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With birch and darksome oak between, Spreads deep and far a pathless screen, Of tangled forest ground. Stems planted close by stems defy Th' adventurous foot-the curious eye For access seeks in vain! And the brown tapestry of leaves, Strewed on the blighted ground, receives Nor sun, nor air, nor rain. No opening glade dawns on our way, No streamlet, glancing to the ray,
Our woodland path has crossed; And the straight causeway which we tread Prolongs a line of dull arcade, Unvarying through the unvaried shade, Until in distance lost.
Continued thunders came!
Each burgher held his breath to hear These forerunners of havoc near,
Of rapine and of flame.
What ghastly sights were thine to meet,
Points to his prey in vain,
"On! On!" was still his stern exclaim, "Confront the battery's jaws of flame! Rush on the levelled gun!3 My steel-clad cuirassiers, advance! Each Hulan forward with his lance, My guard-my chosen-charge for France, France and Napoleon!"
Loud answered their acclaiming shout,
Came like a beam of light, In action prompt, in sentence brief"Soldiers, stand firm!" exclaimed the chief, "England shall tell the fight!"5 XI.
On came the whirlwind-like the last
The war was waked anew;
Three hundred cannon-mouths roared loud,
Their showers of iron threw.
In one dark torrent, broad and strong,
But on the British heart were lost
Then waked their fire at once!
Then down went helm and lance,
Then to the musket-knell succeeds
Then, WELLINGTON! thy piercing eye This crisis caught of destiny.
The British host had stood
That morn 'gainst charge of sword and lance,
Hath wrought thy host this hour of shame,
In one dread effort more?The Roman lore thy leisure loved, And thou can'st tell what fortune proved That chieftain, who, of yore, Ambition's dizzy paths essayed, And with the gladiator's aid
Shall future ages tell this tale
Or is thy soul like mountain-tide,
A torrent fierce and wide;
By which these wrecks were made.
"Oh that he had but died!"
Back on yon broken ranks—
When rivers break their banks,
Down the dread current hurled--
So fell a shriek was none,
The children of the Don.
Thine ear no yell of horror cleft
And now, o'er thy devoted head The last stern vial's wrath is shed, The last dread seal is broke. XVII.
Since live thou wilt--refuse not now
Such homage hath been paid
Then safely come-in one so low,
We yield thee means or scope.
We leave thee no confederate band,
From which we wrenched the sword.
Yet, e'en in yon sequestered spot,
A triumph all thine own.
That marred thy prosperous scene:
With what thou might'st have been! XIX. Thou, too, whose deeds of fame renewed Bankrupt a nation's gratitude, To thine own noble heart must owe More than the meed she can bestow. For not a people's just acclaim, Not the full hail of Europe's fame, Thy prince's smiles, thy state's decree, The ducal rauk, the gartered knee, Not these such pure delight afford, As that, when, hanging up thy sword, Well may'st thou think, "This honest steel Was ever drawn for public weal; And, such was rightful heaven's decree, Ne'er sheathed unless with victory!”
Look forth, once more, with softened heart
Here, piled in common slaughter, sleep
With no inquiry vain pursue
What bright careers 'twas thine to close!-
XXII. Forgive, brave dead, th' imperfect lay; Who may your names, your number, say, What high-strung harp, what lofty line, To each the dear-earned praise assign, From high-born chiefs of martial fame To the poor soldier's lowlier name? Lightly ye rose that dawning day, From your cold couch of swamp and clay, To fill, before the sun was low, The bed that morning cannot know. Oft may the tear the green sod steep, And sacred be the heroes' sleep,
Till time shall cease to run;
Who fought with Wellington!
Farewell, sad field! whose blighted face
Though from thy blackened portals torn,
And Blenheim's name be new;
Stern tide of human Time! that know'st not rest,
For the gaybark where pleasure's streamers sport, And for the prison-ship of guilt and gloom,
The fisher-skiff, and barge that bears a court, Still wafting onward all to one dark silent port. Stern tide of time! through what mysterious change
Of hope and fear have our frail barks been driven? For ne'er, before, vicissitude so strange
Was to one race of Adam's offspring given. And sure such varied change of sea and heaven, Such unexpected bursts of joy and wo, Such fearful strife as that where we have striven, Succeeding ages ne'er again shall know, Until the awful term when thou shalt cease to flow.
Well thou art now repaid-though slowly rose, And struggled long with mists thy blaze of fame, While like the dawn that in the orient glows
On the broad wave its earlier lustre came; Then eastern Egypt saw the growing flame,
And Maida's myrtles gleam'd beneath its ray, Where first the soldier, stung with gen'rous shame, Rivall'd the heroes of the watery way, And wash'd in foemen's gore unjust reproach away. Now, Island empress, wave thy crest on high,
And bid the banner of thy patron flow, Gallant saint George, the flower of chivalry!
For thou hast faced, like him, a dragon foe, And rescued innocence from overthrow,
And trampled down, like him, tyrannic might, And to the gazing world may st proudly show The chosen emblem of thy sainted knight, Who quell'd devouring pride, and vindicated right.
Yet 'mid the confidence of just renown,
Renown dear-bought, but dearest thus acquired Write, Britain, write the moral lesson down; 'Tis not alone the heart with valour fired, The discipline so dreaded and admired,
In many a field of bloody conquest known; -Such may by fame be lured--by gold be hired'Tis constancy in the good cause alone, Best justifies the meed thy valiant sons have won.
1. The peasant, at his labour blith,
Plies the hook'd staff and shortened sithe.-P. 382.
The reaper in Flanders carries in his left hand a stick with an iron hook, with which he collects as much grain as he can cut at one sweep with a short sithe, which he holds in his right hand. They carry on this double process with great spirit and dexterity.
2. Pale Brussels! then what thoughts were thine.-P. 383.
nearer the scene of action than the spot already mentioned, which the rising banks on each side rendered secure from all such balls as did not come in a straight line. He witnessed the earlier part of the battle from places yet more remote, particularly from an observatory which had been placed there by the king of the Netherlands, some weeks before, for the purpose of surveying the country." It is not meant to infer from these particulars that Napoleon showed on that memorable occasion, the least deficiency in personal courage; on the contrary, he evinced the greatest composure and presence of mind during the whole action. But it is no less true that report has erred in ascribing to him any desperate efforts of valour for recovery of the battle; and it is remarkable, that during the whole carnage, none of his suite were either killed or wounded, whereas scarcely one of the duke of Wellington's personal attendants escaped unburt.
"It was near seven o'clock; Bonaparte, who, till then, had remained upon the ridge of the hill whence he could best behold what passed, contemplated, with a stern countenance, the scene of this horrible slaughter. The more that obstacles seemed to multiply, the more his obstinacy seemed to increase. He became indignant at these unforseen difficulties; and, far from fearing to push to extremities an army whose confidence in him was boundless, he ceased not to pour down fresh troops, and to give orders to march forward-to charge with the bayonet-to carry by storm. He was repeatedly informed, from different points, that the day went against him, and that the troops seemed to be disordered; to which he only replied,- En
avant! en avant!'
5. "England shall tell the fight.-P. 383." In riding up to a regiment which was hard press66 Soldiers, we ed, the duke called to the men, must never be beat,-what will they say in England?" It is needless to say how this appeal was
"One general sent to inform the emperor that he was in a position which he could not maintain, because it was commanded by a battery, and requested to know, at the same time, in what way he should protect his division from the murderous fire of the English artillery. Let him storm the battery,' replied Bonaparte, and turned his back on the aid-de-camp who brought the message. Relation de la bataille du Mont saint-Jean, par un Témoin Oculaire. Paris, 1815, 8vo. p. 51.
6. As plies the smith his clanging trade, Against the cuirass rang the blade.-P. 383. A private soldier of the 95th regiment compared the sound which took place immediately upon the British cavalry mingling with those of the enemy, to "a thousand tinkers at work mending pots and kettles."
7. Or will thy chosen brook to feel
The British shock of levell'd steel.-P. 383. No persuasion or authority could prevail upon the French troops to stand the shock of the bayonet. The imperial guards, in particular, hardly stood still till the British were within thirty yards of them, although the French author, already quoted, has put into their mouths the magnanimous sentiment, "The guards never yield-they die." The same author has covered the plateau, or eminence of St. Jean, which formed the British position, with redoubts and entrenchments which never had an existence. As the narrative, which is in many respects curious, was written by an eye-witness, he was probably deceived by the appearance of a road and ditch which runs along part of the hill. It may be also mentioned, in criticising this work, that the writer states the château of Hougoumont to have been carried by the French, although it was resolutely and successfully defended during the whole action. The enemy, indeed, possessed themselves of the wood by which it is surrounded, and at length set fire to the house itself; but the British (a detachment of the guards, under the command of colonel Macdonnell, and afterwards of colonel Home,) made good the garden, and thus preserved, by their desperate resistance, the post which covered the return of the duke of Welling
4. The fate their leader shunn'd to share.-P. 383.
It has been reported that Bonaparte charged at the head of his guards at the last period of this dreadful conflict. This, however, is not accurate. He came down, indeed, to a hollow part of the high-road leading to Charleroi, within less than a quarter of a mile of the farm of La Haye Sainte, one of the points most fiercely disputed. Here he harangued the guards, and informed them that his preceding operations had destroyed the British infantry and cavalry, and that they had only to support the fire of the artillery, which they were to attack with the bayonet. This exhortation was re-ton's right flank. ceived with shouts of Vive l'Empereur, which were heard over all our line, and led to an idea that Napoleon was charging in person. But the guards were led on by Ney; nor did Bonaparte approach
The mistakes concerning this observatory bave been mutual. The English supposed it was erected for the ust of Bonaparte; and a French writer affirms it was structed by the duke of Wellington.