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Title: The Adventures of Captain John Patterson with Notices of The Officers &c. of the 50th or Queen's Own Regiment from 1807 to 1821
Author: Patterson, J. H. (John Henry)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Words printed in italics are marked with underlines: _italics_.



THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN JOHN PATTERSON,

WITH NOTICES OF THE OFFICERS, &c. OF THE 50th,
OR
QUEEN'S OWN REGIMENT, FROM 1807 TO 1821.


LONDON:
T. & W. BOONE, 29, NEW BOND STREET.

1837.

T. C. NEWBY, PRINTER, BURY ST. EDMUND'S.



TO

THE QUEEN'S

MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.


MADAM,

Encouraged by the very flattering manner in which your Majesty
condescended to present the 50th with the Colours which they now
carry, as well as by a high sense of the honour conferred upon the
Regiment when they were styled the "Queen's Own," I have presumed to
dedicate to your Majesty this feeble record of their services during
the late War.

I am fully assured that in whatever quarter of the globe their colours
may be displayed, it will be to gain new honours in the field, and
that, therefore, the Regiment will ever maintain that place in your
Majesty's favour, which they have had the singular good fortune to
acquire.

  I have the honour to be, Madam,
    Your Majesty's most obedient,
      and very faithful Subject,
        JOHN PATTERSON,
          CAPTAIN,
  Late of the 50th, or Queen's Own Regiment.

  _Liverpool,
  25th October, 1836._



TABLE OF CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

The Author's motives. His entrance into military life. Sketches of
officers. Lieutenant Colonel Stewart. Lieutenant Colonel White. A
harassing march. Changes of name in the 50th regiment. Arrival at
Portsmouth. The embarkation.


CHAPTER II.

The expedition under sail. Rough weather in the Bay of Biscay.
Christmas festivities prevented. The expedition is compelled to put
back. The troops are relanded. The expedition sails again. Its arrival
at Gibraltar. Motley population of the place. The library. Excessive
heat of the climate. Sluggishness of promotion. The expedition arrives
at Cadiz. Dull cruize. Spanish attack on the French fleet. Visit to
Cadiz.


CHAPTER III.

Campaign in Portugal. Arrival at Mondego Bay. A cool disembarkation.
Bustle of encamping. Skirmish at Obidos. Action at Roliça. Death of
Colonel Lake. March of the army towards Vimeiro. Junot's contempt of
the British. Battle of Vimeiro. The British troops resolve to gain
abundant laurels. Appearance of the country. Death of Colonel Coote.
French attack repulsed. Spirit of a Highland piper. Rout of the
French. Relics left behind by them. Death of Colonel Taylor. Bivouac
after the battle. Convention of Cintra.


CHAPTER IV.

March to Lisbon. Enthusiastic reception of the English army. Danger of
night rambles. Encampment at Monte Santo. The army marches towards the
frontier. Santarem. A domestic occupation. Bad quarters. Pleasant life
of a soldier. Description of troops on their march. Bustling second
Majors. March of the army resumed. Picturesque scenes on the Tagus.
Kindness of Major Napier. Ravages committed by the French. Difficulty
of communicating with the natives. Signs substituted for speech.
Hospitality at Guarda. Inhospitality at Ciudad Rodrigo. Arrival at
Salamanca. Friendly conduct of the inhabitants.


CHAPTER V.

March to Salamanca. Sir David Baird. Passage of the Esla. Merit of the
camp females. Halt at Lugo. Short commons. Suffering from want of
sleep. Lieutenant McCarthy. Inclemency of the weather. Exertions of
Sir David Baird. Distribution of shoes. Odd fits. Scarcity of
provisions. Dough boys. Delights and disappointments of tea-drinking.
Destruction of the money-chests. Wretched situation of the women and
children. Tattered clothing. A dandy in spite of all obstacles.
Bravery of the rear guard. Stupidity of the peasants. Corunna in
sight.


CHAPTER VI.

The troops at Corunna. Alarming explosion of a powder magazine. The
brigade takes up a position near Corunna. Admirable conduct of Sir
John Moore. Positions of the hostile armies. French clamours in the
field. The outposts are attacked. Bravery of Major Napier. Captain
Clunes. New mode of dislodging French soldiers. Cookery spoiled. Major
Napier is wounded and made prisoner. Death of Major Stanhope, and of
other officers. A presentiment. Preparations to embark. Burial of
Major Stanhope. Embarkation of the army. Anger of Soult. Loss of the
Mary transport ship. Departure from Spain.


CHAPTER VII.

Quarters at Braborne Lees. Removal to Ashford. Character of the 85th
and 68th regiments. Quarters at Ashford. Hauteur of the Ashfordians.
Quarters at Reading Street. Officers ordered to the Isle of Wight.
Ludicrous journey thither. The troops embark for Walcheren. The troops
disembark near Camp Vere. Desolate appearance of Flushing after its
surrender. Sufferings of the inhabitants. The marsh fever breaks out.
Mortality caused by it. Kindness of the Dutch. Visit to Middleburgh.
Cleanness and neatness of the town. Apathy of the Dutch. Singular
sleeping arrangement. The troops embark for England. They go into
quarters. Porchester castle. Albany barracks. Visit of the Author to
Ireland. Quarters at East Bourne.


CHAPTER VIII.

The 1st battalion is ordered to Portugal. Lord Balgonie. Arrival at
Lisbon. March to Abrantes. Bad quarters at Abrantes. Halt at Garvao. A
family at Gafete. Bugs left as a legacy by the French. Situation of
Portalegre. The grand Cathedral. Seclusion of the fair sex at
Portalegre. Encampment on the heights of Torre de Moro. Camp comforts.
Arrival at Borba. Beauty of the country round Borba. Delightful garden
of Don Juan de Almeida. Style of building at Borba. Nunnery of St.
Clara. The Capuchin convent. Jollity of the Monks. The Convent
Kitchen. Return to Portalegre. Terrible fatigue endured. Death of
Ensign Hay. Wretched Winter Quarters. The crabbed Donna Elvira and her
gloomy abode.


CHAPTER IX.

General Hill is despatched to surprise General Girard's corps. The
heights of Alegrete. The division encounters a furious storm. Halt at
Codiceira. Kindness of the hostess. Superciliousness of the dragoon
officers. Offensive and absurd superiority assumed by a dragoon
colonel. Folly of such conduct. Anecdote of a dandy officer. "Blanket
merchants." The town of Albuquerque. Appearance of the women at
Malpartida. Miseries of a bivouac on a rainy night. Arrival at Arroyo
del Molino. The enemy is defeated. Arrival at Merida. Ruined state of
the town. Bridge over the Guadiana. Description of Campo Mayor.
Charnel house. Quarters at Campo Mayor.


CHAPTER X.

Quarters at Albuquerque and Portalegre. House in which the Author was
quartered. March to Don Benito. Family of Don Diego Ramirez. Style of
living. The second division sent to the neighbourhood of Badajos. The
author visits Badajos. Difficulty of approach. Description of the
defences of the breaches. Enormities committed after the storming of
the place. Bravery of Lieut. McCarthy.


CHAPTER XI.

Arrival at Truxillo. A force detached to reduce the Forts of Almaraz.
Solitariness of the march. Arrangements for the attack. Hot fire from
the enemy. Obstinate defence of Fort Napoleon. Death of Captain Robert
Candler. The Fort is carried by storm. Bravery and fall of Clarimont,
the governor. The tête du pont is carried by the Highlanders. Fort
Ragusa is abandoned by the garrison. Lieut. Thiele is blown up. Loss
sustained by the two victors. The two Irish brothers, Larry and Pat
Egan. Repast after the success.


CHAPTER XII.

The troops return to Truxillo. Description of Truxillo. The Pizarro
palace. A paltry bull-fight. March to Fuentes del Maestro. Quarters at
Don Benito. Kindness of the inhabitants. Wedding at Don Benito. The
bride and bridegroom described. Assemblies in the town. Dress of the
ladies. Departure from Don Benito. March to Villa Mercia. Sad want of
fuel. The bullock-cart. Sierra de Santa Cruz. Banditti-like shepherds.
The troops march to Toledo. Warm reception given to them by the
inhabitants. Situation of Toledo. Magnificence of the cathedral.
Skeleton of St. Ursula. Beautiful paintings. The largest bell in
Europe. Persons and dress of the ladies of Toledo. Dress of the men.
Departure from Toledo. Bivouac on the banks of the Tagus. Tedious road
to Aranjuez. Arrival at Aranjuez. Ravages committed by the French. The
queen's palace. Gardens and groves of the place.


CHAPTER XIII.

Excursion to Madrid with a brother officer. The travellers lose their
way. A surly Don refuses admission. They arrive at Villa Conejo. The
inhabitants of the valleys are often robbers. Sinister countenances of
some of the villagers. The travellers at last obtain a shelter. They
enter Madrid. A troublesome Alcalde. Our host in love. Custom of
separating males from females in the Spanish theatres. Riotous conduct
of the audience in the pit. Blundering actors. An ill-looking
prompter. Gaiety of the people of Madrid. La China and the Retiro.
Palace of Godoy. Distress in Madrid. Difficulty of obtaining admission
into the houses in Madrid.


CHAPTER XIV.

The travellers return to Aranjuez. March of the army towards Madrid.
Halt at the Escurial. Situation of the Palace. Enormous magnitude of
the building. The army proceeds on its march. Description of the pass
of Guadarama. Sculpture in the pass. The army halts at Alba de Tormes.
it moves on towards the Aripiles. Sufferings from the weather during
the march. Difficulty of procuring subsistence and fire. A pig-hunt.
Halt at Robledo. Arrival at Coria. Noisy belles and corpulent monks.
Priest's wine. Ugliness of the females of Coria. Death of General
Stewart, and Brigadier General Wilson. Description of the Belem
Rangers.


CHAPTER XV.

March of the regiment to Monte Hermosa. Banditti in the neighbourhood.
Journey to Placentia. Description of the party. Forest of Carcaboso.
The author arrives at Placentia. He is quartered at the house of
Francisco Barona. His host's wife and her lover. Return from
Placentia. Fears of some of the travellers. Peasantry of Monte Hermosa
described. Amusements of the Villagers. Inharmonious music and heavy
dancing.


CHAPTER XVI.

March from Villa Hermosa. Bridge at Gihon. Halt at La Sacita. The
author is quartered at the house of Bernardo Lopez. Hospitality of his
host. The march resumed. Puerto de Banos. Arrival at Bejar. Warm
reception given to the troops. Fears entertained of the French.
Situation of Bejar. The troops are kept constantly on the alert. Hard
duty. Assemblies and dances. Conduct of the Dons in the ball-room.
Palace of the Duke of Ossuna. Name-day entertainments. The Carnival
at Bejar. The Rabo. The Pillijo. The priests fond of gambling. Wool
carding. Idleness of the men. Tertullias. General Foy attacks Bejar. He
is defeated. Gratitude of the inhabitants of Bejar.


CHAPTER XVII.

The regiment quits Bejar. March through the Valley of the Ebro. Halt
at La Puebla. Orders given to prepare for action. Battle of Vittoria.
Hungry condition of the British troops. Colonel Cadogan is killed. His
character. Birds'-eye view of the battle-field. Ruse de guerre of the
French. Pathetic recognition of a slain brother. Close of the battle.
Flight of the French. Vexation of a Scotch economical officer. Night
bivouac.


CHAPTER XVIII.

March to Pampeluna. A storm in the Pyrenees. Lieut. Masterman killed
by lightning. Movements on the enemy's flanks. Beauty of the Vale of
Bastan. Halt of the army near Elisonda. Marshal Soult resolves to
regain his lost ground. Another storm in the Pyrenees. Advance of the
French against the British. The British outposts are driven in.
Destructive fire of the Riflemen. Several officers are killed. Cool
courage of Lieut. Brown. Bravery of Colonel O'Callaghan. Daring
conduct of the French Officers. Colonel Hill severely wounded. The
British are forced to retire. The French Riflemen again. Lieut.
Birchall killed. Successful charge on the French. Killed and wounded
officers. The battle terminates in favour of the British.


CHAPTER XIX.

The Author is wounded in the battle of the Pyrenees. He is sent to the
hospital station at Vittoria. Motley group of the wounded. The Author
is quartered on a partisan of the French. Lieutenant Pattison. Captain
Gough. Vittoria and its vicinity. Melancholy fate of Captain Gore.
Celebration of a great festival at Vittoria. Ludicrous antics of the
townspeople. The Author sets out for Bilboa. Apparently cannibal
innkeeper at Tolosa. Arrival at Bilboa. The Author embarks for
England. Singular entrance to the port where he embarked. He lands at
Plymouth.


CHAPTER XX.

Exploits of the 50th regiment subsequent to the Author's leaving
Spain. Action at Aire. Death of Lieutenant D. McDonald. Good fortune
of Lieutenant Colonel Harrison. Officers killed and wounded in the
campaign of 1814. Estimate of the relative merit of the soldiery of
various countries. Of the English. Of the Scotch. Of the Irish. Of the
Germans. Characters of Captain Philip Blassiere.


CHAPTER XXI.

The 50th regiment in quarters at Aughnacloy. It removes to
Enniskillen. Recruiting quarters at Londonderry. Still hunting.
Disgusting nature of that service. Stratagems of the illicit
distillers. Pursuit of outlaws and robbers. Magennis, a noted villain.
He eludes all pursuit. Lieutenant Plunkett resolves to apprehend him.
Notice of Lieutenant Plunkett's military career. He succeeds in
seizing Magennis. The informer is murdered.


CHAPTER XXII.

The Author is ordered to join the regiment in the West Indies. He
embarks at Cove. Uncomfortable state of the sleeping berths. Pleasant
society on board. The pilot is charged with numerous farewells. Sea
sickness. No compassion felt for its victims. Amusing talents of Mr.
Charles. Disasters at dinner and tea in the Bay of Biscay. Approach to
Madeira. Preparations for warm weather. Attack on the turtle. Jeopardy
of the assailants. Palma and Teneriffe in sight. Attempted suicide of
a soldier. Beauty of the nights. Dancing and singing on board.
Crossing the Line. Consequences of the excesses connected with this
mummery. Land in sight. Arrival at Jamaica. A black pilot. Prying
visitors from the shore.


CHAPTER XXIII.

Visit to Port Royal. Tavern there. Description of Port Royal. The
Author lands at Kingston. He proceeds to Up-Park Camp. Terrible
mortality among the troops. Death of Colonel Hill. His character.
Picturesque situation of Up-Park Camp. Its extreme insalubrity. Duties
in camp. Black female pedlars. Second breakfast. Cricket. Evening
Parade. Dinner. Insufferable heat of mid-day. Injurious effect of the
night dews. Excessive thirst and excessive drinking. A singular idea
of a fine country. Danger of being exposed to the heavy rains. Death
of Lieut. Richardson. Shipwreck and death of Mrs. Ross. Description of
Kingston. Extortionate conduct of the Hotel-keepers. Character of the
Kingston ladies. Their extreme love of dancing. Drowsiness and apathy
of the males. Unhealthiness of Spanish Town.


CHAPTER XXIV.

The author embarks for England. Course of the vessel. Sharks not
palatable food. A visit from a Buenos Ayres privateer. Rough weather.
A northwester hurricane. Its terrific appearance and effects. Misery
below deck. Meritorious conduct of Mr. Grant, the Mate. He is swept
away by a billow. The hurricane ceases. Vigorous attack on the
breakfast. Passengers in the vessel. One of them is sickly; another is
crack-brained. Misfortunes encountered by the latter. The Author lands
at Deal.



ERRATA.


  Page   6, 8 lines from bottom, for "queses," read "cues."

        12, 5 lines from bottom, for "groops," read "groupes."

        40, 2 lines from bottom, for "60th," read "50th."

        46, 12 lines from bottom, for "among wood," read "among the
               wood."

        48, In the list of killed, &c. at Vimeiro, instead of the
               passage printed, read "Capt. A. G. Coote, killed;
               Major Charles Hill, and Lieutenant J. N. Wilson,
               wounded."

        69, 4 lines from bottom, for "blackening," read "blanching."

       135, 9 lines from bottom, for "throgout," read "throughout."

       149, 4 lines from bottom, for "Caja," read "Caio."

       192, 5 lines from top, for "wood," read "mood."

       199, 6 lines from bottom, for "Chandler," read "Candler."

       203, 4 lines from bottom, for "Thril," read "Thiele."

       221, 6 lines from bottom, for "mach," read "march."

       265, 2 lines from top, for "firm," read "fine."

       314, 2 lines from bottom, for "70th," read "71st."

       344, 11 lines from bottom, for "Settimo," read "Septimo."

       352, 5 lines from top, for "Lieutenant General Bartley,
               Lieutenant General Power," read "Lieutenant
               George Bartley, Lieutenant Power."

       352, at the top, for "Lieutenant and Adjutant D. McDonald,"
               read "Lieutenant Duncan McDonald."

       389, 3 lines from top, instead of "to behold with what vanity
               as well as delight not a few," should read, "to behold
               with what delight as well as vanity not a few."

       390, 2 lines from bottom, for "Wailey," read "Warley."



ADVENTURES.



CHAPTER I.


It seems to be a general custom for the retired soldier, after he has
sheathed his now harmless blade, to wield the pen, and, looking back
upon his past campaigns, deliver "a round unvarnished tale." I have no
wish to be singular, by making myself an exception to the rule; on the
contrary, I am rather desirous of appearing on the list of those who
fight their battles o'er again. I shall, therefore, as a young
recruit, take part among the troop of scribblers; and, without any
unnecessary preamble, assign one reason for my embarking in the cause.

Among the various military narratives, written to edify the world,
nothing has yet transpired regarding the old Fiftieth; not a single
champion has been bold enough to step forward, and say a word or two
in favour of that corps. Now, as the battalion, whenever the pebbles
were flying about, was never in the back ground, there can be no
excuse for silence upon the subject. Moreover, the high esteem in
which I hold the companions of many a hard fought day prompts me to
offer this feeble record of their services, so far as I have witnessed
them; and, at the same time, to endeavour to rescue from oblivion, the
memory of those brave men, who fell for their country. It perhaps may
be asserted, that the interest in all such matters is now gone by, and
that it is a hackneyed, dry, and threadbare theme; but I must beg
leave to differ from those sapient persons, who perchance may
entertain this notion.

The scenes in this eventful war were ever changing; each performer ran
a career as varied as the clime or country through which he travelled;
in fact, so diversified were the circumstances, that if every
individual from the drum-boy upwards, were to write his own
adventures, I am well convinced, the story would not be wholly devoid
of interest, because it would at least have novelty to recommend it.

As for the movements and operations of the army, in the Spanish
peninsula, they have been already well described by Colonel Napier;
and therefore I consider that any account, even from the most talented
pen, would be superfluous, after the details which have been so
clearly given by that able historian.

The hurried nature of our service rendered it impossible for us to see
beyond the surface. We were scarcely ever allowed to remain more than
a day or two, in any town worthy particular notice. The woods and
wilds were generally the places of our habitation. From this cause,
description will necessarily be meagre, and little more than an
unfinished sketch, or outline, can be looked for. I shall confine
myself to things that fell within the range of personal observation,
many of which were noted down in a journal at the time; and in doing
so I may hope to introduce some gleanings, not wholly worthless, that
may have escaped the cognizance of others more experienced, and who
even were long before me in the field. If the general reader should
deem my preliminary matter to be of minor importance, I must beg to
remind him, that there are many veterans to whom it will appear in a
different light; and I must solicit his patience till I can lead him
into more stirring scenes.

Having, in August 1807, received a commission in his Majesty's 50th,
or West Kent regiment, I joined the 2nd battalion of that corps,
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Stewart, at Deal barracks, on
the 17th of the following month. It was composed chiefly of young
recruits and of volunteers from the English Militia, and was
undergoing a strict course of drill; the whole of the officers and men
being diligently employed in practising the manual and platoon
exercise, marching, countermarching, and the balance step.

Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart, who had lately been promoted from the
53rd, in which he had served for some years, was an old and very
distinguished officer, having encountered the vicissitudes of war, in
almost every quarter into which the British arms were carried. In the
East Indies, while present at the siege of Seringapatam, as Captain of
the 71st Highlanders, he bore a conspicuous part, when leading his
company to the assault of that fortress, in which he was severely
wounded. He was a hardy Northern, skilled in martial science, and was
as eminent in those qualities which are required for training up the
young battalion as for those which are displayed in manoeuvring the
more experienced in the field. His hoary locks, well blanched by many
a hard campaign, indicated the length of service to which his best
days had been devoted, while his penetrating expression of countenance
indicated the active mind, and the abilities, by which he was so
highly distinguished.

In the adjoining barrack lay the 29th or Worcestershire regiment,
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel White. It had lately returned
from Halifax, where it had been stationed for many years.--Being in
preparation for active employment, it was now passing through the
usual ordeal of drill and ball practise; and consequently the
interminable sounds of drums, and bugles, the monotonous din of the
drill serjeants' "as you were," accompanied by the clamour from the
Adjutants' stentorian lungs, were continually wringing in our ears.

The 29th was a fine regiment, although it had been trained up after
the manner of the old school. Their Lieutenant-Colonel, a gallant
veteran,[1] shewing the example, made his officers dress with cocked
hat square to the front, long queses, and wide skirted coats, fastened
or looped back with hook and eye--They had rather too much of the
antique about them, and were considerably improved by getting into a
more modern style of costume.

          [1] This fine old officer was killed at the battle of
          Talavera, while nobly leading his regiment to the charge.

We were enlivened by their excellent band; and their corps of black
drummers cut a fierce and remarkable appearance, while hammering away
on their brass drums. This regiment, when complete, was sent to
Portugal, where by its good conduct it acquired as large a share of
laurels as any other in the Peninsular army.

The 2nd battalion of the 50th marched, on the 8th of October, 1807, to
the town of Ashford in Kent, at which place we had excellent
accommodation and good barracks.

An order soon after arrived for a draught, consisting of one Captain,
two Subalterns, and 150 men, to proceed forthwith to join the 1st
battalion, then on its route to Portsmouth. The detachment left
Ashford on the 16th of November, under the command of Captain H. I.
Phelps.[2]

          [2] Captain Phelps, was shortly after exchanged into the
          80th and consequently was not among the number who embarked
          with the 1st battalion.

The 1st battalion of the 50th, or West Kent regiment, commanded by
Lieutenant-Colonel George Townsend Walker, was, at that time, above a
thousand strong, having been completed by men from the second
battalion, on its return from the expedition to Copenhagen. In
addition to the old hands, they obtained a full supply of young active
fellows, who had volunteered from the English Militia,--the whole,
officers as well as privates, were in good health and spirits, elated
with the prospect of active service, and looking forward to new
adventures as well as to encountering the enemy in the field. But it
was not alone by numerical strength or physical power that the 50th
was likely to be formidable. There was likewise an "esprit de corps,"
a high tone of feeling among them, producing a moral force not easily
to be overcome.

When, after a long and harassing route, on a dismal wintry day in
October, the men marched up the main street in Hythe covered with mud,
drenched with rain, their clothing and accoutrements tarnished, their
black facings in good keeping with their dingy costume, they certainly
looked more like a band of demons than human beings, and realized, on
this occasion at least, their ancient pet appellation of the 'dirty
half hundred.'

The 50th has undergone several changes of name, both serious and
ludicrous. At the period of which we are writing, it was the West Kent
regiment. When, after its return from the West Indies, in 1827, it
received a new set of colours, at Portsmouth, from the hands of Queen
Adelaide, (then Duchess of Clarence) it became the 'Duke of
Clarence's.' On our present gracious sovereign's accession to the
throne it was made a royal regiment, and obtained the honor of being
styled the 'Queen's Own,' which is its present name. Among military
men, it has been known by various jocose titles; at one time it was
called the 'Mediterranean Greys,' from its having been so long on that
station that the locks of men and officers had assumed a grisly hue.
It was, at another period, named the 'Blind Half Hundred,' from being
so much afflicted with the ophthalmia in Egypt. The 'Old Black Cuffs,'
and the 'Dirty Half Hundred,' from the dingy colour of the facings,
are still favourite appellations.--But let us resume our march.

We arrived at Portsmouth on the 26th of November, 1807, having had a
toilsome march of ten days; the roads were bad, and the weather was
unusually cold and wet; so that we did not make a very respectable or
beautiful figure, upon our entrance into that garrison, any more than
we did at our exhibition in Hythe. The object of our coming to
Portsmouth, was to form a portion of an expedition which was to
assemble at this place of rendezvous, preparatory to its embarkation
for a destined quarter, to what part of the world it was to direct its
course was, however, as yet unknown to the troops who were to be
engaged in it.

The force to be employed on this secret enterprise consisted of the
following regiments, viz.:--

The 29th regiment, Lieut.-Col. White.

The 32nd regiment, Lieut.-Col. S. V. Hinde.

The 50th regiment, Lieut.-Col. G. T. Walker.

The 82nd regiment, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Smith.

The Armament was to be under the orders of Major General Sir Brent
Spencer, an officer of well-tried experience, and merit, who had
signalized himself on many occasions, and particularly when leading
forward the old 40th on the sands of Egypt. With such a gallant chief
at our head, followed by such troops, we could not fail to be inspired
with confidence, that to whatever quarter the expedition might be
bound, success would inevitably attend upon our arms.

Previous to our going on board, a limited number of women were allowed
to accompany the regiment, and lots were cast in order to decide this
very delicate affair.--It was most affecting to witness the distress
of those whose fate it was to remain behind, and the despair that was
pictured on the countenances of the unhappy creatures was truly
pitiable.--Many of them young, helpless, and unprotected, were forced
to wander back to their own country, pennyless, and broken-hearted,
and to all intents and purposes left in a widowed state, for few of
them were fated ever to behold their husbands again.

The moment of separation was a painful one, and was calculated not
only to touch the hearts of the most indifferent observer, but to
affect most deeply those who, while they felt for the mourners, had no
power to mitigate their sorrows.

The embarkation took place on the 17th of December. The troops were
assembled on that spot, well known by the name of Portsmouth point, a
place which, albeit it possesses but a scanty portion of the
picturesque, even now furnished with a goodly display of animated
nature, and covered with groups of motley garb and colour, consisting
of all the rank, beauty and fashion of that very polite and elegant
quarter of the town, drawn hither from their saloons, to witness the
departure of the soldiers.



CHAPTER II.


The whole of the troops being on board, the fleet got under way, from
Spithead, with a fine breeze from the E.N.E. and stood down channel
for the westward.

The transports fitted up for our reception, were small vessels of such
old and crazy materials, that in this wintry season, we did not expect
they would long remain sea-worthy. However as we were now commencing
the uphill work of a soldier's life, our minds were fully made up to
rough it in every sense of the word; and, although appearances were
not flattering, our feelings were in unison with the motto on our
breast-plate, (quo fata vócant) and we were buoyed up with the hopes
of a prosperous issue to our undertaking.

Captain Bentley's company, (to which I belonged) was stowed in the
brig Alexander; she was an old tub, battered and knocked about by many
a gale, and in her look and trim was by no means inviting.

The skipper, Captain Young, a tall, hard-featured seaman, with a
countenance well bronzed by exposure to the N.W. wind, was positive
and irritable to an extreme degree, and if a landsman presumed to
offer any remark, as to the affairs of his beautiful ship, Old
_Young_, was quite indignant.

We were fortunate in getting Bentley for a shipmate, as he was a kind
good tempered man, and a lively companion.

The paymaster, John Montgomery, with his wife and family, were also
of our party; so that on the whole, we in the Alexander were as well
off with respect to society, as any of our neighbours. Montgomery was
a plain, good-natured Irishman, fond of social life, and being a man
of experience, having spent most of his days in the regiment, he was
an acquisition, which ultimately proved valuable to us. His eldest
daughter, an animated sensible girl, contributed with two younger
sisters to our happiness; and, making due allowance for the state of
things around, we had as large a share of enjoyment, (if such a word
can be used with reference to being in a ship), as under the
circumstances could reasonably be expected.

The fleet was soon clear of the channel, bearing on a S.W. course,
under a heavy press of canvass, before a fair wind.--The appearance of
the clouds and atmosphere was unfavourable, and the huge unwieldy
porpoises, rolling about their shapeless forms, together with the
screaming of mother Cary's chickens, were to the experienced mariners
certain indications of a coming storm. Their evil prognostics were
soon realized; for, on approaching the Bay of Biscay, we were driven
and tossed about, by one of the most violent tempests that had occurred
for many years.--It began on Christmas day. Resolving to enjoy, though
in a humble way, the good cheer of the festive season, we had
previously provided for the occasion a fat goose, and other savoury
things; but, alas, our promised joys proved deceptive; they all
vanished, and were replaced by sorrow and disappointment, for the
relentless gale denied all possibility of comfort! Poor blacky, in
his caboose, was rendered inconsolable, he being unable to dress the
aforesaid goose, as the spray, beating in, had quenched the last spark
of his culinary fire. The ship reeled and pitched with such tremendous
force, that it was not without some trouble we could discuss the
merits of a cold bone of junk with hard biscuit, while we lay
sprawling and floundering on the wretched cabin floor. The dead-lights
having been previously fixed to the stern windows, there remained but
the flickering and moody glare of a yellow dirty looking luminary,
y'clept a lamp, which, as it swung from the sky-light grating,
afforded a glimmering just sufficient to make darkness visible, and
disclose to our visual organs a scene emphatically dismal.

Such was the commencement of our calamitous voyage, and in this way
did we get on, from bad to worse, each day more woeful than the
preceding; until at length, after beating about this Bay of Misery,
against a strong head sea, and with a hurricane in our teeth, it was
thought advisable to fight no longer with the elements; the signal was
therefore made from the Commodore, to tack about, and make sail for
England.--Obeying this welcome signal with alacrity, we found
ourselves going homewards before the wind, at the rate of from ten to
twelve knots an hour, after having been exposed to its dreadful
violence for the space of ten days, in the most terrific sea that any
unfortunate bark had ever ploughed.

At this time, as we looked across the foaming waste, the view was wild
and dreary; amidst the atmosphere of darkness, clouds and mist, the
scattered vessels might be occasionally discerned, as the fog
dispersed, tossed about at the merciless fury of the waves; some
dismantled, others on their beam ends. The wrecks of those that
unhappily had foundered were floating here and there, while the loud
and fearful moaning of the tempest increased the horrors of the scene.

After five days of rapid sailing, the Alexander, with a few more
ships, arrived at Plymouth. The remainder of the convoy took refuge in
various harbours, along the coast, and by the 5th of January they were
all safe at anchor, in the several ports which with so much difficulty
they made. On the 15th we sailed for Falmouth, when permission was
granted for the men to land in detachments, in order that they might
stretch their limbs after their long confinement[3].

          [3] Before our departure from Falmouth our society was
          unfortunately deprived of Captain Bentley, who remained to
          effect an exchange. He was, for a considerable time, staff
          Captain at Chatham, and was promoted to the rank of Major,
          when he was appointed to the 16th foot, stationed at Ceylon.
          He died soon after this, justly lamented by all his friends
          and comrades.

          Bentley was succeeded, in the Alexander, by Captain Richard
          Stowe, a weather-beaten veteran, upon whose visage time, and
          hard service, had imprinted numerous deep and indelible
          marks.

          Stowe exchanged into a West India regiment, before we landed
          in Portugal, and was taken off by fever in one of the
          Leeward Islands.

The weather having at length become settled, the fleet again got under
way, and, with a fine steady breeze from the East, soon cleared the
Lizard. Steering towards our friend old Biscay, of blustrous memory,
we speedily lost sight of the shores of Britain; but in a state of
circumstances far more auspicious than those under which we first
commenced our unfortunate career.

After a prosperous and very delightful voyage of seventeen days,
during which we had favourable and pleasant weather, we came to anchor
in the Bay of Gibraltar, when the troops were disembarked, and
occupied the barracks at Europa point, on the southern extremity of
the fortress.

The transport containing the flank companies and head quarters, under
Colonel Walker, had missed the convoy in the heavy gales of January,
and bore away to the Southward. After being driven about the
Mediterranean for some weeks, it was compelled to put into the harbour
of Messina, where it continued till intelligence was received of our
arrival at the rock. In a little time it joined us, and the regiment
was again re-assembled, and prepared for any service.

During our brief sojourn in this extraordinary place, which is too
well known to need any description here, we found many things to
interest us after the monotony of a voyage. The great number of
strange and curious looking personages, who figured in the streets,
with their varied, many-coloured, and grotesque costumes, made the
town appear as if there was a carnival or masquerade going forward,
and produced a very gay and ludicrous effect. There is, however, a
heavy drawback to the mirth which this motley population is calculated
to excite. The close suffocating atmosphere, the filthy state of the
houses, and other local circumstances, promote the reception of those
unwelcome visitors, plague, cholera, and yellow fever; which are still
further encouraged, if not engendered, by the uncleanly habits, and
abominable customs of the Turks, Jews, and other outlandish residents
of the town.

The Library, containing a numerous and splendid collection of books in
every language, forms a delightful source of amusement, as well as
profitable employment, to the officers, civil and military, who may
be stationed in the garrison.--Over the library is a magnificent
ball-room in which at all times there is a pretty good display of the
young and fair[4] rock-scorpions, together with passing visitors, and
warlike heroes, who have assembled to dispel that ennui which might
otherwise pervade their leisure hours.

          [4] A term applied to those who are born on the _Rock_.

The weather was excessively hot, the oppressive closeness of the air,
being increased by the reflection, from the rock, of a burning sun.
Were this not tempered by the occasional breeze, wafted from the
Mediterranean, the climate would be insufferable: tormented by flies,
mosquitos, and other insects, we had but little rest day or night, and
but for the constant occupation of the mind, combined with the
excitement caused by the variety and novelty of all about us, our
situation would have been any thing but agreeable in such a place,
which it would almost require the nature of a salamander to endure; a
nature not to be obtained except by the seasoning of a very long
residence.

Mounting guard one day at the New mole head, I was a witness of an
extraordinary interview which chanced to occur. Lieut. Frederick Baron
Meard, an old subaltern of the 50th, was upon the same duty, and,
being the senior, he turned out the guard to receive the visiting
field officer, then Major Wood, of the 32nd regiment; to his great
surprise the Major recognized Meard as the same individual who, some
years before, when in the West Indies, was the field officer of the
day, to whom the main guard presented arms, when he, (Major Wood),
commanded it, being at that period a Lieutenant in the 32nd.

To what corps Meard then belonged, I do not recollect, but his having
sold out and again commenced his military career, will account for
what may seem one of those strange vicissitudes to which men of the
military profession are liable.--Meard exchanged, while we lay at
Gibraltar, into a regiment in the West Indies, and soon after fell a
victim to the effects of that baneful climate. Major Cholmondly
Overend also returned from the Regiment at this place, having sold his
commission, and returned to England. Overend was a Yorkshireman,
advanced in years, and decidedly of the old school. Erect in stature,
and well made, with a good military expression, he retained still
enough to show that in his younger days, he must have been a handsome
man. Whether he is now in the land of the living I am unable to say.
The 50th, previous to the arrival of Colonel Walker, was under the
command of Major Charles Hill; of whom, as he was our leader
throughout a good part of the Peninsular War, I shall hereafter have
something more to relate.

On the 13th of May, 1808, the Expedition, under the orders of
Lieutenant General Sir Brent Spencer, sailed from the Bay of
Gibraltar, and on the following day arrived off Cadiz, where the fleet
remained till the 13th of June, from which period to the 27th of the
same month, it was cruizing about between Cape St. Vincent, Ayamonte
and Trafalgar point; this being the second time of its visiting the
coast in that quarter. Being appointed to do duty in Captain
Armstrong's Company, I embarked with that officer, together with
Ensign John Atkinson, and Quarter-Master Benjamin Baxter, on board of
a fine well-built transport, called the Rosina. Our voyage was passed
in a dull and listless manner, solely occupied as we were, for above
six weeks, in sailing along the coasts of Algarve and Andalusia, and
remaining in total ignorance of our final destination.--We were
becalmed for days under a broiling sun, occasionally running short of
water, and fresh provisions; and our state of uncertainty, as well as
hope deferred, was enough to exhaust the patience of the most enduring
mortals. Whenever the wind was favourable, or that we stood in close
to the land, the natives approached the ship, with boats well laden
with various articles, in the welcome shape of fruit, vegetables, or
fish, which they gladly disposed of at a moderate rate. These might
well be called luxuries, and formed an excellent accompaniment to our
salt junk, upon which we had been stall-fed so abundantly that, for
some time past, we had seldom any thing else for either breakfast,
dinner, or supper. Had it not been for Captain Armstrong, I know not
how we should have contrived to support a mode of existence, or rather
of vegetation, which was so thoroughly wearisome. Fortunately he was
an amusing companion, full of drollery and comic humour, and had,
moreover, a fund of good songs, so that he kept us all alive.

Hostilities between England and Spain having ceased, in consequence of
the invasion of the latter country by the French, preparations were
made, in the most vigorous manner, to co-operate with the Spanish and
Portuguese forces; and the British troops were accordingly held in
readiness to disembark on any part of the Peninsula to which they
might be ordered. General Spencer's Expedition, which was now destined
for immediate active service, composed a portion of that army which
first obtained a footing on the shores of Portugal, and which,
eventually, under the illustrious Wellington, performed such glorious
achievements in the field, driving the French Eagles before them, and
bearing the victorious colours of Britain from Lisbon to Toulouse.

Soon after we arrived off the road of Cadiz, the French fleet, lying
at anchor under the town, was summoned to surrender to the Spanish
flag. This request not being complied with, the natural result was a
general attack, made by the artillery on their shipping. The enemy was
resolved to maintain his quarters as long as he could fire a shot, and
therefore returned the salute, with all the heavy metal he could bring
to bear against the works, sending in a broadside, with such
tremendous effect as to rattle the tiled roofs about their ears and
otherwise deface the beauty of their buildings.

Lying so far in the offing, we could see nothing but a thick cloud of
smoke, rising above the calm surface of the bay;[5] the exhibition
going forward behind this curtain, was completely hidden from our
view. The cannonade, however, was audible enough, and its music sadly
tantalized our seamen in the fleet, who burned to lend a hand in an
affair which was so much to their taste. They had, nevertheless, quite
sufficient to employ their time, having to keep a pretty sharp look
out, in order to prevent the smallest craft of the adverse squadron
from slipping through their fingers.

          [5] While we lay off the bay, the governor, Solano, being
          suspected of adherence to the enemy, was barbarously
          murdered.

Throughout the whole of the day, a heavy fire was kept up against the
French vessels by the garrison, whose long continued volleys echoed
from the harbour. Compelled, at length, to strike their colours, the
French surrendered to the Dons, who, sheltered by their solid masonry,
had endured but trifling loss, and were entitled to no particular
praise for any bravery they might have manifested behind their
bulwarks.

On the 4th of July we got under way, and, sailing well up the harbour,
came to anchor a short distance from the Mole head, the ships of war
being moored across the entrance. The men were not permitted to land;
but the Officers had leave to pass a few hours on shore every day, and
within that limited space we were busy enough making a tour of
inspection, prying into every street, lane, and alley, not in search
of the picturesque, but of any thing else, that might lie in our way,
deserving notice from inquisitive travellers.

Cadiz is delightfully situated upon an islet, separated from the main
land by a narrow strait. It appeared a paradise to us, after the long
imprisonment we had suffered, from the time we left Gibraltar. The
citizens were highly gratified on seeing the English Officers, and
used every means in their power to evince their friendship and good
will, inviting us to their houses and entertaining us with liberality
and kindness. In the course of a few days the transports containing
the 50th were anchored near Port St. Mary's, a considerable town on
the opposite shore. Here the regiment was landed, and, after remaining
for one week, was again embarked. The fleet sailed on the 22nd, and we
steered once more towards Cape St. Vincent. Portugal was our
destination.

Before we left St. Mary's, I was removed to Captain Coote's company,
with which I went on board the Britannia, Captain Clarke. The other
officers of the cabin were Major Hill, Lieut. Birchall, Ensign
Atkinson, and Assistant Surgeon Coulson, who formed a pleasant,
convivial party, among whom good fellowship and social harmony
prevailed.



CHAPTER III.


Upon our arrival off Mondego Bay, in Portugal, we received orders to
disembark at the little village of Figueras, at the mouth of the
Mondego river, across which there was a dangerous surf and ground
swell. The passing of this obstacle we found to be a most hazardous
and difficult service. As soon as the Portuguese boats, crowded with
our soldiers, reached the foaming and rapid surge, a desperate pull
was made by all the rowers; when, dashing over its surface, we were
launched upon the strand in a most unceremonious manner, being
pitched, or rather tumbled out, more like a cargo of fish than a boat
load of gentlemen warriors. Bundled out upon the sandy beach, we lay
floundering, and drenched by the waves, like so many half drowned
wretches, who had lately escaped from Neptune's watery domains; and
were almost doubtful of our existence, as we scrambled high, though
not dry, upon the shore.--After this delightful immersion, and the
cold reception we had experienced, on our first appearance upon
the Lusitanian stage, we moved forward, with habiliments of war
effectually saturated by the briny element, and soon joined our
_companions of the bath_, already on the road. Most of us had been
provided with small knapsacks, holding our _kit_, together with the
haversack, and canteen, slung across the shoulder; of which the two
former, (including their contents,) were rendered totally unfit for
service, nothing being left for consolation but the brandy, or rum;
cordials which were well calculated, and by no means unnecessary, to
elevate our drooping spirits.

As soon as we recovered from the effects of our chilling ablutions, we
proceeded to the ground of encampment, and, although we were in a
sorry condition with regard to the outward man, the inward was
sustained by a hearty determination to bear up under privations alike
inevitable to all. The weather was beautifully fine; the roads, which
were in general good, led through a picturesque and richly cultivated
country. At the termination of each day's march, the troops were
halted in the neighbourhood of wood and water. The alignment being
taken up, and the arms piled in column, fires were immediately put in
requisition for cooking, and in a moment the clash and clang of
bill-hooks and pioneers' entrenching tools resounded on every side;
while the deep woods rang again with the clamour of ten thousand
tongues, and the harsh discordant sound of bugles, drums, and other
noisy accompaniments, producing, on the whole, a scene not unworthy of
Hogarth himself, who might have been aroused from the dead, to execute
the task of depicting it, had he been entombed within the precincts of
our turbulent camp.

Before daylight the army was up, and standing to their arms, formed in
open column, the reveille at the same time was sounded from right to
left, and echoed through the closely planted hills, giving to our
enemies in the front loud intimation of our near approach, and proving
that his newly arrived visitors were at all events on the alert, and
came early into the field.

As we moved onward, towards Lisbon, a skirmish took place at Obidos,
in which fell Lieutenant Bunbury, of the 95th Rifle corps; the first
British officer who was slain in the Peninsula. This was the prelude
to a more important action. Headed by General Laborde, the French took
post on the heights of Roriça, where they resisted with wonderful
obstinacy the combined attack of our troops. Nothing could surpass the
gallantry displayed by both parties, during the assault of this strong
position; and nothing but the courage of British soldiers could have
forced the enemy to withdraw. On our part, the noble conduct of the
old 9th and 29th regiments was conspicuous, those corps having, at the
point of the bayonet, carried the whole range of hills.

It was a lovely morning, the sun rose with a splendour never witnessed
in our cold latitudes, and every object seemed to smile upon our
operations, at the commencement of that struggle upon which depended
the slavery or freedom of a great nation.

The 50th, 45th, and 91st were brigaded together at this time, under
General I. Catlin Crawford[6], and these were drawn up on the road
leading to Roleia. From the arrangements made, we fully expected to
have had the post of honor, or rather the honor of driving the
adversary from his stronghold, and waited anxiously for the order to
advance; but presently, while we stood gazing about us, up comes the
29th regiment, which by their bold and decided pace gave evidence
plain enough that they were selected for the service, and, cheering
them with our wishes for their success, we could not avoid admiring
the style in which they moved along.

          [6] General Catlin Crawford was a tall, fine-looking man,
          with a fair complexion and sandy hair. He subsequently died
          of fever in Portugal.

          General Robert Crawford, his relation, a gallant officer,
          was killed at Ciudad Rodrigo.

The arrangements made by the French General Laborde for the defence of
his position were admirably planned, and his troops behaved with great
valour, contesting every inch of ground. Concealed within the close
brushwood, on each side of the narrow defile, they took steady and
deliberate aim, and their fire was attended with murderous effects.
The 29th, however, commanded by the gallant Colonel Lake[7], pressed
onward, to the gorge of the pass. While they were struggling up the
rugged and precipitous ascent they were exposed to a shower of balls,
and, in a few minutes, the grenadier company was nearly annihilated,
the chivalrous Lake falling mortally wounded at their head, while in
the act of bravely encouraging his men.

          [7] Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable George Augustus
          Frederick Lake was the son of General Lord Lake, and rose to
          high military rank at an early age. He was a man of noble
          aspect and commanding appearance. Mounted on a milk-white
          charger, he led his followers on with heroic bearing.

The regiment still pushed forward, although with the loss of many
other officers, and, forming on the summit of the eminence, was
supported by the 9th; these corps, followed by others in reserve,
gained possession of the heights. Beaten at all points, the enemy
moved off in good order; directing his march along the sea coast by
the roads to Vimeiro and Torres Vedras.

The 9th suffered considerably in this affair, and their commander,
Colonel Cameron, was killed at the first onset.

The allies marched rapidly in the footsteps of the flying enemy,
keeping him well in sight until they reached the hills surrounding the
village of Vimeiro, where they were formed, in order to protect the
debarkation of a reinforcement of men from England; which was then off
the coast. These troops landed at the small town of Maceira, and were
just in time for the ensuing combat, having opportunely joined before
our principal adversary thought proper to shew his face.

Junot, who was general in chief, held the British in much contempt,
and endeavoured to impress upon the minds of his followers, that their
antagonists were a set of raw campaigners, wholly devoid of military
skill. From the testimony of some deserters, who came into our lines,
we learned, that the Marshal intended, before many days were over, to
give us a dusting, and to brush the pipeclay out of our jackets. This
cavalier determination of the Marshal afforded no small amusement to
our soldiers, who promised themselves some good sport, whenever the
gasconading Frenchman might be pleased to make true his words: and,
not to be behindhand with him in kindness, they resolved gratefully to
return the compliment, by trimming the whiskers of his gallant
veterans, and powdering their mustachios, in so artist-like a manner,
that the aid of a friseur should no longer be required.

In this posture things remained until the 21st of August, when both
parties assembled to put in their claim to a portion of the honor and
glory which were to be won on that day. By which side the largest
share of those imperishable commodities was obtained, History has
already recorded.

At a very early hour, on the morning of the day already mentioned,
some random shots were heard in front of our piquets, which gave us
intimation that the French were on the move, and we doubted not that
they were about to assist our toilet in the way of brushing; in plain
English, it was clear enough that they had it in contemplation to try
our metal, and ascertain whether it was of a base kind or not. Under
these circumstances it was quite natural that we should anticipate
their wishes; and measures were accordingly taken to give them a warm
reception.

Very few of us were ever in action before, and as for the smell of
gunpowder, all our young hands were perfect griffins in that way. It
being our initiatory battle, our minds were under no small degree of
excitement. The idea of engaging in deadly strife with the soldiers of
Austerlitz and Jena inspired the ambitious hero, escaped from the
apron-string, with feelings of emulation well calculated to keep alive
the flame of military ardour; and each, screwing his courage to the
sticking place, resolved that he would be famed _for deeds of arms_,
and that his name should go down to posterity under an accumulated
weight of laurels.

The 43rd, (2nd battalion,) 50th, and 95th Rifle Corps were formed into
a light brigade, under the command of General (now Sir Henry) Fane,
and certainly I never beheld so fine a body of men; the 43rd, in
particular, were a most shewy set of fellows, a healthy collection of
John Bulls, hot from their own country, and equally hot for a slap at
the Frenchmen. The 95th, (now the Rifle Brigade,) was commanded by
Major Robert Travers[8], an officer whose bravery, on all occasions,
made him worthy of a place in that crack regiment. We were posted on
an eminence, to the right of the village; the 50th, being the junior
corps, was stationed in the centre, and consequently on the highest
part of the hill. From hence, as the day was fine, and the atmosphere
quite clear, we had a distinct view of all that was going forward in
the front, also a tolerably good prospect in every other direction.

          [8] Major Robert Travers was promoted to be Lieutenant
          Colonel of the 10th Foot, and subsequently became Major
          General by brevet. He settled at his native place, Cork,
          where he died, in consequence of a fall from his horse, in
          1835. He left a widow and very numerous family. One of his
          daughters, previously not unknown as a writer, has very
          recently distinguished herself by the "The MASCARENHAS;
          a Legend of the Portuguese in India;" an animated Romance,
          which displays great knowledge of character and power of
          description.

The country was overspread with vineyards, and, the vintage season
being at hand, nothing could be more beautiful than the luxuriant
foliage. Intermingled with the vines were chestnut and olive trees,
while in the parts more distant, were rich and closely planted woods,
forming a back-ground in good keeping with the whole of the splendid
landscape.

The plot began to thicken about 8 o'clock, when a brisk firing of
musketry, among the troops in advance, announced that it was high time
to reinforce the piquets, which were commanded by Captain Thomas
Snowe, of the 60th regiment. They were immediately strengthened by the
4th battalion company of that regiment, under Captain Coote. A sharp
discharge of small arms was kept up by a cloud of French riflemen,
who, gathering round under cover of the vines and cornfields, gave
their fire with a degree of activity that certainly did them credit.
Our men were at this time exposed in the open field, and scarcely knew
from what direction the enemy were coming; but though they were nearly
all young soldiers, unaccustomed to gunpowder, they behaved with a
degree of steadiness worthy of their corps. Snowe in the meanwhile,
with his party, which had extended to the right, was ordered to close
on either flank, to support the centre, when the principal attack was
made, and where the enemy, still pressing in, galled us with a
peppering that was rapidly thinning the ranks, and made our situation
by no means either cool or comfortable. With admirable presence of
mind, Coote directed his men to take advantage of every means of cover
the place afforded; and, encouraging them by his own example, they
kept their ground under a galling and destructive fire, from an enemy
whom they were unable to answer or even to see. At this trying moment,
while in the act of cheering his little band, and urging them to
behave with firmness and courage, a musket ball struck him in the
heart, and reeling back a few paces, he fell, and instantly expired.
His fall did not, however, dispirit his followers, on the contrary it
excited an indignant feeling, which prompted them to redouble their
exertions in order to avenge his death.

Arthur Gethin Coote was a native of the south of Ireland, and had
served in the 50th regiment for some years.--He was a military looking
man, strong, and well built, having dark features, and sharp
penetrating eyes.--He was somewhat stately in deportment, but withal a
daring soldier, steady and collected in the hour of danger.

The command devolving on Lieutenant Mark Rudkin, (Captain Snowe being
detached to some woods on the right,) he gave orders to retire. The
piquets extending right and left immediately fell back, under a shower
of bullets, from the enemy's light troops, who continued forcing on in
spite of all opposition. We gave them in return the full benefit of
our small shot, as we occasionally drew up, covered by the vine hedges
and olive trees, that lay within our path; and in this manner,
alternately firing and retreating, so as to keep the foe aloof, we
gained our situation in the line.

Before twelve o'clock, the contending forces were hard at work. Dark
and accumulating masses of the enemy were advancing on every side;
for, resolving that this should be a decisive combat, and that he
would drive us back by the road on which we came, and perhaps into the
sea, Junot brought into the field every man that he could muster. Such
being his determination, it is no wonder that he pushed his warriors
into our very teeth. They, too, if we might judge from the coolness
with which they travelled up to the muzzles of our guns, seemed to
think that they had nothing whatever to do, but to cut us into
mince-meat, and devour us all by way of an early dinner. To the left
of Vimeiro was a chain of lofty hills, extending for a considerable
way to the eastward. Upon these the main body of the British force was
arrayed, and here the contest was fought with desperation. The enemy,
at last, after many a hard struggle to gain the position, was
completely routed, leaving a vast number of his killed and wounded on
the sides of the precipice, as well as in the hollows and ravines at
its base.

The 71st Highland Light Infantry was greatly distinguished on those
heights, and, with the other corps of Sir Ronald Ferguson's Brigade,
charged the assailants repeatedly from the ground. They were then
commanded by that fine officer, the late Sir Dennis Pack, and fully
maintained the high station which they had always held in the military
records of their country.

Among their wounded was poor George Clarke, their piper, who was
struck by a musket ball, while cheering up his comrades in the charge.
Unable to proceed, the intrepid Clarke still continued to play in
animated strains the favourite national music, and with a noble spirit
remained upon the spot, under a heavy fire, until, having fully
accomplished the object of their mission, his regiment came back
victorious to the station on the hill.[9]

          [9] Clarke received a handsome pension, and was justly
          rewarded, by the Highland Society, with an appropriate
          silver medal.

The 50th regiment, commanded by Colonel George Townsend Walker, stood
as firm as a rock, while a strong division under General Laborde
continued to advance, at a rapid step, from the deep woods in our
front, covered by a legion of tirailleurs, who quickened their pace as
they neared our line. Walker now ordered his men to prepare for close
attack, and he watched with eagle eye the favorable moment for
pouncing on the enemy.

When the latter, in a compact mass, arrived sufficiently up the hill,
now bristled with bayonets, the black cuffs poured in a well directed
volley upon the dense array. Then, cheering loudly, and led on by its
gallant chief, the whole regiment rushed forward to the charge,
penetrated the formidable columns, and carried all before it. The
confusion into which the panic-struck Frenchmen were thrown it would
be difficult to express. No longer able to withstand the British
steel, Laborde and his invincibles made a headlong retreat, and never
looked behind them till they reached the forest and vineyards in the
rear.

As far as the eye could reach over the well planted valley, and across
the open country lying beyond the forest, the fugitives were running
in wild disorder, their white sheep-skin knapsacks discernible among
woods far distant. There were, however, many resolute fellows, who, in
retiring, took cover behind the hedgerows, saluting us with parting
volleys, which did considerable execution amongst our advancing
troops. At length, even this remnant of the vanquished foe, dispersed
and broken in piece-meal, betook themselves to flight in every quarter
of the field. The ground was thickly strewed with muskets, side arms,
bayonets, accoutrements, and well-filled knapsacks, all of which had
been hastily flung away as dangerous incumbrances. Several of the
packs contained various articles of plunder, including plate in many
shapes and forms, which they had robbed from the unfortunate
Portuguese. Books of songs, romances, and other commodities of a
similar kind, were scattered about in all directions; and many a
tender billet-doux lay open to the profane gaze and the laughing
comments of the vulgar multitude. It was amusing, after all was over,
to see the strange medley of curiosities, that had, doubtless with
much pains, been collected by those who lately owned them; and it was
with no very nice feelings that a general inspection of the rarities
took place, as soon as the defeated army had left the field.

While we were pursuing our opponents, the 20th Light Dragoons, led on
by Colonel Taylor, galloped furiously past us, in order to put a
finishing stroke to the business, by completing any thing that the
infantry might have left undone. The horsemen, unsupported, charging
the enemy with impetuosity, and rashly going too far, were involved in
a difficulty of which, in their eagerness to overtake the stragglers,
they had never thought; for, getting entangled among the trees and
vineyards, they could do but little service, and suffered a loss of
nearly half their number: their brave commander being also one of
those who fell in that desperate onset.

The 43rd regiment was very much cut up, being, while employed in
skirmishing, considerably exposed. I noticed at least a subdivision of
their men lying killed in a deep gulley or trench, as they fell over
each other, from a raking discharge of round or grape shot.

The 50th lost a great proportion of rank and file, which chiefly arose
from the fire of the French light troops, while covering their column,
and during their retreat. Major Charles Hill was wounded, and Captain
A. G. Coote and Lieutenant I. N. Wilson were among the slain.

Upon the bleak surface of the hill, from which the regiment had
charged Laborde, we bivouacked that night, and reposed our weary
limbs. Although the air was cold, and our situation comfortless, yet,
from extreme fatigue, we rested perhaps more soundly than the pampered
alderman on his downy couch. A windmill on the summit afforded
excellent quarters for the Colonel and his personal staff, while the
other officers, less fortunate, crouched together, shivering outside
its base.

The 50th took a standard pole and box, which were borne by a serjeant
between the colours, as a trophy, during the succeeding campaigns. The
French, instead of colours, display a small brass eagle, screwed to a
square box of the same metal, both of which are attached to a pole or
staff. This eagle is seldom exhibited in the heat of action, the staff
being carried as a rallying point, in the same way, and for the same
object as our banners.

The army remained on its ground during the 22nd, no measures being
taken to follow up the victory that was gained. This inaction arose
from Sir Harry Burrard having arrived on the field before the
termination of the battle, _assumed_ the command, and given orders
that no further hostile movement should take place.

An armistice was now concluded, and the French troops withdrew into
Lisbon, where they lay encamped in one of the principal squares. Here
they remained, by virtue of the convention of Cintra, until their
final embarkation for France, accompanied by their renowned chieftain
the celebrated Duke of Abrantes, and bearing away plunder enough to
load a ship, and their arms to meet us at some future day, on some
other battle-field.[10]

          [10] It is a singular fact, that one of those regiments of
          Junot's army, (the 32nd Light Infantry), was engaged with
          the 50th at the battle of Corunna, having lost no time in
          returning to their old trade of basket making.



CHAPTER IV.


On the 23rd of August we commenced our march to Lisbon. As we passed
through the towns and villages that lay in our course, the enthusiasm
and delight evinced by the Portuguese, on seeing the English army, was
unbounded. Joyful congratulations, and the exulting language of
welcome, greeted us as we triumphantly moved along; and, wherever we
appeared, the most cordial reception awaited us. In the soldiers of
Britain they beheld friends and allies, who had come to deliver their
country from the bondage of Napoleon, as well as of French subordinate
tyranny and oppression. On this account, the sentiments they
entertained towards us, were those of heartfelt gratitude. Those
feelings were expressed with vehemence and fervour, not merely by a
class or a faction, but by all ranks and ages among the people, who
saluted us with loud and deafening huzzas, and with cries of "viva los
Ingleses--viva, viva,--viva los officiales! viva muytos annos!" while,
as we marched beneath their crowded windows, a shower of garlands,
flowers, olive branches, laurels, and other harmless missiles, fell
profusely upon us. Entering Lisbon from the North, the 29th, 40th,
50th, and 79th regiments halted upon an elevated space of ground,
called the Campo St. Anna, where we lay undisturbed for some days. The
inhabitants around entertained the officers in a most liberal manner,
their anxious care being to anticipate all our wants and wishes. In
the full enjoyment of the variety and amusement of the Capital our
time passed rapidly away. Temptations and enticements were not wanting
to allure us from the encampment, and pleasure in many shapes appeared
on every side. The Opera was well attended by those who ventured at a
late hour through the long narrow streets and passages; but the
pedestrian found this by no means an agreeable excursion, for it is
the custom here to throw out from the windows sundry fluids, not of
the most savoury nature, and while the generous inmate shrieks out,
"take care below!" he, at the same instant, by way of a salute, pours
the contents of his pail or bucket on the pate of the luckless
passenger.

The French soldiers, who occupied the Praça de Rocio, frequently
insulted the British officers who were returning from the theatre.
Having to pass their camp one night, in company with a friend, both of
us were challenged by the sentries, who, not waiting our reply,
despatched a bullet to detain us. This caused us to quicken our pace
without delay, lest they should think proper to send a second
messenger of the same kind, which might put an effectual stop to our
further progress. With their officers, however, we were on good terms;
and, while holding conversation with them, at the coffee-houses, where
we met, on the subject of our late proceedings, we found them
generally pleasant, intelligent men. As long as the French remained,
our duties were severe; we being, on their account, kept pretty much
on the alert. I must confess, however, that mounting guard upon the
convent of San Vincento was not the most harassing of those duties;
for the priests, and other holy characters lodged therein, were a
jolly, convivial set of fellows, and regaled us handsomely upon the
best of dainties, plying their guests with oceans of capital wine,
which the well-fed clerigos extracted from the nethermost chambers of
their venerable abode.

The intruders, bag and baggage, having finally embarked upon the
Tagus, a considerable portion of the garrison of Lisbon was directed
to proceed to Monte Santo, a favourable situation on the road to
Cintra, and about four miles from the city. We reached that place on
the 28th of September, and remained encamped there for a month. At
this period, Colonel Walker being promoted, the command of our
regiment devolved on Major Charles Napier, who had recently arrived
from the 2nd battalion in order to relieve Major Hill, wounded at
Vimeiro. The Honorable Major Stanhope and Ensign David Leslie also
joined about the same time.

Orders having been issued for us to march through Portugal, for the
purpose of joining General Sir John Moore, at Salamanca, the 50th
regiment set out from Monte Santo on the 28th of October, at 6 o'clock
in the morning. The weather was dark, with heavy rain, which fell on
us most unmercifully until we got to Lisbon. We travelled by the main
road to Abrantes, along the right bank of the Tagus, and, halting at
Sacavem, arrived on the following day at Villa Franca. The
inhabitants, on our route, were most hospitable; receiving us with a
heartiness of welcome to which we had been unaccustomed in other
lands. On the 30th we got into Azambuja: the road was passable enough,
though in some parts rough and hilly, winding along the course of the
river, which rolled between deep and thickly wooded banks. Continuing,
on the 31st, through the same description of country, we entered
Santarem, after a pleasant though somewhat sultry march.

The city of Santarem consists of several narrow, dark, and ill-paved
streets, the houses paltry looking, and badly built, having heavy
sombre windows, grated with massive iron bars, like those of their
prisons. Balconies, with painted railings thrown across, relieve in
some degree this melancholy aspect, but the dingy hues, added to the
meanness of the streets, give the place an air of poverty and
wretchedness. On our reaching the house where we were billetted, the
landlord, with his worse or scolding half, ushered us into a
comfortless apartment; where, in a dark corner, stood a miserable bed,
which seemed to have had other occupants than human beings. On our
exclaiming against this uninviting dormitory, the old crone, grumbling
inwardly, conducted us to another chamber, where the domestics, and
different members of the family, were busily engaged in a deadly war
against the numerous population of each others heads. Starting from
their interesting employment, they left us quietly in possession of
the room where lay two mattresses on the unswept floor; on these we
were to repose, not without the prospect of a sharp attack from the
fugitives of that army with which our Portuguese hosts had been so
hotly engaged.

Yet, in spite of circumstances of this kind, the life of a soldier on
service, taking all things together, is the finest in the world. While
he moves on, a roving adventurer, care, pain and trouble are banished
from his mind; and though he is at times on short commons, and often
driven to his wits' end, he but seldom repines. His sufferings give
him a greater relish for the enjoyment of any good things that may be
forthcoming, or any windfall that Fortune may throw in his way. Once
fairly on the road, it is astonishing how rapidly the hours glide
away. The formalities of parade or drill marching are now at an end,
and every one indulges in that mode of perambulation which best suits
him. When the commanding officer is not one of your strict
disciplinarians, the regimental juniors congregate together in groups,
some in front, some in rear; while the men, though keeping their
sections, travel in open ranks, filling the entire space of ground
over which the route extends.

At the head of the column, is to be seen a host of seniors, or old
hands, among whom the laugh and joke prevail; and there many a
long-winded veteran inflicts upon the ears of his patient auditors a
narrative as endless as the road. Ever and anon the second Major falls
back, and, in order to shew his consequence and zeal, especially if a
General with his staff should chance to be passing, he calls out, in a
most important tone, "Gentlemen, get into your places!" "keep on the
flanks!" and other friendly admonitions. As soon as he is convinced,
by the approving looks of the great man with the long feather and
epaulettes, that his vigilance has been duly noticed, he gallops off
to his old station, and the gentlemen betake themselves again to
theirs, till another appearance of the chief, when the stray sheep are
again called back to the flock. By the by, I know of nothing else that
these second Majors have to do, unless it be to act the part of
moveable pivots for dressing up the line, (in which they are generally
very fussy), or in whipping-in the young subalterns, whom they
endeavour to keep in order.

The surgeon, who is often a very hearty fellow, with better things
than boluses and pill boxes in his panniers--together with the
adjutant, and his brethren of the staff, attract around them, in the
rear, a batch of thoroughly pleasant men, who keep up such a volley of
jest and drollery, as frequently to beguile the weariness of the
longest march. Thanks to their amusing powers, we have often found
ourselves at the gates of the town, or on the camp ground, without
being aware that we had travelled any distance.

At intervals of one or two hours, each day, the troops are halted for
a few minutes' rest. Then, all, as if by magic wand, are quickly
squatted, and haversack being called for, the whole of them, like
hungry cormorants at their prey, are soon engaged in one grand scene
of mastication. Some perform a solo on the shank-bone of a well picked
ham; others display their talents on the drumstick of a half-starved
fowl; while the majority gnaw their way through the skinny junk of an
old tough bullock. The vultures and other birds of evil omen are,
meanwhile, hovering in mid air, ready to pounce upon the remnants of
the feast when we are gone.

At the well-known sound of pipes, or bugle, the warriors are again (to
use a parliamentary phrase) on their legs, stretching them out with
renewed vigour. Among the soldiers there is likewise much of drollery
and mirth, nothing makes much difference with them--it matters not
whether trumps turn up or not; whether the chance be a battle, or a
good billet, they are still the same, and trudge along devoid of care.
Give them their allowance, and a little rest, and they require no
more. Day after day I have listened to their jokes and stories, and
been highly entertained by their originality and humour.

In the 2nd division, a pack of hounds accompanied the troops, and,
whenever a favourable opportunity occurred, they were let loose, and
an excellent _view halloo_ was frequently afforded, to the great
delight of the sporting characters in our line.

The Commissary, with his long and short horned regiment, marched at a
convenient distance, attended by their executioners; while the train
of bullock carts, laden with provender and other stores, brings up the
rear. The heavy, dull, monotonous drone, arising from the friction of
the cartwheels, is heard for miles, while the jingling of the bells,
with which the mules are garnished, produces a concert that rings in
the head of the hearer for days and nights together, answering all the
purpose of an itinerant serenade.

But we must break off from this digression; for it is time to resume
our march towards Salamanca.

We quitted Santarem on the third of November, and soon got into a
pleasant road, winding along the banks of the Tagus, through a dark
forest of olive trees, the branches of which overhung our path, and
formed a refreshing shade. Marching over the summit of a barren
height, we reached the Zezere, a small but rapid stream, which here
falls into the Tagus. This river we crossed by a bridge of boats, and
halted at Punhete, on the opposite side, where we occupied some crazy
buildings, which were deserted by the inhabitants. Through a tract by
no means interesting we then held our course, on the 10th, and arrived
at Neisa. The ill-fed, half-clothed, and meagre Portuguese, unused to
the inundation of so many soldiers, were stupified or panic struck,
flying like savage animals on our approach. The weather was harsh, and
the wind, moaning through the open casements, penetrated into every
hole and corner of their dwellings. Little comforted by repose, our
march was still continued, until we entered a range of bleak and
rugged mountains, at the base of which is situated the well-known pass
of Villa Velha, which takes its name from an adjacent village, and
intercepts the communication on the great road into Spain.

Here the Tagus, again opening to our view, is contracted into a very
narrow space, and rushes with violence between the impending rocks; on
either hand the steep and lofty precipices being cleft, as if by an
earthquake, form an almost impassable barrier to the progress of an
army.

A pontoon bridge had been thrown across, but this was destroyed by the
French, whose troops were last upon the route, and we were therefore
forced to hire three small row-boats, from the Portuguese, by which
the regiment was conveyed to the opposite bank, after being long
detained, owing to the rapidity of the current, impeding all our
efforts to get on.

Our route traversing the boundaries of Portugal, was, in many places,
overgrown with brushwood, and crossed at intervals, by rivulets. Huge
stones and roots of trees lay scattered here and there. The wearied
soldiers toiled with difficulty along, under the most tempestuous
weather, the inclemency of which was severely felt in those Alpine
regions, where the cold was so excessive as to require the hardest
bodily exercise to withstand its influence. In order to keep the men
alive, the band and drums were frequently put in requisition, which
had a marvellous effect; and our Commander, Major Napier, occasionally
ordered some well-known national quickstep, when, in a moment, as if
by magic, those who were tired and jaded sprung up, endued as it were
with additional life and vigour, and, giving the knapsack a cast upon
the shoulder, stepped out once more with fresh spirit. The music, as
we approached the towns, had the twofold purpose of pleasing the
inhabitants and cheering on the troops. Even the lame and weakly,
although weighed down by the heavy burthen which they carried, exerted
their remaining strength to make a bold appearance. On the line of
march, for many a tedious league, did the officers use every means to
animate their men, by giving them an example of patient endurance
under every suffering. The Field Officers and Staff alone, were
allowed to ride at that time; the other ranks, although from previous
habits less able than even the privates to bear fatigue, had no
alternative but to trudge it with their companies from day to day.

The young recruits and drummers felt the hardship most, and often upon
the journey has Major Napier given his charger to one of them, or to
any poor fellow who could not well get on, while with a musket, or
sometimes a brace of them, on his shoulder, he walked before the
regiment. Thus, by his considerate kindness for the men, he was
securing to himself that respect and estimation in which they always
held him, as well as actuating them to perform their duty in a manner
worthy of one who, whether in quarters or in the field, never spared
himself whenever an opportunity offered to promote their comfort.

The poverty of the oppressed and ill-used natives, wherever our course
lay, was lamentable; the French, according to their regular system,
carried famine and desolation in their train; paying for nothing, they
drew their supplies by force of arms, and their marauding foragers
overran the surrounding districts, forcing the peasantry, as well as
those who lived in towns, to pay the expenses of their barbarous
invasion. In consequence of the ravages committed on the people, there
was nothing in their markets, or their shops, "a beggarly account of
empty boxes;" and the lean and sallow proprietors were proofs
sufficient of the unhappy state in which their land was placed. They
were so terrified, that it was difficult to prevail on them to sell
even what they could spare.--Upon demanding what we could obtain from
them, the reply at all times was, "no hai nada aqui," or, "we have
nothing here." Seeing us rather incredulous, and on being again
requested, they would persist in the refusal, with a shrug of the
shoulders, and passing the fore finger twice across the nose, crying
out, "nada, nada;" but, when the finger was three times moved quickly
over the nasal organ, with the scream of "nada, nada, nada," the
affair was finally settled, and there was no further appeal from this
hopeless gesticulation.

Even when by great good luck, there was something to be had, there was
still an obstacle in the way. In those days we were often puzzled by
the language, and in trying to make ourselves understood, were forced
to resort to a great variety of expedients. When our broken and
disjointed phrases failed, we were driven to the use of signs and
hieroglyphics; suiting the action to the word, we explained our wants
by distorting the limbs and body into strange figures, symbolical of
the article required. Officers and men were alike in this dilemma; and
fortunate was the lucky genius who could jabber, though in a most
indifferent way, for he was sure to get to windward of his less
favoured comrades. The market-place was a stage, upon which many a
brainless youth, with much more gold upon his jacket than ever his
pocket carried, shewed off his slender stock of Portuguese, and palmed
himself upon the natives as a person of the utmost consequence. Others
expressed their wishes in a sort of gibberish, formed out of scraps of
English, German, French and Latin, but without a syllable of the
language wanted. The soldiers used a most extraordinary dialect,
compounded of Irish, Gaelic, and the mother tongue, interlarded with a
good supply of oaths, by which to impress the subject on the
head-piece of the patient countrymen, who underwent their curses,
rage, and sometimes worse, when the cry of "no intendes" was uttered
by them.

As to signs and gestures, they were as varied as the movements of a
posture-master or even punchinello. When pork or any thing pertaining
to the hog, was wanted, grunting in imitation of that animal, was the
means employed. The desire for eggs was signified by cackling like a
hen; was a mule or jackass required, the hands were stuck up on each
side above the head, to denote the length of ears, or an awful braying
was put forth, enough to call the brotherhood about the performer;
tobacco or snuff was demanded by a sneeze, followed, in many cases, by
a tweak upon the organ in which the filthy powder was to be deposited;
and milk was procured by imitating the extraction of that useful fluid
from the cow. In short, for every thing there was a corresponding
signal, a code of which would have formed an excellent appendage to a
soldier's kit.

We arrived at Guarda in the midst of storm and rain, half drowned and
miserable. Well do I remember the bitterness of the day, while toiling
up the steep ascent that led us to the gates of that old town. Seeing
our deplorable trim, the owner of the dwelling where we were billetted
acted with true Christian humanity; he had dry clothes in readiness,
together with large wood fires, hot wine, and cordials; and, by his
benevolent care, we were restored to the full enjoyment of those
comforts which he so generously bestowed; I have very seldom, if ever,
met with such an instance of disinterested and genuine hospitality.

We now passed the frontier of Portugal into Spain, and halted for a
night at Ciudad Rodrigo. On approaching the city, we were horrified by
the sight of lofty gibbets, four of which were planted on the
entrances, having appended to each the quarters of some unfortunate
malefactor, whose limbs were blackening in the sun. These sickening
emblems of their cruelty impressed us with no very good opinion of the
people with whom we were about to hold friendly intercourse; and their
conduct on this night was quite in character with their gibbets. A
more atrocious set of men we never had the honour of being acquainted
with; and so much did they appear in favour of our enemies, that we
were convinced they would gladly have delivered us into their hands,
if it had been in their power to do so. An officer of the 79th
unfortunately got involved in a dispute, and, while passing through
one of their dark and narrow streets, was barbarously assassinated by
an unknown hand. The troops being obliged to march next morning, at an
early hour, it was impossible to discover by whom the murder was
committed; and, indeed, we were then so circumstanced, with respect to
the Spanish people, that we could not closely investigate the affair.
Ample vengeance, however, fell upon this city when the French got in;
and in the assault and capture of the place, in 1812, plunder and
destruction was its fate: on our return to Portugal, it presented to
our view a heap of burned and desolated ruins.

The part of the country through which we now marched appeared one vast
plain of immeasurable extent. The heavy rains were succeeded by a
gentle fall of snow; and the surface of the ground was crisped by a
light pleasant frost, rendering the highway perfectly hard, smooth,
and level, and most agreeable to our pedestrian feelings.

About 2 P.M. on the 25th of November, the turrets, domes, and spires,
of the justly celebrated city of Salamanca were discernible, above the
sandy heights by which they are encompassed. Crossing the Tormes, by
means of a long antique bridge, we ascended the street leading into
the great square, the windows and balconies of which were filled with
the delighted people; while the countless multitudes around gave
utterance to the most sincere and warm expressions of welcome, highly
gratifying to us, after the murderous reception which had been given
to our troops by the treacherous renegades of Rodrigo. Well pleased to
find ourselves at last, after our long and harassing journey, within
the gates of this interesting and ancient seat of learning, we could
not refrain from giving vent to the gladness by which we were
inspired, and joined our voices with those of the Spaniards, in
cheering heartily as we approached.

Having secured the billets, I proceeded, along with my friend Moore,
to the house allotted for our habitation, which was situated in a
narrow and rather lonely street, adjoining the walls of the great
cathedral, the projecting and massive turrets of which hung with
solemn majesty over our humble dwelling. The patron, who was one of
the officiating ministers of this church, was a man of most important
exterior, with a countenance expressive of the full enjoyment of every
comfort. In this respect, however, we could not aver that he was
selfish; for, upon our admittance within his holy abode, our worthy
host left no means untried by which to manifest the ardour of his
feelings, and the high regard in which he held the English soldiers.
From his well-stored pantry he plied us with every luxury: without
much bashfulness or hesitation, we helped ourselves to the dainty
fare, and, joined by the generous padre, we filled out large potations
of his sparkling wines, in a manner that would have done credit to the
most zealous bon vivant. Our venerable divine was a true disciple of
that school, of which his rotundity of figure, and rosy, shining
visage, were "confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ."

In Salamanca we found every preparation going forward for the advance
of the army, and Sir John Moore waiting for the division under General
Hope, then on its march through the South of Portugal by the Alentejo.
In the meantime, we enjoyed ourselves very much, in the variety
arising from the presence of so large a portion of the troops
assembled here. The officers of our regiments were no less highly
gratified than we were, by the affability and kindness of the people,
who exerted themselves to make our residence among them as happy as we
could possibly desire.

Lieutenant Hugh Birchall, of the Light Company, discovered an old
acquaintance, from his native town in Ireland, in the person of a
Spanish priest; who had, a few years since, come to this place, for
the purpose of finishing his classical education, and obtaining a
higher polish than the bogs of his native country could afford,
preparatory to his entering on the holy office. The reverend divine,
who eventually became a member of the clerical establishment here,
introduced us to his brothers of the cloth, who, though they treated
all with hospitality, directed their attention more particularly to
the Hibernians, whom, considering as _bon Christianos_, they
entertained with all the warmth of brotherly affection. Father
Patrick, as the Irishman was called, maintained the character of his
country for the convivial virtues, and he proved an excellent cicerone
to all the lions of this very respectable city.



CHAPTER V.


Lieutenant General Sir John Hope's division having arrived at head
quarters, the whole of the allied forces, under Sir John Moore,
marched out of Salamanca on the 12th of December, 1808. The snow was
lying deep on the ground; and, although the atmosphere was clear and
bracing, yet the wintry and desolate appearance of all around was
rather discouraging, as we faced the northern blast, coming down most
wrathfully upon us, from the wild mountains of Biscay and Navarre.
After passing through Toro, and other good towns, we at length halted
at Sahagun, a small place, in front of which our advanced guards were
posted. Here we lay encamped until the 25th, on the morning of which
day the whole army was on the move, and the memorable retreat to
Corunna was commenced. The troops entered upon the high road leading
into Galicia, followed by 80,000 French soldiers, commanded by the
renowned conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, in person.

The operations of this part of the campaign have been made well known
by the public records; avoiding all detail, I shall, therefore,
confine myself to those circumstances that happened within my own
knowledge, or that may have occurred in the regiment with which I
served.

Lord William Bentinck's brigade, in the 1st division, was composed of
the 4th, or King's Own, Colonel Wynch:--42nd, Royal Highlanders,
Colonel Sterling:--50th, Queen's Own, Major Napier.

The division was commanded by General Sir David Baird, a man with a
look of military daring, and as brave as a lion. By his presence and
example, the troops, (whom he never quitted,) were encouraged to
proceed with order and regularity, notwithstanding the sufferings they
underwent, under the painful circumstances of a retreat; and it was
not until mind and body had lost all spirit and energy, that disorder
or want of discipline shewed itself among the ranks. Exposed, as they
were, to the most unparalleled inclemency of weather, they submitted,
without a murmur, to a continuance of hard and trying service, enough
to bear down the strongest constitution. To describe minutely the
whole of the privations and miseries which they encountered, would far
exceed the powers of any human being: no one can possibly conceive the
full extent of what the soldiers were compelled to undergo, in the
course of this unfortunate campaign.

The passage of the Esla, a wide and rapid torrent, was an enterprise
attended with considerable loss and danger. On arriving at the margin
of the river, there seemed hardly a hope of being able to get across,
with so much violence did the current roll: and, uncertain as we were
of the part most fordable, it was a perilous attempt for those who
undertook to make the trial. There was, however, no alternative; to
the other side we were to go, at any risk, for, the enemy pressing
closely at our heels, the slightest delay would have produced fatal
results. We therefore dashed at it, and nobly did the men perform
their duty. Agreeable as the cool, refreshing stream may be in mild
regions, it was by no means a very delightful task to wade past one's
middle, or rather up to the neck, through the raging waters, upon a
bleak and cheerless day in December. There was no use whatever in
making any preparation, or in disrobing for the bath; in fact, there
was no time, but with all our harness on, we were compelled to make
the best way we could in the chilling promenade. Luckily a spot was
found, by which the advance was sent across, and the infantry,
following their leaders, struggled along, bearing their arms and
ammunition above the head. After much difficulty, plunging and
buffetting the angry flood, the whole at length succeeded in gaining
the opposite bank; from whence, having "shaken off the watery
dew-drops," and ranged ourselves in some sort of order for another
stretch, we pushed away by the main road leading into the mountains.

The advantage of lofty stature was highly conspicuous in this affair,
for the man of towering height strutted above the wave, with no small
pride on his extent of longitude; while the poor, insignificant fellow
of Lilliputian build, looked pitifully up at his more fortunate
companion, bemoaning his diminutive size, as the muddy fluid either
washed his pericranium, or flowed in copious volumes down his
unwilling throat. As for those ill-fated damsels, our faithful
attendants through storm and sunshine, it had been far better for them
that they had never left their home; for, by their desire to follow
the drum, they entailed upon themselves a world of trouble, and
miseries enough to drain their patience to the lowest ebb. Here I
gladly record the valuable services of those poor women, who, devoted
to their husbands and children, underwent a series of bitter suffering
almost beyond human endurance.

Toiling with their regiments through thick and thin, they never failed
in their duties, and proved, in camp as well as in quarters, the most
active and persevering in giving aid and useful service, whenever it
might be required. Patient under every thing, they were always at
hand, foraging, cooking, and rendering all kinds of assistance; while
the men, borne down by hard fatigue, were often unable to help
themselves. In fact, without the labours of the fair sex, we should
not have been able to get on; and I shall ever respect the heroine,
who has completed the range of her accomplishments, by having served
with honour a campaign or two.

By forced marches, night and day, we at last arrived at Lugo, a large
town on the road to Corunna; and in its vicinity, the army was drawn
up in order of battle. We fully expected, from the confident manner in
which the French troops were brought into the position in our front,
that an opportunity would now be afforded of giving them a warming in
this cold weather. After waiting, however, for nearly two days, they
declined the honour of our services; and their columns closing up, in
numbers far superior to that of our force, it was deemed advisable to
withdraw from the field, when there was no advantage to be gained by
maintaining our ground.

In consequence of the rapid pace at which we moved, the Commissariat
was altogether unavailable; and, depending on the remnant of four days
provisions, our lantern jaws were getting impatient for active
service; for, however briskly the nether limbs might be engaged, it
was quite evident that our jaws were idle, and would never prosper by
their indolence. In this matter there was no respect of persons;
pockets full of cash were of no particular use, nothing was to be
obtained for love or money. Desolation and its accompanying train of
horrors were our companions, and General Starvation, with his two
aid-de-camps, Hunger and Thirst, with all the rest of his personal
staff, were constantly at our elbow.

Sauntering into Lugo one day, I chanced to drop into a crazy building,
the roof of which had been torn up for fire wood. There, in a dark
corner, somewhat resembling a dog kennel, and where some straw had
just been scattered, I espied a group of militants, busily employed
about something, but about what I could not well determine. Upon
closer inspection, however, it appeared that these heroes, most of
whom rejoiced in the title of Colonels or Majors, were in conclave
about the discussion (not of a tactical movement), but of an
ill-looking fowl, that seemed from his lanky sides as if "sharp misery
had worn him to the bones," or as if he had died a natural death some
length of time past.--It was nevertheless a dainty morsel to them, and
they were gallantly tearing it limb from limb, and gnawing the meagre
skeleton, at the time I entered. I departed from a place where the
craving intruder was not a welcome guest, and joined the camp, to feed
on visions of the past, and ruminate on better things to come.

The greatest suffering we endured was want of sleep. In our nocturnal
wanderings, those who were exhausted and overcome with fatigue, (and
few were not,) supported themselves between the men; and, each leaning
on his neighbour, dozing wearily along, would every now and then waken
up by a sudden bump, or push, against the knapsack of the man in
front; thus, alternately bumping and dozing, we travelled with a
staggering pace through the dreary and wintry road. Those who were
made of weather-proof and tough materials kept their places in the
ranks, while others, of more feeble frame and constitution, unable to
withstand the terrible effect of cold and drifting snow, of famine and
want of rest, sunk to the earth, upon the bleak and barren mountain,
where they speedily perished, or fell into the hands of the enemy.
Heavily burthened as the men were with ammunition, there was but a
small proportion of them who were able to maintain their situation in
the ranks.

Lieutenant McCarthy, of our regiment, an excellent old officer and
intrepid soldier, was among those who suffered most from excessive
fatigue. He kept up as long as he had the power, but being somewhat
worn out by hard service, he was indifferently calculated to weather
out the rough work of this retreat. Faint and half frozen, he fell in
the snow, and giving himself up to despair, lay for a considerable
period in an insensible condition. Meanwhile some of his companions,
having missed poor Mac from his accustomed place, quickly retraced
their steps, and found him almost lifeless on the cold earth. By
giving him a few drops of rum, they in some degree restored him to his
senses, and raising his drooping head, they helped him forward to the
next halting place, from whence he struggled on to Corunna, where he
was severely wounded in the subsequent battle. It was about this time
that General Anstruther died, in consequence of privations and
exposure to the dreadful weather.

The weather, for the greater part of our march, was unusually
desperate; the mountains, by which we were surrounded, were covered
with deep snow, and over the dreary waste the wind in piercing blasts
swept violently, driving the hail and sleet in our faces, so as to
render it a most difficult matter to get along. At intervals, rain
poured down with such tremendous force, that our open and straggling
columns were compelled to halt, and close up into a solid body, in
order that only the exterior of the mass might be exposed to the
pelting fury of the storm. To clear away the snow from the spot on
which we halted was our first employment, at the termination of each
day's journey; and a most delightful frigid bedchamber was modeled
out, the damp ground our couch, with the canopy of heaven for a
curtain; the furniture was completed by the fragment of a rock,
turning the softest side of which upwards, to make it serve for a
pillow, our slumbers, during the few short moments allowed for repose,
were sound though unrefreshing. Occasionally crowding in groups around
a huge fire, when wood could be obtained, (which was not always the
case), we gathered in without much ceremony, with our feet towards the
blazing faggots, and stretched ourselves out, somewhat after the
manner of wild animals, patiently awaiting the unwelcome summons that
was to start us from our cold and cheerless lair.

It was truly melancholy to behold this dismal picture of the
exterminating consequences of war. The ravages unavoidably committed
by the troops were excessive. The weather and season of the year
caused it to be almost impossible to procure timber for fuel,
otherwise than by destroying the miserable hovels, that lay dispersed
among the hollows and ravines of these wild regions. The frame-work of
doors and windows, as well as that of the roof, were put in
requisition, the extreme emergency of the case demanding such
resources, without which the army must have been inevitably lost.

Sir David Baird was most indefatigable in his exertions, riding with
the column, passing along both flanks,[11] urging on the weary troops,
at the same time keeping them in their ranks, and, by his orders and
presence, enforcing upon the officers the necessity of attending
minutely to every point of duty. Where the roads were broken up by the
rapid mountain streams, he took post near the stepping-stones, laid by
former travellers across the brooks, compelling all without exception
to pass on through the water, however deep it might be, in order that
no delay or impediment should obstruct the movements of the army.--He
was equally vigilant to frustrate any attempt to plunder, and, in many
cases, he made the officer stand at the door of the wine house, to
stop the admission of those men, who might fall out with that
intention upon the line of march. A more intrepid soldier I have never
seen. Of powerful stature, with a bold stern aspect, he bore in his
sunburnt countenance the indication of a mind equally strong and
vigorous as his body, and wherever he was stationed, military
discipline was carried on with a degree of strictness, worthy alone of
such a warlike and determined man.

          [11] While Sir David Baird and his satellites were bustling
          about from one flank to another, driving every one through
          the water without mercy, several of the knowing hands
          devised sundry schemes to cross the chasm dryshod; some
          would take a run for it, and with a hop, step and a jump get
          safe past the rubicon; others, in the vain attempt, were
          baulked half way, and, splashing on, encountered the frigid
          element. But, to the men, it was the best sport imaginable,
          to see some mighty precise and finical dandy, who, as
          unwilling as a cat to wet his feet, was most cautiously
          picking his steps, completely discomfited by the coming up
          of Sir David in a rage, who, reprimanding him in no very
          gentle tones, would send the poor shivering exquisite to
          perambulate the stream, to the no small chagrin of our hero,
          and to the delight of the whole brigade. The equestrians
          and gentlemen of the staff were, in general, not over
          compassionate; but, chuckling up in their comfortable
          saddles, joined in the general outcry of merriment, and in
          their capacity of whippers in resumed their occupation.

While going through the small town of Villa Franca, which is seated in
the midst of a chain of mountains, a dépôt of clothing and provisions
was thrown open, and the contents thereof flung out quickly to the
troops, who, having no time to halt, were puzzled as to how those
things were to be disposed of. Shoes were eagerly grasped at, the men
trying them on as they hastily passed along. There was no fastidious
picking and choosing here, nor were we over nice as to the shape and
quality of the article; whether they were the handy-work of Hoby or of
humbler origin was never enquired about. Such as they were they proved
to many a boon most welcome. Yet some discomfort arose from them in
several instances. Here might be seen a man pinched and tottering
along, making such wry faces as though he were undergoing a course of
torture; while not far from him shuffled along another, in shoes, or
rather churns, that were capacious enough for the feet of the Irish
giant.

It was painful to behold the anxiety of the poor fellows to get some
relief to their hunger; and when the pieces of salt beef and pork were
thrown to them, by the commissary from the storehouse gates, they were
seized upon with the same avidity with which John Bull would pounce
upon plum-pudding or fat bacon; how these delicacies were to be
cooked, was a difficult question to be resolved. Speared on points of
swords, or transfixed with bayonet, pike, or other weapon, the
exquisite morsels of junk were borne aloft triumphant to the first
halting place. Few of them, however, found their way to the end of the
day's march; for the men, fearing that time would not permit the
dressing of the tempting viands, pitched most of them to the crows and
vultures, resorting to the more accustomed and feasible luxuries of
tommy (bread) and rum. Flour was likewise doled out to them in scanty
pittance; but no means of culinary operation being at hand, the
pulverized allowance was scattered to the winds, the luckless warriors
being left to feast upon their own melancholy thoughts, or take their
dinners with Duke Humphrey.

A few of the more cunning among the oldest stagers mixed up a sort of
tough consistence of this same flour, with a solution of snow in dirty
water, and with the aid of a flat smooth stone, by way of table,
manufactured a composition, something in form and substance not unlike
a nine pound shot, and which might be converted to the same use. This
bit of delicate pastry, which was called a doughboy, was sometimes
crammed into the haversack for future provender, and the unfortunate
genius who could not manage to bake the treasured lump, devoured it
ravenously in its moist and tender state. The hard sea-biscuit, soaked
in rum, was a much more agreeable article of food, and it was more
convenient and more readily attained than any thing else.

During occasional halts, and when we could snatch a few moments from
the hands of old father Time, we contrived to get some water boiled,
and, O happy man! that could succeed in procuring a decoction of the
Chinese plant: still more fortunate was he who had even a brief space
allowed, to enjoy the refreshing beverage, for often, while in the act
of introducing the burning fluid to our impatient mouths, the old
adage of 'the cup and the lip,' was verified to our cost, the
aforesaid cup with its contents being hastily thrown away, after
scalding our hungry as well as angry chops; the French, in a most
officious manner, choosing, like Paul Pry, to intrude at that
particular period upon our tantalizing and forbidden cheer.

Passing Nogales, Constantine, and other places on the route, we
traversed the mountain road that wound in zigzags along the barren
sides of the precipice; the wilderness by which we were surrounded
having a most dreary aspect. From the promontory between Villa Franca
and the latter village the money chests were overturned, and the
doubloons and dollars were scattered among the rocks, from whence they
rolled into the dark abyss below, forming a precious cascade of gold
and silver, enough to tantalize the craving rapacity of a Jew. Many of
the wanderers from the ranks got their purses lined, and it was said,
that, in the attempts to gather up the cash, some fell down the steep,
and were dashed to pieces in the chasms, by which the heights were
intersected.

The Paymaster's trade was, in those days, quite a sinecure; with his
hands thrust into his empty pockets, he was a gentleman at large,
whose pay-day was a dead letter, and whose muster-roll was getting
into a very reduced compass.

It was a pitiable sight, at this period, to behold the forlorn
condition of the women and the children. Those who could not get upon
baggage waggons, trudged along with painful steps, scarcely able to
bear up the weight by which they were encumbered. Many sank during the
bitter night famished, way-worn, and in the snow, with infants at
their breasts, or in their arms, and in this situation were found
lifeless and frozen on the following morning. Others took refuge from
the storm on the dismantled ammunition carts, that lay about the road,
and, trying to get shelter there, perished with their children on this
frail tenement as they crouched in groups together.

The whole exhibition was one of appalling wretchedness, that would
harrow up the feelings even of those who had long been familiar with
lamentable scenes. The entire _materiel_ of the army became a
total wreck, from which comparatively small were the numbers that
escaped, and but few were able to keep up with their colours upon the
line of march.

Our clothes were worn to rags, the jacket being no better than "a
thing of shreds and patches," metamorphosed from red to a sort of
muddy claret colour; and as for shoes, O, what a falling off was
there! with sole and body in a state of separation, the partnership
was about to be dissolved.--They could not be said to have held out to
the last, for as they approached their end, they were something like
the Irishman's brogues, that were happily supplied with holes to let
the water out as fast as it rushed in, and gave our feet the advantage
of an excellent portable bath. The other garments were in good
keeping; unmentionables, of every shade and colour, were inexpressibly
worn out, and pieced in a manner that would have qualified the wearer
to perform the part of Harlequin. The whole attire was surmounted by a
nondescript article, vulgarly called a cocked hat, which, glazed with
a substance that had once had a polish, formed a good reservoir for
rain, its angular point answering the purpose of a waterspout, while
the flap hanging over the dorsal region, like that of a London coal
heaver, imparted to the owner, a look of a most dubious character.

Our personal charms could not by any means be made the subject of
admiration, not even the best of us could vie with Adonis on that
head; on the contrary, we might have rivalled the living skeleton, and
many an ambitious tyro, who at home was pampered and well fed, was now
attenuated into the lathy form of a spectre, and would not on any
account have presumed to offer himself as a candidate for the civic
chair. Of exercise and early rising we had an abundance, and as those
things are said to be conducive to health, we ought to have been the
most vigorous of the human race.

To the sad deterioration of costume which I have described, there was,
however, one brilliant exception. It was displayed by an officer of
ours, Lieutenant *****, who entertained us much by the way in which he
managed matters. In the worst of times, when the rain and wind fell
desperately on us during the retreat, and all were, as I have already
said, covered with mud and dirt, and drenched from head to foot, with
nothing beautiful to be seen about us, this lovely youth, a _diamond_
of the first _water_, the very quintessence of an exquisite, seemed on
all occasions as if emerged from the limits of a bandbox. His raiment
and general attire fresh from the mint, he must at least, like King
Richard, have had "a score or two of tailors" to adorn his person.
Whether it was that he was purified by the frequent showers, or from
what other source he derived his amiable appearance, I know not, but
it is certain that we were completely puzzled by the magic of his
toilet; and had Beau Brummel ever ventured on the field of Mars he
would have resigned his claim, as prince of dandies, to our hero. I
knew of only one man in the service who could approach him, and that
was a well known Captain of the 34th. ***** retired soon after from
the army, and cannot fail like his prototype of old, the famous Nash,
wherever he may flourish, (if in this world), to be the leader of the
ton, and the observed of all observers.

Towards the beginning of January, (1809) it was reported that the
shipping, for our conveyance to England, had arrived in the Bay of
Corunna, and it therefore became a matter of doubt whether or not we
should have a field-day with our pursuers, before the time of
embarkation. With the utmost energy that men could display, the enemy,
however, anxious not to lose the opportunity of obtaining, as he
imagined, a certain triumph, put forth his strength to reach the coast
as early as he could, and consequently our rear guard, consisting of
the Light Division, was not allowed a moment's rest. Followed by great
superiority of numbers, the natural difficulty of the ground, combined
with astonishing exertions, alone enabled them to check the foe. Their
vigilance and valour were fully put to the proof, and never did men
acquit themselves better on such an arduous duty than did these
soldiers.

Whenever we gained the summit of a hill, all eyes were on the watch to
catch a glimpse of the long looked out for ships. One height after
another was ascended, but still nothing was in sight; before us lay,
in wearisome perspective, the same tedious road, that seemed as though
it were never to have an end. It was a wide, well-beaten track, the
distances from Corunna being marked in leagues upon huge granite
pillars, or, Hibernically speaking, _milestones_. The inscription
upon them being oftentimes illegible or defaced, we asked some
wandering peasant, who might perchance appear, the space we had to
travel; but we could hardly ever get a correct reply, for though the
stupid fellow told us that we had not more than half a league to go,
we generally found it more than two leagues; sometimes the brainless
oaf screamed _poquito mais_ (a little bit more), this _little bit_
turning out at least a league, or upwards, of very honest measure. It
was provoking to be thus baffled and disappointed, but there was no
remedy, and the jaded itinerants kept travelling onwards, in the same
dull route. At length the long wished for Bay was spread out before
us; but alas! no fleet was there! The spirits of all from the height
of joy as suddenly fell below zero, and the misery of hope deferred
was now to be endured. The soldiers, however, soon brightened up, when
told that there would still be time sufficient to give the French a
drubbing; and this idea made every man spring out with a fresh supply
of ardour that carried them right through.



CHAPTER VI.


On the 12th of January the 1st brigade, under General Lord William
Bentinck, marched into Corunna. Proceeding along the main street, by
the harbour side, the 50th was halted in front of a large convent,
near the citadel, where in a short time the regiment was quartered.
After such a protracted course of hard service, and ceaseless
marching, the quietness of even a temporary rest was a luxury most
highly valued; although we knew not at what moment we might be called
again into the field.

While we were stationed here, the great magazine of powder, situated
about three miles off, was blown into the air, with such an awful
explosion, that the sound thereof reached the distant mountains, and
shook, as if by some volcanic agency, the buildings of the town. We
were not prepared for the event, which took place at an early hour,
and while a few of us were seated around our canteens at breakfast, in
one of the convent rooms. Suddenly a violent concussion was felt, and
then a thundering noise was heard, that made the ancient fabric reel,
and tremble on its base, and rattled the tiles and shingle of the
spacious roof about our ears. We were amazed, I may almost say
horror-struck, beyond expression, and a number of confused ideas
rapidly crossed our minds; some declared it was an earthquake, others,
that the enemy's cannon were battering at the walls; no one guessed at
the real cause. In a state of consternation, expecting that a second
peal would annihilate our tenement, and bury us in its ruins, we made
a rush for the doorway, where we met the Adjutant, who explained to us
the whole affair; and this turmoil of fire and gunpowder died away in
smoke.

On the 15th, our brigade marched out of Corunna, and going about two
miles from the gates, was drawn up in position upon the extremity of a
chain of heights, extending in a semicircular form towards the North.
This movement was made in consequence of the decision of Sir John
Moore to give the enemy battle; for, the transports not having come
round from Vigo, (into which port they had been blown by contrary
winds), he determined to make one grand effort, and maintain the
honour of the British army. It would thus be seen that, however
irregular his troops had been, upon a difficult march, they were well
prepared to meet the foe; and that their high character for
steadiness, as well as courage, would never fail when called upon in
the hour of danger; proving at the same time, that in the cause of
England, "every man would do his duty."

Sir John Moore himself, almost worn out by constant anxiety, arising
from various unforeseen causes, was yet endued with mental force as
strong as ever; and, abundant in resources, he never lost that
coolness and self-possession which availed him so much. Possessing
great humanity, he felt deeply for the dreadful sufferings of his men,
and in his exertions to alleviate them he was unremitting. Many times
have I seen him go about the lines, from one encampment to another,
wrapped up in his military cloak, without parade or ostentation, in
order that he might personally inspect the condition of the troops,
and as far as in his power lay afford them relief, and add to their
comforts.

His position, as chief of the army, was one of much difficulty; and
his energies were so greatly paralysed by the interference of
professing friends, and the false intelligence of his real enemies,
that it appears miraculous how he ever brought the forces through. His
great perseverance, intrepid spirit, and warlike talent, enabled him
to overcome those trials which would have broken down another man. Let
those who have calumniated his name be for ever silent, when they
reflect on that devotedness of conduct, by which, in the moment of
peril, he preserved untarnished the fame of Britain's sons, falling
himself nobly for their glory, and by their side, in the hour of
victory.

The brigade was formed on the crest of the hill, with uneven ground in
front, between which and the enemy's position lay a deep and broken
ravine, interspersed with vines and brushwood, and traversed in
various directions by numerous enclosures and narrow lanes, inclining
towards the head of the precipice.

Midway between the place where the 50th stood and the opposite hill
was situated the village of Elvina, consisting of a few poor
straggling hovels, with a chapel in the centre, and surrounded with
fragments of rock, stone walls, hedges, and close winding passages.

The whole French army, under Marshal Soult, occupied a parallel range
to that upon which ours was posted, more elevated and considerably
more extensive.

The troops, being stationed in the alignment pointed out, commenced
the usual operations of the camp, and were, from right to left, in
high spirits at the prospect of giving the French an airing, in return
for their marked attention towards us, for the last three weeks, and
by way of making some amends for all the trouble we must have caused
them. For some days back, it had been perceived that immense bodies
were assembling, and the heights upon which they halted were literally
darkened by their increasing columns. The continual beating of their
drums, (without which their men can never stir), the noisy words of
command, and the din of their ammunition waggons, with the rolling of
their gun-carriages, rung perpetually in our ears from the moment that
we arrived upon the field. The French, on every occasion, make an
excessive display, with much of loud and empty sound, and at all
times, in action, they put forth such frantic and discordant yells,
and raise so much useless clamour, that the report of cannon is often
scarcely greater.

The morning of the 16th opened with the usual routine of duty, the
same exciting work presented itself, the contending parties with eager
attention observing each other's manoeuvres.--The weather was cloudy;
but towards noon the sun shone out, and it continued fine during the
rest of this eventful day.

An extraordinary stir and commotion was noticed, about 2 P.M. in the
enemy's camp, after both armies had dined. From the opposite lines,
numerous light troops were seen advancing in the direction of our
piquets, which had been previously reinforced, and this movement was
followed by a general attack upon the entire chain of outposts.

Our soldiers, deploying into line, occupied their allotted
station.--Being the junior corps, the 50th was in the centre of the
brigade, flanked by the King's Own, and 42nd Highlanders; in company
with such men, the Black Cuffs could not fail, and they were proud,
and justly too, of being enrolled with those fine regiments.

Sir John Moore was quickly on the spot, and with the experienced mind
of an old and skilful warrior, he gave the necessary orders to the
several officers of his army holding command. The staff were then
dispersed, and flying in all directions with those orders to the
various divisions, the whole of which in a very short space of time
were standing to their arms. It was about 3 o'clock when the light
troops advanced in multitudes against our line; rapidly descending the
hill they opened a brisk discharge from their rifles upon our piquets,
that lined the enclosures throughout the wide extent of the ravine. It
was very polite of the Frenchmen to allow us time to get our dinners,
although it will appear that they had not finished their own repast;
however, to make up for this mistake, we helped them to a desert of
forced meat balls, which, composed as they were of indigestible
materials, formed a considerable portion of this day's bill of
fare.--As soon as matters began to wear a serious aspect, the locks
and flints were examined, caps tied on, and other preparatory measures
taken for the deadly strife.

For the purpose of covering his forward movements, a heavy cannonade
was poured down by the enemy from a masked battery on the elevated
ridge. By this plunging fire our ranks were much thinned, and the
round shot, booming on every side, scattered about the splinters,
sand, and stones, that fell in showers upon our heads.--Pending the
operations, a general assault was made upon our left, from whence the
music of artillery sounded loud and incessant.

Perceiving, by the strong fire, that a French corps was pushing
through the hollows, evidently with the view of turning our right
flank, Colonel Wynch, of the 4th, threw back some companies of that
regiment, forming an obtuse angle with the line; which effectually
prevented the enemy from making any further efforts in that quarter.
While this was going on, a regiment of Guards was brought up in
reserve, and posted at the rear of our brigade.

The piquets being now thrown back, from the weight of fire, our men
were ordered to advance to their support. Major Napier, in front of the
50th, gave the word, cheering as he led boldly forward. Passing the
enclosure, and clearing all before them in superior style, they entered
the village of Elvina, which was instantly carried at the point of the
bayonet, and pressing still onwards, under an awful blaze, they made
for the summit of the heights. Meanwhile, the light infantry, an
inflexible and stubborn band, with Captain Harrison at their head,
furiously charged across the broken ground, and bearing away all
opposition, took lodgment in the rocks above. The hamlet being at
length surrounded, its occupants rushed pell-mell into every hole and
corner they could find. A number of these heroes, having ensconced
themselves within the chapel, began to amuse themselves by firing from
the windows, roof, and belfry, at the soldiers. Observing their
murderous design, Captain William Clunes with cool and determined
bravery marched his company to attack them, and having, with all due
ceremony, introduced his grenadiers to their acquaintance, the powerful
fellows would instantly have demolished the chapel, in order to eject
the congregation therein assembled, had they not been hindered by their
leader, who, with the greatest sang froid imaginable, took his stand by
the portal of the edifice, and, grasping an Indian cane of stout
dimensions, threatened destruction to the inmates, if they did not
discontinue their ball practice and surrender, to a man. Astounded by
the Stentor-like tone in which this _notice_ to _quit_ was uttered by
the huge Northern, the garrison resolved at all hazards to evacuate the
premises, and, accordingly, with a desperate rush, they sallied out
amongst the flankers. Many were slain upon the spot, or taken, Clunes
and his party collecting a pretty fair specimen of their afternoon's
work. If the ludicrous could have been thought of at such a moment, the
strange and extraordinary scene was enough to excite the mirthful
faculties of a philosopher. The contrast between the tall and stalwart
grenadier and the diminutive Frenchmen was truly ridiculous; and the
manner in which this gigantic son of Mars turned out the warriors of
Napoleon, without once drawing a sword, and while shot was flying as
thick as hail, was a sight well remembered by those who were present on
that day.[12]

          [12] Clunes was many years in the 50th, having been present
          with them in all their campaigns up to this period. He was
          one of the finest looking grenadiers in the British army;
          tall in stature, muscular in frame, with a countenance
          expressive of the cool and determined soldier. His
          bravery at Corunna called forth the approbation of the
          Commander-in-chief, by whom he was immediately promoted to a
          majority in the 54th. After serving in that regiment for a
          considerable lapse of time, he sold out, and returned to his
          native country. He did not long survive, to enjoy the quiet
          of domestic life. His death was much regretted by the few
          remaining veterans of the 50th, who had been his companions
          in the field, and his name stands high in the records of
          that corps.

Our battalion companies fought like lions, and pouring rapidly through
the village upset the kettles and cooking apparatus, which were in
full work throughout the streets. The savoury stews, broths and
fricassees, were put _hors de combat_, and small was the number of the
meagre combatants who returned to claim a portion of the half dressed
fare. Having succeeded in forcing every barrier, and cutting our way
through the enemy at every point, the main body of the regiment
pressed on to the higher ground; "forward, forward to the hill!" was
now the cry. Clambering up the steep and craggy ascent, emboldened by
the example of their officers, the soldiers were mowed down
unmercifully by continuous volleys from the crest of the mountain,
almost threatening to annihilate our ranks.

The assailants were not far distant at this time from the brow of the
impending rock, which, bristling with bayonets, seemed to frown in
defiance upon the enterprise. But, although the dangerous attempt to
crown the eminence appeared to resemble a forlorn hope, Major Napier,
with determined boldness, resolved to carry, by a coup-de-main, the
enemy's strong hold; waving, therefore, his sabre in the air, he
loudly called upon his men to follow.--His enthusiastic spirit had
urged him on, beyond the foremost of the soldiers, when he fell,
severely wounded, and, before we could approach to rescue him, he was
borne off speedily to the enemy's lines.[13]

          [13] Soult behaved in a noble and disinterested manner
          towards Major Napier. As soon as it was discovered that his
          prisoner was wounded, he ordered that he should be conveyed
          within the lines, and receive the attendance of the most
          skilful surgeon in the camp. He likewise gave directions,
          that he should be provided with every comfort that it was
          possible to obtain. To complete the measure of his
          liberality and kindness, he allowed the Major, as soon as he
          was perfectly restored to health, to return to England, on
          parole, in order that an exchange might be effected with a
          Field Officer of the French army. This act was of itself
          enough to stamp the character of the Marshal, and was worthy
          of a general, than whom one more talented or brave never
          fought the battles of his country.

About this period, the right centre, forcing through the enclosures
and lanes beyond the village, was exposed to a raking fire, and in
consequence was most severely handled, several officers and men being
killed.--Among the former was the Honorable Major Stanhope, who
received a musket ball in the chest, and expired without a struggle.
He was a man of dignified appearance, reserved in his deportment, but
withal a zealous officer. Having joined the regiment at the outset of
this campaign, his career was brief, though splendid. The same round
of musketry that caused the death of Stanhope, proved fatal to both
the officers of the colours, Ensigns Moore and Stewart; the former
survived but to arrive in England, the latter never spoke. They were
promising young men, and much regretted by every member of the corps.
Among the slain were also Lieutenant John Napper Wilson, of the Light
Company.

Poor Moore, my esteemed friend and companion, had all along a
presentiment of his fate; and talked of it as an event inevitably to
happen in the first battle. This sad foreboding, from which I could
not rally him, never for a moment preyed upon his mind, which was
always cheerful and contented.[14]

          [14] Moore died at Haslar hospital, Gosport, after lingering
          for several weeks. The ball having penetrated his lungs,
          there was no possible hope of his recovery. His father was a
          clergyman in the North of Ireland, who had lost other sons
          in the service of his country.

          Ensign Stewart was a quiet and amiable lad, nephew to
          Colonel Stewart of the 2nd battalion. His death was
          instantaneous, the regimental colour, which he carried,
          immediately fell across his body, and was picked up by
          Serjeant McKie, who had scarcely delivered his charge to
          the officer, ordered for that purpose, when he himself
          received a mortal wound.

          Wilson, (who was before wounded at Vimeiro,) was an
          Irishman, and had been some years in the regiment.

          At the moment when these officers fell, we were passing,
          thickly crowded, through a lane enclosed with loose stone
          walls, and the fire, to which we were sadly exposed, raked
          us most unmercifully. The colours, with the officers around
          them, formed a conspicuous mark, against which, with deadly
          aim, a fatal shower of bullets was discharged. It was such
          hot work, that a man would be inclined to give himself a
          _shake_ or two, after all was over, in order to ascertain
          whether his head was on his shoulders.

Our ammunition being expended, seventy rounds per man having been
already fired, and all our efforts being unavailing against such
fearful odds, orders were given for us to retire; and, on being
relieved by the Guards, the troops of the 1st Brigade fell back, the
shattered remnant of the 50th resuming its place upon the hill, from
which it had at the outset advanced.

The remainder of the day and great part of the night was employed in
preparations to embark; the huts were, however, occupied, the fires
were kept burning, and every thing arranged so as to prevent the
French from thinking that we intended to decamp without beat of drum.

Soon after nightfall, and when the clash of arms was no longer heard,
an interment of the dead took place, and many a poor fellow, who had a
few hours before been full of life and strength, was now deposited in
his narrow bed. The remains of Major Stanhope were lowered to the
grave by his brother officers and comrades, with their sashes. He had
worn this day a suit of new uniform, and a pair of bright silver
epaulets, in which, with his military cloak around him, upon the same
hour as his lamented chief, he was consigned to an honorable tomb.

While we were engaged in the performance of this melancholy duty, the
Honorable Captain Stanhope of the Guards, aid-de-camp to Sir John
Moore, rode up, directed by the torch light, to the mournful group. It
was the first intimation which he received of his brave relation's
fate. Dismounting, and overcome with grief, he took a last farewell,
and having obtained his ring, together with a lock of hair, he tore
himself hastily away from the heart-rending scene.

It was about 8 o'clock when the troops moved off, in perfect silence
and good order. A strong piquet was left to keep the fires alive, and
watch the enemy's operations. Preparing for a renewed attack upon our
army on the following day, the French camp throughout the night was in
a state of tumult and noisy bustle. The outposts were not allowed much
rest, being serenaded with the din of hammering up their platforms for
the cannon, and sounding the note of preparation for the approaching
tug of war. Little did Marshal Soult know that the bird had flown; for
while he was busy in the midst of all this clamour, the British army
was marching to Corunna, and by daylight was completely embarked. The
soldiers left upon the hill, under the command of Captain Clunes, were
withdrawn about an hour before the clear light of day, on the morning
of the 17th; and taking, not reluctantly, a last farewell of the
encampment, proceeded to the point of embarkation. The lowness of the
tide not admitting the boats to get near to the shore, the men were
compelled to wade above the middle into the water previous to entering
them; hence, so far as regarded this portion of the army, Napoleon's
insolent and oft repeated threats, of driving the English into the
sea, were undoubtedly realized.

Missing their prey, which thus so cunningly slipped from their grasp,
the French were mortified in no small degree. Fighting Jack[15], for
once outwitted, revenged himself by ordering his bulldogs to the water
side, where, being unable to proceed further, he had nothing else to
do, but "grin horribly a ghastly smile," and shew his teeth. By way of
a coup-de-grace, or parting gift, however, he gave us a royal salvo,
which presented to his well-tried antagonists, (who were now on
board), some very striking proofs of his affection, in the very
tangible shape of twenty-four pounders. But we were now beyond his
reach, and he might therefore as well have saved his powder and shot,
which, with all their noise, did us little injury, and only excited
our laughter.

          [15] This was the nickname given to Soult by the soldiers.

The piquets were embarked in the Mary, which was at anchor so near the
beach, that for want of something better to do in the way of a little
morning sport, the Marshal made use of our old tub of a transport as a
target, and practised so freely on it, with his heavy missives, that
it was quite time for it to sheer off. Observing this uncivil conduct,
the sea-captain, pale and terrified, with all the horror of a
panic-struck man, cried out, "I'll lose my ship! I'm ruined!" and
running frantic to the bows, he seized upon an axe, and cut the cable.
His vessel being thus allowed to swing round, she became unmanageable,
and as it was blowing a gale of wind at the time, the unfortunate Mary
was driven upon the rocks. The passengers and crew were saved. The
troops, who thus narrowly escaped, were received by the Thomas brig,
and the 50th regiment was taken on board the Ville de Paris of 110
guns.

In the hurry of departing from the Mary, no one thought of going below
deck for any of his baggage; to escape without delay from the battered
vessel was the only object of our ambition; nor, indeed, could a visit
to the cabin be safely attempted. Some, who were on deck with their
bald pates uncovered, took flight without their beavers; thankful, as
the round shots flew across the ship, to decamp with a whole skin.
While we were scrambling into the boats, a ponderous box of dollars,
the property of Captain Gaff, of the 76th, slipped from a sailor's
hands; and as it splashed into the water, poor Gaff stood petrified
with horror, and when it vanished from sight, he looked as if he would
have plunged after it, to rescue the precious treasure.

On the morning of the 18th of January the fleet got under way; and,
after a favourable though boisterous passage, it arrived in England on
the 23rd. We were disembarked at Haslar, and marched from thence to
Gosport, where we remained till the 9th of February, when we proceeded
on our journey to Brabone Lees, in Kent.



CHAPTER VII.


On the 18th of February 1809, after a long and rather harassing march,
the 1st Battalion of the 50th arrived at Braborne Lees in Kent, where
the 2nd had been stationed for some time. Both having assembled and
reunited, old friends and companions in arms meeting once more, a
general scene of festivity took place; the young hands entertaining
their more fortunate brethren, lately returned from the field of
honour, joyous living and good cheer was the order of the day, and it
might be added that conviviality was the regulation for the night.

The 68th and 85th Light Infantry being in the same barracks
contributed in no small extent to those revelries, and each in
succession most liberally displaying the generous hospitalities of the
table, this round of dissipation was continued until a route was
announced to us, for both battalions of the 50th to march forthwith;
the 1st for Ramsgate, and the 2nd for the town of Ashford, four miles
distant. Having obtained my Lieutenancy previous to our return, and
being consequently effective in the 2nd, I joined and marched with
them.

Before proceeding further I must say a word or two about those friends
we left behind.--The 85th, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Cuyler, was
a very smart regiment; and the officers a gay set of light bobs, full
of life and glee. I never saw a finer party of young men; longing for
military enterprise, they cared not in what quarter of the world it
might be offered. To see those happy fellows seated round their mess
table, mingled with the 50th, their delighted guests, it would have
been impossible to imagine that they were so soon to be disunited;
however so it was, and great was the pity that such was to be their
lot; they were in a short time after separated, and dispersed in
various directions, being removed to other regiments and other
destinations. More than a quarter of a century has since elapsed, in
the course of which period I have met with a few of them, others have
left the stage of life or retired from the service, while but small
indeed is the remnant of that gallant band, who once belonged to a
Regiment which has distinguished itself in many a battle field, and
than which there is not a better in the British army.

The 68th was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Johnston. The officers,
more steady, perhaps, from being more experienced, than their brother
flankers, were a remarkably pleasant set of men, many of whom bore the
appearance of having seen some hard service.

We found Ashford a very dull and uninteresting place, the good people
of which, not being particularly fond of military gentlemen, left us
very much to ourselves, to cogitate as we might in our country
quarters. We made this out pretty well, however, with our regimental
society; and, having also some female campaigners, we carried on the
war happily enough, notwithstanding the churlish deportment of our
civilized neighbours. The Ashfordians, though they looked shy upon us
as a body, could, nevertheless, condescend to notice such of our young
men as boasted a drop of noble blood, or were graced by the possession
of some ancient name. A well-stocked purse was, moreover, a good
introduction to their mahogany; and the fortunate hero, whose
shoulders gloried in a _pair_ of epaulets, or upon whose heels the
spurs might dangle, had a most excellent chance of finding favour in
their aristocratic sight. The humble subs, contented with their
barrack-room parties, were perhaps gainers by the arrangement; for,
although they could not boast of so much tinsel or cold display, there
was among them much more social manners and generous liberality, while
good fellowship and unaffected mirth presided at their less splendid
though far more cheerful board. In the barracks of Ashford, our
companions militant were the 91st Highlanders, and the Warwickshire
Militia, both of which were in capital order for any duty; the latter
in particular, commanded by Colonel S.E. Steward, was a noble body of
men, exemplary alike in appearance and discipline. So that any
regiment of the line might consider it an honour to receive volunteers
from such a corps. The 91st, under Colonel Douglas, has always upheld
the distinguished character for which these Northern warriors have
been famed.

In the early part of the succeeding month of May, the second battalion
received their route for Reading Street, in Kent, where we got into
quarters after a few days hard marching. The temporary barracks which
we occupied were situated in the centre of a highly improved country,
about three miles from the small town of Tenterden. The weather being
delightful at this pleasant season, and our duty not being extremely
severe, the time passed in a manner quite in unison with our wishes,
and without any greater degree of suffering than what occasionally
arose from the hardship incident to a night campaign, upon a
Bacchanalian expedition. As the invitations to the feast were but "few
and far between," the dangers to be encountered on this service were
by no means numerous or important. Deprived by our retired
circumstances of any extensive intercourse with the "gay and lively
throng," we were getting somewhat rusticated, and might in time have
become very quiet and harmless animals, had we been permitted so to
remain. But our retirement was much too easy a mode of existence for
gentlemen of the sword, and all our dreams of luxury and peace were
soon disturbed, by a sudden order from the higher powers, for several
of our officers and non-commissioned officers to proceed with the
utmost rapidity to the Isle of Wight, in order to join a battalion of
detachments, which was then forming at Albany Barracks, and which was
destined to compose a portion of the expedition under the Earl of
Chatham. Being included in the number allotted for this service, I
accompanied the following officers, who commenced their march for
Portsmouth, on Sunday the 25th of June, 1809: Captain Henry
Montgomery, Captain Edward Atkins, Lieutenant William Turner,
Lieutenant Richard Jones, and Lieutenant James Thomas.

With high glee, and an elastic tone of spirits, we entered upon our
journey, equipped and fitted out in a most singular manner, for, such
was the speed demanded on this pressing occasion, that every kind of
conveyance, inclusive of coach, caravan, gig, and fish cart, was put
in requisition for the more hasty removal of our martial band.
Although there was something bordering on the ludicrous in the mode of
our turn out, we cut, nevertheless, a most formidable and imposing
figure.

With scarcely any breathing time, we pursued our hurried course, the
wonder-struck natives of the towns and hamlets through which we passed
staring and gazing upon us, with open mouths, while with joyous looks
we dashed along, as though his satanic majesty himself was at our
heels. The officers were in and outside of coaches, as the case might
be, while the serjeants, corporals and drummers, mounted on vehicles
of more humble pretensions, exhibited their pikes, fusils, and other
weapons, stuck out of windows, doors and various similar openings.
This strange and whimsical cavalcade was not unlike a moveable
battering train, or a troop of warriors in ancient times, and bore no
manner of resemblance to a party of modern heroes travelling
genteelly, though not leisurely, on the King's highway.

On arriving at Newport, in the Isle of Wight, we soon became
acquainted with the several officers who were summoned on the same
duty, and who belonged to different regiments remaining in England.
The battalion of embodied detachments, which was composed of men from
the dépôts of those corps on foreign service, amounted to at least a
thousand bayonets, and when completed for the field was a most
effective and powerful body of soldiers.--With regard to costume, it
was rather motley in appearance, from the many coloured facings
displayed throughout the line; and the officers wearing the plain
round hat, with a small feather stuck on one side like a marine,
served to render still more apparent the diversity of style and
fashion exhibited in our variegated ranks.

Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable Basil Cochrane, our commandant, was a
bold determined officer, and strict disciplinarian. He belonged to the
36th, in which he afterwards served in the Peninsular war, and having
a natural genius for a military life, he, like his brother of nautical
celebrity, was conspicuous on many occasions, during that hard-fought
contest.

The arrangements being concluded, our medley battalion marched to West
Cowes, where it embarked, on the 15th of July, on board of the
Weymouth, armed en flute, Captain Trounce, and on the following day we
sailed to Spithead, where, the troops being much crowded, some of them
were removed to the Clarence Transport[16]. We steered for the Downs
under convoy, on the 25th of the same month. On the 31st, the whole
fleet set sail with a fair wind, and beautifully clear weather,
standing away to the Northward, in the direction of the Dutch
coast.[17]

          [16] The night before we sailed from Cowes, a melancholy
          event took place; Lieutenant Orr, of the 79th regiment, a
          fine spirited young man, was drowned by some accident along
          side the ship, as she lay at anchor.

          [17] _The undermentioned officers served with the battalion
          of embodied detachments on the expedition to Walcheren._

          Commanding Lieut. Col. the Hon. Basil Cochrane, 36th regt,
              _dead_.
            Major John Wardlaw, from 64th regiment.
            Major Gomm, from 6th foot.
            Major Alexander Petre, from 79th regiment.
            [a]Captain William Bains, from 6th regiment, _killed_.
            Captain Thompson, from 6th regiment, _dead_.
            Captain Henry Balguy, from 36th regiment.
            Captain Nathaniel Farewell, from 36th regiment.
            Captain Chaloner, from 36th regiment.
            Captain Henry Montgomery, from 50th regiment, _dead_.
            Captain Edward Adkin, from 50th regiment.
            Captain Cooksey, from 79th regiment, _dead_.
            Captain Forbes, from 78th regiment.
            Captain McPherson, from 78th regiment.
            Lieutenant McQueen, from 78th regiment.
            Lieutenant Munro, from 78th regiment.
            Adjutant Cameron, from 78th regiment, _dead_.
            Lieutenant Orr, from 79th regiment, _drowned_.
            Lieutenant Turner, from 50th regiment.
            Lieutenant Patterson, from 50th regiment.
            Lieutenant Jones, from 50th regiment.
            Lieutenant Thomas, from 50th regiment.
            Ensign Bair, from 33rd regiment.
            Ensign Buck, from 33rd regiment.
            Lieutenant Tarletou, from 6th regiment.
            Lieutenant Addison, from 6th regiment.
            Lieutenant Jennings, from 6th regiment.
            Lieutenant Pinkney, from 36th regiment.
            Lieutenant Bone, from 36th regiment.
            Ensign Tunstal, from 36th regiment.
            Ensign Finlayson, from 22nd regiment.
            Ensign Clarke, from 22nd regiment.
            Ensign Beauclerk, from 33rd regiment.

          [a] Killed on his return while gallantly assisting in the
          defence of Guernsey Packet, which was attacked by a French
          Privateer.

On the 1st of August the troops commenced their debarkation, and the
battalion of detachments landed near the village of Camp Vere in the
island of Walcheren, without any opposition.

The French having taken post with their main body in the strongly
fortified town of Flushing, were resolved to defend the place to the
last extremity; the necessary preparations were therefore made for the
attack of that celebrated fortress. Being in Sir Thomas Picton's
division, we were among the number of those allotted for that duty, as
well as for service in the trenches, we marched accordingly to the
ground laid out for us before the works.

Constant occupation having rendered it impossible to keep a journal of
the siege, and having no dependence upon memory, which in general
proves a treacherous friend, I must abstain from any detail, and
confine my remarks to a mere outline of those affairs in which our
regiment was more immediately concerned. I may, however, be allowed
briefly to remark, that the stirring events of this brief campaign
were productive of wonderful excitement among us; and that the
bombardment of the citadel and town, and the incidents that occurred
on the night preceding the surrender, were of such awful grandeur as
to baffle the most descriptive powers.

On the morning after its fall, Flushing presented a thoroughly ruinous
and desolate appearance, from the terrible effects of shot, shells and
Congreve rockets. Almost every building had experienced their
destructive power. Those which stood on ground a little raised, or
high above the ramparts, together with the public edifices and towers
of the churches, were completely demolished. A great portion of the
town was reduced to ashes by the conflagrations arising from the
flaming rockets, which, penetrating whatever they came in contact
with, carried fire and ruin in their train. The wretched and
despairing inhabitants, forced by the ceaseless cannonade to take
refuge in their subterraneous chambers, were even there exposed to the
falling shells; for these, and other projectiles, descending with
amazing velocity, and piercing every floor, finished their career by
an explosion, no less fatal to the building than to the unfortunate
people it contained. It was a fearful and melancholy sight, to
contemplate the scene, and was well calculated to fill the mind with
sentiments of a most depressing nature. The shattered and riddled
dwellings, apparently reeling on their base, and cast nearly off their
perpendicular, seemed almost ready to come down with a tremendous
crash.

The half burnt and dilapidated remains of the more important fabrics,
scorched by the fire, and blackened with smoke, lay heaped in dusky
and spectral masses, truly monumental of their direful fate. The
deserted and gloomy streets, lanes, and alleys, were overspread with
the fragments of the battered walls, accumulated rubbish, and dead
bodies. The stagnant, foul and muddy canals, (by which the place is
intersected), were covered with dark weeds, and on them floated the
putrid remains of various animals, tainting with their pernicious
odour the overheated and oppressive atmosphere. At every step we
encountered the haggard, woebegone and famished aspect of starving
creatures, emerging from their dreary cells, or thinly scattered here
and there, whose funereal countenances might have led one to fancy
that they had lately escaped from the cold and cheerless tomb. These
horrible sights, with many more such, enough to harrow up the soul,
glared around us on all sides, throughout the limits of this unhappy
place, upon which misfortune may well be said to have set her seal.

The troops of the besieging army were drawn up, while the French
garrison passing in review, marched out with the honours of war. This
ceremony being ended, and the enemy having evacuated the fortress, we
entered the gates, and took up our abode in the miserable and
comfortless quarters allotted for our reception.

The heat of the weather was suffocating; and quite sufficient of
itself to produce the sickness which broke out among our soldiers.
Indeed the causes already alluded to in a little time induced a fever,
or something bearing more resemblance to a plague, which led to a
scene of dismay and horror, far exceeding that in which the besieged
had been involved. Contagion and disease, with all their attendant
woes, quickly spread their baneful influence throgout our ranks. The
poisonous exhalations, and marsh miasmata from the loathsome waters of
the canals, combined with the fervid and contaminated air, generated
and extended that deadly endemic, to which so many of our troops
engaged in this campaign became the victims. Men and officers were
attacked in the most sudden and violent manner, while on parade in
good health, and were led away under the fatal illness from which they
were soon released by the hand of death. So destructive were the
ravages of this frightful pestilence that, before many days had
elapsed, our numbers were much diminished, and scarcely enough of men
could be found to perform the duties of the place. The hospitals were
filled, and the convalescents were reduced to so low a state, that it
was a considerable time before they were fit for any service.

Leaving a subject upon which it is painful longer to dwell, it may be
observed that affairs in a short time were restored to order, and the
inhabitants, who remained, having ventured from their hiding places,
and resumed their dwellings, and usual occupations, endeavoured as far
as in their power to extend their kindness towards us. This was all
they had to offer; and, while sympathizing with them, we could not but
lament, that so great a portion of unmitigated suffering should have
become their lot, but such is the fortune of war.

While our battalion was at Flushing the Officers frequently visited
the town of Middleburgh, the capital of the Island, and pleasantly
situated in its centre. It is a clean and very beautiful place,
surrounded by gardens and richly improved pleasure grounds, among
which are interspersed many handsome buildings and cottages, laid out
with a degree of taste and neatness, seldom to be found beyond the
boundaries of England. With regard to the town it is perfection
itself, free from every nuisance; the houses are well built, the
streets wide and regularly paved. Within doors, the love for
ornamental work, combined with elegance, was forcibly evinced; the
painting, gilding, and other embellishments, were most conspicuous,
the walls being lined, either with the coloured delft tiles or, in
those of a higher class, encased with damask, silk, or velvet.
Pier-glasses and mirrors, with costly frames, chandeliers, and
pictures, enlivened their rooms, the furniture of which corresponded
well with these expensive decorations.

To heighten the smart appearance of their streets, the newly painted
shops were shewn off to the best advantage; and, in those containing
plate, or metal ware, the goods, polished and burnished up most
highly, as they lay exposed for sale, were dazzling to the eye, as
well as tempting to the purse of the admiring passenger. At that time,
one of their annual fairs, continuing for a fortnight, was going on:
this being the grand centre of attraction, the Dutchmen and their
Frows, with the youthful damsels, were in numerous attendance, and
seemed quite unconcerned, as if no calamity had happened to their
principal sea-port. This circumstance furnished an additional proof of
the proverbial apathy of these plodding islanders.

They have here a few most extraordinary customs, among which may be
ranked the mode of fitting up their sleeping establishment. On
entering my chamber, at the Hotel in Middleburgh, escorted by the fair
though rotund fille de chambre, I perceived that the counterpane and
blankets were absent without leave. On demanding of my rosy guide the
cause of this, and explaining that, although the night was warm, I
conceived this by much too cool a manner of slumbering, she replied by
pointing, with an arch and significant smile, to a mountain of
feathers. Then, by raising one corner of the ponderous bale, she gave
me to understand that my weary limbs were to repose between two of
these enormous beds; after which she departed with a heavy step,
leaving me to ruminate upon the best mode of proceeding. As I did not
possess any of the heat-defying qualities of the incombustible
Monsieur Chabert, I chose the lesser of two evils, and decided upon
occupying the outside place, on which I accordingly took up my
station.

On the 7th of September the corps of detachments embarked at Flushing,
and the fleet setting sail from the island of Walcheren, with a fair
wind, arrived at Portsmouth on the 10th, where the troops were landed.
Our battalion marched to Porchester Castle, from whence, after
remaining a short time, the several drafts of which it was composed
proceeded to Albany Barracks in the Isle of Wight, for the purpose of
reassembling at their respective dépôts.

Having joined my regiment at Ospringe, in Kent, I received leave of
absence, and, passing the winter in the enjoyment of Irish
hospitality, returned at the expiration of four months to the
regiment, which was then quartered at Silver Hill barracks, in Sussex.
Here I found all my old companions pleasantly situated, and spending
their time in a very social and agreeable manner, while carrying on
the war in their country quarters. As the hum-drum round of daily
occupation in barracks admits of no variety, it would be a waste of my
reader's time and patience to enter into particulars of our peace
campaigns. A little excitement and change of things was, however, soon
brought about, by the unexpected arrival of our 1st battalion, lately
employed on Lord Chatham's expedition; which, under the command of
Major Charles Hill, marched from Hastings on the 22nd of June. They
were stationed here until the 10th of August, when they got the route
for Lewes, from whence they departed, a second time to join the army
in Spain.

The 2nd was ordered to East Bourne, where they arrived on the 12th of
November, 1810. In the temporary sheds, erected on the sandy beach
near that town, we had excellent accommodation, and having, moreover,
a good commandant, we had nothing whatever to complain of. The 81st
regiment, under Lieutenant Col. Milling, and the Flint Rifles, were
stationed here, and their officers being a jovial, pleasant set of
fellows, our rooms presented many a display of merriment and glee,
during the brief space of our companionship.



CHAPTER VIII.


On the 22nd of May, 1811, an order came from the Horse Guards for a
detachment to join the 1st battalion, then on its march from Lisbon to
the frontiers of Portugal. The following officers were of our
party:--Brevet Major Moncrieff, Captain Benjamin Rowe, Captain William
Henderson, Lieutenant Geo. Bartley, Lieutenant William Crofton, Ensign
Alexander Hay, Assistant Surgeon Browne.

All were in high spirits at the prospect of going to the Peninsular
army; and in this state of mind we embarked at Portsmouth on the 25th
of the same month, on board of H.M.S. Romulus, commanded by Lord
Balgonie. His Lordship was a Northern, and a fine athletic figure. He
was fond of gymnastics, and joined the officers in their trips on
shore, for the purpose of enjoying any exercise in that way, for which
they might be inclined. Being a great cricketer, he also formed a
party to engage in that active sport. With a man of this description
to command the ship, it may easily be imagined that our time on board
was happily spent, and I may say with truth, that we all regretted the
hour of separation from the Romulus.

We put into Falmouth, on the 31st, owing to contrary winds, and the
officers were permitted to go on shore, where our enjoyment was soon
interrupted by a change of wind, which springing up favourably our
little convoy once more unfurled their sails; and taking a farewell
glance at the white cliffs of England, we soon found ourselves again
buffetting the rough sea and restless waves of Biscay. After a
prosperous voyage of ten days, we entered the Tagus; and on the 25th
of June the troops disembarked at Lisbon. They marched from thence on
the 2nd of July, on their route to the main body of the allied army.

At the end of a long and most fatiguing journey, we got into Abrantes
on the 7th, where we found considerable delay in obtaining quarters.
After waiting in the streets for more than two hours, under a burning
sun, and starving with hunger, we were supplied with billets upon
houses totally destitute of furniture, which, together with the
wretched state of the inhabitants, formed but an indifferent
commencement to our campaign. We halted at this town during the
ensuing day, and employed our time in exploring the various bearings
of the place. The houses are badly built and old-fashioned, and, on
the whole, Abrantes seems altogether destitute of those comforts
which, from its aspect at first sight, one might be led to expect. We
resumed our march on the 9th, and, crossing the Tagus by a long wooden
bridge, passed on without interruption, save by that which the forests
on our way presented. The road was in general sandy, and full of
stones, and as the sun got up we found the heat and dust intolerable;
owing to these impediments, we did not reach our destined quarters
until 12 o'clock, when we entered Garvao, 18 miles from Abrantes.

The French, whose progress on the north of the Tagus was marked with
cruelty and desolation, did not, fortunately for the people in the
Alentejo, extend their wanderings in that direction; this place,
therefore, as well as many others, had escaped the ravages of an enemy
so destructive, and been hitherto exempt from the miseries inflicted
on a country that has become the seat of war.

Our detachment started from Garvao at 1 o'clock in the morning of
the 10th, an early hour it must be admitted, but at this season the
intensity of the heat precludes the possibility of marching at any
other; we found it, besides, far more agreeable to make a moonlight
journey when the air was cool and refreshing. We were in Gafete on the
9th, where I was lodged at the domicile of Louis Corteja, a wealthy
farmer. The family of the worthy Don consisted of his wife, a plodding
garrulous dame, and two lively daughters, together with a brace of
female attendants. Serenissima Rosa, the eldest, was very pretty, but
not gifted with the nimble-tongued accomplishments of her mother, on
the contrary, she was rather stupid and forbidding in her manners; the
other sister, Maria, although scantily furnished with beauty of form
or feature, was, nevertheless, pleasing and agreeable; nature thus
keeping an equal balance between them. On a hard mattress, upon a
still harder floor, (both of which had long been occupied by a colony
of bugs,) I endured a sleepless night, and looked out impatiently for
the return of day. We were woefully tormented in this manner on our
route; for the French, wherever they appeared, carried millions of the
noxious vermin in their train, leaving a bountiful legacy to their
successors, and thus increasing tenfold the dirt and misery of their
habitations.

On the 11th we entered Portalegre. Our road, though passable, extended
over a deserted region, planted thinly with chestnut and olive trees,
with pines at intervals. Portalegre is large, populous and well built:
although not regularly fortified, it is capable, from the strong
ground in its neighbourhood, with the aid of some works on the
adjacent heights, of making much resistance, and might be rendered
formidable to an enemy by some degree of skill combined with labour,
and by exertions that the Portuguese will never make. The approach
leading through the North-west gate is extremely steep and difficult,
causing to the men and baggage animals great fatigue. The remnant of
an ancient wall affords no defence whatever; and the large and ruinous
arched passages serve but to give some evidence of its former
importance. The public buildings are numerous. The grand cathedral in
the Praça de St. Paulo, is the most remarkable; not only for the
splendour of its interior, but also for the magnificent style of
architecture exhibited in the whole of the fabric. The houses are
generally good, and similar to those of the other principal places
through the country; but they have a cold and miserably unfurnished
appearance within; they are, however, well calculated for a warm
climate, having spacious and lofty rooms, with unglazed windows, at
all times open, and their tiled floors being occasionally sprinkled
with fresh water, an additional coolness is produced, acceptable to
the parched and thirsty inmates.

During our stay at Portalegre I could see nothing of, and consequently
could form no opinion as to the merits of, the fair damsels of the
place, so closely were they all immured, so hermetically sealed up,
within the dark recesses of their habitations. Thanks to the watchful
eyes of the Argus-looking duennas, under whom they were held in
durance vile, we were not gratified by even a hasty glance, and thus
we were utterly deprived of a pleasure, which would have afforded some
consolation for the miseries and fatigues endured in the course of our
rough and wearisome service. These fair and bewitching prisoners (for
such I must suppose them to be,) were by no means willing inhabitants
of their dismal chambers; for as we afterwards learned, they left no
scheme untried to outwit their ancient keepers, and making many an
amorous survey from between their rusty gratings, would gladly have
been emancipated by any of those heroes who paced beneath the windows,
and by whom the various tricks and manoeuvres of the black eyed
Signoritas were not altogether unperceived.

Early on the morning of the 13th of July we marched from Portalegre,
and passing through the villages of Azunar and St. Alaya, arrived on
the following day at the heights of Torre de Moro, on the sides of
which the 50th in brigade with the 71st and 92nd lay encamped. After
unloading our mules, and making other arrangements, we found ourselves
comfortably lodged in huts, composed of branches from the spreading
oak, which grows luxuriantly on those hills; our bed was formed of
rushes from the banks of the Caja, a limpid stream winding along the
boundaries of the wood. The wigwam, although not furnished with a
marble slab, possessed the convenience of a stone table, and a chair
of the same durable material. In one corner, suspended from a twig,
the haversack, well supplied with dry biscuit, was dangling, and in
another the flask of rum or wine, while the paniers, or canteen, amply
stored with sundry articles of provender with which to comfort the
weary frame, completed the appurtenances of the humble shed, and were
sufficient for the wants of the warrior ensconced therein. On the
aforesaid bed, of low pretensions, covered by the camlet cloak or
blanket, with the leathern portmanteau for a pillow, the tired
campaigner enjoyed repose as soundly as though he were provided with
all the "appliances and means to boot" to be found within a palace.

Having broken up from the lines of Torre de Moro, we proceeded to
Elvas and Campo Mayor, on the frontiers, and from thence into the
fertile district of the Alentejo, where, cantoned at Borba and Villa
Viçiosa, we were ordered to remain during the extreme hot weather of
this season. We arrived at Borba on the 22nd of July, and were
speedily established in most excellent quarters, our men were chiefly
lodged in an old Franciscan convent, and the officers billetted
throughout the town. My billet was on the house of a rich 'padre,' who
supplied generously all my wants.

Borba, or Villa Bourba, is a considerable place, though styled by the
natives but a village, and is distant from Elvas five leagues, and one
from Villa Viçiosa, where the other brigades of the 2nd division were
quartered. It is situated in the midst of a fruitful and highly
improved valley, and in the heart of a beautiful country, encompassed
by hills, the summits and declivities of which were clothed with
richly variegated and almost impenetrable woods, the scenery around
being truly magnificent. In the immediate neighbourhood are splendid
groves of orange, lemon and fig trees, besides numerous gardens,
producing every description of the most tempting and luscious fruits,
natural to this delightful climate. The simple yet healthful manner in
which the inhabitants lived, was evident from the abundance of those
gardens, stocked profusely as they were with all the necessaries of
subsistence, which a people who exist chiefly on vegetable diet could
require.

The most extensive and charming of those gardens is that of Don Juan
de Almeida, who, being in the Brazils, has left the care of it to an
old steward, from whom our officers had permission to ramble
throughout its pleasant walks, whenever we might feel disposed that
way: often have we enjoyed ourselves during the sultry hours, while
perambulating those delicious grounds, beneath the verdant festoons,
hanging from branch to branch, so closely interwoven that scarcely
might a single ray of noonday sun penetrate the leafy canopy. At
intervals, terminating the avenues, were white marble seats and
alcoves, together with bowers, composed of shrubs and evergreens,
while interspersed throughout this fairy land were numerous curiously
wrought fountains, the cool waters of which were received into smooth
and highly polished marble reservoirs. Sundry carved figures, on
pedestals, representing their ancient kings, were scattered among the
sylvan groves, seeming, as it were, to gaze with admiration on the
beauties of nature and art by which they were surrounded. The houses
of Borba are well built, and adapted in every way to repel the summer
heat and winter cold; their floors are neatly tiled, and the doors and
framework composed of solid oak. There are usually three or four
extensive apartments, opening off each other, with a kitchen
backwards. By means of large folding doors, thrown open in hot
weather, a constant circulation of fresh air passes through the
building. In winter, the blast is excluded from their rooms by
curtains appended to the doors; and, although they have no fireplaces,
the deficiency is well made up, by means of the brasseiro, a large
circular cauldron well filled with burning charcoal, around which the
Portuguese dames get in congress, discussing the affairs of the
nation, while they enjoy the genial temperature diffused by the heated
but rather suffocating embers.

Many religious buildings are to be found here; and among them the most
remarkable is the Nunnery of St. Clara; a stupendous mass of masonry,
affording, with its chapel and other appendages of monastic style, a
good specimen of these saintly prisons. Enclosing this grave of all
that is fair and lovely, is a wall above twenty feet in height, which
gives the concern a fortified appearance, and renders escape
impossible. The only mode of ingress is by means of a huge pair of
folding doors, which in general are kept securely fastened by locks of
ponderous dimensions. From the court yard the passage leads, by a long
flight of stone steps, to the visiting rooms, to which strangers and
friends of the imprisoned are admitted. In the centre of the thick and
solid wall of this apartment is an opening about six feet square,
furnished with a substantial iron grating, separating the aforesaid
room from another, in which the Lady Abbess with her nuns may
condescend to appear. The visitors being permitted the freedom of
familiar converse, a round of chattering and gossip soon commences,
the gaiety of which, by no means corresponding with vows of retirement
from the world, would rather imply, on the part of the novices, a
desire to participate once more in its lately forsaken joys and
pleasures.

The Capuchin convent is a venerable looking pile, standing in the
midst of a thick wood, near the town. Although dark and solitary with
regard to aspect and situation, within its walls is collected as jolly
a set of monks and friars as ever met together, who living, or rather
merely existing, in a state of lazy indolence, are supported by the
deluded multitude, and supplied most plentifully with an abundance of
good things. On visiting this tomb of fish, flesh, and fowl, soon
after my arrival here, I found that the friars had concluded their 12
o'clock repast, and were preparing to take their usual _siesta_ in the
galleries, while the mendicants and pauper monks, below, were feasting
on the remnants of the banquet left by the reverend fathers. From a
spacious vaulted chamber I descended, by a narrow passage of stone
steps, into the kitchen or refectory, where presented to view were
many indications of the luxurious and sensual manner in which those
holy men mortify their living members. Within a fireplace of immense
capacity lay the expiring embers of the fagots used in cooking their
repast, and around were numerous stoves and ovens, the walls being
garnished with a multitude of culinary apparatus, and other articles
for household service. In the calderio, and kettles, were still the
smoking remains of mutton, beef, and vegetables, together with an
endless variety of savoury food, well flavoured with oil and garlick,
the perfumes from which, though not by any means agreeable to me, were
snuffed up by numerous hinds and paysanos, grinning with delight, as
they peeped through the door on the tempting provender, while they
stood in the grand hall of the convent. These half-starved varlets,
together with a horde of begging friars, with ropes tied round their
bodies, (that in many of them would have been more appropriate
ornaments for their necks), were called into the kitchen, by an old
barefooted monk, habited in a cloak and cowl, who did the duty of head
cook to the fraternity. With an air of importance, and no sparing
hand, he served out to them potsfull of the compound; the poor
wretches received the dole in cork vessels, and made a hearty meal,
devouring it ravenously, while they squatted like so many hungry Turks
at the porch of the establishment.

On the first of September, 1811, we broke up from our cantonments at
Borba, and commenced our march for Portalegre. Under a burning sun,
and parched with thirst and heat, we arrived at Monteforte in the
evening; and on the following day once more entered Portalegre, where
we took up our quarters near a large open space called the Praça de
Rocio. The sufferings of the men were extreme during this route, for,
loaded as they were, each with three days provisions, and sixty rounds
of ball cartridge, together with a well filled knapsack, they were
almost overcome; and on arriving at the termination of this journey
were scarcely able to proceed to their allotted billets. Many went
into the hospital, and for a considerable time the regiment did not
recover from the effects of that unusually long and harassing march.
The officers, most of whom walked, were likewise foundered, and the
sick report was for several weeks after filled with their names.
Ensign Alexander Hay, a very promising young man, who had joined at
Torre de Moro, with the detachment last come out, was attacked by
fever, in consequence of drinking incautiously of cold water while
under the influence of excessive heat, and he died in a few days,
sincerely regretted by his companions and brother soldiers.

Our stay at Portalegre was unmarked by any extraordinary event. The
miserable quarters in which the 50th was condemned to pass the winter
months, were rather calculated to diminish our zeal for military life,
while on the other hand, their attractions being so slight, our ardour
to embark in some active business was rather encreased than otherwise.
We had not, indeed, been exactly placed so as to encounter all the
inclemency of the weather, but we had indisputably undergone a
tolerably rough seasoning while stationed there. My quarters were at
the house of Donna Elvira, an ancient maiden, who had counted at least
fifty winters, her forbidding aspect might lead one to presume that no
small portion of the murky gloom of those winters had been imparted to
her visage, which frowned in a darkened scowl upon her ill-fated
guest. A dilapidated hovel was the tenement of this famed sybil, and
scanty indeed was the accommodation afforded within its shattered
walls; like those in the suburbs of all Portuguese towns, it was
fraught with poverty; and, as if to harmonize more with its dingy
patrona, all the appendages contained therein were of broken, filthy,
and crumbling materials.

I was introduced by the aforesaid hostess into a chamber of sadness,
without the vestige of any thing in the shape of furniture to garnish
its interior; with the exception of two broken chairs, and a rickety
table, as venerable as their proprietor, tottering upon three legs,
gnawed into holes by vermin, hordes of which had long maintained
undisturbed possession of the premises. After throwing an old
colchao upon a floor unswept for ages, the presiding genius of the
place departed slowly, muttering from her toothless jaws sundry
uncouth sounds, which had very much the tone of maledictions.



CHAPTER IX.


Orders from Lord Wellington having arrived, General Hill was directed
to proceed with his division towards Merida and Caceres, in hopes of
being able to surprise and intercept a corps of the French army, under
General Girard, as well as to re-open the communication between La
Pena's Spanish troops and those of Castanos. The 2nd division marched
accordingly, on the 22nd of October, from Portalegre and the out
quarters. The 1st brigade, consisting of the 50th, 71st, and 92nd,
under Major General Howard, was on the alarm post at an early hour;
and by daylight we were pretty far on our route in the direction
previously ordered.

When the clouds and mist had cleared away, the ancient castle of
Alegrete, placed on the summit of a barren chain of mountains was
discernible. To our left extended a long range of heights, in some
parts clothed with wood, and in others with verdant pasture, the
brightness of which gave the prospect a lively effect. The road was
broken and uneven, and, in general, so bad, that our baggage animals
could scarcely make their way. Towards noon the heaviest rain we had
ever experienced set in, increasing as we pushed onwards against the
storm, pelting most furiously, and blown into our faces through the
clefts and openings of the mountain sides close to which we travelled.
We were thoroughly wet to the skin, benumbed by the intense coldness
of the cutting blast, and well nigh deprived of life and motion.
However, supporting each other with hopes of better times, we jogged
on amidst the ceaseless war of hail, wind and rain. We halted at the
village of Codiceira, just within the Spanish frontier, where a few of
us darted into one of the best looking habitations we could see.
There, after taking up without ceremony a good position in the chimney
corner, and before a blazing pile of fagots, we got rid of our well
drenched garments; in exchange for which, cloaks and mantillas were
supplied by the hands of a benevolent old dame, whose exertions to
administer comfort to our exhausted frames deserve to be recorded in
the annals of her country.

While we are enjoying the comforts of this snug place of refuge, I
will take the opportunity of saying a few words as to certain persons
who seemed to think that we had no title to such a luxury. The
dragoons sometimes acted towards the infantry in rather a cavalier
manner, and appeared to treat them as if they were quite an inferior
order of beings. Whether it was because they had the honour of being a
little more elevated from the ground, or that to their visage were
appended the whisker and mustachio, and they talked their mother
tongue in a lisping style, it would be difficult to determine. It is
at all events pretty certain, that many of them, recently imported
from the purlieus of St. James's, assumed a great variety of airs and
graces, unbecoming in the field, however beautiful they might have
seemed in Bond Street, and which the rough and dirty work of war and
fighting failed to do away with. I can never forget the conduct of one
of their noble sprigs, whose regiment happened to arrive at the town
when we were halted. It was a poor place after a hard march, under bad
weather and very heavy rain, but we were glad to obtain any sort of
shelter in the wretched village. We had scarcely entered, when our
ears were saluted with the noise of cavalry, coming down the street,
and in a short space we had a sample of dragooning, such as it would
be vain to look for even among the Cherokees.

Three or four of us were seated round the wide fireplace of a Spanish
hearth, after taking off our well drenched jackets and accoutrements,
and were enjoying the benefit of a fine blazing pile of fire, the very
counterpart of that I have just described, and our servants were
preparing for the culinary operations, when a loud hammering was heard
at the door of the hovel, accompanied by the clanking of carbines,
sabres, sabredashes, and other warlike appurtenances. At the same
moment, in burst a tall, raw-boned trooper, (armed cap-a-pied, with a
countenance well furnished with a most abundant crop, in which the
crows might have built their nest,) followed by two others, carrying
sundry hampers belonging to their masters. The intruder, who proved to
be the officer commanding, gazed with awful stare upon the lodgers
already in the house, and drawing himself up, as if, like Sampson, he
were about to raise the building on his shoulders, called, or rather
growled out, in the tone of an angry mastiff, while he curled the
points of his black mustachios, "these quarters are not too good for a
Col--o--nel of Dra--goons--eh!" and suiting the action to the word, he
flung his implements of war on a table close at hand, with a degree of
violence that shook our frail tenement to its base. His claims to
supremacy being intimated to us, we gathered up our traps, and bundled
out indignantly, looking round, with no very gracious glances, at the
statue in whose possession we quietly left the premises, to go in
search of another billet.

There was a want of courtesy and good feeling here, not in any way
consistent with high bearing, and these, with many other traits of
character, produced a jealousy between us, so that no very cordial
intimacy could take place; nor was there much love wasted on either
side. Engaged in one common cause, in duty on the same field together,
all those ideas of superiority should have been forgotten, and those
heroes with spurs of at least half a yard in length, should have
packed up all their high opinions and fine notions, and sent them to
the stores in England, there to be made use of at some future period.
Such commodities never do for service, nor will they harmonize with
camp or bivouac. They may pass current at home, where the pride of
wealth, gold lace, and dress, go far to raise a man in public
estimation; but lying in a wet ditch, or stretched by the side of a
tree upon the ground, with a tattered cloak for covering, they are of
little value. In that situation, a good blanket, and a well filled
haversack, are worth all the lace, fringe, feathers, and aiguillettes
in the British army.

About this time I remember an officer joined our camp from England,
with a canteen profusely stocked, as well as a good kit. He was
moreover a well dressed young man, apparently fresh from the hands of
Dodd, of St. James's Street, equipped in garments that seemed as if
they were pasted on his body, besides a grey frock coat, lined
throughout with silk, and adorned with frogs and tassels in
abundance.

Such a set of poor unfortunate gypsies as we were must have been
doubtless held in little estimation by our hero, who viewed with scorn
our dingy costume, tarnished and tattered in so vile a manner that
even a Jew broker or an Irish beggarman would have scarcely picked
them up. We had however each of us a good blanket, (and some had two)
that was designed a double debt to pay--

    "By night a coverlet,
    A saddle cloth by day."

Johnny Newcome, well scented, had a good stock of odours and essences
for service in the field; and instead of beef or rum, his hampers were
amply stored with otto of roses, macassar oil, and other articles of
sweet perfume. He glanced with horror at our ugly trim, but when he
beheld the saddle cloth, he laughed outright, and called us, "blanket
merchants."

It was then cold and wintry weather, the rain occasionally came down
in torrents, so that when the night set in, we found our friendly
coverlet a most timely aid. The green-horn, who was certainly one of
his majesty's hard bargains, eyed us most wistfully askance, and,
shivering in his stays and broadcloth, envied the old stagers while he
tried to crouch from the rain and nipping air under any shelter he
could find.

One of our fellows, an admirable wag, peeped out from beneath his
fleecy counterpane, and observing the plight of Master Superfine, who
lay ensconced behind the stump of an old tree, he hallooed, and
bellowed out so that the whole camp might hear him, "Halloo, old boy!
How do you like the blanket merchants now?" The field was in an uproar
at the joke, and the unfortunate recruit having no desire for war's
alarms, of which he had seen quite enough to damp his fiery spirit,
took himself away soon after, and the Blanketeers never had the
pleasure of seeing his pretty face again.

Having despatched these gentlemen, we will now pursue our march, in
search of General Girard. Early in the morning, on the 23rd of
October, the troops were assembled, and about day-light, it being
clear and fine, we were on the road to Albuquerque. At a considerable
distance, the celebrated castle appeared towering above the hills that
constitute a branch of those which extend from the Sierra de
Arronches, in Portugal, into the heart of Spanish Estrimadura.

Having gained the heights, we entered the town at its base by a narrow
causeway, paved with large stones. Albuquerque, which gave the title
of Duke to a patriot general, is a populous, and good sized place,
enclosed by lofty turreted walls. Similar to others throughout the
country, the houses are flat-roofed, and the streets narrow, close
and dirty.

Marching again on the 24th we passed through the thick woods bounding
the Sierra, our route lying over a wide and level plain. It was late
in the afternoon when we halted in a valley of broom, interspersed
with cork and chestnut trees, beneath the spreading branches of which
we took shelter for the night, and, wrapped up in warm cloaks and
blankets, around huge bundles of burning cork, solaced our weary limbs
after the labours of the day. The only habitation that we saw upon the
desolate road, was a sort of Posada, a large tenement, standing on the
brow of a steep hill, called La Caza de la Castilana. We continued
during the whole of the following day, on the same line and at a late
hour halted on the top of a high and bleak promontory, exposed to the
rain, and all the miseries of a dismal bivouac; but so completely were
we jaded, that we enjoyed good sleep without the aid of rocking; our
chamber was sheltered from the northern blast by large bushes of thick
broom. Travelling for the remainder of the night, we arrived on the
morning of the 26th at Malpartida, a small straggling village, in the
midst of barren grounds, with a most abundant crop of stones. The
inhabitants appeared to be decent and well clad; the women were
good-looking, with ruddy cheeks, and the full glow of health. A number
of buxom wenches, with stout rotundity of limbs, were seated at the
door of their humble mansions on our approach; most of whom were
employed in knitting, and seemed, by the eager glance of their keen
black eyes, to enjoy the novel dress and martial bearing of our
soldiers.

These fair ones were clothed in many colours, their bodies in jackets
of brown cloth, and petticoats to match, of sparing length, thereby
exposing to the rude and vulgar gaze of man their well formed
pedestals. Those were encased in blue stockings with red clocks, and,
to complete this part of their attire, well polished shoes with brass
clasps were appendages of which they were not a little vain. The
mantilla of blue or yellow, gracefully thrown across the shoulders,
and a profusion of rich dark hair, neatly tied with various ribbons,
imparted to the figure an air of peculiar liveliness and interest.

We started from Malpartida betimes on the 27th. The rain again poured
down on us with violence, and throughout the day there was but little
intermission. We rested in a field, near the village of San Antonio,
under a most inclement and desperate night, without the means of
cover, or any refuge from the weather. Fires were not permitted, lest
the enemy should discover our movements, and, as it was intended to
come upon them unawares, we travelled without the slightest noise, the
most rigid silence being preserved in all our movements.

Before daylight we were drawn up in the neighbourhood of Arroyo del
Molino. This place lies on the borders of a wide forest, extending
along the base of the Sierra de Montanches, and was scarcely visible
above the trees, the church-spire alone pointing out its retired and
lonely situation, beneath the adjacent hills.

As the mist, by which the distant Sierra was mantled, gradually
withdrew, we discovered that the French troops were, at that hour,
quietly enough lodged in the town. Little dreaming of the near
vicinity of such unwelcome visitors, they were in the full enjoyment
of their slumbers; and, as they had made no arrangement to guard
against surprise, our unlooked for arrival threw them into the utmost
consternation.

The 1st brigade halted on some rising ground, on the road leading to
the village, into which the 71st Light Infantry was promptly
despatched to pay their respects, as well as to assist Monsieur in the
adjustment of his toilet.

Advancing cautiously in double quick time towards the streets, without
noise or sound of bugle, the light bobs soon gained possession of all
the principal outlets, and although the alarm given by the enemy's
pickets flew like lightning throughout the cantonments, their cavalry
alone, (many of whom were pulling up their saddle girths), succeeded
in making a good retreat before our men appeared. Their infantry,
however, after starting from their beds, out of which they had with so
little ceremony been roused, hastened with all speed towards the wood,
and having extended themselves along its boundaries, a close and well
directed fire was immediately opened on both sides; but the 71st in a
little time pressing in rapidly, followed by the 50th and 92nd, the
Frenchmen gave way in all directions. Retiring across the plain, into
the depth of the forest, they flung away knapsacks, accoutrements, and
other trappings, by which they were encumbered, making, as they
vanished among the trees, such very good use of their legs, that we
found it no easy matter to keep them within hail, or within the range
of those missiles that were despatched to bring them to.

While those performances were going forward, the 3rd brigade, together
with some cavalry, made a rapid flank movement on the Merida road. In
consequence of this, the fugitives became hemmed in, between our
troops and the mountain ridge, on the left. Making a last and
desperate effort, they tried to scramble up the rugged face of the
precipice, but failing in their exertions, the principal number of
their veterans fell into our hands, their leader Girard, with a few of
his ill-fated companions alone escaping across the steep and nearly
impassable heights. Among the officers of rank who became prisoners
was the Prince d'Aremberg. The whole of their guns, baggage, and
commissariat, were left on the field.

A more complete coup-de-main was not made during the war; it was
executed in a manner honourable alike to the military skill and the
courage of our justly respected Chief of Division, General Hill, by
whose talent and steady perseverance the brilliant achievement was
planned, and carried to a successful termination, in spite of the
obstacles opposed by a long march in the most inclement weather. The
object of the expedition was attained in the fullest manner, and the
consequences were most important to the prosperity of the succeeding
campaign.

The firing on all sides having ceased, and the prisoners being
collected under sufficient escort, preparatory to their final exit
from the coast, our brigade proceeded in open column along the plain,
on emerging from which we entered the high road to Merida, on the
Guadiana, passing on to the right of the lofty Sierra. In the woods
about five leagues further we encamped, and on the following day, the
29th of October, we marched into the old town of Merida, when on the
30th we halted.

This ancient town had been completely plundered, and thrown into a
state of ruin and desolation, by the frequent visits of the invaders.
The celebrated buildings, which for ages had stood secure from the
ravages of any other hand than that of time, were now either partially
dismantled, burned, or destroyed. The remains of a Roman amphitheatre,
and those of the Triumphal Arch, built by the Emperor Trajan, are
still, however, in good preservation, and together with the numerous
vestiges of ancient structure are well deserving the attention of the
antiquary.

The convents, nunneries, and other religious edifices, were converted
into barracks and stables for the French army, and therefore exhibited
nothing but naked walls, blackened and scorched by the fires made
therein. The only place of worship that escaped the general wreck was
the grand cathedral in the Plaza, which being a large unsightly pile,
built without taste or uniformity, is not particularly ornamental to
the town. Beyond the outskirts, are the ruins of an aqueduct, which
bears upon its venerable front evidence sufficient of past
respectability, and, though many centuries have rolled away since it
was erected, several of its arches are still in a perfect state. On
the road to Truxillo a new aqueduct has been built, which is not so
light or well finished as the old one. The bridge across the Guadiana
is remarkable for its great length and solidity; it has seventy-four
arches, a great number of which are over a low marsh, on the banks of
the river, dry in the summer months. The extent between each extremity
is about eight-hundred yards. There are watch towers and seats along
the battlements, and the whole structure, composed of a greyish stone,
is well cemented, and seems formed to stand for as many more ages as
it has already stood.

Passing through Montijo and Talavera de la Real, we arrived on the 1st
of November at Campo Mayor, in Portugal, where we found good quarters
and civil inhabitants. The town is fortified, and is distant three
leagues from Elvas, and three from Badajos.

Campo Mayor was attacked and taken about a year before by the French,
who afterwards gave it up as a situation unworthy of the garrison
necessary to defend it. The houses are generally solid and well built,
most of them had, however, been plundered and stripped of their
interior workmanship and furniture, by their late visitors.--The
streets are narrow, dirty, and ill-paved, but there are a number of
respectable and well supplied shops. The market is good, and was well
stocked with the abundant produce of the fertile country by which it
is surrounded.

Campo Mayor was at one time one of the richest and most considerable
towns in the Alentejo; but since the period at which this part of
Portugal became the immediate seat of war, and the French and British
troops alternately came into possession of the place, it has suffered
greatly; a number of its principal houses and public buildings having
been burned, and its castle, citadel, and works, much injured by both
armies. There is a curious charnel house in the main street, the walls
of which are composed entirely of human skulls, laid and cemented
together in regular layers. The establishment has a most horrid
appearance, as beheld through the bars of a small grating, and is
rendered still more dismal by the pale glimmering light thrown around
by a lamp suspended from the arched roof of the death-like sepulchre.
The inhabitants of Campo Mayor evinced much joy on our arrival; our
late successes encouraged them to receive us with the warmest welcome,
which they testified by every possible demonstration of merriment and
festivity.



CHAPTER X.


We remained at Campo Mayor until the 4th of November, and from thence
marched to Portalegre and Albuquerque, at which latter town we took up
our quarters on the 4th of March, 1812. The intervening period, spent
at our old station in Portalegre, affording no event worthy of record,
I pass on to describe some matters relative to our new cantonments,
particularly as those from which we had so lately departed, and where
we had remained for many a dreary month, have already been noticed
quite as well as they deserve.

The house in which I had the honour of being entertained with "_good
dry lodging_," was built after the same plan as those usually
tenanted by the lower orders, throughout this part of Spain; its
interior premises consisting of a large paved space at the entrance,
from which the ascent to a black-looking chamber, doing the duty of a
kitchen, was by means of an irregular flight of stone steps. The dingy
apartment, scantily furnished, was enlightened, or rather the darkness
of it made visible, by a small casement without glass; and the
premises were so badly roofed that numerous chinks through the loose
and broken tiles served to render unnecessary the use of a chimney,
the smoke easily finding egress through them. Fortunately the climate
here is generally mild, and hence the admission of fresh air is often
desirable. The ground floor, besides the hall or space already
mentioned, exhibited on one side a small room, containing the sleeping
apparatus, and on the other an opening, by a huge door, into the
dormitory of the quadrupeds, adjacent to which were sundry holes and
corners, for wood, forage, and lumber at discretion.

From Albuquerque we again departed, and after various marchings and
countermarchings, we were at last conducted to Dom Benito, where we
arrived on the 22nd of March, having previously halted for a few days
at Almendralejo.

Dom Benito is a large town, with a population of about five-thousand
souls, and is situated in the heart of a most productive country.

I was billetted on the house of Don Diego Ramirez, whose family
consisted of four fat good looking damsels, two children, and his
spouse, a garrulous matron, who was very officious on this occasion. I
was ushered into a handsome and well furnished chamber, where I was
immediately introduced to my worthy patron, a fine jolly old don; we
seated ourselves round an ample brasseiro, well stored with charcoal,
and were soon engaged in noisy prattle and gossip, with a fluency
worthy of the most experienced adepts in the science. According to
custom, sundry good-humoured wenches attended at the sideboard,
pouring out the limped fluid to those who were inclined to qualify for
the Temperance Society. Supper being introduced, Don Diego presided in
the style of a true Major Domo. The feast consisted of a large dish of
sallad and oil, with other ingredients; sweet meats in abundance
supplied the place of more nutritious food; while, by way of
interlude, sausages and garlick appeared, by which our olfactory
nerves were agreeably regaled. These were followed by other varieties
in the kickshaw line, and, in order to promote the hilarity of our
carousals, wine of generous quality was freely served. The young
senoras, too, were by no means shy of helping themselves to bumpers of
that enlivening beverage, filled out in glasses of dimensions similar
to our English tumblers. One of the damsels, named Margaritta,
entertained the company with a few pleasant songs on the guitar,
accompanied by the voice of her sister Francisca, while Dolores, a
pretty little girl with black eyes, danced a bolero, twirling the
castanets in a most bewitching style, to the delight and admiration of
the joyous circle.

The Spaniards seem, at all times, to have a soul for music, and
chiefly do they love the plaintive strain, as sung by the peasant
girls in their enchanting manner. They are extremely fond of the
Scotch bagpipe, and when the Highland corps appeared among them, all
ranks and ages run to their doors and windows to listen with rapture
to their piper Sandy, while he played along the streets.

Before the siege of Badajos commenced, the 2nd Division was ordered to
march in the direction of that garrison, for the purpose of forming a
part of the corps of observation, destined to counteract any
interruption to our plans, which might be threatened by the Duke of
Dalmatia, who at this time lay with his army in the neighbourhood of
Seville, in Andalusia. The Divisions of Generals Hill and Graham were
accordingly encamped in the woods before Talavera de la Real, three
leagues from Badajos, and on the left bank of the Guadiana.

The fate of Badajos being decided, that fortress having been taken by
storm, on the night of the 6th of April 1812, the 2nd Division
remained in bivouac for some days, during which time, accompanied by a
brother officer, I obtained permission to visit the scene of action.
Passing through Talavera de la Real, we travelled all day, by the
level road along the plain, and near the margin of the river. It was
late before we arrived near the outworks. The evening was remarkably
fine after the preceding close and sultry day; as the air was calm and
serene, the most awful stillness prevailed around, undisturbed save by
the occasional croaking of frogs, and a murmuring sound from the
battlements, on which the footsteps of the sentinel could almost be
heard. In the neighbourhood of the castle, likewise, all was still.
The walls, so lately filled with combatants, frowned in dusky masses
amidst the gloom. The darkness at length became so great, that it was
not without some trouble that we managed to grope our way; we could
make but a slow progress among the ruinous _materiel_ of the siege, in
consequence of our getting entangled in the dismantled batteries,
ditches, trenches, gun-carriages, and many other things scattered
about wherever we ventured to proceed. The solitude of the desert now
reigned in a place where many a gallant fellow had so recently fallen.
While we were pressing onward, we perceived a glimmering from the
entrance of a tent, and finding that Lieutenant Reid, of the
Engineers, was the inhabitant, we asked permission to rest under his
canvass until daylight; a request which he freely granted. We pursued
our course next morning through the different approaches, and with
difficulty gained the drawbridge, from whence, after having taken a
hasty survey of the works, as well as the ground by which the columns
of assault had made their first advance, we continued over the glacis
and covered way towards the main breach. Here there was sufficient to
account for the dreadful slaughter that took place; for so precipitous
was the ascent that, in the open day, without the slightest
hinderance, the task of clambering up its front was by no means easy
of performance.

The work of storming this formidable breach was gallantly attempted by
the 4th and light divisions, which marched boldly up the steep, but,
owing to the numerous destructive means employed against them by the
enemy, few were allowed to attain the summit of the dangerous pass.

A fire, close, and exterminating, was opened upon the troops, and
various other deadly missiles were showered incessantly upon the solid
advancing mass, which was rendered distinctly visible by the glare of
fire-balls and rockets. Bodies of the slain lay heaped about the
ditch, sad and direful proofs of the fearful struggle on that
well-remembered night.

Having succeeded, by means of scrambling, though not without a fall or
two, in arriving at the top, our further movement was impeded by
several defenses, the principal of which was a wicked looking chevaux
de frise, manufactured in a skilful way, being a stout cylindrical
block of timber, bristled with sharp pointed sword blades. Its
extremities were mortised into the stonework of the parapet, by thick
iron staples. This infernal machine was flanked by various cuts or
hollows, scooped out of the revêtement, on either side, from whence
well directed volleys of musketry were discharged, enfilading the
whole range of approach, and proving most fatal to our men. Still
further, in support of them, were deep and impassable entrenchments,
covered by loop holed walls, lined during the assault with valiant
soldiers under the command of Phillippon himself. When British valour
failed against such obstacles it will easily be believed that they
must have been formidable indeed.

According to the statements made by those who witnessed the events
that occurred on the surrender of the fortress, "the pillage and
destruction that ensued, together with the riot and marauding, were
such as to entail indelible disgrace upon the men who were concerned.
A superficial outline is the most that could be given of the confusion
that prevailed throughout the place. On all sides drunkenness and
tumult appeared amidst the badly lighted streets, while soldiers, and
followers of the camp, together with hordes of reckless villains,
revelling in plunder, were mingled in parties, shouting and hallooing
with clamourous tongues. Such of the ill-fated and miserable
inhabitants, who had escaped the perils of the siege, were running to
and fro, seeking for protection from the brutal attacks of an
infuriated and savage multitude. Women and children were huddled
together in groups, wildly staring, as they crouched into holes and
corners, and cried loudly in despair for that assistance which it was
impossible to render."[18]

          [18] From an eye witness.

By many winding passages we made our way to the castle, the lofty
walls of which were so bravely stormed by the heroic Major Ridge of
the 5th and his handful of resolute followers. Nothing short of a
miracle appears to have caused the success of these men; for the
rampart, which they were forced to scale by means of ladders much too
short, was not only of tremendous height, but guarded at every point
and embrasure by the most experienced veterans of the French army. The
enterprise was indeed one of the most daring that ever was undertaken,
and the execution of it evinced, in a remarkable manner, the coolness
and bravery of those who were engaged.[19]

          [19] Ensign Canch, of the 5th Grenadiers, was the officer
          called on by Ridge to support him. Canch nobly answered the
          summons, and survived, but his gallant Major was slain.

Before we departed from the place, we called to see a brother officer,
Lieut. McCarthy, who, while serving as Engineer, was severely wounded
in the assault.[20] Having enlivened the poor fellow by our visit, we
bade farewell to Badajos, and with feelings excited in no small degree
by the effect of all that we had witnessed, we set forth from the
gates of that fortress in rather a sorrowful tone of mind. In this
wood we retraced our path along the banks of the Guadiana, and found
the regiment encamped in the woods where we had left them posted.

          [20] McCarthy's conduct on this occasion is recorded in the
          life of the late Sir Thomas Picton, who commanded the 3rd
          Division.

          "Arrived in the ditch, the leading engineer, Lieut.
          McCarthy, 50th Regt. who had volunteered his services, found
          that the ladders had been laid upon the paling of the ditch.
          This brave officer finding that these palings had not yet
          been removed, and that they formed a considerable barrier to
          the advance of the men, cried out--'Down with the palings!'
          and immediately applying his own hands to effect this, with
          the assistance of a few others, he succeeded in forcing them
          down. Through this gap rushed Picton, followed by his men,
          but so thick was the fire upon this point, that death seemed
          inevitable."--Life of Picton, vol. ii., p. 96.

          McCarthy's injury was a compound fracture of the thigh.



CHAPTER XI.


The troops broke up from the neighbourhood of the Guadiana about the
12th of April, and, after remaining at Almendralejo and other places,
without the occurrence of any thing strange or interesting, the 1st
brigade of the 2nd Division arrived at Truxillo, in Spain, on the 15th
of May.

Orders having been given for the brigade to march, and possess itself
of the forts and Pass of Almaraz, on the Tagus, we moved off, on the
16th, to accomplish the object of the expedition. Our route was long
and wearisome, extending throughout the following night. By daybreak,
on the morning of the 17th, we found ourselves on the declivity of a
range of steep and craggy mountains, the broken and precipitous sides
of which we had been ascending for some hours before, by a narrow
pathway among the rocks, all trace of its windings being almost lost
amidst the wilderness of heath and broom. The night was bleak and
chilling, while we were thus endeavouring to explore the passage, that
lay in the direction of the river, upon the banks of which the forts
were situated. In consequence of the main road being commanded by the
castle of Miravete, our further progress in that line was arrested,
and we proceeded, by a similar path to that which we had already
travelled, into a still more wild and desolate region. With much toil
and labour, we pursued our dark and lonesome way, in some parts hardly
better than a sheepwalk, which did not seem to have ever been trodden
by human footsteps.

The Sierra upon which we had the felicity of being perched had
somewhat of an Alpine character--huge grey rocks and broken and desert
hills forming throughout a dreary and inhospitable prospect. The
silence of the barren waste was interrupted only by the footsteps of
our troops, and the moaning sound of the wind, mingled with the
screaming of sundry birds of prey, which seemed to reproach their
intruders for breaking in upon their haunts, where for ages their race
had lived secure from the ruthless violence of man. On this mountain
ridge we remained during the 17th, getting all in readiness for the
delicate piece of work which was cut out for us. Pickets and guards
were thrown out upon the most commanding points, secured by whose
vigilance we made all the requisite arrangements for the intended
assault.

We moved off the alarm-post about nightfall on the 18th, and continued
our way across the mountain ridge in a direction unmarked by any
distinguishable track. It was at first intended to surprise the forts
before daylight. The difficult nature of the road rendered it,
however, impossible to effect this object, and we had, in consequence,
no alternative but to march boldly on. Having gained the open country,
we were halted under cover of some rising ground, sloping downwards to
the fort. Here we waited for the rear of the column to move up, as
well as for the signal to advance; and having had some breathing time,
we were soon in readiness for the word. The morning was clear and
pleasant, and it continued fine throughout the day.

The 50th regiment, commanded by Colonel Charles Stewart, flanked by
five companies of the 71st, was ordered to storm Fort Napoleon; while
the 92nd, with the remainder of the 71st, were to force the Tete du
pont, and the works on the opposite banks of the river. The anxious
moment at length arrived, when Lord Hill riding up to the 50th, with a
coolness worthy of that distinguished man, gave orders for the
assault. The word to advance was instantly hailed by the troops, while
at the same time they made a rapid and steady movement to the front,
and pressed onward towards the summit of the hill. The moment our caps
appeared we were saluted with a volley of round shot, canister and
small arms; by way of sample, or as an earnest of the reception we
might expect. Nothing daunted, however, by this very rough treatment,
our little columns still rushed on, though under such a galling
shower, and the whole of the _glacis_ was speedily covered by our
men. The assault was directed on three faces of the battery; the right
wing of the 50th being led on by Colonel Stewart, and the left by
Major Harrison, the remaining column was commanded by Major Cother, of
the 71st. The moment was critical in the extreme, for at least
thirteen pieces of cannon were playing away on us, while driving along
in double quick time, the grape shot rattling among our bayonets,
dealt out death and destruction through our already diminished ranks,
the soldiers falling in numbers right and left. "Onward! forward to
the ditch!" was now called out, as the storming party rapidly
advanced, and with desperate resolution all hurried, under an
incessant raking fire, to the foot of the ramparts.

Having attained the ground work of the ditch, and established a firm
lodgment therein, it soon became pretty clear, that, however strong
our fire-eating habits might be, we should find this spot by far too
warm a berth for any very protracted residence, and we therefore
commenced the most prompt and vigorous measures to escalade the walls;
but, the ladders being unfortunately rather short, our efforts were
for some time fruitless. By this mischance considerable havoc was
occasioned; for while we were endeavouring to raise the ladders, the
French grenadiers, whose great bearskin caps and whiskered faces
ornamented the breastwork overhead, hurled down upon us with ruthless
vengeance an infinite variety of missiles. Anxious to dislodge such
ugly customers, they were in no wise particular as to what they made
use of for the purpose; rolling down fragments of rock, stones of huge
dimensions, round shot, glass bottles, and many other articles in the
small way, so that had our pates been composed of adamantine stuff
they could scarcely have resisted an _avalanche_ so direful. In this
situation, numbers of the men were killed or wounded, and when some of
the most daring attempted to climb, they were either dispatched or
tumbled over before they reached the summit.

The highest angle of the wall, on the northeast side, was furiously
attacked by the 4th battalion company, whose leader, Captain Robert
Chandler,[21] with a noble spirit, was first to ascend at this point.
Waving his sword as he stood on the topmost rail of the ladder, he
called on his men to push forward closely; and he then jumped on the
ledge of the parapet; but while cheering on his gallant followers he
was blown to atoms, his shattered remains lying extended on the slope
of the rampart when the troops got in.

          [21] Chandler was a brave soldier, and a very active
          officer, and had served for some years as Adjutant in the
          31st Regiment. It was by merit alone that he obtained his
          company in the 50th. He fell justly lamented by all his
          companions in arms. Through the humane interference of Lord
          Hill, a liberal pension was granted to his destitute widow
          and two children.

Whilst the left wing was thus contending against superior numbers, and
knocking their heads literally upon stone walls, the grenadiers made
forcible entrance on the right of the fort; carrying all before them.
The Frenchmen were soon panic-struck, and by a general and
simultaneous rush made for the opposite sally port; while the troops
on the other flank, taking part in the performance, were completely
routed and fled across the drawbridge, to the tune of _Sauve qui
peut_.

Prisoners to the amount of two hundred fell into our hands, and these
fierce veterans, who had grinned so horribly upon us with their black
and whiskered jaws, while they entertained us in the ditch, were now
downcast and woebegone, on finding this unlooked-for termination to
the drama.

Clarimont, their gallant chief, the Governor of the Fort, refused to
surrender to our men, and being resolved to sell his life as dearly as
he could, he placed his back against the round tower in the centre of
the work, where with his sabre, he chopped away right and left,
cutting down any rash desperado who ventured to approach his weapon.
At length Sergeant Checker, of the 50th Lt. Company, a fine soldier,
exasperated by the stubborn obstinacy of the Frenchman, put an end to
his existence with his halbert; giving to the valiant governor the
fate which, in his despair, he so resolutely courted. The brave
Clairmont was buried at Merida, with military honours, his remains
being attended by the whole garrison, and the officers in command
there.[22]

          [22] Checker afterwards regretted that his hand should have
          given the fatal blow to so gallant an enemy.

          In consequence of his singular merits he became Sergeant
          Major of the regiment, and fell a victim to the yellow
          fever, in Jamaica.

          Many instances of signal bravery were displayed by our
          troops in storming Fort Napoleon. No one was more
          conspicuous on this occasion than Sergeant Major Lewis, of
          the 50th, who was so desperately wounded that he died in a
          few hours after the Fort was taken.

The Tete du pont, in like manner, fell before the bayonets of the 71st
and 92nd. The Gordon Highlanders, being rather fond of introducing the
cold steel upon all occasions, made free to give their opponents a
specimen of their abilities in that line, and so completely did they
settle the business, that we were scarcely lodged in Fort Napoleon,
when they were at the water side in full possession of their defences.

Those of the enemy who had succeeded in escaping from us and crossing,
let go the ropes on the opposite bank, leaving some of the boats to
float at discretion down the stream, thus cutting off their fugitives,
many of whom having crowded on the bridge found their career suddenly
arrested, and fell into the rapid torrent, or into the clutches of the
northerns which was quite as bad.

The pontoons being quickly put to rights, the passage of the Tagus was
soon accomplished, and the Scotchmen dashing forward Fort Ragusa was
seized without ceremony; the luckless garrison, together with the
stragglers from Fort Napoleon, literally taking French leave, fled
manfully and with astonishing speed on the high road to Almaraz.[23]

          [23] The Commandant of Fort Ragusa was shot at Talavera de
          la Reyna.

The works were all immediately dismantled, and a train of gunpowder
was laid to blow up the fort, in doing which some mismanagement arose
from a cause unknown, which was productive of a fatal accident. After
the fuse had been lighted, Lieut. Thril, of the German Artillery,
rashly entered to examine the train, when the whole concern blew up
with a most tremendous explosion, scattering the body of the
unfortunate Thiele in fragments to the four winds.

The forlorn hope was at first led on by Lieut. W. John Hemsworth of the
50th; but that officer being severely wounded in the head on the
glacis, the command was given to Lieut. Patrick Plunket, of the
grenadiers, who escaped unhurt, and is now Captain in the 80th
Regiment. The whole storming party may be said to have been a forlorn
hope, for all were equally exposed to danger, all entering nearly at
the same time. From the nature of the perilous enterprise our loss in
officers and men was necessarily great. Among those who were badly
wounded was Captain Robt. Fitzgerald Sandys who, after suffering for a
considerable period, sunk at last a victim to its effects--Sandys was
an Irishman, and very deservedly esteemed; he had served in the Light
Company during all the past campaigns, and I know of no man who was
more sincerely regretted on any account.

While advancing in command of his skirmishers to cover the approach of
the assailants, Captain Lewis Grant of the 71st was killed; he was an
active intelligent young officer, and was spoken of very highly by his
own regiment.

An affecting interview took place after the surrender of the fort,
between two brothers, Laurence and Patrick Egan, who were so strongly
attached that they were never content on separate duties--The eldest,
Laurence, or Larry as his comrades called him, being a batman, was
consequently ordered to remain in charge of the baggage of his
company, on the march of the Regiment. Prompted by a noble feeling, as
well as an ardent desire to be near his brother, this spirited young
soldier begged so earnestly for leave to join and meet the enemy with
his own companions, that he was at length permitted to do so.

The brothers behaved gallantly on the occasion, and maintained the
character of Irishmen. Patrick was mortally wounded during the
escalade, being one of the first to mount the ladder. Lying on the
rampart in a most painful state, he lingered out for some hours. Poor
Larry, in the joy of his heart on our success, ran to find out his
brother, whom he soon discovered extended in the agonies of death! A
more touching or affecting scene could not be witnessed, and, though
it was in humble life, it was moving to the hearts of all around. Many
who had long been callous to the horrors of a battle-field, and
familiarized to the work of slaughter, could have wept over the deep
sorrows of those truly brave and affectionate brothers. The mournful
Larry never regained his spirits, and fell in one of the subsequent
engagements. They were both excellent soldiers, having a good claim to
this feeble record of their worth.

Thus, within a short space of forty minutes from the first onset,
after a sharp contest, in which the 50th Regiment alone had a hundred
and fifty officers and men put _hors de combat_, was this brilliant
affair brought to a triumphant close. Of the wounded but few
recovered, so severe were the injuries which they sustained. The
British might justly be proud of the exploit, as it is confessed, even
by French historians, that "the Forts were susceptible of a long
defence."[24]

          [24] Total British loss in the affair; _Killed_--1 Captain,
          1 Lieutenant, 1 Sergeant and 30 Rank and File. _Wounded_--2
          Captains, 6 Lieutenants, 4 Ensigns, 10 Sergeants, 1 Drummer
          and 117 Rank and File.

On the examination of the stores after the capture, we were highly
pleased to find that the French had left us a valuable legacy.--Their
magazines were well stocked, not only with powder and ball, but with
an ample supply of provender, sufficient to rejoice the hearts of any
half-starved warriors; the quality, moreover, of these materials being
such as to gratify the palate of the most fastidious gourmand. To a
set of fellows in our sorry plight this was no very unpleasing
windfall, and fighting being allowed at all times to be very hungry
work, we proceeded, with appetites sharpened like our swords, on the
work of demolition; the lean and starving bullocks allotted for our
use being at the same time happy at the prospect of a respite from
the sentence of being cut up for rations by the remorseless knife.
Assembled on the esplanade, so lately the arena of our exploits,
fragments of the dainty fare were dispensed with liberal hand, under
the inspection of the quarter-master; and with a relish, that might
have put a town councillor to the blush, we dispatched the _vivres_
with as little ceremony as we had shown to the original proprietors of
the same; nor were we by any means over nice, as to the mode in which
our pic-nic repast was served or garnished.

Collected together in knots and parties, with the green sward for our
table-cloth, forgetful of the past, and careless about the future, we
feasted most sumptuously, drinking to our foes in their own generous
wine, and wishing that, in future campaigns, our adventures might be
terminated in an equally agreeable and fortunate manner.



CHAPTER XII.


We marched on the morning of the 20th of May, 1812, and on the 21st
entered our old quarters at Truxillo. The journey was fatiguing, but,
as we returned by the main road, our sufferings were not by any means
so great as they were on the former occasion.

Truxillo is large and populous, and appears from the remains of its
ancient buildings, castles, churches, and walls, to have once been a
place of considerable note, and one of the principal towns in this
part of Spain. From the hill, on which it stands, there is a
commanding view, even to the mountains of Miravete. The square is
spacious and uniform, the houses built in the Moorish style, their
upper compartments projecting, so as to form a range of handsome
piazzas underneath, where all the most respectable shops are situated.
The windows above, opening to the plaza, are furnished with handsomely
ornamented verandas and balconies, in front of which are appended
solid iron bars. The fair Senoras occasionally display their charms at
those windows, during the cooler hours, decked out in holyday robes
and gaiest attire, imparting a brilliancy of effect to their balconies
which it would be impossible for the most costly works of art to
rival.

On the South side of the Square, the attention of the stranger is
attracted to the splendid fabric, erected by the celebrated Pizarro,
to commemorate the successes of his victorious arms in the Western
hemisphere. It is large and solid, and of such ample dimensions that a
regiment of French soldiers found space to lodge therein. On the
surface of the flat roof are several marble figures, designed, it is
said, to represent the Peruvian princes and warriors who submitted to
the Spanish chief, in his wars against their nation. They remain,
however, monumental of the barbarous cruelties exercised towards a
harmless people, by a merciless tyrant, who is to this day
undeservedly held up to admiration in his native country.

The principal amusements of this place are the bull-fights. Soon after
our arrival there was one of those performances took place in the
Plaza de Torres, to celebrate our late exploits. It was a miserable
attempt to represent those exhibitions as they were in former days.
Two or three unfortunate bulls were driven, or rather tormented, into
a circle formed in the Square; they were then goaded by a multitude
of men and boys, until the animals became almost frantic; their
tormentors, throwing up hats, caps, cloaks, and sticks, while hooting
and yelling forth the most abominable noises. Although this afforded
_us_ but little sport, it was a means of collecting a large assemblage
of spectators, from all parts of the town and country, and the houses
around the Square were filled; the doors and balconies, as well as the
roofs, being crowded with the delighted amateurs. Numerous fair
damsels were among them, dressed out in gaudy colours, attended by
their duennas, to witness the barbarous entertainment.

Amidst the cries, yells, and shouting of the peasants in the ring, one
of the bulls, infuriated and lashed into rage, not only by his
persecutors in human form, but also by some ferocious mastiffs, would
occasionally make a desperate rush in upon the mob of ruffians, and
violently running down a fellow more daring than the others, would
toss him up with his horns several yards in the air, to the
inexpressible delight and admiration of the surrounding audience, who
expressed their savage joy in loud and deafening acclamations;
clapping their hands, and waving handkerchiefs and fans, by way of
approbation of the inhuman spectacle. At intervals, the peasants
paired off in the fandango, or bolero, with some fair sweetheart,
putting themselves through the most ridiculous antics, while
accompanied by the music of an old cracked guitar, or broken-winded
clarionet, performed on by some wretched artist.

Truxillo must have been in the days of yore a formidable place;
rendered so, not only by its elevated site, but also by the nature of
its defences, and a high wall, which in ancient times completely
encompassed it, of which the gates alone remain. The country
immediately around it is open, presenting but little appearance of any
sort of verdure, but in the direction of Almaraz, there are thick and
extensive forests, of oak and other trees.

On the 12th of June we marched to Fuentes del Maestro, where I got
into capital quarters, at the house of Don Diego Dias, which, though
it had been occupied by French Dragoons, the Don made tolerably
habitable, furnishing a good bed, in an old barrack of a room. It had
formerly been the residence of a nobleman, but the constant
thoroughfare of the French had long since caused its owner to quit the
country, leaving at the mercy of the plundering crew his property and
his dwelling. The wreck and havoc which were made upon his furniture,
and the interior of the mansion, fully justified the fears of its
original possessor.

On the 1st of September, we again resumed our journey towards the
interior; and, marching some hours before daylight, we arrived when it
became clear, at La Hava. Our road, for the most part, lay over a
country thinly planted with olive trees, but producing numerous
fruitful vines. On approaching La Hava, the distant spires of Don
Benito became discernible, and, on passing two leagues further,
appeared the mountain of Marcella, upon the highest part of which
stands the castle and village of Marcella. The former is an old
fortified ruin, having a round tower in the centre, and the latter a
poor miserable place, consisting of a few wretched hovels crowded
together.

Like all the small towns, in this part of Spain, we found La Hava a
collection of insignificant habitations, thrown into a group, without
order or regularity, as if the place had suddenly dropped from the
clouds; the chapel, as usual, in the centre, being the most prominent
object in this confused assemblage of nondescript dwellings.

We entered Don Benito on the 4th of September, and, as we had been
formerly quartered there, the inhabitants were kind and hospitable. In
this instance, as well as in every other, when we had occasion to make
the observation, the Spaniards proved themselves a generous and
friendly people, evincing in every possible way, and by every mark of
good-will, the pleasure they experienced not only in seeing strangers
but on the return of those whom they had known before, and who had at
other times enjoyed their hospitality. I was quartered at the house of
Don Pedro Montenegro, a fat portly gentleman, who, with his family,
exerted themselves to make my residence within their walls as
agreeable as I could desire.

During our stay the ceremony of a Spanish wedding was performed in my
quarters, which, though not affording much that was calculated to
enliven the company assembled, was characteristic of the people, and
their motives for entering into the holy state. Alonzo, the happy
bridegroom, was a rosy cheeked comely boy of sixteen. His friends
proposed him as a suitable match for Senora Maria Teresa, the daughter
of my landlord, for the purpose of preventing his being liable to be
called off to serve in the armies--married men being then exempt from
the contributions required to fill up the ranks, all the youthful
fellows in the neighbourhood espoused themselves in order to avoid the
Junta's levies; so that many contracted an union at a very early age,
or when mere children, for fear of the war.--Our hero did not appear
to be much interested about the matter; young and simple, as he was,
the passion of love was quite a stranger to his breast. His intended
Maricita, a fine girl of eighteen, was however of no such temperament,
for having arrived at years of discretion she was better educated in
all those sort of things, and consequently made herself as engaging as
possible in the eyes of her juvenile bridegroom.--They were seldom
together before their marriage; courtship seemed to be laid aside as a
superfluous piece of business, and the whole affair of matrimony,
being previously settled by the wiseacres of their families, the poor
devoted victims had nothing to do but just get on as they were
commanded.

The friends and acquaintances, consisting of a bevy of old and young
of both sexes, together with a moderate share of clerigos, being
assembled, Alonzo made his _entrée_ clothed in a _capote_, of
materials warm enough to raise a flame within his frigid breast, if
there was even an expiring ember there. His hair was tied up with
ribbons, and a sash completed his attire. The fair bride, attended by
her sister Catalina, soon came after, dressed in sable robes, that
being the costume worn at all times on these occasions.

The reverend priest followed, and without delay began to make his
preparations for riveting the chain, by reading out of a huge black
book, by the light of a long wax taper. Having muttered for some
minutes, in a hollow tone scarcely audible, he joined their hands,
then poured forth his last benediction, and so this important ceremony
was concluded. After the venerable Father had bestowed his blessing on
the guests around, all immediately resumed their places, on low forms
and chairs on either side of the room. The Patrona, together with her
assistant deities, retired to an adjoining alcoba, where they
commenced serving out refreshments, of all varieties, upon large
plates: these were handed about by a couple of jolly, good-looking
padres, who, as they offered them to the lovely senoritas, showed no
small degree of gallantry, passing off compliments and soft words,
highly acceptable to their willing ears.

Poor Alonzo, meanwhile, sat like Patience, and, though not smiling at
grief, yet he looked very much as if he would rather be at home with
his mother, than be brought to cut such a figure in the mummery. The
bride, every now and then, modestly hid her face and blushes from the
vulgar gaze, under a long black veil of the finest lace.

Chocolate and cakes were handed round, and the damsels pocketed the
fragments, which they purloined without any remorse of conscience.
About nine o'clock the company began to separate, and this most stupid
of all stupid weddings was finished by a general salutation on all
sides, and by Alonzo, amidst the smiles and winks of the envious
spinsters, going off quietly to his father's, while his cara sposa
remained at home in single blessedness, to dream of happiness yet to
come.

While we remained at Don Benito, the natives vied with each other in
their efforts to afford as much enjoyment as possible to their guests.
Balls and other festivities were among the many sources by which they
endeavoured to amuse us.

The assemblies were usually held in the spacious apartment of a large
building, the residence of a marquis, and situated in the grand
square. The fair and lively daughters of my host were regular
attendants at the ball-room, and were escorted thither by a tall black
looking man, who, in his official capacity of chaperon, on this and
other occasions, took the damsels under his wing, and as he proceeded
along collected a reinforcement of old and young; his party, by the
time of their arrival, having accumulated to a motley crowd of
votaries, including domestics and a train of followers: many of them
under pretence of being brothers, friends or relations, intruded
uninvited, pushing after the ladies without ceremony, to the no small
annoyance of the respectable portion of the company. The women on
those occasions make but few preparatory arrangements. After having
merely plaited up the hair, or thrown a mantilla loosely across the
neck and shoulders, and adorned the feet with a pair of white or
yellow shoes, they sally forth in the same dress which they have worn
during the day.

We departed from Don Benito on the 13th of September, and passing over
the plains of Medellin, forded the Guadiana about a league above the
bridge.

On the 14th we reached Villa Mercia. It was so very early when we got
into the neighbourhood of this place, a place so wretched that we
could scarcely get even a drop of water. The troops halted on the open
ground some distance from the village. The vestige of a single plant
or tree was not to be seen on any side, and the dry stubble-fields
yielded us no means of obtaining the comfort of a fire. Our chances
for a breakfast were therefore but slight. After marching for the
greater part of a very cold night, we all looked blue enough at
daybreak, eyeing wistfully the country round for something to build
our hopes upon; but alas! the interminable waste was to us as much a
desert as the barren sands of Africa. When the arms were piled the men
threw off their packs, and seating themselves thereon, commenced a
voyage of discovery in their haversacks, rummaging every hole and
corner for sundry fragments, the residue of four days provender. The
officers with hollow cheeks and cadaverous aspect, having gone to bed,
(or rather to mach,) supperless, and being without the slightest
chance of muffins or hot rolls, were ruminating on the evil day on
which they went a soldiering. In the midst of this, some of the
knowing hands, while prowling about the camp, for a few sticks
wherewithal to boil a kettle, beheld an old, crazy and dismantled
bullock-cart, (on the retired list) lying quietly on the field. As
soon as the prize was seen, a general rush succeeded, and, like a pack
of hounds pouncing on an unfortunate fox, they flew at the ill-fated
remnant of the waggon, and without waiting to dissect, _secundem
artem_, the subject before them, they tore it limb from limb, and
the broken fragments were carried off in triumph by the ravenous crew.

Soon there arose a thin curling smoke in various quarters, awfully
distant from each other, and those lucky favourites of fortune, who
got a splinter of the aforesaid vehicle, were quickly gladdened by a
flame; meanwhile, the tin, wherein the Congo was infused, hung
dangling on a ramrod, suspended by two bayonets stuck cunningly in the
earth. The poor wretch, with a visage of at least a span in length,
who failed in his attempts to share in the spoil of the waggon,
scraped up the stubble, which, damp with heavy dew, baffled all his
labour, and he was at last obliged, with his culinary vessel in one
hand, and his canister in the other, to wander from right to left, in
order to beg a portion of some friendly blaze.

Renewing our march on the following day, we continued on the road
until a late hour.--The face of the country, as far as the eye could
reach, was an extended waste, devoid of any thing in the shape of
tillage; the plain, wide and boundless, interspersed with scattered
rocks, with occasional patches of heath and broom, was quite as wild
as any lover of romance could wish. After some hours travelling over
this dreary road, its sameness was at length relieved by a view of the
Sierra de Santa-Cruz, the highest pinnacle of which rises in the form
of a pyramid, and has a most remarkable-looking old castle, situated
upon a lofty cliff near its western side.

The main road from Villa Mercia directed us, after many turnings, to
the base of those heights. Among the rocks even to the highest peak,
the sheep and goats were browsing, and at intervals we observed the
shepherds with their dogs, in places where it would seem impossible
that any human being could obtain a footing. In the grassy marshes
below were large herds of oxen and other cattle grazing.--We had an
opportunity of having a nearer view of these shepherds, who descended
from the steep acclivities, and we were astonished beyond measure at
their ferocious aspect and savage garb; one could not help comparing
them, as they stood, with those of old, as described by ancient
writers, when in simple dress, with crook and pipe, the rustics tending
their flocks in Arcadian fields, charmed by soft and rural notes the
lovely damsels of the woods and plains. The Spanish guardian of the
flock, from his warlike costume, his dark and bearded visage, seemed
better adapted for a ruffian robber of the forest, or the ranks of a
Guerrilla Chief, than a gentle warbler of simple love songs. These
peasants were cloathed with coarse materials; their inner garments
were protected from the weather by pieces of sheep skin rudely joined,
and they were armed with a dirk and an old fusil.

On the 29th of September we departed from Guerindote, our route
leading over the spacious plain that extended to the Tagus. Upon the
green borders of that river we at length arrived, and before us, in
the midst of splendid scenery, lay the far-famed City of Toledo. The
inhabitants, on first beholding our approach, assembled in multitudes
on the road, near the outskirts, where we had already halted. They
pressed on to welcome us, while with loud huzzas and shouting they
rent the air. We entered by the principal gate, and marched up to the
Plaza Mayor, amidst joyous salutations, and the ringing of innumerable
bells. The balconies around were literally crammed with a brilliant
show of beauty, waving flags, handkerchiefs and ribbons; their delight
on seeing the English soldiers, was expressed with unaffected
gladness, and could we judge by this display of feeling, we might have
flattered ourselves with at least having the people of this city for
our friends.

Toledo, from its situation on a semicircular chain of rugged heights,
has a broken and irregular aspect; and, as the steep sides of the
eminence descend precipitously to the Tagus, many of the buildings
seem as it were impending over the banks of that river, which nearly
surrounds the city walls. Across the stream are two solid bridges,
each having one arch of considerable span, and of dimensions
correspondent to the magnitude of the passage.

The brief period of our stay permitted not of any minute inspection of
various objects, well deserving the traveller's notice. We could
therefore take but a hasty survey; and in passing through the city, it
was impossible to avoid admiring the beauty of many buildings, the
names of which we knew not, nor had time to enquire.

Having proceeded down the Calle del Caromen, a long and handsome
street, we found ourselves close to the grand cathedral, the finest
perhaps in the kingdom. The utmost force of language could but faintly
convey any idea of the magnificence of that building; the grandeur of
which far exceeded any thing we had hitherto beheld in this country,
and was worthy of being honored by a far more minute inspection than
we had time to bestow on it. The roof is supported by lofty pillars
and fluted columns of marble, and composition in imitation thereof.
The floor is composed of the same stone, dark, and highly polished.
Approaching towards the centre aisle, we encountered a ragged looking
cicerone, who volunteered to conduct us to the vault within which lay
in state the anatomy of St. Ursula, a lady whose memory is highly
reverenced by the people of Spain. We descended by a narrow flight of
stone steps, led on by the aforesaid genius, who, chuckling within
himself at the idea of relieving the curious Ingleses of their loose
cash, yet seeming wondrous grave, brought us in a few moments to the
door of the sepulchre. The skeleton of her ladyship lay very
comfortably in a glass case, and lest the venerable saint might feel
rather solitary in this abode, a lamp was suspended from the vaulted
roof of her bedchamber, to enliven her gloomy residence, as well as to
enable the visitors to examine her crumbling bones.

Having rewarded the guide, we renewed our search for the numerous
objects within this extraordinary and sacred pile, and while we were
thus engaged we met the Secretary, who introduced us to his
apartments, where we were much gratified by the sight of some rich and
beautiful paintings, by which the walls were ornamented. Among the
exhibitions of art, which hung within the court yard, those of the
capture of Toledo, by the Spaniards from the Moors, and the grand
procession of Charles the 4th were by far the finest in the Cathedral.
They were all executed by that inimitable artist Francisco Bayue.
Having seen every thing worthy of observation within, we passed
through the main entrance, and commenced the ascent of a flight of
steps leading to the belfry; at the top of which having safely landed
we beheld the famous bell, said to be the largest in Europe. It is
suspended from a massive beam, and its weight, as marked on the side,
is 1543 arobas of 32 lb. each. The height of the spire, as far as the
belfry, is about two hundred feet, and we counted a hundred and ninety
four steps, while climbing to this part of the tower.

The Senoras of Toledo are low in stature; but being possessed of as
large a share of beauty as those of any other part of Spain, and full
of animation, they are all that can be wished as far as personal
charms are concerned. And, indeed, to do them every justice, I must
say they received us with a warm and hearty kindness, that was long,
yes, very long remembered. When they assemble on the _passeo_, they
dress in every respect as they do for public worship, clothed in fine
robes of the richest black silk or velvet, trimmed with lace, their
persons decorated with various brilliant ornaments, and the hair
tastefully braided up with combs of costly workmanship. A beautiful
transparent veil, thrown gracefully over the figure, partially enfolds
those charms it is intended to adorn.

Females of the lower class wear thick and substantial garments of
black or brown cloth, of measurement so ample, that no opinion can be
formed as to the dimensions of their shape. The men of rank generally
dress in black, with chapeau, buckles, sword, and waistbelt. The
working people and peasants wore the cloth jacket, botas, and montero
cap, with a profusion of tassels and buttons. Instead of shoes they
wear sandals, made of strong brown leather, laced round the foot and
instep; these, together with the botas, (or leathern gaiters), shew to
great advantage their round and well turned limbs.

We departed from Toledo on the 30th of September, at an early hour in
the morning, very much regretting that we had so short a time to see
every thing worthy of notice in that delightful place. Our route lay
through a richly planted vale, watered by the Tagus, with whose rapid
current we were in company for the whole of this day's march.

Towards evening the troops were encamped upon a most inviting spot;
the ground upon which our alignment was taken up being the fresh and
verdant banks of the river, and around our bivouac, on every side,
were gardens and green plantations, filled with a great variety of
shrubs and flowers in their Autumnal tints. With the soft leaves of
these, (now thickly fallen), for a bed, we enjoyed that rest, after a
toilsome journey, which "the weary traveller never seeks in vain."

In the forenoon of the 1st of October, the column was again on the
main road leading to Aranjuez, and parallel with the course of the
river. When we were within two leagues of our destined quarters, we
entered a noble avenue of tall trees, their branches forming a long
continued archway overhead, and protecting us from a scorching sun.
The camino real was planted in double rows, in so direct a line, that
the endless vista in perspective was, to our impatient optics, any
thing but agreeable; and whatever little stock of patience remained
within our keeping, was pretty well exhausted by the time we gained
the end of our morning's tramp. At last, about 11 o'clock, we got into
our cantonments; bugles, drums, and pipes rattling through the
streets, enough, (at least in one sense,) to bring the very stones
about our ears. Without any unnecessary delay, we were permitted to
make ourselves perfectly at home, in mansions devoid of either comfort
or means of entertainment; emblems they truly were of splendid misery.
The ruthless hand of French campaigning had converted this once
interesting place into a comparative wilderness; the habitations had
not only been pillaged, but the furniture burned or destroyed, and
every vestige of their former grandeur swept away, by the cruel
ravages of this devastating warfare, leaving us to dispute with rats,
and other vermin, for possession of their desolate abodes.

Aranjuez, which is seven leagues from Madrid, seven from Toledo, and
nineteen from Segovia, has long been the residence of the Spanish
Court; and, even in its fallen state, there is still sufficient to
denote its past splendour. In spite of the ruin to which it has been
exposed, it has the stamp of noble bearing, and, previous to the
invasion, must have been one of the most beautiful towns in the
Spanish dominions. The Royal Palace, on the banks of the Tagus, is
worthy of being the residence of princes, and contains a number of
costly and magnificent paintings.

The Queen's Palace, or the Casa de Labrador, the charming summer
retreat of her Majesty, is fitted up with simplicity and elegance
combined, and, being replete with every comfort and luxury suited for
a Queen, it may well be termed a paradise in miniature. The walls are
covered with richly embroidered tapestry, and the finest needlework,
executed on silk and velvet, of exquisite workmanship.

Around the palaces and buildings for the nobility and members of the
court, are numerous gardens, groves, and plantations, in the walks
through which we rambled with much delight, as often as our duties
might permit. The few inhabitants remaining here assembled on the
promenade, to enjoy our military music, while a sprinkling of pretty
blackeyed senoritas rendered the place more highly interesting.



CHAPTER XIII.


A brother officer now joined with me in forming the plan of an
excursion to Madrid. We had long been anxious to examine that
celebrated capital, and were therefore desirous not to miss the
opportunity afforded by our near vicinity to that city, which, in all
human probability, might never occur again during the period of our
natural lives. We asked and obtained leave accordingly, and started,
on the evening of the 9th of October, like a brace of knights errant,
upon our eventful journey. The weather was fine for that season of the
year, and circumstances appearing favourable to our pilgrimage we
considered it advisable to proceed at a late hour, rather than wait
for the following day, inasmuch as, in our uncertain mode of life, we
knew not what a day might bring forth. We presumed upon our own skill
to find out the way, and, trusting to that, took neither guide nor
other attendant in our train, but sallied forth, mounted on a couple
of hardy mules, and scantily provided with any thing pertaining to
inward comfort.

Pacing along the Camino de la Reyna, a long extended avenue, we
arrived, as it began to get dark, at the Queen's Bridge, a solid
structure on the Tagus, whence proceeding as we imagined on the direct
road to Madrid, we jogged on heartily without apprehension as to the
course we followed.

The night became still more obscure and cold, and threatened rain. In
the meanwhile we pursued the direction diametrically opposite to that
we should have done; turning away from the main road, and leaving our
animals to make choice of any particular route they might in their
sagacity prefer. For some time we progressed, in a state of
uncertainty as to what point of the compass we were steering towards,
till at length, passing through a wide gate very invitingly open
before us, we were brought to a full stop, on a wild common, destitute
of any track, or vestige of even a pathway. In this awkward dilemma we
were completely at a nonplus, repenting sincerely of having set forth
at so late an hour upon our Quixotic expedition. To go forward at all
hazards was our only remedy.

The situation was by no means an enviable one, on a dark night in
October, shivering on a desolate waste, with a cheerless journey
staring us in the face, or a cheerless bed on the cold earth. To add
to our discomfort, we had the prospect of being exposed to the
inclemency of most severe weather. It might be truly said that our
experience was likely to be dearly purchased.--After an hour's
fruitless exertion to get out of the labyrinth in which we had
involved ourselves, we at last heard the barking of some dogs, and
immediately advanced towards the quarter from which the sound
proceeded, and were in no small degree gratified at finding we were
close to a village. We rapped most lustily at the door of the first
house we came to, and hailing the landlord, implored him to take
compassion on two weary travellers, and give us lodging until
daylight. Our call was quickly answered by a surly voice from within,
demanding our reason for disturbing his highness at that improper
hour; at the same time telling, or rather bawling out, in tones
denoting that we were most unwelcome visitors, the disagreeable
intelligence, that we were far from the high road, and should not be
able to find it during the night.--The Spaniard, however, directed us
to some farm houses for more intelligence, and, glad to get from this
inhospitable don, who treated us as though we had been house breakers,
we again began to explore the unknown region, looking out most
wistfully for something by way of a clue, to obtain the object of our
search. Fortunately we perceived, after much marching and
countermarching, a light twinkling through the gloom and mist around
us; and, struggling along over hedge, ditch, and drain, our faithful
quadrupeds carried us safely to the entrance of a poor hamlet called
Villa Conejo. Here the peasants were all comfortably wrapped up in
their beds. With some difficulty, however, by dint of both threats and
bribes, we succeeded in procuring a guide, who buckling on his
garments, and taking up a formidable staff, trudged before us with
boldness equal to the renowned Sancho Panza himself. We were assured
of getting into the right direction before morning, and, therefore, as
the time of our absence was very limited, we hesitated not to push
onward, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, in preference to
quartering in the village, where, for any thing we knew to the
contrary, the people might think proper to be _quartering_ us in
another way, not quite so agreeable to our taste, before they suffered
us to depart.

In this mountainous district, the inhabitants of remote valleys are,
in many cases, either brigands themselves, or closely allied to such;
hence the necessity of being on the _qui vive_, and our fears were
fully justified by the fierce and bandit looking aspect of those dark
fellows who made their appearance on our arrival. With sinister looks
and angry scowls, they glanced at us in a manner that made us rejoice
to get away, chusing rather to encounter the howling winds than the
treachery of those suspicious gentlemen. Having no particular desire
to feel the sharp edge of their knives, that peeped from beneath their
girdles, we wisely pursued our journey in quest of new adventures, and
prepared for any rough work which might be in reserve.

Led on by our gallant pioneer, we once more faced the storm, and,
groping forward amidst the darkness, we pushed our way through the
intricate and trackless waste. Our trusty mules, following the
footsteps of the guide, carried us safely over the ground, proving how
much we owed to those poor animals for the service they afforded.
About midnight we passed the moorland, and arrived at a miserable
village, consisting of a few wretched hovels, scarcely offering the
privilege of shelter from the violence of the blast. Into one of these
we gained admittance, and, after some little parley with the landlord,
we were honoured with permission to stretch our wearied limbs on a
flinty bed, manufactured from rough materials, and thrown upon a floor
that had long been unswept by brush or broom. Our whiskered
aid-de-camp, having consigned us to the protection of the patron,
gathered himself up within the ample folds of his cloak, and rolled
into the chimney corner, where his nasal machinery was set agoing, and
soon produced an overture sufficient to banish sleep from the most
drowsy eyelids.

About 4 o'clock, we rose from our comfortless mattress, and, without
any unnecessary delay in the adjustment of the toilet, resumed our
journey northwards. On the first appearance of daylight, we descended
from the mountain path, and arrived near the little village of Bayone,
situated on the right bank of the river Guarena.

After passing through the small towns of Cienposuelo and Valdemoro, we
at length gained the extremity of the avenue or approach from
Aranjuez, and here, for the first time, we beheld the towers and
elevated buildings of Madrid. Crossing the Manzanares by the Puente de
Toledo, we entered the Calle de Toledo, a steep narrow street, which
conducted us to the Grand Square, from whence going into a small
central space, called Le Plaza de Porte del Sol, we brought up at the
doors of a tavern, under the sign of La Fonda François. Here we
enjoyed an excellent breakfast; our hostess, a garrulous dame, knew
well how to charge for the demands made upon her larder, by appetites
sharpened on the touch-stone of eight leagues; and, judging from our
meagre aspect, that our performances as trenchermen would be of no
despicable order, she determined that her pocket at least should be no
loser by our morning's ride.

The Alcalde with his satellites and myrmidons gave us considerable
trouble, teasing us with numerous questions, as well as a strict
cross-examination with regard to our object in coming here; and I
verily believe that, had we not been dressed in British uniform, they
would have furnished us with lodgings in a building not quite in
accordance with our ideas of freedom, or suitable to our state of
mind.--They, however, in a most ungracious manner, gave us billets on
the house of a wealthy Spaniard, living in the Calle del San Antonio,
which is a handsome street leading from the Grand Square. In these
quarters we enjoyed the comforts of a civilized life, for a short term
after the wandering and vagrant system of the bivouac, or encampment;
and we made good use of the interval allowed in viewing the _lions_ of
this extraordinary place, and in exploring every hole and corner that
was likely to contain anything marvellous or worthy of observation.

Manifold accounts have been given by sundry tourists respecting
Madrid; in order therefore to avoid all useless repetition, I shall
merely glance at a few matters, which may, perchance, have escaped the
notice of these curiosity hunters.

Our patron, Don Pedro Gonzalez, was a civil and obliging personage;
but as we had good reason to know that he was in the French interest,
we suspected that his conduct was not sincere, and we were the more
confirmed in this opinion, from the very marked attention paid by him
to a certain Madame, of vivacious manners, named Durand. The worthy
Don being a bachelor, appearances favoured the rumour, that an
intimacy of a more binding nature was likely to take place between
them; or, in other words, the love-stricken Pedro was about to become
a Benedict. To be on good terms with Mademoiselle was therefore
equivalent to the same happy circumstances with regard to our host,
who, accordingly, gave every facility to our exertions in gaining
admittance to public places; and was, on various opportunities, highly
useful to his guests. The conversation and agreeable disposition of
the gay Frenchwoman served to dissipate any melancholy thoughts that
might have haunted us. Without being decidedly handsome, she had a
very good set of features, and was of such a pleasant temperament,
that, although she was arrived at a reflecting age, her society was
courted by many admiring swains, to the no small annoyance of the
gallant Lothario himself, whose chief motive, in acting the part of
our Cicerone, was, that he might withdraw the Officiales Ingleses from
any temptation that might be presented to our susceptible hearts, by
the wily blandishments and ensnaring charms of his lovely _dulcinea_.

The principal places of amusement open at this time were the Opera
House, in the Calle de Principe, and the theatre denominated El
Collegio de la Cruz. What a college might have to do with the name
of theatre, I could not imagine, unless it were that the loose and
dissipated habits of collegians in general favored those entertainments,
or that the members of the learned institutions at Madrid were the
chief patrons of the stage. The house was opened at an early hour, and
filled by a respectable though motley audience. Among the singular
customs of Spain is that of placing the ladies and gentlemen at a most
awful distance from each other; a custom which in our minds would have
been more honoured in the breach than in the observance; and if we
might be permitted to judge from the bewitching glances of their
sparkling eyes, the fair senoritas would have had no sort of objection
to a repeal of such an unnatural _disunion_. Had the performances been
ever so delightful, they must of necessity, have proved "flat, stale
and unprofitable," to the senses of gentlemen, banished as we were by
such an abominable regulation from all intercourse or communion with
that portion of the assembled audience in which was comprised all that
was lovely and beautiful in nature's fair creation. The lunetta (or
pit,) resembled a den or arena of wild men of the woods--such were the
characters inclosed therein untamed by female influence.--The noisy
crew maintained such a loud and boisterous turmoil, that it was
impossible to hear one word that was uttered on the stage, and the
scene enacted in the pit or lunetta was something not unlike the
performances in a bear garden.

The balcos (or boxes,) fronting the stage, were occupied by the
ladies, who, decked out in costly attire, manoeuvred their fans with
such activity, that they might have literally been said to have
answered all the purpose of the eastern _punka_;[25] a cool and
refreshing air being thus circulated throughout the crowded building.
The house was but dimly illumined by some dirty lamps, scantily
furnished with oil. The music was tolerably good, although somewhat
marred by the rude accompaniment from our friends in the lunetta. The
play went off with vociferous applause, though the performers knew
scarcely a word of their parts--but, owing to the noise, pantomime
answered just as well. The prompter, an ugly caitiff, with black
bushy whiskers, and a woolly head encased within a greasy velvet cap,
was stuck up before the footlights, with half his body above the
level of the stage, as if about to emerge from the bowels of the
earth, like some dæmon from the nether region, while he, with angry
looks and threatening gesture, endeavoured to hammer into the
impenetrable skulls of the stupid actors the words intended for their
delivery.

          [25] The punka, used in India, is an enormous kind of fan,
          suspended in a room, and moved by ropes, to cool the air.

About 11 o'clock the entertainment was concluded; and we returned to
our lodgings escorted by a crowd of ragged boys, carrying flambeaux to
light us home. The Theatre De la Cruz, though smaller than that of Del
Principe, is ornamented with better taste, and is on the whole a
handsome building. In both the performers are tolerable, and the
dancing in the little theatre is beautiful beyond description. The
expense of admission amounts to nearly the same as in England. There
were no other places of amusement open during our stay.

Assemblies and private concerts were held in various parts of the
city; but since the war with France all public balls and concerts have
been discontinued. The famous bull-fights, deemed the most enlightened
exhibitions of modern times by the natives, were held on Mondays and
Fridays in the Plaza Mayor, or Plaza de Torres.

Notwithstanding the unsettled state of things the inhabitants of
Madrid seem to enjoy life to the fullest extent, and in the constant
pursuit of gaiety endeavour to dispel that gloom which would otherwise
pervade their city, and in which those of any other capital would be
involved. They appeared to act with the same indifference and
unconcern, when the French or British were in possession, and of those
two nations I believe the majority of them preferred the former,
which, if one may judge from the natural levity and liveliness of
their disposition, proceeded not only from their love of show, but
from similarity of manners, taste and habits. With the Spanish fair in
particular the French were the greater favourites, having, by their
gallantry and politeness, during their long residence, won golden
opinions, and gained a place in their confidence and esteem.

After visiting the Royal Palace, (a description of which I dare not
enter into, because the time for observation was much too short, we
proceeded to an edifice called La China, a fortified place, and where
the celebrated porcelain and China ware had been manufactured. A train
of gunpowder having been laid, preparatory to blowing up the works, no
person was admitted within, nor do I think there was any particular
inducement to press for entrance.--From a general glance at its
exterior, there appeared nothing to recommend it, for either beauty or
grandeur of effect. It is a plain building, of white stone, situated
on an eminence beyond the Retiro, commanding the principal part of the
city and its environs.

The Palace of the Retiro was not worth seeing, being merely a ruinous
square of low buildings, lately converted into a barrack, and having
within its limits a large and spacious court yard. It was palisaded
and strongly defended by works, which were considerably strengthened
by the French. Close to the entrance, is the Palace of Godoy, Prince
of the Peace, which faces the Prado, the great public Alameda of
Madrid. The fabric, notwithstanding its limited scale, is furnished in
a most costly and splendid style, and contained a large collection of
rare and beautiful paintings.

In point of magnificence it is equal, if not superior, to the Casa de
Campo, a country residence for the Royal Family, near the Manzanares.

After seeing the Royal Museum, (which, like all other museums, is well
filled with objects deserving the attention of the curious,) we
visited the armoury, (near the gate of Saint Barbara) stiled here El
Real Parque d'Artilleria, where valuable specimens of ancient armour,
and many plans and models, were exhibited. Some thousand stand of arms
were piled in harmless quietude, and arranged with order and
regularity.

King Joseph and his retinue thought proper to make free with the
carriages and other means of conveyance of the people of Madrid, with
which they drove off, leaving the owners to trudge about in a more
humble manner than they had hitherto been used to. The fair Senoras
were thus reluctantly compelled to tramp the pavé, exposing their
graceful and fascinating persons to the rude gaze of a vulgar
multitude.

On arriving at the extremity of the Calle de Alcala, we found
ourselves on that delightful mall called the Prado, already mentioned,
which is an avenue about half a mile in length; it is planted on each
side with uniform rows of various trees, whose branches are interwoven
through the greater part of the year. This promenade is kept in the
highest order, and between the double line of trees are gravel walks,
enclosed by shrubs and evergreens. At each end is a fountain of the
finest polished marble, the sculpture of which is executed in the most
beautiful manner. Here the Royal Family, as well as the nobility and
gentry, assemble for the passeo at the fashionable hours; to the lower
classes the walk is open at all periods.

They are an active and bustling people here, the various occupations
going on with a degree of spirit not easily accounted for in these
troublesome times. The number of poor, however, is very great; many
dying in the streets of starvation. We met several persons, male and
female, who had formerly been possessed of wealth and distinction,
endeavouring to obtain a livelihood by selling, in a private way,
different articles of their dress and household furniture. Others,
particularly women, whose looks bespoke their having lived in better
days, were reduced to the miserable situation of vending pamphlets or
small wares, or keeping stalls, or even hawking salt fish or
vegetables through the city.

Madrid was walled in ancient times; no vestige, however, now remains
of any such defences, it is completely open and exposed.

We now prepared for our departure to Aranjuez; and, therefore, for any
further information about Madrid, I must direct the reader's attention
to the recent works on Spain and its capital, wherein will be found,
in detail, the best accounts of all that is worthy the traveller's
notice. I cannot, however, avoid saying something of the mode of
access to their dwellings, which, from the difficulty caused by this
mode, might almost have been called forbidden ground. The houses of
Madrid are solid, and furnished as usual with balconies and
prison-like windows, and are sometimes of great magnitude; those of
the Alcade, and the Governor Don Inacio Cortabunio, forming one side
of a tolerably long street. Within the entrance of the great door is
usually a small rectangular passage, from whence the ascent to the
upper part of the building is gained by a narrow flight of stone
steps. On arriving at the extremity of the hall or passage just
mentioned, a strongly bolted door, which shuts in the staircase,
forbids your further approach; but, after considerable delay, you
discover a small bellcord, which you pull, and then another trial of
your patience takes place, and you remain still cooling your heels, at
the end of a cold dark place, not unlike a cavern. Your solitude is at
length disturbed by the sepulchral tone of an old weather-beaten
Sybil, who, peering with an ugly, wizened, and vinegar countenance
through a wicket or small crevice overhead, screams out, with shrill
and angry voice, "qui quiere!" while, at the same time, doubtful of
your rank or character, she scans with the hideous glances of an evil
eye the bearings of your person. When you have satisfied her on this
head, she, much against the grain, raises the unwilling latch by means
of a greasy rope. When the massive portal, creaking on its rusty
hinges, is pushed open, not without much force, and you find yourself
upon the gloomy steps to grope as best you can to the upper regions,
your advances are still impeded, either by the threats of the
garrulous antique, or by the barking of some furious Cerberus, a fit
companion for his sister guardian of the dwelling. When you are known,
and become familiar, the mode of admittance is by no means a work of
so much difficulty, nor is the frosty visaged Argus so jealous of
access.



CHAPTER XIV.


We arrived at Aranjuez on the 13th of October, after an absence of
four days; three of which were spent as agreeably as we could have
wished, and in the full enjoyment of every variety afforded by a city
well deserving a longer visit, and one which though it is less
generally known, is more interesting in every point of view, than many
that are more frequently resorted to.

On the 23rd of October the troops were again in full march, on the
high road to Madrid, halting at various intermediate stations. We
passed that city, on the 29th of the same month, and, tantalized as we
were by our close proximity to its gates, we continued onward in the
direction of the Pass of Guadarama, it being the object of our chief
to follow hard upon the French army, (which was then bending
northward, in rapid strides,) and allow them no rest, night or day,
until we brought them to a decisive combat. Our road, as we approached
the mountains, lay over a fertile country; the view on every side
presenting a vast extent of arable and tillage land. Towards evening,
after a long and painful journey, we halted at the Court-yard of the
Escurial.

This famous palace, built by Philip the Second of Spain, is
consecrated to St. Lawrence, and is formed after the pattern of a
gridiron, upon which very useful culinary article the Saint is
supposed to have undergone the operation of being broiled. The
building stands on one of the heights at the base of the lofty chain
of the Guadarama, and is a huge and spacious pile, enclosing four
distinct court yards, the whole surrounded by an extensive range of
buildings, allotted to the domestic establishment of the royal
household. The grand entrance faces the mountain, the barren sides of
which offer but a confined and uninteresting prospect. From the
windows of the principal apartments, looking to the South, (which are
said to be as numerous as the days in the year,) a view embracing all
that fine extent of country round Madrid, and along the Manzanares,
may, however, be enjoyed, which fully compensates for the dull
uniformity on the other quarters. Some idea may be formed of the
enormous amplitude of the structure, when it is considered that
General Hill's division, including the Portuguese troops, were lodged
within the walls, and found sufficient room in the galleries,
court-yards, and outer-halls, without entering any of the private
chambers. Our brigade marched up the great staircase, with ample space
to move along in sections. It was a splendid cantonment, and worthy a
better fate than that of being converted into a barrack and cooking
place for a few thousand hungry soldiers.

The rooms, into which the officers obtained admittance, were spacious
and lofty, those appropriated to the members of the court being
ornamented and furnished in a costly manner. The lateness of our
arrival, as well as the shortness of our stay, prevented our seeing
the mausoleum; in which the royal family of Spain has been entombed
for ages past. It is considered one of the greatest curiosities in
Europe, and is beneath the grand chapel of the palace. The grand front
has three separate entrances, and above the dome surmounting the
central gate, the figure of St. Lawrence, together with the gridiron,
stand upon a pedestal, and underneath are the Arms of Spain.

On the 1st of November we moved on towards the crest of the Guadarama,
our route being along the summit of the hills, forming the lower
branches of the Sierra, the ascent of which we took more than two
hours to accomplish; many times on the way being obliged to halt, in
order to gain breath for a further stretch. It was a work of
considerable fatigue to both men and animals, and on arriving at the
extreme point we were fairly exhausted by the effect of our morning's
walk. Nature has here placed a formidable barrier between the
provinces of Old and New Castile. This road, which is the only one
across the mountain, is difficult of access, the rocks on either side
being steep, rugged, and in some parts perpendicular, rising high
above the causeway. Close to where we halted stands a pedestal of
granite, on which is placed the figure of a lion crouched, holding
between his paws two balls, intended, as denoted by the inscription
underneath, to represent the provinces below. In the centre of the
pedestal is inserted a square slab of marble, on which is inscribed,
in large characters, "Fernando VII, Pater Patriæ," followed by a long
account of the cause for which the monument was erected, but in
letters so small, and so much defaced, that it is a matter of some
difficulty to decipher the mysterious tale.

Being again formed into something like marching order, we proceeded
downward with a lively pace, leaving the plains of New Castile behind,
and bidding a long and last farewell to that part of Spain, which had
been for years gone by the theatre of our varied and ofttimes not very
peaceful occupation. On our descent from the Sierra, we continued
along the main road to Valladolid, and after having cantoned at
several intermediate stages, arrived on the 8th at Alba de Tormes, a
small town, one day's march from Salamanca, and commanding the passage
of the Tormes, over which, at this place, there was a solid stone
bridge.

We were soon actively employed getting all the old walls and defences
into good condition, and, after waiting behind them for a few days,
expecting an attack from a large body of the French army, (who had
sent some round shot about our ears), we again crossed the river,
taking care to destroy the bridges, the moment that the last of our
men were over.

The enemy, who had threatened in so formidable a way, sheered off to
his left, making for the road to Ciudad Rodrigo, in order to interrupt
our progress in that line, with the view of eventually cutting off our
communication with the frontiers of Portugal.

The whole of the British forces, meanwhile, passed on towards the
Aripiles, those remarkable heights, where the great contest of
Salamanca was fought in the preceding year. Here battle was again
offered to the French, who declined the pleasure of our kind
invitation, and wisely deeming prudence to be the better part of
valour, continued their manoeuvres to impede our march on Portugal,
and succeeded in getting possession of almost all the approaches in
that direction.

On the 14th, our troops were rapidly pushed forward, in order to
counteract their plans, and, by forced marches, we got the lead, the
foremost columns being far advanced on the road to Rodrigo in the
course of that day. It was a neck and neck concern, and nothing but
the superior generalship of Lord Wellington could have brought us
through the difficulty.

The rain poured down in torrents, as we entered the woods, through
which the various routes penetrated, and the most inclement weather
that ever was experienced set in on the commencement of this
unfortunate march. Wind and hail in all their varieties beat
unmercifully upon us, and the elements in fearful agitation combined
to assail us on every side, while the roads, broken up by the violence
of the storm, were rendered almost impassable, producing thereby the
utmost delay in the transport of our supplies. To increase our
sufferings, the personal baggage had been sent on some days in
advance, so that we had no covering whatever but the garments that we
wore, which were now waxing quite deplorable; and as for subsistence,
our only resource was the miserable contents of a lank and scanty
haversack, wherein were jumbled up together, in a sort of medley, the
various remnants of ration leather, (falsely called beef), and mouldy
biscuit, hard and jaw breaking, of which the maggots contended for a
share.--It was enough to horrify the poor chop-fallen wanderer, who
trudged along most dismally, cold, drenched, and woebegone.

Were I to relate but one tenth of the sufferings we endured, in what
is known as the retreat of Salamanca, civilians would stare, and say
that I dealt largely in the marvellous, or was drawing a long bow;
but, start not, ye fireside and ye featherbed gentry, when I inform
you, that many times have we arisen from our damp, and comfortless
berth on the cold ground, with no prospect of a breakfast, but that
which we derived from a meal of acorns, and often have we munched at
these in lieu of more savoury food; chewing (by way of dessert), the
bitter cud of disappointment and vexation.

At the termination of each day's march, down came the branches of the
forest, and loudly clashed the bill hook and the axe, to put in
requisition materials for the long wished-for fire, to establish which
was a labour of no trifling nature, for the timber, throughly
saturated with rain, lay in smoking heaps, long after the light had
been communicated, while we with haggard looks stood collected round
the smouldering pile. The flames at length got up, all due advantage
was taken of this blessing, and no sirloin was ever more industriously
turned by the hand of anxious cook than were our precious bodies, both
front and rear alternately, with the vain hope of getting dry, and
some degree of heat wherewith to cheer our wearied bones.

In the midst of all our extremities there was still something to
excite the mind; while camping out among the oak trees, numerous
droves of wild pigs ran to and fro, as we invaded their dominions, and
in their flight many were fired at and shot by the famished soldiers,
who were ignorant, when committing the depredation, of its being a
crime which would cause the displeasure of our Chief.--Some were
performing the achievement of hunting down the grunters, while others
displayed their skill in the culinary art, after the chase was over.
The unfortunate swinish multitude afforded some delicate tit bits, and
the greasy provender was bolted in solid pieces by the half-starved
men.

Before we came to break in on their retirement, the poor animals were
revelling in luxury on the acorns, by which they chiefly fed, but as
our troops approached their haunts they set up a grand concert,
resounding through the woods, the most audible tone of which was a
firm thorough bass.

The hog is by no means the most despicable of the brute creation, for
have we not had the learned pig, and the pig-faced lady, who thought
it no disgrace to bear a likeness to the useful beast. We have
moreover good reason to know that the quadruped has proved a subject
of deep meditation to more than one biped. There was a certain
wiseacre, who lived not quite a hundred miles from Chester, of ample
paunch, and who not only loved his port, but his port loved him; for
it shone in rosy blossoms on his well bronzed visage; in fact, his
person bore no bad resemblance to a well filled bottle. He was a great
admirer and disciple of Kitchener, Mrs. Glass, and others of the same
stamp. Having one day a party at his house, he, by way of entertaining
them, led them through his grounds, and, after that, to the various
buildings for his cattle. "But now," says the happy man, as they
approached the piggery, rubbing, at the same time, his hands with joy,
"you will see something on which you may feast your eyes;" and, on
giving the signal, a regiment of fat hogs were marched out of their
quarters, and passed in review before the delighted guests. One of the
gentlemen remarked what amazingly fine animals they were. "Yes," says
their host, "I thought you would say so! I flatter myself," (here his
eyes sparkled in triumph,) "there are not such prime ones in England;
they ought to be so,--I feed them well,--_I have made them my constant
study all my life_."

What an intellectual scholar! there was the feast of reason with a
vengeance; fat pork, tusks, bristles and all. What a study!--O ye
classics, ye national educationists, ye Broughamites,--hide your
diminished heads! Here's a college course for ye; aye, and one that
may be studied by John Bull with joy and pride; for, instead of
wasting the midnight oil, he may consult his larder, and contemplate,
with a rapturous sensation, the Essays of Bacon, and Hog's-tales,
while poring over the whole range of his swinish library. But, enough!
we must recommence our march.

The gentlemen with the blue coats not chusing to measure swords with
us, we lingered not upon the road, but, moving on the Agueda, arrived
at the village of Robledo on the 18th. Here we were comparatively in
luxury for a season; the severity of our recent journey, added to the
miseries of night exposure under such dreadful weather, rendered
doubly welcome the comfort of a roof; and the kitchen fire of even an
humble dwelling restored us once more from our torpid state to spirit
and animation. To each of the officers was allotted a tolerably good
sized cabin, furnished plentifully with straw, in which, to our
dismay, we found a numerous tribe of nimble footed gentry, which have
already been more than once mentioned.

We broke up from those cantonments, and, steering our course over a
long mountainous ridge, we entered the town of Coria, on the 30th of
November. This place is situated on a steep hill, at the base of which
flows the small river Alagon, and is at no great distance from the
Portuguese frontier. The country around is well planted with the olive
and the vine, of the latter in particular there was then a great
abundance, of the finest description, from which the most delicious
wine is made.

In company with another officer, I was billetted on the house of an
ancient widow, who was the most perfect shrew I ever beheld. It must
have been a happy day for her unfortunate spouse, that witnessed his
departure from the stormy vicinity of his termagant rib, to the more
peaceful mansions of the defunct.

The heaviness of the weather, subsequent to our arrival, caused us to
pass rather a dreary time, made still more sad by the death-like
tolling of the cathedral bells, eternally sounding in our ears. The
place is well stocked with a great variety of priests, monks, friars,
and other ecclesiastics, forming a worshipful host, with ill-favoured
countenances. Although their looks are meagre, their corpulent
rotundity of shape proves that to mortify the body forms no part
whatever of their doctrine, and that an abundance of fat things,
together with a liberal supply of the vinous fluid, are by no means
inconsistent with their holy calling. It is also said of them, that
the worldly discussion of those affairs is much more frequently the
subject of their meditation, than the comparatively irksome duty of
either _prayer_ or _fasting_. The best and most luscious wine, not
only here, but in all parts of Spain, is denominated, in justice to
the better taste of those divines, "_Priests' wine_," and is more
highly valued than any other.

The Alcalde, the corporation, and the myrmidons pertaining thereto,
were a mean-looking, ill-dressed set of fellows. The former is chosen
annually from the middle classes; in some instances his worship has
figured in the trade of pig-driver, butcher, or other employment of
that nature.

We saw but few inhabitants of distinction here; the families of the
poorer order were numerous, generally ill-looking, and badly clothed.
The females, in particular, we remarked, as not being "cast in
nature's finest mould;" in fact, to tell the honest truth, I must say,
that we never beheld a more ugly and forbidding race of damsels. On
this account, they were certainly right to hide themselves. Indeed, we
seldom had an opportunity of gazing at their lovely persons; as,
unless at those times when they tottered, (as they always seemed to
do) to chapel, they remained chiefly within doors, enjoying the genial
warmth of the brasseiro, in preference to exposing their delicate
frames to the effect of the chilling blast. The usual mildness of the
climate, as well as the summer heat, congenial to the Spanish fair,
renders them more sensible of cold, and less capable of enduring the
rudeness of December winds and frost. The transition from the close
atmosphere of their dwellings to the bleak and humid air within their
churches is often the means of imparting to the Senoras a pale and
ghastly look, their dark and sallow aspect assuming a death-like
tinge, which, combined with their usually spectral form, would
indicate to the observer, that the wire drawn figures on the marble
flags of the chapel were speedily to occupy a tenement of small
dimensions beneath the stones upon which they knelt.

A short time subsequent to our arrival at Coria, Colonel Charles
Stewart, of the 50th, died of fever, brought on by excessive fatigue,
after an illness, of about ten days. His constitution was undermined,
not only by the effect of past service in India, but by that in which
he was engaged in Spain. The harassing marches we had undergone since
we passed the Tormes overcame his already impaired health, and he may
be literally said to have fallen a victim to his unwearied exertions
on that retreat.

By all who could appreciate the value of high military feeling and
strict discipline, Colonel Stewart was justly regretted. Zealous and
well informed on every point of duty, he knew how to estimate those
qualities in others, while he held a tight rein over the careless and
inattentive. Such characters as composed the Belem[26] Rangers he
never could approve of, and at all times he set his face against a
certain set of men, who were very fine fellows when strutting upon
parade at home, but were so careful of their own dear persons, that
they kept at a most respectful distance from the field when there was
any rough work going forward.

          [26] This troop of heroes was composed of men and officers
          with facings of all the colours in the rainbow, and with
          every variety of garb. Among them were those who could not
          fight, as well as those who would not; and I am sorry to
          say, that of the latter there was a large proportion. Some,
          ashamed of being enrolled upon its list, remained but a
          short time with the corps; others, vegetating in all the
          delights of peace and quietness, with zealous attachment to
          the Rangers, put off the evil hour as long as possible.
          Being fond of dainties, they kept within the smell of
          Lisbon, with its oil and garlick, the perfume of which they
          snuffed up with ecstasy. As for being exposed to fire, they
          coveted no more than sufficed for their cigars; the smoke
          from thence was smoke enough for them. Figuring away with
          the Portuguese Senoras, they were formidable cavaliers, and
          as their gallantry was all expended on those fair objects,
          they had none to spare for warlike purposes. They were fond
          of duty about the castle of Belem, nor had they any
          particular fancy to go to a distance from the Tagus. The
          bivouac was their horror; they eschewed the miseries of a
          camp; and, with regard to marching, from the caffés to the
          operas and back again, was, in their ideas, just as much
          fatigue as any gentleman ought to suffer; therefore, to call
          them Rangers was a sad misnomer. In order to neutralize the
          evil, and prevent the corps from getting rather strong,
          officers were placed at Abrantes, Castel Branco, and other
          intermediate stations, who performed the duty of whippers
          in. Those in general were tight hands, and if there was an
          officer of rank, who bore the character of being a bitter
          pill, he was sure to get the post, so that the poor
          crest-fallen aspirants for promotion in the Belemites had no
          chance, but were checked in their career; and unless they
          could duly prove that they were curtailed in natural
          dimensions, by the loss of legs or arms, or had suffered
          other more desperate mutilations, they were forced to troop
          it back again, with their faces to the army.

          It latterly became so difficult a matter to pass these
          barriers, that several preferred, though riddled through
          with balls, to rough it in the camp, rather than run the
          gauntlet past these commandants.

          The worthy members of the corps above alluded to had no
          extraordinary relish for intelligence from the front, and
          when accounts came down of desperate fighting, or a hint was
          thrown out, that some of them might be wanted, it created a
          wondrous stir among them; their military ardour was cooled
          in a marvellous way, and whatever stock of courage they
          could boast of, oozed out, (as it did with Bob Acres),
          through their fingers' ends.

          At home what capital officers they made, swarming in to join
          with prompt alacrity (when the war was over,) and with much
          bravado talking of their past campaigns, and lording it over
          the juniors! How they did puff and blow, in country
          quarters, on trooping off the guard, and looking wondrous
          big, as they exercised their little brief authority!

The remains of Colonel Stewart were followed to the tomb by all the
troops in the garrison, and were interred in the terrace of the grand
Cathedral here.

Brigadier General Wilson, late Colonel of the 39th also died here, he
was an old officer and deservedly regretted.



CHAPTER XV.


It was on a fine clear morning, on the 7th of January, 1813, that we
departed from Coria. After marching for some hours, we passed the
boundaries of a thick olive forest, about a mile beyond which appeared
the large village of Monte Hermosa, so closely surrounded with trees,
that the chapel spire and tiled roofs of the houses were the only
discernible objects. Owing to the wildness and retirement of the
situation, most of the hamlets in the forest and among the hills, are
the haunts of numerous banditti, who infest the district for many
leagues round. These bands of lawless men are composed chiefly of
deserters from the Spanish army, joined by outcast peasants, who
forming into parties resort to those heights on any sudden alarm,
where concealed in caves among the rocks they lie secure from all
pursuit. Armed with carbines, knives and pistols, they sally forth
from their lurking-places by night, and not only plunder but
frequently assassinate the unwary travellers in a most barbarous and
cruel manner.

On the 17th of January I set out on a journey to Placentia, four
leagues from Monte Hermosa. Being advised to travel in company with
the country people, (who generally formed a numerous party,) on
account of the suspicious characters above alluded to, I joined the
cavalcade, and we all proceeded together. We crossed the Alagon by
means of a ponderous flat-bottomed machine, answering the purpose of a
ferry-boat, in which was also conveyed the mules, asses and baggage;
being safely landed on the opposite bank we trotted forward at a brisk
and lively pace, through the open and varied country. Having among our
party a number of good-humoured buxom wenches we got on very
pleasantly, for these sprightly damsels kept up such a round of
merriment and noisy clatter, with occasional singing, that dullness
and care with their attendant train of imps were forced to trudge it
by another route, since they could get no quarter with us. The
rustics, accustomed to exercise and hard Labour, kept up with us,
while they tramped heartily along on foot, and the women in
particular, being clean-limbed, light heeled, well made and healthy,
carried on with all sail ahead, to the no small surprise and
admiration of their companions and fellow-travellers. After passing
through a poor and hungry-looking village, we entered the wide and
dark forest of Carcaboso, where the road, hitherto level, became
broken and mountainous. As we approached Placentia the prospect had no
redeeming feature; all was desolate and bare, and, with the exception
of a few peasants here and there, as wild as the rocks upon which they
stood, nothing in the shape of a living creature was visible. We
descended a rough and winding path-way, (for it claimed no better
name,) towards an ancient bridge by which we crossed the Jerte, and
were quickly in the streets of the old town of Placentia.[27]

          [27] It was in this town that a melancholy circumstance took
          place on the parade of the 3rd regiment, or Old Buffs.

          Lieutenant Annesley, of the grenadiers, was inspecting his
          company, when one of the soldiers, watching his opportunity,
          took his musket, and levelling it at the officer, shot him
          through the heart.

          Annesley was a long time in the Buffs, in which he was much
          esteemed, and he was a remarkably good-looking young man,
          from the south of Ireland.

          The soldier who had a pique against the Lieutenant, for some
          alleged ill-treatment, was a very different character, and
          one of those discontented sort of fellows common in every
          regiment; one who is usually termed by his companions a
          lawyer. He was shot soon after at Placentia, pursuant to the
          sentence of a General Court Martial.

On the receipt of my billet at the Casa Consistorial, I walked
thither, and found a cordial reception at the house of Francisco
Barona, where, being regaled in a most excellent way, I had cause to
rejoice at being quartered upon so generous a host.

The worthy Don was in the vale of years, and above seventy; but though
infirm he had all the sprightliness of youth, and was a most agreeable
and intelligent old gentleman.

His third wife, who soon made her appearance, was not more than
twenty, a smart and gaily dressed senora; and the expression of her
penetrating eyes afforded sufficient evidence that, as far as she was
concerned, full consent might be obtained to dissolve the partnership
between January and May, in order that a union more congenial to her
wishes might speedily be formed. A young Spanish officer called
frequently during my abode here, and from the state of affairs he
appeared to be the fortunate Lothario, who was destined to perform a
conspicuous part in the new treaty of alliance. Most sweetly did this
son of Mars smile on the charming Leonora, who on her part, while the
unsuspicious Don was fast asleep, and amusing the lovers with a nasal
chaunt, discharged not a few amorous glances, intended to intangle
still further the tender heart of her admiring swain.

On the 19th I pursued my journey homeward, accompanied, as before, by
a numerous host of natives, returning to their several places of
abode. As the night came on we again entered the forest, the
travellers both horse and foot getting into close column, in order
that they might be prepared to encounter any straggling party of
banditti, by which these woods are sometimes infested.

While day-light continued, jovial fun and peals of laughter resounded
on every side; but on the approach of darkness, the merriment and
cheerful song gradually died away, and the hitherto joyous spirits
were damped by the knowledge of having such troublesome neighbours in
the vicinity. The old hands told many a frightful tale of murders and
robberies which had been committed, serving to make the anxious
listener alive to fears which were considerably increased by the
frequent appearance of certain wooden crosses, erected on the spot
where some unfortunate victim had been slain. The young and
inexperienced, as well as those among the crowd who had not met with
any dangerous adventure, looked eagerly around amidst the gloom with
watchful eyes. Full of excitement and apprehension, they conjured up
an ambuscade at every clump of trees; a desperado, or assassin, armed
to the teeth, seemed to arise before the affrighted vision at every
turning of the road; until, at length, by the time we were nearly
clear through the lone and thickly-planted district, they were nearly
at their wits' end, and were quite convinced that they had narrowly
escaped a pilgrimage to the other world.

We fortunately gained the Alagon just as the ferry-boat was preparing
to leave the bank, and, about ten o'clock, got safe into the village,
after all our hair-breadth chances, without having had an interview
with the outlawed wanderers, who had acted wisely in keeping at an
awful distance, and not hazarding an attack upon our well-armed and
formidable party.

The peasantry of Monte Hermosa are a quiet industrious race, the men
are robust, black-looking fellows; their clothing is of brown cloth,
over which is thrown a sort of leather covering, with an aperture for
the head, worn to save the garments while occupied in the employment
of wood-cutting. The women, in consequence of the ample folds of their
numerous cloth coats, are wondrously capacious in the middle and lower
regions, and display as prominent a rotundity as the Hottentot Venus.
Had _circular sterns_ been then fashionable in our navy, Sir Robert
Seppings might have selected excellent models from among the females
of Monte Hermosa.

The inhabitants, old and young, usually assembled after sunset in
front of their houses, for the purpose of amusing themselves in a
variety of ways. Their music is that of the bandeiro, a clumsy
instrument, somewhat resembling a tambourine, though of a square form;
it is generally played on by some ill-favoured sybil, who, beating the
parchment with her skinny palm, produces a dull monotonous sound. When
this is accompanied by a brace of similar hideous gorgons,
catterwauling in doleful strains, the concert thus produced is not of
such a very tender nature as "to soften rocks or bend the knotted
oak," but a heavy hum-drum piece of discord, not unlike a funeral
howl, each stanza being finished with a tedious drone by way of
chorus, which has a strong relationship to the Scotch bag-pipes, and
serves the purpose of a narcotic upon the admiring spectators. To this
delightful harmony do the rustics trip, not on "the light fantastic
toe," but with a pavior's tread, slowly moving their limbs; the
stupid, sleepy and inanimate clodpoles waving at the same time their
hands from side to side, in a pendulous manner, and seeming ready to
fall into the arms of their equally lifeless partner.



CHAPTER XVI.


Without the slightest degree of reluctance we departed from Monte
Hermosa, on a beautiful morning, (the 8th inst.) Our road extended
over that wild desert track which stretches towards the Sierra de
Placentia, and proved throughout extremely bad and rugged. About
twelve o'clock, after a march of two leagues and a half we got into
Santivanez, and passing through that village, (which is a poor and
miserable place,) we proceeded to Aggal, half a league further. Here
we halted for the remainder of the day. The following morning we
resumed our journey, and travelled through some romantic scenery.
About a mile from the village of Gihon, we came to a remarkable old
bridge, having but one arch, of immense span, its abutments being
supported by the solid rocks, between whose steep and rugged sides
flowed one of the tributary streams of the Alagon. The situation of
this extraordinary bridge, combined with the wildness of the
neighbouring country, produced on our minds an effect as impressive as
it was delightful. While crossing this dangerous pass, and looking
down upon the torrent that rushed furiously beneath, a terrific chasm
presented itself, of at least a hundred feet in depth; and, in
consequence of the slight elevation of the battlements, it required
some degree of caution to avoid an awful somerset into the dark abyss.

The road, after we had safely cleared the stream, continued along the
face of a craggy precipice, and at length brought us to a thick forest
of oak and elm trees.

We halted at a pretty village called La Sacita where we had good
quarters; mine were at the dwelling of a respectable tiller of the
ground, named Bernardo Lopez, who not only gave me a hearty welcome to
his abode, but regaled me with the best of every thing that his means
could afford. His better half, our worthy patrona, had spent the day
at a distant town, and as in her way home she had to pass through a
lawless track, the anxiety of her family for her safe return was
extreme; Maricita, in particular, (the youngest daughter,) was quite
unhappy on the subject, and the tears ran quickly down her very pretty
and intelligent face.--The mother however soon came to the door, to
the no small delight of the expectant party, and joy once more resumed
its accustomed place at the social hearth of this contented family.
The fire was replenished with an additional supply of fagots, and a
plentiful store of plain though wholesome food was laid upon the
table; in the mean time, a tribe of labouring hinds and foresters
joined the group, and taking up a position in the chimney corner, made
a furious attack, like hungry wolves, upon the sausages with which
their platters were abundantly supplied. On the conclusion of their
repast, the fair damsels of Bernardo beguiled the lazy hours with
sundry cheerful ditties; but from the liberal use of garlick, onions,
and other delicious things by which their breath was perfumed, the
_air_ of those songs, at least in one sense, was anything but
ambrosial, however affecting might be the words.

We proceeded on our journey towards the mountains on the following
day, and entered some very romantic scenery, unequalled in beauty, as
well as grandeur of effect, by any through which we had hitherto
travelled. When within a league of the Puerto de Banos, the promontory
closes into a narrow pass, where a strong and almost impenetrable
defile presents itself, and where a handful of resolute men could
maintain the post against superior numbers. We entered the village of
Banos, where we lodged that night, and marched on the succeeding day
to Bejar.

After winding round the heights beyond Puerto de Banos, and about one
league further, we perceived the town of Bejar, which, from its
elevated site on a craggy range of hills, forms a most conspicuous
feature in the surrounding scenery. The road became narrow as we
approached the town, conducting in a circuitous direction along the
sides of the rocky precipice, having gained the ascent of which we
arrived at the gates by 2 o'clock, and proceeded through a long street
to the Plaza. The balconies on each side were lined with a pretty fair
display of Spanish beauty, from whose sparkling black eyes we were
assailed in every quarter. They all appeared ready to leap down from
the keeping of their duennas, and were so overjoyed at the sight of
the first English soldiers that ever entered within their walls, that
they continued one ceaseless cry of "vive los Ingleses, viva, viva,"
at the same time waving handkerchiefs, flags, and streamers, as we
passed along.

It was easy to account for the joyful reception which we got from the
inhabitants. The French were in their immediate neighbourhood, the
inhabitants of the town momentarily dreaded a visit, and therefore
hailed us as sent to protect them from the plundering hands of the
invaders.

Bejar is situated on the crest of a barren and rocky chain of heights,
branching from the mountains of Candelario. It is as large as
Placentia, but differently planned, being composed of one extensive
range of houses, enclosed by walls, now falling into ruin, yet still
denoting that the place must have been of some importance, to have
required the aid of defences such as these were, in former times.

The approach is by means of a road or pathway, difficult and bad, in
consequence of the broken and irregular nature of the ground, and
there are five entrances by arched gateways, leading from Salamanca,
Alba, and other places. The houses are generally solid and well-built,
forming a contrast with the streets, which are narrow, mean-looking,
and most indifferently paved.

The 50th, which since the death of Colonel Stewart, was commanded by
Lieutenant Colonel I. B. Harrison, formed the garrison here, and the
71st Light Infantry, under Colonel Cadogan, and the 92nd under Colonel
Cameron, were stationed at Banos, and the neighbourhood.

In the usual routine of friendly intercourse with the natives, we
experienced a good deal of what might be termed a gay sort of life;
the intervals, however, and they were tolerably long, were filled up
with duty enough to satisfy the most fastidious martinet, the Adjutant
or Sergeant Major, with their satellites, being perpetually at our
skirts, at all hours, with some newly concocted order for our
edification. The French troops, under Foy, being close at hand,
watching a favorable opportunity to pounce upon us when off our guard,
it was quite requisite that we should be on the alert, and keep our
eyes about us; idle time was, therefore, a very rare commodity, so
that between pickets, outlying and inlying, parades, and other matters
of an equally pleasing description, there was not any very great room
left to enjoy that society which, in a most inviting way, offered its
varied charms for our gratification. By reason of the miserable state
of the old defences of the town, that were tumbling about our ears, it
became highly necessary to guard other openings than those which the
gates presented, and, accordingly, our working parties were busy night
and day, in repairing, with loose stones and clay, the several chasms
and breaches made by time, that yawned in the ancient and crumbling
walls.

Here, and at all the other weaker points, were well armed parties
stationed, and it was by no means so agreeable a lounge as that of
Bondstreet, or Pall Mall, to be pacing up and down, like a hungry
tiger in his cage, behind those tottering stockades, ever and anon
peering above the top, to look out for squalls, or watch the motions
of our vigilant opponents. It was truly no joke, or rather it was a
cool one, to remain thus shivering in every limb, from the damp and
frosty air of a wintry morning. The whole regiment, with the exception
of the lame and lazy, was planted at their alarm post, one hour before
daylight, and at the rendezvous did they remain, in awful stillness,
hardly wide awake, patiently to abide the moment of dismissal, which
usually came when the first glimmering of dawn was seen in the
horizon, or when a white horse was visible within a mile. With faces
exposed to the gentle influence of a sharp norwester, and suffering a
purgatorial trial, while straining our organs of vision to get a peep
at the aforesaid quadruped, we might have waited till this hour, or
even to the day of doom, for no such animal appeared. However, on the
full assurance that our quondam neighbours had no desire to favour us
with their company at that particular period, we were again despatched
from the well known rendezvous, and, hastening to our quarters, we
once more unharnessed, and lost no time in bundling into the warm nest
from which we had so lately started.

Among the varieties of our cantonment, assemblies were got up by those
of the officers who never failed to levy war against melancholy or the
spleen. Dancing was therefore the grand attraction, and the votaries
of that science were amply gratified. To the lively music of our band,
the charming Senoritas figured away, in all the seducing attitudes of
the bolero and the waltz.

In conformity with their absurd and to us hateful usage, the fair
damsels on their appearance filed off right and left, in due order,
and ranged themselves along the benches with a military precision,
worthy of a better cause, taking their seats at such a distance that
they seemed resolved, not even in the ball-room, "to trust their soft
minutes with betraying man." It was soon manifest, however, that they
had not abjured the other sex, for a volley of amorous glances was
darted at the forlorn and deserted males, who, taking consolation in
noisy converse with each other, were soon lost amid the smoke of their
offensive cigars.

With voices naturally sharp and loud, the Spanish Dons continued a
palaver, that seemed as though it came through a speaking trumpet, and
a Babylonish jargon arose on all sides, equalled only in the noisy
purlieus of a bull-ring, while, in the mean time, when they chanced to
notice any thing particularly striking or amusing in the dance, their
delight and admiration were proclaimed by deafening shouts and
vociferous yells. Then, again, they might be heard crying out for
various changes in the figure, such as bolero! bolero! fandango!
seguidillo! contradanza! each bellowing for that which pleased his own
fancy, to the utter discomfiture of those who would have preferred the
quiet pleasures of a less stormy region.

Fortunately, however, for us, the brawlers were seized with a gambling
mania, and a rush was immediately made by them to the folding doors of
an adjoining chamber, where a table was ready, covered with dollars
and doubloons.

The sight of these glittering lures caused the heroes to rejoice, and
attracted thereby, they crowded to the room where the blind goddess
presided, leaving the party in the other to the full enjoyment of
their harmless mirth, for the remainder of the night.

The ladies were highly gratified at the departure of the noisy crew,
for, being vain of their graceful shapes and figures in the dance,
they were happy to show them off to advantage, and to exhibit in the
waltz, which, owing to the crowd, they were before unable to
accomplish. Previous to the vanishing of the gamesters, great was the
jostling, pushing about, and trampling of toes, amidst the hooting and
noise of the spectators.

The palace of the Duke of Ossuna, near the Square, has been in its day
a noble and spacious mansion. Situated on the most elevated part of
the ridge, its conspicuous appearance and lofty towers impart an air
of respectability to the town, that could not be derived from any
other object. The solid masonry of the outer walls, together with the
massive staircase and iron balustrade, which time alone can destroy,
remain in good preservation; but the interior, as well as the
ornamental work, are utterly in ruins, and the mutilated shell is now
the only monument of its original splendour.

Round each of the windows, and the parapet of the tower, the stonework
is curiously wrought in the form of a chain; and the bastion
encircling each tower, together with the courtyard battlements, formed
a defence in ancient times that must have added considerably to the
strength and importance of the building.

There is scarcely a day in the whole year which is not dedicated to
some favourite Saint, and, when the day arrives, each inhabitant,
whose name is that of his Saint, considers it necessary to celebrate
the great event by feasting all his friends and neighbours. St. Joseph
was the protecting holy man of my landlord in Bejar, on which occasion
he gave a grand entertainment to all his acquaintance far and near.
The ceremony began in the morning when the family arose, and continued
throughout the day. The visitors, who came to offer their gratulations
and respects to my worthy host and hostess, were received in the large
reception chamber occupied by Don Pepe (Joseph), and were served with
cakes, chocolate, and liqueurs, handed on plated or silver salvers.
Numbers came to pay their devoirs until the hour of dinner, twelve
o'clock, when a glorious scene of gormandizing set in, which continued
for some hours. The banquet was of a most sumptuous nature, and
consisted chiefly (being Lent time), of fish, eggs, vegetables, and
many other articles in that line, cooked up into an endless variety of
forms and dishes, such as omelets, olla-podridas, pucheros, and
others, which it would be tedious to enumerate. Fruit and wines were
likewise dispensed in abundance, the former entering first; so that
the dessert was served before the first course. To all these edibles
the company did every justice, laying in with such good effect, that
it would seem as if they were storing themselves with provender for a
long campaign. After the siesta, which commenced at three o'clock, the
remainder of the time was spent in loud conversation, in smoking, and
drinking cold water. The supper, where a vigorously renewed attack was
made by those hungry souls, was the last act of this gluttonous
display, after which those who could accomplish it rolled away to
their respective dwellings.

During the week preceding Lent, a sort of Carnival goes on throughout
the town, for the entertainment of the people, who having a long fast
before them give a loose rein to their carnal appetites, and such an
exhibition of buffoonery takes place, that a stranger would imagine
that every fool in Fernando's wide dominions had congregated here on
the occasion. It is properly called El tiempo del _Trucco_, (or
time for play,) men, women, and children joining in the ridiculous
farce, running to and fro through the streets like maniacs, with their
faces blackened, or with masks, cutting all manner of capers, and
playing every variety of antics and practical jokes upon each other.
The chief amusement of the mob consists in fastening on rags, bits of
paper, onion skins, and other ornaments, to decorate the sternmost
parts of the luckless wight to whom the honourable badges are
appended. In order to complete the resemblance to the monkey race, a
tail is sometimes added, giving them thereby a title to claim affinity
also with their brothers of the long eared tribe. The delighted
multitude, calling out "rabo, rabo," throw pails of water from the
windows on the addle pate of the unfortunate pedestrian in the street,
and at the same time, logs of wood tied to ropes are suddenly let fall
from the balconies, to startle the passing horse or mule, so that the
equestrian is soon laid sprawling on the pavement. The gazing crowd is
thrown into raptures, while they grin and shout at the wry faces made
by the luckless object of their mirth. This display of tom-foolery was
carried on to the last moment allowed by their reverend pastors.

Besides the Rabo, they had another trick of casting about on every
side a sort of weed called _pillujo_, which stuck to the clothes
like flour, powdering the garments in such a manner that the streets
appeared as if a fall of snow had lately taken place. In this festival
the Alcalde himself, as well as other Jacks in office, took an active
part. His worship, at the head of a regiment of mountebanks, rigged
out in a motley sort of costume, went skipping and dancing along,
while he led the noisy crew of tag-rag-and-bobtail to collect money
for the support of these absurd performances.

My landlord, Don Pepe, was a worthy sort of a fellow, and gave me a
good deal of information regarding the town; his brother, a member of
the tribe of clerigos, was also a fine hearty don, who had no
objection to a spree; whether in canonicals or not, he was
particularly fond of cards, and he frequently employed the intervals
between his religious duties on the sabbath in a rubber or two with
others of his fraternity, who seemed much more expert in that way than
in their exercise before their congregations.--Gambling is their
favourite pastime, and they enjoy it more on Sundays than they do on
any other day.

The chief employment here is carding and cleaning wool for the cloth
manufactories. The females are constantly occupied in this business,
assembled in groups at their doors and windows, picking the wool and
getting it ready for the loom.

The men appear to be an idle, good for nothing race, lounging about
the squares, or basking in the sun with their constant companion the
cigar; here, or, when the weather is bad, round the brasseiro, they
congregate in knots, holding disputations on the politics of the day,
a subject that is everlastingly on their tapis. In the evening the
aristocracy of the place hold their Tertullias, which is a meeting
where Dame Temperance presides. Collecting a pretty good number at the
Caza of some comfortable Hidalgo, they carry on the old trade of
gaming to some extent, the dons who do not play seating themselves
with the senoras, a lively conversation is maintained, in which those
damsels are by no means idle; nor do they in this, or any other sort
of joint stock company, prove themselves to be sleeping partners. At
those Tertullias there is no refreshing beverage stronger than the
chrystal fluid, to wash down confectionary, or bolas (cakes), which
are handed round on such occasions.

The French, whose head quarters were at Salamanca, twelve leagues from
Bejar, had for some time previous to our arrival threatened to pillage
this town and levy contributions on the inhabitants; but the British
troops appearing, their plan was then disconcerted.--Finding, however,
that one regiment alone was to compose the garrison, their former
intentions were revived, and they accordingly prepared to make an
immediate attack upon the place. The information we gained on this
subject (as already noticed) was the means of keeping us on the alert,
so that we were quite ready to give them a warm reception, whenever
they might feel disposed to pay their long promised visit.

On the night of the 19th, when we were assembled with the civilians at
their public ballroom, and were engaged in all the charming mazes of
the dance, the harmony of our entertainment was interrupted by the
appearance, _mal a-propos_, of one of the staff officials, armed _cap
a pie_, and with lengthened visage. With matters of importance written
on his brow, this harbinger of warlike tidings, looking like a
descendant of him who "drew Priam's curtains in the dead of night,"
informed us that the enemy was rapidly advancing on the town, and that
we must proceed, forthwith, to our respective stations at the wall.

Nothing could exceed the general confusion that immediately prevailed.
Merriment and joyous glee were in a moment transformed to hurry and
vexation. Waltzes and Boleros vanished like a dream, their place being
taken by long faces and grim despair. The fair and lovely senoritas,
who just now were all smiles, laughter and good-humour, became, in the
twinkling of an eye, downcast, forlorn and woebegone. Like so many
terrified rabbits, hunted from the warren, they ran screaming
breathless and bonnetless in all directions, they knew not whither.
The brilliant assemblage was soon dispersed, the scene being changed,
as if by magic, into darkness, solitude and gloom.

Meanwhile, we, whose trade was bloodshed, war and battery, proceeded
to our natural occupation, and, being already accoutred for the field,
were quickly at the rendezvous, prepared for a little morning sport
with the veterans in our front.

At an early hour General Foy, at the head of two thousand men, and a
squadron of cavalry, was observed marching with hasty strides along
the Salamanca road; and when it was clear day-light, their advanced
guard, consisting of light troops, made a vigorous attack upon a
strong picket of the 50th, commanded by Captain Benjamin Rowe, which
had been posted at a farm house on the road.

Formidable by his numerical strength, the enemy pushed on regardless
of all opposition, while the riflemen, stealing warily behind the
rocks and broken ground, and concealed from our view by the
surrounding mist and fog, penetrated almost to the very walls. With
determined obstinacy the picket kept its station, disputing every
inch, until at length, overpowered by superior numbers, it was
compelled to fall back on the reserve, posted near the town.

Well armed parties of our men were drawn up at all the most exposed
and assailable positions, and the utmost vigilance was required on
their part to guard against surprise; the defences being so much
extended, from their embracing the whole circuit of the scattered
suburbs, that, had the French General made a bold and persevering
assault, he must at least have gained access to the principal entrance
of the place.

To this point Foy pushed forward with a considerable body of his
troops, who, flushed by the success of their first onset, moved
daringly forward, to force their way even to the principal street, and
made a furious charge upon the party stationed at the gate. This small
resolute band, detached from the main picket, was commanded by
Lieutenant William Deighton, of the 50th grenadiers, who ranging his
men across the passage, over which the archway was projected, resolved
to defend to the utmost extremity the post at which he was stationed.
Like a warrior of olden time this gallant soldier, of colossal build
and stature, (for he was more than six feet high,) seemed as though he
were himself able to check the further progress of the foe. His orders
for the firing to commence, was answered by a peal so well directed,
and with such deadly aim, as made the Frenchmen waver and fall back. A
repetition of this warm salutation was answered by a sharp and
rattling volley from the rifles of the Frenchmen; with bravery worthy
of a better cause, the assailants still pressed on, closing after the
soldiers under Rowe, until they arrived within thirty or forty paces
of the walls.

Their spirit was, however, at length effectually damped by a repeated
and destructive fire from our men, which sent them about like
nine-pins, handling them so roughly, and finishing the morning's work
by such an unmerciful _coup de grace_, that they could no longer
hold their own. Having no power to rally, or withstand the treatment
they met with, they collected the remnant of their scattered force,
and forming into column, filed off with deliberate steps along the
road, on which, puffed up by full assurance of success, they had so
recently travelled.

They were soon after joined by the remainder of the troops under Foy,
who, seeing that all further efforts would be in vain, marched off to
his former quarters, chagrined in no small degree at his defeat, and
no doubt regretting that he had ventured to attack a garrison composed
of such tough materials.

The joy of the inhabitants of Bejar, on the departure of the enemy,
could be only equalled by their gratitude; and, during the remainder
of our stay among them, we were treated with a degree of kindness and
hospitality, exceeding if possible all that we had hitherto
experienced at their hands. Encouraged by these warmhearted people, as
well as by the smiles of beauty, we could not have felt any duty too
severe, that might have been a means of protecting them from the rude
embraces of Frenchmen, and from the plunder and destruction of their
town and families.



CHAPTER XVII.


On the 17th of April, 1813, we marched from Bejar; I need not add that
it was to the mutual regret of all parties; and, proceeding on the
road leading to the Puerto de Banos, were cantoned that same night at
the village of Banos near the pass.

In the early part of May, the several divisions of the English army
broke up from their winter quarters, and, directing their course
towards the northern provinces of Spain, commenced the last of the
Peninsular Campaigns, namely, that celebrated one of 1813, during
which the French were altogether expelled from the country, and the
British standard was planted triumphantly on the Pyrenees.

On the 13th, the 2nd Division, under Lord Hill, moved forward. It was
composed of the following regiments, the 28th, 29th, 31st, 34th, 39th,
50th, 57th, 66th, 71st and 92nd. Marching by successive routes, in the
course of which, through the beautiful valley of the Ebro, we met with
no extraordinary event to intercept our progress, we arrived, about
the middle of June, on the plains of Vittoria.

At an early hour on the 21st of the month, the 1st Brigade, consisting
of the 50th, 71st and, 92nd regiments passed through the town of La
Puebla, and halted at its extremity on the main road; where, in
consequence of intelligence received that morning, orders were given
for the troops to hold themselves in readiness to meet the enemy in
the course of the day.

Renewed life and animation possessed our men, on the assurance that an
opportunity was at hand for giving the adverse party a specimen of
their military skill, and likewise of escorting them safely across the
Pyrenees. So unexpected, however, was the prospect of an immediate and
warlike interview, that for some time the news was considered to be
one of those false reports that are so often known to wing their
flight about the line of march. But the tidings were soon confirmed by
ocular demonstration; for on our rounding the head of a lofty
promontory, that overhung an angle of the road, the French army was
exposed to view, ready cut and dry, drawn up in order of battle,
before Vittoria. Their several columns, formed in dark masses,
contrasted with the green verdure of the surrounding fields, produced
an effect resembling that of a closely planted forest, extending over
the country in front of that town.

We had been travelling, for many days past, on short allowance, which,
although it put us into excellent condition for a race, was by no
means so favourable for a forward movement in the battle-field;
moreover, there was nothing whatever forthcoming in the shape of
provender, but, on the contrary, we ourselves were in a fair way of
becoming food for gunpowder. To deteriorate still more our solitary
situation, the commissary was not to be found; for, unfortunately, he
either would not or could not keep up with us; and the consequence
was, that we had no means of supply, a few loaves of dingy bread,
sparingly served out, being the sole contents of our miserable
breakfast. It was therefore evident that starvation as well as broken
heads was to be the order of the day, and, should we escape the latter
of these evils, the only chance to avoid the former was to rummage the
first haversack we could find, for the contents of which the owner
would most probably have no further occasion.

In this rueful state of things we again started, moving towards a
chain of high mountains that bounded the western side of the valley.
Having gained the termination of the level road, and arrived at the
base of those heights, the brigade was again halted to obtain a little
breathing time, as well as to take a look at the ammunition, examine
the flints, and other preliminary measures usual in such cases.

During these proceedings, the 71st, commanded by Colonel Cadogan,
pushed forward in double quick time; ascending the steep and rugged
side of the hill, they penetrated through the wood by which it was
covered, and, opening a brisk running fire right and left, dislodged
the enemy's tirailleurs from every corner of their strong position.
While advancing on this enterprise, the Highlanders suffered
considerable loss, from the cool and deliberate aim of the French
rifles; and their brave Colonel received a mortal wound. Being
immediately conveyed to the summit of the eminence, he was informed of
the successful career of our troops, and of the good conduct of his
own followers, and soon after, with mild composure and tranquillity of
mind, he resigned his gallant spirit without a murmur.

Cadogan, although a young man, was a most intelligent and experienced
officer, and greatly valued by his noble relative Wellington, who
placed so much confidence in his skill, and formed so high an opinion
of his military talents, that on every occasion of importance he was
entrusted with command.

The 50th and 92nd regiments, under the orders of Colonel Cameron of
the latter, followed the example of the 71st, and marched onward by
the steep circuitous route which that corps had traversed; and, after
some delay as well as difficulty in clearing through the heath and
brushwood that overspread the pathway, succeeded at length in
attaining the highest part of the eminence, from whence, after forming
into column, they continued to advance along the edge of the
precipice.

On this elevation, raised far above the plain on which the hostile
armies were contending, we had almost a bird's eye view of the whole
field of action, spread out, as it were, like a map beneath our feet.
The reverberation of the artillery among the rocks, by which we were
surrounded, the echo of the continued rolling of musketry, the
confused noise and din of the battle's turmoil, the varied bright and
polished arms, accoutrements, and trappings of the combatants, as they
shone resplendent in the rays of a brilliant sun,--the rapid movements
of the Cavalry to and fro,--the manoeuvring of the infantry, together
with an endless variety of circumstances connected with the pomp of
war, formed on the whole a scene of awful grandeur, unrivalled by any
thing that the imagination of man could fancy.

The enemy, meanwhile, made considerable resistance, while slowly
retiring from hill to hill, and his light troops, taking advantage of
every means of cover, tormented us exceedingly, and picked off a
number of our best men and officers. The 71st continued in advance,
and crossed that part of the mountain which was scooped out on one
side into a deep ravine or hollow, where, gaining the extreme point of
a high and broken promontory, they took firm lodgment in a position,
the rocks almost seeming to be formed by the hand of nature into a
fortress of great strength. In this situation they were observed by a
numerous party of the French, who were posted near them, on some
commanding ground, and whom, from their dress and appearance, they
mistook for Spanish troops. Finding this would do for a very good
_ruse de guerre_, the treacherous deceit was kept up, and, as soon as
the Highlanders had assembled within range, the enemy opened a raking
and murderous volley upon their ranks; and so desperately did they
maintain this fire, that, in a little time, the gallant 71st was
almost cut to pieces without being able to return a single shot. Being
compelled to retire across the ravine, the remainder of the regiment
fell back on the brigade.

On our march across this ground, an incident occurred which made a
deep impression on the minds of those who happened to be present at
the time. Across the pathway, and on either side, men and officers
were lying, and one of the latter was extended on his face among the
heath and brushwood, so close to where we passed, that Major Malcolm
Mackenzie of the 70th, prompted as it were by intuition, suddenly
dismounted to ascertain who was the individual. Stooping to observe
the features, that were partly concealed by the long broom, he started
back with grief and consternation, on perceiving that the young
soldier, who had thus fallen an early victim, was his brother,
Lieutenant Colin Mackenzie of the same regiment.

The gallant Major, thus taken by surprise, was so much affected by the
event that it was a considerable time before he recovered from the
melancholy shock. He was himself killed in France, in the course of a
few months, after having run an honourable career throughout the whole
of the Peninsular war. They were both sons of Captain H. Mackenzie,
the Paymaster of the regiment, who was highly esteemed and respected
by the 71st, in which he had served many years.

The whole line moving forward along the ridge, the entire extent of
which by this time was carried, our troops followed the retiring enemy
with steady perseverance, until all opposition having ceased
throughout the field, a general halt took place, and the firing was
discontinued.

The fugitives, in straggling bodies, fled precipitately towards the
woods, through which the road to Salvatierra leads; their numbers
being every moment swelled, and their confusion rendered
irretrievable, by fresh accessions from Vittoria and other quarters,
myriads of the routed foe covered the distant country as far as the
eye could reach, their route being traceable by a continuous and
lengthened train of baggage, guns, and wounded, as well as by the
interminable multitude of followers, that are always to be found upon
the skirts of a beaten, or in fact of any other, army. Of prisoners
taken the number was consequently great, and the whole of the baggage
and artillery fell into our hands together with most of the
wounded.[28]

          [28] While employed in some hot work upon the hill, I
          observed an instance of "taking things coolly," even in the
          midst of fire, which is worthy of noticing here.

          One of our Captains, a brave, intrepid soldier from the
          other side of the Tweed, (who had been so often in the smoke
          that he seemed only in his proper element when the balls
          were whizzing past his grisly locks, and the music of great
          guns was sounding in his ears,) happened to get a crack in
          the arm, of so violent a nature as to fracture the bone.
          Regardless of the wound, while the blood was streaming fast,
          he looked down sorrowfully on the damage effected on his
          precious garment, the object of his tenderest care, which
          had so often been wheeled to the right about, that with
          respect to it, the old adage of "one good turn deserves
          another" was virtually attended to, and, after eyeing
          wistfully the awful breach, with greater horror than he
          would the breach of Badajos, or any other he was about to
          storm, he cast an angry glance towards that quarter from
          whence the missile was sent, and exclaimed, in none of the
          softest tones, as though he wished the whole French army
          might hear his voice, "Dom the fellows, they've spoiled my
          cott!"

We bivouacked in the woods to the North of Vittoria that night, in a
condition quite enough to cool the military ardour of the most
ambitious warriors; reduced to the borders of utter famine, and
harassed by continued exertion. The successful issue of this day's
operations acted, however, as a balm for all our troubles, and
although it furnished not our humble board, was nevertheless a means
of encouragement, which served to banish the desponding thoughts that,
under other circumstances, might have weighed us down.

The casualties in the 1st brigade were not of great extent, compared
with those of others in the field. Our business was chiefly on the
heights; we were therefore not so much exposed to the fire of cannon
as those who were engaged upon the plain. The light troops bore the
heat and burthen of the day, getting the hardest knocks, while the
battalions acting in support and in reserve, were much more gently
dealt with.



CHAPTER XVIII.


On the 22nd of June, we pursued our journey on the road by which the
fragments of Jourdan's army had retreated, and, passing through
Salvatierra and other towns, we arrived before Pampeluna, early in
July. Soon after this we entered the valley of Bastan, situated on the
boundaries of the Lower Pyrenees.

While we were advancing towards the Pyrenees, a most tremendous storm
burst upon the column, as it was marching over the crest of a lofty
ridge. The thunder rolled in fearful peals, and the forked lightning,
attracted by the polished fire-arms and bayonet points, flashed about
our heads in an awful manner, threatening destruction to the troops.
Lieut. Masterman of the 34th was struck by the electric fluid, with
such fatal violence that his death was instantaneous; his features
scorched and blackened, and his body burnt almost to a cinder,
presented a frightful spectacle as he lay extended on the road.

Here commenced that system of manoeuvring on the enemy's flanks, by
which, day after day, we forced him to retire from the commanding
ground where he had been posted. Instead of running directly into the
lion's mouth, we paid our respects in a more cautious manner. The
light troops were dispatched, and, taking a widely extended circuit
right and left, closed in upon the wings of the adverse party,
threatening their communication with the rear. The French, instead of
making any resistance in these wild and thickly wooded glens, adopted
a more prudent line of conduct, and, not having any particular
appetite for cold steel, scampered off to the next range of heights at
the moment when we expected to have had a brush, leaving us, by way of
a legacy, their half extinguished fires, their broken huts, and all
the rubbish of a deserted camp.

Agreeable to this novel mode of tactics, which was the standing, or
rather the chasing, order of the day, our divisions proceeded onward,
the advanced guard of each leading into a difficult country, the roads
winding through vast chasms and narrow defiles, by which the lower
branches of the Pyrenean chain are intersected.

As we approached the more lofty range, we passed through Lanz,
Erruita, Elisonda, and other clean and well inhabited places, our
route still penetrating through deep ravines, and bending with the
sinuous current of the Upper Bidassoa river, by which the verdant
fields and pasture lands are fertilized.

The whole extent of the vale of Bastan presents, on every side, the
most beautiful scenery that can be imagined. The green and richly
cultivated meadows, as contrasted with the naked and inaccessible
heights by which they are surrounded, produce an effect that renders
the appearance of the landscape at once impressive and delightful. The
lover of nature in its varied and romantic forms might here enjoy a
prospect, of which it would be impossible by words to convey even a
limited idea.

On the 8th of July, 1813, the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division, marched
into Elisonda, and, proceeding forward for about a league, halted on
the brow of an elevated ridge, from the summit of which the ground
descended in a slope, thinly covered with woods, to the extremity of
our position.

The 71st and 92nd were encamped on the main passes of the mountain, to
the left of the Bayonne road; and the 50th was bivouacked among some
trees, about a mile to the right of the corps. The enemy at this
period having been driven from all the roads leading across the
Pyrenees, came to a stand on a range of strong hills, commanding the
principal approaches into France.

Marshal Soult, their general in chief, disappointed and mortified at
thus being defeated and expelled from the Peninsula, determined to
make one last and desperate effort to regain a footing in that
country; he therefore made preparations for a grand attack upon our
lines, and put his threat in execution on the 25th of the month. The
heights, in every direction, were covered by the French encampments,
in which we could discern large bodies of their troops assembling.

About this time, while we were in the enjoyment of our bivouac and the
invigorating influence of the mountain air, an amusing scene took
place in the lines of the 50th. In the middle of one of the dark
nights, during our station on the hill, a dreadful storm came on,
upsetting huts, wigwams, and all the paraphernalia of our camp. During
the commotion, the mules and other baggage animals, terrified by the
howling of the wind, broke loose from their moorings, took flight in
every direction, and getting entangled among the tent cords they cast
us all adrift. Bewildered amidst the gloom, and dreaming of war's
alarms, it seemed as though the French were in among us, or that a
caravan of wild beasts was set at liberty. Such bellowing, screams and
shouting from right to left, at once resounded throughout the hill,
that the storm was quiet in comparison. Drums and bugles giving the
alarm, accompanied by the braying of a hundred jack-asses, with the
clamorous tongues of men, women and dogs, combined to produce an
opera, or rather, a tragi-comedy, of so ludicrous a nature as was
never witnessed on the Pyrenees before.--In a state of demi-nudity,
(finding that no tangible enemy was in the field,) each returned to
the wreck of his shattered dormitory, where, endeavouring to crouch
beneath the well-drenched canvass, or the more wretched shelter of the
trees, we lay in torpid misery, waiting patiently the return of day.

The morning of the 25th of July was ushered in by a bright sun, and
other favourable appearances, denoting the continuance of fine
weather. About noon intelligence came that the enemy was advancing in
strong force upon the pickets; in a few minutes the whole of our line
was formed, and the 50th, 71st and 92nd drew up on the highest part of
the ridge.--From thence were perceived large bodies, covered by a host
of light troops, rapidly driving in our outposts. The pickets,
together with the 34th regiment, under the command of Colonel Fenwick,
of that corps, immediately occupied some elevated rocks, on the right
of our position. Soult, observing with his experienced eye that this
important post was not sufficiently strengthened, sent a number of his
men to dislodge our soldiers from the spot.--After a sharp and
sanguinary contest, (Colonel Fenwick being severely wounded,) our
troops descended from the hill, and fell back with considerable loss
upon the brigade. By this time the French in solid masses were gaining
fast the steep sides of the mountain, preceded by a swarm of riflemen,
clambering the ascent like wild cats, and rushing on with incredible
gallantry towards the summit, in order to gain a lodgment there.
Having accomplished this, and the whole extent of our line being under
the range of fire, we were exposed to a most destructive shower; the
balls whistling past our ears, like hail stones driven in a storm,
tumbled our men in every direction. Resistance now was unavailing
against such odds, and, although an incessant peal of musketry was
opened on the enemy, our situation was no longer tenable, and we
retired upon the next height, leaving many killed and wounded on the
ground.[29]

          [29] Colonel Fenwick was, on his return to England,
          appointed Governor of Pendennis Castle, where he died a few
          years since from the consequences of his wound.

Our right wing suffered greatly on this occasion, most of the
grenadiers were cut off, and their leader, Captain William Ambrose,
was mortally wounded in the groin; among the slain was likewise
Lieutenant William Deighton, of the same company, a native of
Cumberland, who so gallantly defended his post at the gates of Bejar,
and whose conduct at all times was that of a cool and intrepid
soldier.

Ensigns Williams and White were also killed--the former carried the
King's Colours, which falling with him, another officer, who observed
the circumstance, conveyed them to a place of safety; Williams was a
young officer who volunteered with men from the Warwickshire militia,
and had scarcely recovered from a wound received at Vittoria--White
had been for many years our Quarter Master Sergeant, and in
consequence of his merit, he had lately been promoted in the regiment;
he was a man advanced in life, and an excellent worthy character,
esteemed by us all.

The conduct of Lieutenant Charles Brown of the light company was
conspicuous; seeing the Frenchmen pressing closely in, he was
determined to lend a hand in giving them a check, in a manner which he
could not accomplish with the feeble weapon which he wielded; he
therefore seized a musket, (plenty of which were scattered about), and
extending himself upon a bank of earth, let fly with such deliberate
aim, that many of the Frenchmen were effectually stopped in their
career. Brown was an excellent shot, and enjoyed the thing amazingly,
appearing quite in his element, going about his work as methodically
as if he were shooting partridges or wild ducks, shewing a degree of
skill worthy of the most practised amateur.

This was the only instance of the kind that ever came within my
observation, and can be justified only by the strong desire a
sportsman, (for he was a zealous son of Nimrod), had to indulge his
ruling passion; for officers, in general, have too much to attend to,
while in action, and therefore could not, were they so inclined,
indulge their fancy in that way.

The Lieutenant joined us from the East Middlesex militia, from which
he brought a number of volunteers. He was an active good-looking
fellow, and a most agreeable companion. He was afterwards severely
wounded, and retired on half-pay to enjoy a pension which he very
deservedly obtained. Having once more to abandon our position, the
50th and 39th fell back upon that on which the 92nd was drawn up.
O'Callaghan, amidst the din of arms, calling to his soldiers with the
tones of a Stentor, "steady 39th ordinary time!" these corps actually
retired with the most deliberate pace, as if upon parade.

The Highlanders, under Cameron, stood firm, and maintained their post
with determined bravery until their ammunition was expended, when,
borne down by legions, the remnant of these devoted Northerns withdrew
to the contiguous hill.--Their Colonel, having had two horses shot
under him, and being twice severely wounded, was forced to quit the
field.[30] Captain Bevan, of the 92nd Grenadiers, was wounded at the
same time, as well as many other officers of that corps.

          [30] Colonel Cameron commanded the 92nd, throughout the
          whole Peninsular war, with honor to himself and to his
          regiment. He fell nobly, at Quatre Bras, in the centre of a
          square which was formed to repel a strong body of French
          cavalry.

When the 50th was again formed on the hill to which they had retired,
they were supported by the 39th, with the Hon. Colonel O'Callaghan at
their head. Both these corps poured in a tremendous volley from right
and left, while O'Callaghan, a stern Hibernian, by his own example,
stimulated his men to personal acts of valour.

The enemy, meanwhile, nothing daunted by this destructive fire, pushed
forward with renewed exertion, urged on by the spirited exhortations
and conduct of their officers. The latter with signal courage took the
lead, and waved caps or cloaks with one hand, while with the other
they brandished their sabres in the air, shouting out--"Vive
L'Empereur! en avant! mes enfans!" Thus gallantly headed and
additionally animated, drums beating and trumpets sounding, the
columns rushed on with wild and desperate fury.

While the 50th was acting in support of the 92nd, Colonel Charles Hill
of the former was struck in the groin by a spent ball; and had
scarcely recovered from the shock, when another hit him on the
forehead, which caused him at once to fall, to all appearance mortally
wounded, and with deep concern his soldiers beheld him carried off the
field; the command devolving on Major Thomas Dundass Campbell.

The increasing masses of the enemy bore down all before them; and the
50th and 92nd, the latter then commanded by Major Mitchell, retiring
from hill to hill, defending with obstinate resistance every inch of
ground, halted about five o'clock in the evening on the brow of a
lofty and precipitous rock, the highest point of the lower Pyrenees,
and to the left of the pass of Maya. The 71st, whose encampment we had
crossed, suffered considerably while covering this movement, and was
at length compelled to join the rest of the Brigade.

Elated by the issue of their formidable attacks, our adversaries
persevered in the arduous struggle, to gain the passes, and, although
at the expense of considerable numbers, still kept possession of every
piece of ground by which those passes were commanded. Their riflemen,
with unparalleled boldness ferreting their way within less than
pistol shot of where we stood, by a rambling fire did very great
execution throughout our already diminished ranks. With such precision
did those experienced artists do their duty that very many of our
companions were killed or wounded on this height. A party of the
officers of the 50th, who were collected in a knot, discussing the
affairs of the eventful day, were quickly seen by those marksmen, who,
from behind the rocks, dispatched with deadly aim a few rifle
missiles, each with its billet; and the balls were so faithful to
their errand that the congress was soon dissolved, some of the members
being sent to "that bourne from which no traveller returns," and the
remainder wounded. Among those who fell on this occasion, was
Lieutenant Hugh Birchall of the 4th battalion company, which he had
commanded for some time. Having fallen ill, he was in his bed at
Elisonda, when the battle commenced, and hearing the noise of
musketry, he thought that something was going forward in the lines, in
which he ought to bear a part. With a mind endued with strength
superior to that of his weakly frame, he arose from the couch of
sickness, and calling all the vigour that he could muster to his aid,
tottered with feeble pace to the field of action, arriving at a late
hour upon the hill. Exhausted, pale, and like one risen from the dead,
he resumed his former place, and scarcely had he joined the group
assembled in the front, when, by a fatal bullet, this spirited young
man was numbered with the slain.

In crossing the place where the 71st had been encamped, a party of the
enemy pitched a tent belonging to that corps, and, forming in a ring
about this trophy, made the hills echo with their shouts of triumph.

The 82nd and other regiments coming up at that period soon obliged
them to change the notes of their song, and put an effectual damper on
their pastime. The Brigade of General Barnes and some German troops,
arriving opportunely to support the 82nd, made a desperate charge upon
them, and following up this bold attack drove them completely across
the pass, and back to the ground where they had been posted.--No
further efforts were made on their part to renew the contest.--Had
there been sufficient time the 7th division would have totally
expelled them from the mountains, but daylight failing brought to a
conclusion one of the most sanguinary and hard fought battles recorded
in the annals of the Peninsular war.

The 50th lost a considerable number of men in this action; and the
following officers were among the killed and wounded: _killed_--Captain
Wm. Ambrose, Lieutenant W. Deighton, Grenadiers, Ensign Williams,
Ensign White: _wounded_--Lieutenant Colonel C. Hill,[31] Captain
Charles Grant, Light Company; Roger North, Lieutenants McDonald,
Patterson, Nowlan and Jones; Ensigns Collins and Bateman.

          [31] It was at first supposed that Colonel Hill was killed,
          and he was returned on that list, but after a most singular
          recovery, he was able to join the regiment previous to their
          embarkation for England. Captain Grant had his leg
          amputated, but continued in full pay. Lieutenant McDonald
          was afterwards killed at Aire, in France.

In consequence of the right of the line at Roncesvalles having been
carried by a superior force, and also by reason of the loss sustained,
the 2nd and 7th divisions, cooperating with the rest of the army,
retired on the night of the 25th, and morning of the 26th of July, and
after passing along the road that leads through the Valley of Bastan,
they formed on the hills in front of Erruita. Here the British made a
determined stand, beat the enemy back, and followed up the blow with
so much vigour that he was completely routed, driven through all the
passes, and forced once more to take refuge in his own country.



CHAPTER XIX.


The writer of this narrative being wounded, he joined the long train
of maimed and mutilated aspirants for honour and glory, who wended
their way slowly and with painful steps to the City of Vittoria, where
the principal hospital stations for the army were established. The
cavalcade was not of that description which will excite any
pleasurable emotions in the mind; those of despondency were the most
prevailing, which the departure from our brother soldiers was not in
any degree calculated to diminish. However, this being all the
"fortune of war," we jogged along patiently, some on mules, others on
waggons, and not a few on the humble jackass, forming on the whole a
procession of so motley and varied a character that, by the time we
reached our journey's end, we were not unlike Sir John Falstaff's
recruits, with whom he was ashamed to enter Coventry. We cut a most
interesting appearance, some with heads tied up, and some with limbs,
as we made our entré at a funereal pace, exhausted and chopfallen,
loaded with as plentiful a supply of _fame_ as the most zealous
amateur could desire. Nothing could exceed the anxiety depicted in the
countenances of those who had been in Vittoria, since the battle
there. So many vague reports had been circulated with regard to the
army, that they were unacquainted with the true state of things, and
hastened to meet the travellers, as they approached the town, and with
deeply interested looks enquired the fate of their brave companions in
the field. Accompanied by our friends, who kindly sympathized with us,
each of us repaired to his proper quarters. Mine were at the house of
a respectable looking man, who, though a Spaniard, proved by his
manner and conduct that in his heart he was a Frenchman. To his
spouse, a dame not unworthy of so treacherous a helpmate, our
application for any means of comfort or accommodation was of no avail,
and beyond the luxury of a hard mattress, upon a harder floor, with
bare walls to look at, neither I, nor any of the luckless cavaliers
that were billetted under the roof of these inhospitable people, could
obtain any thing whatever.

Los Franceses were the favourites; and as for the English, our patron
would have rejoiced at their expulsion from the country. Doubtless,
this partisan held a different style of language, when he was
informed, that his very particular friends were completely ousted from
every part of Spain. In a front room of this mansion, the occupant was
Lieut. Alexander H. Pattison of the 74th regiment, who was severely
wounded at Vittoria, and whose society and conversation contributed
greatly to relieve the tedium of our solitary lodging. Pattison was
above seven years eldest lieutenant in the 74th, and became, in the
course of time, Lieut. Colonel of the 2nd West India Regiment, in the
command of which he died at the Bahamas.

Captain Gough, of the 68th, was quartered in the next house, where we
passed some pleasant days, while comparing notes on the subject of our
late adventures. Poor Gough I never saw again. He was a passenger from
America, (where his regiment was quartered), in the Union Packet,
which was shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland, and was among those
who unfortunately perished.

Vittoria is a well built and populous city, with regular streets, and
a handsome Square. The country around is abundant in all the
productions of so fine a climate, and did not seem to have experienced
any of those evils incident to war. The inhabitants in general treated
the British officers with civility, but many were inwardly our
enemies. Some time after our arrival, however, they thought it better
policy to affect a degree of reverence for us, and make wondrous
professions, of the sincerity of which we had certain doubts.

It was during our stay here, that the Honorable Captain Gore, of the
94th regiment, was put to death by a party sent to force an entrance
into his quarters, in order to convey from thence a lovely and
interesting damsel, whom that officer had taken under his protection.
Of this tragical event there has been so many different versions,
that, if I were to relate the particulars as reported at the time, the
account would probably vary from others that were published. I shall
therefore forbear from any detail of the painful and melancholy
narrative. The gallant Captain was certainly imprudent in resisting
the Spanish authorities. Knowing as he did the prejudices of the
country, the results of the ill-fated attachment might have easily been
foreseen; for, thus to get involved so seriously with a fair Senorita
could not fail to exasperate and excite the vengeance of her
family.--The unfortunate affair was truly to be deplored on every
account. Gore was a fine promising young man, and his inamorata (since
entombed within a convent), was beautiful.

The good people of Vittoria enjoyed themselves, while we remained, as
much as any other set of mortals in this transitory state of being.
Apparently indifferent as to what might become of their politics, they
assembled, during the cool and refreshing hours of evening, in groups
around the doors, making merry among each other with lively
chattering, and peals of laughter, that flew, in a sort of running
fire, from one end of the city to the other.

About this time, the celebration of a grand festival, in honour of one
of their numerous saints, was going forward. During its continuance,
the place was in a state of noisy uproar, and the people were infected
with a sort of dancing mania, enough to gladden the heart of St. Vitus
himself. We were insufferably tormented with the unmerciful squealing
of fifes, and upon the parchment they were perpetually drumming in our
ears.

Between the hours of feasting, the towns-people, of all ranks and
ages, sallied from their dwellings; old and young, rich and poor, were
on the pavé, from the child in leading strings, to the wrinkled hag of
eighty, all afflicted with the mania. On a signal for a general
ballet, and the music striking up, the crazy multitude, electrified in
every limb, commenced an exhibition of gymnastics unequalled by the
most skilful artist, sufficient to make even an anchorite grin and
stare. It was quite amusing to see the aged spinster, whose charms
were faded by the hand of time, with pinioned elbows, tripping it with
an antiquated beau; the withered grandame hobbling on her feeble pins
to some venerable don; and the smirking lass with amorous eye, and
attitudes enticing, figuring away with a gallant cavaleiro. It was, in
short, a most ridiculous display of asses in human form. The Shakers
of America, or the dancing Dervishes of Turkey, were in comparison
tame. Pushing, jostling, screaming, and ogling, seemed to be all the
mode throughout the motley crowd, so that were a stranger suddenly to
make his appearance, he would fancy that the inmates of some lunatic
asylum had been liberated, and were playing off their antics through
the town. Ever and anon, some would retire within their doors, but
other fools supplied their place, and in single ranks arrayed on
either side the street, like those drawn up in a country dance, they
exhibited in a style that Vestris might have wondered at.

There was a curious medley of mirth and sadness throughout the city,
which to the sufferer and the invalid was but a mockery of his woes.
Quietness and peace would have been far more grateful than such
ill-timed, unwelcome and vociferous revels.

Early in September, 1813, accompanied by Lieutenant Rhodes, of the
39th regiment, I set out from Vittoria, on the route to Bilboa, for
the purpose of embarking for England. Proceeding towards the northern
Provinces, we arrived at Tolosa on the following day, where we
remained one night. The landlord of the posada at which we brought up,
was a very humorous character, and also an extremely odd fish; but he
was one who had an eye to business, taking good care of the main
chance, for, hearing of the success of the British arms, and that some
of the troops were likely to pass that way, he fitted up his hotel in
good style, and went to such expense, that it would have been a pity
had he been disappointed. With regard to the exterior of his premises,
he was determined to make a display of his loyalty, and therefore put
up the sign of Fernando Settimo, whose ugly countenance was no great
attraction to the traveller. By his conversation, in a sort of mongrel
Anglo-Spanish dialect, one would suppose that he was a veritable
patriot, and that he reverenced the English. The inscription on his
signboard, however, seemed to put a different face on the matter; for
by his own shewing it would appear that upon the thick skull of this
worthy the organ of destructiveness was strongly marked, or, in other
words, that he was neither more nor less than a cannibal. The
passenger, therefore, might well start with horror, on perusing the
aforesaid notice, which by the arrangement of the painter, ran thus:

    "FRANCISCO PEREZ, ESTALAGEM

    FOR EATING

    GENTLEMEN LODGED WITHIN."

Poor Francisco was evidently not in the school-master's line of march;
for in his attempt at an English sign, by not minding his own _stops_,
he publicly forewarned all who might be journeying that way, that
_their stops_ in this world should not be of long duration. Giving
nevertheless this honest Spaniard full credit for all his promises of
civility, and having no particular dread of being hashed up into
minced meat, or an olla-podrida, we lodged ourselves in his hostelry,
happy, after a long and fatiguing march, to get a place of rest, even
under such inauspicious circumstances.

We arrived at Bilboa in a few days, having had rather a pleasant
though protracted journey. Rhodes being a good travelling companion,
we got on smoothly enough, with a certain independence of character
very much to be envied; for as we were entirely out of the range of
adjutants, orderly books, and other such unfashionable concerns, we
felt like gentlemen at large, with light hearts, and, not being
overburdened with cash, with still lighter pockets. As to our worldly
goods and chattels, we might apply to ourselves Jack's favourite ditty.

    "A handkerchief held all the treasure I had,
    Which over my shoulder I threw," &c.

We found at Bilboa much kindness and hospitality, and were lodged in
quarters that a prime minister might have envied. Like other large
communities, the place had a lively and social aspect, which
appearance was considerably improved by fresh importations of John
Newcomes from England, in search of laurels and broken pates, as well
as hard goers from the army, with their brows already crowned, but
minus in the usual complement of legs and arms. The weather proved
unfavourable, and prevented our seeing the lions of the place, but, as
those are not generally numerous or curious in the Spanish towns, our
loss was nothing to grieve about, nor do I think that, had we seen
them, the description would have been either amusing or edifying.

On the 29th of September, we entered the small sea-port of Passages,
having, in our route from Bilboa, lodged in several good looking
places. After concluding every arrangement with regard to our affairs,
we embarked on the 5th of October, in a small brig, bound for
Plymouth, taking final leave of a country where, for so long a period,
we had been engaged in all varieties of campaigning, and where, amidst
the toils and dangers of our wandering life, we experienced some happy
days, with so much of unmingled pleasure, that, although we were
proceeding homeward to our beloved native land, more of sadness than
of joy was felt when parting from the shore.

Before we got out into the open sea, we sailed through an intricate
and narrow passage, which seemed, as it were, a natural fissure of
tremendous depth, violently rent asunder, by earthquake or volcanic
agency, through the steep and precipitous mountain ridge by which this
part of the coast is bound. The scenery, in the midst of the close and
dangerous channel, was of a desolate character. There was no apparent
means of egress from the dark and gloomy chasm, walled in on either
side by huge rocks, rising far above the topmast head, and the
hazardous attempt to steer a vessel through in stormy weather, would
prove fatal to those who might rashly undertake the perilous
navigation.

Our voyage across the Bay of Biscay was unattended with any thing
remarkable or uncommon, and was in every way as favourable as could be
wished. In about five days we landed at Plymouth, rejoicing at the
idea of being once more on the shores of Britain.



CHAPTER XX.


Although I was unfortunately deprived of knowing by personal
observation the movements of the 50th, I have, however, good authority
for stating an outline of their proceedings. Fighting their way as
usual, they were present in everything that was going on during the
ensuing campaign, and, after lending a hand in drumming the enemy out
of the Pyrenees, they carried the British colours into France, where
they performed a very distinguished part, at the passage of the Nive
and the Adour. They were also shortly engaged at Orthes, Tarbes, Aire,
and other places; in short, whenever there was anything to be done in
this line of business, the old boys were sure to be in the thick of
it.

While they were advancing to the attack, at Aire, the pickets were in
front, skirmishing with the French light troops, covered by a deep
ditch, or breast-work, above which the instant one of our party
attempted to shew his head, he was without ceremony popped off. This
sort of wholesale slaying was too much of a good thing, and kindled up
the wrath of Lieutenant Duncan McDonald, a fiery little North-Briton,
who, getting rather impatient and fidgety, called on his men to follow
him, in order to have a dash at those fellows, who were thus making
their comrades food for crows. As he was jumping across the top of the
ditch into the field, and before a single man had time to join him, he
was struck by a rifle ball, and fell dead upon the spot. The soldiers,
immediately rushing forward, took ample vengeance for the loss we had
sustained, and charged the marksmen with such effect that they took to
flight in all directions, evacuating entirely the town and
neighbourhood.

In the absence of Colonel Hill, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Harrison
commanded the 50th, and on every occasion the gallantry of this
officer was conspicuous, and it is remarkable, that in the midst of
all that fighting he never received the slightest wound.

Brevet Major W. A. Gordon, 50th, was entrusted with the command of the
advance battalions in forcing the passage of the Nive, and for his
bravery and intrepid conduct on that service he was promoted to the
rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Among those who fell dangerously wounded on the advance to Bayonne,
was Captain Robert Verney Lovett;--he died in England, in consequence
of the injury he received, and being a man of social and convivial
qualities he was much regretted.

The following officers of the 50th were killed, wounded, or taken
prisoners, from the battles in the Pyrenees to the termination of
the war in France: _killed_--Lieutenant and Adjutant William Myles;
Lieutenant and Adjutant Duncan McDonald--_wounded_--Captain H. Custance,
Captain R. V. Lovett; Lieutenant R. Keddle; Ensign Sawkings--_missing_
--Lieutenant General Bartley--_prisoner_ Lieutenant General Power.[32]

          [32] Myles was wounded in the ancle, but died soon after of
          locked jaw; he was an active and zealous officer, and a
          quiet inoffensive man. Duncan McDonald was killed at Aire.
          Keddle died in Enniskillen. Power on half-pay. Custance is
          now Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the 9th Regiment.
          Sawkins, leg amputated. Lovett died in England. Bartley, Pay
          Master 50th, in New South Wales.

In the course of these campaigns, I had many opportunities of
estimating the comparative merits of English, Scotch and Irish
soldiers, of which there has been a good deal said, and on which there
is so much difference of opinion, that it seems difficult to arrive at
any truth upon the subject. Military men alone can form any idea of
what those soldiers can accomplish. For my part, I believe, that in
one essential point, that is, with regard to courage, there is not the
slightest shade of difference; at least I never could observe any, the
men of each nation showing themselves possessed of a pretty equal
share of the commodity in question, or what is usually called mettle.
It is merely as to temper and disposition, in particular situations,
that they may sometimes vary.

Simply speaking, were it necessary to employ a body of troops upon a
service where they might be much exposed to fire, or which required a
great degree of cool and steady firmness to effect the object of their
Chief, while at the same time they were to be engaged with an
obstinate foe, and that for a continuance, I should certainly select
the Englishman, who performs his duty well, because he knows of
nothing but obedience. There is, in general, no particularly actuating
principal in him but this. With reference to his friends and country,
John Bull hardly ever thinks upon the subject; he is not a very
meditative animal, but pursues his straight forward course without
flinching, and with a zealous desire to acquire the good opinion of
his officers immediately around him, whose example he will follow even
to the breach. In quarters there are none more easily managed, and as
for good order and cleanliness of person, they surpass the soldiers of
every country. They likewise display much of personal vigour, being
strong, athletic and well-formed, so that when a charge is to be made,
the bayonet in their hands becomes a most dangerous weapon, the effect
of which has been severely felt by their enemies in every corner of
the globe.

Were I at liberty to choose a party upon whose steadiness in camp and
quarters, and upon whose fidelity to orders, I might depend, and who,
from love of country, take pride in the most implicit obedience to
their officers, even while suffering all the miseries of hard service,
cold and famine, commend me to the Scotch. Their esprit de corps, and
faithful attachment to their chiefs and clans, is proverbial, and form
the actuating powers of influence with them, prompting them to follow
their leaders, even "to the cannon's mouth," while the pibroch is
ringing in their ears. Talk to a Highlander of his heaths and
mountains, and remind him of his honour, his blood gets up, and he
will burn with ardour to signalize himself for the honour of his
people. To learn the character of the Scotch regiments, look to the
page of history.

Now for the Hibernian--Come along, my lads,! hurrah!--They may well be
called rough and ready fellows; not over solicitous about personal
appearance, they use no unnecessary delay about the toilet, and are
therefore always at hand, and prepared for a start, at any moment or
on any duty, when their services may be wanted. Is there a fort to be
stormed, or a castle wall to be escaladed, then, they are the boys for
your work. Only let them have a little word of encouragement,
accompanied, (if you like), with a small drop "just to keep the could
out of their stomachs," by way of priming, and they will assault a
battery bristled with cannon. As for behaviour in quarters, they are
now and then a little unruly to be sure, for Pat, when he gets a taste
of the creature, is rather a pugnacious being. The Irishmen are,
however, firm soldiers in the field, and nothing can match them in the
bivouac, where their fertile genius comes into play; while the
veterans of other corps are gazing about them, they have got their
huts made, their wood cut, and may be seen scampering all over the
country, in search of all the good things that may be had for love or
money--

    "Pat is the fellow that lives on his pay,
    And spends half a crown out of sixpence a-day."

The 3rd division, (Sir Thomas Picton's), was called the fighting
division. It was chiefly composed of Irishmen. This is quite as much
as if volumes were written on the subject. Look to the 87th at
Barrosa, the 88th at Badajos, the 27th and 45th every where.

More need not be said.

The German troops are superior to any I ever met with for strict
attention to duty. They are determined, brave, and cool in the hour of
battle; and, should they be entrusted with the outposts, the camp may
sleep in safety, and in full assurance of being vigilantly
watched.--Hardy and inflexible, they conform under any state of things
to their commanders, at whose will they move with the regularity of a
piece of mechanism.

There was a company of the 60th rifles attached to our Brigade, who
were all Germans. They were commanded by Captain Philip Blassiere, a
singularly active and zealous officer. Throughout the whole period of
our warfare he never was absent from his station. With unwearied
perseverance he braved the hardest weather and the roughest service;
his athletic frame and iron constitution enabling him to withstand it
all, holding out with stubborn tenacity while hundreds gave way around
him. Undergoing all hardships in common with his men, he walked by
their side, partook of the same fare, and shared not only with them
the dangerous trade of fighting, but all the miseries of cold and
famine with their attendant train of horrors. He was foremost on all
occasions, where shot and shell abounded, and was at the rendezvous
before a man of the brigade was assembled; and long before the march
commenced, there was Blassiere ready with his Germans for any thing
that might be wanted.

The external appearance of this man was well calculated to excite
surprise, and corresponded with his character for self-denial. His
wardrobe was of the most scanty nature; the jacket and other parts of
his attire, the original colour of which could not be distinguished by
the most microscopic eye, were worn out, patched, and threadbare, and
were pieced in various places; and the whole of his costume seemed at
least for the last seven years to have retained its original situation
on the person of its owner. Thus accoutred he trudged along,
indifferent about the elements; as fast as he got wet, he got dry
again, for he never changed his clothes. His muscular neck was
enclosed by a hard leather stock and brass clasp to match, and all his
trappings were of the same coarse materials as those worn by his men.
The haversack, manufactured of rough canvass, sometimes proved a
treacherous friend, for through many rents and breaches, made by the
hand of time, the mouldy and crumbling biscuit found its way, leaving
but the fragments of his bare allowance. The blue canteen, well
clasped with iron hoops, afforded him a source of comfort; its
contents being to him a certain panacea for all evils.

With habits somewhat eccentric, he was never known to indulge in any
thing beyond the rations; and having no desire for the society of
others, he discussed his frugal meal in solitude, avoiding even the
luxury of a tent. His good humoured though weatherbeaten countenance
was the index of his mind, which was cheerful and contented.

After buffetting all the storms, roughing it through thick and thin,
and standing out the pelting of many a shower of bullets, this gallant
veteran fell at last in battle when the army entered France.



CHAPTER XXI.


Intelligence being received that peace was concluded, the second
Division of the Army embarked at Bordeaux, and, sailing from the
Garonne, arrived in England early in 1814. The 50th was ordered to
Cork, and, after marching through various parts of the Emerald Isle,
they were sent to the north of it, where with the head quarters in
Aughnacloy, they remained for the winter of the same year. Early in
the spring of 1815, the regiment was removed to Enniskillen.[33] Here
we were treated with the most liberal hospitality, not only by the
inhabitants of the town, but by those of the surrounding
neighbourhood, who generously received and entertained the officers,
during the whole time of our residence there. The 2nd Battalion of the
27th, and some troops of the 7th Dragoon Guards, together with the
staff of the Fermanagh Militia, composed the garrison, the whole in
charge of Major General Stephen Mahon.

          [33] Lieutenant Robert Keddle, of the 50th, died in this
          place, from the effects of a severe wound, which he received
          in France. He was interred with military honours, and a
          stone with a suitable inscription was placed over his
          remains.

Bonaparte's return from Elba was the signal for renewed warlike
preparations; hence every possible means were resorted to for the
augmentation of the British Army. The troops in Enniskillen commenced
beating up with active zeal, and our regiment having on its return
from France been reduced to a mere skeleton, was compelled to use
redoubled exertions in order to complete its numbers. The whole of the
noncommissioned officers, with the band, and drums at their head,
marched daily through the streets, tempting by most alluring baits
those young fellows, who, struck with military ardour, were gazing and
listening with wonder at all the fine speeches of the Serjeant[34]. Of
the raw material there was abundant food for powder, and so many of
the Hibernian youths were out of work that our battalion was soon
filled up, and in the course of the summer we were quite prepared for
any service.

          [34] The beating-up was a most enlivening affair; the horns
          and kettle-drums, together with the noise of various other
          instruments, made such a rattling through the town as kept
          the good people thereof wide awake, calling to the windows
          on every occasion a precious bevy of fair and blooming
          damsels, ready themselves to take on with any gallant gay
          Lothario, who might feel inclined to serve a campaign or two
          with them, in the field of Venus instead of that of Mars.

From Enniskillen the Regiment marched to Londonderry, where they
remained during the winters of 1815 and 1816.--While they were
stationed in the garrison they were treated with the utmost kindness
by the people, who testified on all occasions the high respect in
which they held the military profession; and those officers now alive
who were at that period quartered there, can bear testimony to this
record of the attention and generosity displayed by the inhabitants of
that loyal and interesting city.

Several detachments from the Regiment were cantoned in various parts
of the country, where they had but miserable accommodation. The
officers thus situated led rather a solitary life, varied occasionally
by the still-hunting expeditions, a species of service attended with
much fatigue. Often have we travelled for miles over deserted tracts,
and, after long continued wanderings, come perchance upon some spot
where the illicit manufactory was in active work, and where every
scheme and stratagem was used to avoid detection. Seized upon without
resistance, the unfortunate people were paralysed with terror, and
were captured together with their whiskey. Many were the wailings and
sorrowful cries of these miserable creatures, thus dispossessed of all
they were worth in the world; and it was pitiable to hear their wives
and children in despair imploring for mercy, while the relentless hand
of law held their husbands and fathers within its grasp.

It is much to be deplored that the King's troops should be employed in
a duty of such a revolting nature, which brings them into hostile
contact with the poor inhabitants of their own country; it is
certainly no very agreeable, and it might be added, honourable
employment, for any officer to be a gauger's whipper-in, or for his
party to be the advanced guard of an excise officer, or deputy
assistant carriers of potteen whiskey. We found it a most irksome,
harassing and unpleasant service, the very recollection of which, even
at this distance of time, is enough to make one shudder.

Whenever the approaching military were observed from the top of a
distant hill, where scouts were posted to look out for the enemy, a
signal was made to the dealers in the contraband, who were busily
employed at their lawless calling, in a poor and roofless hut,
situated in a remote corner of the mountain glen. From hill to hill
the well known signal spread like wild-fire, and long before the
soldiers reached the spot, the chief performers were off, having
previously destroyed or removed the whole apparatus of their trade,
leaving not a vestige of whiskey or machinery behind. The loud
shouting and hallooing of the terrified fugitives, while the gaugers
thirsting for their prey gave chase, resounded among the heights.
Knowing every pathway they soon outran the cunning excisemen, and by
the best of generalship left them to measure back their steps,
bewailing their ill fate, in thus losing their prize, that was almost
within their clutches.

In order to fill up the intervals between these excursions, seeking
for outlawed characters, hunting for robbers and highwaymen, or any
other honest calling in that line, was the employment of the military.
The duty of the officer was no sinecure; nor could he ever enjoy the
quiet pillow, so frequent were the demands upon his time.

While the 50th was in Derry, Mr. Butler, of Grouse Hall, in the County
of Donegal, was cruelly assassinated in front of his own hall door, by
a noted villain named Magennis, who fired at him with deliberate aim,
from a plantation before the house. Magennis, who had been engaged in
other murders, bore a dreadful character, and in such horror was he
held, that on hearing of the commission of this last diabolical act,
that every well disposed and loyal person was willing to lend a hand
in his capture, and an immense reward was offered for his
apprehension. The troops of course were employed in this affair, and
were out at all hours in pursuit of the outlaw, without success. For
months he thus eluded the vigilance of the civil and military powers,
outwitting them in their plans, and bidding defiance to their efforts
to take (as he thought) his invulnerable body. Disguised in various
costumes, he fled from place to place, as best might suit his purpose,
perpetually changing his abode, from the remote villages to the
mountains, and lying at times concealed in deep recesses of the
wildest glen or rocky cavern, where assisted by his friends, (for,
strange to say, this wicked man had friends!) he lay in privacy secure
by day, while by night he prowled about the neighbourhood of his
favorite haunts.

He was familiar with all the most inaccessible and unfrequented spots
throughout the country, and with the trackless waste he was well
acquainted. Being constantly on the watch, he was far distant from his
pursuers at the very time they supposed him within their grasp. As
soon as the soldiers appeared in sight, this daring robber, standing
on a promontory, or ledge of rocks, and waving his hat in the air with
loud shouts of defiance, would challenge the men to fire. At the next
moment he would spring from the precipice, and mounting a hardy
galloway, scour off in triumph to another hill; thus rendering useless
all exertion to take him, and shewing the difficulty of making any man
a prisoner in a country where the laws are not sufficiently respected,
and where the vilest malefactor is screened and sheltered from their
power by the populace, in whose neighbourhood the crimes have been
committed.

Among those stationed at outquarters in Ennisshowen was Lieutenant
John Winder Plunkett, of the 50th, who commanded a party in that
district[35]. This officer, finding that the labours of his men for
the apprehension of Magennis were in vain, and that it was a folly any
longer to persist in the fruitless chase, consulted with the
magistrates, who agreed with him in thinking that it would be better
to proceed by way of stratagem. A few trustworthy fellows were
accordingly despatched in disguise, conducted by faithful guides, who
searched in various corners, with the view of taking the murderer by
surprise. In consequence, however, of treachery, or false
intelligence, even their exertions failed, and it was feared that he
would at last escape, and thus avoid the punishment due to his
enormous crimes.

          [35] Lieutenant I. W. Plunkett had served with honor to
          himself during greater part of the Peninsular war, but being
          reduced with the supernumerary Lieutenants of the 50th, he
          memorialized to be placed again on full pay. In consequence
          of his good conduct on former occasions, as well as in the
          capture of Magennis, he was, through the interest of Sir
          Robert Peel, appointed to the 25th, or Royal Borderers; with
          which regiment, he served some years in the West Indies, and
          died of fever in Demerara, in 1831, after becoming senior of
          his rank, deservedly regretted, not only by the 25th, but by
          all his old companions of the 50th.

Plunkett himself at length volunteered to make the dangerous attempt
of seizing on the person of the lawless villain; and, as soon as he
could get some clue, by which to ascertain his lurking place, he was
resolved to proceed upon the enterprise. An opportunity was now at
hand for carrying the plan into effect; for, one morning, while the
Lieutenant was considering about the matter, a countryman disguised
appeared suddenly in his room, and assured him, that, if due
protection were afforded, he would conduct him to the place where
Magennis was to sleep on the following night. Rejoiced at this welcome
information, the officer at once closed with the man's proposal, and
told him he would be ready to attend him in the morning.

At the appointed hour, the party was assembled, and, having to travel
over a bleak and mountainous range of hills, the roads on which were
intricate and bad, they did not arrive till midnight at the village,
on the skirts of which they halted. The night was dark as pitch, the
stillness of the grave prevailed throughout, and not even the smallest
gleam of light was seen among the wretched group of dwellings. Every
thing so far was favourable, and lest any treacherous design should
lurk within the peasant's breast, our worthy cicerone was strictly
guarded, and a loaded musket placed in the vicinity of his head. "Come
now, my lads," whispered the Irishman, "move on in silence, you'll
soon be at the spot;" on which they followed him on tiptoe; not even
the barking of a dog was heard, to interrupt them. In a state of
breathless caution they passed the cabins, from the window of one of
which an ugly beldame peeped out her wizened face, and seeing the men,
she quickly hobbled to the door; but the hag was in a moment seized,
and told, in no very gentle terms, that if her ladyship made the
slightest noise, her life would be the forfeit. This admonition caused
Old Curiosity to quake so with fear, that her final exit would have
speedily taken place had she remained in durance vile much longer. A
man or two being left as body guards to her highness, the remainder
moved on quietly down the street, when the guide, pointing to a poor
and desolate hovel on the road, said, in a low voice, "The object of
your search lies there." Measures were immediately taken to dispose
the men in such a way about the cabin that no one could escape;
sentries were placed at doors and windows, the soldiers were prepared
with loaded arms to prevent a rescue, and nothing was left undone to
secure their prey. On being informed of the room in which the guilty
bandit lay concealed, Plunkett, a man of tried courage and great
personal strength, quickly forced the outer door, and clearing all
impediments he rushed onward through the passage, with a pistol loaded
to the muzzle, made a rapid push into a small apartment, and perceived
the outlaw extended on the bed; to spring like a hungry tiger on his
prey, and put his weapon to the fellow's head, was the work of an
instant. Magennis, armed to the teeth, and having for bedfellows a
blunderbuss and brace of pistols, started up with horror, looking
wildly and in fierce anger round, while he made a violent struggle to
disentangle himself from the iron grip of Plunkett. The noise of these
proceedings being the signal, the men without burst into the scene of
action, when the ruffian, after making one last despairing effort to
fire at the Lieutenant, and seeing that further resistance would be
vain, surrendered to the party, delivering up his weapons to their
brave commander. So completely was the villain taken off his guard,
that he appeared almost paralysed with terror. Well aware that of
mercy for his crimes there was none in store, he submitted with dogged
looks to the men about him.

Astonished at the courage of his captor, he addressed him thus--"Sir,
what rank are you in the 50th,"--"I am a Lieutenant," returned the
officer. "Ah!" said Magennis, you ought to be General Plunkett, for
having taken me." The prisoner being pinioned, they marched him from
the village, and, on the following day, he was safely deposited in the
county goal. Thus was this notorious criminal taken in his bed,
through the intrepid conduct of one individual, after the ineffectual
efforts of many well-armed men. He was executed at Lifford, in a few
months after. The unfortunate man, who acted as guide to the captors,
was, in a short time, barbarously murdered by his countrymen.



CHAPTER XXII.


Being ordered to join the Regiment in the West Indies, I proceeded for
that purpose from Albany Barracks, in the Isle of Wight, to Cowes, the
21st of November, 1820.--On the morning of the 22nd, the troops
intended for the same destination embarked on board of the John
Rickards, a fine ship, the captain of which, John Ward, was an
excellent seaman, as well as a kind and amiable character. The
detachments were composed of men belonging to the Royal Artillery, and
50th, 58th and 92nd regiments; all commanded by Major Henry Pierce,
R.A.--

In consequence of the unfavourable state of the wind, the ship
remained at anchor in the roads. The officers employed this interval
in making further preparations, as well as in amusing themselves in
the best way they could, some in wandering along the sandy beach,
others in sauntering about the streets, and not a few in rambling
through the country in various directions, exploring the beauties of
the island.

On the morning of the 25th, the wind coming round to N.E., signal was
immediately made, when with hasty steps we all repaired to the boats
lying at the sea-beach, ready to convey us on board. In a little time
the embarkation was completed, and about noon we were under way,
standing down channel with a lively breeze, and a fine clear day. The
bustle and commotion, incident to the beginning of a long passage, the
stowing away of animated and inanimate lumber, with a train of other
preparatory measures, were attended with the confusion and noise that
generally takes place on such occasions, and it was not until we had
got pretty well out to sea that matters subsided into something like
good order and regularity.

The cabin was not much better than those narrow prisons usually are in
the West India Merchantmen, but afforded tolerable head room to those
who were not descended from a race of giants. The berths, or cupboard
looking dens, intended to do the duty of sleeping places, on either
side, were hammered up in a very rude style, without regard to comfort
or convenience, presenting nothing whatever to allure to peaceful
slumber the unfortunate being who was doomed to be incarcerated in
them. Their odour was not exactly of a kind to rival that of the rose;
such as they were, however, we had no alternative; a hammock suspended
from the ceiling of the cabin would of two evils have been by far the
least.

The officers were all a cheerful and good tempered set of men, each
resolved to contribute his mite to the general stock of harmony; and
thus assist to lessen the miseries that form unavoidably part and
parcel of a shipboard life. Politely speaking, the fair ladies ought
to have been first alluded to. Those whom we were so fortunate as to
have for our companions, were well disposed to lend their aid in
promoting whatever might tend to relieve the tiresome voyage. We could
not therefore fail of being as happy as mortals could expect, under
all the circumstances.

While passing the Needles, the pilot took his leave, burthened with
numerous epistles and billet doux, to wives and sweethearts. We gave
many a longing lingering look to his weather-beaten skiff, as it
glided swiftly to the shore, viewing it as the last connecting link of
that chain which bound us to Old England; but now alas! to be severed,
while we remained under mournful feelings, which the bright aspect of
surrounding things could hardly dissipate.

It was beautiful to behold, on that sunny day, the prospect on either
side, whether we looked to the green hills of the Isle of Wight, or on
the rich and varied scenery along the coasts of Hants and Dorset.
Sailing at the rate of six or seven knots, we rapidly bounded through
the water, and, bearing away to the south-east, in a few hours we
cleared the English Channel.

By this time we began to experience certain very uncomfortable qualms,
felt more or less by landsmen and sailors on their first invasion of
the ocean. Gay and jocund looks were speedily changed into those of a
more sickly character, the unpitied and unpitying malady, as the sea
got rough, spreading its influence around. As for the griffins, or
young adventurers, they vanished in silence to the lower regions,
betaking themselves to their proper dens, where they lay perdue,
meditating on their hapless fate; and, in a situation bordering on
despair, were indifferent as to whether they went to the bottom of the
deep, or were dismissed from the world by a shorter road. It is
wonderful how soon the ardour of even the most ambitious hero is
cooled by a bout of sea-sickness; the frame and spirit are paralysed,
and all the energies of mind and body are lying prostrate, and he
cares not a farthing for himself, or any human being. The worst of it
is, no one has compassion on the wretched victim, and though he may
seem absolutely in a dying state, the healthy and older hands only
laugh or grin at his distress; shaking their contented sides, while
they cruelly prescribe for the unhappy patient a fat mutton chop, or a
wedge of greasy bacon. For the smallest spot of solid earth upon which
to set one's foot, even though it were in a barren wilderness, the
wealth of India would with gladness be exchanged, and, in bitterness
of heart, the meanest reptile that ever crawled upon the surface of
dry land becomes an object of envy.

Our gallant bark still ploughed her way through the restless and
sparkling waters, bearing the faint and the light-hearted, the joyful
together with the sad, onward to the warm and renovating atmosphere of
southern regions. Even when our calamities were at their worst, there
was always something to keep us from sinking into total despondency.
Among other resources against care and ennui, there was the amusing
society of a gentleman, named Charles, our worthy surgeon, a stout,
broad shouldered Milesian. He was the drollest fellow imaginable, of
such infinite humour that he not only was the means of banishing the
blue devils from those who were in health, but of raising the spirits
of the sick and down-cast. In short he was a genius that could keep
the table in a roar.

We could not by any means get on without the Doctor, who, by his
comicalities and racy mirth, has restored more patients than hundreds
of his drenching brotherhood have done, by all their quackery,
nostrums, pills and boluses. This jolly son of Esculapius had all the
ready wit and quaint originality of his countrymen. By his songs,
anecdotes and stories, the tedium of many a wintry night upon the deck
was pleasantly beguiled. These were indeed sufficient to dispel the
grievous thoughts of even the most miserable ascetic that ever pined
away his days in cell or hermitage. Poor Charles ended his career in
Jamaica, where he fell a victim to the yellow fever, and his brother
officers were thus deprived of a social companion, and society of a
good-natured and estimable member.

Biscay, with all its stormy attributes, now stared us wildly in the
face, and shortly we were rolling on its waves, with nothing to
relieve the prospect. We, fortunately, escaped this time any very
tempestuous weather, being reminded only now and then, by sundry awful
lurches, (to the total overthrow of tables and contents), that we were
still in blustrous latitudes, and that we could not hope to cross this
noted bay without some little tossing, and a brush or two from one of
those gales for which it has so long been famed. Ground and lofty
tumbling, as well as other gymnastics, sufficient to educate the
novice for a trial of skill in that branch of science, holding on by
ropes, a somerset or two, intermingled with a game at all fours, were
consequently, in their turn, the most general occupations of the
landsmen; while, at the dinner table, the farce that was occasionally
exhibited was quite as good as anything that Mathews could perform,
and could not fail to excite the risible faculties of a stoic.

When quietly seated round the festive board, during a lull, or while
the sea was calm, there was nothing but "eat, drink, and be merry;"
but, presently, comes on the old work of pitching and rolling. By one
tremendous lurch, the company are thrown upon their beam-ends, all
make a grasp at the table, which is followed by a pull at the cloth;
then comes on the tug of war,--chairs, stools, benches, give way from
their moorings, in consequence of the violent shock, accompanied by a
column of plates, dishes, mugs, and glasses, with a long train of
crockery, and our stock of eatables, all are mingled up together, and
scattered about in every direction. A platter of potatoes is flung
into the lap of the unlucky genius who has been endeavouring to rescue
a leg of mutton; a piece of salt junk is delivered up in exchange for
some pickled pork; and thrice happy the wight, who, in trying to save
his own bacon, gains possession of a huge ham that flies most lovingly
to his arms. Soup and gravy are distributed in profuse showers upon
the sprawling gastronomes, who with open mouths engulf the savoury
fluid, and ruefully glancing upwards, survey with wistful eyes the
precious morsels, flying to and fro in mid air, to tantalize their
hungry maws, rendering more keen the bitter misfortune which has thus
so cruelly deprived them of cherished joys, now dissipated like the
morning dew. Meanwhile the ill-fated masticators, so lately floored,
not daring to let go the ring bolts and table legs which they most
affectionately clasp, lie scrambling with all the appendages of bed
and board coming in awful contact with their devoted heads; too happy,
if perchance, amid the fearful chaos, they can be permitted to gnaw
the tough and stringy junk, or enter into discussion with a flinty
biscuit, seasoned by a ravenous appetite, the sauce a la mode with all
campaigners of ancient and modern times.

So much for a dinner at sea. The drama brought forward while in the
enjoyment of the beverage that "cheers but not inebriates," was much
of the same character, whenever our good ship thought proper to
recommence her antics, and comfort, like riches, "made unto herself
wings and flew away," leaving her shipmates to weather it out in the
best manner they were able during the period of her absence.

After doubling Cape Finisterre the weather became remarkably fine, and
we began to experience the genial influence of a milder atmosphere.
About the 4th of December, we approached the latitude of Madeira; the
nights were beautiful and light, the stars also appearing with a
brilliancy we had not before observed. While the winter in England was
setting in with all its accustomed severity, we were throwing off our
warm clothing, and getting the awnings and wind sails in readiness to
guard against the effect of extreme heat. On the 8th, at daylight,
land was seen from the mast head, which upon close inspection proved
to be that of the above island, bearing S.E. by S., and distant about
twenty miles. The wind being contrary, we made but little way, beating
off and on, sometimes becalmed, with the sails flapping idly about the
masts and yards. In this wearisome situation, without any thing
whatever to vary the dull sameness, we were glad to embrace the first
opportunity that might present itself of making an attack upon our
neighbours of the deep. The idlers, therefore, began to try their hand
at a little amusement in that line. The appearance of some turtle,
floating on the surface of the water, induced Captain Ward to lower
the jolly boat, into which Ensign Ross and three expert sailors
immediately leaped, pushing off at once with the intention of breaking
in upon the slumbers of these drowsy animals, and, if possible, of
introducing one or two of them to the acquaintance of the gentlemen on
board.

Arriving at the spot where the fish were basking in the sun, they made
an ineffectual effort to get one of them into their hands; and, soon
after, they were seen tugging away lustily at the oar, on their return
to the ship. They had unfortunately neglected to stop the hole by
means of which the boat was to be drained, the water had gradually
entered before they had perceived the error, and the boat was filling
rapidly. There was no time to be lost; with every nerve and sinew the
anxious crew leaned firmly to their work; but, being in a swamping
state, they moved slowly through the water. By a miracle at last they
gained their vessel, up the sides of which the exhausted men were
hardly able to clamber. It was with difficulty they got on deck,
thankful that they had so narrowly escaped a watery grave.

While we were off Madeira Captain Ward was desirous of complying with
the wishes of the officers, by landing them, but the violent surf on
the beach being likely to endanger us in the attempt, and the wind
being light and baffling, it was found impossible to accomplish the
desired object.

On the 14th of December we discovered the Island of Palma, bearing
S.W. The famous Peak of Teneriffe was likewise observable. In a few
days, we got within the influence of the Trade Winds, blowing
regularly throughout the year, between N.E. and N.W. The deck now
became agreeably cool, in consequence of the awning being spread, and
our rate of sailing being generally six, seven, or eight knots, with a
fine steady breeze, under every stitch of canvass we could bear, we
generally ran from a hundred and fifty to two hundred miles in the
twenty four hours. The only remarkable event that happened on the
passage took place about this time, which nearly proved fatal to one
of the men. A soldier of the 92nd being accused of theft, and fearing
the shame and punishment that might ensue, formed the desperate
resolution of throwing himself overboard. He accordingly jumped from
the main shrouds into the sea, and, not being able to swim, he dropped
fast astern. The ship, which was going at the rate of six knots, was
hove to, and the jolly boat was immediately lowered, into which three
of the crew threw themselves, and pulled in the direction pointed out
by those on board. In consequence of a heavy swell, they could not
succeed in finding the proper course, and every possible means of
saving the poor fellow would have failed, had not Providence enabled
him to float, until the boat was at last brought to his side, when
they picked him up at about three hundred yards from the vessel, into
which he was hauled in a state of complete exhaustion from fatigue and
terror, after being more than twenty minutes in the water.

The nights in those latitudes were truly splendid, the brightness and
clear silvery light of the moon, (now in the full), far outshining the
usual appearance of that luminary in the temperate zone. The weather
continued delightful, and for many days the sails remained unchanged,
the seaman's life being almost a sinecure.

Protected from the intense heat, by the shade which the awnings
afforded, our proceedings, whether for amusement or otherwise, were
all conducted on the deck. The soldiers, sailors, and women, assembled
there after sunset, as well as on the gangways, in order that they
might, during the cool refreshing hours, have a little bit of sport in
the way of dancing. Reels and hornpipes were the most prevailing
favourites, and, to the music of a fife and bag-pipes, they tripped it
on the plank with no small degree of spirit. In these the Scottish
lasses displayed a very good share of cleverness, and it was quite
amusing to behold with what vanity as well as delight not a few of
these merry Northerns footed it away, with all their heart and soul,
untiring and untired, to the tune of the Cameronian Rant. The tars
enjoyed the fun, and seemed completely in their element while figuring
off in the passeul, or reeling it with the ladies. One of these
damsels, in particular, a comely and laughter-loving wench, from the
banks of the Clyde, known by the appellation of Dumbarton Mary, was in
truth the picture of good humour. With rosy cheeks, and a brace of
dark eyes, she had rather an interesting appearance, when in her
tartan dress, and with stockingless feet, she gave them a specimen of
the Highland fling.

Singing was also going forward, not only on the forecastle but on the
poop, where our worthy medico had a knot of pleasant fellows seated
round him, listening to the ditties by which he entertained them. Long
yarns were spun, and every thing was put in requisition, so that the
night was pretty well curtailed, when unwillingly each withdrew to
dream of the day's adventure.

To celebrate the invasion of Father Neptune's empire, or, in common
parlance, crossing the Line, preparations were actively made on all
hands, and the usual as well as oft repeated ceremony was duly
performed. This ridiculous mummery began at an early hour, and
continued, with its noises, uproar, and buffoonery, to a late period
of the day; drunkenness and excessive rioting reigned throughout the
vessel;--sailors and soldiers were in one general state of disorder
and intoxication. The custom, though of long standing, appears to have
no other tendency than that of producing tumult and confusion amongst
the crew, and is one of those absurdities that ought long ago to have
been abolished.

In consequence of these unmeaning and dangerous proceedings, a private
of the Royal Artillery, named Wailey, was found dead in his berth, on
the following morning. Upon examination of his body by the Surgeon, it
appeared that the unfortunate man drank to such excess of strong rum,
that, having lain down and covered himself, he soon got suffocated,
from the powerful effects of the liquor. He afforded an unhappy
instance of the fatal consequences of intemperance, as well as of the
evil that arises from that abominable practice to which he prematurely
fell a victim.

On the 3rd of January, 1821, after being thirty six days at sea,
intelligence of _land in sight_ was joyfully heard by all on board,
and towards noon, the small Island of Deseada, in the Caribbean Sea,
was plainly discernible on our larboard quarter, bearing W.S.W., and
distant about twenty five miles. Every one arose and got on deck as
quick as possible, in order to feast their eyes upon this most
agreeable and welcome prospect. Directly ahead further appearances of
land presented themselves, and Guadaloupe soon became distinct; the
lofty mountain of La Souffriere rising abruptly above the foreground,
the nearest point of which was not more than four miles off.

In the course of the forenoon we came in sight of His Majesty's
Frigate, Tribune, Captain Willoughby, which had been for some months
cruizing about in this latitude. Our gallant ship bore up for the
frigate, which had made a previous signal for that purpose, and on
arriving close the troops and seamen gave her three hearty cheers. The
tars who manned the yards of the Tribune returned the salute by a peal
of loud huzzas, while their band, at the same time, in most excellent
style played "Rule Britannia."

Our sails were filled, and once more steering on our course, the
frigate bore away in a superior manner, giving us as we parted, "The
girl I left behind me."

From the 8th to the 10th we lay becalmed off Cape Tiberon, the
south-east point of St. Domingo, and on the evening of the latter day
a fine breeze springing up, we made so good a run in the night time,
as to bring up our loss, and, as we went at the rate of from eight to
nine knots, St. Domingo was far astern by day light.

At a very early hour we were hailed by the cry of land in sight, and
presently the Blue Mountains of Jamaica were distinctly visible on the
lee bow. Rejoiced at these good tidings we continued on the deck,
anxiously looking out, with the hope of being safely moored in the
course of the evening; these hopes were fortunately realized, for the
wind being steady, and blowing in our favour, we soon gained the east
end of the island.

About ten A.M. we arrived off Port Morant, and, scudding along under
all the canvass we could carry, cleared Yellah's point by two o'clock.

Nothing could be finer than the appearance of the island. As we closed
in towards the coast the most splendid and romantic scenery opened to
the eye, as we passed each headland, while the rich and varied
country, bordering on the mountains, enlivened by the luxuriant cane
fields, together with innumerable trees and wide plantations, formed
on the whole a prospect of exceeding beauty.

By five P.M. we made Port Royal, and soon after dropped anchor in the
harbour.

The Pilot we had taken on board was now to his very great joy
discharged. He had no great relish for the blowing he had got, and
seemed miserable while he was in the chilly regions of our vessel. All
the time that we were panting and puffing from the heat, and trying to
get into every hole and corner from the sun, our sable commodore said
"it was berry cold day", and shivering in every limb, like a navigator
at the pole, crouched in from a breeze that felt as though it were
coming from a furnace. When blacky first put his foot upon the gangway
he looked about him with an air of some authority, and standing by the
helm assumed no little consequence.

It was nearly sunset when the anchor was let go, which operation was
no sooner performed than some boats came along side, bearing certain
officials, who in their exercise of pretended duty, or curiosity,
commenced prying about with rather an important air; among them were
idlers and loungers not a few, who, with the usual preface of "I hope
I don't intrude", began rummaging all about the ship, poking into
every hole and corner for stale newspapers, old magazines, or any
other chance provender for their inquisitive appetites. Nothing
escaped the notice of those gentry, who with open mouthed avidity
poured forth a whole volley of questions, about affairs in general, in
that country from whence we came. Having fully satisfied their minds
that there was no more to be explored, the intermeddlers vanished,
previously helping themselves quite coolly to any little matters that
were thrown about, of course of no use in the world to the late
owners. By this time there was scarcely any twilight, darkness
suddenly coming over the face of every object, while at the same time
impenetrable mist overspread the wide and placid harbour; as there was
not the slightest breath of wind, the land breeze not yet being felt,
a most oppressive heat and closeness produced on the new comers a
suffocating effect, that made them not in the least desirous of
resuming their berths below.



CHAPTER XXIII.


Some of the officers, of whom I was one, went ashore at Port Royal, to
enjoy an hour or two's recreation, and to stretch their legs, a luxury
which it may well be imagined was most acceptable to them, after being
cooped up within the narrow precincts of a few planks nailed together,
and with only the interminable marine view as a relief to the mind.

We entered a tavern, in the lower part of the town, where we indulged
in a copious draught, known by the name of porter cup, an excellent
and refreshing beverage, made of Madeira wine, Port, and other
ingredients, and which I commend to the notice of any traveller who
may hereafter travel that way. This tavern was kept by a facetious and
eccentric character, well known by the appellation of Johnny Feron, a
sort of French adventurer. His house was generally well frequented by
strangers, who, during the period that they remain within his care,
he, by means of an exorbitant bill, relieves of the troublesome
burthen of any loose cash by which they may be overloaded.

The house of this wily Frenchman was crammed full from top to bottom
of soldiers and sailors, carousing, smoking and revelling. The
galleries were occupied by a noisy crew, who with loud and
obstreperous mirth made the slender fabric ring. Upstairs and down,
the landlord with his train of dusky waiters were running to and fro,
so many were the calls for the attendance of these worthies; the
tongues of the bells chimed in with that of their master, while a
garrulous jargon was kept up, that made us gladly take leave of this
Pandemonium for the more tranquil regions of the ship; we therefore
hastened to the beach, where a boat was in readiness to convey us on
board.

The hotel, (which from the number of its customers was entitled to
that designation,) was a light and flimsy tenement, and, like other
buildings throughout the island, was but a mere piece of framework,
lathed or boarded in, and having verandas and jalousies, painted in
various gaudy colours. In consequence of the prevalence of storms and
hurricanes, the elevation in these cases is never beyond the first
floor, from whence project a range of galleries, supported by the
pillars of the colonnade below. The whole arrangement of the slender
edifice is such, that any inconvenience arising from the heat and
other effects of such a climate is but slightly felt.

The town of Port Royal, (situated, as is well known, on that
remarkable strip of sand that forms the eastern barrier of Kingston
harbour) has had many awful visitations, being so often destroyed by
earthquakes, and as often rebuilt upon the ruins, that it is fit only
for those who, being tired of their lives, would venture on the
chances of a new and summary mode of making their final exit. However,
the importance of the station as a naval depôt, as well as that of the
works commanding the entrance of the bay, have outweighed all other
considerations, and have induced the government at home to keep so
strong a garrison there, that the remnant of a town is yet preserved,
although from past experience one might expect that desolation and
tottering walls would be its only monument.

The long narrow bank, which is terminated at its point by a strong
battery, is barren and unfruitful, presenting not the least vestige of
cultivation, or other object pleasing to the eye, with the exception
of some straggling cocos, standing like sentinels at the water's edge,
and the scattered tumble-down looking houses, with many indications of
decay, forming a sort of close irregular street, of which, taverns,
gaming houses, and other receptacles of vice, are the most prominent
features.

On the following morning, at day-break, we jumped upon deck, with all
the eagerness and impatience of a bevy of gaol birds on emancipation
from their prison house. Rowing across that wide and beautiful bay, we
hauled to, along side of the wharf at Kingston, where, on landing, the
several fellow travellers separated, each for the quarters to which he
was bound. Accompanied by Ensign William Ross, of the 50th, I
proceeded direct through the principal street to the house of Mr.
Smith, a respectable merchant, under whose hospitable roof many
officers of the garrison found a cordial welcome. Our friend was
enjoying himself under the cool shade of his veranda, where he
received us in an open and generous manner, and, arriving just in time
for breakfast at the usual hour of six, we partook of an excellent
repast, to which our morning excursion on the water enabled us to do
sufficient justice.

The habitation of our worthy host was a pretty fair sample of those
throughout the town, and, although not large, was commodious, and
furnished in a style adapted to the climate; matting of split cane, or
straw, instead of carpets, the chairs of cane, and every other article
to correspond. Within the piazzas, on the ground-floor, were the store
and offices, and, opening from the galleries above, were the several
domestic chambers.

Without delaying to explore the geography of Kingston, we started
about eleven for the barracks at Up Park Camp, in a sort of gig
or cabriolet peculiar to the island, and arrived about twelve
o'clock.--Here we found the 50th stationed, under the command of Lieut
Colonel John Bacon Harrison, to whom having duly reported, we were
handed over to the apartments allotted for our reception. The troops
then in Jamaica were the 50th Colonel Harrison; 58th Colonel D.
Walker; 61st Colonel Ryal; and the 92nd Colonel ----; the 50th and
92nd, the latest comers, whose ranks diminished by the sickness of the
last year were almost reduced to skeletons, were little better than
the shadow of what they were at the time of landing.

Of the old 50th but few remained.--Completed before they sailed, to
the full establishment, by a fine set of young men from the North of
Ireland, they departed from that country in the highest state of order
and equipment for this island, where they had not been stationed for
many months when the most sickly season set in that for many years had
been remembered.

Full of strength, and the vigour of youth, the new soldiers soon
became the victims of disease; indulging immoderately perhaps in the
pernicious rum, and ignorant of its baneful effects, they lay
prostrate in dreadful numbers beneath the dreadful pestilence. So
great a sacrifice of human life had not taken place in all our hardest
battles combined together, and the oldest inhabitants here tried in
vain to recollect a more severe and afflictive dispensation.--With
regard to the officers, from the Colonel to the youngest Ensign,
including staff, the greater number were carried away.[36]

          [36] From the year 1819 to 1826, the 50th and 92nd lost 1409
          men, which is at the rate of 88 per year each regiment, in
          the eight years.

          The 33rd and 91st, from 1822 to 1829, (eight years,) lost
          1036 men, or about 65 a year, each.

          The 77th, from 1824 to 1829, (six years,) lost 433, or 72
          men a year.

          The 22nd and 84th, lost from 1826 to 1829, (three years,)
          501, or 84 men a year, each regiment.

          In Jamaica the most unhealthy months in the year are August
          and November, and the most healthy are May and June; in the
          former months the mortality is four times as great as in the
          latter months. Dividing the year into two equal parts, the
          "healthy season" may be considered as extending from
          February to July, the "unhealthy season" from August to
          January. The deaths in these two seasons are as ten to
          twenty-seven.

          The seasoning, or period of severe mortality, generally
          occurs in the latter half of the year in which a regiment
          arrives.

Among the 50th, the fever broke out in July 1819. The 92nd Highlanders
did not arrive until the early part of the summer in that year, and
were therefore badly seasoned. Being a long time companions in the
same brigade, the meeting between these corps was consequently joyous,
and in order to celebrate the happy event they dined together in the
camp. Sobriety of course was not a member of the party; and, as might
well be expected, the hospital was not without its portion of the
company on the ensuing day. Predisposed as the men in general were by
former habits, as well as by frequent exposure to the nightly dews,
the malady broke out with violence unparalleled among both regiments;
from that period it raged throughout the island, sweeping all before
it, and even among the civilians the mortality was unbounded.

In some localities the ravages were far more dreadful than in others;
Up Park camp, Spanish town, Fort Augusta, and Stony hill were among
the fatal number, and at a small place on Kingston harbour, called
Greenwich, no human being could exist. In a fort erected there, upon a
low and swampy piece of ground, a party of artillery had been posted,
the whole of whom soon died; another was sent, but they followed their
companions; and so rapidly did each in succession fall under the
pernicious exhalations arising from this deadly spot that it was, at
length, abandoned altogether.

On the list of those who perished was Colonel Charles Hill of the
50th, who, after beholding with grief the loss of nearly all his
officers, was himself attacked while stationed at Fort Augusta. His
mind and body were thoroughly exhausted, and the sufferings he
underwent were, in themselves, enough to bear down a stronger man, but
when the fatal illness came, he was indeed badly able to withstand its
violent effects.

Alone as it were in the midst of pestilence and death, his fortitude
was well nigh overcome by the affliction he was doomed to suffer, in
following to the silent tomb, one after another, his friends and
faithful companions in arms. It was, indeed, a trial too hard for the
firmest mind to bear, and affected this estimable man so much, that,
afterwards, he never held up his head.

Few were then remaining to pay the last and mournful tribute to his
memory, but those few, with heartfelt sorrow, witnessed his interment,
where so many of his soldiers had previously been laid. To perpetuate
the worth of the excellent and gallant officer, a monument was
erected, in the church at Kingston, where, although upon the marble
was inscribed abundant testimony of his fame, an inscription far less
perishable is deeply engraven on the hearts of _all_ who had ever
been under his command.

Colonel Hill was above forty years in the 50th, serving with them in
every clime, and during every time of peril. Possessed of
independence, he might long since have retired to the enjoyment of
private life, but no,--the regiment was his home, the officers and
soldiers were his family; with them he passed the flower of his life,
with them he passed to an honorable tomb. An earnest desire for the
welfare of his country, together with an ardent zeal in the service of
his king, were the actuating motives by which he was influenced to the
latest hour of his existence.

Up Park Camp is beautifully situated on an extensive piece of level
ground, at the base of the Liguana mountains, enclosed by the prickly
pear, and a great variety of flowering shrubs. The verdant plain is
interspersed with numerous rich and valuable trees, whose luxuriant
foliage has a brilliant and enlivening effect. The spacious esplanade,
upon which the barracks stand, is ornamented and embellished with all
the taste displayed in the park of some noble mansion, while the
magnificent hills, in the back ground, clothed to their summits with
impenetrable wood, serve to heighten the grandeur of a scenery that
stands unsurpassed by any thing to be met with in this habitable
globe.

Notwithstanding the assemblage of lovely objects, which are presented
on the face of this bright landscape, and however it may be a paradise
in appearance, all its advantages are neutralized by its pernicious
climate, and the camp, after all, is but a gilded mausoleum.

It is likewise morally impossible to enjoy existence in a place where
so many annoyances must hourly be encountered, not only from the
excessive heat, but from innumerable tormenting insects, and crawling
things, that banish all repose, and interfere with every comfort which
one might otherwise enjoy.

The report of a heavy piece of ordnance called us up at day break, and
the performances commenced by the parade taking place soon after.
During the breakfast hours, the spacious green, (then brown with
heat,) before our quarters, presented some amusement to the gentlemen
at the windows; for sundry maidens, with complexions that would rival
Day and Martin, flocked about the settlement, vending their different
wares, consisting of tawdry ornaments for the soldiers' wives, and
fruits of luscious quality to tempt the officers.--Passing off their
jokes and pleasantries, the sable fair-ones, (to use an Irishism),
puffed up their goods, while they patiently endured the fire of a
volley of oranges, which was discharged from the galleries at their
lovely heads.

From eleven till twelve the second breakfast, answering to the Eastern
tiffin, was ready in the mess-room, where a banquet was spread out
that would have tickled the palate of a Nabob.--The remainder of the
day till sunset was one unvarying round of dulness. Sometimes,
however, strange as it may seem, the active game of cricket was
engaged in, when, under a broiling sun, with jackets off, the
characters in the sport seemed using their best efforts to end all
their troubles by finding a speedy mode of exit.

Evening parade, at five, was the rallying point for a grand turn out;
warlike evolutions, and the military music, in strains harmonious,
attracted the fair and languid belles of Kingston. These fascinating
daughters of Eve, while in graceful attitudes they lounged in
curricle, or landau, cast many a bewitching look upon the gallant
heroes thus honoured with their presence.

The rolling of the well known drum, at six, announced the hour of
dinner, and round the board were soon collected the hungry candidates,
for fame before the trenches, (quere, trenchers)? The happy votaries
at the shrine of Epicurus were duly arranged in order of battle, and
with Aldermanic science acted their parts, to the no small havoc of
the quickly vanishing fare.

Were it possible to exercise the reasoning powers in this abominable
furnace there was sufficient means of so doing; for a well stocked
library of chosen books afforded a source of enjoyment, that, in any
other situation would have been invaluable. But with the thermometer
at 90° in the shade, and bright Sol nearly vertical, the faculties of
the mind were almost paralysed, and as for the body, it was kiln dried
with a vengeance.

Although the months of December and January are considered more
temperate than any other throughout the year, the heat when we arrived
was intolerable; and as for going out of doors in the middle of the
day, it was in truth a melting concern. The sun being at its greatest
power between nine o'clock and two in the afternoon, (the interval
between the land and sea breeze,) during that time no one in his
common senses would venture abroad. The most agreeable portion of the
twenty four hours is about sunrise, when the oppressive effects of the
sultry atmosphere are tempered by the fresh and balmy air of morning.
The evenings, likewise, are pleasant and refreshing, and it is then
that exercise and driving about are much enjoyed. The heavy dews at
night are highly injurious, and an exposure to their influence is
dangerous, if not fatal, particularly to the stranger, or newcomer,
who, not being seasoned to all the vicissitudes of these torrid
regions, becomes an unguarded victim to his inexperience.

One of the greatest evils attendant on a residence here is the
constant thirst, arising from the extreme aridity of the climate, and
the violent action of the Solar rays upon the human frame and
constitution. The appetite is therefore in general slight, but the
inclination to drink is excessive. Hence it is, that sangaree,
swizzle, and other mixtures, not exactly in accordance with the rules
and laws of the Temperance Society, are continually in requisition,
and find their willing votaries at every hour. An old hard-going
veteran, who had been tanned and roasted to a cinder, on being asked
for his opinion of the country, replied, like a true Salamander, "O!
'tis the finest place in the world, because one is always thirsty, and
there is always plenty to drink." The bacchanalian remark was true;
for Madeira, Rum and Brandy, flow in copious streams from a fountain,
whose source is never exhausted. From the table these liquids, with
their accompaniments, are seldom, on any occasion, absent; and the
custom of quaffing the intoxicating beverage, in draughts unlimited,
is general throughout the length and breadth of all these sun-burnt
islands.

The rains seldom fall, but when they do, it is in right earnest,
descending with so much violence, that they have some resemblance to a
second deluge, of which our puny showers at home can give no adequate
idea. To be overtaken in one of them is an adventure of no common
peril, and unless the traveller succeeds in a precipitate flight to
some adjacent place of shelter, he is in a moment drenched as
thoroughly as if he were dragged across a horse-pond.

An attack of fever is the certain consequence of getting wet, and
remaining in that condition for the shortest time. Lieutenant
Richardson of the 50th, an officer who had been much on service, going
to Stony Hill, where he was quartered, was suddenly caught by a
downpour, which fell so unmercifully that in a minute or two he was
completely soaked.

Having no place of refuge from the storm, he rode on quickly towards
the mountain, at the foot of which there was a small tavern where the
Lieutenant hastily alighted, and, without making any change in his
apparel, he drank freely of some rum and water. The weather clearing
up, he was anxious to arrive at his barracks before sunset, and
therefore proceeded without much delay upon his journey, at the end of
which he found himself quite dry. The effects of his imprudent conduct
were soon evident, for the fatal malady got possession of his frame,
and his life was terminated on the following day.

While the fever was at its height among the troops, Mrs. Ross, wife to
Surgeon Baily Ross of the 50th, an amiable young woman, interesting
both in manner and appearance, embarked in one of the traders bound
for England; but scarcely had she left the island when a violent
tempest drove back the ship, and cast her on the rocks to the eastward
of Port Royal, where she went to pieces and became a total wreck. The
passengers, however, with great difficulty, and after extreme
sufferings, at length succeeded in getting safe ashore, to which,
although with loss of all their baggage, they were thankful that they
had escaped with their lives.

Poor Mrs. Ross, alone and unprotected, was ill prepared to meet the
sudden and unexpected blow, and with her companions in misfortune,
bereft of every thing but the clothes she wore, she returned again to
Kingston.

Anxiety of mind, together with the hardships that she must have
undergone, were too much for so delicate a frame, and before she could
obtain another passage, she was seized with fever, and all her trials
and sufferings were shortly ended. The sad event called forth the
grief of those who had known the worth of this kind and gentle lady,
who, in the bloom of youth, was thus cut down, like a fair and lovely
flower, when her bright hopes of returning to her friends and country
were about to be realized.

Kingston is a good sized town, situated on an inclined plane, sloping
to the water side, where all the principal warehouses and the markets
stand. The streets are regularly planned, intersecting each other at
right angles, abounding in shops (or stores), well filled with all the
varieties of European manufactures. The appearance of the town, in
general, has something of a dull and sombre character, in consequence
of the finery and other things being hidden within the stores, in the
windows of which there is little or no display;--the market, however
is a lively place where the chattering and good-humour of the negro
girls attract the observation of the stranger more than the rich and
delicious fruit they carry in their baskets. The Hotels and
boarding-houses were most expensive, their respective proprietors
taking good care to make the unfortunate traveller or tourist disgorge
most woefully.--The bill was usually in accordance with the inverse
ratio of the conscience; of which latter commodity there being little
or none, the length of the former, may easily be guessed at.--In fact
one could not open one's mouth under a dollar, even if it were but a
glass of porter, and the residence of a night made a wide breach in a
month's pay, or caused a doubloon to look exceedingly foolish on the
ensuing morning. Between black waiters, black chamber-maids, and the
whole establishment of sable beauties, the work of fleecing was
vigorously carried on, until the unlucky griffin was cajoled and shorn
of his last penny.

From all that we could learn respecting the fair sex in Kingston, or
of Jamaica at large, they were interesting and pretty; at least so
much might be said of those who favoured us with their company on the
parade at Up Park camp, while we passed in review before them.
Accustomed as they are to a life of listless indolence and luxurious
ease, they use but little exertion of mind or body throughout the day,
and the enervating influence of the climate promotes a languishing
effect in the manner, as well as in their attitudes, that is really
very attractive. Beyond the limits of their well-shaded saloons, or
closely screened balconies, they hardly ever move; there, gracefully
reclined on couch or sofa, the lovely nymphs dream away the lazy
hours; decked out in purest white, with ornaments most brilliant, they
simper, smile, or perchance, by great exertions, may enter into
converse, with some admiring youths, with whom it would be sacrilege
to laugh. Dancing is their favourite amusement, and one which they
enjoy with all their life and soul, considering their usual half
torpid habits, this is a circumstance not easily accounted for, but so
it is. Their energies seem to be all reserved for this their chief
delight, and, during those hours when all around are wrapped in sleep,
these happy fair ones linger in the ball-room, until Aurora, peeping
through the jalousies, reminds them that their charms may suffer by
comparison with her rosy beams. The pallid hue, which they soon
acquire, is made still more like the lily by these nightly revels,
while the total want of healthy exercise in the fresh and open air
tends to perfect the fragile ensemble of a West India belle.

The male bipeds of the community must not be overlooked, lest they
might be haunted by the green-eyed monster. The planters, or those
engaged in trade, together with the whole professional tribe, had
their pens, (or country houses,) and in some sequestered dell or glade
the modest mansion rises. Here they retired, after the heat and bustle
of the day, to feast and ruminate upon the best of living.

Kingston was like a city of the plague from twelve at noon till six
the following morning. Transacting their affairs in cooler hours, by
sunset all were on the move, and, like the land crabs, journeyed in a
body to the mountain districts, the money-changers driving to their
rural homes, or to the military parade.

The burning heat of the town, although so near the water, is
insufferable, and the Creoles, however enured to it, feel its full
effect.--They sink into drowsiness and apathy, lounging on the
galleries, or before their shops, (I beg their pardon, _stores_ I
ought to say,) with their pedestals stuck up against the walls, or on
the backs of chairs, and they keep up such an oscillating movement
that a new comer would suppose they were making an experiment to
discover the perpetual motion; on being addressed they lazily drawl
out the words as if it were painful to articulate.

Spanish Town, to which there is a good road from Kingston, is situated
on the unhealthy banks of the Cobre, and is perhaps one of the hottest
ovens under the sun. Its chief importance is derived from the
circumstance of the government house being there, and of its being the
head quarters of a regiment. The 92nd Highlanders were stationed in
the barracks at that time.



CHAPTER XXIV.


Early in February, at Kingston, I embarked in the brig Vittoria,
Captain Ferrier, and, soon after, the vessel dropped down to the
anchorage at Port Royal. Just before we got under way, a transport
arrived from England, having on board a detachment for the garrison,
consisting of drafts from the 50th and 58th depôts, under the command
of Captain Mason of the former corps; the other officers were Lieut.
Crofton and Assistant Surgeon Young of the 50th and Lieut. Skinner of
the 58th. Wishing them all happiness, I returned to my own ship, which
immediately put to sea. On the 4th we were off the Island of Cuba, and
passed the Grand Caymans at midnight. The weather was fine and the
wind blowing fresh from the eastward. We made cape Antonio, the
western extremity of Cuba, and in the course of the day stood away to
the northward, in order to clear the Colorado shoals on the N.W. of
the Cape. While sailing through the Gulf of Mexico, the sun was
extremely hot, and very little wind stirring. We caught two small
sharks with the line and hook, and having some slices fried for
dinner, found them very tough, as well as strong and unsavoury to the
taste.

A fine pleasant breeze springing up, we steered in shore, making the
northern coast of Cuba, and about noon, the day being remarkably
clear, the hills of that island were distinctly seen at the distance
of twenty miles.

The wind becoming easterly on the 12th, we continued beating about the
Mexican sea, and between the southern extremity of the North American
coast and the east end of Cuba. Towards evening we were off the
Havannah, and in view of the fortress and castle of the Moro,
protecting the entrance into the harbour. Assisted by a strong current
we passed a considerable distance to the eastward of the Havannah,
and, as the current was running three and four knots, aided by a smart
S.E. breeze, we hoped to clear the Florida passage in a few days.
Before we got within the influence of the Gulf stream, we were hailed
by a strange sail to leeward, which fired a few shots to bring us to.
She immediately sent a boat, manned with some desperate looking
villains, for the purpose of rummaging the ship. Having obtained all
that they required, among which was a portion of our fresh stock, the
suspicious visitor bore away to the westward. She proved to be an
independent cruizer, named the Confidante of Buenos Ayres, and was one
of the insurgent privateers by which those seas were infested.
Fortunately, a heavy swell and threatening change of wind coming on,
were the means of causing the pirate to sheer off suddenly, otherwise,
we might not have escaped on such easy terms from his clutches.

With a fine spanking breeze at S.E. we were rapidly sailing through
the Gulf; the weather continued moderate, and the sea tolerably
smooth. On the 15th we entered the narrowest part of the straits,
about sixteen miles from the shores of the Bahamas.

February the 16th and 17th, clearing the Gulf, we launched into the
Great Western ocean, and underwent a series of desperate weather,
attended with squalls and rain. The wind being right astern, our
little brig was in the utmost danger of getting pooped by the heavy
rolling sea, which was driving us along. The dead lights were stove in
as fast as they were secured, and the decks were washed from stem to
stern. In this way, at the rate of between eight and ten knots, we
were scudding under close-reefed topsails. On the 18th and 19th, there
was no improvement whatever in the state of things, although the wind
was still blowing in a favorable direction. We were at this time in
the latitude of Charleston, North Carolina.

Matters continued much in the same state till the 27th, when, at
midnight, the dark and stormy appearances of the sky gave indubitable
indications of an approaching hurricane from the Northwest. At three
in the morning, while running at six knots, the ship suddenly broached
to, the foretopsail was torn off the yard arm, and, soon after, the
main topsail and jib were literally rent like brown paper, flying in
ribbons about the masts.

The whistling noise through the rigging, together with the rattling of
blocks and sheets, was really dismal, and the gale kept encreasing
with such fury as had never been witnessed by the oldest mariner on
board. The sun had set, on the preceding evening, with all those
direful omens which are the well known forerunners of bad weather,
while the black and lowering clouds, banked up in wild and broken
masses, foretold its continuance.

Daylight, so anxiously looked out for, disclosed to our view the
horrors by which we were surrounded. The tempest had by this time
gained a degree of violence that can be conceived only by such as have
voyaged in those latitudes, and at its mercy our poor weather-beaten
ship, labouring and struggling against its fury, was allowed, (or
rather forced), to drift considerably off her course, in consequence
of the helm being dismantled and unmanageable. With elastic bound she
rose on the top of each successive wave, then fell as nobly into the
furrows, seeming as if despair had given her strength, while the
waters with dreadful noise rushed past her quivering sides, and with
their accumulated weight occasionally broke upon the decks, sweeping
off bulwarks, boats, and every timber on the gangways; while all her
masts, yards and spars aloft, bent and strained beneath the fearful
blast that howled in dismal gusts around. The sea, agitated into white
and boiling foam, was running mountains high, and its angry surface
presented a most desolate and wintry aspect.

Throughout this day the hurricane raged without the slightest
intermission, every now and then a ponderous billow, coming with the
force of a battering-ram upon her broadside, made the little sea-boat
tremble to her very keel. She soon began to leak in all her seams, and
the crew, harassed and fatigued, relieved each other by turns, while
lashed to the pumps they worked incessantly. All but the seamen were
down below, none daring to venture from those regions even for a
moment. Pent up within the dark and gloomy limits of the cabin, we
remained in awful durance, scarcely giving utterance to a word; our
silence occasionally disturbed by a waterfall, tumbling through the
sky-light, or companion hatchway, and leaving the steerage and cabin
floor in a perfect deluge. Such a day of misery was never passed; and
the Captain, who had been under many a stiff norwester, confessed that
a gale like this he had not before encountered. The sun set with the
same forbidding aspect as on the day preceding, and the night began
without the slightest prospect of a change;--every one seemed to be in
a state of hopeless despair, and were it not for that buoyancy of
spirit, which is natural to man under every circumstance, none would
have been capable of the least exertion.

The darkness in which we were involved rendered our situation more
deplorable than ever, and without any thing whatever to cheer or
comfort us, the most painful forebodings weighed down upon all on
board. The Mate, Mr. Grant, however, a hearty good-humoured sailor, a
man inured to danger in every form, kept us alive; encouraging the
drooping passengers and crew, he never for an instant gave way to
useless repining, but exerted himself as far as he could do under
circumstances so trying. "With plenty of searoom, and a good ship," he
said, "there was nothing to apprehend;" and his example did more to
inspire the men with energy to work than any other means could
possibly have accomplished. A little before midnight the utmost climax
of the tempest seemed to have arrived, and it was hoped a change would
soon take place. Grant, after drinking a glass of grog, and wrapping a
pilot's frock about him, went on deck, for the purpose of looking out
for something favourable; and we impatiently waited his return, as the
harbinger of good tidings.

For a considerable time, we heard nothing but the ceaseless thunder of
the wind and waves. At length, Captain Ferrier, fearing that something
must have happened to detain the Mate, called out for him, from the
top of the companion ladder, but no answer was received; the call was
repeated throughout the ship, still no reply. Ferrier now perceived
that the capstan head, dripstone, and tafferel rail were cleared away,
since he was on deck before, and he soon guessed the fate of his
unfortunate officer. Grant was last seen by a man at the pumps,
holding on by the capstan; but in a moment one of the tremendous seas
broke over the ship, with an overwhelming force, and washed the
ill-fated seaman into the deep, together with the solid timber upon
which he leaned.

All danger seemed for the present set aside, in our regrets for this
worthy shipmate. He was a most skilful and zealous man, always at his
post, engaged in every active business of the vessel, and unwearied in
his duty in the hour of danger.

Immediately after the occurrence of this melancholy accident, the
Captain, on glancing round the horizon, observed symptoms of an
abatement of the gale; the wild commotion of the elements seemed to be
gradually subsiding, and the weather-wise mariner expressed his
opinion that, in a few hours, the wind would become so moderate as to
enable him to steer his proper course. This welcome information was
fully realized, for, even before it was expected, this change took
place. Suddenly relieved from inevitable shipwreck, the crew began to
work with fresh alacrity, and the tattered remnant of our sails was
speedily put in order for instant use; so that by good exertion,
crippled as she was, the ship moved slowly onward, and after sunrise,
on the 1st of March, was making tolerable way, before a steady breeze
and a comparatively smooth sea; dashing up the spray from beneath her
bows, with a noise that sounded like the sweetest music in our ears.

Our party assembled at the breakfast table in high glee and spirits; a
state of mind far different from that in which we had been for several
days. Our late probation of abstinence had reduced us to a very
slender compass, we therefore, set to with a goût that could not be
imparted by Messrs. Harvey or Burgess, and the coarse though solid
fare was rapidly devoured; the attacks were boldly made, and the
enemy, in the shape of bare bones and empty platters and cups was
quickly put to flight.

Three beside the Captain made up the number of our company in the
cabin, one of whom, an old Scotch gentleman, who had made his fortune
in the Plantations, was retiring in the evening of his days, to spend
his money in his own country. He had been the greatest part of his
life in Jamaica, and seemed to have lost all recollection of the
period when he first left home; suffering under infirmity of body, and
from the effect of climate, he was reduced to a very indifferent state
of health.

The other passenger was a gentleman, whose intellect was rather out of
order; in fact, when he was put on board the Vittoria at Port Royal,
he was quite deranged, being held in charge of two men, who with
difficulty prevented him from jumping into the sea. However, he cooled
a little afterwards, although, during the whole voyage, he displayed
many wild symptoms. While the hurricane lasted he kept close to his
berth, and was in such a dreadful state of terror, that he did nothing
but call out every moment that we were going down, and he fancied the
violent concussion of the waves against the ship to be no other than
our contact with the bottom of the ocean, at which he supposed we had
arrived. Nothing whatever, but extreme longing for gain, could have
induced any one in his common senses to admit such an unruly character
into the ship, at all events without the very necessary appendage of a
straight waistcoat. The poor man himself, however, was much to be
pitied, for he was the victim of many serious trials. The vessel in
which he sailed for the West Indies, a few years back, took fire,
while lying becalmed off Cape Tiberon, and was burnt to the water's
edge. He narrowly escaped destruction, being obliged to leap
overboard, and with others was rescued from the devouring element.

The fright caused by the awful situation in which he had been placed,
affected his mind at the time, but not so as materially to affect his
reasoning powers; he had wisdom enough left to seek for comfort with a
blooming partner, a planter's daughter; which circumstance, it was
said, rather increased than diminished the malady.--This fair lady
died, and to prove his estimation of the married state, he took to his
arms a second helpmate, with whom he resided at an estate called Vere.
Misfortune still pursued the unhappy man; the last companion of his
woes and joys followed her predecessor to the tomb, and the mourning
widower, who was no admirer of the creed of Malthus or Miss Martineau,
was left to go a third time, like another Coelebs, in search of a
wife. If to have been burned out of a ship, and enjoyed the felicity
of having had two wives, with the chances of getting his head again
into the noose were not enough in all conscience to qualify a man for
Bedlam, it would be a difficult matter to find out what could effect
that desirable object. Such was the case of our friend, of uxorious
memory and to the disasters of his campaigns, we were perhaps indebted
for the pleasure of his society on the passage home.

The dark and threatening aspect of the weather, for the rest of the
voyage, gave us no reason to doubt that the Equinoxial gales would
support their usual character, and that Boreas would attend us to our
destined harbour.

Continuing our course across the great Atlantic, we got into soundings
about the eighteenth of March, and were off the S.W. coast of Ireland,
but the atmosphere being thick and hazy, the land was not discernible.
Keeping the lead in active operation, we slowly though cautiously
approached the Channel. The weather cleared up on the 21st, when with
a fine breeze from the S.W. we gained the Lizard, at an early hour,
and having made a capital run past the Eddystone and Needles, were
compelled to heave to, off the S. Foreland, in consequence of a dense
fog. Signals were made for a pilot, which were answered by a rough
looking member of that tribe pulling up, and boarding us. The night
set in dark, but the moon shining out towards twelve o'clock, we stood
away for the Downs, illumined by her light; and came to anchor about
three in the morning of the 22nd of March 1821, after a stormy passage
of seven weeks and two days.

On our getting moored, some Deal boats crowded round the ship, and
their crews made the most extravagant demands for their services.
Impatient to set foot on shore, after being so long caged up in my
floating prison, I gladly embraced the opportunity, and agreeing to
give the rapacious fellows a guinea for a two miles pleasuring on a
wintry morning, my goods and chattels were gathered from the hold, and
being tumbled into a boat, were soon followed by their master. We then
shoved off, and I bade adieu to the shattered brig, and strange as it
may appear, not without some feelings of regret, Rowing for about an
hour against a head wind and strong tide, we hurried through the surf
and brought to on the sandy beach of Deal, and with joy unspeakable, I
once more found myself on the shores of happy England.


THE END.


  BURY ST. EDMUND'S:
  PRINTED BY T. C. NEWBY, ANGEL HILL.





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