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With birch and dark some oak between,
On these broad spots of trampled ground, Spreads deep and far a pathless screen,
Perchance the rustics danced such round Of tangled forest ground.
As Teniers loved to draw; Stems planted close by stems defy
And where the earth seems scorched by flame, Th’adventurous fost-the curious eye
To dress the homely feast they came, For access seeks in vain!
And toiled the kerchiefed village dame And the brown tapestry of leaves,
Around her fire of straw."Strewed on the blighted ground, receives
V. Nor sun, nor air, nor rain.
So deem'st thou--so each mortal deems, No opening glade dawns on our way,
Of that which is from that which seems: No streamlet, glancing to the ray,
But other harvest here Our woodland path has crossed;
Than that which peasant's sithe demands, And the straight causeway which we tread Was gathered in by sterner hands, Prolongs a line of dull arcade,
With bayonet, blade, and spear. Unvarying through the unvaried shade,
No vulgar crop was theirs to reap,
No stinted harvest thin and cheap!
Heroes before each fatal sweep
Fell thick as ripened grain; In groups the scattering wood recedes,
And ere the darkening of the day, Hedge-rows, and huts, and sunoy meads,
Piled high as autumn shocks, there lay And corn-fields glance between;
The ghastly harvest of the fray, The peasant, at his labour blith,
The corpses of the slain. Plies the hooked staff and shortened sithe;.
VI. But when these ears were green,
Ay, look again--that line so black Placed close within destruction's scope,
And trampled, marks the bivouack, Full little was that rustic's hope
Yon deep-graved ruts, the artillery's track, Their ripening to have seen!
So often lost and, won; And, lo! a hamlet and its fane:
And close beside, the hardened mud Let not the gazer with disdain
Still shows where, fetlock-deep in blood, Their architecture view;
The fierce dragoon, through battle's flood, For yonder rude ungraceful shrine,
Dashed the hot war-horse on. And disproportioned spire, are thine,
These spots of excavation tell Immortal WATERLOO !
The ravage of the bursting shell
And feel'st thou not the tainted steam,
That reeks against the sultry beam,
From yonder trenched mound! The sun has scorched the autumo sky,
The pestilential fumes declare And scarce a forest straggler now
That carnage has replenished there To shade us spreads a greenwood bough.
Her garner house profound. These fields have seen a hotter day
VII. Than e'er was fired by sunny ray.
Far other harvest-home and feast, Yet one mile on-yon shattered hedge
Than claims the boor from sithe released, Crests the soft hill whose long smooth ridge
On those scorched fields were known! Looks on the field below,
Death hovered o'er the maddening rout, Ard sinks so gently on the dale,
And, in the thrilling battle shout, That not the folds of Beauty's veil
Sent for the bloody banquet out In easier curves can flow.
A summons of his own. Brief space from thence, the ground again,
Through rolling smoke the demon's eye Ascending slowly from the plain,
Could well each destined guest espy, Forms an opposing screen,
Well could his ear in ecstasy Which, with its crest of upland ground,
Distinguish every tone Shuts the horizon all around.
That filled the chorus of the fray-
From cannon-roar and trumpet-bray,
From charging squadrons' wild hurra,
From the wild clang that marked their way,To give her snow-white palfrey head
Down to the dying groan, On that wide stubble-ground.
And the last sob of life's decay
When breath was all but town.
Feast on, stern foe of mortal life, Rise Hougoumont's dismantled towers.
Feast on ?-but think not that a strife,
With such promiscuous carnage rife,
Protracted space my last;
Must limits find in human strength, A stranger might reply,
And cease when these are passed. “ The bare extent of stubble-plain
Vain hope!-that morn's o'erclouded sun Seems lately lightened of its grain;
Heard the wild shout of fight begun And yonder sable tracks remain,
Ere he attained his beight, Marks of the peasant's ponderous wain, And through the war-smoke volumed highe, When harvest-home was nigh.
Still peals that unremitted ory,
Though now he stoops to night.
XU. For ten long hours of doubt and dread,
But on the British heart were lost Fresh succours from the extended head
The terrors of the charging host; Of either hill the contest fed;
For not an eye the storm that viewed Still down the slope they drew,
Changed its proud glance of fortitude, The charge of columns paused not,
Nor was one forward footstep staid, Nor ceased the storm of shell and shot;
As dropped the dying and the dead. For all that war could do,
Fast as their ranks the thunders tear, Of skill and force, was proved that day,
Fast they renewed each serried square; And turned not yet the doubtful fray
And on the wounded and the slain
Closed their diminished files again,
Till from their line scarce spears' length throa,
Helmet, and plume, and panoplyContinued thunders came!
Then waked their fire at once! Each burgher held his breath to hear
Each musketeer's revolving knell, These forerunners of havoc neur,
As fast, as regularly fell, Of rapine and of flame.
As when they practise to display What ghastly sighls were thine to meet, Their discipline on festal day. When rolliag through thy stately street,
Then dowo went belm and lance, The wounded showed their mangled plight Down were the eagle banners sent, lo token of the unfinished fight,
Down reeling steeds and riders went, And from each anguish-laden wain
Corslets were pierced, and pennons rent; The blood-drops laid thy dust like rain!
And to augment the fray, How often in the distant drum
Wheeled full against their staggering flanks, Heard'st thou the fell invader come,
The English horsemen's foaming ranks While ruin, shouting to his band,
Forced their resistless way. Shook high her torch and gory brand!
Then to the musket-knell succeeds Cheer thee, fair city! from yon stand,
The clash of swords—the neigh of steeds Impatient, still his outstretched hand
As plies the smith his clanging trade, Points to his prey in vain,
Against the cuirass rang the blade;6 While maddening in his eager mood,
And while amid their close array And all unwont to be with stood,
The well-served cannon rent their way,
And while amid their scattered band
Raged the fierce rider's bloody brand, « On! On!” was still his stern exclaim,
Recoiled in common rout and fear, “ Confront the battery's jaws of flame!
Lancer, and guard, and cuirassier, Rush on the levelled gun!3
Horsemen and foot--a mingled host, My steel-clad cuirassiers, advance!
Their leaders fall'n, their standards lost.
This crisis caught of destiny:
The British host had stood Greeting the inandate which sent out
That morn 'gainst charge of sword and lance, Their bravest and their best to dare
As their own ocean-rocks hold stance, The fate their leader shunned to share.
But when thy voice had said, “ Advance!” But he, his country's sword and shield,
They were their ocean's flood. Still in the battle-front revealed,
O thou, whose inauspicious aim Where danger fiercest swept the field,
Hath wrought thy host this hour of shame, Came like a beam of light,
Tbink'st thou thy broken bands will bide In action prompt, in sentence brief
The terrors of yon rushing tide? “Soldiers, stand firm!” exclaimed the chief, Or will thy chosen brook to feel “England shall tell the fight!"
The British shock of levelled steel!7
Or dost thou turn thine eye
Where coming squadrons gleam afar,
And fresher thunders wake the war,
Thy conquering troops from distant Dyle-
(Heard frequent in thine hour of ill,) Beneath their fire, in full career,
What notes of hate and vengeance thrill Rushed on the ponderous cuirassier,
lo Prussia's trumpet tone? The lancer couched his ruthless spear,
What yet remains? --shall it be thine And hurrying as to havoc near,
To head the relics of thy line The cohorts' eagles few.
In one dread effort more!In one dark torrent, broad and strong,
The Roman lore thy leisure loved, The advancing onset rolled along,
And thou can'st tell what fortune proved Forth harbingered by fierce acclaim,
That chieftain, who, of yore, That from the shroud of smoke and flame,
Ambition's dizzy paths essayed, Pealed wildly the imperial name.
And with the gladiator's aid
For empire enterprised
And now, o'er thy devoted head He stood the cast his rashness played,
The last stern vial's wrath is shed, Left not the victims he had made,
The last dread seal is broke. Dug his red grave with his own blade,
XVII. And on the field he lost was laid,
Since live thou wilt--refuse not now
Before these demagogues to bow,
Late objects of thy scorn and hate,
Who shall thy once imperial fate On safety --howsoever bought,
Make wordy theme of vain debate.-
Or shall we say, thou stoop'st less low
Against whose heart, in prosperous life, To gild the military fame,
Thine hand hath ever held the knife? Which thou, for life, in traffick tamo
Such homage bath been paid Wilt barter thus away.
By Roman and by Grecian voice, Shall future ages tell this tale
And there were honour in the choice, Of inconsistence faint and frail?
If it were freely made. And art thou he of Lodi's bridge,
Then safely comemin one so low, Marengo's field, and Wagram's ridge!
So lost-we cannot own a foe; Or is thy soul like mountain-tide,
Though dear experience bid us end, That, swelled by winter storm and shower,
In thee we ne'er can hail a friend. Rolls down in turbulence of power
Come, howsoe'er-but do not hide A torrent fierce and wide;
Close in thy heart that germ of pride, Reft of these aids, a rill obscure,
Erewhile by gifted bard espied, Shrinking unnoticed, mean, and poor,
That “yet imperial hope;" Whose channel shows displayed
Think not that for a fresh rebound, The wrecks of its impetuous course,
To raise ambition from the ground, But not one symptom of the force
We yield thee means or scope.
In safety come—but ne'er again
Hold type of independent reign;
No islet calls thee lord, Has brooked thy veterans' wish to hear,
We leave thee no confederate band, Who, as thy flight they eyed,
No symbol of thy lost command, Exolaimed-while tears of anguish came,
To be a dagger in the hand Wrung forth by pride, and rage, and shame
From which we wrenched the sword. Oh that he had but died !"
XVII. But yet, to sum this hour of ill,
Yet, e'en in yon sequestered spot, Look, ere thou leav'st the fatal hill,
May worthier conquest be thy lot Back on yon broken ranks,
Than yet thy life has known; Upon whose wild confusion gleams
Conquest, unbought by blood or harm, The moon, as on the troubled streams
That needs not foreign aid nor arm, When rivers break their banks,
A triumph all thine own. And, to the ruined peasant's eye,
Such waits tbee when thou shalt control Objects half seen roll swiftly by,
Those passions wild, that stubborn soul, Down the dread current hurled-
That marred thy prosperous scene: So mingle banner, wain, and gun,
Hear this--from no unmoved heart, Where the tumultuous flight rolls on
Which sighs, comparing what thou art Of warriors, who, when morn begun,
With what thou mighi'st have been!
Thou, too, whose deeds of fame renewed List-frequent to the hurrying rout,
Bankrupt a nation's gratitude, The stern pursuers' vengeful shout
To thine own noble heart must owe Tells, that upon their broken rear
More than the meed she can bestow. Rages the Prussian's bloody spear.
For not a people's just acclaim, So fell a shriek was none,
Not the full hail of Europe's fame, When Beresina's icy flood
Thy prince's smiles, thy state's decree, Reddened and thawed with flame and blood, The ducal rauk, the gartered knee, And, pressing on thy desperate way,
Not these such pure delight afford, Raised oft and long their wild hurra,
As that, when, hanging up thy sword, The children of the Don.
Well may'st thou think, " This honest steel Thine tar no yell of horror eleft
Was ever drawn for public weal; So ominous, when, all bereft
And, such was rightful heaven's decree, Of aid, the valiant Polack left
Ne'ér sheathed unless with victory!” Ay, left by thee-found soldier's grave
XX. ln Leipsic's corse-encumbered wave.
Look forth, once more, with softened heart Fate, in these various perils past,
Ere from the field of fame we part; Reserved thee still some future cast;
Triumph and Sorrow border near, In the dread die thou now hast thrown
And Joy oft melts into a tear. Hangs not a single field alone,
Alas! what links of love that moi a Nor one campaign--thy martial fame,
Has War's rude hand asunder torn! Thy empire, dynasty, and name,
For ne'er was field so sternly fought, Have felt the final stroke;
And ne'er was conquest dearer bought
Here, piled in common slaughter, sleep
Though from thy blackened portals torn, Those whom affection long shall weep;
Their fall thy blighted fruil-trtes mourn, Here rests the sire, that ne'er shall strain Has not such havoc bought a name His orphans to his heart again;
Immortal in the rolls of fame! The son, whom, on his native shore,
Yes-Agincourt may be forgot, The parent's voice shall bless no more;
And Cressy be an unknown spot, The bridegroom, who has hardly pressed
And Blenheim's name be new,
But still in story and in song,
Shall live the towers of Hougoumont,
And field of Waterloo.
Stern tide of human Time! that know'st not rest, Stream when the stricken drum she hears;
But, sweeping from the cradle to the tomb, Or seest how manlier grief, suppressed,
Bear'st ever downward on thy dusky breast Is labouring in a father's breast, -
Successive generations to their doom; With no inquiry vain pursue
While thy capacious stream has equal room The cause, but think on Waterloo!
For the gaybark where pleasure's streamers sport, XXI.
And for the prison-ship of guilt and gloom, Period of honour as of woes,
The fisher-skiff, and barge that bears a court, What bright careers 'twas thine to close! Still wafting onward all to one dark silent port. Marked ou thy roll of blood what names To Britaiu's memory, and to Fame's,
Stern tide of time! through what mysterious change Laid there their last immortal claims!
Of hope and fear have our frail barks been driven? Thou saw'st in seas of gore expire
For ne'er, before, vicissitude so strange Redoubled Picton's soul of fire-
Was to one race of Adam's offspring given. Saw'st in the mingled carnage lie
And sure such varied change of sea and heaven, All that of Ponsonby could die
Such unexpected bursts of joy and wo, De Lancy change Love's bridal wreath Such fearful strife as that where we have striven, For laurels from the hand of death
Succeeding ages ne'er again shall know, Saw'st gallant Miller's failing eye
Until the awful term when thou shalt cease to flow. Still bent where Albion's banners fly,
Well hast thou stood, my country!- the brave fight And Cameron, in the shock of steel,
Hast well maintain'd through good report and ill; Die like the offspring of Lochiel;
In thy just cause and in thy native might, And generous Gordon, 'mid the strife,
And in heaven's grace and justice constant still. Fall while he watched his leader's life.
Whether the banded prowess, strength, and skill Ah! though her guardian angel's shield
Of half the world against thee, stood array'd, Fenced Britain's hero through the field,
Or when, with better views and freer will, Fate not the less her power made known Through bis friends' hearts to pierce his own! Each emulous in arms the ocean queen to aid.
Beside thee Europe's noblest drew the blade, XXII. Forgive, brave dead, th' imperfect lay; Well thou art now repaid-though slowly rose, Who may your names, your number, say, And struggled long with mists thy blaze of fame, What high-strung harp, what lofty line, While like the dawn that in the orient glows To each the dear-earned praise assign,
On the broad wave its earlier lustre came; From high-born chiefs of martial fame
Then eastern Egypt saw the growing flame, To the poor soldier's lowlier name?
And Maida's myrtles gleam'd beneath its ray, Lighuy ye rose that dawning day,
Where first the soldier, stung with gen'rous shame, From your cold couch of swamp and clay,
Rivall'd the heroes of the watery way, To fill, before the sun was low,
And wash'd in foemen's gore unjust reproach away. The bed that morning cannot know. Oft may the tear the green sod steep,
Now, Island empress, wave thy crest on high, And sacred be the heroes' sleep,
And bid the banner of thy patron flow, Till time shall cease to run;
Gallant saint George, the flower of chivalry! And ne'er beside their noble grave
For thou hast faced, like him, a dragon foe, May Briton pass, and fail to crave
And rescued innocence from overthrow,
And trampled down, like him, tyrannic might, A blessing on the fallen brave, Who fought with Wellington!
And to the gazing world may st proudly show
The chosen emblem of thy sainted knight, XXIII.
Who quell'd devouring pride, and vindicated right. Farewell, sad field! whose blighted face Wears desolation's withering trace;
Yet 'mid the confidence of just renown, Long shall my memory retain
Renown dear-bought, but dearest thus acquired Thy shattered huts and trampled grain, Write, Britain, write the moral lesson down; With every mark of martial wrong,
'Tis not alone the heart with valour fired, Chat scathe thy towers, fair Hongoumont! The discipline so dreaded and admired, Yet though thy gardens green arcade
In many a field of bloody conquest known; Che marksman's fatal post was made,
-Such may by fame be lured--by gold be hiredThough on thy shattered beeches fell
'Tis constancy in the good cause alone, The blended rage of shot and shell,
Best justifies the meed thy valiant sons have won.
nearer the scene of action than the spot already 1. The peasant, at his labour blith,
mentioned, which the rising banks on each side Plies the hook'd staff and shortened sithe.-P. 382. rendered secure from all such balls as did not come
The reaper in Flanders carries in his left hand in a straight line. He witnessed the earlier part a stick with an iron hook, with which he collects of the battle from places yet more remote, partias much grain as he can cut at one sweep with a cularly from an observatory which had been placed short sithe, which he holds in his right hand. They there by the king of the Netherlands, some weeks carry on this double process with great spirit and before, for the purpose of surveying the country.* dexterity.
It not meant to infer from these particulars that 2. Pale Brussels! then what thoughts were thine.-P.383. Napoleon showed on that memorable occasion, the
It was affirmed by the prisoners of war, that Bo- least deficiency in personal courage; on the connaparte had promised his army, in case of victory, trary, he evinced the greatest composure and pretwenty-four hours' plunder of the city of Brussels. sence of mind during the whole action. Bat it is 3. “ Confront the battery's jaws of flame!
po less true that report has erred in ascribing to Rusb on the leveli'd gun."-P.383.
him any desperate efforts of valour for recovery of The characteristic obstinacy of Napoleon was the battle; and it is remarkable, that during the never more fully displayed than in what we may whole carnage, none of his suite were either killed be permitted to hope will prove the last of his or wounded, whereas scarcely one of the duke of fields. He would listen to no advice, and allow Wellington's personal attendants escaped unburt. of no obstacles. An eye-witness bas given the fol
5. “ England shall tell the fight.-P. 383." lowing account of his demeanour towards the end
In riding up to a regiment which was hard pressof the action:
" It was near seven o'clock; Bonaparte, who, ed, the duke called to the men, “Soldiers, we till then, had remained upon the ridge of the hill must never be beat, -- what will they say in Engwhence he could best behold what "passed, con- land?" It is needless to say how this appeal vas
answered. templated, with a stern countenance, the scene of this horrible slaughter. The more that obstacles
6. As plies the smith his clanging trade,
Against the cuirass rang the blade.-P. 383. seemed to multiply, the more his obstinacy seemed to increase. He became indignant at these unfor
A private soldier of the 95th regiment compared seen difficulties; and, far from fearing to push to the sound which took place immediately upon the extremities an army whose confidence in him was British cavalry mingling with those of the enemy, boundless, he ceased not to pour down fresh troops, to a thousand tinkers at work mending pots and
kettles.” and to give orders to march forward—to charge with the bayonet—to carry by storm. He was re
7. Or will thy chosen brook to feel
The British shock of levell'd steel.-P. 383. peatedly informed, from different points, that the day went against him, and that the troops seemed
No persuasion or authority could prevail upon to be disordered; to which he only replied, — En the French troops to stand the shock of the bayo avant! en avant!'
net. The imperial guards, in particular, hardly “ One general sent to inform the emperor that stood still till the British were within thirty yards ot he was in a position which he could not maintain, has put into their mouths the magnanimous senti
them, although the French author, already quoted, because it was commanded by a battery, and requested to know, at the same time, in what way he ment, “The guards never yield-they die.” The should protect his division from the murderous same author has covered the plateau, or eminence fire of the English artillery. Let him storm the of St. Jean, which formed the British position, battery,' replied Bonaparte, and turned his back with redoubts and entrenchments which dever had on the aid-de-camp who brought the message.
an existence. As the narrative, which is in many Relation de la bataille du Mont saint-Jean, par he was probably deceived by the appearance of a
respects curious, was written by an eye-witness, un Témoin Oculaire. Paris, 1815, 8vo. p. 51.
road and ditch which runs along part of the hill. 4. The fate their leader shunn'd to share.-P. 383. It has been reported that Bonaparte charged at that the writer states the châtcau of Hougoumont
It may be also mentioned, in criticising this work, the head of his guards at the last period of this to have been carried by the French, although it dreadful conflict. This, however, is not accurate. was resolutely and successfully defended during He came down, indeed, to a hollow part of the the whole action. The enemy, indeed, possessed high-road leading to Charleroi, within less than a themselves of the wood by which it is surrounded, quarter of a mile of the farm of La Haye Sainte, and at length set fire to ihe house itself; but the one of the points most fiercely disputed. Here he British (a detachment of the guards, under the harangued the guards, and informed them that his command of colonel Macdonnell, and afterwards preceding operations had destroyed the British in- of colonel Home,) made good the garden, and thus fantry and cavalry, and that they had only to sup- preserved, by their desperate resistance, the post port the fire of the artillery, which they were to which covered the return of the duke of Welling 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
* The mistakes concerning this observatory bave been Napoleon was charging in person. But the guards of Bonaparte; and a French writer affrms it was
mutual. The English supposed it was erected for the use were led on by Ney; nor did Bonaparte approach / structed by the dul of Wellington.