Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

this day,

XXX.
For six hours bore they without intermission

The Turkish fire; and, aided by their own
Laod batteries, work'd their guns

with

great precision: At length they found mere capuopade alone By no ineaps would produce the town's submission,

And made a signal to retreat at one.
One bark blew up; a second, near the works
Running aground, was taken by the Turks.

XXXI.
The Moslem too had lost both ships and men;

But when they saw the enemy retire,
Their Delhis mann'd some boats, and sail'd again,

And gall'd the Russians with a heavy fire,
And tried to make a landing on the main.

But here the effect fell short of their desire : Count Damas drove them back into the water Pell-mell, and with a whole gazette of slaughter.

II. « If» (says the historian here) «I could report All that the Russians did

upon I think that several volumes would fall short,

And I should still have many things to say ;» And so he says no more-but pays his court

To some distinguish'd strangers in that fray,
The Prince de Ligne, and Lawyeron, and Damas,
Names great as any that the roll of fame has.

XXSUI.
This being the case, may show us what fame is:

For out of three « preux chevaliers,» how
Many of common readers give a guess

That such existed ? (and they may live now
For ought we know.) Renown's all hit or miss;

There's fortune even in fame, we must allow.
“T is true the Memoirs of the Prince de Ligne
Have half withdrawn from him oblivion's screen.

XXXIV.
But here are men who fought in gallant actions

As gallantly as ever heroes fought,
But buried in the heap of such transactions-

Their names are seldom found, nor often sought. Thus even good fame may suffer sad contractions,

And is extinguished sooner than she ought:
Of all our modern battles, I will bet
You can't repeat nine names from each gazelle.

XXXV.
In short, this last attack, though rich in glory,

Show'd that somewhere, somehow, there was a fault; And Admiral Ribas (known in Russian story)

Most strongly recommended an assault;
Jo which he was opposed by young and hoary,

Which made a long debate:—but I must halt;
For if I wrote down every warrior's speech,
I doubt few readers e'er would mount the breach.

XXXVI.
There was a man, if that he was a man, --

Not that his manhood could be called in question, For, had he not been Hercules, his span

Had been as short in youth as indigestion Made his last illness, when, all worn and wan,

He died bencath a tree, as much unbless'd on The soil of the green province he had wasted, As e'er was locust on the land it blasted;

XXXVII.
This was Potemkin-a great thing in days

When homicide and harlotry made great,
If stars and titles could entail long praise,

His glory might half equal his estate.
This fellow, being six foot high, could raise

A kind of phantasy proportionate
In the then sovereign of the Russian people,
Who measured meu as you would do a steeple.

XXXVIII.
While things were in abeyance, Ribas sent

A courier to the prince, and he succeeded
Jo ordering matters after his own bent.

I cannot tell the way in which he pleaded, But shortly he had cause to be content.

la the mean time the batteries proceeded, And fourscore cannon on the Danube's border Were briskly fired, and answerd in due order.

XXIX.
But on the thirteenth, when already part

Of the troops were embark'd, llac siege to raise,
A courier on the spur inspired new heart

Into all panters for newspaper praise, As well as dilettanti in war's art,

By his dispatches couch'd in pithy phrase,
Announcing the appointment of that lover of
Batues to the command, Field-Marshal Suvaroff.

XL.
The letter of the prince to the same marshal

Was worthy of a Spartan, had the cause
Been one to which good heart could be partial, -

Defence of freedom, country, or of laws ;
But as it was mere lust of power to o'er-arch all

With his proud brow, it merits slight applause,
Save for its style, which said, all in a trice,
« You will take Ismail, at whatever price.»

XLI. « Let there be light!» said God, « and there was light!»

« Let there be blood !» says man, and there's a sea! The fiat of this spoild child of the night

(For day ne'er saw his merits) could decree More evil in an hour, than thirty bright

Summers could renovate, though they should be
Lovely as those which ripen'd Eden's fruit-
For war cuts up not only branch but root.

XLII.
Our friends the Turks, who with loud « Allas» now

Began to signalize the Russ retreat,
Were damnably mistaken; few are slow

In thinking that their chemy is beat
(Or beaten, if you insist on grammar, though

I never think about it in a heat);
But here I say the Turks were much mistaken,
Who, bating hogs, yet wish'd to save their bacon.

XLIII.
For, on the sixteenth, at full gallop drew

In sight two horsemen, who were deem'd Cossacks For some time, till they came in nearer view.

They had but little baggage at their backs,
For there were but three shirts between the two;

But on they rode upon iwo Ukraine hacks,
Till, in approaching, were at length descried
In this plain pair, Suwarrow and his guide.

so

XLIV. « Great joy to London now !» says some great fool,

When London had a grand illumination,
Which to that bottle-conjuror, John Bull,

Is of all dreams the first hallucination;
So that the streets of colour'd lamps are full,

That sage (said Jolin) surrenders at discretion
His
purse,
his soul, his sense,

and even his nonsense, To gratify, like a huge moth, this one sense.

XLV. 'T is strange that he should further « damn lois eyes,»

For they are damn'd: that ouce all-famous oath Is to the devil now no further prize,

Since John has lately lost the use of both. Debt he calls wealth, and taxes, paradise :

And famine, with her gauut and bony growth,
Which stares him in the face, he wou't examine,
Or swears that Ceres hath begotten Famine.

XLVI.
But to the tale. Great joy unto the camp!

To Russian, Tartar, English, French, Cossack,
Oer whom Suwarrow shone like a gas-lamp,

Presaging a most luminous attack ;
Or, like a wisp along the marslı so damp,

Which leads beholders on a bogey walk,
He flitted to and fro, a lancing light,
Wluich all who saw it follow'd, wrong or right.

XLVII.
But, certes, matters took a different face;

There was enthusiasm and much applause,
The fleet and camp saluted with great grace,

And all presaged food fortune to their cause. Within a cannon-sliot length of the place

They drew, constructed ladders, repair'd tlaws In former works, made new, prepared fascines, And all kinds of benevolent machines.

XLVIII. 'Tis thus the spirit of a single mind

Makes that of multitudes take one direction, As roll the waters to the breathing wind,

Or roams the herd beneath the bul's protection : Or as a little dog will lead the blind,

Or a bell-wether form the flock's connexion
By tinkling sounds when they so forth to victual ·
Such is the sway of your great men o'er little.

XLIX.
The whole camp rung with joy; you would have thought

That they were going to a marriage-feast (This metaphor, I think, holds good as aught,

Since there is discord after both at least),
There was not now a luggage-boy but songlie

Danger and spoil with ardour much increased ;
And why? because a Villle, old, odd man,
Stripe to his shirt, was come to lead the van.

L.
But so il was; and every preparation

Was made with all alacrity; the first
Detachment of three columns took its station,

And waited but the signal's voice to burst
I'pon the foc: the second's ordination

Was also in three columns, with a thirst
For glory gaping o'er a sea of slaughter:
The Hiril, in coluinns two, atunck'd by water.

LI.
New batteries were erected; and was held

A general council, in which unanimity,
That stranger to most councils, here prevaild,

As sometimes happens in a great extremity;
And, every difficulty being expellid,

Glory began to dawn with due sublimity :
While Suvaroff, determined to obtain it,
Was teaching his recruits to use the bayonet.

LII.
It is an actual fact, that he, commander-

In-chief, in proper person, deignd to drill
The awkward squad, and could afford to squander

His time, a corporal's duties to fulfil: Just as you a break a sucking salamander

To swallow fame, and never take it ill; le shows them how to mount a ladder (which Was not like Jacob's) or to cross a ditch.

LIII. Also he dressid

ир, for the nonce, fascines Like meo, with turbans, scimitars, and dirks, And made them charge with bayonets these machines,

By way of lesson against actual Turks;
And, when well practised in these mimic scenes,

lle judged them proper to assail the works; At which

your wise meo sneerd, in phrases witty: lle made no answer; but he took the city.

LIV.
Most things were in this posture on the eve

Of the assault, and all the camp was in
A stero repose; which you would scarce conceive ;

Yet men, resolved to dash through thick and thin, Are very silent when they once believe

That all is settled :--there was little din, For some were thinking of their home and friends, And others of themselves and latter ends.

LV. Suwarrow chietly was on the alert,

Surveying, drilling, ordering, jesting, pondering : For the man was, we safely may assert,

A thing to wonder at beyond most wondering; Hero, buffoon, half-clemon, and half-dirt,

Praying, instructing, desolating, blundering i
Now Mars, now Momis; and when bent to storm
A fortress, harlequin in uniform.

LVI.
The day before the assault, while upon

drill-
For this great conqueror play'd the corporal -
Some Cossacks, hovering like hawks round a lill,

Had met a party towards the twilight's fall, One of whom spokr their tongue, or well or ill

"T was much that he was understood at all; But wlicther from his voice, or speech, or mander, They found that be had fought beneath their banner.

LVU. Whereon, immediately at his request,

They brought him and his comrades to liead-quarters Their dress was Moslem, but you might have guess i

That these were merely masquerading Tartars, And that beneath each Turkislı-fashion'd vest

Lurkil Christianity; who sometimes barters Der inward grace for outward slow, and makes It difficult to shun some strange mistakes.

[ocr errors]

LVIII.

LXV. Suwarrow, who was standing in his shirt,

Johnson, who knew by this long colloquy Before a company of Calmucks, drilling,

Himself a favourite, ventured to address Exclaiming, fooling, swearing at the inert,

Suwarrow, though engaged with accents high And lecturing on the noble art of killing,–

In his resumed amusement. « I confess For, deeming human clay but common dirt,

My debt in being thus allow'd to die This great philosopher was thus instilling

Among the foremost; but if you 'd express
His maxims, which, to martial comprehension, Explicitly our several posts, my friend
Proved death in battle equal to a pension;-

And self would know what duty to attend.»—
LIX.

LXVI.
Suwarrow, when he saw this company

« Right! I was busy, and forgot. Why, you Of Cossacks and their prey, turn'd round and cast

Will join your former regiment, which should be Upon them his slow brow and piercing eye :

Now under arms. Ho! Katskoff, take him to« Whence come ye ?»- « From Constantinople last,

(Here he calld up a Polish orderly) Captives just now escaped,» was the reply.

His post, I mean the regiment Nikolaiew. « What are ye ?»-« What you see us.» Brietly past

The stranger stripling may remain with me; This dialogue; for he who answer'd knew

He's a fine boy. The women may be sent
To whom he spoke, and made his words but few.

To the other baggage, or to the sick tent.»
LX.
Your names ?»— « Mine's Johnson, and my comrade's

LXVII.
Juan;

But here a sort of scene began to ensue :
The other two are women, and the third

The ladies,—who by no means had been bred Is neither man nor woman.» The chief threw on To be disposed of in a way so new,

The party a slight glance, then said: « I have heard Although their harem education led Your name before, the second is a new one;

Doubtless to that of doctrines the most true, To bring the other three here was absurd;

Passive obedience, now raised up the head, But let that pass;—I think I've heard your name With flashing eyes and starting tears, and flung In the Nikolaiew regiment ?»- « The same.»— Their arms, as hens their wings about their young, LXI.

LXVIII. «You served at Widin?»— «Yes.»— «You led the attack?» O'er the promoted couple of brave men

« I did.»—«What next?»--«I really hardly know.» Who were thus honour'd by the greatest chief « You were the first i the breach ?»—«I was not slack, That ever peopled hell with heroes slain, At least, to follow those who might be so.»

Or plunged a province or a realm in grief. «What follow'd ?»—« A shot laid me on my back, Oh, foolish mortals! always taught in vain! And I became a prisoner to the foe.»

Oh, glorious laurel! since for one sole leaf « You shall have vengeance, for the town surrounded

Of thine imaginary deathless tree,
Is twice as strong as that where you were wounded. Of blood and tears must flow the unebbing sea!
LXII.

LXIX.
« Where will you serve ?»—«Where'er you please.»«l Suwarrow, who had small regard for tears,

know You like to be the hope of the forlorn,

And not much sympathy for blood, survey'd

The women with their hair about their ears
And doubtless would be foremost on the foe
After the hardships you 've already borne.

And natural agonies with a slight shade
And this young fellow? say what can he do?-

Of feeling: for, however habit sears He with the beardless chin and garments torn.»—

Men's hearts against whole millions, when their trade

Is butchery, sometimes a single sorrow « Why, general, if he hath no greater fault

Will touch even heroes--and such was Suwarrow. In war than love, he had better lead the assault.»— LXIII.

LXX. « He shall, if that he dare.» Here Juan bow'd He said—and in the kindest Calmuck toneLow as the compliment deserved. Suwarrow

« Why, Johnson, what the devil do you mean Continued : « Your old regiment 's allowa,

By bringing women here? They shall be shown By special providence, to lead to-morrow,

All the attention possible, and seen Or it may be to-night, the assault : I've vow'd

In safety to the waggons, where alone To several saints, that shortly plough or barrow In fact they can be safe. You should have been Shall pass o'er what was Ismail

, and its tusk

Aware this kind of baggage never thrives :
Be unimpeded by the proudest mosque.

Save wed a year, I hate recruits with wives. »
LXIV.

LXXI.
« So now, my lads, for glory!»— Here he turn'd, « May it please your excellency,» thus replied
And drill'd away in the most classic Russian,

Our British friend, « these are the wives of others, Until each high, heroic bosom burn'd

And pot our own. I am too qualified
For cash and conquest, as if from a cushion

By service with my military brothers,
A preacher had held forth (who nobly spurn d To break the rules by bringing one's own bride

All earthly goods save tithes) and bade them push on Into a camp; I know that nought so bothers
To slay the Pagans who resisted, battering

The hearts of the heroic on a charge, The armies of the Christian Empress Catherine. As leaving a small family at large.

up

lois ray's

LXXII.

LXXIX. « But these are but two Turkislı ladies, who

Oh, thou eternal llomer! who couldst charm With their attendant aided our escape,

All ears, though long,—all ages, though so short, And afterwards accompanied us through

By merely wielding with poetic arm A thousand perils in this dubious shape.

Arms to whiclı men will never more resort, To me this kind of life is not so new,

Unless gunpowder should be found to harm To them, poor things! it is an awkward step;

Much less than is the hope of every court,
I therefore, if you wish me to fight freely,

Which now is leagued young Freedom to annoy;-
Request that they may both be used genteelly.» But they will not find Liberty a Troy :
LXXII.

LXXX.
Meantime, these two poor girls, with swimming eyes, Oh! thou cternal Homer! I have now
Look'd on as if in doubt if they could trust

To paint a siege, wherein more men were slain, Their own protectors; nor was their surprise

With deadlier engines and a speedier blow, Less than their grief (and truly not less just)

Than in thy Greek gazette of that campaign; To see an old man, rather wild than wise

And yet, like all men else, I must allow, In aspect, plainly clad, besmeard with dust,

To vie with thee would be abont as vain Stript to his waistcoat, and that not too clean,

As for a brook to cope with ocean's flood;
More feard than all the sultans ever seen.

But still we moderns equal you in blood-
LXXIV.

LXXXI.
For every tling seem'd resting on his pod,

If not in poetry, at least in fact; As they could read in all eyes. Now, to them,

And fict is truth, the grand desideratum' Who were accustom'd, as a sort of god,

Of which, howe'er the Muse describes each act, To see the sultan, rich in many a gem,

There should be, ne'ertheless, a slight substratum. Like an imperial peacock stalk abroad

But now the town is going to be attackil; (That royal bird, whose tail's a diadem),

Great deeds are doing-how shall I relate 'em? With all the

pomp

of
power,
it was a doubt

Souls of immortal generals! Phæbus watches llow power could condescend to do without.

To colour

from your dispatches. LXIV.

LXXXII. John Johnson, sccing their extreme dismay

Oh, ye great bulletins of Bonaparte! Though little versed in feelings oriental,

Ob, ye less grand long lists of kill'd and wounded: Suggested some slight comfort in his way.

Shade of Leonidas! who fought so hearty, Don Juan, who was much more sentimental,

Greece was once, as now, surrounded!
Swore they should see him by the dawn of day, Oh, Cæsar's Commentaries! now impart ye.
Or that the Russian army should repent all ;

Shadows of glory! (lest I be confounded)
Aud, strange to say, they found some consolation A portion of your fading twilight hues,
In this for females like exaggeration.

So beautiful, so fleeting, to the Muse.
LXXVI.

LXXXIII.
And then, with (cars, and sighs, and some slight kisses. When I call « fuding» martial immortality,
They parted for the present these to await,

I mean, that every age and every year,
According to the artillery's bits or misses,

And almost every day, in sad reality, What sages call Chance. Providence, or Fate

Some sucking hero is compellid to rear, (Uncertainty is one of many blisses,

Who, when we come in sum up the totality A mortgage on Humanity's estate)

Of deeds to human happiness most dear, While their beloved friends began to arm,

Turns out to be a butcher in great business,
To burn a town which never did them harm.

Afllicting young folks with a sort of dizziness.
LXXVII.

LXXXIV.
Suwarrow, who hut saw things in the gross-

Medals, ranks, riband Jace, embroidery, scarlet, Being much too gross to see them in detail;

Are things immortal to immortal man, Who calculated life as so much dross,

As purple to the Babylonian harlot: And as the wind a widow'd nation's wail,

An uniform to boys is like a fan And cared as little for his army's loss

To women; there is scarce a crimson varlet (So that their efforts should at length prevail)

But deems himself the first in glory's vau. As wife and friends did for the boils of Job:

But glory's glory; and if you would find
What was 't to hun to hear two women sob?

What that is-ask the pig who sees the wind!
XXVII.

LXXIV.
Nothing. The work of glory still went on

At least he feels it, and some say he sees, In preparations for a cannonade

Because he runs before it like a pig; As terrible as that of Ilion,

Or, if that simple sentence should displease, If Blomer had found mortars ready made;

Say that hie scuds before it like a brig, But now, instead of slaving Prian's son,

A schooner, or- but it is time to ease We only can but talk of escalade,

This Canto, cre my Muse perceives fatigue. Bombsdrums, guns, bastions, batteries, bayonets, bullets, The next shall riga peal to sbake all people, Hard words which slick in the soft Muses gullets. Like a bob-major from a village-stecple.

When my poor

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

LXXXVI.
Hark! through the silence of the cold dull night,

The hum of armies gathering rank on rank !
Lo! dusky masses steal in dubious sight

Along the leaguer'd wall and bristling bank Of the arm'd river, while with straggling light

The stars peep through the vapours dim and dank, Which curl in curious wreaths-How soon the smoke Of hell shall pall them in a deeper cloak!

LXXXVII. llere pause we for the present--as even then

That awful pause, dividing life from death, Struck for an instant on the hearts of men,

Thousands of whom were drawing their last breath! A moment-and all will be life again!

The march! the charge! the shouts of either faith! Hurra! and Allah! and-one moment moreThe death-cry drowning in the battle's roar.

CANTO VIII.

1. Ou blood and thunder! and oh blood and wounds!

These are but vulgar oaths, as you may deem, Too gentle reader! and most shocking sounds :

And so they are; yet thus is Glory's dream Unriddled, and as my true Muse expounds

Al present such things, since they are her theme,
So be they her inspirers! Call them Mars,
Bellona, what you will -- they mean but wars.

II.
All was prepared the fire, the sword, the men

To wield them in their terrible array.
The
army,

like a lion from his deu, Marchi'd forth with nerve and sinews bent to slayA human Hydra, issuing from its fen

To breathe destruction on its winding way, Whose heads were heroes, which, cut off in vain, Immediately in others grew again.

UT.
History can only take things in the gross;

But could we know them in detail, perchance
In balancing the profit and the loss,

War's merit il by no means might enhance,
To waste so much gold for a little dross,

As hath been done, mere conquest to advance.
The drying up a single tear has more
Of honest fame than shedding seas of gore.

JV.
And why? because it brings self-approbation;

Whereas the other, after all its glare,
Shouts, bridges, arches, pensions from a nation-

Which (it may be) has not much left to spareA higher title, or a loftier station,

Though they may make corruption gape or stare, Yet, in the end, except in freedom's battles, Are nothing but a child of murder's rattles.

V.
And such they are-and such they will be found.

Not so Leonidas and Washington,
Whose every battle-field is holy ground,

Which breathes of nations saved, not worlds undone. How sweetly on the ear such echoes sound!

While the mere victor's may appal or stun
The servile and the vain, such names will be
A watch-word till the future shall be free.

VI.
The night was dark, and the thick mist allow'd

Nought to be seen save the artillery's Name,
Which arch'd the horizon like a fiery cloud,

And in the Danube's waters shone the same,
A mirror'd hell! The volleying roar, and loud

Long booming of each peal on peal, o'ercame
The ear far more than thunder; for Heaven's flashes
Spare, or smite rarely-Man's make millions ashes!

VII.
The column order'd on the assault scarce pass'd

Beyond the Russian batteries a few toises,
When up the bristling Moslem rose at last,

Answering the christian thunders with like voices; Then one vast fire, air, earth, and stream embraced,

Which rock'd as 't were beneath the mighty noises;
While the whole rampart blazed like Etna, when
The restless Titan hiccups in his den.

VIII.
And one enormous shout of « Allah !» rose

In the same moment, loud as even the roar
Of war's most mortal engines, to their foes

Hurling defiance: city, stream, and shore Resounded « Allah!» and the clouds, which close

With thickening canopy the conflict o'er,
Vibrate to the Eternal Name. Hark! through
All sounds it pierceth, « Allah! Allah! Hu!»

IX.
The columns were in movement, one and all:

But, of the portion which attack d by water,
Thicker than leaves the lives began to fall,

Though led by Arseniew, that great son of slaughter, As brave as ever faced both bomb and ball. « Carnage (so Wordsworth tells you) is God's

daughter:» 1
If he speak truth, she is Christ's sister, and
Just now bebaved as in the Holy Land.

X.
The Prince de Ligne was wounded in the knee;

Count Chapeau-Bras too bad a ball belween
Dis cap and bead, which proves the head to be

Aristocratic as was ever seen, Because it then received no injury

More than the cap; in fact the ball could mean
No harm unto a right legitimate head:
« Ashes to ashes»—why not lead to lead ?

XI.
Also the General Markow, Brigadier,

Insisting on removal of the prince,
Amidst some groaning thousands dying near, --

All common fellows, who might writhe and wince And shriek for water into a deaf ear,

The General Markow, who could thus evince
His sympathy for rank, by the same token,
To teach him greater, had his own leg broken.

« PredošláPokračovať »