Page images

and where he slept the night after the engagement. On arriving from Brussels, in advance of the main body of his troops, his grace rode from the village towards the direction from which the French were marching, dressed in a black coat and trowsers, in which he was dancing when the trumpets sounded ; and after examining the ground, selected the plain about the farms of La Haye and Huguemont for his position. The place seems as if it had been shaped out by Nature's hand for a battle. A wide extent of land, disturbed by partial inequalities, stretches for a considerable distance. There are few hedges or dykes to intercept it; none of any consequence, and both armies had equal advantages for the extending their lines; if any superiority existed, it belonged to the English. The Duke of Wellington remained, during greater part of the conflict, ou the road, in a hollow formed by a slight eminence, and where he was secured from the enemy's fire, as any shot must have passed over him, without the possibi. lity of inflicting injury. Near him were two wretched mud cabins, in one of which he wrote his despatches. At the distance of a mile, it may be a little more, on the same road, is the house of La Belle Alliance, from which Buonaparte looked on the battle. From this place he advanced once, at the head of the imperial guards, into the very front of the English fire. A few yards from the duke's position is a simple obelisk, erected by his family, to the memory of Sir Alexander Gordon, aid-de-camp to his grace, and who was shot, standing at his bridle, at the close of the engagement, after having served through all the Peninsular war, and, if I remember right, been in thirty-six pitched battles. Opposite this monument stands another to the officers of the German Legion, and near this latter is the tree by which General Picton was killed ; and below it is a little valley, where four thousand, rider and horse in one red burial blent, French and English, Hungarian and Prussian, were buried together. The most interesting part of the field is the Chateau de Huguemont, which is still in ruins. It is in a valley : on one side was the English line, on an opposing eminence were two thousand of the French troops, with eighty pieces of cannon. This formed an important point, of which the French were anxious to make themselves masters

Attached to the house is an orchard, and in it is the grave of the officer who commanded the detachment, by which it had been defended, and who fell reconnoitering the state of the French lines. Anxious to know their movements, he approached the wall, and looking through an aperture, which the absence of a brick had made, he was withdrawing from a hurried glance, when the muzzle of a musket was thrust into the hole, and the discharge of its contents laid him a lifeless corpse on the grass. He was buried on the very spot where he fell : it is a pleasant place for a soldier's tomb, amid flowers and fruit! Near the orchard is the chapel in which several of our wounded found refuge. The walls are blackened and disfigured with the names of icdividuals of every clime and every creed. We wrote ours among them! I anxiously sought for that of Lord Byron, whose stanzas alone were enough to make Waterloo immortal ; and the guide pointed out to me an excavation in the stone where it had been, but from whence some selfish and unfeeling Englishman had removed it! This spot, altogether, is singularly attractive ; and when coupled with the scenes it has looked upon, it comes before us with a peculiar charm. Its blossoming orchard, its ruined beauties, its deserted chapel, its blackened and almost still-smoking tenements, and its quiet peaceful. ness of situation, so contrasted with its lonely desolation, shall never be erased from my recollection. The blue sky was above me, the calm of nature was around me, and I thought that in such a spot I could dwell for ever.

We next directed our course to La Belle Alliance ; remarkable as having been the place where Buonaparte saw the fate of empire decided against him; and where Wellington and Blucher met after the victory. At this place lies the book in which visitors inscribe their name, their rank, and their place of domicile. It is a curious MS, and if time sufficed for its examination, would, I doubt not, present a roll of bright autographs, to many of which the magic of a name' has long been attached. It contained scraps of poetry, original or extracted, in English, Greek, Italian, German, French, Spanish, or Latin, as the impulse of the writer may have swayed him; all appropriate to the character of the place.

After quitting this field of blood and death, the next object of curiosity was the parish church, where are the monuments of many of those, whose life was offered up as a sacrifice on the altars of their country. They are simple, and the more impressive from their simplicity. The damp of time is already beginning to work its havoc upon them, as the names and rank are becoming obliterated on most of them. And this is glory-to die upon the bed of reeking murder, and then to be--forgotten!

Notwithstanding our apprehensions, we found, on our arrival at the inn, that our hostess had not been unmindful of us. A well-furnished and luxuriant din. ner was spread before us; and as she placed on the table each successive dish, her low curtsey, and the tone in which she invariably added, “ Ce n'est par de la viande,' were ridiculous and amusing. When we rose to take our departure she requested that we would recommend the widow of the Hotel D'Angleterre to any of our friends who may be disposed to make a journey to Waterloo ; and in very truth can I venture to comply with her demand, recommending her to all those who are epicures in drollery as well as culinary comfort. In the same recommendation would I in. clude our guide, M. Clocké, to all who do not consider five francs extravagant for the good service of a long and fatiguing day. They may procure others, cheaper perhaps; but, with the faculty of not being able to give them a syllable of suitable information.

The moon lifted her beautiful face over the forest of Soignée, rising in a clear and lovely sky, and colouring

the foliage with her own fair hues. It was night; we entered our carriage, made ourselves comfortable, and, after a most bewildering day and romantic drive, again found ourselves in the Rue de la Madelaine, and seated at a promising supper-table.



THERE went a train of pomp and power

From Dinis' gothic gate ;
And splendour, in a sparkling shower

Of gems shone o'er their state:
And lance, and helm, and banner gay,
Glittered upon that proud array!
'Twas noon of life, and young and fair

Passed Dinis' halls along,
And echo, through the perfumed air,

Rolled back the sounds of song,
As minstrel's lay, and harper's string,
Brought all that tongue or harp could bring.
Look at that castle once again,

Its halls of ivied gloom,
And mark that sad and solemn train,

With funeral pace and plume;
They walk in silent grief beneath
Yon arches to the vaults of death!
And banners rent, and glories gone,

Are waving on the blast,
And mournfully on the bier are strewn

Relics of splendours past;
For Dinis' chief in battle plain,
Shall never whet his blade again.
And thus it is with human story,

The same wild vision still;
To-day the sons of brightest glory,

Some page of fame we fill ;
And hopes are high, and hearts are gay:
The morrow comes, but where are they?


[blocks in formation]

There is generally some one event-something out of the ordinary course of things—in the lives of most men, which not only influences their fortunes but fixes itself indelibly on their memories. To it they are in the habit of perpetually recurring: the recollection of it seems to fill exclusively their minds: it is a source of endless illustration ; and is, in their histories, an epoch from which they date the good and evil of their lives. Like most others, I have had a 'hair-breadth escape,' of which I love to talk-not idly but solemnly - because the memory of it is now part of my being. I look back upon it with a distinct and vivid recollection : the anguish and the apprehension of that moment are ever present to my mind, and all the associations connected with it are of an awful— if you will, of a superstitious-cast. It may be pride or presumption in me, but I cannot help thinking that in my deliverance there was an agency foreign to the operations of chance.

Owing to a youthful indiscretion I quitted, in my nineteenth year, the house of my parents, and bound myself an apprentice to the master of a merchant vessel then lying at Liverpool. This was, on my part, an act of extreme folly: neither my habits or education fitted me for such a laborious pursuit, and my ignorance of the world disqualified me for contending with such rough obstacles as usually present them. selves to the unfriended sailor. My father was wealthy, and I was an only son : bis fondness could deny me nothing, and the partiality of a kind mother approved of every thing he did to gratify me. I was not insensible to all this, but I was obstinate; and, when they thought it desirable to curb my riotous inclination, I rebelled, fled from home, and left them almost brokenhearted.

For the first few weeks I derived a certain satisfaction from the revenge which, I flattered myself, I had taken. I was anxious to punish those I loved, and

« PreviousContinue »