Page images
[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while

All the world wondered :
Plunged in the battery smoke,
Right through the line they broke ;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke,

Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not

Not the Six Hundred.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them,

Volleyed and thundered ;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them

Left of Six Hundred.



When can their glory fade ?
Oh! the wild charge they made!

All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made !
Honour the Light Brigade,

Noble Six Hundred !



(A.D. 1759.) 1. The closing scene of French dominion 'in Canada was marked by circumstances of deep and peculiar interest. The pages of romance? can furnish no more striking episode than the Battle of Quebec. The skill and daring of the plan which brought on the combat, and the success and fortune of its execution, are unparalleled. A broad, open plain, offering no advantages to either party, was the field of fight. The contending armies were nearly equal in military strength, if not in numbers.

2. The chiefs of both were men already of honourable fame. France trusted firmly in the wise and chivalrous Montcalm : 4 England trusted hopefully in the young and heroic Wolfe. The magnificent stronghold which was staked upon the issue of the strife stood close at hand. For miles and miles around, the prospect extended over as fair a land as ever rejoiced the sight of man-mountain and valley, forest and waters, city and solitude, grouped together in forms of almost ideas beauty.

3. Quebec stands on the slope of a lofty eminence on the left bank of the St. Lawrence. A table-land extends westward from the citadel for about nine miles. The portion of the heights

nearest the town on the west is called the Plains of Abraham. Wolfe had discovered a narrow path winding up the side of the steep precipice from the river. For miles on either side there was no other possible access to the heights. Up this narrow path Wolfe decided to lead secretly his whole army, and make the plains bis battle-ground !

4. The extraordinary daring of the enterprise was its safety. The wise and cautious Montcalm had guarded against all the probable chances of war; but he was not prepared against an attempt for which the pages of romance can scarcely furnish a paralleĪ.

5. Great preparations were made throughout the fleet and the army for the decisive movement; but the plans were still kept secret. A wise caution was observed in this respect ; for the treachery of a single deserter might have imperilled the success of the expedition had its exact object been known. At nine o'clock at night, on the 13th of September 1759, the first division of the army, 1600 strong, silently removed into flat-bottomed boats.

6. The soldiers were in high spirits : Wolfe led in person. About an hour before daylight, the flotilla dropt down with the ebb-tide. “ Weather favourable ; a starlight night.”

7. Silently and swiftly, unchallenged by the French sentries, Wolfe's flotilla dropped down the stream in the shade of the overhanging cliffs. The rowers scarcely stirred the waters with their oars; the soldiers sat motionless. Not a word was spoken, save by the young general. He, as a midshipman on board of his boat afterwards related, repeated, in a low voice, to the officers by his side, Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard;" and as he concluded the beautiful verses, he said,

Now, gentlemen, I would rather be the anthor of that poem than take Quebec !”

8. But while Wolfe thus in the poet's words gave vent to the intensity of his feelings, his eye was constantly bent upon the dark outline of the heights under which he was hurrying. He recognised at length the appointed spot (now called Wolfe's Cove), and leaped ashore. Some of the leading boats, conveying the light company of the 78th Highlanders, had in the meantime been carried about two hundred yards lower down by the strength of the tide. 9. These Highlanders, under

under Captain Donald MacDonald, were the first to land. Immediately over their heads hung a woody precipice, without path or track upon its rocky face. On the summit, a French sentinel marched to and fro, still unconscious" of their presence.

10. Without a moment's hesitation, MacDonald and his men dashed at the height. They scrambled up, holding on by rocks and branches of trees, guided only by the stars that shone over the top of the cliff. Half the

« PreviousContinue »