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´╗┐Title: The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo
Author: Creasy, Edward Shepherd, Sir, 1812-1878
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo" ***

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By Sir Edward Creasy, M.A.

(Late Chief Justice of Ceylon) Author of 'The Rise and Progress of the
English Constitution'

Dedicated to ROBERT GORDON LATHAM, M.D., F.R.S. Late Fellow of King's
College Cambridge; Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London.

Member of the Ethnological Society, New York; Late Professor of the
English Language and Literature, in University College, London.

By his Friend THE AUTHOR.

Transcriber's Notes:

Capital letters have been used to replace text in italics in the printed
text. Accents have been omitted.

Footnotes have been inserted into the text enclosed in square '[]'
brackets, near the point where they were indicated by a suffix in the

Greek words in the text have been crudely translated into Western
European capital letters. Sincere apologies to Greek scholars! Longer
passages in Greek have been omitted and where possible replaced with a
reference to the original from which they were taken.


It is an honourable characteristic of the Spirit of this Age, that
projects of violence and warfare are regarded among civilized states
with gradually increasing aversion. The Universal Peace Society
certainly does not, and probably never will, enrol the majority of
statesmen among its members. But even those who look upon the Appeal
of Battle as occasionally unavoidable in international controversies,
concur in thinking it a deplorable necessity, only to be resorted to
when all peaceful modes of arrangement have been vainly tried; and when
the law of self-defence justifies a State, like an individual, in using
force to protect itself from imminent and serious injury. For a writer,
therefore, of the present day to choose battles for his favourite topic,
merely because they were battles, merely because so many myriads of
troops were arrayed in them, and so many hundreds or thousands of human
beings stabbed, hewed, or shot each other to death during them, would
argue strange weakness or depravity of mind. Yet it cannot be denied
that a fearful and wonderful interest is attached to these scenes of
carnage. There is undeniable greatness in the disciplined courage, and
in the love of honour, which make the combatants confront agony and
destruction. And the powers of the human intellect are rarely more
strongly displayed than they are in the Commander, who regulates,
arrays, and wields at his will these masses of armed disputants; who,
cool yet daring, in the midst of peril reflects on all, and provides for
all, ever ready with fresh resources and designs, as the vicissitudes of
the storm of slaughter require. But these qualities, however high they
may appear, are to be found in the basest as well as in the noblest of
mankind. Catiline was as brave a soldier as Leonidas, and a much better
officer. Alva surpassed the Prince of Orange in the field; and Suwarrow
was the military superior of Kosciusko. To adopt the emphatic words of

     "'Tis the Cause makes all,
      Degrades or hallows courage in its fall."

There are some battles, also, which claim our attention, independently
of the moral worth of the combatants, on account of their enduring
importance, and by reason of the practical influence on our own social
and political condition, which we can trace up to the results of those
engagements. They have for us an abiding and actual interest, both
while we investigate the chain of causes and effects, by which they have
helped to make us what we are; and also while we speculate on what we
probably should have been, if any one of those battles had come to
a different termination. Hallam has admirably expressed this in his
remarks on the victory gained by Charles Martel, between Tours and
Poictiers, over the invading Saracens.

He says of it, that "it may justly be reckoned among those few battles
of which a contrary event would have essentially varied the drama of the
world in all its subsequent scenes: with Marathon, Arbela, the Metaurus,
Chalons, and Leipsic." It was the perusal of this note of Hallam's that
first led me to the consideration of my present subject. I certainly
differ from that great historian as to the comparative importance of
some of the battles which he thus enumerates, and also of some which he
omits. It is probable, indeed, that no two historical inquirers would
entirely agree in their lists of the Decisive Battles of the World.
Different minds will naturally vary in the impressions which particular
events make on them; and in the degree of interest with which they
watch the career, and reflect on the importance, of different historical
personages. But our concurrence in our catalogues is of little moment,
provided we learn to look on these great historical events in the spirit
which Hallam's observations indicate. Those remarks should teach us
to watch how the interests of many states are often involved in the
collisions between a few; and how the effect of those collisions is not
limited to a single age, but may give an impulse which will sway the
fortunes of successive generations of mankind. Most valuable also is the
mental discipline which is thus acquired, and by which we are trained
not only to observe what has been, and what is, but also to ponder on
what might have been. [See Bolingbroke, On the Study and Use of History,
vol. ii. p. 497 of his collected works.]

We thus learn not to judge of the wisdom of measures too exclusively by
the results. We learn to apply the juster standard of seeing what the
circumstances and the probabilities were that surrounded a statesman or
a general at the time when he decided on his plan: we value him not by
his fortune, but by his PROAIRESIZ, to adopt the expressive Greek word,
for which our language gives no equivalent.

The reasons why each of the following Fifteen Battles has been selected
will, I trust, appear when it is described. But it may be well to
premise a few remarks on the negative tests which have led me to
reject others, which at first sight may appear equal in magnitude and
importance to the chosen Fifteen.

I need hardly remark that it is not the number of killed and wounded in
a battle that determines its general historical importance. It is not
because only a few hundreds fell in the battle by which Joan of Arc
captured the Tourelles and raised the siege of Orleans, that the effect
of that crisis is to be judged: nor would a full belief in the largest
number which Eastern historians state to have been slaughtered in any
of the numerous conflicts between Asiatic rulers, make me regard the
engagement in which they fell as one of paramount importance to mankind.
But, besides battles of this kind, there are many of great consequence,
and attended with circumstances which powerfully excite our feelings,
and rivet our attention, and yet which appear to me of mere secondary
rank, inasmuch as either their effects were limited in area, or they
themselves merely confirmed some great tendency or bias which an earlier
battle had originated. For example, the encounters between the Greeks
and Persians, which followed Marathon, seem to me not to have been
phenomena of primary impulse. Greek superiority had been already
asserted, Asiatic ambition had already been checked, before Salamis and
Platea confirmed the superiority of European free states over Oriental
despotism. So, AEgos-Potamos, which finally crushed the maritime
power of Athens, seems to me inferior in interest to the defeat before
Syracuse, where Athens received her first fatal check, and after which
she only struggled to retard her downfall. I think similarly of Zama
with respect to Carthage, as compared with the Metaurus: and, on the
same principle, the subsequent great battles of the Revolutionary
war appear to me inferior in their importance to Valmy, which first
determined the military character and career of the French Revolution.

I am aware that a little activity of imagination, and a slight exercise
of metaphysical ingenuity, may amuse us, by showing how the chain of
circumstances is so linked together, that the smallest skirmish, or the
slightest occurrence of any kind, that ever occurred, may be said to
have been essential, in its actual termination, to the whole order of
subsequent events. But when I speak of Causes and Effects, I speak of
the obvious and important agency of one fact upon another, and not of
remote and fancifully infinitesimal influences. I am aware that, on the
other hand, the reproach of Fatalism is justly incurred by those,
who, like the writers of a certain school in a neighbouring country,
recognise in history nothing more than a series of necessary phenomena,
which follow inevitably one upon the other. But when, in this work,
I speak of probabilities, I speak of human probabilities only. When I
speak of Cause and Effect, I speak of those general laws only, by which
we perceive the sequence of human affairs to be usually regulated; and
in which we recognise emphatically the wisdom and power of the Supreme
Lawgiver, the design of The Designer.





Explanatory Remarks on some of the circumstances of the Battle of

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Marathon, B.C. 490, and the
Defeat of the Athenians at Syracuse, B.C. 413.



Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of the Athenians at Syracuse and
the Battle of Arbela.



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Arbela and the Battle of the



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of the Metaurus, B.C. 207, and
Arminius's Victory over the Roman Legions under Varus. A.D. 9.



Arminius. Synopsis of Events between Arminius's Victory over Varus and
the Battle of Chalons.



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Chalons, A.D. 451, and the
Battle of Tours, 732.



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Tours, A.D. 732 and the Battle
of Hastings, 1066.



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Hastings, A.D. 1066, and Joan
of Arc's Victory at Orleans, 1429.



Synopsis of Events between Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, A.D. 1429,
and the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 1588.



Synopsis of events between the Defeat of the Spanish Armada A.D. 1588,
and the Battle of Blenheim, 1704.



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Blenheim, 1704, and the Battle
of Pultowa, 1709.



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Pultowa, 1709, and the Defeat
of Burgoyne at Saratoga, 1777.



Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga, 1777, and
the Battle of Valmy, 1792.



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Valmy, 1792, and the Battle of
Waterloo, 1815.





     "Quibus actus uterque
     Europae atque Asiae fatis concurrerit orbis."

Two thousand three hundred and forty years ago, a council of Athenian
officers was summoned on the slope of one of the mountains that
look over the plain of Marathon, on the eastern coast of Attica. The
immediate subject of their meeting was to consider whether they should
give battle to an enemy that lay encamped on the shore beneath them; but
on the result of their deliberations depended not merely the fate of two
armies, but the whole future progress of human civilization.

There were eleven members of that council of war. Ten were the generals,
who were then annually elected at Athens, one for each of the local
tribes into which the Athenians were divided. Each general led the men
of his own tribe, and each was invested with equal military authority.
One also of the Archons was associated with them in the joint command
of the collective force. This magistrate was termed the Polemarch or
War-Ruler: he had the privilege of leading the right wing of the army
in battle, and of taking part in all councils of war. A noble Athenian,
named Callimachus, was the War-Ruler of this year; and as such, stood
listening to the earnest discussion of the ten generals. They had,
indeed, deep matter for anxiety, though little aware how momentous to
mankind were the votes they were about to give, or how the generations
to come would read with interest that record of their debate. They saw
before them the invading forces of a mighty empire, which had in the
last fifty years shattered and enslaved nearly all the kingdoms and
principalities of the then known world. They knew that all the resources
of their own country were comprised in the little army entrusted to
their guidance. They saw before them a chosen host of the Great King
sent to wreak his special wrath on that country, and on the other
insolent little Greek community, which had dared to aid his rebels
and burn the capital of one of his provinces. That victorious host
had already fulfilled half its mission of vengeance. Eretria, the
confederate of Athens in the bold march against Sardis nine years
before, had fallen in the last few days; and the Athenian generals could
discern from the heights the island of AEgilia, in which the Persians
had deposited their Eretrian prisoners, whom they had reserved to be led
away captives into Upper Asia, there to hear their doom from the lips of
King Darius himself. Moreover, the men of Athens knew that in the camp
before them was their own banished tyrant, Hippias, who was seeking to
be reinstated by foreign scimitars in despotic sway over any remnant of
his countrymen that might survive the sack of their town, and might be
left behind as too worthless for leading away into Median bondage.

The numerical disparity between the force which the Athenian commanders
had under them, and that which they were called on to encounter, was
fearfully apparent to some of the council. The historians who wrote
nearest to the time of the battle do not pretend to give any detailed
statements of the numbers engaged, but there are sufficient data for
our making a general estimate. Every free Greek was trained to military
duty: and, from the incessant border wars between the different states,
few Greeks reached the age of manhood without having seen some service.
But the muster-roll of free Athenian citizens of an age fit for military
duty never exceeded thirty thousand, and at this epoch probably did not
amount to two-thirds of that number. Moreover, the poorer portion
of these were unprovided with the equipments, and untrained to the
operations of the regular infantry. Some detachments of the best armed
troops would be required to garrison the city itself, and man the
various fortified posts in the territory; so that it is impossible to
reckon the fully equipped force that marched from Athens to Marathon,
when the news of the Persian landing arrived, at higher than ten
thousand men. [The historians who lived long after the time of the
battle, such as Justin, Plutarch and others, give ten thousand as the
number of the Athenian army. Not much reliance could be placed on their
authority, if unsupported by other evidence; but a calculation made from
the number of the Athenian free population remarkably confirms it. For
the data of this, see Boeck's "Public Economy of Athens," vol. i. p. 45.
Some METOIKOI probably served as Hoplites at Marathon, but the number of
resident aliens at Athens cannot have been large at this period.]

With one exception, the other Greeks held back from aiding them. Sparta
had promised assistance; but the Persians had landed on the sixth day
of the moon, and a religious scruple delayed the march of Spartan troops
till the moon should have reached its full. From one quarter only, and
that a most unexpected one, did Athens receive aid at the moment of her
great peril.

For some years before this time, the little state of Plataea in Boeotia,
being hard pressed by her powerful neighbour, Thebes, had asked the
protection of Athens, and had owed to an Athenian army the rescue of her
independence. Now when it was noised over Greece that the Mede had
come from the uttermost parts of the earth to destroy Athens, the brave
Plataeans, unsolicited, marched with their whole force to assist in the
defence, and to share the fortunes of their benefactors. The general
levy of the Plataeans only amounted to a thousand men: and this little
column, marching from their city along the southern ridge of Mount
Cithaeron, and thence across the Attic territory, joined the Athenian
forces above Marathon almost immediately before the battle. The
reinforcement was numerically small; but the gallant spirit of the men
who composed it must have made it of tenfold value to the Athenians: and
its presence must have gone far to dispel the cheerless feeling of being
deserted and friendless, which the delay of the Spartan succours was
calculated to create among the Athenian ranks.

This generous daring of their weak but true-hearted ally was never
forgotten at Athens. The Plataeans were made the fellow-countrymen
of the Athenians, except the right of exercising certain political
functions; and from that time forth in the solemn sacrifices at Athens,
the public prayers were offered up for a joint blessing from Heaven upon
the Athenians, and the Plataeans also. [Mr. Grote observes (vol. iv. p.
484), that "this volunteer march of the whole Plataean force to Marathon
is one of the most affecting incidents of all Grecian history." In
truth, the whole career of Plataea, and the friendship, strong even unto
death, between her and Athens, form one of the most affecting episodes
in the history of antiquity. In the Peloponnesian War the Plataeans
again were true to the Athenians against all risks and all calculation
of self-interest; and the destruction of Plataea was the consequence.
There are few nobler passages in the classics than the speech in which
the Plataean prisoners of war, after the memorable siege of their city,
justify before their Spartan executioners their loyal adherence to
Athens. (See Thucydides, lib. iii. secs. 53-60.)]

After the junction of the column from Plataea, the Athenians commanders
must have had under them about eleven thousand fully-armed and
disciplined infantry, and probably a larger number of irregular
light-armed troops; as, besides the poorer citizens who went to
the field armed with javelins, cutlasses, and targets, each regular
heavy-armed soldier was attended in the camp by one or more slaves, who
were armed like the inferior freemen. [At the battle of Plataea, eleven
years after Marathon, each of the eight thousand Athenian regular
infantry who served there, was attended by a light-armed slave. (Herod.
lib. viii. c. 28,29.)] Cavalry or archers the Athenians (on this
occasion) had none: and the use in the field of military engines was not
at that period introduced into ancient warfare.

Contrasted with their own scanty forces, the Greek commanders saw
stretched before them, along the shores of the winding bay, the tents
and shipping of the varied nations that marched to do the bidding of the
King of the Eastern world. The difficulty of finding transports and
of securing provisions would form the only limit to the numbers of a
Persian army. Nor is there any reason to suppose the estimate of Justin
exaggerated, who rates at a hundred thousand the force which on this
occasion had sailed, under the satraps Datis and Artaphernes, from the
Cilician shores, against the devoted coasts of Euboea and Attica.
And after largely deducting from this total, so as to allow for mere
mariners and camp followers, there must still have remained fearful odds
against the national levies of the Athenians. Nor could Greek generals
then feel that confidence in the superior quality of their troops which
ever since the battle of Marathon has animated Europeans in conflicts
with Asiatics; as, for instance, in the after struggles between Greece
and Persia, or when the Roman legions encountered the myriads of
Mithridates and Tigranes, or as is the case in the Indian campaigns of
our own regiments. On the contrary, up to the day of Marathon the Medes
and Persians were reputed invincible. They had more than once met Greek
troops in Asia Minor, in Cyprus, in Egypt, and had invariably beaten
them. Nothing can be stronger than the expressions used by the early
Creek writers respecting the terror which the name of the Medes
inspired, and the prostration of men's spirits before the apparently
resistless career of the Persian arms. It is therefore, little to be
wondered at, that five of the ten Athenian generals shrank from the
prospect of fighting a pitched battle against an enemy so superior in
numbers, and so formidable in military renown. Their own position on the
heights was strong, and offered great advantages to a small defending
force against assailing masses. They deemed it mere foolhardiness
to descend into the plain to be trampled down by the Asiatic horse,
overwhelmed with the archery, or cut to pieces by the invincible
veterans of Cambyses and Cyrus. Moreover, Sparta, the great war-state of
Greece, had been applied to, and had promised succour to Athens, though
the religious observance which the Dorians paid to certain times and
seasons had for the present delayed their march. Was it not wise, at
any rate, to wait till the Spartans came up, and to have the help of the
best troops in Greece, before they exposed themselves to the shock of
the dreaded Medes?

Specious as these reasons might appear, the other five generals were for
speedier and bolder operations. And, fortunately for Athens and for the
world, one of them was a man, not only of the highest military genius,
but also of that energetic character which impresses its own type and
ideas upon spirits feebler in conception.

Miltiades was the head of one of the noblest houses at Athens: he ranked
the AEacidae among his ancestry, and the blood of Achilles flowed in
the veins of the hero of Marathon. One of his immediate ancestors had
acquired the dominion of the Thracian Chersonese, and thus the family
became at the same time Athenian citizens and Thracian princes. This
occurred at the time when Pisistratus was tyrant of Athens. Two of the
relatives of Miltiades--an uncle of the same name, and a brother named
Stesagoras--had ruled the Chersonese before Miltiades became its prince.
He had been brought up at Athens in the house of his father Cimon,
[Herodotus, lib. vi. c. 102] who was renowned throughout Greece for his
victories in the Olympic chariot-races, and who must have been possessed
of great wealth. The sons of Pisistratus, who succeeded their father in
the tyranny at Athens, caused Cimon to be assassinated, but they treated
the young Miltiades with favour and kindness; and when his brother
Stesagoras died in the Chersonese, they sent him out there as lord of
the principality. This was about twenty-eight years before the battle
of Marathon, and it is with his arrival in the Chersonese that our first
knowledge of the career and character of Miltiades commences. We
find, in the first act recorded of him, proof of the same resolute and
unscrupulous spirit that marked his mature age. His brother's authority
in the principality had been shaken by war and revolt: Miltiades
determined to rule more securely. On his arrival he kept close within
his house, as if he was mourning for his brother. The principal men
of the Chersonese, hearing of this, assembled from all the towns and
districts, and went together to the house of Miltiades on a visit of
condolence. As soon as he had thus got them in his power, he made
them all prisoners. He then asserted and maintained his own absolute
authority in the peninsula, taking into his pay a body of five hundred
regular troops, and strengthening his interest by marrying the daughter
of the king of the neighbouring Thracians.

When the Persian power was extended to the Hellespont and its
neighbourhood, Miltiades, as prince of the Chersonese, submitted to King
Darius; and he was one of the numerous tributary rulers who led their
contingents of men to serve in the Persian army in the expedition
against Scythia. Miltiades and the vassal Greeks of Asia Minor were left
by the Persian king in charge of the bridge across the Danube, when
the invading army crossed that river, and plunged into the wilds of
the country that now is Russia, in vain pursuit of the ancestors of the
modern Cossacks. On learning the reverses that Darius met with in the
Scythian wilderness, Miltiades proposed to his companions that they
should break the bridge down, and leave the Persian king and his army
to perish by famine and the Scythian arrows. The rulers of the Asiatic
Greek cities whom Miltiades addressed, shrank from this bold and
ruthless stroke against the Persian power, and Darius returned in
safety. But it was known what advice Miltiades had given; and the
vengeance of Darius was thenceforth specially directed against the man
who had counselled such a deadly blow against his empire and his person.
The occupation of the Persian arms in other quarters left Miltiades
for some years after this in possession of the Chersonese; but it
was precarious and interrupted. He, however, availed himself of the
opportunity which his position gave him of conciliating the goodwill
of his fellow-countrymen at Athens, by conquering and placing under
Athenian authority the islands of Lemnos and Imbros, to which Athens had
ancient claims, but which she had never previously been able to
bring into complete subjection. At length, in 494 B.C., the complete
suppression of the Ionian revolt by the Persians left their armies and
fleets at liberty to act against the enemies of the Great King to the
west of the Hellespont. A strong squadron of Phoenician galleys was sent
against the Chersonese. Miltiades knew that resistance was hopeless; and
while the Phoenicians were at Tenedos, he loaded five galleys with all
the treasure that he could collect, and sailed away for Athens. The
Phoenicians fell in with him, and chased him hard along the north of
the AEgean. One of his galleys, on board of which was his eldest son,
Metiochus, was actually captured; but Miltiades, with the other four,
succeeded in reaching the friendly coast of Imbros in safety. Thence
he afterwards proceeded to Athens, and resumed his station as a free
citizen of the Athenian commonwealth.

The Athenians at this time had recently expelled Hippias, the son of
Pisistratus, the last of their tyrants. They were in the full glow
of their newly-recovered liberty and equality; and the constitutional
changes of Cleisthenes had inflamed their republican zeal to the utmost.
Miltiades had enemies at Athens; and these, availing themselves of the
state of popular feeling, brought him to trial for his life for having
been tyrant of the Chersonese. The charge did not necessarily import any
acts of cruelty or wrong to individuals: it was founded on so specific
law; but it was based on the horror with which the Greeks of that age
regarded every man who made himself compulsory master of his fellow-men,
and exercised irresponsible dominion over them. The fact of Miltiades
having so ruled in the Chersonese was undeniable; but the question which
the Athenians, assembled in judgment, must have tried, was, whether
Miltiades, by becoming tyrant of the Chersonese, deserved punishment as
an Athenian citizen. The eminent service that he had done the state in
conquering Lemnos and Imbros for it, pleaded strongly in his favour. The
people refused to convict him. He stood high in public opinion; and when
the coming invasion of the Persians was known, the people wisely elected
him one of their generals for the year.

Two other men of signal eminence in history, though their renown was
achieved at a later period than that of Miltiades, were also among the
ten Athenian generals at Marathon. One was Themistocles, the future
founder of the Athenian navy and the destined victor of Salamis: the
other was Aristides, who afterwards led the Athenian troops at Plataea,
and whose integrity and just popularity acquired for his country, when
the Persians had finally been repulsed, the advantageous pre-eminence of
being acknowledged by half of the Greeks as their impartial leader and
protector. It is not recorded what part either Themistocles or Aristides
took in the debate of the council of war at Marathon. But from the
character of Themistocles, his boldness, and his intuitive genius for
extemporizing the best measures in every emergency (a quality which the
greatest of historians ascribes to him beyond all his contemporaries),
we may well believe that the vote of Themistocles was for prompt and
decisive action. [See the character of Themistocles in the 138th section
of the first book of Thucydides, especially the last sentence.] On
the vote of Aristides it may be more difficult to speculate. His
predilection for the Spartans may have made him wish to wait till they
came up; but, though circumspect, he was neither timid as a soldier
nor as a politician; and the bold advice of Miltiades may probably have
found in Aristides a willing, most assuredly it found in him a candid,

Miltiades felt no hesitation as to the course which the Athenian
army ought to pursue: and earnestly did he press his opinion on his
brother-generals. Practically acquainted with the organization of the
Persian armies, Miltiades was convinced of the superiority of the Greek
troops, if properly handled: he saw with the military eye of a great
general the advantage which the position of the forces gave him for
a sudden attack, and as a profound politician he felt the perils of
remaining inactive, and of giving treachery time to ruin the Athenian

One officer in the council of war had not yet voted. This was
Callimachus, the War-Ruler. The votes of the generals were five and
five, so that the voice of Callimachus would be decisive.

On that vote, in all human probability, the destiny of all the nations
of the world depended. Miltiades turned to him, and in simple soldierly
eloquence, the substance of which we may read faithfully reported in
Herodotus, who had conversed with the veterans of Marathon, the great
Athenian thus adjured his countryman to vote for giving battle:--

"It now rests with you, Callimachus, either to enslave Athens, or, by
assuring her freedom, to win yourself an immortality of fame, such as
not even Harmodius and Aristogeiton have acquired. For never, since the
Athenians were a people, were they in such danger as they are in at this
moment. If they bow the knee to these Medes, they are to be given up to
Hippias, and you know what they then will have to suffer. But if Athens
comes victorious out of this contest, she has it in her to become the
first city of Greece. Your vote is to decide whether we are to join
battle or not. If we do not bring on a battle presently, some factious
intrigue will disunite the Athenians, and the city will be betrayed to
the Medes. But if we fight, before there is anything rotten in the state
of Athens, I believe that, provided the Gods will give fair play and
no favour, we are able to get the best of it in the engagement."
[Herodotus, lib. vi. sec. 209. The 116th section is to my mind clear
proof that Herodotus had personally conversed with Epizelus, one of the
veterans of Marathon. The substance of the speech of Miltiades would
naturally become known by the report of some of his colleagues.]

The vote of the brave War-Ruler was gained; the council determined
to give battle; and such was the ascendancy and military eminence of
Miltiades, that his brother-generals, one and all, gave up their days of
command to him, and cheerfully acted under his orders. Fearful, however,
of creating any jealousy, and of so failing to obtain the co-operation
of all parts of his small army, Miltiades waited till the day when the
chief command would have come round to him in regular rotation, before
he led the troops against the enemy.

The inaction of the Asiatic commanders, during this interval, appears
strange at first sight; but Hippias was with them, and they and he were
aware of their chance of a bloodless conquest through the machinations
of his partisans among the Athenians. The nature of the ground also
explains, in many points, the tactics of the opposite generals
before the battle, as well as the operations of the troops during the

The plain of Marathon, which is about twenty-two miles distant from
Athens, lies along the bay of the same name on the north-eastern coast
of Attica. The plain is nearly in the form of a crescent, and about six
miles in length. It is about two miles broad in the centre, where the
space between the mountains and the sea is greatest, but it narrows
towards either extremity, the mountains coming close down to the water
at the horns of the bay. There is a valley trending inwards from the
middle of the plain, and a ravine comes down to it to the southward.
Elsewhere it, is closely girt round on the land side by rugged limestone
mountains, which are thickly studded with pines, olive-trees, and
cedars, and overgrown with the myrtle, arbutus, and the other low
odoriferous shrubs that everywhere perfume the Attic air. The level of
the ground is now varied by the mound raised over those who fell in the
battle, but it was an unbroken plain when the Persians encamped on it.
There are marshes at each end, which are dry in spring and summer, and
then offer no obstruction to the horseman, but are commonly flooded with
rain, and so rendered impracticable for cavalry, in the autumn, the time
of year at which the action took place.

The Greeks, lying encamped on the mountains, could watch every movement
of the Persians on the plain below, while they were enabled completely
to mask their own. Miltiades also had, from his position, the power of
giving battle whenever he pleased, or of delaying it at his discretion,
unless Datis were to attempt the perilous operation of storming the

If we turn to the map of the old world, to test the comparative
territorial resources of the two states whose armies were now about to
come into conflict, the immense preponderance of the material power of
the Persian king over that of the Athenian republic is more striking
than any similar contrast which history can supply. It has been truly
remarked, that, in estimating mere areas, Attica, containing on
its whole surface only seven hundred square miles, shrinks into
insignificance if compared with many a baronial fief of the Middle
Ages, or many a colonial allotment of modern times. Its antagonist, the
Persian empire, comprised the whole of modern Asiatic and much of modern
European Turkey, the modern kingdom of Persia, and the countries of
modern Georgia, Armenia, Balkh, the Punjaub, Affghanistan, Beloochistan,
Egypt, and Tripoli.

Nor could a European, in the beginning of the fifth century before our
era, look upon this huge accumulation of power beneath the sceptre of a
single Asiatic ruler, with the indifference with which we now observe on
the map the extensive dominions of modern Oriental sovereigns. For, as
has been already remarked, before Marathon was fought, the prestige
of success and of supposed superiority of race was on the side of
the Asiatic against the European. Asia was the original seat of human
societies and long before any trace can be found of the inhabitants of
the rest of the world having emerged from the rudest barbarism, we can
perceive that mighty and brilliant empires flourished in the Asiatic
continent. They appear before us through the twilight of primeval
history, dim and indistinct, but massive and majestic, like mountains in
the early dawn.

Instead, however, of the infinite variety and restless change which
have characterised the institutions and fortunes of European states
ever since the commencement of the civilization of our continent, a
monotonous uniformity pervades the histories of nearly all Oriental
empires, from the most ancient down to the most recent times. They are
characterised by the rapidity of their early conquests; by the immense
extent of the dominions comprised in them; by the establishment of a
satrap or pacha system of governing the provinces; by an invariable
and speedy degeneracy in the princes of the royal house, the effeminate
nurslings of the seraglio succeeding to the warrior-sovereigns reared in
the camp; and by the internal anarchy and insurrections, which indicate
and accelerate the decline and fall of those unwieldy and ill-organized
fabrics of power. It is also a striking fact that the governments of all
the great Asiatic empires have in all ages been absolute despotisms.
And Heeren is right in connecting this with another great fact, which is
important from its influence both on the political and the social life
of Asiatics. "Among all the considerable nations of Inner Asia, the
paternal government of every household was corrupted by polygamy; where
that custom exists, a good political constitution is impossible. Fathers
being converted into domestic despots, are ready to pay the same abject
obedience to their sovereign which they exact from their family and
dependants in their domestic economy." We should bear in mind also the
inseparable connexion between the state religion and all legislation,
which has always prevailed in the East, and the constant existence of a
powerful sacerdotal body, exercising some check, though precarious and
irregular, over the throne itself, grasping at all civil administration,
claiming the supreme control of education, stereotyping the lines in
which literature and science must move, and limiting the extent to which
it shall be lawful for the human mind to prosecute its inquiries.

With these general characteristics rightly felt and understood, it
becomes a comparatively easy task to investigate and appreciate the
origin, progress, and principles of Oriental empires in general, as well
as of the Persian monarchy in particular. And we are thus better enabled
to appreciate the repulse which Greece gave to the arms of the East,
and to judge of the probable consequences to human civilization, if the
Persians had succeeded in bringing Europe under their yoke, as they had
already subjugated the fairest portions of the rest of the then known

The Greeks, from their geographical position, formed the natural
vanguard of European liberty against Persian ambition; and they
pre-eminently displayed the salient points of distinctive national
character, which have rendered European civilization so far superior
to Asiatic. The nations that dwelt in ancient times around and near
the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, were the first in our
continent to receive from the East the rudiments of art and literature,
and the germs of social and political organization. Of these nations,
the Greeks, through their vicinity to Asia Minor, Phoenicia, and Egypt,
were among the very foremost in acquiring the principles and habits of
civilized life; and they also at once imparted a new and wholly original
stamp on all which they received. Thus, in their religion they received
from foreign settlers the names of all their deities and many of their
rites, but they discarded the loathsome monstrosities of the Nile, the
Orontes, and the Ganges;--they nationalized their creed; and their
own poets created their beautiful mythology. No sacerdotal caste ever
existed in Greece. So, in their governments they lived long under
hereditary kings, but never endured the permanent establishment of
absolute monarchy. Their early kings were constitutional rulers,
governing with defined prerogatives. And long before the Persian
invasion the kingly form of government had given way in almost all the
Greek states to republican institutions, presenting infinite varieties
of the balancing or the alternate predominance of the oligarchical and
democratical principles. In literature and science the Greek intellect
followed no beaten track, and acknowledged no limitary rules. The Greeks
thought their subjects boldly out; and the novelty of a speculation
invested it in their minds with interest, and not with criminality.
Versatile, restless, enterprising and self-confident, the Greeks
presented the most striking contrast to the habitual quietude and
submissiveness of the Orientals. And, of all the Greeks, the Athenians
exhibited these national characteristics in the strongest degree. This
spirit of activity and daring, joined to a generous sympathy for the
fate of their fellow-Greeks in Asia, had led them to join in the last
Ionian war; and now, mingling with their abhorrence of the usurping
family of their own citizens, which for a period had forcibly seized on
and exercised despotic power at Athens, it nerved them to defy the wrath
of King Darius, and to refuse to receive back at his bidding the tyrant
whom they had some years before driven from their land.

The enterprise and genius of an Englishman have lately confirmed by
fresh evidence, and invested with fresh interest, the might of the
Persian monarch, who sent his troops to combat at Marathon. Inscriptions
in a character termed the Arrow-headed, or Cuneiform, had long been
known to exist on the marble monuments at Persepolis, near the site of
the ancient Susa, and on the faces of rocks in other places formerly
ruled over by the early Persian kings. But for thousands of years
they had been mere unintelligible enigmas to the curious but baffled
beholder: and they were often referred to as instances of the folly of
human pride, which could indeed write its own praises in the solid rock,
but only for the rock to outlive the language as well as the memory of
the vain-glorious inscribers. The elder Niebuhr, Grotefend, and Lassen
had made some guesses at the meaning of the Cuneiform letters; but Major
Rawlinson, of the East India Company's service, after years of labour,
has at last accomplished the glorious achievement of fully revealing
the alphabet and the grammar of this long unknown tongue. He has, in
particular, fully deciphered and expounded the inscriptions on the
sacred rock of Behistun, on the western frontiers of Media. These
records of the Achaemenidae have at length found their interpreter; and
Darius himself speaks to us from the consecrated mountain, and tells
us the names of the nations that obeyed him, the revolts that he
suppressed, his victories, his piety, and his glory. [See the tenth
volume of the "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society."]

Kings who thus seek the admiration of posterity are little likely to
dim the record of their successes by the mention of their occasional
defeats; and it throws no suspicion on the narrative of the Greek
historians, that we find these inscriptions silent respecting the
overthrow of Datis and Artaphernes, as well as respecting the reverses
which Darius sustained in person during his Scythian campaigns. But
these indisputable monuments of Persian fame confirm, and even increase,
the opinion with which Herodotus inspires us, of the vast power which
Cyrus founded and Cambyses increased; which Darius augmented by Indian
and Arabian conquests, and seemed likely, when he directed his arms
against Europe, to make the predominant monarchy of the world.

With the exception of the Chinese empire, in which, throughout all ages
down to the last few years, one-third of the human race has dwelt almost
unconnected with the other portions, all the great kingdoms which we
know to have existed in Ancient Asia, were, in Darius's time, blended
with the Persian. The northern Indians, the Assyrians, the Syrians, the
Babylonians, the Chaldees, the Phoenicians, the nations of Palestine,
the Armenians, the Bactrians, the Lydians, the Phrygians, the Parthians,
and the Medes,--all obeyed the sceptre of the Great King: the Medes
standing next to the native Persians in honour, and the empire being
frequently spoken of as that of the Medes, or as that of the Medes and
Persians. Egypt and Cyrene were Persian provinces; the Greek colonists
in Asia Minor and the islands of the AEgean were Darius's subjects; and
their gallant but unsuccessful attempts to throw off the Persian yoke
had only served to rivet it more strongly, and to increase the general
belief: that the Greeks could not stand before the Persians in a field
of battle. Darius's Scythian war, though unsuccessful in its immediate
object, had brought about the subjugation of Thrace and the submission
of Macedonia. From the Indus to the Peneus, all was his.

We may imagine the wrath with which the lord of so many nations must
have heard, nine years before the battle of Marathon, that a strange
nation towards the setting sun, called the Athenians, had dared to help
his rebels in Ionia against him, and that they had plundered and burnt
the capital of one of his provinces. Before the burning of Sardis,
Darius seems never to have heard of the existence of Athens; but his
satraps in Asia Minor had for some time seen Athenian refugees at their
provincial courts imploring assistance against their fellow-countrymen.
When Hippias was driven away from Athens, and the tyrannic dynasty of
the Pisistratidae finally overthrown in 510 B.C., the banished tyrant
and his adherents, after vainly seeking to be restored by Spartan
intervention, had betaken themselves to Sardis, the capital city of
the satrapy of Artaphernes. There Hippias (in the expressive words
of Herodotus) [Herod. lib. v. c. 96.] began every kind of agitation,
slandering the Athenians before Artaphernes, and doing all he could to
induce the satrap to place Athens in subjection to him, as the tributary
vassal of King Darius. When the Athenians heard of his practices, they
sent envoys to Sardis to remonstrate with the Persians against taking up
the quarrel of the Athenian refugees. But Artaphernes gave them in reply
a menacing command to receive Hippias back again if they looked for
safety. The Athenians were resolved not to purchase safety at such a
price; and after rejecting the satrap's terms, they considered that they
and the Persians were declared enemies. At this very crisis the Ionian
Greeks implored the assistance of their European brethren, to enable
them to recover their independence from Persia. Athens, and the city of
Eretria in Euboea, alone consented. Twenty Athenian galleys, and five
Eretrian, crossed the AEgean Sea; and by a bold and sudden march upon
Sardis the Athenians and their allies succeeded in capturing the capital
city of the haughty satrap, who had recently menaced them with servitude
or destruction. The Persian forces were soon rallied, and the Greeks
were compelled to retire. They were pursued, and defeated on their
return to the coast, and Athens took no further part in the Ionian war.
But the insult that she had put upon the Persian power was speedily made
known throughout that empire, and was never to be forgiven or forgotten.
In the emphatic simplicity of the narrative of Herodotus, the wrath of
the Great King is thus described:--"Now when it was told to King Darius
that Sardis had been taken and burnt by the Athenians and Ionians, he
took small heed of the Ionians, well knowing who they were, and that
their revolt would soon be put down: but he asked who, and what manner
of men, the Athenians were. And when he had been told, he called for his
bow; and, having taken it, and placed an arrow on the string, he let the
arrow fly towards heaven; and as he shot it into the air, he said, 'O
Supreme God! grant me that I may avenge myself on the Athenians.' And
when he had said this, he appointed one of his servants to say to him
every day as he sat at meat, 'Sire, remember the Athenians.'"

Some years were occupied in the complete reduction of Ionia. But when
this was effected, Darius ordered his victorious forces to proceed to
punish Athens and Eretria, and to conquer European Greece. The first
armament sent for this purpose was shattered by shipwreck, and nearly
destroyed off Mount Athos, But the purpose of King Darius was not
easily shaken. A larger army was ordered to be collected in Cilicia; and
requisitions were sent to all the maritime cities of the Persian empire
for ships of war, and for transports of sufficient size for carrying
cavalry as well as infantry across the AEgean. While these preparations
were being made, Darius sent heralds round to the Grecian cities
demanding their submission to Persia. It was proclaimed in the
market-place of each little Hellenic state (some with territories not
larger than the Isle of Wight), that King Darius, the lord of all men,
from the rising to the setting sun, required earth and water to be
delivered to his heralds, as a symbolical acknowledgment that he was
head and master of the country. [Aeschines in Ctes. p. 622, ed. Reiske.
Mitford, vol. i. p. 485. AEschines is speaking of Xerxes, but Mitford
is probably right in considering it as the style of the Persian kings
in their proclamations. In one of the inscriptions at Persepolis, Darius
terms himself "Darius the great king, king of kings, the king of the
many peopled countries, the supporter also of this great world." In
another, he styles himself "the king of all inhabited countries."
(See "Asiatic Journal" vol. X pp. 287 and 292, and Major Rawlinson's
Comments.)] Terror-stricken at the power of Persia and at the severe
punishment that had recently been inflicted on the refractory Ionians,
many of the continental Greeks and nearly all the islanders submitted,
and gave the required tokens of vassalage. At Sparta and Athens an
indignant refusal was returned: a refusal which was disgraced by outrage
and violence against the persons of the Asiatic heralds.

Fresh fuel was thus added to the anger of Darius against Athens, and the
Persian preparations went on with renewed vigour. In the summer of 490
B.C., the army destined for the invasion was assembled in the Aleian
plain of Cilicia, near the sea. A fleet of six hundred galleys and
numerous transports was collected on the coast for the embarkation
of troops, horse as well as foot. A Median general named Datis, and
Artaphernes, the son of the satrap of Sardis, and who was also nephew of
Darius, were placed in titular joint command of the expedition. That the
real supreme authority was given to Datis alone is probable, from the
way in which the Greek writers speak of him. We know no details of the
previous career of this officer; but there is every reason to believe
that his abilities and bravery had been proved by experience, or his
Median birth would have prevented his being placed in high command by
Darius. He appears to have been the first Mede who was thus trusted by
the Persian kings after the overthrow of the conspiracy of the Median
Magi against the Persians immediately before Darius obtained the throne.
Datis received instructions to complete the subjugation of Greece, and
especial orders were given him with regard to Eretria and Athens. He
was to take these two cities; and he was to lead the inhabitants away
captive, and bring them as slaves into the presence of the Great King.

Datis embarked his forces in the fleet that awaited them; and coasting
along the shores of Asia Minor till he was off Samos, he thence sailed
due westward through the AEgean Sea for Greece, taking the islands in
his way. The Naxians had, ten years before, successfully stood a siege
against a Persian armament, but they now were too terrified to offer any
resistance, and fled to the mountain-tops, while the enemy burnt their
town and laid waste their lands. Thence Datis, compelling the Greek
islanders to join him with their ships and men, sailed onward to the
coast of Euboea. The little town of Carystus essayed resistance, but was
quickly overpowered. He next attacked Eretria. The Athenians sent four
thousand men to its aid. But treachery was at work among the Eretrians;
and the Athenian force received timely warning from one of the leading
men of the city to retire to aid in saving their own country, instead
of remaining to share in the inevitable destruction of Eretria. Left to
themselves, the Eretrians repulsed the assaults of the Persians against
their walls for six days; on the seventh day they were betrayed by two
of their chiefs and the Persians occupied the city. The temples were
burnt in revenge for the burning of Sardis, and the inhabitants were
bound and placed as prisoners in the neighbouring islet of AEgylia,
to wait there till Datis should bring the Athenians to join them in
captivity, when both populations were to be led into Upper Asia, there
to learn their doom from the lips of King Darius himself.

Flushed with success, and with half his mission thus accomplished, Datis
reimbarked his troops, and crossing the little channel that separates
Euboea from the mainland, he encamped his troops on the Attic coast
at Marathon, drawing up his galleys on the shelving beach, as was the
custom with the navies of antiquity. The conquered islands behind him
served as places of deposit for his provisions and military stores. His
position at Marathon seemed to him in every respect advantageous; and
the level nature of the ground on which he camped was favourable for
the employment of his cavalry, if the Athenians should venture to
engage him. Hippias, who accompanied him, and acted as the guide of the
invaders, had pointed out Marathon as the best place for a landing,
for this very reason. Probably Hippias was also influenced by the
recollection, that forty-seven years previously he, with his father
Pisistratus, had crossed with an army from Eretria to Marathon, and
had won an easy victory over their Athenian enemies on that very plain,
which had restored them to tyrannic power. The omen seemed cheering.
The place was the same; but Hippias soon learned to his cost how great a
change had come over the spirit of the Athenians.

But though "the fierce democracy" of Athens was zealous and true against
foreign invader and domestic tyrant, a faction existed in Athens, as
at Eretria, of men willing to purchase a party triumph over their
fellow-citizens at the price of their country's ruin. Communications
were opened between these men and the Persian camp, which would have led
to a catastrophe like that of Eretria, if Miltiades had not resolved,
and had not persuaded his colleagues to resolve, on fighting at all

When Miltiades arrayed his men for action, he staked on the arbitrement
of one battle not only the fate of Athens, but that of all Greece; for
if Athens had fallen, no other Greek state, except Lacedaemon, would
have had the courage to resist; and the Lacedaemonians, though they
would probably have died in their ranks to the last man, never could
have successfully resisted the victorious Persians, and the numerous
Greek troops, which would have soon marched under the Persian satraps,
had they prevailed over Athens.

Nor was there any power to the westward of Greece that could have
offered an effectual opposition to Persia, had she once conquered
Greece, and made that country a basis for future military operations.
Rome was at this time in her season of utmost weakness. Her dynasty of
powerful Etruscan kings had been driven out, and her infant commonwealth
was reeling under the attacks of the Etruscans and Volscians from
without, and the fierce dissensions between the patricians and plebeians
within. Etruria, with her Lucumos and serfs, was no match for Persia.
Samnium had not grown into the might which she afterwards put forth: nor
could the Greek colonies in South Italy and Sicily hope to survive when
their parent states had perished. Carthage had escaped the Persian
yoke in the time of Cambyses, through the reluctance of the Phoenician
mariners to serve against their kinsmen. But such forbearance could not
long have been relied on, and the future rival of Rome would have become
as submissive a minister of the Persian power as were the Phoenician
cities themselves. If we turn to Spain, or if we pass the great mountain
chain which, prolonged through the Pyrenees, the Cevennes, the Alps, and
the Balkan, divides Northern from Southern Europe, we shall find nothing
at that period but mere savage Finns, Celts, Slaves, and Teutons. Had
Persia beaten Athens at Marathon, she could have found no obstacle to
prevent Darius, the chosen servant of Ormuzd, from advancing his sway
over all the known Western races of mankind. The infant energies of
Europe would have been trodden out beneath universal conquest; and the
history of the world, like the history of Asia, would have become a mere
record of the rise and fall of despotic dynasties, of the incursions
of barbarous hordes, and of the mental and political prostration of
millions beneath the diadem, the tiara, and the sword.

Great as the preponderance of the Persian over the Athenian power
at that crisis seems to have been, it would be unjust to impute wild
rashness to the policy of Miltiades, and those who voted with him in the
Athenian council of war, or to look on the after-current of events as
the mere result of successful indiscretion, as before has been remarked,
Miltiades, whilst prince of the Chersonese, had seen service in the
Persian armies; and he knew by personal observation how many elements of
weakness lurked beneath their imposing aspect of strength. He knew that
the bulk of their troops no longer consisted of the hardy shepherds and
mountaineers from Persia Proper and Kurdistan, who won Cyrus's battles:
but that unwilling contingents from conquered nations now largely filled
up the Persian muster rolls, fighting more from compulsion than from
any zeal in the cause of their masters. He had also the sagacity and
the spirit to appreciate the superiority of the Greek armour and
organization over the Asiatic, notwithstanding former reverses. Above
all, he felt and worthily trusted the enthusiasm of the men under his

The Athenians, whom he led, had proved by their new-born valour in
recent wars against the neighbouring states, that "Liberty and Equality
of civic rights are brave spirit-stirring things: and they who, while
under the yoke of a despot, had been no better men of war than any of
their neighbours, as soon as they were free, became the foremost men of
all; for each felt that in fighting for a free commonwealth, he fought
for himself, and, whatever he took in hand, he was zealous to do the
work thoroughly." So the nearly contemporaneous historian describes the
change of spirit that was seen in the Athenians after their tyrants were
expelled; [Herod. lib. v. c. 87.] and Miltiades knew that in leading
them against the invading army, where they had Hippias, the foe they
most hated, before them, he was bringing into battle no ordinary men,
and could calculate on no ordinary heroism. As for traitors, he was
sure, that whatever treachery might lurk among some of the higher-born
and wealthier Athenians, the rank and file whom he commanded were ready
to do their utmost in his and their own cause. With regard to future
attacks from Asia, he might reasonably hope that one victory would
inspirit all Greece to combine against common foe; and that the latent
seeds of revolt and disunion in the Persian empire would soon burst
forth and paralyse its energies, so as to leave Greek independence

With these hopes and risks, Miltiades, on the afternoon of a September
day, 490 B.C., gave the word for the Athenian army to prepare for
battle. There were many local associations connected with those mountain
heights, which were calculated powerfully to excite the spirits of the
men, and of which the commanders well knew how to avail themselves in
their exhortations to their troops before the encounter. Marathon itself
was a region sacred to; Hercules. Close to them was the fountain of
Macaria, who had in days of yore devoted herself to death for the
liberty of her people. The very plain on which they were to fight was
the scene of the exploits of their national hero, Theseus; and there,
too, as old legends told, the Athenians and the Heraclidae had routed
the invader, Eurystheus. These traditions were not mere cloudy myths, or
idle fictions, but matters of implicit earnest faith to the men of that
day: and many a fervent prayer arose from the Athenian ranks to the
heroic spirits who while on earth had striven and suffered on that very
spot, and who were believed to be now heavenly powers, looking down with
interest on their still beloved country, and capable of interposing with
superhuman aid in its behalf.

According to old national custom, the warriors of each tribe were
arrayed together; neighbour thus fighting by the side of neighbour,
friend by friend, and the spirit of emulation and the consciousness of
responsibility excited to the very utmost. The War-Ruler, Callimachus,
had the leading of the right wing; the Plataeans formed the extreme
left; and Themistocles and Aristides commanded the centre. The line
consisted of the heavy-armed spearmen only. For the Greeks (until the
time of Iphicrates) took little or no account of light-armed soldiers in
a pitched battle, using them only in skirmishes or for the pursuit of a
defeated enemy. The panoply of the regular infantry consisted of a long
spear, of a shield, helmet, breast-plate, greaves, and short sword. Thus
equipped, they usually advanced slowly and steadily into action in an
uniform phalanx of about eight spears deep. But the military genius
of Miltiades led him to deviate on this occasion from the commonplace
tactics of his countrymen. It was essential for him to extend his line
so as to cover all the practicable ground, and to secure himself from
being outflanked and charged in the rear by the Persian horse. This
extension involved the weakening of his line. Instead of an uniform
reduction of its strength, he determined on detaching principally from
his centre, which, from the nature of the ground, would have the best
opportunities for rallying if broken; and on strengthening his wings, so
as to insure advantage at those points; and he trusted to his own skill,
and to his soldiers' discipline, for the improvement of that advantage
into decisive victory.

[It is remarkable that there is no other instance of a Greek general
deviating from the ordinary mode of bringing a phalanx of spearmen into
action, until the battles of Leuctra and Mantineia, more than a century
after Marathon, when Epaminondas introduced the tactics (which Alexander
the Great in ancient times, and Frederic the Great in modern times, made
so famous) of concentrating an overpowering force on some decisive point
of the enemy's line, while he kept back, or, in military phrase, refused
the weaker part of his own.]

In this order, and availing himself probably of the inequalities of the
ground, so as to conceal his preparations from the enemy till the last
possible moment, Miltiades drew up the eleven thousand infantry whose
spears were to decide this crisis in the struggle between the European
and the Asiatic worlds. The sacrifices, by which the favour of Heaven
was sought, and its will consulted, were announced to show propitious
omens. The trumpet sounded for action, and, chanting the hymn of battle,
the little army bore down upon the host of the foe. Then, too, along the
mountain slopes of Marathon must have resounded the mutual exhortation
which AEschylus, who fought in both battles, tells us was afterwards
heard over the waves of Salamis,--"On, sons of the Greeks! Strike for
the freedom of your country! strike for the freedom of your children
and of your wives--for the shrines of your fathers' gods, and for the
sepulchres of your sires. All--all are now staked upon the strife!"

Instead of advancing at the usual slow pace of the phalanx, Miltiades
brought his men on at a run. They were all trained in the exercises of
the palaestra, so that there was no fear of their ending the charge in
breathless exhaustion: and it was of the deepest importance for him
to traverse as rapidly as possible the space of about a mile of level
ground, that lay between the mountain foot and the Persian outposts, and
so to get his troops into close action before the Asiatic cavalry could
mount, form, and manoeuvre against him, or their archers keep him long
under bow-shot, and before the enemy's generals could fairly deploy
their masses.

"When the Persians," says Herodotus, "saw the Athenians running down on
them, without horse or bowmen, and scanty in numbers, they thought them
a set of madmen rushing upon certain destruction." They began, however,
to prepare to receive them and the Eastern chiefs arrayed, as quickly
as time and place allowed, the varied races who served in their motley
ranks. Mountaineers from Hyrcania and Affghanistan, wild horsemen from
the steppes of Khorassan, the black archers of Ethiopia, swordsmen from
the banks of the Indus, the Oxus, the Euphrates, and the Nile, made
ready against the enemies of the Great King. But no national cause
inspired them, except the division of native Persians; and in the large
host there was no uniformity of language, creed, race, or military
system. Still, among them there were many gallant men, under a veteran
general; they were familiarized with victory; and in contemptuous
confidence their infantry, which alone had time to form, awaited
the Athenian charge. On came the Greeks, with one unwavering line of
levelled spears, against which the light targets, the short lances and
scymetars of the Orientals offered weak defence. The front rank of the
Asiatics must have gone down to a man at the first shock. Still they
recoiled not, but strove by individual gallantry, and by the weight of
numbers, to make up for the disadvantages of weapons and tactics, and
to bear back the shallow line of the Europeans. In the centre, where the
native Persians and the Sacae fought, they succeeded in breaking through
the weaker part of the Athenian phalanx; and the tribes led by Aristides
and Themistocles were, after a brave resistance, driven back over
the plain, and chased by the Persians up the valley towards the inner
country. There the nature of the ground gave the opportunity of rallying
and renewing the struggle: and meanwhile, the Greek wings, where
Miltiades had concentrated his chief strength, had routed the Asiatics
opposed to them; and the Athenian and Plataean officers, instead of
pursuing the fugitives, kept their troops well in hand, and wheeling
round they formed the two wings together. Miltiades instantly led them
against the Persian centre, which had hitherto been triumphant, but
which now fell back, and prepared to encounter these new and unexpected
assailants. Aristides and Themistocles renewed the fight with their
re-organized troops, and the full force of the Greeks was brought into
close action with the Persian and Sacian divisions of the enemy. Datis's
veterans strove hard to keep their ground, and evening [ARISTOPH. Vesvoe
1085.] was approaching before the stern encounter was decided.

But the Persians, with their slight wicker shields, destitute of
body-armour, and never taught by training to keep the even front and
act with the regular movement of the Greek infantry, fought at grievous
disadvantage with their shorter and feebler weapons against the compact
array of well-armed Athenian and Plataean spearmen, all perfectly
drilled to perform each necessary evolution in concert, and to preserve
an uniform and unwavering line in battle. In personal courage and in
bodily activity the Persians were not inferior to their adversaries.
Their spirits were not yet cowed by the recollection of former defeats;
and they lavished their lives freely, rather than forfeit the fame which
they had won by so many victories. While their rear ranks poured
an incessant shower of arrows over the heads of their comrades, the
foremost Persians kept rushing forward, sometimes singly, sometimes
in desperate groups of twelve or ten upon the projecting spears of the
Greeks, striving to force a lane into the phalanx, and to bring their
scimetars and daggers into play. But the Greeks felt their superiority,
and though the fatigue of the long-continued action told heavily on
their inferior numbers, the sight of the carnage that they dealt amongst
their assailants nerved them to fight still more fiercely on.

[See the description, in the 62nd section of the ninth book of
Herodotus, of the gallantry shown by the Persian infantry against the
Lacedaemonians at Plataea. We have no similar detail of the fight at
Marathon, but we know that it was long and obstinately contested (see
the 113th section of the sixth book of Herodotus, and the lines from the
"Vespae" already quoted), and the spirit of the Persians must have been
even higher at Marathon than at Plataea. In both battles it was only the
true Persians and the Sacae who showed this valour; the other Asiatics
fled like sheep.]

At last the previously unvanquished lords of Asia turned their backs and
fled, and the Greeks followed, striking them down, to the water's edge,
where the invaders were now hastily launching their galleys, and seeking
to embark and fly. Flushed with success, the Athenians dashed at the

     [The flying Mede, his shaftless broken bow;
      The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear;
      Mountains above, Earth's, Ocean's plain below,
      Death in the front, Destruction in the rear!
      Such was the scene.--Byron's CHILDE HARROLD.]

"Bring fire, bring fire," was their cry; and they began to lay hold of
the ships. But here the Asiatics resisted desperately, and the principal
loss sustained by the Greeks was in the assault on the fleet. Here
fell the brave War-Ruler Callimachus, the general Stesilaus, and other
Athenians of note. Conspicuous among them was Cynaegeirus, the brother
of the tragic poet AEschylus. He had grasped the ornamental work on
the stern of one of the galleys, and had his hand struck off by an axe.
Seven galleys were captured; but the Persians succeeded in saving the
rest. They pushed off from the fatal shore: but even here the skill of
Datis did not desert him, and he sailed round to the western coast of
Attica, in hopes to find the city unprotected, and to gain possession
of it from some of the partisans of Hippias. Miltiades, however, saw
and counteracted his manoeuvre. Leaving Aristides, and the troops of his
tribe, to guard the spoil and the slain, the Athenian commander led
his conquering army by a rapid night-march back across the country to
Athens. And when the Persian fleet had doubled the Cape of Sunium and
sailed up to the Athenian harbour in the morning, Datis saw arrayed on
the heights above the city the troops before whom his men had fled on
the preceding evening. All hope of further conquest in Europe for the
time was abandoned, and the baffled armada returned to the Asiatic

After the battle had been fought, but while the dead bodies were yet on
the ground, the promised reinforcement from Sparta arrived. Two thousand
Lacedaemonian spearmen, starting immediately after the full moon, had
marched the hundred and fifty miles between Athens and Sparta in the
wonderfully short time of three days. Though too late to share in
the glory of the action, they requested to be allowed to march to the
battle-field to behold the Medes. They proceeded thither, gazed on the
dead bodies of the invaders, and then, praising the Athenians and what
they had done, they returned to Lacedaemon.

The number of the Persian dead was six thousand four hundred; of the
Athenians, a hundred and ninety-two. The number of Plataeans who fell is
not mentioned, but as they fought in the part of the army which was not
broken, it cannot have been large.

The apparent disproportion between the losses of the two armies is not
surprising, when we remember the armour of the Greek spearmen, and the
impossibility of heavy slaughter being inflicted by sword or lance on
troops so armed, as long as they kept firm in their ranks. [Mitford
well refers to Crecy, Poictiers, and Agincourt, as instances of similar
disparity of loss between the conquerors and the conquered.]

The Athenian slain were buried on the field of battle. This was contrary
to the usual custom, according to which the bones of all who fell
fighting for their country in each year were deposited in a public
sepulchre in the suburb of Athens called the Cerameicus. But it was felt
that a distinction ought to be made in the funeral honours paid to the
men of Marathon, even as their merit had been distinguished over that of
all other Athenians. A lofty mound was raised on the plain of Marathon,
beneath which the remains of the men of Athens who fell in the battle
were deposited. Ten columns were erected on the spot, one for each of
the Athenian tribes; and on the monumental column of each tribe were
graven the names of those of its members whose glory it was to have
fallen in the great battle of liberation. The antiquary Pausanias read
those names there six hundred years after the time when they were first
graven. The columns have long perished, but the mound still marks the
spot where the noblest heroes of antiquity, the MARATHONOMAKHOI repose.
[Pausanias states, with implicit belief, that the battlefield was
haunted at night by supernatural beings, and that the noise of
combatants and the snorting of horses were heard to resound on it. The
superstition has survived the change of creeds, and the shepherds of the
neighbourhood still believe that spectral warriors contend on the
plain at midnight, and they say that they have heard the shouts of the
combatants and the neighing of the steeds. See Grote and Thirlwall.]

A separate tumulus was raised over the bodies of the slain Plataeans,
and another over the light-armed slaves who had taken part and had
fallen in the battle. [It is probable that the Greek light-armed
irregulars were active in the attack on the Persian ships and it was in
this attack that the Greeks suffered their principal loss.] There was
also a distinct sepulchral monument to the general to whose genius
the victory was mainly due. Miltiades did not live long after his
achievement at Marathon, but he lived long enough to experience a
lamentable reverse of his popularity and good fortune. As soon as the
Persians had quitted the western coasts of the AEgean, he proposed to
an assembly of the Athenian people that they should fit out seventy
galleys, with a proportionate force of soldiers and military stores,
and place them at his disposal; not telling them whither he meant to
proceed, but promising them that if they would equip the force he asked
for, and give him discretionary powers, he would lead it to a land where
there was gold in abundance to be won with ease. The Greeks of that time
believed in the existence of Eastern realms teeming with gold, as firmly
as the Europeans of the sixteenth century believed in Eldorado of the
West. The Athenians probably thought that the recent victor of Marathon,
and former officer of Darius, was about to guide them on a secret
expedition against some wealthy and unprotected cities of treasure in
the Persian dominions. The armament was voted and equipped, and sailed
eastward from Attica, no one but Miltiades knowing its destination,
until the Greek isle of Paros was reached, when his true object
appeared. In former years, while connected with the Persians as prince
of the Chersonese, Miltiades had been involved in a quarrel with one of
the leading men among the Parians, who had injured his credit and caused
some slights to be put upon him at the court of the Persian satrap,
Hydarnes. The feud had ever since rankled in the heart of the Athenian
chief, and he now attacked Paros for the sake of avenging himself on his
ancient enemy. His pretext, as general of the Athenians, was, that the
Parians had aided the armament of Datis with a war-galley. The Parians
pretended to treat about terms of surrender, but used the time which
they thus gained in repairing the defective parts of the fortifications
of their city; and they then set the Athenians at defiance. So far, says
Herodotus, the accounts of all the Greeks agree. But the Parians, in
after years, told also a wild legend, how a captive priestess of a
Parian temple of the Deities of the Earth promised Miltiades to give him
the means of capturing Paros: how, at her bidding, the Athenian general
went alone at night and forced his way into a holy shrine, near the city
gate, but with what purpose it was not known: how a supernatural awe
came over him, and in his flight he fell and fractured his leg: how
an oracle afterwards forbad the Parians to punish the sacrilegious and
traitorous priestess, "because it was fated that Miltiades should come
to an ill end, and she was only the instrument to lead him to evil."
Such was the tale that Herodotus heard at Paros. Certain it was that
Miltiades either dislocated or broke his leg during an unsuccessful
siege of that city, and returned home in evil plight with his baffled
and defeated forces.

The indignation of the Athenians was proportionate to the hope and
excitement which his promises had raised. Xanthippus, the head of one
of the first families in Athens, indicted him before the supreme popular
tribunal for the capital offence of having deceived the people.
His guilt was undeniable, and the Athenians passed their verdict
accordingly. But the recollections of Lemnos and Marathon, and the sight
of the fallen general who lay stretched on a couch before them, pleaded
successfully in mitigation of punishment, and the sentence was commuted
from death to a fine of fifty talents. This was paid by his son, the
afterwards illustrious Cimon, Miltiades dying, soon after the trial, of
the injury which he had received at Paros.

[The common-place calumnies against the Athenians respecting Miltiades
have been well answered by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton in his "Rise and
Fall of Athens," and Bishop Thirlwall in the second volume of his
"History of Greece;" but they have received their most complete
refutation from Mr. Grote in the fourth volume of his History, p.490 et
seq., and notes. I quite concur with him that, "looking to the practice
of the Athenian dicastery in criminal cases, fifty talents was the minor
penalty actually proposed by the defenders of Miltiades themselves as a
substitute for the punishment of death. In those penal cases at Athens,
where the punishment was not fixed beforehand by the terms of the law,
if the person accused was found guilty, it was customary to submit to
the jurors subsequently and separately, the question as to the amount
of punishment. First, the accuser named the penalty which he thought
suitable; next, the accused person was called upon to name an amount
of penalty for himself, and the jurors were constrained to take their
choice between these two; no third gradation of penalty being admissible
for consideration. Of course, under such circumstances, it was the
interest of the accused party to name, even in his own case, some real
and serious penalty, something which the jurors might be likely to deem
not wholly inadequate to his crime just proved; for if he proposed
some penalty only trifling, he drove them to far the heavier sentence
recommended by his opponent." The stories of Miltiades having been cast
into prison and died there, and of his having been saved from death only
by the interposition of the Prytanis of the day, are, I think, rightly
rejected by Mr. Grote as the fictions of after ages. The silence of
Herodotus respecting them is decisive. It is true that Plato, in the
Gorgias, says that the Athenians passed a vote to throw Miltiades into
the Barathrum, and speaks of the interposition of the Prytanis in his
favour; but it is to be remembered that Plato, with all his transcendent
genius, was (as Niebuhr has termed him) a very indifferent patriot, who
loved to blacken the character of his country's democratic institutions;
and if the fact was that the Prytanis, at the trial of Miltiades,
opposed the vote of capital punishment, and spoke in favour of the
milder sentence, Plato (in a passage written to show the misfortunes
that befell Athenian statesmen) would readily exaggerate this fact into
the story that appears in his text.]

The melancholy end of Miltiades, after his elevation to such a height
of power and glory, must often have been recalled to the mind of the
ancient Greeks by the sight of one, in particular, of the memorials of
the great battle which he won. This was the remarkable statue (minutely
described by Pausanias) which the Athenians, in the time of Pericles,
caused to be hewn out of a huge block of marble, which, it was believed,
had been provided by Datis to form a trophy of the anticipated victory
of the Persians. Phidias fashioned out of this a colossal image of the
goddess Nemesis, the deity whose peculiar function was to visit the
exuberant prosperity both of nations and individuals with sudden and
awful reverses. This statue was placed in a temple of the goddess at
Rhamnus, about eight miles from Marathon, Athens herself contained
numerous memorials of her primary great victory. Panenus, the cousin
of Phidias, represented it in fresco on the walls of the painted porch;
and, centuries afterwards, the figures of Miltiades and Callimachus at
the head of the Athenians were conspicuous in the fresco. The tutelary
deities were exhibited taking part in the fray. In the back-ground were
seen the Phoenician galleys; and nearer to the spectator, the Athenians
and the Plataeans (distinguished by their leathern helmets) were chasing
routed Asiatics into the marshes and the sea. The battle was sculptured
also on the Temple of Victory in the Acropolis; and even now there may
be traced on the frieze the figures of the Persian combatants with their
lunar shields, their bows and quivers, their curved scimetars, their
loose trowsers, and Phrygian tiaras. [Wordsworth's "Greece," p. 115.]

These and other memorials of Marathon were the produce of the meridian
age of Athenian intellectual splendour--of the age of Phidias and
Pericles. For it was not merely by the generation of men whom the battle
liberated from Hippias and the Medes, that the transcendent importance
of their victory was gratefully recognised. Through the whole epoch
of her prosperity, through the long Olympiads of her decay, through
centuries after her fall, Athens looked back on the day of Marathon as
the brightest of her national existence.

By a natural blending of patriotic pride with grateful piety, the very
spirits of the Athenians who fell at Marathon were deified by their
countrymen. The inhabitants of the districts of Marathon paid religious
rites to them; and orators solemnly invoked them in their most
impassioned adjurations before the assembled men of Athens. "Nothing was
omitted that could keep alive the remembrance of a deed which had first
taught the Athenian people to know its own strength, by measuring it
with the power which had subdued the greater part of the known world.
The consciousness thus awakened fixed its character, its station, and
its destiny; it was the spring of its later great actions and ambitious
enterprises." [Thirlwall.]

It was not indeed by one defeat, however signal, that the pride of
Persia could be broken, and her dreams of universal empire be dispelled.
Ten years afterwards she renewed her attempts upon Europe on a grander
scale of enterprise, and was repulsed by Greece with greater and
reiterated loss. Larger forces and heavier slaughter than had been
seen at Marathon signalised the conflicts of Greeks and Persians
at Artemisium, Salamis, Plataea, and the Eurymedon. But mighty and
momentous as these battles were, they rank not with Marathon in
importance. They originated no new impulse. They turned back no current
of fate. They were merely confirmatory of the already existing bias
which Marathon had created. The day of Marathon is the critical epoch in
the history of the two nations. It broke for ever the spell of Persian
invincibility, which had paralysed men's minds. It generated among
the Greeks the spirit which beat back Xerxes, and afterwards led on
Xenophon, Agesilaus, and Alexander, in terrible retaliation, through
their Asiatic campaigns. It secured for mankind the intellectual
treasures of Athens, the growth of free institutions the liberal
enlightenment of the Western world, and the gradual ascendency for many
ages of the great principles of European civilisation.


Nothing is said by Herodotus of the Persian cavalry taking any part in
the battle, although he mentions that Hippias recommended the Persians
to land at Marathon, because the plain was favourable for cavalry
evolutions. In the life of Miltiades, which is usually cited as the
production of Cornelius Nepos, but which I believe to be of no authority
whatever, it is said that Miltiades protected his flanks from the
enemy's horse by an abattis of felled trees. While he was on the high
ground he would not have required this defence; and it is not likely
that the Persians would have allowed him to erect it on the plain.

Bishop Thirlwall calls our attention to a passage in Suidas, where
the proverb KHORIS HIPPEIS is said to have originated from some Ionian
Greeks, who were serving compulsorily in the army of Datis, contriving
to inform Miltiades that the Persian cavalry had gone away, whereupon
Miltiades immediately joined battle and gained the victory. There may
probably be a gleam of truth in this legend. If Datis's cavalry was
numerous, as the abundant pastures of Euboea were close at hand, the
Persian general, when he thought, from the inaction of his enemy, that
they did not mean to come down from the heights and give battle, might
naturally send the larger part of his horse back across the channel to
the neighbourhood of Eretria, where he had already left a detachment,
and where his military stores must have been deposited. The knowledge of
such a movement would of course confirm Miltiades in his resolution to
bring on a speedy engagement.

But, in truth, whatever amount of cavalry we suppose Datis to have
had with him on the day of Marathon, their inaction in the battle is
intelligible, if we believe the attack of the Athenian spearmen to have
been as sudden as it was rapid. The Persian horse-soldier, on an alarm
being given, had to take the shackles off his horse, to strap the saddle
on, and bridle him, besides equipping himself (see Xenoph. Anab. lib.iii
c.4); and when each individual horseman was ready, the line had to be
formed; and the time that it takes to form the Oriental cavalry in line
for a charge, has, in all ages, been observed by Europeans.

The wet state of the marshes at each end of the plain, in the time of
year when the battle was fought, has been adverted to by Mr Wordsworth;
and this would hinder the Persian general from arranging and employing
his horsemen on his extreme wings, while it also enabled the Greeks, as
they came forward, to occupy the whole breadth of the practicable ground
with an unbroken line of levelled spears, against which, if any Persian
horse advanced they would be driven back in confusion upon their own

Even numerous and fully-arrayed bodies of cavalry have been repeatedly
broken, both in ancient and modern warfare, by resolute charges of
infantry. For instance, it was by an attack of some picked cohorts that
Caesar routed the Pompeian cavalry, which had previously defeated his
own at Pharsalia.

I have represented the battle of Marathon as beginning in the afternoon,
and ending towards evening. If it had lasted all day, Herodotus would
have probably mentioned that fact. That it ended towards evening is, I
think, proved by the line from the "Vespae" which I have already quoted,
and to which my attention was called by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton's
account of the battle. I think that the succeeding lines in
Aristophanes, also already quoted, justify the description which I have
given of the rear-ranks of the Persians keeping up a flight of arrows
over the heads of their comrades against the Greeks.


B.C. 490 to 487. All Asia is filled with the preparations made by King
Darius for a new expedition against Greece. Themistocles persuades the
Athenians to leave off dividing the proceeds of their silver mines among
themselves, and to employ the money in strengthening their navy.

487. Egypt revolts from the Persians, and delays the expedition against

485. Darius dies, and Xerxes his son becomes King of Persia in his

484 The Persians recover Egypt.

480 Xerxes invades Greece. Indecisive actions between the Persian and
Greek fleets at Artemisium. Destruction of the three hundred Spartans
at Thermopyae. The Athenians abandon Attica and go on shipboard. Great
naval victory of the Greeks at Salamis. Xerxes returns to Asia, leaving
a chosen army under Mardonius, to carry on the war against the Greeks.

478. Mardonius and his army destroyed by the Greeks at Plataea The
Greeks land in Asia Minor, and defeat a Persian force at Mycale. In this
and the following years the Persians lose all their conquests in Europe,
and many on the coast of Asia.

477. Many of the Greek maritime states take Athens as their leader,
instead of Sparta.

466. Victories of Cimon over the Persians at the Eurymedon.

464. Revolt of the Helots against Sparta. Third Messenian war.

460. Egypt again revolts against Persia. The Athenians send a powerful
armament to aid the Egyptians, which, after gaining some successes, is
destroyed, and Egypt submits. This war lasted six years.

457. Wars in Greece between the Athenian and several Peloponnesian
states. Immense exertions of Athens at this time. There is an original
inscription still preserved in the Louvre, which attests the energies of
Athens at this crisis, when Athens, like England in modern wars, at once
sought conquests abroad, and repelled enemies at home. At the period we
now advert to (B.C. 457), an Athenian armament of two hundred galleys
was engaged in a bold though unsuccessful expedition against Egypt. The
Athenian crews had landed, had won a battle; they had then re-embarked
and sailed up the Nile, and were busily besieging the Persian garrison
in Memphis. As the complement of a trireme galley was at least two
hundred men, we cannot estimate the forces then employed by Athens
against Egypt at less than forty thousand men. At the same time she kept
squadrons on the coasts of Phoenicia and Cyprus, and yet maintained
a home-fleet that enabled her to defeat her Peloponnesian enemies
at Cecryphalae and AEgina, capturing in the last engagement seventy
galleys. This last fact may give us some idea of the strength of the
Athenian home-fleet that gained the victory; and by adopting the same
ratio of multiplying whatever number of galleys we suppose to have been
employed, by two hundred, so as to gain the aggregate number of the
crews, we may form some estimate of the forces which this little, Greek
state then kept on foot. Between sixty and seventy thousand men must
have served in her fleets during that year. Her tenacity of purpose was
equal to her boldness of enterprise. Sooner than yield or withdraw from
any of their expeditions the Athenians at this very time, when Corinth
sent an army to attack their garrison at Megara, did not recall a single
crew or a single soldier from AEgina or from abroad; but the lads and
old men, who had been left to guard the city, fought and won a battle
against these new assailants. The inscription which we have referred to
is graven on a votive tablet to the memory of the dead, erected in that
year by the Erecthean tribe, one of the ten into which the Athenians
were divided. It shows, as Thirlwall has remarked, "that the Athenians
were conscious of the greatness of their own effort;" and in it this
little civic community of the ancient world still "records to us with
emphatic simplicity, that 'its slain fell in Cyprus, in Egypt, in
Phoenicia, at Haliae, in AEgina, and in Megara, IN THE SAME YEAR.'"
[Paeans of the Athenian Navy.]

455. A thirty years' truce concluded between Athens and Lacedaemon.

440. The Samians endeavour to throw off the supremacy of Athens. Samos
completely reduced to subjection. Pericles is now sole director of the
Athenian councils.

431. Commencement of the great Peloponnesian war, in which Sparta,
at the head of nearly all the Peloponnesian states, and aided by the
Boeotians and some of the other Greeks beyond the Isthmus, endeavours
to reduce the power of Athens, and to restore independence to the
Greek maritime states who were the subject allies of Athens. At the
commencement of the war the Peloponnesian armies repeatedly invade and
ravage Attica, but Athens herself is impregnable, and her fleets secure
her the dominion of the sea.

430. Athens visited by a pestilence, which sweeps off large numbers of
her population.

426. The Athenians gain great advantages over the Spartans at
Sphacteria, and by occupying Cythera; but they suffer a severe defeat
in Boeotia, and the Spartan general Brasidas, leads an expedition to
the Thracian coasts, and conquers many of the most valuable Athenian
possessions in those regions.

421. Nominal truce for thirty years between Athens and Sparta, but
hostilities continue on the Thracian coast and in other quarters.

415. The Athenians send an expedition to conquer Sicily.


  "The Romans knew not, and could not know, how deeply the
  greatness of their own posterity, and the fate of the whole
  Western world, were involved in the destruction of the fleet of
  Athens in the harbour of Syracuse.  Had that great expedition
  proved victorious, the energies of Greece during the next
  eventful century would have found their field in the West no less
  than in the East; Greece, and not Rome, might have conquered
  Carthage; Greek instead of Latin might have been at this day the
  principal element of the language of Spain, of France, and of
  Italy; and the laws of Athens, rather than of Rome, might be the
  foundation of the law of the civilized world."--ARNOLD.

  "The great expedition to Sicily, one of the most decisive events in
  the history of the world."--NIEBUHR.

Few cities have undergone more memorable sieges during ancient and
mediaeval times, than has the city of Syracuse. Athenian, Carthaginian,
Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Saracen, and Norman, have in turns beleaguered
her walls; and the resistance which she successfully opposed to some
of her early assailants was of the deepest importance, not only to the
fortunes of the generations then in being, but to all the subsequent
current of human events. To adopt the eloquent expressions of Arnold
respecting the check which she gave to the Carthaginian arms, "Syracuse
was a breakwater, which God's providence raised up to protect the yet
immature strength of Rome." And her triumphant repulse of the great
Athenian expedition against her was of even more wide-spread and
enduring importance. It forms a decisive epoch in the strife
for universal empire, in which all the great states of antiquity
successively engaged and failed.

The present city of Syracuse is a place of little or no military
strength, as the fire of artillery from the neighbouring heights would
almost completely command it. But in ancient warfare its position, and
the care bestowed on its walls, rendered it formidably strong against
the means of offence which then were employed by besieging armies.

The ancient city, in the time of the Peloponnesian war, was chiefly
built on the knob of land which projects into the sea on the eastern
coast of Sicily, between two bays; one of which, to the north, was
called the bay of Thapsus, while the southern one formed the great
harbour of the city of Syracuse itself. A small island, or peninsula
(for such it soon was rendered), lies at the south-eastern extremity of
this knob of land, stretching almost entirely across the mouth of
the great harbour, and rendering it nearly land-locked. This island
comprised the original settlement of the first Greek colonists from
Corinth, who founded Syracuse two thousand five hundred years ago; and
the modern city has shrunk again into these primary limits. But, in the
fifth century before our era, the growing wealth and population of the
Syracusans had led them to occupy and include within their city walls
portion after portion of the mainland lying next to the little isle; so
that at the time of the Athenian expedition the seaward part of the land
between the two bays already spoken of was built over, and fortified
from bay to bay; constituting the larger part of Syracuse.

The landward wall, therefore, of the city traversed this knob of land,
which continues to slope upwards from the sea, and which to the west of
the old fortifications (that is, towards the interior of Sicily)
rises rapidly for a mile or two, but diminishes in width, and finally
terminates in a long narrow ridge, between which and Mount Hybla a
succession of chasms and uneven low ground extend. On each flank of
this ridge the descent is steep and precipitous from its summits to
the strips of level land that lie immediately below it, both to the
south-west and north-west.

The usual mode of assailing fortified towns in the time of the
Peloponnesian war, was to build a double wall round them, sufficiently
strong to check any sally of the garrison from within, or any attack of
a relieving force from without. The interval within the two walls of
the circumvallation was roofed over, and formed barracks, in which
the besiegers posted themselves, and awaited the effects of want or
treachery among the besieged in producing a surrender. And, in every
Greek city of those days, as in every Italian republic of the middle
ages, the rage of domestic sedition between aristocrats and democrats
ran high. Rancorous refugees swarmed in the camp of every invading
enemy; and every blockaded city was sure to contain within its walls
a body of intriguing malcontents, who were eager to purchase a
party-triumph at the expense of a national disaster. Famine and faction
were the allies on whom besiegers relied. The generals of that time
trusted to the operation of these sure confederates as soon as they
could establish a complete blockade. They rarely ventured on the attempt
to storm any fortified post. For the military engines of antiquity were
feeble in breaching masonry, before the improvements which the first
Dionysius effected in the mechanics of destruction; and the lives of
spearmen the boldest and most highly-trained would, of course, have been
idly spent in charges against unshattered walls.

A city built, close to the sea, like Syracuse, was impregnable, save
by the combined operations of a superior hostile fleet and a superior
hostile army. And Syracuse, from her size, her population, and her
military and naval resources, not unnaturally thought herself secure
from finding in another Greek city a foe capable of sending a sufficient
armament to menace her with capture and subjection. But in the spring of
414 B.C. the Athenian navy was mistress of her harbour and the adjacent
seas; an Athenian army had defeated her troops, and cooped them within
the town; and from bay to bay a blockading wall was being rapidly
carried across the strips of level ground and the high ridge outside
the city (then termed Epipolae), which, if completed, would have cut the
Syracusans off from all succour from the interior of Sicily, and have
left them at the mercy of the Athenian generals. The besiegers' works
were, indeed, unfinished; but every day the unfortified interval in
their lines grew narrower, and with it diminished all apparent hope of
safety for the beleaguered town.

Athens was now staking the flower of her forces, and the accumulated
fruits of seventy years of glory, on one bold throw for the dominion of
the Western world. As Napoleon from Mount Coeur de Lion pointed to St.
Jean d'Acre, and told his staff that the capture of that town would
decide his destiny, and would change the face of the world; so the
Athenian officers, from the heights of Epipolae, must have looked on
Syracuse, and felt that with its fall all the known powers of the
earth would fall beneath them. They must have felt also that Athens, if
repulsed there, must pause for ever in her career of conquest, and sink
from an imperial republic into a ruined and subservient community.

At Marathon, the first in date of the Great Battles of the World, we
beheld Athens struggling for self-preservation against the invading
armies of the East. At Syracuse she appears as the ambitious and
oppressive invader of others. In her, as in other republics of old
and of modern times, the same energy that had inspired the most heroic
efforts in defence of the national independence, soon learned to employ
itself in daring and unscrupulous schemes of self-aggrandizement at the
expense of neighbouring nations. In the interval between the Persian and
Peloponnesian wars she had rapidly grown into a conquering and dominant
state, the chief of a thousand tributary cities, and the mistress of the
largest and best-manned navy that the Mediterranean had yet beheld.
The occupations of her territory by Xerxes and Mardonius, in the second
Persian war, had forced her whole population to become mariners; and the
glorious results of that struggle confirmed them in their zeal for their
country's service at sea. The voluntary suffrage of the Greek cities of
the coasts and islands of the AEgean first placed Athens at the head of
the confederation formed for the further prosecution of the war against
Persia. But this titular ascendancy was soon converted by her into
practical and arbitrary dominion. She protected them from piracy and
the Persian power, which soon fell into decrepitude and decay; but
she exacted in return implicit obedience to herself. She claimed and
enforced a prerogative of taxing them at her discretion; and proudly
refused to be accountable for her mode of expending their supplies.
Remonstrance against her assessments was treated as factious disloyalty;
and refusal to pay was promptly punished as revolt. Permitting and
encouraging her subject allies to furnish all their contingents in
money, instead of part consisting of ships and men, the sovereign
republic gained the double object of training her own citizens by
constant and well-paid service in her fleets, and of seeing her
confederates lose their skill and discipline by inaction, and become
more and more passive and powerless under her yoke. Their towns were
generally dismantled; while the imperial city herself was fortified with
the greatest care and sumptuousness: the accumulated revenues from her
tributaries serving to strengthen and adorn to the utmost her havens,
her docks, her arsenals, her theatres, and her shrines; and to array
her in that plenitude of architectural magnificence, the ruins of which
still attest the intellectual grandeur of the age and people, which
produced a Pericles to plan and a Phidias to execute.

All republics that acquire supremacy over other nations, rule them
selfishly and oppressively. There is no exception to this in either
ancient or modern times. Carthage, Rome, Venice, Genoa, Florence, Pisa,
Holland, and Republican France, all tyrannized over every province
and subject state where they gained authority. But none of them openly
avowed their system of doing so upon principle, with the candour which
the Athenian republicans displayed, when any remonstrance was made
against the severe exactions which they imposed upon their vassal
allies. They avowed that their empire was a tyranny, and frankly stated
that they solely trusted to force and terror to uphold it. They appealed
to what they called "the eternal law of nature, that the weak should be
coerced by the strong." [THUC. i. 77.] Sometimes they stated, and not
without some truth, that the unjust hatred of Sparta against themselves
forced them to be unjust to others in self-defence. To be safe they
must be powerful; and to be powerful they must plunder and coerce their
neighbours. They never dreamed of communicating any franchise, or share
in office, to their dependents; but jealously monopolized every post of
command, and all political and judicial power; exposing themselves to
every risk with unflinching gallantry; enduring cheerfully the laborious
training and severe discipline which their sea-service required;
venturing readily on every ambitious scheme; and never suffering
difficulty or disaster to shake their tenacity of purpose. Their hope
was to acquire unbounded empire for their country, and the means
of maintaining each of the thirty thousand citizens who made up the
sovereign republic, in exclusive devotion to military occupations, and
to those brilliant sciences and arts in which Athens already had reached
the meridian of intellectual splendour.

Her great political, dramatist speaks of the Athenian empire as
comprehending a thousand states. The language of the stage must not be
taken too literally; but the number of the dependencies of Athens,
at the time when the Peloponnesian confederacy attacked her, was
undoubtedly very great. With a few trifling exceptions, all the islands
of the AEgean, and all the Greek cities, which in that age fringed the
coasts of Asia Minor, the Hellespont, and Thrace paid tribute to Athens,
and implicitly obeyed her orders. The AEgean Sea was an Attic lake.
Westward of Greece, her influence though strong, was not equally
predominant. She had colonies and allies among the wealthy and populous
Greek settlements in Sicily and South Italy, but she had no organized
system of confederates in those regions; and her galleys brought her no
tribute from the western seas. The extension of her empire over Sicily
was the favourite project of her ambitious orators and generals. While
her great statesman Pericles lived, his commanding genius kept his
countrymen under control and forbade them to risk the fortunes of Athens
in distant enterprises, while they had unsubdued and powerful enemies at
their own doors. He taught Athens this maxim; but he also taught her
to know and to use her own strength, and when Pericles had departed the
bold spirit which he had fostered overleaped the salutary limits which
he had prescribed. When her bitter enemies, the Corinthians, succeeded,
in 431 B.C., in inducing Sparta to attack her, and a confederacy was
formed of five-sixths of the continental Greeks, all animated by anxious
jealousy and bitter hatred of Athens; when armies far superior in
numbers and equipment to those which had marched against the Persians
were poured into the Athenian territory, and laid it waste to the city
walls; the general opinion was that Athens would, in two or three
years at the farthest, be reduced to submit to the requisitions of
her invaders. But her strong fortifications, by which she was girt and
linked to her principal haven, gave her, in those ages, almost all the
advantages of an insular position. Pericles had made her trust to her
empire of the seas. Every Athenian in those days was a practised seaman.
A state indeed whose members, of an age fit for service, at no time
exceeded thirty thousand, and whose territorial extent did not equal
half Sussex, could only have acquired such a naval dominion as Athens
once held, by devoting, and zealously training, all its sons to service
in its fleets. In order to man the numerous galleys which she sent out,
she necessarily employed also large numbers of hired mariners and slaves
at the oar; but the staple of her crews was Athenian, and all posts of
command were held by native citizens. It was by reminding them of this,
of their long practice in seamanship, and the certain superiority which
their discipline gave them over the enemy's marine, that their great
minister mainly encouraged them to resist the combined power of
Lacedaemon and her allies. He taught them that Athens might thus reap
the fruit of her zealous devotion to maritime affairs ever since the
invasion of the Medes; "she had not, indeed, perfected herself; but
the reward of her superior training was the rule of the sea--a mighty
dominion, for it gave her the rule of much fair land beyond its waves,
safe from the idle ravages with which the Lacedaemonians might harass
Attica, but never could subdue Athens." [THUC. lib. i. sec. 144.]

Athens accepted the war with which her enemies threatened her, rather
than descend from her pride of place. And though the awful visitation of
the Plague came upon her, and swept away more of her citizens than the
Dorian spear laid low, she held her own gallantly against her foes. If
the Peloponnesian armies in irresistible strength wasted every spring
her corn lands, her vineyards, and her olive groves with fire and sword,
she retaliated on their coasts with her fleets; which, if resisted,
were only resisted to display the pre-eminent skill and bravery of her
seamen. Some of her subject-allies revolted, but the revolts were in
general sternly and promptly quelled. The genius of one enemy had,
indeed, inflicted blows on her power in Thrace which she was unable to
remedy; but he fell in battle in the tenth year of the war; and with the
loss of Brasidas the Lacedaemonians seemed to have lost all energy and
judgment. Both sides at length grew weary of the war; and in 421 B.C. a
truce of fifty years was concluded, which, though ill kept, and
though many of the confederates of Sparta refused to recognise it,
and hostilities still continued in many parts of Greece, protected the
Athenian territory from the ravages of enemies, and enabled Athens to
accumulate large sums out of the proceeds of her annual revenues. So
also, as a few years passed by, the havoc which the pestilence and the
sword had made in her population was repaired; and in 415 B.C. Athens
was full of bold and restless spirits, who longed for some field
of distant enterprise, wherein they might signalize themselves, and
aggrandize the state; and who looked on the alarm of Spartan hostility
as a mere old woman's tale. When Sparta had wasted their territory she
had done her worst; and the fact of its always being in her power to
do so, seemed a strong reason for seeking to increase the transmarine
dominion of Athens.

The West was now the quarter towards which the thoughts of every
aspiring Athenian were directed. From the very beginning of the war
Athens had kept up an interest in Sicily; and her squadrons had from
time to time appeared on its coasts and taken part in the dissensions
in which the Sicilian Greeks were universally engaged one against the
other. There were plausible grounds for a direct quarrel, and an open
attack by the Athenians upon Syracuse.

With the capture of Syracuse all Sicily, it was hoped, would be secured.
Carthage and Italy were next to be assailed. With large levies of
Iberian mercenaries she then meant to overwhelm her Peloponnesian
enemies. The Persian monarchy lay in hopeless imbecility, inviting Greek
invasion; nor did the known world contain the power that seemed capable
of checking the growing might of Athens, if Syracuse once could be hers.

The national historian of Rome has left us, as an episode of his great
work, a disquisition on the probable effects that would have followed,
if Alexander the Great had invaded Italy. Posterity has generally
regarded that disquisition as proving Livy's patriotism more
strongly than his impartiality or acuteness. Yet, right or wrong, the
speculations of the Roman writer were directed to the consideration of
a very remote possibility. To whatever age Alexander's life might have
been prolonged, the East would have furnished full occupation for his
martial ambition, as well as for those schemes of commercial grandeur
and imperial amalgamation of nations, in which the truly great
qualities of his mind loved to display themselves. With his death the
dismemberment of his empire among his generals was certain, even as the
dismemberment of Napoleon's empire among his marshals would certainly
have ensued, if he had been cut off in the zenith of his power. Rome,
also, was far weaker when the Athenians were in Sicily, than she was a
century afterwards, in Alexander's time. There can be little doubt but
that Rome would have been blotted out from the independent powers of the
West, had she been attacked at the end of the fifth century B.C., by an
Athenian army, largely aided by Spanish mercenaries, and flushed with
triumphs over Sicily and Africa; instead of the collision between
her and Greece having been deferred until the latter had sunk into
decrepitude, and the Roman Mars had grown into full vigour.

The armament which the Athenians equipped against Syracuse was in every
way worthy of the state which formed such projects of universal empire;
and it has been truly termed "the noblest that ever yet had been sent
forth by a free and civilized commonwealth." [Arnold's History of Rome.]
The fleet consisted of one hundred and thirty-four war galleys, with
a multitude of store ships. A powerful force of the best heavy-armed
infantry that Athens and her allies could furnish was sent on board,
together with a smaller number of slingers and bowmen. The quality
of the forces was even more remarkable than the number. The zeal of
individuals vied with that of the republic in giving every galley the
best possible crew, and every troop the most perfect accoutrements. And
with private as well as public wealth eagerly lavished on all that could
give splendour as well as efficiency to the expedition, the fated fleet
began its voyage for the Sicilian shores in the summer of 415 B.C.

The Syracusans themselves, at the time of the Peloponnesian war, were a
bold and turbulent democracy, tyrannizing over the weaker Greek
cities in Sicily, and trying to gain in that island the same arbitrary
supremacy which Athens maintained along the eastern coast of the
Mediterranean. In numbers and in spirit they were fully equal to the
Athenians, but far inferior to them in military and naval discipline.
When the probability of an Athenian invasion was first publicly
discussed at Syracuse, and efforts were made by some of the wiser
citizens to improve the state of the national defences, and prepare for
the impending danger, the rumours of coming war and the proposals for
preparation were received by the mass of the Syracusans with scornful
incredulity. The speech of one of their popular orators is preserved to
us in Thucydides, [Lib. vi. sec. 36 et seq., Arnold's edition. I have
almost literally transcribed some of the marginal epitomes of the
original speech.] and many of its topics might, by a slight alteration
of names and details, serve admirably for the party among ourselves at
present which opposes the augmentation of our forces, and derides
the idea of our being in any peril from the sudden attack of a French
expedition. The Syracusan orator told his countrymen to dismiss
with scorn the visionary terrors which a set of designing men among
themselves strove to excite, in order to get power and influence thrown
into their own hands. He told them that Athens knew her own interest
too well to think of wantonly provoking their hostility:--"EVEN IF THE

Such assertions pleased the Syracusan assembly; and their counterparts
find favour now among some portion of the English public. But the
invaders of Syracuse came; made good their landing in Sicily; and, if
they had promptly attacked the city itself, instead of wasting nearly
a year in desultory operations in other parts of the island, the
Syracusans must have paid the penalty of their self-sufficient
carelessness in submission to the Athenian yoke. But, of the three
generals who led the Athenian expedition, two only were men of ability,
and one was most weak and incompetent. Fortunately for Syracuse,
Alcibiades, the most skilful of the three, was soon deposed from his
command by a factious and fanatic vote of his fellow-countrymen, and
the other competent one, Lamachus, fell early in a skirmish: while, more
fortunately still for her, the feeble and vacillating Nicias remained
unrecalled and unhurt, to assume the undivided leadership of the
Athenian army and fleet, and to mar, by alternate over-caution and
over-carelessness, every chance of success which the early part of the
operations offered. Still, even under him, the Athenians nearly won the
town. They defeated the raw levies of the Syracusans, cooped them
within the walls, and, as before mentioned, almost effected a continuous
fortification from bay to bay over Epipolae, the completion of which
would certainly have been followed by capitulation.

Alcibiades, the most complete example of genius without principle that
history produces, the Bolingbroke of antiquity, but with high military
talents superadded to diplomatic and oratorical powers, on being
summoned home from his command in Sicily to take his trial before the
Athenian tribunal had escaped to Sparta; and he exerted himself there
with all the selfish rancour of a renegade to renew the war with Athens,
and to send instant assistance to Syracuse.

When we read his words in the pages of Thucydides (who was himself an
exile from Athens at this period, and may probably have been at Sparta,
and heard Alcibiades speak), we are at loss whether most to admire or
abhor his subtile and traitorous counsels. After an artful exordium,
in which he tried to disarm the suspicions which he felt must be
entertained of him, and to point out to the Spartans how completely his
interests and theirs were identified, through hatred of the Athenian
democracy, he thus proceeded:--"Hear me, at any rate, on the matters
which require your grave attention, and which I, from the personal
knowledge that I have of them, can and ought to bring before you. We
Athenians sailed to Sicily with the design of subduing, first the Greek
cities there, and next those in Italy. Then we intended to make an
attempt on the dominions of Carthage, and on Carthage itself. [Arnold,
in his notes on this passage, well reminds the reader that Agathocles,
with a Greek force far inferior to that of the Athenians at this period,
did, a century afterwards, very nearly conquer Carthage.] If all
these projects succeeded (nor did we limit ourselves to them in these
quarters), we intended to increase our fleet with the inexhaustible
supplies of ship timber which Italy affords, to put in requisition the
whole military force of the conquered Greek states, and also to hire
large armies of the barbarians; of the Iberians, and others in those
regions, who are allowed to make the best possible soldiers. [It will
be remembered that Spanish infantry were the staple of the Carthaginian
armies. Doubtless Alcibiades and other leading Athenians had made
themselves acquainted with the Carthaginian system of carrying on war,
and meant to adopt it. With the marvellous powers which Alcibiades
possessed of ingratiating himself with men of every class and every
nation, and his high military genius, he would have been as formidable a
chief of an army of CONDOTTIERI as Hannibal afterwards was.] Then,
when we had done all this, we intended to assail Peloponnesus with our
collected force. Our fleets would blockade you by sea, and desolate your
coasts; our armies would be landed at different points, and assail your
cities. Some of these we expected to storm and others we meant to take
by surrounding them with fortified lines. [Alcibiades here alluded to
Sparta itself, which was unfortified. His Spartan hearers must have
glanced round them at these words, with mixed alarm and indignation.] We
thought that it would thus be an easy matter thoroughly to war you down;
and then we should become the masters of the whole Greek race. As for
expense, we reckoned that each conquered state would give us supplies of
money and provisions sufficient to pay for its own conquest, and furnish
the means for the conquest of its neighbours.

"Such are the designs of the present Athenian expedition to Sicily, and
you have heard them from the lips of the man who, of all men living, is
most accurately acquainted with them. The other Athenian generals, who
remain with the expedition, will endeavour to carry out these plans.
And be sure that without your speedy interference they will all be
accomplished. The Sicilian Greeks are deficient in military training;
but still if they could be at once brought to combine in an organised
resistance to Athens, they might even now be saved. But as for the
Syracusans resisting Athens by themselves, they have already with the
whole strength of their population fought a battle and been beaten; they
cannot face the Athenians at sea; and it is quite impossible for them
to hold out against the force of their invaders. And if this city falls
into the hands of the Athenians, all Sicily is theirs, and presently
Italy also: and the danger which I warned you of from that quarter will
soon fall upon yourselves. You must, therefore, in Sicily fight for the
safety of Peloponnesus. Send some galleys thither instantly. Put men on
board who can work their own way over, and who, as soon as they land,
can do duty as regular troops. But above all, let one of yourselves, let
a man of Sparta, go over to take the chief command, to bring into order
and effective discipline the forces that are in Syracuse, and urge
those, who at present hang back to come forward and aid the Syracusans.
The presence of a Spartan general at this crisis will do more to save
the city than a whole army." [THUC., lib. vi sec. 90,91.] The renegade
then proceeded to urge on them the necessity of encouraging their
friends in Sicily, by showing that they themselves were earnest in
hostility to Athens. He exhorted them not only to march their armies
into Attica again, but to take up a permanent fortified position in
the country: and he gave them in detail information of all that the
Athenians most dreaded, and how his country might receive the most
distressing and enduring injury at their hands.

The Spartans resolved to act on his advice, and appointed Gylippus to
the Sicilian command. Gylippus was a man who, to the national bravery
and military skill of a Spartan, united political sagacity that was
worthy of his great fellow-countryman Brasidas; but his merits were
debased by mean and sordid vice; and his is one of the cases in which
history has been austerely just, and where little or no fame has been
accorded to the successful but venal soldier. But for the purpose for
which he was required in Sicily, an abler man could not have been found
in Lacedaemon. His country gave him neither men nor money, but she gave
him her authority; and the influence of her name and of his own talents
was speedily seen in the zeal with which the Corinthians and other
Peloponnesian Greeks began to equip a squadron to act under him for the
rescue of Sicily. As soon as four galleys were ready, he hurried over
with them to the southern coast of Italy; and there, though he received
such evil tidings of the state of Syracuse that he abandoned all hope of
saving that city, he determined to remain on the coast, and do what he
could in preserving the Italian cities from the Athenians.

So nearly, indeed, had Nicias completed his beleaguering lines, and so
utterly desperate had the state of Syracuse seemingly become, that
an assembly of the Syracusans was actually convened, and they were
discussing the terms on which they should offer to capitulate, when
a galley was seen dashing into the great harbour, and making her way
towards the town with all the speed that her rowers could supply. From
her shunning the part of the harbour where the Athenian fleet lay, and
making straight for the Syracusan side, it was clear that she was a
friend; the enemy's cruisers, careless through confidence of success,
made no attempt to cut her off; she touched the beach, and a Corinthian
captain springing on shore from her, was eagerly conducted to the
assembly of the Syracusan people, just in time to prevent the fatal vote
being put for a surrender.

Providentially for Syracuse, Gongylus, the commander of the galley, had
been prevented by an Athenian squadron from following Gylippus to South
Italy, and he had been obliged to push direct for Syracuse from Greece.

The sight of actual succour, and the promise of more, revived the
drooping spirits of the Syracusans. They felt that they were not left
desolate to perish; and the tidings that a Spartan was coming to command
them confirmed their resolution to continue their resistance. Gylippus
was already near the city. He had learned at Locri that the first report
which had reached him of the state of Syracuse was exaggerated; and that
there was an unfinished space in the besiegers' lines through which it
was barely possible to introduce reinforcements into the town. Crossing
the straits of Messina, which the culpable negligence of Nicias had left
unguarded, Gylippus landed on the northern coast of Sicily, and there
began to collect from the Greek cities an army, of which the regular
troops that he brought from Peloponnesus formed the nucleus. Such was
the influence of the name of Sparta, [The effect of the presence of a
Spartan officer on the troops of the other Greeks, seems to have been
like the effect of the presence of an English officer upon native Indian
troops.] and such were his own abilities and activity, that he succeeded
in raising a force of about two thousand fully armed infantry, with a
larger number of irregular troops. Nicias, as if infatuated, made no
attempt to counteract his operations; nor, when Gylippus marched his
little army towards Syracuse, did the Athenian commander endeavour
to check him. The Syracusans marched out to meet him: and while the
Athenians were solely intent on completing their fortifications on the
southern side towards the harbour, Gylippus turned their position by
occupying the high ground in the extreme rear of Epipolae. He then
marched through the unfortified interval of Nicias's lines into the
besieged town; and, joining his troops with the Syracusan forces, after
some engagements with varying success, gained the mastery over
Nicias, drove the Athenians from Epipolae, and hemmed them into a
disadvantageous position in the low grounds near the great harbour.

The attention of all Greece was now fixed on Syracuse; and every enemy
of Athens felt the importance of the opportunity now offered of checking
her ambition, and, perhaps, of striking a deadly blow at her power.
Large reinforcements from Corinth, Thebes, and other cities, now reached
the Syracusans; while the baffled and dispirited Athenian general
earnestly besought his countrymen to recall him, and represented the
further prosecution of the siege as hopeless.

But Athens had made it a maxim never to let difficulty or disaster drive
her back from any enterprise once undertaken, so long as she
possessed the means of making any effort, however desperate, for its
accomplishment. With indomitable pertinacity she now decreed, instead of
recalling her first armament from before Syracuse, to send out a second,
though her enemies near home had now renewed open warfare against
her, and by occupying a permanent fortification in her territory, had
severely distressed her population, and were pressing her with almost
all the hardships of an actual siege. She still was mistress of the sea,
and she sent forth another fleet of seventy galleys, and another army,
which seemed to drain the very last reserves of her military population,
to try if Syracuse could not yet be won, and the honour of the Athenian
arms be preserved from the stigma of a retreat. Hers was, indeed, a
spirit that might be broken, but never would bend. At the head of this
second expedition she wisely placed her best general Demosthenes, one
of the most distinguished officers whom the long Peloponnesian war had
produced, and who, if he had originally held the Sicilian command, would
soon have brought Syracuse to submission.

The fame of Demosthenes the general, has been dimmed by the superior
lustre of his great countryman, Demosthenes the orator. When the name of
Demosthenes is mentioned, it is the latter alone that is thought of. The
soldier has found no biographer. Yet out of the long list of the great
men of the Athenian republic, there are few that deserve to stand higher
than this brave, though finally unsuccessful, leader of her fleets and
armies in the first half of the Peloponnesian war. In his first campaign
in AEtolia he had shown some of the rashness of youth, and had received
a lesson of caution, by which he profited throughout the rest of his
career, but without losing any of his natural energy in enterprise or
in execution. He had performed the eminent service of rescuing Naupactus
from a powerful hostile armament in the seventh year of the war; he had
then, at the request of the Acarnanian republics, taken on himself the
office of commander-in-chief of all their forces, and at their head
he had gained some important advantages over the enemies of Athens in
Western Greece. His most celebrated exploits had been the occupation
of Pylos on the Messenian coast, the successful defence of that place
against the fleet and armies of Lacedaemon, and the subsequent capture
of the Spartan forces on the isle of Sphacteria; which was the severest
blow dealt to Sparta throughout the war, and which had mainly caused
her to humble herself to make the truce with Athens. Demosthenes was
as honourably unknown in the war of party politics at Athens, as he was
eminent in the war against the foreign enemy. We read of no intrigues of
his on either the aristocratic or democratic side. He was neither in the
interest of Nicias, nor of Cleon. His private character was free from
any of the stains which polluted that of Alcibiades. On all these points
the silence of the comic dramatist is decisive evidence in his favour.
He had also the moral courage, not always combined with physical of
seeking to do his duty to his country, irrespectively of any odium that
he himself might incur, and unhampered by any petty jealousy of those
who were associated with him in command. There are few men named in
ancient history, of whom posterity would gladly know more, or whom we
sympathise with more deeply in the calamities that befel them, than
Demosthenes, the son of Alcisthenes, who, in the spring of the year 413
B.C., left Piraeus at the head of the second Athenian expedition against

His arrival was critically timed; for Gylippus had encouraged the
Syracusans to attack the Athenians under Nicias by sea as well as by
land, and by an able stratagem of Ariston, one of the admirals of the
Corinthian auxiliary squadron, the Syracusans and their confederates had
inflicted on the fleet of Nicias the first defeat that the Athenian
navy had ever sustained from a numerically inferior foe. Gylippus was
preparing to follow up his advantage by fresh attacks on the Athenians
on both elements, when the arrival of Demosthenes completely changed the
aspect of affairs, and restored the superiority to the invaders. With
seventy-three war-galleys in the highest state of efficiency, and
brilliantly equipped, with a force of five thousand picked men of the
regular infantry of Athens and her allies, and a still larger number of
bowmen, javelin-men, and slingers on board, Demosthenes rowed round the
great harbour with loud cheers and martial music, as if in defiance of
the Syracusans and their confederates. His arrival had indeed changed
their newly-born hopes into the deepest consternation. The resources of
Athens seemed inexhaustible, and resistance to her hopeless. They had
been told that she was reduced to the last extremities, and that her
territory was occupied by an enemy; and yet, here they saw her, as if in
prodigality of power, sending forth, to make foreign conquests, a second
armament, not inferior to that with which Nicias had first landed on the
Sicilian shores.

With the intuitive decision of a great commander, Demosthenes at once
saw that the possession of Epipolae was the key to the possession of
Syracuse, and he resolved to make a prompt and vigorous attempt
to recover that position, while his force was unimpaired, and the
consternation which its arrival had produced among the besieged remained
unabated. The Syracusans and their allies had run out an outwork along
Epipolae from the city walls, intersecting the fortified lines of
circumvallation which Nicias had commenced, but from which they had been
driven by Gylippus. Could Demosthenes succeed in storming this outwork,
and in re-establishing the Athenian troops on the high ground, he might
fairly hope to be able to resume the circumvallation of the city, and
become the conqueror of Syracuse: for, when once the besiegers' lines
were completed, the number of the troops with which Gylippus had
garrisoned the place would only tend to exhaust the stores of
provisions, and accelerate its downfall.

An easily-repelled attack was first made on the outwork in the day-time,
probably more with the view of blinding the besieged to the nature of
the main operations than with any expectation of succeeding in an open
assault, with every disadvantage of the ground to contend against. But,
when the darkness had set in, Demosthenes formed his men in columns,
each soldier taking with him five days' provisions, and the engineers
and workmen of the camp following the troops with their tools, and
all portable implements of fortification, so as at once to secure
any advantage of ground that the army might gain. Thus equipped and
prepared, he led his men along by the foot of the southern flank of
Epipolae, in a direction towards the interior of the island, till he
came immediately below the narrow ridge that forms the extremity of the
high ground looking westward. He then wheeled his vanguard to the right,
sent them rapidly up the paths that wind along the face of the cliff,
and succeeded in completely surprising the Syracusan outposts, and in
placing his troops fairly on the extreme summit of the all-important
Epipolae. Thence the Athenians marched eagerly down the slope towards
the town, routing some Syracusan detachments that were quartered in
their way, and vigorously assailing the unprotected part of the outwork.
All at first favoured them. The outwork was abandoned by its garrison,
and the Athenian engineers began to dismantle it. In vain Gylippus
brought up fresh troops to check the assault: the Athenians broke and
drove them back, and continued to press hotly forward, in the full
confidence of victory. But, amid the general consternation of the
Syracusans and their confederates, one body of infantry stood firm. This
was a brigade of their Boeotian allies, which was posted low down the
slope of Epipolae, outside the city walls. Coolly and steadily the
Boeotian infantry formed their line, and, undismayed by the current of
flight around them, advanced against the advancing Athenians. This was
the crisis of the battle. But the Athenian van was disorganized by its
own previous successes; and, yielding to the unexpected charge thus made
on it by troops in perfect order, and of the most obstinate courage, it
was driven back in confusion upon the other divisions of the army that
still continued to press forward. When once the tide was thus turned,
the Syracusans passed rapidly from the extreme of panic to the extreme
of vengeful daring, and with all their forces they now fiercely assailed
the embarrassed and receding Athenians. In vain did the officers of the
latter strive to re-form their line. Amid the din and the shouting
of the fight, and the confusion inseparable upon a night engagement,
especially one where many thousand combatants were pent and whirled
together in a narrow and uneven area, the necessary manoeuvres were
impracticable; and though many companies still fought on desperately,
wherever the moonlight showed them the semblance of a foe, [THUC. vii.
44. Compare Tacitus's description of the night engagement in the civil
war between Vespasian and Vitellius: "Neutro inclinaverat fortuna, donec
adulta nocte, LUNA OSTENDERET ACIES, FALERESQUE."--Hist. Lib. iii. sec.
23.] they fought without concert or subordination; and not unfrequently,
amid the deadly chaos, Athenian troops assailed each other. Keeping
their ranks close, the Syracusans and their allies pressed on against
the disorganized masses of the besiegers; and at length drove them, with
heavy slaughter, over the cliffs, which, scarce an hour before, they had
scaled full of hope, and apparently certain of success.

This defeat was decisive of the event of the siege. The Athenians
afterwards struggled only to protect themselves from the vengeance which
the Syracusans sought to wreak in the complete destruction of their
invaders. Never, however, was vengeance more complete and terrible.
A series of sea-fights followed, in which the Athenian galleys were
utterly destroyed or captured. The mariners and soldiers who escaped
death in disastrous engagements, and in a vain: attempt to force a
retreat into the interior of the island, became prisoners of war. Nicias
and Demosthenes were put to death in cold blood; and their men either
perished miserably in the Syracusan dungeons, or were sold into slavery
to the very persons whom, in their pride of power, they had crossed the
seas to enslave.

All danger from Athens to the independent nations of the West was now
for ever at an end. She, indeed, continued to struggle against her
combined enemies and revolted allies with unparalleled gallantry; and
many more years of varying warfare passed away before she surrendered
to their arms. But no success in subsequent conquests could ever have
restored her to the pre-eminence in enterprise, resources, and maritime
skill which she had acquired before her fatal reverses in Sicily. Nor
among the rival Greek republics, whom her own rashness aided to crush
her, was there any capable of reorganizing her empire, or resuming her
schemes of conquest. The dominion of Western Europe was left for Rome
and Carthage to dispute two centuries later, in conflicts still more
terrible, and with even higher displays of military daring and genius,
than Athens had witnessed either in her rise, her meridian, or her fall.


412 B.C. Many of the subject allies of Athens revolt from her, on her
disasters before Syracuse being known; the seat of war is transferred to
the Hellespont and eastern side of the AEgean.

410. The Carthaginians attempt to make conquests in Sicily.

407. Cyrus the Younger is sent by the king of Persia to take the
government of all the maritime parts of Asia Minor, and with orders to
help the Lacedaemonian fleet against the Athenian.

406. Agrigentum taken by the Carthaginians.

405. The last Athenian fleet destroyed by Lysander at AEgospotamos.
Athens closely besieged. Rise of the power of Dionysius at Syracuse.

404. Athens surrenders. End of the Peloponnesian war. The ascendancy of
Sparta complete throughout Greece.

403. Thrasybulus, aided by the Thebans and with the connivance of one
of the Spartan kings, liberates Athens from the Thirty Tyrants, and
restores the democracy.

401. Cyrus the Younger commences his expedition into Upper Asia to
dethrone his brother Artaxerxes Mnemon. He takes with him an auxiliary
force of ten thousand Greeks. He in killed in battle at Cunaxa; and
the ten thousand, led by Xenophon, effect their retreat in spite of the
Persian armies and the natural obstacles of their march.

399. In this, and the five following years, the Lacedaemonians under
Agesilaus and other commanders, carry on war against the Persian satraps
in Asia Minor.

396. Syracuse is besieged by the Carthaginians, and successfully
defended by Dionysius.

394. Rome makes her first great stride in the career of conquest by the
capture of Veii.

393. The Athenian admiral Conon, in conjunction with the Persian satrap
Pharnabazus, defeats the Lacedaemonian fleet off Cnidus, and restores
the fortifications of Athens. Several of the former allies of Sparta in
Greece carry on hostilities against her.

388. The nations of Northern Europe now first appear in authentic
history. The Gauls overrun great part of Italy, and burn Rome. Rome
recovers from the blow, but her old enemies, the AEquians and Volscians,
are left completely crushed by the Gallic invaders.

387. The peace of Antalcidas is concluded among the Greeks by the
mediation, and under the sanction, of the Persian king.

378 to 361. Fresh wars in Greece. Epaminondas raises Thebes to be the
leading state of Greece, and the supremacy of Sparta is destroyed at
the battle of Leuctra. Epaminondas is killed in gaining the victory of
Mantinea, and the power of Thebes falls with him. The Athenians attempt
a balancing system between Sparta and Thebes.

359. Philip becomes king of Macedon.

357. The Social War breaks out in Greece, and lasts three years. Its
result checks the attempt of Athens to regain her old maritime empire.

356. Alexander the Great is born.

343. Rome begins her wars with the Samnites: they extend over a period
of fifty years. The result of this obstinate contest is to secure for
her the dominion of Italy.

340. Fresh attempts of the Carthaginians upon Syracuse. Timoleon defeats
them with great slaughter.

338. Philip defeats the confederate armies of Athens and Thebes
at Chaeronea, and the Macedonian supremacy over Greece is firmly

336. Philip is assassinated, and Alexander the Great becomes king of
Macedon. He gains several victories over the northern barbarians who
had attacked Macedonia, and destroys Thebes, which, in conjunction with
Athens, had taken up arms against the Macedonians.

334. Alexander passes the Hellespont.


     "Alexander deserves the glory which he has enjoyed for so
     many centuries and among all nations; but what if he had
     been beaten at Arbela having the Euphrates, the Tigris, and
     the deserts in his rear, without any strong places of
     refuge, nine hundred leagues from Macedonia?"--NAPOLEON.

     "Asia beheld with astonishment and awe the uninterrupted
     progress of a hero, the sweep of whose conquests was as wide
     and rapid as that of her own barbaric kings, or the Scythian
     or Chaldaean hordes; but, far unlike the transient
     whirlwinds of Asiatic warfare, the advance of the Macedonian
     leader was no less deliberate than rapid; at every step the
     Greek power took root, and the language and the civilization
     of Greece were planted from the shores of the AEgean to the
     banks of the Indus, from the Caspian and the great Hyrcanian
     plain to the cataracts of the Nile; to exist actually for
     nearly a thousand years, and in their effects to endure for

A long and not uninstructive list might be made out of illustrious
men, whose characters have been vindicated during recent times from
aspersions which for centuries had been thrown on them. The spirit of
modern inquiry, and the tendency of modern scholarship, both of which
are often said to be solely negative and destructive, have, in truth,
restored to splendour, and almost created anew, far more than they have
assailed with censure, or dismissed from consideration as unreal. The
truth of many a brilliant narrative of brilliant exploits has of
late years been triumphantly demonstrated; and the shallowness of the
sceptical scoffs with which little minds have carped at the great minds
of antiquity, has been in many instances decisively exposed. The laws,
the politics, and the lines of action adopted or recommended by eminent
men and powerful nations have been examined with keener investigation,
and considered with more comprehensive judgment, than formerly were
brought to bear on these subjects. The result has been at least as often
favourable as unfavourable to the persons and the states so scrutinized;
and many an oft-repeated slander against both measures and men has thus
been silenced, we may hope, for ever.

The veracity of Herodotus, the pure patriotism of Pericles, of
Demosthenes, and of the Gracchi, the wisdom of Cleisthenes and of
Licinius as constitutional reformers, may be mentioned as facts which
recent writers have cleared from unjust suspicion and censure. And it
might be easily shown that the defensive tendency which distinguishes
the present and recent best historians of Germany, France, and England,
has been equally manifested in the spirit in which they have treated the
heroes of thought and the heroes of action who lived during what we
term the Middle Ages and whom it was so long the fashion to sneer at or

The name of the victor of Arbela has led to these reflections; for,
although the rapidity and extent of Alexander's conquests have through
all ages challenged admiration and amazement, the grandeur of genius
which he displayed in his schemes of commerce, civilization, and of
comprehensive union and unity amongst nations, has, until lately, been
comparatively unhonoured. This long-continued depreciation was of early
date. The ancient rhetoricians--a class of babblers, a school for lies
and scandal, as Niebuhr justly termed them--chose among the stock themes
for their commonplaces, the character and exploits of Alexander. They
had their followers in every age; and until a very recent period,
all who wished to "point a moral or adorn a tale" about unreasoning
ambition, extravagant pride, and the formidable frenzies of free will
when leagued with free power, have never failed to blazon forth the
so-called madman of Macedonia as one of the most glaring examples.
Without doubt, many of these writers adopted with implicit credence
traditional ideas and supposed, with uninquiring philanthropy, that in
blackening Alexander they were doing humanity good service. But also,
without doubt, many of his assailants, like those of other great men,
have been mainly instigated by "that strongest of all antipathies, the
antipathy of a second-rate mind to a first-rate one," [De Stael.] and by
the envy which talent too often bears to genius.

Arrian, who wrote his history of Alexander when Hadrian was emperor of
the Roman world, and when the spirit of declamation and dogmatism was at
its full height, but who was himself, unlike the dreaming pedants of the
schools, a statesman and a soldier of practical and proved ability, well
rebuked the malevolent aspersions which he heard continually thrown upon
the memory of the great conqueror of the East. He truly says, "Let the
man who speaks evil of Alexander not merely bring forward those passages
of Alexander's life which were really evil, but let him collect and
review all the actions of Alexander, and then let him thoroughly
consider first who and what manner of man he himself is, and what has
been his own career; and then let him consider who and what manner of
man Alexander was, and to what an eminence of human grandeur HE arrived.
Let him consider that Alexander was a king, and the undisputed lord of
the two continents; and that his name is renowned throughout the whole
earth. Let the evil-speaker against Alexander bear all this in mind, and
then let him reflect on his own insignificance, the pettiness of his own
circumstances and affairs, and the blunders that he makes about these,
paltry and trifling as they are. Let him then ask himself whether he is
a fit person to censure and revile such a man as Alexander. I believe
that there was in his time no nation of men, no city, nay, no single
individual, with whom Alexander's name had not become a familiar word. I
therefore hold that such a man, who was like no ordinary mortal was not
born into the world without some special providence." [Arrian, lib. vii.

And one of the most distinguished soldiers and writers of our own
nation, Sir Walter Raleigh, though he failed to estimate justly the full
merits of Alexander, has expressed his sense of the grandeur of the part
played in the world by "The Great Emathian Conqueror" in language that
well deserves quotation:--"So much hath the spirit of some one man
excelled as it hath undertaken and effected the alteration of the
greatest states and commonwealths, the erection of monarchies, the
conquest of kingdoms and empires, guided handfuls of men against
multitudes of equal bodily strength, contrived victories beyond all
hope and discourse of reason, converted the fearful passions of his
own followers into magnanimity, and the valour of his enemies into
cowardice; such spirits have been stirred up in sundry ages of the
world, and in divers parts thereof, to erect and cast down again, to
establish and to destroy, and to bring all things, persons, and states
to the same certain ends, which the infinite spirit of the UNIVERSAL,
piercing, moving, and governing all things, hath ordained. Certainly,
the things that this king did were marvellous, and would hardly have
been undertaken by any one else: and though his father had determined
to have invaded the Lesser Asia, it is like that he would have contented
himself with some part thereof, and not have discovered the river of
Indus, as this man did." ["The Historie of the World," by Sir Walter
Raleigh, Knight, p. 628.]

A higher authority than either Arrian or Raleigh may now be referred to
by those who wish to know the real merit of Alexander as a general, and
how far the commonplace assertions are true, that his successes were the
mere results of fortunate rashness and unreasoning pugnacity, Napoleon
selected Alexander as one of the seven greatest generals whose noble
deeds history has handed down to us, and from the study of whose
campaigns the principles of war are to be learned. The critique of the
greatest conqueror of modern times on the military career of the great
conqueror of the old world, is no less graphic than true.

"Alexander crossed the Dardanelles 334 B.C. with an army of about forty
thousand men, of which one-eighth was cavalry; he forced the passage
of the Granicus in opposition to an army under Memnon, the Greek, who
commanded for Darius on the coast of Asia, and he spent the whole of the
year 333 in establishing his power in Asia Minor. He was seconded by the
Greek colonists, who dwelt on the borders of the Black Sea, and on the
Mediterranean, and in Smyrna, Ephesus, Tarsus, Miletus, &c. The kings of
Persia left their provinces and towns to be governed according to their
own particular laws. Their empire was a union of confederated states,
and did not form one nation; this facilitated its conquest. As Alexander
only wished for the throne of the monarch, he easily effected the
change, by respecting the customs, manners, and laws of the people, who
experienced no change in their condition.

"In the year 332, he met with Darius at the head of sixty thousand men,
who had taken up a position near Tarsus, on the banks of the Issus, in
the province of Cilicia. He defeated him, entered Syria, took Damascus,
which contained all the riches of the Great King, and laid siege to
Tyre. This superb metropolis of the commerce of the world detained
him nine months. He took Gaza after a siege of two months; crossed
the Desert in seven days; entered Pelusium and Memphis, and founded
Alexandria. In less than two years, after two battles and four or five
sieges, the coasts of the Black Sea from Phasis to Byzantium, those
of the Mediterranean as far as Alexandria, all Asia Minor, Syria, and
Egypt, had submitted to his arms.

"In 331, he repassed the Desert, encamped in Tyre, recrossed Syria,
entered Damascus, passed the Euphrates and Tigris, and defeated Darius
on the field of Arbela, when he was at the head of a still stronger army
than that which he commanded on the Issus, and Babylon opened her gates
to him. In 330, he overran Susa, and took that city, Persepolis, and
Pasargada, which contained the tomb of Cyrus. In 329, he directed his
course northward, entered Ecbatana, and extended his conquests to the
coasts of the Caspian, punished Bessus, the cowardly assassin of Darius,
penetrated into Scythia, and subdued the Scythians. In 328, he forced
the passage of the Oxus, received sixteen thousand recruits from
Macedonia, and reduced the neighbouring people to subjection. In 327,
he crossed the Indus, vanquished Poros in a pitched battle, took him
prisoner, and treated him as a king. He contemplated passing the Ganges,
but his army refused. He sailed down the Indus, in the year 326, with
eight hundred vessels; having arrived at the ocean, he sent Nearchus
with a fleet to run along the coasts of the Indian Ocean and the Persian
Gulf, as far as the mouth of the Euphrates. In 325, he took sixty days
in crossing from Gedrosia, entered Keramania, returned to Pasargada,
Persepolis, and Susa, and married Statira, the daughter of Darius. In
324, he marched once more to the north, passed Ecbatana, and terminated
his career at Babylon." [See Count Montolon's Memoirs of Napoleon.]

The enduring importance of Alexander's conquests is to be estimated not
by the duration of his own life and empire, or even by the duration
of the kingdoms which his generals after his death formed out of the
fragments of that mighty dominion. In every region of the world that he
traversed, Alexander planted Greek settlements, and founded cities,
in the populations of which the Greek element at once asserted its
predominance. Among his successors, the Seleucids and the Ptolemies
imitated their great captain in blending schemes of civilization, of
commercial intercourse, and of literary and scientific research with all
their enterprises of military aggrandizement, and with all their systems
of civil administration. Such was the ascendancy of the Greek genius, so
wonderfully comprehensive and assimilating was the cultivation which
it introduced, that, within thirty years after Alexander crossed the
Hellespont, the language, the literature, and the arts of Hellas,
enforced and promoted by the arms of semi-Hellenic Macedon, predominated
in every country from the shores of that sea to the Indian waters. Even
sullen Egypt acknowledged the intellectual supremacy of Greece; and the
language of Pericles and Plato became the language of the statesmen
and the sages who dwelt in the mysterious land of the Pyramids and the
Sphinx. It is not to be supposed that this victory of the Greek tongue
was so complete as to exterminate the Coptic, the Syrian, the Armenian,
the Persian, or the other native languages of the numerous nations and
tribes between the AEgean, the Iaxertes, the Indus, and the Nile; they
survived as provincial dialects. Each probably was in use as the vulgar
tongue of its own district. But every person with the slightest pretence
to education spoke Greek. Greek was universally the State language, and
the exclusive language of all literature and science, It formed also
for the merchant, the trader, and the traveller, as well as for the
courtier, the government official, and the soldier, the organ of
intercommunication among the myriads of mankind inhabiting these large
portions of the Old World. [See Arnold, Hist. Rome, ii. 406.] Throughout
Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, the Hellenic character that was thus
imparted, remained in full vigour down to the time of the Mahometan
conquests. The infinite value of this to humanity in the highest and
holiest point of view has often been pointed out; and the workings of
the finger of Providence have been gratefully recognised by those who
have observed how the early growth and progress of Christianity
were aided by that diffusion of the Greek language and civilization
throughout Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt which had been caused by the
Macedonian conquest of the East.

In Upper Asia, beyond the Euphrates, the direct and material influence
of Greek ascendancy was more short-lived. Yet, during the existence of
the Hellenic kingdoms in these regions, especially of the Greek kingdom
of Bactria, the modern Bokhara, very important effects were produced
on the intellectual tendencies and tastes of the inhabitants of those
countries and of the adjacent ones, by the animating contact of the
Grecian spirit. Much of Hindoo science and philosophy, much of the
literature of the later Persian kingdom of the Arsacidae, either
originated from, or was largely modified by, Grecian influences. So,
also, the learning and science of the Arabians were in a far less degree
the result of original invention and genius, than the reproduction, in
an altered form, of the Greek philosophy and the Greek lore, acquired
by the Saracenic conquerors together with their acquisition of the
provinces which Alexander had subjugated nearly a thousand years before
the armed disciples of Mahomet commenced their career in the East. It is
well known that Western Europe in the Middle ages drew its philosophy,
its arts, and its science, principally from Arabian teachers. And thus
we see how the intellectual influence of ancient Greece, poured on the
Eastern world by Alexander's victories, and then brought back to bear on
Mediaeval Europe by the spread of the Saracenic powers, has exerted its
action on the elements of modern civilization by this powerful though
indirect channel as well as by the more obvious effects of the remnants
of classic civilization which survived in Italy, Gaul, Britain, and
Spain, after the irruption of the Germanic nations. [See Humboldt's

These considerations invest the Macedonian triumphs in the East with
never-dying interest, such as the most showy and sanguinary successes of
mere "low ambition and the pride of kings," however they may dazzle
for a moment, can never retain with posterity. Whether the old Persian
empire, which Cyrus founded, could have survived much longer than
it did, even if Darius had been victorious at Arbela, may safely be
disputed. That ancient dominion, like the Turkish at the present time,
laboured under every cause of decay and dissolution. The satraps, like
the modern pachas, continually rebelled against the central power,
and Egypt, in particular, was almost always in a state of insurrection
against its nominal sovereign. There was no longer any effective central
control, or any internal principle of unity fused through the huge mass
of the empire, and binding it together. Persia was evidently about to
fall; but, had it not been for Alexander's invasion of Asia, she would
most probably have fallen beneath some other Oriental power, as Media
and Babylon had formerly fallen before herself, and as, in after times,
the Parthian supremacy gave way to the revived ascendancy of Persia in
the East, under the sceptres of the Arsacidae. A revolution that merely
substituted one Eastern power for another would have been utterly barren
and unprofitable to mankind.

Alexander's victory at Arbela not only overthrew an Oriental dynasty,
but established European rulers in its stead. It broke the monotony,
of the Eastern world by the impression of Western energy and superior
civilization; even as England's present mission is to break up the
mental and moral stagnation of India and Cathay, by pouring upon and
through them the impulsive current of Anglo-Saxon commerce and conquest.

Arbela, the city which has furnished its name to the decisive battle
that gave Asia to Alexander, lies more than twenty miles from the actual
scene of conflict. The little village then named Gaugamela is close to
the spot where the armies met, but has ceded the honour of naming the
battle to its more euphonious neighbour. Gaugamela is situate in one
of the wide plains that lie between the Tigris and the mountains of
Kurdistan. A few undulating hillocks diversify the surface of this sandy
track; but the ground is generally level, and admirably qualified for
the evolutions of cavalry, and also calculated to give the larger of
two armies the full advantage of numerical superiority. The Persian King
(who before he came to the throne, had proved his personal valour as a
soldier, and his skill as a general) had wisely selected this region for
the third and decisive encounter between his forces and the invaders.
The previous defeats of his troops, however severe they had been,
were not looked on as irreparable, The Granicus had been fought by his
generals rashly and without mutual concert. And, though Darius himself
had commanded and been beaten at Issus, that defeat might be attributed
to the disadvantageous nature of the ground; where, cooped up between
the mountains, the river, and the sea, the numbers of the Persians
confused and clogged alike the general's skill and the soldiers'
prowess, so that their very strength became their weakness. Here, on the
broad plains of Kurdistan, there was scope for Asia's largest host
to array its lines, to wheel, to skirmish, to condense or expand its
squadrons, to manoeuvre, and to charge at will. Should Alexander and
his scanty band dare to plunge into that living sea of war, their
destruction seemed inevitable.

Darius felt, however, the critical nature to himself as well as to his
adversary of the coming encounter. He could not hope to retrieve the
consequences of a third overthrow. The great cities of Mesopotamia and
Upper Asia, the central provinces of the Persian empire, were certain
to be at the mercy of the victor. Darius knew also the Asiatic character
well enough to be aware how it yields to the prestige of success, and
the apparent career of destiny. He felt that the diadem was now either
to be firmly replaced on his own brow, or to be irrevocably transferred
to the head of his European conqueror. He, therefore, during the
long interval left him after the battle of Issus, while Alexander was
subjugating Syria and Egypt, assiduously busied himself in selecting the
best troops which his vast empire supplied, and in training his varied
forces to act together with some uniformity of discipline and system.

The hardy mountaineers of Affghanistan, Bokhara, Khiva, and Thibet, were
then, as at present, far different from the generality of Asiatics in
warlike spirit and endurance. From these districts Darius collected
large bodies of admirable infantry; and the countries of the modern
Kurds and Turkomans supplied, as they do now, squadrons of horsemen,
strong, skilful, bold, and trained to a life of constant activity and
warfare. It is not uninteresting to notice that the ancestors of our
own late enemies, the Sikhs, served as allies of Darius against the
Macedonians. They are spoken of in Arrian as Indians who dwelt near
Bactria. They were attached to the troops of that satrapy, and their
cavalry was one of the most formidable forces in the whole Persian army.

Besides these picked troops, contingents also came in from the numerous
other provinces that yet obeyed the Great King. Altogether, the horse
are said to have been forty thousand, the scythe-bearing chariots two
hundred, and the armed elephants fifteen in number. The amount of the
infantry is uncertain; but the knowledge which both ancient and modern
times supply of the usual character of Oriental armies, and of their
populations of camp-followers, may warrant us in believing that many
myriads were prepared to fight, or to encumber those who fought, for the
last Darius.

The position of the Persian king near Mesopotamia was chosen with great
military skill. It was certain that Alexander on his return from Egypt
must march northward along the Syrian coast, before he attacked the
central provinces of the Persian empire. A direct eastward march from
the lower part of Palestine across the great Syrian Desert was then,
as now, utterly impracticable. Marching eastward from Syria, Alexander
would, on crossing the Euphrates, arrive at the vast Mesopotamian
plains. The wealthy capitals of the empire, Babylon, Susa, and
Persepolis, would then lie to his south; and if he marched down through
Mesopotamia to attack them, Darius might reasonably hope to follow the
Macedonians with his immense force of cavalry, and, without even risking
a pitched battle, to harass and finally overwhelm them. We may remember
that three centuries afterwards a Roman army under Crassus was thus
actually destroyed by the Oriental archers and horsemen in these very
plains; [See Mitford.] and that the ancestors of the Parthians who thus
vanquished the Roman legions, served by thousands under King Darius. If,
on the contrary, Alexander should defer his march against Babylon, and
first seek an encounter with the Persian army, the country on each side
of the Tigris in this latitude was highly advantageous for such an
army as Darius commanded; and he had close in his rear the mountainous
districts of Northern Media, where he himself had in early life been
satrap, where he had acquired reputation as a soldier and a general,
and where he justly expected to find loyalty to his person, and a safe
refuge in case of defeat. [Mitford's remarks on the strategy of Darius
in his last campaign are very just. After having been unduly admired as
an historian, Mitford is now unduly neglected. His partiality, and his
deficiency in scholarship, have been exposed sufficiently to make him no
longer a dangerous guide as to Greek polities; while the clearness and
brilliancy of his narrative, and the strong common sense of his remarks
(where his party prejudices do not interfere) must always make his
volumes valuable as well as entertaining.]

His great antagonist came on across the Euphrates against him, at the
head of an army which Arrian, copying from the journals of Macedonian
officers, states to have consisted of forty thousand foot, and seven
thousand horse. In studying the campaigns of Alexander, we possess the
peculiar advantage of deriving our information from two of Alexander's
generals of division, who bore an important part in all his enterprises.
Aristobulus and Ptolemy (who afterwards became king of Egypt) kept
regular journals of the military events which they witnessed; and these
journals were in the possession of Arrian, when he drew up his history
of Alexander's expedition. The high character of Arrian for integrity
makes us confident that he used them fairly, and his comments on the
occasional discrepancies between the two Macedonian narratives prove
that he used them sensibly. He frequently quotes the very words of his
authorities: and his history thus acquires a charm such as very few
ancient or modern military narratives possess. The anecdotes and
expressions which he records we fairly believe to be genuine, and not
to be the coinage of a rhetorician, like those in Curtius. In fact, in
reading Arrian, we read General Aristobulus and General Ptolemy on the
campaigns of the Macedonians; and it is like reading General Jomini or
General Foy on the campaigns of the French.

The estimate which we find in Arrian of the strength of Alexander's
army, seems reasonable when we take into account both the losses which
he had sustained, and the reinforcements which he had received since he
left Europe. Indeed, to Englishmen, who know with what mere handfuls of
men our own generals have, at Plassy, at Assaye, at Meeanee, and other
Indian battles, routed large hosts of Asiatics, the disparity of
numbers that we read of in the victories won by the Macedonians over the
Persians presents nothing incredible. The army which Alexander now led
was wholly composed of veteran troops in the highest possible state of
equipment and discipline, enthusiastically devoted to their leader, and
full of confidence in his military genius and his victorious destiny.

The celebrated Macedonian phalanx formed the main strength of his
infantry. This force had been raised and organized by his father Philip,
who on his accession to the Macedonian throne needed a numerous and
quickly-formed army, and who, by lengthening the spear of the ordinary
Greek phalanx, and increasing the depth of the files, brought the tactic
of armed masses to the greatest efficiency of which it was capable with
such materials as he possessed. [See Niebuhr's Hist. of Rome, iii. 488.]
He formed his men sixteen deep, and placed in their grasp the SARISSA,
as the Macedonian pike was called, which was four-and-twenty feet in
length, and when couched for action, reached eighteen feet in front of
the soldier: so that, as a space of about two feet was allowed between
the ranks, the spears of the five files behind him projected in advance
of each front-rank man. The phalangite soldier was fully equipped in
the defensive armour of the regular Greek infantry. And thus the phalanx
presented a ponderous and bristling mass, which as long as its order was
kept compact, was sure to bear down all opposition. The defects of such
an organization are obvious, and were proved in after years, when the
Macedonians were opposed to the Roman legions. But it is clear that,
under Alexander, the phalanx was not the cumbrous unwieldy body which
it was at Cynoscephalae and Pydna. His men were veterans; and he could
obtain from them an accuracy of movement and steadiness of evolution,
such as probably the recruits of his father would only have floundered
in attempting, and such as certainly were impracticable in the phalanx
when handled by his successors: especially as under them it ceased to
be a standing force, and became only a militia. [See Niebuhr.] Under
Alexander the phalanx consisted of an aggregate of eighteen thousand
men, who were divided into six brigades of three thousand each. These
were again subdivided into regiments and companies; and the men were
carefully trained to wheel, to face about, to take more ground, or to
close up, as the emergencies of the battle required. Alexander also
arrayed in the intervals of the regiments of his phalangites, troops
armed in a different manner, which could prevent their line from being
pierced, and their companies taken in flank, when the nature of the
ground prevented a close formation; and which could be withdrawn, when a
favourable opportunity arrived for closing up the phalanx or any of its
brigades for a charge, or when it was necessary to prepare to receive

Besides the phalanx, Alexander had a considerable force of infantry
who were called shield-bearers: they were not so heavily armed as the
phalangites, or as was the case with the Greek regular infantry
in general; but they were equipped for close fight, as well as for
skirmishing, and were far superior to the ordinary irregular troops of
Greek warfare. They were about six thousand strong. Besides these,
he had several bodies of Greek regular infantry; and he had archers,
slingers, and javelin-men, who fought also with broadsword and target.
These were principally supplied to him by the highlanders of Illyria and
Thracia. The main strength of his cavalry consisted in two chosen corps
of cuirassiers, one Macedonian, and one Thessalian each of which was
about fifteen hundred strong. They were provided with long lances and
heavy swords, and horse as well as man was fully equipped with defensive
armour. Other regiments of regular cavalry were less heavily armed, and
there were several bodies of light horsemen, whom Alexander's conquests
in Egypt and Syria had enabled him to mount superbly.

A little before the end of August, Alexander crossed the Euphrates
at Thapsacus, a small corps of Persian cavalry under Mazaeus retiring
before him. Alexander was too prudent to march down through the
Mesopotamian deserts, and continued to advance eastward with the
intention of passing the Tigris, and then, if he was unable to find
Darius and bring him to action, of marching southward on the left side
of that river along the skirts of a mountainous district where his men
would suffer less from heat and thirst, and where provisions would be
more abundant.

Darius, finding that his adversary was not to be enticed into the march
through Mesopotamia against his capital, determined to remain on the
battle-ground which he had chosen on the left of the Tigris; where, if
his enemy met a defeat or a check, the destruction of the invaders would
be certain with two such rivers as the Euphrates and the Tigris in their
rear. The Persian king availed himself to the utmost of every advantage
in his power. He caused a large space of ground to be carefully levelled
for the operation of his scythe-armed chariots; and he deposited his
military stores in the strong town of Arbela, about twenty miles in
his rear. The rhetoricians of after ages have loved to describe Darius
Codomannus as a second Xerxes in ostentation and imbecility; but a fair
examination of his generalship in this his last campaign, shows that he
was worthy of bearing the same name as his great predecessor, the royal
son of Hystaspes.

On learning that Darius was with a large army on the left of the Tigris,
Alexander hurried forward and crossed that river without opposition. He
was at first unable to procure any certain intelligence of the precise
position of the enemy, and after giving his army a short interval
of rest, he marched for four days down the left bank of the river. A
moralist may pause upon the fact, that Alexander must in this march have
passed within a few miles of the remains of Nineveh, the great, city of
the primaeval conquerors of the human race. Neither the Macedonian king
nor any of his followers knew what those vast mounds had once been. They
had already become nameless masses of grass-grown ruins; and it is only
within the last few years that the intellectual energy of one of our own
countrymen has rescued Nineveh from its long centuries of oblivion. [See
Layard's "Nineveh," and also Vaux's "Nineveh and Persepolis," p. 16.]

On the fourth day of Alexander's southward march, his advanced guard
reported that a body of the enemy's cavalry was in sight. He instantly
formed his army in order for battle, and directing them to advance
steadily, he rode forward at the head of some squadrons of cavalry,
and charged the Persian horse whom he found before him. This was a
mere reconnoitring party, and they broke and fled immediately; but the
Macedonians made some prisoners, and from them Alexander found that
Darius was posted only a few miles off and learned the strength of the
army that he had with him. On receiving this news, Alexander halted, and
gave his men repose for four days, so that they should go into action
fresh and vigorous. He also fortified his camp, and deposited in it all
his military stores, and all his sick and disabled soldiers; intending
to advance upon the enemy with the serviceable part of his army
perfectly unencumbered. After this halt, he moved forward, while it was
yet dark, with the intention of reaching the enemy, and attacking
them at break of day. About half-way between the camps there were some
undulations of the ground, which concealed the two armies from each
other's view. But, on Alexander arriving at their summit, he saw by the
early light the Persian host arrayed before him; and he probably also
observed traces of some engineering operation having been carried on
along part of the ground in front of them. Not knowing that these marks
had been caused by the Persians having levelled the ground for the free
use of their war-chariots, Alexander suspected that hidden pitfalls had
been prepared with a view of disordering the approach of his cavalry.
He summoned a council of war forthwith, some of the officers were for
attacking instantly at all hazards, but the more prudent opinion of
Parmenio prevailed, and it was determined not to advance farther till
the battle-ground had been carefully surveyed.

Alexander halted his army on the heights; and taking with him some
light-armed infantry and some cavalry, he passed part of the day in
reconnoitring the enemy, and observing the nature of the ground which he
had to fight on. Darius wisely refrained from moving from his position
to attack the Macedonians on eminences which they occupied, and the two
armies remained until night without molesting each other. On Alexander's
return to his head-quarters, he summoned his generals and superior
officers together, and telling them that he well knew that THEIR
zeal wanted no exhortation, he besought them to do their utmost in
encouraging and instructing those whom each commanded, to do their best
in the next day's battle. They were to remind them that they were now
not going to fight for a province, as they had hitherto fought, but
they were about to decide by their swords the dominion of all Asia. Each
officer ought to impress this upon his subalterns and they should urge
it on their men. Their natural courage required no long words to excite
its ardour: but they should be reminded of the paramount importance of
steadiness in action. The silence in the ranks must be unbroken as long
as silence was proper; but when the time came for the charge, the shout
and the cheer must be full of terror for the foe. The officers were to
be alert in receiving and communicating orders; and every one was to act
as if he felt that the whole result of the battle depended on his own
single good conduct.

Having thus briefly instructed his generals, Alexander ordered that the
army should sup, and take their rest for the night.

Darkness had closed over the tents of the Macedonians, when Alexander's
veteran general, Parmenio, came to him, and proposed that they should
make a night attack on the Persians. The King is said to have answered,
that he scorned to such a victory, and that Alexander must conquer
openly and fairly. Arrian justly remarks that Alexander's resolution was
as wise as it was spirited. Besides the confusion and uncertainty which
are inseparable from night engagements, the value of Alexander's victory
would have been impaired, if gained under circumstances which might
supply the enemy with any excuse for his defeat, and encourage him
to renew the contest. It was necessary for Alexander not only to beat
Darius, but to gain such a victory as should leave his rival without
apology for defeat, and without hope of recovery.

The Persians, in fact, expected, and were prepared to meet a night
attack. Such was the apprehension that Darius entertained of it, that
he formed his troops at evening in order of battle, and kept them under
arms all night. The effect of this was, that the morning found them
jaded and dispirited, while it brought their adversaries all fresh and
vigorous against them.

The written order of battle which Darius himself caused to be drawn
up, fell into the hands of the Macedonians after the engagement, and
Aristobulus copied it into his journal. We thus possess, through Arrian,
unusually authentic information as to the composition and arrangement
of the Persian army. On the extreme left were the Bactrian, Daan, and
Arachosian cavalry. Next to these Darius placed the troops from Persia
proper, both horse and foot. Then came the Susians, and next to these
the Cadusians. These forces made up the left wing. Darius's own station
was in the centre. This was composed of the Indians, the Carians, the
Mardian archers, and the division of Persians who were distinguished
by the golden apples that formed knobs of their spears. Here also were
stationed the body-guard of the Persian nobility. Besides these, there
were in the centre, formed in deep order, the Uxian and Babylonian
troops, and the soldiers from the Red Sea. The brigade of Greek
mercenaries, whom Darius had in his service, and who were alone
considered fit to stand in the charge of the Macedonian phalanx,
was drawn up on either side of the royal chariot. The right wing
was composed of the Coelosyrians and Mesopotamians, the Medes, the
Parthians, the Sacians, the Tapurians, Hyrcanians, Albanians, and
Sacesinae. In advance of the line on the left wing were placed the
Scythian cavalry, with a thousand of the Bactrian horse, and a hundred
scythe-armed chariots. The elephants and fifty scythe-armed chariots
were ranged in front of the centre; and fifty more chariots, with the
Armenian and Cappadocian cavalry, were drawn up in advance of the right

Thus arrayed, the great host of King Darius passed the night, that to
many thousands of them was the last of their existence. The morning of
the first of October, two thousand one hundred and eighty-two years ago,
dawned slowly to their wearied watching, and they could hear the note of
the Macedonian trumpet sounding to arms, and could see King Alexander's
forces descend from their tents on the heights, and form in order of
battle on the plain. [See Clinton's "Fasti Hellenici." The battle was
fought eleven days after an eclipse of the moon, which gives the means
of fixing the precise date.]

There was deep need of skill, as well as of valour, on Alexander's side;
and few battle-fields have witnessed more consummate generalship than
was now displayed by the Macedonian king. There were no natural barriers
by which he could protect his flanks; and not only was he certain to
be overlapped on either wing by the vast lines of the Persian army, but
there was imminent risk of their circling round him and charging him in
the rear, while he advanced against their centre. He formed, therefore,
a second or reserve line, which was to wheel round, if required, or
to detach troops to either flank; as the enemy's movements might
necessitate: and thus, with their whole army ready at any moment to
be thrown into one vast hollow square, the Macedonians advanced in two
lines against the enemy, Alexander himself leading on the right wing,
and the renowned phalanx forming the centre, while Parmenio commanded on
the left.

Such was the general nature of the disposition which Alexander made
of his army. But we have in Arrian the details of the position of each
brigade and regiment; and as we know that these details were taken from
the journals of Macedonian generals, it is interesting to examine them,
and to read the names and stations of King Alexander's generals and
colonels in this the greatest of his battles.

The eight troops of the royal horse-guards formed the right of
Alexander's line. Their captains were Cleitus (whose regiment was on the
extreme right, the post of peculiar danger), Graucias, Ariston, Sopolis,
Heracleides, Demetrias, Meleager, and Hegelochus. Philotas was general
of the whole division. Then came the shield-bearing infantry: Nicanor
was their general. Then came the phalanx, in six brigades. Coenus's
brigade was on the right, and nearest to the shield-bearers; next
to this stood the brigade of Perdiccas, then Meleager's, then
Polysperchon's; and then the brigade of Amynias, but which was now
commanded by Simmias, as Amynias had been sent to Macedonia to levy
recruits. Then came the infantry of the left wing, under the command of
Craterus. Next to Craterus's infantry were placed the cavalry regiments
of the allies, with Eriguius for their general. The Messalian cavalry,
commanded by Philippus, were next, and held the extreme left of
the whole army. The whole left wing was entrusted to the command of
Parmenio, who had round his person the Pharsalian troop of
cavalry, which was the strongest and best amid all the Thessalian

The centre of the second line was occupied by a body of phalangite
infantry, formed of companies, which were drafted for this purpose from
each of the brigades of their phalanx. The officers in command of
this corps were ordered to be ready to face about, if the enemy should
succeed in gaining the rear of the army. On the right of this reserve
of infantry, in the second line, and behind the royal horse-guards,
Alexander placed half the Agrian light-armed infantry under Attalus, and
with them Brison's body of Macedonian archers, and Cleander's regiment
of foot. He also placed in this part of his army Menidas's squadron of
cavalry, and Aretes's and Ariston's light horse. Menidas was ordered to
watch if the enemy's cavalry tried to turn the flank, and if they did
so, to charge them before they wheeled completely round, and so take
them in flank themselves. A similar force was arranged on the left of
the second line for the same purpose, The Thracian infantry of Sitalces
was placed there, and Coeranus's regiment of the cavalry of the Greek
allies, and Agathon's troops of the Odrysian irregular horse.
The extreme left of the second line in this quarter was held by
Andromachus's cavalry. A division of Thracian infantry was left in guard
of the camp. In advance of the right wing and centre was scattered
a number of light-armed troops, of javelin-men and bowmen, with the
intention of warding off the charge of the armed chariots. [Kleber's
arrangement of his troops at the battle of Heliopolis, where, with ten
thousand Europeans, he had to encounter eighty thousand Asiatics in an
open plain, is worth comparing with Alexander's tactics at Arbela. See
Thiers's "Histoire du Consulat," &c. vol. ii. livre v.]

Conspicuous by the brilliancy of his armour, and by the chosen band of
officers who were round his person, Alexander took his own station, as
his custom was, in the right wing, at the head of his cavalry: and when
all the arrangements for the battle were complete, and his generals were
fully instructed how to act in each probable emergency, he began to lead
his men towards the enemy.

It was ever his custom to expose his life freely in battle, and to
emulate the personal prowess of his great ancestor, Achilles. Perhaps in
the bold enterprise of conquering Persia, it was politic for Alexander
to raise his army's daring to the utmost by the example of his own
heroic valour: and, in his subsequent campaigns, the love of the
excitement, of "the rapture of the strife," may have made him, like
Murat, continue from choice a custom which he commenced from duty.
But he never suffered the ardour of the soldier to make him lose the
coolness of the general; and at Arbela, in particular, he showed that he
could act up to his favourite Homeric maxim.

Great reliance had been placed by the Persian king on the effects of
the scythe-bearing chariots. It was designed to launch these against the
Macedonian phalanx, and to follow them up by a heavy charge of cavalry,
which it was hoped would find the ranks of the spearmen disordered by
the rush of the chariots, and easily destroy this most formidable part
of Alexander's force. In front, therefore, of the Persian centre, where
Darius took his station, and which it was supposed the phalanx would
attack, the ground had been carefully levelled and smoothed, so as to
allow the chariots to charge over it with their full sweep and speed.
As the Macedonian army approached the Persian, Alexander found that the
front of his whole line barely equalled the front of the Persian centre,
so that he was outflanked on his right by the entire left; wing of the
enemy, and by their entire right wing on his left. His tactics were
to assail some one point of the hostile army, and gain a decisive
advantage; while he refused, as far as possible, the encounter along the
rest of the line. He therefore inclined his order of march to the right
so as to enable his right wing and centre to come into collision with
the enemy on as favourable terms as possible though the manoeuvre might
in some respects compromise his left.

The effect of this oblique movement was to bring the phalanx and his
own wing nearly beyond the limits of the ground which the Persians had
prepared for the operations of the chariots; and Darius, fearing to
lose the benefit of this arm against the most important parts of the
Macedonian force, ordered the Scythian and Bactrian cavalry, who were
drawn up on his extreme left, to charge round upon Alexander's right
wing, and check its further lateral progress. Against these assailants
Alexander sent from his second line Menidas's cavalry. As these proved
too few to make head against the enemy, he ordered Ariston also from the
second line with his light horse, and Cleander with his foot, in support
of Menidas. The Bactrians and Scythians now began to give way, but
Darius reinforced them by the mass of Bactrian cavalry from his main
line, and an obstinate cavalry fight now took place. The Bactrians and
Scythians were numerous, and were better armed than the horseman
under Menidas and Ariston; and the loss at first was heaviest on the
Macedonian side. But still the European cavalry stood the charge of the
Asiatics, and at last, by their superior discipline, and by acting in
squadrons that supported each other, instead of fighting in a confused
mass like the barbarians, the Macedonians broke their adversaries, and
drove them off the field. [The best explanation of this may be found
in Napoleon's account of the cavalry fights between the French and
the Mamelukes:--"Two Mamelukes were able to make head against three
Frenchmen, because they were better armed, better mounted, and better
trained; they had two pair of pistols, a blunderbuss, a carbine, a
helmet with a vizor, and a coat of mail; they had several horses, and
several attendants on foot. One hundred cuirassiers, however were not
afraid of one hundred Mamelukes; three hundred could beat; an equal
number, and one thousand could easily put to the rout fifteen hundred,
so great is the influence of tactics, order, and evolutions! Leclerc and
Lasalle presented their men to the Mamelukes in several lines. When the
Arabs were on the point of overwhelming the first, the second came to
its assistance on the right and left; the Mamelukes then halted and
wheeled, in order to turn the wings of this new line; this moment
was always seized upon to charge them, and they were uniformly

Darius, now directed the scythe-armed chariots to be driven against
Alexander's horse-guards and the phalanx; and these formidable vehicles
were accordingly sent rattling across the plain, against the Macedonian
line. When we remember the alarm which the war-chariots of the Britons
created among Caesar's legions, we shall not be prone to deride this arm
of ancient warfare as always useless. The object of the chariots was
to create unsteadiness in the ranks against which they were driven,
and squadrons of cavalry followed close upon them, to profit by such
disorder. But the Asiatic chariots were rendered ineffective at Arbela
by the light-armed troops whom Alexander had specially appointed for
the service, and who, wounding the horses and drivers with their missile
weapons, and running alongside so as to cut the traces or seize the
reins, marred the intended charge; and the few chariots that reached
the phalanx passed harmlessly through the intervals which the spearmen
opened for them, and were easily captured in the rear.

A mass of the Asiatic cavalry was now, for the second time, collected
against Alexander's extreme right, and moved round it, with the view of
gaining the flank of his army. At the critical moment, Aretes, with his
horsemen from Alexander's second line, dashed on the Persian squadrons
when their own flanks were exposed by this evolution. While Alexander
thus met and baffled all the flanking attacks of the enemy with troops
brought up from his second line, he kept his own horse-guards and the
rest of the front line of his wing fresh, and ready to take advantage
of the first opportunity for striking a decisive blow. This soon came. A
large body of horse, who were posted on the Persian left wing nearest to
the centre, quitted their station, and rode off to help their comrades
in the cavalry fight that still was going on at the extreme right of
Alexander's wing against the detachments from his second line. This made
a huge gap in the Persian array, and into this space Alexander instantly
dashed with his guard; and then pressing towards his left, he soon
began to make havoc in the left flank of the Persian centre. The
shield-bearing infantry now charged also among the reeling masses of the
Asiatics; and five of the brigades of the phalanx, with the irresistible
might of their sarissas, bore down the Greek mercenaries of Darius,
and dug their way through the Persian centre. In the early part of the
battle, Darius had showed skill and energy; and he now for some time
encouraged his men, by voice and example, to keep firm. But the lances
of Alexander's cavalry, and the pikes of the phalanx now gleamed nearer
and nearer to him. His charioteer was struck down by a javelin at his
side; and at last Darius's nerve failed him; and, descending from
his chariot, he mounted on a fleet horse and galloped from the plain,
regardless of the state of the battle in other parts of the field, where
matters were going on much more favourably for his cause, and where his
presence might have done much towards gaining a victory.

Alexander's operations with his right and centre had exposed his left
to an immensely preponderating force of the enemy. Parmenio kept out of
action as long as possible; but Mazaeus, who commanded the Persian right
wing, advanced against him, completely outflanked him, and pressed
him severely with reiterated charges by superior numbers. Seeing the
distress of Parmenio's wing, Simmias, who commanded the sixth brigade of
the phalanx, which was next to the left wing, did not advance with the
other brigades in the great charge upon the Persian centre, but kept
back to cover Parmenio's troops on their right flank; as otherwise they
would have been completely surrounded and cut off from the rest of the
Macedonian army. By so doing, Simmias had unavoidably opened a gap in
the Macedonian left centre; and a large column of Indian and Persian
horse, from the Persian right centre, had galloped forward through this
interval, and right through the troops of the Macedonian second line.
Instead of then wheeling round upon Sarmenio, or upon the rear of
Alexander's conquering wing, the Indian and Persian cavalry rode
straight on to the Macedonian camp, overpowered the Thracians who were
left in charge of it, and began to plunder. This was stopped by the
phalangite troops of the second line, who, after the enemy's horsemen
had rushed by them, faced about, countermarched upon the camp, killed
many of the Indians and Persians in the act of plundering, and forced
the rest to ride off again. Just at this crisis, Alexander had been
recalled from his pursuit of Darius, by tidings of the distress of
Parmenio, and of his inability to bear up any longer against the hot
attacks of Mazaeus. Taking his horse-guards with him, Alexander rode
towards the part of the field where his left wing was fighting; but on
his way thither he encountered the Persian and Indian cavalry, on their
return from his camp.

These men now saw that their only chance of safety was to cut their
way through; and in one huge column they charged desperately upon the
Macedonians. There was here a close hand-to-hand fight, which lasted
some time, and sixty of the royal horse-guards fell, and three generals,
who fought close to Alexander's side, were wounded. At length the
Macedonian, discipline and valour again prevailed, and a large number of
the Persian and Indian horsemen were cut down; some few only succeeded
in breaking through and riding away. Relieved of these obstinate
enemies, Alexander again formed his horse-guards, and led them towards
Parmenio; but by this time that general also was victorious. Probably
the news of Darius's flight had reached Mazaeus, and had damped the
ardour of the Persian right wing; while the tidings of their comrades'
success must have proportionally encouraged the Macedonian forces under
Parmenio. His Thessalian cavalry particularly distinguished themselves
by their gallantry and persevering good conduct; and by the time that
Alexander had ridden up to Parmenio, the whole Persian army was in full
flight from the field.

It was of the deepest importance to Alexander to secure the person of
Darius, and he now urged on the pursuit. The river Lycus was between the
field of battle and the city of Arbela, whither the fugitives directed
their course, and the passage of this river was even more destructive to
the Persians than the swords and spears of the Macedonians had been
in the engagement. [I purposely omit any statement of the loss in the
battle. There is a palpable error of the transcribers in the numbers
which we find in our present manuscripts of Arrian; and Curtius is of no
authority.] The narrow bridge was soon choked up by the flying
thousands who rushed towards it, and vast numbers of the Persians
threw themselves, or were hurried by others, into the rapid stream, and
perished in its waters. Darius had crossed it, and had ridden on through
Arbela without halting. Alexander reached that city on the next day, and
made himself master of all Darius's treasure and stores; but the Persian
king unfortunately for himself, had fled too fast for his conqueror:
he had only escaped to perish by the treachery of his Bactrian satrap,

A few days after the battle Alexander entered Babylon, "the oldest
seat of earthly empire" then in existence, as its acknowledged lord and
master. There were yet some campaigns of his brief and bright career
to be accomplished. Central Asia was yet to witness the march of his
phalanx. He was yet to effect that conquest of Affghanistan in which
England since has failed. His generalship, as well as his valour, were
yet to be signalised on the banks of the Hydaspes, and the field of
Chillianwallah; and he was yet to precede the Queen of England in
annexing the Punjaub to the dominions of an European sovereign. But the
crisis of his career was reached; the great object of his mission was
accomplished; and the ancient Persian empire, which once menaced all
the nations of the earth with subjection, was irreparably crushed, when
Alexander had won his crowning victory at Arbela.


B.C. 330. The Lacedaemonians endeavour to create a rising in Greece
against the Macedonian power; they are defeated by Antipater,
Alexander's viceroy; and their king, Agis, falls in the battle.

330 to 327. Alexander's campaigns in Upper Asia. "Having conquered
Darius, Alexander pursued his way, encountering difficulties which would
have appalled almost any other general, through Bactriana, and taking
Bactra, or Zariaspa, (now Balkh), the chief city of that province, where
he spent the winter. Crossing the Oxus, he advanced in the following
spring to Marakanda (Samarcand) to replace the loss of horses which he
had sustained in crossing the Caucasus, to obtain supplies from the rich
valley of Sogd (the Mahometan Paradise of Mader-al-Nahr), and to enforce
the submission of Transoxiana. The northern limit of his march is
probably represented by the modern Uskand, or Aderkand, a village on the
Iaxartes, near the end of the Ferganah district. In Margiana he founded
another Alexandria. Returning from the north, he led on his army in the
hope of conquering India, till at length, marching in a line apparently
nearly parallel with the Kabul river, he arrived at the celebrated rock
Aornos, the position of which must have been on the right bank of the
Indus, at some distance from Attock; and it may perhaps be represented
by the modern Akora"--(VAUX.)

327, 326. Alexander marches through, Affghanistan to the Punjaub. He
defeats Porus. His troops refuse to march towards the Ganges, and he
commences the descent of the Indus. On his march he attacks and subdues
several Indian tribes, among others the Malli; in the storming of whose
capital (Mooltan), he is severely wounded. He directs his admiral,
Nearchus, to sail round from the Indus to the Persian Gulf; and leads
the army back across Scinde and Beloochistan.

324. Alexander returns to Babylon. "In the tenth year after he had
crossed the Hellespont, Alexander, having won his vast dominion, entered
Babylon; and resting from his career in that oldest seat of earthly
empire, he steadily surveyed the mass of various nations which owned his
sovereignty, and revolved in his mind the great work of breathing into
this huge but inert body the living spirit of Greek civilization. In the
bloom of youthful manhood, at the age of thirty-two, he paused from
the fiery speed of his earlier course; and for the first time gave the
nations an opportunity of offering their homage before his throne. They
came from all the extremities of the earth to propitiate his anger, to
celebrate his greatness, or to solicit his protection.... History may
allow us to think that Alexander and a Roman ambassador did meet at
Babylon; that the greatest man of the ancient world saw and spoke with
a citizen of that great nation, which was destined to succeed him in
his appointed work, and to found a wider and still more enduring empire.
They met, too, in Babylon, almost beneath the shadow of the temple of
Bel, perhaps the earliest monument ever raised by human pride and power,
in a city stricken, as it were, by the word of God's heaviest
judgment, as the symbol of greatness apart from and opposed to

323. Alexander dies at Babylon. On his death being known at Greece, the
Athenians, and others of the southern states, take up arms to shake off
the domination of Macedon. They are at first successful; but the return
of some of Alexander's veterans from Asia enables Antipater to prevail
over them.

317 to 289. Agathocles is tyrant of Syracuse; and carries on repeated
wars with the Carthaginians; in the course of which (311) he invades
Africa, and reduces the Carthaginians to great distress.

306. After a long series of wars with each other, and after all the
heirs of Alexander had been murdered, his principal surviving generals
assume the title of king, each over the provinces which he has occupied.
The four chief among them were Antigonus, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and
Seleucus. Antipater was now dead, but his son Cassander succeeded to his
power in Macedonia and Greece.

301. Seleucus and Lysimachus defeat Antigonus at Ipsus. Antigonus is
killed in the battle.

280. Seleucus, the last of Alexander's captains, is assassinated. Of all
Alexander's successors, Seleucus had formed the most powerful empire.
He had acquired all the provinces between Phrygia and the Indus. He
extended his dominion in India beyond the limits reached by Alexander.
Seleucus had some sparks of his great master's genius in promoting
civilization and commerce, as well as in gaining victories. Under his
successors, the Seleucidae, this vast empire rapidly diminished; Bactria
became independent, and a separate dynasty of Greek kings ruled there
in the year 125, when it was overthrown by the Scythian tribes. Parthia
threw off its allegiance to the Seleucidae in 250 B.C., and the powerful
Parthian kingdom, which afterwards proved so formidable a foe to Rome,
absorbed nearly all the provinces west of the Euphrates, that had obeyed
the first Seleucus. Before the battle of Ipsus, Mithridates, a Persian
prince of the blood-royal of the Achaemenidae, had escaped to Pontus,
and founded there the kingdom of that name.

Besides the kingdom of Seleucus, which, when limited to Syria,
Palestine, and parts of Asia Minor, long survived; the most important
kingdom formed by a general of Alexander was that of the Ptolemies in
Egypt. The throne of Macedonia was long and obstinately contended for by
Cassander, Polysperchon, Lysimachus, Pyrrhus, Antigonus, and others;
but at last was secured by the dynasty of Antigonus Gonatas. The old
republics of southern Greece suffered severely during these tumults,
and the only Greek states that showed any strength and spirit were
the cities of the Achaean league, the AEtolians, and the islanders of

290. Rome had now thoroughly subdued the Samnites and the Etruscans,
and had gained numerous victories over the Cisalpine Gauls. Wishing to
confirm her dominion in Lower Italy, she became entangled in a war with
Pyrrhus, fourth king of Epirus, who was called over by the Tarentines
to aid them. Pyrrhus was at first victorious, but in the year 275
was defeated by the Roman legions in a pitched battle. He returned to
Greece, remarking, "Rome becomes mistress of all Italy from the Rubicon
to the Straits of Messina."

264. The first Punic war begins. Its primary cause was the desire of
both the Romans and the Carthaginians to possess themselves of Sicily.
The Romans form a fleet, and successfully compete with the marine of
Carthage. [There is at this present moment [written in June, 1851]
in the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park a model of a piratical galley of
Labuan, part of the mast of which can be let down on an enemy, and
form a bridge for boarders. It is worth while to compare this with the
account in Polybius of the boarding bridges which the Roman admiral
Dullius, affixed to the masts of his galleys and by means of which he
won his great victory over the Carthaginian fleet.] During the latter
half of the war, the military genius of Hamilcar Barca sustains the
Carthaginian cause in Sicily. At the end of twenty-four years, the
Carthaginians sue for peace, though their aggregate loss in ships and
men had been less than that sustained by the Romans since the beginning
of the war. Sicily becomes a Roman province.

240 to 218. The Carthaginian mercenaries who had been brought back
from Sicily to Africa, mutiny against Carthage, and nearly succeed in
destroying her. After a sanguinary and desperate struggle, Hamilcar
Barca crushes them. During this season of weakness to Carthage, Rome
takes from her the island of Sardinia. Hamilcar Barca forms the project
of obtaining compensation by conquests in Spain, and thus enabling
Carthage to renew the struggle with Rome. He takes Hannibal (then a
child) to Spain with him. He and, after his death, his brother, win
great part of southern Spain to the Carthaginian interest. Hannibal
obtains the command of the Carthaginian armies in Spain, 221 B.C., being
then twenty-six years old. He attacks Saguntum, a city on the Ebro in
alliance with Rome, which is the immediate pretext for the second Punic

During this interval Rome had to sustain a storm from the north. The
Cisalpine Gauls, in 226, formed an alliance with one of the fiercest
tribes of their brethren north of the Alps, and began a furious war
against the Romans, which lasted six years. The Romans gave them several
severe defeats, and took from them part of their territories near the
Po. It was on this occasion that the Roman colonies of Cremona and
Placentia were founded, the latter of which did such essential service
to Rome in the second Punic war, by the resistance which it made to the
army of Hasdrubal. A muster-roll was made in this war of the effective
military force of the Romans themselves, and of those Italian states
that were subject to them. The return showed a force of seven hundred
thousand foot, and seventy thousand horse. Polybius mentions this

228. Hannibal crosses the Alps and invades Italy.


   Quid debeas, O Roma, Neronibus,
   Testis Metaurum flumen, et Hasdrubal
   Devictus, et pulcher fugatis
   Ille dies Latio tenebris,

   Qui primus alma risit adorea;
   Dirus per urbes Afer ut Italas,
   Ceu flamma per taedas, vel Eurus
   Per Siculas equitavit undas.--HORATIUS, iv. Od. 4.

   "... The consul Nero, who made the unequalled march which
   deceived Hannibal, and defeated Hasdrubal, thereby accomplishing
   an achievement almost unrivalled in military annals.  The first
   intelligence of his return, to Hannibal, was the sight of
   Hasdrubal's head thrown into his camp.  When Hannibal saw this,
   he exclaimed with a sigh, that 'Rome would now be the mistress of
   the world.' To this victory of Nero's it might be owing that his
   imperial namesake reigned at all.  But the infamy of the one has
   eclipsed the glory of the other.  When the name of Nero is heard,
   who thinks of the consul!  But such are human things."--BYRON.

About midway between Rimini and Ancona a little river falls into the
Adriatic, after traversing one of those districts of Italy, in which
a vain attempt has lately been made to revive, after long centuries of
servitude and shame, the spirit of Italian nationality, and the energy
of free institutions. That stream is still called the Metauro; and
wakens by its name recollections of the resolute daring of ancient
Rome, and of the slaughter that stained its current two thousand and
sixty-three years ago, when the combined consular armies of Livius
and Nero encountered and crushed near its banks the varied hosts which
Hannibal's brother was leading from the Pyrenees, the Rhone, the Alps,
and the Po, to aid the great Carthaginian in his stern struggle to
annihilate the growing might of the Roman Republic, and make the Punic
power supreme over all the nations of the world.

The Roman historian, who termed that struggle the most memorable of all
wars that ever were carried on, [Livy, Lib. xxi. sec. 1.] wrote-in no
spirit of exaggeration. For it is not in ancient but in modern history,
that parallels for its incidents and its heroes are to be found. The
similitude between the contest which Rome maintained against Hannibal,
and that which England was for many years engaged in against Napoleon,
has not passed unobserved by recent historians. "Twice," says Arnold,
[Vol. iii, p. 62. See also Alison--PASSIM.] "has there been witnessed
the struggle of the highest individual genius against the resources and
institutions of a great nation; and in both cases the nation has been
victorious. For seventeen years Hannibal strove against Rome; for
sixteen years Napoleon Bonaparte strove against England; the efforts of
the first ended in Zama, those of the second in Waterloo." One point,
however, of the similitude between the two wars has scarcely been
adequately dwelt on. That is, the remarkable parallel between the Roman
general who finally defeated the great Carthaginian, and the English
general who gave the last deadly overthrow to the French emperor. Scipio
and Wellington both held for many years commands of high importance,
but distant from the main theatres of warfare. The same country was the
scene of the principal military career of each. It was in Spain that
Scipio, like Wellington, successively encountered and overthrew nearly
all the subordinate generals of the enemy, before being opposed to
the chief champion and conqueror himself. Both Scipio and Wellington
restored their countrymen's confidence in arms, when shaken by a series
of reverses. And each of them closed a long and perilous war by a
complete and overwhelming defeat of the chosen leader and the chosen
veterans of the foe.

Nor is the parallel between them limited to their military characters
and exploits. Scipio, like Wellington, became an important leader of
the aristocratic party among his countrymen, and was exposed to
the unmeasured invectives of the violent section of his political
antagonists. When, early in the last reign, an infuriated mob assaulted
the Duke of Wellington in the streets of the English capital on the
anniversary of Waterloo, England was even more disgraced by that
outrage, than Rome was by the factious accusations which demagogues
brought against Scipio, but which he proudly repelled on the day of
trial, by reminding the assembled people that it was the anniversary
of the battle of Zama. Happily, a wiser and a better spirit has now for
years pervaded all classes of our community; and we shall be spared
the ignominy of having worked out to the end the parallel of national
iugratitude. Scipio died a voluntary exile from the malevolent
turbulence of Rome. Englishmen of all ranks and politics have now long
united in affectionate admiration of our modern Scipio: and even
those who have most widely differed from the Duke on legislative or
administrative questions, forget what they deem the political errors of
that time-honoured head, while they gratefully call to mind the laurels
that have wreathed it.

Scipio at Zama trampled in the dust the power of Carthage; but that
power had been already irreparably shattered in another field, where
neither Scipio nor Hannibal commanded. When the Metaurus witnessed the
defeat and death of Hasdrubal, it witnessed the ruin of the scheme
by which alone Carthage could hope to organise decisive success,--the
scheme of enveloping Rome at once from the north and the south of Italy
by chosen armies, led by two sons of Hamilcar. [See Arnold, vol. iii, p.
387.] That battle was the determining crisis of the contest, not merely
between Rome and Carthage, but between the two great families of the
world, which then made Italy the arena of their oft-renewed contest for

The French historian Michelet whose "Histoire Romaine" would have been
invaluable, if the general industry and accuracy of the writer had in
any degree equalled his originality and brilliancy, eloquently remarks:
"It is not without reason that so universal and vivid a remembrance of
the Punic wars has dwelt in the memories of men. They formed no mere
struggle to determine the lot of two cities or two empires; but it was a
strife on the event of which depended the fate of two races of mankind,
whether the dominion of the world should belong to the Indo-Germanic or
to the Semitic family of nations. Bear in mind, that the first of these
comprises, besides the Indians and the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans,
and the Germans. In the other are ranked the Jews and the Arabs, the
Phoenicians and the Carthaginians. On the one side is the genius
of heroism, of art, and legislation: on the other is the spirit of
industry, of commerce, of navigation. The two opposite races have
everywhere come into contact, everywhere into hostility. In the
primitive history of Persia and Chaldea, the heroes are perpetually
engaged in combat with their industrious and perfidious, neighbours.
The struggle is renewed between the Phoenicians and the Greeks on every
coast of the Mediterranean. The Greek supplants the Phoenician in all
his factories, all his colonies in the east: soon will the Roman come,
and do likewise in the west. Alexander did far more against Tyre than
Salmanasar or Nabuchodonosor had done. Not content with crushing her, he
took care that she never should revive: for he founded Alexandria as
her substitute, and changed for ever the track of commerce of the
world. There remained Carthage--the great Carthage, and her mighty
empire,--mighty in a far different degree than Phoenicia's had been.
Rome annihilated it. Then occurred that which has no parallel in
history,--an entire civilisation perished at one blow--vanished, like a
falling star. The 'Periplus' of Hanno, a few coins, a score of lines in
Plautus, and, lo, all that remains of the Carthaginian world!

"Many generations must needs pass away before the struggle between the
two races could be renewed; and the Arabs, that formidable rear-guard of
the Semitic world, dashed forth from their deserts. The conflict between
the two races then became the conflict of two religions. Fortunate was
it that those daring Saracenic cavaliers encountered in the East the
impregnable walls of Constantinople, in the West the chivalrous valour
of Charles Martel and the sword of the Cid. The crusades were the
natural reprisals for the Arab invasions, and form the last epoch of
that great struggle between the two principal families of the human

It is difficult amid the glimmering light supplied by the allusions
of the classical writers to gain a full idea of the character and
institutions of Rome's great rival. But we can perceive how inferior
Carthage was to her competitor in military resources; and how far
less fitted than Rome she was to become the founder of centralized and
centralizing dominion, that should endure for centuries, and fuse into
imperial unity the narrow nationalities of the ancient races that dwelt
around and near the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

Carthage was originally neither the most ancient nor the most powerful
of the numerous colonies which the Phoenicians planted on the coast of
Northern Africa. But her advantageous position, the excellence of her
constitution (of which, though ill-informed as to its details, we know
that it commanded the admiration of Aristotle), and the commercial and
political energy of her citizens, gave her the ascendancy over Hippo,
Utica, Leptis, and her other sister Phoenician cities in those regions;
and she finally seduced them to a condition of dependency, similar to
that which the subject allies of Athens occupied relatively to that once
imperial city. When Tyre and Sidon and the other cities of Phoenicia
itself sank from independent republics into mere vassal states of the
great Asiatic monarchies and obeyed by turns a Babylonian, a Persian,
and a Macedonian master, their power and their traffic rapidly declined;
and Carthage succeeded to the important maritime and commercial
character which they had previously maintained. The Carthaginians did
not seek to compete with the Greeks on the north-eastern shores of the
Mediterranean, or in the three inland seas which are connected with
it; but they maintained an active intercourse with the Phoenicians,
and through them with lower and Central Asia; and they, and they
alone, after the decline and fall of Tyre, navigated the waters of the
Atlantic. They had the monopoly of all the commerce of the world that
was carried on beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. We have yet extant (in
a Greek translation) the narrative of the voyage of Hanno, one of their
admirals, along the western coast of Africa as far as Sierra Leone. And
in the Latin poem of Festus Avienus, frequent references are made to
the records of the voyages of another celebrated Carthaginian admiral,
Himilco, who had explored the north-western coast of Europe. Our own
islands are mentioned by Himilco as the lands of the Hiberni and the
Albioni. It is indeed certain that the Carthaginians frequented the
Cornish coast (as the Phoenicians had done before them) for the purpose
of procuring tin; and there is every reason to believe that they sailed
as far as the coasts of the Baltic for amber. When it is remembered that
the mariner's compass was unknown in those ages, the boldness and skill
of the seamen of Carthage, and the enterprise of her merchants, may be
paralleled with any achievements that the history of modern navigation
and commerce can supply.

In their Atlantic voyages along the African shores, the Carthaginians
followed the double object of trade and colonization. The numerous
settlements that were planted by them along the coast from Morocco to
Senegal, provided for the needy members of the constantly-increasing
population of a great commercial capital; and also strengthened the
influence which Carthage exercised among the tribes of the African
coast. Besides her fleets, her caravans gave her a large and lucrative
trade with the native Africans; nor must we limit our belief of the
extent of the Carthaginian trade with the tribes of Central and Western
Africa, by the narrowness of the commercial intercourse which civilized
nations of modern times have been able to create in those regions.

Although essentially a mercantile and seafaring people, the
Carthaginians by no means neglected agriculture. On the contrary, the
whole of their territory was cultivated like a garden. The fertility of
the soil repaid the skill and toil bestowed on it; and every invader,
from Agathocles to Scipio AEmilianus, was struck with admiration at
the rich pasture-lands carefully irrigated, the abundant harvests,
the luxuriant vineyards, the plantations of fig and olive-trees, the
thriving villages, the populous towns, and the splendid villas of the
wealthy Carthaginians, through which his march lay, as long as he was on
Carthaginian ground.

The Carthaginians abandoned the Aegean and the Pontus to the Greeks,
but they were by no means disposed to relinquish to those rivals the
commerce and the dominion of the coasts of the Mediterranean westward of
Italy. For centuries the Carthaginians strove to make themselves masters
of the islands that lie between Italy and Spain. They acquired the
Balearic islands, where the principal harbour, Port Mahon, still bears
the name of the Carthaginian admiral. They succeeded in reducing the
greater part of Sardinia; but Sicily could never be brought into their
power. They repeatedly invaded that island, and nearly overran it; but
the resistance which was opposed to them by the Syracusans under Gelon,
Dionysius, Timoleon, and Agathocles, preserved the island from becoming
Punic, though many of its cities remained under the Carthaginian rule,
until Rome finally settled the question to whom Sicily was to belong, by
conquering it for herself.

With so many elements of success, with almost unbounded wealth with
commercial and maritime activity, with a fertile territory, with a
capital city of almost impregnable strength, with a constitution
that ensured for centuries the blessings of, social order, with an
aristocracy singularly fertile in men of the highest genius, Carthage
yet failed signally and calamitously in her contest for power with Rome.
One of the immediate causes of this may seem to have been the want, of
firmness among her citizens, which made them terminate the first Punic
war by begging peace, sooner than endure any longer the hardships and
burdens caused by a state of warfare, although their antagonists had
suffered far more severely than themselves. Another cause was the spirit
of faction among their leading men, which prevented Hannibal in the
second war from being properly reinforced and supported. But there were
also more general causes why Carthage proved inferior to Rome. These
were her position relatively to the mass of the inhabitants of the
country which she ruled, and her habit of trusting to mercenary armies
in her wars.

Our clearest information as to the different races of men in and about
Carthage is derived from Diodorus Siculus. [Vol. ii. p. 447, Wesseling's
ed.] That historian enumerates four different races: first, he
mentions the Phoenicians who dwelt in Carthage: next, he speaks of the
Liby-Phoenicians; these, he tells us, dwelt in many of the maritime
cities, and were connected by intermarriages with the Phoenicians, which
was the cause of their compound name: thirdly, he mentions the Libyans,
the bulk and the most ancient part of the population, hating the
Carthaginians intensely, on account of the oppressiveness of their
domination: lastly, he names the Numidians, the nomad tribes of the

It is evident, from this description, that the native Libyans were a
subject class, without franchise or political rights; and, accordingly,
we find no instance specified in history of a Libyan holding political
office or military command. The half-castes, the Liby-Phoenicians, seem
to have been sometimes sent out as colonists; [See the "Periplus"
of Hanno.] but it may be inferred, from what Diodorus says of their
residence, that they had not the right of the citizenship of Carthage:
and only a solitary case occurs of one of this race being entrusted with
authority, and that, too, not emanating from the home government. This
is the instance of the officer sent by Hannibal to Sicily, after the
fall of Syracuse; whom Polybius [Lib. ix. 22.] calls Myttinus the
Libyan, but whom, from the fuller account in Livy, we find to have been
a Liby-Phoenician [Lib. xxv. 40.] and it is expressly mentioned what
indignation was felt by the Carthaginian commanders in the island that
this half-caste should control their operations.

With respect to the composition of their armies, it is observable that,
though thirsting for extended empire, and though some of the leading men
became generals of the highest order, the Carthaginians, as a people,
were anything but personally warlike. As long as they could hire
mercenaries to fight for them, they had little appetite for the irksome
training, and they grudged the loss of valuable time, which military
service would have entailed on themselves.

As Michelet remarks, "The life of an industrious merchant, of a
Carthaginian, was too precious to be risked, as long as it was possible
to substitute advantageously for it that of a barbarian from Spain or
Gaul. Carthage knew, and could tell to a drachma, what the life of a
man of each nation came to. A Greek was worth more than a Campanian, a
Campanian worth more than a Gaul or a Spaniard. When once this tariff
of blood was correctly made out, Carthage began a war as a mercantile
speculation. She tried to make conquests in the hope of getting new
mines to work, or to open fresh markets for her exports. In one venture
she could afford to spend fifty thousand mercenaries, in another, rather
more. If the returns were good, there was no regret felt for the capital
that had been lavished in the investment; more money got more men, and
all went on well." [Histoire Romaine, vol. ii. p. 40.]

Armies composed of foreign mercenaries have, in all ages, been as
formidable to their employers as to the enemy against whom they were
directed. We know of one occasion (between the first and second Punic
wars) when Carthage was brought to the very brink of destruction by a
revolt of her foreign troops. Other mutinies of the same kind must from
time to time have occurred. Probably one of these was the cause of the
comparative weakness of Carthage at the time of the Athenian expedition
against Syracuse; so different from the energy with which she attacked
Gelon half a century earlier, and Dionysius half a century later. And
even when we consider her armies with reference only to their efficiency
in warfare, we perceive at once the inferiority of such bands of
condottieri, brought together without any common bond of origin,
tactics, or cause, to the legions of Rome, which at the time of the
Punic wars were raised from the very flower of a hardy agricultural
population trained in the strictest discipline, habituated to victory,
and animated by the most resolute patriotism. And this shows also
the transcendency of the genius of Hannibal, which could form such
discordant materials into a compact organized force, and inspire them
with the spirit of patient discipline and loyalty to their chief; so
that they were true to him in his adverse as well as in his prosperous
fortunes; and throughout the chequered series of his campaigns no panic
rout ever disgraced a division under his command; no mutiny, or even
attempt at mutiny, was ever known in his camp; and, finally, after
fifteen years of Italian warfare, his men followed their old leader to
Zama, "with no fear and little hope;" ["We advanced to Waterloo as the
Greeks did to Thermopylae; all of us without fear and most of us without
hope."--SPEECH OF GENERAL FOY.] and there, on that disastrous field,
stood firm around him, his Old Guard, till Scipio's Numidian allies came
up on their flank; when at last, surrounded and overpowered, the veteran
battalions sealed their devotion to their general with their blood.

"But if Hannibal's genius may be likened to the Homeric god, who, in his
hatred to the Trojans, rises from the deep to rally the fainting Greeks,
and to lead them against the enemy, so the calm courage with which
Hector met his more than human adversary in his country's cause, is
no unworthy image of the unyielding magnanimity displayed by the
aristocracy of Rome. As Hannibal utterly eclipses Carthage, so, on the
contrary, Fabius, Marcellus, Claudius Nero, even Scipio himself, are as
nothing when compared to the spirit, and wisdom, and power of Rome. The
senate, which voted its thanks to its political enemy, Varro, after his
disastrous defeat, 'because he had not despaired of the commonwealth,'
and which disdained either to solicit, or to reprove, or to threaten,
or in any way to notice the twelve colonies which had refused their
customary supplies of men for the army, is far more to be honoured than
the conqueror of Zama. This we should the more carefully bear in mind
because our tendency is to admire individual greatness far more than
national; and, as no single Roman will bear comparison to Hannibal, we
are apt to murmur at the event of the contest, and to think that the
victory was awarded to the least worthy of the combatants. On the
contrary, never was the wisdom of God's Providence more manifest than in
the issue of the struggle between Rome and Carthage. It was clearly
for the good of man kind that Hannibal should be conquered: his triumph
would have stopped the progress of the world. For great men can only
act permanently by forming great nations; and no one man, even though
it were Hannibal himself, can in one generation effect such a work. But
where the nation has been merely enkindled for a while by a great man's
spirit, the light passes away with him who communicated it; and the
nation, when he is gone, is like a dead body, to which magic power had,
for a moment, given unnatural life: when the charm has ceased, the body
is cold and stiff as before. He who grieves over the battle of Zama
should carry on his thoughts to a period thirty years later, when
Hannibal must, in the course of nature, have been dead, and consider how
the isolated Phoenician city of Carthage was fitted to receive and to
consolidate the civilization of Greece, or by its laws and institutions
to bind together barbarians of every race and language into an organized
empire, and prepare them for becoming, when that empire was dissolved,
the free members of the commonwealth of Christian Europe." [Arnold, vol.
iii. p. 61. The above is one of the numerous bursts of eloquence that
adorn Arnold's third volume, and cause such deep regret that that volume
should have been the last, and its great and good author have been cut
off with his work thus incomplete.]

It was in the spring of 207 B.C. that Hasdrubal, after skilfully
disentangling himself from the Roman forces in Spain, and, after a march
conducted with great judgment and little loss, through the interior of
Gaul and the passes of the Alps, appeared in the country that now is the
north of Lombardy, at the head of troops which he had partly brought out
of Spain, and partly levied among the Gauls and Ligurians on his way.
At this time Hannibal with his unconquered, and seemingly unconquerable
army, had been eleven years in Italy, executing with strenuous ferocity
the vow of hatred to Rome which had been sworn by him while yet a child
at the bidding of his father, Hamilcar; who, as he boasted, had trained
up his three sons, Hannibal, Hasdrubal, and Mago, Like three lion's
whelps, to prey upon the Romans. But Hannibal's latter campaigns had not
been signalised by any such great victories as marked the first years
of his invasion of Italy. The stern spirit of Roman resolution, ever
highest in disaster and danger, had neither bent nor despaired beneath
the merciless blows which "the dire African" dealt her in rapid
succession at Trebia, at Thrasymene, and at Cannae. Her population was
thinned by repeated slaughter in the field; poverty and actual scarcity
wore down the survivors, through the fearful ravages which Hannibal's
cavalry spread through their corn-fields, their pasture-lands, and their
vineyards; many of her allies went over to the invader's side; and new
clouds of foreign war threatened her from Macedonia and Gaul. But Rome
receded not. Rich and poor among her citizens vied with each other in
devotion to their country. The wealthy placed their stores, and all
placed their lives at the state's disposal. And though Hannibal could
not be driven out of Italy, though every year brought its sufferings and
sacrifices, Rome felt that her constancy had not been exerted in vain.
If she was weakened by the continual strife, so was Hannibal also; and
it was clear that the unaided resources of his army were unequal to the
task of her destruction. The single deer-hound could not pull down the
quarry which he had so furiously assailed. Rome not only stood fiercely
at bay, but had pressed back and gored her antagonist, that still,
however, watched her in act to spring. She was weary, and bleeding at
every pore; and there seemed to be little hope of her escape, if the
other hound of old Hamilcar's race should come up in time to aid his
brother in the death-grapple.

Hasdrubal had commanded the Carthaginian armies in Spain for some time,
with varying but generally unpropitious fortune. He had not the full
authority over the Punic forces in that country which his brother and
his father had previously exercised. The faction at Carthage, which was
at feud with his family, succeeded in fettering and interfering with his
power; and other generals were from time to time sent into Spain, whose
errors and misconduct caused the reverses that Hasdrubal met with.
This is expressly attested by the Greek historian Polybius, who was
the intimate friend of the younger Africanus, and drew his information
respecting the second Punic war from the best possible authorities.
Livy gives a long narrative of campaigns between the Roman commanders
in Spain and Hasdrubal, which is so palpably deformed by fictions and
exaggerations as to be hardly deserving of attention. [See the excellent
criticisms of Sir Walter Raleigh on this, in his "History of the World,"
book v. chap. iii. sec. 11.]

It is clear that in the year 208 B.C., at least, Hasdrubal outmanoeuvred
Publius Scipio, who held the command of the Roman forces in Spain; and
whose object was to prevent him from passing the Pyrenees and marching
upon Italy. Scipio expected that Hasdrubal would attempt the nearest
route, along the coast of the Mediterranean; and he therefore carefully
fortified and guarded the passes of the eastern Pyrenees. But Hasdrubal
passed these mountains near their western extremity; and then, with a
considerable force of Spanish infantry, with a small number of African
troops, with some elephants and much treasure, he marched, not directly
towards the coast of the Mediterranean, but in a north-eastern line
towards the centre of Gaul. He halted for the winter in the territory
of the Arverni, the modern Auvergne; and conciliated or purchased the
good-will of the Gauls in that region so far, that he not only found
friendly winter quarters among them, but great numbers of them enlisted
under him, and on the approach of spring marched with him to invade

By thus entering Gaul at the south-west, and avoiding its southern
maritime districts, Hasdrubal kept the Romans in complete ignorance of
his precise operations and movements in that country; all that they knew
was that Hasdrubal had baffled Scipio's attempts to detain him in Spain;
that he had crossed the Pyrenees with soldiers, elephants, and money,
and that he was raising fresh forces among the Gauls. The spring was
sure to bring him into Italy; and then would come the real tempest of
the war, when from the north and from the south the two Carthaginian
armies, each under a son of the Thunderbolt, were to gather together
around the seven hills of Rome. [Hamilcar was surnamed Barca, which
means the Thunderbolt. Sultan Bajazet had the similar surname of

In this emergency the Romans looked among themselves earnestly and
anxiously for leaders fit to meet the perils of the coming campaign.

The senate recommended the people to elect, as one of their consuls,
Caius Claudius Nero, a patrician of one of the families of the great
Claudian house. Nero had served during the preceding years of the war,
both against Hannibal in Italy, and against Hasdrubal in Spain; but it
is remarkable that the histories, which we possess, record no successes
as having been achieved by him either before or after his great campaign
of the Metaurus. It proves much for the sagacity of the leading men of
the senate, that they recognised in Nero the energy and spirit which
were required at this crisis, and it is equally creditable to the
patriotism of the people, that they followed the advice of the senate by
electing a general who had no showy exploits to recommend him to their

It was a matter of greater difficulty to find a second consul; the laws
required that one consul should be a plebeian; and the plebeian nobility
had been fearfully thinned by the events of the war. While the senators
anxiously deliberated among themselves what fit colleague for Nero could
be nominated at the coming comitia, and sorrowfully recalled the
names of Marcellus, Gracchus, and other plebeian generals who were no
more--one taciturn and moody old man sat in sullen apathy among the
conscript fathers. This was Marcus Livius, who had been consul in the
gear before the beginning of this war, and had then gained a victory
over the Illyrians. After his consulship he had been impeached before
the people on a charge of peculation and unfair division of the spoils
among his soldiers: the verdict was unjustly given against him, and the
sense of this wrong, and of the indignity thus put upon him, had rankled
unceasingly in the bosom of Livius, so that for eight years after his
trial he had lived in seclusion at his country seat, taking no part in
any affairs of state. Latterly the censors had compelled him to come to
Rome and resume his place in the senate, where he used to sit gloomily
apart, giving only a silent vote. At last an unjust accusation against
one of his near kinsmen made him break silence; and he harangued the
house in words of weight and sense, which drew attention to him, and
taught the senators that a strong spirit dwelt beneath that unimposing
exterior. Now, while they were debating on what noble of a plebeian
house was fit to assume the perilous honours of the consulate, some of
the elder of them looked on Marcus Livius, and remembered that in the
very last triumph which had been celebrated in the streets of Rome this
grim old man had sat in the car of victory; and that he had offered the
last grand thanksgiving sacrifice for the success of the Roman arms
that had bled before Capitoline Jove. There had been no triumphs since
Hannibal came into Italy. [Marcellus had been only allowed an ovation
for the conquest of Syracuse.] The Illyrian campaign of Livius was the
last that had been so honoured; perhaps it might be destined for him now
to renew the long-interrupted series. The senators resolved that Livius
should be put in nomination as consul with Nero; the people were willing
to elect him; the only opposition came from himself. He taunted them
with their inconsistency is honouring a man they had convicted of a base
crime. "If I am innocent," said he, "why did you place such a stain on
me? If I am guilty, why am I more fit for a second consulship than I was
for my first one?" The other senators remonstrated with him urging the
example of the great Camillus, who, after an unjust condemnation on a
similar charge, both served and saved his country. At last Livius ceased
to object; and Caius Claudius Nero and Marcus Livius were chosen consuls
of Rome.

A quarrel had long existed between the two consuls, and the senators
strove to effect a reconciliation between them before the campaign.
Here again Livius for a long time obstinately resisted the wish of his
fellow-senators. He said it was best for the state that he and Nero
should continue to hate one another. Each would do his duty better,
when he knew that he was watched by an enemy in the person of his own
colleague. At last the entreaties of the senators prevailed, and Livius
consented to forego the feud, and to co-operate with Nero in preparing
for the coming struggle.

As soon as the winter snows were thawed, Hasdrubal commenced his march
from Auvergne to the Alps. He experienced none of the difficulties which
his brother had met with from the mountain tribes. Hannibal's army
had been the first body of regular troops that had ever traversed the
regions; and, as wild animals assail a traveller, the natives rose
against it instinctively, in imagined defence of their own habitations,
which they supposed to be the objects of Carthaginian ambition. But
the fame of the war, with which Italy had now been convulsed for eleven
years, had penetrated into the Alpine passes; and the mountaineers
understood that a mighty city, southward of the Alps, was to be attacked
by the troops whom they saw marching among them. They not only opposed
no resistance to the passage of Hasdrubal, but many of them, out of
the love of enterprise and plunder, or allured by the high pay that he
offered, took service with him; and thus he advanced upon Italy with an
army that gathered strength at every league. It is said, also, that some
of the most important engineering works which Hannibal had constructed,
were found by Hasdrubal still in existence, and materially favoured the
speed of his advance. He thus emerged into Italy from the Alpine valleys
much sooner than had been anticipated. Many warriors of the Ligurian
tribes joined him; and, crossing the river Po, he marched down its
southern bank to the city of Placentia, which he wished to secure as a
base for his future operations. Placentia resisted him as bravely as it
had resisted Hannibal eleven years before; and for some time Hasdrubal
was occupied with a fruitless siege before its walls.

Six armies were levied for the defence of Italy when the long-dreaded
approach of Hasdrubal was announced. Seventy thousand Romans served in
the fifteen legions of which, with an equal number of Italian allies,
those armies and the garrisons were composed. Upwards of thirty thousand
more Romans were serving in Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain. The whole
number of Roman citizens of an age fit for military duty scarcely
exceeded a hundred and thirty thousand. The census taken before the war
had shown a total of two hundred and seventy thousand, which had been
diminished by more than half during twelve years. These numbers are
fearfully emphatic of the extremity to which Rome was reduced, and of
her gigantic efforts in that great agony of her fate. Not merely men,
but money and military stores, were drained to the utmost; and if
the armies of that year should be swept off by a repetition of the
slaughters of Thrasymene and Cannae, all felt that Rome would cease to
exist. Even if the campaign were to be marked by no decisive success on
either side, her ruin seemed certain. In South Italy Hannibal had either
detached Rome's allies from her, or had impoverished them by the ravages
of his army. If Hasdrubal could have done the same in Upper Italy; if
Etruria, Umbria, and Northern Latium had either revolted or been laid
waste, Rome must have sunk beneath sheer starvation; for the hostile
or desolated territory would have yielded no supplies of corn for her
population; and money, to purchase it from abroad, there was none.
Instant victory was a matter of life and death. Three of her six armies
were ordered to the north, but the first of these was required to
overawe the disaffected Etruscans. The second army of the north was
pushed forward, under Porcius, the praetor, to meet and keep in, check
the advanced troops of Hasdrubal; while the third, the grand army of the
north, which was to be under the immediate command of the consul Livius,
who had the chief command in all North Italy, advanced more slowly in
its support. There were similarly three armies in the south, under the
orders of the other consul Claudius Nero.

The lot had decided that Livius was to be opposed to Hasdrubal, and
that Nero should face Hannibal. And "when all was ordered as themselves
thought best, the two consuls went forth of the city; each his several
way. The people of Rome were now quite otherwise affected, than they had
been, when L. AEmilius Paulus and C. Tarentius Varro were sent against
Hannibal. They did no longer take upon them to direct their generals, or
bid them dispatch, and win the victory betimes; but rather they stood
in fear, lest all diligence, wisdom, and valour should prove too little.
For since, few years had passed, wherein some one of their generals
had not been slain; and since it was manifest, that if either of
these present consuls were defeated, or put to the worst, the two
Carthaginians would forthwith join, and make short work with the other:
it seemed a greater happiness than could be expected, that each of them
should return home victor; and come off with honour from such mighty
opposition as he was like to find. With extreme difficulty had Rome held
up her head ever since the battle of Cannae; though it were so, that
Hannibal alone, with little help from Carthage, had continued the war in
Italy. But there was now arrived another son of Amilcar; and one that,
in his present expedition, had seemed a man of more sufficiency than
Hannibal himself. For, whereas in that long and dangerous march through
barbarous nations, over great rivers and mountains, that were thought
unpassable, Hannibal had lost a great part of his army; this Asdrubal,
in the same places, had multiplied his numbers; and gathering the
people that he found in the way, descended from the Alps like a rolling
snow-ball, far greater than he came over the Pyrenees at his first
setting out of Spain. These considerations, and the like, of which fear
presented many unto them, caused the people of Rome to wait upon their
consuls out of the town, like a pensive train of mourners; thinking upon
Marcellus and Crispinus, upon whom, in the like sort, they had given
attendance the last year, but saw neither of them return alive from
a less dangerous war. Particularly old Q. Fabius gave his accustomed
advice to M. Livius, that he should abstain from giving or taking
battle, until he well understood the enemies' condition. But the consul
made him a froward answer, and said, that he would fight the very first
day, for that he thought it long till he should either recover his
honour by victory, or, by seeing the overthrow of his own unjust
citizens, satisfy himself with the joy of a great, though not an
honest revenge. But his meaning was better than his words." [Sir Walter

Hannibal at this period occupied with his veteran but much reduced
forces the extreme south of Italy. It had not been expected either by
friend or foe, that Hasdrubal would effect his passage of the Alps so
early in the year as actually occurred. And even when Hannibal learned
that his brother was in Italy, and had advanced as far as Placentia,
he was obliged to pause for further intelligence, before he himself
commenced active operations, as he could not tell whether his brother
might not be invited into Etruria, to aid the party there that was
disaffected to Rome or whether he would march down by the Adriatic Sea.
Hannibal led his troops out of their winter quarters in Bruttium, and
marched northward as far as Canusium. Nero had his head-quarters near
Venusia, with an army which he had increased to forty thousand foot and
two thousand five hundred horse, by incorporating under his own command
some of the legions which had been intended to set under other generals
in the south. There was another Roman army twenty thousand strong, south
of Hannibal, at Tarentum. The strength of that city secured this Roman
force from any attack by Hannibal, and it was a serious matter to march
northward and leave it in his rear, free to act against all his depots
and allies in the friendly part of Italy, which for the last two or
three campaigns had served him for a base of his operations. Moreover,
Nero's army was so strong that Hannibal could not concentrate troops
enough to assume the offensive against it without weakening his
garrisons, and relinquishing, at least for a time, his grasp upon the
southern provinces. To do this before he was certainly informed of his
brother's operations would have been an useless sacrifice; as Nero could
retreat before him upon the other Roman armies near the capital, and
Hannibal knew by experience that a mere advance of his army upon the
walls of Rome would have no effect on the fortunes of the war. In
the hope, probably, of inducing Nero to follow him, and of gaining an
opportunity of outmanoeuvring the Roman consul and attacking him on his
march, Hannibal moved into Lucania, and then back into Apulis;--he
again marched down into Bruttium, and strengthened his army by a levy of
recruits in that district. Nero followed him, but gave him no chance of
assailing him at a disadvantage. Some partial encounters seem to have
taken place; but the consul could not prevent Hannibal's junction
with his Bruttian levies, nor could Hannibal gain an opportunity of
surprising and crushing the consul. Hannibal returned to his former
head-quarters at Canusium, and halted there in expectation of further
tidings of his brother's movements. Nero also resumed his former
position in observation of the Carthaginian army.

[The annalists whom Livy copied, spoke of Nero's gaining repeated
victories over Hannibal, and killing; and taking his men by tens of
thousands. The falsehood of all this is self-evident. If Nero could thus
always beat Hannibal, the Romans would not have been in such an agony
of dread about Hasdrubal, as all writers describe. Indeed, we have the
express testimony of Polybius that such statements as we read in Livy
of Marcellus, Nero, and others gaining victories over Hannibal in Italy,
must be all fabrications of Roman vanity. Polybius states (Lib. xv. sec.
16) that Hannibal was never defeated before the battle of Zama; and in
another passage (Book ix. chap, 3) he mentions that after the defeats
which Hannibal inflicted on the Romans in the early years of the war,
they no longer dared face his army in a pitched battle on a fair field,
and yet they resolutely maintained the war. He rightly explains this by
referring to the superiority of Hannibal's cavalry the arm which gained
him all his victories. By keeping within fortified lines, or close to
the sides of the mountains when Hannibal approached them, the Romans
rendered his cavalry ineffective; and a glance at the geography of Italy
will show how an army can traverse the greater part of that country
without venturing far from the high grounds.]

Meanwhile, Hasdrubal had raised the siege of Placentia, and was
advancing towards Ariminum on the Adriatic, and driving before him the
Roman army under Porcina. Nor when the consul Livius had come up, and
united the second and third armies of the north, could he make head
against the invaders. The Romans still fell back before Hasdrubal,
beyond Ariminum, beyond the Metaurus, and as far as the little town of
Sena, to the southeast of that river. Hasdrubal was not unmindful of the
necessity of acting in concert with his brother. He sent messengers
to Hannibal to announce his own line of march and to propose that they
should unite their armies in South Umbria, and then wheel round against
Rome. Those messengers traversed the greater part of Italy in safety;
but, when close to the object of their mission, were captured by a Roman
detachment; and Hasdrubal's letter, detailing his whole plan of the
campaign, was laid, not in his brother's hands, but in those of the
commander of the Roman armies of the south. Nero saw at once the full
importance of the crisis. The two sons of Hamilcar were now within two
hundred miles of each other, and if Rome were to be saved, the brothers
must never meet alive. Nero instantly ordered seven thousand picked men,
a thousand being cavalry, to hold themselves in readiness for a secret
expedition against one of Hannibal's garrisons; and as soon as night had
set in, he hurried forward on his bold enterprise: but he quickly left
the southern road towards Lucania, and wheeling round, pressed northward
with the utmost rapidity towards Picenum. He had, during the preceding
afternoon, sent messengers to Rome, who were to lay Hasdrubal's letters
before the senate. There was a law forbidding a consul to make war or to
march his army beyond the limits of the province assigned to him; but in
such an emergency Nero did not wait for the permission of the senate to
execute his project, but informed them that he was already on his
march to join Livius against Hasdrubal. He advised them to send the two
legions which formed the home garrison, on to Narnia, so as to defend
that pass of the Flaminian road against Hasdrubal, in case he should
march upon Rome before the consular armies could attack him. They were
to supply the place of those two legions at Rome by a levy EN MASSE in
the city, and by ordering up the reserve legion from Capua. These were
his communications to the senate. He also sent horseman forward along
his line of march, with orders to the local authorities to bring stores
of; provisions and refreshments of every kind to the road-side, and
to have relays of carriages ready for the conveyance of the wearied
soldiers. Such were the precautions which he took for accelerating his
march; and when he had advanced some little distance from his camp, he
briefly informed his soldiers of the real object of their expedition.
He told them that there never was a design more seemingly audacious, and
more really safe. He said he was leading them to a certain victory, for
his colleague had an army large enough to balance the enemy already, so
that THEIR swords would decisively turn the scale. The very rumour
that a fresh consul and a fresh army had come up, when heard on the
battle-field (and he would take care that they should not be heard of
before they were seen and felt) would settle the campaign. They would
have all the credit of the victory, and of having dealt the final
decisive blow, He appealed to the enthusiastic reception which they
already met with on their line of march as a proof and an omen of their
good fortune. [Livy. lib. xxvii. c. 45.] And, indeed, their whole path
was amidst the vows and prayers and praises of their countrymen. The
entire population of the districts through which they passed, flocked
to the road-side to see and bless the deliverers of their country. Food,
drink, and refreshments of every kind were eagerly pressed on their
acceptance. Each peasant thought a favour was conferred on him, if one
of Nero's chosen band would accept aught at his hands. The soldiers
caught the full spirit of their leader. Night and day they marched
forwards, taking their hurried meals in the ranks and resting by relays
in the waggons which the zeal of the country-people provided, and which
followed in the rear of the column.

Meanwhile, at Rome, the news of Nero's expedition had caused the
greatest excitement and alarm. All men felt the full audacity of the
enterprise, but hesitated what epithet to apply to it. It was evident
that Nero's conduct would be judged of by the event, that most unfair
criterion, as the Roman historian truly terms it. ["Adparebat (quo nihil
iniquius est) ex eventu famam habiturum."--LIVY, lib. xxvii. c. 44.]
People reasoned on the perilous state in which Nero had left the rest of
his army, without a general, and deprived of the core of its strength,
in the vicinity of the terrible Hannibal. They speculated on how long
it would take Hannibal to pursue and overtake Nero himself, and his
expeditionary force. They talked over the former disasters of the war,
and the fall of both the consuls of the last year. All these calamities
had come on them while they had only one Carthaginian general and army
to deal with in Italy. Now they had two Punic wars at one time. They
had two Carthaginian armies; they had almost two Hannibals in Italy,
Hasdrubal was sprung from the same father; trained up in the same
hostility to Rome; equally practised in battle against its legions; and,
if the comparative speed and success with which he had crossed the Alps
was a fair test, he was even a better general than his brother. With
fear for their interpreter of every rumour, they exaggerated the
strength of their enemy's forces in every quarter, and criticised and
distrusted their own.

Fortunately for Rome, while she was thus a prey to terror and anxiety,
her consul's nerves were strong, and he resolutely urged on his march
towards Sena, where his colleague, Livius, and the praetor Portius were
encamped; Hasdrubal's army being in position about half a mile to the
north. Nero had sent couriers forward to apprise his colleague of his
project and of his approach; and by the advice of Livius, Nero so timed
his final march as to reach the camp at Sena by night. According to a
previous arrangement, Nero's men were received silently into the tents
of their comrades, each according to his rank. By these means there was
no enlargement of the camp that could betray to Hasdrubal the accession
of force which the Romans had received. This was considerable; as Nero's
numbers had been increased on the march by the volunteers, who offered
themselves in crowds, and from whom he selected the most promising men,
and especially the veterans of former campaigns. A council of war was
held on the morning after his arrival, in which some advised that time
should be given for Nero's men to refresh themselves, after the fatigue
of such a march. But Nero vehemently opposed all delay. "The officer,"
said he, "who is for giving time for my men here to rest themselves, is
for giving time to Hannibal to attack my men, whom I have left in the
camp in Apulia. He is for giving time to Hannibal and Hasdrubal to
discover my march, and to manoeuvre for a junction with each other in
Cisalpine Gaul at their leisure. We must fight instantly, while both the
foe here and the foe in the south are ignorant of our movements. We must
destroy this Hasdrubal, and I must be back In Apulia before Hannibal
awakes from his torpor." [Livy, lib. xxvii. c. 45.] Nero's advice
prevailed. It was resolved to fight directly; and before the consuls and
praetor left the tent of Livius, the red ensign, which was the signal to
prepare for immediate action, was hoisted, and the Romans forthwith drew
up in battle array outside the camp.

Hasdrubal had been anxious to bring Livius and Porcius to battle, though
he had not judged it expedient to attack them in their lines. And now,
on hearing that the Romans offered battle, he also drew up his men, and
advanced towards them. No spy or deserter had informed him of Nero's
arrival; nor had he received any direct information that he had more
than his old enemies to deal with. But as he rode forward to reconnoitre
the Roman lines, he thought that their numbers seemed to have increased,
and that the armour of some-of them was unusually dull and stained. He
noticed also that the horses of some of the cavalry appeared to be rough
and out of condition, as if they had just come from a succession of
forced marches. So also, though, owing to the precaution of Livius, the
Roman camp showed no change of size, it had not escaped the quick ear of
the Carthaginian general, that the trumpet, which gave the signal to
the Roman legions, sounded that morning once oftener than usual, as if
directing the troops of some additional superior officer. Hasdrubal,
from his Spanish campaigns, was well acquainted with all the sounds
and signals of Roman war; and from all that he heard and saw, he felt
convinced that both the Roman consuls were before him. In doubt and
difficulty as to what might have taken place between the armies of the
south, and probably hoping that Hannibal also was approaching, Hasdrubal
determined to avoid an encounter with the combined Roman forces, and
to endeavour to retreat upon Insubrian Gaul, where he would be in a
friendly country, and could endeavour to re-open his communications with
his brother. He therefore led his troops back into their camp; and, as
the Romans did not venture on an assault upon his entrenchments, and
Hasdrubal did not choose to commence his retreat in their sight, the day
passed away in inaction. At the first watch of the night, Hasdrubal led
his men silently out of their camp, and moved northwards towards the
Metaurus, in the hope of placing that river between himself and the
Romans before his retreat was discovered. His guides betrayed him;
and having purposely led him away from the part of the river that was
fordable, they made their escape in the dark, and left Hasdrubal and his
army wandering in confusion along the steep bank, and seeking in vain
for a spot where the stream could be safely crossed. At last they
halted; and when day dawned on them, Hasdrubal found that great numbers
of his men, in their fatigue and impatience, had lost all discipline and
subordination, and that many of his Gallic auxiliaries had got drunk,
and were lying helpless in their quarters. The Roman cavalry was soon
seen coming up in pursuit, followed at no great distance by the legions,
which marched in readiness for an instant engagement. It was hopeless
for Hasdrubal, to think of continuing his retreat before them. The
prospect of immediate battle might recall the disordered part of his
troops to a sense of duty, and revive the instinct of discipline. He
therefore ordered his men to prepare for action instantly, and made the
best arrangement of them that the nature of the ground would permit.

Heeren has well described the general appearance of a Carthaginian army.
He says: "It was an assemblage of the most opposite races of the human
species, from the farthest parts of the globe. Hordes of half-naked
Gauls were ranged next to companies of white clothed Iberians, and
savage Ligurians next to the far-travelled Nasamones and Lotophagi.
Carthaginians and Phoenici-Africans formed the centre; while innumerable
troops of Numidian horse-men, taken from all the tribes of the Desert,
swarmed about on unsaddled horses, and formed the wings; the van was
composed of Balearic slingers; and a line of colossal elephants, with
their Ethiopian guides, formed, as it were, a chain of moving fortresses
before the whole army. Such were the usual materials and arrangements of
the hosts that fought for Carthage; but the troops under Hasdrubal were
not in all respects thus constituted or thus stationed. He seems to have
been especially deficient in cavalry, and he had few African troops,
though some Carthaginians of high rank were with him. His veteran
Spanish infantry, armed with helmets and shields, and short
cut-and-thrust swords, were the best part of his army. These, and his
few Africans, he drew up on his right wing, under his own personal
command. In the centre, he placed his Ligurian infantry, and on the left
wing he placed or retained the Gauls, who were armed with long javelins
and with huge broadswords and targets. The rugged nature of the ground
in front and on the flank of this part of his line, made him hope that
the Roman right wing would be unable to come to close quarters with
these unserviceable barbarians, before he could make some impression
with his Spanish veterans on the Roman left. This was the only chance
that he had of victory or safety, and he seems to have done everything
that good generalship could do to secure it. He placed his elephants in
advance of his centre and right wing. He had caused the driver of each
of them to be provided with a sharp iron spike and a mallet; and had
given orders that every beast that became unmanageable, and ran back
upon his own ranks, should be instantly killed, by driving the spike
into the vertebra at the junction of the head and the spine. Hasdrubal's
elephants were ten in number. We have no trustworthy information as to
the amount of his infantry, but it is quite clear that he was greatly
outnumbered by the combined Roman forces."

The tactic of the Roman legions had not yet acquired the perfection
which it received from the military genius of Marius, [Most probably
during the period of his prolonged consulship, from B.C. 104 to B.C.
101, while he was training his army against the Cimbri and the Teutons.]
and which we read of in the first chapter of Gibbon. We possess in
that great work an account of the Roman legions at the end of the
commonwealth, and during the early ages of the empire, which those alone
can adequately admire, who have attempted a similar description. We
have also, in the sixth and seventeenth books of Polybius, an elaborate
discussion on the military system of the Romans in his time, which was
not far distant from the time of the battle of the Metaurus. But the
subject is beset with difficulties: and instead of entering into minute
but inconclusive details, I would refer to Gibbon's first chapter, as
serving for a general description of the Roman army in its period of
perfection; and remark, that the training and armour which the whole
legion received in the time of Augustus, was, two centuries earlier,
only partially introduced. Two divisions of troops, called Hastati and
Principes, formed the bulk of each Roman legion in the second Punic war.
Each of these divisions was twelve hundred strong. The Hastatus and the
Princeps legionary bore a breast-plate or coat of mail, brazen greaves,
and a brazen helmet, with a lofty, upright crest of scarlet or black
feathers. He had a large oblong shield; and, as weapons of offence, two
javelins, one of which was light and slender, but the other was a strong
and massive weapon, with a shaft about four feet long, and an iron head
of equal length. The sword was carried on the right thigh, and was a
short cut-and thrust weapon, like that which was used by the Spaniards.
Thus armed, the Hastati formed the front division of the legion, and the
Principes the second. Each division was drawn up about ten deep; a space
of three feet being allowed between the files as well as the ranks, so
as to give each legionary ample room for the use of his javelins, and
of his sword and shield. The men in the second rank did not stand
immediately behind those in the first rank, but the files were
alternate, like the position of the men on a draught board. This was
termed the quincunx order. Niebuhr considers that this arrangement
enabled the legion to keep up a shower of javelins on the enemy for some
considerable time. He says: "When the first line had hurled its pila,
it probably stepped back between those who stood behind it, who with
two steps forward restored the front nearly to its first position; a
movement which, on account of the arrangement of the quincunx, could be
executed without losing a moment. Thus one line succeeded the other in
the front till it was time to draw the swords; nay, when it was found
expedient, the lines which had already been in the front might repeat
this change, since the stores of pila were surely not confined to the
two which each soldier took with him into battle.

"The same change must have taken place in fighting with the sword;
which, when the same tactic was adopted on both sides, was anything but
a confused MELEE; on the contrary, it was a series of single combats."
He adds, that a military man of experience had been consulted by him on
the subject, and had given it as his opinion, "that the change of the
lines as described above was by no means impracticable; and in the
absence of the deafening noise of gunpowder, it cannot have had even any
difficulty with trained troops."

The third division of the legion was six hundred strong, and acted as a
reserve. It was always composed of veteran soldiers, who were called the
Triarii. Their arms were the same as those of the Principes and Hastati;
except that each Triarian carried a spear instead of javelins. The rest
of the legion consisted of light armed troops, who acted as skirmishers.
The cavalry of each legion was at this period about three hundred
strong. The Italian allies, who were attached to the legion, seem to
have been similarly armed and equipped, but their numerical proportion
of cavalry was much larger.

Such was the nature of the forces that advanced on the Roman side to the
battle of the Metaurus. Nero commanded the right wing, Livius the left,
and the praetor Porcius had the command of the centre. "Both Romans and
Carthaginians well understood how much depended upon the fortune of this
day, and how little hope of safety there was for the vanquished. Only
the Romans herein seemed to have had the better in conceit and opinion,
that they were to fight with men desirous to have fled from them. And
according to this presumption came Livius the consul, with a proud
bravery, to give charge on the Spaniards and Africans, by whom he was so
sharply entertained that victory seemed very doubtful. The Africans and
Spaniards were stout soldiers, and well acquainted with the manner
of the Roman fight. The Ligurians, also, were a hardy nation, and not
accustomed to give ground; which they needed the less, or were able now
to do, being placed in the midst. Livius, therefore, and Porcius found
great opposition; and, with great slaughter on both sides, prevailed
little or nothing. Besides other difficulties, they were exceedingly
troubled by the elephants, that brake their first ranks, and put them in
such disorder, as the Roman ensigns were driven to fall back; all this
while Claudius Nero, labouring in vain against a steep hill, was unable
to come to blows with the Gauls that stood opposite him, but out of
danger. This made Hasdrubal the more confident, who, seeing his own left
wing safe, did the more boldly and fiercely make impression on the other
side upon the left wing of the Romans." ["Historie of the World," by Sir
Walter Raleigh, p. 946.]

But at last Nero, who found that Hasdrubal refused his left wing, and
who could not overcome the difficulties of the ground in the quarter
assigned to him, decided the battle by another stroke of that military
genius which had inspired his march. Wheeling a brigade of his best men
round the rear of the rest of the Roman army, Nero fiercely charged the
flank of the Spaniards and Africans. The charge was as successful as it
was sudden. Rolled back in disorder upon each other, and overwhelmed
by numbers, the Spaniards and Ligurians died, fighting gallantly to the
last. The Gauls, who had taken little or no part in the strife of the
day, were then surrounded, and butchered almost without resistance.
Hasdrubal, after having, by the confession of his enemies, done all that
a general could do, when he saw that the victory was irreparably lost,
scorning to survive the gallant; host which he had led, and to gratify,
as a captive, Roman cruelty and pride, spurred his horse into the midst
of a Roman cohort; where, sword in hand, he met the death that was
worthy of the son of Hamilcar and the brother of Hannibal.

Success the most complete had crowned Nero's enterprise. Returning as
rapidly as he had advanced, he was again facing the inactive enemies in
the south, before they even knew of his march. But he brought with him
a ghastly trophy of what he had done. In the true spirit of that savage
brutality which deformed the Roman national character, Nero ordered
Hasdrubal's head to be flung into his brother's camp. Eleven years had
passed since Hannibal had last gazed on those features. The sons of
Hamilcar had then planned their system of warfare against Rome, which
they had so nearly brought to successful accomplishment. Year after year
had Hannibal been struggling in Italy, in the hope of one day hailing
the arrival of him whom he had left in Spain; and of seeing his
brother's eye flash with affection and pride at the junction of their
irresistible hosts. He now saw that eye glazed in death and, in the
agony of his heart, the great Carthaginian groaned aloud that he
recognised his country's destiny.

     [Carthagini jam non ego nuntios
      Mittam superbos.  Occidit, occidit
      Spes omnis et fortuna nostri
      Nominis, Hastrubale interemto.--HORACE.]

Rome was almost delirious with joy: [See the splendid description in
Livy, lib. xxvii. sec. 50, 51.] so agonising had been the suspense with
which the battle's verdict on that great issue of a nation's life and
death had been awaited; so overpowering was the sudden reaction to the
consciousness of security, and to the full glow of glory and success.
From the time when it had been known at Rome that the armies were in
presence of each other, the people had never ceased to throng the forum,
the Conscript Fathers had been in permanent sitting at the senate house.
Ever and anon a fearful whisper crept among the crowd of a second Cannae
won by a second Hannibal. Then came truer rumours that the day was
Rome's; but the people were sick at heart, and heeded them not. The
shrines were thronged with trembling women, who seemed to weary heaven
with prayers to shield them from the brutal Gaul and the savage African.
Presently the reports of good fortune assumed a more definite form. It
was said that two Narnian horseman had ridden from the east into the
Roman camp of observation in Umbria, and had brought tidings of the
utter slaughter of the foe. Such news seemed too good to be true,
Men tortured their neighbours and themselves by demonstrating its
improbability and by ingeniously criticising its evidence. Soon,
however, a letter came from Lucius Manlius Acidinus, who commanded in
Umbria, and who announced the arrival of the Narnian horsemen in his
camp, and the intelligence which they brought thither. The letter
was first laid before the senate, and then before the assembly of the
people. The excitement grew more and more vehement. The letter was read
and re-read aloud to thousands. It confirmed the previous rumour. But
even this was insufficient to allay the feverish anxiety that thrilled
through every breast in Rome. The letter might be a forgery: the Narnian
horseman might be traitors or impostors. "We must see officers from the
army that fought, or hear despatches from the consuls themselves, and
then only will we believe." Such was the public sentiment, though some
of more hopeful nature already permitted themselves a foretaste of joy.
At length came news that officers who really had been in the battle were
near at hand. Forthwith the whole city poured forth to meet them, each
person coveting to be the first to receive with his own eyes and ears
convincing proofs of the reality of such a deliverance. One vast throng
of human beings filled the road from Rome to the Milvian bridge. The
three officers, Lucius Veturius Pollio, Publius Licinius Vasus, and
Quintus Caecilius Metellus came riding on, making their way slowly
through the living sea around them, As they advanced, each told the
successive waves of eager questioners that Rome was victorious. "We have
destroyed Hasdrubal and his army, our legions are safe, and our consuls
are unhurt." Each happy listener, who caught the welcome sounds from
their lips, retired to communicate his own joy to others, and became
himself the centre of an anxious and inquiring group. When the officers
had, with much difficulty, reached the senate house, and the crowd was
with still greater difficulty put back from entering and mingling with
the Conscript Fathers, the despatches of Livius and Nero were produced
and read aloud. From the senate house the officers proceeded to the
public assembly, where the despatches were read again; and then the
senior officer, Lucius Veturius, gave in his own words a fuller detail
of how went the fight. When he had done speaking to the people,
an universal shout of rapture rent the air. The vast assembly then
separated: some hastening to the temples to find in devotion a vent for
the overflowing excitement of their hearts; others seeking their homes
to gladden their wives and children with the good news, and to feast
their own eyes with the sight of the loved ones, who now, at last, were
safe from outrage and slaughter. The senate ordained a thanksgiving of
three days for the great deliverance which had been vouchsafed to Rome;
and throughout that period the temples were incessantly crowded with
exulting worshippers; and the matrons, with their children round them,
in their gayest attire, and with joyous aspects and voices, offered
grateful praises to the immortal gods, as if all apprehension of evil
were over, and the war were already ended.

With the revival of confidence came also the revival of activity in
traffic and commerce, and in all the busy intercourse of daily life.
A numbing load was taken off each heart and brain, and once more men
bought and sold, and formed their plans fleely, as had been done before
the dire Carthaginians came into Italy. Hannibal was, certainly, still
in the land; but all felt that his power to destroy was broken, and that
the crisis of the war-fever was past. The Metaurus, indeed, had not only
determined the event of the strife between Rome and Carthage, but it
had ensured to Rome two centuries more of almost unchanged conquest.
Hannibal did actually, with almost superhuman skill, retain his hold on
Southern Italy for a few years longer, but the imperial city, and her
allies, were no longer in danger from his arms; and, after Hannibal's
downfall, the great military republic of the ancient world met in her
career of conquest no other worthy competitor. Byron has termed Nero's
march "unequalled," and, in the magnitude of its consequences, it is
so. Viewed only as a military exploit, it remains unparalleled save by
Marlborough's bold march from Flanders to the Danube, in the campaign
of Blenheim, and perhaps also by the Archduke Charles's lateral march
in 1796, by which he overwhelmed the French under Jourdain, and then,
driving Moreau through the Black Forest and across the Rhine, for a
while freed Germany from her invaders.


B.C. 205 to 201. Scipio is made consul, and carries the war into Africa.
He gains several victories there, and the Carthaginians recall Hannibal
from Italy to oppose him. Battle of Zama in 201: Hannibal is defeated,
and Carthage sues for peace. End of the second Punic war, leaving Rome
confirmed in the dominion of Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, and
also mistress of great part of Spain, and virtually predominant in North

200. Rome makes war upon Philip, king of Macedonia. She pretends to
take the Greek cities of the Achaean league and the AEtolians under her
protection as allies. Philip is defeated by the proconsul Flaminius at
Cynocephalae, 198; and begs for peace. The Macedonian influence is now
completely destroyed in Greece, and the Roman established in its stead,
though Rome nominally acknowledged the independence of the Greek cities.

194. Rome makes war upon Antiochus, king of Syria. He is completely
defeated at the battle of Magnesia, 192, and is glad to accept peace on
conditions which leave him dependent upon Rome.

200-190. "Thus, within the short; space of ten years, was laid the
foundation of the Roman authority in the East, and the general state
of affairs entirely changed. If Rome was not yet the ruler, she was at
least the arbitress of the world from the Atlantic to the Euphrates. The
power of the three principal states was so completely humbled, that
they durst not, without the permission of Rome, begin any new war; the
fourth, Egypt, had already, in the year 201, placed herself under the
guardianship of Rome; and the lesser powers followed of themselves:
esteeming it an honour to be called the allies of Rome. With this name
the nations were lulled into security, and brought under the Roman yoke;
the new political system of Rome was founded and strengthened partly by
exciting and supporting the weaker states against the stronger, however
unjust the cause of the former might be, and partly by factions which
she found means to raise in every state, even the smallest."--(HEEREN.)

172. War renewed between Macedon and Rome. Decisive defeat of Perses,
the Macedonian king, by Paulus AEmilius at Pydna, 168, Destruction of
the Macedonian monarchy.

150. Rome oppresses the Carthaginians till they are driven to take up
arms, and the third Punic war begins, Carthage is taken and destroyed by
Scipio AEmilianus, 146, and the Carthaginian territory is made a Roman

146. In the same year in which Carthage falls, Corinth is stormed by
the Roman army under Mummius. The Achaean league had been goaded into
hostilities with Rome, by means similar to those employed against
Carthage. The greater part of Southern Greece is made a Roman province,
under the name of Achaia.

133. Numantium is destroyed by Scipio AEmilianus. "The war against the
Spaniards, who, of all the nations subdued by the Romans, defended their
liberty with the greatest obstinacy, began in the year 200, six years
after the total expulsion of the Carthaginians from their country,
206. It was exceedingly obstinate, partly from the natural state of the
country, which was thickly populated, and where every place became a
fortress; partly from the courage of the inhabitants; but at last all,
owing to the peculiar policy of the Romans, who yielded to employ their
allies to subdue other nations. This war continued, almost without
interruption, from the year 200 to 133, and was for the most part
carried on at the same time in Hispania Citerior, where the Celtiberi
were the most formidable adversaries, and in Hispania Ulterior, where
the Lusitani were equally powerful. Hostilities were at the highest
pitch in 195, under Cato, who reduced Hispania Citerior to a state
of tranquillity in 185-179, when the Celtiberi were attacked in their
native territory; and 155-150, when the Romans in both provinces were so
often beaten, that nothing was more dreaded by the soldiers at home than
to be sent there. The extortions and perfidy of Servius Galba placed
Viriathus, in the year 146, at the head of his nations, the Lusitani:
the war, however, soon extended itself to Hispania Citerior, where many
nations, particularly the Numantines, took up arms against Rome, 143.
Viriathus, sometimes victorious and sometimes defeated, was never more
formidable than in the moment of defeat; because he knew how to take
advantage of his knowledge of the country and of the dispositions of his
countrymen. After his murder, caused by the treachery of Saepio, 140,
Lusitania was subdued; but the Numantine war became still more violent,
and the Numantines compelled the consul Mancinus to a disadvantageous
treaty, 137. When Scipio, in the year 133, put an end to this war,
Spain was certainly tranquil; the northern parts, however, were still
unsubdued, though the Romans penetrated as far as Galatia."--HEEREN.

134. Commencement of the revolutionary century at Rome, I.E. from the
time of the excitement produced by the attempts made by the Gracchi
to reform the commonwealth, to the battle of Actium (B.C. 31), which
established Octavianus Caesar as sole master of the Roman world.
Throughout this period Rome was engaged in important foreign wars, most
of which procured large accessions to her territory.

118-106. The Jugurthine war. Numidia is conquered, and made a Roman

113-101. The great and terrible war of the Cimbri and Teutones against
Rome. These nations of northern warriors slaughter several Roman armies
in Gaul, and in 102 attempt to penetrate into Italy, The military genius
of Marius here saves his country; he defeats the Teutones near Aix, in
Provence; and in the following year he destroys the army of the Cimbri,
who had passed the Alps, near Vercellae.

91-88. The war of the Italian allies against Rome. This was caused by
the refusal of Rome to concede to them the rights of Roman citizenship.
After a sanguine struggle, Rome gradually grants it.

89-86. First war of the Romans against Mithridates the Great, king of
Pontus, who had overrun Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece. Sylla defeats
his armies, and forces him to withdraw his forces from Europe. Sylla
returns to Rome to carry on the civil war against the son and partisans
of Marius. He makes himself Dictator.

74-64. The last Mithridatic wars. Lucullus, and after him Pompeius,
command against the great King of Pontus, who at last is poisoned by his
son, while designing to raise the warlike tribes of the Danube against
Rome, and to invade Italy from the north-east. Great Asiatic conquests
of the Romans. Besides the ancient province of Pergamus, the maritime
countries of Bithynia, and nearly all Paphlagonia and Pontus, are formed
into a Roman province, under the name of Bithynia; while on the southern
coast Cilicia and Pamphylia form another, under the name of Cilicia;
Phoenicia and Syria compose a third, under the name of Syria. On
the other hand, Great Armenia is left to Tigranes; Cappodocia to
Ariobarzanes; the Bosphorus to Pharnaces; Judaea to Hyrcanus; and some
other small states are also given to petty princes, all of whom remain
dependent on Rome.

58-50. Caesar conquers Gaul.

54. Crassus attacks the Parthians with a Roman army, but is overthrown
and killed at Carrhae in Mesopotamia. His lieutenant Cassius collects
the wrecks of the army, and prevents the Parthians from conquering

49-45. The civil war between Caesar and the Pompeian party. Caesar
drives Pompeius out of Italy, conquers his enemy's forces in Spain,
and then passes into Greece, where Pompeius and the other aristocratic
chiefs had assembled a large army. Caesar gives them a decisive
defeat at the great battle of Pharsalia. Pompeius flies for refuge
to Alexandria, where he is assassinated. Caesar, who had followed him
thither, is involved in a war with the Egyptians, in which he is finally
victorious. The celebrated Cleopatra is made Queen of Egypt. Caesar next
marches into Pontus, and defeats the son of Mithridates, who had taken
part in the war against him. He then proceeds to the Roman province of
Africa, where some of the Pompeian chiefs had established themselves,
aided by Juba, a native prince. He over throws them at the battle of
Thapsus. He is again obliged to lead an army into Spain, where the sons
of Pompeius had collected the wrecks of their father's party. He crushes
the last of his enemies at the battle of Munda. Under the title of
Dictator, he is the sole master of the Roman world.

44. Caesar is killed in the Senate-house; the Civil wars are soon
renewed, Brutus and Cassius being at the head of the aristocratic party,
and the party of Caesar being led by Mark Antony and Octavianus Caesar,
afterwards Augustus.

42. Defeat and death of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi. Dissensions soon
break out between Octavianus Caesar and Antony.

31. Antony is completely defeated by Octavianus Caesar at Actium.
He flies to Egypt with Cleopatra. Octavianus pursues him. Antony
and Cleopatra kill themselves. Egypt becomes a Roman province, and
Octavianus Caesar is left undisputed master of Rome, and all that is
Rome's. The state of the Roman world at this time is best described
in two lines of Tacitus:--"Postquam bellatum apud Actium, atque OMNEM

The 44th year of the reign of Augustus, and the 1st year of the 195th
Olympiad, is commonly assigned as the date of THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD.
There is much of the beauty of holiness in the remarks with which the
American historian, Eliot, closes his survey of the conquering career
and civil downfall of the Roman Commonwealth:--

"So far as humility amongst men was necessary for the preparation of
a truer freedom than could ever be known under heathenism, the part
of Rome, however dreadful was yet sublime. It was not to unite, to
discipline, or to fortify humanity, but to enervate, to loosen, and
to scatter its forces, that the people whose history we have read were
allowed to conquer the earth, and were then themselves reduced to deep
submission. Every good labour of theirs that failed was, by reason
of what we esteem its failure, a step gained nearer to the end of the
well-nigh universal evil that prevailed; while every bad achievement
that may seem to us to have succeeded, temporarily or lastingly, with
them was equally, by reason of its success, a progress towards the good
of which the coming would have been longed and prayed for, could it have
been comprehended. Alike in the virtues and in the vices of antiquity,
we may read the progress towards its humiliation. ["The Christian
revelation," says Leland, in his truly admirable work on the subject
(vol. i. p. 488), "was made to the world at a time when it was most
wanted; when the darkness and corruption of mankind were arrived at the
height.... if it had been published much sooner, and before there had
been a full trial made of what was to be expected from human wisdom and
philosophy, the great need men stood in of such an extraordinary divine
dispensation would not have been so apparent."] Yet, on the other hand,
it must not seem, at the last, that the disposition of the Romans or
of mankind to submission was secured solely through the errors, and the
apparently ineffectual toils which we have traced back to these times of
old. Desires too true to have been wasted, and strivings too humane to
have been unproductive, though all were overshadowed by passing wrongs,
still gleam as if in anticipation or in preparation of the advancing

"At length, when it had been proved by ages of conflict and loss, that
no lasting joy and no abiding truth could be procured through the power,
the freedom, or the faith of mankind, the angels sang their song in
which the glory of God and the good-will of men were together blended.
The universe was wrapped In momentary tranquillity, and 'peaceful was
the night' above the manger at Bethlehem. We may believe, that when
the morning came, the ignorance, the confusion, and the servitude of
humanity had left their darkest forms amongst the midnight clouds. It
was still, indeed, beyond the power of man to lay hold securely of the
charity and the regeneration that were henceforth to be his law; and the
indefinable terrors of the future, whether seen from the West or from
the East, were not at once to be dispelled. But before the death of the
Emperor Augustus, in the midst of his fallen subjects, the business of
THE FATHER had already been begun in the Temple at Jerusalem; and near
by, THE SON was increasing in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with
God and man." [Eliot's "Liberty of Rome," vol. ii. p. 521.]

A.D. 9.

   "Hac clade factum, ut Imperium quod in littore oceani non
   steterat, in ripa Rheni fluminis staret."--FLORUS.

To a truly illustrious Frenchman, whose reverses as a minister can never
obscure his achievements in the world of letters, we are indebted for
the most profound and most eloquent estimate that we possess of the
importance of the Germanic element in European civilization, and of the
extent to which the human race is indebted to those brave warriors,
who long were the unconquered antagonists, and finally became the
conquerors, of Imperial Rome.

Twenty-three eventful years have passed away since M. Guizot delivered
from the chair of modern history at Paris his course of lectures on
the History of Civilization in Europe. During those years the spirit
of earnest inquiry into the germs and early developments of existing
institutions has become more and more active and universal; and the
merited celebrity of M. Guizot's work has proportionally increased. Its
admirable analysis of the complex political and social organizations of
which the modern civilized world is made up, must have led thousands to
trace with keener interest the great crises of times past, by which the
characteristics of the present were determined. The narrative of one of
these great crises, of the epoch A.D. 9, when Germany took up arms
for her independence against Roman invasion, has for us this special
attraction--that it forms part of our own national history. Had Arminius
been supine or unsuccessful, our Germanic ancestors would have been
enslaved or exterminated in their original seats along the Eyder and the
Elbe; this island would never have borne the name of England, and "we,
this great English nation, whose race and language are now over-running
the earth, from one end of it to the other," [Arnold's Lectures on
Modern History.] would have been utterly cut off from existence.

Arnold may, indeed, go too far in holding that we are wholly unconnected
in race with the Romans and Britons who inhabited this country before
the coming over of the Saxons; that, "nationally speaking, the history
of Caesar's invasion has no more to do with us than the natural history
of the animals which then inhabited our forests." There seems
ample evidence to prove that the Romanized Celts, whom our Teutonic
forefathers found here, influenced materially the character of our
nation. But the main stream of our people was and is Germanic. Our
language alone decisively proves this. Arminius is far more truly one
of our national heroes than Caractacus: and it was our own primeval
fatherland that the brave German rescued, when he slaughtered the Roman
legions eighteen centuries ago in the marshy glens between the Lippe and
the Ems. [See post, remarks on the relationship between the Cherusci and
the English.]

Dark and disheartening, even to heroic spirits, must have seemed the
prospects of Germany when Arminius planned the general rising of his
countrymen against Rome. Half the land was occupied by Roman garrisons;
and, what was worse, many of the Germans seemed patiently acquiescent
in their state of bondage. The braver portion, whose patriotism could
be relied on, was ill-armed and undisciplined; while the enemy's troops
consisted of veterans in the highest state of equipment and training,
familiarized with victory, and commanded by officers of proved skill and
valour. The resources of Rome seemed boundless; her tenacity of purpose
was believed to be invincible. There was no hope of foreign sympathy or
aid; for "the self-governing powers that had filled the old world,
had bent one after another before the rising power of Rome, and had
vanished. The earth seemed left void of independent nations." [Ranke.]

The (German) chieftain knew well the gigantic power of the oppressor.
Arminius was no rude savage, fighting out of mere animal instinct, or in
ignorance of the might of his adversary. He was familiar with the Roman
language and civilization; he had served in the Roman armies; he had
been admitted to the Roman citizenship, and raised to the dignity of
the equestrian order. It was part of the subtle policy of Rome to confer
rank and privileges on the youth of the leading families in the nations
which she wished to enslave. Among other young German chieftains,
Arminius and his brother, who were the heads of the noblest house in the
tribe of the Cherusci, had been selected as fit objects for the exercise
of this insidious system. Roman refinements and dignities succeeded in
denationalizing the brother, who assumed the Roman name of Flavius, and
adhered to Rome throughout all her wars against his country. Arminius
remained unbought by honours or wealth, uncorrupted by refinement or
luxury. He aspired to and obtained from Roman enmity a higher title than
ever could have been given him by Roman favour. It is in the page of
Rome's greatest historian, that his name has come down to us with the
proud addition of "Liberator haud dubie Germaniae." [Tacitus, Annals,
ii. 88.]

Often must the young chieftain, while meditating the exploit which has
thus immortalised him, have anxiously revolved in his mind the fate
of the many great men who had been crushed in the attempt which he was
about to renew,--the attempt to stay the chariot-wheels of triumphant
Rome. Could he hope to succeed where Hannibal and Mithridates had
perished? What had been the doom of Viriathus? and what warning against
vain valour was written on the desolate site where Numantia once had
fourished? Nor was a caution wanting in scenes nearer home and in
more recent times. The Gauls had fruitlessly struggled for eight years
against Caesar; and the valiant Vercingetorix, who in the last year of
the war had roused all his countrymen to insurrection, who had cut off
Roman detachments, and brought Caesar himself to the extreme of peril at
Alesia--he, too, had finally succumbed, had been led captive in Caesar's
triumph, and had then been butchered in cold blood in a Roman dungeon.

It was true that Rome was no longer the great military republic which
for so many ages had shattered the kingdoms of the world. Her system
of government was changed; and, after a century of revolution and civil
war, she had placed herself under the despotism of a single ruler. But
the discipline of her troops was yet unimpaired, and her warlike spirit
seemed unabated. The first wars of the empire had been signalised by
conquests as valuable as any gained by the republic in a corresponding
period. It is a great fallacy, though apparently sanctioned by great
authorities, to suppose that the foreign policy pursued by Augustus
was pacific. He certainly recommended such a policy to his successors,
either from timidity, or from jealousy of their fame outshining his
own; ["Incertum metu an per invidiam."--Tac. Ann. i. 11] but he himself,
until Arminius broke his spirit, had followed a very different course.
Besides his Spanish wars, his generals, in a series of principally
aggressive campaigns, had extended the Roman frontier from the Alps
to the Danube; and had reduced into subjection the large and important
countries that now form the territories of all Austria south of
that river, and of East Switzerland, Lower Wirtemberg, Bavaria, the
Valteline, and the Tyrol. While the progress of the Roman arms thus
pressed the Germans from the south, still more formidable inroads had
been made by the Imperial legions in the west. Roman armies, moving from
the province of Gaul, established a chain of fortresses along the right
as well as the left bank of the Rhine, and, in a series of victorious
campaigns, advanced their eagles as far as the Elbe; which now seemed
added to the list of vassal rivers, to the Nile, the Rhine, the Rhone,
the Danube, the Tagus, the Seine, and many more, that acknowledged the
supremacy of the Tiber. Roman fleets also, sailing from the harbours of
Gaul along the German coasts, and up the estuaries, co-operated with the
land-forces of the empire; and seemed to display, even more decisively
than her armies, her overwhelming superiority over the rude Germanic
tribes. Throughout the territory thus invaded, the Romans had, with
their usual military skill, established chains of fortified posts; and a
powerful army of occupation was kept on foot, ready to move instantly on
any spot where a popular outbreak might be attempted.

Vast however, and admirably organized as the fabric of Roman power
appeared on the frontiers and in the provinces, there was rottenness at
the core. In Rome's unceasing hostilities with foreign foes, and, still
more, in her long series of desolating civil wars, the free middle
classes of Italy had almost wholly disappeared. Above the position which
they had occupied, an oligarchy of wealth had reared itself: beneath
that position a degraded mass of poverty and misery was fermenting.
Slaves, the chance sweepings of every conquered country, shoals of
Africans, Sardinians, Asiatics, Illyrians, and others, made up the bulk
of the population of the Italian peninsula. The foulest profligacy of
manners was general in all ranks. In universal weariness of revolution
and civil war, and in consciousness of being too debased for
self-government, the nation had submitted itself to the absolute
authority of Augustus. Adulation was now the chief function the senate:
and the gifts of genius and accomplishments of art were devoted to
the elaboration of eloquently false panegyrics upon the prince and his
favourite courtiers. With bitter indignation must the German chieftain
have beheld all this, and contrasted with it the rough worth of his own
countrymen;--their bravery, their fidelity to their word, their manly
independence of spirit their love of their national free institutions,
and their loathing of every pollution and meanness. Above all, he must
have thought of the domestic virtues that hallowed a German home; of the
respect there shown to the female character, and of the pure affection
by which that respect was repaid. His soul must have burned within him
at the contemplation of such a race yielding to these debased Italians.

Still, to persuade the Germans to combine, in spite of their frequent
feuds among themselves, in one sudden outbreak against Rome; to keep the
scheme concealed from the Romans until the hour for action had arrived;
and then, without possessing a single walled town, without military
stores, without training, to teach his insurgent countrymen to defeat
veteran armies, and storm fortifications, seemed so perilous an
enterprise, that probably Arminius would have receded from it, had not a
stronger feeling even than patriotism urged him on. Among the Germans
of high rank who had most readily submitted to the invaders, and become
zealous partisans of Roman authority, was a chieftain named Segestes.
His daughter, Thusnelda, was pre-eminent among the noble maidens of
Germany. Arminius had sought her hand in marriage; but Segestes, who
probably discerned the young chief's disaffection to Rome, forbade
his suit, and strove to preclude all communication between him and
his daughter. Thusnelda, however, sympathised far more with the heroic
spirit of her lover, than with the time serving policy of her father. An
elopement baffled the precautions of Segestes; who, disappointed in
his hope of preventing the marriage, accused Arminius, before the Roman
governor, of having carried off his daughter, and of planning treason
against Rome. Thus assailed, and dreading to see his bride torn from him
by the officials of the foreign oppressor, Arminius delayed no longer,
but bent all his energies to organize and execute a general insurrection
of the great mass of his countrymen, who hitherto had submitted in
sullen inertness to the Roman dominion.

A change of governors had recently taken place, which, while it
materially favoured the ultimate success of the insurgents, served, by
the immediate aggravation of the Roman oppressions which it produced,
to make the native population more universally eager to take arms.
Tiberius, who was afterwards emperor, had lately been recalled from
the command in Germany, and sent into Pannonia to put down a dangerous
revolt which had broken out against the Romans in that province. The
German patriots were thus delivered from the stern supervision of one
of the most auspicious of mankind, and were also relieved from having
to contend against the high military talents of a veteran commander, who
thoroughly understood their national character, and the nature of
the country, which he himself had principally subdued. In the room of
Tiberius, Augustus sent into Germany Quintilius Varus, who had lately
returned from the proconsulate of Syria. Varus was a true representative
of the higher classes of the Romans; among whom a general taste for
literature, a keen susceptibility to all intellectual gratifications,
a minute acquaintance with the principles and practice of their own
national jurisprudence, a careful training in the schools of the
rhetoricians, and a fondness for either partaking in or watching the
intellectual strife of forensic oratory, had become generally diffused;
without, however, having humanized the old Roman spirit of cruel
indifference for human feelings and human sufferings, and without acting
as the least check on unprincipled avarice and ambition, or on habitual
and gross profligacy. Accustomed to govern the depraved and debased
natives of Syria, a country where courage in man, and virtue in woman,
had for centuries been unknown, Varus thought that he might gratify
his licentious and rapacious passions with equal impunity among the
high-minded sons and pure-spirited daughters of Germany. When the
general of an army sets the example of outrages of this description, he
is soon faithfully imitated by his officers, and surpassed by his
still more brutal soldiery. The Romans now habitually indulged in those
violations of the sanctity of the domestic shrine, and those insults
upon honour and modesty, by which far less gallant spirits than those of
our Teutonic ancestors have often been maddened into insurrection.

[I cannot forbear quoting Macaulay's beautiful lines, where he describes
how similar outrages in the early times of Rome goaded the plebeians to
rise against the patricians:--

     "Heap heavier still the fetters; bar closer still the grate;
      Patient as sheep we yield us up unto your cruel hate.
      But by the shades beneath us, and by the gods above,
      Add not unto your cruel hate your still more cruel love.
      *      *      *
      Then leave the poor plebeian his single tie to life--
      The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wife,
      The gentle speech, the balm for all that his vext soul endures,
      The kiss in which he half forgets even such a yoke as yours.
      Still let the maiden's beauty swell the father's breast with
      Still let the bridegroom's arms enfold an unpolluted bride.
      Spare us the inexpiable wrong, the unutterable shame,
      That turns the coward's heart to steel, the sluggard's blood to
      Lest when our latest hope is fled ye taste of our despair,
      And learn by proof in some wild hour, how much the wretched

Arminius found among the other German chiefs many who sympathised with
him in his indignation at their country's debasement, and many whom
private wrongs had stung yet more deeply. There was little difficulty in
collecting bold leaders for an attack on the oppressors, and little
fear of the population not rising readily at those leaders' call. But
to declare open war against Rome, and to encounter Varus's army in a
pitched battle, would have been merely rushing upon certain destruction.
Varus had three legions under him, a force which, after allowing for
detachments, cannot be estimated at less than fourteen thousand Roman
infantry. He had also eight or nine hundred Roman cavalry, and at least
an equal number of horse and foot sent from the allied states, or raised
among those provincials who had not received the Roman franchise.

It was not merely the number, but the quality of this force that made
it formidable; and however contemptible Varus might be as a general,
Arminius well knew how admirably the Roman armies were organized and
officered, and how perfectly the legionaries understood every manoeuvre
and every duty which the varying emergencies of a stricken field might
require. Stratagem was, therefore, indispensable; and it was necessary
to blind Varus to his schemes until a favourable opportunity should
arrive for striking a decisive blow.

For this purpose the German confederates frequented the headquarters of
Varus, which seem to have been near the centre of the modern country
of Westphalia, where the Roman general conducted himself with all the
arrogant security of the governor of a perfectly submissive province.
There Varus gratified at once his vanity, his rhetorical taste, and his
avarice, by holding courts, to which he summoned the Germans for
the settlement of all their disputes, while a bar of Roman advocates
attended to argue the cases before the tribunal of the Proconsul;
who did not omit the opportunity of exacting court-fees and accepting
bribes. Varus trusted implicitly to the respect which the Germans
pretended to pay to his abilities as a judge, and to the interest which
they affected to take in the forensic eloquence of their conquerors.
Meanwhile a succession of heavy rains rendered the country more
difficult for the operations of regular troops; and Arminius, seeing
that the infatuation of Varus was complete, secretly directed the tribes
near the Weser and the Ems to take up arms in open revolt against the
Romans. This was represented to Varus as an occasion which required his
prompt attendance at the spot; but he was kept in studied ignorance of
its being part of a concerted national rising; and he still looked
on Arminius as his submissive vassal, whose aid he might rely on
in facilitating the march of his troops against the rebels, and in
extinguishing the local disturbance. He therefore set his army in
motion, and marched eastward in a line parallel to the course of the
Lippe. For some distance his route lay along a level plain; but on
arriving at the tract between the curve of the upper part of that
stream and the sources of the Ems, the country assumes a very different
character; and here, in the territory of the modern little principality
of Lippe, it was that Arminius had fixed the scene of his enterprise.

A woody and hilly region intervenes between the heads of the two rivers,
and forms the water-shed of their streams. This region still retains
the name (Teutoberger wald--Teutobergiensis saltus) which it bore in the
days of Arminius. The nature of the ground has probably also remained
unaltered. The eastern part of it, round Detmoldt, the present capital
of the principality of Lippe, is described by a modern German scholar,
Dr. Plate, as being "a table-land intersected by numerous deep and
narrow valleys, which in some places form small plains, surrounded by
steep mountains and rocks, and only accessible by narrow defiles. All
the valleys are traversed by rapid streams, shallow in the dry season,
but subject to sudden swellings in autumn and winter. The vast forests
which cover the summits and slopes of the hills consist chiefly of oak;
there is little underwood, and both men and horse would move with ease
in the forests if the ground were not broken by gulleys, or rendered
impracticable by fallen trees." This is the district to which Varus is
supposed to have marched; and Dr. Plate adds, that "the names of several
localities on and near that spot seem to indicate that a great battle
had once been fought there. We find the names 'das Winnefeld' (the field
of victory), 'die Knochenbahn' (the bone-lane), 'die Knochenleke' (the
bone-brook), 'der Mordkessel' (the kettle of slaughter), and others." [I
am indebted for much valuable information on this subject to my friend
Mr. Henry Pearson.]

Contrary to the usual strict principles of Roman discipline, Varus had
suffered his army to be accompanied and impeded by an immense train of
baggage-waggons, and by a rabble of camp followers; as if his troops had
been merely changing their quarters in a friendly country. When the long
array quitted the firm level ground, and began to wind its way among the
woods, the marshes, and the ravines, the difficulties of the march, even
without the intervention of an armed foe, became fearfully apparent. In
many places the soil, sodden with rain, was impracticable for cavalry
and even for infantry, until trees had been felled, and a rude causeway
formed through the morass.

The duties of the engineer were familiar to all who served in the Roman
armies. But the crowd and confusion of the columns embarrassed the
working parties of the soldiery, and in the midst of their toil and
disorder the word was suddenly passed through their ranks that the
rear-guard was attacked by the barbarians. Varus resolved on pressing
forward; but a heavy discharge of missiles from the woods on either
flank taught him how serious was the peril, and he saw the best men
falling round him without the opportunity of retaliation; for his
light-armed auxiliaries, who were principally of Germanic race, now
rapidly deserted, and it was impossible to deploy the legionaries on
such broken ground for a charge against the enemy. Choosing one of the
most open and firm spots which they could force their way to, the Romans
halted for the night; and, faithful to their national discipline and
tactics, formed their camp amid the harassing attacks of the rapidly
thronging foes, with the elaborate toil and systematic skill, the traces
of which are impressed permanently on the soil of so many European
countries, attesting the presence in the olden time of the imperial

On the morrow the Romans renewed their march; the veteran officers who
served under Varus now probably directing the operations, and hoping
to find the Germans drawn up to meet them; in which case they relied on
their own superior discipline and tactics for such a victory as
should reassure the supremacy of Rome. But Arminius was far too sage a
commander to lead on his followers, with their unwieldy broadswords and
inefficient defensive armour, against the Roman legionaries, fully armed
with helmet, cuirass, greaves, and shield; who were skilled to commence
the conflict with a murderous volley of heavy javelins, hurled upon the
foe when a few yards distant, and then, with their short cut-and-thrust
swords, to hew their way through all opposition; preserving the utmost
steadiness and coolness, and obeying each word of command. In the midst
of strife and slaughter with the same precision and alertness as if upon
parade. [See Gibbon's description (vol. i, chap. 1) of the Roman legions
in the time of Augustus; and see the description in Tacitus (Ann. lib.
i) of the subsequent battles between Caecina and Arminius.] Arminius
suffered the Romans to march out from their camp, to form first in
line for action, and then in column for marching, without the show
of opposition. For some distance Varus was allowed to move on, only
harassed by slight skirmishes, but struggling with difficulty through
the broken ground; the toil and distress of his men being aggravated by
heavy torrents of rain, which burst upon the devoted legions as if the
angry gods of Germany were pouring out the vials of their wrath upon the
invaders. After some little time their van approached a ridge of high
woody ground, which is one of the off-shoots of the great Hercynian
forest, and is situate between the modern villages of Driburg and
Bielefeld. Arminius had caused barricades of hewn trees to be formed
here, so as to add to the natural difficulties of the passage. Fatigue
and discouragement now began to betray themselves in the Roman ranks.
Their line became less steady; baggage-waggons were abandoned from
the impossibility of forcing them along; and, as this happened, many
soldiers left their ranks and crowded round the waggons to secure the
most valuable portions of their property; each was busy about his own
affairs, and purposely slow in hearing the word of command from his
officers. Arminius now gave the signal for a general attack. The fierce
shouts of the Germans pealed through the gloom of the forests, and in
thronging multitudes they assailed the flanks of the invaders, pouring
in clouds of darts on the encumbered legionaries, as they struggled up
the glens or floundered in the morasses, and watching every opportunity
of charging through the intervals of the disjointed column, and so
cutting off the communication between its several brigades. Arminius,
with a chosen band of personal retainers round him, cheered on his
countrymen by voice and example. He and his men aimed their weapons
particularly at the horses of the Roman cavalry. The wounded animals,
slipping about in the mire and their own blood, threw their riders,
and plunged among the ranks of the legions, disordering all round
them. Varus now ordered the troops to be countermarched, in the hope of
reaching the nearest Roman garrison on the Lippe. [The circumstances
of the early part of the battle which Arminius fought with Caecina six
years afterwards, evidently resembled those of his battle with Varus,
and the result was very near being the same: I have therefore adopted
part of the description which Tacitus gives (Ann. lib. i. c. 65) of the
last mentioned engagement: "Neque tamen Arminius, quamquam libero in
cursu, statim prorupit: sed ut haesere caeno fossisque impedimenta,
turbati circum milites; incertus signorum ordo; utque tali in tempore
sibi quisque properus, et lentae adversum imperia aures, irrumpere
Germanos jubet, clamitans 'En Varus, et eodem iterum fato victae
legiones!' Simul haec, et cum delectis scindit agmen, equisque maxime
vulnera ingerit; illi sanguine suo et lubrico paludum lapsantes,
excussis rectoribus, disjicere obvios, proterere jacentes."] But retreat
now was as impracticable as advance; and the falling back of the Romans
only augmented the courage of their assailants, and caused fiercer and
more frequent charges on the flanks of the disheartened army. The Roman
officer who commanded the cavalry, Numonius Vala, rode off with his
squadrons, in the vain hope of escaping by thus abandoning his comrades.
Unable to keep together, or force their way across the woods and swamps,
the horsemen were overpowered in detail and slaughtered to the last man.
The Roman infantry still held together and resisted, but more through
the instinct of discipline and bravery than from any hope of success or
escape. Varus, after being severely wounded in a charge of the Germans
against his part of the column, committed suicide to avoid falling into
the hands of those whom he had exasperated by his oppressions. One of
the lieutenant-generals of the army fell fighting; the other surrendered
to the enemy. But mercy to a fallen foe had never been a Roman virtue,
and those among her legions who now laid down their arms in hope of
quarter, drank deep of the cup of suffering, which Rome had held to
the lips of many a brave but unfortunate enemy. The infuriated Germans
slaughtered their oppressors with deliberate ferocity; and those
prisoners who were not hewn to pieces on the spot, were only preserved
to perish by a more cruel death in cold blood.

The bulk of the Roman army fought steadily and stubbornly, frequently
repelling the masses of the assailants, but gradually losing the
compactness of their array, and becoming weaker and weaker beneath the
incessant shower of darts and the reiterated assaults of the vigorous
and unencumbered Germans. At last, in a series of desperate attacks the
column was pierced through and through, two of the eagles captured, and
the Roman host, which on the yester morning had marched forth in such
pride and might, now broken up into confused fragments, either fell
fighting beneath the overpowering numbers of the enemy, or perished in
the swamps and woods in unavailing efforts at flight. Few, very few,
ever saw again the left bank of the Rhine. One body of brave veterans,
arraying themselves in a ring on a little mound, beat off every charge
of the Germans, and prolonged their honourable resistance to the close
of that dreadful day. The traces of a feeble attempt at forming a ditch
and mound attested in after years the spot where the last of the Romans
passed their night of suffering and despair. But on the morrow this
remnant also, worn out with hunger, wounds, and toil, was charged by the
victorious Germans, and either massacred on the spot, or offered up in
fearful rites at the alters of the deities of the old mythology of the

A gorge in the mountain ridge, through which runs the modern road
between Paderborn and Pyrmont, leads from the spot where the heat of the
battle raged, to the Extersteine, a cluster of bold and grotesque rocks
of sandstone; near which is a small sheet of water, overshadowed by a
grove of aged trees. According to local tradition, this was one of the
sacred groves of the ancient Germans, and it was here that the Roman
captives were slain in sacrifice by the victorious warriors of Arminius.
["Lucis propinquis barbarae arae, apud quas tribunos ac primorum ordinam
centuriones mactaverant."--TACITUS, Ann. lib. i. c. 61.]

Never was victory more decisive, never was the liberation of an
oppressed people more instantaneous and complete. Throughout Germany the
Roman garrisons were assailed and cut off; and, within a few weeks after
Varus had fallen, the German soil was freed from the foot of an invader.

At Rome, the tidings of the battle was received with an agony of terror,
the descriptions of which we should deem exaggerated, did they not come
from Roman historians themselves. These passages in the Roman writers
not only tell emphatically how great was the awe which the Romans felt
of the prowess of the Germans, if their various tribes could be brought
to reunite for a common purpose, but also they reveal bow weakened and
debased the population of Italy had become. [It is clear that the Romans
followed the policy of fomenting dissension and wars of the Germans
among themselves. See the thirty-third section of the "Germania" of
Tacitus, where he mentions the destruction of the Bructeri by the
neighbouring tribes: "Favore quodam erga nos deorum: nam ne spectaculo
quidem proelii invidere: super LX. millia non armis telisque Romanis,
sed, quod magnificentius est, oblectationi oculisque ceciderunt. Maneat
quaeso, duretque gentibus, si non amor nostri at certe odium sui quando
urgentibus imperii fatis, nihil jam praestare fortuna majus potes quam
hostiam discordiam."] Dion Cassius says: [Lib. lvi. sec. 23.] "Then
Augustus, when he heard the calamity of Varus, rent his garments, and
was in great affliction for the troops he had lost, and for terror
respecting the Germans and the Gauls. And his chief alarm was, that he
expected them to push on against Italy and Rome: and there remained no
Roman youth fit for military duty, that were worth speaking of, and the
allied populations that were at all serviceable had been wasted away.
Yet he prepared for the emergency as well as his means allowed; and when
none of the citizens of military age were willing to enlist he made them
cast lots, and punished by confiscation of goods and disfranchisement
every fifth man among those under thirty-five, and every tenth man of
those above that age. At last, when he found that not even thus; could
he make many come forward, he put some of them to death. So he made
a conscription of discharged veterans and emancipated slaves, and
collecting as large a force as he could, sent it, under Tiberius, with
all speed into Germany."

Dion mentions, also, a number of terrific portents that were believed to
have occurred at the time; and the narration of which is not immaterial,
as it shows the state of the public mind, when such things were so
believed in, and so interpreted. The summits of the Alps were said to
have fallen, and three columns of fire to have blazed up from them. In
the Campus Martius, the temple of the War-God, from whom the founder of
Rome had sprung, was struck by a thunderbolt. The nightly heavens glowed
several times, as if on fire. Many comets blazed forth together; and
fiery meteors shaped like spears, had shot from the northern quarter of
the sky, down into the Roman camps. It was said, too, that a statue of
Victory, which had stood at a place on the frontier, pointing the way
towards Germany, had of its own accord turned round, and now pointed
to Italy. These and other prodigies were believed by the multitude to
accompany the slaughter of Varus's legions, and to manifest the anger of
the gods against Rome, Augustus himself was not free from superstition;
but on this occasion no supernatural terrors were needed to increase the
alarm and grief that he felt; and which made him, even for months after
the news of the battle had arrived, often beat his head against the
wall, and exclaim, "Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!" We learn
this from his biographer, Suetonius; and, indeed, every ancient writer
who alludes to the overthrow of Varus, attests the importance of the
blow against the Roman power, and the bitterness with which it was felt.
[Florus expresses its effect most pithily: "Hac clade factum est ut
imperium quod in litore oceani non steterat, in ripa Rheni fluminis
staret" (iv. 12).]

The Germans did not pursue their victory beyond their own territory.
But that victory secured at once and for ever the independence of the
Teutonic race. Rome sent, indeed, her legions again into Germany, to
parade a temporary superiority; but all hopes of permanent conquest were
abandoned by Augustus and his successors.

The blow which Arminius had struck never was forgotten, Roman fear
disguised itself under the specious title of moderation; and the Rhine
became the acknowledged boundary of the two nations until the fifth
century of our era, when the Germans became the assailants, and carved
with their conquering swords the provinces of Imperial Rome into the
kingdoms of modern Europe.


I have said above that the great Cheruscan is more truly one of our
national heroes than Caractacus is. It may be added that an Englishman
is entitled to claim a closer degree of relationship with Arminius
than can be claimed by any German of modern Germany. The proof of this
depends on the proof of four facts: first, that the Cherusci were
Old Saxons, or Saxons of the interior of Germany; secondly, that the
Anglo-Saxons, or Saxons of the coast of Germany, were more closely akin
than other German tribes were to the Cheruscan Saxons; thirdly, that the
Old Saxons were almost exterminated by Charlemagne; fourthly, that
the Anglo-Saxons are our immediate ancestors. The last of these may be
assumed as an axiom in English history. The proofs of the other three
are partly philological, and partly historical. I have not space to
go into them here, but they will be found in the early chapters of the
great work of Dr. Robert Gordon Latham on the "English Language;" and
in the notes to his edition of the "Germania of Tacitus." It may be,
however, here remarked that the present Saxons of Germany are of the
High Germanic division of the German race, whereas both the Anglo-Saxon
and Old Saxon were of the Low Germanic.

Being thus the nearest heirs of the glory of Arminius, we may fairly
devote more attention to his career than, in such a work as the present,
could be allowed to any individual leader, and it is interesting to
trace how far his fame survived during the middle ages, both among the
Germans of the Continent and among ourselves.

It seems probable that the jealousy with which Maraboduus, the king of
the Suevi and Marcomanni, regarded Arminius, and which ultimately broke
out into open hostilities between those German tribes and the Cherusci,
prevented Arminius from leading the confederate Germans to attack Italy
after his first victory. Perhaps he may have had the rare moderation
of being content with the liberation of his country, without seeking to
retaliate on her former oppressors. When Tiberius marched into Germany
in the year 10, Arminius was too cautious to attack him on ground
favourable to the legions, and Tiberius was too skilful, to entangle his
troops in difficult parts of the country. His march and counter-march
were as unresisted as they were unproductive. A few years later, when
a dangerous revolt of the Roman legions near the frontier caused
their generals to find them active employment by leading them into the
interior of Germany, we find Arminius again energetic in his country's
defence. The old quarrel between him and his father-in-law, Segestes,
had broken out afresh. Segestes now called in the aid of the Roman
general, Germanicus, to whom he surrendered himself; and by his
contrivance his daughter Thusnelda, the wife of Arminius, also came into
the hands of the Romans, being far advanced in pregnancy. She showed, as
Tacitus relates, [Ann. i. 57.] more of the spirit of her husband than
of her father, a spirit that could not be subdued into tears or
supplications. She was sent to Ravenna, and there gave birth to a son,
whose life we find, from an allusion in Tacitus, to have been eventful
and unhappy; but the part of the great historian's work which narrated
his fate has perished, and we only know from another quarter that
the son of Arminius was, at the age of four years, led captive in a
triumphal pageant along the streets of Rome.

The high spirit of Arminius was goaded almost into frenzy by these
bereavements. The fate of his wife, thus torn from him, and of his
babe doomed to bondage even before its birth, inflamed the eloquent
invectives with which he roused his countrymen against the home
traitors, and against their invaders, who thus made war upon women and
children. Germanicus had marched his army to the place where Varus had
perished, and had there paid funeral honours to the ghastly relics
of his predecessor's legions that he found heaped around him. [In
the Museum of Rhenish antiquities at Bonn there is a Roman sepulchral
monument, the inscription on which records that it was erected to the
memory of M. Coelius, who fell "BELLO VARIANO."] Arminius lured him to
advance a little further into the country, and then assailed him, and
fought a battle, which, by the Roman accounts, was a drawn one. The
effect of it was to make Germanicus resolve on retreating to the Rhine.
He himself, with part of his troops, embarked in some vessels on the
Ems, and returned by that river, and then by sea; but part of his forces
were entrusted to a Roman general, named Caecina, to lead them back by
land to the Rhine. Arminius followed this division on its march, and
fought several battles with it, in which he inflicted heavy loss on
the Romans, captured the greater part of their baggage, and would have
destroyed them completely, had not his skilful system of operations been
finally thwarted by the haste of Inguiomerus, a confederate German chief
who insisted on assaulting the Romans in their camp, instead of waiting
till they were entangled in the difficulties of the country, and
assailing their columns on the march.

In the following year the Romans were inactive; but in the year
afterwards Germanicus led a fresh invasion. He placed his army on
ship-board, and sailed to the mouth of the Ems, where he disembarked,
and marched to the Weser, where he encamped, probably in the
neighbourhood of Minden. Arminius had collected his army on the other
side of the river; and a scene occurred, which is powerfully told by
Tacitus, and which is the subject of a beautiful poem by Praed. It has
been already mentioned that the brother of Arminius, like himself, had
been trained up, while young, to serve in the Roman armies; but, unlike
Arminius, he not only refused to quit the Roman service for that of his
country, but fought against his country with the legions of Germanicus.
He had assumed the Roman name of Flavius, and had gained considerable
distinction in the Roman service, in which he had lost an eye from a
wound in battle. When the Roman outposts approached the river Weser,
Arminius called out to them from the opposite bank, and expressed a wish
to see his brother. Flavius stepped forward, and Arminius ordered
his own followers to retire, and requested that the archers should
be removed from the Roman bank of the river. This was done: and the
brothers, who apparently had not seen each other for some years, began
a conversation from the opposite sides of the stream, in which Arminius
questioned his brother respecting the loss of his eye, and what battle
it had been lost in, and what reward he had received for his wound.
Flavius told him how the eye was destroyed, and mentioned the increased
pay that he had on account of its loss, and showed the collar and other
military decorations that had been given him. Arminius mocked at these
as badges of slavery; and then each began to try to win the other
over; Flavius boasting the power of Rome, and her generosity to the
submissive; Arminius appealing to him in the name of their country's
gods, of the mother that had borne them, and by the holy names of
fatherland and freedom, not to prefer being the betrayer to being
the champion of his country. They soon proceeded to mutual taunts and
menaces, and Flavius called aloud for his horse and his arms, that he
might dash across the river and attack his brother; nor would he have
been checked from doing so, had not the Roman general, Stertinius, run
up to him, and forcibly detained him. Arminius stood on the other bank,
threatening the renegade, and defying him to battle.

I shall not be thought to need apology for quoting here the stanzas in
which Praed has described this scene--a scene among the most affecting,
as well as the most striking, that history supplies. It makes us reflect
on the desolate position of Arminius, with his wife and child captives
in the enemy's hands, and with his brother a renegade in arms against
him. The great liberator of our German race stood there, with every
source of human happiness denied him, except the consciousness of doing
his duty to his country.

     "Back, back!  he fears not foaming flood
       Who fears not steel-clad line:--
      No warrior thou of German blood,
       No brother thou of mine.
      Go, earn Rome's chain to load thy neck,
       Her gems to deck thy hilt;
      And blazon honour's hapless wreck
       With all the gauds of guilt.

     "But wouldst thou have ME share the prey?
       By all that I have done,--
      The Varian bones that day by day
       Lie whitening in the sun,
      The legion's trampled panoply,
       The eagle's shattered wing,--
      I would not be for earth or sky
       So scorn'd and mean a thing.

     "Ho, call me here the wizard, boy,
       Of dark and subtle skill,
      To agonise but not destroy,
       To curse, but not to kill.
      When swords are out, and shriek and shout,
       Leave little room for prayer,
      No fetter on man's arm or heart
       Hangs half so heavy there.

     "I curse him by the gifts the land
       Hath won from him and Rome--
      The riving axe, the wasting brand,
       Rent forest, blazing home.
      I curse him by our country's gods,
       The terrible, the dark,
      The breakers of the Roman rods,
       The smiters of the bark.

     "Oh misery, that such a ban
       On such a brow should be!
      Why comes he not in battle's van
       His country's chief to be?--
      To stand a comrade by my side,
       The sharer of my fame,
      And worthy of a brother's pride
       And of a brother's name?

     "But it is past!--where heroes press
       And cowards bend the knee
      Arminius is not brotherless;
       His brethren are the free.
      They come around:  one hour, and light
       Will fade from turf and tide,
      Then onward, onward to the fight
       With darkness for our guide.

     "To-night, to-night, when we shall meet
       In combat face to face,
      Then only would Arminius greet
       The renegade's embrace.
      The canker of Rome's guilt shall be
       Upon his dying name;
      And as he lived in slavery,
       So shall he fall in shame.

On the day after the Romans had reached the Weser, Germanicus led his
army across that river, and a partial encounter took place, in which
Arminius was successful. But on the succeeding day a general action was
fought, in which Arminius was severely wounded, and the German infantry
routed with heavy loss. The horsemen of the two armies encountered
without either party gaining the advantage. But the Roman army remained
master of the ground, and claimed a complete victory. Germanicus erected
a trophy in the field, with a vaunting inscription, that the nations
between the Rhine and the Elbe had been thoroughly conquered by his
army. But that army speedily made a final retreat to the left bank of
the Rhine; nor was the effect of their campaign more durable than their
trophy. The sarcasm with which Tacitus speaks of certain other
triumphs of Roman generals over Germans, may apply to the pageant which
Germanicus celebrated on his return to Rome from his command of the
Roman army of the Rhine. The Germans were "TRIUMPHATI POTIUS QUAM

After the Romans had abandoned their attempts on Germany, we find
Arminius engaged in hostilities with Maroboduus, the king of the Suevi
and Marcomanni who was endeavouring to bring the other German tribes
into a state of dependency on him. Arminius was at the head of the
Germans who took up arms against this home invader of their liberties.
After some minor engagements, a pitched battle was fought between the
two confederacies, A.D. 16, in which the loss on each side was equal;
but Maroboduus confessed the ascendency of his antagonist by avoiding
a renewal of the engagement, and by imploring the intervention of the
Romans in his defence. The younger Drusus then commanded the Roman
legions in the province of Illyricum, and by his mediation a peace was
concluded between Arminius and Maroboduus, by the terms of which it
is evident that the latter must have renounced his ambitious schemes
against the freedom of the other German tribes.

Arminius did not long survive this second war of independence, which
he successfully waged for his country. He was assassinated in the
thirty-seventh year of his age, by some of his own kinsmen, who
conspired against him. Tacitus says that this happened while he was
engaged in a civil war, which had been caused by his attempts to make
himself king over his countrymen. It is far more probable (as one of the
best biographers of Arminius has observed) that Tacitus misunderstood an
attempt of Arminius to extend his influence as elective war-chieftain
of the Cherusci, and other tribes, for an attempt to obtain the royal
dignity. [Dr. Plate, in Biographical Dictionary commenced by the Society
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.] When we remember that his
father-in-law and his brother were renegades, we can well understand
that a party among his kinsmen may have been bitterly hostile to him,
and have opposed his authority with the tribe by open violence, and when
that seemed ineffectual, by secret assassination.

Arminius left a name, which the historians of the nation against which
he combated so long and so gloriously have delighted to honour. It is
from the most indisputable source, from the lips of enemies, that
we know his exploits. [See Tacitus, Ann. lib. ii. sec. 88; Velleius
Paterculus, lib. ii. sec. 118.] His country men made history, but did
not write it. But his memory lived among them in the lays of their
bards, who recorded

"The deeds he did, the fields he won, The freedom he restored."

Tacitus, many years after the death of Arminius, says of him, "Canitur
adhuc barbaras apud gentes." As time passed on, the gratitude of ancient
Germany to her great deliverer grew into adoration, and divine honours
were paid for centuries to Arminius by every tribe of the Low Germanic
division of the Teutonic races. The Irmin-sul, or the column of Herman,
near Eresburg, the modern Stadtberg, was the chosen object of worship to
the descendants of the Cherusci, the Old Saxons, and in defence of which
they fought most desperately against Charlemagne and his christianized
Franks. "Irmin, in the cloudy Olympus of Teutonic belief, appears as a
king and a warrior; and the pillar, the 'Irmin-sul,' bearing the statue,
and considered as the symbol of the deity, was the Palladium of the
Saxon nation, until the temple of Eresburg was destroyed by Charlemagne,
and the column itself transferred to the monastery of Corbey, where,
perhaps, a portion of the rude rock idol yet remains, covered by the
ornaments of the Gothic era." [Palgrave on the English Commonwealth,
vol. ii. p. 140.]

Traces of the worship of Arminius are to be found among our Anglo-Saxon
ancestors, after their settlement in this island. One of the four great
highways was held to be under the protection of the deity, and was
called the "Irmin-street." The name Arminius is, of course, the mere
Latinized form of "Herman," the name by which the hero and the deity
were known by every man of Low German blood, on either side of the
German Sea. It means, etymologically, the "War-man," the "man of hosts."
No other explanation of the worship of the "Irmin-sul," and of the name
of the "Irmin-street," is so satisfactory as that which connects them
with the deified Arminius. We know for certain of the existence of other
columns of an analogous character. Thus, there was the Roland-seule
in North Germany; there was a Thor-seule in Sweden, and (what is
more important) there was an Athelstan-seule in Saxon England. [See
Lappenburg's Anglo-Saxons, p. 378. For nearly all the philological and
ethnographical facts respecting Arminius, I am indebted to Dr. R. G.

There is at the present moment a song respecting the Irmin-sul current
in the bishopric of Minden, one version of which might seem only to
refer to Charlemagne having pulled down the Irmin-sul:--

   "Herman, sla dermen, Sla pipen, sla trummen,
    De Kaiser will kummen,
    Met hamer un stangen,
    Will Herman uphangen."

But there is another version, which probably is the oldest, and which
clearly refers to the great Arminius:--

   "Un Herman slaug dermen; Slaug pipen, slaug trummen;
    De fursten sind kammen,
    Met all eren-mannen
    Hebt VARUS uphangen."
   [See Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, p. 329.]

About ten centuries and a half after the demolition of the Irmin-sul,
and nearly eighteen after the death of Arminius, the modern Germans
conceived the idea of rendering tardy homage to their great hero; and,
accordingly some eight or ten years ago, a general subscription was
organized in Germany, for the purpose of erecting on the Osning--a
conical mountain, which forms the highest summit of the Teutoberger
Wald, and is eighteen hundred feet above the level of the sea--a
colossal bronze statue of Arminius. The statue was designed by Bandel.
The hero was to stand uplifting a sword in his right hand, and looking
towards the Rhine. The height of the statue was to be eighty feet from
the base to the point of the sword, and was to stand on a circular
Gothic temple, ninety feet high, and supported by oak trees as columns.
The mountain, where it was to be erected, is wild and stern, and
overlooks the scene of the battle. It was calculated that the statue
would be clearly visible at a distance of sixty miles. The temple is
nearly finished, and the statue itself has been cast at the copper works
at Lemgo. But there, through want of funds to set it up, it has lain for
some years, in disjointed fragments, exposed to the mutilating homage
of relic-seeking travellers. The idea of honouring a hero who belongs to
ALL Germany, is not one which the present rulers of that divided country
have any wish to encourage; and the statue may long continue to lie
there, and present too true a type of the condition of Germany herself.
[On the subject of this statue I must repeat an acknowledgment of my
obligations to my friend Mr. Henry Pearson.]

Surely this is an occasion in which Englishmen might well prove, by acts
as well as words, that we also rank Arminius among our heroes.

I have quoted the noble stanzas of one of our modern English poets on
Arminius, and I will conclude this memoir with one of the odes of the
great poet of modern Germany, Klopstock, on the victory to which we owe
our freedom, and Arminius mainly owes his fame. Klopstock calls it
the "Battle of Winfield." The epithet of "Sister of Cannae" shows that
Klopstock followed some chronologers, according to whom, Varus was
defeated on the anniversary of the day on which Paulus and Varro were
defeated by Hannibal.


Chorus of Bards.


      Sister of Cannae!  Winfield's fight!
      We saw thee with thy streaming bloody hair,
      With fiery eye, bright with the world's despair,
      Sweep by Walhalla's bards from out our sight.
      Herrman outspake--"Now Victory or Death!"
      The Romans,... "Victory!"
      And onward rushed their eagles with the cry.
      --So ended the FIRST day.

      "Victory or Death!" began
      Then, first, the Roman chief; and Herrman spake
      Not, but home struck:  the eagles fluttered--brake.
      --So sped the SECOND day.


      And the third came.... The cry was "Flight or Death!"
      Flight left they not for them who'd make them slaves--
      Men who stab children!--flight for THEM!... no!  graves!
      --'Twas their LAST day.


      Yet spared they messengers:  two came to Rome.
      How drooped the plume!  the lance was left to trail
      Down in the dust behind:  their cheek was pale:
      So came the messengers to Rome.

      High in his hall the Imperator sate--
      They filled up wine-cups, wine-cups filled they up
      For him the highest, Jove of all their state.

      The flutes of Lydia hushed before their voice,
      Before the messengers--the "Highest" sprung--
      The god against the marble pillars, wrung
      By the dred words, striking his brow, and thrice
      Cried he aloud in anguish--"Varus!  Varus!
      Give back my legions, Varus!"

      And now the world-wide conquerors shrunk and feared
      For fatherland and home
      The lance to raise; and 'mongst those false to Rome
      The death-lot rolled, and still they shrunk and feared;

      "For she her face hath turned,
      The victor goddess," cried these cowards--(for aye
      Be it!)--"from Rome and Romans, and her day
      Is done!"--And still be mourned
      And cried aloud in anguish--"Varus!  Varus!
      Give back my legions, Varus!"

[Notes:--The battle of Cannae, B.C. 216--Hannibal's victory over the
Romans. Winfield--the probable site of the "Herrmanschladt." See SUPRA.
Augustus was worshipped as a deity in his lifetime. I have taken this
translation from an anonymous writer in FRASER, two years ago.]


A.D. 43. The Romans commence the conquest of Britain, Claudius being
then Emperor of Rome. The population of this island was then Celtic. In
about forty years all the tribes south of the Clyde were subdued, and
their land made a Roman province.

68-60. Successful campaigns of the Roman general Corbulo against the

64. First persecution of the Christians at Rome under Nero.

68-70. Civil wars in the Roman World. The emperors Nero, Galba, Otho,
and Vitellius, cut off successively by violent deaths. Vespasian becomes

70. Jerusalem destroyed by the Romans under Titus.

83. Futile attack of Domitian on the Germans.

86. Beginning of the wars between the Romans and the Dacians.

98-117. Trajan, emperor of Rome. Under him the empire acquires its
greatest territorial extent by his conquests in Dacia and in the East.
His successor, Hadrian, abandons the provinces beyond the Euphrates,
which Trajan had conquered.

138-180. Era of the Antonines.

167-176. A long and desperate war between Rome and a great confederacy
of the German nations. Marcus Antoninus at last succeeds in repelling

192-197. Civil Wars throughout the Roman world. Severus becomes emperor.
He relaxes the discipline of the soldiers. After his death in 211, the
series of military insurrections, civil wars, and murders of emperors

226. Artaxerxes (Ardisheer) overthrows the Parthian, and restores the
Persian kingdom in Asia. He attacks the Roman possessions in the East.

260. The Goths invade the Roman provinces. The emperor Decius is
defeated and slain by them.

253-260. The Franks and Alemanni invade Gaul, Spain, and Africa. The
Goths attack Asia Minor and Greece. The Persians conquer Armenia. Their
king, Sapor, defeats the Roman emperor Valerian, and takes him prisoner.
General distress of the Roman empire.

268-283. The emperors Claudius, Aurelian, Tacitus, Probus, and Carus
defeat the various enemies of Rome, and restore order in the Roman

285. Diocletian divides and reorganizes the Roman empire. After his
abdication in 305 a fresh series of civil wars and confusion ensues.
Constantine, the first Christian emperor, reunites the empire in 324.

330. Constantine makes Constantinople the seat of empire instead of

363. The emperor Julian is killed in action against the Persians.

364-375. The empire is again divided, Valentinian being emperor of the
West, and Valens of the East. Valentinian repulses the Alemanni, and
other German invaders from Gaul. Splendour of the Gothic kingdom under
Hermanric, north of the Danube.

376-395. The Huns attack the Goths, who implore the protection of the
Roman emperor of the East. The Goths are allowed to pass the Danube, and
to settle in the Roman provinces. A war soon breaks out between them and
the Romans, and the emperor Valens and his army are destroyed by them.
They ravage the Roman territories. The emperor Theodosius reduces them
to submission. They retain settlements in Thrace and Asia Minor.

395. Final division of the Roman empire between Arcadius and Honorius,
the two sons of Theodosius. The Goths revolt, and under Alaric attack
various parts of both the Roman empires.

410. Alaric takes the city of Rome.

412. The Goths march into Gaul, and in 414 into Spain, which had been
already invaded by hosts of Vandals, Suevi, Alani, and other Germanic
nations. Britain is formally abandoned by the Roman emperor of the West.

428. Genseric, king of the Vandals, conquers the Roman province of North

441. The Huns attack the Eastern empire.


   "The discomfiture of the mighty attempt of Attila to found a new
   anti-Christian dynasty upon the wreck of the temporal power of
   Rome, at the end of the term of twelve hundred years, to which
   its duration had been limited by the forebodings of the

A broad expanse of plains, the Campi Catalaunici of the ancients,
spreads far and wide around the city of Chalons, in the north-east of
France. The long rows of poplars, through which the river Marne winds
its way, and a few thinly-scattered villages, are almost the only
objects that vary the monotonous aspect of the greater part of this
region. But about five miles from Chalons, near the little hamlets of
Chaps and Cuperly, the ground is indented and heaped up in ranges of
grassy mounds and trenches, which attest the work of man's hand in ages
past; and which, to the practised eye, demonstrate that this quiet spot
has once been the fortified position of a huge military host.

Local tradition gives to these ancient earthworks the name of Attila's
Camp. Nor is there any reason to question the correctness of the title,
or to doubt that behind these very ramparts it was that, 1400 years ago,
the most powerful heathen king that ever ruled in Europe mustered the
remnants of his vast army, which had striven on these plains against
the Christian soldiery of Thoulouse and Rome. Here it was that Attila
prepared to resist to the death his victors in the field; and here he
heaped up the treasures of his camp in one vast pile, which was to be
his funeral pyre should his camp be stormed. It was here that the Gothic
and Italian forces watched but dared not assail, their enemy in his
despair, after that great and terrible day of battle, when

     "The sound
      Of conflict was o'erpast, the shout of all
      Whom earth could send from her remotest bounds,
      Heathen or faithful;--from thy hundred mouths,
      That feed the Caspian with Riphean snows,
      Huge Volga!  from famed Hypanis, which once
      Cradled the Hun; from all the countless realms
      Between Imaus and that utmost strand
      Where columns of Herculean rock confront
      The blown Atlantic; Roman, Goth, and Hun,
      And Scythian strength of chivalry, that tread
      The cold Codanian shore, or what far lands
      Inhospitable drink Cimmerian floods,
      Franks, Saxons, Suevic, and Sarmartian chiefs,
      And who from green Armorica or Spain
      Flocked to the work of death."
      [Herbert's Attila, book i. line 13.]

The victory which the Roman general Aetius, with his Gothic allies, had
then gained over the Huns, was the last victory of Imperial Rome. But
among the long Fasti of her triumphs, few can be found that, for their
importance and ultimate benefit to mankind, are comparable with this
expiring effort of her arms. It did not, indeed, open to her any new
career of conquest; it did not consolidate the relics of her power; it
did not turn the rapid ebb of her fortunes. The mission of Imperial Rome
was, in truth, already accomplished. She had received and transmitted
through her once ample dominion the civilization of Greece. She had
broken up the barriers of narrow nationalities among the various states
and tribes that dwelt around the coast of the Mediterranean. She had
fused these and many other races into one organized empire, bound
together by a community of laws, of government and institutions. Under
the shelter of her full power the True Faith had arisen in the earth and
during the years of her decline it had been nourished to maturity, and
had overspread all the provinces that ever obeyed her sway. [See the
Introduction to Ranke's History of the Popes.] For no beneficial
purpose to mankind could the dominion of the seven-hilled city have been
restored or prolonged. But it was all-important to mankind what nations
should divide among them Rome's rich inheritance of empire: whether the
Germanic and Gothic warriors should form states and kingdoms out of
the fragments of her dominions, and become the free members of the
commonwealth of Christian Europe; or whether pagan savages from the
wilds of Central Asia should crush the relics of classic civilization,
and the early institutions of the christianized Germans, in one hopeless
chaos of barbaric conquest. The Christian Vistigoths of King Theodoric
fought and triumphed at Chalons, side by side with the legions of
Aetius. Their joint victory over the Hunnish host not only rescued for
a time from destruction the old age of Rome, but preserved for centuries
of power and glory the Germanic element in the civilization of modern

In order to estimate the full importance to mankind of the battle of
Chalons, we must keep steadily in mind who and what the Germans were,
and the important distinctions between them and the numerous other races
that assailed the Roman Empire: and it is to be understood that the
Gothic and the Scandinavian nations are included in the German race.
Now, "in two remarkable traits the Germans differed from the Sarmatic,
as well as from the Slavic nations, and, indeed, from all those other
races to whom the Greeks and Romans gave the designation of barbarians.
I allude to their personal freedom and regards for the rights of men;
secondly, to the respect paid by them to the female sex and the chastity
for which the latter were celebrated among the people of the North.
These were the foundations of that probity of character, self-respect,
and purity of manners which may be traced among the Germans and
Goths even during pagan times, and which, when their sentiments were
enlightened by Christianity, brought out those splendid traits of
character which distinguish the age of chivalry and romance." [See
Prichard's Researches into the Physical History of Mankind, vol iii. p.
423.] What the intermixture of the German stock with the classic, at
the fall of the Western Empire, has done for mankind may be best felt
by watching, with Arnold, over how large a portion of the earth the
influence of the German element is now extended.

"It affects, more or less, the whole west of Europe, from the head of
the Gulf of Bothnia to the most southern promontory of Sicily, from the
Oder and the Adriatic to the Hebrides and to Lisbon. It is true that the
language spoken over a large portion of this space is not predominantly
German; but even in France, and Italy, and Spain, the influence of the
Franks, Burgundians, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Lombards, while it has
coloured even the language, has in blood and institutions left its mark
legibly and indelibly. Germany, the Low Countries, Switzerland for the
most part, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and our own islands, are all in
language, in blood, and in institutions, German most decidedly. But
all South America is peopled with Spaniards and Portuguese; all North
America, and all Australia with Englishmen. I say nothing of the
prospects and influence of the German race in Africa and in India: it
is enough to say that half of Europe, and all America and Australia,
are German, more or less completely, in race, in language, or in
institutions, or in all." [Arnold's Lectures on Modern History, p. 35.]

By the middle of the fifth century, Germanic nations had settled
themselves in many of the fairest regions of the Roman empire,
had imposed their yoke on the provincials, and had undergone, to a
considerable extent, that moral conquest which the arts and refinements
of the vanquished in arms have so often achieved over the rough victor.
The Visigoths held the north of Spain and Gaul south of the Loire.
Franks, Alemanni, Alans, and Burgundians had established themselves in
other Gallic provinces, and the Suevi were masters of a large southern
portion of the Spanish peninsula. A king of the Vandals reigned in
North Africa, and the Ostrogoths had firmly planted themselves in the
provinces north of Italy. Of these powers and principalities, that of
the Visigoths, under their king Theodoric, son of Alaric, was by far the
first in power and in civilization.

The pressure of the Huns upon Europe had first been felt in the fourth
century of our era. They had long been formidable to the Chinese empire;
but the ascendency in arms which another nomadic tribe of Central Asia,
the Sienpi gained over them, drove the Huns from their Chinese conquests
westward; and this movement once being communicated to the whole chain
of barbaric nations that dwelt northward of the Black Sea and the Roman
empire, tribe after tribe of savage warriors broke in upon the barriers
of civilized Europe, "velut unda supervenit undam." The Huns crossed the
Tanais into Europe in 375, and rapidly reduced to subjection the Alans,
the Ostrogoths, and other tribes that were then dwelling along the
course of the Danube. The armies of the Roman emperor that tried to
check their progress were cut to pieces by them; and Panonia and other
provinces south of the Danube were speedily occupied by the victorious
cavalry of these new invaders. Not merely the degenerate Romans, but the
bold and hardy warriors of Germany and Scandinavia were appalled at the
numbers, the ferocity, the ghastly appearance, and the lightning-like
rapidity of the Huns. Strange and loathsome legends were coined and
credited, which attributed their origin to the union of "Secret, black,
and midnight hags" with the evil spirits of the wilderness.

Tribe after tribe, and city after city, fell before them. Then came
a pause in their career of conquest in South-western Europe caused
probably by dissensions among their chiefs, and also by their arms being
employed in attack upon the Scandinavian nations. But when Attila (or
Atzel, as he is called in the Hungarian language) became their ruler,
the torrent of their arms was directed with augmented terrors upon the
west and the south; and their myriads marched beneath the guidance of
one master-mind to the overthrow both of the new and the old powers of
the earth.

Recent events have thrown such a strong interest over everything
connected with the Hungarian name, that even the terrible name of Attila
now impresses us the more vividly through our sympathising admiration of
the exploits of those who claim to be descended from his warriors, and
"ambitiously insert the name of Attila among their native kings." The
authenticity of this martial genealogy is denied by some writers, and
questioned by more. But it is at least certain that the Magyars of
Arpad, who are the immediate ancestors of the bulk of the modern
Hungarians, and who conquered the country which bears the name of
Hungary in A.D. 889, were of the same stock of mankind as were the Huns
of Attila, even if they did not belong to the same subdivision of that
stock. Nor is there any improbability in the tradition, that after
Attila's death many of his warriors remained in Hungary, and that their
descendants afterwards joined the Huns of Arpad in their career of
conquest. It is certain that Attila made Hungary the seat of his empire.
It seems also susceptible of clear proof that the territory was then
called Hungvar, and Attila's soldiers Hungvari. Both the Huns of Attila
and those of Arpad came from the family of nomadic nations, whose
primitive regions were those vast wildernesses of High Asia which are
included between the Altaic and the Himalayan mountain-chains. The
inroads of these tribes upon the lower regions of Asia and into Europe,
have caused many of the most remarkable revolutions in the history of
the world. There is every reason to believe that swarms of these nations
made their way into distant parts of the earth, at periods long before
the date of the Scythian invasion of Asia, which is the earliest inroad
of the nomadic race that history records. The first, as far as we can
conjecture, in respect to the time of their descent were the Finnish and
Ugrian tribes, who appear to have come down from the Asiatic border of
High Asia towards the north-west, in which direction they advanced
to the Uralian mountains. There they established themselves: and that
mountain chain, with its valleys and pasture-lands, became to them a
new country, whence they sent out colonies on every side; but the Ugrian
colony, which under Arpad occupied Hungary, and became the ancestors of
the bulk of the present Hungarian nation, did not quit their settlements
on the Uralian mountains till a very late period, not until four
centuries after the time when Attila led from the primary seats of the
nomadic races in High Asia the host with which he advanced into the
heart of France. [See Prichard's Researches into the Physical History of
Mankind.] That host was Turkish; but closely allied in origin, language,
and habits, with the Finno-Ugrian settlers on the Ural.

Attila's fame has not come down to us through the partial and suspicious
medium of chroniclers and poets of his own race. It is not from Hunnish
authorities that we learn the extent of his might: It is from his
enemies, from the literature and the legends of the nations whom he
afflicted with his arms, that we draw the unquestionable evidence of
his greatness. Besides the express narratives of Byzantine, Latin, and
Gothic writers, we have the strongest proof of the stern reality of
Attila's conquests in the extent to which he and his Huns have been the
themes of the earliest German and Scandinavian lays. Wild as many of
these legends are, they bear concurrent and certain testimony to the awe
with which the memory of Attila was regarded by the bold warriors who
composed and delighted in them. Attila's exploits, and the wonders of
his unearthly steed and magic sword, repeatedly occur in the Sagas
of Norway and Iceland; and the celebrated Niebelungen Lied, the most
ancient of Germanic poetry, is full of them. There Etsel or Attila, is
described as the wearer of twelve mighty crowns, and as promising to
his bride the lands of thirty kings, whom his irresistible sword has
subdued. He is, in fact, the hero of the latter part of this remarkable
poem; and it is at his capital city, Etselenburgh, which evidently
corresponds to the modern Buda, that much of its action takes place.

When we turn from the legendary to the historic Attila, we see
clearly that he was not one of the vulgar herd of barbaric conquerors.
Consummate military skill may be traced in his campaigns; and he relied
far less on the brute force of armies for the aggrandizement of his
empire, than on the unbounded influence over the affections of friends
and the fears of foes which his genius enabled him to acquire.
Austerely sober in his private life, severely just on the judgment-seat,
conspicuous among a nation of warriors for hardihood, strength, and
skill in every martial exercise, grave and deliberate in counsel, but
rapid and remorseless in execution, he gave safety and security to all
who were under his dominion, while he waged a warfare of extermination
against all who opposed or sought to escape from it. He matched the
national passions, the prejudices, the creeds, and the superstitions of
the varied nations over which he ruled, and of those which he sought to
reduce beneath his sway: and these feelings he had the skill to turn
to his own account. His own warriors believed him to be the inspired
favourite of their deities, and followed him with fanatic zeal: his
enemies looked on him as the pre-appointed minister of Heaven's wrath
against themselves; and, though they believed not in his creed, their
own made them tremble before him.

In one of his early campaigns he appeared before his troops with an
ancient iron sword in his grasp, which he told them was the god of war
whom their ancestors had worshipped. It is certain that the nomadic
tribes of Northern Asia, whom Herodotus described under the name of
Scythians, from the earliest times worshipped as their god a bare sword.
That sword-God was supposed, in Attila's time, to have disappeared from
earth; but the Hunnish king now claimed to have received it by special
revelation. It was said that a herdsman, who was tracking in the desert
a wounded heifer by the drops of blood, found the mysterious sword
standing fixed in the ground, as if it had been darted down from heaven.
The herdsman bore it to Attila, who thenceforth was believed by the Huns
to wield the Spirit of Death in battle; and the seers prophesied that
that sword was to destroy the world. A Roman, [Priscus.] who was on
an embassy to the Hunnish camp, recorded in his memoirs Attila's
acquisition of this supernatural weapon, and the immense influence over
the minds of the barbaric tribes which its possession gave him. In the
title which he assumed, we shall see the skill with which he availed
himself of the legends and creeds of other nations as well as of his
own. He designated himself "ATTILA, Descendant of the Great Nimrod.
Nurtured in Engaddi. By the Grace of God, King of the Huns, the Goths,
the Danes, and the Medes. The Dread of the World."

Herbert states that Attila is represented on an old medallion with a
Teraphim, or a head, on his breast; and the same writer adds: "We know,
from the 'Hamartigenea' of Prudentius, that Nimrod, with a snaky-haired
head, was the object of adoration to the heretical followers of Marcion;
and the same head was the palladium set up by Antiochus Epiphanes over
the gates of Antioch, though it has been called the visage of Charon.
The memory of Nimrod was certainly regarded with mystic veneration by
many; and by asserting himself to be the heir of that mighty hunter
before the Lord, he vindicated to himself at least the whole Babylonian

"The singular assertion in his style, that he was nurtured in Engaddi
where he certainly, had never been, will be more easily understood on
reference to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, concerning
the woman clothed with the sun, who was to bring forth in the
wilderness--'where she hath a place prepared of God'--a man-child, who
was to contend with the dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and
rule all nations with a rod of iron. This prophecy was at that time
understood universally by the sincere Christians to refer to the birth
of Constantine, who was to overwhelm the paganism of the city on the
seven hills, and it is still so explained; but it is evident that the
heathens must have looked on it in a different light, and have regarded
it as a foretelling of the birth of that Great One who should master the
temporal power of Rome. The assertion, therefore, that he was nurtured
in Engaddi, is a claim to be looked upon as that man-child who was to
be brought forth in a place prepared of God in the wilderness. Engaddi
means, a place of palms and vines, in the desert; it was hard by Zoar,
the city of refuge, which was saved in the vale of Siddim, or Demons,
when the rest were destroyed by fire and brimstone from the Lord in
heaven, and might, therefore, be especially called a place prepared of
God in the wilderness."

It is obvious enough why he styled himself "By the grace of God, King of
the Huns and Goths;" and it seems far from difficult to see why he added
the names of the Medes and the Danes. His armies had been engaged in
warfare against the Persian kingdom of the Sassanidae; and it is
certain [See the narrative of Priscus.] that he meditated the attack
and overthrow of the Medo-Persian power. Probably some of the northern
provinces of that kingdom had been compelled to pay him tribute; and
this would account for his styling himself King of the Medes, they being
his remotest subjects to the south. From a similar cause he may have
called himself King of the Danes, as his power may well have extended
northwards as far as the nearest of the Scandinavian nations; and
this mention of Medes and Danes as his subjects would serve at once to
indicate the vast extent of his dominion. [In the "Niebelungen-Lied,"
the old poet who describes the reception of the heroine Chrimhild by
Attila (Etsel) says that Attila's dominions were so vast, that among his
subject-warriors there were Russian, Greek, Wallachian, Polish, and even

The extensive territory north of the Danube and Black sea, and eastward
of Caucasus, over which Attila ruled, first in conjunction with his
brother Bleda, and afterwards alone, cannot be very accurately defined;
but it must have comprised within it, besides the Huns, many nations of
Slavic, Gothic, Teutonic, and Finnish origin. South also of the Danube,
the country from the river Sau as far as Novi in Thrace was a Hunnish
province. Such was the empire of the Huns in A.D. 445; a memorable year,
in which Attila founded Buda on the Danube as his capital city; and
ridded himself of his brother by a crime, which seems to have been
prompted not only by selfish ambition, but also by a desire of turning
to his purpose the legends and forebodings which then were universally
spread throughout the Roman empire, and must have been well known to the
watchful and ruthless Hun.

The year 445 of our era completed the twelfth century from the
foundation of Rome, according to the best chronologers. It had always
been believed among the Romans that the twelve vultures which were said
to have appeared to Romulus when he founded the city, signified the time
during which the Roman power should endure. The twelve vultures denoted
twelve centuries. This interpretation of the vision of the birds of
destiny was current among learned Romans, even when there were yet many
of the twelve centuries to run, and while the imperial city was at the
zenith of its power. But as the allotted time drew nearer and nearer to
its conclusion, and as Rome grew weaker and weaker beneath the blows
of barbaric invaders, the terrible omen was more and more talked
and thought of; and in Attila's time, men watched for the momentary
extinction of the Roman state with the last beat of the last vulture's
wing. Moreover, among the numerous legends connected with the foundation
of the city, and the fratricidal death of Remus, there was one most
terrible one, which told that Romulus did not put his brother to death
in accident, or in hasty quarrel, but that

     "He slew his gallant twin
      With inexpiable sin."

deliberately, and in compliance with the warnings of supernatural
powers. The shedding of a brother's blood was believed to have been the
price at which the founder of Rome had purchased from destiny her twelve
centuries of existence. [See a curious justification of Attila's murder
of his brother, by a zealous Hungarian advocate, in the note to Pray's
"Annales Hunnorum," p. 117. The example of Romulus is the main authority

We may imagine, therefore, with what terror in this, the
twelve-hundredth year after the foundation of Rome, the inhabitants of
the Roman empire must have heard the tidings that the royal brethren,
Attila and Bleda, had founded a new capitol on the Danube, which was
designed to rule over the ancient capitol on the Tiber; and that Attila,
like Romulus, had consecrated the foundations of his new city by
murdering his brother; so that, for the new cycle of centuries then
about to commence, dominion had been bought from the gloomy spirits of
destiny in favour of the Hun, by a sacrifice of equal awe and value with
that which had formerly obtained it for the Romans.

It is to be remembered that not only the pagans, but also the Christians
of that age, knew and believed in these legends and omens, however they
might differ as to the nature of the superhuman agency by which such
mysteries had been made known to mankind. And we may observe, with
Herbert, a modern learned dignitary of our Church, how remarkably this
augury was fulfilled. For, "if to the twelve centuries denoted by the
twelve vultures that appeared to Romulus, we add for the six birds that
appeared to Remus six lustra, or periods of five years each, by which
the Romans were wont to number their time, it brings us precisely to
the year 476, in which the Roman empire was finally extinguished by

An attempt to assassinate Attila, made, or supposed to have been
made, at the instigation of Theodosius the Younger, the Emperor of
Constantinople, drew the Hunnish armies, in 445, upon the Eastern
empire, and delayed for a time the destined blow against Rome. Probably
a more important cause of delay was the revolt of some of the Hunnish
tribes to the north of the Black Sea against Attila, which broke out
about this period, and is cursorily mentioned by the Byzantine writers.
Attila quelled this revolt; and having thus consolidated his power, and
having punished the presumption of the Eastern Roman emperor by fearful
ravages of his fairest provinces, Attila, A.D. 450, prepared to set
his vast forces in motion for the conquest of Western Europe. He
sought unsuccessfully by diplomatic intrigues to detach the King of the
Visigoths from his alliance with Rome, and he resolved first to crush
the power of Theodoric, and then to advance with overwhelming power to
trample out the last sparks of the doomed Roman empire.

A strong invitation from a Roman princess gave him a pretext for
the war, and threw an air of chivalric enterprise over his invasion.
Honoria, sister of Valentinian III., the Emperor of the West, had sent
to Attila to offer him her hand, and her supposed right to share in the
imperial power. This had been discovered by Romans, and Honoria had been
forthwith closely imprisoned, Attila now pretended to take up arms in
behalf of his self-promised bride, and proclaimed that he was about to
march to Rome to redress Honoria's wrongs. Ambition and spite against
her brother must have been the sole motives that led the lady to woo the
royal Hun for Attila's face and person had all the national ugliness of
his race and the description given of him by a Byzantine ambassador must
have been well known in the imperial courts. Herbert has well versified
the portrait drawn by Priscus of the great enemy of both Byzantium and

     "Terrific was his semblance, in no mould
      Of beautiful proportion cast; his limbs
      Nothing exalted, but with sinews braced
      Of Chalybaean temper, agile, lithe,
      And swifter than the roe; his ample chest
      Was overbrowed by a gigantic head,
      With eyes keen, deeply sunk, and small, that gleam'd
      Strangely in wrath, as though some spirit unclean
      Within that corporal tenement installed
      Look'd from its windows, but with temper'd fire
      Beam'd mildly on the unresisting. Thin
      His beard and hoary; his flat nostrils crown'd
      A cicatrised, swart visage,--but withal
      That questionable shape such glory wore
      That mortals quail'd beneath him."

Two chiefs of the Franks, who were then settled on the lower Rhine, were
at this period engaged in a feud with each other: and while one of them
appealed to the Romans for aid, the other invoked the assistance and
protection of the Huns. Attila thus obtained an ally whose co-operation
secured for him the passage of the Rhine; and it was this circumstance
which caused him to take a northward route from Hungary for his attack
upon Gaul. The muster of the Hunnish hosts was swollen by warriors of
every tribe that they had subjugated; nor is there any reason to suspect
the old chroniclers of wilful exaggeration in estimating Attila's army
at seven hundred thousand strong. Having crossed the Rhine, probably
a little below Coblentz, he defeated the King of the Burgundians, who
endeavoured to bar his progress. He then divided his vast forces into
two armies,--one of which marched north-west upon Tongres and Arras,
and the other cities of that part of France; while the main body, under
Attila himself marched up the Moselle, and destroyed Besancon, and other
towns in the country of the Burgundians. One of the latest and best
biographers of Attila well observes, that, "having thus conquered the
eastern part of France, Attila prepared for an invasion of the West
Gothic territories beyond the Loire. He marched upon Orleans, where he
intended to force the passage of that river; and only a little attention
is requisite to enable us to perceive that he proceeded on a systematic
plan: he had his right wing on the north, for the protection of his
Frank allies; his left wing on the south, for the purpose of preventing
the Burgundians from rallying, and of menacing the passes of the Alps
from Italy; and he led his centre towards the chief object of the
campaign--the conquest of Orleans, and an easy passage into the West
Gothic dominion. The whole plan is very like that of the allied powers
in 1814, with this difference, that their left wing entered France
through the defiles of the Jura, in the direction of Lyons, and that the
military object of the campaign was the capture of Paris." [Biographical
Dictionary commenced by the Useful Knowledge Society in 1844.]

It was not until the year 451 that the Huns commenced the siege of
Orleans; and during their campaign in Eastern Gaul, the Roman general
Aetius had strenuously exerted himself in collecting and organizing such
an army as might, when united to the soldiery of the Visigoths, be fit
to face the Huns in the field. He enlisted every subject of the Roman
empire whom patriotism, courage, or compulsion could collect beneath the
standards; and round these troops, which assumed the once proud title of
the legions of Rome, he arrayed the large forces of barbaric auxiliaries
whom pay, persuasion, or the general hate and dread of the Huns, brought
to the camp of the last of the Roman generals. King Theodoric exerted
himself with equal energy, Orleans resisted her besiegers bravely as in
after times. The passage of the Loire was skilfully defended against the
Huns; and Aetius and Theodoric, after much manoeuvring and difficulty,
effected a junction of their armies to the south of that important

On the advance of the allies upon Orleans, Attila instantly broke up the
siege of that city, and retreated towards the Marne. He did not choose
to risk a decisive battle with only the central corps of his army
against the combined power of his enemies; and he therefore fell
back upon his base of operations; calling in his wings from Arras and
Besancon, and concentrating the whole of the Hunnish forces on the
vast plains of Chalons-sur-Marne. A glance at the map will show how
scientifically this place was chosen by the Hunnish general, as the
point for his scattered forces to converge upon; and the nature of the
ground was eminently favourable for the operations of cavalry, the arm
in which Attila's strength peculiarly lay.

It was during the retreat from Orleans that a Christian is reported to
have approached the Hunnish king, and said to him, "Thou art the Scourge
of God for the chastisement of Christians." Attila instantly assumed
this new title of terror, which thenceforth became the appellation by
which he was most widely and most fearfully known.

The confederate armies of Romans and Visigoths at last met their great
adversary, face to face, on the ample battle-ground of the Chalons
plains. Aetius commanded on the right of the allies; King Theodoric on
the left; and Sangipan, king of the Alans, whose fidelity was suspected,
was placed purposely in the centre and in the very front of the
battle. Attila commanded his centre in person, at the head of his own
countrymen, while the Ostrogoths, the Gepidae, and the other subject
allies of the Huns, were drawn up on the wings. Some manoeuvring
appears to have occurred before the engagement, in which Attila had the
advantage, inasmuch as he succeeded in occupying a sloping hill, which
commanded the left flank of the Huns. Attila saw the importance of the
position taken by Aetius on the high ground, and commenced the battle
by a furious attack on this part of the Roman line, in which he seems to
have detached some of his best troops from his centre to aid his left.
The Romans having the advantage of the ground, repulsed the Huns, and
while the allies gained this advantage on their right, their left,
under King Theodoric, assailed the Ostrogoths, who formed the right of
Attila's army. The gallant king was himself struck down by a javelin, as
he rode onward at the head of his men, and his own cavalry charging
over him trampled him to death in the confusion. But the Visigoths,
infuriated, not dispirited, by their monarch's fall, routed the enemies
opposed to them, and then wheeled upon the flank of the Hunnish centre,
which had been engaged in a sanguinary and indecisive contest with the

In this peril Attila made his centre fall back upon his camp; and when
the shelter of its entrenchments and waggons had once been gained,
the Hunnish archers repulsed, without difficulty, the charges of the
vengeful Gothic cavalry. Aetius had not pressed the advantage which he
gained on his side of the field, and when night fell over the wild
scene of havoc, Attila's left was still unbroken, but his right had been
routed, and his centre forced back upon his camp.

Expecting an assault on the morrow, Attila stationed his best archers
in front of the cars and waggons, which were drawn up as a fortification
along his lines, and made every preparation for a desperate resistance.
But the "Scourge of God" resolved that no man should boast of the honour
of having either captured or slain him; and he caused to be raised in
the centre of his encampment a huge pyramid of the wooden saddles of his
cavalry: round it he heaped the spoils and the wealth that he had won;
on it he stationed his wives who had accompanied him in the campaign;
and on the summit he placed himself, ready to perish in the flames, and
baulk the victorious foe of their choicest booty, should they succeed in
storming his defences.

But when the morning broke, and revealed the extent of the carnage, with
which the plains were heaped for miles, the successful allies saw also
and respected the resolute attitude of their antagonist. Neither were
any measures taken to blockade him in his camp, and so to extort by
famine that submission which it was too plainly perilous to enforce with
the sword. Attila was allowed to march back the remnants of his army
without molestation, and even with the semblance of success.

It is probable that the crafty Aetius was unwilling to be too
victorious. He dreaded the glory which his allies the Visigoths had
acquired; and feared that Rome might find a second Alaric in Prince
Thorismund, who had signalized himself in the battle, and had been
chosen on the field to succeed his father Theodoric. He persuaded the
young king to return at once to his capital: and thus relieved himself
at the same time of the presence of a dangerous friend, as well as of a
formidable though beaten foe.

Attila's attacks on the Western, empire were soon renewed; but never
with such peril to the civilized world as had menaced it before his
defeat at Chalons. And on his death, two years after that battle, the
vast empire which his genius had founded was soon dissevered by the
successful revolts of the subject nations. The name of the Huns ceased
for some centuries to inspire terror in Western Europe, and their
ascendency passed away with the life of the great king by whom it had
been so fearfully augmented. [If I seem to have given fewer of the
details of the battle itself than its importance would warrant, my
excuse must be, that Gibbon has enriched our language with a description
of it, too long for quotation and too splendid for rivalry. I have not,
however, taken altogether the same view of it that he has. The notes to
Mr. Herbert's poem of "Attila" bring together nearly all the authorities
on the subject.]


A.D. 476. The Roman Empire of the West extinguished by Odoacer.

482. Establishment of the French monarchy in Gaul by Clovis.

455-482. The Saxons, Angles, and Frisians conquer Britain except the
northern parts, and the districts along the west coast. The German
conquerors found eight independent kingdoms.

533-568. The generals of Justinian, the Emperor of Constantinople,
conquer Italy and North Africa; and these countries are for a short time
annexed to the Roman Empire of the East.

568-570. The Lombards conquer great part of Italy.

570-627. The wars between the Emperors of Constantinople and the Kings
of Persia are actively continued.

622. The Mahometan era of the Hegira. Mahomet is driven from Mecca, and
is received as prince of Medina.

629-632. Mahomet conquers Arabia.

632-651. The Mahometan Arabs invade and conquer Persia.

632-709. They attack the Roman Empire of the East. They conquer Syria,
Egypt, and Africa.

709-713. They cross the straits of Gibraltar, and invade and conquer

"At the death of Mohammad, in 632, his temporal and religious
sovereignty embraced and was limited by the Arabian Peninsula. The Roman
and Persian empires, engaged in tedious and indecisive hostility upon
the rivers of Mesopotamia and the Armenian mountains, were viewed by the
ambitious fanatics of his creed as their quarry. In the very first
year of Mohammad's immediate successor, Abubeker, each of these mighty
empires was invaded. The crumbling fabric of Eastern despotism is never
secured against rapid and total subversion; a few victories, a few
sieges, carried the Arabian arms from the Tigris to the Oxus, and
overthrew, with the Sassanian dynasty, the ancient and famous religion
they had professed. Seven years of active and unceasing warfare sufficed
to subjugate the rich province of Syria, though defended by numerous
armies and fortified cities; and the Khalif Omar had scarcely returned
thanks for the accomplishment of this conquest, when Amrou, his
lieutenant, announced to him the entire reduction of Egypt. After some
interval, the Saracens won their way along the coast of Africa, as far
as the Pillars of Hercules, and a third province was irretrievably torn
from the Greek empire. These western conquests introduced them to fresh
enemies, and ushered in more splendid successes. Encouraged by the
disunion of the Visigoths, and invited by treachery, Musa, the general
of a master who sat beyond the opposite extremity of the Mediterranean
Sea, passed over into Spain, and within about two years the name of
Mohammad was invoked under the Pyrenees."--[HALLAM.]


   "The events that rescued our ancestors of Britain, and our
   neighbours of Gaul, from the civil and religious yoke of the

The broad tract of champaign country which intervenes between the cities
of Poictiers and Tours is principally composed of a succession of rich
pasture lands, which are traversed and fertilized by the Cher, the
Creuse, the Vienne, the Claine, the Indre, and other tributaries of
the river Loire. Here and there, the ground swells into picturesque
eminences; and occasionally a belt of forest land, a brown heath, or a
clustering series of vineyards, breaks the monotony of the wide-spread
meadows; but the general character of the land is that of a grassy
plain, and it seems naturally adapted for the evolutions of numerous
armies, especially of those vast bodies of cavalry which, principally
decided the fate of nations during the centuries that followed the
downfall of Rome, and preceded the consolidation of the modern European

This region has been signalized by more than one memorable conflict; but
it is principally interesting to the historian, by having been the scene
of the great victory won by Charles Martel over the Saracens, A.D. 732,
which gave a decisive check to the career of Arab conquest in Western
Europe, rescued Christendom from Islam, preserved the relics of ancient
and the germs of modern civilization, and re-established the old
superiority of the Indo-European over the Semitic family of mankind.

Sismondi and Michelet have underrated the enduring interest of this
great Appeal of Battle between the champions of the Crescent and the
Cross. But, if French writers have slighted the exploits of their
national hero, the Saracenic trophies of Charles Martel have had full
justice done to them by English and German historians. Gibbon devotes
several pages of his great work to the narrative of the battle of Tours,
and to the consideration of the consequences which probably would
have resulted, if Abderrahman's enterprise had not been crushed by the
Frankish chief. [Vol, vii. p. 11, ET SEQ. Gibbon's remark, that if the
Saracen conquest had not then been checked, "Perhaps the interpretation
of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her
pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth
of the revelation of Mahomat," has almost an air of regret.] Schlegel
speaks of this "mighty victory" in terms of fervent gratitude; and
tells how "the arms of Charles Martel saved and delivered the Christian
nations of the West from the deadly grasp of all-destroying Islam;"
[Philosophy of History, p. 331.] and Ranke points out, as "one of the
most important epochs in the history of the world, the commencement of
the eighth century; when, on the one side, Mahommedanism threatened to
overspread Italy and Gaul, and on the other, the ancient idolatry of
Saxony and Friesland once more forced its way across the Rhine. In this
peril of Christian institutions, a youthful prince of Germanic race,
Karl Martell, arose as their champion; maintained them with all the
energy which the necessity for self-defence calls forth, and finally
extended them into new regions." [History of the Reformation in Germany,
vol. i. p. 5.]

Arnold ranks the victory of Charles Martel even higher than the victory
of Arminius, "among those signal deliverances which have affected
for centuries the happiness of mankind." [History of the later Roman
Commonwealth, vol ii. p. 317.] In fact, the more we test its importance,
the higher we shall be led to estimate it; and, though the authentic
details which we possess of its circumstances and its heroes are but
meagre, we can trace enough of its general character to make us watch
with deep interest this encounter between the rival conquerors of the
decaying Roman empire. That old classic world, the history of which
occupies so large a portion of our early studies, lay, in the eighth
century of our era, utterly exanimate and overthrown. On the north the
German, on the south the Arab, was rending away its provinces. At last
the spoilers encountered one another, each striving for the full mastery
of the prey. Their conflict brought back upon the memory of Gibbon the
old Homeric simile, where the strife of Hector and Patroclus over the
dead body of Cebriones is compared to the combat of two lions, that
in their hate and hunger fight together on the mountain-tops over the
carcass of a slaughtered stag: and the reluctant yielding of the Saracen
power to the superior might of the Northern warriors, might not inaptly
recall those other lines of the same book of the Iliad, where the
downfall of Patroclus beneath Hector is likened to the forced yielding
of the panting and exhausted wild boar, that had long and furiously
fought with a superior beast of prey for the possession of the fountain
among the rocks, at which each burned to drink.

Although three centuries had passed away since the Germanic conquerors
of Rome had crossed the Rhine, never to repass that frontier stream,
no settled system of institutions or government, no amalgamation of the
various races into one people, no uniformity of language or habits, had
been established in the country, at the time when Charles Martel was
called on to repel the menacing tide of Saracenic invasion from the
south. Gaul was not yet France. In that, as in other provinces of the
Roman empire of the West, the dominion of the Caesars had been shattered
as early as the fifth century, and barbaric kingdoms and principalities
had promptly arisen on the ruins of the Roman power. But few of these
had any permanency; and none of them consolidated the rest, or any
considerable number of the rest, into one coherent and organized civil
and political society. The great bulk of the population still consisted
of the conquered provincials, that is to say, of Romanized Celts, of a
Gallic race which had long been under the dominion of the Caesars,
and had acquired, together with no slight infusion of Roman blood, the
language, the literature, the laws, and the civilization of Latium.
Among these, and dominant over them, roved or dwelt the German victors:
some retaining nearly all the rude independence of their primitive
national character; others, softened and disciplined by the aspect and
contact of the manners and institutions of civilized life. For it is to
be borne in mind, that the Roman empire in the West was not crushed by
any sudden avalanche of barbaric invasion. The German conquerors came
across the Rhine, not in enormous hosts, but in bands of a few thousand
warriors at a time. The conquest of a province was the result of an
infinite series of partial local invasions, carried on by little armies
of this description. The victorious warriors either retired with their
booty, or fixed themselves in the invaded district, taking care to keep
sufficiently concentrated for military purposes, and ever ready for
some fresh foray, either against a rival Teutonic band, or some hitherto
unassailed city of the provincials. Gradually, however, the conquerors
acquired a desire for permanent landed possessions. They lost somewhat
of the restless thirst for novelty and adventure which had first made
them throng beneath the banner of the boldest captains of their tribe,
and leave their native forests for a roving military Life on the left
bank of the Rhine. They were converted to the Christian faith; and gave
up with their old creed much of the coarse ferocity, which must have
been fostered in the spirits of the ancient warriors of the North by
a mythology which promised, as the reward of the brave on earth, an
eternal cycle of fighting and drunkenness in heaven.

But, although their conversion and other civilizing influences operated
powerfully upon the Germans in Gaul; and although the Franks (who were
originally a confederation of the Teutonic tribes that dwelt between the
Rhine, the Maine, and the Weser) established a decided superiority over
the other conquerors of the province, as well as over the conquered
provincials, the country long remained a chaos of uncombined and
shifting elements. The early princes of the Merovingian dynasty were
generally occupied in wars against other princes of their house,
occasioned by the frequent subdivisions of the Frank monarchy: and
the ablest and best of them had found all their energies tasked to the
utmost to defend the barrier of the Rhine against the Pagan Germans, who
strove to pass that river and gather their share of the spoils of the

The conquests which the Saracens effected over the southern and eastern
provinces of Rome were far more rapid than those achieved by the Germans
in the north; and the new organizations of society which the Moslems
introduced were summarily and uniformly enforced. Exactly a century
passed between the death of Mohammed and the date of the battle of
Tours. During that century the followers of the Prophet had torn away
half the Roman empire; and besides their conquests over Persia, the
Saracens had overrun Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, in an unchequered
and apparently irresistible career of victory. Nor, at the commencement
of the eighth century of our era, was the Mohammedan world divided
against itself, as it subsequently became. All these vast regions obeyed
the Caliph; throughout them all, from the Pyrenees to the Oxus, the name
of Mohammed was invoked in prayer, and the Koran revered as the book of
the law.

It was under one of their ablest and most renowned commanders, with
a veteran army, and with every apparent advantage of time, place, and
circumstance, that the Arabs made their great effort at the conquest of
Europe north of the Pyrenees. The victorious Moslem soldiery in Spain,

     "A countless multitude;
      Syrian, Moor, Saracen, Greek renegade,
      Persian, and Copt, and Tartar, in one bond
      Of erring faith conjoined--strong in the youth
      And heat of zeal--a dreadful brotherhood,"

were eager for the plunder of more Christian cities and shrines, and
full of fanatic confidence in the invincibility of their arms.

     "Nor were the chiefs
      Of victory less assured, by long success
      Elate, and proud of that o'erwhelming strength
      Which surely, they believed, as it had rolled
      Thus far uncheck'd, would roll victorious on,
      Till, like the Orient, the subjected West
      Should bow in reverence at Mahommed's name;
      And pilrims from remotest Arctic shores
      Tread with religious feet the burning sands
      Of Araby and Mecca's stony soil."
                                   SOUTHEY'S RODERICK.

It is not only by the modern Christian poet, but by the old Arabian
chroniclers also, that these feelings of ambition and arrogance are
attributed to the Moslems, who had overthrown the Visigoth power in
Spain. And their eager expectations of new wars were excited to the
utmost on the re-appointment by the Caliph of Abderrahman Ibn Abdillah
Alghafeki to the government of that country, A.D. 729, which restored
them a general who had signalized his skill and prowess during the
conquests of Africa and Spain, whose ready valour and generosity had
made him the idol of the troops, who had already been engaged in several
expeditions into Gaul, so as to be well acquainted with the national
character and tactics of the Franks; and who was known to thirst, like
a good Moslem, for revenge for the slaughter of some detachments of the
true believers, which had been cut off on the north of the Pyrenees.

In addition to his cardinal military virtues, Abderrahman is described
by the Arab writers as a model of integrity and justice. The first two
years of his second administration in Spain were occupied in severe
reforms of the abuses which under his predecessors had crept into the
system of government, and in extensive preparations for his intended
conquest of Gaul. Besides the troops which he collected from his
province, he obtained from Africa a large body of chosen Barber cavalry,
officered by Arabs of proved skill and valour: and in the summer of 732
he crossed the Pyrenees at the head of an army which some Arab writers
rate at eighty thousand strong, while some of the Christian chroniclers
swell its numbers to many hundreds of thousands more. Probably the Arab
account diminishes, but of the two keeps nearer to the truth. It was
from this formidable host, after Eudes, the Count of Acquitaine, had
vainly striven to check it, after many strong cities had fallen before
it, and half the land been overrun, that Gaul and Christendom were
at last rescued by the strong arm of Prince Charles, who acquired
a surname, [Martel--'The Hammer.' See the Scandinavian Sagas for an
account of the favourite weapon of Thor.] like that of the war-god of
his forefathers' creed, from the might with which he broke and shattered
his enemies in the battle.

The Merovingian kings had sunk into absolute insignificance, and had
become mere puppets of royalty before the eighth century. Charles Martel
like his father, Pepin Heristal, was Duke of the Austrasian Franks, the
bravest and most thoroughly Germanic part of the nation: and exercised,
in the name of the titular king, what little paramount authority the
turbulent minor rulers of districts and towns could be persuaded or
compelled to acknowledge. Engaged with his national competitors in
perpetual conflicts for power, engaged also in more serious struggles
for safety against the fierce tribes of the unconverted Frisians,
Bavarians, Saxons, and Thuringians, who at that epoch assailed with
peculiar ferocity the christianized Germans on the left bank of the
Rhine, Charles Martel added experienced skill to his natural courage,
and he had also formed a militia of veterans among the Franks. Hallam
has thrown out a doubt whether, in our admiration of his victory at
Tours, we do not judge a little too much by the event, and whether there
was not rashness in his risking the fate of France on the result of a
general battle with the invaders. But, when we remember that Charles had
no standing army, and the independent spirit of the Frank warriors who
followed his standard, it seems most probable that it was not in his
power to adopt the cautious policy of watching the invaders, and wearing
out their strength by delay. So dreadful and so wide-spread were the
ravages of the Saracenic light cavalry throughout Gaul that it must have
been impossible to restrain for any length of time the indignant ardour
of the Franks. And, even if Charles could have persuaded his men to
look tamely on while the Arabs stormed more towns and desolated more
districts, he could not have kept an army together when the usual period
of a military expedition had expired. If, indeed, the Arab account of
the disorganization of the Moslem forces be correct, the battle was
as well-timed on the part of Charles as it was beyond all question,

The monkish chroniclers, from whom we are obliged to glean a narrative
of this memorable campaign, bear full evidence to the terror which the
Saracen invasion inspired, and to the agony of that; great struggle. The
Saracens, say they, and their king, who was called Abdirames, came out
of Spain, with all their wives, and their children, and their substance,
in such great multitudes that no man could reckon or estimate them. They
brought with them all their armour, and whatever they had, as if they
were thence forth always to dwell in France. ["Lors issirent d'Espaigne
li Sarrazins, et un leur Roi qui avoit nom Abdirames, et ont leur fames
et leur enfans at touts leur substance an si grand plente que nus ne
le prevoit nombrer ne estimer: tout leur harnois et quanques il avoient
amenement avec ents, aussi comme si ils deussent toujours mes habiter en

"Then Abderrahman, seeing the land filled with the multitude of his
army, pierces through the mountains, tramples over rough and level
ground plunders far into the country of the Franks, and smites all with
the sword, insomuch that when Eudo came to battle with him at the river
Garonne, and fled before him, God alone knows the number of the slain.
Then Abderrahman pursued after Count Eudo, and while he strives to
spoil and burn the holy shrine at Tours, he encounters the chief of the
Austrasian Franks, Charles, a man of war from his youth up, to whom Eudo
had sent warning. There for nearly seven days they strive intensely,
and at last they set themselves in battle array; and the nations of
the north standing firm as a wall, and impenetrable as a zone of ice,
utterly slay the Arabs with the edge of the sword." ["Tunc Abdirrahman,
multitudine sui exercitus repletam prospiciane terram," &c.--SCRIPT.
GEST. FRANC. p. 785.]

The European writers all concur in speaking of the fall of Abderrahman
as one of the principal causes of the defeat of the Arabs; who,
according to one writer, after finding that their leader was slain,
dispersed in the night, to the agreeable surprise of the Christians, who
expected the next morning to see them issue from their tents, and renew
the combat. One monkish chronicler puts the loss of the Arabs at 375,000
men, while he says that only 1,007 Christians fell--a disparity of
loss which he feels bound to account for by a special interposition of
Providence. I have translated above some of the most spirited passages
of these writers; but it is impossible to collect from them anything
like a full or authentic description of the great battle itself, or of
the operations which preceded or followed it.

Though, however, we may have cause to regret the meagreness and doubtful
character of these narratives, we have the great advantage of being
able to compare the accounts given of Abderrahman's expedition by the
national writers of each side. This is a benefit which the inquirer into
antiquity so seldom can obtain, that the fact of possessing it, in the
instance of the battle of Tours, makes us think the historical testimony
respecting that great event more certain and satisfactory than is
the case in many other instances, where we possess abundant details
respecting military exploits, but where those details come to us from
the annalist of one nation only; and where we have, consequently, no
safeguard against the exaggerations, the distortions, and the fictions
which national vanity has so often put forth in the garb and under the
title of history. The Arabian writers who recorded the conquests and
wars of their countrymen in Spain, have narrated also the expedition
into Gaul of their great Emir, and his defeat and death near Tours in
battle with the host of the Franks under King Caldus, the name into
which they metamorphose Charles. [The Arabian chronicles were compiled
and translated into Spanish by Don Jose Antonio Conde, in his "Historia
de la Dominacion de los Arabos an Espana," published at Madrid in 1820.
Conde's plan, which I have endeavoured to follow, was to present both
the style and spirit of his oriental authorities, so that we find in
his pages a genuine Saracenic narrative of the wars in Western Europe
between the Mahommedans and the Christians.]

They tell us how there was war between the count of the Frankish
frontier and the Moslems, and how the count gathered together all his
people, and fought for a time with doubtful success. "But," say the
Arabian chroniclers, "Abderrahman drove them back; and the men of
Abderrahman were puffed up in spirit by their repeated successes, and
they were full of trust in the valour and the practice in war of their
Emir. So the Moslems smote their enemies, and passed the river Garonne,
and laid waste the country, and took captives without number. And that
army went through all places like a desolating storm. Prosperity made
those warriors insatiable. At the passage of the river, Abderrahman
overthrew the count, and the count retired into his stronghold, but the
Moslems fought against it, and entered it by force, and slew the count;
for everything gave way to their scimetars, which were the robbers of
lives. All the nations of the Franks trembled at that terrible army, and
they betook them to their king Caldus, and told him of the havoc made
by the Moslem horsemen, and how they rode at their will through all the
land of Narbonne Toulouse, and Bordeaux, and they told the king of the
death of their count. Then the king bade them be of good cheer, and
offered to aid them. And in the 114th year [Of the Hegira.] he mounted
his home, and he took with him a host that could not be numbered, and
went against the Moslems. And he came upon them at the great city of
Tours. And Abderrahman and other prudent cavaliers saw the disorder of
the Moslem troops, who were loaded with spoil; but they did not venture
to displease the soldiers by ordering them to abandon everything except
their arms and war-horses. And Abderrahman trusted in the valour of his
soldiers, and in the good fortune which had ever attended him. But
(the Arab writer remarks) such defect of discipline always is fatal to
armies. So Abderrahman and his host attacked Tours to gain still more
spoil, and they fought against it so fiercely that they stormed the city
almost before the eyes of the army that came to save it; and the fury
and the cruelty of the Moslems towards the inhabitants of the city were
like the fury and cruelty of raging tigers. It was manifest," adds the
Arab, "that God's chastisement was sure to follow such excesses; and
fortune thereupon turned her back upon the Moslems."

Near the river Owar, [Probably the Loire.] the two great hosts of the
two languages and the two creeds were set in array against each other.
The hearts of Abderrahman, his captains, and his men were filled with
wrath and pride, and they were the first to begin the fight. The Moslem
horseman dashed fierce and frequent forward against the battalions of
the Franks, who resisted manfully, and many fell dead on either side,
until the going down of the sun. Night parted the two armies: but in the
grey of the morning the Moslems returned to the battle. Their cavaliers
had soon hewn their way into the centre of the Christian host. But many
of the Moslems were fearful for the safety of the spoil which they had
stored in their tents, and a false cry arose in their ranks that some of
the enemy were plundering the camp; whereupon several squadrons of the
Moslem horseman rode off to protect their tents. But it seemed as if
they fled; and all the host was troubled. And while Abderrahman strove
to check their tumult, and to lead them back to battle, the warriors of
the Franks came around him, and he was pierced through with many spears,
so that he died. Then all the host fled before the enemy, and many died
in the flight. This deadly defeat of the Moslems, and the loss of the
great leader and good cavalier Abderrahman, took place in the hundred
and fifteenth year.

It would be difficult to expect from an adversary a more explicit
confession of having been thoroughly vanquished, than the Arabs here
accord to the Europeans. The points on which their narrative differs
from those of the Christians,--as to how many days the conflict
lasted, whether the assailed city was actually rescued or not, and the
like,--are of little moment compared with the admitted great fact that
there was a decisive trial of strength between Frank and Saracen, in
which the former conquered. The enduring importance of the battle
of Tours in the eyes of the Moslems, is attested not only by the
expressions of "the deadly battle," and "the disgraceful overthrow,"
which their writers constantly employ when referring to it, but also
by the fact that no further serious attempts at conquest beyond the
Pyrenees were made by the Saracens. Charles Martel, and his son and
grandson, were left at leisure to consolidate and extend their power.
The new Christian Roman Empire of the West, which the genius of
Charlemagne founded, and throughout which his iron will imposed peace on
the old anarchy of creeds and races, did not indeed retain its integrity
after its great ruler's death. Fresh troubles came over Europe; but
Christendom, though disunited, was safe. The progress of civilization,
and the development of the nationalities and governments of modern
Europe, from that time forth, went forward in not uninterrupted, but,
ultimately, certain career.


A.D. 768-814. Reign of Charlemagne. This monarch has justly been termed
the principal regenerator of Western Europe, after the destruction of
the Roman empire. The early death of his brother, Carloman, left him
sole master of the dominions of the Franks, which, by a succession
of victorious wars, he enlarged into the new Empire of the West. He
conquered the Lombards, and re-established the Pope at Rome, who, in
return, acknowledged Charles as suzerain of Italy; and in the year 800,
Leo III, in the name of the Roman people, solemnly crowned Charlemagne
at Rome, as Emperor of the Roman Empire of the West. In Spain,
Charlemagne ruled the country between the Pyrenees and the Ebro; but
his most important conquests were effected on the eastern side of
his original kingdom, over the Sclavonians of Bohemia, the Avars of
Pannonia, and over the previously uncivilized German tribes who had
remained in their fatherland. The old Saxons were his most obstinate
antagonists, and his wars with them lasted for thirty years. Under him
the greater part of Germany was compulsorily civilized, and converted
from Paganism to Christianity, His empire extended eastward as far as
the Elbe, the Saal, the Bohemian mountains, and a line drawn from thence
crossing the Danube above Vienna, and prolonged to the Gulf of Istria.
[Hallam's Middle Ages.]

Throughout this vast assemblage of provinces, Charlemagne established an
organized and firm government. But it is not as a mere conqueror that he
demands admiration. "In a life restlessly active, we see him reforming
the coinage, and establishing the legal divisions of money, gathering
about him the learned of every country; founding schools and
collecting libraries; interfering, with the air of a king, in religious
controversies; attempting, for the sake of commerce, the magnificent
enterprise of uniting the Rhine and the Danube, and meditating to mould
the discordant code of Roman and barbarian laws into an uniform system."
[Hallam, UT SUPRA.]

814-888. Repeated partitions of the empire and civil wars between
Charlemagne's descendants. Ultimately, the kingdom of France is finally
separated from Germany and Italy. In 982, Otho the Great, of Germany,
revives the imperial dignity.

827. Egbert, king of Wessex, acquires the supremacy over the Anglo-Saxon

832. The first Danish squadron attacks part of the English coast.
The Danes, or Northmen, had begun their ravages in France a few years
earlier. For two centuries Scandinavia sends out fleet after fleet of
sea-rovers, who desolate all the western kingdoms of Europe, and in many
cases effect permanent conquests.

871-900. Reign of Alfred in England. After a long and varied struggle,
he rescues England from the Danish invaders.

911, The French king cedes Neustria to Hrolf the Northman. Hrolf (or
Duke Rollo, as he thenceforth was termed) and his army of Scandinavian
warriors, become the ruling class of the population of the province,
which is called after them Normandy.

1016. Four knights from Normandy, who had been on a pilgrimage to the
Holy Land, while returning through Italy, head the people of Salerno in
repelling an attack of a band of Saracen corsairs. In the next year many
adventurers from Normandy settle in Italy, where they conquer Apulia
(1040), and afterwards (1060) Sicily.

1017. Canute, king of Denmark, becomes king of England. On the death of
the last of his sons, in 1041, the Saxon line is restored, and Edward
the Confessor (who had been bred in the court of the Duke of Normandy),
is called by the English to the throne of this island, as the
representative of the House of Cerdic.

1035. Duke Robert of Normandy dies on his return from a pilgrimage to
the Holy Land, and his son William (afterwards the conqueror of England)
succeeds to the dukedom of Normandy.


     "Eis vos la Bataille assemblee,
      Dunc encore est grant renomee."
          ROMAN DE ROU, 1. 3183.

Arletta's pretty feet twinkling in the brook gained her a duke's love,
and gave us William the Conqueror. Had she not thus fascinated Duke
Robert, the Liberal, of Normandy, Harold would not have fallen at
Hastings, no Anglo-Norman dynasty could have arisen, no British empire.
The reflection is Sir Francis Palgrave's: [History of Normandy and
England, vol. i. p. 528.] and it is emphatically true. If any one should
write a history of "Decisive loves that; have materially influenced the
drama of the world in all its subsequent scenes," the daughter of the
tanner of Falaise would deserve a conspicuous place in his pages. But
it is her son, the victor of Hastings, who is now the object of our
attention; and no one, who appreciates the influence of England and her
empire upon the destinies of the world, will ever rank that victory as
one of secondary importance.

It is true that in the last century some writers of eminence on our
history and laws mentioned the Norman Conquest in terms, from which it
might be supposed that the battle of Hastings led to little more than
the substitution of one royal family for another on the throne of this
country, and to the garbling and changing of some of our laws through
the "cunning of the Norman lawyers." But, at least since the appearance
of the work of Augustin Thierry on the Norman Conquest, these forensic
fallacies have been exploded. Thierry made his readers keenly appreciate
the magnitude of that political and social catastrophe. He depicted
in vivid colours the atrocious cruelties of the conquerors, and the
sweeping and enduring innovations that they wrought, involving the
overthrow of the ancient constitution, as well as of the last of the
Saxon kings. In his pages we see new tribunals and tenures superseding
the old ones, new divisions of race and class introduced, whole
districts devastated to gratify the vengeance or the caprice of the new
tyrant, the greater part of the lands of the English confiscated
and divided among aliens, the very name of Englishmen turned into a
reproach, the English language rejected as servile and barbarous, and
all the high places in Church and State for upwards of a century filled
exclusively by men of foreign race.

No less true than eloquent is Thierry's summing up of the social effects
of the Norman Conquest on the generation that witnessed it, and on many
of their successors. He tells his reader that "if he would form a just
idea of England conquered by William of Normandy, he must figure to
himself, not a mere change of political rule, not the triumph of one
candidate over another candidate, of the man of one party over the man
of another party; but the intrusion of one people into the bosom of
another people, the violent placing of one society over another society,
which it came to destroy, and the scattered fragments of which it
retained only as personal property, or (to use the words of an old act)
as 'the clothing of the soil:' he must not picture to himself on the one
hand, William, a king and a despot--on the other, subjects of William's,
high and low, rich and poor, all inhabiting England, and consequently
all English; but he must imagine two nations, of one of which William
is a member and the chief--two nations which (if the term must be used)
were both subject to William, but as applied to which the word has quite
different senses, meaning in the one case subordinate, in the other
subjugated. He must consider that there are two countries, two soils,
included in the same geographical circumference; that of the Normans
rich and free, that of the Saxons poor and serving, vexed by RENT and
TAILLAGE; the former full of spacious mansions, and walled and moated
castles, the latter scattered over with huts and straw, and ruined
hovels; that peopled with the happy and the idle, with men of the army
and of the court, with knights and nobles,--this with men of pain
and labour, with farmers and artizans: on the one side, luxury and
insolence, on the other, misery and envy--not the envy of the poor at
the sight of opulence they cannot reach, but the envy of the despoiled
when in presence of the despoilers."

Perhaps the effect of Thierry's work has been to cast into the shade the
ultimate good effects on England of the Norman Conquest. Yet these are
as undeniable as are the miseries which that conquest inflicted on our
Saxon ancestors from the time of the battle of Hastings to the time of
the signing of the Great Charter at Runnymede. That last is the true
epoch of English nationality: it is the epoch when Anglo-Norman and
Anglo-Saxon ceased to keep aloof from each other, the one in haughty
scorn, the other in sullen abhorrence; and when all the free men of the
land; whether barons, knights, yeomen, or burghers, combined to lay the
foundations of English freedom.

Our Norman barons were the chiefs of that primary constitutional
movement; those "iron barons" whom Chatham has so nobly eulogized.
This alone should make England remember her obligations to the Norman
Conquest, which planted far and wide, as a dominant class in her land,
a martial nobility of the bravest and most energetic race that ever

It may sound paradoxical, but it is in reality no exaggeration to say,
with Guizot, [Essais sur l'Histoirs de France, p. 273, et seq.] that
England owes her liberties to her having been conquered by the Normans.
It is true that the Saxon institutions were the primitive cradle of
English liberty, but by their own intrinsic force they could never have
founded the enduring free English constitution. It was the Conquest that
infused into them a new virtue; and the political liberties of England
arose from the situation in which the Anglo-Saxon and the Anglo-Norman
populations and laws found themselves placed relatively to each other
in this island. The state of England under her last Anglo-Saxon kings
closely resembled the state of France under the last Carlovingian, and
the first Capetian princes. The crown was feeble, the great nobles were
strong and turbulent. And although there was more national unity
in Saxon England than in France; although the English local free
institutions had more reality and energy than was the case with anything
analogous to them on the Continent in the eleventh century, still the
probability is that the Saxon system of polity, if left to itself, would
have fallen into utter confusion, out of which would have arisen first
an aristocratic hierarchy like that which arose in France, next an
absolute monarchy, and finally a series of anarchical revolutions, such
as we now behold around, but not among us. [See Guizot, UT SUPRA.]

The latest conquerors of this island were also the bravest and the best.
I do not except even the Romans. And, in spite of our sympathies with
Harold and Hereward, and our abhorrence of the founder of the New
Forest, and the desolator of Yorkshire, we must confess the superiority
of the Normans to the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes, whom they met here
in 1066, as well as to the degenerate Frank noblesse and the crushed and
servile Romanesque provincials, from whom, in 912, they had wrested the
district in the north of Gaul which still bears the name of Normandy.

It was not merely by extreme valour and ready subordination or military
discipline, that the Normans were pre-eminent among all the conquering
races of the Gothic stock, but also by their instinctive faculty
of appreciating and adopting the superior civilizations which they
encountered. Thus Duke Rollo and his Scandinavian warriors readily
embraced the creed, the language, the laws, and the arts which France,
in those troubled and evil times with which the Capetian dynasty
commenced, still inherited from imperial Rome and imperial Charlemagne.
They adopted the customs, the duties, the obedience that the
capitularies of emperors and kings had established; but that which they
brought to the application of those laws, was the spirit of life, the
spirit of liberty--the habits also of military subordination, and the
aptness for a state politic, which could reconcile the security of all
with the independence of each. [Sismondi, Histoire des Francais,
vol. iii. p. 174.] So also in all chivalric feelings, in enthusiastic
religious zeal, in almost idolatrous respect to females of gentle birth,
in generous fondness for the nascent poetry of the time, in a keen
intellectual relish for subtle thought and disputation, in a taste for
architectural magnificence, and all courtly refinement and pageantry,
the Normans were the Paladins of the world. Their brilliant qualities
were sullied by many darker traits of pride, of merciless cruelty, and
of brutal contempt for the industry, the rights, and the feelings of all
whom they considered the lower classes of mankind.

Their gradual blending with the Saxons softened these harsh and evil
points of their national character, and in return they fired the duller
Saxon mass with a new spirit of animation and power. As Campbell boldly
expressed it, "THEY HIGH-METTLED THE BLOOD OF OUR VEINS." Small had been
the figure which England made in the world before the coming over of
the Normans; and without them she never would have emerged from
insignificance. The authority of Gibbon may be taken as decisive when he
pronounces that, "Assuredly England was a gainer by the Conquest." and
we may proudly adopt the comment of the Frenchman Rapin, who, writing of
the battle of Hastings more than a century ago, speaks of the revolution
effected by it, as "the first step by which England has arrived to that
height of grandeur and glory we behold it in at present." [Rapin, Hist.
England, p. 164. See also Sharon Turner, vol. iv. p. 72; and, above all,
Palgrave's Normandy and England.]

The interest of this eventful struggle, by which William of Normandy
became King of England, is materially enhanced by the high personal
characters of the competitors for our crown. They were three in number.
One was a foreign prince from the North. One was a foreign prince from
the South: and one was a native hero of the land. Harald Hardrada, the
strongest and the most chivalric of the kings of Norway, was the first;
[See in Snerre the Saga of Harald Hardrada.] Duke William of Normandy
was the second; and the Saxon Harold, the son of Earl Godwin, was the
third. Never was a nobler prize sought by nobler champions, or striven
for more gallantly. The Saxon triumphed over the Norwegian, and the
Norman triumphed over the Saxon: but Norse valour was never more
conspicuous than when Harald Hardrada and his host fought and fell at
Stamford Bridge; nor did Saxons ever face their foes more bravely than
our Harold and his men on the fatal day of Hastings.

During the reign of King Edward the Confessor over this land, the claims
of the Norwegian king to our Crown were little thought of; and though
Hardrada's predecessor, King Magnus of Norway had on one occasion
asserted that, by virtue of a compact with our former king, Hardicanute,
he was entitled to the English throne, no serious attempt had been made
to enforce his pretensions. But the rivalry of the Saxon Harold and
the Norman William was foreseen and bewailed by the Confessor, who was
believed to have predicted on his death-bed the calamities that were
pending over England. Duke William was King Edward's kinsman. Harold was
the head of the most powerful noble house, next to the royal blood, in
England; and personally, he was the bravest and most popular chieftain
in the land. King Edward was childless, and the nearest collateral heir
was a puny unpromising boy. England had suffered too severely during
royal minorities, to make the accession of Edgar Atheling desirable; and
long before King Edward's death, Earl Harold was the destined king of
the nation's choice, though the favour of the Confessor was believed to
lean towards the Norman duke.

A little time before the death of King Edward, Harold was in Normandy.
The causes of the voyage of the Saxon earl to the continent are
doubtful; but the fact of his having been, in 1065, at the ducal court,
and in the power of his rival, is indisputable. William made skilful
and unscrupulous use of the opportunity. Though Harold was treated
with outward courtesy and friendship, he was made fully aware that his
liberty and life depended on his compliance with the Duke's requests.
William said to him, in apparent confidence and cordiality, "When King
Edward and I once lived like brothers under the same roof, he promised
that if ever he became King of England, he would make me heir to his
throne. Harold, I wish that thou wouldst assist me to realize this
promise." Harold replied with expressions of assent: and further agreed,
at William's request, to marry William's daughter Adela, and to send
over his own sister to be married to one of William's barons. The crafty
Norman was not content with this extorted promise; he determined to bind
Harold by a more solemn pledge, which if broken, would be a weight on
the spirit of the gallant Saxon, and a discouragement to others from
adopting his cause. Before a full assembly of the Norman barons, Harold
was required to do homage to Duke William, as the heir-apparent of the
English crown. Kneeling down, Harold placed his hands between those of
the Duke, and repeated the solemn form, by which he acknowledged the
Duke as his lord, and promised to him fealty and true service. But
William exacted more. He had caused all the bones and relics of saints,
that were preserved in the Norman monasteries and churches, to be
collected into a chest, which was placed in the council-room, covered
over with a cloth of gold. On the chest of relics, which were thus
concealed, was laid a missal. The Duke then solemnly addressed his
titular guest and real captive, and said to him, "Harold, I require
thee, before this noble assembly, to confirm by oath the promises which
thou hast made me, to assist me in obtaining the crown of England after
King Edward's death, to marry my daughter Adela, and to send me thy
sister, that I may give her in marriage to one of my barons." Harold,
once more taken by surprise, and not able to deny his former words,
approached the missal, and laid his hand on it, not knowing that the
chest of relics was beneath. The old Norman chronicler, who describes
the scene most minutely, [Wace, Roman de Rou. I have nearly followed his
words.] says, when Harold placed his hand on it, the hand trembled, and
the flesh quivered; but he swore, and promised upon his oath, to
take Ele [Adela] to wife, and to deliver up England to the Duke, and
thereunto to do all in his power, according to his might and wit, after
the death of Edward, if he himself should live: so help him God. Many
cried, "God grant it!" and when Harold rose from his knees, the Duke
made him stand close to the chest, and took off the pall that had
covered it, and showed Harold upon what holy relics he had sworn; and
Harold was sorely alarmed at the sight.

Harold was soon, after this permitted to return to England; and, after a
short interval, during which he distinguished himself by the wisdom
and humanity with which he pacified some formidable tumults of the
Anglo-Danes in Northumbria, he found himself called on to decide whether
he would keep the oath which the Norman had obtained from him, or mount
the vacant throne of England in compliance with the nation's choice.
King Edward the Confessor died on the 5th of January, 1066, and on the
following day an assembly of the thanes and prelates present in London,
and of the citizens of-the metropolis, declared that Harold should be
their king. It was reported that the dying Edward had nominated him as
his successor; but the sense which his countrymen entertained of his
pre-eminent merit was the true foundation of his title to the crown.
Harold resolved to disregard the oath which he made in Normandy, as
violent and void, and on the 7th day of that January he was anointed
King of England, and received from the archbishop's hands the golden
crown and sceptre of England, and also an ancient national symbol, a
weighty battle-axe. He had deep and speedy need of this significant
part of the insignia of Saxon royalty.

A messenger from Normandy soon arrived to remind Harold of the oath
which he had sworn to the Duke "with his mouth, and his hand upon good
and holy relics." "It is true," replied the Saxon king, "that I took an
oath to William; but I took it under constraint: I promised what did
not belong to me--what I could not in any way hold: my royalty is not my
own; I could not lay it down against the will of the country, nor can I
against the will of the country take a foreign wife. As for my sister,
whom the Duke claims that he may marry her to one of his chiefs, she has
died within the year; would he have me send her corpse?"

William sent another message, which met with a similar answer; and then
the Duke published far and wide through Christendom what he termed the
perjury and bad faith of his rival; and proclaimed his intention of
asserting his rights by the sword before the year should expire, and
of pursuing and punishing the perjurer even in those places where he
thought he stood most strongly and most securely.

Before, however, he commenced hostilities, William, with deep laid
policy submitted his claims to the decision of the Pope. Harold refused
to acknowledge this tribunal, or to answer before an Italian priest for
his title as an English king. After a formal examination of William's
complaints by the Pope and the cardinals, it was solemnly adjudged at
Rome that England belonged to the Norman duke; and a banner was sent to
William from the holy see, which the Pope himself had consecrated and
blessed for the invasion of this island. The clergy throughout the
continent were now assiduous and energetic in preaching up William's
enterprise as undertaken in the cause of God. Besides these spiritual
arms (the effect of which in the eleventh century must not be measured
by the philosophy or the indifferentism of the nineteenth), the Norman
duke applied all the energies of his mind and body, all the resources of
his duchy, and all the influence he possessed among vassals or allies,
to the collection of "the most remarkable and formidable armament which
the Western nations had witnessed." [Sir James Mackintosh's History
of England, vol. i. p. 97.] All the adventurous spirits of Christendom
flocked to the holy banner, under which Duke William, the most renowned
knight and sagest general of the age, promised to lead them to glory
and wealth in the fair domains of England. His army was filled with
the chivalry of continental Europe, all eager to save their souls by
fighting at the Pope's bidding, ardent to signalise their valour in so
great an enterprise, and longing also for the pay and the plunder which
William liberally promised. But the Normans themselves were the pith
and the flower of the army; and William himself was the strongest, the
sagest, and fiercest spirit of them all.

Throughout the spring and summer of 1066, all the seaports of Normandy,
Picardy, and Brittany rang with the busy sound of preparation. On the
opposite side of the Channel, King Harold collected the army and the
fleet with which he hoped to crush the southern invaders. But the
unexpected attack of King Harald Hardrada of Norway upon another part
of England, disconcerted the skilful measures which the Saxon had taken
against the menacing armada of Duke William.

Harold's renegade brother, Earl Tostig, had excited the Norse king to
this enterprise, the importance of which has naturally been eclipsed
by the superior interest attached to the victorious expedition of Duke
William, but which was on a scale of grandeur which the Scandinavian
ports had rarely, if ever, before witnessed. Hardrada's fleet consisted
of two hundred war-ships, and three hundred other vessels, and all
the best warriors of Norway were in his host. He sailed first to the
Orkneys, where many of the islanders joined him, and then to Yorkshire.
After a severe conflict near York, he completely routed Earls Edwin and
Morcar, the governors of Northumbria. The city of York opened its gates,
and all the country, from the Tyne to the Humber, submitted to him. The
tidings of the defeat of Edwin and Morcar compelled Harold to leave
his position an the southern coast, and move instantly against the
Norwegians. By a remarkably rapid, march, he reached Yorkshire in
four days, and took the Norse king and his confederates by surprise.
Nevertheless, the battle which ensued, and which was fought near
Stamford Bridge, was desperate, and was long doubtful. Unable to break
the ranks of the Norwegian phalanx by force, Harold at length tempted
them to quit their close order by a pretended flight. Then the English
columns burst in among them, and a carnage ensued, the extent of which
may be judged of by the exhaustion and inactivity of Norway for a
quarter of a century afterwards. King Harald Hardrada, and all the
flower of his nobility, perished on the 25th of September, 1066, at
Stamford Bridge; a battle which was a Flodden to Norway.

Harold's victory was splendid; but he had bought it dearly by the fall
of many of his best officers and men; and still more dearly by the
opportunity which Duke William had gained of effecting an unopposed
landing on the Sussex coast. The whole of William's shipping had
assembled at the mouth of the Dive, a little river between the Seine
and the Orme, as early as the middle of August. The army which he had
collected, amounted to fifty thousand knights, and ten thousand soldiers
of inferior degree. Many of the knights were mounted, but many must have
served on foot; as it is hardly possible to believe that William could
have found transports for the conveyance of fifty thousand war-horses
across the Channel. For a long time the winds were adverse; and the Duke
employed the interval that passed before he could set sail in completing
the organization and in improving the discipline of his army; which he
seems to have brought into the same state of perfection, as was seven
centuries and a half afterwards the boast of another army assembled on
the same coast, and which Napoleon designed (but providentially in vain)
for a similar descent upon England.

It was not till the approach of the equinox that the wind veered from
the north-east to the west, and gave the Normans an opportunity of
quitting the weary shores of the Dive. They eagerly embarked, and set
sail; but the wind soon freshened to a gale, and drove them along
the French coast to St. Valery, where the greater part of them found
shelter; but many of their vessels were wrecked and the whole coast of
Normandy was strewn with the bodies of the drowned. William's army
began to grow discouraged and averse to the enterprise, which the very
elements thus seemed to fight against; though in reality the north-east
wind which had cooped them so long at the mouth of the Dive, and the
western gale which had forced them into St. Valery, were the best
possible friends to the invaders. They prevented the Normans from
crossing the Channel until the Saxon king and his army of defence had
been called away from the Sussex coast to encounter Harald Hardrada
in Yorkshire: and also until a formidable English fleet, which by
King Harold's orders had been cruising in the Channel to intercept the
Normans, had been obliged to disperse temporarily for the purpose of
refitting and taking in fresh stores of provisions.

Duke William used every expedient to re-animate the drooping spirits
of his men at St. Valery; and at last he caused the body of the patron
saint of the place to be exhumed and carried in solemn procession, while
the whole assemblage of soldiers, mariners, and appurtenant priests
implored the saint's intercession for a change of wind. That very night
the wind veered, and enabled the mediaeval Agamemnon to quit his Aulia.

With full sails, and a following southern breeze, the Norman armada
left the French shores and steered for England. The invaders crossed an
undefended sea, and found an undefended coast. It was in Pevensey Bay
in Sussex, at Bulverhithe, between the castle of Pevensey and Hastings,
that the last conquerors of this island landed, on the 29th of
September, 1066.

Harold was at York, rejoicing over his recent victory, which had
delivered England from her ancient Scandinavian foes, and resettling the
government of the counties which Harald Hardrada had overrun, when
the tidings reached him that Duke William of Normandy and his host had
landed on the Sussex shore. Harold instantly hurried southward to meet
this long-expected enemy. The severe loss which his army had sustained
in the battle with the Norwegians must have made it impossible for any
large number of veteran troops to accompany him in his forced march to
London, and thence to Sussex. He halted at the capital only six days;
and during that time gave orders for collecting forces from his southern
and midland counties, and also directed his fleet to reassemble off the
Sussex coast. Harold was well received in London, and his summons to
arms was promptly obeyed by citizen, by thane, by sokman, and by ceorl;
for he had shown himself during his brief reign a just and wise king,
affable to all men, active for the good of his country, and (in the
words of the old historian) sparing himself from no fatigue by land or
sea. [See Roger de Hoveden and William of Malmesbury, cited in Thierry,
book iii.] He might have gathered a much more numerous force than that
of William, but his recent victory had made, him over-confident, and
he was irritated by the reports of the country being ravaged by the
invaders. As soon therefore, as he had collected a small army in London,
he marched off towards the coast: pressing forward as rapidly as his
men could traverse Surrey and Sussex in the hope of taking the Normans
unawares, as he had recently by a similar forced march succeeded in
surprising the Norwegians. But he had now to deal with a foe equally
brave with Harald Hardrada, and far more skilful and wary.

The old Norman chroniclers describe the preparations of William on
his landing, with a graphic vigour, which would be wholly lost by
transfusing their racy Norman couplets and terse Latin prose into the
current style of modern history. It is best to follow them closely,
though at the expense of much quaintness and occasional uncouthness of
expression. They tell us how Duke William's own ship was the first
of the Norman fleet. "It was called the Mora, and was the gift of his
duchess, Matilda. On the head of the ship in the front, which mariners
call the prow, there was a brazen child bearing an arrow with a bended
bow. His face was turned towards England, and thither he looked, as
though he was about to shoot. The breeze became soft and sweet, and the
sea was smooth for their landing. The ships ran on dry land, and each
ranged by the other's side. There you might see the good sailors,
the sergeants, and squires sally forth and unload the ships; cast the
anchors, haul the ropes, bear out shields and saddles, and land the
war-horses and palfreys. The archers came forth, and touched land the
first, each with his bow strong and with his quiver full of arrows,
slung at his side. All were shaven and shorn; and all clad in short
garments, ready to attack, to shoot, to wheel about and skirmish. All
stood well equipped, and of good courage for the fight; and they scoured
the whole shore, but found not an armed man there. After the archers had
thus gone forth, the knights landed all armed, with their hauberks on,
their shields slung at their necks, and their helmets laced. They formed
together on the shore, each armed, and mounted on his war-horse: all
had their swords girded on, and rode forward into the country with their
lances raised. Then the carpenters landed, who had great axes in their
hands, and planes and adzes hung at their sides. They took counsel
together, and sought for a good spot to place a castle on. They had
brought with them in the fleet, three wooden castles from Normandy, in
pieces, all ready for framing together, and they took the materials of
one of these out of the ships, all shaped and pierced to receive the
pins which they had brought cut and ready in large barrels; and before
evening had set in, they had finished a good fort on the English ground,
and there they placed their stores. All then ate and drank enough, and
were right glad that they were ashore.

"When Duke William himself landed, as he stepped on the shore, he
slipped and fell forward upon his two hands. Forthwith all raised a loud
cry of distress. 'An evil sign,' said they, 'is here.' But he cried out
lustily, 'See, my lords! by the splendour of God, [William's customary
oath.] I have taken possession of England with both my hands. It is now
mine; and what is mine is yours.'

"The next day they marched along the sea-shore to Hastings. Near
that place the Duke fortified a camp, and set up the two other wooden
castles. The foragers, and those who looked out for booty, seized all
the clothing and provisions they could find, lest what had been brought
by the ships should fail them. And the English were to be seen fleeing
before them, driving off their cattle, and quitting their houses. Many
took shelter in burying-places, and even there they were in grievous

Besides the marauders from the Norman camp, strong bodies of cavalry
were detached by William into the country, and these, when Harold and
his army made their rapid march from London southward, fell, back in
good order upon the main body of the Normans, and reported that the
Saxon king was rushing on like a madman. But Harold, when he found that
his hopes of surprising his adversary were vain changed his tactics, and
halted about seven miles from the Norman lines. He sent some spies, who
spoke the French language, to examine the number and preparations of the
enemy, who, on their return, related with astonishment that there were
more priests in William's camp than there were fighting men in the
English army. They had mistaken for priests all the Norman soldiers
who had short hair and shaven chins; for the English layman were then
accustomed to wear long hair and mustachios, Harold, who knew the Norman
usages, smiled at their words and said, "Those whom you have seen in
such numbers are not priests, but stout soldiers, as they will soon make
us feel."

Harold's army was far inferior in number to that of the Normans, and
some of his captains advised him to retreat upon London, and lay waste
the country, so as to starve down the strength, of the invaders. The
policy thus recommended was unquestionably the wisest; for the Saxon
fleet had now reassembled, and intercepted all William's communications
with Normandy; so that as soon as his stores of provisions were
exhausted he must have moved forward upon London; where Harold, at the
head of the full military strength of the kingdom, could have defied his
assault, and probably might have witnessed his rival's destruction by
famine and disease, without having to strike a single blow. But Harold's
bold blood was up, and his kindly heart could not endure to inflict
on his South Saxon subjects even the temporary misery of wasting the
country. "He would not burn houses and villages, neither would he take
away the substance of his people."

Harold's brothers, Gurth and Leofwine, were with him in the camp, and
Gurth endeavoured to persuade him to absent himself from the battle.
The incident shows how well devised had been William's scheme of binding
Harold by the oath on the holy relics. "My brother", said the young
Saxon prince, "thou canst not deny that either by force or free-will
thou hast made Duke William an oath on the bodies of saints. Why then
risk thyself in the battle with a perjury upon thee? To us, who have
sworn nothing, this is a holy and a just war, for we are fighting for
our country. Leave us then, alone to fight this battle, and he who has
the right will win." Harold replied that he would not look on while
others risked their lives for him. Men would hold him a coward, and
blame him for sending his best friends where he dared not go himself. He
resolved, therefore, to fight, and to fight in person: but he was still
too good a general to be the assailant in the action. He strengthened
his position on the hill where he had halted, by a palisade of stakes
interlaced with osier hurdles, and there, he said, he would defend
himself against whoever should seek him.

The ruins of Battle Abbey at this hour attest the place where Harold's
army was posted. The high altar of the abbey stood on the very spot
where Harold's own standard was planted during the fight, and where the
carnage was the thickest. Immediately after his victory William vowed to
build an abbey on the site; and a fair and stately pile soon rose there,
where for many ages the monks prayed, and said masses for the souls
of those who were slain in the battle, whence the abbey took its name.
Before that time the place was called Senlac. Little of the ancient
edifice now remains: but it is easy to trace among its relics and in the
neighbourhood the scenes of the chief incidents in the action; and it
is impossible to deny the generalship shown by Harold in stationing his
men; especially when we bear in mind that he was deficient in cavalry,
the arm in which his adversary's main strength consisted.

A neck of hills trends inwards for nearly seven miles from the high
ground immediately to the north-east of Hastings. The line of this neck
of hills is from south-east to north-west, and the usual route from
Hastings to London must, in ancient as in modern times, have been along
its summits. At the distance from Hastings which has been mentioned, the
continuous chain of hills ceases. A valley must be crossed, and on the
other side of it, opposite to the last of the neck of hills, rises a
high ground of some extent, facing to the south-east. This high ground,
then termed Senlac, was occupied by Harold's army. It could not be
attacked in front without considerable disadvantage to the assailants,
and could hardly be turned without those engaged in the manoeuvre
exposing themselves to a fatal charge in flank, while they wound round
the base of the height, and underneath the ridges which project from
it on either side. There was a rough and thickly-wooded district in the
rear, which seemed to offer Harold great facilities for rallying his
men, and checking the progress of the enemy, if they should succeed in
forcing him back from his post. And it seemed scarcely possible that the
Normans, if they met with any repulse, could save themselves from utter
destruction. With such hopes and expectations (which cannot be termed
unreasonable, though "Successum Dea dira negavit,") King Harold bade his
standard be set up a little way down the slope of Senlac-hill, at the
point where the ascent from the valley was least steep, and on which the
fiercest attacks of the advancing enemy were sure to be directed.

The foundation-stones of the high altar of Battle Abbey have, during
late years, been discovered; and we may place our feet on the very spot
where Harold stood with England's banner waving over him; where, when
the battle was joined, he defended himself to the utmost; where the
fatal arrow came down on him; where he "leaned in agony on his shield;"
and where at last he was beaten to the earth, and with him the Saxon
banner was beaten down, like him never to rise again. The ruins of
the altar are a little to the west of the high road, which leads from
Hastings along the neck of hills already described, across the valley,
and through the modern town of Battle, towards London. Before a railway
was made along this valley, some of the old local features were more
easy than now to recognise. The eye then at once saw that the ascent
from the valley was least steep at the point which Harold selected
for his own post in the engagement. But this is still sufficiently
discernible; and we can fix the spot, a little lower down the slope,
immediately in front of the high altar, where the brave Kentish men
stood, "whose right it was to strike first when ever the king went to
battle," and who, therefore, were placed where the Normans would be most
likely to make their first charge. Round Harold himself, and where the
plantations wave which now surround the high altar's ruins, stood the
men of London, "whose privilege it was to guard the king's body, to
place themselves around it, and to guard his standard." On the right
and left were ranged the other warriors of central and southern
England, whose shires the old Norman chronicler distorts in his French
nomenclature. Looking thence in the direction of Hastings, we can
distinguish the "ridge of the rising ground over which the Normans
appeared advancing." It is the nearest of the neck of hills. It is along
that hill that Harold and his brothers saw approach in succession the
three divisions of the Norman army. The Normans came down that slope,
and then formed in the valley, so as to assault the whole front of the
English position. Duke William's own division, with "the best men and
greatest strength of the army," made the Norman centre, and charged the
English immediately in front of Harold's banner, as the nature of the
ground had led the Saxon king to anticipate.

There are few battles the localities of which can be more completely
traced; and the whole scene is fraught with associations of deep
interest: but the spot which, most of all, awakens our sympathy and
excites our feelings, is that where Harold himself fought and fell. The
crumbling fragments of the grey altar-stones, with the wild flowers that
cling around their base, seem fitting memorials of the brave Saxon who
there bowed his head in death; while the laurel-trees that are planted
near, and wave over the ruins, remind us of the Conqueror, who there, at
the close of that dreadful day, reared his victorious standard high over
the trampled banner of the Saxon, and held his triumphant carousal amid
the corses of the slain, with his Norman chivalry exulting around him.

When it was known in the invaders' camp at Hastings that King Harold had
marched southward with his power, but a brief interval ensued before the
two hosts met in decisive encounter.

William's only chance of safety lay in bringing on a general engagement;
and he joyfully advanced his army from their camp on the hill over
Hastings, nearer to the Saxon position. But he neglected no means of
weakening his opponent, and renewed his summonses and demands on Harold
with an ostentatious air of sanctity and moderation.

"A monk named Hugues Maigrot came in William's name to call upon the
Saxon king to do one of three things--either to resign his royalty in
favour of William, or to refer it to the arbitration of the Pope to
decide which of the two ought to be king, or to let it be determined
by the issue of a single combat. Harold abruptly replied, 'I will not
resign my title, I will not refer it to the Pope, nor will I accept the
single combat.' He was far from being deficient in bravery; but he was
no more at liberty to stake the crown which he had received from a whole
people on the chance of a duel, than to deposit it in the hands of an
Italian priest. William was not at all ruffled by the Saxon's refusal,
but steadily pursuing the course of his calculated measures, sent the
Norman monk again, after giving him these instructions:--'Go and tell
Harold, that if he will keep his former compact with me, I will leave
to him all the country which is beyond the Humber, and will give his
brother Gurth all the lands which Godwin held. If he still persist in
refusing my offers, then thou shalt tell him, before all his people,
that he is a perjurer and a liar; that he, and all who shall support
him, are excommunicated by the mouth of the Pope; and that the bull to
that effect is in my hands.'

"Hugues Maigrot delivered this message in a solemn tone; and the Norman
chronicle says that at the word EXCOMMUNICATION, the English chiefs
looked at one another as if some great danger were impending. One of
them then spoke as follows: 'We must fight, whatever may be the danger
to us; for what we have to consider is not whether we shall accept
and receive a new lord as if our king were dead: the case is quite
otherwise. The Norman has given our lands to his captains, to his
knights, to all his people, the greater part of whom have already done
homage to him for them; they will all look for their gift, if their
Duke become our king; and he himself is bound to deliver up to them our
goods, our wives, and our daughters: all is promised to them beforehand.
They come, not only to ruin us, but to ruin our descendants also, and to
take from us the country of our ancestors and what shall we do--whither
shall we go--when we have no longer a country?' The English promised by
a unanimous oath, to make neither peace, nor truce nor treaty, with the
invader, but to die, or drive away the Normans." [Thierry.]

The 13th of October was occupied in these negotiations; and at night the
Duke announced to his men that the next day would, be the day of
battle. That night is said to have been passed by the two armies in very
different manners. The Saxon soldiers spent it in joviality, singing
their national songs, and draining huge horns of ale and wine round
their camp-fires. The Normans, when they had looked to their arms and
horses, confessed themselves to the priests, with whom their camp was
thronged, and received the sacrament by thousands at a time.

On Saturday, the 14th of October, was fought the great battle.

It is not difficult to compose a narrative of its principal incidents,
from the historical information which we possess, especially if aided
by an examination of the ground. But it is far better to adopt the
spirit-stirring words of the old chroniclers, who wrote while the
recollections of the battle were yet fresh, and while the feelings and
prejudices of the combatants yet glowed in the bosoms of their near
descendants. Robert Wace, the Norman poet, who presented his "Roman de
Rou" to our Henry II., is the most picturesque and animated of the old
writers; and from him we can obtain a more vivid and full description of
the conflict, than even the most brilliant romance-writer of the present
time can supply. We have also an antique memorial of the battle, more to
be relied on than either chronicler or poet (and which confirms
Wace's narrative remarkably), in the celebrated Bayeux tapestry, which
represents the principal scenes of Duke William's expedition, and of the
circumstances connected with it, in minute though occasionally grotesque
details, and which was undoubtedly the production of the same age in
which the battle took place; whether we admit or reject the legend that
Queen Matilda and the ladies of her court wrought it with their own
hands in honour of the royal Conqueror.

Let us therefore suffer the old Norman chronicler to transport our
imaginations to the fair Sussex scenery, north-west of Hastings, with
its breezy uplands, its grassy slopes, and ridges of open down swelling
inland from the sparkling sea, its scattered copses, and its denser
glades of intervening forests, clad in all the varied tints of autumn,
as they appeared on the morning of the fourteenth of October, seven
hundred and eighty-five years ago. The Norman host is pouring forth
from its tents; and each troop, and each company, is forming fast under
the banner of its leader. The masses have been sung, which were finished
betimes in the morning; the barons have all assembled round Duke
William; and the Duke has ordered that the army shall be formed in three
divisions, so as to make the attack upon the Saxon position in three
places. The Duke stood on a hill where he could best see his men; the
barons surrounded him, and he spake to them proudly. He told them how he
trusted them, and how all that he gained should be theirs; and how sure
he felt of conquest, for in all the world there was not so brave an army
or such good men and true as were then forming around him. Then they
cheered him in turn, and cried out, "'You will not see one coward; none
here will fear to die for love of you, if need be.' And he answered
them, 'I thank you well. For God's sake spare not; strike hard at the
beginning; stay not to take spoil; all the booty shall be in common,
and there will be plenty for everyone. There will be no safety in asking
quarter or in fight: the English will never love or spare a Norman.
Felons they were, and felons they are; false they were, and false they
will be. Show no weakness towards them, for they will have no pity on
you. Neither the coward for running well, nor the bold man for smiting
well, will be the better liked by the English, nor will any be the more
spared on either account. You may fly to the sea, but you can fly no
further; you will find neither ships nor bridge there; there will be no
sailors to receive you; and the English will overtake you there and slay
you in your shame. More of you will die in flight than in the battle.
Then, as flight will not secure you, fight, and you will conquer. I have
no doubt of the victory: we are come for glory, the victory is in our
hands, and we may make sure of obtaining it if we so please.' As the
Duke was speaking thus, and would yet have spoken more, William Fitz
Osber rode up with his horse all coated with iron: 'Sire,' said he, 'we
tarry here too long, let us all arm ourselves. ALLONS! ALLONS!'

"Then all went to their tents and armed themselves as they best might;
and the Duke was very busy, giving every one his orders; and he was
courteous to all the vassals, giving away many arms and horses to them.
When he prepared to arm himself, he called first for his good hauberk,
and a man brought it on his arm, and placed it before him, but in
putting his head in, to get it on, he unawares turned it the wrong way,
with the back part in front. He soon changed it, but when he saw that
those who stood by were sorely alarmed, he said, 'I have seen many a man
who, if such a thing had happened to him, would not have borne arms,
or entered the field the same day; but I never believed in omens, and I
never will. I trust in God, for He does in all things His pleasure, and
ordains what is to come to pass, according to His will. I have never
liked fortune-tellers, nor believed in diviners; but I commend myself to
our Lady. Let not this mischance give you trouble. The hauberk which
was turned wrong, and then set right by me, signifies that a change will
arise out of the matter which we are now stirring. You shall see the
name of duke changed into king. Yea, a king shall I be, who hitherto
have been but duke.' Then he crossed himself and straightway took his
hauberk, stooped his head, and put it on aright, and laced his helmet,
and girt on his sword, which a varlet brought him. Then the Duke called
for his good horse--a better could not be found. It had been sent him
by a king of Spain, out of very great friendship. Neither arms nor the
press of fighting men did it fear, if its lord spurred it on. Walter
Giffard brought it. The Duke stretched out his hand, took the reins, put
foot in stirrup, and mounted; and the good horse pawed, pranced, reared
himself up, and curvetted. The Viscount of Toarz saw how the Duke bore
himself in arms, and said to his people that were around him, 'Never
have I seen a man so fairly armed, nor one who rods so gallantly, or
bore his arms or became his hauberk so well; neither any one who bore
his lance so gracefully, or sat his horse and managed him so nobly.
There is no such knight under heaven! a fair count he is, and fair king
he will be. Let him fight, and he shall overcome: shame be to the man
who shall fail him.'

"Then the Duke called for the standard which the Pope had sent him, and
he who bore it having unfolded it, the Duke took it, and, called to Raol
de Conches. 'Bear my standard,' said he, 'for I would not but do you
right; by right and by ancestry your line are standard-bearers of
Normandy, and very good knights have they all been.' But Raol said that
he would serve the Duke that day in other guise, and would fight the
English with his hand as long as life should last. Then the Duke bade
Galtier Giffart bear the standard. But he was old and white-headed,
and bade the Duke give the standard to some younger and stronger man to
carry. Then the Duke said fiercely, 'By the splendour of God, my lords,
I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great need.'--'Sire,'
said Giffart, 'not so! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse from any
felony towards you; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both hired men
and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as
I now have; and if God please, I will serve you; if need be, I will die
for you, and will give my own heart for yours.

"'By my faith,' quoth the Duke, 'I always loved thee, and now I love
thee more; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the better for it all
thy days.' Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised,
Tosteins Fitz-Rou le Blanc by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To
him he delivered the standard; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully,
and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly, and with good
heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their
inheritance on that account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold
their inheritance for ever.

"William sat on his war-horse, and called on Rogier, whom they call De
Mongomeri. 'I rely much upon you,' said he: 'lead your men thitherward,
and attack them from that side. William, the son of Osber the seneschal,
a right good vassal, shall go with you and help in the attack, and you
shall have the men of Boulogne and Poix, and all my soldiers. Alain
Fergert and Ameri shall attack on the other side; they shall lead the
Poitevins and the Bretons, and all the Barons of Maine; and I, with my
own great men, my friends and kindred, will fight in the middle throng,
where the battle shall be the hottest.'

"The barons, and knights, and men-at-arms were all now armed; the
foot-soldiers were well equipped, each bearing bow and sword; on their
heads were caps, and to their feet were bound buskins. Some had good
hides which they had bound round their bodies; and many were clad in
frocks, and had quivers and bows hung to their girdles. The knights
had hauberks and swords, boots of steel and shining helmets; shields at
their necks, and in their hands lances. And all had their cognizances,
so that each might know his fellow, and Norman might not strike Norman,
nor Frenchman kill his countryman by mistake. Those on foot led the
way, with serried ranks, bearing their bows. The knights rode next,
supporting the archers from behind. Thus both horse and foot kept their
course and order of march as they began; in close ranks at a gentle
pace, that the one might not pass or separate from the other. All went
firmly and compactly, bearing themselves gallantly.

"Harold had summoned his men, earls, barons, and vavassours, from, the
castles and the cities; from the ports, the villages, and boroughs. The
peasants were also called together from the villages, bearing such arms
as they found; clubs and great picks, iron forge and stages. The English
had enclosed the place where Harold was, with his friends and the barons
of the country whom he had summoned and called together.

"Those of London had come at once, and those of Kent, Hartfort, and of
Essesse; those of Suree and Susesse, of St. Edmund and Sufoc; of Norwis
and Norfoc; of Cantorbierre and Stanfort Bedefort and Hundetone. The men
of Northanton also came; and those of Eurowic and Bokingkeham, of Bed
and Notinkeham, Lindesie and Nichole. There came also from the west
all, who heard the summons; and very many were to be seen coming from
Salebiere and Dorset, from Bat and from Somerset. Many came, too, from
about Glocestre, and many from Wirecestre, from Wincestre, Hontesire,
and Brichesire; and many more from other counties that we have not
named, and cannot indeed recount. All who could bear arms, and had
learnt the news of the Duke's arrival, came to defend the land. But none
came from beyond Humbre, for they had other business upon their hands;
the Danes and Tosti having much damaged and weakened them.

"Harold knew that the Normans would come and attack him hand to hand; so
he had early enclosed the field in which he placed his men. He made them
arm early, and range themselves for the battle; he himself having put on
arms and equipments that became such a lord. The Duke, he said, ought
to seek him, as he wanted to conquer England; and it became him to abide
the attack who had to defend the land. He commanded the people,
and counselled his barons to keep themselves altogether, and defend
themselves in a body; for if they once separated, they would with
difficulty recover themselves. 'The Normans,' he said, 'are good
vassals, valiant on foot and on horseback; good knights are they on
horseback, and well used to battle; all is lost if they once penetrate
our ranks. They have brought long lances and swords, but you have
pointed lances and keen-edged bills; and I do not expect that their arms
can stand against yours. Cleave wherever you can; it will be ill done if
you spare aught.'

"The English had built up a fence before them with their shields, and
with ash and other wood; and had well joined and wattled in the whole
work, so as not to leave even a crevice; and thus they had a barricade
in their front, through which any Norman who would attack them must
first pass. Being covered in this way by their shields and barricades,
their aim was to defend themselves: and if they had remained steady for
that purpose, they would not have been conquered that day; for every
Norman who made his way in, lost his life, either by hatchet, or bill,
by club, or other weapons. They wore short and close hauberks, and
helmets that hung over their garments. King Harold issued orders and
made proclamation round, that all should be ranged with their faces
towards the enemy; and that no one should move from where he was; so
that, whoever came, might find them ready; and that whatever any one, be
he Norman or other, should do, each should do his best to defend his
own place. Then he ordered the men of Kent to go where the Normans
were likely to make the attack; for they say that the men of Kent are
entitled to strike first; and that whenever the king goes to battle, the
first blow belongs to them. The right of the men of London is to guard
the king's body, to place themselves around him, and to guard his
standard; and they were accordingly placed by the standard to watch and
defend it.

"When Harold had made his reply, and given his orders, he came into
the midst of the English, and dismounted by the side of the standard:
Leofwin and Gurth, his brothers, were with him, and around him he had
barons enough, as he stood by his standard, which was in truth a noble
one, sparkling with gold and precious stones. After the victory, William
sent it to the Pope, to prove and commemorate his great conquest and
glory. The English stood in close ranks, ready and eager for the fight;
and they moreover made a fosse, which went across the field, guarding
one side of their army,

"Meanwhile the Normans appeared advancing over the ridge of a rising
ground; and the first division of their troops moved onwards along the
hill and across a vallley. And presently another division, still larger,
came in sight, close following upon the first, and they were led towards
another part of the field, forming together as the first body had done.
And while Harold saw and examined them, and was pointing them out to
Gurth, a fresh company came in sight, covering all the plain; and in the
midst of them was raised the standard that came from Rome. Near it was
the Duke, and the best men and greatest strength of the army were there.
The good knights, the good vassals, and brave warriors were there; and
there were gathered together the gentle barons, the good archers,
and the men-at-arms, whose duty it was to guard the Duke, and range
themselves around him. The youths and common herd of the camp, whose
business was not to join in the battle, but to take care of the harness
and stores, moved on towards a rising ground. The priests and the clerks
also ascended a hill, there to offer up prayers to God, and watch the
event of the battle.

"The English stood firm on foot in close ranks, and carried themselves
right boldly. Each man had his hauberk on, with his sword girt, and his
shield at his neck. Great hatchets were also slung at their necks, with
which they expected to strike heavy blows.

"The Normans brought on the three divisions of their army to attack
at different places. They set out in three companies, and in three
companies did they fight. The first and second had come up, and then
advanced the third, which was the greatest; with that came the Duke with
his own men, and all moved boldly forward.

"As soon as the two armies were in full view of each other, great noise
and tumult arose. You might hear the sound of many trumpets, of bugles,
and of horns: and then you might see men ranging themselves in line,
lifting their shields, raising their lances, bending their bows,
handling their arrows, ready for assault and defence.

"The English stood ready to their post, the Normans still moved on; and
when they drew near, the English were to be seen stirring to and fro;
were going and coming; troops ranging themselves in order; some with
their colour rising, others turning pale; some making ready their arms,
others raising their shields; the brave man rousing himself to fight,
the coward trembling at the approach of danger.

"Then Taillefer, who sang right well, rode mounted on a swift horse,
before the Duke, singing of Charlemagne and of Roland, of Olivier and
the Peers who died in Roncesvalles, and when they drew nigh to the
English, 'A boon, sire!' cried Taillefer; 'I have long served you, and
you owe me for all such service. To-day, so please you, you shall repay
it. I ask as my guerdon, and beseech you for it earnestly, that you will
allow me to strike the first blow in the battle!' And the Duke answered,
'I grant it.' Then Taillefer put his horse to a gallop, charging before
all the rest, and struck an Englishman dead, driving his lance below the
breast into his body, and stretching him upon the ground. Then he drew
his sword, and struck another, crying out, 'Come on, come on! What do
ye, sirs! lay on, lay on!' At the second blow he struck, the English
pushed forward, and surrounded and slew him. Forthwith arose the noise
and cry of war, and on either side the people put themselves in motion.

"The Normans moved on to the assault, and the English defended
themselves well. Some were striking, others urging onwards; all were
bold, and cast aside fear. And now, behold, that battle was gathered,
whereof the fame is yet mighty.

"Loud and far resounded the bray of the horns; and the shocks of the
lances, the mighty strokes of maces, and the quick clashing of swords.
One while the Englishmen rushed on, another while they fell back; one
while the men from over the sea charged onwards, and again at other
times retreated. The Normans shouted 'Dex aie,' the English people
'Out.' Then came the cunning manoeuvres, the rude shocks and strokes
of the lance and blows of the swords, among the sergeants and soldiers,
both English and Norman.

"When the English fall, the Normans shout. Each side taunts and defies
the other, yet neither knoweth what the other saith; and the Normans say
the English bark, because they understand not their speech.

"Some wax strong, others weak: the brave exult, but the cowards tremble,
as men who are sore dismayed. The Normans press on the assault, and the
English defend their post well: they pierce the hauberks, and cleave the
shields, receive and return mighty blows. Again, some press forwards,
others yield; and thus in various ways the struggle proceeds. In the
plain was a fosse, which the Normans had now behind them, having passed
it in the fight without regarding it. But the English charged, and drove
the Normans before them till they made them fall back upon this fosse,
overthrowing into it horses and men. Many were to be seen falling
therein, rolling one over the other, with their faces to the earth, and
unable to rise. Many of the English, also, whom the Normans drew down
along with them, died there. At no time during the day's battle did so
many Normans die as perished in that fosse. So those said who saw the

"The varlets who were set to guard the harness began to abandon it as
they saw the loss of the Frenchmen, when thrown back upon the fosse
without power to recover themselves. Being greatly alarmed at seeing
the difficulty in restoring order, they began to quit the harness, and
sought around, not knowing where to find shelter. Then Duke William's
brother, Odo, the good priest, the Bishop of Bayeux, galloped up, and
said to them, 'Stand fast! stand fast! be quiet and move not! fear
nothing, for if God please, we shall conquer yet.' So they took courage,
and rested where they were; and Odo returned galloping back to where the
battle was most fierce, and was of great service on that day. He had put
hauberk on, over a white aube, wide in the body, with the sleeve tight;
and sat on a white horse, so that all might recognise him. In his hand
he held a mace, and wherever he saw most need he held up and stationed
the knights, and often urged them on to assault and strike the enemy.

"From nine o'clock in the morning, when the combat began, till three
o'clock came, the battle was up and down, this way and that, and no one
knew who would conquer and win the land. Both sides stood so firm and
fought so well, that no one could guess which would prevail. The Norman
archers with their bows shot thickly upon the English; but they covered
themselves with their shields, so that the arrows could not reach their
bodies, nor do any mischief, how true soever was their aim, or however
well they shot. Then the Normans determined to shoot their arrows
upwards into the air, so that they might fall on their enemies' heads,
and strike their faces. The archers adopted this scheme, and shot up
into the air towards the English; and the arrows in falling struck their
heads and faces, and put out the eyes of many; and all feared to open
their eyes, or leave their faces unguarded.

"The arrows now flew thicker than rain before the wind; fast sped the
shafts that the English called 'wibetes.' Then it was that an arrow,
that had been thus shot upwards, struck Harold above his right eye and
put it out. In his agony he drew the arrow and threw it away, breaking
it with his hands; and the pain to his head was so great, that he leaned
upon his shield. So the English were wont to say, and still say to the
French, that the arrow was well shot which was so sent up against
their king; and that the archer won them great glory, who thus put out
Harold's eye.

"The Normans saw that the English defended themselves well, and were so
strong in their position that they could do little against them. So they
consulted together privily, and arranged to draw off, and pretend to
flee, till the English should pursue and scatter themselves over the
field; for they saw that if they could once get their enemies to break:
their ranks, they might be attacked and discomfited much more easily. As
they had said, so they did. The Normans by little and little fled, the
English following them. As the one fell back, the other pressed after;
and when the Frenchmen retreated, the English thought and cried out that
the men of France fled, and would never return.

"Thus they were deceived by the pretended flight, and great mischief
thereby befell them; for if they had not moved from their position, it
is not likely that they would have been conquered at all; but like fools
they broke their lines and pursued.

"The Normans were to be seen following up their stratagem, retreating
slowly so as to draw the English further on. As they still flee, the
English pursue; they push out their lances and stretch forth their
hatchets: following the Normans, as they go rejoicing in the success of
their scheme, and scattering themselves over the plain. And the English
meantime jeered and insulted their foes with words. 'Cowards,' they
cried, 'you came hither in an evil hour, wanting our lands, and seeking
to seize our property, fools that ye were to come! Normandy is too far
off and you will not easily reach it. It is of little use to run back;
unless you can cross the sea at a leap, or can drink it dry, your sons
and daughters are lost to you.

"The Normans bore it all, but in fact they knew not what the English
said: their language seemed like the baying of dogs, which they could
not understand. At length they stopped and turned round, determined to
recover their ranks; and the barons might be heard crying 'Dex aie!' for
a halt. Then the Normans resumed their former position, turning their
faces towards the enemy; and their men were to be seen facing round and
rushing onwards to a fresh MELEE; the one party assaulting the other;
this man striking, another pressing onwards. One hits, another misses;
one flies, another pursues; one is aiming a stroke, while another
discharges his blow. Norman strives with Englishman again, and aims his
blows afresh. One flies, another pursues swiftly: the combatants are
many, the plain wide, the battle and the MELEE fierce. On every hand
they fight hard, the blows are heavy, and the struggle becomes fierce.

"The Normans were playing their part well, when an English knight came
rushing up, having in his company a hundred men, furnished with various
arms. He wielded a northern hatchet, with the blade a full foot long;
and was well armed after his manner, being tall, bold, and of noble
carriage. In the front of the battle where the Normans thronged most, he
came bounding on swifter than the stag, many Normans falling before
him and his company. He rushed straight upon a Norman who was armed and
riding on a war-horse, and tried with, his hatchet of steel to cleave
his helmet; but the blow miscarried and the sharp blade glanced down
before the saddle-bow, driving through the horse's neck down to the
ground, so that both horse and master fell together to the earth. I know
not whether the Englishman struck another blow; but the Normans who saw
the stroke were astonished and about to abandon the assault, when Roger
de Mongomeri came galloping up, with his lance set, and heeding not the
long-handled axe, which the English-man wielded aloft, struck him
down, and left him stretched upon the ground. Then Roger cried out,
'Frenchmen, strike! the day is ours!' and again a fierce MELEE was to be
seen, with many a blow of lance and sword; the English still defending
themselves, killing the horses and cleaving the shields.

"There was a French soldier of noble mien, who sat his horse gallantly.
He spied two Englishmen who were also carrying themselves boldly. They
were both men of great worth, and had become companions in arms and
fought together, the one protecting the other. They bore two long and
broad bills, and did great mischief to the Normans, killing both horses
and men. The French soldier looked at them and their bills, and was sore
alarmed, for he was afraid of losing his good horse, the best that he
had; and would willingly have turned to some other quarter, if it would
not have looked like cowardice. He soon, however, recovered his courage,
and spurring his horse gave him the bridle, and galloped swiftly
forward. Fearing the two bills, he raised his shield, and struck one of
the Englishmen with his lance on the breast, so that the iron passed
out at his back; at the moment that he fell the lance broke, and the
Frenchmen seized the mace that hung at his right side, and struck the
other Englishman a blow that completely broke his skull.

"On the other side was an Englishman who much annoyed the French,
continually assaulting them with a keen-edged hatchet. He had a helmet
made of wood, which he had fastened down to his coat, and laced round
his neck, so that no blows could reach his head. The ravage he was
making was seen by a gallant Norman knight, who rode a horse that
neither fire nor water could stop in its career, when its master urged
it on. The knight spurred, and his horse carried him on well till he
charged the Englishman, striking him over the helmet, so that it fell
down over his eyes; and as he stretched out his hand to raise it and
uncover the face, the Norman cut off his right hand, so that his hatchet
fell to the ground. Another Norman sprang forward and eagerly seized the
prize with both his hands, but he kept it little space, and paid dearly
for it, for as he stooped to pick up the hatchet, an Englishman with his
long-handled axe struck him over the back, breaking all his bones, so
that his entrails and lungs gushed forth. The knight of the good
horse meantime returned without injury; but on his way he met another
Englishman, and bore him down under his his horse, wounding him
grievously, and trampling him altogether under foot.

"And now might be heard the loud clang and cry of battle, and the
clashing of lances. The English stood firm in their barricades, and
shivered the lances, beating them into pieces with their bills and
maces. The Normans drew their swords, and hewed down the barricades, and
the English in great trouble fell back upon their standard, where were
collected the maimed and wounded.

"There were many knights of Chauz, who jousted and made attacks. The
English knew not how to joust, or bear arms on horseback but fought with
hatchets and bills. A man when he wanted to strike with one of their
hatchets, was obliged to hold it with both his hands, and could not at
the same time, as it seems to me, both cover himself and strike with any

"The English fell back towards the standard, which was upon a rising
ground, and the Normans followed them across the valley, attacking them
on foot and horseback. Then Hue de Mortemer, with the sires D'Auviler,
D'Onebac, and St. Cler, rode up and charged, overthrowing many.

"Robert Fitz Erneis fixed his lance, took his shield, and, galloping
towards the standard, with his keen-edged sword struck an Englishman who
was in front, killed him, and then drawing back his sword, attacked many
others, and pushed straight for the standard, trying to beat it down,
but the English surrounded it, and killed him with their bills. He was
found on the spot, when they afterwards sought for him, dead, and lying
at the standard's foot.

"Duke William pressed close upon the English with his lance; striving
hard to reach the standard with the great troop he led; and seeking
earnestly for Harold, on whose account the whole war was. The Normans
follow their lord, and press around him; they ply their blows upon the
English; and these defend themselves stoutly, striving hard with their
enemies, returning blow for blow.

"One of them was a man of great strength, a wrestler, who did great
mischief to the Normans with his hatchet; all feared him, for he struck
down a great many Normans. The Duke spurred on his horse, and aimed a
blow at him, but he stooped, and so escaped the stroke; then jumping on
one side, he lifted his hatchet aloft, and as the Duke bent to avoid
the blow the Englishman boldly struck him on the head, and beat in his
helmet, though without doing much injury. He was very near falling,
however, but bearing on his stirrups he recovered himself immediately;
and when he thought to have revenged himself upon the churl by killing
him, he had escaped, dreading the Duke's blow. He ran back in among the
English, but he was not safe even there; for the Normans seeing him,
pursued and caught him; and having pierced him through and through with
their lances, left him dead on the ground.

"Where the throng of the battle was greatest, the men of Kent and Essex
fought wondrously well, and made the Normans again retreat, but without
doing them much injury. And when the Duke saw his men fall back and the
English triumphing over them, his spirit rose high, and he seized his
shield and his lance, which a vassal handed to him, and took his post by
his standard.

"Then those who kept close guard by him and rode where he rode, being
about a thousand armed men, came and rushed with closed ranks upon the
English; and with the weight of their good horses, and the blows the
knights gave, broke the press of the enemy, and scattered the crowd
before them, the good Duke leading them on in front. Many pursued and
many fled; many were the Englishmen who fell around, and were trampled
under the horses, crawling upon the earth, and not able to rise. Many
of the richest and noblest men fell in that rout, but the English still
rallied in places; smote down those whom they reached, and maintained
the combat the best they could; beating down the men and killing the
horses. One Englishman watched the Duke, and plotted to kill him; he
would have struck him with his lance, but he could not, for the Duke
struck him first, and felled him to the earth.

"Loud was now the clamour, and great the slaughter; many a soul then
quitted the body it inhabited. The living marched over the heaps of
dead, and each side was weary of striking. He charged on who could, and
he who could no longer strike still pushed forward. The strong struggled
with the strong; some failed, others triumphed; the cowards fell back,
the brave pressed on; and sad was his fate who fell in the midst, for
he had little chance of rising again; and many in truth fell, who never
rose at all, being crushed under the throng.

"And now the Normans pressed on so far, that at last they had reached
the standard. There Harold had remained, defending himself to the
utmost; but he was sorely wounded in his eye by the arrow, and suffered
grievous pain from the blow. An armed man came in the throng of the
battle, and struck him on the ventaille of his helmet, and beat him to
the ground; and as he sought to recover himself, a knight beat him down
again, striking him on the thick of his thigh, down to the bone.

"Gurth saw the English falling around, and that there was no remedy. He
saw his race hastening to ruin, and despaired of any aid; he would have
fled but could not, for the throng continually increased and the Duke
pushed on till he reached him, and struck him with great force. Whether
he died of that blow I know not, but it was said that he fell under it,
and rose no more.

"The standard was beaten down, the golden standard was taken, and Harold
and the best of his friends were slain; but there was so much eagerness,
and throng of so many around, seeking to kill him, that I know not who
it was that slew him.

"The English were in great trouble at having lost their king, and at
the Duke's having conquered and beat down the standard; but they still
fought on, and defended themselves long, and in fact till the day drew
to a close. Then it clearly appeared to all that the standard was lost,
and the news had spread throughout the army that Harold for certain was
dead; and all saw that there was no longer any hope, so they left the
field, and those fled who could.

"William fought well; many an assault did he lead, many a blow did he
give, and many receive, and many fell dead under his hand. Two horses
were killed under him, and he took a third at time of need, so that he
fell not to the ground; and he lost not a drop of blood. But whatever
any one did, and whoever lived or died, this is certain, that William
conquered, and that many of the English fled from the field, and many
died on the spot. Then he returned thanks to God, and in his pride
ordered his standard to be brought and set up on high where the English
standard had stood; and that was the signal of his having conquered and
beaten down the foe. And he ordered his tent to be raised on the
spot among the dead, and had his meat brought thither, and his supper
prepared there.

"Then he took off his armour; and the barons and knights, pages and
squires came, when he had unstrung his shield: and they took the helmet
from his head, and the hauberk from his back, and saw the heavy blows
upon his shield, and how his helmet was dinted in. And all greatly
wondered, and said, 'Such a baron never bestrode war-horse, or dealt
such blows, or did such feats of arms; neither has there been on earth
such a knight since Rollant and Olivier.'

"Thus they lauded and extolled him greatly, and rejoiced in what they
saw; but grieving also for their friends who were slain in the battle.
And the Duke stood meanwhile among them of noble stature and mien; and
rendered thanks to the King of Glory, through whom he had the victory;
and thanked the knights around him, mourning also frequently for the
dead. And he ate and drank among the dead, and made his bed that night
upon the field.

"The morrow was Sunday; and those who had slept upon the field of
battle, keeping watch around, and suffering great fatigue, bestirred
themselves at break of day and sought out and buried such of the bodies
of their dead friends as they might find. The noble ladies of the land
also came, some to seek their husbands, and others their fathers, sons,
or brothers. They bore the bodies to their villages, and interred them
at the churches; and the clerks and priests of the country were ready,
and at the request of their friends, took the bodies that were found,
and prepared graves and laid them therein.

"King Harold was carried and buried at Varham; but I know not who it was
that bore him thither, neither do I know who buried him. Many remained
on the field, and many had fled in the night."

Such is a Norman account of the battle of Hastings, which does full
justice to the valour of the Saxons, as well as to the skill and bravery
of the victors. [In the preceding pages, I have woven together the
"purpureos pannos" of the old chronicler. In so doing, I have largely
availed myself of Mr. Edgar Taylor's version of that part of the "Roman
de Rou" which describes the conquest. By giving engravings from the
Bayeux Tapestry, and excellent notes, Mr. Taylor has added much to the
value and interest of his volume.] It is indeed evident that the loss of
the battle to the English was owing to the wound which Harold received
in the afternoon, and which must have incapacitated him from effective
command. When we remember that he had himself just won the battle of
Stamford Bridge over Harald Hardrada by the manoeuvre of a feigned
flight, it is impossible to suppose that he could be deceived by the
same stratagem on the part of the Normans at Hastings. But his men,
when deprived of his control would very naturally be led by their
inconsiderate ardour into the pursuit that proved so fatal to them.
All the narratives of the battle, however much they may vary as to the
precise time and manner of Harold's fall, eulogise the generalship and
the personal prowess which he displayed, until the fatal arrow struck
him. The skill with which he had posted his army was proved, both by the
slaughter which it cost the Normans to force the position, and also by
the desperate rally which some of the Saxons made, after the battle,
in the forest in the rear, in which they cut off a large number of the
pursuing Normans. This circumstance is particularly mentioned by William
of Poictiers, the Conqueror's own chaplain. Indeed, if Harold, or either
of his brothers, had survived, the remains of the English army might
have formed again in the wood, and could at least have effected an
orderly retreat, and prolonged the war. But both Gurth and Leofwine, and
all the bravest thanes of Southern England, lay dead on Senlac, around
their fallen king and the fallen standard of their country. The exact
number of the slain on the Saxon side is unknown; but we read that on
the side of the victors, out of sixty thousand men who had been engaged,
no less than a fourth perished: so well had the English bill-men "plied
the ghastly blow" and so sternly had the Saxon battle-axe cloven Norman
casque and mail. [The Conqueror's chaplain calls the Saxon battle-axes
"saevissimas secures."] The old historian Daniel justly as well as
forcibly remarks, [As cited in the "Pictorial History."] "Thus was
tried, by the great assize of God's judgment in battle, the right
of power between the English and Norman nations; a battle the most
memorable of all others; and, however miserably lost, yet most nobly
fought on the part of England."

Many a pathetic legend was told in after years respecting the
discovery and the burial of the corpse of our last Saxon king. The main
circumstances, though they seem to vary, are perhaps reconcilable. [See
them collected in Lingard, vol. i p. 452, ET SEQ.; Thierry, vol i.
p. 299; Sharon Turner, Vol. i. p. 82; and Histoire de Normandie par
Lieguet, p. 242.] Two of the monks of Waltham abbey, which Harold had
founded a little time before his election to the throne, had accompanied
him to the battle. On the morning after the slaughter they begged and
gained permission of the Conqueror to search for the body of their
benefactor. The Norman soldiery and camp-followers had stripped and
gashed the slain; and the two monks vainly strove to recognise from
among the mutilated and gory heaps around them the features of their
former king. They sent for Harold's mistress, Edith, surnamed "the Fair"
and the "Swan-necked," to aid them. The eye of love proved keener than
the eye of gratitude, and the Saxon lady, even in that Aceldama, knew
her Harold.

The king's mother now sought the victorious Norman, and begged the dead
body of her son. But William at first answered in his wrath, and in the
hardness of his heart, that a man who had been false to his word and his
religion should have no other sepulchre than the sand of the shore. He
added, with a sneer, "Harold mounted guard on the coast while he was
alive; he may continue his guard now he is dead." The taunt was an
unintentional eulogy; and a grave washed by the spray of the Sussex
waves would have been the noblest burial-place for the martyr of Saxon
freedom. But Harold's mother was urgent in her lamentations and her
prayers: the Conqueror relented: like Achilles, he gave up the dead body
of his fallen foe to a parent's supplications; and the remains of King
Harold were deposited with regal honours in Waltham Abbey.

On Christmas day of the same year, William the Conqueror was crowned at
London, King of England.


A.D. 1066-1087. Reign of William the Conqueror. Frequent risings of the
English against him, which are quelled with merciless rigour.

1096. The first Crusade.

1112. Commencement of the disputes about investitures between the
emperors and the popes.

1140. Foundation of the city of Lubeck, whence originated the Hanseatic
League. Commencement of the feuds in Italy between the Guelphs and

1146. The second Crusade.

1154. Henry II. becomes King of England. Under him Thomas a Becket is
made Archbishop of Canterbury: the first instance of any man of the
Saxon race being raised to high office in Church or State since the

1170. Strongbow, earl of Pembroke, lands with an English army in

1189. Richard Coeur de Lion becomes King of England. He and King Philip
Augustus of France join in the third Crusade.

1199-1204. On the death of King Richard, his brother John claims
and makes himself master of England and Normandy and the other large
continental possessions of the early Plantagenet princes. Philip
Augustus asserts the cause of Prince Arthur, John's nephew, against him.
Arthur is murdered, but the French king continues the war against John,
and conquers from him Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and

1216. The barons, the freeholders, the citizens, and the yeomen of
England rise against the tyranny of John and his foreign favourites.
They compel him to sign Magna Charta. This is the commencement of our
nationality: for our history from this time forth is the history of a
national life, then complete, and still in being. All English history
before this period is a mere history of elements, of their collisions,
and of the processes of their fusion. For upwards of a century after the
Conquest, Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon had kept aloof from each other:
the one in haughty scorn, the other in sullen abhorrence. They were two
peoples, though living in the same land. It is not until the thirteenth
century, the period of the reigns of John and his son and grandson, that
we can perceive the existence of any feeling of common patriotism among
them. But in studying the history of these reigns, we read of the old
dissensions no longer. The Saxon no more appears in civil war against
the Norman; the Norman no longer scorns the language of the Saxon, or
refuses to bear together with him the name of Englishman. No part of the
community think themselves foreigners to another part. They feel that
they are all one people, and they have learned to unite their efforts
for the common purpose of protecting the rights and promoting the
welfare of all. The fortunate loss of the Duchy of Normandy in John's
reign greatly promoted these new feelings. Thenceforth our barons' only
homes were in England. One language had, in the reign of Henry III.,
become the language of the land; and that, also, had then assumed the
form in which we still possess it. One law, in the eye of which all
freemen are equal without distinction of race, was modelled, and
steadily enforced, and still continues to form the groundwork of our
judicial system. [Creasy's Text-book of the Constitution, p. 4.]

1273. Rudolph of Hapsburg chosen Emperor of Germany.

1283. Edward I. conquers Wales.

1346. Edward III. invades France, and gains the battle of Cressy.

1356. Battle of Poictiers.

1360. Treaty of Bretigny between England and France. By it Edward III.
renounces his pretensions to the French crown. The treaty is ill kept,
and indecisive hostilities continue between the forces of the two

1414. Henry V. of England claims the crown of France, and resolves to
invade and conquer that kingdom. At this time France was in the most
deplorable state of weakness and suffering, from the factions that
raged among her nobility, and from the cruel oppressions which the
rival nobles practised on the mass of the community. "The people were
exhausted by taxes, civil wars, and military executions; and they had
fallen into that worst of all states of mind, when the independence of
one's country is thought no longer a paramount and sacred object. 'What
can the English do to us worse than the things we suffer at the hands
of our own princes?' was a common exclamation among the poor people of
France." [Pictorial Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 28.]

1415. Henry invades France, takes Harfleur, and wins the great battle of

1417-1419. Henry conquers Normandy. The French Dauphin assassinates the
Duke of Burgundy, the most powerful of the French nobles, at Montereau.
The successor of the murdered duke becomes the active ally of the

1420. The Treaty of Troyes is concluded between Henry V. of England and
Charles VI. of France, and Philip, duke of Burgundy. By this treaty it
was stipulated that Henry should marry the Princess Catherine of France;
that King Charles, during his life-time, should keep the title and
dignity of King of France, but that Henry should succeed him, and should
at once be entrusted with the administration of the government, and
that the French crown should descend to Henry's heirs; that France
and England should for ever be united under one king, but should still
retain their several usages, customs, and privileges; that all the
princes, peers, vassals, and communities of France should swear
allegiance to Henry as their future king, and should pay him present
obedience as regent; that Henry should unite his arms to those of King
Charles and the Duke of Burgundy, in order to subdue the adherents of
Charles, the pretended dauphin; and that these three princes should make
no truce or peace with the Dauphin, but by the common consent of all

1421. Henry V. gains several victories over the French, who refuse to
acknowledge the treaty of Troyes. His son, afterwards Henry VI., is

1422. Henry V. and Charles VI. of France die. Henry VI. is proclaimed at
Paris, King of England and France. The followers of the French Dauphin
proclaim him Charles VII., King of France. The Duke of Bedford, the
English Regent in France, defeats the army of the Dauphin at Crevant.

1424. The Duke of Bedford gains the great victory of Verneuil over the
French partizans of the Dauphin, and their Scotch auxiliaries.

1428. The English begin the siege of Orleans.


   "The eyes of all Europe were turned towards this scene; where, it
   was reasonably supposed, the French were to make their last stand
   for maintaining the independence of their monarchy and the rights
   of their; sovereign"--HUME.

When, after their victory at Salamis, the generals of the various
Greek states voted the prizes for distinguished individual merit,
each assigned the first place of excellence to himself, but they all
concurred in giving their second votes to Themistocles. [Plutarch, Vit.
Them. 17.] This was looked on as a decisive proof that Themistocles
ought to be ranked first of all. If we were to endeavour, by a similar
test, to ascertain which European nation has contributed the most to
the progress of European civilization, we should find Italy, Germany,
England, and Spain, each claiming the first degree, but each also naming
France as clearly next in merit. It is impossible to deny her paramount
importance in history. Besides the formidable part that she has
for nearly three centuries played, as the Bellona of the European
commonwealth of states, her influence during all this period over the
arts, the literature, the manners and the feelings of mankind, has been
such as to make the crisis of her earlier fortunes a point of world-wide
interest; and it may be asserted without exaggeration, that the future
career of every nation was involved in the result of the struggle
by which the unconscious heroine of France, in the beginning of the
fifteenth century, rescued her country from becoming a second Ireland
under the yoke of the triumphant English.

Seldom has the extinction of a a nation's independence appeared more
inevitable than was the case in France, when the English invaders
completed their lines round Orleans, four hundred and twenty-three years
ago. A series of dreadful defeats had thinned the chivalry of France,
and daunted the spirits of her soldiers. A foreign King had been
proclaimed in her capital; and foreign armies of the bravest veterans,
and led by the ablest captains then known in the world, occupied the
fairest portions of her territory. Worse to her even than the fierceness
and the strength of her foes were the factions, the vices, and the
crimes of her own children. Her native prince was a dissolute trifler,
stained with the assassination of the most powerful noble of the land,
whose son, in revenge, had leagued himself with the enemy. Many more
of her nobility, many of her prelates, her magistrates, and rulers, had
sworn fealty to the English king. The condition of the peasantry amid
the general prevalence of anarchy and brigandage, which were added to
the customary devastations of contending armies, was wretched beyond the
power of language to describe. The sense of terror and suffering seemed
to have extended itself even to the brute creation.

"In sooth, the estate of France was then most miserable. There
appeared nothing but a horrible face, confusion, poverty, desolation,
solitarinesse, and feare. The lean and bare labourers in the country did
terrifie even theeves themselves, who had nothing left them to spoile
but the carkasses of these poore miserable creatures, wandering up
and down like ghostes drawne out of their graves. The least farmes and
hamlets were fortified by these robbers, English, Bourguegnons, and
French, every one striving to do his worst; all men-of-war were
well agreed to spoile the countryman and merchant. EVEN THE CATTELL,
Serres, quoted in the notes to Southey's Joan of Arc.]

In the autumn of 1428, the English, who were already masters of all
France north of the Loire, prepared their forces for the conquest of the
southern provinces, which yet adhered to the cause of the Dauphin. The
city of Orleans, on the banks of that river, was looked upon as the
last stronghold of the French national party. If the English could once
obtain possession of it, their victorious progress through the residue
of the kingdom seemed free from any serious obstacle. Accordingly,
the Earl of Salisbury, one of the bravest and most experienced of the
English generals, who had been trained under Henry V., marched to the
attack of the all-important city; and, after reducing several places of
inferior consequence in the neighbourhood, appeared with his army before
its walls on the 12th of October, 1428.

The city of Orleans itself was on the north side of the Loire, but its
suburbs extended far on the southern side, and a strong bridge connected
them with the town. A fortification which in modern military phrase
would be termed a tete-du-pont, defended the bridge-head on the southern
side, and two towers, called the Tourelles, were built on the bridge
itself, where it rested on an island at a little distance from the
tete-du-pont. Indeed, the solid masonry of the bridge terminated at the
Tourelles; and the communication thence with the tete-du-pont on the
southern shore was by means of a drawbridge. The Tourelles and the
tete-du-pont formed together a strong fortified post, capable of
containing a garrison of considerable strength; and so long as this was
in possession of the Orleannais, they could communicate freely with
the southern provinces, the inhabitants of which, like the Orleannais
themselves, supported the cause of their Dauphin against the foreigners.
Lord Salisbury rightly judged the capture of the Tourelles to be the
most material step towards the reduction of the city itself. Accordingly
he directed his principal operations against this post, and after
some severe repulses, he carried the Tourelles by storm, on the 23d of
October. The French, however, broke down the part of the bridge which
was nearest to the north bank and thus rendered a direct assault from
the Tourelles upon the city impossible. But the possession of this post
enabled the English to distress the town greatly by a battery of cannon
which they planted there, and which commanded some of the principal

It has been observed by Hume, that this is the first siege in which
any important use appears to have been made of artillery. And even at
Orleans both besiegers and besieged seem to have employed their cannons
more as instruments of destruction against their enemy's men, than
as engines of demolition against their enemy's walls and works. The
efficacy of cannon in breaching solid masonry was taught Europe by
the Turks, a few years after wards, at the memorable siege of
Constantinople. In our French wars, as in the wars of the classic
nations, famine was looked on as the surest weapon to compel the
submission of a well-walled town and the great object of the besiegers
was to effect a complete circumvallation. The great ambit of the walls
of Orleans, and the facilities which the river gave for obtaining
succour and supplies, rendered the capture of the place by this process
a matter of great difficulty. Nevertheless, Lord Salisbury, and Lord
Suffolk, who succeeded him in command of the English after his death
by a cannon-ball, carried on the necessary works with great skill and
resolution. Six strongly fortified posts, called bastillos, were formed
at certain intervals round the town and the purpose of the English
engineers was to draw strong lines between them. During the winter
little progress was made with the entrenchments, but when the spring
of 1429 came, the English resumed their works with activity; the
communications between the city and the country became more difficult,
and the approach of want began already to be felt in Orleans.

The besieging force also fared hardly for stores and provisions, until
relieved by the effects of a brilliant victory which Sir John Fastolfe,
one of the best English generals, gained at Rouvrai, near Orleans, a few
days after Ash Wednesday, 1429. With only sixteen hundred fighting men,
Sir John completely defeated an army of French and Scots, four
thousand strong, which had been collected for the purpose of aiding the
Orleannais, and harassing the besiegers. After this encounter, which
seemed decisively to confirm the superiority of the English in battle
over their adversaries, Fastolfe escorted large supplies of stores
and food to Suffolk's camp, and the spirits of the English rose to the
highest pitch at the prospect of the speedy capture of the city before
them, and the consequent subjection of all France beneath their arms.

The Orleannais now in their distress offered to surrender the city into
the hands of the Duke of Burgundy, who, though the ally of the English,
was yet one of their native princes. The Regent Bedford refused these
terms, and the speedy submission of the city to the English seemed
inevitable. The Dauphin Charles, who was now at Chinon with his remnant
of a court, despaired of maintaining any longer the struggle for his
crown; and was only prevented from abandoning the country by the more
masculine spirits of his mistress and his queen. Yet neither they, nor
the boldest of Charles's captains, could have shown him where to find
resources for prolonging the war; and least of all could any human skill
have predicted the quarter whence rescue was to come to Orleans and to

In the village of Domremy, on the borders of Lorraine, there was a poor
peasant of the name of Jacques d'Arc, respected in his station of life,
and who had reared a family in virtuous habits and in the practice of
the strictest devotion. His eldest daughter was named by her parents
Jeannette, but she was called Jeanne by the French, which was Latinised
into Johanna, and anglicised into Joan. ["Respondit quod in partibus
suis vocabatur Johanneta, et postquam venit in Franciam vocata est
Johanna."--PROCES DE JEANNE D'ARC, vol i. p. 46.]

At the time when Joan first attracted attention, she was about eighteen
years of age. She was naturally of a susceptible disposition, which
diligent attention to the legends of saints, and tales of fairies, aided
by the dreamy loneliness of her life while tending her father's flocks,
had made peculiarly prone to enthusiastic fervour. At the same time
she was eminent for piety and purity of soul, and for her compassionate
gentleness to the sick and the distressed.

[Southey, in one of the speeches which he puts in the mouth of his Joan
of Arc, has made her beautifully describe the effect; on her mind of the
scenery in which she dwelt:--

     "Here in solitude and peace
      My soul was nurst, amid the loveliest scenes
      Of-unpolluted nature.  Sweet it was,
      As the white mists of morning roll'd away,
      To see the mountain's wooded heights appear
      Dark in the early dawn, and mark its slope
      With gorse-flowers glowing, as the rising sun
      On the golden ripeness pour'd a deepening light.
      Pleasant at noon beside the vocal brook
      To lay me down, and watch the the floating clouds,
      And shape to Fancy's wild similitudes
      Their ever-varying forms; and oh, how sweet,
      To drive my flock at evening to the fold,
      And hasten to our little hut, and hear
      The voice of kindness bid me welcome home!"

The only foundation for the story told by the Burgundian partisan
Monstrelet, and adopted by Hume, of Joan having been brought up as
servant at an inn, is the circumstance of her having been once, with the
rest of her family, obliged to take refuge in an AUBERGE in Neufchateau
for fifteen days, when a party of Burgundian cavalry made an incursion
into Domremy. (See the Quarterly Review, No. 138.)]

The district where she dwelt had escaped comparatively free from the
ravages of war, but the approach of roving bands of Burgundian or
English troops frequently spread terror through Domremy. Once the
village had been plundered by some of these marauders, and Joan and her
family had been driven from their home, and forced to seek refuge for a
time at Neufchateau. The peasantry in Domremy were principally attached
to the House of Orleans and the Dauphin; and all the miseries which
France endured, were there imputed to the Burgundian faction and their
allies, the English, who were seeking to enslave unhappy France.

Thus from infancy to girlhood Joan had heard continually of the woes of
the war, and she had herself witnessed some of the wretchedness that it
caused. A feeling of intense patriotism grew in her with her growth. The
deliverance of France from the English was the subject of her reveries
by day and her dreams by night. Blended with these aspirations were
recollections of the miraculous interpositions of Heaven in favour of
the oppressed, which she had learned from the legends of her Church. Her
faith was undoubting; her prayers were fervent. "She feared no danger,
for she felt no sin;" and at length she believed herself to have
received the supernatural inspiration which, she sought.

According to her own narrative, delivered by her to her merciless
inquisitors in the time of her captivity and approaching death, she was
about thirteen years old when her revelations commenced. Her own words
describe them best: [Proces de Jeanne d'Arc, vol. i. p. 52.] "At the
age of thirteen, a voice from God came near to her to help her in ruling
herself, and that voice came to her about the hour of noon, in summer
time, while she was in her father's garden. And she had fasted the day
before. And she heard the voice on her right, in the direction of
the church; and when she heard the voice she also saw a bright light.
Afterwards, St. Michael and St. Margaret and St. Catherine appeared to
her. They were always in a halo of glory; she could see that their heads
were crowned with jewels: and she heard their voices, which were sweet
and mild. She did not distinguish their arms or limbs. She heard them
more frequently than she saw them; and the usual time when she heard
them was when the church bells were sounding for prayer. And if she was
in the woods when she heard them, she could plainly distinguish their
voices drawing near to her. When she thought that she discerned the
Heavenly Voices, she knelt down, and bowed herself to the ground. Their
presence gladdened her even to tears; and after they departed she wept
because they had not taken her with them back to Paradise. They always
spoke soothingly to her. They told her that France would be saved, and
that she was to save it." Such were the visions and the Voices that
moved the spirit of the girl of thirteen; and as she grew older they
became more frequent and more clear. At last the tidings of the siege of
Orleans reached Domremy, Joan heard her parents and neighbours talk of
the sufferings of its population, of the ruin which its capture would
bring on their lawful sovereign, and of the distress of the Dauphin and
his court. Joan's heart was sorely troubled at the thought of the fate
of Orleans; and her Voices now ordered her to leave her home; and warned
her that she was the instrument chosen by Heaven for driving away the
English from that city, and for taking the Dauphin to be anointed king
at Rheims. At length she informed her parents of her divine mission, and
told them that she must go to the Sire de Baudricourt, who commanded
at Vaucouleurs, and who was the appointed person to bring her into the
presence of the king, whom she was to save. Neither the anger nor the
grief of her parents, who said that they would rather see her drowned
than exposed to the contamination of the camp, could move her from her
purpose. One of her uncles consented to take her to Vaucouleurs, where
De Baudricourt at first thought her mad, and derided her; but by
degrees was led to believe, if not in her inspiration, at least in her
enthusiasm and in its possible utility to the Dauphin's cause.

The inhabitants of Vaucouleurs were completely won over to her side, by
the piety and devoutness which she displayed and by her firm assurance
in the truth of her mission. She told them that it was God's will
that she should go to the King, and that no one but her could save the
kingdom of France. She said that she herself would rather remain with
her poor mother and spin; but the Lord had ordered her forth. The fame
of "The Maid," as she was termed, the renown of her holiness, and of
her mission, spread far and wide. Baudricourt sent her with an escort to
Chinon, where the Dauphin Charles was dallying away his time. Her Voices
had bidden her assume the arms and the apparel of a knight; and the
wealthiest inhabitants of Vaucouleurs had vied with each other in
equipping her with warhorse, armour, and sword. On reaching Chinon,
she was, after some delay, admitted into the presence of the Dauphin.
Charles designedly dressed himself far less richly than many of
his courtiers were apparelled, and mingled with them, when Jean
was introduced, in order to see if the Holy Maid would address her
exhortations to the wrong person. But she instantly singled him out,
and kneeling before him, said, "Most noble Dauphin, the King of Heaven
announces to you by me, that you shall be anointed and crowned king in
the city of Rheims, and that you shall be His viceregent in France." His
features may probably have been seen by her previously in portraits, or
have been described to her by others; but she herself believed that
her Voices inspired her when she addressed the King; [Proces de Jeanne
d'Arc, vol. i. p. 56.] and the report soon spread abroad that the Holy
Maid had found the King by a miracle; and this, with many other similar
rumours, augmented the renown and influence that she now rapidly

The state of public feeling in France was not favourable to an
enthusiastic belief in Divine interposition in favour of the party that
had hitherto been unsuccessful and oppressed. The humiliations which had
befallen the French royal family and nobility were looked on as the just
judgments of God upon them for their vice and impiety. The misfortunes
that had come upon France as a nation, were believed to have been drawn
down by national sins. The English, who had been the instruments of
Heaven's wrath against France, seemed now by their pride and cruelty to
be fitting objects of it themselves. France in that age was a profoundly
religious country. There was ignorance, there was superstition there was
bigotry; but there was Faith--a Faith that itself worked true miracles,
even while it believed in unreal ones. At this time, also, one of those
devotional movements began among the clergy in France, which from time
to time occur in national Churches, without it being possible for the
historian to assign any adequate human cause for their immediate date or
extension. Numberless friars and priests traversed the rural districts
and towns of France, preaching to the people that they must seek
from Heaven a deliverance from the pillages of the soldiery, and the
insolence of the foreign oppressors. [See, Sismondi vol. xiii. p. 114;
Michelet, vol. v. Livre x.] The idea of a Providence that works only
by general laws was wholly alien to the feelings of the age. Every
political event, as well as every natural phenomenon, was believed to be
the immediate result of a special mandate of God. This led to the belief
that His holy angels and saints were constantly employed in executing
His commands and mingling in the affairs of men. The Church encouraged
these feelings; and at the same time sanctioned; the concurrent popular
belief that hosts of evil spirits were also ever actively interposing
in the current of earthly events, with whom sorcerers and wizards could
league themselves, and thereby obtain the exercise of supernatural

Thus all things favoured the influence which Joan obtained both over
friends and foes. The French nation, as well as the English and the
Burgundians, readily admitted that superhuman beings inspired her:
the only question was, whether these beings were good or evil angels;
whether she brought with her "airs from heaven, or blasts from hell."
This question seemed to her countrymen to be decisively settled in her
favour, by the austere sanctity of her life, by the holiness of her
conversation, but, still more, by her exemplary attention to all the
services and rites of the Church. The dauphin at first feared the injury
that might be done to his cause if he had laid himself open to the
charge of having leagued himself with a sorceress. Every imaginable
test, therefore, was resorted to in order to set Joan's orthodoxy and
purity beyond suspicion. At last Charles and his advisers felt safe in
accepting her services as those of a true and virtuous daughter of the
Holy Church.

It is indeed probable that Charles himself, and some of his counsellors,
may have suspected Joan of being a mere enthusiast; and it is certain
that Dunois, and others of the best generals, took considerable latitude
in obeying or deviating from the military orders that she gave. But over
the mass of the people and the soldiery, her influence was unbounded.
While Charles and his doctors of theology, and court ladies, had been
deliberating as to recognising or dismissing the Maid, a considerable
period had passed away, during which a small army, the last gleanings,
as it seemed, of the English sword, had been assembled at Blois, under
Dunois, La Hire, Xaintrailles, and other chiefs, who to their natural
valour were now beginning to unite the wisdom that is taught by
misfortune. It was resolved to send Joan with this force and a convoy of
provisions to Orleans. The distress of that city had now become urgent.
But the communication with the open country was not entirely cut off:
the Orleannais had heard of the Holy Maid whom Providence had raised
up for their deliverance, and their messengers urgently implored the
dauphin to send her to them without delay.

Joan appeared at the camp at Blois, clad in a new suit of brilliant
white armour, mounted on a stately black war-horse, and with a lance
in her right hand, which she had learned to wield with skill and grace.
[See the description of her by Gui de Laval, quoted in the note to
Michelet, p. 69; and see the account of the banner at Orleans, which is
believed to bear an authentic portrait of the Maid, in Murray's Handbook
for France, p. 175.] Her head was unhelmeted; so that all could behold
her fair and expressive features, her deep-set and earnest eyes, and her
long black hair, which was parted across her forehead, and bound by a
ribbon behind her back. She wore at her side a small battle-axe, and the
consecrated sword, marked on the blade with five crosses, which had
at her bidding been taken for her from the shrine of St. Catherine at
Fierbois. A page carried her banner, which she had caused to be made and
embroidered as her Voices enjoined. It was white satin [Proces de Jeanne
d'Arc, vol. i. p. 238.] strewn with fleur-de-lis; and on it were the
words "JHESUS MARIA," and the representation of the Saviour in His
glory. Joan afterwards generally bore her banner herself in battle; she
said that though she loved her sword much, she loved her banner forty
times as much; and she loved to carry it because it could not kill any

Thus accoutred, she came to lead the troops of France, who looked with
soldierly admiration on her well-proportioned and upright figure, the
skill with which she managed her war-horse, and the easy grace with
which she handled her weapons. Her military education had been short,
but she had availed herself of it well. She had also the good sense to
interfere little with the manoeuvres of the troops, leaving those things
to Dunois, and others whom she had the discernment to recognise as the
best officers in the camp. Her tactics in action were simple enough. As
she herself described it--"I used to say to them, 'Go boldly in among
the English,' and then I used to go boldly in myself." [Ibid.] Such, as
she told her inquisitors, was the only spell she used; and it was one of
power. But while interfering little with the military discipline of the
troops, in all matters of moral discipline she was inflexibly strict.
All the abandoned followers of the camp were driven away. She compelled
both generals and soldiers to attend regularly at confessional. Her
chaplain and other priests marched with the army under her orders; and
at every halt, an altar was set up and the sacrament administered. No
oath or foul language passed without punishment or censure. Even the
roughest and most hardened veterans obeyed her. They put off for a
time the bestial coarseness which had grown on them during a life of
bloodshed and rapine; they felt that they must go forth in a new spirit
to a new career, and acknowledged the beauty of the holiness in which
the heaven-sent Maid was leading them to certain victory.

Joan marched from Blois on the 26th of April with a convoy of provisions
for Orleans, accompanied by Dunois, La Hire, and the other chief
captains of the French; and on the evening of the 28th they approached
the town. In the words of the old chronicler Hall: [Hall, f. 127.] "The
Englishmen, perceiving that they within could not long continue for
faute of vitaile and pouder, kepte not their watche so diligently as
thei were accustomed, nor scoured now the countrey environed as thei
before had ordained. Whiche negligence the citizens shut in perceiving,
sente worde thereof to the French captaines, which with Pucelle in the
dedde tyme of the nighte, and in a greats rayne and thunders, with all
their vitaile and artillery entered into the citie."

When it was day, the Maid rode in solemn procession through the city,
clad in complete armour, and mounted on a white horse. Dunois was by
her side, and all the bravest knights of her army and of the garrison
followed in her train. The whole population thronged around her; and
men, women, and children strove to touch her garments, or her banner,
or her charger. They poured forth blessings on her, whom they already
considered their deliverer. In the words used by two of them afterwards
before the tribunal, which reversed the sentence, but could not restore
the life of the Virgin-martyr of France, "the people of Orleans, when
they first saw her in their city, thought that it was an angel from
heaven that had come down to save them." Joan spoke gently in reply to
their acclamations and addresses. She told them to fear God, and trust
in Him for safety from the fury of their enemies. She first went to the
principal church, where TE DEUM was chaunted; and then she took up her
abode in the house of Jacques Bourgier, one of the principal citizens,
and whose wife was a matron of good repute. She refused to attend a
splendid banquet which had been provided for her, and passed nearly all
her time in prayer.

When it was known by the English that the Maid was in Orleans, their
minds were not less occupied about her than were the minds of those in
the city; but it was in a very different spirit. The English believed in
her supernatural mission as firmly as the French did; but they thought
her a sorceress who had come to overthrow them by her enchantments. An
old prophecy, which told that a damsel from Lorraine was to save
France, had long been current; and it was known and applied to Joan by
foreigners as well as by the natives. For months the English had heard
of the coming Maid; and the tales of miracles which she was said to have
wrought, had been listened to by the rough yeomen of the English camp
with anxious curiosity and secret awe. She had sent a herald to the
English generals before she marched for Orleans; and he had summoned the
English generals in the name of the Most High to give up to the Maid
who was sent by Heaven, the keys of the French cities which they had
wrongfully taken: and he also solemnly adjured the English troops,
whether archers, or men of the companies of war, or gentlemen, or
others, who were before the city of Orleans, to depart thence to their
homes, under peril of being visited by the judgment of God. On her
arrival in Orleans, Joan sent another similar message; but the English
scoffed at her from their towers, and threatened to burn her heralds.
She determined before she shed the blood of the besiegers, to repeat
the warning with her own voice; and accordingly she mounted one of the
boulevards of the town, which was within hearing of the Tourelles; and
thence she spoke to the English, and bade them depart, otherwise they
would meet with shame and woe. Sir William Gladsdale (whom the French
call GLACIDAS) commanded the English post at the Tourelles, and he and
another English officer replied by bidding her go home and keep her
cows, and by ribald jests, that brought tears of shame and indignation
into her eyes. But though the English leaders vaunted aloud, the effect
produced on their army by Joan's presence in Orleans, was proved four
days after her arrival; when, on the approach of reinforcements and
stores to the town, Joan and La Hire marched out to meet them, and
escorted the long train of provision waggons safely into Orleans,
between the bastilles of the English, who cowered behind their walls,
instead of charging fiercely and fearlessly, as had been their wont, on
any French band that dared to show itself within reach.

Thus far she had prevailed without striking a blow; but the time was now
come to test her courage amid the horrors of actual slaughter. On the
afternoon of the day on which she had escorted the reinforcements into
the city, while she was resting fatigued at home, Dunois had seized an
advantageous opportunity of attacking the English bastille of St. Loup:
and a fierce assault of the Orleannais had been made on it, which the
English garrison of the fort stubbornly resisted. Joan was roused by a
sound which she believed to be that of Her Heavenly Voices; she called
for her arms and horse, and quickly equipping herself she mounted to
ride off to where the fight was raging. In her haste she had forgotten
her banner; she rode back, and, without dismounting, had it given to her
from the window, and then she galloped to the gate, whence the sally had
been made. On her way she met some of the wounded French who had been
carried back from the fight. "Ha," she exclaimed, "I never can see
French blood flow, without my hair standing on end." She rode out of the
gate, and met the tide of her countrymen, who had been repulsed from the
English fort, and were flying back to Orleans in confusion. At the sight
of the Holy Maid and her banner they rallied and renewed the assault.
Joan rode forward at their head, waving her banner and cheering them on.
The English quailed at what they believed to be the charge of hell; St.
Loup was stormed, and its defenders put to the sword, except some few,
whom Jean succeeded in saving. All her woman's gentleness returned when
the combat was over. It was the first time that she had ever seen a
battle-field. She wept at the sight of so many blood-stained and mangled
corpses; and her tears flowed doubly when she reflected that they were
the bodies of Christian men who had died without confession.

The next day was ascension-day, and it was passed by Joan in prayer. But
on the following morrow it was resolved by the chiefs of the garrison
to attack the English forts on the south of the river. For this purpose
they crossed the river in boats, and after some severe fighting, in
which the Maid was wounded in the heel, both the English bastilles of
the Augustins and St. Jean de Blanc were captured. The Tourelles were
now the only post which the besiegers held on the south of the river.
But that post was formidably strong, and by its command of the bridge,
it was the key to the deliverance of Orleans. It was known that a fresh
English army was approaching under Falstolfe to reinforce the besiegers,
and should that army arrive, while the Tourelles were yet in the
possession of their comrades, there was great peril of all the
advantages which the French had gained being nullified, and of the siege
being again actively carried on.

It was resolved, therefore, by the French, to assail the Tourelles at
once, while the enthusiasm which the presence and the heroic valour
of the Maid had created was at its height. But the enterprise was
difficult. The rampart of the tete-du-pont, or landward bulwark, of
the Tourelles was steep and high; and Sir John Gladsdale occupied this
all-important fort with five hundred archers and men-at-arms, who were
the very flower of the English army.

Early in the morning of the 7th of May, some thousands of the best
French troops in Orleans heard mass and attended the confessional by
Joan's orders; and then crossing the river in boats, as on the preceding
day they assailed the bulwark of the Tourelles, "with light hearts and
heavy hands." But Gladsdale's men, encouraged by their bold and skilful
leader, made a resolute and able defence. The Maid planted her banner
on the edge of the fosse, and then springing down into the ditch, she
placed the first ladder against the wall, and began to mount. An English
archer sent an arrow at her, which pierced her corslet and wounded
her severely between the neck and shoulder. She fell bleeding from the
ladder; and the English were leaping down from the wall to capture her,
but her followers bore her off. She was carried to the rear, and laid
upon the grass; her armour was taken off, and the anguish of her wound
and the sight of her blood, made her at first tremble and weep. But her
confidence in her celestial mission soon returned: her patron saints
seemed to stand before her and reassure her. She sate up and drew the
arrow out with her own hands. Some of the soldiers who stood by wished
to stanch the blood, by saying a charm over the wound; but she forbade
them, saying, that she did not wish to be cured by unhallowed means. She
had the wound dressed with a little oil, and then bidding her confessor
come to her, she betook herself to prayer.

In the meanwhile, the English in the bulwark of the Tourelles, had
repulsed the oft-renewed efforts of the French to scale the wall.
Dunois, who commanded the assailants, was at first discouraged, and
gave orders for a retreat to be sounded, Joan sent for him and the other
generals, and implored them not to despair. "By my God" she said to
them, "you shall soon enter in there. Do not doubt it. When you see my
banner wave again up to the wall, to your arms again! the fort is yours.
For the present rest a little, and take some food and drink. They did
so," says the old chronicler of the siege, [Journal du Siege d'Orleans,
p. 87.] "for they obeyed her marvellously." The faintness caused by
her wound had now passed off, and she headed the French in another
rush against the bulwark. The English, who had thought her slain, were
alarmed at her reappearance; while the French pressed furiously and
fanatically forward. A Biscayan soldier was carrying Joan's banner.
She had told the troops that directly the banner touched the wall they
should enter. The Biscayan waved the banner forward from the edge of
the fosse, and touched the wall with it; and then all the French host
swarmed madly up the ladders that now were raised in all directions
against the English fort. At this crisis, the efforts of the English
garrison were distracted by an attach from another quarter. The French
troops who had been left in Orleans, had placed some planks over the
broken part of the bridge, and advanced across them to the assault of
the Tourelles on the northern side. Gladsdale resolved to withdraw his
men from the landward bulwark, and concentrate his whole force in
the Tourelles themselves. He was passing for this purpose across the
drawbridge that connected the Tourelles and the tete-du-pont, when Joan,
who by this time had scaled the wall of the bulwark, called out to him,
"Surrender, surrender to the King of Heaven. Ah, Glacidas, you have
foully wronged me with your words, but I have great pity on your soul
and the souls of your men." The Englishman, disdainful of her summons,
was striding on across the drawbridge, when a cannon-shot from the town
carried it away, and Gladsdale perished in the water that ran beneath.
After his fall, the remnant of the English abandoned all further
resistance. Three hundred of them had been killed in the battle, and two
hundred were made prisoners.

The broken arch was speedily repaired by the exulting Orleannais; and
Joan made her triumphal re-entry into the city by the bridge that had so
long been closed. Every church in Orleans rang out its gratulating
peal; and throughout the night the sounds of rejoicing echoed, and the
bonfires blazed up from the city. But in the lines and forts which the
besiegers yet retained on the northern shore, there was anxious watching
of the generals, and there was desponding gloom among the soldiery. Even
Talbot now counselled retreat. On the following morning, the Orleannais,
from their walls, saw the great forts called "London" and "St.
Lawrence," in flames; and witnessed their invaders busy in destroying
the stores and munitions which had been relied on for the destruction of
Orleans. Slowly and sullenly the English army retired; but not before
it had drawn up in battle array opposite to the city, as if to challenge
the garrison to an encounter. The French troops were eager to go out and
attack, but Joan forbade it. The day was Sunday. "In the name of God,"
she said, "let them depart, and let us return thanks to God." She led
the soldiers and citizens forth from Orleans, but not for the shedding
of blood. They passed in solemn procession round the city walls; and
then, while their retiring enemies were yet in sight, they knelt in
thanksgiving to God for the deliverance which he had vouchsafed them.

Within three months from the time of her first interview with the
Dauphin, Joan had fulfilled the first part of her promise, the raising
of the siege of Orleans. Within three months more she fulfilled the
second part also; and she stood with her banner in her hand by the high
altar at Rheims while he was anointed and crowned as King Charles VII.
of France. In the interval she had taken Jargeau, Troyes, and other
strong places; and she had defeated an English army in a fair field
at Patay. The enthusiasm of her countrymen knew no bounds; but the
importance of her services, and especially of her primary achievement
at Orleans, may perhaps be best proved by the testimony of her enemies.
There is extant a fragment of a letter from the Regent Bedford to his
royal nephew, Henry VI., in which he bewails the turn that the war
had taken, and especially attributes it to the raising of the siege
of Orleans by Joan. Bedford's own words, which are preserved in Rymer,
[Vol. x. p. 403.] are as follows:--




When Charles had been anointed King of France, Joan believed that her
mission was accomplished. And in truth the deliverance of France from
the English, though not completed for many years afterwards, was then
insured. The ceremony of a royal coronation and anointment was not
in those days regarded as a mere costly formality. It was believed to
confer the sanction and the grace of heaven upon the prince, who had
previously ruled with mere human authority. Thenceforth he was the
Lord's Anointed. Moreover, one of the difficulties that had previously
lain in the way of many Frenchman when called on to support Charles
VII. was now removed. He had been publicly stigmatised, even by his own
parents, as no true son of the royal race of France. The queen-mother,
the English, and the partisans of Burgundy, called him the "Pretender
to the title of Dauphin;" but those who had been led to doubt his
legitimacy, were cured of their scepticism by the victories of the Holy
Maid, and by the fulfilment of her pledges. They thought that heaven had
now declared itself in favour of Charles as the true heir of the crown
of St. Louis; and the tales about his being spurious were thenceforth
regarded as mere English calumnies. With this strong tide of national
feeling in his favour, with victorious generals and soldiers round him,
and a dispirited and divided enemy before him, he could not fail to
conquer; though his own imprudence and misconduct, and the stubborn
valour which some of the English still displayed, prolonged the war in
France nearly to the time when the civil war of the Roses broke out in
England, and insured for France peace and repose.

Joan knelt before the new-crowned king in the cathedral of Rheims, and
shed tears of joy. She said that she had then fulfilled the work which
the Lord had commanded her. The young girl now asked for her dismissal.
She wished to return to her peasant home, to tend her parent's flocks
again, and to live at her own will in her native village. ["Je voudrais
bien qu'il voulut me faire ramener aupres mes pere et mere, et garder
leurs brebis et betail, et faire ce que je voudrois faire."] She had
always believed that her career would be a short one. But Charles and
his captains were loth to lose the presence of one who had such an
influence upon the soldiery and the people. They persuaded her to stay
with the army. She still showed the same bravery and zeal for the cause
of France. She was as fervent as before in her prayers, and as exemplary
in all religious duties. She still heard her Heavenly Voices, but; she
now no longer thought herself the appointed minister of heaven to lead
her countrymen to certain victory. Our admiration for her courage
and patriotism ought to be increased a hundred-fold by her conduct
throughout the latter part of her career, amid dangers, against which
she no longer believed herself to be divinely secured. Indeed she
believed herself doomed to perish in little more than a year; ["Des le
commencement elle avait dit, 'Il me faut employer: je ne durerai qu'un
an, ou guere plus."--MICHELAIT v. p. 101.] but she still fought on as
resolutely, if not as exultingly as ever.

As in the case of Arminius, the interest attached to individual heroism
and virtue makes us trace the fate of Joan of Arc after she had saved
her country. She served well with Charles's army in the capture of
Laon, Soissons, Compeigne, Beauvais, and other strong places; but in a
premature attack on Paris, in September 1429, the French were repulsed,
and Joan was severely wounded in the winter she was again in the field
with some of the French troops; and in the following spring she threw
herself into the fortress of Compeigne, which she had herself won for
the French king in the preceding autumn, and which was now besieged by a
strong Burgundian force.

She was taken prisoner in a sally from Compeigne, on the 24th of May,
and was imprisoned by the Burgundians first at Arras, and then at a
place called Crotoy, on the Flemish coast, until November, when for
payment of a large sum of money, she was given up to the English, and
taken to Rouen, which was then their main stronghold in France.

     "Sorrow it were, and shame to tell,
      The butchery that there befell:"

And the revolting details of the cruelties practised upon this young
girl may be left to those, whose duty as avowed biographers, it is
to describe them. [The whole of the "Proces de Condamnation at de
Rehabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc" has been published in five volumes, by
the Societe de l'Histoire de France. All the passages from contemporary
chroniclers and poets are added; and the most ample materials are
thus given for acquiring full information on a subject which is, to an
Englishman, one of painful interest. There is an admirable essay on Joan
of Arc, in the 138th number of the QUARTERLY.] She was tried before an
ecclesiastical tribunal on the charge of witchcraft, and on the 30th of
May, 1431, she was burnt alive in the market-place at Rouen.

I will add but one remark on the character of the truest heroine that
the world has ever seen.

If any person can be found in the present age who would join in the
scoffs of Voltaire against the Maid of Orleans and the Heavenly Voices
by which she believed herself inspired, let him read the life of the
wisest and best man that the heathen nations ever produced. Let him
read of the Heavenly Voice, by which Socrates believed himself to be
constantly attended; which cautioned him on his way from the field of
battle at Delium, and which from his boyhood to the time of his death
visited him with unearthly warnings. [See Cicero, de Divinatione, lib.
i. sec. 41; and see the words of Socrates himself, in Plato, Apol. Soc.]
Let the modern reader reflect upon this; and then, unless he is prepared
to term Socrates either fool or impostor, let him not dare to deride or
vilify Joan of Arc.


A.D. 1452. Final expulsion of the English from France.

1453. Constantinople taken, and the Roman empire of the East destroyed
by the Turkish Sultan Mahomet II.

1455. Commencement of the civil wars in England between the Houses of
York and Lancaster.

1479. Union of the Christian kingdoms of Spain under Ferdinand and

1492. Capture of Grenada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and end of the
Moorish dominion in Spain.

1492. Columbus discovers the New World.

1494. Charles VIII. of France invades Italy.

1497. Expedition of Vasco di Gama to the East Indies round the Cape of
Good Hope.

1503. Naples conquered from the French by the great Spanish general,
Gonsalvo of Cordova.

1508. League of Cambray, by the Pope, the Emperor, and the King of
France, against Venice.

1509. Albuquerque establishes the empire of the Portuguese in the East

1516. Death of Ferdinand of Spain; he is succeeded by his grandson
Charles, afterwards the Emperor Charles V.

1517. Dispute between Luther and Tetzel respecting the sale of
indulgences, which is the immediate cause of the Reformation.

1519. Charles V. is elected Emperor of Germany.

1520. Cortez conquers Mexico.

1525. Francis I. of France defeated and taken prisoner by the imperial
army at Pavia.

1529. League of Smalcald formed by the Protestant princes of Germany.

1533. Henry VIII. renounces the Papal supremacy.

1533. Pizarro conquers Peru.

1556. Abdication of the Emperor Charles V. Philip II. becomes King of
Spain, and Ferdinand I. Emperor of Germany.

1557.[sic] Elizabeth becomes Queen of England.

1557. The Spaniards defeat the French at the battle of St. Quentin.

1571. Don John of Austria at the head of the Spanish fleet, aided by the
Venetian and the Papal squadrons, defeats the Turks at Lepanto.

1572. Massacre of the Protestants in France on St. Bartholomew's day.

1579. The Netherlands revolt against Spain.

1580. Philip II. conquers Portugal.


   "In that memorable year, when the dark cloud gathered round our
   coasts, when Europe stood by in fearful suspense to behold what
   should be the result of that great cast in the game of human
   politics, what the craft of Rome, the power of Philip, the genius
   of Farnese, could achieve against the island-queen, with her
   Drakes and Cecils,--in that agony of the Protestant faith and
   English name."--HALLAM, CONST. HIST. vol. i. p. 220.

On the afternoon of the 19th of July, A.D. 1588, a group of English
captains was collected at the Bowling Green on the Hoe at Plymouth,
whose equals have never before or since been brought together, even at
that favourite mustering-place of the heroes of the British navy. There
was Sir Francis Drake, the first English circumnavigator of the globe,
the terror of every Spanish coast in the Old World and the New; there
was Sir John Hawkins, the rough veteran of many a daring voyage on the
African and American seas, and of many a desperate battle; there was Sir
Martin Frobisher, one of the earliest explorers of the Arctic seas in
search of that North-West Passage which is still the darling object of
England's boldest mariners. There was the high-admiral of England, Lord
Howard of Effingham, prodigal of all things in his country's cause, and
who had recently had the noble daring to refuse to dismantle part of the
fleet, though the Queen had sent him orders to do so, in consequence of
an exaggerated report that the enemy had been driven back and shattered
by a storm. Lord Howard (whom contemporary writers describe as being of
a wise and noble courage, skilful in sea matters, wary and provident,
and of great esteem among the sailors) resolved to risk his sovereign's
anger, and to keep the ships afloat at his own charge, rather than that
England should run the peril of losing their protection.

Another of our Elizabethan sea-kings, Sir Walter Raleigh, was at that
time commissioned to raise and equip the land-forces of Cornwall; but,
as he was also commander of Plymouth, we may well believe that he
must have availed himself of the opportunity of consulting with the
lord-admiral and other high officers which was offered by the English
fleet putting into that port; and we may look on Raleigh as one of the
group that was assembled at the Bowling Green on the Hoe. Many other
brave men and skilful mariners, besides the chiefs whose names have been
mentioned, were there, enjoying, with true sailor-like merriment, their
temporary relaxation from duty. In the harbour lay the English fleet
with which they had just returned from a cruise to Corunna in search of
information respecting the real condition and movements of the
hostile, Armada. Lord Howard had ascertained that our enemies, though
tempest-tost, were still formidably strong; and fearing that part of
their fleet might make for England in his absence, he had hurried back
to the Devonshire coast. He resumed his station at Plymouth, and waited
there for certain tidings of the Spaniard's approach.

A match at bowls was being played, in which Drake and other high
officers of the fleet were engaged, when a small armed vessel was seen
running before the wind into Plymouth harbour, with all sails set.
Her commander landed in haste, and eagerly sought the place where
the English lord-admiral and his captains were standing. His name
was Fleming; he was the master of a Scotch privateer; and he told the
English officers that he had that morning seen the Spanish Armada off
the Cornish coast. At this exciting information the captains began to
hurry down to the water, and there was a shouting for the ship's boats:
but Drake coolly checked his comrades, and insisted that the match
should be played out. He said that there was plenty of time both to win
the game and beat the Spaniards. The best and bravest match that ever
was scored was resumed accordingly. Drake and his friends aimed their
last bowls with the same steady calculating coolness with which they
were about to point their guns. The winning cast was made; and then they
went on board and prepared for action, with their hearts as light and
their nerves as firm as they had been on the Hoe Bowling Green.

Meanwhile the messengers and signals had been despatched fast and far
through England, to warn each town and village that the enemy had come
at last. In every seaport there was instant making ready by land and by
sea; in every shire and every city there was instant mustering of horse
and man. [In Macaulay's Ballad on the Spanish Armada, the transmission
of the tidings of the Armada's approach, and the arming of the English
nation, are magnificently described. The progress of the fire-signals
is depicted in lines which are worthy of comparison with the renowned
passage in the Agamemnon, which describes the transmission of the
beacon-light announcing the fall of Troy, from Mount Ida to Argos.] But
England's best defence then, as ever, was her fleet; and after warping
laboriously out of Plymouth harbour against the wind, the lord-admiral
stood westward under easy sail, keeping an anxious look-out for
the Armada, the approach of which was soon announced by Cornish
fishing-boats, and signals from the Cornish cliffs.

The England of our own days is so strong, and the Spain of our own days
is so feeble, that it is not possible, without some reflection and care,
to comprehend the full extent of the peril which England then ran from
the power and the ambition of Spain, or to appreciate the importance
of that crisis in the history of the world. We had then no Indian or
Colonial Empire save the feeble germs of our North American settlements,
which Raleigh and Gilbert had recently planted. Scotland was a separate
kingdom; and Ireland was then even a greater source of weakness, and
a worse nest of rebellion than she has been in after times. Queen
Elizabeth had found at her accession an encumbered revenue, a divided
people and an unsuccessful foreign war, in which the last remnant of our
possessions in France had been lost; she had also a formidable pretender
to her crown, whose interests were favoured by all the Roman Catholic
powers; and even some of her subjects were warped by religious bigotry
to deny her title, and to look on her as an heretical usurper. It is
true that during the years of her reign which had passed away before the
attempted invasion of 1588, she had revived the commercial prosperity,
the national spirit, and the national loyalty of England. But her
resources, to cope with the colossal power of Philip II., still seemed
most scanty; and she had not a single foreign ally, except the Dutch,
who were themselves struggling hard, and, as it seemed, hopelessly, to
maintain their revolt against Spain.

On the other hand Philip II, was absolute master of an empire so
superior to the other states of the world in extent, in resources and
especially in military and naval forces, as to make the project of
enlarging that empire into a universal monarchy seem a perfectly
feasible scheme; and Philip had both the ambition to form that project,
and the resolution to devote all his energies, and all his means, to
its realization. Since the downfall of the Roman empire no such
preponderating power had existed in the world. During the mediaeval
centuries the chief European kingdoms were slowly moulding themselves
out of the feudal chaos. And, though their wars with each other were
numerous and desperate, and several of their respective kings figured
for a time as mighty conquerors, none of them in those times acquired
the consistency and perfect organization which are requisite for a
long-sustained career of aggrandizement. After the consolidation of
the great kingdoms, they for some time kept each other in mutual check.
During the first half of the sixteenth century, the balancing system
was successfully practised by European statesmen. But when Philip II.
reigned, France had become so miserably weak through her civil wars,
that he had nothing to dread from the rival state, which had so long
curbed his father the Emperor Charles V. In Germany, Italy, and Poland
he had either zealous friends and dependents, or weak and divided
enemies. Against the Turks he had gained great and glorious successes;
and he might look round the continent of Europe without discerning a
single antagonist of whom he could stand in awe. Spain, when he acceded
to the throne, was at the zenith of her power. The hardihood and spirit
which the Arragonese, the Castilians, and the other nations of the
peninsula had acquired during centuries of free institutions and
successful war against the Moors, had not yet become obliterated.
Charles V. had, indeed, destroyed the liberties of Spain; but that had
been done too recently for its full evil to be felt in Philip's time. A
people cannot be debased in a single generation; and the Spaniards under
Charles V. and Philip II. proved the truth of the remark, that no nation
is ever so formidable to its neighbours, for a time, as is a nation,
which, after being trained up in self-government, passes suddenly under
a despotic ruler. The energy of democratic institutions survives for
a few generations, and to it are superadded the decision and certainty
which are the attributes of government, when all its powers are
directed by a single mind. It is true that this preter-natural vigour
is short-lived: national corruption and debasement gradually follow the
loss of the national liberties; but there is an interval before their
workings are felt, and in that interval the most ambitious schemes of
foreign conquest are often successfully undertaken.

Philip had also the advantage of finding himself at the head of a large
standing army in a perfect state of discipline and equipment, in an age
when, except some few insignificant corps, standing armies were unknown
in Christendom. The renown of the Spanish troops was justly high, and
the infantry in particular was considered the best in the world. His
fleet, also, was far more numerous, and better appointed, than that of
any other European power; and both his soldiers and his sailors had the
confidence in themselves and their commanders, which a long career of
successful warfare alone can create.

Besides the Spanish crown, Philip succeeded to the kingdom, of Naples
and Sicily, the Duchy of Milan, Franche-Comte, and the Netherlands. In
Africa he possessed Tunis, Oran, the Cape Verde and the Canary Islands;
and in Asia, the Philippine and Sunda Islands and a part of the
Moluccas. Beyond the Atlantic he was lord of the most splendid portions
of the New world which "Columbus found for Castile and Leon." The empire
of Peru and Mexico, New Spain, and Chili, with their abundant mines of
the precious metals, Hispaniola and Cuba, and many other of the American
Islands, were provinces of the sovereign of Spain.

Philip had, indeed, experienced the mortification of seeing the
inhabitants of the Netherlands revolt against his authority, nor
could he succeed in bringing back beneath the Spanish sceptre all
the possessions which his father had bequeathed to him. But he had
reconquered a large number of the towns and districts that originally
took up arms against him. Belgium was brought more thoroughly into
implicit obedience to Spain than she had been before her insurrection,
and it was only Holland and the six other Northern States that still
held out against his arms. The contest had also formed a compact and
veteran army on Philip's side, which, under his great general, the
Prince of Parma, had been trained to act together under all difficulties
and all vicissitudes of warfare; and on whose steadiness and loyalty
perfect reliance might be placed throughout any enterprise,
however difficult and tedious. Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma,
captain-general of the Spanish armies, and governor of the Spanish
possessions in the Netherlands was beyond all comparison the greatest
military genius of his age. He was also highly distinguished for
political wisdom and sagacity, and for his great administrative talents.
He was idolised by his troops, whose affections he knew how to win
without relaxing their discipline or diminishing his own authority.
Pre-eminently cool and circumspect in his plans, but swift and energetic
when the moment arrived for striking a decisive blow, neglecting no risk
that caution could provide against, conciliating even the populations
of the districts which he attacked by his scrupulous good faith, his
moderation, and his address, Farnese was one of the most formidable
generals that ever could be placed at the head of an army designed not
only to win battles, but to effect conquests. Happy it is for England
and the world that this island was saved from becoming an arena for the
exhibition of his powers.

Whatever diminution the Spanish empire might have sustained in the
Netherlands, seemed to be more than compensated by the acquisition of
Portugal, which Philip had completely conquered in 1580. Not only that
ancient kingdom itself, but all the fruits of the maritime enterprises
of the Portuguese had fallen into Philip's hands. All the Portuguese
colonies in America, Africa, and the East Indies, acknowledged the
sovereignty of the King of Spain; who thus not only united the
whole Iberian peninsula under his single sceptre, but had acquired a
transmarine empire, little inferior in wealth and extent to that which
he had inherited at his accession. The splendid victory which his
fleet, in conjunction with the Papal and Venetian galleys, had gained at
Lepanto over the Turks, had deservedly exalted the fame of the Spanish
marine throughout Christendom; and when Philip had reigned thirty-five
years, the vigour of his empire seemed unbroken, and the glory of the
Spanish arms had increased, and was increasing throughout the world.

One nation only had been his active, his persevering, and his successful
foe. England had encouraged his revolted subjects in Flanders against
him, and given them the aid in men and money without which they must
soon have been humbled in the dust. English ships had plundered his
colonies; had denied his supremacy in the New World, as well as the
Old; they had inflicted ignominious defeats on his squadrons; they
had captured his cities, and burned his arsenals on the very coasts
of Spain. The English had made Philip himself the object of personal
insult. He was held up to ridicule in their stage plays and masks, and
these scoffs at the man had (as is not unusual in such cases) excited
the anger of the absolute king, even more vehemently than the injuries
inflicted on his power. [See Ranke's Hist. Popes, vol. ii. p. 170.]
Personal as well as political revenge urged him to attack England. Were
she once subdued, the Dutch must submit; France could not cope with him,
the empire would not oppose him; and universal dominion seemed sure to
be the result of the conquest of that malignant island.

There was yet another and a stronger feeling which armed King Philip
against England. He was one of the sincerest and sternest bigots of his
age. He looked on himself, and was looked on by others, as the
appointed champion to extirpate heresy and re-establish the Papal power
throughout Europe. A powerful reaction against Protestantism had
taken place since the commencement of the second half of the sixteenth
century, and Philip believed that he was destined to complete it. The
Reform doctrines had been thoroughly rooted out from Italy and Spain.
Belgium, which had previously been half Protestant, had been reconquered
both in allegiance and creed by Philip, and had become one of the most
Catholic countries in the world. Half Germany had been won back to
the old faith. In Savoy, in Switzerland and many other countries, the
progress of the counter-Reformation had been rapid and decisive. The
Catholic league seemed victorious in France. The Papal Court itself had
shaken off the supineness of recent centuries; and, at the head of the
Jesuits and the other new ecclesiastical orders, was displaying a vigour
and a boldness worthy of the days of Hildebrand or Innocent III.

Throughout continental Europe, the Protestants, discomfited and
dismayed, looked to England as their protector and refuge. England was
the acknowledged central point of Protestant power and policy; and to
conquer England was to stab Protestantism to the very heart. Sixtus V.,
the then reigning pope, earnestly exhorted Philip to this enterprise.
And when the tidings reached Italy and Spain that the Protestant Queen
of England had put to death her Catholic prisoner, Mary Queen of Scots,
the fury of the Vatican and Escurial knew no bounds.

The Prince of Parma, who was appointed military chief of the expedition,
collected on the coast of Flanders a veteran force that was to play a
principal part in the conquest of England. Besides the troops who were
in his garrisons, or under his colours, five thousand infantry were sent
to him from northern and central Italy, four thousand from the kingdom
of Naples, six thousand from Castile, three thousand from Arragon,
three thousand from Austria and Germany, together with four squadrons
of heavy-armed horse; besides which he received forces from the
Franche-Comte and the Walloon country. By his command, the forest of
Waes was felled for the purpose of building flat-bottomed boats, which,
floating down the rivers and canals to Meinport and Dunkerque, were to
carry this large army of chosen troops to the mouth of the Thames, under
the escort of the great Spanish fleet. Gun-carriages, fascines, machines
used in sieges, together with every material requisite for building
bridges, forming camps, and raising fortresses, were to be placed on
board the flotillas of the Prince of Parma, who followed up the conquest
of the Netherlands, whilst he was making preparations for the invasion
of this island. Favoured by the dissensions between the insurgents of
the United Provinces and Leicester, the Prince of Parma had recovered
Deventer, as well as a fort before Zutphen, which the English
commanders, Sir William Stanley, the friend of Babbington, and Sir
Roland York, had surrendered to him, when with their troops they passed
over to the service of Philip II., after the death of Mary Stuart, and
he had also made himself master of the Sluys. His intention was to leave
to the Count de Mansfeldt sufficient forces to follow up the war with
the Dutch, which had now become a secondary object, whilst he himself
went at the head of fifty thousand men of the Armada and the flotilla,
to accomplish the principal enterprise--that enterprise, which, in the
highest degree, affected the interests of the pontifical authority. In
a bull, intended to be kept secret until the day of landing, Sixtus
V., renewing the anathema fulminated against Elizabeth by Pius V. and
Gregory XIII., affected to depose her from our throne. [See Mignet's
Mary Queen of Scots vol. ii.]

Elizabeth was denounced as a murderous heretic whose destruction was an
instant duty. A formal treaty was concluded (in June, 1587), by which
the pope bound himself to contribute a million of scudi to the expenses
of the war; the money to be paid as soon as the king had actual
possession of an English port. Philip, on his part, strained the
resources of his vast empire to the utmost. The French Catholic chiefs
eagerly co-operated with him. In the sea-ports of the Mediterranean, and
along almost the whole coast from Gibraltar to Jutland, the preparations
for the great armament were urged forward with all the earnestness of
religious zeal, as well as of angry ambition.--"Thus," says the German
historian of the Popes, [Ranke, vol ii. p. 172.] "thus did the united
powers of Italy and Spain, from which such mighty influences had gone
forth over the whole world, now rouse themselves for an attack upon
England! The king had already compiled, from the archives of Simancas,
a statement of the claims which he had to the throne of that country
on the extinction of the Stuart line; the most brilliant prospects,
especially that of an universal dominion of the seas, were associated
in his mind with this enterprise. Everything seemed to conspire to such
end; the predominance of Catholicism in Germany, the renewed attack upon
the Huguenots in France, the attempt upon Geneva, and the enterprise
against England. At the same moment a thoroughly Catholic prince,
Sigismund III., ascended the throne of Poland, with the prospect also of
future succession to the throne of Sweden. But whenever any principle
or power, be it what it may, aims at unlimited supremacy in Europe, some
vigorous resistance to it, having its origin in the deepest springs
of human nature, invariably arises. Philip II. had had, to encounter
newly-awakened powers, braced by the vigour of youth, and elevated by a
sense of their future destiny. The intrepid corsairs, who had rendered
every sea insecure, now clustered round the coasts of their native
island. The Protestants in a body,--even the Puritans, although they had
been subjected to as severe oppressions as the Catholics,--rallied round
their queen, who now gave admirable proof of her masculine courage, and
her princely talent of winning the affections, and leading the minds,
and preserving the allegiance of men."

Ranke should have added that the English Catholics at this crisis proved
themselves as loyal to their queen, and true to their country, as were
the most vehement anti-Catholic zealots in the island. Some few traitors
there were; but, as a body, the Englishmen who held the ancient faith,
stood the trial of their patriotism nobly. The lord-admiral himself was
a Catholic, and (to adopt the words of Hallam) "then it was that
the Catholics in every county repaired to the standard of the
lord-lieutenant, imploring that they might not be suspected of bartering
the national independence for their religion itself." The Spaniard
found no partisans in the country which he assailed, nor did England,

    "Lie at the proud foot of her enemy."

For some time the destination of the enormous armament of Philip was not
publicly announced. Only Philip himself, the Pope Sixtus, the Duke of
Guise, and Philip's favourite minister, Mendoza, at first knew its real
object. Rumours were sedulously spread that it was designed to proceed
to the Indies to realize vast projects of distant conquest. Sometimes
hints were dropped by Philip's ambassadors in foreign courts, that his
master had resolved on a decisive effort to crush his rebels in the Low
Countries. But Elizabeth and her statesmen could not view the gathering
of such a storm without feeling the probability of its bursting on their
own shores. As early as the spring of 1587, Elizabeth sent Sir Francis
Drake to cruise off the Tagus. Drake sailed into the Bay of Cadiz and
the Lisbon Roads, and burnt much shipping and military stores, causing
thereby an important delay in the progress of the Spanish preparations.
Drake called this "Singeing the King of of Spain's beard." Elizabeth
also increased her succours of troops to the Netherlanders, to prevent
the Prince of Parma from overwhelming them, and from thence being at
full leisure to employ his army against her dominions.

Each party at this time thought it politic to try to amuse its adversary
by pretending to treat for peace, and negotiations were opened at Ostend
in the beginning of 1588, which were prolonged during the first six
months of that year. Nothing real was effected, and probably nothing
real had been intended to be effected by them. But, in the meantime,
each party had been engaged in important communications with the chief
powers in France, in which Elizabeth seemed at first to have secured a
great advantage, but in which Philip ultimately prevailed. "Henry III.
of France was alarmed at the negotiations that were going on at Ostend;
and he especially dreaded any accommodation between Spain and England,
in consequence of which Philip II. might be enabled to subdue the United
Provinces, and make himself master of France. In order, therefore, to
dissuade Elizabeth from any arrangement, he offered to support her,
in case she were attacked by the Spaniards, with twice the number
of troops, which he was bound by the treaty of 1574 to send to her
assistance. He had a long conference with her ambassador, Stafford,
upon this subject, and told him that the Pope and the Catholic King had
entered into a league against the queen, his mistress, and had invited
himself and the Venetians to join them, but they had refused to do
so. 'If the Queen of England,' he added, 'concludes a peace with the
Catholic king, that peace will not last three months, because the
Catholic king will aid the League with all his forces to overthrow her,
and you may imagine what fate is reserved for your mistress after
that.' On the other hand, in order most effectually to frustrate this
negotiation, he proposed to Philip II. to form a still closer union
between the two crowns of France and Spain: and, at the same time, he
secretly despatched a confidential envoy to Constantinople to warn the
Sultan, that if he did not again declare war against the Catholic King,
that monarch, who already possessed the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain,
the Indies, and nearly all Italy, would soon make himself master of
England, and would then turn the forces of all Europe against the
Turks." [Mignet's History of Mary Queen of Scots. vol. ii.]

But Philip had an ally in France, who was far more powerful than the
French king. This was the Duke of Guise, the chief of the League, and
the idol of the fanatic partisans of the Romish faith. Philip prevailed
on Guise openly to take up arms against Henry III. (who was reviled by
the Leaguers as a traitor to the true Church, and a secret friend to the
Huguenots); and thus prevent the French king from interfering in favour
of Queen Elizabeth. "With this object, the commander, Juan Iniguez
Moreo, was despatched by him in the early part of April to the Duke of
Guise at Soissons. He met with complete success. He offered the Duke of
Guise, as soon as he took the field against Henry III., three hundred
thousand crowns, six thousand infantry, and twelve hundred pikemen,
on behalf of the king his master, who would, in addition, withdraw
his ambassador from the court of France, and accredit an envoy to the
Catholic party. A treaty was concluded on these conditions, and the
Duke of Guise entered Paris, where he was expected by the Leaguers, and
whence he expelled Henry III. on the 12th of May, by the insurrection of
the barricades. A fortnight after this insurrection, which reduced Henry
III. to impotence, and, to use the language of the Prince of Parma, did
not even 'permit him to assist the Queen of England with his tears, as
he needed them all to weep over his own misfortunes,' the Spanish fleet
left the Tagus and sailed towards the British isles." [Mignet.]

Meanwhile in England, from the sovereign on the throne to the peasant in
the cottage, all hearts and hands made ready to meet the imminent
deadly peril. Circular letters from the queen were sent round to
the lord-lieutenants of the several counties requiring them "to call
together the best sort of gentlemen under their lieutenancy, and to
declare unto them these great preparations and arrogant threatenings,
now burst forth in action upon the seas, wherein every man's particular
state, in the highest degree, could be touched in respect of country,
liberty, wives, children, lands, lives, and (which was specially to be
regarded) the profession of the true and sincere religion of Christ: and
to lay before them the infinite and unspeakable miseries that would
fall out upon any such change, which miseries were evidently seen by
the fruits of that hard and cruel government holden in countries not far
distant. We do look," said the queen, "that the most part of them should
have, upon this instant extraordinary occasion, a larger proportion of
furniture, both for horseman and footmen, but especially horsemen, than
hath been certified; thereby to be in their best strength against any
attempt, or to be employed about our own person, or otherwise. Hereunto
as we doubt not but by your good endeavours they will be the rather
conformable, so also we assure ourselves, that Almighty God will so
bless these their loyal hearts borne towards us, their loving sovereign,
and their natural country, that all the attempts of any enemy whatsoever
shall be made void and frustrate, to their confusion, your comfort, and
to God's high glory." [Strype, cited in Southey's Naval History.]

Letters of a similar kind were also sent by the council to each of the
nobility, and to the great cities. The primate called on the clergy for
their contributions; and by every class of the community the appeal was
responded to with liberal zeal, that offered more even than the queen
required. The boasting threats of the Spaniards had roused the spirit of
the nation; and the whole people "were thoroughly irritated to stir
up their whole forces for their defence against such prognosticated
conquests; so that, in a very short time, all the whole realm, and every
corner were furnished with armed men, on horseback and on foot; and
these continually trained, exercised, and put into bands, in warlike
manner, as in no age ever was before in this realm. There was no sparing
of money to provide horse, armour, weapons, powder, and all necessaries;
no, nor want of provision of pioneers, carriages, and victuals, in every
county of the realm, without exception, to attend upon the armies. And
to this general furniture every man voluntarily offered, very many their
services personally without wages, others money for armour and weapons,
and to wage soldiers: a matter strange, and never the like heard of in
this realm or else where. And this general reason moved all men to large
contributions, that when a conquest was to be withstood wherein
all should be lost, it was no time to spare a portion." [Copy of
contemporary letter in the Harleian Collection, quoted by Southey.]

Our lion-hearted queen showed herself worthy of such a people. A camp
was formed at Tilbury; and there Elizabeth rode through the ranks,
encouraging her captains and her soldiers by her presence and her words.
One of the speeches which she addressed to them during this crisis has
been preserved; and, though often quoted, it must not be omitted here.

"My loving people," she said, "we have been persuaded by some that are
careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed
multitudes for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to
live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear! I have
always so behaved myself, that, under God, I have placed my chiefest
strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects;
and, therefore, I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for
my recreation or disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of
the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God, for
my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.
I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the
heart and stomach of a king, and of a King of England too; and think it
foul scorn that Parma, or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare
to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour
shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your
general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.
I know already for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and
crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be
duly paid you. In the meantime, my lieutenant-general shall be in my
stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject,
not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in
the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous
victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."

We have minute proofs of the skill with which the government of
Elizabeth made its preparations; for the documents still exist which
were drawn up at that time by the ministers and military men who were
consulted by Elizabeth respecting the defence of the country. [See note
in Tytler's Life of Raleigh, p. 71.] Among those summoned to the advice
of their queen at this crisis, were Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Grey,
Sir Francis Knolles, Sir Thomas Leighton, Sir John Norris, Sir Richard
Grenville, Sir Richard Bingham, and Sir Roger Williams; and the
biographer of Sir Walter Raleigh observes that "These councillors were
chosen by the queen, as being not only men bred to arms, and some of
them, as Grey, Norris, Bingham, and Grenville, of high military talents,
but of grave experience in affairs of state, and in the civil government
of provinces,--qualities by no means means unimportant, when the debate
referred not merely to the leading of an army or the plan of a campaign,
but to the organization of a militia, and the communication with the
magistrates for arming the peasantry, and encouraging them to a resolute
and simultaneous resistance. From some private papers of Lord
Burleigh, it appears that Sir Walter took a principal share in these
deliberations; and the abstract of their proceedings, a document still
preserved, is supposed to have been drawn up by him. They first prepared
a list of places where it was likely the Spanish army might attempt a
descent, as well as of those which lay most exposed to the forces under
the Duke of Parma. They next considered the speediest and most effectual
means of defence, whether by fortification or the muster of a military
array; and, lastly, deliberated on the course to be taken for fighting
the enemy if he should land."

Some of Elizabeth's advisers recommended that the whole care and
resources of the government should be devoted to the equipment of
the armies, and that the enemy, when he attempted to land, should be
welcomed with a battle on the shore. But the wiser counsels of Raleigh
and others prevailed, who urged the importance of fitting out a fleet,
that should encounter the Spaniards at sea, and, if possible, prevent
them from approaching the land at all. In Raleigh's great work on the
"History of the World," he takes occasion, when discussing some of the
events of the first Punic war, to give his reasonings on the proper
policy of England when menaced with invasion. Without doubt, we have
there the substance of the advice which he gave to Elizabeth's council;
and the remarks of such a man, on such a subject, have a general and
enduring interest, beyond the immediate peril which called them forth.
Raleigh [Historie of the World pp. 799--801.] says:--"Surely I hold
that the best way is to keep our enemies from treading upon our ground:
wherein if we fail, then must we seek to make him wish that he had
stayed at his own home. In such a case if it should happen, our
judgments are to weigh many particular circumstances, that belongs not
unto this discourse. But making the question general, the positive,
ENEMY FROM LANDING; I hold that it is unable so to do; and therefore I
think it most dangerous to make the adventure. For the encouragement of
a first victory to an enemy, and the discouragement of being beaten, to
the invaded, may draw after it a most perilous consequence.

"Great difference I know there is, and a diverse consideration to
be had, between such a country as France is, strengthened with many
fortified places; and this of ours, where our ramparts are but the
bodies of men. But I say that an army to be transported over sea, and to
be landed again in an enemy's country, and the place left to the choice
of the invader, cannot be resisted on the coast of England, without
a fleet to impeach it; no, nor on the coast of France, or any other
country; except every creek, port, or sandy bay, had a powerful army,
in each of them, to make opposition. For let the supposition be granted
that Kent is able to furnish twelve thousand foot, and that those twelve
thousand be layed in the three best landing-places within that country,
to wit, three thousand at Margat, three thousand at the Nesse, and six
thousand at Foulkstone, that is, somewhat equally distant from them
both; as also that two of these troops (unless some other order be
thought more fit) be directed to strengthen the third, when they shall
see the enemies' fleet to head towards it: I say, that notwithstanding
this provision, if the enemy, setting sail from the Isle of Wight,
in the first watch of the night, and towing their long boats at their
sterns, shall arrive by dawn of day at the Nesse, and thrust their army
on shore there, it will be hard for those three thousand that are at
Margat (twenty-and-four long miles from thence), to come time enough to
reinforce their fellows at the Nesse. Nay, how shall they at Foulkstone
be able to do it, who are nearer by more than half the way? seeing that
the enemy, at his first arrival, will either make his entrance by force,
with three or four shot of great artillery, and quickly put the first
three thousand that are entrenched at the Nesse to run, or else
give them so much to do that they shall be glad to send for help to
Foulkstone, and perhaps to Margat, whereby those places will be left
bare. Now let us suppose that all the twelve thousand Kentish soldiers
arrive at the Nesse, ere the enemy can be ready to disembarque his army,
so that he will find it unsafe to land in the face of so many prepared
to withstand him, yet must we believe that he will play the best of his
own game (having liberty to go which way he list), and under covert of
the night, set sail towards the east, where what shall hinder him to
take ground either at Margat, the Downes, or elsewhere, before they,
at the Nesse, can be well aware of his departure? Certainly there is
nothing more easy than to do it. Yea, the like may be said of Weymouth,
Purbeck, Poole, and of all landing-places on the south-west. For there
is no man ignorant, that ships without putting themselves out of breath,
will easily outrun the souldiers that coast them. 'LES ARMEES NE VOLENT
POINT EN POSTE;'--'Armies neither flye, nor run post,' saith a marshal
of France. And I know it to be true, that a fleet of ships may be seen
at sunset, and after it at the Lizard, yet by the next morning they may
recover Portland, whereas an army of foot shall not be able to march it
in six dayes. Again, when those troops lodged on the sea-shores, shall
be forced to run from place to place in vain, after a fleet of ships,
they will at length sit down in the midway, and leave all at adventure.
But say it were otherwise, that the invading enemy will offer to land in
some such place, where there shall be an army of ours ready to receive
him; yet it cannot be doubted, but that when the choice of all our
trained bands, and the choice of our commanders and captains, shall be
drawn together (as they were at Tilbury in the year 1588) to attend the
person of the prince, and for the defence of the city of London; they
that remain to guard the coast can be of no such force as to encounter
an army like unto that wherewith it was intended that the Prince of
Parma should have landed in England.

"For end of this digression, I hope that this question shall never come
to trial; his majestie's many moveable forts will forbid the experience.
And although the English will no less disdain that any nation under
heaven can do, to be beaten, upon their own ground, or elsewhere, by a
foreign enemy; yet to entertain those that shall assail us with their
own beef in their bellies, and before they eat of our Kentish capons, I
take it to be the wisest way; to do which his majesty, after God, will
employ his good ships on the sea, and not trust in any intrenchment upon
the shore."

The introduction of steam as a propelling power at sea, has added
tenfold weight to these arguments of Raleigh, On the other hand, a
well-constructed system of railways, especially of coast-lines, aided
by the operation or the electric telegraph, would give facilities for
concentrating a defensive army to oppose an enemy on landing, and for
moving troops from place to place in observation of the movements of the
hostile fleet, such as would have astonished Sir Walter even more than
the sight of vessels passing rapidly to and fro without the aid of wind
or tide. The observation of the French marshal, whom he quotes, is now
no longer correct. Armies can be made to pass from place to place almost
with the speed of wings, and far more rapidly than any post-travelling
that was known in the Elizabethan or any other age. Still, the presence
of a sufficient armed force at the right spot, at the right time, can
never be made a matter of certainty; and even after the changes that
have taken place, no one can doubt but that the policy of Raleigh is
that which England should ever seek to follow in defensive war. At the
time of the Armada, that policy certainly saved the country, if not from
conquest, at least from deplorable calamities. If indeed the enemy had
landed, we may be sure that he would have been heroically opposed. But
history shows us so many examples of the superiority of veteran troops
over new levies, however numerous and brave, that without disparaging
our countrymen's soldierly merits, we may well be thankful that no trial
of them was then made on English land. Especially must we feel this,
when we contrast the high military genius of the Prince of Parma, who
would have headed the Spaniards, with the imbecility of the Earl of
Leicester, to whom the deplorable spirit of favouritism, which formed
the greatest blemish in Elizabeth's character, had then committed the
chief command of the English armies.

The ships of the royal navy at this time amounted to no more than
thirty-six; but the most serviceable merchant vessels were collected
from all the ports of the country; and the citizens of London, Bristol,
and the other great seats of commerce, showed as liberal a zeal in
equipping and manning vessels as the nobility and gentry displayed in
mustering forces by land. The seafaring population of the coast, of
every rank and station, was animated by the same ready spirit; and the
whole number of seamen who came forward to man the English fleet was
17,472. The number of the ships that were collected was 191; and the
total amount of their tonnage 31,985. There was one ship in the fleet
(the Triumph) of 1100 tons, one of 1000, one of 900, two of 800 each,
three of 600, five of 600, five of 400, six of 300, six of 250, twenty
of 200, and the residue of inferior burden. Application was made to the
Dutch for assistance; and, as Stows expresses it, "The Hollanders came
roundly in, with threescore sail, brave ships of war, fierce and full of
spleen, not so much for England's aid, as in just occasion for their
own defence; these men foreseeing the greatness of the danger that might
ensue, if the Spaniards should chance to win the day and get the mastery
over them; in due regard whereof their manly courage was inferior to

We have more minute information of the numbers and equipment of the
hostile forces than we have of our own. In the first volume of Hakluyt's
"Voyages," dedicated to Lord Effingham, who commanded against the
Armada, there is given (from the contemporary foreign writer, Meteran) a
more complete and detailed catalogue than has perhaps ever appeared of a
similar armament.

"A very large and particular description of this navie was put in print
and published by the Spaniards; wherein was set downe the number,
names, and burthens of the shippes, the number of mariners and soldiers
throughout the whole fleete; likewise the quantitie of their ordinance,
of their armour of bullets, of match, of gun-poulder, of victuals,
and of all their navall furniture, was in the saide description
particularized. Unto all these were added the names of the governours,
captaines, noblemen, and gentlemen voluntaries, of whom there was so
great a multitude, that scarce was there any family of accompt, or any
one principall man throughout all Spaine, that had not a brother, sonne,
or kinsman in that fleete; who all of them were in good hope to purchase
unto themselves in that navie (as they termed it) invincible, endless
glory and renown, and to possess themselves of great seigniories and
riches in England, and in the Low Countreys. But because the said
description was translated and published out of Spanish into divers
other languages, we will here only make an abridgement or brief
rehearsal thereof.

"Portugal furnished and set foorth under the conduct of the Duke of
Medina Sidonia, generall of the fleete, ten galeons, two zabraes,
1300 mariners, 3300 souldiers, 300 great pieces, with all requisite

"Biscay, under the conduct of John Martines de Ricalde, admiral of the
whole fleete, set forth tenne galeons, four pataches, 700 mariners, 2000
souldiers, 260 great pieces, &c.

"Guipusco, under the conduct of Michael de Orquendo, tenne galeons, four
pataches, 700 mariners, 2000 souldiers, 310 great pieces.

"Italy with the Levant Islands, under Martine de Vertendona, ten
galeons, 800 mariners, 2000 souldiers, 310 great pieces, &c.

"Castile, under Diego Flores de Valdez, fourteen galeons, two pataches,
1700 mariners, 2400 souldiers, and 388 great pieces, &c.

"Andaluzia, under the conduct of Petro de Valdez, ten galeons, one
patache, 800 mariners, 2400 souldiers, 280 great pieces, &c.

"Item, under the conduct of John Lopez de Medina, twenty-three great
Flemish hulkes, with 700 mariners, 3200 souldiers, and 400 great pieces,

"Item, under Hugo de Moncada, fours galliasses, containing 1200
gally-slaves, 460 mariners, 870 souldiers, 200 great pieces, &c.

"Item, under Diego de Mandrana, fours gallies of Portugall with 888
gally-slaves, 360 mariners, twenty great pieces, and other requisite

"Item, under Anthonie de Mendoza, twenty-two pataches and zabraes, with
574 mariners, 488 souldiers, and 193 great pieces.

"Besides the ships aforementioned, there were twenty caravels rowed with
oares, being appointed to perform necessary services under the greater
ships, insomuch that all the ships appertayning to this navie amounted
unto the summe of 150, eche one being sufficiently provided of furniture
and victuals.

"The number of mariners in the saide fleete were above 8000, of slaves
2088, of souldiers 20,000 (besides noblemen and gentlemen voluntaries),
of great cast pieces 2600. The aforesaid ships were of an huge and
incredible capacitie and receipt: for the whole fleete was large enough
to contains the burthen of 60,000 tunnes.

"The galeons were 64 in number, being of an huge bignesse, and very
flately built, being of marveilous force also, and so high, that they
resembled great castles, most fit to defend themselves and to withstand
any assault, but in giving any other ships the encounter farr inferiour
unto the English and Dutch ships, which can with great dexteritie weild
and turne themselves at all assayes. The upperworke of the said galeons
was of thicknesse and strength sufficient to bear off musket-shot. The
lower works and the timbers thereof were out of measure strong, being
framed of plankes and ribs fours or five foote in thicknesse, insomuch
that no bullets could pierce them, but such as were discharged hard at
hand; which afterward prooved true, for a great number of bullets
were found to sticke fast within the massie substance of those thicke
plankes. Great and well pitched cables were twined about the masts of
their shippes, to strengthen them against the battery of shot.

"The galliasses were of such bignesse, that they contained within them
chambers, chapels, turrets, pulpits, and other commodities of great
houses. The galliasses were rowed with great oares, there being in eche
one of them 300 slaves for the same purpose and were able to do great
service with the force of their ordinance. All these, together with
the residue aforenamed, were furnished and beautified with trumpets,
streamers, banners, warlike ensignes, and other such like ornaments.

"Their pieces of brazen ordinance were 1600, and of yron 1000.

"The bullets thereto belonging were 120 thousand.

"Item of gun-poulder, 5600 quintals. Of matche, 1200 quintals. Of
muskets and kaleivers, 7000. Of haleberts and partisans, 10,000.

"Moreover they had great store of canons, double-canons, culverings and
field-pieces for land services.

"Likewise they were provided of all instruments necessary on land to
conveigh and transport their furniture from place to place; as namely of
carts, wheeles, wagons, &c. Also they had spades, mattocks, and baskets,
to set pioners to works. They had in like sort great store of mules and
horses, and whatsoever else was requisite for a land-armie. They were so
well stored of biscuit, that for the space of halfe a yeere, they might
allow eche person in the whole fleete halfe a quintall every month;
whereof the whole summe amounteth unto an hundreth thousand quintals.

"Likewise of wine they had 147 thousand pipes, sufficient also for halfe
a yeeres expedition. Of bacon, 6500 quintals. Of cheese, three thousand
quintals. Besides fish, rise, beanes, pease, oils, vinegar, &c.

"Moreover they had 12,000 pipes of fresh water, and all other necessary
provision, as, namely, candles, lanternes, lampes, sailes, hempe,
oxe-hides, and lead to stop holes that should be made with the battery
of gun-shot. To be short, they brought all things expedient, either for
a fleete by sea, or for an armie by land.

"This navie (as Diego Pimentelli afterward confessed) was esteemed by
the king himselfe to containe 32,000 persons, and to cost him every day
30 thousand ducates.

"There were in the said navie five terzaes of Spaniards (which terzaes
the Frenchmen call regiments), under the command of five governours,
termed by the Spaniards masters of the field, and amongst the rest
there were many olde and expert souldiers chosen out of the garisons
of Sicilie, Naples, and Tercera. Their captaines or colonels were Diego
Pimentelli, Don Francisco de Toledo, Don Alonco de Lucon, Don Nicolas de
Isla, Don Augustin de Mexia; who had each of them thirty-two companies
under their conduct. Besides the which companies, there were many bands
also of Castilians and Portugals, every one of which had their peculiar
governours, captains, officers, colours, and weapons."

While this huge armada was making ready in the southern ports of the
Spanish dominions, the Prince of Parma, with almost incredible toil and
skill, collected a squadron of war-ships at Dunkirk, and his flotilla of
other ships and of flat-bottomed boats for the transport to England of
the picked troops, which were designed to be the main instruments in
subduing England. Thousands of workmen were employed, night and day, in
the construction of these vessels, in the ports of Flanders and Brabant.
One hundred of the kind called hendes, built at Antwerp, Bruges, and
Ghent, and laden with provision and ammunition, together with sixty
flat-bottomed boats, each capable of carrying thirty horses, were
brought, by means of canals and fosses, dug expressly for the purpose,
to Nieuport and Dunkirk. One hundred smaller vessels were equipped
at the former place, and thirty-two at Dunkirk, provided with twenty
thousand empty barrels, and with materials for making pontoons, for
stopping up the harbours, and raising forts and entrenchments. The
army which these vessels were designed to convey to England amounted
to thirty thousand strong, besides a body of four thousand cavalry,
stationed at Courtroi, composed chiefly of the ablest veterans of
Europe; invigorated by rest, (the siege of Sluys having been the only
enterprise in which they were employed during the last campaign,) and
excited by the hopes of plunder and the expectation of certain conquest.
[Davis's Holland, vol. ii. p. 219.] And "to this great enterprise
and imaginary conquest, divers princes and noblemen came from divers
countries; out of Spain came the Duke of Pestrana, who was said to be
the son of Ruy Gomez de Silva, but was held to be the king's bastard;
the Marquis of Bourgou, one of the Archduke Ferdinand's sons, by
Philippina Welserine; Don Vespasian Gonzaga, of the house of Mantua,
a great soldier, who had been viceroy in Spain; Giovanni de Medici,
Bastard of Florence; Amedo, Bastard of Savoy, with many such like,
besides others of meaner quality." [Grimstone, cited in Southey.]

Philip had been advised by the deserter, Sir William Stanley, not to
attack England in the first instance, but first to effect a landing
and secure a strong position in Ireland; his admiral, Santa Cruz, had
recommended him to make sure, in the first instance, of some large
harbour on the coast of Holland or Zealand, where the Armada, having
entered the Channel, might find shelter in case of storm, and whence
it could sail without difficulty for England; but Philip rejected both
these counsels, and directed that England itself should be made the
immediate object of attack; and on the 20th of May the Armada left the
Tagus, in the pomp and pride of supposed invincibility, and amidst the
shouts of thousands, who believed that England was already conquered.
But steering to the northward, and before it was clear of the coast of
Spain, the Armada, was assailed by a violent storm, and driven back with
considerable damage to the ports of Biscay and Galicia. It had, however,
sustained its heaviest loss before it left the Tagus, in the death
of the veteran admiral Santa Cruz, who had been destined to guide it
against England.

This experienced sailor, notwithstanding his diligence and success, had
been unable to keep pace with the impatient ardour of his master.
Philip II. had reproached him with his dilatoriness, and had said with
ungrateful harshness, "You make an ill return for all my kindness to
you." These words cut the veteran's heart, and proved fatal to Santa
Cruz. Overwhelmed with fatigue and grief, he sickened and died. Philip
II. had replaced him by Alonzo Perez de Gusman, Duke of Medina Sidonia,
one of the most powerful of the Spanish grandees, but wholly unqualified
to command such an expedition. He had, however, as his lieutenants, two
sea men of proved skill and bravery, Juan de Martinez Recalde of Biscay,
and Miguel Orquendo of Guipuzcoa.

The report of the storm which had beaten back the Armada reached England
with much exaggeration, and it was supposed by some of the queen's
counsellors that the invasion would now be deferred to another year. But
Lord Howard of Effingham, the lord high-admiral of the English fleet,
judged more wisely that the danger was not yet passed, and, as already
mentioned, had the moral courage to refuse to dismantle his principal
ships, though he received orders to that effect. But it was not Howard's
design to keep the English fleet in costly inaction, and to wait
patiently in our own harbours, till the Spaniards had recruited their
strength, and sailed forth again to attack us. The English seamen of
that age (like their successors) loved to strike better than to parry,
though, when emergency required, they could be patient and cautious in
their bravery. It was resolved to proceed to Spain, to learn the enemy's
real condition, and to deal him any blow for which there might be
opportunity. In this bold policy we may well believe him to have been
eagerly seconded by those who commanded under him. Howard and Drake
sailed accordingly to Corunna, hoping to surprise and attack some part
of the Armada in that harbour; but when near the coast of Spain, the
north wind, which had blown up to that time, veered suddenly to the
south; and fearing that the Spaniards might put to sea and pass him
unobserved, Howard returned to the entrance of the Channel, where he
cruised for some time on the look-out for the enemy. In part of a letter
written by him at this period, he speaks of the difficulty of guarding
so large a breadth of sea--a difficulty that ought not to be forgotten
when modern schemes of defence against hostile fleets from the south are
discussed. "I myself," he wrote, "do lie in the midst of the Channel,
with the greatest force; Sir Francis Drake hath twenty ships, and four
or five pinnaces, which lie towards Ushant; and Mr. Hawkins, with as
many more, lieth towards Scilly. Thus we are fain to do, or else with
this wind they might pass us by, and we never the wiser. The SLEEVE is
another manner of thing than it was taken for: we find it by experience
and daily observation to be 100 miles over: a large room for me to
look unto!" But after some time further reports that the Spaniards
were inactive in their harbour, where they were suffering severely from
sickness, caused Howard also to relax in his vigilance; and he returned
to Plymouth with the greater part of his fleet.

On the 12th of July, the Armada having completely refitted, sailed again
for the Channel, and reached it without obstruction or observation by
the English.

The design of the Spaniards was, that the Armada should give them, at
least for a time, the command of the sea, and that it should join the
squadron which Parma had collected, off Calais. Then, escorted by an
overpowering naval force, Parma and his army were to embark in their
flotilla, and cross the sea to England where they were to be landed,
together with the troops which the Armada brought from the ports of
Spain. The scheme was not dissimilar to one formed against England a
little more than two centuries afterwards.

As Napoleon, in 1805, waited with his army and flotilla at Boulogne,
looking for Villeneuve to drive away the English cruisers, and secure
him a passage across the Channel, so Parma, in 1588, waited for Medina
Sidonia to drive away the Dutch and English squadrons that watched his
flotilla, and to enable his veterans to cross the sea to the land that
they were to conquer. Thanks to Providence, in each case England's enemy
waited in vain!

Although the numbers of sail which the queen's government, and the
patriotic zeal of volunteers, had collected for the defence of England
exceeded the number of sail in the Spanish fleet, the English ships
were, collectively, far inferior in size to their adversaries; their
aggregate tonnage being less by half than that of the enemy. In the
number of guns, and weight of metal, the disproportion was still
greater. The English admiral was also obliged to subdivide his force;
and Lord Henry Seymour, with forty of the best Dutch and English
ships, was employed in blockading the hostile ports in Flanders, and in
preventing the Prince of Parma from coming out of Dunkirk.

The orders of King Philip to the Duke de Medina Sidonia were, that he
should, on entering the Channel, keep near the French coast, and, if
attacked by the English ships, avoid an action, and steer on to Calais
roads, where the Prince of Parma's squadron was to join him. The hope of
surprising and destroying the English fleet in Plymouth, led the Spanish
admiral to deviate from these orders, and to stand across to the English
shore; but, on finding that Lord Howard was coming out to meet him,
he resumed the original plan, and determined to bend his way steadily
towards Calais and Dunkirk, and to keep merely on the defensive against
such squadrons of the English as might come up with him.

It was on Saturday, the 20th of July, that Lord Effingham came in sight
of his formidable adversaries. The Armada was drawn up in form of a
crescent, which from horn to horn measured some seven miles. There was
a south-west wind; and before it the vast vessels sailed slowly on. The
English let them pass by; and then, following in the rear, commenced
an attack on them. A running fight now took place, in which some of
the best ships of the Spaniards were captured; many more received heavy
damage; while the English vessels, which took care not to close with
their huge antagonists, but availed themselves of their superior
celerity in tacking and manoeuvring, suffered little comparative loss.
Each day added not only to the spirit, but to the number of Effingham's
force. Raleigh, Oxford, Cumberland, and Sheffield joined him; and "the
gentlemen of England hired ships from all parts at their own charge, and
with one accord came flocking thither as to a set field, where glory
was to be attained, and faithful service performed unto their prince and
their country."

Raleigh justly praises the English admiral for his skilful tactics. He
says, [Historie of the World, p. 791.] "Certainly, he that will happily
perform a fight at sea, must be skillful in making choice of vessels
to fight in; he must believe that there is more belonging to a good
man-of-war, upon the waters, than great daring; and must know that there
is a great deal of difference between fighting loose or at large and
grappling. The guns of a slow ship pierce as well, and make as
great holes, as those in a swift. To clap ships together, without
consideration, belongs rather to a madman than to a man of war; for by
such an ignorant bravery was Peter Strossie lost at the Azores, when
he fought against the Marquis of Santa Cruza. In like sort had the Lord
Charles Howard, admiral of England, been lost in the year 1588, if he
had not been better advised, than a great many malignant fools were,
that found fault with his demeanour. The Spaniards had an army aboard
them, and he had none; they had more ships than he had, and of higher
building and charging; so that, had he entangled himself with those
great and powerful vessels, he had greatly endangered this kingdom of
England. For, twenty men upon the defences are equal to a hundred
that board and enter; whereas then, contrariwise, the Spaniards had
a hundred, for twenty of ours, to defend themselves withall. But our
admiral knew his advantage, and held it: which had he not done, he had
not been worthy to have held his head."

The Spanish admiral also showed great judgment and firmness in following
the line of conduct that had been traced out for him; and on the 27th of
July he brought his fleet unbroken, though sorely distressed, to anchor
in Calais roads. But the King of Spain, had calculated ill the number
and activity of the English and Dutch fleets; as the old historian
expresses it, "It seemeth that the Duke of Parma and the Spaniards
grounded upon a vain and presumptuous expectation, that all the ships of
England and of the Low Countreys would at the first sight of the Spanish
and Dunkerk navie have betaken themselves to flight, yeelding them
sea-room, and endeavouring only to defend themselves, their havens, and
sea-coasts from invasion. Wherefore their intent and purpose was, that
the Duke of Parma, in his small and flat-bottomed ships should, as it
were, under the shadow and wing of the Spanish fleet, convey over all
his troupes, armour, and warlike provisions, and with their forces so
united, should invade England; or, while the English fleet were busied
in fight against the Spanish, should enter upon any part of the coast
which he thought to be most convenient. Which invasion (as the captives
afterwards confessed) the Duke of Parma thought first to have attempted
by the river of Thames; upon the banks whereof, having at the first
arrivall landed twenty or thirty thousand of his principall souldiers,
he supposed that he might easily have wonne the citie of London;
both because his small shippes should have followed and assisted
his land-forces, and also for that the citie itselfe was but meanely
fortified and easie to overcome, by reason of the citizens' delicacie
and discontinuance from the warres, who, with continuall and constant
labour, might be vanquished, if they yielded not at the first assault."
[Hakluyt's Voyages, vol. i. 601.]

But the English and Dutch found ships and mariners enough to keep
the Armada itself in check, and at the same time to block up Parma's
flotilla. The greater part of Seymour's squadron left its cruising
ground off Dunkirk to join the English admiral off Calais; but the Dutch
manned about five-and-thirty sail of good ships, with a strong force of
soldiers on board, all well seasoned to the sea-service, and with these
they blockaded the Flemish ports that were in Parma's power. Still
it was resolved by the Spanish admiral and the prince to endeavour to
effect a junction, which the English seamen were equally resolute to
prevent: and bolder measures on our side now became necessary.

The Armada lay off Calais, with its largest ships ranged outside, "like
strong castles fearing no assault; the lesser placed in the middle
ward." The English admiral could not attack them in their position
without great disadvantage, but on the night of the 29th he sent
eight fire-ships among them, with almost equal effect to that of the
fire-ships which the Greeks so often employed against the Turkish fleets
in their late war of independence. The Spaniards cut their cables
and put to sea in confusion. One of the largest galeasses ran foul of
another vessel and was stranded. The rest of the fleet was scattered
about on the Flemish coast, and when the morning broke, it was with
difficulty and delay that they obeyed their admiral's signal to range
themselves round him near Gravelines. Now was the golden opportunity
for the English to assail them, and prevent them from ever letting loose
Parma's flotilla against England; and nobly was that opportunity used.
Drake and Fenner were the first English captains who attacked the
unwieldy leviathans: then came Fenton, Southwell, Burton, Cross, Raynor,
and then the lord admiral, with Lord Thomas Howard and Lord Sheffield.
The Spaniards only thought of forming and keeping close together, and
were driven by the English past Dunkirk, and far away from the Prince
of Parma, who in watching their defeat from the coast, must, as Drake
expressed it, have chafed like a bear robbed of her whelps. This was
indeed the last and the decisive battle between the two fleets. It is,
perhaps, best described in the very words of the contemporary writer as
we may read them in Hakluyt. [Vol. i. p. 602.]

"Upon the 29th of July in the morning, the Spanish fleet after the
forsayd tumult, having arranged themselves againe into order, were,
within sight of Greveling, most bravely and furiously encountered by
the English; where they once again got the wind of the Spaniards; who
suffered themselves to be deprived of the commodity of the place in
Calais road, and of the advantage of the wind neer unto Dunkerk,
rather than they would change their array or separate their forces now
conjoyned and united together, standing only upon their defence.

"And howbeit there were many excellent and warlike ships in the English
fleet, yet scarce were there 22 or 23 among them all, which matched 90
of the Spanish ships in the bigness, or could conveniently assault them.
Wherefore the English ships using their prerogative of nimble steerage,
whereby they could turn and wield themselves with the wind which way
they listed, came often times very near upon the Spaniards, and charged
them so sore, that now and then they were but a pike's length asunder:
and so continually giving them one broadside after another, they
discharged all their shot both great and small upon them, spending one
whole day from morning till night in that violent kind of conflict,
untill such time as powder and bullets failed them. In regard of which
want they thought it convenient not to pursue the Spaniards any longer,
because they had many great vantages of the English, namely, for the
extraordinary bigness of their ships, and also for that they were so
neerley conjoyned, and kept together in so good array, that they
could by no meanes be fought withall one to one. The English thought,
therefore, that they had right well acquitted themselves, in chasing the
Spaniards first from Caleis, and then from Dunkerk, and by that meanes
to have hindered them from joyning with the Duke of Parma his forces,
and getting the wind of them, to have driven them from their own coasts.

"The Spaniards that day sustained great loss and damage, having many of
their shippes shot thorow and thorow, and they discharged likewise great
store of ordinance against the English; who, indeed, sustained some
hindrance, but not comparable to the Spaniard's loss: for they lost not
any one ship or person of account, for very diligent inquisition being
made, the English men all that time wherein the Spanish navy sayled
upon their seas, are not found to have wanted aboue one hundred of their
people: albeit Sir Francis Drake's ship was pierced with shot above
forty times, and his very cabben was twice shot thorow, and about the
conclusion of the fight, the bed of a certaine gentleman, lying weary
thereupon, was taken quite from under him with the force of a bullet.
Likewise, as the Earle of Northumberland and Sir Charles Blunt were
at dinner upon a time, the bullet of a demy-culverin brake thorow the
middest of their cabben, touched their feet, and strooke downe two of
the standers by, with many such accidents befalling the English shippes,
which it were tedious to rehearse."

It reflects little credit on the English Government that the English
fleet was so deficiently supplied with ammunition, as to be unable to
complete the destruction of the invaders. But enough was done to ensure
it. Many of the largest Spanish ships were sunk or captured in the
action of this day. And at length the Spanish admiral, despairing of
success, fled northward with a southerly wind, in the hope of rounding
Scotland, and so returning to Spain without a farther encounter with the
English fleet. Lord Effingham left a squadron to continue the blockade
of the Prince of Parma's armament; but that wise general soon
withdrew his troops to more promising fields of action. Meanwhile the
lord-admiral himself and Drake chased the vincible Armada, as it was now
termed, for some distance northward; and then, when it seemed to bend
away from the Scotch coast towards Norway, it was thought best, in the
words of Drake, "to leave them to those boisterous and uncouth northern

The sufferings and losses which the unhappy Spaniards sustained in their
flight round Scotland and Ireland, are well known. Of their whole Armada
only fifty-three shattered vessels brought back their beaten and wasted
crews to the Spanish coast which they had quitted in such pageantry and

Some passages from the writings of those who took part in the struggle,
have been already quoted; and the most spirited description of the
defeat of the Armada which ever was penned, may perhaps be taken from
the letter which our brave vice-admiral Drake wrote in answer to some
mendacious stories by which the Spaniards strove to hide their shame.
Thus does he describe the scenes in which he played so important a part:
[See Strypo, and the notes to the Life of Drake, in the "Biographia

"They were not ashamed to publish, in sundry languages in print, great
victories in words, which they pretended to have obtained against
this realm, and spread the same in a most false sort over all parts of
France, Italy, and elsewhere; when, shortly afterwards, it was happily
manifested in very deed to all nations, how their navy, which they
termed invincible, consisting of one hundred and forty sail of ships,
not only of their own kingdom, but strengthened with the greatest
argosies, Portugal carracks, Florentines, and large hulks of other
countries, were by thirty of her majesty's own ships of war, and a few
of our own merchants, by the wise, valiant, and advantageous conduct of
the Lord Charles Howard, high-admiral of England, beaten and shuffled
together even from the Lizard in Cornwall, first to Portland, when they
shamefully left Don Pedro de Valdez with his mighty ship; from Portland
to Calais, where they lost Hugh de Moncado, with the galleys of which he
was captain; and from Calais driven with squibs from their anchors, were
chased out of the sight of England, round about Scotland and Ireland.
Where, for the sympathy of their religion, hoping to find succour and
assistance, a great part of them were crushed against the rocks,
and those others that landed, being very many in number, were,
notwithstanding, broken, slain, and taken; and so sent from village
to village, coupled in halters, to be shipped into England, where her
majesty, of her princely and invincible disposition, disdaining to put
them to death, and scorning either to retain or to entertain them, they
were all sent back again to their countries, to witness and recount the
worthy achievement of their invincible and dreadful navy. Of which the
number of soldiers, the fearful burthen of their ships, the commanders'
names of every squadron, with all others, their magazines of provision
were put in print, as an army and navy irresistible and disdaining
prevention: with all which their great and terrible ostentation, they
did not in all their sailing round about England so much as sink or take
one ship, bark, pinnace, or cockboat of ours, or even burn so much as
one sheep-cote on this land."


A.D. 1594. Henry IV. of France conforms to the Roman Catholic Church,
and ends the civil wars that had long desolated France.

1598. Philip II. of Spain dies, leaving a ruined navy and an exhausted

1603. Death of Queen Elizabeth. The Scotch dynasty of the Stuarts
succeeds to the throne of England.

1619. Commencement of the Thirty Years' War in Germany.

1624-1642. Cardinal Richelieu is minister of France. He breaks the power
of the nobility, reduces the Huguenots to complete subjection; and by
aiding the Protestant German princes in the latter part of the Thirty
Years' War, he humiliates France's ancient rival, Austria.

1630. Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, marches into Germany to the
assistance of the Protestants, who ware nearly crushed by the Austrian
armies. He gains several great victories, and, after his death, Sweden,
under his statesmen and generals, continues to take a leading part in
the war.

1640. Portugal throws off the Spanish yoke: and the House of Braganza
begins to reign.

1642. Commencement of the civil war in England between Charles I. and
his parliament.

1648. The Thirty Years' War in Germany ended by the treaty of

1653. Oliver Cromwell lord-protector of England.

1660. Restoration of the Stuarts to the English throne.

1661. Louis XIV. takes the administration of affairs in France into his
own hands.

1667-1668. Louis XVI. makes war in Spain, and conquers a large part of
the Spanish Netherlands.

1672. Louis makes war upon Holland, and almost overpowers it, Charles
II. of England is his pensioner, and England helps the French in their
attacks upon Holland until 1674. Heroic resistance of the Dutch under
the Prince of Orange.

1674. Louis conquers Franche-Comte.

1679. Peace of Nimeguen.

1681. Louis invades and occupies Alsace.

1682. Accession of Peter the Great to the throne of Russia.

1685. Louis commences a merciless persecution of his Protestant

1688. The glorious Revolution in England. Expulsion of James II. William
of Orange is made King of England. James takes refuge at the French
court, and Louis undertakes to restore him. General war in the west of

1691. Treaty of Ryswick. Charles XII. becomes King of Sweden.

1700. Charles II. of Spain dies, having bequeathed his dominions to
Philip of Anjou, Louis XIV.'s grandson. Defeat of the Russians at Narva,
by Charles XII.

1701. William III. forms a "Grand Alliance" of Austria, the Empire, the
United Provinces, England, and other powers, against France.

1702. King William dies; but his successor, Queen Anne, adheres to the
Grand Alliance, and war is proclaimed against France.


   "The decisive blow struck at Blenheim resounded through every
   part of Europe:  it at once destroyed the vast fabric of power
   which it had taken Louis XIV., aided by the talents of Turenne,
   and the genius of Vauban, so long to construct."--ALISON.

Though more slowly moulded and less imposingly vast than the empire of
Napoleon, the power which Louis XIV. had acquired and was acquiring at
the commencement of the eighteenth century, was almost equally menacing
to the general liberties of Europe. If tested by the amount of permanent
aggrandisement which each procured for France, the ambition of the royal
Bourbon was more successful than were the enterprises of the imperial
Corsican. All the provinces that Bonaparte conquered, were rent again
from France within twenty years from the date when the very earliest of
them was acquired. France is not stronger by a single city or a single
acre for all the devastating wars of the Consulate and the Empire. But
she still possesses Franche-Comte, Alsace, and part of Flanders. She has
still the extended boundaries which Louis XIV. gave her. And the royal
Spanish marriages, a few years ago, proved clearly how enduring has
been the political influence which the arts and arms of France's "Grand
Monarque" obtained for her southward of the Pyrenees.

When Louis XIV. took the reins of government into his own hands,
after the death of Cardinal Mazarin, there was a union of ability with
opportunity, such as France had not seen since the days of Charlemagne.
Moreover, Louis's career was no brief one. For upwards of forty years,
for a period nearly equal to the duration of Charlemagne's reign, Louis
steadily followed an aggressive and a generally successful policy. He
passed a long youth and manhood of triumph, before the military genius
of Marlborough made him acquainted with humiliation and defeat. The
great Bourbon lived too long. He should not have outstayed our two
English kings--one his dependent, James II., the other his antagonist,
William III. Had he died in the year within which they died, his reign
would be cited as unequalled in the French annals for its prosperity.
But he lived on to see his armies beaten, his cities captured, and his
kingdom wasted by disastrous war. It is as if Charlemagne had survived
to be defeated by the Northmen, and to witness the misery and shame that
actually fell to the lot of his descendants.

Still, Louis XIV. had forty years of success; and from the permanence of
their fruits we may judge what the results would have been if the last
fifteen years of his reign had been equally fortunate. Had it not been
for Blenheim, all Europe might at this day suffer under the effect of
French conquests resembling those of Alexander in extent, and those of
the Romans in durability.

When Louis XIV. began to govern, he found all the materials for a
strong government ready to his hand. Richelieu had completely tamed the
turbulent spirit of the French nobility, and had subverted the "imperium
in imperio" of the Huguenots. The faction of the Frondeurs in Mazarin's
time had had the effect of making the Parisian parliament utterly
hateful and contemptible in the eyes of the nation. The assemblies of
the States-General were obsolete. The royal authority alone remained.
The King was the State. Louis knew his position. He fearlessly avowed
it, and he fearlessly acted up to it. ["Quand Louis XIV. dit, 'L'etat,
c'est moi:' il n'y eut dans cette parole ni enflure, ni vanterie, mais
la simple enonciation d'un fait."--MICHELET, HISTOIRE MODERNE vol. ii.
p. 106.]

Not only was his government a strong one, but the country which he
governed was strong: strong in its geographical situation, in the
compactness of its territory, in the number and martial spirit of its
inhabitants, and in their complete and undivided nationality. Louis had
neither a Hungary nor an Ireland in his dominions, and it was not till
late in his reign, when old age had made his bigotry more gloomy, and
had given fanaticism the mastery over prudence, that his persecuting
intolerance caused the civil war in the Cevennes.

Like Napoleon in after-times, Louis XIV. saw clearly that the great
wants of France were "ships, colonies, and commerce." But Louis did
more than see these wants: by the aid of his great minister, Colbert, he
supplied them. One of the surest proofs of the genius of Louis was his
skill in finding out genius in others, and his promptness in calling it
into action. Under him, Louvois organized, Turenne, Conde, Villars and
Berwick, led the armies of France; and Vauban fortified her frontiers.
Throughout his reign, French diplomacy was marked by skilfulness
and activity, and also by comprehensive far-sightedness, such as the
representatives of no other nation possessed. Guizot's testimony to
the vigour that was displayed through every branch of Louis XIV.'s
government, and to the extent to which France at present is indebted to
him, is remarkable. He says, that, "taking the public services of every
kind, the finances, the departments of roads and public works, the
military administration, and all the establishments which belong to
every branch of administration, there is not one that will not be found
to have had its origin, its development, or its greatest perfection,
under the reign of Louis XIV." [History of European Civilization,
Lecture 13.] And he points out to us, that "the government of Louis XIV.
was the first that presented itself to the eyes of Europe as a power
acting upon sure grounds, which had not to dispute its existence with
inward enemies, but was at ease as to its territory and its people, and
solely occupied with the task of administering government, properly so
called. All the European governments had been previously thrown into
incessant wars, which deprived them of all security as well as of all
leisure, or so harassed by internal parties or antagonists, that their
time was passed in fighting for existence. The government of Louis XIV.
was the first to appear as a busy thriving administration of affairs,
as a power at once definitive and progressive, which was not afraid to
innovate, because it could reckon securely on the future. There have
been in fact very few governments equally innovating. Compare it with
a government of the same nature, the unmixed monarchy of Philip II. in
Spain; it was more absolute than that of Louis XIV., and yet it was far
less regular and tranquil. How did Philip II. succeed in establishing
absolute power in Spain? By stifling all activity in the country,
opposing himself to every species of amelioration, and rendering the
state of Spain completely stagnant. The government of Louis XIV., on the
contrary, exhibited alacrity for all sorts of innovations, and showed
itself favourable to the progress of letters, arts, wealth in short,
of civilization. This was the veritable cause of its preponderance
in Europe, which arose to such a pitch, that it became the type of
a government not only to sovereigns, but also to nations, during the
seventeenth century."

While France was thus strong and united in herself, and ruled by a
martial, an ambitious, and (with all his faults) an enlightened and
high-spirited sovereign, what European power was there fit to cope with
her, or keep her in check?

"As to Germany, the ambitious projects of the German branch of Austria
had been entirely defeated, the peace of the empire had been restored,
and almost a new constitution formed, or an old revived, by the treaties
WINGS WERE CLIPPED." [Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 378. Lord Bolingbroke's
"Letters on the Use of History," and his "Sketch of the History
and State of Europe," abound with remarks on Louis XIV. and his
contemporaries, of which the substance is as sound as the style is
beautiful. Unfortunately, like all his other works, they contain also
a large proportion of sophistry and misrepresentation. The best test
to use before we adopt any opinion or assertion of Bolingbroke's, is
to consider whether in writing it he was thinking either of Sir Robert
Walpole or of Revealed Religion. When either of these objects of his
hatred was before his mind, he scrupled at no artifice or exaggeration
that; might serve the purpose of his malignity. On most other occasions
he may be followed with advantage, as he always may be read with

"As to Spain, the Spanish branch of the Austrian house had sunk equally
low. Philip II. left his successors a ruined monarchy. He left them
something worse; he left them his example and his principles of
government, founded in ambition, in pride, in ignorance, in bigotry, and
all the pedantry of state." [Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 378.]

It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, that France, in the first war
of Louis XIV., despised the opposition of both branches of the once
predominant house of Austria. Indeed, in Germany the French king
acquired allies among the princes of the Empire against the emperor
himself. He had a still stronger support in Austria's misgovernment of
her own subjects. The words of Bolingbroke on this are remarkable,
and some of them sound as if written within the last three years.
Bolingbroke says, "It was not merely the want of cordial co-operation
among the princes of the Empire that disabled the emperor from acting
with vigour in the cause of his family then, nor that has rendered the
house of Austria a dead weight upon all her allies ever since. Bigotry,
and its inseparable companion, cruelty, as well as the tyranny
and avarice of the court of Vienna, created in those days, and has
maintained in ours, almost a perpetual diversion of the imperial arms
from all effectual opposition to France. I MEAN TO SPEAK OF THE TROUBLES
the emperor being less supportable than that of the Turks, this unhappy
people opened a door to the latter to infest the empire, instead of
making their country, what it had been before, a barrier against the
Ottoman power. France became a sure though secret ally of the Turks, as
well as the Hungarians, and has found her account in it, by keeping
the emperor in perpetual alarms on that side, while she has ravaged the
Empire and the Low Countries on the other." [Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p.

If, after having seen the imbecility of Germany and Spain against the
France of Louis XIV., we turn to the two only remaining European powers
of any importance at that time, to England and to Holland, we find the
position of our own country as to European politics, from 1660 to 1688,
most painful to contemplate. From 1660 to 1688, "England, by the return
of the Stuarts, was reduced to a nullity." The words are Michelet's,
[Histoire Moderne, vol. ii. p.106.] and though severe they are just.
They are, in fact, not severe enough: for when England, under her
restored dynasty of the Stuarts, did take any part in European politics,
her conduct, or rather her king's conduct, was almost invariably wicked
and dishonourable.

Bolingbroke rightly says that, "previous to the Revolution of 1688,
during the whole progress that Louis XIV. made in obtaining such
exorbitant power, as gave him well-grounded hopes of acquiring at last
to his family the Spanish monarchy, England had been either an idle
spectator of what passed on the continent, or a faint and uncertain
ally against France, or a warm and sure ally on her side, or a partial
mediator between her and the powers confederated together in their
common defence. But though the court of England submitted to abet
the usurpations of France, and the King of England stooped to be her
pensioner, the crime was not national. On the contrary, the nation cried
out loudly against it even whilst it was being committed." [Bolingbroke,
vol. ii p. 418.]

Holland alone, of all the European powers, opposed from the very
beginning a steady and uniform resistance to the ambition and power of
the French king. It was against Holland that the fiercest attacks of
France were made, and though often apparently on the eve of complete
success, they were always ultimately baffled by the stubborn bravery of
the Dutch, and the heroism of their leader, William of Orange. When he
became king of England, the power of this country was thrown decidedly
into the scale against France; but though the contest was thus rendered
less unequal, though William acted throughout "with invincible firmness,
like a patriot and a hero," [Bolingbroke, vol, ii, p.404.] France
had the general superiority in every war and in every treaty: and the
commencement of the eighteenth century found the last league against her
dissolved, all the forces of the confederates against her dispersed, and
many disbanded; while France continued armed, with her veteran forces
by sea and land increased, and held in readiness to act on all sides,
whenever the opportunity should arise for seizing on the great prizes
which, from the very beginning of his reign, had never been lost sight
of by her king.

This is not the place for any narrative of the first essay which Louis
XIV. made of his power in the war of 1667; of his rapid conquest of
Flanders and Franche-Comte; of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which
"was nothing more than a composition between the bully and the bullied;"
[Ibid p. 399.] of his attack on Holland in 1672; of the districts and
barrier-towns of the Spanish Netherlands which were secured to him by
the treaty of Nimeguen in 1678; of how, after this treaty, he "continued
to vex both Spain and the Empire, and to extend his conquests in the Low
Countries and on the Rhine, both by the pen and the sword; how he took
Luxembourg by force, stole Strasburg, and bought Casal;" of how the
league of Augsburg was formed against him in 1686, and the election of
William of Orange to the English throne in 1688, gave a new spirit to
the opposition which France encountered; of the long and chequered war
that followed, in which the French armies were generally victorious
on the continent, though his fleet was beaten at La Hogue, and his
dependent, James II,, was defeated at the Boyne, or of the treaty of
Ryswick, which left France in possession of Roussillon, Artois, and
Strasburg, which gave Europe no security against her claims on the
Spanish succession, and which Louis regarded as a mere truce, to gain
breathing-time before a more decisive struggle. It must be borne in
mind that the ambition of Louis in these wars was twofold. It had its
immediate and its ulterior objects. Its immediate object was to conquer
and annex to France the neighbouring provinces and towns that were most
convenient for the increase of her strength; but the ulterior object of
Louis, from the time of his marriage to the Spanish Infanta in 1659, was
to acquire for the house of Bourbon the whole empire of Spain. A formal
renunciation of all right to the Spanish succession had been made at the
time of the marriage; but such renunciations were never of any practical
effect, and many casuists and jurists of the age even held them to be
intrinsically void, as time passed on, and the prospect of Charles II.
of Spain dying without lineal heirs became more and more certain, so did
the claims of the house of Bourbon to the Spanish crown after his death
become matters of urgent interest to French ambition on the one hand,
and to the other powers of Europe on the other. At length the unhappy
King of Spain died. By his will he appointed Philip, Duke of Anjou, one
of Louis XIV.'s grandsons, to succeed him on the throne of Spain, and
strictly forbade any partition of his dominions. Louis well knew that a
general European war would follow if he accepted for his house the crown
thus bequeathed. But he had been preparing for this crisis throughout
his reign. He sent his grandson into Spain as King Philip V. of that
country, addressing to him on his departure the memorable words, "There
are no longer any Pyrenees."

The empire, which now received the grandson of Louis as its king,
comprised, besides Spain itself, the strongest part of the Netherlands,
Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, the principality of Milan, and other
possessions in Italy, the Philippines and Marilla Islands in Asia, and,
in the New World, besides California and Florida the greatest part of
Central and of Southern America. Philip was well received in Madrid,
where he was crowned as King Philip V. in the beginning of 1701. The
distant portions of his empire sent in their adhesion; and the house of
Bourbon, either by its French or Spanish troops, now had occupation both
of the kingdom of Francis I., and of the fairest and amplest portion of
the empire of the great rival of Francis, Charles V.

Loud was the wrath of Austria, whose princes were the rival claimants of
the Bourbons for the empire of Spain. The indignation of William
III., though not equally loud, was far more deep and energetic. By
his exertions a league against the house of Bourbon was formed between
England, Holland, and the Austrian Emperor, which was subsequently
joined by the kings of Portugal and Prussia, by the Duke of Savoy, and
by Denmark. Indeed, the alarm throughout Europe was now general and
urgent. It was clear that Louis aimed a consolidating France and the
Spanish dominions into one preponderating empire. At the moment when
Philip was departing to take possession of Spain, Louis had issued
letters-patent in his favour to the effect of preserving his rights to
the throne of France. And Louis had himself obtained possession of
the important frontier of the Spanish Netherlands, with its numerous
fortified cities, which were given up to his troops under pretence of
securing them for the young King of Spain. Whether the formal union of
the two crowns was likely to take place speedily or not, it was evident
that the resources of the whole Spanish monarchy were now virtually at
the French king's disposal.

The peril that seemed to menace the empire, England, Holland, and
the other independent powers, is well summed up by Alison: "Spain had
threatened the liberties of Europe in the end of the sixteenth century,
France had all but overthrown them in the close of the seventeenth.
What hope was there of their being able to make head against them both,
united under such a monarch as Louis XIV.?" [Military History of the
Duke of Marlborough, p. 32.]

Our knowledge of the decayed state into which the Spanish power had
fallen, ought not to make us regard their alarms as chimerical. Spain
possessed enormous resources, and her strength was capable of being
regenerated by a vigorous ruler. We should remember what Alberoni
effected, even after the close of the War of Succession. By what that
minister did in a few years, we may judge what Louis XIV. would have
done in restoring the maritime and military power of that great country
which nature has so largely gifted, and which man's misgovernment has so

The death of King William on the 8th of March, 1702, at first seemed
likely to paralyse the league against France, for "notwithstanding the
ill-success with which he made war generally, he was looked upon as the
sole centre of union that could keep together the great confederacy then
forming; and how much the French feared from his life, had appeared a
few years before, in the extravagant and indecent joy they expressed on
a false report of his death. A short time showed how vain the fears of
some, and the hopes of others were." [Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 445.]
Queen Anne, within three days after her accession, went down to the
House of Lords, and there declared her resolution to support the
measures planned by her predecessor, who had been "the great support,
not only of these kingdoms, but of all Europe." Anne was married to
Prince George of Denmark, and by her accession to the English throne the
confederacy against Louis obtained the aid of the troops of Denmark; but
Anne's strong attachment to one of her female friends led to far
more important advantages to the anti-Gallican confederacy, than the
acquisition of many armies, for it gave them MARLBOROUGH as their

There are few successful commanders on whom Fame has shone so
unwillingly as upon John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Prince of
the Holy Roman Empire,--victor of Blenheim, Ramilies, Oudenarde, and
Malplaquet,--captor of Liege, Bonn, Limburg, Landau, Ghent, Bruges,
Antwerp, Oudenarde, Ostend, Menin, Dendermonde, Ath, Lille, Tourney,
Mons, Douay, Aire, Bethune, and Bouchain; who never fought a battle
that he did not win, and never besieged a place that he did not take.
Marlborough's own private character is the cause of this. Military glory
may, and too often does, dazzle both contemporaries and posterity, until
the crimes as well as the vices of heroes are forgotten. But even a few
stains of personal meanness will dim a soldier's reputation irreparably;
and Marlborough's faults were of a peculiarly base and mean order. Our
feelings towards historical personages are in this respect like our
feelings towards private acquaintances. There are actions of that shabby
nature, that, however much they may be outweighed by a man's good deeds
on a general estimate of his character, we never can feel any cordial
liking for the person who has been guilty of them. Thus, with respect to
the Duke of Marlborough, it goes against our feelings to admire the man,
who owed his first advancement in life to the court-favour which he and
his family acquired through his sister becoming one of the mistresses
of the Duke of York. It is repulsive to know that Marlborough laid the
foundation of his wealth by being the paid lover of one of the fair and
frail favourites of Charles II. His treachery and ingratitude to his
patron and benefactor, James II., stand out in dark relief, even in
that age of thankless perfidy. He was almost equally disloyal to his new
master, King William; and a more un-English act cannot be recorded than
Godolphin's and Marlborough's betrayal to the French court in 1694 of
the expedition then designed against Brest, an act of treason which
caused some hundreds of English soldiers and sailors to be helplessly
slaughtered on the beach in Camaret Bay.

It is, however, only in his military career that we have now to consider
him; and there are very few generals, of either ancient or modern times,
whose campaigns will bear a comparison with those of Marlborough, either
for the masterly skill with which they were planned, or for the bold
yet prudent energy with which each plan was carried into execution.
Marlborough had served while young under Turenne, and had obtained the
marked praise of that great tactician. It would be difficult, indeed,
to name a single quality which a general ought to have, and with which
Marlborough was not eminently gifted. What principally attracted the
notice of contemporaries, was the imperturbable evenness of his spirit.
Voltaire [Siecle de Louis Quatorze.] says of him:--"He had, to a degree
above all other generals of his time, that calm courage in the midst of
tumult, that serenity of soul in danger, which the English call a COOL
HEAD (que les Anglais appellant COOL HEAD, TETE FROID), and it was
perhaps this quality, the greatest gift of nature for command, which
formerly gave the English so many advantages over the French in the
plains of Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt."

King William's knowledge of Marlborough's high abilities, though he knew
his faithlessness equally well, is said to have caused that sovereign
in his last illness to recommend Marlborough to his successor as the
fittest person to command her armies: but Marlborough's favour with
the new queen by means of his wife was so high, that he was certain of
obtaining the highest employment: and the war against Louis opened to
him a glorious theatre for the display of those military talents, which
he had before only had an opportunity of exercising in a subordinate
character, and on far less conspicuous scenes.

He was not only made captain-general of the English forces at home and
abroad, but such was the authority of England in the council of the
Grand Alliance, and Marlborough was so skilled in winning golden
opinions from all whom he met with, that, on his reaching the Hague, he
was received with transports of joy by the Dutch, and it was agreed
by the heads of that republic, and the minister of the emperor, that
Marlborough should have the chief command of all the allied armies.

It must indeed, in justice to Marlborough, be borne in mind, that mere
military skill was by no means all that was required of him in this
arduous and invidious station. Had it not been for his unrivalled
patience and sweetness of temper, and his marvellous ability in
discerning the character of those with whom he had to act, his intuitive
perception of those who were to be thoroughly trusted, and of those
who were to be amused with the mere semblance of respect and
confidence,--had not Marlborough possessed and employed, while at the
head of the allied armies, all the qualifications of a polished courtier
and a great statesman, he never would have led the allied armies to the
Danube. The Confederacy would not have held together for a single year.
His great political adversary, Bolingbroke, does him ample justice here.
Bolingbroke, after referring to the loss which King William's death
seemed to inflict on the cause of the Allies, observes that, "By his
death the Duke of Marlborough was raised to the head of the army, and,
indeed, of the Confederacy; where he, a new, a private man, a subject,
acquired by merit and by management, a more deciding influence, than
high birth, confirmed authority, and even the crown of Great Britain,
had given to King William. Not only all the parts of that vast machine,
the Grand Alliance, were kept more compact and entire; but a more rapid
and vigorous motion was given to the whole; and instead of languishing
and disastrous campaigns, we saw every scene of the war full of action.
All those wherein he appeared and many of those wherein he was not then
an actor, but abettor, however, of their action, were crowned with the
most triumphant success.

"I take with pleasure this opportunity of doing justice to that great
man, whose faults I knew, whose virtues I admired; and whose memory, as
the greatest general and as the greatest minister that our country, or
perhaps any other, has produced, I honour." [Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p.

War, was formally declared by the allies against France on the 4th
of May, 1702. The principal scenes of its operation were, at first,
Flanders, the Upper Rhine, and North Italy. Marlborough headed the
allied troops in Flanders during the first two years of the war, and
took some towns from the enemy, but nothing decisive occurred. Nor did
any actions of importance take place during this period, between the
rival armies in Italy. But in the centre of that line from north to
south, from the mouth of the Scheldt to the mouth of the Po, along which
the war was carried on, the generals of Louis XIV. acquired advantages
in 1703, which threatened one chief member of the Grand Alliance with
utter destruction. France had obtained the important assistance of
Bavaria, as her confederate in the war. The Elector of this powerful
German state made himself master of the strong fortress of Ulm, and
opened a communication with the French armies on the Upper Rhine. By
this junction, the troops of Louis were enabled to assail the Emperor in
the very heart of Germany. In the autumn of the year 1703, the
combined armies of the Elector and French king completely defeated
the Imperialists in Bavaria; and in the following winter they made
themselves masters of the important cities of Augsburg and Passau.
Meanwhile the French army of the Upper Rhine and Moselle had beaten the
allied armies opposed to them, and taken Treves and Landau. At the same
time the discontents in Hungary with Austria again broke out into open
insurrection, so as to distract the attention, and complete the terror
of the Emperor and his council at Vienna.

Louis XIV. ordered the next campaign to be commenced by his troops on
a scale of grandeur and with a boldness of enterprise, such as even
Napoleon's military schemes have seldom equalled. On the extreme left of
the line of the war, in the Netherlands, the French armies were to act
only on the defensive. The fortresses in the hands of the French there,
were so many and so strong that no serious impression seemed likely to
be made by the Allies on the French frontier in that quarter during
one campaign; and that one campaign was to give France such triumphs
elsewhere as would (it was hoped) determine the war. Large detachments
were, therefore, to be made from the French force in Flanders, and they
were to be led by Marshal Villeroy to the Moselle and Upper Rhine. The
French army already in the neighbourhood of those rivers was to march
under Marshal Tallard through the Black Forest, and join the Elector of
Bavaria and the French troops that were already with the Elector under
Marshal Marsin. Meanwhile the French army of Italy was to advance
through the Tyrol into Austria, and the whole forces were to combine
between the Danube and the Inn. A strong body of troops was to be
despatched into Hungary, to assist and organize the insurgents in that
kingdom; and the French grand army of the Danube was then, in collected
and irresistible might, to march upon Vienna, and dictate terms of peace
to the Emperor. High military genius was shown in the formation of this
plan, but it was met and baffled by a genius higher still.

Marlborough had watched, with the deepest anxiety, the progress of the
French arms on the Rhine and in Bavaria, and he saw the futility of
carrying on a war of posts and sieges in Flanders, while death-blows to
the empire were being dealt on the Danube. He resolved therefore to let
the war in Flanders languish for a year, while he moved with all
the disposable forces that he could collect to the central scenes
of decisive operations. Such a march was in itself difficult, but
Marlborough had, in the first instance, to overcome the still greater
difficulty of obtaining the consent and cheerful co-operation of the
Allies, especially of the Dutch, whose frontier it was proposed thus
to deprive of the larger part of the force which had hitherto been its
protection. Fortunately, among the many slothful, the many foolish, the
many timid, and the not few treacherous rulers, statesmen, and generals
of different nations with whom he had to deal, there were two
men, eminent both in ability and integrity, who entered fully into
Marlborough's projects, and who, from the stations which they occupied,
were enabled materially to forward them. One of these was the Dutch
statesman Heinsius, who had been the cordial supporter of King William,
and who now, with equal zeal and good faith, supported Marlborough in
the councils of the Allies; the other was the celebrated general
Prince Eugene, whom the Austrian cabinet had recalled from the Italian
frontier, to take the command of one of the Emperor's armies in Germany.
To these two great men, and a few more, Marlborough communicated his
plan freely and unreservedly; but to the general councils of his allies
he only disclosed part, of his daring scheme. He proposed to the Dutch
that he should march from Flanders to the Upper Rhine and Moselle, with
the British troops and part of the Foreign auxiliaries, and commence
vigorous operations against the French armies in that quarter,
whilst General Auverquerque, with the Dutch and the remainder of the
auxiliaries, maintained a defensive war in the Netherlands. Having with
difficulty obtained the consent of the Dutch to this portion of his
project, he exercised the same diplomatic zeal, with the same success,
in urging the King of Prussia, and other princes of the empire, to
increase the number of the troops which they supplied, and to post them
in places convenient for his own intended movements.

Marlborough commenced his celebrated march on the 19th of May. The
army, which he was to lead, had been assembled by his brother, General
Churchill, at Bedburg, not far from Maestricht on the Meuse: it included
sixteen thousand English troops, and consisted of fifty-one battalions
of foot, and ninety-two squadrons of horse. Marlborough was to collect
and join with him on his march the troops of Prussia, Luneburg, and
Hesse, quartered on the Rhine, and eleven Dutch battalions that were
stationed at Rothweil. [Coxe's Life of Marlborough.] He had only
marched a single day, when the series of interruptions, complaints, and
requisitions from the other leaders of the Allies began, to which he
seemed doomed throughout his enterprise, and which would have caused
its failure in the hands of any one not gifted with the firmness and the
exquisite temper of Marlborough. One specimen of these annoyances and of
Marlborough's mode of dealing with them may suffice. On his encamping
at Kupen, on the 20th, he received an express from Auverquerque
pressing him to halt, because Villeroy, who commanded the French army
in Flanders, had quitted the lines, which he had been occupying, and
crossed the Meuse at Namur with thirty-six battalions and forty-five
squadrons, and was threatening the town of Huys. At the same time
Marlborough received letters from the Margrave of Baden and Count
Wratislaw, who commanded the Imperialist forces at Stollhoffen near the
left bank of the Rhine, stating that Tallard had made a movement, as if
intending to cross the Rhine, and urging him to hasten his march
towards the lines of Stollhoffen. Marlborough was not diverted by these
applications from the prosecution of his grand design. Conscious that
the army of Villeroy would be too much reduced to undertake offensive
operations, by the detachments which had already been made towards the
Rhine, and those which must follow his own march, he halted only a day
to quiet the alarms of Auverquerque. To satisfy also the margrave he
ordered the troops of Hompesch and Bulow to draw towards Philipsburg,
though with private injunctions not to proceed beyond a certain
distance. He even exacted a promise to the same effect from Count
Wratislaw, who at this juncture arrived at the camp to attend him during
the whole campaign. [Coxe.]

Marlborough reached the Rhine at Coblentz, where he crossed that river,
and then marched along its right bank to Broubach and Mentz. His march,
though rapid, was admirably conducted, so as to save the troops from all
unnecessary fatigue; ample supplies of provisions were ready, and the
most perfect discipline was maintained. By degrees Marlborough obtained
more reinforcements from the Dutch and the other confederates, and he
also was left more at liberty by them to follow his own course. Indeed,
before even a blow was struck, his enterprise had paralysed the enemy,
and had materially relieved Austria from the pressure of the war.
Villeroy, with his detachments from the French-Flemish army, was
completely bewildered by Marlborough's movements; and, unable to divine
where it was that the English general meant to strike his blow, wasted
away the early part of the summer between Flanders and the Moselle
without effecting anything. ["Marshal Villeroy," says Voltaire, "who had
wished to follow Marlborough on his first marches, suddenly lost sight
of him altogether, and only learned where he really was, on hearing of
his victory at Donauwert."--SIECLE DE LOUIS XIV.]

Marshal Tallard, who commanded forty-five thousand men at Strasburg, and
who had been destined by Louis to march early in the year into Bavaria,
thought that Marlborough's march along the Rhine was preliminary to
an attack upon Alsace; and the marshal therefore kept his forty-five
thousand men back in order to support France in that quarter.
Marlborough skilfully encouraged his apprehensions by causing a bridge
to be constructed across the Rhine at Philipsburg, and by making the
Landgrave of Hesse advance his artillery at Manheim, as if for a
siege of Landau. Meanwhile the Elector of Bavaria and Marshal Marsin,
suspecting that Marlborough's design might be what it really proved
to be, forbore to press upon the Austrians opposed to them, or to
send troops into Hungary; and they kept back so as to secure their
communications with France. Thus, when Marlborough, at the beginning of
June, left the Rhine and marched for the Danube, the numerous hostile
armies were uncombined, and unable to check him.

"With such skill and science had this enterprise been concerted, that at
the very moment when it assumed a specific direction, the enemy was no
longer enabled to render it abortive. As the march was now to be bent
towards the Danube, notice was given for the Prussians, Palatines, and
Hessians, who were stationed on the Rhine, to order their march so as
to join the main body in its progress. At the same time directions
were sent to accelerate the advance of the Danish auxiliaries, who were
marching from the Netherlands." [Coxe.]

Crossing the river Neckar, Marlborough marched in a south-eastern
direction to Mundelshene, where he had his first personal interview with
Prince Eugene, who was destined to be his colleague on so many glorious
fields. Thence, through a difficult and dangerous country, Marlborough
continued his march against the Bavarians, whom he encountered on the 2d
of July, on the heights of the Schullenberg near Donauwert. Marlborough
stormed their entrenched camp, crossed the Danube, took several strong
places in Bavaria, and made himself completely master of the Elector's
dominions, except the fortified cities of Munich and Augsburg. But the
Elector's army, though defeated at Donauwert, was still numerous and
strong; and at last Marshal Tallard, when thoroughly apprised of the
real nature of Marlborough's movements, crossed the Rhine. He was
suffered through the supineness of the German general at Stollhoffen,
to march without loss through the Black Forest, and united his powerful
army at Biberach near Augsburg, with that of the Elector and the French
troops under Marshal Marsin, who had previously been co-operating with
the Bavarians. On the other hand, Marlborough re-crossed the Danube, and
on the 11th of August united his army with the Imperialist forces under
Prince Eugene. The combined armies occupied a position near Hochstadt,
a little higher up the left bank of the Danube than Donauwert, the scene
of Marlborough's recent victory, and almost exactly on the ground where
Marshal Villars and the Elector had defeated an Austrian army in the
preceding year. The French marshals and the Elector were now in position
a little farther to the east, between Blenheim and Lutzingen, and
with the little stream of the Nebel between them and the troops of
Marlborough and Eugene. The Gallo-Bavarian army consisted of about sixty
thousand men, and they had sixty-one pieces of artillery. "The army of
the Allies was about fifty-six thousand strong, with fifty-two guns." [A
short time before the War of the Succession the musquet and bayonet
had been made the arms of all the French infantry. It had formerly been
usual to mingle pike-men with musqueteers. The other European nations
followed the example of France, and the weapons used at Blenheim were
substantially the same as those still employed.]

Although the French army of Italy had been unable to penetrate into
Austria, and although the masterly strategy of Marlborough had hitherto
warded off the destruction with which the cause of the Allies seemed
menaced at the beginning of the campaign, the peril was still most
serious. It was absolutely necessary for Marlborough to attack the
enemy, before Villeroy should be roused into action. There was nothing
to stop that general and his army from marching into Franconia, whence
the Allies drew their principal supplies; and besides thus distressing
them, he might, by marching on and joining his army to those of Tallard
and the Elector, form a mass which would overwhelm the force under
Marlborough and Eugene. On the other hand, the chances of a battle
seemed perilous, and the fatal consequences of a defeat were certain.
The inferiority of the Allies in point of number was not very great, but
still it was not to be disregarded; and the advantage which the enemy
seemed to have in the composition of their troops was striking. Tallard
and Marsin had forty-five thousand Frenchmen under them, all veterans,
and all trained to act together: the Elector's own troops also were good
soldiers. Marlborough, like Wellington at Waterloo, headed an army, of
which the larger proportion consisted not of English, but of men of many
different nations, and many different languages. He was also obliged
to be the assailant in the action, and thus to expose his troops to
comparatively heavy loss at the commencement of the battle, while the
enemy would fight under the protection of the villages and lines which
they were actively engaged in strengthening. The consequences of a
defeat of the confederated army must have broken up the Grand Alliance,
and realised the proudest hopes of the French king. Mr. Alison, in his
admirable military history of the Duke of Marlborough, has truly stated
the effects which would have taken place if France had been successful
in the war. And, when the position of the Confederates at the time when
Blenheim was fought is remembered; when we recollect the exhaustion of
Austria, the menacing insurrection of Hungary, the feuds and jealousies
of the German princes, the strength and activity of the Jacobite party
in England, the imbecility of nearly all the Dutch statesmen of the
time, and the weakness of Holland if deprived of her allies, we may
adopt his words in speculating on what would have ensued, if France
had been victorious in the battle, and "if a power, animated by the
ambition, guided by the fanaticism and directed by the ability of that
of Louis XIV., had gained the ascendancy in Europe. Beyond all question,
a universal despotic dominion would have been established over the
bodies, a cruel spiritual thraldom over the minds of men. France and
Spain united under Bourbon princes, and in a close family alliance--the
empire of Charlemagne with that of Charles V.--the power which revolted
the edict of Nantes, and perpetrated the massacre of St. Bartholomew,
with that which banished the Moriscoes, and established the Inquisition,
would have proved irresistible, and beyond example destructive to the
best interests of mankind.

"The Protestants might have been driven, like the Pagan heathens of old
by the son of Pepin, beyond the Elbe; the Stuart race, and with them
Romish, ascendancy, might have been re-established in England; the fire
lighted by Latimer and Ridley might have been extinguished in blood; and
the energy breathed by religious freedom into the Anglo-Saxon race
might have expired. The destinies of the world would have been changed.
Europe, instead of a variety of independent states, whose mutual,
hostility kept alive courage, while their national rivalry stimulated
talent, would have sunk into the slumber attendant on universal
dominion. The colonial empire of England would have withered away and
perished, as that of Spain has done in the grasp of the Inquisition. The
Anglo-Saxon race would have been arrested in its mission to overspread
the earth and subdue it. The centralised despotism of the Roman empire
would have been renewed on Continental Europe; the chains of Romish
tyranny, and with them the general infidelity of France before the
Revolution, would have extinguished or perverted thought in the British
islands." [Alison's Life of Marlborough, p. 248.]

Marlborough's words at the council of war, when a battle was resolved
on, are remarkable, and they deserve recording. We know them on the
authority of his chaplain, Mr. (afterwards Bishop) Hare, who accompanied
him throughout the campaign, and in whose journal the biographers of
Marlborough have found many of their best materials. Marborough's words
to the officers who remonstrated with him on the seeming temerity of
attacking the enemy in their position, were--"I know the danger, yet a
battle is absolutely necessary; and I rely on the bravery and discipline
of the troops, which will make amends for our disadvantages." In the
evening orders were issued for a general engagement, and received by the
army with an alacrity which justified his confidence.

The French and Bavarians were posted behind a little stream called the
Nebel, which runs almost from north to south into the Danube immediately
in front of the village of Blenheim. The Nebel flows along a little
valley, and the French occupied the rising ground to the west of it.
The village of Blenheim was the extreme right of their position, and the
village of Lutzingen, about three miles north of Blenheim, formed their
left. Beyond Lutzingen are the rugged high grounds of the Godd Berg, and
Eich Berg, on the skirts of which some detachments were posted so as to
secure the Gallo-Bavarian position from being turned on the left flank.
The Danube protected their right flank; and it was only in front that
they could be attacked. The villages of Blenheim and Lutzingen had been
strongly palisadoed and entrenched. Marshal Tallard, who held the chief
command, took his station at Blenheim: Prince Maximilian the Elector,
and Marshal Marsin commanded on the left. Tallard garrisoned Blenheim
with twenty-six battalions of French infantry, and twelve squadrons
of French cavalry. Marsin and the Elector had twenty-two battalions of
infantry, and thirty-six squadrons of cavalry in front of the village of
Lutzingen. The centre was occupied by fourteen battalions of infantry,
including the celebrated Irish Brigade. These were posted in the little
hamlet of Oberglau, which lies somewhat nearer to Lutzingen than to
Blenheim. Eighty squadrons of cavalry and seven battalions of foot were
ranged between Oberglau and Blenheim. Thus the French position was very
strong at each extremity, but was comparatively weak in the centre.
Tallard seems to have relied on the swampy state of the part of the
valley that reaches from below Oberglau to Blenheim, for preventing any
serious attack on this part of his line.

The army of the Allies was formed into two great divisions: the largest
being commanded by the Duke in person, and being destined to act against
Tallard, while Prince Eugene led the other division, which consisted
chiefly of cavalry, and was intended to oppose the enemy under Marsin
and the Elector. As they approached the enemy, Marlborough's troops
formed the left and the centre, while Eugene's formed the right of the
entire army. Early in the morning of the 13th of August, the Allies left
their own camp and marched towards the enemy. A thick haze covered the
ground, and it was not until the allied right and centre had advanced
nearly within cannon-shot of the enemy that Tallard was aware of their
approach. He made his preparations with what haste he could, and about
eight o'clock a heavy fire of artillery was opened from the French right
on the advancing left wing of the British. Marlborough ordered up some
of his batteries to reply to it, and while the columns that were to form
the allied left and centre deployed, and took up their proper stations
in the line, a warm cannonade was kept up by the guns on both sides.

The ground which Eugene's columns had to traverse was peculiarly
difficult, especially for the passage of the artillery; and it was
nearly mid-day before he could get his troops into line opposite to
Lutzingen. During this interval, Marlborough ordered divine service to
be performed by the chaplains at the head of each regiment; and then
rode along the lines, and found both officers and men in the highest
spirits, and waiting impatiently for the signal for the the attack. At
length an aide-de-camp galloped up from the right with the welcome news
that Eugene was ready. Marlborough instantly sent Lord Cutts, with a
strong brigade of infantry, to assault the village of Blenheim, while he
himself led the main body down the eastward slope of the valley of the
Nebel, and prepared to effect the passage of the stream.

The assault on Blenheim, though bravely made, was repulsed with severe
loss; and Marlborough, finding how strongly that village was garrisoned,
desisted from any further attempts to carry it, and bent all his
energies to breaking the enemy's line between Blenheim and Oberglau.
Some temporary bridges had been prepared, and planks and fascinas had
been collected; and by the aid of these and a little stone bridge which
crossed the Nebel, near a hamlet called Unterglau, that lay in the
centre of the valley, Marlborough succeeded in getting several squadrons
across the Nebel, though it was divided into several branches, and the
ground between them was soft, and in places, little better than a mere
marsh. But the French artillery was not idle. The cannon balls plunged
incessantly among the advancing squadrons of the allies; and bodies of
French cavalry rode frequently down from the western ridge, to charge
them before they had time to form on the firm ground. It was only by
supporting his men by fresh troops, and by bringing up infantry, who
checked the advance of the enemy's horse by their steady fire, that
Marlborough was able to save his army in this quarter from a repulse,
which, following the failure of the attack upon Blenheim, would probably
have been fatal to the Allies. By degrees, his cavalry struggled over
the blood-stained streams; the infantry were also now brought across, so
as to keep in check the French troops who held Blenheim, and who, when
no longer assailed in front, had begun to attack the Allies on their
left with considerable effect.

Marlborough had thus at last succeeded in drawing up the whole left wing
of his army beyond the Nebel, and was about to press forward with it,
when he was called away to another part of the field by a disaster that
had befallen his centre. The Prince of Holstein-Beck had, with eleven
Hanoverian battalions, passed the Nebel opposite to Oberglau, when he
was charged and utterly routed by the Irish brigade which held that
village. The Irish drove the Hanoverians back with heavy slaughter,
broke completely through the line of the Allies, and nearly achieved a
success as brilliant as that which the same brigade afterwards gained
at Fontenoy. But at Blenheim their ardour in pursuit led them too far.
Marlborough came up in person, and dashed in upon their exposed flank
with some squadrons of British cavalry. The Irish reeled back, and as
they strove to regain the height of Oberglau, their column was raked
through and through by the fire of three battalions of the Allies,
which Marlborough had summoned up from the reserve. Marlborough having
re-established the order and communication of the Allies in this
quarter, now, as he returned to his own left wing, sent to learn how his
colleague fared against Marsin and the Elector, and to inform Eugene of
his own success.

Eugene had hitherto not been equally fortunate. He had made three
attacks on the enemy opposed to him, and had been thrice driven back.
It was only by his own desperate personal exertions, and the remarkable
steadiness of the regiments of Prussian infantry which were under him,
that he was able to save his wing from being totally defeated. But
it was on the southern part of the battle-field, on the ground which
Marlborough had won beyond the Nebel with such difficulty, that the
crisis of the battle was to be decided.

Like Hannibal, Marlborough relied principally on his cavalry for
achieving his decisive successes, and it was by his cavalry that
Blenheim, the greatest of his victories, was won. The battle had lasted
till five in the afternoon. Marlborough had now eight thousand horseman
drawn up in two lines, and in the most perfect order for a general
attack on the enemy's line along the space between Blenheim and
Oberglau. The infantry was drawn up in battalions in their rear, so as
to support them if repulsed, and to keep in check the large masses of
the French that still occupied the village of Blenheim. Tallard now
interlaced his squadrons of cavalry with battalions of infantry; and
Marlborough by a corresponding movement, brought several regiments of
infantry, and some pieces of artillery, to his front line, at intervals
between the bodies of horse. A little after five, Marlborough commenced
the decisive movement, and the allied cavalry, strengthened and
supported by foot and guns, advanced slowly from the lower ground near
the Nebel up the slope to where the French cavalry, ten thousand strong,
awaited them. On riding over the summit of the acclivity, the Allies
were received with so hot a fire from the French artillery and small
arms, that at first the cavalry recoiled, but without abandoning the
high ground. The guns and the infantry which they had brought with them,
maintained the contest with spirit and effect. The French fire seemed
to slacken Marlborough instantly ordered a charge along the line. The
allied cavalry galloped forward at the enemy's squadrons, and the hearts
of the French horseman failed them. Discharging their carbines at an
idle distance, they wheeled round and spurred from the field, leaving
the nine infantry battalions of their comrades to be ridden down by
the torrent of the allied cavalry. The battle was now won. Tallard and
Marsin, severed from each other, thought only of retreat. Tallard drew
up the squadrons of horse which he had left in a line extended towards
Blenheim, and sent orders to the infantry in that village to leave and
join him without delay. But long ere his orders could be obeyed,
the conquering squadrons of Marlborough had wheeled to the left and
thundered down on the feeble army of the French marshal. Part of the
force which Tallard had drawn up for this last effort was driven into
the Danube; part fled with their general to the village of Sonderheim,
where they were soon surrounded by the victorious Allies, and compelled
to surrender. Meanwhile, Eugene had renewed his attack upon the
Gallo-Bavarian left, and Marsin, finding his colleague utterly routed,
and his own right flank uncovered, prepared to retreat. He and the
Elector succeeded in withdrawing a considerable part of their troops
in tolerable order to Dillingen; but the large body of French
who garrisoned Blenheim were left exposed to certain destruction.
Marlborough speedily occupied all the outlets from the village with
his victorious troops, and then, collecting his artillery round it, he
commenced a cannonade that speedily would have destroyed Blenheim itself
and all who were in it. After several gallant but unsuccessful attempts
to cut their way through the Allies, the French in Blenheim were at
length compelled to surrender at discretion; and twenty-four battalions,
and twelve squadrons, with all their officers, laid down their arms, and
became the captives of Marlborough.

"Such," says Voltaire, "was the celebrated battle, which the French call
the battle of Hochstet, the Germans Plentheim, and the English Blenheim,
The conquerors had about five thousand killed, and eight thousand
wounded, the greater part being on the side of Prince Eugene. The French
army was almost entirely destroyed: of sixty thousand men, so long
victorious, there never reassembled more than twenty thousand effective.
About twelve thousand killed, fourteen thousand prisoners, all the
cannon, a prodigious number of colours and standards, all the tents
and equipages, the general of the army, and one thousand two hundred
officers of mark, in the power of the conqueror, signalised that day!"

Ulm, Landau, Treves, and Traerbach surrendered to the allies before the
close of the year. Bavaria submitted to the emperor, and the Hungarians
laid down their arms. Germany was completely delivered from France;
and the military ascendancy of the arms of the Allies was completely
established. Throughout the rest of the war Louis fought only in
defence. Blenheim had dissipated for ever his once proud visions of
almost universal conquest.


A.D. 1705. The Archduke Charles lands in Spain with a small English army
under Lord Peterborough, who takes Barcelona.

1706. Marlborough's victory at Ramilies.

1707. The English army in Spain is defeated at the battle of Almanza.

1708. Marlborough's victory at Oudenarde.


     "Dread Pultowa's day,
      When fortune left the royal Swede,
      Around a slaughtered army lay,
      No more to combat and to bleed.
      The power and fortune of the war
      Had passed to the triumphant Czar."--BYRON.

Napoleon prophesied at St. Helena, that all Europe would soon be either
Cossack or Republican. Four years ago, the fulfilment of the last of
these alternatives appeared most probable. But the democratic movements
of 1848 were sternly repressed in 1849. The absolute authority of
a single ruler, and the austere stillness of martial law, are now
paramount in the capitals of the continent, which lately owned no
sovereignty save the will of the multitude; and where that which the
democrat calls his sacred right of insurrection, was so loudly asserted
and so often fiercely enforced. Many causes have contributed to bring
about this reaction, but the most effective and the most permanent have
been Russian influence and Russian arms. Russia is now the avowed and
acknowledged champion of Monarchy against Democracy;--of constituted
authority, however acquired, against revolution and change for whatever
purpose desired;--of the imperial supremacy of strong states over their
weaker neighbours against all claims for political independence, and
all striving for separate nationality. She has crushed the heroic
Hungarians; and Austria, for whom nominally she crushed them, is now one
of her dependents. Whether the rumours of her being about to engage
in fresh enterprises be well or ill founded, it is certain that recent
events must have fearfully augmented the power of the Muscovite empire,
which, even previously, had been the object of well-founded anxiety to
all Western Europe.

It was truly stated, twelve years ago, that "the acquisitions which
Russia has made within the [then] last sixty-four years, are equal in
extent and importance to the whole empire she had in Europe before that
time; that the acquisitions she had made from Sweden are greater than
what remains of that ancient kingdom; that her acquisitions from Poland
are as large as the whole Austrian empire; that the territory she has
wrested from Turkey in Europe is equal to the dominions of Prussia,
exclusive of her Rhenish provinces; and that her acquisitions from
Turkey in Asia are equal in extent to all the smaller states of Germany,
the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, Belgium, and Holland taken together;
that the country she has conquered from Persia is about the size of
England; that her acquisitions in Tartary have an area equal to Turkey
in Europe, Greece, Italy, and Spain. In sixty-four years she has
advanced her frontier eight hundred and fifty miles towards Vienna,
Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and Paris; she has approached four hundred and
fifty miles nearer to Constantinople; she has possessed herself of the
capital of Poland, and has advanced to within a few miles of the capital
of Sweden, from which, when Peter the Great mounted the throne, her
frontier was distant three hundred miles. Since that time she has
stretched herself forward about one thousand miles towards India, and
the same distance towards the capital of Persia." [Progress of Russia in
the East. p. 142.]

Such, at that period, had been the recent aggrandisement of Russia; and
the events of the last few years, by weakening and disuniting all
her European neighbours, have immeasurably augmented the relative
superiority of the Muscovite empire over all the other continental

With a population exceeding sixty millions, all implicitly obeying the
impulse of a single ruling mind; with a territorial area of six millions
and a half of square miles; with a standing army eight hundred thousand
strong; with powerful fleets on the Baltic and Black Seas; with a
skilful host of diplomatic agents planted in every court, and among
every tribe; with the confidence which unexpected success creates, and
the sagacity which long experience fosters, Russia now grasps with an
armed right hand the tangled thread of European politics, and issues her
mandate as the arbitress of the movements of the age. Yet a century and
a half have hardly elapsed since she was first recognised as a member
of the drama of modern European history--previously to the battle of
Pultowa, Russia played no part. Charles V. and his great rival our
Elizabeth and her adversary Philip of Spain, the Guises, Sully,
Richelieu, Cromwell, De Witt, William of Orange, and the other leading
spirits of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thought no more
about the Muscovite Czar than we now think about the King of Timbuctoo.
Even as late as 1735, Lord Bollingbroke, in his admirable "Letters on
History," speaks of the history of the Muscovites, as having no relation
to the knowledge which a practical English statesman ought to acquire.
[Bolingbroke's Works, vol ii. p. 374. In the same page he observes how
Sweden had often turned her arms southwards with prodigious effect.] It
may be doubted whether a cabinet council often takes place now in
our Foreign Office, without Russia being uppermost in every English
statesman's thoughts.

But though Russia remained thus long unheeded amid her snows, there
was a northern power, the influence of which was acknowledged in the
principal European quarrels, and whose good will was sedulously courted
by many of the boldest chiefs and ablest councillors of the leading
states. This was Sweden; Sweden, on whose ruins Russia has risen; but
whose ascendancy over her semi-barbarous neighbours was complete, until
the fatal battle that now forms our subject.

As early as 1542 France had sought the alliance of Sweden to aid her in
her struggle against Charles V. And the name of Gustavus Adolphus is of
itself sufficient to remind us, that in the great contest for religious
liberty, of which Germany was for thirty years the arena, it was Sweden
that rescued the falling cause of Protestantism; and it was Sweden that
principally dictated the remodelling of the European state system at the
peace of Westphalia.

From the proud pre-eminence in which the valour of the "Lion of the
North" and of Torstenston, Bannier, Wrangel and the other Generals of
Gustavus, guided by the wisdom of Oxenstiern, had placed Sweden, the
defeat of Charles XII. at Pultowa hurled her down at once and for ever.
Her efforts during the wars of the French revolution to assume a leading
part in European politics, met with instant discomfiture, and almost
provoked derision. But the Sweden, whose sceptre was bequeathed to
Christina, and whose alliance Cromwell valued so highly, was a different
power from the Sweden of the present day. Finland, Ingria, Livonia,
Esthonia, Carelia, and other districts east of the Baltic, then were
Swedish provinces; and the possession of Pomerania, Rugen, and Bremen,
made her an important member of the Germanic empire. These territories
are now all reft from her; and the most valuable of them form the staple
of her victorious rival's strength. Could she resume them, could
the Sweden of 1648 be reconstructed, we should have a first-class
Scandinavian State in the North, well qualified to maintain the balance
of power, and check the progress of Russia; whose power, indeed, never
could have become formidable to Europe, save by Sweden becoming weak.

The decisive triumph of Russia over Sweden at Pultowa was therefore
all-important to the world, on account of what it overthrew as well as
for what it established; and it is the more deeply interesting because
it was not merely the crisis of a struggle between two states, but it
was a trial of strength between two great races of mankind. We must bear
in mind, that while the Swedes, like the English, the Dutch, and others,
belong to the Germanic race, the Russians are a Sclavonic people.
Nations of Sclavonian origin have long occupied the greater part of
Europe eastward of the Vistula, and the populations also of Bohemia,
Croatia, Servia, Dalmatia, and other important regions westward of that
river, are Sclavonic. In the long and varied conflicts between them and
the Germanic nations that adjoin them, the Germanic race had, before
Pultowa, almost always maintained a superiority. With the single
but important exception of Poland, no Sclavonic state had made any
considerable figure in history before the time when Peter the Great won
his great victory over the Swedish king. [The Hussite wars may, perhaps,
entitle Bohemia to be distinguished.] What Russia has done since that
time we know and we feel. And some of the wisest and best men of our own
age and nation, who have watched with deepest care the annals and the
destinies of humanity, have believed that the Sclavonic element in the
population of Europe has as yet only partially developed its powers:
that, while other races of mankind (our own, the Germanic, included)
have exhausted their creative energies, and completed their allotted
achievements, the Sclavonic race has yet a great career to run: and,
that the narrative of Sclavonic ascendancy is the remaining page that;
will conclude the history of the world. [See Arnold's Lectures on Modern
History, pp. 36-39.]

Let it not be supposed that in thus regarding the primary triumph of
Russia over Sweden as a victory of the Sclavonic over the Germanic
race, we are dealing with matters of mere ethnological pedantry, or
with themes of mere speculative curiosity. The fact that Russia is
a Sclavonic empire, is a fact of immense practical influence at
the present moment. Half the inhabitants of the Austrian empire are
Sclavonian. The population of the larger part of Turkey in Europe is of
the same race. Silesia, Posen, and other parts of the Prussian dominions
are principally Sclavonic. And during late years an enthusiastic zeal
for blending all Sclavonians into one great united Sclavonic empire,
has been growing up in these countries, which, however we may deride its
principle, is not the less real and active, and of which Russia, as
the head and champion of the Sclavonic race, knows well how to take her

["The idea of Panslavism had a purely literary origin. It was started by
Pollar, a Protestant clergyman of the Sclavonic congregation at
Pesth, in Hungary, who wished to establish a national literature,
by circulating all works, written in the various Sclavonic dialects,
through every country where any of them are spoken. He suggested, that
all the Slavonic literati should become acguainted with the sister
dialects, so that a Bohemian, or other work, might be read on the shores
of the Adriatic, as well as on the banks of the Volga, or any other
place where a Sclavonic language was spoken; by which means an extensive
literature might be created, tending to advance knowledge in all
Sclavonic countries; and he supported his arguments by observing, that
the dialects of ancient Greece differed from each other, like those of
his own language, and yet that they formed only one Hellenic literature.
The idea of an intellectual union of all those nations naturally led to
that of a political one; and the Sclavonians, seeing that their numbers
amounted to about one-third part of the whole population of Europe, and
occupied more than half its territory, began to be sensible that they
might claim for themselves a position, to which they had not hitherto

"The opinion gained ground; and the question now is, whether the
Slavonians can form a nation independent of Russia; or whether they
ought to rest satisfied in being part of one great race, with the most
powerful member of it as their chief. The latter, indeed, is gaining
ground amongst them; and some Poles are disposed to attribute their
sufferings to the arbitrary will of the Czar, without extending the
blame to the Russians themselves. These begin to think that, if they
cannot exist as Poles, the best thing to be done is to rest satisfied
with a position in the Sclavonic empire, and they hope that, when once
they give up the idea of restoring their country, Russia may grant some
concessions to their separate nationality.

"The same idea has been put forward by writers in the Russian interest;
great efforts are making among other Sclavonic people, to induce them
to look upon Russia as their future head; and she has already
gained considerable influence over the Sclavonic populations of

It is a singular fact that Russia owes her very name to a band of
Swedish invaders who conquered her a thousand years ago. They were soon
absorbed in the Sclavonic population, and every trace of the Swedish
character had disappeared in Russia for many centuries before her
invasion by Charles XII. She was long the victim and the slave of the
Tartars; and for many considerable periods of years the Poles held her
in subjugation. Indeed, if we except the expeditions of some of
the early Russian chiefs against Byzantium, and the reign of Ivan
Vasilovitch, the history of Russia before the time of Peter the Great is
one long tale of suffering and degradation.

But whatever may have been the amount of national injuries that she
sustained from Swede, from Tartar, or from Pole in the ages of her
weakness, she has certainly retaliated ten-fold during the century and
a half of her strength. Her rapid transition at the commencement of that
period from being the prey of every conqueror to being the conqueror of
all with whom she comes into contact, to being the oppressor instead of
the oppressed, is almost without a parallel in the history of nations.
It was the work of a single ruler; who, himself without education,
promoted science and literature among barbaric millions; who gave them
fleets, commerce, arts, and arms; who, at Pultowa, taught them to face
and beat the previously invincible Swedes: and who made stubborn valour,
and implicit subordination, from that time forth the distinguishing
characteristics of the Russian soldiery, which had before his time been
a mere disorderly and irresolute rabble.

The career of Philip of Macedon resembles most nearly that of the great
Muscovite Czar: but there is this important difference, that Philip
had, while young, received in Southern Greece the best education in all
matters of peace and war that the ablest philosophers and generals of
the age could bestow. Peter was brought up among barbarians, and in
barbaric ignorance. He strove to remedy this when a grown man, by
leaving all the temptations to idleness and sensuality, which his court
offered, and by seeking instruction abroad. He laboured with his own
hands as a common artisan in Holland and in England, that he might
return and teach his subjects how ships, commerce, and civilization
could be acquired. There is a degree of heroism here superior
to anything that we know of in the Macedonian king. But Philip's
consolidation of the long disunited Macedonian empire,--his raising a
people which he found the scorn of their civilized southern neighbours,
to be their dread,--his organization of a brave and well-disciplined
army, instead of a disorderly militia,--his creation of a maritime
force, and his systematic skill in acquiring and improving sea-ports and
arsenals,--his patient tenacity of purpose under reverses,--his
personal bravery,--and even his proneness to coarse amusements and
pleasures,--all mark him out as the prototype of the imperial founder of
the Russian power. In justice, however, to the ancient hero, it ought
to be added, that we find in the history of Philip no examples of that
savage cruelty which deforms so grievously the character of Peter the

In considering the effects of the overthrow which the Swedish arms
sustained at Pultowa, and in speculating on the probable consequences
that would have followed if the invaders had been successful we must not
only bear in mind the wretched state In which Peter found Russia at his
accession, compared with her present grandeur, but we must also keep in
view the fact, that, at the time when Pultowa was fought, his reforms
were yet incomplete, and his new institutions immature. He had broken
up the old Russia; and the New Russia, which he ultimately created,
was still in embryo. Had he been crushed at Pultowa, his mighty schemes
would have been buried with him; and (to use the words of Voltaire) "the
most extensive empire in the world would have relapsed into the chaos
from which it had been so lately taken." It is this fact that makes the
repulse of Charles XII. the critical point in the fortunes of Russia.
The danger which she incurred a century afterwards from her invasion by
Napoleon was in reality far less than her peril when Charles attacked
her; though the French Emperor, as a military genius, was infinitely
superior to the Swedish King, and led a host against her, compared with
which the armies of Charles seem almost insignificant. But, as Fouche
well warned his imperial master, when he vainly endeavoured to dissuade
him from his disastrous expedition against the empire of the Czars,
the difference between the Russia of 1812 and the Russia of 1709 was
greater, than the disparity between the power of Charles and the might
of Napoleon. "If that heroic king," said Fouche, "had not, like your
imperial Majesty, half Europe in arms to back him, neither had his
opponent, the Czar Peter, 400,000 soldiers, and 60,000 Cossacks."
The historians, who describe the state of the Muscovite empire when
revolutionary and imperial France encountered it, narrate with truth and
justice, how "at the epoch of the French Revolution this immense empire,
comprehending nearly half of Europe and Asia within its dominions,
inhabited by a patient and indomitable race, ever ready to exchange the
luxury and adventure of the south for the hardships and monotony of the
north, was daily becoming more formidable to the liberties of Europe.
The Russian infantry had then long been celebrated for its immoveable
firmness. Her immense population, amounting then in Europe alone to
nearly thirty-five millions, afforded an inexhaustible supply of men.
Her soldiers, inured to heat and cold from their infancy, and actuated
by a blind devotion to their Czar, united the steady valour of the
English to the impetuous energy of the French troops." [Alison.] So,
also, we read how the haughty aggressions of Bonaparte "went to excite
a national feeling, from the banks of the Borysthenes to the wall of
China, and to unite against him the wild and uncivilized inhabitants
of an extended empire, possessed by a love to their religion, their
government, and their country, and having a character of stern devotion,
which he was incapable of estimating." [Scott's Life of Napoleon] But
the Russia of 1709 had no such forces to oppose to an assailant. Her
whole population then was below sixteen millions; and, what is far more
important, this population had neither acquired military spirit, nor
strong nationality; nor was it united in loyal attachment to its ruler.

Peter had wisely abolished the old regular troops of the empire, the
Strelitzes; but the forces which he had raised in their stead on a new
and foreign plan, and principally officered with foreigners, had, before
the Swedish invasion, given no proof that they could be relied on. In
numerous encounters with the Swedes, Peter's soldiery had run like sheep
before inferior numbers. Great discontent, also, had been excited among
all classes of the community by the arbitrary changes which their
great emperor introduced, many of which clashed with the most cherished
national prejudices of his subjects. A career of victory and prosperity
had not yet raised Peter above the reach of that disaffection, nor had
superstitious obedience to the Czar yet become the characteristic of
the Muscovite mind. The victorious occupation of Moscow by Charles XII.
would have quelled the Russian nation as effectually, as had been the
case when Batou Khan, and other ancient invaders, captured the capital
of primitive Muscovy. How little such a triumph could effect towards
subduing modern Russia, the fate of Napoleon demonstrated at once and
for ever.

The character of Charles XII. has been a favourite theme with
historians, moralists, philosophers, and poets. But it is his military
conduct during the campaign in Russia that alone requires comment here.
Napoleon, in the memoirs dictated by him at St. Helena, has given us a
systematic criticism on that, among other celebrated campaigns, his
own Russian campaign included. He labours hard to prove that he himself
observed all the true principles of offensive war: and probably his
censures of Charles's generalship were rather highly coloured, for
the sake of making his own military skill stand out in more favourable
relief. Yet, after making all allowances, we must admit the force of
Napoleon's strictures on Charles's tactics, and own that his judgment,
though severe, is correct, when he pronounces that the Swedish king,
unlike his great predecessor Gustavus, knew nothing of the art of war,
and was nothing more than a brave and intrepid soldier. Such, however,
was not the light in which Charles was regarded by his contemporaries at
the commencement of his Russian expedition. His numerous victories,
his daring and resolute spirit, combined with the ancient renown of the
Swedish arms, then filled all Europe with admiration and anxiety. As
Johnson expresses it, his name was then one at which the world grew
pale. Even Louis le Grand earnestly solicited his assistance; and our
own Marlborough, then in the full career of his victories, was specially
sent by the English court to the camp of Charles, to propitiate the hero
of the north in favour of the cause of the allies and to prevent the
Swedish sword from being flung into the scale in the French king's
favour. But Charles at that time was solely bent on dethroning the
sovereign of Russia, as he had already dethroned the sovereign of
Poland, and all Europe fully believed that he would entirely crush the
Czar, and dictate conditions of peace in the Kremlin. [Voltaire attests,
from personal inspection of the letters of several public ministers to
their respective courts, that such was the general expectation.] Charles
himself looked on success as a matter of certainty; and the romantic
extravagance of his views was continually increasing. "One year, he
thought, would suffice for the conquest of Russia. The court of Rome
was next to feel his vengeance, as the pope had dared to oppose
the concession of religious liberty to the Silesian Protestants.
No enterprise at that time appeared impossible to him. He had even
dispatched several officers privately into Asia and Egypt, to take
plans of the towns, and examine into the strength and resources of those
countries." [Crighton's Scandinavia.]

Napoleon thus epitomises the earlier operations of Charles's invasion of

"That prince set out from his camp at Aldstadt, near Leipsic, in
September 1707, at the head of 46,000 men, and traversed Poland; 20,000
men, under Count Lewenhaupt, disembarked at Riga; and 15,000 were in
Finland. He was therefore in a condition to have brought together 80,000
of the best troops in the world. He left 10,000 men at Warsaw to guard
King Stanislaus, and in January 1708, arrived at Grodno, where he
wintered. In June he crossed the forest of Minsk, and presented himself
before Borisov; forced the Russian army, which occupied the left bank
of the Beresina; defeated 20,000 Russians who were strongly entrenched
behind marshes; passed the Borysthenes at Mohiloev, and vanquished a
corps of 16,000 Muscovites near Smolensko, on the 22d of September. He
was now advanced to the confines of Lithuania, and was about to enter
Russia Proper: the Czar, alarmed at his approach, made him proposals of
peace. Up to this time all his movements mere conformable to rule, and
his communications were well secured. He was master of Poland and Riga,
and only ten days' march distant from Moscow: and it is probable that
he would have reached that capital, had he not quitted the high road
thither, and directed his steps towards the Ukraine, in order to form a
junction with Mazeppa, who brought him only 6,000 men. By this movement
his line of operations, beginning at Sweden, exposed his flank to Russia
for a distance of four hundred leagues, and he was unable to protect it,
or to receive either reinforcements or assistance."

Napoleon severely censures this neglect of one of the great rules of
war. He points out that Charles had not organized his war like Hannibal,
on the principle of relinquishing all communications with home, keeping
all his forces concentrated, and creating a base of operations in the
conquered country. Such had been the bold system of the Carthaginian
general; but Charles acted on no such principle, inasmuch as he caused
Lewenhaupt, one of his generals who commanded a considerable detachment,
and escorted a most important convoy, to follow him at a distance
of twelve days' march. By this dislocation of his forces he exposed
Lewenhaupt to be overwhelmed separately by the full force of the enemy,
and deprived the troops under his own command of the aid which that
general's men and stores might have afforded, at the very crisis of the

The Czar had collected an army of about a hundred thousand effective
men; and though the Swedes, in the beginning of the invasion, were
successful in every encounter, the Russian troops were gradually
acquiring discipline; and Peter and his officers were learning
generalship from their victors, as the Thebans of old learned it from
the Spartans. When Lewenhaupt, in the October of 1708, was striving to
join Charles in the Ukraine, the Czar suddenly attacked him near the
Borysthenes with an overwhelming force of fifty thousand Russians.
Lewenhaupt fought bravely for three days, and succeeded in cutting his
way through the enemy, with about four thousand of his men, to where
Charles awaited him near the river Desna; but upwards of eight thousand
Swedes fell in these battles; Lewenhaupt's cannon and ammunition were
abandoned; and the whole of his important convoy of provisions, on which
Charles and his half-starved troops were relying, fell into the enemy's
hands. Charles was compelled to remain in the Ukraine during the winter;
but in the spring of 1709 he moved forward towards Moscow, and invested
the fortified town of Pultowa, on the river Vorskla, a place where the
Czar had stored up large supplies of provisions and military stores, and
which commanded the roads leading towards Moscow. The possession of this
place would have given Charles the means of supplying all the wants of
his suffering army, and would also have furnished him with a secure base
of operations for his advance against the Muscovite capital. The
siege was therefore hotly pressed by the Swedes; the garrison resisted
obstinately; and the Czar, feeling the importance of saving the town,
advanced in June to its relief, at the head of an army from fifty to
sixty thousand strong.

Both sovereigns now prepared for the general action, which each
perceived to be inevitable, and which each felt would be decisive of his
own and of his country's destiny. The Czar, by some masterly manoeuvres,
crossed the Vorskla, and posted his army on the same side of that river
with the besiegers, but a little higher up. The Vorskla falls into the
Borysthenes about fifteen leagues below Pultowa, and the Czar arranged
his forces in two lines, stretching from one river towards the other; so
that if the Swedes attacked him and were repulsed, they would be driven
backwards into the acute angle formed by the two streams at their
junction. He fortified these lines with several redoubts, lined with
heavy artillery; and his troops, both horse and foot, were in the best
possible condition, and amply provided with stores and ammunition.
Charles's forces were about twenty-four thousand strong. But not more
than half of these were Swedes; so much had battle, famine, fatigue, and
the deadly frosts of Russia, thinned the gallant bands which the Swedish
king and Lewenhaupt had led to the Ukraine. The other twelve thousand
men under Charles were Cossacks and Wallachians, who had joined him
in that country. On hearing that the Czar was about to attack him,
he deemed that his dignity required that he himself should be the
assailant; and leading his army out of their entrenched lines before the
town, he advanced with them against the Russian redoubts.

He had been severely wounded in the foot in a skirmish a few days
before; and was borne in a litter along the ranks, into the thick of the
fight. Notwithstanding the fearful disparity of numbers and disadvantage
of position, the Swedes never showed their ancient valour more nobly
than on that dreadful day. Nor do their Cossack and Wallachian allies
seem to have been unworthy of fighting side by side with Charles's
veterans. Two of the Russian redoubts were actually entered, and the
Swedish infantry began to raise the cry of victory. But on the other
side, neither general nor soldiers flinched in their duty. The Russian
cannonade and musketry were kept up; fresh masses of defenders were
poured into the fortifications, and at length the exhausted remnants of
the Swedish columns recoiled from the blood-stained redoubts. Then the
Czar led the infantry and cavalry of his first line outside the works,
drew them up steadily and skilfully, and the action was renewed along
the whole fronts of the two armies on the open ground. Each sovereign
exposed his life freely in the world-winning battle; and on each side
the troops fought obstinately and eagerly under their ruler's eye.
It was not till two hours from the commencement of the action that,
overpowered by numbers, the hitherto invincible Swedes gave way. All was
then hopeless disorder and irreparable rout. Driven downward to where
the rivers join, the fugitive Swedes surrendered to their victorious
pursuers, or perished in the waters of the Borysthenes. Only a few
hundreds swam that river with their king and the Cossack Mazeppa, and
escaped into the Turkish territory. Nearly ten thousand lay killed and
wounded in the redoubts and on the field of battle.

In the joy of his heart the Czar exclaimed, when the strife was over,
"That the son of the morning had fallen from heaven; and that the
foundations of St. Petersburg at length stood firm." Even on that
battle-field, near the Ukraine, the Russian emperor's first thoughts
were of conquests and aggrandisement on the Baltic. The peace of
Nystadt, which transferred the fairest provinces of Sweden to Russia,
ratified the judgment of battle which was pronounced at Pultowa. Attacks
on Turkey and Persia by Russia commenced almost directly after that
victory. And though the Czar failed in his first attempts against
the Sultan, the successors of Peter have, one and all, carried on an
uniformly aggressive and uniformly successful system of policy against
Turkey, and against every other state, Asiatic as well as European,
which has had the misfortune of having Russia for a neighbour.

Orators and authors, who have discussed the progress of Russia, have
often alluded to the similitude between the modern extension of the
Muscovite empire and the extension of the Roman dominions in ancient
times. But attention has scarcely been drawn to the closeness of the
parallel between conquering Russia and conquering Rome, not only in the
extent of conquests, but in the means of effecting conquest. The history
of Rome during the century and a half which followed the close of the
second Punic war, and during which her largest acquisitions of territory
were made, should be minutely compared with the history of Russia for
the last one hundred and fifty years. The main points of similitude
can only be indicated in these pages; but they deserve the fullest
consideration. Above all, the sixth chapter of Montesquieu's great
Treatise on Rome, the chapter "DE LA CONDUITE QUE LES ROMAINS TINRENT
POUR SOUMETTRE LES PEUPLES," should be carefully studied by every one
who watches the career and policy of Russia. The classic scholar will
remember the state-craft of the Roman Senate, which took care in
every foreign war to appear in the character of a PROTECTOR. Thus Rome
PROTECTED the AEtolians, and the Greek cities, against Macedon; she
PROTECTED Bithynia, and other small Asiatic states, against the Syrian
kings; she protected Numidia against Carthage; and in numerous other
instances assumed the same specious character. But, "Woe to the people
whose liberty depends on the continued forbearance of an over-mighty
protector." [Malkin's History of Greece.] Every state which Rome
protected was ultimately subjugated and absorbed by her. And Russia
has been the protector of Poland, the protector of the Crimea,--the
protector of Courland,--the protector of Georgia, Immeritia, Mingrelia,
the Tcherkessian and Caucasian tribes. She has first protected, and then
appropriated them all. She protects Moldavia and Wallachia. A few years
ago she became the protector of Turkey from Mehemet Ali; and since the
summer of 1849 she has made herself the protector of Austria.

When the partisans of Russia speak of the disinterestedness with
which she withdrew her protecting troops from Constantinople, and from
Hungary, let us here also mark the ominous exactness of the parallel
between her and Rome. While the ancient world yet contained a number of
independent states, which might have made a formidable league against
Rome if she had alarmed them by openly avowing her ambitious schemes,
Rome's favourite policy was seeming disinterestedness and moderation.
After her first war against Philip, after that against Antiochus, and
many others, victorious Rome promptly withdrew her troops from the
territories which they occupied. She affected to employ her arms only
for the good of others; but, when the favourable moment came, she
always found a pretext for marching her legions back into each coveted
district, and making it a Roman province. Fear, not moderation, is the
only effective check on the ambition of such powers as Ancient Rome and
Modern Russia. The amount of that fear depends on the amount of timely
vigilance and energy which other states choose to employ against the
common enemy of their freedom and national independence.


A.D. 1713. Treaty of Utrecht. Philip is left by it in possession of
the throne of Spain. But Naples, Milan, the Spanish territories on the
Tuscan coast, the Spanish Netherlands, and some parts of the French
Netherlands, are given to Austria. France cedes to England Hudson's
Bay and Straits, the Island of St. Christopher, Nova Scotia, and
Newfoundland in America, Spain cedes to England Gibraltar and Minorca,
which the English had taken during the war. The King of Prussia and the
Duke of Savoy both obtain considerable additions of territory to their

1714. Death of Queen Anne. The House of Hanover begins to reign in
England. A rebellion in favour of the Stuarts is put down. Death of
Louis XIV.

1718. Charles XII. killed at the siege of Frederickshall.

1725. Death of Peter the Great of Russia.

1740. Frederick II, King of Prussia, begins his reign. He attacks the
Austrian dominions, and conquers Silesia.

1742. War between France and England.

1743. Victory of the English at Dettingen.

1745. Victory of the French at Fontenoy. Rebellion in Scotland in favour
of the House of Stuart: finally quelled by the battle of Culloden in the
next year.

1748. Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.

1756-1763. The Seven Years' War, during which Prussia makes an heroic
resistance against the allies of Austria, Russia, and France. England,
under the administration of the elder Pitt (afterwards Lord Chatham),
takes a glorious part in the war in opposition to France and Spain.
Wolfe wins the battle of Quebec, and the English conquer Canada, Cape
Breton, and St. John. Clive begins his career of conquest in India.
Cuba, is taken by the English from Spain.

1763. Treaty of Paris: which leaves the power of Prussia increased, and
its military reputation greatly exalted.

"France, by the treaty of Paris, ceded to England Canada, and the island
of Cape Breton, with the islands and coasts of the gulf and river of St.
Lawrence. The boundaries between the two nations in North America were
fixed by a line drawn along the middle of the Mississippi, from its
source to its mouth. All on the left or eastern bank of that river, was
given up to England, except the city of New Orleans, which was reserved
to France; as was also the liberty of the fisheries on a part of the
coasts of Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The islands of St.
Peter and Miquelon were given them as a shelter for their fishermen, but
without permission to raise fortifications. The islands of Martinico,
Guadaloupe, Mariegalante, Desirada, and St. Lucia, were surrendered
to France; while Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Dominica, and
Tobago, were ceded to England. This latter power retained her conquests
on the Senegal, and restored to France the island of Gores, on-the coast
of Africa. France was put in possession of the forts and factories which
belonged to her in the East Indies, on the coasts of Coromandel, Orissa,
Malabar, and Bengal under the restriction of keeping up no military
force in Bengal.

"In Europe, France restored all the conquests she had made in Germany;
as also the island, of Minorca, England gave up to her Belleisle, on the
coast of Brittany; while Dunkirk was kept in the same condition as had
been determined by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. The island of Cuba,
with the Havannah, were restored to the King of Spain, who, on his part,
ceded to England Florida, with Port-Augustine and the Bay of Pensacola.
The King of Portugal was restored to the same state in which he had
been before the war. The colony of St. Sacrament in America, which the
Spaniards had conquered, was given back to him.

"The peace of Paris, of which we have just now spoken, was the era of
England's greatest prosperity. Her commerce and navigation extended over
all parts of the globe, and were supported by a naval force so much
the more imposing, as it was no longer counter-balanced by the maritime
power of France, which had been almost annihilated in the preceding war.
The immense territories which that peace had secured her, both in Africa
and America, opened up new channels for her industry: and what deserves
specially to be remarked is, that she acquired at the same time vast
and important possessions in the East Indies." [Koch's Revolutions of

A.D. 1777.

     "Westward the course of empire takes its way;
      The first four acts already past,
      A fifth shall close the drama with the day:
                                      BISHOP BERKELEY.

"Even of those great conflicts, in which hundreds of thousands have been
engaged and tens of thousands have fallen, none has been more fruitful
of results than this surrender of thirty-five hundred fighting-men
at Saratoga. It not merely changed the relations of England and
the feelings of Europe towards these insurgent colonies, but it has
modified, for all times to come, the connexion between every colony and
every parent state."--LORD MAHON.

Of the four great powers that now principally rule the political
destinies of the world, France and England are the only two whose
influence can be dated back beyond the last century and a half. The
third great power, Russia, was a feeble mass of barbarism before the
epoch of Peter the Great; and the very existence of the fourth great
power, as an independent nation, commenced within the memory of
living men. By the fourth great power of the world I mean the mighty
commonwealth of the western continent, which now commands the admiration
of mankind. That homage is sometimes reluctantly given, and accompanied
with suspicion and ill-will. But none can refuse it. All the physical
essentials for national strength are undeniably to be found in the
geographical position and amplitude of territory which the United States
possess: in their almost inexhaustible tracts of fertile, but hitherto
untouched soil; in their stately forests, in their mountain-chains and
their rivers, their beds of coal, and stores of metallic wealth; in
their extensive seaboard along the waters of two oceans, and in their
already numerous and rapidly increasing population. And, when we examine
the character of this population, no one can look on the fearless
energy, the sturdy determination, the aptitude for local self
government, the versatile alacrity, and the unresting spirit of
enterprise which characterise the Anglo-Americans, without feeling that
he here beholds the true moral elements of progressive might.

Three quarters of a century have not yet passed away since the United
States ceased to be mere dependencies of England. And even if we
date their origin from the period when the first permanent European
settlements, out of which they grew, were made on the western coast
of the North Atlantic, the increase of their strength is unparalleled,
either in rapidity or extent.

The ancient Roman boasted, with reason, of the growth of Rome from
humble beginnings to the greatest magnitude which the world had then
ever witnessed. But the citizen of the United States is still more
justly entitled to claim this praise. In two centuries and a half his
country has acquired ampler dominion than the Roman gained in ten. And
even if we credit the legend of the band of shepherds and outlaws with
which Romulus is said to have colonized the Seven Hills, we find not
there so small a germ of future greatness, as we find in the group of
a hundred and five ill-chosen and disunited emigrants who founded
Jamestown in 1607, or in the scanty band of the Pilgrim-Fathers, who, a
few years later, moored their bark on the wild and rock-bound coast of
the wilderness that was to become New England. The power of the United
States is emphatically the "Imperium quo neque ab exordio ullum fere
minus, neque incrementis toto orbe amplius humans potest memoria
recordari." [Eutropius, lib. i. (exordium).]

Nothing is more calculated to impress the mind with a sense of the
rapidity with which the resources of the American republic advance, than
the difficulty which the historical inquirer finds in ascertaining their
precise amount. If he consults the most recent works, and those written
by the ablest investigators of the subject, he finds in them admiring
comments on the change which the last few years, before those books were
written, had made; but when he turns to apply the estimates in those
books to the present moment, he finds them wholly inadequate. Before
a book on the subject of the United States has lost its novelty, those
states have outgrown the description which it contains. The celebrated
work of the French statesman, De Tocqueville, appeared about fifteen
years ago. In the passage which I am about to quote, it will be seen
that he predicts the constant increase of the Anglo-American power, but
he looks on the Rocky Mountains as their extreme western limit for many
years to come. He had evidently no expectation of himself seeing that
power dominant along the Pacific as well as along the Atlantic coast. He

"The distance from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico extends from
the 47th to the 30th degree of latitude, a distance of more than 1,200
miles, as the bird flies. The frontier of the United States winds along
the whole of this immense line; sometimes falling within its limits,
but more frequently extending far beyond it into the waste. It has
been calculated that the Whites, advance every year a mean distance of
seventeen miles along the whole of this vast boundary. Obstacles, such
as an unproductive district, a lake, or an Indian nation unexpectedly
encountered, are sometimes met with. The advancing column then halts for
a while; its two extremities fall back upon themselves, and as soon as
they are re-united they proceed onwards. This gradual and continuous
progress of the European race towards the Rocky Mountains has the
solemnity of a Providential event: it is like a deluge of men rising
unabatedly, and daily driven onwards by the hand of God.

"Within this first line of conquering settlers towns are built, and
vast estates founded. In 1790 there were only a few thousand pioneers
sprinkled along the valleys of the Mississippi: and at the present day
these valleys contain as many inhabitants as were to be found in the
whole Union in 1790. Their population amounts to nearly four millions.
The city of Washington was founded in 1800, in the very centre of the
Union; but such are the changes which have taken place, that it now
stands at one of the extremities; and the delegates of the most remote
Western States are already obliged to perform a journey as long so that
from Vienna to Paris.

"It must not, then, be imagined that the impulse of the British race in
the New World can be arrested. The dismemberment of the Union, and the
hostilities which might ensue, the abolition of republican institutions,
and the tyrannical government which might succeed it, may retard this
impulse, but they cannot prevent it from ultimately fulfilling the
destinies to which that race is reserved. No power upon earth can close
upon the emigrants that fertile wilderness, which offers resources to
all industry, and a refuge from all want. Future events, of whatever
nature they may be, will not deprive the Americans of their climate or
of their inland seas, or of their great rivers, or of their exuberant
soil. Nor will bad laws, revolutions, and anarchy be able to obliterate
that love of prosperity and that spirit of enterprise which seem to be
the distinctive characteristics of their race, or to extinguish that
knowledge which guides them on their way.

"Thus, in the midst of the uncertain future, one event at least is sure.
At a period which may be said to be near (for we are speaking of the
life of a nation), the Anglo-Americans will alone cover the immense
space contained between the Polar regions and the Tropics, extending
from the coast of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific Ocean; the
territory which will probably be occupied by the Anglo-Americans at
some future time, may be computed to equal three-quarters of Europe in
extent. The climate of the Union is upon the whole preferable to that of
Europe, and its natural advantages are not less great; it is therefore
evident that its population will at some future time be proportionate to
our own. Europe, divided as it is between so many different nations, and
torn as it has been by incessant wars and the barbarous manners of
the Middle Ages, has notwithstanding attained a population of 410
inhabitants to the square league. What cause can prevent the United
States from having as numerous a population in time?

"The time will therefore come when one hundred and fifty millions of men
will be living in North America, equal in condition, the progeny of
one race, owing their origin to the same cause, and preserving the same
civilization, the same language, the same religion, the same habits, the
same manners, and imbued with the same opinions, propagated under the
same forms. The rest is uncertain, but this is certain; and it is a fact
new to the world, a fact fraught with such portentous consequences as to
baffle the efforts even of the imagination."

[The original French of these passages will be found in the chapter on
"Quelles sont les chances de duree de l'Union Americaine--Quels dangers
la menacent." in the third volume of the first part of De Tocqueville,
and in the conclusion of the first part. They are (with others)
collected and translated by Mr. Alison, in his "Essays," vol. iii. p.

Let us turn from the French statesman writing in 1835, to an English
statesman, who is justly regarded as the highest authority on all
statistical subjects, and who described the United States only seven
years ago. Macgregor [Macgregor's Commercial Statistics.] tells us--

"The States which, on the ratification of independence, formed the
American Republican Union, were thirteen, viz.:--

"Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York,
New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina,
South Carolina, and Georgia." The foregoing thirteen states (THE
MOUNTAINS AND THE ATLANTIC) were those which existed at the period when
they became an acknowledged separate and independent federal sovereign
power. The thirteen stripes of the standard or flag of the United
States, continue to represent the original number, The stars have
multiplied to twenty-six, [Fresh stars have dawned since this was
written.] according as the number of States have increased.

"The territory of the thirteen original States of the Union, including
Maine and Vermont, comprehended a superficies of 371,124 English square
miles; that of the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
120,354; that of France, including Corsica, 214,910; that of the
Austrian Empire, including Hungary and all the Imperial States, 257,540
English square miles.

"The present superficies of the twenty-six constitutional States of the
Anglo-American Union, and the district of Columbia, and territories
of Florida, include 1,029,025 square miles; to which if we add the
north-west, or Wisconsin territory, east of the Mississippi, and bounded
by Lake Superior on the north, and Michigan on the east, and occupying
at least 100,000 square miles, and then add the great western region,
not yet well-defined territories, but at the most limited calculation
comprehending 700,000 square miles, the whole unbroken in its vast
length and breadth by foreign nations, comprehends a portion of the
earth's surface equal to 1,729,025 English, or 1,296,770 geographical
square miles."

We may add that the population of the States, when they declared their
independence, was about two millions and a half; it is now twenty-three

I have quoted Macgregor, not only on account of the clear and full view
which he gives of the progress of America to the date when he wrote, but
because his description may be contrasted with what the United States
have become even since his book appeared. Only three years after the
time when Macgregor thus wrote, the American President truly stated:--

"Within less than four years the annexation of Texas to the Union has
been consummated; all conflicting title to the Oregon territory, south
of the 49th degree of north latitude, adjusted; and New Mexico and
Upper California have been acquired by treaty. The area of these several
territories contains 1,193,061 square miles, or 763,559,040 acres; while
the area of the remaining twenty-nine States, and the territory not yet
organized into States east of the Rocky Mountains, contains 2,059,513
square miles, or 1,318,126,058 acres. These estimates show that the
territories recently acquired, and over which our exclusive jurisdiction
and dominion have been extended, constitute a country more than half
as large as all that which was held by the United States before their
acquisition. If Oregon be excluded from the estimate, there will still
remain within the limits of Texas, New Mexico, and California, 851,598
square miles, or 545,012,720 acres; being an addition equal to more than
one-third of all the territory owned by the United States before
their acquisition; and, including Oregon, nearly as great an extent of
territory as the whole of Europe, Russia only excepted. THE MISSISSIPPI,
addition of the late acquisitions, the United States are now estimated
to be nearly as large as the whole of Europe. The extent of the
sea-coast of Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico, is upwards of 400 miles;
of the coast of Upper California, on the Pacific, of 970 miles; and of
Oregon, including the Straits of Fuca, of 650 miles; MAKING THE WHOLE
EXTENT OF SEA-COAST ON THE PACIFIC 1,620 MILES; and the whole extent on
both the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, 2,020 miles. The length of the
coast on the Atlantic, from the northern limits of the United States,
round the Capes of Florida to the Sabine on the eastern boundary
of Texas, is estimated to be 3,100 miles, so that the addition of
sea-coast, including Oregon, is very nearly two-thirds as great as all
we possessed before; and, excluding Oregon, is an addition of 1,370
miles; being nearly equal to one-half of the extent of coast which we
possessed before these acquisitions. We have now three great maritime
fronts--on the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific; making,
in the whole, an extent of sea-coast exceeding 5,000 miles. This is
the extent of the sea-coast of the United States, not including bays,
sounds, and small irregularities of the main shore, and of the sea
islands. If these be included, the length of the shore line of coast,
as estimated by the superintendent of the Coast Survey, in his report,
would be 33,063 miles."

The importance of the power of the United States being then firmly
planted along the Pacific applies not only to the New World, but to
the Old. Opposite to San Francisco, on the coast of that ocean, lie
the wealthy but decrepit empires of China and Japan. Numerous groups of
islets stud the larger part of the intervening sea, and form convenient
stepping-stones for the progress of commerce or ambition. The
intercourse of traffic between these ancient Asiatic monarchies, and the
young Anglo-American Republic, must be rapid and extensive. Any attempt
of the Chinese or Japanese rulers to check it, will only accelerate an
armed collision. The American will either buy or force his way. Between
such populations as that of China and Japan on the one side, and that
of the United States on the other--the former haughty, formal, and
insolent, the latter bold, intrusive, and unscrupulous--causes of
quarrel must, sooner or later, arise, The results of such a quarrel
cannot be doubted. America will scarcely imitate the forbearance shown
by England at the end of our late war with the Celestial Empire; and
the conquests of China and Japan by the fleets and armies of the United
States, are events which many now living are likely to witness. Compared
with the magnitude of such changes in the dominion of the Old World,
the certain ascendancy of the Anglo-Americans over Central and Southern
America, seems a matter of secondary importance. Well may we repeat De
Tocqueville's words, that the growing power of this commonwealth is, "Un
fait entierement nouveau dans le monde, et dont l'imagination ellememe
ne saurait saisir la portee." [These remarks were written in May 1851,
and now, in May 1852, a powerful squadron of American war-steamers has
been sent to Japan, for the ostensible purpose of securing protection
for the crews of American vessels shipwrecked on the Japanese coasts,
but also evidently for important ulterior purposes.]

An Englishman may look, and ought to look, on the growing grandeur
of the Americans with no small degree of generous sympathy and
satisfaction. They, like ourselves, are members of the great Anglo-Saxon
nation "whose race and language are now overrunning the world from one
end of it to the other." [Arnold.] and whatever differences of form of
government may exist between us and them; whatever reminiscences of the
days when, though brethren, we strove together, may rankle in the
minds of us, the defeated party; we should cherish the bonds of common
nationality that still exist between us. We should remember, as the
Athenians remembered of the Spartans at a season of jealousy and
temptation, that our race is one, being of the same blood, speaking the
same language, having an essential resemblance in our institutions and
usages, and worshipping in the temples of the same God. [HERODOTUS,
viii. 144.] All this may and should be borne in mind. And yet an
Englishman can hardly watch the progress of America, without the
regretful thought that America once was English, and that, but for the
folly of our rulers, she might be English still. It is true that
the commerce between the two countries has largely and beneficially
increased; but this is no proof that the increase would not have been
still greater, had the States remained integral portions of the same
great empire. By giving a fair and just participation in political
rights, these, "the fairest possessions" of the British crown, might
have been preserved to it. "This ancient and most noble monarchy" [Lord
Chatham.] would not have been dismembered; nor should we see that which
ought to be the right arm of our strength, now menacing us in every
political crisis, as the most formidable rival of our commercial and
maritime ascendancy.

The war which rent away the North American colonies of England is, of
all subjects in history, the most painful for an Englishman to dwell on.
It was commenced and carried on by the British ministry in iniquity and
folly, and it was concluded in disaster and shame. But the contemplation
of it cannot be evaded by the historian, however much it may be
abhorred. Nor can any military event be said to have exercised more
important influence on the future fortunes of mankind, than the complete
defeat of Burgoyne's expedition in 1777; a defeat which rescued the
revolted colonists from certain subjection; and which, by inducing the
courts of France and Spain to attack England in their behalf, ensured
the independence of the United States, and the formation of that
trans-Atlantic power which, not only America, but both Europe and Asia,
now see and feel.

Still, in proceeding to describe this "decisive battle of the world,"
a very brief recapitulation of the earlier events of the war may be
sufficient; nor shall I linger unnecessarily on a painful theme.

The five northern colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
New Hampshire, and Vermont, usually classed together as the New
England colonies, were the strongholds of the insurrection against the
mother-country. The feeling of resistance was less vehement and
general in the central settlement of New York; and still less so in
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the other colonies of the south, although
everywhere it was formidably active. Virginia should, perhaps, be
particularised for the zeal which its leading men displayed in the
American cause; but it was among the descendants of the stern Puritans
that the spirit of Cromwell and Vane breathed in all its fervour; it was
from the New Englanders that the first armed opposition to the British
crown had been offered; and it was by them that the most stubborn
determination to fight to the last, rather than waive a single right or
privilege, had been displayed. In 1775, they had succeeded in forcing
the British troops to evacuate Boston; and the events of 1776 had made
New York (which the royalists captured in that year) the principal basis
of operations for the armies of the mother-country.

A glance at the map will show that the Hudson river, which falls into
the Atlantic at New York, runs down from the north at the back of the
New England States, forming an angle of about forty-five degrees with
the line of the coast of the Atlantic, along which the New England
states are situate. Northward of the Hudson, we see a small chain of
lakes communicating with the Canadian frontier. It is necessary to
attend closely to these geographical points, in order to understand the
plan of the operations which the English attempted in 1777, and which
the battle of Saratoga defeated.

The English had a considerable force in Canada; and in 1776 had
completely repulsed an attack which the Americans had made upon that
province. The British ministry resolved to avail themselves, in the next
year, of the advantage which the occupation of Canada gave them, not
merely for the purpose of defence, but for the purpose of striking a
vigorous and crushing blow against the revolted colonies. With this
view, the army in Canada was largely reinforced. Seven thousand veteran
troops were sent out from England, with a corps of artillery abundantly
supplied, and led by select and experienced officers. Large quantities
of military stores were also furnished for the equipment of the Canadian
volunteers, who were expected to join the expedition. It was intended
that the force thus collected should march southward by the line of the
lakes, and thence along the banks of the Hudson river. The British army
in New York (or a large detachment of it) was to make a simultaneous
movement northward, up the line of the Hudson, and the two expeditions
were to unite at Albany, a town on that river. By these operations all
communication between the northern colonies and those of the centre and
south would be cut off. An irresistible force would be concentrated,
so as to crush all further opposition in New England; and when this was
done, it was believed that the other colonies would speedily submit. The
Americans had no troops in the field that seemed able to baffle these
movements. Their principal army, under Washington, was occupied in
watching over Pennsylvania and the south. At any rate it was believed
that, in order to oppose the plan intended for the new campaign, the
insurgents must risk a pitched battle, in which the superiority of
the royalists, in numbers, in discipline, and in equipment, seemed to
promise to the latter a crowning victory. Without question the plan
was ably formed; and had the success of the execution been equal to the
ingenuity of the design, the re-conquest or submission of the thirteen
United States must, in all human probability, have followed; and the
independence which they proclaimed in 1776 would have been extinguished
before it existed a second year. No European power had as yet come
forward to aid America. It is true that England was generally regarded
with jealousy and ill-will, and was thought to have acquired, at the
treaty of Paris, a preponderance of dominion which was perilous to the
balance of power; but though many were willing to wound, none had yet
ventured to strike; and America, if defeated in 1777, would have been
suffered to fall unaided.

[In Lord Albemarle's "Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham." is
contained the following remarkable state paper, drawn up by King George
III himself respecting the plan of Burgoyne's expedition. The original
is in the king's own hand.


"The outlines of the plan seem to be on a proper foundation. The rank
and file of the army now in Canada (including the 11th Regiment of
British, M'Clean's corps, the Brunswicks and Hanover), amount to 10,527;
add the eleven additional companies and four hundred Hanover Chasseurs,
the total will be 11,443.

"As sickness and other contingencies must be expected, I should think
not above 7,000 effectives can be spared over Lake Champlain; for it
would be highly imprudent to run any risk in Canada.

"The fixing the stations of those left in the province may not be quite
right, though the plan proposed may be recommended. Indians must be
employed, and this measure must be avowedly directed, and Carleton must
be in the strongest manner directed that the Apollo shall be ready by
that day, to receive Burgoyne.

"The magazines must be formed with the greatest expedition, at Crown

"If possible, possession must be taken of Lake George, and nothing but
an absolute impossibility of succeeding in this, can be an excuse for
proceeding by South Bay and Skeenborough.

"As Sir W. Howe does not think of acting from Rhode island into the
Massachusets, the force from Canada must join him in Albany.

"The diversion on the Mohawk River ought at least to be strengthened by
the addition of the four hundred Hanover Chasseurs.

"The Ordnance ought to furnish a complete proportion of intrenching

"The provisions ought to be calculated for a third more than the
effective soldiery, and the General ordered to avoid delivering these
when the army can be subsisted by the country. Burgoyne certainly
greatly undervalues the German recruits.

"The idea of carrying the army by sea to Sir W. Howe, would certainly
require the leaving a much larger part of it in Canada, as in that case
the rebel army would divide that province from the immense one under Sir
W. Howe. I greatly dislike this last idea."]

Burgoyne had gained celebrity by some bold and dashing exploits in
Portugal during the last war; he was personally as brave an officer as
ever headed British troops; he had considerable skill as a tactician;
and his general intellectual abilities and acquirements were of a high
order. He had several very able and experienced officers under him,
among whom were Major-General Phillips and Brigadier-General Fraser. His
regular troops amounted, exclusively of the corps of artillery, to about
seven thousand two hundred men, rank and file. Nearly half of these were
Germans. He had also an auxiliary force of from two to three thousand
Canadians. He summoned the warriors of several tribes of the Red Indians
near the western lakes to join his army. Much eloquence was poured
forth, both in America and in England, in denouncing the use of these
savage auxiliaries. Yet Burgoyne seems to have done no more than
Montcalm, Wolfe, and other French, American, and English generals had
done before him. But, in truth, the lawless ferocity of the Indians,
their unskilfulness in regular action, and the utter impossibility of
bringing them under any discipline, made their services of little or no
value in times of difficulty: while the indignation which their
outrages inspired, went far to rouse the whole population of the invaded
districts into active hostilities against Burgoyne's force.

Burgoyne assembled his troops and confederates near the river Bouquet,
on the west side of Lake Champlain. He then, on the 21st of June, 1777,
gave his Red Allies a war-feast, and harangued them on the necessity of
abstaining from their usual cruel practices against unarmed people and
prisoners. At the same time he published a pompous manifesto to the
Americans, in which he threatened the refractory with all the horrors
of war, Indian as well as European. The army proceeded by water to
Crown Point, a fortification which the Americans held at the northern
extremity of the inlet by which the water from Lake George is conveyed
to Lake Champlain. He landed here without opposition; but the reduction
of Ticonderoga, a fortification about twelve miles to the south of Crown
Point, was a more serious matter, and was supposed to be the critical
part of the expedition. Ticonderoga commanded the passage along the
lakes, and was considered to be the key to the route which Burgoyne
wished to follow. The English had been repulsed in an attack on it
in the war with the French in 1768 with severe loss. But Burgoyne now
invested it with great skill; and the American general, St. Clair, who
had only an ill-equipped army of about three thousand men, evacuated it
on the 5th of July. It seems evident that a different course would have
caused the destruction or capture of his whole army; which, weak as it
was, was the chief force then in the field for the protection of the New
England states. When censured by some of his countrymen for abandoning
Ticonderoga, St. Clair truly replied, "that he had lost a post, but
saved a province." Burgoyne's troops pursued the retiring Americans,
gained several advantages over them, and took a large part of their
artillery and military stores.

The loss of the British in these engagements was trifling. The army
moved southward along Lake George to Skenesborough; and thence slowly,
and with great difficulty, across a broken country, full of creeks and
marshes, and clogged by the enemy with felled trees and other obstacles,
to Fort Edward, on the Hudson river, the American troops continuing to
retire before them.

Burgoyne reached the left bank of the Hudson river on the 30th of July.
Hitherto he had overcome every difficulty which the enemy and the nature
of the country had placed in his way. His army was in excellent order
and in the highest spirits; and the peril of the expedition seemed over,
when they were once on the bank of the river which was to be the channel
of communication between them and the British army in the south. But
their feelings, and those of the English nation in general when their
successes were announced, may best be learned from a contemporary
writer. Burke, in the "Annual Register" for 1777, describes them thus:--

"Such was the rapid torrent of success, which swept everything away
before the northern army in its onset. It is not to be wondered at,
if both officers and private men were highly elated with their good
fortune, and deemed that and their prowess to be irresistible; if they
regarded their enemy with the greatest contempt; considered their own
toils to be nearly at an end; Albany to be already in their hands; and
the reduction of the northern provinces to be rather a matter of some
time, than an arduous task full of difficulty and danger.

"At home, the joy and exultation was extreme; not only at court, but
with all those who hoped or wished the unqualified subjugation, and
unconditional submission of the colonies. The loss in reputation was
greater to the Americans, and capable of more fatal consequences,
than even that of ground, of posts, of artillery, or of men. All the
contemptuous and most degrading charges which had been made by their
enemies, of their wanting the resolution and abilities of men, even
in their defence of whatever was dear to them, were now repeated and
believed. Those who still regarded them as men, and who had not yet lost
all affection to them as brethren, who also retained hopes that a happy
reconciliation upon constitutional principles, without sacrificing
the dignity or the just authority of government on the one side, or
a dereliction of the rights of freemen on the other, was not even now
impossible, notwithstanding their favourable dispositions in general,
could not help feeling upon this occasion that the Americans sunk not a
little in their estimation. It was not difficult to diffuse an opinion
that the war in effect was over; and that any further resistance could
serve only to render the terms of their submission the worse. Such were
some of the immediate effects of the loss of those grand keys of North
America, Ticonderoga and the lakes."

The astonishment and alarm which these events produced among the
Americans were naturally great; but in the midst of their disasters none
of the colonists showed any disposition to submit. The local governments
of the New England States, as well as the Congress, acted with vigour
and firmness in their efforts to repel the enemy. General Gates was sent
to take command of the army at Saratoga; and Arnold, a favourite leader
of the Americans, was despatched by Washington to act under him,
with reinforcements of troops and guns from the main American army.
Burgoyne's employment of the Indians now produced the worst possible
effects. Though he laboured hard to check the atrocities which they
were accustomed to commit, he could not prevent the occurrence of many
barbarous outrages, repugnant both to the feelings of humanity and to
the laws of civilized warfare. The American commanders took care that
the reports of these excesses should be circulated far and wide, well
knowing that they would make the stern New Englanders not droop, but
rage. Such was their effect; and though, when each man looked upon his
wife, his children, his sisters, or his aged parents, the thought of the
merciless Indian "thirsting for the blood of man, woman, and child,"
of "the cannibal savage torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating the
mangled victims of his barbarous battles," [Lord Chatham's speech on
the employment of Indians in the war.] "might raise terror in the bravest
breasts; this very terror produced a directly contrary effect to causing
submission to the royal army. It was seen that the few friends of the
royal cause, as well as its enemies, were liable to be the victims of
the indiscriminate rage of the savages;" [See in the "Annual Register"
for 1777, p.117, the "Narrative of the Murder of Miss M'Crea, the
daughter of an American loyalist."] and thus "the inhabitants of the
open and frontier countries had no choice of acting: they had no means
of security left, but by abandoning their habitations and taking up
arms. Every man saw the necessity of becoming a temporary soldier, not
only for his own security, but for the protection and defence of those
connexions which are dearer than life itself. Thus an army was poured
forth by the woods, mountains, and marshes, which in this part were
thickly sown with plantations and villages. The Americans recalled their
courage; and when their regular army seemed to be entirely wasted,
the spirit of the country produced a much greater and more formidable
force." [Burke.]

While resolute recruits, accustomed to the use of fire-arms, and all
partially trained by service in the provincial militias, were thus
flocking to the standard of Gates and Arnold at Saratoga; and while
Burgoyne was engaged at Port Edward in providing the means for the
further advance of his army through the intricate and hostile country
that still lay before him, two events occurred, in each of which the
British sustained loss, and the Americans obtained advantage, the moral
effects of which were even more important than the immediate result
of the encounters. When Burgoyne left Canada, General St. Leger was
detached from that province with a mixed force of about one thousand
men, and some light field-pieces, across Lake Ontario against Fort
Stanwix, which the Americans held. After capturing this, he was to
march along the Mohawk river to its confluence with the Hudson, between
Saratoga and Albany, where his force and that of Burgoyne were to unite.
But, after some successes, St. Leger was obliged to retreat, and to
abandon his tents and large quantities of stores to the garrison. At the
very time that General Burgoyne heard of this disaster, he experienced
one still more severe in the defeat of Colonel Baum with a large
detachment of German troops at Benington, whither Burgoyne had sent them
for the purpose of capturing some magazines of provisions, of which
the British army stood greatly in need. The Americans, augmented by
continual accessions of strength, succeeded, after many attacks, in
breaking this corps, which fled into the woods, and left its commander
mortally wounded on the field: they then marched against a force of five
hundred grenadiers and light infantry, which was advancing to Colonel
Baum's assistance under Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman; who, after a gallant
resistance, was obliged to retreat on the main army. The British loss
in these two actions exceeded six hundred men: and a party of American
loyalists, on their way to join the army, having attached themselves to
Colonel Baum's corps, were destroyed with it.

Notwithstanding these reverses, which added greatly to the spirit and
numbers of the American forces, Burgoyne determined to advance. It was
impossible any longer to keep up his communications with Canada by
way of the lakes, so as to supply his army on his southward march; but
having by unremitting exertions collected provisions for thirty days, he
crossed the Hudson by means of a bridge of rafts, and, marching a short
distance along its western bank, he encamped on the 14th of September on
the heights of Saratoga, about sixteen miles from Albany. The Americans
had fallen back from Saratoga, and were now strongly posted near
Stillwater, about half way between Saratoga and Albany, and showed a
determination to recede no farther.

Meanwhile Lord Howe, with the bulk of the British army that had lain
at New York, had sailed away to the Delaware, and there commenced
a campaign against Washington, in which the English general took
Philadelphia, and gained other showy, but unprofitable successes,
But Sir Henry Clinton, a brave and skilful officer, was left with a
considerable force at New York; and he undertook the task of moving up
the Hudson to co-operate with Burgoyne. Clinton was obliged for this
purpose to wait for reinforcements which had been promised from England,
and these did not arrive till September. As soon as he received them,
Clinton embarked about 3,000 of his men on a flotilla, convoyed by some
ships of war under Commander Hotham, and proceeded to force his may up
the river, but it was long before he was able to open any communication
with Burgoyne.

The country between Burgoyne's position at Saratoga and that of
the Americans at Stillwater was rugged, and seamed with creeks and
water-courses; but after great labour in making bridges and temporary
causeways, the British army moved forward. About four miles from
Saratoga, on the afternoon of the 19th of September, a sharp encounter
took place between part of the English right wing, under Burgoyne
himself, and a strong body of the enemy, under Gates and Arnold. The
conflict lasted till sunset. The British remained masters of the field;
but the loss on each side was nearly equal (from five hundred to six
hundred men); and the spirits of the Americans were greatly raised by
having withstood the best regular troops of the English army. Burgoyne
now halted again, and strengthened his position by field-works and
redoubts; and the Americans also improved their defences. The two armies
remained nearly within cannon-shot of each other for a considerable
time, during which Burgoyne was anxiously looking for intelligence of
the promised expedition from New York, which, according to the original
plan, ought by this time to have been approaching Albany from the south.
At last, a messenger from Clinton made his way, with great difficulty,
to Burgoyne's camp, and brought the information that Clinton was on his
way up the Hudson to attack the American forts which barred the passage
up that river to Albany. Burgoyne, in reply, on the 30th of September,
urged Clinton to attack the forts as speedily as possible, stating that
the effect of such an attack, or even the semblance of it, would be
to move the American army from its position before his own troops. By
another messenger, who reached Clinton on the 5th of October, Burgoyne
informed his brother general that he had lost his communications with
Canada, but had provisions which would last him till the 20th. Burgoyne
described himself as strongly posted, and stated that though the
Americans in front of him were strongly posted also, he made no doubt
of being able to force them, and making his way to Albany; but that he
doubted whether he could subsist there, as the country was drained of
provisions. He wished Clinton to meet him there, and to keep open a
communication with New York. [See the letters of General Clinton to
General Harvey, published by Lord Albemarle in his "Memoirs of the
Marquis of Rockingham," vol. ii. p. 335, ET SEQ.]

Burgoyne had over-estimated his resources, and in the very beginning of
October found difficulty and distress pressing him hard.

The Indians and Canadians began to desert him; while, on the other hand,
Gates's army was continually reinforced by fresh bodies of the militia.
An expeditionary force was detached by the Americans, which made a bold,
though unsuccessful, attempt to retake Ticonderoga. And finding the
number and spirit of the enemy to increase daily, and his own stores of
provision to diminish, Burgoyne determined on attacking the Americans
in front of him, and by dislodging them from their position, to gain the
means of moving upon Albany, or at least of relieving his troops from
the straitened position in which they were cooped up.

Burgoyne's force was now reduced to less than 6,000 men. The right of
his camp was on some high ground a little to the west of the river;
thence his entrenchments extended along the lower ground to the bank of
the Hudson, the line of their front being nearly at a right angle with
the course of the stream. The lines were fortified with redoubts and
field-works, and on a height on the bank of the extreme right a strong
redoubt was reared, and entrenchments, in a horse-shoe form, thrown
up. The Hessians, under Colonel Breyman, were stationed here, forming
a flank defence to Burgoyne's main army. The numerical force of the
Americans was now greater than the British even in regular troops, and
the numbers of the militia and volunteers which had joined Gates and
Arnold were greater still.

General Lincoln with 2,000 New England troops, had reached the American
camp on the 29th of September. Gates gave him the command of the
right wing, and took in person the command of the left wing, which was
composed of two brigades under Generals Poor and Leonard, of Colonel
Morgan's rifle corps, and part of the fresh New England Militia. The
whole of the American lines had been ably fortified under the direction
of the celebrated Polish general, Kosciusko, who was now serving as a
volunteer in Gates's army. The right of the American position, that
is to say, the part of it nearest to the river, was too strong to be
assailed with any prospect of success: and Burgoyne therefore determined
to endeavour to force their left. For this purpose he formed a column
of 1,500 regular troops, with two twelve-pounders, two howitzers and
six six-pounders. He headed this in person, having Generals Phillips,
Reidesel, and Fraser under him. The enemy's force immediately in front
of his lines was so strong that he dared not weaken the troops who
guarded them, by detaching any more to strengthen his column of attack.

It was on the 7th of October that Burgoyne led his column forward;
and on the preceding day, the 6th, Clinton had successfully executed
a brilliant enterprise against the two American forts which barred his
progress up the Hudson. He had captured them both, with severe loss to
the American forces opposed to him; he had destroyed the fleet which the
Americans had been forming on the Hudson, under the protection of their
forts; and the upward river was laid open to his squadron. He had also,
with admirable skill and industry, collected in small vessels, such
as could float within a few miles of Albany, provisions sufficient to
supply Burgoyne's Army for six months. [See Clinton's letters in Lord
Albemarle, p. 337.] He was now only a hundred and fifty-six miles
distant from Burgoyne; and a detachment of 1,700 men actually advanced
within forty miles of Albany. Unfortunately Burgoyne and Clinton were
each ignorant of the other's movements; but if Burgoyne had won his
battle on the 7th, he must on advancing have soon learned the tidings of
Clinton's success, and Clinton would have heard of his. A junction would
soon have been made of the two victorious armies, and the great objects
of the campaign might yet have been accomplished. All depended on
the fortune of the column with which Burgoyne, on the eventful 7th of
October, 1777, advanced against the American position. There were
brave men, both English and German, in its ranks; and in particular it
comprised one of the best bodies of grenadiers in the British service.
[I am indebted for many of the details of the battle, to Mr Lossing's
"Field-book of the Revolution."]

Burgoyne pushed forward some bodies of irregular troops to distract the
enemy's attention; and led his column to within three-quarters of a mile
from the left of Gates's camp, and then deployed his men into line. The
grenadiers under Major Ackland, and the artillery under Major Williams,
were drawn up on the left; a corps of Germans under General Reidesel,
and some British troops under General Phillips, were in the centre; and
the English light infantry, and the 24th regiment under Lord Balcarres
and General Fraser, were on the right. But Gates did not wait to be
attacked; and directly the British line was formed and began to advance,
the American general, with admirable skill, caused General Poor's
brigade of New York and New Hampshire troops, and part of General
Leonard's brigade, to make a sudden and vehement rush against its left,
and at the same time sent Colonel Morgan, with his rifle corps and
other troops, amounting to 1,500, to turn the right of the English. The
grenadiers under Ackland sustained the charge of superior numbers nobly.
But Gates sent more Americans forward, and in a few minutes the action
became general along the centre, so as to prevent the Germans from
detaching any help to the grenadiers. Morgan, with his riflemen, was now
pressing Lord Balcarres and General Fraser hard, and fresh masses of the
enemy were observed advancing from their extreme left, with the evident
intention of forcing the British right, and cutting off its retreat. The
English light infantry and the 24th now fell back, and formed an oblique
second line, which enabled them to baffle this manoeuvre, and also to
succour their comrades in the left wing, the gallant grenadiers, who
were overpowered by superior numbers, and, but for this aid, must have
been cut to pieces.

The contest now was fiercely maintained on both sides. The English
cannon were repeatedly taken and retaken; but when the grenadiers near
them were forced back by the weight of superior numbers, one of the guns
was permanently captured by the Americans, and turned upon the English.
Major Williams and Major Ackland were both made prisoners, and in
this part of the field the advantage of the Americans was decided. The
British centre still held its ground; but now it was that the American
general Arnold appeared upon the scene, and did more for his countrymen
than whole battalions could have effected. Arnold, when the decisive
engagement of the 7th of October commenced, had been deprived of his
command by Gates, in consequence of a quarrel between them about the
action of the 19th of September. He had listened for a short time in the
American camp to the thunder of the battle, in which he had no military
right to take part, either as commander or as combatant. But his excited
spirit could not long endure such a state of inaction. He called for his
horse, a powerful brown charger, and springing on it, galloped furiously
to where the fight seemed to be the thickest. Gates saw him, and sent
an aide-de-camp to recall him; but Arnold spurred far in advance, and
placed himself at the head of three regiments which had formerly been
under him, and which welcomed their old commander with joyous cheers. He
led them instantly upon the British centre; and then galloping along the
American line, he issued orders for a renewed and a closer attack, which
were obeyed with alacrity, Arnold himself setting the example of the
most daring personal bravery, and charging more than once, sword in
hand, into the English ranks. On the British side the officers did
their duty nobly; but General Fraser was the most eminent of them all,
restoring order wherever the line began to waver, and infusing fresh
courage into his men by voice and example. Mounted on an iron-grey
charger, and dressed in the full uniform of a general officer, he was
conspicuous to foes as well as to friends. The American Colonel Morgan
thought that the fate of the battle rested on this gallant man's life,
and calling several of his best marksman round him, pointed Fraser out,
and said: "That officer is General Fraser; I admire him, but he must
die. Our victory depends on it. Take your stations in that clump of
bushes, and do your duty." Within five minutes Fraser fell mortally
wounded, and was carried to the British camp by two grenadiers. Just
previously to his being struck by the fatal bullet, one rifle-ball had
cut the crupper of his saddle and smother had passed through his horse's
mane close behind the ears. His aide-de-camp had noticed this, and said:
"It is evident that you are marked out for particular aim; would it not
be prudent; for you to retire from this place?" Fraser replied: "My duty
forbids me to fly from danger;" and the next moment he fell. [Lossing.]

Burgoyne's whole force was now compelled to retreat towards their camp;
the left and centre were in complete disorder, but the light infantry
and the 24th checked the fury of the assailants, and the remains of
the column with great difficulty effected their return to their camp;
leaving six of their cannons in the possession of the enemy, and great
numbers of killed and wounded on the field; and especially a large
proportion of the artillerymen, who had stood to their guns until shot
down or bayoneted beside them by the advancing Americans.

Burgoyne's column had been defeated, but the action was not yet over.
The English had scarcely entered the camp, when the Americans,
pursuing their success, assaulted it in several places with remarkable
impetuosity, rushing in upon the intrenchments and redoubts through a
severe fire of grape-shot and musketry. Arnold especially, who on this
day appeared maddened with the thirst of combat and carnage, urged on
the attack against a part of the intrenchments which was occupied by the
light infantry under Lord Balcarres. [Botta's American War, book viii.]
But the English received him with vigour and spirit. The struggle here
was obstinate and sanguinary. At length, as it grew towards evening,
Arnold, having forced all obstacles, entered the works with some of the
most fearless of his followers. But in this critical moment of glory and
danger, he received a painful wound in the same leg which had already
been injured at the assault on Quebec. To his bitter regret he was
obliged to be carried back. His party still continued the attack, but
the English also continued their obstinate resistance, and at last
night fell, and the assailants withdrew from this quarter of the British
intrenchments. But, in another part the attack had been more successful.
A body of the Americans, under Colonel Brooke, forced their way in
through a part of the horse-shoe intrenchments on the extreme right,
which was defended by the Hessian reserve under Colonel Breyman. The
Germans resisted well, and Breyman died in defence of his post; but the
Americans made good the ground which they had won, and captured baggage,
tents, artillery, and a store of ammunition, which they were greatly in
need of. They had by establishing themselves on this point, acquired the
means of completely turning the right flank of the British, and gaining
their rear. To prevent this calamity, Burgoyne effected during the night
an entire change of position. With great skill he removed his whole army
to some heights near the river, a little northward of the former camp,
and he there drew up his men, expecting to be attacked on the following
day. But Gates was resolved not to risk the certain triumph which
his success had already secured for him. He harassed the English with
skirmishes, but attempted no regular attack. Meanwhile he detached
bodies of troops on both sides of the Hudson to prevent the British from
recrossing that river, and to bar their retreat. When night fell,
it became absolutely necessary for Burgoyne to retire again, and,
accordingly, the troops were marched through a stormy and rainy night
towards Saratoga, abandoning their sick and wounded, and the greater
part of their baggage to the enemy.

Before the rear-guard quitted the camp, the last sad honours were paid
to the brave General Fraser, who expired on the day after the action.

He had, almost with his last breath, expressed a wish to be buried in
the redoubt which had formed the part of the British lines where he had
been stationed, but which had now been abandoned by the English, and
was within full range of the cannon which the advancing Americans were
rapidly placing in position to bear upon Burgoyne's force. Burgoyne
resolved, nevertheless, to comply with the dying wish of his comrade;
and the interment took place under circumstances the most affecting
that have ever marked a soldier's funeral. Still more interesting is
the narrative of Lady Ackland's passage from the British to the American
camp, after the battle, to share the captivity and alleviate the
sufferings of her husband who had been severely wounded, and left in the
enemy's power. The American historian, Lossing, has described both these
touching episodes of the campaign, in a spirit that does honour to the
writer as well as to his subject. After narrating the death of General
Fraser on the 8th of October, he says that "It was just at sunset, on
that calm October evening, that the corpse of General Fraser was carried
up the hill to the place of burial within the 'great redoubt.' It was
attended only by the military members of his family and Mr. Brudenell,
the chaplain; yet the eyes of hundreds of both armies followed the
solemn procession, while the Americans, ignorant of its true character,
kept up a constant cannonade upon the redoubt. The chaplain, unawed by
the danger to which he was exposed, as the cannon-balls that struck the
hill threw the loose soil over him, pronounced the impressive funeral
service of the Church of England with an unfaltering voice. The growing
darkness added solemnity to the scene. Suddenly the irregular firing
ceased, and the solemn voice of a single cannon, at measured intervals,
boomed along the valley, and awakened the responses of the hills. It was
a minute gun fired by the Americans in honour of the gallant dead. The
moment the information was given that the gathering at the redoubt was a
funeral company, fulfilling, at imminent peril, the last-breathed wishes
of the noble Fraser, orders were issued to withhold the cannonade with
balls, and to render military homage to the fallen brave.

"The case of Major Ackland and his heroic wife presents kindred
features. He belonged to the grenadiers, and was an accomplished
soldier. His wife accompanied him to Canada in 1776; and during the
whole campaign of that year, and until his return to England after the
surrender of Burgoyne, in the autumn of 1777, endured all the hardships,
dangers, and privations of an active campaign in an enemy's country. At
Chambly, on the Sorel, she attended him in illness, in a miserable
hut; and when he was wounded in the battle of Hubbardton, Vermont
she hastened to him at Henesborough from Montreal, where she had been
persuaded to remain, and resolved to follow the army hereafter. Just
before crossing the Hudson, she and her husband had had a narrow escape
from losing their lives in consequence of their tent accidentally taking

"During the terrible engagement of the 7th October, she heard all the
tumult and dreadful thunder of the battle in which her husband was
engaged; and when, on the morning of the 8th, the British fell back in
confusion to their new position, she, with the other women, was obliged
to take refuge among the dead and dying; for the tents were all struck,
and hardly a shed was left standing. Her husband was wounded, and a
prisoner in the American camp. That gallant officer was shot through
both legs. When Poor and Learned's troops assaulted the grenadiers and
artillery on the British left, on the afternoon of the 7th, Wilkinson,
Gates's adjutant-general, while pursuing the flying enemy when they
abandoned their battery, heard a feeble voice exclaim 'Protect me,
sir, against that boy.' He turned and saw a lad with a musket taking
deliberate aim at a wounded British officer, lying in a corner of a low
fence. Wilkinson ordered the boy to desist, and discovered the wounded
man to be Major Ackland. He had him conveyed to the quarters of General
Poor (now the residence of Mr. Neilson) on the heights, where every
attention was paid to his wants.

"When the intelligence that he was wounded and a prisoner reached his
wife, she was greatly distressed, and, by the advice of her friend,
Baron Reidesel, resolved to visit the American camp, and implore the
favour of a personal attendance upon her husband. On the 9th she sent
a message to Burgoyne by Lord Petersham, his aide-de-camp, asking
permission to depart. 'Though I was ready to believe,' says Burgoyne,
'that patience and fortitude, in a supreme degree, were to be found,
as well as every other virtue, under the most tender forms, I was
astonished at this proposal. After so long an agitation of spirits,
exhausted not only for want of rest, but absolutely want of food,
drenched in rain for twelve hours together, that a woman should be
capable of such an undertaking as delivering herself to an enemy,
probably in the night, and uncertain of what hands she might fall into,
appeared an effort above human nature. The assistance I was able to give
was small indeed. I had not even a cup of wine to offer her. All I could
furnish her with was an open boat, and a few lines, written upon dirty
wet paper, to General Gates, recommending her to his protection.'
The following is a copy of the note sent by Burgoyne to General
Gates:--'Sir,--Lady Harriet Ackland, a lady of the first distinction of
family, rank, and personal virtues, is under such concern on account of
Major Ackland, her husband, wounded and a prisoner in your hands, that
I cannot refuse her request to commit her to your protection. Whatever
general impropriety there may be in persons of my situation and yours to
solicit favours, I cannot see the uncommon perseverance in every female
grace, and the exaltation of character of this lady, and her very hard
fortune, without testifying that your attentions to her will lay me
under obligations. I am, sir, your obedient servant, J. Burgoyne.' She
set out in an open boat upon the Hudson, accompanied by Mr. Brudenell,
the chaplain, Sarah Pollard, her waiting maid, and her husband's valet,
who had been severely wounded while searching for his master upon the
battle-field. It was about sunset when they started, and a violent
storm of rain and wind, which had been increasing since the morning,
rendered the voyage tedious and perilous in the extreme. It was long
after dark when they reached the American out-posts; the sentinel heard
their oars, and hailed them, Lady Harriet returned the answer herself.
The clear, silvery tones of a woman's voice amid the darkness, filled
the soldier on duty with superstitious fear, and he called a comrade
to accompany him to the river bank. The errand of the voyagers was made
known, but the faithful guard, apprehensive of treachery, would not
allow them to laud until they sent for Major Dearborn. They were invited
by that officer to his quarters, where every attention was paid to them,
and Lady Harriet was comforted by the joyful tidings that her husband
was safe. In the morning she experienced parental tenderness from
General Gates who sent her to her husband, at Poor's quarters, under a
suitable escort. There she remained until he was removed to Albany."

Burgoyne now took up his last position on the heights near Saratoga; and
hemmed in by the enemy, who refused any encounter, and baffled in all
his attempts at finding a path of escape, he there lingered until famine
compelled him to capitulate. The fortitude of the British army during
this melancholy period has been justly eulogised by many native
historians, but I prefer quoting the testimony of a foreign writer, as
free from all possibility of partiality. Botta says: [Botta, book viii.]

"It exceeds the power of words to describe the pitiable condition to
which the British army was now reduced. The troops were worn down by a
series of toil, privation, sickness, and desperate fighting. They were
abandoned by the Indians and Canadians; and the effective force of the
whole army was now diminished by repeated and heavy losses, which had
principally fallen on the best soldiers and the most distinguished
officers, from ten thousand combatants to less than one-half that
number. Of this remnant little more than three thousand were English.

"In these circumstances, and thus weakened, they were invested by an
army of four times their own number, whose position extended three parts
of a circle round them; who refused to fight them, as knowing their
weakness, and who, from the nature of the ground, could not be attacked
in any part. In this helpless condition, obliged to be constantly under
arms, while the enemy's cannon played on every part of their camp, and
even the American rifle-balls whistled in many parts of the lines, the
troops of Burgoyne retained their customary firmness, and, while sinking
under a hard necessity, they showed themselves worthy of a better fate.
They could not be reproached with an action or a word, which betrayed a
want of temper or of fortitude."

At length the 13th of October arrived, and as no prospect of assistance
appeared, and the provisions were nearly exhausted, Burgoyne, by the
unanimous advice of a council of war, sent a messenger to the American
camp to treat of a convention.

General Gates in the first instance demanded that the royal army should
surrender prisoners of war. He also proposed that the British should
ground their arms. Burgoyne replied, "This article is inadmissible in
every extremity; sooner than this army will consent to ground their arms
in their encampment, they will rush on the enemy, determined to take no
quarter." After various messages, a convention for the surrender of the
army was settled, which provided that "The troops under General Burgoyne
were to march out of their camp with the honours of war, and the
artillery of the intrenchments, to the verge of the river, where the
arms and artillery were to be left. The arms to be piled by word of
command from their own officers. A free passage was to be granted to the
army under Lieutenant-General Burgoyne to Great Britain, upon condition
of not serving again in North America during the present contest."

The articles of capitulation were settled on the 15th of October: and
on that very evening a messenger arrived from Clinton with an account
of his successes, and with the tidings that part of his force had
penetrated as far as Esopus, within fifty miles of Burgoyne's camp. But
it was too late. The public faith was pledged; and the army was, indeed,
too debilitated by fatigue and hunger to resist an attack if made; and
Gates certainly would have made it, if the convention had been broken
off. Accordingly, on the 17th, the convention of Saratoga was carried
into effect. By this convention 5,790 men surrendered themselves as
prisoners. The sick and wounded left in the camp when the British
retreated to Saratoga, together with the numbers of the British, German,
and Canadian troops, who were killed, wounded, or taken, and who had
deserted in the preceding part of the expedition, were reckoned to be

The British sick and wounded who had fallen into the hands of the
Americans after the battle of the 7th, were treated with exemplary
humanity; and when the convention was executed, General Gates showed a
noble delicacy of feeling which deserves the highest degree of honour.
Every circumstance was avoided which could give the appearance of
triumph. The American troops remained within their lines until the
British had piled their arms; and when this was done, the vanquished
officers and soldiers were received with friendly kindness by their
victors, and their immediate wants were promptly and liberally supplied.
Discussions and disputes afterwards arose as to some of the terms of the
convention; and the American Congress refused for a long time to carry
into effect the article which provided for the return of Burgoyne's men
to Europe; but no blame was imputable to General Gates or his army, who
showed themselves to be generous as they had proved themselves to be

Gates after the victory, immediately despatched Colonel Wilkinson to
carry the happy tidings to Congress. On being introduced into the hall,
he said, "The whole British army has laid down its arms at Saratoga;
our own, full of vigour and courage, expect your order. It is for
your wisdom to decide where the country may still have need for their
service." Honours and rewards were liberally voted by the Congress to
their conquering general and his men; "and it would be difficult" (says
the Italian historian) "to describe the transports of joy which the
news of this event excited among the Americans. They began to flatter
themselves with a still more happy future. No one any longer felt any
doubt about their achieving their independence. All hoped, and with
good reason, that a success of this importance would at length determine
France, and the other European powers that waited for her example, to
declare themselves in favour of America. THERE COULD NO LONGER BE ANY

The truth of this was soon displayed in the conduct of France. When
the news arrived at Paris of the capture of Ticonderoga, and of the
victorious march of Burgoyne towards Albany, events which seemed
decisive in favour of the English, instructions had been immediately
despatched to Nantz, and the other ports of the kingdom, that no
American privateers should be suffered to enter them, except from
indispensable necessity, as to repair their vessels, to obtain
provisions, or to escape the perils of the sea. The American
commissioners at Paris, in their disgust and despair, had almost
broken off all negotiations with the French government; and they even
endeavoured to open communications with the British ministry. But the
British government, elated with the first successes of Burgoyne, refused
to listen to any overtures for accommodation. But when the news of
Saratoga reached Paris, the whole scene was changed. Franklin and his
brother commissioners found all their difficulties with the French
government vanish. The time seemed to have arrived for the House of
Bourbon to take a full revenge for all its humiliations and losses in
previous wars. In December a treaty was arranged, and formally signed
in the February following, by which France acknowledged the INDEPENDENT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. This was, of course, tantamount to a
declaration of war with England. Spain soon followed France; and before
long Holland took the same course. Largely aided by French fleets and
troops, the Americans vigorously maintained the war against the armies
which England, in spite of her European foes, continued to send across
the Atlantic. But the struggle was too unequal to be maintained by this
country for many years: and when the treaties of 1783 restored peace
to the world, the independence of the United States was reluctantly
recognized by their ancient parent and recent enemy, England.


A.D. 1781. Surrender of Lord Cornwallis and the British army to

1782. Rodney's victory over the Spanish fleet. Unsuccessful siege of
Gibraltar by the Spaniards and French.

1783. End of the American war.

1788. The States-General are convened in France:--beginning of the


     "Purpurei metuunt tyranni
     Injurioso ne pede proruas
     Stantem columnam; neu populus frequens
     Ad arma cessantes ad arma
     Concitet, imperiumque frangat."
                             HORAT. Od. i 35.

     "A little fire is quickly trodden out,
     Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench."

A few miles distant from the little town of St. Menehould, in the
north-east of France, are the village and hill of Valmy; and near the
crest of that hill, a simple monument points out the burial-place of
the heart of a general of the French republic, and a marshal of the
French empire.

The elder Kellerman (father of the distinguished officer of that name,
whose cavalry-charge decided the battle of Marengo) held high commands
in the French armies throughout the wars of the Convention, the
Directory, the Consulate, and the Empire. He survived those wars, and
the empire itself, dying in extreme old age in 1820. The last wish of
the veteran on his death bed was that his heart should be deposited in
the battle-field of Valmy, there to repose among the remains of his old
companions in arms, who had fallen at his side on that spot twenty-eight
years before, on the memorable day when they won the primal victory
of revolutionary France, and prevented the armies of Brunswick and
the emigrant bands of Conde from marching on defenceless Paris, and
destroying the immature democracy in its cradle.

The Duke of Valmy (for Kellerman, when made one of Napoleon's
military peers in 1802, took his title from this same battlefield) had
participated, during his long and active career, in the gaining of
many a victory far more immediately dazzling than the the one, the
remembrance of which he thus cherished. He had been present at many a
scene of carnage, where blood flowed in deluges, compared with which the
libations of slaughter poured out at Valmy would have seemed scant and
insignificant. But he rightly estimated the paramount importance of the
battle with which he thus wished his appellation while living, and his
memory after his death, to be identified. The successful resistance,
which the new Carmagnole levies, and the disorganized relics of the old
monarchy's army, then opposed to the combined hosts and chosen leaders
of Prussia, Austria, and the French refugee noblesse, determined at
once and for ever the belligerent character of the revolution. The raw
artisans and tradesmen, the clumsy burghers, the base mechanics and low
peasant churls, as it had been the fashion to term the middle and
lower classes in France, found that they could face cannon-balls, pull
triggers, and cross bayonets, without having been drilled into military
machines, and without being officered by scions of noble houses. They
awoke to the consciousness of their own instinctive soldiership. They
at once acquired confidence in themselves and in each other; and that
confidence soon grew into a spirit of unbounded audacity and ambition.
"From the cannonade of Valmy may be dated the commencement of that
career of victory which carried their armies to Vienna and the Kremlin."

One of the gravest reflections that arises from the contemplation of the
civil restlessness and military enthusiasm which the close of the last
century saw nationalised in France, is the consideration that these
disturbing influences have become perpetual. No settled system of
government, that shall endure from generation to generation, that shall
be proof against corruption and popular violence, seems capable of
taking root among the French. And every revolutionary movement in Paris
thrills throughout the rest of the world. Even the successes which the
powers allied against France gained in 1814 and 1815, important as they
were, could not annul the effects of the preceding twenty-three years of
general convulsion and war.

In 1830, the dynasty which foreign bayonets had imposed on France was
shaken off; and men trembled at the expected outbreak of French anarchy
and the dreaded inroads of French ambition. They "looked forward with
harassing anxiety to a period of destruction similar to that which the
Roman world experienced about the middle of the third century of our
era." [See Niebuhr's Preface to the second volume of the "History of
Rome," written in October 1830.] Louis Philippe cajoled revolution, and
then strove with seeming success to stifle it. But in spite of Fieschi
laws, in spite of the dazzle of Algerian razzias and Pyrenees-effacing
marriages, in spite of hundreds of armed forts, and hundreds of
thousands of coercing troops, Revolution lived, and struggled to get
free. The old Titan spirit heaved restlessly beneath "the monarchy based
on republican institutions." At last, four years ago, the whole fabric
of kingcraft was at once rent and scattered to the winds, by the
uprising of the Parisian democracy; and insurrections, barricades and
dethronements, the downfall of coronets and crowns, the armed collisions
of parties, systems, and populations, became the commonplaces of recent
European history.

France now calls herself a republic. She first assumed that title on the
20th of September, 1792, on the very day on which the battle of Valmy
was fought and won. To that battle the democratic spirit which in
1848, as well as in 1792, proclaimed the Republic in Paris, owed its
preservation, and it is thence that the imperishable activity of its
principles may be dated.

Far different seemed the prospects of democracy in Europe on the eve of
that battle; and far different would have been the present position and
influence of the French nation, if Brunswick's columns had charged with
more boldness, or the lines of Dumouriez resisted with less firmness.
When France, in 1792, declared war with the great powers of Europe, she
was far from possessing that splendid military organization which the
experience of a few revolutionary campaigns taught her to assume, and
which she has never abandoned. The army of the old monarchy had, during
the latter part of the reign of Louis XV. sunk into gradual decay,
both in numerical force, and in efficiency of equipment and spirit. The
laurels gained by the auxiliary regiments which Louis XVI. sent to the
American war, did but little to restore the general tone of the army.
The insubordination and licence, which the revolt of the French guards,
and the participation of other troops in many of the first excesses
of the Revolution introduced among the soldiery, were soon rapidly
disseminated through all the ranks. Under the Legislative Assembly
every complaint of the soldier against his officer, however frivolous
or ill-founded, was listened to with eagerness, and investigated with
partiality, on the principles of liberty and equality. Discipline
accordingly became more and more relaxed; and the dissolution of several
of the old corps, under the pretext of their being tainted with an
aristocratic feeling, aggravated the confusion and inefficiency of the
war department. Many of the most effective regiments during the last
period of the monarchy had consisted of foreigners. These had either
been slaughtered in defence of the throne against insurrections, like
the Swiss; or had been disbanded, and had crossed the frontier to
recruit the forces which were assembling for the invasion of France.
Above all, the emigration of the noblesse had stripped the French army
of nearly all its officers of high rank, and of the greatest portion
of its subalterns. More than twelve thousand of the high-born youth
of France, who had been trained to regard military command as their
exclusive patrimony, and to whom the nation had been accustomed to look
up as its natural guides and champions in the storm of war; were now
marshalled beneath the banner of Conde and the other emigrant princes,
for the overthrow of the French armies, and the reduction of the French
capital. Their successors in the French regiments and brigades had
as yet acquired neither skill nor experience: they possessed neither
self-reliance nor the respect of the men who were under them.

Such was the state of the wrecks of the old army; but the bulk of the
forces with which France began the war, consisted of raw insurrectionary
levies, which were even less to be depended on. The Carmagnoles, as the
revolutionary volunteers were called, flocked, indeed, readily to the
frontier from every department when the war was proclaimed, and the
fierce leaders of the Jacobins shouted that the country was in danger.
They were full of zeal and courage, "heated and excited by the scenes of
the Revolution, and inflamed by the florid eloquence, the songs, dances,
and signal-words with which it had been celebrated." [Scott, Life of
Napoleon, vol. i c. viii.] But they were utterly undisciplined, and
turbulently impatient of superior authority, or systematical control.
Many ruffians, also, who were sullied with participation in the most
sanguinary horrors of Paris, joined the camps, and were pre-eminent
alike for misconduct before the enemy and for savage insubordination
against their own officers. On one occasion during the campaign of
Valmy, eight battalions of federates, intoxicated with massacre and
sedition, joined the forces under Dumouriez, and soon threatened to
uproot all discipline, saying openly that the ancient officers were
traitors, and that it was necessary to purge the army, as they had
Paris, of its aristocrats. Dumouriez posted these battalions apart from
the others, placed a strong force of cavalry behind them, and two pieces
of cannon on their flank. Then, affecting to review them, he halted at
the head of the line, surrounded by all his staff, and an escort of a
hundred hussars. "Fellows," said he, "for I will not call you either
citizens or soldiers, you see before you this artillery, behind you
this cavalry; you are stained with crimes, and I do not tolerate here
assassins or executioners. I know that there are scoundrels amongst you
charged to excite you to crime. Drive them from amongst you, or denounce
them to me, for I shall hold you responsible for their conduct."

One of our recent historians of the Revolution, who narrates this
incident, [Carlyle.] thus apostrophises the French general:--

"Patience, O Dumouriez! This uncertain heap of shriekers, mutineers,
were they once drilled and inured, will become a phalanxed mass of
fighters; and wheel and whirl to order swiftly, like the wind or the
whirlwind; tanned mustachio-figures; often barefoot, even barebacked,
with sinews of iron; who require only bread and gunpowder; very sons of
fire; the adroitest, hastiest, hottest, ever seen perhaps since Attila's

Such phalanxed masses of fighters did the Carmagnoles ultimately become;
but France ran a fearful risk in being obliged to rely on them when the
process of their transmutation had barely commenced.

The first events, indeed, of the war were disastrous and disgraceful to
France, even beyond what might have been expected from the chaotic state
in which it found her armies as well as her government. In the hopes of
profiting by the unprepared state of Austria, then the mistress of the
Netherlands, the French opened the campaign of 1792 by an invasion of
Flanders, with forces whose muster-rolls showed a numerical overwhelming
superiority to the enemy, and seemed to promise a speedy conquest of
that old battle-field of Europe. But the first flash of an Austrian
sabre, or the first sound of Austrian gun, was enough to discomfit the
French. Their first corps, four thousand strong, that advanced from
Lille across the frontier, came suddenly upon a far inferior detachment
of the Austrian garrison of Tournay. Not a shot was fired, not a bayonet
levelled. With one simultaneous cry of panic the French broke and
ran headlong back to Lille, where they completed the specimen of
insubordination which they had given in the field, by murdering their
general and several of their chief officers. On the same day, another
division under Biron, mustering ten thousand sabres and bayonets, saw
a few Austrian skirmishers reconnoitering their position. The French
advanced posts had scarcely given and received a volley, and only a few
balls from the enemy's field-pieces had fallen among the lines, when two
regiments of French dragoons raised the cry, "We are betrayed," galloped
off, and were followed in disgraceful rout by the rest of the whole
army. Similar panics, or repulses almost equally discreditable, occurred
whenever Rochambeau, or Luckner, or La Fayette, the earliest French
generals in the war, brought their troops into the presence of the

Meanwhile, the allied sovereigns had gradually collected on the Rhine
a veteran and finely-disciplined army for the invasion of France, which
for numbers, equipment, and martial renown, both of generals and men,
was equal to any that Germany had ever sent forth to conquer. Their
design was to strike boldly and decisively at the heart of France, and
penetrating the country through the Ardennes, to proceed by Chalons upon
Paris. The obstacles that lay in their way seemed insignificant. The
disorder and imbecility of the French armies had been even augmented by
the forced flight of La Fayette, and a sudden change of generals. The
only troops posted on or near the track by which the allies were about
to advance, were the twenty-three thousand men at Sedan, whom La Fayette
had commanded, and a corps of twenty thousand near Metz, the command of
which had just been transferred from Luckner to Kellerman. There were
only three fortresses which it was necessary for the allies to capture
or mask--Sedan, Longwy, and Verdun. The defences and stores of these
three were known to be wretchedly dismantled and insufficient; and when
once these feeble barriers were overcome, and Chalons reached, a fertile
and unprotected country seemed to invite the invaders to that "military
promenade to Paris," which they gaily talked of accomplishing.

At the end of July the allied army, having completed all preparations
for the campaign, broke up from its cantonments, and marching from
Luxembourg upon Longwy, crossed the French frontier. Eighty thousand
Prussians, trained in the school, and many of them under the eye of
the Great Frederick, heirs of the glories of the Seven Years' War, and
universally esteemed the best troops in Europe, marched in one column
against the central point of attack. Forty-five thousand Austrians, the
greater part of whom were picked troops, and had served in the recent
Turkish war, supplied two formidable corps that supported the flanks of
the Prussians. There was also a powerful body of Hessians, and leagued
with the Germans against the Parisian democracy, came fifteen thousand
of the noblest and bravest amongst the sons of France. In these corps
of emigrants, many of the highest born of the French nobility, scions
of houses whose chivalric trophies had for centuries filled Europe with
renown, served as rank and file. They looked on the road to Paris as the
path which they were to carve out by their swords to victory, to honour,
to the rescue of their king, to reunion with their families, to the
recovery of their patrimony, and to the restoration of their order. [See
Scott, Life of Napoleon, vol. i. c. xi.]

Over this imposing army the allied sovereigns placed as generalissimo
the Duke of Brunswick, one of the minor reigning princes of Germany, a
statesman of no mean capacity, and who had acquired in the Seven Years'
War, a military reputation second only to that of the Great Frederick
himself. He had been deputed a few years before to quell the popular
movements which then took place in Holland; and he had put down
the attempted revolution in that country with a promptitude and
completeness, which appeared to augur equal success to the army that now
marched under his orders on a similar mission into France.

Moving majestically forward, with leisurely deliberation, that seemed
to show the consciousness of superior strength, and a steady purpose of
doing their work thoroughly, the Allies appeared before Longwy on the
20th of August, and the dispirited and dependent garrison opened the
gates of that fortress to them after the first shower of bombs. On
the 2d of September the still more important stronghold of Verdun
capitulated after scarcely the shadow of resistance.

Brunswick's superior force was now interposed between Kellerman's troops
on the left, and the other French army near Sedan, which La Fayette's
flight had, for the time, left destitute of a commander. It was in the
power of the German general, by striking with an overwhelming mass to
the right and left, to crush in succession each of these weak armies,
and the allies might then have marched irresistible and unresisted upon
Paris. But at this crisis Dumouriez, the new commander-in-chief of
the French, arrived at the camp near Sedan, and commenced a series of
movements, by which he reunited the dispersed and disorganized forces
of his country, checked the Prussian columns at the very moment when the
last obstacles of their triumph seemed to have given way, and finally
rolled back the tide of invasion far across the enemy's frontier.

The French fortresses had fallen; but nature herself still offered
to brave and vigorous defenders of the land, the means of opposing a
barrier to the progress of the Allies. A ridge of broken ground, called
the Argonne, extends from the vicinity of Sedan towards the south-west
for about fifteen or sixteen leagues, The country of L'Argonne has now
been cleared and drained; but in 1792 it was thickly wooded, and the
lower portions of its unequal surface were filled with rivulets and
marshes. It thus presented a natural barrier of from four to five
leagues broad, which was absolutely impenetrable to an army, except by a
few defiles, such as an inferior force might easily fortify and defend.
Dumouriez succeeded in marching his army down from Sedan behind the
Argonne, and in occupying its passes, while the Prussians still lingered
on the north-eastern side of the forest line. Ordering Kellerman to
wheel round from Metz to St. Menehould, and the reinforcements from the
interior and extreme north also to concentrate at that spot, Dumouriez
trusted to assemble a powerful force in the rear of the south-west
extremity of the Argonne, while, with the twenty-five thousand men under
his immediate command, he held the enemy at bay before the passes, or
forced him to a long circumvolution round one extremity of the forest
ridge, during which, favourable opportunities of assailing his flank
were almost certain to occur. Dumouriez fortified the principal defiles,
and boasted of the Thermopylae which he had found for the invaders; but
the simile was nearly rendered fatally complete for the defending force.
A pass, which was thought of inferior importance, had been but slightly
manned, and an Austrian corps under Clairfayt, forced it after some
sharp fighting. Dumouriez with great difficulty saved himself from being
enveloped and destroyed by the hostile columns that now pushed through
the forest. But instead of despairing at the failure of his plans,
and falling back into the interior, to be completely severed from
Kellerman's army, to be hunted as a fugitive under the walls of Paris
by the victorious Germans, and to lose all chance of ever rallying his
dispirited troops, he resolved to cling to the difficult country in
which the armies still were grouped, to force a junction with Kellerman,
and so to place himself at the head of a force, which the invaders would
not dare to disregard, and by which he might drag them back from the
advance on Paris, which he had not been able to bar. Accordingly, by a
rapid movement to the south, during which, in his own words, "France was
within a hair's-breadth of destruction," and after, with difficulty,
checking several panics of his troops in which they ran by thousands at
the sight of a few Prussian hussars, Dumouriez succeeded in establishing
his head-quarters in a strong position at St. Menehould, protected by
the marshes and shallows of the river Aisne and Aube, beyond which, to
the north-west, rose a firm and elevated plateau, called Dampierre's
Camp, admirably situated for commanding the road by Chalons to Paris,
and where he intended to post Kellerman's army so soon as it came
up. [Some late writers represent that Brunswick did not wish to check
Dumouriez. There is no sufficient authority for this insinuation, which
seems to have been first prompted by a desire to soothe the wounded
military pride of the Prussians.]

The news of the retreat of Dumouriez from the Argonne passes, and of the
panic flight of some divisions of his troops, spread rapidly throughout
the country; and Kellerman, who believed that his comrade's army had
been annihilated, and feared to fall among the victorious masses of the
Prussians, had halted on his march from Metz when almost close to
St. Menehould. He had actually commenced a retrograde movement, when
couriers from his commander-in-chief checked him from that fatal course;
and then continuing to wheel round the rear and left flank of the troops
at St. Menehould, Kellerman, with twenty thousand of the army of Metz,
and some thousands of volunteers who had joined him in the march,
made his appearance to the west of Dumouriez, on the very evening
when Westerman and Thouvenot, two of the staff-officers of Dumouriez,
galloped in with the tidings that Brunswick's army had come through
the upper passes of the Argonne in full force, and was deploying on the
heights of La Lune, a chain of eminences that stretch obliquely from
south-west to north-east opposite the high ground which Dumouriez held,
and also opposite, but at a shorter distance from, the position which
Kellerman was designed to occupy.

The Allies were now, in fact, nearer to Paris than were the French
troops themselves; but, as Dumouriez had foreseen, Brunswick deemed it
unsafe to march upon the capital with so large a hostile force left in
his rear between his advancing columns and his base of operations. The
young King of Prussia, who was in the allied camp, and the emigrant
princes, eagerly advocated an instant attack upon the nearest French
general. Kellerman had laid himself unnecessarily open, by advancing
beyond Dampierre's Camp, which Dumouriez had designed for him, and
moving forward across the Aube to the plateau of Valmy, a post inferior
in strength and space to that which he had left, and which brought him
close upon the Prussian lines, leaving him separated by a dangerous
interval from the troops under Dumouriez himself. It seemed easy for the
Prussian army to overwhelm him while thus isolated, and then they might
surround and crush Dumouriez at their leisure.

Accordingly, the right wing of the allied army moved forward, in the
grey of the morning of the 20th of September, to gain Kellerman's left
flank and rear, and cut him off from retreat upon Chalons, while
the rest of the army, moving from the heights of La Lune, which here
converge semi-circularly round the plateau of Valmy, were to assail
his position in front, and interpose between him and Dumouriez. An
unexpected collision between some of the advanced cavalry on each side
in the low ground, warned Kellerman of the enemy's approach. Dumouriez
had not been unobservant of the danger of his comrade, thus isolated and
involved; and he had ordered up troops to support Kellerman on either
flank in the event of his being attacked. These troops, however, moved
forward slowly; and Kellerman's army, ranged on the plateau of Valmy,
"projected like a cape into the midst of the lines of the Prussian
bayonets." [See Lamartine, Hist. Girond. livre xvii. I have drawn much
of the ensuing description from him.] A thick autumnal mist floated in
waves of vapour over the plains and ravines that lay between the two
armies, leaving only the crests and peaks of the hills glittering in the
early light. About ten o'clock the fog began to clear off, and then
the French from their promontory saw emerging from the white wreaths
of mist, and glittering in the sunshine, the countless Prussian cavalry
which were to envelops them as in a net if once driven from their
position, the solid columns of the infantry that moved forward as if
animated by a single will, the bristling batteries of the artillery,
and the glancing clouds of the Austrian light troops, fresh from their
contests with the Spahis of the east.

The best and bravest of the French must have beheld this spectacle with
secret apprehension and awe. However bold and resolute a man may be in
the discharge of duty, it is an anxious and fearful thing to be called
on to encounter danger among comrades of whose steadiness you can feel
no certainty. Each soldier of Kellerman's army must have remembered the
series of panic routs which had hitherto invariably taken place on the
French side during the war; and must have cast restless glances to
the right and left, to see if any symptoms of wavering began to show
themselves, and to calculate how long it was likely to be before a
general rush of his comrades to the rear would either harry him off with
involuntary disgrace, or leave him alone and helpless, to be cut down by
assailing multitudes.

On that very morning, and at the self-same hour, in which the allied
forces and the emigrants began to descend from La Lune to the attack of
Valmy, and while the cannonade was opening between the Prussian and the
Revolutionary batteries, the debate in the National Convention at Paris
commenced on the proposal to proclaim France a Republic.

The old monarchy had little chance of support in the hall of the
Convention; but if its more effective advocates at Valmy had triumphed,
there were yet the elements existing in France for a permanent revival
of the better part of the ancient institutions, and for substituting
Reform for Revolution. Only a few weeks before, numerously signed
addresses from the middle classes in Paris, Rouen, and other large
cities, had been presented to the king, expressive of their horror of
the anarchists, and their readiness to uphold the rights of the crown,
together with the liberties of the subject. And an armed resistance
to the authority of the Convention, and in favour of the king, was in
reality at this time being actively organized in La Vendee and Brittany,
the importance of which may be estimated from the formidable opposition
which the Royalists of these provinces made to the Republican party, at
a later period, and under much more disadvantageous circumstances. It is
a fact peculiarly illustrative of the importance of the battle of Valmy,
that "during the summer of 1792, the gentlemen of Brittany entered into
an extensive association for the purpose of rescuing the country from
the oppressive yoke which had been imposed by the Parisian demagogues.
At the head of the whole was the Marquis de la Rouarie, one of those
remarkable men who rise into pre-eminence during the stormy days of
a revolution, from conscious ability to direct its current. Ardent,
impetuous, and enthusiastic, he was first distinguished in the American
war, when the intrepidity of his conduct attracted the admiration of
the Republican troops, and the same qualities rendered him at first an
ardent supporter of the Revolution in France; but when the atrocities of
the people began, he espoused with equal warmth the opposite side, and
used the utmost efforts to rouse the noblesse of Brittany against the
plebeian yoke which had been imposed upon them by the National Assembly.
He submitted his plan to the Count d'Artois, and had organized one so
extensive, as would have proved extremely formidable to the Convention,
if the retreat of the Duke of Brunswick, in September 1792, had not
damped the ardour of the whole of the west of France, then ready to
break out into insurrection." [Alison, vol. iii. p. 323.]

And it was not only among the zealots of the old monarchy that the cause
of the king would then have found friends. The ineffable atrocities of
the September massacres had just occurred, and the reaction produced
by them among thousands who had previously been active on the
ultra-democratic side, was fresh and powerful. The nobility had not yet
been made utter aliens in the eyes of the nation by long expatriation
and civil war. There was not yet a generation of youth educated in
revolutionary principles, and knowing no worship-save that of military
glory, Louis XVI. was just and humane, and deeply sensible of the
necessity of a gradual extension of political rights among all classes
of his subjects. The Bourbon throne, if rescued in 1792, would have had
chances of stability, such as did not exist for it in 1814, and seem
never likely to be found again in France.

Serving under Kellerman on that day was one who experienced, perhaps
the most deeply of all men, the changes for good and for evil which the
French Revolution has produced. He who, in his second exile, bore the
name of the Count de Neuilly in this country, and who lately was Louis
Philippe, King of the French, figured in the French lines at Valmy, as
a young and gallant officer, cool and sagacious beyond his years, and
trusted accordingly by Kellerman and Dumouriez with an important station
in the national army. The Duc de Chartres (the title he then bore)
commanded the French right, General Valence was on the left, and
Kellerman himself took his post in the centre, which was the strength
and key of his position.

Besides these celebrated men, who were in the French army, and besides
the King of Prussia, the Duke of Brunswick, and other men of rank and
power, who were in the lines of the Allies, there was an individual
present at the battle of Valmy, of little political note, but who has
exercised, and exercises, a greater influence over the human mind, and
whose fame is more widely spread, than that of either duke, or general,
or king. This was the German poet, Goethe, who had, out of curiosity,
accompanied the allied army on its march into France as a mere
spectator. He has given us a curious record of the sensations which
he experienced during the cannonade. It must be remembered that
many thousands in, the French ranks then, like Goethe, felt the
"cannon-fever" for the first time. The German poet says, [Goethe's
Campaign in France in 1792. Farie's translation, p.77.]--

"I had heard so much of the cannon-fever, that I wanted to know what
kind of thing it was. ENNUI, and a spirit which every kind of danger
excites to daring, nay even to rashness, induced me to ride up quite
coolly to the outwork of La Lune. This was again occupied by our people;
but it presented the wildest aspect. The roofs were shot to pieces;
the corn-shocks scattered about, the bodies of men mortally wounded
stretched upon them here and there; and occasionally a spent cannon-ball
fell and rattled among the ruins of the the roofs.

"Quite alone, and left to myself, I rode away on the heights to the
left, and could plainly survey the favourable position of the French;
they were standing in the form of a semicircle in the greatest quiet and
security; Kellerman, then on the left wing, being the easiest to reach.

"I fell in with good company on the way, officers of my acquaintance,
belonging to the general staff and the regiment, greatly surprised to
find me here. They wanted to take me back again with them; but I spoke
to them of particular objects I had in view, and they left me without
further dissuasion, to my well-known singular caprice.

"I had now arrived quite in the region where the balls were playing
across me: the sound of them is curious enough, as if it were composed
of the humming of tops, the gurgling of water, and the whistling of
birds. They were less dangerous, by reason of the wetness of the ground:
wherever one fell, it stuck fast. And thus my foolish experimental ride
was secured against the danger at least of the balls rebounding.

"In the midst of these circumstances, I was soon able to remark that
something unusual was taking place within me. I paid close attention
to it, and still the sensation can be described only by similitude. It
appeared as if you were in some extremely hot place, and, at the same
time, quite penetrated by the heat of it, so that you feel yourself,
as it were, quite one with the element in which you are. The eyes lose
nothing of their strength or clearness; but it is as if the world had
a kind of brown-red tint, which makes the situation, as well as the
surrounding objects, more impressive. I was unable to perceive any
agitation of the blood; but everything seemed rather to be swallowed up
in the glow of which I speak. From this, then, it is clear in what sense
this condition can be called a fever. It is remarkable, however, that
the horrible uneasy feeling arising from it is produced in us solely
through the ears; for the cannon-thunder, the howling and crashing of
the balls through the air, is the real cause of these sensations.

"After I had ridden back, and was in perfect security, I remarked
with surprise that the glow was completely extinguished, and not
the slightest feverish agitation was left behind. On the whole, this
condition is one of the least desirable; as, indeed, among my dear and
noble comrades, I found scarcely one who expressed a really passionate
desire to try it."

Contrary to the expectations of both friends and foes, the French
infantry held their ground steadily under the fire of the Prussian guns,
which thundered on them from La Lune; and their own artillery replied
with equal spirit and greater effect on the denser masses of the
allied army. Thinking that the Prussians were slackening in their fire,
Kellerman formed a column in charging order, and dashed down into the
valley, in the hopes of capturing some of the nearest guns of the enemy.
A masked battery opened its fire on the French column, and drove it back
in disorder. Kellerman having his horse shot under him, and being with
difficulty carried off by his men. The Prussian columns now advanced in
turn. The French artillerymen began to waver and desert their posts,
but were rallied by the efforts and example of their officers; and
Kellerman, reorganizing the line of his infantry, took his station in
the ranks on foot, and called out to his men to let the enemy come close
up, and then to charge them with the bayonet. The troops caught the
enthusiasm of their general, and a cheerful shout of VIVE LA NATION!
taken by one battalion from another, pealed across the valley to the
assailants. The Prussians flinched from a charge up-hill against a force
that seemed so resolute and formidable; they halted for a while in the
hollow, and then slowly retreated up their own side of the valley.

Indignant at being thus repulsed by such a foe, the King of Prussia
formed the flower of his men in person, and, riding along the column,
bitterly reproached them with letting their standard be thus humiliated.
Then he led them on again to the attack marching in the front line,
and seeing his staff mowed down around him by the deadly fire which the
French artillery re-opened. But the troops sent by Dumouriez were now
co-operating effectually with Kellerman, and that general's own men,
flushed by success, presented a firmer front than ever. Again the
Prussians retreated, leaving eight hundred dead behind, and at nightfall
the French remained victors on the heights of Valmy.

All hopes of crushing the revolutionary armies, and of the promenade to
Paris, had now vanished, though Brunswick lingered long in the Argonne,
till distress and sickness wasted away his once splendid force,
and finally but a mere wreck of it recrossed the frontier. France,
meanwhile, felt that she possessed a giant's strength, and like a giant
did she use it. Before the close of that year, all Belgium obeyed the
National Convention at Paris, and the kings of Europe, after the lapse
of eighteen centuries, trembled once more before a conquering military

Goethe's description of the cannonade has been quoted. His observation
to his comrades in the camp of the Allies, at the end of the battle,
deserves citation also. It shows that the poet felt (and, probably, he
alone of the thousands there assembled felt) the full importance of that
day. He describes the consternation and the change of demeanour which he
observed among his Prussian friends that evening, he tells us that "most
of them were silent; and, in fact, the power of reflection and judgment
was wanting to all. At last I was called upon to say what I thought of
the engagement; for I had been in the habit of enlivening and amusing
the troop with short sayings. This time I said: 'FROM THIS PLACE, AND


A.D. 1793. Trial and execution of Louis XVI. at Paris. England and Spain
declare war against France. Royalist war in La Vendee. Second invasion
of France by the Allies.

1794. Lord Howe's victory over the French fleet. Final partition of
Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.

1795. The French armies under Pichegru, conquer Holland. Cessation of
the war in La Vendee.

1796. Bonaparte commands the French army of Italy and gains repeated
victories over the Austrians.

1797. Victory of Jervis, off Cape St. Vincent. Peace of Campo Formio
between France and Austria. Defeat of the Dutch off Camperdown by
Admiral Duncan.

1798. Rebellion in Ireland. Expedition of the French under Bonaparte to
Egypt. Lord Nelson destroys the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile.

1799. Renewal of the war between Austria and France. The Russian
emperor sends an army in aid of Austria, under Suwarrow. The French are
repeatedly defeated in Italy. Bonaparte returns from Egypt and makes
himself First Consul of France. Massena wins the battle of Zurich. The
Russian emperor makes peace with France.

1800. Bonaparte passes the Alps and defeats the Austrians at Marengo.
Moreau wins the battle of Hohenlinden.

1801. Treaty of Luneville between France and Austria. The battle of

1802. Peace of Amiens.

1803. War between England and France renewed.

1804. Napoleon Bonaparte is made Emperor of France.

1805. Great preparations of Napoleon to invade England. Austria,
supported by Russia, renews war with France. Napoleon marches into
Germany, takes Vienna, and gains the battle of Austerlitz. Lord Nelson
destroys the combined French and Spanish fleets, and is killed at the
battle of Trafalgar.

1806. War between Prussia and France, Napoleon conquers Prussia in the
battle of Jena.

1807. Obstinate warfare between the French and Russian armies in East
Prussia and Poland. Peace of Tilsit.

1808. Napoleon endeavours to make his brother King of Spain. Rising
of the Spanish nation against him. England sends troops to aid the
Spaniards. Battles of Vimiera and Corunna.

1809. War renewed between France and Austria. Battles of Asperne and
Wagram. Peace granted to Austria. Lord Wellington's victory of Talavera,
in Spain.

1810. Marriage of Napoleon and the Arch-duchess Maria Louisa. Holland
annexed to France.

1812. War between England and the United States. Napoleon invades
Russia. Battle of Borodino. The French occupy Moscow, which is burned.
Disastrous retreat and almost total destruction of the great army of

1813. Prussia and Austria take up arms again against France. Battles of
Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Culm, and Leipsic. The French are driven out
of Germany. Lord Wellington gains the great battle of Vittoria, which
completes the rescue of Spain from France.

1814. The Allies invade France on the eastern, and Lord Wellington
invades it on the southern frontier. Battles of Laon, Montmirail,
Arcis-sur-Aube, and others in the north-east of France; and of Toulouse
in the south. Paris surrenders to the Allies, and Napoleon abdicates.
First restoration of the Bourbons. Napoleon goes to the isle of Elba,
which is assigned to him by the Allies. Treaty of Ghent, between the
United States and England.

1815. Napoleon suddenly escapes from Elba, and lands in France. The
French soldiery join him and Louis XVIII. is obliged to fly from the


   "Thou first and last of fields, king-making victory."--BYRON.

England has now been blest with thirty-seven years of peace. At no other
period of her history can a similarly long cessation from a state of
warfare be found. It is true that our troops have had battles to fight
during this interval for the protection and extension of our Indian
possessions and our colonies; but these have been with distant and
unimportant enemies. The danger has never been brought near our own
shores, and no matter of vital importance to our empire has ever been
at stake. We have not had hostilities with either France, America, or
Russia; and when not at war with any of our peers, we feel ourselves
to be substantially at peace. There has, indeed, throughout this long
period, been no great war, like those with which the previous history
of modern Europe abounds. There have been formidable collisions between
particular states; and there have been still more formidable collisions
between the armed champions of the conflicting principles of absolutism
and democracy; but there has been no general war, like those of the
French Revolution, like the American, or the Seven Years' War, or like
the War of the Spanish Succession. It would be far too much to augur
from this, that no similar wars will again convulse the world; but the
value of the period of peace which Europe has gained, is incalculable;
even if we look on it as only a truce, and expect again to see the
nations of the earth recur to what some philosophers have termed man's
natural state of warfare.

No equal number of years can be found, during which science, commerce,
and civilization have advanced so rapidly and so extensively, as has
been the case since 1815. When we trace their progress, especially
in this country, it is impossible not to feel that their wondrous
development has been mainly due to the land having been at peace. [See
the excellent Introduction to Mr. Charles Knight's "History of the
Thirty Years' Peace."] Their good effects cannot be obliterated, even
if a series of wars were to recommence. When we reflect on this, and
contrast these thirty-seven years with the period that preceded them,
a period of violence, of tumult, of unrestingly destructive energy,--a
period throughout which the wealth of nations was scattered like sand,
and the blood of nations lavished like water,--it is impossible not to
look with deep interest on the final crisis of that dark and dreadful
epoch; the crisis out of which our own happier cycle of years has been
evolved. The great battle which ended the twenty-three years' war of
the first French Revolution, and which quelled the man whose genius and
ambition had so long disturbed and desolated the world, deserves to be
regarded by us, not only with peculiar pride, as one of our greatest
national victories, but with peculiar gratitude for the repose which it
secured for us, and for the greater part of the human race.

One good test for determining the importance of Waterloo, is to
ascertain what was felt by wise and prudent statesmen before that
battle, respecting the return of Napoleon from Elba to the Imperial
throne of France, and the probable effects of his success. For
this purpose, I will quote the words, not of any of our vehement
anti-Gallican politicians of the school of Pitt, but of a leader of our
Liberal party, of a man whose reputation as a jurist, a historian and a
far-sighted and candid statesman, was, and is, deservedly high, not only
in this country, but throughout Europe. Sir James Mackintosh, in the
debate in the British House of Commons, on the 20th April, 1815, spoke
thus of the return from Elba:--

"Was it in the power of language to describe the evil. Wars which had
raged for more than twenty years throughout Europe; which had
spread blood and desolation from Cadiz to Moscow, and from Naples to
Copenhagen; which had wasted the means of human enjoyment, and destroyed
the instruments of social improvement; which threatened to diffuse among
the European nations, the dissolute and ferocious habits of a predatory
soldiery,--at length, by one of those vicissitudes which bid defiance to
the foresight of man, had been brought to a close, upon the whole, happy
beyond all reasonable expectation, with no violent shock to national
independence, with some tolerable compromise between the opinions of
the age and reverence due to ancient institutions; with no too signal or
mortifying triumph over the legitimate interests or avowable feelings
of any numerous body of men, and, above all, without those retaliations
against nations or parties, which beget new convulsions, often as
horrible as those which they close, and perpetuate revenge and hatred
and bloodshed, from age to age. Europe seemed to breathe after her
sufferings. In the midst of this fair prospect, and of these consolatory
hopes, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba; three small vessels reached
the coast of Provence; our hopes are instantly dispelled; the work of
our toil and fortitude is undone; the blood of Europe is spilt in vain--

"'Ibi omnis effusus labor!'"

The Congress of Emperors, Kings, Princes, Generals, and Statesmen, who
had assembled at Vienna to remodel the world after the overthrow of the
mighty conqueror, and who thought that Napoleon had passed away for ever
from the great drama of European politics, had not yet completed their
triumphant festivities, and their diplomatic toils, when Talleyrand,
on the 11th of March, 1815, rose up among them, and announced that the
ex-emperor had escaped from Elba, and was Emperor of France once more.
It is recorded by Sir Walter Scott, as a curious physiological fact,
that the first effect of the news of an event which threatened to
neutralise all their labours, was to excite a loud burst of laughter
from nearly every member of the Congress. [Life of Napoleon, vol. viii.
chap. 1.] But the jest was a bitter one: and they soon were deeply
busied in anxious deliberations respecting the mode in which they
should encounter their arch-enemy, who had thus started from torpor and
obscurity into renovated splendour and strength:

     "Qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
      Frigida sub terra tumidum quem bruma tegebat,
      Nunc positis novus exuviis nitidusque juventa,
      Lubrica convolvit sublato pectore terga
      Arduus ad solem, at linguis micat ore trisulcis."  Virg. AEN.

Napoleon sought to disunite the formidable confederacy, which he knew
would be arrayed against him, by endeavouring to negotiate separately
with each of the allied sovereigns. It is said that Austria and Russia
were at first not unwilling to treat with him. Disputes and jealousies
had been rife among several of the Allies on the subject of the division
of the conquered countries; and the cordial unanimity with which they
had acted during 1813 and the first months of 1814, had grown
chill during some weeks of discussions. But the active exertions of
Tralleyrand, who represented Louis XVIII. at the Congress, and who both
hated and feared Napoleon with all the intensity of which his powerful
spirit was capable, prevented the secession of any member of the
Congress from the new great league against their ancient enemy. Still it
is highly probable that, if Napoleon had triumphed in Belgium over
the Prussians and the English, he would have succeeded in opening
negotiations with the Austrians and Russians; and he might have thus
gained advantages similar to those which he had obtained on his return
from Egypt, when he induced the Czar Paul to withdraw the Russian armies
from co-operating with the other enemies of France in the extremity of
peril to which she seemed reduced in 1799. But fortune now had deserted
him both in diplomacy and in war.

On the 13th of March, 1815, the Ministers of the seven powers, Austria,
Spain, England, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden, signed a
manifesto, by which they declared Napoleon an outlaw; and this
denunciation was instantly followed up by a treaty between England,
Austria, Prussia, and Russia (to which other powers soon acceded), by
which the rulers of those countries bound themselves to enforce that
decree, and to prosecute the war until Napoleon should be driven from
the throne of France, and rendered incapable of disturbing the peace of
Europe. The Duke of Wellington was the representative of England at the
Congress of Vienna, and he was immediately applied to for his advice
on the plan of military operations against France. It was obvious that
Belgium would be the first battle-field; and by the general wish of the
Allies, the English Duke proceeded thither to assemble an army from the
contingents of Dutch, Belgian, and Hanoverian troops, that were most
speedily available, and from the English regiments which his own
Government was hastening to send over from this country. A strong
Prussian corps was near Aix-la-Chapelle, having remained there since
the campaign of the preceding year. This was largely reinforced by other
troops of the same nation; and Marshal Blucher, the favourite hero of
the Prussian soldiery, and the deadliest foe of France, assumed the
command of this army, which was termed the Army of the Lower Rhine; and
which, in conjunction with Wellington's forces, was to make the van of
the armaments of the Allied Powers. Meanwhile Prince Swartzenburg was to
collect 130,000 Austrians, and 124,000 troops of other Germanic States,
as "the Army of the Upper Rhine;" and 168,000 Russians, under the
command of Barclay de Tolly, were to form "the Army of the Middle
Rhine," and to repeat the march from Muscovy to that river's banks.

The exertions which the Allied Powers thus made at this crisis to
grapple promptly with the French emperor have truly been termed
gigantic; and never were Napoleon's genius and activity more signally
displayed, than in the celerity and skill by which he brought forward
all the military resources of France, which the reverses of the three
preceding years, and the pacific policy of the Bourbons during
the months of their first restoration, had greatly diminished and
disorganized. He re-entered Paris on the 20th of March, and by the end
of May, besides sending a force into La Vendee to put down the armed
rising of the royalists in that province, and besides providing troops
under Massena and Suchet for the defence of the southern frontiers of
France, Napoleon had an army assembled in the north-east for active
operations under his own command, which amounted to between one hundred
and twenty, and one hundred and thirty thousand men, with a superb park
of artillery and in the highest possible state of equipment, discipline,
and efficiency. [See for these numbers Siborne's History of the Campaign
of Waterloo, vol. i. p. 41.]

The approach of the multitudinous Russian, Austrian, Bavarian, and other
foes of the French Emperor to the Rhine was necessarily slow; but the
two most active of the allied powers had occupied Belgium with their
troops, while Napoleon was organizing his forces. Marshal Blucher was
there with one hundred and sixteen thousand Prussians; and, before the
end of May, the Duke of Wellington was there also with about one hundred
and six thousand troops, either British or in British pay. [Ibid. vol.
i. chap. 3. Wellington had but a small part of his old Peninsular army
in Belgium. The flower of it had been sent on the expeditions against
America. His troops, in 1815, were chiefly second battalions, or
regiments lately filled up with new recruits. See Scott, vol viii.
p. 474.] Napoleon determined to attack these enemies in Belgium. The
disparity of numbers was indeed great, but delay was sure to increase
the proportionate numerical superiority of his enemies over his own
ranks. The French Emperor considered also that "the enemy's troops were
now cantoned under the command of two generals, and composed of nations
differing both in interest and in feelings." [See Montholon's Memoirs,
p. 45.] His own army was under his own sole command. It was composed
exclusively of French soldiers, mostly of veterans, well acquainted with
their officers and with each other, and full of enthusiastic confidence
in their commander. If he could separate the Prussians from the British,
so as to attack each singly, he felt sanguine of success, not only
against these the most resolute of his many adversaries, but also
against the other masses, that were slowly labouring up against his
eastern dominions.

The triple chain of strong fortresses, which the French possessed on the
Belgian frontier, formed a curtain, behind which Napoleon was able to
concentrate his army, and to conceal, till the very last moment, the
precise line of attack which he intended to take. On the other hand,
Blucher and Wellington were obliged to canton their troops along a line
of open country of considerable length, so as to watch for the outbreak
of Napoleon from whichever point of his chain of strongholds he should
please to make it. Blucher, with his army, occupied the banks of the
Sambre and the Meuse, from Liege on his left, to Charleroi on his right;
and the Duke of Wellington covered Brussels; his cantonments being
partly in front of that city and between it and the French frontier, and
partly on its west their extreme right reaching to Courtray and Tournay,
while the left approached Charleroi and communicated with the Prussian
right. It was upon Charleroi that Napoleon resolved to level his attack,
in hopes of severing the two allied armies from each other, and then
pursuing his favourite tactic of assailing each separately with a
superior force on the battle-field, though the aggregate of their
numbers considerably exceeded his own.

The first French corps d'armee, commanded by Count d'Erlon, was
stationed in the beginning of June in and around the city of Lille, near
to the north-eastern frontier of France. The second corps, under Count
Reille, was at Valenciennes, to the right of the first one. The third
corps, under Count Vandamme, was at Mezieres. The fourth, under Count
Gerard, had its head-quarters at Metz, and the sixth under Count Lobau,
was at Laon. [The fifth corps was under Count Rapp at Strasburg.] Four
corps of reserve cavalry, under Marshal Grouchy, were also near the
frontier, between the rivers Aisne and Sambre. The Imperial Guard
remained in Paris until the 8th of June, when it marched towards
Belgium, and reached Avesnes on the 13th; and in the course of the same
and the following day, the five corps d'armee with the cavalry reserves
which have been mentioned, were, in pursuance of skilfully combined
orders, rapidly drawn together, and concentrated in and around the
same place, on the right bank of the river Sambre. On the 14th Napoleon
arrived among his troops, who were exulting at the display of their
commander's skill in the celerity and precision with which they had been
drawn together, and in the consciousness of their collective strength.
Although Napoleon too often permitted himself to use language unworthy
of his own character respecting his great English adversary, his real
feelings in commencing this campaign may be judged from the last words
which he spoke, as he threw himself into his travelling carriage to
leave Paris for the army. "I go," he said, "to measure myself with

The enthusiasm of the French soldiers at seeing their Emperor among
them, was still more excited by the "Order of the day," in which he thus
appealed to them:

"Napoleon, by the Grace of God, and the Constitution of the Empire,
Emperor of the French, &c. to the Grand Army.


"Soldiers!  this day is the anniversary of Marengo and of
Friedland, which twice decided the destiny of Europe. Then, as after
Austerlitz, as after Wagram, we were too generous! We believed in
the protestations and in the oaths of princes, whom we left on their
thrones. Now, however, leagued together, they aim at the independence
and the most sacred rights of France. They have commenced the most
unjust of aggressions. Let us, then, march to meet them. Are they and we
no longer the same men?

"Soldiers! at Jena, against these same Prussians, now so arrogant, you
were one to three, and at Montmirail one to six!

"Let those among you who have been captives to the English, describe the
nature of their prison ships, and the frightful miseries they endured.

"The Saxons, the Belgians, the Hanoverians, the soldiers of the
Confederation of the Rhine, lament that they are compelled to use their
arms in the cause of princes, the enemies of justice and of the rights
of all nations. They know that this coalition is insatiable! After
having devoured twelve millions of Poles, twelve millions of Italians,
one million of Saxons, and six millions of Belgians, it now wishes to
devour the states of the second rank in Germany.

"Madmen! one moment of prosperity has bewildered them. The oppression
and the humiliation of the French people are beyond their power. If they
enter France they will there find their grave.

"Soldiers! we have forced marches to make, battles to fight, dangers
to encounter; but, with firmness victory will, be ours. The rights, the
honour, and the happiness of the country will be recovered!

"To every Frenchman who has a heart, the moment is now arrived to
conquer or to die.



The 15th of June had scarcely dawned before the French army was in
motion for the decisive campaign, and crossed the frontier in three
columns, which were pointed upon Charleroi and its vicinity. The French
line of advance upon Brussels, which city Napoleon resolved to occupy,
thus lay right through the centre of the cantonments of the Allies.

Much criticism has been expended on the supposed surprise of
Wellington's army in its cantonments by Napoleon's rapid advance. These
comments would hardly have been made if sufficient attention had been
paid to the geography of the Waterloo campaign; and if it had been
remembered that the protection of Brussels was justly considered by
the allied generals a matter of primary importance. If Napoleon could,
either by manoeuvring or fighting, have succeeded in occupying that
city, the greater part of Belgium would unquestionably have declared in
his favour; and the results of such a success, gained by the Emperor at
the commencement of the campaign, might have decisively influenced
the whole after-current of events. A glance at the map will show the
numerous roads that lead from the different fortresses on the French
north-eastern frontier, and converge upon Brussels; any one of which
Napoleon might have chosen for the advance of a strong force upon that
city. The Duke's army was judiciously arranged, so as to enable him to
concentrate troops on any one of these roads sufficiently in advance of
Brussels to check an assailing enemy. The army was kept thus available
for movement in any necessary direction, till certain intelligence
arrived on the 15th of June that the French had crossed the frontier in
large force near Thuin, that they had driven back the Prussian advanced
troops under General Ziethen, and were also moving across the Sambre
upon Charleroi.

Marshal Blucher now rapidly concentrated his forces, calling them in
from the left upon Ligny, which is to the north-east of Charleroi.
Wellington also drew his troops together, calling them in from the
right. But even now, though it was certain that the French were in large
force at Charleroi it was unsafe for the English general to place his
army directly between that place and Brussels, until it was certain that
no corps of the enemy was marching upon Brussels by the western road
through Mons and Hal. The Duke therefore, collected his troops in
Brussels and its immediate vicinity, ready to move due southward upon
Quatre Bras, and co-operate with Blucher, who was taking his station at
Ligny: but also ready to meet and defeat any manoeuvre, that the enemy
might make to turn the right of the Allies, and occupy Brussels by
a flanking movement. The testimony of the Prussian general, Baron
Muffling, who was attached to the Duke's staff during the campaign, and
who expressly states the reasons on which the English general acted,
ought for ever to have silenced the "weak inventions of the enemy"
about the Duke of Wellington having been deceived and surprised by his
assailant, which some writers of our own nation, as well as foreigners,
have incautiously repeated. [See "Passages from my Life and Writings,"
by Baron Muffling, p. 224 of the English Translation, edited by Col.
Yorke. See also the 178th number of the QUARTERLY. It is strange that
Lamartine should, after the appearance of Muffling's work, have repeated
in his "History of the Restoration" the myth of Wellington having been
surprised in the Brussels ball-room, &c.]

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th, that a Prussian
officer reached Brussels, whom General Ziethen had sent to Muffling
to inform him of the advance of the main French army upon Charleroi.
Muffling immediately communicated this to the Duke of Wellington; and
asked him whether he would now concentrate his army, and what would
be his point of concentration; observing that Marshal Blucher in
consequence of this intelligence would certainly concentrate the
Prussians at Ligny. The Duke replied--"If all is as General Ziethen
supposes, I will concentrate on my left wing, and so be in readiness to
fight in conjunction with the Prussian army. Should, however, a portion
of the enemy's force come by Mons, I must concentrate more towards my
centre. This is the reason why I must wait for positive news from Mons
before I fix the rendezvous. Since, however, it is certain that the
troops MUST march, though it is uncertain upon what precise spot they
must march, I will order all to be in readiness, and will direct a
brigade to move at once towards Quatre Bras." [Muffling, p. 231.]

Later in the same day a message from Blucher himself was delivered to
Muffling, in which the Prussian Field-Marshal informed the Baron that he
was concentrating his men at Sombref and Ligny, and charged Muffling to
give him speedy intelligence respecting the concentration of Wellington.
Muffling immediately communicated this to the Duke, who expressed his
satisfaction with Blucher's arrangements, but added that he could not
even then resolve upon his own point of concentration before he obtained
the desired intelligence from Mons. About midnight this information
arrived. The Duke went to the quarters of General Muffling, and told
him that he now had received his reports from Mons, and was sure that
no French troops were advancing by that route, but that the mass of
the enemy's force was decidedly directed on Charleroi. He informed the
Prussian general that he had ordered the British troops to move forward
upon Quatre Bras; but with characteristic coolness and sagacity resolved
not to give the appearance of alarm by hurrying on with them himself. A
ball was to be given by the Duchess of Richmond at Brussels that night,
and the Duke proposed to General Muffling that they should go to the
ball for a few hours, and ride forward in the morning to overtake the
troops at Quatre Bras.

To hundreds, who were assembled at that memorable ball, the news that
the enemy was advancing, and that the time for battle had come, must
have been a fearfully exciting surprise, and the magnificent stanzas of
Byron are as true as they are beautiful; but the Duke and his principal
officers knew well the stern termination to that festive scene which
was approaching. One by one, and in such a way as to attract as little
observation as possible, the leaders of the various corps left the
ball-room, and took their stations at the head of their men, who were
pressing forward through the last hours of the short summer night to the
arena of anticipated slaughter.

     [There was a sound of revelry by night,
      And Belgium's capital had gather'd then
      Her Beauty and her chivalry, and bright
      The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
      A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
      Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
      Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
      And all went merry as a marriage bell;
      But hush!  hark!  a deep sound strikes like a rising knell,

      Did ye not hear it?--No; 'twas but; the wind,
      Or the car rattling o'er the stony street;
      On with the dance!  let joy be unconfined;
      No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
      To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet--
      But, hark!--that heavy sound breaks in once more,
      As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
      And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
      Arm!  Arm!  it is--it is--the cannon's opening roar!

      Within a window'd niche of that high hall
      Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear
      That sound the first amidst the festival,
      And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
      And when they smiled because he deem'd it near,
      His heart more truly knew that peal too well
      Which stretch'd his father on a bloody bier,
      And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell;
      He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.

      Ah!  then and there was hurrying to and fro,
      And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
      And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
      Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness;
      And there were sudden partings, such as press
      The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
      Which ne'er might be repeated; who could guess
      If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
      Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!

      And there was mounting in hot haste:  the steed,
      The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
      Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
      And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
      And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
      And near, the beat of the alarming drum
      Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
      While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
      Or whispering, with white lips--"The foe!
      They come! they come!"

      And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
      Dewy with nature's teardrops, as they pass,
      Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
      Over the unreturning brave,--alas!
      Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
      Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
      In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
      Of living valour, rolling on the foe
      And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.

      Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
      Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay,
      The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
      The morn the marshalling in arms,--the day
      Battle's magnificently stern array!
      The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent
      The earth is covered thick with other clay,
      Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
      Rider and horse,--friend, foe,--in one red burial blent.]

Napoleon's operations on the 16th had been conducted with signal skill
and vigour; and their results had been very advantageous for his plan of
the campaign. With his army formed in three vast columns, [Victoires et
Conquetes des Francais, vol. xxv. p. 177.] he had struck at the centre
of the line of cantonments of his allied foes; and he had so far made
good his blow, that he had affected the passage of the Sambre, he had
beaten with his left wing the Prussian corps of General Ziethen at
Thuin, and with his centre he had in person advanced right through
Charleroi upon Fleurus, inflicting considerable loss upon the Prussians
that fell back before him. His right column had with little opposition
moved forward as far as the bridge of Chatelet.

Napoleon had thus a powerful force immediately in front of the point
which Blucher had fixed for the concentration of the Prussian army, and
that concentration was still incomplete. The French Emperor designed
to attack the Prussians on the morrow in person, with the troops of his
centre and right columns, and to employ his left wing in beating back
such English troops as might advance to the help of their allies, and
also in aiding his own attack upon Blucher. He gave the command of this
left wing to Marshal Ney. Napoleon seems not to have originally intended
to employ this celebrated General in the campaign. It was only on the
night of the 11th of June, that Marshal Ney received at Paris an order
to join the army. Hurrying forward to the Belgian frontier, he met the
Emperor near Charleroi. Napoleon immediately directed him to take the
command of the left wing, and to press forward with it upon Quatre Bras
by the line of the road which leads from Charleroi to Brussels, through
Gosselies, Frasne, Quatre Bras, Genappe, and Waterloo. Ney immediately
proceeded to the post assigned him; and before ten on the night of the
15th he had occupied Gosselies and Frasne, driving out without much
difficulty some weak Belgian detachments which had been stationed in
those villages. The lateness of the hour, and the exhausted state of
the French troops, who had been marching and fighting since ten in the
morning, made him pause from advancing further to attack the much more
important position of Quatre Bras. In truth, the advantages which the
French gained by their almost superhuman energy and activity throughout
the long day of the 15th of June, were necessarily bought at the price
of more delay and inertness during the following night and morrow, than
would have been observable if they had not been thus overtasked. Ney has
been blamed for want of promptness in his attack upon Quatre Bras; and
Napoleon has been criticised for not having fought at Ligny before the
afternoon of the 16th: but their censors should remember that soldiers
are but men; and that there must be necessarily some interval of time,
before troops, that have been worn and weakened by twenty hours of
incessant fatigue and strife, can be fed, rested, reorganized, and
brought again into action with any hope of success.

Having on the night of the 15th placed the most advanced of the French
under his command in position in front of Frasne, Ney rode back to
Charleroi, where Napoleon also arrived about midnight, having returned
from directing the operations of the centre and right column of the
French. The Emperor and the Marshal supped together, and remained in
earnest conversation till two in the morning. An hour or two afterwards
Ney rode back to Frasne, where he endeavoured to collect tidings of
the numbers and movements of the enemy in front of him; and also busied
himself in the necessary duty of learning the amount and composition
of the troops which he himself was commanding. He had been so suddenly
appointed to his high station, that he did not know the strength of
the several regiments under him, or even the names of their commanding
officers. He now caused his aides-de-camp to prepare the requisite
returns, and drew together the troops, whom he was thus learning before
he used them.

Wellington remained at the Duchess of Richmond's ball at Brussels till
about three o'clock in the morning of the 16th, "showing himself very
cheerful" as Baron Muffling, who accompanied him, observes. [Muffling,
p. 233.] At five o'clock the Duke and the Baron were on horseback, and
reached the position at Quatre Bras about eleven. As the French, who
were in front of Frasne, were perfectly quiet, and the Duke was informed
that a very large force under Napoleon in person was menacing Blucher,
it was thought possible that only a slight detachment of the French
was posted at Frasne in order to mask the English army. In that event
Wellington, as he told Baron Muffling, would be able to employ his whole
strength in supporting the Prussians: and he proposed to ride across
from Quatre Bras to Blucher's position, in order to concert with him
personally the measures which should be taken in order to bring on
a decisive battle with the French. Wellington and Muffling rode
accordingly towards Ligny, and found Marshal Blucher and his staff
at the windmill of Bry, near that village. The Prussian army, 80,000
strong, was drawn up chiefly along a chain of heights, with the villages
of Sombref, St. Amand, and Ligny in their front. These villages were
strongly occupied by Prussian detachments, and formed the keys of
Blucher's position. The heads of the columns which Napoleon was forming
for the attack, were visible in the distance. The Duke asked Blucher
and General Gneisenau (who was Blucher's adviser in matters of strategy)
what they wished him to do, Muffling had already explained to them in
a few words the Duke's earnest desire to support the Field-Marshal, and
that he would do all that they wished, provided they did not ask him to
divide his army, which was contrary to his principles. The Duke wished
to advance with his army (as soon as it was concentrated) upon Frasne
and Gosselies, and thence to move upon Napoleon's flank and rear. The
Prussian leaders preferred that he should march his men from Quatre Bras
by the Namur road, so as to form a reserve in rear of Blucher's army.
The Duke replied, "Well, I will come if I am not attacked myself," and
galloped back with Muffling to Quatre Bras, where the French attack was
now actually raging.

Marshal Ney began the battle about two o'clock in the afternoon. He had
at this time in hand about 16,000 infantry, nearly 2,000 cavalry, and 38
guns. The force which Napoleon nominally placed at his command exceeded
40,000 men. But more than one half of these consisted of the first
French corps d'armee, under Count d'Erlon; and Ney was deprived of the
use of this corps at the time that he most required it, in consequence
of its receiving orders to march to the aid of the Emperor at Ligny. A
magnificent body of heavy cavalry under Kellerman, nearly 5,000 strong,
and several more battalions of artillery were added to Ney's army
during the battle of Quatre Bras; but his effective infantry force never
exceeded 16,000.

When the battle began, the greater part of the Duke's army was yet on
its march towards Quatre Bras from Brussels and the other parts of
its cantonments. The force of the Allies, actually in position there,
consisted only of a Dutch and Belgian division of infantry, not quite
7,000 strong, with one battalion of foot, and one of horse-artillery.
The Prince of Orange commanded them. A wood, called the Bois de Bossu,
stretched along the right (or western) flank of the position of Quatre
Bras; a farmhouse and building, called Gemiancourt, stood on some
elevated ground in its front; and to the left (or east), were
the inclosures of the village of Pierremont. The Prince of Orange
endeavoured to secure these posts; but Ney carried Gemiancourt in
the centre, and Pierremont on the east, and gained occupation of the
southern part of the wood of Bossu. He ranged the chief part of his
artillery on the high ground of Gemiancourt, whence it played throughout
the action with most destructive effect upon the Allies. He was pressing
forward to further advantages, when the fifth infantry division under
Sir Thomas Picton and the Duke of Brunswick's corps appeared upon the
scene. Wellington (who had returned to Quatre Bras from his interview
with Blucher shortly before the arrival of these forces) restored the
fight with them; and, as fresh troops of the Allies arrived, they were
brought forward to stem the fierce attacks which Ney's columns and
squadrons continued to make with unabated gallantry and zeal. The only
cavalry of the anglo-allied army that reached Quatre Bras during
the action, consisted of Dutch and Belgians, and a small force of
Brunswickers, under their Duke, who was killed on the field. These
proved wholly unable to encounter Kellerman's cuirassiers and Pire's
lancers; the Dutch and Belgian infantry also gave way early in the
engagement; so that the whole brunt of the battle fell on the British
and German infantry. They sustained it nobly. Though repeatedly charged
by the French cavalry, though exposed to the murderous fire of the
French batteries, which from the heights of Gemiancourt sent shot and
shell into the devoted squares whenever the French horseman withdrew,
they not only repelled their assailants, but Kempt's and Pack's
brigades, led, on by Picton, actually advanced against and through their
charging foes, and with stern determination made good to the end of the
day the ground which they had thus boldly won. Some, however, of the
British regiments were during the confusion assailed by the French
cavalry before they could form squares, and suffered severely. One
regiment, the 92d, was almost wholly destroyed by the cuirassiers. A
French private soldier, named Lami, of the 8th regiment of cuirassiers,
captured one of the English colours, and presented it to Ney. It was a
solitary trophy. The arrival of the English Guards about half-past six
o'clock, enabled the Duke to recover the wood of Bossu, which the French
had almost entirely won, and the possession of which by them would have
enabled Ney to operate destructively upon the allied flank and rear.
Not only was the wood of Bossu recovered on the British right, but the
inclosures of Pierremont were also carried on the left. When night set
in the French had been driven back on all points towards Frasne; but
they still held the farm of Gemiancourt in front of the Duke's centre.
Wellington and Muffling were unacquainted with the result of the
collateral battle between Blucher and Napoleon, the cannonading of which
had been distinctly audible at Quatre Bras throughout the afternoon and
evening. The Duke observed to Muffling, that of course the two Allied
armies would assume the offensive against the enemy on the morrow; and
consequently, it would be better to capture the farm at once, instead
of waiting till next morning. Muffling agreed in the Duke's views and
Gemiancourt was forthwith attacked by the English and captured with
little loss to its assailants. [Muffling, p. 242.]

Meanwhile the French and the Prussians had been fighting in and round
the villages of Ligny, Sombref, and St. Armand, from three in the
afternoon to nine in the evening, with a savage inveteracy almost
unparalleled in modern warfare. Blucher had in the field, when he began
the battle, 83,417 men, and 224 guns. Bulow's corps, which was 25,000
strong, had not joined him; but the Field-Marshal hoped to be reinforced
by it, or by the English army before the end of the action. But Bulow,
through some error in the transmission of orders, was far in the rear;
and the Duke of Wellington was engaged, as we have seen, with Marshal
Ney. Blucher received early warning from Baron Muffling that the Duke
could not come to his assistance; but, as Muffling observes, Wellington
rendered the Prussians the great service of occupying more than 40,000
of the enemy, who otherwise would have crushed Blucher's right flank.
For, not only did the conflict at Quatre Bras detain the French troops
which actually took part in it, but d'Erlon received orders from Ney to
join him, which hindered d'Erlon from giving effectual aid to Napoleon.
Indeed, the whole of d'Erlon's corps, in consequence of conflicting
directions from Ney and the Emperor, marched and countermarched, during
the 16th, between Quatre Bras and Ligny without firing a shot in either

Blucher had, in fact, a superiority of more than 12,000 in number over
the French army that attacked him at Ligny. The numerical difference was
even greater at the beginning of the battle, as Lobau's corps did not
come up from Charleroi till eight o'clock. After five hours and a half
of desperate and long-doubtful struggle, Napoleon succeeded in breaking
the centre of the Prussian line at Ligny, and in forcing his obstinate
antagonists off the field of battle. The issue was attributable to his
skill, and not to any want of spirit or resolution on the part of
the Prussian troops; nor did they, though defeated, abate one jot in
discipline, heart, or hope. As Blucher observed, it was a battle in
which his army lost the day but not its honour. The Prussians retreated
during the night of the 16th, and the early part of the 17th, with
perfect regularity and steadiness, The retreat was directed not towards
Maestricht, where their principal depots were established, but
towards Wavre, so as to be able to maintain their communication with
Wellington's army, and still follow out the original plan of the
campaign. The heroism with which the Prussians endured and repaired
their defeat at Ligny, is more glorious than many victories.

The messenger who was sent to inform Wellington of the retreat of the
Prussian army, was shot on the way; and it was not until the morning of
the 17th that the Allies, at Quatre Bras, knew the result of the battle
of Ligny. The Duke was ready at daybreak to take the offensive
against the enemy with vigour, his whole army being by that time fully
assembled. But on learning that Blucher had been defeated, a different
course of action was clearly necessary. It was obvious that Napoleon's
main army would now be directed against Wellington, and a retreat was
inevitable. On ascertaining that the Prussian army had retired upon
Wavre, that there was no hot pursuit of them by the French, and that
Bulow's corps had taken no part in the action at Ligny, the Duke
resolved to march his army back towards Brussels, still intending to
cover that city, and to halt at a point in a line with Wavre, and there
restore his communication with Blucher. An officer from Blucher's army
reached the Duke about nine o'clock, from whom he learned the effective
strength that Blucher still possessed, and how little discouraged his
ally was by the yesterday's battle. Wellington sent word to the Prussian
commander that he would halt in the position of Mont St. Jean, and
accept a general battle with the French, if Blucher would pledge himself
to come to his assistance with a single corps of 25,000 men. This was
readily promised; and after allowing his men ample time for rest and
refreshment, Wellington retired over about half the space between Quatre
Bras and Brussels. He was pursued, but little molested, by the main
French army, which about noon of the 17th moved laterally from Ligny,
and joined Ney's forces, which had advanced through Quatre Bras when the
British abandoned that position. The Earl of Uxbridge, with the British
cavalry, covered the retreat of the Duke's army, with great skill and
gallantry; and a heavy thunderstorm, with torrents of rain, impeded the
operations of the French pursuing squadrons. The Duke still expected
that the French would endeavour to turn his right, and march upon
Brussels by the high road that leads through Mons and Hal. In order to
counteract this anticipated manoeuvre, he stationed a force of 18,000
men, under Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, at Hal, with orders to
maintain himself there if attacked, as long as possible. The Duke halted
with the rest of his army at the position near Mont St. Jean, which,
from a village in its neighbourhood, has received the ever-memorable
name of the field of Waterloo.

Wellington was now about twelve miles distant, on a line running
from west to east, from Wavre, where the Prussian army had now been
completely reorganised and collected, and where it had been strengthened
by the junction of Bulow's troops, which had taken no part in the battle
of Ligny. Blucher sent word from Wavre to the Duke, that he was coming
to help the English at Mont St. Jean, in the morning, not with one
corps, but with his whole army. The fiery old man only stipulated that
the combined armies, if not attacked by Napoleon on the 18th, should
themselves attack him on the 19th. So far were Blucher and his army from
being in the state of annihilation described in the boastful bulletin by
which Napoleon informed the Parisians of his victory at Ligny. Indeed,
the French Emperor seems himself to have been misinformed as to the
extent of loss which he had inflicted on the Prussians. Had he known in
what good order and with what undiminished spirit they were retiring, he
would scarcely have delayed sending a large force to press them in their
retreat until noon on the 17th. Such, however, was the case. It was
about that time that he confided to Marshal Grouchy the duty of pursuing
the defeated Prussians, and preventing them from joining Wellington. He
placed for this purpose 32,000 men and 96 guns under his orders. Violent
complaints and recriminations passed afterwards between the Emperor and
the marshal respecting the manner in which Grouchy attempted to perform
this duty, and the reasons why he failed on the 18th to arrest the
lateral movement of the Prussians from Wavre to Waterloo. It is
sufficient to remark here, that the force which Napoleon gave to Grouchy
(though the utmost that the Emperor's limited means would allow) was
insufficient to make head against the entire Prussian army, especially
after Bulow's junction with Blucher. We shall presently have occasion to
consider what opportunities were given to Grouchy during the 18th, and
what he might have effected if he had been a man of original military

But the failure of Grouchy was in truth mainly owing to the indomitable
heroism of Blucher himself; who, though he had received severe personal
injuries in the battle of Ligny, was as energetic and ready as ever in
bringing his men into action again, and who had the resolution to expose
a part of his army, under Thielman, to be overwhelmed by Grouchy at
Wavre on the 18th, while he urged the march of the mass of his troops
upon Waterloo. "It is not at Wavre, but at Waterloo," said the old
Field-Marshal, "that the campaign is to be decided;" and he risked a
detachment, and won the campaign accordingly. Wellington and Blucher
trusted each other as cordially, and co-operated as zealously, as
formerly had been the case with Marlborough and Eugene. It was in full
reliance on Blucher's promise to join him that the Duke stood his ground
and fought at Waterloo; and those who have ventured to impugn the
Duke's capacity as a general, ought to have had common-sense enough to
perceive, that to charge the Duke with having won the battle of Waterloo
by the help of the Prussians, is really to say that he won it by the
very means on which he relied, and without the expectation of which the
battle would not have been fought.

Napoleon himself has found fault with Wellington for not having
retreated further, so as to complete a junction of his army with
Blucher's before he risked a general engagement. [See Montholon's
Memoirs, vol. iv. p. 44.] But, as we have seen, the Duke justly
considered it important to protect Brussels. He had reason to expect
that his army could singly resist the French at Waterloo until the
Prussians came up; and that, on the Prussians joining, there would be
a sufficient force united under himself and Blucher for completely
overwhelming the enemy. And while Napoleon thus censures his great
adversary, he involuntarily bears the highest possible testimony to
the military character of the English, and proves decisively of what
paramount importance was the battle to which he challenged his fearless
opponent. Napoleon asks, "IF THE ENGLISH ARMY HAD BEEN BEATEN AT

The strength of the army under the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo was
49,608 infantry, 12,402 cavalry, and 5,645 artillerymen with 156 guns.
[Siborne, vol. i. p. 376.] But of this total of 67,655 men, scarcely
24,000 were British, a circumstance of very serious importance, if
Napoleon's own estimate of the relative value of troops of different
nations is to be taken. In the Emperor's own words, speaking of this
campaign, "A French soldier would not be equal to more than one English
soldier, but he would not be afraid to meet two Dutchmen, Prussians, or
soldiers of the Confederation." [Montholon's Memoirs, vol. iv. p. 41.]
There were about 6,000 men of the old German Legion with the Duke; these
were veteran troops, and of excellent quality. Of the rest of the
army the Hanoverians and Brunswickers proved themselves deserving of
confidence and praise. But the Nassauers, Dutch, and Belgians were
almost worthless; and not a few of them were justly suspected of a
strong wish to fight, if they fought at all, under the French eagles
rather than against them.

Napoleon's army at Waterloo consisted of 48,950 infantry, 15,765
cavalry, 7,232 artillerymen, being a total of 71,947 men, and 246 guns.
[See Siborne, UT SUPRA.] They were the flower of the national forces of
France; and of all the numerous gallant armies which that martial land
has poured forth, never was there one braver, or better disciplined, or
better led, than the host that took up its position at Waterloo on the
morning of the 18th of June, 1815.

Perhaps those who have not seen the field of battle at Waterloo, or the
admirable model of the ground, and of the conflicting armies, which was
executed by Captain Siborne, may gain a generally accurate idea of the
localities, by picturing to themselves a valley between two and three
miles long, of various breadths at different points, but generally not
exceeding half a mile. On each side of the valley there is a winding
chain of low hills running somewhat parallel, with each other. The
declivity from each of these ranges of hills to the intervening valley
is gentle but not uniform, the undulations of the ground being frequent
and considerable. The English army was posted on the northern, and the
French army occupied the southern ridge. The artillery of each side
thundered at the other from their respective heights throughout the day,
and the charges of horse and foot were made across the valley that has
been described. The village of Mont St. Jean is situate a little behind
the centre of the northern chain of hills, and the village of La Belle
Alliance is close behind the centre of the southern ridge. The high road
from Charleroi to Brussels (a broad paved causeway) runs through both
these villages, and bisects therefore both the English and the French
positions. The line of this road was the line of Napoleon's intended
advance on Brussels.

There are some other local particulars connected with the situation of
each army, which it is necessary to bear in mind. The strength of the
British position did not consist merely in the occupation of a ridge of
high ground. A village and ravine, called Merk Braine, on the Duke of
Wellington's extreme right, secured his flank from being turned on that
side; and on his extreme left, two little hamlets called La Haye and
Papelotte, gave a similar, though a slighter, protection. Behind the
whole British position is the extensive forest of Soignies. As no
attempt was made by the French to turn either of the English flanks,
and the battle was a day of straightforward fighting, it is chiefly
important to ascertain what posts there were in front of the British
line of hills, of which advantage could be taken either to repel or
facilitate an attack; and it will be seen that there were two, and that
each was of very great importance in the action. In front of the British
right, that is to say, on the northern slope of the valley towards its
western end, there stood an old-fashioned Flemish farm-house called
Goumont, or Hougoumont, with out-buildings and a garden, and with a
copse of beach trees of about two acres in extent round it. This was
strongly garrisoned by the allied troops; and, while it was in their
possession, it was difficult for the enemy to press on and force the
British right wing. On the other hand, if the enemy could take it, it
would be difficult for that wing to keep its ground on the heights, with
a strong post held adversely in its immediate front, being one that;
would give much shelter to the enemy's marksmen, and great facilities
for the sudden concentration of attacking columns. Almost immediately
in front of the British centre, and not so far down the slope as
Hougoumont, there was another farm-house, of a smaller size, called La
Haye Sainte, [Not to be confounded with the hamlet of La Haye at the
extreme left of the British line.] which was also held by the British
troops, and the occupation of which was found to be of very serious

With respect to the French position, the principal feature to be noticed
is the village of Planchenoit, which lay a little in the rear of their
right (I.E. on the eastern side), and which proved to be of great
importance in aiding them to check the advance of the Prussians.

Napoleon, in his memoirs, and other French writers, have vehemently
blamed the Duke for having given battle in such a position as that of
Waterloo. They particularly object that the Duke fought without
having the means of a retreat, if the attacks of his enemy had proved
successful; and that the English army, if once broken, must have lost
all its guns and MATERIEL in its flight through the Forest of Soignies,
that lay in its rear. In answer to these censures, instead of merely
referring to the event of the battle as proof of the correctness of the
Duke's judgment, it is to be observed that many military critics of
high authority, have considered the position of Waterloo to have been
admirably adapted for the Duke's purpose of protecting Brussels by a
battle; and that certainly the Duke's opinion in favour of it was not
lightly or hastily formed. It is a remarkable fact (mentioned in the
speech of Lord Bathurst when moving the vote of thanks to the Duke in
the House of Lords), [Parliamentary Debates, vol. xxxi. p. 875.] that
when the Duke of Wellington was passing through Belgium in the preceding
summer of 1814, he particularly noticed the strength of the position of
Waterloo, and made a minute of it at the time, stating to those who were
with him, that if it ever should be his fate to fight a battle in that
quarter for the protection of Brussels, he should endeavour to do so
in that position. And with respect to the Forest of Soignies, which the
French (and some few English) critics have thought calculated to prove
so fatal to a retreating force, the Duke on the contrary believed it to
be a post that might have proved of infinite value to his army in the
event of his having been obliged to give way. The Forest of Soignies
has no thicket or masses of close-growing trees. It consists of tall
beeches, and is everywhere passable for men and horses. The artillery
could have been withdrawn by the broad road which traverses it towards
Brussels; and in the meanwhile a few regiments of resolute infantry
could have held the forest and kept the pursuers in check. One of
the best writers on the Waterloo campaign, Captain Pringle, [See the
Appendix to the 8th volume of Scott's Life of Napoleon.] well observes
that "every person, the least experienced in war, knows the extreme
difficulty of forcing infantry from a wood which cannot be turned." The
defence of the Bois de Bossu near Quatre Bras on the 16th of June had
given a good proof of this; and the Duke of Wellington, when speaking
in after years of the possible events that might have followed if he had
been beaten back from the open field of Waterloo, pointed to the wood
of Soignies as his secure rallying place, saying, "they never could have
beaten us so, that we could not have held the wood against them." He was
always confident that he could have made good that post until joined by
the Prussians, upon whose co-operation he throughout depended. [See
Lord Ellesmere's Life and Character of the Duke of Wellington, p. 40.]

As has been already mentioned, the Prussians, on the morning of the
18th, were at Wavre, which is about twelve miles to the east of the
field of battle of Waterloo. The junction of Bulow's division had more
than made up for the loss sustained at Ligny; and leaving Thielman
with about seventeen thousand men to hold his ground, as he best could,
against the attack which Grouchy was about to make on Wavre, Bulow and
Blucher moved with the rest of the Prussians through St. Lambert upon
Waterloo. It was calculated that they would be there by three o'clock;
but the extremely difficult nature of the ground which they had to
traverse, rendered worse by the torrents of rain that had just fallen,
delayed them long on their twelve miles' march.

An army indeed, less animated by bitter hate against the enemy than was
the Prussians, and under a less energetic chief than Blucher, would have
failed altogether in effecting a passage through the swamps, into
which the incessant rain had transformed the greater part of the ground
through which it was necessary to move not only with columns of foot,
but with cavalry and artillery. At one point of the march, on entering
the defile of St. Lambert, the spirits of the Prussians almost gave way.
Exhausted in the attempts to extricate and drag forward the heavy guns,
the men began to murmur. Blucher came to the spot, and heard cries from
the ranks of--"We cannot get on." "But you must get on," was the old
Field-Marshal's answer. "I have pledged my word to Wellington, and you
surely will not make me break it. Only exert yourselves for a few hours
longer, and we are sure of victory." This appeal from old "Marshal
Forwards," as the Prussian soldiers loved to call Blucher, had its
wonted affect. The Prussians again moved forward, slowly, indeed, and
with pain and toil; but still they moved forward. [See Siborne, vol. ii.
p. 137.]

The French and British armies lay on the open field during the wet and
stormy night of the 17th; and when the dawn of the memorable 18th of
June broke, the rain was still descending heavily upon Waterloo. The
rival nations rose from their dreary bivouacs, and began to form, each
on the high ground which it occupied. Towards nine the weather grew
clearer, and each army was able to watch the position and arrangements
of the other on the opposite side of the valley.

The Duke of Wellington drew up his army in two lines; the principal one
being stationed near the crest of the ridge of hills already described,
and the other being arranged along the slope in the rear of his
position. Commencing from the eastward, on the extreme left of the first
or main line, were Vivian's and Vandeleur's brigades of light cavalry,
and the fifth Hanoverian brigade of infantry, under Von Vincke. Then
came Best's fourth Hanoverian brigade. Detachments from these bodies of
troops occupied the little villages of Papelotte and La Haye, down the
hollow in advance of the left of the Duke's position. To the right of
Best's Hanoverians, Bylandt's brigade of Dutch and Belgian infantry was
drawn up on the outer slope of the heights. Behind them were the ninth
brigade of British infantry under Pack; and to the right of these last,
but more in advance, stood the eighth brigade of English infantry under
Kempt. These were close to the Charleroi road, and to the centre of the
entire position. These two English brigades, with the fifth Hanoverian,
made up the fifth division, commanded by Sir Thomas Picton. Immediately
to their right, and westward of the Charleroi road, stood the third
division, commanded by General Alten, and consisting of Ompteda's
brigade of the King's German legion, and Kielmansegge's Hanoverian
brigade. The important post of La Haye Sainte, which it will be
remembered lay in front of the Duke's centre, close to the Charleroi
road, was garrisoned with troops from this division. Westward, and on
the right of Kielmansegge's Hanoverians, stood the fifth British brigade
under Halkett; and behind, Kruse's Nassau brigade was posted. On the
right of Halkett's men stood the English Guards. They were in two
brigades, one commanded By Maitland, and the other by Byng. The
entire division was under General Cooke. The buildings and gardens of
Hougoumont, which lay immediately under the height, on which stood
the British Guards, were principally manned by detachments from Byng's
Brigade, aided by some brave Hanoverian riflemen, and accompanied by
a battalion of a Nassau regiment. On a plateau in the rear of Cooks's
division of Guards, and inclining westward towards the village of Merk
Braine, were Clinton's second infantry division, composed of Adams's
third brigade of light infantry, Du Plat's first brigade of the King's
German legion, and third Hanoverian brigade under Colonel Halkett.

The Duke formed his second line of cavalry. This only extended behind
the right and centre of his first line. The largest mass was drawn up
behind the brigades of infantry in the centre, on either side of the
Charleroi road. The brigade of household cavalry under Lord Somerset was
on the immediate right of the road, and on the left of it was Ponsonby's
brigade. Behind these were Trip's and Ghingy's brigades of Dutch and
Belgian horse. The third Hussars of the King's German Legion were to
the right of Somerset's brigade. To the right of these, and behind
Maitland's infantry, stood the third brigade under Dornberg, consisting
of the 23d English Light Dragoons, and the regiments of Light Dragoons
of the King's German Legion. The last cavalry on the right was Grant's
brigade, stationed in the rear of the Foot-Guards. The corps of
Brunswickers, both horse and foot, and the 10th British brigade of foot,
were in reserve behind the centre and right of the entire position. The
artillery was distributed at convenient intervals along the front of
the whole line. Besides the Generals who have been mentioned, Lord Hill,
Lord Uxbridge (who had the general command of the cavalry), the Prince
of Orange, and General Chasse, were present, and acting under the Duke.

[Prince Frederick's force remained at Hal, and took no part in the
battle of the 18th. The reason for this arrangement (which has been much
cavilled at), may be best given in the words of Baron Muffling:--"The
Duke had retired from Quatre Bras in three columns, by three chaussees;
and on the evening of the 17th, Prince Frederick of Orange was at Hal,
Lord Hill at Braine la Leud, and the Prince of Orange with the reserve,
at Mont St. Jean. This distribution was necessary, as Napoleon could
dispose of these three roads for his advance on Brussels. Napoleon on
the 17th had pressed on by Genappe as far as Rossomme. On the two other
roads no enemy had yet shown himself. On the 18th the offensive was
taken by Napoleon on its greatest scale, but still the Nivelles road was
not overstepped by his left wing. These circumstances made it possible
to draw Prince Frederick to the army, which would certainly have
been done if entirely new circumstances had not arisen. The Duke had,
twenty-four hours before, pledged himself to accept a battle at Mont St.
Jean if Blucher would assist him there with one corps, of 25,000 men.
This being promised, the Duke was taking his measures for defence, when
he learned that, in addition to the one corps promised, Blucher was
actually already on the march with his whole force, to break in by
Planchenoit on Napoleon's flank and rear. If three corps of the Prussian
army should penetrate by the unguarded plateau of Rossomme, which was
not improbable, Napoleon would be thrust from his line of retreat by
Genappe, and might possibly lose even that by Nivelles. In this case
Prince Frederick with his 18,000 men (who might be accounted superfluous
at Mont St. Jean), might have rendered the most essential service."--See
Muffling, p. 246 and the QUARTERLY REVIEW, No. 178. It is also worthy of
observation that Napoleon actually detached a force of 2,000 cavalry to
threaten Hal, though they returned to the main French army during the
night of the 17th. See "Victoires at Conquetes des Francais," vol. xxiv.
p 186.]

On the opposite heights the French army was drawn up in two general
lines, with the entire force of the Imperial Guards, cavalry as well as
infantry, in rear of the centre, as a reserve.

The first line of the French army was formed of the two corps commanded
by Count d'Erlon and Count Reille. D'Erlon's corps was on the right,
that is, eastward of the Charleroi road, and consisted of four divisions
of infantry under Generals Durette, Marcognet, Alix, and Donzelot, and
of one division of light cavalry under General Jaquinot. Count Reille's
corps formed the left or western wing, and was formed of Bachelu's,
Foy's, and Jerome Bonaparte's divisions of infantry, and of Pire's
division of cavalry. The right wing of the second general French line
was formed of Milhaud's corps, consisting of two divisions of heavy
cavalry. The left wing of this line was formed by Kellerman's cavalry
corps, also in two divisions. Thus each of the corps of infantry that
composed the first line had a corps of cavalry behind it; but the
second line consisted also of Lobau's corps of infantry, and Domont
and Subervie's divisions of light cavalry; these three bodies of troops
being drawn up on either side of La Belle Alliance, and forming the
centre of the second line. The third, or reserve line, had its centre
composed of the infantry of the Imperial Guard. Two regiments of
grenadiers and two of chasseurs, formed the foot of the Old Guard under
General Friant. The Middle Guard, under Count Morand, was similarly
composed; while two regiments of voltigeurs, and two of tirailleurs,
under Duhesme, constituted the Young Guard. The chasseurs and lancers of
the Guard were on the right of the infantry, under Lefebvre Desnouettes;
and the grenadiers and dragoons of the Guards, under Guyot, were on the
left. All the French corps comprised, besides their cavalry and infantry
regiments, strong batteries of horse artillery; and Napoleon's numerical
superiority in guns was of deep importance throughout the action.

Besides the leading generals who have been mentioned as commanding
particular corps, Ney and Soult were present, and acted as the Emperor's
lieutenants in the battle.

English military critics have highly eulogised the admirable arrangement
which Napoleon made of his forces of each arm, so as to give him the
most ample means of sustaining, by an immediate and sufficient support,
any attack, from whatever point he might direct it; and of drawing
promptly together a strong force, to resist any attack that might be
made on himself in any part of the field. [Siborne, vol. i. p. 376.]
When his troops were all arrayed, he rode along the lines, receiving
everywhere the most enthusiastic cheers from his men, of whose entire
devotion to him his assurance was now doubly sure. On the northern side
of the valley the Duke's army was also drawn up, and ready to meet the
menaced attack.

Wellington had caused, on the preceding night, every brigade and corps
to take up its station on or near the part of the ground which it was
intended to hold in the coming battle. He had slept a few hours at his
headquarters in the village of Waterloo; and rising on the 18th, while
it was yet deep night, he wrote several letters to the Governor of
Antwerp, to the English Minister at Brussels, and other official
personages, in which he expressed his confidence that all would go well,
but "as it was necessary to provide against serious losses; should any
accident occur," he gave a series of judicious orders for what should be
done in the rear of the army, in the event of the battle going against
the Allies. He also, before he left the village of Waterloo, saw to the
distribution of the reserves of ammunition which had been parked there,
so that supplies should be readily forwarded to every part of the line
of battle, where they might be required, The Duke, also, personally
inspected the arrangements that had been made for receiving the wounded,
and providing temporary hospitals in the houses in the rear of the
army. Then, mounting a favourite charger, a small thorough-bred chestnut
horse, named "Copenhagen," Wellington rode forward to the range of hills
where his men were posted. Accompanied by his staff and by the Prussian
General Muffling, he rode along his lines, carefully inspecting all
the details of his position. Hougoumont was the object of his special
attention. He rode down to the south-eastern extremity of its
enclosures, and after having examined the nearest French troops, he made
some changes in the disposition of his own men, who were to defend that
important post.

Having given his final orders about Hougoumont, the Duke galloped back
to the high ground in the right centre of his position; and halting
there, sat watching the enemy on the opposite heights, and conversing
with his staff with that cheerful serenity which was ever his
characteristic in the hour of battle.

Not all brave men are thus gifted; and many a glance of anxious
excitement must have been cast across the valley that separated the two
hosts during the protracted pause which ensued between the completion
of Napoleon's preparations for attack and the actual commencement of
the contest. It was, indeed, an awful calm before the coming storm, when
armed myriads stood gazing on their armed foes, scanning their number,
their array, their probable powers of resistance and destruction, and
listening with throbbing hearts for the momentarily expected note
of death; while visions of victory and glory came thronging on each
soldier's high-strung brain, not unmingled with recollections of the
home which his fall might soon leave desolate, nor without shrinking
nature sometimes prompting the cold thought, that in a few moments he
might be writhing in agony, or lie a trampled and mangled mass of clay
on the grass now waving so freshly and purely before him.

Such thoughts WILL arise in human breasts, though the brave man soon
silences "the child within us that trembles before death," [See Plato,
Phaedon, c. 60; and Grote's History of Greece, vol. viii. p. 656.] and
nerves himself for the coming struggle by the mental preparation which
Xenophon has finely called "the soldier's arraying his own soul for
battle." [Hellenica, lib. vii. c. v. s. 22.] Well, too, may we hope and
believe that many a spirit sought aid from a higher and holier source;
and that many a fervent though silent prayer arose on that Sabbath morn
(the battle of Waterloo was fought on a Sunday) to the Lord of Sabaoth,
the God of Battles, from the ranks, whence so many thousands were about
to appear that day before his judgment-seat.

Not only to those who were thus present as spectators and actors in
the dread drama, but to all Europe, the decisive contest then impending
between the rival French and English nations, each under its chosen
chief was the object of exciting interest and deepest solicitude.
"Never, indeed, had two such generals as the Duke of Wellington and the
Emperor Napoleon encountered since the day when Scipio and Hannibal met
at Zama." [See SUPRA, p. 82.]

The two great champions, who now confronted each other, were equals in
years, and each had entered the military profession at the same early
age. The more conspicuous stage, on which the French general's youthful
genius was displayed, his heritage of the whole military power of the
French Republic, the position on which for years he was elevated as
sovereign head of an empire surpassing that of Charlemagne, and the
dazzling results of his victories, which made and unmade kings, had
given him a formidable pre-eminence in the eyes of mankind. Military men
spoke with justly rapturous admiration of the brilliancy of his first
Italian campaigns, when he broke through the pedantry of traditional
tactics, and with a small but promptly-wielded force, shattered army
after army of the Austrians, conquered provinces and capitals, dictated
treaties, and annihilated or created states. The iniquity of his
Egyptian expedition was too often forgotten in contemplating the
skill and boldness with which he destroyed the Mameluke cavalry at the
Pyramids, and the Turkish infantry at Aboukir. None could forget the
marvellous passage of the Alps in 1800, or the victory of Marengo,
which wrested Italy back from Austria, and destroyed the fruit of
twenty victories, which the enemies of France had gained over her in the
absence of her favourite chief. Even higher seemed the glories of
his German campaigns, the triumphs of Ulm, of Austerlitz, of Jena, of
Wagram. Napoleon's disasters in Russia, in 1812, were imputed by
his admirers to the elements; his reverses in Germany, in 1813, were
attributed by them to treachery: and even those two calamitous years had
been signalised by his victories at Borodino, at Lutzen, at Bautzen, at
Dresden, and at Hanau. His last campaign, in the early months of 1814,
was rightly cited as the most splendid exhibition of his military
genius, when, with a far inferior army, he long checked and frequently
defeated the vast hosts that were poured upon France. His followers
fondly hoped that the campaign of 1815 would open with another "week
of miracles," like that which had seen his victories at Montmirail
and Montereau. The laurel of Ligny was even now fresh upon his brows.
Blucher had not stood before him; and who was the Adversary that now
should bar the Emperor's way?

That Adversary had already overthrown the Emperor's best generals, and
the Emperor's best armies; and, like Napoleon himself, had achieved a
reputation in more than European wars. Wellington was illustrious as the
destroyer of the Mahratta power, as the liberator of Portugal and Spain,
and the successful invader of Southern France. In early youth he had
held high command in India; and had displayed eminent skill in planning
and combining movements, and unrivalled celerity and boldness in
execution. On his return to Europe several years passed away before any
fitting opportunity was accorded for the exercise of his genius. In
this important respect, Wellington, as a subject, and Napoleon, as a
sovereign, were far differently situated. At length his appointment
to the command in the Spanish Peninsula gave him the means of showing
Europe that England had a general who could revive the glories of Crecy,
of Poictiers, of Agincourt, of Blenheim, and of Ramilies. At the head of
forces always numerically far inferior to the armies with which
Napoleon deluged the Peninsula;--thwarted by jealous and incompetent
allies;--ill-supported by friends, and assailed by factious enemies at
home; Wellington maintained the war for several years, unstained by any
serious reverse, and marked by victory in thirteen pitched battles,
at Vimiera, the Douro, Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d'Onore, Salamanca,
Vittoria, the Pyrenees, the Bidassoa, the Nive, the Nivelle, Orthes, and
Toulouse. Junot, Victor, Massena, Ney, Marmont, and Jourdain,--marshals
whose names were the terrors of continental Europe--had been baffled
by his skill, and smitten down by his energy, while he liberated the
kingdoms of the Peninsula from them and their Imperial master. In vain
did Napoleon at last despatch Soult, the ablest of his lieutenants,
to turn the tide of Wellington's success and defend France against the
English invader. Wellington met Soult's manoeuvres with superior skill,
and his boldness with superior vigour. When Napoleon's first abdication,
in 1814, suspended hostilities, Wellington was master of the fairest
districts of Southern France; and had under him a veteran army, with
which (to use his own expressive phrase) "he felt he could have gone
anywhere and done anything." The fortune of war had hitherto kept
separate the orbits in which Napoleon and he had moved. Now, on the ever
memorable 18th of June, 1815, they met at last.

It is, indeed, remarkable that Napoleon, during his numerous campaigns
in Spain as well as other countries, not only never encountered the Duke
of Wellington before the day of Waterloo, but that he was never until
then personally engaged with British troops, except at the siege of
Toulon, in 1793, which was the very first incident of his military
career. Many, however, of the French generals who were with him in 1815,
knew well, by sharp experience, what English soldiers were, and what
the leader was who now headed them. Ney, Foy, and other officers who had
served in the Peninsula, warned Napoleon that he would find the English
infantry "very devils in fight." The Emperor, however, persisted in
employing the old system of attack, with which the French generals
often succeeded against continental troops, but which had always failed
against the English in the Peninsula. He adhered to his usual tactics of
employing the order of the column; a mode of attack probably favoured by
him (as Sir Walter Scott remarks) on account of his faith in the extreme
valour of the French officers by whom the column was headed. It is a
threatening formation, well calculated to shake the firmness of ordinary
foes; but which, when steadily met, as the English have met it, by heavy
volleys of musketry from an extended line, followed up by a resolute
bayonet charge, has always resulted in disaster to the assailants. [See
especially Sir W. Napier's glorious pictures of the battles of Busaco
and Albuera. The THEORETICAL advantages of the attack in column, and
its peculiar fitness for a French army, are set forth in the Chevalier
Folard's "Traite de la Colonne," prefixed to the first volume of his
"Polybius," See also the preface to his sixth volume.]

It was approaching noon before the action commenced. Napoleon, in his
Memoirs, gives as the reason for this delay, the miry state of the
ground through the heavy rain of the preceding night and day, which
rendered it impossible for cavalry or artillery to manoeuvre on it till
a few hours of dry weather had given it its natural consistency. It has
been supposed, also, that he trusted to the effect which the sight of
the imposing array of his own forces was likely to produce on the part
of the allied army. The Belgian regiments had been tampered with;
and Napoleon had well-founded hopes of seeing them quit the Duke of
Wellington in a body, and range themselves under his own eagles. The
Duke, however, who knew and did not trust them, had guarded against the
risk of this, by breaking up the corps of Belgians, and distributing
them in separate regiments among troops on whom he could rely. [Siborne,
vol. i. p. 373.]

At last, at about half-past eleven o'clock, Napoleon began the battle by
directing a powerful force from his left wing under his brother, Prince
Jerome, to attack Hougoumont. Column after column of the French now
descended from the west of the southern heights, and assailed that
post with fiery valour, which was encountered with the most determined
bravery. The French won the copse round the house, but a party of the
British Guards held the house itself throughout the day. The whole of
Byng's brigade was required to man this hotly-contested post. Amid
shell and shot, and the blazing fragments of part of the buildings,
this obstinate contest was continued. But still the English were firm in
Hougoumont; though the French occasionally moved forward in such numbers
as enabled them to surround and mask it with part of their troops from
their left wing, while others pressed onward up the slope, and assailed
the British right.

The cannonade, which commenced at first between the British right and
the French left, in consequence of the attack on Hougoumont, soon became
general along both lines; and about one o'clock, Napoleon directed a
grand attack to be made under Marshal Ney upon the centre and left wing
of the allied army. For this purpose four columns of infantry, amounting
to about eighteen thousand men, were collected, supported by a strong
division of cavalry under the celebrated Kellerman; and seventy-four
guns were brought forward ready to be posted on the ridge of a little
undulation of the ground in the interval between the two principal
chains of heights, so as to bring their fire to bear on the Duke's line
at a range of about seven hundred yards. By the combined assault of
these formidable forces, led on by Ney, "the bravest of the brave,"
Napoleon hoped to force the left centre of the British position, to take
La Haye Sainte, and then pressing forward, to occupy also the farm of
Mont St. Jean. He then could cut the mass of Wellington's troops off
from their line of retreat upon Brussels, and from their own left,
and also completely sever them from any Prussian troops that might be

The columns destined for this great and decisive operation descended
majestically from the French line of hills, and gained the ridge of the
intervening eminence, on which the batteries that supported them were
now ranged. As the columns descended again from this eminence, the
seventy-four guns opened over their heads with terrible effect upon the
troops of the Allies that were stationed on the heights to the left
of the Charleroi road. One of the French columns kept to the east, and
attacked the extreme left of the Allies; the other three continued to
move rapidly forwards upon the left centre of the allied position. The
front line of the Allies here was composed of Bylandt's brigade of Dutch
and Belgians. As the French columns moved up the southward slope of the
height on which the Dutch and Belgians stood, and the skirmishers in
advance began to open their fire, Bylandt's entire brigade turned and
fled in disgraceful and disorderly panic; but there were men more worthy
of the name behind.

In this part of-the second line of the Allies were posted Pack and
Kempt's brigades of English infantry, which had suffered severely at
Quatre Bras. But Picton was here as general of division, and not even
Ney himself surpassed in resolute bravery that stern and fiery spirit.
Picton brought his two brigades forward, side by side, in a thin,
two-deep line. Thus joined together, they were not three thousand
strong. With these Picton had to make head against the three victorious
French columns, upwards of four times that strength, and who, encouraged
by the easy rout of the Dutch and Belgians, now came confidently over
the ridge of the hill. The British infantry stood firm; and as the
French halted and began to deploy into line, Picton seized the critical
moment. He shouted in his stentorian voice to Kempt's brigade: "A
volley, and then charge!" At a distance of less than thirty yards that
volley was poured upon the devoted first sections of the nearest column;
and then, with a fierce hurrah, the British dashed in with the bayonet.
Picton was shot dead as he rushed forward, but his men pushed on with
the cold steel. The French reeled back in confusion. Pack's infantry had
checked the other two columns and down came a whirlwind of British horse
on the whole mass, sending them staggering from the crest of the hill,
and cutting them down by whole battalions. Ponsonby's brigade of heavy
cavalry (the Union Brigade as it was called, from its being made up of
the British Royals, the Scots Greys, and the Irish Inniskillings), did
this good service. On went the horsemen amid the wrecks of the French
columns, capturing two eagles, and two thousand prisoners; onwards
still they galloped, and sabred the artillerymen of Ney's seventy-four
advanced guns; then severing the traces, and cutting the throats of the
artillery horses, they rendered these guns totally useless to the French
throughout the remainder of the day. While thus far advanced beyond the
British position and disordered by success, they were charged by a
large body of French lancers, and driven back with severe loss, till
Vandeleur's Light horse came to their aid, and beat off the French
lancers in their turn.

Equally unsuccessful with the advance of the French infantry in this
grand attack, had been the efforts of the French cavalry who moved
forward in support of it, along the east of the Charleroi road.
Somerset's cavalry of the English Household Brigade had been launched,
on the right of Picton's division, against the French horse, at the same
time that the English Union Brigade of heavy horse charged the French
infantry columns on the left.

Somerset's brigade was formed of the Life Guards, the Blues, and the
Dragoon Guards. The hostile cavalry, which Kellerman led forward,
consisted chiefly of Cuirassiers. This steel-clad mass of French
horsemen rode down some companies of German infantry, near La Haye
Sainte, and flushed with success, they bounded onward to the ridge of
the British position. The English Household Brigade, led on by the
Earl of Uxbridge in person, spurred forward to the encounter, and in
an instant, the two adverse lines of strong swordsmen, on their
strong steeds, dashed furiously together. A desperate and sanguinary
hand-to-hand fight ensued, in which the physical superiority of the
Anglo-Saxons, guided by equal skill, and animated with equal valour,
was made decisively manifest. Back went the chosen cavalry of France;
and after them, in hot pursuit, spurred the English Guards. They went
forward as far and as fiercely as their comrades of the Union Brigade;
and, like them, the Household cavalry suffered severely before they
regained the British position, after their magnificent charge and
adventurous pursuit.

Napoleon's grand effort to break the English left centre had thus
completely failed; and his right wing was seriously weakened by the
heavy loss which it had sustained. Hougoumont was still being assailed,
and was still successfully resisting. Troops were now beginning to
appear at the edge of the horizon on Napoleon's right, which he too well
knew to be Prussian, though he endeavoured to persuade his followers
that they were Grouchy's men coming to their aid.

Grouchy was in fact now engaged at Wavre with his whole force, against
Thielmam's single Prussian corps, while the other three corps of the
Prussian army were moving without opposition, save from the difficulties
of the ground, upon Waterloo. Grouchy believed, on the 17th, and caused
Napoleon to believe, that the Prussian army was retreating by lines of
march remote from Waterloo upon Namur and Maestricht. Napoleon learned
only on the 18th, that there were Prussians in Wavre, and felt jealous
about the security of his own right. He accordingly, before he attacked
the English, sent Grouchy orders to engage the Prussians at Wavre
COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE EMPEROR'S. Grouchy entirely neglected this last
part of his instructions; and in attacking the Prussians whom he found
at Wavre, he spread his force more and more towards his right, that is
to say, in the direction most remote from Napoleon. He thus knew nothing
of Blucher's and Bulow's flank march upon Waterloo, till six in the
evening of the 18th, when he received a note which Soult by Napoleon's
orders had sent off from the field of battle at Waterloo at one o'clock,
to inform Grouchy that Bulow was coming over the heights of St. Lambert,
on the Emperor's right flank, and directing Grouchy to approach and join
the main army instantly, and crush Bulow EN FLAGRANT DELIT. It was then
too late for Grouchy to obey; but it is remarkable that as early as noon
on the 18th, and while Grouchy had not proceeded as far as Wavre, he
and his suite heard, the sound of heavy cannonading In the direction
of Planchenoit and Mont St. Jean. General Gerard, who was with Grouchy,
implored him to march towards the cannonade, and join his operations
with those of Napoleon, who was evidently engaged with the English.
Grouchy refused to do so, or even to detach part of his force in that
direction. He said that his instructions were to fight the Prussians
at Wavre. He marched upon Wavre and fought for the rest of the day
with Thielman accordingly, while Blucher and Bulow were attacking the

[I have heard the remark made that Grouchy twice had in his hands the
power of changing the destinies of Europe, and twice wanted nerve to
act: first when he flinched from landing the French army at Bantry Bay
in 1796 (he was second in command to Hoche, whose ship was blown back
by a storm), and secondly, when he failed to lead his whole force from
Wavre to the scene of decisive conflict at Waterloo. But such were the
arrangements of the Prussian General, that even if Grouchy had marched
upon Waterloo, he would have been held in check by the nearest Prussian
corps, or certainly by the two nearest ones, while the rest proceeded
to join Wellington. This, however, would have diminished the number of
Prussians who appeared at Waterloo, and (what is still more important)
would have kept them back to a later hour.--See Siborne, vol i. p. 323,
and Gleig, p. 142.

There are some very valuable remarks on this subject in the 70th No. of
the QUARTERLY in an article on the "Life of Blucher," usually attributed
to Sir Francis Head. The Prussian writer, General Clausewitz, is there
cited as "expressing a positive opinion, in which every military critic
but a Frenchman must concur, that, even had the whole of Grouchy's
force been at Napoleon's disposal, the Duke had nothing to fear pending
Blucher's arrival.

"The Duke is often talked of as having exhausted his reserves in the
action. This is another gross error, which Clausewitz has thoroughly
disposed of. He enumerates the tenth British Brigade, the division of
Chasse, and the cavalry of Collaert, as having been little or not at all
engaged; and he might have also added two brigades of light cavalry."
The fact, also, that Wellington did not at any part of the day order up
Prince Frederick's corps from Hal, is a conclusive proof that the Duke
was not so distressed as some writers have represented. Hal is not ten
miles from the field of Waterloo.]

Napoleon had witnessed with bitter disappointment the rout of his
troops,--foot, horse, and artillery,--which attacked the left centre
of the English, and the obstinate resistance which the garrison of
Hougoumont opposed to all the exertions of his left wing. He now
caused the batteries along the line of high ground held by him to be
strengthened, and for some time an unremitting and most destructive
cannonade raged across the valley, to the partial cessation of other
conflict. But the superior fire of the French artillery, though it
weakened, could not break the British line, and more close and summary
measures were requisite.

It was now about half-past three o'clock; and though Wellington's army
had suffered severely by the unremitting cannonade, and in the late
desperate encounter, no part of the British position had been forced.
Napoleon determined therefore to try what effect he could produce on the
British centre and right by charges of his splendid cavalry, brought on
in such force that the Duke's cavalry could not check them. Fresh troops
were at the same time sent to assail La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont, the
possession of these posts being the Emperor's unceasing object. Squadron
after squadron of the French cuirassiers accordingly ascended the slopes
on the Duke's right, and rode forward with dauntless courage against
the batteries of the British artillery in that part of the field. The
artillery-men were driven from their guns, and the cuirassiers cheered
loudly at their supposed triumph. But the Duke had formed his infantry
in squares, and the cuirassiers charged in vain against the impenetrable
hedges of bayonets, while the fire from the inner ranks of the squares
told with terrible effect on their squadrons. Time after time they rode
forward with invariably the same result: and as they receded from each
attack the British artillerymen rushed forward from the centres of
the squares, where they had taken refuge, and plied their guns on the
retiring horsemen. Nearly the whole of Napoleon's magnificent body of
heavy cavalry was destroyed in these fruitless attempts upon the British
right. But in another part of the field fortune favoured him for a time.
Two French columns of infantry from Donzelot's division took La Haye
Sainte between six and seven o'clock, and the means were now given for
organizing another formidable attack on the centre of the Allies.

     ["On came the whirlwind--like the last
      But fiercest sweep of tempest blast--
      On came the whirlwind--steel-gleams broke
      Like lightning through the rolling smoke;
      The war was waked anew,
      Three hundred cannon-mouths roar'd loud,
      And from their throats, with flash and cloud,
      Their showers of iron threw.
      Beneath their fire in full career,
      Rush'd on the ponderous cuirassier,
      The lancer couch'd his ruthless spear,
      And hurrying as to havoc near,
      The cohorts' eagles flew.
      In one dark torrent, broad and strong,
      The advancing onset roll'd along,
      Forth harbinger'd by fierce acclaim,
      That, from the shroud of smoke and flame,
      Peal'd wildly the imperial name.

     "But on the British heart were lost
      The terrors of the charging host;
      For not an eye the storm that view'd
      Changed its proud glance of fortitude,
      Nor was one forward footstep staid,
      As dropp'd the dying and the dead.
      Fast as their ranks the thunders tear,
      Fast they renew'd each serried square;
      And on the wounded and the slain
      Closed their diminish'd files again,
      Till from their line scarce spears' lengths three,
      Emerging from the smoke they see
      Helmet, and plume, and panoply,--
      Then waked their fire at once!
      Each musketeer's revolving knell,
      As fast, as regularly fell,
      As when they practise to display
      Their discipline on festal day.
      Then down went helm and lance,
      Down were the eagle banners sent,
      Down reeling steeds and riders went,
      Corslets were pierced, and pennons rent;
      And, to augment the fray,
      Wheeled full against their staggering flanks,
      The English horsemen's foaming ranks
      Forced their resistless way.
      Then to the musket-knell succeeds
      The clash of swords--the neigh of steeds--
      As plies the smith his clanging trade,
      Against the cuirass rang the blade;
      And while amid their close array
      The well-served cannon rent their way,
      And while amid their scatter'd band
      Raged the fierce rider's bloody brand,
      Recoil'd in common rout and fear,
      Lancer and guard and cuirassier,
      Horseman and foot,--a mingled host,
      Their leaders fall'n, their standards lost."--SCOTT.]

There was no time to be lost--Blucher and Bulow were beginning to press
hard upon the French right. As early as five o'clock, Napoleon had been
obliged to detach Lobau's infantry and Domont's horse to check these new
enemies. They succeeded in doing so for a time; but as larger numbers
of the Prussians came on the field, they turned Lobau's right flank, and
sent a strong force to seize the village of Planchenoit, which, it will
be remembered, lay in the rear of the French right.

The design of the Allies was not merely to prevent Napoleon from
advancing upon Brussels, but to cut off his line of retreat and utterly
destroy his army. The defence of Planchenoit therefore became absolutely
essential for the safety of the French, and Napoleon was obliged to send
his Young Guard to occupy that village, which was accordingly held
by them with great gallantry against the reiterated assaults of the
Prussian left, under Bulow. Three times did the Prussians fight their
way into Planchenoit, and as often did the French drive them out: the
contest was maintained with the fiercest desperation on both sides,
such being the animosity between the two nations that quarter was seldom
given or even asked. Other Prussian forces were now appearing on the
field nearer to the English left; whom also Napoleon kept in check, by
troops detached for that purpose. Thus a large part of the French army
was now thrown back on a line at right angles with the line of that
portion which still confronted and assailed the English position. But
this portion was now numerically inferior to the force under the Duke
of Wellington, which Napoleon had been assailing throughout the day,
without gaining any other advantage than the capture of La Haye Sainte.
It is true that, owing to the gross misconduct of the greater part of
the Dutch and Belgian troops, the Duke was obliged to rely exclusively
on his English and German soldiers, and the ranks of these had been
fearfully thinned; but the survivors stood their ground heroically, and
opposed a resolute front to every forward movement of their enemies.

On no point of the British line was the pressure more severe than on
Halkett's brigade in the right centre which was composed of battalions
of the 30th, the 33d, the 69th, and the 73d British regiments. We
fortunately can quote from the journal of a brave officer of the 30th, a
narrative of what took place in this part of the field. [This excellent
journal was published in the "United Service Magazine" during the year
1852.] The late Major Macready served at Waterloo in the light company
of the 30th. The extent of the peril and the carnage which Halkett's
brigade had to encounter, may be judged of by the fact that this light
company marched into the field three officers and fifty-one men, and
that at the end of the battle they stood one officer and ten men. Major
Macready's blunt soldierly account of what he actually saw and felt,
gives a far better idea of the terrific scene, than can be gained from
the polished generalisations which the conventional style of history
requires, or even from the glowing stanzas of the poet. During the
earlier part of the day Macready and his light company were thrown
forward as skirmishers in front of the brigade; but when the French
cavalry commenced their attacks on the British right centre, he and his
comrades were ordered back. The brave soldier thus himself describes
what passed:

"Before the commencement of this attack our company and the Grenadiers
of the 73d were skirmishing briskly in the low ground, covering our
guns, and annoying those of the enemy. The line of tirailleurs
opposed to us was not stronger than our own, but on a sudden they were
reinforced by numerous bodies, and several guns began playing on us with
canister. Our poor fellows dropped very fast, and Colonel Vigoureux,
Rumley, and Pratt, were carried off badly wounded in about two minutes.
I was now commander of our company. We stood under this hurricane of
small shot till Halkett sent to order us in, and I brought away about a
third of the light bobs; the rest were killed or wounded, and I really
wonder how one of them escaped. As our bugler was killed, I shouted
and made signals to move by the left, in order to avoid the fire of our
guns, and to put as good a face upon the business as possible.

"When I reached Lloyd's abandoned guns, I stood near them for about
a minute to contemplate the scene: it was grand beyond description.
Hougoumont and its wood sent up a broad flame through the dark masses
of smoke that overhung the field; beneath this cloud the French were
indistinctly visible. Here a waving mass of long red feathers could be
seen; there, gleams as from a sheet of steel showed that the cuirassiers
were moving; 400 cannon were belching forth fire and death on every
side; the roaring and shouting were indistinguishably commixed--together
they gave me an idea of a labouring volcano. Bodies of infantry and
cavalry were pouring down on us, and it was time to leave contemplation,
so I moved towards our columns, which were standing up in square. Our
regiment and 73d formed one, and 33d and 69th another; to our right
beyond them were the Guards, and on our left the Hanoverians and German
legion of our division. As I entered the rear face of our square I
had to step over a body, and looking down, recognised Harry Beers, an
officer of our Grenadiers, who about an hour before shook hands with me,
laughing, as I left the columns. I was on the usual terms of military
intimacy with poor Harry--that is to say, if either of us had died a
natural death, the other would have pitied him as a good fellow, and
smiled at his neighbour as he congratulated him on the step; but seeing
his herculean frame and animated countenance thus suddenly stiff and
motionless before me (I know not whence the feeling could originate, for
I had just seen my dearest friend drop, almost with indifference), the
tears started in my eyes as I sighed out, 'Poor Harry!' The tear was
not dry on my cheek when poor Harry was no longer thought of. In a few
minutes after, the enemy's cavalry galloped up and crowned the crest of
our position. Our guns were abandoned, and they formed between the two
brigades, about a hundred paces in our front. Their first charge was
magnificent. As soon as they quickened their trot into a gallop, the
cuirassiers bent their heads so that the peaks of their helmets looked
like vizors, and they seemed cased in armour from the plume to the
saddle. Not a shot was fired till they were within thirty yards, when
the word was given, and our men fired away at them. The effect was
magical. Through the smoke we could see helmets falling, cavaliers
starting from their seats with convulsive springs as they received our
balls, horses plunging and rearing in the agonies of fright and pain,
and crowds of the soldiery dismounted, part of the squadron in retreat,
but the more daring remainder backing their horses to force them on
our bayonets. Our fire soon disposed of these gentlemen. The main
body re-formed in our front, and rapidly and gallantly repeated their
attacks, In fact, from this time (about four o'clock) till near six, we
had a constant repetition of these brave but unavailing charges. There
was no difficulty in repulsing them, but our ammunition decreased
alarmingly. At length an artillery wagon galloped up, emptied two or
three casks of cartridges into the square, and we were all comfortable.

"The best cavalry is contemptible to a steady and well-supplied
infantry regiment; even our men saw this, and began to pity the useless
perseverance of their assailants, and, as they advanced, would growl
out, 'Here come these fools again!' One of their superior officers tried
a RUSE DE GUERRE, by advancing and dropping his sword, as though he
surrendered; some of us were deceived by him, but Halkett ordered the
men to fire, and he coolly retired, saluting us. Their devotion was
invincible. One officer whom we had taken prisoner was asked what force
Napoleon might have in the field, and replied with a smile of mingled
derision and threatening, 'Vous verrez bientot sa force, messieurs.' A
private cuirassier was wounded and dragged into the square; his only cry
was, 'Tuez donc, tuez, tuez moi, soldats!' and as one of our men dropped
dead close to him, he seized his bayonet, and forced it into his own
neck; but this not despatching him, he raised up his cuirass, and
plunging the bayonet into his stomach, kept working it about till he
ceased to breathe.

"Though we constantly thrashed our steel-clad opponents, we found more
troublesome customers in the round shot and grape, which all this time
played on us with terrible effect, and fully avenged the cuirassiers.
Often as the volleys created openings in our square would the cavalry
dash on, but they were uniformly unsuccessful. A regiment on our
right seemed sadly disconcerted, and at one moment was in considerable
confusion. Halkett rode out to them, and seizing their colour, waved
it over his head, and restored them to something like order, though not
before his horse was shot under him. At the height of their unsteadiness
we got the order to 'right face' to move to their assistance; some of
the men mistook it for 'right about face,' and faced accordingly, when
old Major M'Laine, 73d, called out, 'No, my boys, its "right face;"
you'll never hear the right about as long as a French bayonet is in
front of you!' In a few moments he was mortally wounded. A regiment of
light Dragoons, by their facings either the 16th or 23d, came up to our
left and charged the cuirassiers. We cheered each other as they passed
us; they did all they could, but were obliged to retire after a few
minutes at the sabre. A body of Belgian cavalry advanced for the same
purpose, but on passing our square, they stopped short. Our noble
Halkett rode out to them and offered to charge at their head; it was of
no use; the Prince of Orange came up and exhorted them to do their duty,
but in vain. They hesitated till a few shots whizzed through them, when
they turned about, and galloped like fury, or, rather, like fear. As
they passed the right face of our square the men, irritated by their
rascally conduct, unanimously took up their pieces and fired a volley
into them, and 'many a good fellow was destroyed so cowardly.'

"The enemy's cavalry were by this time nearly disposed of, and as they
had discovered the inutility of their charges, they commenced annoying
us by a spirited and well-directed carbine fire. While we were employed
in this manner it was impossible to see farther than the columns on our
right and left, but I imagine most of the army were similarly situated:
all the British and Germans were doing their duty. About six o'clock
I perceived some artillery trotting up our hill, which I knew by their
caps to belong to the Imperial Guard. I had hardly mentioned this to
a brother officer when two guns unlimbered within seventy paces of us,
and, by their first discharge of grape, blew seven men into the centre
of the square. They immediately reloaded, and kept up a constant and
destructive fire. It was noble to see our fellows fill up the gaps after
every discharge. I was much distressed at this moment; having ordered up
three of my light bobs, they had hardly taken their station when two
of them fell horribly lacerated. One of them looked up in my face and
uttered a sort of reproachful groan, and I involuntarily exclaimed, 'I
couldn't help it.' We would willingly have charged these guns, but, had
we deployed, the cavalry that flanked them would have made an example of

"The 'vivida vis animi'--the glow which fires one upon entering into
action--had ceased; it was now to be seen which side had most bottom,
and would stand killing longest. The Duke visited us frequently at this
momentous period; he was coolness personified. As he crossed the rear
face of our square a shell fell amongst our grenadiers, and he checked
his horse to see its effect. Some men were blown to pieces by the
explosion, and he merely stirred the rein of his charger, apparently
as little concerned at their fate as at his own danger. No leader ever
possessed so fully the confidence of his soldiery: wherever he appeared,
a murmur of 'Silence--stand to your front--here's the Duke,' was
heard through the column, and then all was steady as on a parade. His
aides-de-camp, Colonels Canning and Gordon, fell near our square, and
the former died within it. As he came near us late in the evening,
Halkett rode out to him and represented our weak state, begging his
Grace to afford us a little support. 'It's impossible, Halkett,' said
he. And our general replied, 'If so, sir, you may depend on the brigade
to a man!'"

All accounts of the battle show that the Duke was ever present at each
spot where danger seemed the most pressing; inspiriting his men by a few
homely and good-humoured words; and restraining their impatience to be
led forward to attack in their turn.--"Hard pounding this, gentlemen: we
will try who can pound the longest," was his remark to a battalion, on
which the storm from the French guns was pouring with peculiar fury.
Riding up to one of the squares, which had been dreadfully weakened, and
against which a fresh attack of French cavalry was coming, he called to
them: "Stand firm, my lads; what will they say of this in England?" As
he rode along another part of the line where the men had for some time
been falling fast beneath the enemy's cannonade, without having any
close fighting, a murmur reached his ear of natural eagerness to advance
and do something more than stand still to be shot at. The Duke called to
them: "Wait a little longer, my lads, and you shall have your wish." The
men were instantly satisfied and steady. It was, indeed, indispensable
for the Duke to bide his time. The premature movement of a single corps
down from the British line of heights, would have endangered the whole
position, and have probably made Waterloo a second Hastings.

But the Duke inspired all under him with his own spirit of patient
firmness. When other generals besides Halkett sent to him, begging for
reinforcements, or for leave to withdraw corps which were reduced to
skeletons, the answer was the same: "It is impossible; you must hold
your ground to the last man, and all will be well." He gave a similar
reply to some of his staff; who asked instructions from him, so that,
in the event of his falling, his successor might follow out his plan. He
answered, "My plan is simply to stand my ground here to the last man."
His personal danger was indeed imminent throughout the day; and though
he escaped without injury to himself or horse, one only of his numerous
staff was equally fortunate.

["As far as the French accounts would lead us to infer, it appears that
the losses among Napoleon's staff were comparatively trifling. On this
subject perhaps the marked contrast afforded by the following anecdotes,
which have been related to me on excellent authority, may tend to throw
some light. At one period of the battle, when the Duke was surrounded by
several of his staff, it was very evident that the group had become the
object of the fire of a French battery. The shot fell fast about them,
generally striking and turning up the ground on which they stood. Their
horses became restive and 'Copenhagen' himself so fidgetty, that the
Duke, getting impatient, and having reasons for remaining on the
spot, said to those about him, 'Gentlemen we are rather too close
together--better to divide a little.' Subsequently, at another point of
the line, an officer of artillery came up to the Duke, and stated that
he had a distinct view of Napoleon, attended by his staff; that he had
the guns of his battery well pointed in that direction, and was prepared
to fire. His Grace instantly and emphatically exclaimed, 'No! no! I'll
not allow it. It is not the business of commanders to be firing upon
each other.'"--Siborne, vol. ii. p. 263. How different is this from
Napoleon's conduct at the battle of Dresden, when he personally directed
the fire of the battery which, as he thought, killed the Emperor
Alexander, and actually killed Moreau.]

Napoleon had stationed himself during the battle on a little hillock
near La Belle Alliance, in the centre of the French position. Here he
was seated, with a large table from the neighbouring farm-house before
him, on which maps and plans were spread; and thence with his telescope
he surveyed the various points of the field. Soult watched his orders
close at his left hand, and his staff was grouped on horseback a
few paces in the rear. ["Souvenirs Militaires," par Col.
Lemonnier-Delafosse, p. 407. "Ouvrard, who attended Napoleon as chief
commissary of the French army on that occasion, told me that Napoleon
was suffering from a complaint which made it very painful for him to
ride."--Lord Ellesmere, p. 47.] Here he remained till near the close
of the day, preserving the appearance at least of calmness, except some
expressions of irritation which escaped him, when Ney's attack on the
British left centre was defeated. But now that the crisis of the battle
was evidently approaching, he mounted a white Persian charger, which
he rode in action because the troops easily recognised him by the horse
colour. He had still the means of effecting a retreat. His Old Guard
had yet taken no part in the action. Under cover of it, he might have
withdrawn his shattered forces and retired upon the French frontier. But
this would only have given the English and Prussians the opportunity
of completing their junction; and he knew that other armies were fast
coming up to aid them in a march upon Paris, if he should succeed in
avoiding an encounter with them, and retreating upon the capital. A
victory at Waterloo was his only alternative from utter ruin, and he
determined to employ his Guard in one bold stroke more to make that
victory his own.

Between seven and eight o'clock, the infantry of the Old Guard was
formed into two columns, on the declivity near La Belle Alliance. Ney
was placed at their head. Napoleon himself rode forward to a spot by
which his veterans were to pass; and, as they approached, he raised his
arm, and pointed to the position of the Allies, as if to tell them
that their path lay there. They answered with loud cries of "Vive
l'Empereur!" and descended the hill from their own side, into that
"valley of the shadow of death" while the batteries thundered with
redoubled vigour over their heads upon the British line. The line of
march of the columns of the Guard was directed between Hougoumont and La
Haye Sainte, against the British right centre; and at the same time the
French under Donzelot, who had possession of La Haye Sainte, commenced
a fierce attack upon the British centre, a little more to its left. This
part of the battle has drawn less attention than the celebrated attack
of the Old Guard; but it formed the most perilous crisis for the allied
army; and if the Young Guard had been there to support Donzelot, instead
of being engaged with the Prussians at Planchenoit, the consequences to
the Allies in that part of the field must have been most serious. The
French tirailleurs, who were posted in clouds in La Haye Sainte, and
the sheltered spots near it, picked off the artillerymen of the English
batteries near them: and taking advantage of the disabled state of the
English guns, the French brought some field-pieces up to La Haye Sainte,
and commenced firing grape from them on the infantry of the Allies, at
a distance of not more than a hundred paces. The allied infantry here
consisted of some German brigades, who were formed in squares, as it was
believed that Donzelot had cavalry ready behind La Haye Sainte to charge
them with, if they left that order of formation. In this state the
Germans remained for some time with heroic fortitude, though the
grape-shot was tearing gaps in their ranks and the side of one square
was literally blown away by one tremendous volley which the French
gunners poured into it. The Prince of Orange in vain endeavoured to lead
some Nassau troops to the aid of the brave Germans. The Nassauers would
not or could not face the French; and some battalions of Brunswickers,
whom the Duke of Wellington had ordered up as a reinforcement, at first
fell back, until the Duke in person rallied them, and led them on.
Having thus barred the farther advance of Donzelot, the Duke galloped
off to the right to head his men who were exposed to the attack of the
Imperial Guard. He had saved one part of his centre from being routed;
but the French had gained ground and kept it; and the pressure on the
allied line in front of La Haye Sainte was fearfully severe, until it
was relieved by the decisive success which the British in the right
centre achieved over the columns of the Guard.

The British troops on the crest of that part of the position, which the
first column of Napoleon's Guards assailed, were Maitland's brigade of
British Guards, having Adams's brigade (which had been brought forward
during the action) on their right. Maitland's men were lying down, in
order to avoid as far as possible the destructive effect of the French
artillery, which kept up an unremitting fire from the opposite heights,
until the first column of the Imperial Guard had advanced so far up
the slope towards the British position, that any further firing of the
French artillerymen would have endangered their own comrades. Meanwhile
the British guns were not idle; but shot and shell ploughed fast through
the ranks of the stately array of veterans that still moved imposingly
on. Several of the French superior officers were at its head. Ney's
horse was shot under him, but he still led the way on foot, sword in
hand. The front of the massive column now was on the ridge of the hill.
To their surprise they saw no troops before them. All they could discern
through the smoke was a small band of mounted officers. One of them was
the Duke himself. The French advanced to about fifty yards from where
the British Guards were lying down when the voice of one of the group of
British officers was heard calling, as if to the ground before him, "Up,
Guards, and at them!" It was the Duke who gave the order; and at the
words, as if by magic, up started before them a line of the British
Guards four deep, and in the most compact and perfect order. They poured
an instantaneous volley upon the head of the French column, by which
no less than three hundred of those chosen veterans are said to have
fallen. The French officers rushed forwards; and, conspicuous in front
of their men, attempted to deploy them into a more extended line, so as
to enable them to reply with effect to the British fire. But Maitland's
brigade kept showering in volley after volley with deadly rapidity. The
decimated column grew disordered in its vain efforts to expand itself
into a more efficient formation. The right word was given at the right
moment to the British for the bayonet-charge, and the brigade sprang
forward with a loud cheer against their dismayed antagonists. In an
instant the compact mass of the French spread out into a rabble, and
they fled back down the hill, pursued by Maitland's men, who, however,
returned to their position in time to take part in the repulse of the
second column of the Imperial Guard.

This column also advanced with great spirit and firmness under the
cannonade which was opened on it; and passing by the eastern wall of
Hougoumont, diverged slightly to the right as it moved up the slope
towards the British position, so as to approach nearly the same spot
where the first column had surmounted the height, and been defeated.
This enabled the British regiments of Adams's brigade to form a line
parallel to the left flank of the French column; so that while the front
of this column of French Guards had to encounter the cannonade of the
British batteries, and the musketry of Maitlands Guards, its left flank
was assailed with a destructive fire by a four-deep body of British
infantry, extending all along it. In such a position all the bravery
and skill of the French veterans were vain. The second column, like its
predecessor, broke and fled, taking at first a lateral direction along
the front of the British line towards the rear of La Haye Sainte, and
so becoming blended with the divisions of French infantry, which under
Donzelot had been assailing the Allies so formidably in that quarter.
The sight of the Old Guard broken and in flight checked the ardour which
Donzelot's troops had hitherto displayed. They, too, began to waver.
Adams's victorious brigade was pressing after the flying Guard, and now
cleared away the assailants of the allied centre. But the battle was
not yet won. Napoleon had still some battalions in reserve near La Belle
Alliance. He was rapidly rallying the remains of the first column of his
Guards, and he had collected into one body the remnants of the various
corps of cavalry, which had suffered so severely in the earlier part of
the day. The Duke instantly formed the bold resolution of now himself
becoming the assailant, and leading his successful though enfeebled army
forward, while the disheartening effect of the repulse of the Imperial
Guard on the rest of the French army was still strong, and before
Napoleon and Ney could rally the beaten veterans themselves for another
and a fiercer charge. As the close approach of the Prussians now
completely protected the Duke's left, he had drawn some reserves of
horse from that quarter, and he had a brigade of Hussars under Vivian
fresh and ready at hand. Without a moment's hesitation he launched these
against the cavalry near La Belie Alliance. The charge was as successful
as it was daring: and as there was now no hostile cavalry to check
the British infantry in a forward movement, the Duke gave the
long-wished-for command for a general advance of the army along the
whole line upon the foe. It was now past eight o'clock, and for nearly
nine deadly hours had the British and German regiments stood unflinching
under the fire of artillery, the charge of cavalry, and every variety of
assault, which the compact columns or the scattered tirailleurs of the
enemy's infantry could inflict. As they joyously sprang forward against
the discomfited masses of the French, the setting sun broke through the
clouds which had obscured the sky during the greater part of the day,
and glittered on the bayonets of the Allies, while they poured down into
the valley and towards the heights that were held by the foe. The Duke
himself was among the foremost in the advance, and personally directed
the movements against each body of the French that essayed resistance.
He rode in front of Adams's brigade, cheering it forward, and even
galloped among the most advanced of the British skirmishers,
speaking joyously to the men, and receiving their hearty shouts of
congratulation. The bullets of both friends and foes were whistling fast
round him; and one of the few survivors of his staff remonstrated with
him for thus exposing a life of such value. "Never mind," was the Duke's
answer;--"Never mind, let them fire away; the battle's won, and my life
is of no consequence now." And, indeed, almost the whole of the French
host was now in irreparable confusion. The Prussian army was coming more
and more rapidly forwards on their right; and the Young Guard, which
had held Planchenoit so bravely, was at last compelled to give way. Some
regiments of the Old Guard in vain endeavoured to form in squares and
stem the current. They were swept away, and wrecked among the waves of
the flyers. Napoleon had placed himself in one of these squares: Marshal
Soult, Generals Bertrand, Drouot, Corbineau, De Flahaut, and Gourgaud,
were with him. The Emperor spoke of dying on the field, but Soult seized
his bridle and turned his charger round, exclaiming, "Sire, are not the
enemy already lucky enough?" [Colonel Lemonnier-Delafosse, "Memoires,"
p. 388. The Colonel states that he heard these details from General
Gourgaud himself. The English reader will be reminded of Charles I.'s
retreat from Naseby.] With the greatest difficulty, and only by the
utmost exertion of the devoted officers round him, Napoleon cleared the
throng of fugitives, and escaped from the scene of the battle and the
war, which he and France had lost past all recovery. Meanwhile the Duke
of Wellington still rode forward with the van of his victorious troops,
until he reined up on the elevated ground near Rossomme. The daylight
was now entirely gone; but the young moon had risen, and the light which
it cast, aided by the glare from the burning houses and other buildings
in the line of the flying French and pursuing Prussians, enabled the
Duke to assure himself that his victory was complete. He then rode back
along the Charleroi road toward Waterloo: and near La Belle Alliance he
met Marshal Blucher. Warm were the congratulations that were exchanged
between the Allied Chiefs. It was arranged that the Prussians should
follow up the pursuit, and give the French no chance of rallying.
Accordingly the British army, exhausted by its toils and sufferings
during that dreadful day, did not advance beyond the heights which the
enemy had occupied. But the Prussians drove the fugitives before them
in merciless chase throughout the night. Cannon, baggage, and all the
materiel of the army were abandoned by the French; and many thousands
of the infantry threw away their arms to facilitate their escape. The
ground was strewn for miles with the wrecks of their host. There was no
rear-guard; nor was even the semblance of order attempted, an attempt
at resistance was made at the bridge and village of Genappe, the first
narrow pass through which the bulk of the French retired. The situation
was favourable; and a few resolute battalions, if ably commanded, might
have held their pursuers at bay there for some considerable time. But
despair and panic were now universal in the beaten army. At the first
sound of the Prussian drums and bugles, Genappe was abandoned, and
nothing thought of but headlong flight. The Prussians, under General
Gneisenau, still followed and still slew; nor even when the Prussian
infantry stopped in sheer exhaustion, was the pursuit given up.
Gneisenau still pushed on with the cavalry; and by an ingenious
stratagem, made the French believe that his infantry were still close on
them, and scared them from every spot where they attempted to pause and
rest. He mounted one of his drummers on a horse which had been taken
from the captured carriage of Napoleon, and made him ride along with
the pursuing cavalry, and beat the drum whenever they came on any large
number of the French. The French thus fled, and the Prussians pursued
through Quatre Bras, and even over the heights of Frasne; and when at
length Gneisenau drew bridle, and halted a little beyond Frasne with the
scanty remnant of keen hunters who had kept up the chace with him to
the last, the French were scattered through Gosselies, Marchiennes,
and Charleroi; and were striving to regain the left bank of the river
Sambre, which they had crossed in such pomp and pride not a hundred
hours before.

Part of the French left wing endeavoured to escape from the field
without blending with the main body of the fugitives who thronged
the Genappe causeway. A French officer, who was among those who thus
retreated across the country westward of the high-road, has
vividly described what he witnessed and what he suffered. Colonel
Lemonnier-Delafosse served in the campaign of 1815 in General Foy's
staff, and was consequently in that part of the French army at Waterloo,
which acted against Hougoumont and the British right wing. When the
column of the Imperial Guard made their great charge at the end of
the day, the troops of Foy's division advanced in support of them, and
Colonel Lemonnier-Delafosse describes the confident hopes of victory
and promotion with which he marched to that attack, and the fearful
carnage and confusion of the assailants, amid which he was helplessly
hurried back by his flying comrades. He then narrates the closing scene,
[Col. Lemonnier-Delafosse, "Memoires," pp. 385-405. There are omissions
and abridgments in the translation which I have given.]:

"Near one of the hedges of Hougoumont farm, without even a drummer to
beat the RAPPEL, we succeeded in rallying under the enemy's fire 300
men: they were nearly all that remained of our splendid division,
Thither came together a band of generals. There was Reille, whose horse
had been shot under him; there were D'Erlon, Bachelu, Foy, Jamin, and
others. All were gloomy and sorrowful, like vanquished men. Their words
were,--'Here is all that is left of my corps, of my division, of
my brigade. I, myself.' We had seen the fall of Duhesme, of
Pelet-de-Morvan, of Michel--generals who had found a glorious death. My
General, Foy, had his shoulder pierced through by a musket-ball: and out
of his whole staff two officers only were left to him, Cahour Duhay and
I. Fate had spared me in the midst of so many dangers, though the first
charger I rode had been shot and had fallen on me.

"The enemy's horse were coming down on us, and our little group was
obliged to retreat. 'What had happened to our division of the left wing
had taken place all along the line. The movement of the hostile cavalry,
which inundated the whole plain, had demoralised our soldiers, who
seeing all regular retreat of the army cut off, strove each man to
effect one for himself. At each instant the road became more encumbered.
Infantry, cavalry, and artillery, were pressing along pell-mell: jammed
together like a solid mass. Figure to yourself 40,000 men struggling and
thrusting themselves along a single causeway. We could not take that way
without destruction; so the generals who had collected together near the
Hougoumont hedge dispersed across the fields. General Foy alone remained
with the 300 men whom he had gleaned from the field of battle, and
marched at their head. Our anxiety was to withdraw from the scene of
action without being confounded with the fugitives. Our general wished
to retreat like a true soldier. Seeing three lights in the southern
horizon, like beacons, General Foy asked me what I thought of the
position of each. I answered, 'The first to the left is Genappe, the
second is at Bois de Bossu, near the farm of Quatre Bras; the third is
at Gosselies.' 'Let us march on the second one, then,' replied Foy, 'and
let no obstacle stop us--take the head of the column, and do not lose
sight of the guiding light.' Such was his order, and I strove to obey.

"After all the agitation and the incessant din of a long day of battle,
how imposing was the stillness of that night! We proceeded on our sad
and lonely march. We were a prey to the most cruel reflections, we were
humiliated, we were hopeless; but not a word of complaint was heard. We
walked silently as a troop of mourners, and it might have been said
that we were attending the funeral of our country's glory. Suddenly the
stillness was broken by a challenge,--'QUI VIVE?' 'France!' 'Kellerman!'
'Foy!' 'Is it you, General? come nearer to us.' At that moment we were
passing over a little hillock, at the foot of which was a hut, in which
Kellerman and some of his officers had halted. They came out to join
as Foy said to me, 'Kellerman knows the country: he has been along here
before with his cavalry; we had better follow him.' But we found that
the direction which Kellerman chose was towards the first light, towards
Genappe. That led to the causeway which our general rightly wished to
avoid I went to the left to reconnoitre, and was soon convinced that
such was the case. It was then that I was able to form a full idea of
the disorder of a routed army. What a hideous spectacle! The mountain
torrent, that uproots and whirls along with it every momentary obstacle,
is a feeble image of that heap of men, of horses, of equipages, rushing
one upon another; gathering before the least obstacle which dams up
their way for a few seconds, only to form a mass which overthrows
everything in the path which it forces for itself. Woe to him whose
footing failed him in that deluge! He was crushed, trampled to death! I
returned and told my general what I had seen, and he instantly abandoned
Kellerman, and resumed his original line of march.

"Keeping straight across the country over fields and the rough thickets,
we at last arrived at the Bois de Bossu, where we halted. My General
said to me, 'Go to the farm of Quatre Bras and announce that we are
here. The Emperor or Soult must be there. Ask for orders, and recollect
that I am waiting here for you. The lives of these men depend on your
exactness.' To reach the farm I was obliged to cross the high road: I
was on horseback, but nevertheless was borne away by the crowd that fled
along the road, and it was long are I could extricate myself and reach
the farmhouse. General Lobau was there with his staff, resting in
fancied security. They thought that their troops had halted there; but,
though a halt had been attempted, the men had soon fled forwards, like
their comrades of the rest of the army. The shots of the approaching
Prussians were now heard; and I believe that General Lobau was taken
prisoner in that farmhouse. I left him to rejoin my general, which I
did with difficulty. I found him alone. His men, as they came near the
current of flight, were infected with the general panic, and fled also.

"What was to be done? Follow that crowd of runaways? General Foy would
not hear of it. There were five of us still with him, all officers. He
had been wounded at about five in the afternoon, and the wound had not
been dressed. He suffered severely; but his moral courage was unbroken.
'Let us keep,' he said, 'a line parallel to the high road, and work our
way hence as we best can.' A foot-track was before us, and we followed

"The moon shone out brightly, and revealed the full wretchedness of the
TABLEAU which met our eyes. A brigadier and four cavalry soldiers, whom
we met with, formed our escort. We marched on; and, as the noise grew
more distant, I thought that we were losing the parallel of the highway.
Finding that we had the moon more and more on the left, I felt sure of
this, and mentioned it to the General. Absorbed in thought, he made me
no reply. We came in front of a windmill, and endeavoured to procure
some information; but we could not gain an entrance, or make any one
answer, and we continued our nocturnal march. At last we entered a
village, but found every door closed against us, and were obliged to use
threats in order to gain admission into a single house. The poor woman
to whom it belonged, more dead than alive, received us as if we had been
enemies. Before asking where we were, 'Food, give as some food!' was our
cry. Bread and butter and beer were brought, and soon disappeared before
men who had fasted for twenty-four hours. A little revived, we ask,
'Where are we? what is the name of this village?'--'Vieville.'

"On looking at the map, I saw that in coming to that village we had
leaned too much to the right, and that we were in the direction of Mons.
In order to reach the Sambre at the bridge of Marchiennes, we had four
leagues to traverse; and there was scarcely time to march the distance
before daybreak. I made a villager act as our guide, and bound him by
his arm to my stirrup. He led us through Roux to Marchiennes. The
poor fellow ran alongside of my horse the whole way. It was cruel, but
necessary to compel him, for we had not an instant to spare. At six in
the morning we entered Marchiennes.

"Marshal Ney was there. Our general went to see him, and to ask what
orders he had to give. Ney was asleep; and, rather than rob him of
the first repose he had had for four days, our General returned to us
without seeing him. And, indeed, what orders could Marshal Ney have
given? The whole army was crossing the Sambre, each man where and now he
chose; some at Charleroi, some at Marchiennes. We were about to do the
same thing. When once beyond the Sambre we might safely halt; and both
men and horses were in extreme need of rest. We passed through Thuin;
and finding a little copse near the road, we gladly sought its shelter.
While our horses grazed, we lay down and slept. How sweet was that sleep
after the fatigues of the long day of battle, and after the night of
retreat more painful still! We rested in the little copse till noon, and
sate there watching the wrecks of our army defile along the road before
us. It was a soul-harrowing sight! Yet the different arms of the service
had resumed a certain degree of order amid their disorder; and our
General, feeling his strength revive, resolved to follow a strong
column of cavalry which was taking the direction of Beaumont, about four
leagues off. We drew near Beaumont, when suddenly a regiment of horse
was seen debouching from a wood on our left. The column that we followed
shouted out, 'The Prussians! the Prussians!' and galloped off in utter
disorder. The troops that thus alarmed them were not a tenth part of
their number, and were in reality our own 8th Hussars, who wore
green uniforms. But the panic had been brought even thus far from the
battle-field, and the disorganized column galloped into Beaumont, which
was already crowded with our infantry. We were obliged to follow that
DEBACLE. On entering Beaumont we chose a house of superior appearance,
and demanded of the mistress of it refreshments for the General. 'Alas!'
said the lady, 'this is the tenth General who has been to this house
since this morning. I have nothing left. Search, if you please, and
see.' Though unable to find food for the General, I persuaded him to
take his coat off and let me examine his wound. The bullet had gone
through the twists of the left epaulette, and penetrating the skin, had
run round the shoulder without injuring the bone. The lady of the house
made some lint for me; and without any great degree of surgical skill I
succeeded in dressing the wound.

"Being still anxious to procure some food for the General and
ourselves, if it were but a loaf of ammunition bread, I left the house
and rode out into the town. I saw pillage going on in every direction:
open caissons, stripped and half-broken, blocked up the streets. The
pavement was covered with plundered and torn baggage. Pillagers and
runaways, such were all the comrades I met with. Disgusted at them, I
strove, sword in hand, to stop one of the plunderers; but, more active
than I, he gave me a bayonet stab in my left arm, in which I fortunately
caught his thrust, which had been aimed full at my body. He disappeared
among the crowd, through which I could not force my horse. My spirit of
discipline had made me forget that in such circumstances the soldier is
a mere wild beast. But to be wounded by a fellow-countryman after
having passed unharmed through all the perils of Quatre Bras and
Waterloo!--this did seem hard, indeed. I was trying to return to General
Foy, when another horde of flyers burst into Beaumont, swept me into the
current of their flight, and hurried me out of the town with them. Until
I received my wound I had preserved my moral courage in full force; but
now, worn out with fatigue, covered with blood, and suffering
severe pain from the wound, I own that I gave way to the general
demoralisation, and let myself be inertly borne along with the rushing
mass. At last I reached Landrecies, though I know not how or when. But
I found there our Colonel Hurday, who had been left behind there in
consequence of an accidental injury from a carriage. He took me with
him to Paris, where I retired amid my family, and got cured of my wound,
knowing nothing of the rest of political and military events that were
taking place."

No returns ever were made of the amount of the French loss in the battle
of Waterloo; but it must have been immense, and may be partially judged
of by the amount of killed and wounded in the armies of the conquerors.
On this subject both the Prussian and British official evidence is
unquestionably full and authentic. The figures are terribly emphatic.

Of the army that fought under the Duke of Wellington nearly 15,000 men
were killed and wounded on this single day of battle. Seven thousand
Prussians also fell at Waterloo. At such a fearful price was the
deliverance of Europe purchased.

By none was the severity of that loss more keenly felt than by our great
deliverer himself. As may be seen in Major Macready's narrative, the
Duke, while the battle was raging, betrayed no sign of emotion at
the most ghastly casualties; but, when all was over, the sight of the
carnage with which the field was covered, and still more, the sickening
spectacle of the agonies of the wounded men who lay moaning in their
misery by thousands and tens of thousands, weighed heavily on the spirit
of the victor, as he rode back across the scene of strife. On reaching
his head-quarters in the village of Waterloo, the Duke inquired
anxiously after the numerous friends who had been round him in the
morning, and to whom he was warmly attached. Many he was told were dead;
others were lying alive, but mangled and suffering, in the houses
round him. It is in our hero's own words alone that his feelings can be
adequately told. In a letter written by him almost immediately after his
return from the field, he thus expressed himself:--"My heart is broken
by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions,
and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost, can
be half so melancholy as a battle won; the bravery of my troops has
hitherto saved me from the greater evil; but to win such a battle as
this of Waterloo, at the expense of so many gallant friends, could only
be termed a heavy misfortune but for the result to the public."

It is not often that a successful General in modern warfare is called
on, like the victorious commander of the ancient Greek armies, to award
a prize of superior valour to one of his soldiers. Such was to some
extent the case with respect to the battle of Waterloo. In the August
of 1818, an English clergyman offered to confer a small annuity on some
Waterloo soldier, to be named by the Duke. [Siborne, vol. i. p. 391.]
The Duke requested Sir John Byng to choose a man from the 2d Brigade
of Guards, which had so highly distinguished itself in the defence of
Hougoumont. There were many gallant candidates, but the election fell
on Sergeant James Graham, of the light company of the Coldstreams. This
brave man had signalised himself, throughout the day, in the defence of
that important post, and especially in the critical struggle that
took place at the period when the French, who had gained the wood, the
orchard, and detached garden, succeeded in bursting open a gate of
the courtyard of the chateau itself, and rushed in in large masses,
confident of carrying all before them. A hand-to-hand fight, of the most
desperate character, was kept up between them and the Guards for a few
minutes; but at last the British bayonets prevailed. Nearly all the
Frenchmen who had forced their way in were killed on the spot; and,
as the few survivors ran back, five of the Guards, Colonel Macdonnell,
Captain Wyndham, Ensign Gooch, Ensign Hervey, and Sergeant Graham, by
sheer strength, closed the gate again, in spite of the efforts of the
French from without, and effectually barricaded it against further
assaults. Over and through the loopholed wall of the courtyard, the
English garrison now kept up a deadly fire of musketry, which was
fiercely answered by the French, who swarmed round the curtilage like
ravening wolves. Shells, too, from their batteries, were falling fast
into the besieged place, one of which set part of the mansion and some
of the out-buildings on fire. Graham, who was at this time standing
near Colonel Macdonnell at the wall, and who had shown the most perfect
steadiness and courage, now asked permission of his commanding officer
to retire for a moment. Macdonnell replied, "By all means, Graham; but
I wonder you should ask leave now." Graham answered, "I would not, sir,
only my brother is wounded, and he is in that out-building there, which
has just caught fire." Laying down his musket, Graham ran to the blazing
spot, lifted up his brother, and laid him in a ditch. Then he was back
at his post, and was plying his musket against the French again, before
his absence was noticed, except by his colonel.

Many anecdotes of individual prowess have been preserved: but of all
the brave men who were in the British army on that eventful day, none
deserve more honour for courage and indomitable resolution than Sir
Thomas Picton, who, as has been mentioned, fell in repulsing the great
attack of the French upon the British left centre. It was not until the
dead body was examined after the battle, that the full heroism of Picton
was discerned. He had been wounded on the 16th, at Quatre Bras, by a
musket-ball, which had broken two of his ribs, and caused also severe
internal injuries; but he had concealed the circumstance, evidently in
expectation that another and greater battle would be fought in a short
time, and desirous to avoid being solicited to absent himself from the
field. His body was blackened and swollen by the wound, which must have
caused severe and incessant pain; and it was marvellous how his spirit
had borne him up, and enabled him to take part in the fatigues and
duties of the field. The bullet which, on the 18th, killed the renowned
loader of "the fighting Division" of the Peninsula, entered the head
near the left temple, and passed through the brain; so that Picton's
death must have been instantaneous.

One of the most interesting narratives of personal adventure at
Waterloo, is that of Colonel Frederick Ponsonby, of the 12th Light
Dragoons, who was severely wounded when Vandeleur's brigade, to which he
belonged, attacked the French lancers, in order to bring off the Union
Brigade, which was retiring from its memorable charge. [See p. 361,
SUPRA.] The 12th, like those whom they rescued, advanced much further
against the French position than prudence warranted. Ponsonby, with many
others, was speared by a reserve of Polish lancers, and left for dead
on the field. It is well to refer to the description of what he suffered
(as he afterwards gave it, when almost miraculously recovered from his
numerous wounds), because his fate, or worse, was the fate of thousands
more; and because the narrative of the pangs of an individual, with whom
we can identify ourselves, always comes more home to us than a general
description of the miseries of whole masses. His tale may make us
remember what are the horrors of war as well as its glories. It is to
be remembered that the operations which he refers to, took place about
three o'clock in the day, and that the fighting went on for at least
five hours more. After describing how he and his men charged through the
French whom they first encountered, and went against other enemies, he

"We had no sooner passed them than we were ourselves attacked before
we could form, by about 300 Polish lancers, who had hastened to their
relief; the French artillery pouring in among us a heavy fire of grape,
though for one of our men they killed three of their own.

"In the MELEE I was almost instantly disabled in both arms, losing
first my sword, and then my reins, and followed by a few men, who were
presently cut down, no quarter being allowed, asked or given, I was
carried along by my horse, till, receiving a blow from a sabre, I fell
senseless on my face to the ground.

"Recovering, I raised myself a little to look round, being at that time,
I believe, in a condition to get up and run away; when a lancer passing
by, cried out, 'Tu n'est pas mort, coquin!' and struck his lance through
my back. My head dropped, the blood gushed into my mouth, a difficulty
of breathing came on, and I thought all was over.

"Not long afterwards (it was impossible to measure time, but I must have
fallen in less than ten minutes after the onset), a tirailleur
stopped to plunder me, threatening my life. I directed him to a
small side-pocket, in which he found three dollars, all I had; but
he continued to threaten, and I said he might search me: this he did
immediately, unloosing my stock and tearing open my waistcoat, and
leaving me in a very uneasy posture.

"But he was no sooner gone, than an officer bringing up some troops,
to which probably the tirailleur belonged and happening to halt where
I lay, stooped down and addressed me, saying, he feared I was badly
wounded; I said that I was, and expressed a wish to be removed to the
rear. He said it was against their orders to remove even their own men;
but that if they gained the day (and he understood that the Duke of
Wellington was killed, and that some of our battalions had surrendered),
every attention in his power would be shown me. I complained of thirst,
and he held his brandy-bottle to my lips, directing one of the soldiers
to lay me straight on my side, and place a knapsack under my head. He
then passed on into action--soon, perhaps, to want, though not receive,
the same assistance; and I shall never know to whose generosity I was
indebted, as I believe, for my life. Of what rank he was, I cannot say:
he wore a great coat. By-and-by another tirailleur came up, a fine
young man, full of ardour. He knelt down and fired over me, loading and
firing many times, and conversing with me all the while." The Frenchman,
with strange coolness, informed Ponsonby of how he was shooting, and
what he thought of the progress of the battle. "At last he ran off,
exclaiming, 'You will probably not be sorry to hear that we are going
to retreat. Good day, my friend.' It was dusk," Ponsonby adds, "when two
squadrons of Prussian cavalry, each of them two deep, came across the
valley, and passed over me in full trot, lifting me from the ground,
and tumbling me about cruelly. The clatter of of their approach and the
apprehensions they excited, may be imagined; a gun taking that direction
must have destroyed me.

"The battle was now at an end, or removed to a distance. The shouts,
the imprecations, the outcries of 'Vive l'Empereur!' the discharge of
musketry and cannon, were over; and the groans of the wounded all around
me, became every moment more and more audible. I thought the night would
never end.

"Much about this time I found a soldier of the Royals lying across my
legs: he had probably crawled thither in his agony; and his weight, his
convulsive motions, and the air issuing through a wound in his side,
distressed me greatly; the last circumstance most of all, as I had
a wound of the same nature myself. It was not a dark night, and the
Prussians were wandering about to plunder; the scene in Ferdinand Count
Fathom came into my mind, though no women appeared. Several stragglers
looked at me, as they passed by, one after another, and at last one of
them stopped to examine me. I told him as well as I could, for I spoke
German very imperfectly, that I was a British officer, and had been
plundered already; he did not desist, however, and pulled me about

"An hour before midnight I saw a man in an English uniform walking
towards me. He was, I suspect, on the same errand, and he came and
looked in my face. I spoke instantly, telling him who I was, and
assuring him of a reward if he would remain by me. He said he belonged
to the 40th, and had missed his regiment; he released me from the dying
soldier, and being unarmed, took up a sword from the ground, and stood
over me, pacing backwards and forwards.

"Day broke; and at six o'clock in the morning some English were seen at
a distance, and he ran to them. A messenger being sent off to Hervey, a
cart came for me, and I was placed in it, and carried to the village
of Waterloo, a mile and a half off, and laid in the bed from which as I
understood afterwards, Gordon had been just carried out. I had received
seven wounds; a surgeon slept in my room, and I was saved by excessive

Major Macready, in the journal already cited, [See SUPRA. p. 368.]
justly praises the deep devotion to their Emperor which, marked the
French at Waterloo. Never, indeed, had the national bravery of the
French people been more nobly shown. One soldier in the French ranks was
seen, when his arm was shattered by a cannon-ball, to wrench it off with
the other; and throwing it up in the air, he exclaimed to his comrades,
"Vive l'Empereur jusqu'a la mort!" Colonel Lemonnier-Delafosse mentions
in his Memoirs, [Page 388.] that at the beginning of the action, a
French soldier who had had both legs carried off by a cannon-ball,
was borne past the front of Foy's division, and called out to them, "Ca
n'est rien, camarades; Vive l'Empereur! Gloire a la France!" The same
officer, at the end of the battle, when all hope was lost, tells us that
he saw a French grenadier, blackened with powder, and with his clothes
torn and stained, leaning on his musket, and immoveable as a statue.
The colonel called to him to join his comrades and retreat; but the
grenadier showed him his musket and his hands; and said, "These
hands have with this musket used to-day more than twenty packets of
cartridges: it was more than my share: I supplied myself with ammunition
from the dead. Leave me to die here on the field of battle. It is not
courage that fails me, but strength." Then, as Colonel Delafosse left
him, the soldier stretched himself on the ground to meet his fate,
exclaiming, "Tout est perdu! pauvre France!" The gallantry of the French
officers at least equalled that of their men. Ney, in particular, set
the example of the most daring courage. Here, as in every French army
in which he ever served or commanded, he was "le brave des braves."
Throughout the day he was in the front of the battle; and was one of the
very last Frenchmen who quitted the field. His horse was killed under
him in the last attack made on the English position; but he was seen
on foot, his clothes torn with bullets, his face smirched with powder,
striving, sword in hand, first to urge his men forward, and at last to
check their flight.

There was another brave general of the French army, whose valour and
good conduct on that day of disaster to his nation should never be
unnoticed when the story of Waterloo is recounted. This was General
Polet, who, about seven in the evening, led the first battalion of the
2d regiment of the Chasseurs of the Guard to the defence of Planchenoit;
and on whom Napoleon personally urged the deep importance of maintaining
possession of that village. Pelet and his men took their post in the
central part of the village, and occupied the church and churchyard in
great strength. There they repelled every assault of the Prussians,
who in rapidly increasing numbers rushed forward with infuriated
pertinacity. They held their post till the utter rout of the main army
of their comrades was apparent, and the victorious Allies were thronging
around Planchenoit. When Pelet and his brave chasseurs quitted the
churchyard, and retired with steady march, though they suffered
fearfully from the moment they left their shelter, and Prussian cavalry
as well as infantry dashed fiercely after them. Pelet kept together a
little knot of 250 veterans, and had the eagle covered over, and borne
along in the midst of them. At one time the inequality of the ground
caused his ranks to open a little; and in an instant the Prussian
horseman were on them, and striving to capture the eagle. Captain
Siborne relates the conduct of Pelet with the admiration worthy of one
brave soldier for another:--

"Pelet, taking advantage of a spot of ground which afforded them some
degree of cover against the fire of grape by which they were constantly
assailed, halted the standard-bearer, and called out, "A moi chasseurs!
sauvons l'aigle ou mourons autour d'elle!" The chasseurs immediately
pressed around him, forming what is usually termed the rallying square,
and, lowering their bayonets, succeeded in repulsing the charge of
cavalry. Some guns were then brought to bear upon them, and subsequently
a brisk fire of musketry; but notwithstanding the awful sacrifice which
was thus offered up in defence of their precious charge, they succeeded
in reaching the main line of retreat, favoured by the universal
confusion, as also by the general obscurity which now prevailed; and
thus saved alike the eagle and the honour of the regiment."

French writers do injustice to their own army and general, when they
revive malignant calumnies against Wellington, and speak of his having
blundered into victory. No blunderer could have successfully encountered
such troops as those of Napoleon, and under such a leader. It is
superfluous to cite against these cavils the testimony which other
continental critics have borne to the high military genius of our
illustrious chief. I refer to one only, which is of peculiar value, on
account of the quarter whence it comes. It is that of the great German
writer Niebuhr, whose accurate acquaintance with every important scene
of modern as well as ancient history was unparalleled: and who was no
mere pedant, but a man practically versed in active life, and had been
personally acquainted with most of the leading men in the great events
of the early part of this century. Niebuhr, in the passage which I
allude to, [Roman History, vol. v. p. 17.] after referring to the
military "blunders" of Mithridates, Frederick the Great, Napoleon,
Pyrrhus, and Hannibal, uses these remarkable words, "The Duke of
Wellington is, I believe, the only general in whose conduct of war we
cannot discover any important mistake." Not that it is to be supposed
that the Duke's merits were simply of a negative order, or that he was
merely a cautious, phlegmatic general fit only for defensive warfare,
as some recent French historians have described him. On the contrary,
he was bold even to audacity when boldness was required. "The intrepid
advance and fight at Assaye, the crossing of the Douro, and the movement
on Talavera in 1809, the advance to Madrid and Burgos in 1812, the
actions before Bayonne in 1813, and the desperate stand made at Waterloo
itself, when more tamely-prudent generals would have retreated beyond
Brussels, place this beyond a doubt." [See the admirable parallel of
Wellington and Marlborough at the end of Sir Archibald Alison's "Life of
the Duke of Marlborough." Sir Archibald justly considers Wellington the
more daring general of the two.]

The overthrow of the French military power at Waterloo was so complete,
that the subsequent events of the brief campaign have little interest.
Lamartine truly says: "This defeat left nothing undecided in future
events, for victory had given judgment. The war began and ended in a
single battle." Napoleon himself recognised instantly and fully the
deadly nature of the blow which had been dealt to his empire. In his
flight from the battle-field he first halted at Charleroi, but the
approach of the pursuing Prussians drove him thence before he had rested
there an hour. With difficulty getting clear of the wrecks of his own
army, he reached Philippeville, where he remained a few hours, and sent
orders to the French generals in the various extremities of France to
converge with their troops upon Paris. He ordered Soult to collect
the fugitives of his own force, and lead them to Laon. He then hurried
forward to Paris, and reached his capital before the news of his own
defeat. But the stern truth soon transpired. At the demand of the
Chambers of Peers and Representatives, he abandoned the throne by a
second and final abdication on the 22d of June. On the 29th of June he
left the neighbourhood of Paris, and proceeded to Rochefort in the hope
of escaping to America; but the coast was strictly watched, and on the
15th of July the ex-emperor surrendered himself on board of the English
man-of-war the Bellerophon.

Meanwhile the allied armies had advanced steadily upon Paris, driving
before them Grouchy's corps, and the scanty force which Soult had
succeeded in rallying at Laon. Cambray, Peronne, and other fortresses
were speedily captured; and by the 29th of June the invaders were taking
their positions in front of Paris. The Provisional Government, which
acted in the French capital after the Emperor's abdication, opened
negotiations with the allied chiefs. Blucher, in his quenchless hatred
of the French, was eager to reject all proposals for a suspension of
hostilities, and to assault and storm the city. But the sager and
calmer spirit of Wellington prevailed over his colleague; the entreated
armistice was granted; and on the 3d of July the capitulation of Paris
terminated the War of the Battle of Waterloo.

In closing our observations on this the last of the Decisive Battles of
the World, it is pleasing to contrast the year which it signalized with
the year that is now [Written in June 1851.] passing over our heads. We
have not (and long may we be without) the stern excitement of martial
strife, and we see no captive standards of our European neighbours
brought in triumph to our shrines. But we behold an infinitely prouder
spectacle. We see the banners of every civilized nation waving over the
arena of our competition with each other, in the arts that minister
to our race's support and happiness, and not to its suffering and

     "Peace hath her victories
      No less renowned than War;"

and no battle-field ever witnessed a victory more noble than that which
England, under her Sovereign Lady and her Royal Prince, is now teaching
the peoples of the earth to achieve over selfish prejudices and
international feuds, in the great cause of the general promotion of the
industry and welfare of mankind.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo" ***

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