all who wore foreign like a bleeding heart on a seal, the uniforms; then some of the ambassa- rockets had nothing to do but to beat dors, the Russian in the scarlet live- it about, and treat it as Achilles did ries, which looked as if he were a com- Hector when he had him fairly on petitor for the British throne; the the ground. Austrian, with his huge vehicle, stuffed You have seen the rocket-pracwith Hungarians and Transylvanians, tice at our camps. But I, at least, bilious-looking men, with their noses have seen nothing comparable to the and chins buried in bunches of yellow skill, rapidity, and precision to which hair ; the Swedish, with the pallid the service has been brought here. visages of hyperboreans who had been Our artillerists are quick, clever, and frozen during the last winter, and who brave; this is only saying that they were yet scarcely recovered, with are French. But the Englishman's quietness of movement, dexterity, and resulting from all those, the terror. attention to things which our impa- If the British troops shall ever come tience overlooks as trifles, give him into the field without an overwhelmthe true qualities for an artillerist. ing force of rocketeers, they will The rocket, which we have found so throw away the first chance of victo. difficult to manage, and which even ry that ever was lost by national nethe diligence of the German has often gligence. Nothing can be more obfound so dangerous, is here a weapon vious than that this tremendous weaas much under command as the bayo. pon has not even yet arrived at its full net. In the discharges, whether capacity for war on a great scale. single or in volleys, no failure, no re- We were next shown the effects of coil, no disaster of any kind took the other branches. Galloping back on place; and those tremendous fire- both sides, to give way to the huge works continued sweeping over the muzzles of a range of howitzers, we field with a steadiness and a strength witnessed the precision with which which, against troops, must have been the shells were thrown. Still opendesolating. The very flight of the Con- ing our files, we gave way, with all greve rocket is startling ; it springs duc deference, to

another range. from the ground in a volume of flame, Then the siege-artillery, twenty-four and then rushes along with a conti- pounders and eighteens, roared away, nued roar, with its large head blazing, and shook the mound into dust a and striking point-blank, and with thousand yards off. Then, advancing tremendous force, at the distance of a again down the parallelogram, which mile or more. In a siege it is alrea- was lined on three sides with the dy extremely formidable. It bursts crowd, fourteen field-pieces set off, through roofs; it fixes itself wherever playing, in rapid succession, against it can bore its way; and it inflames the targets, at the distance of a third every thing that is combustible. of a mile. Then, as a grand finale to Stone walls only can repel it, and this operation of the day, we had the that not always. This weapon may rockets again. A troop of cavalry, be regarded as almost exclusively more formidable than cavalry ever English in its use, as well as its ori. were before, a dozen of whom would gin. It will be like the English bow have put to flight the whole army of in the fifteenth century.

Xerxes, or turned the fortunes of In the next war what an extraordi- mankind at the battle of the Granicns, nary change will take place in all the for they were loaded with irresistible established instruments of putting fire, bounded forward with their men out of the world! We shall be rockets fixed at their sides, rode to attacked at once from above, around, the front, and began their conflagraand below. We shall have the bal. tion. At night this must have been loon showering fire upon us from sublime. With its fiery trains, and miles above our heads; the steam-gun its eccentric sweep, nothing could levelling us, from walls and ramparts, have surpassed it but a flight of cobefore we can come within distance mets. Even in the broad day it was to dig a trench ; the Congreves setting superb. Volleys, by tens and twenour tents, ammunition-waggons, and ties, were thus launched out upon the ourselves in a blaze in our first sleep; sky, till a hundred rockets were conand the steam-boat running and doing sumed. mischief every where. But of all The Master-General then turned those mischief-makers I should give his bridle, and led us to the model. the palm to the rocket. No infantry room and repository of the arsenal; on earth could stand for five minutes here we looked over specimens of within five hundred yards of a well- every species of arm, till we mounted served rocket-battery. Half-a-dozen our horses again, in front of this fine Volleys of half-a-dozen of these fiery building, and rode to the field. arrows would break the strongest bat. We were now on elevated ground, talion into fragments, lay one-half with a wide view of the surrounding dead on the ground, and send the country, and that country the true other blazing and torn over the field. English landscape, and in the finest The heaviest fire from guos is nothing season.

Switzerland may have more to their effect. It wants the direct- romantic scenery, and there are even ness, the steadiness, the flame, and, in France valleys of pastoral beauty ;

2 B


but the look of perfect cultivation be- was overlooked liere. Yet nothing longs to the landscape of this country was tardy, loose, or unfinished in its alone. The fences, the distribution of performance. The moment when the the grounds, the planting, the varions word was given all was ready ; the colours of the cultivation, all make it whole line had limbered up their guns ; delightful. One impression is univer- the next they were seen half a mile sal; however solitary the champaign off, with their guns in position; in the may be, in England it seldom has the next they rolled out a rapid and welllook of solitude. Of course, I do not sustained fire, and before the smoke speak of its regions of lake and moun. had cleared away, they were another tain, but in all its more level pro- half mile ofl, and in position again. vinces, even if neither husbandmen Then came the roar of their volleys. nor cattle were to be seen round the They left the smoke standing, and horizon, the aspect of cultivation is so under its cover had dashed to the clear, that you instantly fill the soli. opposite extremity of the field. The tude with the associations of man, of light artillery were, if possible, still all associations the most touching, more complete; mounted on quick and constant, and animating,

powerful horses, they did everything at Our cortéye, as we rode up, found the gallop. They were evidently quite the field, which is of vast extent, equal to the most rapid cavalry movewholly encircled by carriages, horse- ment. And their loosing the tackle men, and multitudes on foot, who had of their guns and horses was done been waiting for some time for our with unfailing dexterity. In one inappearance. We evidently made a stance, perhaps in many, for the smoke prodigious sensation, and, I presume, sometimes hung heavy, a troop suddeserved it, if epaulettes and shakos denly dismounted, pulled their guns to of every colour and plumage, showy pieces, and flung themselves on the uniforms, and horses covered with ca- ground beside the fragments. As parisons of every kind, Turk, Tartar, rapidly again, at a signal, they sprung Russ, Spaniard, German, and French, up, reunited the whole, and with the could reward so many thousand pairs guns were in full speed across the field. of brilliant eyes for the trouble of ad. The only point to which I could atmiring us. But if I had any personal tach a fault was one which they had vanity to torture, it must be acknow. beyond question adopted from ourledged that the Marshal was the grand selves-the caps of the light artillery. point of attraction. Every one pressed They are our hot, heavy bearskin forward to see “ Soult." The old muffs, enormous things, which, without soldier's fame had palpably carried off protecting the head from the rain, exthe eyes and plaudits from us all, di- pose the head, and the man with it, to plomatists included; an affair which, be blown off the horse by a puff of wind. on this and other occasions, has, I un- In bad weather they are thus an enderstand, thrown the whole corps di- cumbrance, and in heat they melt the plomatic into that kind of jealonsy, wearer to the bone. The lighter the which is the more vexations from its head- gear of the soldier always the refusing any legitimate outlet, being better. Even if helmets were made utterly beyond remedy, and being only of straw it would be better for him the more laughed at the more it is than any of those cumbrous Baleries known.

of brass and iron, horse-hair, or bear's The batteries were formed in small hide, which always fatigue, alwaysgive separate troops in the diameter of this headaches, and whose weight, when plain. In a few minutes the trumpets the matter comes to coups de sabre, is sounded, and they were all in motion. more apt to give force to the enemy's The manquvres were those which sabre than to ward it off. It is not to now form the artillery service of be forgotten that all nations who folEurope; attack and retreat, the cover- low nature wear the head as lightly ing of columns in movement, and covered as possible ; the Indian of the the change of front. But all were West, the Tartar, and all the natively done with extraordinary exactness. warlike tribes, trust to little more than The French artillery move as quick, a tnft of their own hair. But fashion, and fire as fast as any corps in the imitation, and the love of finery, load world; but all continental services He us and our troops with burdens; and apt to overlook minutia. Nothing those, 100, on the most delicate portion of the human structure, which the tained by the General commanding most muscular would be unable to the Ordnance; drank loyal toasts in bear. As to defence, a soldier gets excellent wines; went out to see the a hundred headaches for one blow in regiment with its sappers, to the fair fight; and the soldier whose arm amount of some thousands, dining in cannot protect his own skull, will not the open air ; and, in a serene evening, find protection in a cap of adamant. perfumed by the smell of new-mown

After the review came the hospi- hay and a thousand flowers, rode home tality. We were handsomely enter- after a spirited and instructive day,


July 9. I have just returned from another The whole looked not unlike a colossal brilliant scene. The young Queen, at- amphitheatre, of which the Park was tended by a whole host of the nobility, the arena, and we and the troops had was present in Hyde Park, to see the the honour to be the performers. manæuvres of the Royal Guards. All In front of the centre a guard of the diplomatists were, of course, in- honour surrounded the Royal standvited to be on the spot ; for English ard, and there the Queen took up her civility seems determined to know no position. She entered the Park about bounds; and, after dining out day after eleven, amnounced by the firing of day, in a succession of the very sump- cannon. The troops then stood to tuong hotels of the English patricians, their arms ; and the whole cortége and dancing until we are driven home followed her Majesty along the line. by the recollection that the next day This sight was striking. You already is far gone, and that we must dress for know my opinion of the appearance of dinner again, we are continually sum- British troops on the ground. But moned to some fête champêtre, some these were the elite of the British public show, or the celebration of the troops--the Life Guards and the Inanniversary of some great public esta- fantry of the Household. Nothing blishment.

could be more admirable than their This morning was devoted to attend- tenue. The infantry, well set up, ing on the Ambassador, in whose train steady, and alert-the cavalry, giants, we exhibited ourselves in Hyde Park. without the lourde look that great The Park is a large space, open to the height so often gives. Their swords citizens, who scatter themselves about are longer, broader, and altogether a its walks and rides in profusion on more effective weapon than ours. But Swdays; ten times the size of the they have adopted, in compliment, I Champs Elysées, and more than ten presume, to France and bad taste, the times the beauty, notwithstanding the enormous bearskin cap, which places inferiority of its name.

the face of the wearer as nearly as It is covered by the matchless verdure possible at the middle of his figure ; which belongs to England alone, un- and for grace or utility he might as dulates just enough to relieve the mo- • well wear one of the regimental kettlenotony of an absolute plain, and from drums. As the cap is too heavy for its fine groups of trees, and broad sheet the man, the man is too heavy for the of water gleaming through them, has horse, powerful and spirited an animal the quiet aspect of a magnificent park as the English dragoon horse is. The attached to a private mansion. But weight of cuirass, carbine, accoutreon this day all was tumult, glitter, ments, and rider, cap and all, is enough and multitude. When we entered the to crush any thing less than the bone field, we found the troops drawn up and bulk of an elephant. Such solin a line from north to south. The diers may answer the purposes of paFoot Guards in the centre, cavalry on rade, or ride through a field-day ; but the flanks and rear, and troops of field- compaigning is out of the question. artillery forming the extremes of the Even the Belgium campaign of 1815 wings. Handsome houses surround is not an answer. It was but a three three sides of the Park, and they were days' evolution. And though on our crowded at every window, and even on side the deplorably heavy cavalry were the roofs, with fashionable spectators. thrown away against the English squares, and scarcely less than devoted The line then faced about and retreatto ruin by the unaccountable rashness ed, forming columns on halting. The of Napoleon himself, the English ca- superb cavalry of the Life Guards, valry were chiefly reserved, and brought flanked by Hussars and Lancers, now forward only at the close of the day, moved up by squadrons through the which was clearly the only and the intervals, formed line, and charged. fitting time.

This was by far the finest part of the As we moved along, we had a fur- spectacle, the grand jeu of the day. ther opportunity of surveying the peo- The whole plain was covered with ple, who, in all the displays of this the two finest animals on earth, men country, form one of the most inter- and horses, and both in their finest esting portions of the entire spectacle. caparison, spirits, and action. Forbid

The multitude was incalculable, and it all the genius of iny native country, its numbers were brought still more that I should give any thing on earth, forcibly before the eye, from the limits or under it, precedence of the sex ; within which they were compressed. though, perhaps, I may be forgiven The mass of human beings was solid for presuming their ambition not to on three sides of the circle. On the deal in charges of cavalry. But befourth, and in rear of the troops, it was fore we came, an absolute forest of more scattered over the plain, or swords, spears, and banners, rushing grouped up on the rising grounds on with the speed of the whirlwind, which gave a view of the movements. shaking the very ground with the This coup dæil was the more novel thunder of their tread, and rending the from the odd erections on which the skies with the blare of their trumpets; populace took their places ; benches -seeing these things, I wonder no placed on chairs ; baskets and barrels longer that Jacques, or Hyacinthe, or for the foundations of structuresequally any of our eaters of brown bread, frail ; and every kind of slight scaffold delvers of ditches, and dressers of sustained the “ Sovereign people. vines, feels the love of lace and manFortunately they were not far enough slaughter suddenly spring up within from the ground to break legs and him, flings down the spade for the arms, otherwise the public loss in these sabre, and goes forth determined to points must have been considerable, eat, drink, and be merry, to ride fine for we heard their crashing every horses, wear fine clothes, and be a moment. The trees, too, were thickly field-marshal. It is true that a loaded with that forbidden fruit, spec- Prussian six-pounder, or the bayonet tators ; so thickly, indeed, that the of an Austrian grenadier, may come branches often broke down with their seriously in the way of this consumcrop. These were especial objects of mation ; but the brains of heroes are attention to the police, and a sort of made for any thing but close reasoning, petite guerre was kept up between the and if Jacques has the true material parties below and the parties above for the bivouac within his configuraduring the day. The police had the tion, lie will think of nothing but worst of it. It was the war of the boot and bridle, the glitter of his Pygmies and the Cranes.

helmet, and the glories of a campaign. The troops then, on the discharge In France we have a ridiculous trick of a gun, broke off into companies and of driving the peasantry from our squadrons, and passed the royal stan- reviews. From this comes the neces. dard, the officers saluting as they sity for the conscription. I shall passed. The actual maneuvres now pledge all my military fame, present commenced, and for nearly two hours and to come, that a regiment of showy a succession of active field movements hussars, quartered judiciously, and were gone through, and, I must ac- allowed to exhibit itself and its knowledge, gone through with admir- chargers from time to time in a gallop able finish, skill, and rapidity. The across the fields, would carry away line advanced, throwing the skirmishers with it as many followers as an Indian in front, two battalions of rifles. The army. Even in England, where they skirmishers were recalled after some raise their soldiers by enlistment, rounds, and the line commenced firing, they have not yet attained full knowby volleys of regiments, from the right. ledge on the subject. They clumsily Nothing could be more perfect than send down a drummer or two to a this fire, Its precision was complete. country fair, with a sergeant to com

« AnteriorContinuar »